Meal Plan Monday - My new KISS summer menu



Three words that describe my summer menu plan this summer are simple, simple, simple. I'm calling it my Keep It Super Simple Summer Menu which will feature lots of quick, easy and (mostly) healthy summer meals.

Here's this week's KISS menu:

Breakfast

Cereal
Smoothies
Breakfast Sandwiches
Breakfast Banana Pops
Homemade Instant Oatmeal with blueberries


Lunch

English Muffin Pizzas, carrot sticks, applesauce
Italian Sandwiches, grapes
Mediterranean Pasta Caesar Toss, apple slices
Mac & Cheese, peas
Mini Corn Dog Muffins, carrot sticks
Toasted Cheese Sandwiches, apple slices
Dinner Leftovers


Dinner

Chicken Taco and Rice Skillet
Low Fat Mushroom Fettucine Alfredo
Creamy Rigatoni with Homemade Turkey Sausage and red peppers
Cranberry Chicken Salad Wraps, watermelon
One Skillet Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls, green beans
BBQ Chicken Foil Pack
Leftover Night



What are some of your favorite summer meals?


Get other meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Simply Saving Saturday: A Trip To Boston


My husband has vacation this week and we took our first family trip to Boston! When my husband first mentioned the idea, my first concern was with the cost. I could think of many other practical things that we could spend that money on. As our children get older, I am realizing that our summers as a family are growing shorter and I don't want to miss out on special times with them for the sake of practicality.

On the train to Boston

On this trip we opted for convenience instead of frugality and bought a travel package from a travel agent. The package included train tickets (we took the Amtrak from Portland, ME), tickets to the places we wanted to visit, and vouchers for lunch at Quincy Market (we would have paid about $50 for lunch!). We probably could have gotten the tickets cheaper if we had bought them ourselves, but the convenience of having everything done for us and mailed to us was worth the little bit of extra money that we spent.

There were a few ways that we were able to save on our trip:


  • We paid cash for everything.


  • Our original plan was to spend the night in Boston, but after looking at hotel prices, we decided to drive to Portland the day before, spend the night, take an early train to Boston in the morning and return home that evening. It was a long day, but the hotel in Portland was half the cost of a hotel in Boston and saved us about $100.

  • We left for Portland after lunch, saving us from paying to eat that meal at a restaurant. 

  • We were told that the food on the train was very expensive, so we brought our own snacks and drinks.

at Legoland Discovery Center

  • We walked....a lot. We took the "T" to Somerville and back for our visit to Legoland, but while we were in Boston, we decided to walk. 

I actually wouldn't recommend walking around Boston if you're not familiar with the city. It was very difficult finding our way around, and we weren't able to see much of the area because we were so busy trying to find where we needed to be. At the end of a very long day, we found ourselves on the opposite side of the city from the train station where we needed to catch our train back to Portland.

One sweet lady must have seen our dazed, confused faces and tired children and took pity on us. After giving us directions back to North Station, she told us we could follow her, but she had to catch a train. We soon learned what she meant. What she meant was that she was walking very fast to catch a train and we could try to keep up with her. We did manage to keep her in sight and get to the station on time for our trip back to Portland. Bottom line - spend a little extra and ride the "T" to get around Boston.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and it is a trip we will never forget. In fact, we are hoping to go again someday!

How I Saved This Week - June 18



This week I couldn't resist buying cherries that were on sale for $1.99/lb. This was a treat for us since the regular price here is between $4 and $6 per lb and we are only able to enjoy them once or twice a year when they are on sale.



After searching at Walmart for a reasonably priced Father's Day card for my husband, I gave up and decided to make my own. I just can't bring myself to pay $5 or more for a card. To make the above Father's Day card, I downloaded a free printable, opened it in Open Office to change the size and printed it onto white cardstock that I purchased with a coupon last December. I also used a piece of white cardstock folded in half for the card and blue paper scraps that I have had for many years. The card cost less than $1 to make and I think a handmade card is also much more personal and appreciated.

I had a little extra space at the end of one of my garden rows and decided to try growing beets. I think I'm a little late getting them started since they like cool weather, but they have a short growing time so I'm anxious to find out if we'll have beets in a few months. I also planted the cantaloupe seedlings and watermelon seedlings that I started inside. We used water from our homemade rain barrel to water the garden, but it hasn't been enough to keep up with the watering so we've also had to use the hose to water the garden.

While shopping at Walmart this week, I found little sticker books with stickers on clearance for just $.50 each. They are the perfect size for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. You can see the picture I shared on the Facebook page.

This week on the blog, I shared how I save on one of my favorite products.

I reused a freezer bag and saved a jar that I will use for homemade salsa. I freeze salsa in freezer bags that I lay flat in order to save space in the freezer, but after I thaw a bag of salsa, I like to put it in these jars to keep in the refrigerator.


How did you save this week?


How I save on one of my (not-so-frugal) favorite products



I've written a lot about how I live frugally, but you might be surprised to learn that a few of my favorite products are actually not very frugal.

These Olay cleansing cloths are one of my favorite things. I discovered them about 12 years ago, before my frugal living days, and it is one of the things that I haven't been able to give up. Good 'ole soap and water would probably work just as well, but I love how clean my skin feels after using this product.

The original cost for the cloths are very pricey for my frugal lifestyle. One package contains enough for a little over 2 months and costs $11.97. That's about $71.82 per year!

Six years ago I wrote this post, and realized that with this simple savings trick I could use them much more frugally.



By cutting the cloths into fourths, I can make one package stretch for over 8 months. To make them last for up to a year, I will often skip using them for a day or more when I feel like I can get by without using them.

So what are my savings?

Original cost for one year

$11.97 x 6 = $71.82 per year

Frugal cost for one year

$11.97 x 1 = $11.97 per year

That's a savings of $59.85 per year or 83%!

How I Saved This Week - June 11




This week I made thank you cards for the boys to give with the gift I made for their teachers.

Our older son needed a jar for a school project. I took the label off an old spaghetti jar that I had saved.

Our younger son found directions for making a bouncy ball and asked to make one. I had all the ingredients except glue, which was just $.44 at Walmart. Our experiment turned out to be more like flubber than a bouncy ball, but he had a great time playing with it.

I went to a Women's Ministry event at church this week and a few ladies mentioned that they used Walmart's Savings Catcher program. When the program first came out, I didn't really think that it would save that much money, but one of the ladies said that she saved around $50 last year! I entered my first receipt today and I'm anxious to see how much money I'll save by the end of the year.

I planted another row of carrots in the garden and noticed tiny zucchini, cucumber and green bean plants. We had a very strong thunderstorm with a little bit of hail, but thankfully there wasn't any damage in the garden.

I made banana cake in order to use up some very ripe bananas and I made strawberry rhubarb pie with the rhubarb that was given to us last week. I froze the leftover rhubarb.

English muffins were on sale for $.50/pkg. at the bread store.


How was your week?


Quick & Easy DIY Magnets for Teachers



At the end of every school year I like to give a small gift to the boys' teachers to show my appreciation for all the work they've done during the school year. I like to give a homemade gift that will be useful and I think these magnets will make the perfect gift this year. These magnets are so easy to do and very budget-friendly.

There are just a few supplies that you will need for this project:



Round 1.5" Jot magnets from the Dollar Tree
Mod Podge
Paint Brush
Scrapbook Paper
Scissors (or 1.5" circle punch)

I found the school-themed paper online. Here are the links to the papers that I used:




First, turn the magnets upside-down onto scrapbook paper, trace around the top and cut it out (or use a 1.5 inch circle punch). Using a paintbrush, spread Mod Podge on the face of the magnet and put the paper circle on top of the magnet, making sure it is centered. Hold the paper in place in the center of the magnet for about 15-20 seconds or until it has adhered to the magnet and then gently smooth the paper down from the center of the magnet to the edges so that there aren't any wrinkles.


After the Mod Podge has dried, trim around the edges, if needed. Add one more layer of Mod Podge over the scrapbook layer and around the edges of the magnet.

Let the Mod Podge dry and your project is done! These magnets would make great gifts for many different occasions, or make some for yourself to enjoy!

Meal Plan Monday - June 6





Here's our menu for this week:


Taco Salad

Healthier Beef Stroganoff, Yogurt Biscuits, peas, carrot sticks

Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet, leftover Yogurt Biscuits, corn

Melt in Your Mouth Chicken Thighs, seasoned rice, green beans

One Pot Wonder Chicken Lo Mein

One-Pan Chicken Burrito Bowls

English Muffin Pizzas


Get other meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Have a wonderful week!


How I Saved This Week - June 4




This week I planted cucumbers, zucchini and green beans in the garden. I also planted lettuce in a pallet garden that I made a few weeks ago. It's a little late to plant lettuce here, but I planted romaine lettuce which grows better in warm weather than other lettuce varieties.

My husband planted the tomato seedlings that we purchased in our tomato buckets. He planted nine Early Girl, nine Celebrity and eight cherry tomato seedlings. We are hoping for a good harvest so that we will have lots of salsa and Roasted Tomato Sauce and, of course, lots of fresh tomatoes to eat!

Peaches were on sale this week for $.99/lb. I bought some extras to make peach freezer jam.

My sister-in-law gave us some rhubarb.

I sauteed some chicken that had been in the refrigerator for a few days and used it in the stir fry I made this week.

I realized a few days before a wedding that my older son needed dress shoes. My mom found a pair for just $1.50 at Goodwill. They weren't a perfect fit, but they were in excellent condition and were fine for the few hours that we were at the wedding.

A free can of Fancy Feast cat food that I signed up for about two weeks ago came in the mail this week.

I cut our younger son's hair.


How was your week?