Showing posts with label cheap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheap. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

20 Mother's Day Gift Ideas to Honor Your Mother Without Breaking Your Budget



With Mother's Day around the corner (May 10, 2015) it is time to start figuring out what you are going to do for (or with) your Mom. In John's family we have a tradition of buying his Mom a large beautiful hanging flower basket every year. To save money we start looking for deals a month ahead of time. This year we received a $4 off coupon in the mail for a 14 inch  flower basket from Countyside Greenhouse in Allendale, MI. (Those not from the West Michigan area this greenhouse is massive, reasonably priced and AMAZING!) We easily found a gorgeous hanging basket on sale for $24 and with our $4 coupon we walked away only paying $20. (this will test whether our family actually reads our blog!...but I guess our family already knows we are cheap! hence John's brother mentioning it in his Best Man speech at our wedding! lol).

And last year we bought and used a Groupon for Huizenga Brothers Greenhouse to buy her hanging basket. So anway, the point I am making is you can save money by thinking ahead and looking for deals.

For those that need a little help figuring out what to do for their Mom, here is a list of 20 cheap Mother's Day Gift Ideas.

Cheap Mother's Day Gift Ideas:

1. Make her dinner instead of taking her out to a restaurant
2. Pack a picnic and take her to a beautiful setting such as a park, beach, or a place that is special to her.
3. Take your kids to Goodwill and give each child $5 to find something to buy for her or something to use to make into a gift for her (this could get expensive depending on how many kids you have :p.
4. Surprise her with a stay in movie night with her favorite movie or a movie of her choice (like the movie she has been dying to see but no one will watch it with her) and snacks. You can keep the price down by making your own popcorn and using large bags of candy instead of personal sizes. Make it extra special by drizzling your popcorn with chocolate or peanut butter (I have been meaning to try this).
5. Have your kids write and perform a play.
6. Put together a  youtube video and profess your love on-line or make a digital collage of pictures.
7. Use a Groupon deal to go wine tasting, Paint Nite for two, bowling, boat cruise, etc.
8. Use an on-line deal (such as groupon) to order a canvas print of one of her favorite pictures or a family.
9. Do an act of service, especially one she hates to do or has been nagging you to do, such as cleaning out the garage, washing the dishes, de-clutter and organize your closet, clean the bathrooms, dust, etc.
10. Bake her her favorite dessert and customize it with a message.
11. Buy cheap cement mix and garden stepping stones with kid's hand or feet prints.
12. Have your kids paint rocks to decorate the garden.
13. Wash her car by hand (cheaper than automatic..unless you have a deal) and clean and vacuum the inside.
14. Let her sleep in.
15. Surprise her by showering her with gifts the day before Mother's Day so she caught off guard.
16. Ask her to make a list of 10 or more things that would make her feel loved (back massage, washing the dishes without being asked, love note left in her car, date night, you name it...well she names it! Save the list and do one or more of these things on special days such as Mother's Day, birthday, Christmas, etc. A great book to help you with this is The Five Love Languages. I love this book because it explains the different ways (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch) people express and feel loved. It helps you identify the way she wants to be shown love so you can show your love more effectively. There is even an edition for children so you can learn the best way to show love to your kids.
17.  Have a make up party and let your kids do her make up and take silly pictures afterwards (please note some moms would not find this funny or enjoyable)
18. Set up a hot bath with candles and essential oils and take the kids to the park so she can have a relaxing afternoon or evening.
19. Take her to a movie matinee at a second showing theater for cheap! For those in the Grand Rapids area the Woodland Mall has showings for $5.
and the obvious
20. Make her breakfast in bed (don't do this if she is not a morning person or doesn't usually like to eat breakfast).

The main point is to personalize whatever you do for her so you don't simply spend money on her because that is what is expected. I guess if she really wants a diamond necklace than you  better buy her a diamond necklace. But personally, I would be pissed if John bought me a diamond necklace because it is expensive and I don't really wear jewelry.


For me, the perfect Mother's Day (or any special occasion) would be sleeping in and waking up to a healthy homemade breakfast (like my chocolate waffles with strawberry sauce), not having to do the dishes afterwards, spending time with my family (maybe go for a walk, bike ride, movie, etc) and finally being surprised with my favorite ice cream cake (Peanut Butter Playground) from Cold Stone using the $4 off coupon we got in the mail that I filed away in our coupon folder. So I would cost a whopping $20! But you know what I am doing on  Mother's Day instead...working. But then again my amazing husband usually lets me sleep in and makes me breakfast when I work Sundays so I am one lucky Momma.

Happy Mother's Day!

Coming soon...The best cheap dates without seeming cheap!

Have a great day and thanks for reading. Please make sure if you've been enjoying the blog to put your email in the right column and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zucchini Pancakes

Read the entire post about quick and easy breakfast tips by clicking here.

Yield: 10-12 pancakes
Click here for a printer friendly PDF


2 Tablespoons of flax meal
6 Tablespoons warm water
3 tablespoons applesauce or coconut oil
2 Tablespoons dark brown/light brown or sucanat
¼ cup almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (make sure they are non-GMO)
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ ground or freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Oil for the skillet
Optional (healthy upgrade):
1-2 Tablespoons whole flax seeds


  1. In a small bowl, combine flax meal and water and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, applesauce (or oil), sugar, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Stir in zucchini into large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter.
  5. Fold in flax seeds and walnuts.
  6. Heat skillet over medium heat and grease with coconut oil. Scoop ¼ cup dollops of batter into pan.
  7. Cook until bubbles appear on surface (2-3 minutes), flip and cook for another minute or two. These take longer to cook than normal pancakes because of the moist zucchini and trust me raw zucchini does not taste good!
  8. If making a lot pancakes place cooked pancakes in a pan in the oven at 200F to keep warm.

Other pancake and waffle recipes:

Carrot Cake Waffles

Read the entire post about quick and easy breakfast tips by clicking here.

Carrot Cake Waffles
Author: Willow Bird Baking with modifications from Practically Frugal Family
Yields: about 7 waffles (using 1/2 cup batter for each)


Click here for a printer friendly PDF

We like when our breakfast includes fruit and veggies like these pancakes that have carrot and raisins in them!


Waffle Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½  teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon allspice or pumpkin spice
1 3/4 almond milk (combined with 2 Tablespoons white vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes.
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots
Cooking spray for waffle iron


Maple Nut Cream Cheese Spread Ingredients: (we omit because it is healthier without)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 cup chopped walnuts


Directions:
  1. Mix milk with white vinegar in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, sugar, spices, and baking soda.
  3. Mix together the milk and the egg yolks. Stir in the oil and vanilla. Spray the waffle iron well and preheat it. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients.
  4. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl with a whisk or electric mixer (make sure bowl and mixer are spotlessly clean) until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter. Add carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Stir gently to combine.
  5. Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Spray iron with cooking spray between waffles as needed.
  6. Optional: To make Maple Cream Cheese spread, simply combine nuts, syrup, and cream cheese and mix well. Serve waffles immediately with Maple Cream Cheese spread (which will get lovely and melty), or keep them warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

*** Waffles freeze well so you can make a big batch, allow them to cool, and freeze them for a homemade alternative to preservative-laden commercial frozen waffles.

Other pancake and waffle recipes:


Chocolate Pancakes
Zucchini Pancakes 
Pumpkin Pancakes

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

Author: Modified version of recipe from Cooking for Keeps
Click here for a printer friendly PDF


Ingredients
1 cup quinoa (or 2 ½ to 3 cups leftover cooked quinoa)
1 ½ cup homemade veggie broth or water
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 scallions, chopped and divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (dry will work too)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs, lightly scrambled (still raw), optional
1 cup frozen peas
Optional add ins: mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, and/or corn


Sauce:
3 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
5 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoon sesame oil


Directions”
  1. Rinse quinoa a few times in cold water. (Soaking version, optional: place rinsed quinoa and veggie broth with a Tablespoon of lemon juice in a saucepan and place in oven with oven turned off but oven light turned ON overnight)
  2. Bring quinoa and veggie broth (or water) to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to simmer.
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes or so. Then season with salt and fluff with a fork.
  4. Allow quinoa to cool and store in fridge, preferably overnight (optional but does taste better)
  5. Mix teriyaki, soy sauce, and sesame oil in small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Heat ½ Tablespoon oil olive in large saute pan over high heat. Add onion and carrot (and any add ins or other veggies except peas), cook about 2 minutes.
  7. Add 2 scallions, garlic, and ginger to the pan. Cook another 2 minutes.
  8. Add sauce and mix until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  9. Make a well in the center of the quinoa and pour eggs into the center, scramble and cook.
  10. Add peas and mix the entire pan together and cook everything is heated through.
  11. Add remaining scallion and serve.

Other recipes you may enjoy:

How to make veggie broth from veggie scraps


  1. Take washed trimmed ends or scraps from any vegetable and place in a crock pot. It is best to have enough scraps to fill to the top of the crock pot.
  2. Fill the pot with water until the vegetables are submerged. For increased flavor feel free to add chopped carrots, onion, garlic, celery, and/or fresh parsley. If you choose to add fresh herbs we recommend adding it 10 minutes before you finish cooking.  We have also had good results adding dry herbs such as Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, or oregano. Feel free to add dry herbs at any time during the cooking process. If you use any spicy peppers scraps such as jalapenos make sure to label your broth as spicy so you know before you put it in your recipe.
  3. Cook on low for 8-48 hours. If too much water evaporates just add more water.
  4. Place a small-holed strainer over a large bowl and pour veggie broth into the strainer to remove all of the vegetable debris.
  5. Pour collected broth into containers to store. Veggie broth can either be stored in the refrigerator or freeze. We like to use quart size canning jars but any container will do.
  6. You can make another batch from the same vegetable scraps by placing them back in the crockpot and covering them with water again. Then re-cook them for another 8-48 hours but realize that the broth will be less concentrated and so less flavorful. For the second running I do not add more water as it evaporates so it becomes more concentrated. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
Helpful Hint: Everyday we prepare vegetables we take all of our leftover scraps and trimmed ends and store them in a container in the freezer until we have enough stored up to make a batch of veggie broth.
****Remember when you use this veggie broth in recipes to add more salt because this veggie broth does not contain any salt like the store bought kind.

Yield: Depending on the size of your crockpot but the crock pot we use makes approx 3 quarts of veggie broth per batch for FREE!
Click here for printer friendly PDF

Monday, February 23, 2015

How I saved over $30 in one grocery shopping trip by buying 8 bunches of broccoli (Veggie Broth recipe included)


When I usually pay at least $2.59 for a bunch of organic broccoli you could probably imagine how excited I was to see it on sale for $2.00. If $0.59 off doesn’t sound like a lot of money to you, think about it this way, that is 23% off! So I grabbed 4 bunches thinking we could probably eat one bunch raw, steam two for dinners, and blanch one to freeze. Then I saw asparagus was on sale too for $2/lb and I almost broke out in a happy dance. My husband and I both love asparagus but it usually costs $3-4/lb and even in season this past spring it was still $2/lb. So whenever I see it for $2/lb or less I buy it because it is 33% off. And it was perfect because I have a soup that we love that contains broccoli and asparagus. So I grabbed 6 bunches of asparagus and went back and grabbed 4 more bunches of broccoli. Crazy, I know. So my new plan: one bunch of broccoli raw, two bunches of broccoli steamed for dinner, two bunches of broccoli for soup, three bunches of broccoli for blanching and freezing, two bunches of asparagus for soup, two bunches of asparagus for meals, and two bunches to blanch and freeze.

Savings so far:
8 bunches of broccoli X $0.59 off= $4.72
6 bunches of asparagus (approx 1lb) X $1 off= $6
= $10.72 total savings

0213151039.jpg

Next to make our Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup from Whole Foods Market on-line. (Click here for a PDF version for easy printing). I have to admit that this is not the cheapest soup I know how to make, but we love it and it is super easy to make. To save money we try to make this soup when we find broccoli and asparagus on sale and we use homemade vegetable broth


Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup
By: Whole Foods Market
Serves 8

  • 6 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided Free
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced $1
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces $0.60
  • 1 (1-pound) bunch asparagus, woody stems snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces $2
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets $2
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives $0.10
Heat 1/2 cup broth in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add leek and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add remaining broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in asparagus and broccoli and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside to let cool slightly.

Carefully transfer soup to a blender and purée in batches until smooth. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with chives and serve.

Per Serving:80 calories (0 from fat), 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium,15g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 3g protein

Total cost to make =$5.70

When I make double batches of this soup I store some of it in Pyrex bowls ready to pack in my lunch for work, some in mason jars to freeze, some in small bowls for baby food and I leave the rest in the pot so it is easy to put back on the stove to warm up for lunch or dinner. Since it is a pureed soup it is also easy to put in a thermos and take with me when I am out doing errands, on a road trip, or anytime on the go. A Pyrex set that we use and like can be found here. The best way to get the mason jars is to garage sale or thrift shop them because they last forever, but if you have to buy new we like these.

0213151143.jpg

If you freeze this soup in a 16oz mason jar it is just as convenient to grab one out of the freezer as it is to grab a can of Campbell's chunky soup out the cabinet.
16oz mason jar soup= $1.43
Campbell’s chunky soup= $2
=$0.57 savings per can

Another way I  use this veggie soup is for baby food. When I make this soup with our homemade veggie broth it does not contain salt so the entire soup is veggies and makes for perfect baby food.
After washing and destemming 8 bunches of broccoli and 6 bunches of asparagus you can imagine we had a lot of  “waste” leftover . We compost our food scraps but vegetable scraps we have a greater use for= veggie broth. It is super easy to make your own veggie broth for free! With these vegetable scraps we were able to make 9 quarts of veggie broth for FREE!!!!

Organic veggie broth=$1.83/quart (the best deal I have found at Costco)
9 quarts of free veggie broth X $1.83 per quart = $16.47 savings

0213151122.jpg

How to make veggie broth from veggie scraps

  1. Take washed trimmed ends or scraps from any vegetable and place in a crock pot. It is best to have enough scraps to fill to the top of the crock pot.
  2. Fill the pot with water until the vegetables are submerged. For increased flavor feel free to add chopped carrots, onion, garlic, celery, and/or fresh parsley. If you choose to add fresh herbs we recommend adding it 10 minutes before you finish cooking.  We have also had good results adding dry herbs such as italian seasoning, basil, parsley, or oregano. Feel free to add dry herbs at any time during the cooking process. If you use any spicy peppers scraps such as jalapenos make sure to label your broth as spicy so you know before you put it in your recipe.
  3. Cook on low for 8-48 hours. If too much water evaporates just add more water.
  4. Place a small-holed strainer over a large bowl and pour veggie broth into the strainer to remove all of the vegetable debris.
  5. Pour collected broth into containers to store. Veggie broth can either be stored in the refrigerator or freeze. We like to use quart size canning jars but any container will do.
  6. You can make another batch from the same vegetable scraps by placing them back in the crockpot and covering them with water again. Then re-cook them for another 8-48 hours but realize that the broth will be less concentrated and so less flavorful. For the second running I do not add more water as it evaporates so it becomes more concentrated. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
Helpful Hint: Everyday we prepare vegetables we take all of our leftover scraps and trimmed ends and store them in a container in the freezer until we have enough stored up to make a batch of veggie broth.
****Remember when you use this veggie broth in recipes to add more salt because this veggie broth does not contain any salt like the store bought kind.

Yield: Depending on the size of your crockpot but the crock pot we use makes approx 3 quarts of veggie broth per batch for FREE!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So at the end of the day I saved $10.72 by buying broccoli and asparagus on sale, $4.56 by making soup in mason jars instead of Campbell’s, and $16.47 by making homemade veggie broth.

Total savings = $31.75



Rose

Have a great day and thanks for reading. Please make sure if you've been enjoying the blog to put your email in the right column and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

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