10 Favorite Costco Purchases that Save (or even make) You Money


I already mentioned in a previous blog post that we recently moved across the country. While we wait for our old house to sell we have a pretty strict budget to follow. It’s doable and comfortable but doesn’t leave room for much extra. So, anytime I can shave a few dollars off a necessity like food I get super excited because that leaves a few extra dollars to spend on something else…something fun…or save…there’s that too.

During this transition time and hyper budget awareness, my love for costco has grown into a weird obsession. I’m drinking the Costco juice. So, in light of that, I wanted to share my top five favorite and budget friendly Costco purchases that almost every family can use. Wait, did you just say five favorites…but doesn’t your title say 10? Why yes it does. When I first mentioned this idea of doing five to my sister she responded, “Impossible. Make it ten.” So, per my sister, here are my top 10 favorite Costco purchases that help me save money. And, sidenote, I focused in on items I think almost every family buys and include different ways to use them so hopefully this is helpful.

1. The rotisserie chicken. 

This THREE pound, ready-made dinner is such a steal at $4.99 a chicken! That’s $1.66 a pound (of course poundage includes bones). Pair it with some veggies, put it in a soup, salad, or pasta, shred it for tacos or chicken salad. I mean the options on how to use this bird are endless! I can easily get two or three meals for my entire family out of this chicken. Simply add in a side or two and you can make each meal for just a few dollars!


2. Cheese. 

Specifically the Kirkland block cheese. A 2lb block of cheese in my store is currently running roughly between $4 and $6 depending on the type of cheese you want (Colby, sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, etc.). I buy one block of sharp cheddar every week and use it on everything from omelettes, to salads, to sandwiches, to pasta. So versatile and cheap!

HERE’S A TIP: Consider buying the sharp cheddar over other varieties. It takes less sharp cheddar cheese to get that satisfying cheese flavor than, say, a mozzerella or mild cheddar. And using less saves you money and calories in the long run!

3. Bananas.

Costco sells one bunch of bananas for just under $1.40. You get eight bananas in a bunch. That’s roughly 17-18 cents a banana. Enough said.

4. Eggs. 

Eggs are a poorman’s protein gift. Cheap, filling, and, depending on what you think about the yolk, a nutritional bonus. I just bought a 5 dozen box of eggs for just over $4. That’s just under 86 cents a dozen. And I bough them for under $4 last month at about 77 cents a dozen. Use them for a quiche, a banana egg pancake, veggie omelette, to top off a sandwich, in soup, etc. Be creative by making this poor man’s protein the star of your dish. And by buying in bulk I never run out which makes it easy to declare an omelette night whenever we need to cut costs.


5. Chips. 

Tortilla chips are my love language. This crowd pleaser is at Costco. Under $4 for a 3lb bag and they are delicious! It’s super easy to grab this bag of chips and one of costco’s delicious salsa choices for an easy party pleaser. Throw leftover veggies and meat over some chips, top with your Kirkland sharp cheddar cheese, and warm for an easy, clean out the fridge nacho night. The options are endless and so is this giant bag!


6. Organic Spring Mix. 

At under $4 for a lb container, this salad mix is a budget pleaser. Top with veggies and hummus, leftover meat and salsa, berries and feta, hamburger meat and condiments. Seriously, I’ve been eating a salad a day just using leftovers from the night before (I included a few pics of said salads below). This giant tub easily gives me 8 full meal sized salads and I’m avoiding waste by using leftovers to create my salads.



7. Oil. 

Specifically their kirkland brand olive oil. Cold pressed, Italian grown olives, and quality tests have shown it is at the top. It’s delicious and not heat processed…my two requirements. 2 liters will run you about $15 and has lasted me over 6 months now (so prices may have fluctuated since then but I wouldn’t know because I’m STILL using the same bottle). Other honorable mentions include their coconut oil and avocado oil.


8. Gift cards. 

Gifts, occasional eating out treat, date night, whatever. Costco regularly sells their gift cards to places such as restaurants, the movies, amusement parks, etc. for around 20% below their value. We picked up a discounted restaurant gift card and use it once a month or so for a little Saturday treat. Add in restaurant freebie offers (like free apps or dessert or birthday offers) and you are getting a great deal on an occasional treat.

9. Gas. 

See those lines at the Costco gas station and wonder what’s up? Well, in my experience, gas has consistently been about 15-20 cents cheaper a gallon at the costco pump. If you have 2 cars that you fill up weekly then you save roughly $6 a week, $24 a month, or almost $300 a year! Obviously this can vary based on your car and fill up schedule but you get the idea. Combine your already low priced gas with a special cash back of 4% when you use the costco credit card and you’re saving big time! Make your money work for you my friends.

10. Costco’s executive membership.

 Math alert. If you don’t like math then the bottom line is if you spend over $58 a week at costco then you should upgrade to the executive. Now, for the number crunching. You get 2% cash back on most every purchase except gas. This membership upgrade costs more up front ($60 for regular and $120 for executive once prices have gone up). BUT the executive pays for its extra cost over the course of a year IF you spend at least $58 a week over 52 weeks ($251.34 a month and $3016 annually). You can even make back more money than it’s extra $60 cost. For example, assuming you buy about $100 of groceries a week at costco then you’ll get 2% (or $2) back a week for 52 weeks which equals $104 back in a year. Pair that with an additional 2% cash back on almost anything by using the costco credit card and you can easily get $208 cash back a year (and more if you spend over $100 a week)! Plus, costco has a satisfaction guarantee and will refund you your money if you decide the executive just isn’t working for you. Who does that???

HERE’S A TIP: don’t have a Costco membership? You can have a friend who is a member buy you a gift card to Costco. That Costco gift card gets you in without a membership. This is a great way to shop your Costco and get a feel for savings before committing to a membership.

Obviously store prices fluctuate and my prices may be different from yours but I tried to give a general price range to give you a few ideas of how you can be saving and even making money at Costco!

So, my friends, I hope this has been helpful. What are some of your favorite, budget saving purchases from Costco? Are you drinking the Costco juice? Let me know in the comments below. And, as always, please subscribe if you haven’t already for all my latest money saving ideas. And if you’d like to see more posts like this one then give this post a like. Coming up soon on the blog are two budget friendly events complete with menu and DIY decor ideas that I hope will help inspire you for your next event. Until next time, consider sharing this post with a friend.

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FIVE Tips to Maximize Use and Enjoyment of a Small Space


My little family recently moved across the country. In the process we downsized from a four bedroom, over 2000 sq foot home with a nice back and front yard and large garage to a two bedroom, under 1300 sq foot apartment with a small balcony. It’s been a challenge to downsize. Everything we own has to be questioned. Does it have a place? Is it a need? Will it fit? In the process I’ve tried some things that have helped me utilize the stuff I own in the space I have and also to know which things are worth buying for the new space. I want to share FIVE tips for maximizing use and enjoyment of a small space with you today on the blog so let’s get to it.

1. MULTIPURPOSE: can this item serve more than one purpose?

This was especially helpful when thinking through what furniture to bring. Instead of just side tables I wanted our side tables to have other uses. For example, our couch side table is actually a storage ottoman. We store our winter gear in there and you’d never know. Our bedside tables are a bookshelf on my husband’s side and a desk on my side. Multipurpose to the max. You get the idea.



So, what furniture can serve multiple purposes? Any creative ways to rethink your furniture uses?
This works not just with furniture but also with your space. Can this room have multiple purposes? For example, our dining area is also a play area. Our bedroom is also an office. The key is to keep it organized and clutter free so the two purposes don’t overwhelm the room.


2. VERTICAL: how can I store my stuff vertically instead of horizontally?

Vertical storage (think up the walls instead of across the floor) is a great way to maximize storage in a small space. Door hooks (dollar tree!) you can use to hang towels or pool floaties or shopping bags can help free up floor and shelf space. A tall bookcase with storage cubes can help organize everything from toys, to clothes, to craft supplies and takes up very little space. I’m even using an over the toilet organizer in my small laundry room to make a space for cleaning supplies and bulk toilet paper and paper towels.


The following picture is our laundry room that we can close the door to lol. But by using an over the toilet bathroom storage unit I created the perfect shelving system for cleaning supplies, bulk supplies, and hangers/laundry needs. And you can also see the pool toys hanging on the back of the door.


With little ones vertical storage can be a little more challenging but think creatively and question everything. Can this be safely stored vertically?

3. MINIMALISM: is this really necessary?

I found that all the things I couldn’t live without I mostly could live without. It was tough but good. I’m not a person who loves a plain, undecorated space. I need to feel free to create in my space. But I did try to limit it and really give myself pushback on whether it would really add to the decor or just be more clutter. In a small space it can feel cluttered so quickly. So choosing your favorite pieces and being picky is important. Our bathroom is definitely the most minimalistic place in the whole apartment. But it makes it so easy to keep clean and decluttered. Happy momma.


Minimalism applies not only to trinkets and decor, but also to furniture. Bulky pieces aren’t great for small spaces. You know this. So when shopping what you have or what new pieces you want to invest in, look for simple, clean lines. It can really make your living space feel so much more open when you have clean lined furniture and a few select pieces of decor.


What is in your space as decoration that is really just collecting dust and giving you one more thing to clean? What furniture or color scheme just makes the whole room feel dark and cramped? Consider getting rid of it all together or sell it and buy something else that works better.

4. ROUND and/or COMPACTIBLE: does this come in a round shape and/or can it be easily compacted when not in use?

The only furniture we really needed to buy was a bed and a dining table. For the dining table I knew I wanted our dining room to double as a play room so I started looking at round tables with leaves that could fold down. As we all know, a round table (dining, side, or coffee) takes up less space and can visually make the room feel more spacious. Add leaves that fold down and it’s a total small space win. I love that we can fold the leaves down and push the table aside as a two seater for just us or pull it out and put the leaves up for guests. Bonus is it doesn’t feel cramped either way.



What rooms could use a roomier feel? Any way to add circular furniture to replace blockier options? Only using a furniture piece occasionally? Is there a way to buy a compactible version?

5. ORGANIZE: how can I create a space for everything I want to keep?

Lastly, a small space can start to feel so cluttered if you aren’t careful. A few out of place items and then chaos creeps into your environment. Especially if you have small children.

Create spaces that are practical and livable. What I mean by this is let your kids have play areas, just make them easy to clean up. Keep cozy blankets and TV trays accessible, just find a place to easily store them so they aren’t visually cluttering the space. Let your husband have a pile of papers that he just doesn’t want to deal with immediately, but put them in one area. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but organization is the key to thriving in a small space.

To save space by organizing, here are some of my ideas that I used. I store the kids foldable chairs, yoga mat, internet router and modem, and TV trays behind the couch. Behind the couch is often just wasted space. I have bins in a tall bookcase that holds toys, craft supplies, and clothes and turns the dining room into a play room that is easy to clean up. My husband has a basket to throw all those random papers into that he plans to deal with later. When it starts to overflow he knows it’s time to just purge. We have a basket for tv controllers. We store tons of blankets in a basket by the tv making them accessible, I don’t have to fold, and it looks pretty stored away by the fireplace. I could go on and on but you get the idea.




How can you create a space for each item that gives it a home and keeps your small space from feeling cluttered? What items tend to clutter and pile up the most? Start with those!

I hope these tips helped! Let me know what other tips you may have in the comments below. And, as always, if you haven’t already then feel free to subscribe to get updates on all my latest tips and dIY ideas.

If you like this post, then please give it a like so I know to do more like this one. Thanks all! Until next time, consider sharing with a friend.

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Friday Target Cartwheel Roundup

It’s Friday! Let’s celebrate making it through another week with three of my favorite Target cartwheel deals going on this weekend!


1. Perfect Bars are on sale for $1.99 PLUS 30% off using Cartwheel! Dropping the price from $2.50 to $1.39 (that’s lower than Costco prices right there!). Limit 4 bars per transaction and 6 transactions a day. Sooooo, grab 24 bars and use self check out to buy four at a time. What a great chance to try all their flavors!

Just an FYI: These are in the refrigerated section.

2. Siggi’s Yogurt is 20% off. Combine that with an in store sale of $1 a cup AND an Ibotta cash reward of $0.75 when you buy two (limited to one use) and you can score two cups, originally $1.49 each, for less than $0.45 each and the remaining cups for $0.80 each.

Don’t have Ibotta? Use this link to sign up and get a $10 welcome bonus! It’s my referral link so I get a bonus as well. Win. Win. Just download the app, peruse and choose their offers, and snap pics of receipts with purchases of qualifying items. It’s like couponing without the paper and cutting and time and mess and…it’s just way better lol.

3. 30% off TruRoots 2lb bag of organic, gluten free quinoa. Takes the price from $11.99 to $8.39. Not as good a deal as Costco’s $10 bag BUT if you don’t have a Costco membership or there isn’t one nearby then this is a great deal.

And one more deal that deserves honorable mention: 25% off Udi’s English muffins, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and frozen meals. 

And there are tons more! These are just the three that I added to my cartwheel and went straight to target to get. Now to relax with a cup of my Siggi’s and catch up on the bachelorette.

Check out your cartwheel app for all the details and even more great deals to be had. What great deals are you finding this weekend? Let me know in the comments below. 

If you aren’t already, please subscribe and get all my latest projects and deal finds. And if you like posts like this one then please give it a like so I can be sure to make more like this. 

I hope you have an awesome weekend!

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DIY TACO FIESTA…on a budget (including recipes!)


One of my husbands most favorite things on this earth are tacos…specifically my barbacoa tacos. So when his birthday came around it was an easy decision to make tacos for his birthday lunch. The kids and I planned to meet him for lunch at his work with the tacos in tow. He was excited! What he didn’t know was that I had also set up a surprise lunch with some of his friends and co-workers. Surprise!


I made a few decorations throughout the week…hiding them on the porch. It’s been over 100 degrees here so I knew he was not going to be going out on the porch lol. I made some avocado piñatas, a faux chalkboard sign, picked up a few fiesta looking linens from goodwill, and used some old Voss glass water bottles to hold some fresh sunflowers I picked up.

I needed to be able to set up the whole table in a matter of minutes to avoid being caught (which I almost was!). I laid down a white curtain as the table cloth, laid a fiesta looking blanket (goodwill for $4) and hand painted pillow cover in bright fiesta colors (goodwill for $2) over the curtain to give a pop of color, hanged a party sign (“hooray” sign from target for $5) on the front of the table, and then added the table top decor of the faux chalkboard, flowers, and avocado piñatas. Easy. Easy. Easy.

HERE’S A TIP: Cloth linens easily dress up your decor over the cheap, plastic ones but they can cost so much! So look around your house and secondhand and thrift stores. What can you repurpose as a linen from what you already have or for only a few dollars? I’ve used everything from a curtain to a sheet to a blanket to cheap fabric and it makes such a big difference!

The avocados were an easy DIY using two bowls, paper mâché, and streamers and tissue paper. There are plenty of DIY tutorials out there so I won’t waste your time. Rather,  here  is my favorite link. A couple notable differences: Instead of balloons I used two bowls covered by Saran Wrap (since I already had Thor on hand = free), and instead of a brown seed I used gold foil to make the seed similar to the avocado piñata sold by Urban Outfitters here.


The faux chalkboard was a last minute attempt to DIY something that resembled a chalkboard for cheap. My chalkboards are being borrowed right now so I wanted to make due with something I could make fast and cheap. I grabbed black foam board and pom poms from the dollar tree, glue, a gold pen I had on hand, and stencils and got to business. I have to say I was pleased. For $2 I had a pretty good centerpiece that matched so well and made the area so much more fun!


The sunflowers were a bulk purchase from Costco. $10 for 12. They add so much color and height to the table.

HERE’S A TIP: Instantly add a sophisticated touch by using fresh flowers and/or greenery. It doesn’t have to be expensive though. What bushes and trees can you use in your or a friend’s backyard? What plants are on clearance in your local nursery? What bulk flowers are available at a discount cost? I’ve used all of those for different events and loved the results of every one of them.


I wanted some tall, thin vases to keep the height of the flowers and also to be able to hold the heavy stems up. After looking around at what I had, I came across some old glass water bottles I had stored for such a time as this! Perfect and free! I turned them around so the writing faced the back and you’d never know they were old water bottles.


Lastly was the food. I wanted a catered feel to the table so I chose some foil food containers from the dollar tree. We had meat, corn tortillas, rice, beans, chips, taco toppings of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream, and donuts for dessert. Delicious and about $50 to make it for a group of 20 people ($2.50 a person!).


So, I am not a cooking blog but I thought I would quickly share the easy recipes for the food to make this a one-stop shop blog for your future fiesta. It isn’t perfect (I usually eyeball it when I make it) but hopefully it helps! 

Barbacoa: a chuck roast or London broil, box of beef stock, can of chipotle peppers in Adobe sauce, 3 garlic cloves, 1 white onion sliced, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 Tbsp chili powder, 2 Tbsp cumin, salt, pepper. Combine all ingredients except the meat in a slow cooker, add meat, if meat isn’t covered by the sauce then add water until covered, and cook in a slow cooker for 10-12 hours on low or until cooked thoroughly and falling apart. If possible, cook on high for the first 3-4 hrs for the most tender results IMO.

Beans: 4 cans of black beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed in a pan with some of the cooked barbacoa juice and salt.

Rice: basmati rice, box of chicken stock, can of tomato paste, and can of stewed tomatoes. Bring stock to a boil, add in tomato products and a cup of the cooked barbacoa juice, salt, and lastly add the rice. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer 20 mins or whatever time your rice directions say. 

Chop up the toppings. I had pre-made salsa, chips, and corn tortillas for convenience but made my own quick version of guac. For the quick guac, mash 3 avocados and add a few spoonfuls of some pre-made salsa, dash of salt, and Tbsp of mayo (weird but trust me…soooooo creamy!). Mix thoroughly.

That’s it. You’re done! Easy right? What do you think? Any ideas you have for a great fiesta party? Let me know in the comments below. 


And, as always, feel free to subscribe if you haven’t already to get all my latest blog posts. Also, like this post if you want to see more budget friendly party ideas in the future. Until next time…

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Play Kitchen Renovation Of 2017: $4 DIY faux marble backsplash

Toys. Bless them. Colors of the rainbow litter every room. They are taking over our home! 

I don’t know about you but mismatched toys everywhere can make me feel a little chaotic. Add in normal toddler messes that are hard to clean up and my day is gone admits the chaos. I mean, this is just an example of what my toddler can do in about 14 seconds. Tiny. Paper. Everywhere. 


I’m on a mission to organize said toys and random stuff in an effort to calm the chaos a bit and make it easier to clean up at the end of the day. I mean, who wants to watch the bachelorette in the midst of that mess? Not me.

I’m dedicating a play area for the kids in one of the main areas of our home. I mean, I want the kids to be able to play and enjoy our home still. I’m not a total Scrooge. In doing that though I knew I would want to tweak some of the toys blend in more with the decor of the room and keep things feeling even calmer. 


I was so close to be doing done organizing (can you already feel the chaos coming down?) but that play kitchen really needed a facelift.


I scored it for $15 so I wasn’t out much if it didn’t work out. So much to gain and so little to lose. I was off to lowes for what I jokingly dubbed the “play kitchen renovation of 2017.”

Supplies:

1. Spray paint. You’ll want at least two colors. The color you want the kitchen to be and color you want the hardware to be (and any additional colors if you want to do the kitchen in multiple colors). I chose a brighter navy blue for the kitchen and stainless steel for the hardware.


2.  Stick on floor tile (large size) for the backsplash. I only needed one for this project but you may need more depending on size. I used Item A3263 to get a marble look. There’s so much variety and it was less than $3! It would have cost me quadruple that for the premade stick on backsplashes!

3. Painter’s tape and scrap paper/bags

4. Super glue

5. Sharp scissors

Steps:

1. Prep for painting. Scrub your kitchen down and remove and/or tape off the sections you don’t want painted.

Our knobs were removable so I took those off to paint separately with the stainless steel paint and then used scrap paper, plastic bags, and painters tape to cover the remaining areas of the kitchen I didn’t want painted.


2. Paint your kitchen. Self explanatory. Follow use, dry times, and safety precautions on your spray paint can.

3. Backsplash. Cut your floor tile into subway tiles (or your preferred tile style). My subway tiles were 3″ tall and 6″ wide. I traced them out on the paper back and then cut. Once I had my main tiles done, I practiced placing them where I wanted before removing the paper backing and sticking them more permanently. This let me see what space was left and cut some special sizes to fit in the leftover spaces (just like you would when tiling a real backsplash). You can see the special, shorter pieces I needed on the ends.


TIP: to figure out the easiest and best size tile for your kitchen measure the width and height of the black splash area. I didn’t want to cut a ton of special sizes so I just evenly divided the 9″ tall backsplash area by 3 (because I wanted three even rows so if yours is taller or shorter you may want to divide by less or more than 3) which got me 3 rows of 3″ tall tiles. I just doubled the 3″ to get my width and keep it simple. 

Practice placing the tiles before removing the backing. Once you have all your tile pieces cut out and you’re pleased with their practice placement, remove the backing, add super glue around the edges (for extra hold), and place your tiles permanently(ish).


I placed mine edge to edge and I think it gave it a cool, marble-looking backsplash. Much more sophisticated than what it was before for sure. 

$3 Tile + dollar tree super glue + a little math and elbow grease = $4 backsplash!

Here’s a little peek of the kitchen in its new home. Don’t mind the blurry pic. I was trying to to snap the pic as my destructive toddler headed straight for the play area. But, I mean, doesn’t the kitchen fit in MUCH better?


I love the new, modern look of the kitchen! What do you think? Any tips for tackling your own play kitchen project? Let me know in the comments below. 

If you like what you read then please feel free to subscribe and follow along. You’ll get notices of all my most recent projects and ideas. Don’t miss a thing! Until next time…

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Taste Without Waste: June Easy-Prep Meal Plan 

Y’all, I. Waste. So. Much. Food. Anyone with me? I see a cool recipe, buy all new ingredients to make it, and then I’m left with all the random ingredients that didn’t get used up in the recipe. Or I run to the grocery store and hangrily impulse buy. Or I make a ton of one thing to save time in meal prepping and then get so tired of eating the same thing over and over. Guess where those extras end up far too often? You guessed it. The trash. 

In light of that (and really hoping I’m not the only one who does this) I want to share a food-planning series on the blog. I know this is so different than anything I’ve done before. But the way I see it, it’s just another way to live life thriftily without sacrificing trend…or taste in this case. Taste without waste. 

Once a month you’ll see a budget-friendly, meal planning guide that provides my family of four (me, hubby, toddler, and almost 1 year old) five days of relatively whole-food meals and snacks with little to no waste. You know if your family will need more or less food so feel free to adjust or make substitutions accordingly.

This week was busy. I needed a realistically time-efficient yet relatively healthy and budget friendly meal plan in place before we found ourselves eating junk food and spending way too much money eating out. I grabbed $150 and had time for one grocery stop…so off to Costco I went. 


MY SHOPPING LIST w/Costco price breakdown (cost and inventory may vary store to store and are subject to change at any time)

  • Meat: 
  1. Rotisserie Chicken ($4.99), 
  2. 2-2 1/2 lbs Pollo Asada ($3.49 a lb),
  3. Organic Ground Beef ($19.99 for a pack of 3 but you’ll only need one or two packs this week. Freeze the rest) 
  4. Organic Chicken Meatballs ($13.89 and these are amazing! Simple ingredients, super easy, and delicious!)
  5. 60 count carton of eggs ($3.89)
    • Fruit: 
    1. 2 lbs Organic Strawberries ($5.99),
    2. 2 lbs blueberries ($6.99),
    3. 3.5 lbs of dates ($7.99),
    4. 8 bananas ($1.39)
    • Veggies: 
    1. 3 lb Broccoli ($4.49),
    2. 2.25 lb Asparagus ($5.99), 
    3. 12 Bell Peppers (2 packs of 6 counts at $6.99 each),
    4. Squash and Zuchinni Organic Pack (4 of each in one pack for $5.99),
    5. Organic Cauliflower Rice (2 pack for $3.89)
    •  Misc.: 
    1. 2.2 lbs Organic Quinoa Pasta ($7.99 and you won’t use it all),
    2. 2.5 lb Bag of Organic Tortilla Chips ($4.39),
    3. 32 Oz Mango Salsa ($5.99),
    4. 2 lbs Sharp Cheddar Cheese ($4.99 & likely won’t use it all)
    5. Organic String Cheese ($7.89 for 24 count and we have leftovers after the week)
    6. 22 oz Pesto ($7.99 & likely won’t use it all)

    TOTAL: $145.68 pre-tax (and that includes food you can use in later weeks).

    It’s important for me to note:

    1. You can definitely meal prep cheaper or healthier. But remember my focus was a balance of budget-friendly, healthier, AND easy to make with little to no waste.
    2. This is just what I came up with mixing and matching flavors but the options are endless. See these more as suggestions rather than hard and fast combos. Don’t like mango salsa? Pick up tomato salsa. Don’t like a ton of chicken? Try pork. Don’t like pesto? Try marinara. The options are truly endless. 
    3. Make food in bulk to save time. My hope is to provide you with some ideas on how to use the same ingredient in easy yet different ways. You’ll find you don’t need almost any recipes to make these meals. Most of them are reheating leftovers! 

    MEAL PLAN: 

    • Breakfast: 
    1. 2-3 eggs however you like your eggs (perhaps an omelette with optional cheddar cheese and/or leftover veggies?) AND side of fruit
    2. Bowl of mixed fruit (for those day as you aren’t super hungry). TIP: Dates are super awesome because they’re delicious and filling! 
    • Lunch: Leftovers from dinner are always easy to plan on. I’m including ideas below to mix up the leftovers and keep the flavors interesting. These all use leftovers from dinner meals and involve little or no additional cooking other than warming up.
    1. Chicken meatballs (I do 2-3 per person) over leftover veggies, warmed, topped with pesto or mango salsa, side of fruit,and a cheese stick. Here is a packed lunch shot of what this could look like: 
    2. Leftover veggies and pollo asada, chopped and warmed up, over chips, and topped with cheddar cheese and/or mango salsa.
    3. Veggie Frittata(eggs (I do 2 a person) and leftover veggies cooked together as an open faced omelette) side of fruit, cheese stick.
    4. Leftover veggies over cauliflower rice, warmed, and topped with mango salsa (a veggie “rice” bowl)
    5. Quinoa Pasta, leftover veggies, mixed with pesto, and side of fruit. 
    • Dinner: 
    1. Rotisserie chicken leg or breast   per person, served over roasted peppers, broccoli and asparagus, freshly roasted or warmed up, topped with mango salsa. NOTE: This first night is when I roast half of all the veggies so I can get them done in one shot.
    2. 2 cups Quinoa Pasta, 2 fresh and cubed Zuchinni, and 12 fresh and chopped Asparagus, all boiled together in water for 4 mins, drained, then mixed with 1/2 cup Pesto and topped with warmed chicken meatballs. Feel free to add more or less pesto to your liking. Slivered almonds or crushed walnuts make a nice addition if you have them on hand.
    3. Sliced Rotisserie chicken breasts (makes 2 sliced up breasts) and leftover roasted veggies, warmed, and topped with pesto or mango salsa. TIP: If you’re tired of veggies then sub fruit instead for a lighter, sweeter alternative. NOTE: This is a great time to try to empty the fridge of leftover veggies and the rotisserie chicken before they go bad (2-3 days refrigerated) and also to make room for the freshly roasted veggies you’ll roast for dinner 4 below.
    4. Hamburger patties (season with salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder and cook to your preference, each pack of meat makes 6-8 patties), topped with roasted bell peppers, served over roasted squash and broccoli. (Feel free to add cheese, asparagus, and any condiments you may have on hand to the meat if that’s your preference). NOTE: this is when I roast all the remaining veggies.
    5. Pollo Asada, leftover roasted veggies, warmed, over optional roasted cauliflower rice. I love roasted cauliflower rice but skipped it this time due to time.
    • Snacks: fruit, cheese, chips and salsa are all great snacks.

    All uncooked meat is cooked on the grill or stovetop until cooked all the way through. 


    All veggies were washed and roasted (bell peppers and squash were sliced before roasting). Heat oven to 425 degrees, drizzle veggies with oil (I used avocado oil), and roast for 12-15 minutes or until they reach your desired doneness (I like to cook my bell peppers for a lot longer…25 mins or so). Salt to your liking (I tend to like more). It’s that easy! You can make veggies in bulk for a few days this way. They basically cook themselves!


    TIP: Roast half of all the veggies with dinner 1 and roast the rest of the veggies with dinner 3 or 4 to cut down on prep and cook time. Then you just have to warm up leftover veggies for the meals in between.

    TIP: The grill is another great way to cook veggies and meat to add delicious flavor and avoid heating up the house on hot, summer days.

    Any tips or takeaways after the first week? I’m glad you asked. I did find a few thoughts helped me stay on track. 

    1. Do all these flavors compliment each other? Basically, can I use every ingredient in different ways to ensure I use everything up but don’t get bored? I found sauces were a great way to add variety to the flavor profiles. Keeping the rest of the food in complimenting profiles.

    2. Is it in season? This helps the budget tremendously when shopping veggies and fruits.

    3. Can I easily prep and cook it in bulk? Because this week if it was going to take more than nominal time I realistically was not going to make it.

    What meals can you come up with that use these same ingredients? What substitutions did you come up with to add a whole new flavor? Let me know in comment below. I’d love some new ideas! 

    And, as always, if you like what you  read then I’d love to have you follow me! You’ll get notices of all the latest blog posts on how you can save money without sacrificing trend. 

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    Water colored succulent planters: easy kid craft for the special adult(s) in their life


    So this year my three old has really become her own, independent person. She loves to be the one in charge. So, for Father’s Day I decided to let her develop what she wanted to do for daddy with just a “little” help. The results are this trio of hand-painted, succulent planters that cost me a whopping $2 and took only an hr or two to put together. 

    They’re subdued enough to be the perfect touch to any dad’s office or space and are sure to remind him of some littles that really, really love him.

     So here we go. You’ll need:
    1. Clay pots. We scored a three pack at the dollar tree.

    2. Succulents. We found a four pack for $1 in the clearance section at lowes.

    3. Paint (markers, stickers, decals, whatever you have on hand). We just used whatever paint we had on hand.

    4. Potting soil for succulents. Again, we just used what we already had on hand.

    To Make:

    I’m sure you guessed it, just let your kiddos imaginations run wild! I just pulled out old paint, taped down some paper protection on our surface, and let little boss go at it. 


    HERE’S A TIP: I created a water colored effect to give the project a little more of a sophisticated feel. I let our little boss create her own design on each pot. Let that dry. And then painted a watered down coat of paint in the same color over the whole pot to give that water color effect. I think it adds a subdued touch keeping the project from  being too much of a whacky, kid crazy, macaroni necklace status project. I pictured this in my husbands office, a professional environment, so it needed to be somewhat subdued but still a sweet reminder for him every day of a little three year old girl who loves him so dearly. 

    Plant your succulents and you are done! 

    HERE’S A TIP: our pots had small draining holes at the bottom. I did not have time to pack everyone up and go buy something to keep the water from leaking out all over my husbands desk. So, I added some painters tape over the hole on both sides and painted over the tape on the bottom of the pot. Since succulents are best kept damp, this quick fix worked like a charm to keep the dampness in. 

    So, what do you think? What Father’s Day gift ideas are you trying out this year? Let me know if you give this one a try. And, if you aren’t already, make sure to subscribe so you’ll get notices of all my new posts right when they happen. I can’t wait to share everything I’ve been working on! Until then, happy Father’s Day! 

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    Americana Themed Party Decor on a Budget

    11722120_10153505240071672_3090114973966614293_oY’all…you like that southern slang right? But seriously, I am inspired by some dear, southern friends today on the blog. I recently had the opportunity to decorate for a one year anniversary celebration of the youth leader and his wife at our church. Not only was I excited to celebrate all they had done at the church, but I was also excited to celebrate them becoming our good friends over the past year. Now, these two are Georgia peaches so I definitely wanted the party to have a Georgia country vibe. I took that into an Americana feel (I mean I was still feeling very patriotic after the Fourth of July) and ran with it. I had a budget of $100 and a lot of ideas running through my head. I can’t wait to share what I came up with you!

    Without further ado, here is what I hope you can use as inspiration for an Americana themed party complete with DIY “how to”s and money saving tips for your own party no matter the decor you decide on.

    imageFirst, I started by creating a ton of rag garlands in our party colors. I used some affordable material in our red, white, and blue color scheme to create my own DIY, budget friendly, country rag garlands. It cost me about $18 to make them all.

    To make the garland, I purchased one yard of four different patterns (about $16). I then cut my material into one inch strips. Taking each strip, I folded each one in half with the pattern facing me and placed the folded edge about 2 inches above a long piece of twine (from Dollar Tree) like so: image Be sure the twine is the length you want your garland to be. Then I simply wrapped the two loose ends of my folded, one inch strip around the back of the twine and through the folded edge above the twine like so:

    imageimageimagePull from the bottom of the strip to tighten and start with your next strip. I bunched some strips really close together on some garland strands and left them about 6 inches apart on others to give the different garland strands some variety. I hung some on borrowed pallets (donated to our youth group for free by a local home improvement store) and others above the food tables to add a real country, summer feel.

    11264855_10153505240066672_2074573162746211750_nNext, I made banners with words on them by cutting small triangles out of material, using paint and stencils (you can use whatever you please to match your party) to add the letters, and gluing those triangles onto twine (again from the dollar tree). So easy! I splurged on this material because I loved the striped pattern. All in all, it cost about $14 to make all my word banners but you could easily do it for about $5.

    image

    imageI used plastic table clothes (from the Dollar Tree) covered by a thin, natural linen material (from Wal Mart for $2 a yard). I love cloth tablecloths but needed the ones for this party to feel more rustic. The natural linen was perfect and so affordable! I added two rolls of burlap about 4″ wide purchased from the Dollar Tree down the center as a runner, fresh flowers from a friend’s garden in mason jars (from Dollar Tree and old ones I already had), and some homemade wood cuts to finish off that rustic feel. Cost me about $24 for two food tables, a cake table, and a punch station.

    imageFor the card area I hung twine from a pallet and added clothespins to hang all the cards from. I love displaying cards like this. It really makes the one or ones we are celebrating feel so loved when they see all their cards up front and center. Clothespins were $2 and the rest (twine and pallet) were from left over supplies.

    imageTo add height to the food table, in addition to large wood cuts (homemade so they were free), I also made my own tiered server for $3! Simple glue the bottom of martini glass to the top of one plate and the top of the martini glass to the bottom of another plate. So simple and yet it adds some great height to any table! I got my plates and martini glass from the dollar tree.

    11745404_10153505240061672_1268914120188250075_nFor the drink station I used an old spool to display the punch and cups. I found this spool in our church attic. It had been used for electrical cord. I added in a pallet, a circular plastic tablecloth (from dollar tree), a burlap tablecloth (just a yard of burlap from wal mart for $3) and fresh flowers from my friend’s garden to create a whole new station to add to the decor feel.

    imageAdd in a few flags and checkered paper from the dollar store and you have a completed Americana themed party. I also purchased plates, forks, cups, serving trays, and napkins from the Dollar Tree which added to my expense list but with what I saved by making all of the party decor I was able to easily get those supplies and still come in under budget.

    What do you think? Let me know what ideas you were able to use for your next party and don’t forget to check back soon for more DIY ideas…on a budget of course. Next up will be a DIY door hanger. And, as always, if you enjoy what you are reading then feel free to follow my blog to get all my latest decorating and money-saving ideas and tips.

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    DIY Woodsy Themed Baby Shower: Navy, pink, and gold

    1609951_10153307341651672_161327033171356564_nThis past weekend I had the privilege of hosting a baby shower for a sweet friend. Thankfully I also had the help of three other amazing hostesses to pull this shower off. The shower was so much fun and the guest of honor just loved how it all turned out.

    I wanted to share the decorations from the shower with you in the hopes that they can help inspire you for your future party and/or decor needs. So, a little back story. For the decor portion of the shower I was given the theme of woodland animals and a color scheme of pink, gray, navy, teal, and gold. I decided to really hit on the woodsy feel and use primarily pink, navy, and gold with just a few teal accents. Gray seemed to be a bit too much in the color schematic with everything else so I dropped it.  One of the hostesses so graciously allowed me to use the wood cut outs her husband had sliced up just a week before for another event (an easy DIY if you have wood and a chain saw) and some silver deer she had around her house and with that, the mood was set.

    Oh, and you may have noticed in the past few blogs I have been redoing my mantle with DIY floral arrangements and gold accents for spring. But in addition to spring I was also redoing my mantle to match the decor of this baby shower. If you missed those posts check them out here and here. I also made some more of the DIY bird’s nests I showed you in this previous post for the shower as well.

    So, without further ado, here is the woodsy themed shower in navy, pink, and gold.

    First is the entry way filled with special pictures of mommy, daddy, and baby hung on a DIY magnet board made from spray painting a pizza pan from the Dollar Tree gold and modge podging scrap book paper into the middle. The table holds one of my DIY floral arrangements, a dollar tree frame spray painted white, a frame holder from Michael’s holding an ultra sound picture, and accented with a pine cone spray painted gold.

    11223308_10153308301146672_7691437643708614853_nSecondly is the sign in area. Since our sweet friend will be moving away right after baby is born, she may not be in town when she writes her thank yous. With that in mind we used thank you card envelopes and a sweet prayer journal in place of a sign in book. Guests wrote their name and address on an envelope and then left a sweet prayer for the new mom and dad to be and for their little girl. The banners were an easy DIY that I discuss in the next section. The mirror is just four mirrors I glued together from the dollar Tree, more gold pine cones, and the birds nest and floral arrangement are from past DIYs I already shared with you all.

    11110450_10153308301536672_1677661230269535825_nThirdly is the gift area. The banners are an easy DIY made from scrap booking paper on sale at Michael’s for $0.20 a page cut into small triangles and hot glued onto Jute. Easy, simple, and affordable. I scored some foam letters in a wood print from Target for $1 a bag to add sweet messages to the banners. What was even better than having them for the party was that the guest of honor took them home afterwards to hang above her sweet baby’s crib in her nursery. The mirror I scored at a local thrift shop for $15 and the rest of the decor is just my mantle done up for spring/summer.

    11146491_10153308301621672_3307086081900762586_n We had so much fun hanging up all the sweet baby clothes on jute string with clothes pin. Such a fun way to display all the tiny, adorable clothes and I wanted to share it with you.

    11243470_10153308296126672_6796614585932905416_nLast, but not least, was the food table. I loved this table so much. From the DIY cupcake stand made from wood cut outs, to the silver deer, to the bird’s nests, to the gold pine cone picture holders, to the yummy and colorful food. I loved how it turned out.

    1609951_10153307341651672_161327033171356564_n11265080_10153308299446672_7626414816283824762_n1524705_10153308299626672_6978722553916027368_n10422154_10153308299531672_5066228516445577953_nWhat do you think? Let me know how your next party goes and don’t forget to check back soon for more DIY ideas…on a budget of course. And, as always, if you enjoy what you are reading then feel free to follow my blog to get all my latest decorating and money-saving ideas and tips.

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    DIY Spring Wreath Ideas

    I was so inspired by some grapevine wreaths I found yesterday that I decided to spend my Thursday evening crafting some new spring wreaths. I want to share them with you to inspire you to make your own as well as get your input. I’d love your input on what you love and what you could do without. Let me know in the comments below what you think. Now, without further ado…

    imageimageAnd, as always, if you like what you see don’t forget to subscribe to get all my latest DIY ideas.

    Also, I just opened my first etsy shop and these two are my first items. Check it out – https://www.etsy.com/shop/Trendythrifting.

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