Tag Archives: Budget

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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    Add a metallic accent to any room with this quick, easy, and budget friendly DIY idea

    wpid-20150330_101013.jpgOur family room has been 50 shades of brown since we moved in. All of our lounge furniture and decor just somehow ended up being brown, beige, greige, or white. All of it.

    In an effort to get the room redecorated in time for spring, I decided to work on adding in some color and texture…on a budget of course. Some of the textural ideas I had I already blogged about, like my $2 DIY jute bowl or my easy burlap frame. Once I got some texture into the room I turned my eye towards pops of color.

    The idea I am blogging about today came to me out of a desperate need for metallic accents. One way to add texture and color is to use metallics. But how could I do it on a budget? Reusing what I already had was one way to save money. Our family room already had a lot of glass from old candles that had long since been used up and old dollar tree glass and knick knack items that could really use an upgrade. So I had a lot of stuff I could re-purpose but I also needed to do it quickly (I have a toddler so nap time is about my average project duration these days). Spray paint was the clear answer. That seems to be my go to whenever I need a color quick and am on a tight budget. You already saw how I was able to transform some old Dollar Tree frames into Lilly Pulitzer inspired frames in this post so my love for spray paint comes as no surprise. But that being said I wanted to share what all I was able to transform with a $4 can of spray paint

    You will need:

    Old trinkets and glass containers (try dollar tree if you don’t already have these).

    Gold spray paint (or color of your choice)

    You need to:

    1. Spray anything you want gold. Obvious right?

    Really, this blog is to give you ideas and inspiration based off of what I was able to transform. So, here are some of my ideas on what you can paint to give your decor a little face lift.

    1. Old candle jars. Spray paint them and display them empty or place an arrangement inside. No need to take the candle out unless you want to. I just placed the floral arrangement right on top of the old candle.

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    2. Glass vases. Again, some of these I displayed alone and others I added flowers to. For this first one I wanted an ombre type look. To achieve that I began by spraying about 6 inches from the glass and moved further out from the glass as I sprayed in upward motions.

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    3. Wood letters. This W was $1.49 at a craft store. A little paint and it takes on a whole new look.

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    4. Knick knacks. I got these from yard sales or thrift stores. I always keep my eye out for fun shapes that would look great with a new coat of paint. To get the two toned leaf pictured below I simply places it upside down and sprayed only the bottom portions of it. I like the surprise gold you get along the edges of the leaf.
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    I even spray painted a trash can from the Dollar Tree!

    wpid-wp-1428521314383.jpgWhat do you think? Let me know how your accent pieces turn out and don’t forget to check back soon for more DIY ideas…on a budget of course. I will be sharing how to make the floral arrangements pictured in this post from Dollar Tree florals soon. 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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    Lilly Pulitzer Party Theme…on a budget

    150749_10152938984396672_2571961327879828316_nBaby C is 1! What an exciting time it was to celebrate with friends and family. But, oh man, what an exhausting month December was. Between Christmas and Birthday party planning, I think my husband, baby, and I were ready for a relaxing and non-eventful January. Now that everyone is rested up and recovered from December I wanted to take some time to share Baby C’s party details, DIY ideas, and budget break down.

    First off, what do you do for a baby’s first birthday? I had no idea. I had never thrown one before. I decided to go with a floating birthday party all decked out in traditional party decor but with a Lilly Pulitzer twist.

    Why a floating party? I decided on a floating party to give everyone freedom to come and go as they pleased. The constant change up in the party guests made for a fun time. I also decided on a floating party for budget reasons. We had invited about 50 people by the time it was all said and done. 50 people! A floating party allows snacks instead of a whole meal. Snack foods such as donuts, popcorn, fruit, veggies, pimento cheese dip, crackers, cupcakes, and punch are acceptable forms of “nutrition”. Grazing food if you will. Plus, they are all budget friendly and quite tasty.

    Why traditional decor with a Lilly Pulitzer twist? I decided on traditional, old school decor for simplicity and budget reasons but wanted to spice it up. Plain wasn’t what I wanted for Baby C’s first birthday. Happy, colorful, and girly were my brainstorm ideas. What encapsulates those ideas better than Lilly??? Still, Lilly can be very pricey so I was hesitant. After a bit of looking around, I was able to find some free Lilly Pulitzer binder cover downloads for free in various well known Lilly patterns from this website. Free! That decided it for me. A trendy, chic, happy, girly yet age appropriate birthday party on a budget? Yes please!

    I used the free printouts to make DIY invitations, banners, letter “C” cutouts, a number “1”, and framed pictures. Here are a few pictures of the Lilly details I was able to add…for FREE!

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    Lots of fun using the paper designs everywhere I could think of. The letters are cut out of foam and the Lilly design modge podged on. The number 1 is a painted wood cut out with a Lilly design modge podged onto the front. Easy and simple yet such a fun detail. The banner was so easy. I just cut out a bunch of triangles and glued them onto ribbon. The picture “mattes” are simply cut out out to frame the picture inside. That simple. And, let’s not forget these Lilly additions were free!

    Let me take you on a tour of all the stations we had at Baby C’s party. Because it was floating I wanted to have different stations to keep our guests entertained and moving around mingling. After some brainstorming, I came up with 5 stations that would help keep our guests flowing and entertained.

    Our first station was the coloring station.

    20141219_125549At this station guests young and old were invited to color a picture for themselves, Baby C, and/or someone they loved. This station was by far the most popular amongst the little ones. The coloring station included construction paper, crayons, polka dot can to hold the crayons, stamps, ink pads, stickers, bubble gum, a Lilly memory board filled with pictures of Baby C over the past year, an engineer print of one of my favorite pics of Baby C, farmed picture of Baby C, and a photo album to hold all of the pictures made for baby C. I simply covered my coffee table with a plastic table cloth and arranged all the supplies on the table. Most everything was purchased at the Dollar Tree except for the following: Stamps are from Target’s $3 section, Bubble gum was on sale at Target ($2), polka dot can is from Target’s $1 section, ink pads are from a local art store ($1 each), picture album from same art store ($1), engineer print is from Staples ($3),  memory board from ebay ($11). This station also included a DIY Lilly banner made for less than $1. Total for this station was $29. The memory board was a birthday gift for Baby C that I wanted to display since it matched the decor, the stamps and ink pads were already purchased for myself (I use them a ton!), and the polka dot can was from Baby C’s room. Total I spent just for decor not already owned and not a birthday gift for Baby C…$12.

    Next was the sign in station.

    20141219_125556At this station I used a foam board from dollar tree and modge podged one of my favorite pics of Baby C onto the center. I also purchased some trendy pens in complimenting colors from Target’s $1 section.  I had everyone write a note of well wishes or a prayer for Baby C. This way she has not just a documentation of who was at her first birthday but also a heart felt note from each guest. Total cost for this station was $3 (+ modge podge I already had).

    Next was the gift station.

    20141214_180531A Lilly Pulitzer banner and letter “C” above a bench already in our living room made the perfect gift station. To save a little money, I cut the letter “C” out of Dollar Tree foam board and modge podged one of the FREE Lilly Pulitzer binder covers onto it. Viola. Total Cost for the gift station was $2.

    Next was the picture station.

    20141219_09380720141219_093857You all, this was so fun. Whenever there was a lull in the party, I would just send the guests over to the picture station to make some fun memories. Easy. All I did was use a plastic table cloth, taped it to the ceiling in a bare corner, and taped tissue cut outs onto the plastic table cloth for decor. I added some fun props and boom, picture station complete! Table cloth, tissue paper cut outs, and props are all from the Dollar Tree. Total cost was $9.

    The picture station also doubled as the background for Baby C’s cake eating. She didn’t really eat any cake but I loved the cute background and pictures we got anyways.

    150749_10152938984396672_2571961327879828316_nAfter taking pictures, the guests ended their party journey at the food station.

    20141219_125531I wanted this area to be bright, fun, and inviting so everyone would naturally gather here. Above the table were paper lanterns and streamers. On the table was a white table cloth covered by a pink one. For decor I used framed pictures of Baby C with those free Lilly print outs framing each picture, a Lilly number “1” modged podged with another free Lilly print out, a DIY Lilly banner, and a Happy Birthday banner. After this picture was taken I also added pink letters spelling out Baby C’s name to back of the table. In all the excitement I forgot to snap a picture of the completed table. My apologies. Lilly banner was a DIY, the Happy Birthday banner was a sale find at Target ($2), Paper Lanterns were also a Target sale find (under $1 each), straws, again, were a Target sale find ($2 a pack), the number is from wal mart ($1.49), frames (I spray painted them), streamers, cups, napkins, plates, silverware, and tablecloths were all Dollar Tree buys, and serving platters were all already items I had. Decorations and eating and drinking items, total, cost me $32.

    Food: I purchased one bag of mini, powdered sugar donuts ($2), one box of popcorn bags ($3), cupcake supplies (I made my own from this website) ($10), punch (one 2 liter of lemon lime soda, one pint of pineapple sorbet, one can pineapple chunks) ($5), water (free). The remaining food (pimento cheese, cheese ball, crackers, fruit, and veggies) were all brought by family. So food cost me $15 with the remainder items being brought by family.

    Total cost of the party for 50 people would be $90. For me, since I had some of the supplies already and some “supplies” doubled as gifts, it was $73 total for a party serving 50 people.

    What do you think? Have your own ideas? Then please share with us any budget friendly ideas and fun themes you have for your own DIY party. Check back soon for some fun Valentine’s Day decor ideas to spice up your home on a budget.

    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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    Flowers: Save big and still have the real deal

    In the midst of wedding plans, flowers are one expense that can add up quickly and unexpectedly. How much does it cost just to buy a nice bouquet of quality flowers on any given day? Now imagine that you have to buy 10 or 12 of them at one time and they have the label “Wedding Bouquet” attached to them (which almost always means that they will costs even more). Well, if you have been married or are planning a wedding, you don’t have to imagine how expensive that can be because you know all too well!

    But I have great news! If you can limit your choices to only a few variations of flowers, you can save tons of money without any sacrifice. Even better news, I researched and chose flowers that were easy to work with so that we could make all the bouquets and arrangements ourselves but that’s another blog for another day. Today, I want to focus on how to save money when selecting your wedding flowers. In the end, we ended up spending about $375 on all the flowers used in the wedding. And boy did we have a lot of flowers in our wedding. Here’s how I did it:

    1. Choose 3 or 4 different flowers that you love. I loved calla lilies, dendrobium orchids and white roses.

    2. Research the cost of each type of flower. The flowers that are in season will be your best budget bet. Also, I found that buying flowers from local and online wholesale retailers was the best way to get flowers, in bulk, for the least cost. My favorite bulk supplier, surprisingly, was Sam’s Club. You can order an array of flowers from them, in bulk, off of their website for very affordable prices. I bought 140 mini calla lilies from Sam’s for under $200, They were beautiful and perfectly bloomed when they arrived. I also found a local wholesaler who sold dendrobium orchids in bulk so I was able to pick up 100 stems for $130. That same wholesaler also sold yellow calla lilies, large white calla lilies, a beautiful flower I had never seen (It’s the flower pictured on my wedding cake below) and greenery, so I spent my remaining budget (about $50) and grabbed about 12 stems of each flower and one bunch of the greenery.

    3. Cut down on the more expensive flowers. I had originally wanted white roses in my wedding. But once I got the pricing info together, I could buy twice the orchids and lilies for almost the same amount it would cost me for half the roses. So I went with more of the orchids and lilies and cut out the roses. I didn’t miss the roses for a second.

    4. Practice, practice, practice: For each type of flower I had chosen, we bought a few stems months before the wedding. We wanted to make sure we could work well with the flowers we chose, that they looked perfect with the decor and that the wholesaler we were using would deliver quality flowers. I was more than pleased with what we got months before as well as the day of.

    5. Store the flowers until the day of: Have flowers delivered or picked up the day before your wedding. Store them in a room with the AC set as low as possible. If you are in a hotel, ask if they can deliver multiple mini fridges to your room. The key is to keep them as cold as possible to prevent wilting.

    6. Enjoy your beautiful and budget friendly flowers for years and years and years! Pictures capture every beautiful angle.

    HERE’S A TIP: Here’s another way to save money…White carnation petals look almost identical to white rose petals. I used white carnation petals for my flower girl to throw and no one knew the difference!

    Here are a few pictures of the flowers and how we used them:





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