Frugal Tips Archives



Cookouts are a wonderful way for family and friends
to get together. We have already used our grill a few
times since the start of Spring!

We recently moved into a new home and will be hosting
a cookout for Memorial Day weekend. In the  past I
have found if I don’t plan ahead, I can really go
overboard and spend a fortune on the supplies needed for
the event.

Here are the steps we are taking to keep the costs low for
our upcoming family cookout.


Make A Plan, Write It Down!

One helpful way to save money on your cookout is to
plan a detailed list of everything! How many guests
will be there? What would you like  to serve?
The items you will need, etc. Compare your list of
needed items with what you already have on hand
and then shop for only what you need. Knowing
what you have on hand will prevent you from buying
too much, and having a list helps you to get everything
you need without having to return to the store and
paying higher prices.

If you aren’t planning a big feast, or maybe it’s more
in your budget to keep it small, then put your focus on
fun and cheap activities that everyone will love!
Your local dollar store will have many fun outside Summer
toys to keep the children entertained. If you don’t have a pool,
you can bring out the sprinkler, water balloons and other
water related toys. The adults may enjoy karaoke, board & card
games or set up a volleyball tent.

The earlier you can plan your event, the more money you can
save at the store. It will give you more sales ads to browse
through, or more time to hold out for an item to go on sale.
Fortunately during the summer months, you will see tons of
the staples you need for your cookout frequently on sale, which
most of the time saves you 50% right from the start! To really
maximize those savings use coupons on top of the sale!
You will see those savings go up to at least 70% off and
sometimes get products for free!
Don’t be afraid to swtich up your menu a little if you see
something else go on sale that will work better as a side or
main dish.

Some Other Tips To Help You Save

It’s  best to comparison shop for all your needs, but if you
are having trouble finding a great deal on paper products,
then it’s best to stick to your local dollar store for those
purchases. Paper plates, napkins, cups etc., especially
those with holiday designs, can take up a big part of your
cookout budget. Shopping at a dollar store can cut that
area of your spending in half.

Another area to cut the price in half is on your bread.
Purchase buns and snack cakes at a local bakery outlet
to save at least 50% than shopping a regular grocery store.

When making burgers, add bread crumbs or dried oats
to your raw meat mixture before making them into patties,
this will thicken the recipe and you will be able to make
more hamburgers for your buck!

While you are on the meat aisle, be on the lookout for
packages with peelies on them where if you buy that meat
product you can save money on charcoal or even get your
barbecue sauce for free.

If you’re planning for a large guest list, perhaps have each
household bring a dish or desert then plan out what each
person is bringing so you can be sure to have just enough
of what you need.

What are your best savings tips for hosting a cookout?

photo credit

Garden fun on a budget


The weather has been very nice lately. I’ve been finding excuses to spend more time outside, and that really has me thinking I would love to finally start that vegetable garden I have always wanted.

Gardening Can Help You Save Money

I don’t have much of a green thumb, but would love to be able to save money on produce by growing some of my favorites! The cost of fruits and vegetables is rising and produce coupons are rare. I am always looking for ways to save money, so a garden seems like a venture I am ready to pursue!

The When, How, What and Where of Gardening

If you’re like me, you may need some help getting started. There are so many questions to ask when it comes to starting a garden. Basically the when, how, what and where of it all!

I’ve been doing lots of research, and some of the ideas I want to try are:

  • Growing herbs indoors
  • Building a raised bed
  • And planting a bean teepee!

I thought I would share with you the info I have found on doing each of these projects!

Growing Herbs Indoors

indoor herb garden


Herb gardens are fairly easy to maintain, which is the main reason this peaked my interest. Buying herbs at the market can really be hard on the grocery budget. You can start by either buying seed packets, or healthy seedlings. Basil, Rosemary, Mint and Oregano are some of the best herbs to grow indoors. It requires a container with good drainage and adequate amount of sunlight where you choose to place your herbs. You can check out a tutorial for building an
indoor herb garden here.

Raised Bed Garden

raised bed garden


I’m really looking into building a raised garden. It seems to fit my gardening style and looks fairly easy for beginners. A raised bed benefits those with small spaces, limited mobility or poor soil with inadequate drainage.

Tips for Building Your Raise Garden Bed:

● Pick your location (make sure it has access to atleast 6 hours of sunlight daily)
● Decide on a height or your box – generally 8 – 12inches and pick your wood, make sure it is a non-rotting wood.
● Build your frame by forming a box with the wood and screwing together.

(You can also choose to purchase the click-together raised bed set from Home Depot for 28.97!)

● Fill your raised bed with bagged topsoil or high-quality potting soil.
● Choose the vegetables, flowers and herbs you would like to plant

Bean Teepee

bean tee pee hd


Children are always excited to dig in the dirt! I think having a garden and including your child in the busy work is a fun idea and great learning experience for them. Depending on the child, they may just want a garden or something special of their own! I began to look for ideas and found this great idea to build a bean teepee!  I think this will be a fun family activity this Spring/Summer!

Home Depot Garden Club has great instructions on How to Build a Bean Teepee. Check it out for a fun sunny day activity with your kids!

If you are looking for ideas to help get you started gardening or outdoor fun, check out the Home Depot Garden Club! It’s free to join and you will have valuable tips and tricks at your fingertips for all your outdoor needs! In fact, all of the ideas I posted above were found online through the Garden Club and you can find more info to the projects I listed above plus many more at their site! PLUS you will
get a special $5 off coupon just for signing up!!

I would love to hear about any outdoor projects you are planning on tackling this Spring!


happy spring

It’s officially Spring!


We’ve began putting away our Winter apparel and bringing out
clothes for the warmer weather. It’s been fun because we found
deals on all the clothing to wear this Spring and Summer during
last Fall’s sale!
We purchased these items at rock bottom prices, and now we
get to enjoy wearing new clothes and didn’t break the

Cleaning bucket

I enjoy this part of the year very much! The weather is nice, the air
is fresh and it just inspires me to deep clean and organize our home
We have the added bonus as to just moved into a new home. It’s time
to really get cleaning and organizing.
It is also the perfect time for us to multi-task and get our
yearly garage sale in order.


If you’re getting ready to start spring cleaning your home, here are a
few tips to help get you started and keep it cheap!


Make a Plan

Start by making a list of the rooms in your home and what you would
like to complete in each room. You also want to have an area beside
each item to list the supplies you will need to complete each project.
After you have made the list, you want to set an overall time frame
for completing your spring cleaning.


Next, spread out the cleaning assignments over each of those days.
When designing this list, be sure to put it in a good order, For example,
clean from top to bottom! You don’t want to back track because you
dusted the ceiling fan after you already vacuumed. Also be realistic
with the time frame of these goals
. You don’t want to put too
much on yourself in just one day. You can get a lot done in just a few
hours a day!


Our cleaning list will take place over a span of 10 days. We have set
up each day to work on different areas of our home, and everyone will
be involved in various cleaning activities.


Have Your Supplies Ready

On your list of assignments, you should have all of the supplies you
are going to need for each project. Make sure that you have plenty
of what you need so that you aren’t having to skip a project or stop
in the middle to run to the store.
You can make your own cleaning products at home. Not only will this
save you money, it is also better for your family’s health and the
environment. The following is a list of cleaners you can make at home!
Source of all: Green Living Ideas (



  • No-Streak Glass Cleaner – For sparkling mirrors and windows,
    combine 1/4 cup undiluted white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 quart warm water. Divide into spray bottles. For a lint-free shine, wipe dry with a sheet of crumpled newspaper or a coffee filter.




  • All Purpose Surface Cleaner - Mix together equal parts white vinegar and salt. Scrub surfaces with a natural cleaning cloth.




  • Furniture Polish - Mix 1 cup lemon juice with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water; lightly apply to furniture using a soft cloth. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then buff.



Get Cleaning

Now that you’re ready to get started, make sure you stick to your list and only
tackle one thing at a time. To make cleaning and organizing easier, each room
that you are working in should always have 3 boxes at reach: one for garbage,
one for storage, and one for stuff you want to sell or giveaway.

I highly recommend that you keep your garage sale in mind while you are
spring cleaning. Take note of clothing that no longer fits and old toys that
never get played with. Even consider pieces of furniture that a room can do without.
Keep a box or tote in each room that is specifically meant for garage sale items.
When they are full, move them all to an area of the garage easy to get to where
you can price them. Not only are you ridding the clutter, you are also getting
that jump-start on your sale, making your life much easier later!


Cross Off That List

Make sure to check off all the jobs you finish. If you’re like me, you love that
feeling of crossing items off a to-do list! It helps to keep you motivated by
reaching little goals so often!


Take A Step Back To Appreciate Your Accomplishments

Before you know it, your entire list will be checked off and your home
will be sparkling clean! Use this time as a clean slate. Make a list of
some extra chores you can do each week to stay on top of to keep your
home looking great. Think back to your spring cleaning list. Were
there areas that took longer to clean or organize than you had planned?
Now is the time to think of ways to keep that area from getting out of
control again.


I would love for you to share your tips on how you keep spring
cleaning simple and budget friendly.



sweet and savvy


It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make Valentine’s day memorable and full of family fun!
Many times planning activities at home, instead of going out can be just as much fun!
I’d like to share with you some of the ways we like to prepare for and enjoy our Valentine’s day.

Make a special breakfast and/or lunches extra lovey!

The kids love pancakes for breakfast, but on Valentines day, we like to make
them extra special! We make heart shaped pancakes and add a little food color to
turn them pink or red. Sometimes we have biscuits for breakfast instead, which can
easily be cut into heart shapes before baking!

It wouldn’t be Valentine’s day without heart shaped sandwiches and a corny little
poem or note in their lunch box! Since Valentine’s Day is on Saturday this year,
a fun picnic on the rug may be just the way to get some extra smiles.
Little changes in routine can make for a special day!


breakfast lunch

Make gifts for teachers or grandparents

One of the easiest and least expensive gift ideas for a child to do on
their own – Coffee Filter Flowers! My daughter brought me one home from school
on Mother’s day when she was in the first grade. She taught me how to make them
and I just love the idea. The kids were so happy to make them and even more excited
to be able to give them to their teachers!

For this craft, you just need the following (we always have these things on hand,
so they are free for us to make whenever we like!)

  • Paper Coffee Filters
  • Crayola Markers – The color is strong and “bleeds” better with this brand
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Paint Brush
  • Water

Coffee Filter flowers




How to make coffee filter flowers:

Step 1 – Use your favorite color markers to draw dots all over a coffee filter.
You will need to do this to at least 3 coffee filters for each flower you want to make.

Step 2 – Dip the paint brush in water and paint over your dots.
You will notice the colors starting to “bleed”.
After you have wet each dot, you will need to let  your coffee filters dry completely.

 Step 3 – When your filters are dry, fold them like you would a paper fan.
Do this to all 3 of your filters.

 Step 4 –  Stack each folded filter on top of each other, but alternate them
by laying one horizontal and one vertical and so on. Next, wrap a pipe cleaner
around the middle of your stack to hold them all in place.The pipe cleaner
becomes the center of your flower as well as your stem.

Step 5 – Fluff out your “Petals” to look like a flower. Then give to someone you love!


Making their own treats to take to class parties

An easy, no bake recipe works best. We like to dip Oreos in melted Vanilla Almond Bark, so for Valentines day, you could add food coloring to the melted mix to match the holiday! (After the Almond Bark is melted, the kids can pretty much make these on their own!) Use Pinterest for inspiration on some great creative snack ideas
for Valentine’s day



Movie, anyone?

If time allows in the evening, popcorn and hot chocolate along with a movie is
a great way to spend time and unwind. What better movie for a Valentines
evening than Lady and the Tramp?

Movie nught


I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into our family’s Valentine’s day
activities and that your day is full of fun as well!

Menu Plan Budget

Planning your meals in advance based on what is on sale each week is a great way to stretch your family’s grocery budget. Knowing what you will cook in advance will ensure you have all the needed ingredients on hand without having to make frequent trips to the store throughout the week and often pay full price!

1. Get started with lists

I make a list of all the meals my family loves to eat.  I also have an area on this list of recipes I would like to try.I like to plan our meals at least 2 weeks in advance, and include meals large enough for leftovers that can be used for lunch the next day.

shopping list

2. Gather your grocery store ads

I start by looking at the sales flyers each week to see which items are free and cheap, with and without coupons. Some of the best deals will be on the front of the ad. Don’t forget to look for BOGO deals as well!

grocery ads

Make a list of any great priced items from each store.  For example, if I find Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts for less than $2/lb, I know that many of our main dishes will include chicken that week. Some weeks, I can find 10lb bag of potatoes for $1.99 or even get dry pasta or rice sides for free using coupons.  After I have created my list of the great sale items, I build my menu around those cheap finds.

I usually try and put my main focus on best prices of meat and produce. I also stock up on the really great deals on non-perishable items such as canned and boxed goods. I buy what we would use for 4-6 weeks of those items, and merge them in with my menu planning.

Consider buying a whole chicken fryer when it is on sale and cooking it in the crockpot.  Depending on the size of your family, you may be able to get 3 meals out of it. We like to do casseroles, soups, tacos, and BBQ sandwiches with them!

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things

Sometimes you may see cuts of meat or ingredients that you aren’t familiar with at an amazing price. When that is the case, I like to use to find new recipes to take advantage of these sales. Supercook helps you come up with recipes based on only the ingredients you have on hand.

4. Plan for the unexpected

It’s a good idea to have a list of meals that are pretty cheap to make without sales and coupons as your fallback. Keep the items on that list in your stockpile.

We always have pasta and sauce in our pantry. It can easily be thrown together for a quick inexpensive meal should one of our other plans fall  through.  You may run across a day that is really hectic, or you forgot to defrost your meat. I love having that quick fallback meal to fix.  It stops that all-too-convenient call to the local pizza delivery place.

5. Make your plan visible

Put your list on the fridge and make a habit to look at it each night. You can prepare in advance which meat to put out to thaw and get a head start on chopping any vegetables.

Following these steps will not only help to cut your grocery budget, but will also help simplify your life when it comes to dinner!

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