Tips for Successful Grocery Budgeting

Have you ever gotten to the end of the month and realized that you have spent hundreds of dollars more on food then you thought?

I am passionate about feeding my family well for as little as possible. Today I want to share some tips for managing a food budget.

 

#1 Plan 

The biggest money saver is planning  – plan, plan, plan! Apart from planning none of these tips will take effect.

Without planning you will buy things that you do not need, are more expensive than you realize or you will opt for eating out on a whim again which adds up in light speed.

#2 Evaluate – Take some time to think about what your family eats a lot of.

 Is it cereal, cheese, chips?

Now, take those things and make a plan for how to save on those things.

Is it cereal? Consider making your own granola or opting for a different breakfast choice a few days a week.

Is it cheese? Choose meals that use less cheese. Pound for pound cheese is more expensive than meat.

Is it chips? Only buy chips when they are on sale.

For example, our family eats a lot of yogurt so I make our own and its saves us a lot. Now maybe making your own yogurt sounds overwhelming. That’s ok, you get the idea. However, if you step out and try something new you may find that its not as hard as you think or even that you enjoy doing it.

#3 Make a weekly menu and limit yourself to shopping once a week.

Making a menu does take some time but overall it will save you time when it comes to shopping by eliminating last minute trips to the store and cut down on impulse buying which will save you a lot!

Here are some layouts that I use for my weekly menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 Shop the sales

Does your grocery store have a weekly ad? Check their website or grab their flier. Sit down with it and plan meals for the week that feature the sale items, especially when it comes to meat and cheese!

If something is on sale that you use a lot of, buy a month’s worth.

#5 Designate what you buy extra of and make sure you use it for that purpose.

It’s easy to buy extra corn chips because they are on sale but then eat them just because they are there rather than for a meal. Remember – without sticking to your plan and menu you will spend more.

#6 Plan one meal a week that is meatless.

Pintrest is great for ideas 😉

Our family has a pancake dinner once a week with some eggs on the side for extra protean.

#7 Set spending goals

Keep track of how much you spend and at the end of each week or month; evaluate how you did and see how you could do better or if you are pleased with the results. Then set goals for the coming week/month.

 

I hope these tips are helpful as you seek to be a good steward of the finances God has blessed you with! Remember to enjoy food. It’s a gift from God! Also, have fun! Buy special treats your family enjoys from time to time or try a new recipe that sounds delicious!

 

Happy Shopping

~ Rachel

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Windowsill Green Onions

 

My mom has always been an avid gardener.

I think it was therapy for her to go out into the garden all my herself and putter in the soil.

And she could make pretty much anything grow!

Well….God made it grow of course.

But really, she could take just a snipping of something, plant it and it would not die!

Gardening is something I want to try my hands out more on in the future but for now I am enjoying a couple planters of flowers and indoor green onions!

Often a recipe would call for green onions and I would leave them out because I would only use a few of them and end up throwing out the majority. However, I realized I could just keep them growing and always have them on hand for that occasional recipe or to throw in some eggs or on a salad!

When you buy green onions at your local produce store, they come all intact with their root system!

When you are ready to use them in your cooking just leave about two inches above the roots uncut.

Place a paper towel in the bottom of a clear glass or jar.

Fill jar/glass with a quarter inch of water.

Place in your window.

Watch them grow!

It’s as simple as that!

Change out the paper towel and add fresh water from time to time or when you notice that your jar is drying out.

They keep growing like grass!

Enjoy your own little “garden”!

 

~ Rachel

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Summer Recipes


Summer is finally here! Yay!

For most, if not all of us, summer often brings many gatherings with friends and family, whether they be in the backyard, at the park or playground, in the church basement, or around the dining room table! Whatever the setting, these gatherings usually provide opportunities to make something yummy to eat while we also seek to encourage and edify one another.

Here are some summer recipes that we have found easy to make for a crowd!

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Sub Sandwiches for a Crowd
It can be tedious to make sandwiches for a large group. However, this method is super easy and sure to please on a summer day.

Ingredients:
Loaf of french bread (one loaf makes about 8 sandwiches)
Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
Lunch Meat (ham, turkey or chicken)
Sliced Cheese
Your favorite sandwich toppings

Directions:

Slice the loaf of french bread down the center long ways.

Open and spread Caesar Dressing on both sides.

Layer lunch meat and cheese on the bottom half of the loaf.

Put top of loaf on over the meat and cheese and slice into 8 sandwiches.

Arrange toppings on a plate and let your guests add what they like.

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Ham and Pineapple Kabobs
I add colorful pepper chunks to these fun kabobs to make a bright and appealing appetizer. You can also serve over white rice and make it a meal! Delicious!

I use this recipe from All Recipes.com: Ham and Pineapple Kabobs

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Stromboli
Instead of serving pizza at your next get-together, try making this similar-tasting stromboli that your guests are guaranteed to love!

Here’s the recipe I use: https://laurenslatest.com/how-to-make-stromboli/

 

 

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Pulled Pork with a side of Mac and Cheese
This is a classic combination that never gets old. Try this easy freezer meal recipe for Mac and Cheese that allows you to prep days in advance.

https://www.passionforsavings.com/easy-freezer-mac-cheese-recipe/

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One-Dish Taco Salad 

This is an easy dish to make for potlucks.

Ingredients:
1 pound hamburger, browned and seasoned with taco seasoning
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 8 ounce package shredded cheddar cheese
1 large head of lettuce, finely chopped
1 – 12 ounce package Doritos Nacho Cheese chips (or regular tortilla chips), lightly crushed
8 ounces Greek Goddess salad dressing
8 ounces Coleslaw salad dressing

Directions: 

In a large serving dish, mix all ingredients together and serve immediately.

Note: Do not mix together until immediately before serving. Leftover salad does not keep–the chips and lettuce get very soggy. When taking this dish to a social gathering, I have found it helpful to prepare the ingredients as follows:

Place beans, cheese, and cooled hamburger in a Ziploc bag.
Place diced tomatoes in a separate quart Ziploc bag.
Place lettuce in a Ziploc bag.
Keep chips and dressing separate.

When ready to serve, simply dump all the ingredients together and mix together.

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Fruit Trifle
One of my favorite desserts to make in the summer is a fruit trifle, because you don’t really need any specific flavors or measurements in order for it to taste good. You can literally just use whatever you have on hand and you’ll end up with a light and delicious dessert.

What you will need:
1/2 cake, baked
I box instant pudding, prepared
3 c. fresh fruit, chopped or whole
1 container whipped topping

Instructions:
Cube the cake and layer the bottom of a bowl with it.

Add a layer of pudding and fruit, followed by a layer of whipped topping.

Repeat process over and over until your bowl is completely full. (Trust me, you’ll want the bowl full because this is one dessert that disappears quickly!)

Garnish with fresh fruit.

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What is your favorite dish to bring to a summer evening get-together? 

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DIY Short Sleeves

Sometimes I come up with a made-up DIY project (or even try a DIY project that someone else has done) and it is a total flop.

Other times, however, I come up with a project and it actually turns out! Yay!

These DIY short sleeves was one of those those projects that actually turned out. Even better, it was a simple, quick project that filled a need.

Back when I was pregnant with Talitha, I went shopping for maternity clothes and found a nice t-shirt for a couple bucks. I liked the color and style. However, it had long sleeves, and considering that I was going to need to wear it during the height of summer, that was a major problem!

However, deciding that it shouldn’t be too hard to make it into a short-sleeved shirt, I went ahead and bought the shirt.

In working to figure out how to turn my long-sleeved shirt into a short-sleeved shirt, I found another t-shirt that had sleeves that were simply cut off, folded up, and tacked into place with a few simple stitches. It looked simple enough!

So here’s what I did:

Step 1: I laid my short-sleeved shirt on top of the long-sleeved shirt to get an idea of where to cut the sleeves and the angle to cut them.

After measuring the rough length of the short sleeve and accounting for a couple extra inches to make the fold, I cut off the sleeves.

Cut off sleeve

Step 2: I folded the edge over twice and ironed it to make a nice sharp crease.

Again, no precise measuring or pinning–the ironing holds it in place just fine.

Fold over twice and iron

Step 3: After ironing the fold, all that was left to do was make a few stitches in four different spots: one at the top of the sleeve, one at the bottom of the sleeve, and then one on each side, halfway in between the top and bottom. These stitches took a total of about five minutes to complete. If you look closely, you can see two of the little tack-stitches.

Final product with original model shirt

I repeated these steps for sleeve #2. When it was all said and done, the whole project took all of about fifteen minutes total (including the cutting and ironing)!

Anyway, this particular DIY project turned out great–I ended up wearing this shirt a lot that summer I was pregnant! I will definitely be keeping this idea in mind for the next time I need to make short sleeves out of a long-sleeved t-shirt. (And yes, in case you were wondering, this little project can be done with any t-shirt, not just maternity shirts!)

~Angie

(This post was originally posted on Angie’s personal blog, In the Meantime.)

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Practical Tips For Hospitality

Continuing in our theme of Hospitality we have compiled some practical tips that we utilize as we welcome guests into our homes. We hope you can find these ideas helpful as you extend Christ’s love via hospitality and find great joy in doing so!

Making Prep Easy

  • When you prepare your own supper just double it. Freeze the second meal for company or use to drop off with someone who is having a hard week.
  • Get kids involved – let them sweep, set the table, etc.
  • Spend a rainy day baking with your kids. Stock up on brownies, cookies, bars, etc. and then pop them in your freezer for a night when you want to have someone over for coffee and dessert.
  • Have a consistently free evening every week? Use this evening as a natural, built-in block of time to have people over so you don’t even have to think it through each week. Or perhaps, your husband is always gone a certain evening of the week or month. Use this evening as an opportunity to reach out to single girls or women.
  • While it isn’t fancy, using paper plates, cups, and silverware is helpful, especially if there is a large group.
  • Let guests help with clean up if they offer.

Making Food Easy

  • Hospitality is more about the fellowship than the food, so find a meal (or a couple different meals) that is easy to prepare, as well as one that is well-liked by most people, and just always make that meal for company. Then, when you have company, you don’t have to stress about what to make–you already know!
  • Find a meal that allows you to always have the ingredients on hand in the pantry (such as chili or spaghetti) so that you can easily be prepared for any last-minute company.
  • Have a pancake dinner.
  • Taco Bar or Potato Bar are great crowd pleasers- most of the topping for these meals can be chopped or prepared ahead of time and pulled out of the fridge just before serving.
  • For a larger group on a Sunday afternoon do basic foods like ham, potatoes, green beans, rolls, etc. so that there isn’t much prep involved. Stick the items in the crockpot/oven and avoid the extra work of assembling something like a casserole. Use the saved time to clean up the house! 
  • Accept peoples offer to bring something and let them help in the kitchen. (Have them bring something that isn’t it a big deal if it’s forgotten like chips or a cold veggie.)
  • Do evening get-togethers for just dessert and hot drinks or cheese/crackers/fruit, etc., and avoid the extra work of a full meal.
  • Buy pizza!
  • Have a family over and just eat watermelon in the backyard on a warm summer evening for a really simple treat!
  • If a mom is over in the morning for a playdate make smoothies for an easy/refreshing drink for everyone!

Making Conversation Easy-

  • Have some starter questions thought out ahead of time (I.e. What are your plans for this summer? What is something coming up that you are looking forward to? What do you enjoy most about your job? Etc.)
  • Have a game sitting out as an option for something to do.
  • Have some new library books picked out that your kids and their friends haven’t seen before or plan some activities that will help keep them busy and allow for meaningful conversations among the adults.
  • Host a cookout. Kids are often happiest when outside with room to run and parents aren’t as stressed about keeping their kids from getting too loud or messy.
  • See if your guests would enjoy going for a walk. This allows them to feel comfortable with silence in between conversations.                                                                                                                                                                    Hospitality may feel very overwhelming but we hope that you will step out in faith and start right where you are, with whatever resources you have, and experience the blessing of serving others in your home! 
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