Friday, December 2, 2011

Disneyland MEALS on a Budget

My mom had a “crazy” idea 2 months ago and decided that taking her grandchildren to Disneyland was one of those things on her “bucket list” (that she just needed to do before she died…or wanted to do before she was unable to because of declining health).  So….for Thanksgiving this year, we headed to Disneyland!!!
This was our "most" Disneyland type picture....guess I was having more fun "doing" than hiding behind a camera!
This is NOT our typical type of family vacation.  In fact, it was my children’s AND my husband’s 1st time to Disneyland.  AND....Being a frugal person, I decided to see how cheaply we could do things.

Since our time at Disneyland resembled a family reunion (cousins, aunts/uncles, and grandparents), I suggested we rent a house verses hotel rooms.  Ultimately: it was cheaper, we felt more like a group- yet maintained our privacy, AND we had access to a full kitchen.  (We LOVED that dishwasher!!)  The house we rented was within walking distance to Disneyland—so we avoided the parking fee—yet we were able to enjoy the benefit of riding the parking lot tram.  Thus, saving a small walking distance AND saving a $15 a day parking fee.
Since meals can be one the bigger costs of a Disneyland vacation, we planned on NOT using any restaurants. 

BREAKFAST
  • House Rental:  Each morning for breakfast we woke up to giant muffins from Sam’s, cereal, juice, bagels, and toast.  (We wanted an “eat-and-run” style breakfast so we could pack in as much FUN as possible.)  And since we rented a house, we just rinsed our dished, put them in the dishwasher! 
  • Hotel/Motel:  Had we been in a hotel, we would have hopefully had a continental breakfast, but IF not we would have done the same breakfast but the dishes would have been washed in the sink before we left.
LUNCH
After we finished breakfast, each person packed their snacks and prepared a sandwich for the day. 
·         House Rental:  We just pulled things out of the fridge to prepare sandwiches and then put the supplies back in the fridge.
·         Motel/Hotel:  I would just pull supplies out of our cooler, prepare sandwiches on the typically small, round table and put the supplies back in the cooler with ice from the ice machine as our “fridge” away from home.
Transporting SANDWICHES to Disneyland: 
·         House Rental:  We brought lunch meat style sandwiches in an insulated casserole carrying case (got on sale from World Market) with reusable ice containers, straight from the freezer—keeping things nice and cold.  (No one wants to get food poisoning from meat gone bad—especially on a road trip!!)
·         Motel/Hotel:   I would bring my sandwiches in a small cooler with ice from the ice machine at the hotel.  Sandwiches could be stored in Tupperware or Ziploc baggies.  If you put the ice into a gallon Ziploc bag as well,  there is much less chance of soggy sandwich!!
Transporting SNACKS to Disneyland:  Each person in our group was responsible for filling a small Tupperware of their favorite sacks.  Then each person was responsible for carrying their OWN snacks in their own fanny packs—including my 4 year old!!  (It didn’t feel so heavy to him, because he was transported to rides via stroller…but the fanny pack was still attached to HIS body!)  Everyone liked the convenience of having their snacks within arm’s reach at ALL times, even when we split up to ride different rides for a short time.

DINNER
Since Disneyland is the most “packed” in the afternoon, we liked heading back to our rental for an early dinner before our children got cranky.  (We ate about 4:30-5p.m.)   Before leaving for Disneyland, I had prepared some homemade soups (link to my EASY soup recipes) and froze them. 
I chose several flavors of soups from my freezer to bring with us!  Dinner in a snap!!
We brought the frozen soups from home with us—along with some rolls from the Wonder Thrift Store that we bought right before leaving home.  (link to HOW I buy good bread for less).  In the morning, I removed one of the flavors of soup, defrosted it a bit in the microwave—enough that the contents would slip out- and dumped it into the crock pot we brought from home. 
I turned it on “low” and headed out for our FUN day at Disneyland.  When we returned to our rental home after walking around the park ALL day long, and had a meal waiting for us.  I didn’t have to find the energy to cook, our diet didn’t change, and I didn’t hear my children “whine” about when dinner would be ready.  
·         Rental House:   Again, when we were done eating we had the glorious luxury of rinsing our dishes off, putting them in the dishwasher and we were READY for some more fun at Disneyland.
·         Hotel/Motel:  Using a crock pot at a motel/hotel is just as easy.  Just bring your crock pot from home (or pick one up at a thrift store) and plug it in next to the sink area!!  It works like a charm and we’ve never had any complaints!
Easier MEAL, but a little more expensive:  Open a can of stew, canned chili, canned baked beans, or other prepared food (at your local freezer OR Costco) to heat all day long, (while you are away having fun), in the crock pot.
STORING YOUR FOOD AT DISNEYLAND
Our 1st day, we rented a locker as a big group.  You have unlimited access to that locker ALL day long.  It was electronic—so our whole group could get in & out of it regardless of our being together or not.  It was a nice way to store everyone’s lunches (ice packs included)…though the locker filled up with everyone’s jackets as they day went on.  However our 2nd day at Disneyland, our group headed out at different times.  We ended up keeping our insulted casserole carrying case filled with our sandwiches in the bottom of our stroller and it worked out just as smoothly for lunch without the locker.
DRINKS
We brought ONE water bottle per person and labeled them with a sharpie.  During the day, we drank water (refilling them as necessary)—but at lunch time everyone wanted juice.  We didn’t want to purchase anything, nor did we want to bring additional things creating a lot of bulk to keep track of.  Sooooo....
I had previously bought “single serving” ON-THE-GO flavor packets at the dollar store. 
We enjoyed lemonade, cool raspberry, and Hawaiian Punch.
ENTERTAINMENT (shopping)
There are SO many stores inside Disneyland just waiting to empty your pockets.  My children really wanted little plastic guns that resembled a pirate gun until they heard the price: $8.49 for a SMALL one!  They dropped their pleadings when they heard the price.  They didn’t want to spend their hard earned money on that!  But their urge to “buy” was not satisfied until the penny arcade.   If going shopping is just “calling your children’s name”… Promise them you will take them to the Penny arcade on Main Street, where they can watch old time movies for a penny.   (It was next to the candy factory).  Just dropping that coin into the machine and pressing their faces into the view finder helped to alleviate that urge to just buy “something”.
Our total spent:
  • Restaurants: $0
  • Snacks: $0
  • Entertainment/Shopping: $0.06
  • Food: Nothing more than if I had been a home anyway....everything came out of my fridge, freezer or pantry!!
Other Tips I would share:
  • Use those FastPasses to your advantage.  Whenever you have the chance to get one....do it!  Work the other rides around the FastPasses!
  • Go back to your rooms or house during the middle of the day when the park is at its fullest for a rest, swim, or a snack!
  • Get FastPasses to Star Tours early...in fact get one 1st...and then ride while you wait for the fastpass to become good.  There are 54 short interactive movie clips....you could never see them all in one day!
  • A small vile of bubbles from the dollar store is a wonderful tool when waiting in line.
  • Bring a sharpie....its not just for those water bottles.  You can write your cell phone number on your children's arms!
  • A highlighter---highlight either the bathrooms...or all the rides that are a "must" for your children on the map you get when you enter the park!
  • For MORE ideas and advice than you can imagine...but an amazing resource, check out "The Unoffical Guide to Disneyland" from your local library!
Happy Stretching Pennies...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Programable Thermostat: the convenience of warm WITHOUT the sacrifice!

A programmable thermostat is a fabulous investment!  A basic one costs about $30, but you can easily save that in one season!
No one likes to wake up to a cold house OR come home to a cold house.  A programmable thermostat allows you to have the temperature set lower while you are away OR under your covers (nice a cozy)!  You can easily program it to warm up the house 30 minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning OR before you return home from work.  This way you maximize your comfort, are doing a great simple thing to save money --ALL while being environmentally friendly!
When we had little babies in the house, I didn’t set the temperatures as low because they would unravel themselves from their blankets and I worried about them getting cold.  (I didn’t want to put a huge comforter in their crib that could smother them either.)  HOWEVER, now that my children are not babies anymore, we have invested in some really warm comforters from IKEA.  Because they are so PLUSH and WARM (rated 4-5), our “program” is set to decrease to 60˚F at 11p.m.  Please remember the program doesn’t function on an instant drop (like opening the refrigerator) …it just means the furnace doesn’t kick on again until it reaches that temperature.  SOOOO…it takes a while for it to get there.  The thermostat’s program kicks back up to warmer temperatures 20 minutes before my husband’s alarm clock goes off, (which is 45 minutes before our children get up.)  In all honesty—NOT ONE PERSON in our house has noticed the change.  The house is warm when all of us hop into bed, and warm when we all get up in the morning.  Stretching pennies couldn’t be easier!!  Convenience of warm WITHOUT the sacrifice!

Since I am a stay-at-home mother, we generally only have the daytime temperatures set lower when we are on vacation OR are going to be away for the day.  If your schedule has you away from your home  during the day, consider programming your thermostat to lower temperatures during your absence.  The only thing you will notice is more money in your pockets!! 

NOTE:  Even if you are a stay-at-home mom OR work from home…. IF you have a schedule that has you being gone on certain days or at regular times, make sure you program that in.  Every person can benefit from this trick!

Happy Stretching Pennies….

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Splurging the frugal way...

Everyone has their “favorite stores”…the places they go regularly (or wish they could go to regularly) to shop or eat.   It’s smart to look for coupons for these places.   My “preferred stores” are: Office Depot, Charley’s, Kiddie Kandids, Dairy Queen, JoAnn’s, Pier 1, Michael’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Papa Murphy’s, El Pollo Loco, Mom’s & Pop’s, etc . 

I do NOT go to these places all the time.  I am NOT a shopper by nature, nor do I go out to eat often…  BUT when I do, I like to have a coupon on hand for my favorite places so that I don’t have to spend as much.  It makes me feel just a little better about my splurge.
Each person’s “system” for keeping track of these “preferred place” coupons may be different, but mine is coupon board- (NOT used for coupons for the grocery store…JUST my “preferred stores”).   It is a frame with the matte and glass removed.  My husband cut some sheet metal down to the right size and I inserted it inside and it has been the perfect attractive way to store them!  Just a few strong magnets from JoAnn’s (at 40% off), with a few embellishments from some pictures, glue and clear glass stones and it is great attractive way to display pictures of my family while storing coupons for future FUN things. 
(Ok. Some of the magnets have picture embellishments. Some are just magnets that I haven’t gotten around to making yet.)
Just remember that
just because you have the coupon
does NOT mean you have to use it
that would defeat your FRUGAL lifestyle!
Happy Stretching Pennies…

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Autumn Soups are simple and inexpensive!


I love autumn!  I love the colors.  I love the holidays.  I love the harvest.  AND I love the FOOD!
 
As life speeds up with the kids in school and activities, the weather starts to get colder.  Homemade SOUPS can be "finance friendly" AND "time friendly" as you save for Christmas (or just plain penny pinch).
The crock pot becomes my BEST FRIEND in the autumn and into winter.  Homemade soups are a snap to throw together in the morning as you throw a little of this and that into the crock pot.  And who doesn’t want to come home to a great smelling aroma of homade soup with very little effort and very little expense?!?
My best time-saver tip: When you make a crock pot soup….make a BIG one that is more than double batch.  Freeze the unused portion.  This way on a REALLY busy morning you can take that container straight out of the freezer and microwave for about 1 minute to loosen the contents and dump the whole thing into the crock pot..and run off on your busy day!  (Enjoy coming home to that wafting aroma of homemade soup with NO effort!!)

Lifestyle tip: If you want to make these soups even LESS expensive to make, consider hydrating your own beans instead of using a can!  (I will do a post on this later.)
Here are of our favorite soups that our family really enjoys:
Cowboy Soup 
2 c. cooked black beans (or 2 cans drained beans)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (4oz.) green chilis
3/4 c. cooked ground beef
3c. water 
1 c. frozen corn
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. cumin
½ tsp. hot pepper sauce
   
1.     Mix all ingredients in crock pot. 
2.     Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.
 
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 cans (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (4.5 oz.) diced green chilies
2 cans (14.5oz.) chicken broth
1 can corn, drained
2 c. Refried beans
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
Corn chips
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1.   Combine everything BUT the cheese and chips in a crock pot. 
2.  Serve...and top with Corn chips and cheese.
   
Taco Soup
1 lb. cooked Ground beef
1 pkg. Taco seasoning
2 c. variety beans (or 2 cans drained beans) example: Garbanzo, black, kidney, pinto
1 c. Mild salsa
Corn (frozen)
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 oz. Diced chilies
Olives (optional)    
1.       Throw everything in the crock pot in the morning.
2.       Serve with crackers or tortillas.
 
Hearty Black Bean Soup 
1 c. salsa
2 cans (15 ½ oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. chicken broth (or substitute with chicken bouillon)
1 tsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream (optional)
 
1.     Put everything but the sour cream, lime juice and cilantro into the crock pot in the morning.
2.   In the evening ladle ¼ of it into a food processor (or blender) and puree it.
4.     Return puree to the soup.  Stir in lime juice and chopped cilantro. 
5.     Serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired.
 
South of the Border Chili…Pronto  (a little spicier than mild) 
1 lb. cooked Ground beef
16 oz. Mild salsa
1 can beans
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce
2 tsp. Mexican seasoning    
Toppings:  Crushed tortilla chips, green onions, shredded cheese, sour cream
1.       Throw all ingredients into crock pot in the morning, except toppings.
 
2.       Prepare toppings.  Serve.
 
Chili (Lion House Original) 
1 c. chopped onion 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. water
½ c. diced green pepper
2 cans (14 ½ oz.) chopped stewed tomatoes (undrained)
1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp. Cumin
Sour cream
Note: If desired, add cooked ground beef!
  1. Throw all into crock pot on low in the morning.
  2. Top with sour cream.
(Stovetop: bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 min. to blend flavors and thicken chili.)

Happy Pinching Pennies..

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jack-O-Lanterns with a bigger purpose....FOOD!

Happy Halloween!!
Our family has an annual tradition of carving a pumpkin every Halloween.  Yet, every year I battle with the idea of “wasting” money when I could be using that pumpkin for some yummy food!!   

So…if you struggle with that “waste not, want not” feeling, consider harvesting the seeds from the pumpkin for snacks!! 

Instead of putting the pumpkin innards directly into the garbage can, place the seeds & pulp into a bowl.  (Truth be told…I like carving the pumpkin, NOT “gutting” the pumpkin….)  When the “carving” is done, put the seeds in a clean sink full of cold water.  Many will float, while the slimy stuff will sink.  You will still have to dislodge many of them…but in the cold water it is significantly easier.  My children like to be in charge of “fishing” out the seeds and placing them on a cookie sheet.  Let them dry overnight…or for a couple of days if you are too busy.   
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1.       Rinse the seeds to separate them from the stringy pulp. 
2.       Pat dry. 
3.       Toss lightly with olive oil and salt.
4.       Bake at 350 ˚F for 20-25 min. or until slightly puffed and golden.

 Happy Stretching Pennies…AND enjoyable holidays for less!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Dish Cloth is cheaper to use than Paper Towels!

It’s not very often that I use paper towels.  In fact, I think I only use 8-12 rolls a year!

Several years ago, we had a very good babysitter that we hired for the FEW occasions we went OUT for a date.  She was great with the kids, kept the house tidy, and did what I asked her to do.  My only complaint?  She used too many paper towels!!  I was always flabbergasted to see 1/3  - ½  of the roll GONE when I got home all in ONE evening!!  How could anyone use SO many??  After a while, I got in the habit of HIDING my paper towels when she came over.  I couldn’t afford to pay her AND supply the paper towels!!  ( I was secretly hoping she would learn the ease of using a "cloth paper towel”!)

Sooo…what do I use to clean up messes?  Dish cloths. 
I make a habit of changing them daily.  This way they don’t get gross AND I don’t spread germs.  My #1 rule is IF the dish cloth ends up cleaning a small spill on the floor—it IMMEDIATELY goes in the laundry and I get out a new one.  My #2 rule is the dish cloth MUST be rung out AND hung between uses to extend its serviceable NON-stinky life!

So IF you aren’t in the habit of using a reusable cloth for clean ups…give a dish cloth a try today!!
Happy Stretching Pennies….

PS  When I DO buy paper towels, I buy the half-sheet variety so I don't go through as many!

Monday, October 17, 2011

e-Cookbooks for FREE!

I generally like to cook.  I have many cookbooks....yet I continue to look for MORE recipes.  I like to joke that I have "ADHD" when it comes to food.  I DO have a tendency to get bored with doing the same recipe over and over. 

My cookbooks generally reflect WHO I am and the LIFESTYLE I lead.  That means INEXPENSIVE, but YUMMY...and many TIME SAVING yummy home cooked meals.  I usually find one that fits our lifestyle and tastes and get it on a discount at amazon.com. 

My Favorite Cookbooks:
  • Fabulous Freezer Meals by Jenny Stanger
  • I Can't Believe it's Food Storage! by Crystal Godfrey
  • Beyond Oatmeal by Carlene Duda (A breakfast book)
  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home by Jeni Bauer
Recently, I attended an Emergency Preparedness Fair at my church that was open to the public.  I was talking with many of the people about how they prepare and cook their food storage.  I was most intrigued with baking a loaf of bread on the grill.  I have grilled my pizza for years and it is fabulous--and FAST!  The idea of speeding up baking bread sounded to good too be true.  One of the ladies referred me to a website that has FREE cookbooks.  I signed up for their outdoor cooking book.  It was good.  It took a couple of hours for it to "instantly" send it to my inbox.  I don't know if this was because I was having internet problems...or if it was because the file was so large.  Needless to say their website and cookbooks are worth checking out.  (Be prepared...they ARE a business trying to sell you mixes and other baking products.  I have never purchased anything from them.  I have just enjoyed a few of their cookbooks.)

Here is what Prepared Pantry offers:

Free Baking Guides & e-Books

Desserts

Bread

Breakfast

Lunch & Dinner

Holidays & Seasonal

Food Storage & Emergency Preparedness

Happy Stretching Pennies....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cutting down on your electric bill...one kilowatt at a time!

Using nature can sometimes make things cheaper!  Back in the "old days", before dishwashers, the dishes went into a drainer after being washed—where they could be hand dried with a towel OR left to air dry. 

That same concept can be done today with your dishwasher!  The convenience of the dishwasher is almost too good to pass up…but the extra electric usage to DRY the dishes doesn’t have to be used!  When your dishwasher gets to the “dry” cycle, just open up the dishwasher and let them air dry. 
 You’ll be surprised how fast those hot dishes dry in the plain old air—saving you money on your utilities!  Just make sure to shut the system OFF before you close the door, or the dishwasher will start drying again even though your dishes have already been air dried!  (If you have small children, who will not leave the open dishwasher alone, consider doing this “trick” while they are down for a nap OR when in bed.)
Happy Stretching Pennies…
TOO BUSY for that?????  If you aren’t around to pay attention for the “dry time”, consider using the “cool dry” option on your dishwasher where the heater on the bottom doesn’t turn on….though I think it is harder to “air dry” in an area that has no air circulation.  I have used this option many times.  It does work, but have a towel handy when  you put dishes away for those dishes that it doesn’t completely dry!  OR remember that you don't have to put away the dishes as soon as you open the door....consider letting them FINISH drying when you come home.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cheaper Single Serving Oatmeal Packets....

Wandering down the "breakfast isle” at the grocery store reminds me how BUSY people are.  Most everything on that isle is a “grab-and-pour” OR  a “grab-and-go” meal….meaning little preparation and QUICK.  And “quick” or “instant” at the grocery store is usually synonymous with more pricey.  (Yes.  I think that breakfast-from-the-grocery-store could be considered one of the more expensive meals of the day.)

Now, I am a girl who LOVES to sleep in.  I would rather sleep in than wake up early for any reason.  However, I believe my children need a good breakfast for them to do their best work in school. 

Soooo…. Most times I roll out of bed and stagger around fixing them breakfast and packing their lunches.  On my more energetic days my children get pancakes, muffins, waffles OR scrambled eggs.  On my sluggish days, where I just can’t seem to get my brain awake and my body moving, they get oatmeal, leftover rice with cinnamon and sugar, a leftover pancake/waffle from the freezer—prepared “Ego”” style, wheat berries with cinnamon and sugar-prepared on another day and in the fridge, homemade granola—made on another day…..OR as last resort: cereal from a box (which rarely happens!)

Oatmeal is an inexpensive and quick breakfast PACKED with nutrients AND it helps you feel full longer!  It amazes me how companies can take a simply prepared inexpensive food—and make it expensive!!   I love the idea of the single serving oatmeal packets—but NOT at their prices!  About 5 years ago, I stumbled upon an “oatmeal mix” recipe and was surprised by how easy it was to make and have been disgusted with how much oatmeal companies want for their various products ever since!!

What’s in the “base” for each flavor of these packets?  Just dry milk, sugar and quick oats.  Anyone can enjoy the same time efficiency while paying significantly LESS for the same result!!!  The flavor need not be the same all the time either!  There are MANY “instant” flavorings!
How I do it:
This is what it looks like in my pantry...
I labeled an empty #10 can (or coffee style can) and filled it with my dry oatmeal mix base.  On the back, I put the “base recipe” followed by directions of how to cook it and a list of flavor options—so when my tired groggy brain can’t seem to think of any flavor option, it is right in front of me to choose from. 
Here's what I taped to the back of the can (with box tape)...
To make it even more convenient, I leave the needed ¼ c. measuring cup INSIDE the canister, designated just for the oatmeal “packets” to ensure a “quick breakfast”.  (NO searching for one in the drawer OR fishing one out of the dishwasher!)
The ULTIMATE convenience...the measuring cup is already inside!! 
Oatmeal Mix (Base)
4 c. quick oats
2 Tbsp. dry instant milk
2 Tbsp. sugar

Single serving directions: 
  1. Put ¼ c. dry oatmeal mix into a microwaveable bowl. 
  2. Add ½ c. water to bowl. 
  3. Microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds.

Optional flavors:
  • Cinnamon/Sugar with raisins
  • Apples with Cinnamon/Sugar (I use pre-cut dehydrated apples that crumple in.)
  • Diced pears (usually from a can)
  • Diced peaches (usually from a can)
  • Mandarin oranges (from a can)
  • Maple syrup and brown sugar
  • Blueberries (from the freezer...remember last post?  A little goes a LONG way!!)
  • “Chunky Monkey” (mashed ½ of a banana and 1 big squirt of Hershey’s syrup)
Happy Stretching pennies…

P.S.  Please feel free to leave any additional flavor ideas!!  I’m always on the lookout for more ways to expand our options!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The TRUTH about Blueberries....Smaller FEELS like more!!

When I was little, my mom bought Wild Blueberry Muffin Mixes (in a box).  In this box, it contained a tuna sized can filled with LITTLE wild blueberries—that was sufficient for 16-24 muffins.

As a teen, I saw lots of these cute LITTLE blueberries in the wild in Minnesota’s wilderness.  One of my favorite things to do was pick & eat these delectable berries while I was canoeing in the Boundary Waters National Park.  I just knew they were somewhere out there commercially!

When I moved out on my own, I reflected on these muffin mixes--with little wild blueberries….Wondering WHERE I might find the blueberry tin to add to my own muffin batter (therefore making it for cheaper and healthier!)

Years ago, I discovered that our local Natural Health food store, (aka. Trader Joe’s), carried frozen WILD blueberries.  Using my fingers I felt the bag to determine the size of the berry.  It was PERFECT!  Since that day, over 7 years ago, I have been buying these frozen LITTLE organic blueberries for my muffin batter, pancakes, or for a topping.  A little bit goes a LONG way!  It is amazing how much less you need, but feel like you are getting more!   I quickly learned that my bags of frozen blueberries were lasting more than 4 times as long…Therefore saving me money!!
Case Study:  1/4 c. BIG Blueberries VS. 1/4 c. LITTLE Blueberries
This is the 1/4 c. of blueberries dumped out for a TRUE visual comparison....
One of my favorite dishes to put little blueberries on is called Puffy Pancakes.  My children always enjoy eating many of them...and my daughter always appreciates the "fancy" atmosphere it brings.
Puffy Pancakes are one of our favorite breakfasts....and with using the SMALLER blueberries we get to have more individual berries than the big ones!!
Puffy Pancakes
1/2 c. Milk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
Pinch Nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 F
Spray pan with Pam and place on medium heat on stove.
Wisk together milk, flour, sugar eggs, and nutmeg in bowl.
Pour into skiller and cook 1 minute.
Place pan in oven and bake 12-15 minute until puffed and golden.
Serve with powdered sugar and fresh or frozen berries
   
Optional:  Spread  with cream cheese frosting, then berries topped with powdered sugar!!!

Lifestyle Tip: I save the BIG blueberries for things that would be mashed or blended...such as smoothies. 
Happy Stretching pennies!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cheaper replacement of your cell phone...FREE shipping included!

It is amazing how life can get away from me…This month has been CRAZY!  Life sped up after the kids went back to school!!  Yikes!  I became my youngest child’s preschool teacher one day a week, it was my daughter’s birthday, and my child’s baptism to plan, AND of course a baptism to attend with family visiting for the weekend!!   I guess it is no surprise that all I have done is take pictures of the money saving ideas I have done this month, but not written about them yet.  Maybe next month, eh?

So…. Here’s another idea….

If you are one of those people who didn’t opt for the “replacement plan” for your cell phone, chances are at some time you will need to replace your cell phone for one reason or another.  (Such as you went swimming in a lake with it in your pocket, or you dropped it and it broke, or you are just plain sick of the annoying one you have….all reasons WE have replaced our cell phone.)  This can get pricey if you want a “more than basic” phone.  

There are many ways to replace your phone 
  • Once we renewed our contract in order to get a free phone. 
  • Once we went to Wal-Mart and bought a “Go-Phone” and replaced the “Sim card” in the back with OURS (the plan one…instead of the pay per minute one.)
We recently needed a new phone, and started investigating the best price….again.  I have often wondered what happened to the phones people trade in to upgrade.  Well, when visiting AT & T’s website looking for a phone, we found that they sell refurbished phones! 
This is just a few of what they offer....most of them are ONLINE offers ONLY!
One of the models they offered was the same $200 model offered to us when we “renewed” our plan 2 years ago, but being sold for $20.  Any of these refurbished phones would accommodate our “Sim card” (meaning: the chip in the back of the phone that houses our cell phone number, our address book and calling plan).  Basically, it was like getting a new NICE phone for very little.  The phone number, calling plan, and everything else stayed the same….The best part?  FREE shipping too!
Please note...we also were purchasing a GoPhone refill card...the actual phone only cost $19.99!
How we found it:  We have our cell service through AT & T....I clicked on their website, then wireless, then wireless phones, then buy refurbished phones, then clicked on GO-Phones....so then there would only be an upfront cost of the phone...NOT buying/renewing a cell phone plan.
So…if you are in the market for a new cell phone, visit your provider’s website and check out the refurbished phones before purchasing one in the store.  You won’ t have to wait more than a couple of days and your budget doesn’t have to be shot on a replacement phone….you’ll be glad you never added that expensive “replacement plan” in the first place!

Happy Stretching Pennies...