Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thinking "GREEN" when preparing lunch snacks saves YOU money!

My kids love snacks in their lunches…sometimes I think they would prefer that their lunches consist of ONLY “snacks”. 

Prepared snacks are convenient, but expensive.  I send a lot of homemade snacks, but sometimes my kids just want to feel like the other kids around them with “individually wrapped snacks”.  (Is there something intrinsically pleasurable about having a “flashy colored wrapped” snack?    Or is it just the desire to feel like everyone else?)  HOW do I accommodate this desire, keep it healthy AND keep it affordable?

My kids like raisins.   
I bought a bag of small raisin filled boxes on a Halloween clearance about 3 years ago.  These boxes do NOT need to be a single use!!  I have my children bring them home.  When I have enough empty ones, I refill them.  They are just as convenient as the prepackaged mini boxes!  It only takes about 10 minutes to refill them all by myself…and 5 minutes or less IF the kids are helping me refill them.

Here are pictures of how simple it can be!
Step 1: Get Out Your Supplies
Step 2: Fill The Boxes
Step 3: Store Then in an EASY convenient container for on-the-go snacking!
Step 4: Make Sure You Have a Place to Keep the "Empty Boxes"so They Don't Get Lost or Broken!
 Happy Stretching Pennies...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Great Price! Out of Stock?? NO PROBLEM!

I was on a church task with a friend, when we drove by a certain grocery store on our way home.  I asked her if she minded my running into to pick up a fabulous sale item, so I didn’t have to turn around later to go back to pick it up.  (It was the last day of the sale.)  She agreed to stop.  When we got to the sale item’s location—there weren’t any left.  My inner voice said, “Darn.  I put off going to the grocery store too long!   My verbal response surprised my friend, “Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to ask for a rain check.”

Apparently, she had never heard of such a thing.  A good sale doesn’t need to pass you by just because they ran out!!  Just go to the cashier and ask for a “rain check”.  They will pull out a copy of the ad and write all the pertinent information on their “rain check slip” in order for you to pick up that sale item at a later date when they have it in stock. 
Typically a rain check is good for 30 days after the day it is issued.  Just don’t lose the paper in the abyss of your car, the stack of papers in your kitchen, leave it in your pocket to be laundered, or watch it fly away in the wind.  (My habit: I put the rain check in my purse with my receipts.  When I got home I take it out and attach it to my fridge, on top of my budget sheet, with a magnet.)

There are a few exceptions to the rule.  Rain checks are not offered on :
1. Case Lot Sales
2. When noted in small print.  (This is more unusual, but it does happen.)

Happy Stretching Pennies…

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

TIME is MONEY: Fast & Inexpensive Fruit Cups!

Now that school is well under way, I hope everyone has settled into a nice routine!  For the most part, we have—though my surprise surgery threw us off for a while.

Do your mornings feel rushed?  Do you find yourself throwing your kid’s lunches together in the morning?  Are you putting the same things in their lunches day-after-day and getting just as bored as they are….or do you find yourself purchasing a variety of “convenience” lunch items at the store (that are vastly more expensive…therefore draining your food budget) ?

Assembling your children’s lunches (or your own) does not need to be such a chore or so expensive if you MASS PRODUCE items!  Think “freezer”!

Premeasured fruit cups at the store are convenient…but oh-so-expensive.  Opening a single can of fruit and dividing into 3 Tupperware containers is less expensive, but occupies more time than the grab-and-go style.  BUTthere is a way to make it MUCH less expensive and just as fast as the grab-and-go style!
TIP: This is a great trick is wonderful if you have picky eaters OR have a child who has allergies!

Here’s HOW:

  1. Purchase LARGE cans of fruit—(think coffee can).   Sometimes pre-diced fruit is available…thus saving you time!  Places like Costco, Sam’s Club, Cash-n-Carry, and restaurant supply stores carry these large cans of fruit.
  2. Pull out your muffin tins and fill them up with your favorite combination of fruit…to the top!
  3. Freeze until FIRM!  (think—one day)
    Please excuse my messy freezer & notice the muffin tin on top freezing for the day....
  4. Fill the bottom of your kitchen sink with approximately one inch of warm water.
  5. Take your muffin tin from the freezer and place in your kitchen sink for approximately 1 minute.
  6. Use a knife and gently remove from the tin.  (If it doesn’t easily move, place muffins tin back in the kitchen sink for another minute and try again.)
  7. Place each frozen cup in its own sandwich fold top baggie.  (They are in their own individual baggie so they won’t stick to one another! )
  8. Place all the bagged up cups inside a gallon Ziploc bag, labeled with the date and contents, and place in your freezer!
  9. For Lunches:  Take a baggie out of the freezer.  Dump the contents into a Tupperware.  Put the lid on and place in your lunchbox.  It will thaw and be ready for consumption at lunch time--just like you took it straight out of the freezer!
    Can you tell I got a new camera?  (I took the other pictures last spring!)
 Happy Pinching Pennies...