shopping

Creating Budget-Friendly Meal Plans

new_ways_to_save_money_on_groceries

Everybody eats. We all make the decision of what to eat multiple times a day and this simple choice can make or break a budget. Creating a meal-plan is an easy way to cut down your grocery budget. It is also important to know where to shop and what types of food will fit into your budget. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

  • Plan ahead. Create a meal plan using frugal foods as the base for recipes. Eggs, dry pasta, beans, legumes, flour, potatoes, frozen vegetables are fantastic starting points when creating recipes and meal plans.
  •  Build a stocked pantry. If your kitchen is stocked with basic necessities such as soy sauce, hot sauce, spices, olive oil, broth, honey, and basic spices you will be able to build different flavor profiles using the same base ingredients. This will save you money in the long run.
  • Buy meat on sale in bulk. Meat is often the most expensive item in a recipe. To cut cost, plan your recipes based on what meat is on sale this week at your local grocer. Buy a large cut so you can freeze smaller portions for meals later in the month. 
  • Cook from scratch. Learn to make simple sauces, such as pesto, cheese sauce, or a pan sauce, in addition to things like pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, bread, etc. to save a ridiculous amount of money on meals such as pasta, pizza, and breakfast.
  • Don’t try too hard. Some people feel overwhelmed by the idea of meal-planning. While it can be tedious and very detail oriented, it does not have to be. Choose a meal plan that is simple but variable. For example, if you pick a type of food for each day, you can vary the specific flavor profile on a weekly basis. You could designate specific staple dishes: baked potatoes, frittattas, pasta, paninis, pizza, etc., per day a week. So while you are eating pasta once a week, there are a million variations so you won’t get bored.
Advertisements

Save Money with Seasonal Produce

Make sure to fill your cart with seasonal produce on your next trip to the grocery store. Not only will seasonal produce reduce your food budget, it will also taste the absolute best! June, July, and August are bursting at the seams with ripe fruits and vegetables waiting to be used up before the local growing season ends. Here is a list of the produce you want to get your hands on during the summer for some good cheap eats.

Fruits: Apricots, Asian Pears, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Sweet or Sour Cherry varieties, Key Limes, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Strawberries, Sugar Apples, and Watermelon.

Vegetables: Anaheim Chile, Butter Lettuce, Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Summer Squash, Radishes, Sugar Snap Peas, and Zucchini.

Recipes for Summer Produce:

http://skinnyms.com/14-recipes-to-get-the-most-out-of-summer-produce/

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/seasonal/easy-summer-produce-recipes-10000001811604/index.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/the-best-of-summer-produce.html

 

Top 10 Websites for Bargain Lovers

ShopSmart Magazine reported on the top 10 websites to help save consumers money in their April 2014 issue. The following are their picks: 

YIPIT.COM 

Many of us sign up to receive deals from the places we love to shop, resulting in several emails from different retailers crowding our inbox! Yipit.com solves this issue by sending one email a day with deals from ALL the sites you subscribe to, including Groupon and Living Social!

COUPONSFORCHANGE.ORG 

This website partners with Share Our Strength; an organization that fights against childhood hunger. Using 3 coupons from Coupons For Change will result in one free meal for a hungry child through Share Our Strength. Who wouldn’t want to save money and help feed staring children?!

SELLOUT.WOOT.COM

Known as one of the “flash-sale” sites, it has deals on a variety of items ranging from camping equipment to watches and laptop cases. This site is a great place to get deals however they go quickly, so check often!

BAUBLEBAR.COM

Love free shipping and accessorizing your outfits? Then this website has everything you want! A great website for affordable accessories without the hassle of extra shipping costs. (View picture to the right).

AMAZON.COM/COUPONS

You can search through the most popular coupons to see what people are saving money on. When you find a coupon you want to use, simply click on it and it will be subtracted from the total in your checkout! This can be combined with Amazon Prime for free shipping for even more cost savings.

DEALS.EBAY.COM

Deals are posted every day at 8 a.m. Pacific Time from trusted sellers. Ebay also incorporates informational banners to help you sort through newly added items or items that are almost gone.

GILT.COM

Another “flash-sale” site that has up to 60% off of name brand designers as well as a feature to select a city to view deals on activities and food.

PRICEBLINK.COM

This deal finding browser add-on will alert you of competing prices for any item you are shopping for online. It will also give you a reference for the price history of the item. (View picture to the right).

TJMAXX.COM

Looking for designer deals? TJMaxx.com has a “Runway” section to browse through deals on Prada, Gucci, etc. You can also sign up for flash-sale alerts or browse new arrivals in their  “Just In” section.

HARMONDISCOUNT.COM

Great deals on beauty and personal care products. Touting products as much as 20% lower than at retail store such as Walmart. You can find your favorite products by clicking “Shop by Brand.”

Saving Money For The Holidays

It’s the Most…..Expensive Time of the Year!

By Vincent Mortensen

Summer has come and gone.  The heat has transitioned into the cool, crisp weather of autumn.  With the changing weather brings the changing of the seasons and all the fun holiday’s attached to them.  In a three month span, we dress up and get candy, gorge ourselves on delicious foods and top it off with giving and receiving presents.  Even the holiday season can cause stress.  In this sense, it can harm us financially.

Chances are you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for all your closest family and friends.  If you’re not cooking, you’re probably traveling to get to said meal.  With the steady rise of gas prices, long distance car trips or flying can cause a financial squeeze.  This is why we must start saving now instead of later.

Let’s do an example.  A family of four needs to travel to Denver, Colorado from Salt Lake City, Utah to reach grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even booking in September will cost each person on average $200 for round trip.  $800 is considered by many a major purchase and should be saved for.

Now for driving.  Let’s say gas prices are averaged out to $3.70 a gallon throughout the road trip.  Your car receives 25 mph on the highway for the 550 mile trip.  This will round out to about $162.50 round trip.  This is a much better deal but still on the expensive side.  There may be additional costs including hotel as well.

Imagine if you had to travel even further than the next state over.  Things could become even more expensive than $160 to $800.

If you don’t have to travel far for Thanksgiving, enjoy your meal and be merry!  But, if you have to spend a significant amount to see your loved ones, it’s never too early to start saving for your upcoming adventure.  Good luck!

$50 to Brookstone for $21.32!

ZingerRight now on Living Social, you can purchase a $50 voucher to Brookstone for $25, and when you use the promo code “FRIDAY13”, it takes the purchase price down to only $21.75. Don’t forget to go through ebates (see instructions on our website) and get an additional 2% off, making your final price $21.32!

The Aqua Zinger water bottle featured here is on sale at Brookstone 2 for $40. The same water bottle is $28.99 on Amazon. With this voucher, each water bottle is only $10.66 and you would still have an additional $10 to spend!

Fine Print: Promotional value ($50) expires on October 25, 2013 but the paid value ($25) doesn’t expire until September 18, 2018. This certificate is good at all Brookstone locations and online (shipping is free with $99 minimum). Only one voucher per order. No returns for credit. May be applied toward sale items. Not valid for Brookstone gift cards or on past purchases. Voucher is final sale and non-returnable. Merchandise returns for exchange on Brookstone merchandise allowed in accordance with Brookstone Return policy. Balance of voucher may not be paid out in credit or cash. Tax not included.