Thanks for entering the popcorn contest, the two winners are
M Corder and Patty W.
More contests soon.
Thanks for entering the popcorn contest, the two winners are
M Corder and Patty W.
More contests soon.
I still have boxes of popcorn to give away to two US based readers. The first two people to either leave a comment or e-mail me saying you’d like to try some of the new Popweaver popcorn wins.
It’s always great to hear from people I’ve featured on Budget Smart Girl. Remember Danny Kofke author of Surviving on a Teacher’s Salary? He’s been busy doing yet more interviews and sent these two links to share with you-
And before I forget yet again…in the Back to School article I didn’t give you the link to www.redplum.com. In fact, I checked the site today and found a whole bunch of coupons for items I’ll be buying in the next couple of weeks.
This week on Budget Smart Girl-It’s almost September, there’s an upcoming holiday weekend, lots of people are enjoying the last official week of summer, so I’ll just be posting the newsletter on the site. It has some new features I hope you’ll like.
Have a good week and a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.
Whether you’re looking for food suggestions for your children’s lunchbox, an office worker trying to beat the brown bag blues or someone who just feels like jazzing up a sandwich, I hope this will give you plenty of ideas.
Think Outside the Lunchbox
Think of lunch and what’s the first thing that comes to mind…the sandwich. Not that it isn’t a great choice, but it can get boring if you keep eating the same thing day after day. Who says a sandwich has to made with just regular bread? Just about every sandwich filling goes great in a pita, tortillas, filo pastry. If you really do prefer bread, try this for a little variety and kids love it too. Flatten the bread out with a rolling pin, top it with your favorite sandwich fixings, roll it up. Or try cutting a sandwich with a cookie cutter. Sometimes the same old sandwich doesn’t seem so bad when there’s some variety on how it’s presented. Kids especially love being surprised when they open up their lunchboxes.
Something Just for the Grown Ups
Some older children might like these ideas, but I’m guessing they’ll be more of a hit with the grown up brown bag lunch folks. Add some fresh chopped herbs, or curry powder or even Cajun spices to either the butter or mayonnaise. You can also add the same ingredients to things like chicken, egg or tuna salad. If you’ve never tried chutney, I recommend you keep a jar in your basic pantry supplies. Most supermarkets sell it now and a little goes a long way so it’s not that expensive to add some zing to a meal, especially sandwiches. Try mango with chicken salad and tomato chutney with cheese.
Five Fruits and Veggies A Day
I know it’s sometimes difficult to fit in those five fruits and vegetables a day, but just don’t think dinner, try to add them to the lunchbox. I sometimes add chopped vegetables like red peppers and carrots and mix them into foods like egg or potato salads. It’s a great way to disguise them if you have children who just refuse to eat their veggies.
Leftovers Can Be Lunch Too
Lunch is also the perfect meal to ‘get rid’ of leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. For example, leftover roast chicken can be turned into a sandwich filling. It can be chopped and added to burritos as well as leftover beans and rice. Casseroles can be transported to work or school in a thermos. And any leftover vegetables can be made into a soup that’s always welcome on those chilly fall days that are just around the corner.
The ‘Gourmet’ PB and J
I love PB and J sandwiches. Sometimes I’ll even eat one for breakfast. Kids love them and for grown-ups they can be a comfort food. I’ve seen both PB and J on sale at the supermarket this week. It’s one of the best buys for sandwiches, but you can also turn it into something different. Try using a different jam, like blackberry or peach. Even substitute peanut butter for almond butter. These gourmet butters aren’t as pricey as they used to be and it goes a long way.
I used to buy those individual pots of yogurt and applesauce until I realized how much money I was wasting. Buy some small containers and 32 ounce pots of yogurt or applesauce and fill your own.
JuiceThe same goes for juice. Don’t waste money on individual boxes, buy a large bottle or frozen concentrate and make your own. It’s also a good way to add more water so you cut down on your sugar intake.
Chips and Crackers
Yep, these two, buy a large bag and divide the contents among zip-lock bags.
A Healthy Treat
I kept reading about how good edamames were for you but never thought I’d like them until I sampled some at the store and got hooked. One good place to buy them is Trader Joe’s. They’re ready salted, take a few minutes to cook and they make a great afternoon pick me up or in between meal snack.
Web Sites for More Ideas
Here are some Web sites I found for more lunchbox ideas
www.kraftfoods.com click on ‘your kids’ and be sure to check out their budgetwise link too.
http://www.thatsmyhome.com/lunchbox/index.htm they have plenty of ideas for sandwiches
http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/flavorsoffall/lunch.htm more lunchbox recipes
http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/family/specialfeature/backtoschool_food_sf/ this is one of the best resources for back to school lunches and treats I’ve seen.
Here are some of my favorite healthy snacks. They’re not only great for afterschool treats, but perfect for grown up snacking too.
I used to make these for parties but realized they make perfect snacks too. Make some ahead of time and have them ready in the fridge. You just need tortillas and you can use just about any filling you want. I like homemade flavored cream cheese. Another one of my favorites uses leftover refried beans and shredded cheese…these ones you need to reheat in the microwave. You can also make a sweet sandwich by mixing some honey or confectioner’s sugar with the cream cheese and pair it with chopped fruits like kiwi and strawberries. Even a PB and J can be made into a spiral sandwich. Simply roll and cut into about half inch slices. Two or three make a great in between meal snack.
I know lots of kids hate the idea of eating an apple or an orange, but if you cut them up and mix them with something they do like bananas or strawberries, you won’t hear any complaints. And here’s a mix I often eat with homemade fruit salad
¼ cup cottage cheese
¼ cup yogurt or you can use sour cream
¼ cup drained crushed pineapple
¼ cup shredded coconut, toast it either in the oven or skillet
Place everything in a blender and serve on top of the fruit salad or use as a dip.
Don’t Leave Big Bags of Chips Sitting Around
While I think individual bags of crackers and chips are a waste of money, I do like the serving sizes. Once I get a large bag of chips home, I divide them into smaller servings using zip lock bags and store them in the pantry. They’re perfect for snacking at home and for slipping into lunchboxes or brown bags.
Sometimes I’ll make double the amount when I’m putting together a smoothie and then pour the mixture into Popsicle molds and freeze it.
Bulk Bin Finds
Just today I was at the store and saw that the supermarket had a separate display of things like soy flavored almonds, trail mix etc. It all looked good but some of the containers were $7 or $8. If you’re thinking of making your own trail mix, head to the bulk bin section. Everything’s 25-50% less than you pay in the other sections and you can pick and choose what goes into the mix. You’ll find things like dried mangoes, strawberries, sunflower seeds.
And speaking of trail mixes, some of the best buys I’ve found on ready-made ones have been at Trader Joe’s.
I can always tell when it’s back to school time because packages of string cheese go on sale. It’s a good time to stock up but when the sale ends, wait for blocks of cheese to go on sale and make your own. I find Monterey Jack and mozzarella work the best and they tend to be lower in fat too.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to make my own homemade potato chips using the oven instead of a deep fat flyer but had no success. They usually end up breaking into tiny pieces when I turn them. I’ve given up on potato chips but I’ve had better luck with chips using tortillas or pita bread. I lightly coat them with oil then add either chili powder and cumin or just salt and pepper, cut into wedges and cook in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. Perfect by themselves or with salsa.
Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. However, not all are created equal. The first-ever microwave popcorn made with canola oil is made by Pop Weaver, the world’s 3rd largest producer of popcorn. Most other popcorns are made from palm oil. It’s low cost too at about 21 cents per bag and can be found at most Wal-Mart stores.
Popweaver would like to give away one box of popcorn to two Budget Smart Girl readers. This is for US based readers only and all you need to do is leave a comment telling us about your favorite healthy snack. It could be something you give to your children or something you make for yourself. I’ll pick the two best ones and announce the winner on Monday August 30th. Good luck to everyone.
I subscribe to the newsletter at DailyWorth and saw this in yesterday’s e-mail. I thought I would share with you because I’m sure many of you will want to apply. They gave me permission to post this for you here. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity. And to apply go to www.dailyworth.com You’ll see a link right on the front page. I’d love to see some Budget Smart Girl readers selected for this one. Oh, and I’ll be featuring more about DailyWorth on BSG.
We are looking for women who are willing to:
1. Make a substantive financial change for the better, and…
2. Blog about their experiences here on DailyWorth.
Apply now for consideration. Between three and five candidates will be selected for the fall.
That’s right – we want to pay you
If you have been planning to embark on a major financial change, this could be the moment you’ve been waiting for. We will pay you $50 per post, for up to three posts that chronicle your financial progress in the coming months.
AND we’ll provide a coach who will work with you to answer questions, provide guidance and, of course, the occasional… you know.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to get married and you want to combine your finances with your beloved. Or you’re job hunting and you want to land the best salary possible. How do you go about it?
We provide the advice of a qualified pro who can walk you through the steps; you blog about your experience, in three installments, paying $50 each.
Bring on the ideas
We’re open to almost any goal or project (buying life insurance; starting a 529; saving for a house; starting your business, etc.).
One thing I love browsing is the new Ikea catalog. Best thing is it’s delivered right to my mailbox. It not only gives me decorating ideas but it’s full of great bargains. This year, they’ve even reduced the prices on some old favorites.
I always say it’s a great store to shop when you’re looking for an inexpensive gifts for bridal showers. However, after perusing the latest catalog, I’m thinking it might be the place to head for some early holiday shopping. They have a wok that was $7.99 and it’s now $4.99. You could fill it with some wooden spoons, stir fry spices, even rice and noodles for the perfect Christmas gift on a budget. They also have a whole page of items under $1, toys, candle holders, even vases. Perfect for stocking stuffers.
While we had a few days of cooler temperatures, I decided to make some soup. Not for eating now but freezing and enjoying when the weather turns chilly. And yes, I cheated somewhat, I used the slow cooker to make a large batch of cauliflower cheese soup. This week I’m trying out shrimp and corn chowder. It’s my own recipe and I’ll share it with you in the next newsletter.
This week on Budget Smart Girl-Perfect snacks for after school eating. And, what to pack in those lunch boxes.
Have a good week.
It’s one of your worst nightmares. The freezer’s full and the power goes out…or the freezer quits working. It happened to me about five years ago. I woke up to find the milk at room temperature and ice cream and butter making its way out of containers. If like me you’ve invested money in building a good supply of freezer staples, how do you restock it without putting a dent in your budget?
Here are some the ways I restocked my supply-
It had taken me weeks, maybe months to buy all the food so don’t expect to refill it in one trip to the store.
Coupons are a lifesaver. Check your supply, check online and even go to manufacturer’s sites. And make sure to shop on double coupon day.
Membership Does Pay Off
When the fridge quit working, I had a membership to Costco so I headed there to buy bags of frozen vegetables and fruit. If you don’t have one, ask a friend or family member if you can tag along on their next trip.
I usually look for bargains anyway, but when I was in restocking mode, I visited just about every store to see what was on sale.
Foods for Restocking
I always stock my freezer with foods that are not only low cost but ones I can use to create quick meals. Here are my favorites-
Pizza Dough-sometimes you can find it at the supermarket. If not, ask at your local pizza store. They always seem to have some leftover and often willing to sell it to you. Sometimes at a lower price than a grocery store.
Bread Dough-can also be substituted for a pizza base. You can also make calzone from it.
Ready Made Loaves of Bread-I always stock up when the supermarket is selling it for a dollar a loaf. It comes in handy if you ever forget to buy some and there’s nothing more simple than a sandwich for a quick meal. I also stock up on things like French bread for homemade garlic bread.
Ground Beef/Turkey for hamburgers, meatloaf and yes, another one of my favorites, shepherd’s pie.
Chicken Legs and Thighs-low cost and they cook quicker than a whole chicken.
Pastry-puff, filo, sometimes homemade short crust or I stock up during the holidays. You can make both sweet and savory dishes from any of these pastries.
Mashed Potatoes-quick and great all by itself but also great for things like salmon fishcakes.
Oven Fries-a lifesaver and pair with just about anything, even a simple omelet.
Bacon-another quick sandwich filling or even chopped up and used with mac and cheese or other pasta.
Pasta-I always keep some readymade mac and cheese in the freezer and packages of cheese filled tortellini.
Homemade Soups-yes, you’ve got to put in some work, but combined with a sandwich you’ve got a meal.
Fish Sticks-inexpensive, great by themselves or turned into fish tacos. Check sites like Gorton’s who always seem to have a coupon on their site.
Cheese-cream, sharp cheddar, you name it. Freezing does change the texture but it’s still perfect for shredding or melting.
Burritos-readymade or make your own. I often keep homemade bean and veggie burritos in the freezer for emergency meals.
Ready Made Meals-if you find you have leftovers, say rice, mashed potatoes and there’s not enough for another meal, I sometimes put them on a plate that’s suitable for the freezer and make my own TV dinners. I’ve lost count how many times these have come to the rescue when I’m in a rush to get dinner on the table.
Ice cream and Frozen Yogurt-great by themselves and always seem to be on sale. Combine them with frozen or fresh fruit, even brownies and you’ve got a quick and easy dessert.
Frozen Juice-The frozen juice concentrates always seem to be on sale and when they are I always stock up. You can buy them for $1 or even 50 cents. They also make great toppings for ice cream and homemade frozen treats.
When I start to see signs for back to school sales, I know summer’s end is fast approaching. Here are some tips and links to sites that hopefully can help you stretch your budget. Don’t forget that back to school sales aren’t always about children’s items. This is a great time to pick up things like paper and pens. Perfect if you have a home office or run your own business. And don’t forget you can find bargains on other items like clothes, electronics and yes, food too.
If your child or college bound off spring is in the market for some electronic gadgets check out www.PropertyRoom.com. This is a online police auction site offering a wide variety of laptops, computers, printers, monitors, software, PDAs, copiers, and other electronics.Although the inventory changes weekly, popular brands that are often available include Toshiba, Gateway, HP Compaq, HP Pavilion, Dell, and Sony Vaio. All laptops, as well as other electronics and goods on the PropertyRoom.com site, have been given a thorough cleaning and testing, and have been inspected prior to being put up for auction. The auctions usually start at just one dollar and end at a fraction of what the item would cost to purchase new in the store.
For the College Kids
Check out www.Dormco.com It’s a new online retailer designed exclusively to offerquality, affordable, discounted dormitory room supplies for students.
DormCo.com is a one-stop-shop to get all the essentials and accessories a student needs. Everything on the DormCo.com site is offered at near wholesale pricing and shipping is guaranteed at a flat rate of $2.95 for the entire order. DormCoalso offer weekly deals where specific dorm accessories and necessities are
featured at lower than normal pricing.
Don’t Forget The Codes
Here’s a site that offers codes for more popular back to school items CouponCodes4u.com http://www.couponcodes4u.com/most-popular-discounts.
Designer Clothing For Less
Sometimes you can buy designer clothing on our budget smart girl prices so check out Children’s Orchard www.childrensorchard.com which offers designer names like GAPKIDS, Abercrombie, Tommy Hilfiger Kids separates that cost upwards of $70 at most stores but closer to $12-$15 at Children’s Orchard.
Two Sites Not To Miss
Someone send me links to both these sites,www.shabbyapple.com nice feature here is you can shop by price. And www.campusbokrentals.com, where renting your textbooks instead of buying them can save you a ton of money.
Let’s Not Forget the Food
And here’s something the folks at Smuker’s Uncrustables send me to pass along to you-
As summer slips away and parents are already setting up carpool schedules, buying school supplies, or gearing up for after school sports, Smucker’s Uncrustables is asking parents to share their best on-the-go solution to help other busy parents in exchange for a free box of Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches (4-pack; ARV $3.00).
Parents can log on to www.uncrustables.com to submit their tip and receive a coupon for a free box…and we want to hear all of your savvy readers’ tips. We hope you will encourage them to participate in the Smucker’s Uncrustables Ready To Go! Sandwiches Coupon Offer by submitting their own time-saving solutions for a chance to win a box of Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches.
From August 16th through September 15th, Uncrustables will give away a total of 50,000 sandwiches (12,500 coupons for a free 4-pack box). Smucker’s Uncrustables Sandwiches now offer five flavors and varieties including two options now on Whole Wheat Bread.
Sites Helping Parents Stay on Budget
www.eBillme.com a company that has created the Debt-Free Mall as a resource to help people find deals, save money, and pay debt-free while shopping online. As the end of summer vacation approaches, the Debt-Free Mall has a whole section specifically tailored for back-to-school shoppers (http://www.ebillme.com/shop/gifts/).
And check out http://www.buy.com/loc/backtoschool/68531.html.
Tips and Hints
And here are some tips and hints to help you stretch your back to school dollar.
Remember Lisa Reynolds, RedPlum’s Mom-Saver-in-Chief? Here are some of her back-to-school savvy savings tips:
- Plan Ahead of Time: Meet as a family to make back-to-school lists and match these with coupons and codes, online and offline. Check the websites of your favorite back-to-school stores, since there might be hidden coupons on the site. Lisa advises parents to call stores ahead of time before making the trip, to make sure that they have the specific product you are looking for. This way, you don’t waste gas on a wasted trip!
- Save receipts: If you find a better price on an item later in the summer, it’s likely the retailer will honor the difference of the purchase and sale price if you take the product back with the receipt.
- Stock-up on sale items: Chances are, your student can never have enough pens, pencils and notebooks. When you see any of these items on special, or a savings is featured with your loyalty card and you have a coupon, stock up! (66% of coupon shopper say they are often able to combine coupons with other in-store specials, sales or frequent shopper discounts.)
- Call Manufacturer 800 Numbers: Up to 35 percent of manufacturers only send coupons upon request. These 800 numbers can usually be found on the back to the item.
- Save More, Spend Less: When it comes to family lunches and dinners, you want to provide healthy meals that aren’t extremely costly. Lisa recommends that parents plan family meals using their grocery stores print or online circular. Since grocery is the number one savings category at 89 percent, many savvy cooks (and savers!) create meal plans based on what the stores advertise that week.
www.RetailMeNot.com Back to School Tips
Before you brave the malls, arm yourself with the best coupons, and these savvy strategies to get your kids back to school without breaking the bank.
Ask a Mom—Read up on all the latest special offers, discounts and freebies for back to school by the experts—the mom bloggers. Some of our favorite blogs for back to school saving include Deal Seeking Mom, Common Sense with Money and Bargain Briana.
Look who’s Tweeting—Stay up to the minute on best deals by following your favorite retailers, bloggers and coupon resources, including @retailmenot.
Cost-Compare Online—When buying big ticket back to school items like a new computer, be sure to use a trusted price comparison engine, like BeatMyPrice.com, to make sure you’re getting the lowest price.
Get Money Back—Why not earn while you spend? Sites like Swagbucks.com and eBates.com let you earn cash and rewards when you shop.
Become a Fan—Stores like Target.com send special updates and promotional offers exclusively to their fans on Facebook.com.
Use a Coupon Code—We can’t say it enough—never make a purchase without first checking retailmenot.com for a coupon.
TECH-SAVVY BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING TIPS from wwww.pricegabber.com
Set a price alert. There are websites out there that allow you to set a price alert so you get an email notification when the item drops to the price you’re willing to pay. These alerts are really helpful for big ticket back-to-school items like laptops, printers, and electronics.
Comparison shop for everything on your list. Comparison websites save consumers an average of 20-30% on large ticket items like bicycles and back-to-school sports equipment, as well as lower price point items like backpacks and lunch boxes.
Check prices online from a mobile phone. Several iPhone apps allow shoppers to evaluate products to ensure the sale price is really the best deal. With the PriceGrabber app, you scan the bar code of the item and find the cheapest price on the site.
Find the closest deal. For those last minute items there are iPhone apps out there that not only show you the best deal, but show you the best deal closest to you. You simply scan the item barcode and using GPS the app shows you where you can find that item near you for the best price.
Print out online coupons. You can find so many deals if you just take the time to look. Many retailers will post coupons on their Websites, so visit often and sign up for their email newsletters as well. You can easily end up saving 30 percent on that must have item.
Take advantage of online promotional codes. There are numerous Websites where people post promotional codes directly from the retailer. Do a little detective work and you’re liable to save 15 percent or get free shipping.
Before I forget, I received this last week and thought I’d share it with you.
Looking to explore Thai cuisine in the comfort of your home? We’ve got the perfect solution—make your kitchen a Thai Kitchen with the My Thai Kitchen® House Party!
http://www.houseparty.com/landing_pages/view/thaikitchen to apply to host your own Thai Kitchen House Party.!
On September 25, Thai Kitchen will sponsor 1,000 get-togethers across the United States. Thai Kitchen will supply a party kit, complete with premium ingredients, recipes, decorations, and inspiration—all you have to do is invite a 14 of your closest friends and enjoy the perfect balance of flavor and fun while making your kitchen a Thai Kitchen.
I found this article of interest-
During my two week break from Budget Smart Girl, I finally made some progress on my book, got my office more organized and worked on some new recipes I’ll be sharing with you soon.
So this week on Budget Smart Girl-Back to School Deals and Finds and also what happens when you lose everything in your freezer due to a power outage and what’s the best and cheapest way to restock it?
Have a good week.
There’s no better time to think about an ice cream sundae than right now when the temperature’s soaring. Creating your own sundae can also net you $10,000 in the Sundae Scoop Off Contest at www.breyers.com
I found these interesting articles last week and thought I’d include links before I forgot about them. The first is about expenses we probably don’t need. The second, the more extreme ways to go frugal.
And what dilemmas summer time brings. Lots of inexpensive produce but lack of time to can and make jams…and yes, it’s just too hot to be in the kitchen. Last week I the supermarket was selling green peppers 2 for $1, blueberries, two packages for $3. It was a deal I couldn’t say no to but when I got them home my enthusiasm for making something with them went downhill. My solution, freezing. I divided the blueberries into one cup portions and put into freezer bags. I did the same with the peppers. I chopped them and used one pepper per bag. At least when fall temperatures arrive I’ve got something in reserve.
Budget Smart Girl will return to its regular schedule next week.
Have a good week.