August Menu Planning and Grocery Budget

Well here we are, the final piece before August Menu Planning and Grocery Budgeting.  I want to introduce you to Walmart Grocery Pick Up.

I like to recommend Walmart Grocery Pick Up.  for a few reasons:

  • Can make your list and stick to it, no impulse buys
  • No need to spend 1-2 hours of your day walking through a grocery store.
  • Still get great savings with prices being low, and Savings Catcher.
  • Freshness guarantee. (I had raspberries that were sub par and they immediately gave me new and credited my account.)

For our menu we shop for our family of 4 for around $80/week. We buy food only and cat food monthly because Subscribe and Save does not offer our brand of cat food. ($4/month)

The nice part about Walmart Grocery Pick Up.  is I can see exactly how much my order will be, no counting while I walk through the store.  This also let’s me tweak things if I go over budget.

Example: Last week, I wanted to make spaghetti and homemade meatballs for dinner. Ground Beef was $4.89/lb, plus rice noodles $2.89, and sauce $1.50 (I had other ingredients for this on hand) the total cost of this meal was $9.28.

For an alternative, I had half a head of cabbage from the Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, cost $0, kielbasa sausage $1.50, and shelled rice noodles, $1.50. ( already had onion and other ingredients on hand. ) Total cost for this meal was $3.00!

This freed up about $6 from the budget. This let’s me go back and separate my needs from wants. I love fruit snacks, but if we are close on budget that month I do not need fruit snacks.

Another thing is “Savings Catcher” , this is a Walmart program where you enter your receipt number, and they shop current competitors ads. If there is a store with the same product cheaper , you get the difference on a Walmart e-gift card.  You can not use on the grocery app, but you can use on Walmart.com and in store on anything.  This year I have already received $65 in Savings Catcher refunds. I used this to buy a collapsible wagon for vacation and party supplies for a graduation party.

I was a loyal Aldi shopper forever but have not noticed any money difference since moving to Walmart.

The only thing I have found that is not in line is the amount of plastic bag use. I can not use my reusable shopping bags. I do however bring the bags back to the store each week to recycle.

Next week, I will begin offering up weekly menu plans with recipes. My menus and meal prep will be based off of my families eating habits and pricing based on  Walmart Grocery Pick Up, if you use this link its $10/off your first order.

This week, I would encourage you to check out Walmart Grocery Pick Up, and use for your current budget and list. I should add that the customer service they offer through grocery pick up is fabulous.

Happy Hunting!!!

Quick DIY Weed Killer

Quick and Easy! The Hubby is mowing the grass and says “hey can you whip up some of that weed killer for the rocks around the fire pit?”

1 Cup Vingar

1 TBSP of salt

1 Squirt of Dawn dish soap!

Done and done!  It took me longer to type this post!

Now back to my beverage on the patio!

Refrigerator Pickles

Hi Mrs . Maker and little Maker working together on our Super Delish Refrigerator Pickles. Special shout out to Mrs. Makers Co-worker who has a garden and grew all the cucumbers we used for pickles.

These will be ready to eat in two days and make lovely gifts.

Refrigerator Pickles

Super Easy, Super Crunchy, and Super Delish! Refrigerator Pickles.

Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber per jar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup distilled water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig dill
  • 9-12 peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp dill seed
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 wide mouth mason jar
Instructions
  1. recipe is per jar. We make our in batches of 10-12

    Add all ingredients in no particular order. Set on counter upside down for 24 hours, then flip right side up for 24 hours. Move to the fridge. Good for up to 3 weeks. 

TGIF! Saving Money the Old Fashioned Way

Well it is Friday, and you know what that means….time to either show you how to make or save some money!! The other day, as a standard courtesy, we got our annual electric use audit. Basically, the electric company says your household use is better or worse than many of your neighbors. As you know, Mr. Maker works from home, and works on computers, so there is some accountability for all that electric use. There was no where near the justification for the use though. With that one simple notice in the mail, we have been focused on making some money saving tweaks. I will get to more of those later, but for now an oldie but goodie.

From the beginning, I have said that you won’t have to give up your lattes and pedicures, that we are just going to show you other options. I stand by that. We are a family of 4 and one of the things we do a lot of in our house with runners and teenagers is laundry. I am talking like 9-10 loads per week. We have long since made the teenagers do their own laundry.  To me 9-10 loads seems like a ridiculously large amount. Here’s the thing, we only dry about 4 loads.

The laundry drying rack. A few years back, I got turned on to a blog called Mr. Money Mustache. The whole concept of not wasting, investing, and retiring early came to me at a time in my life when I hated my job, was reckless with spending, and even more reckless with my eco footprint. The blog is still very appealing to me and I practice or modify a lot of the tips and tricks on the site. The coolest part about the drying rack since we live in the suburbs, with strict homeowner association rules,  is that it is indoors and can set up in the laundry room.

This drying rack concept tackles TWO of our main goals- Saving money and Doing something good for the planet.

  • Save energy and curb emissions
    In many households, the dryer is the third-most energy-hungry appliance, after the refrigerator and washer. Air-drying your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.
  • Save Money
    Not many people can afford to spend any more than necessary on energy bills, and many households pay more than $100 a year on the electricity claimed by their dryer. Most households will likely have less than a year of payback time for purchases that enable air drying.
  • Save your clothes
    The lint you find in your dryer is evidence of your wardrobe literally wearing away. When you stop using your dryer, you’re conserving your favorite clothes longer and saving the cost of replacing them before their time.
  • It’s safer
    It eliminates the risk that your dryer could ever start a dangerous fire. According to a report by FEMA, clothes dryer vents can become clogged with lint, causing more than 15,000 house fires every year. Not to mention NO dryer sheet use required. Dryer Sheets can put a lot of carcinogens into the air. With a family that is concerned about anything that could be cancer causing, this is HUGE for us.

I still dry towels, sheets, and underwear. I use fabric softener but NO dryer sheets for this.  The rest is hung up on the rack to dry, usually in 12-24 hours.

I encourage you to look at your own household energy consumption. What can you do to save a few bucks? The savings of $100 a year is enough with Swagbucks to pay for two months of our SUBSCRIBE and SAVE order.  Essentially paying for two months of our Non-Grocery Essentials for the cost of a drying rack.

Have you done anything to cut down or eliminate the use of an energy sucker like the dryer? We would love the details.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Hi friends- This will become a family favorite for sure. Super easy to make and so delish!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Love Cabbage rolls but hate the process of making them?

Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1/4 diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cummin
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 2 cups white minute rice
Instructions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 2 cups of white minute rice, cover and remove from heat. In a skillet, cook ground turkey, diced onion, garlic to brown. Then add 1 can of tomato soup, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cumin. stir. Simmer for 5 minutes. 

    Combine skillet mixture with rice and stir. 

    In a baking dish layer strips of cabbage along bottom, add half of the skillet mixture, and 1 cup of cheese. Layer cabbage strips, remaining half of skillet mixture and remaining cup of cheese. 

    Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Preserve Tooth Brush

Hi Mrs. Maker here, after yesterday’s post on Recycling, I thought it only perfection to follow up with what I will call the BEST TOOTH BRUSH EVER!!!

Preserve has made a wonderful toothbrush.

Why We Love This Product

  • Ultra soft nylon bristles that are gentle on gums
  • All plastic is 100% recycled from yogurt cups
  • Curved handle for an easy grip

You heard right! It is made from recycled yogurt cups!!! As if that wasn’t enough of a HOMESPUN motivator… The toothbrush is completely recyclable in the Preserve mail back system. The lightweight package doubles as a return envelope for recycling the toothbrush. To send your Preserve toothbrushes to us for recycling, you will need to pay for the postage.

Please send your Preserve toothbrush recycling shipments to:

Preserve Gimme 5
823 State Route 13
Cortland, NY 13045-6574

OR

I looked online and there is a bin to recycle at all of our local Whole Foods stores.

So great you are doing something great for the planet, but what about for your teeth. My toothbrush just came yesterday and I LOVE IT already! I was previously using a Crest Spin Brush, no more. The bristles and the movement were hurting my teeth. This toothbrush had the reach, the softness, and just overall my mouth feels cleaner.  I ordered mine through Grove Collaborative to try to get to my $10 to get free shipping, but this will become my new toothbrush of choice. I can do something good for me and good for the planet, not a bad way to start a Wednesday!

 

RECYCLE

Without exception, recycling is the top action society can do to simultaneously improve: the environment, the economy, sustainable manufacturing and to prevent waste from going into oceans.

Good morning, today is trash day, the reason The Maker family is so excited about trash day is because for two weeks in a row, we have filled our recycling bin and used less than 2 bags of regular trash!! For a family of 4, that’s pretty great.

So how did this start?

Mrs. Maker was going through the bills and looking for ways to cut cost and save money. We were paying $6 a quarter for our recycling trash can, which up until recent was used for boxes from Amazon and maybe something that could be recycled but was too big for the other trash can. We were not good at making any sort of effort to recycle. We were paying for something that we weren’t using, and we were wasting so many things. This goes against everything we have been trying to do over the past few years.

You may have noticed, we like a challenge in our house.  The great thing about our local trash service is that they show you right on the can what you can recycle and how to recycle it. Things like removing the lids on plastic bottles or breaking down boxes. Our city offers free recycling bins but they are small and do not have a lid, so we opted to pay $2/month for what we have. Check out your own  cities recycling bin options if you aren’t already aware.

The first few days, I wore rubber gloves and dug through the bag each night to pull out anything overlooked that could go into the green bin. We talked as a family about things that can be recycled. For instance, you can recycle a pizza box, but not the greasy cardboard circle inside of it or Kcup recycling which we found out a lot of information about.  Everyone in our house was on board.

If you need to know exactly how this impacts our world here are some facts for you: *Facts are from conserve energy future.com 

  • Most people produce 4.4 pounds of trash per day that results in about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.
  • Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
  • Recycling an aluminium can help to save a great deal of energy, in fact, enough to run your home television for about three hours!
  •  Aluminium cans can actually be recycled and put back onto the shelf at your local grocery store in just about 2 months.

Well I am happy to say that our household was down to one bag the first week and two bags this past week.  Both weeks our green bin was full to the brim.  Later post will show more about ways to reduce waste or make a greener version of something but for now, where we are and how we live this is a HUGE deal. The Maker family is changed for good.

What can you do in your house to get better or get started on recycling? We would love to hear your stories and insights below.

 

 

Non-Grocery Quarterly Budget

By now, if you are following along, we have only begun to work on the budget, but you should have a basic budget with your income and expenses and you should know what you have left each month. That is where this journey begins. 

From our previous post, you should have everything included in your budget and those non- necessities highlighted.  What does that leave you?  In our budget this month, we have about $670 left over for gasoline, food, and entertainment. Keep in mind that is one income and doesn’t include savings, or extras.   Your number will be more or less depending on your situation. Whatever that number is let’s break down those numbers.

Mr. Maker uses 1 tank of gas per month and on average it is $40 to fill. Mrs. Maker will go through about 2.5 per month and it will cost about $80 to fill 2.5 times. We need to set out $120 in the budget for gasoline.

This leaves us with about $480 for food and household items.  As I mentioned before my grocery budget is $70/week, so this month it will be $280 and I add $20 cushion in there. Leaving $180 for household items and extras.

You might have noticed that my grocery list and menus do not include paper products, cleaners, shampoo and so on…..that is because we order those items quarterly on Subscribe and Save 

To maximize the savings you want to make sure you are ordering 5 items per order to get the 15% savings.  To do this, I stagger our order so that things like dish soap (which comes in a pack of three)  don’t ship every month.

We won’t use all three dish soaps in a month, we use about one per month, so we stagger this out to every three months.

Dog Food is a monthly delivery, same with K-cups. We have toilet paper, kitchen cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and fabric softener all staggered so that there is always 5 items each month, but not so that we are stock piling things.

Including cat litter, cat food, and dog food ($20) we spend about $60/month with Subscribe and Save.

I am sure there is room to improve and if we were being super strict, we could make adjustments here.

I priced shopped, so that you didn’t have to. Using the dish soap from above. Subscribe and Save offered three bottles for $9.41.  Similar stores were $11.37 and $11.67.  The savings on this one product is $2.26. Every item we ordered offered this same type of savings. Assuming 5 items each month with a savings of around $2-$3.  That’s $10-$15 savings.

To sweeten the deal, Mr. Maker has an Amazon Store Card which offers 3% cash back on purchases.

Our Subscribe and Save monthly order of $60 gives us 3% cash back or  $1.80

We save on average $20/month for shopping non- food items this way rather than at the grocery store.  They also offer coupons you can clip on site for your first order. 

Once we get into the specific grocery budget you will see that I do not have any line items for dog food, toilet paper or the like. If you don’t have pets, or your pets aren’t divas like ours you will have room to save here as well.

On our tally of things we USED to waste money on: ADD $240.

I will say, I am not a brand name snob, I am a chemical gluten free product snob. I also won’t switch to generic or no name toilet paper regardless of the savings.

We would love to hear about your tips and tricks for this type of thing. Our household just started using Subscribe and Save, prior to this we bought everything at the grocery weekly or hoarded it if we found a sale that we couldn’t pass up. I can think of better ways to spend my time than shopping for toilet paper 🙂

 

 

 

 

Summer Pops

 

Summer Pops
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Well it's just about the time when the kids are bored of Summer, it's brutally hot outside, and everyone starts to get on each others nerves.  I always find that when that begins, it's best to fill their loud-whiny mouths with HomeSpun Summer Pops. 

Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 strawberry sliced
  • 3-6 blueberries
  • 1 leaf mint
Instructions
  1. Start with these Summer Pop Molds , they make 6. Super easy to use.  Combine ingredients and let freeze for at least 3 hours. * If having trouble removing the plastic casing, run under hot water for a few seconds. 

  2. Combine ingredients and let freeze for at least 3 hours. 

Recipe Notes

If having trouble removing the plastic casing, run under hot water for a few seconds. 

SWAGBUCKS

It’s Friday and you know what that means, we are either making or saving money!!!

This week we are going to build off of the EBates post and show you how to make even more money doing what you already do.

As you will learn later this week, I am a huge promoter of Walmart Grocery Pick Up. 

Walmart grocery pick up is excluded from Ebates, however it is not excluded from swagbucks.

The current promo is 3 swagbucks per $1 spent.  My current Walmart Grocery Pick Up  order is $91  meaning I could get 273 swagbucks for this week.

For the month of July if I spent that amount every week at the grocery store. I would have around 1100 swagbucks.

With the swagbucks, I can redeem for Amazon gift cards. 1,000 swagbucks would get me a $10 gift card.  They also have current promos for Dollar Shave Club 

That’s $120 in Amazon cards a year, just for groceries I was ordering anyway.  That’s two months of Amazon Subscribe and Save.

I really hope this all makes sense for you. Services like this are easy to use and require very little effort to help you live you best HOMESPUN life.

I would love to hear about other services like this that you are using!! Comment below.