Mrs. 1500 here!
There are few websites better at taking an hour off the clock than facebook. Pinterest is my new favorite. It is an excellent source for saving money, with ideas for crafts, sewing projects, artwork, etc. They even have a category devoted to cooking.
A click on the Food & Drink category shows me many, MANY things I should not ingest, like Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt, but also tips for saving money, like how to make 60 homemade instant oatmeal packets that cost $4.00.
One of my favorite ways to save money is Menu Planning. Take a calendar and plan meals for the entire month. The money saving is two-part. You can stock up when things are on sale, knowing exactly what you need for the month. But the real bonus comes from skipping those dinners out because you ran out of time to cook.
My best way to accomplish menu planning is through freezer cooking or freezer meals. The basic concept here is you carve out a chunk of time to prepare numerous meals that you put into the freezer, carefully labeled. Pull out to thaw in the morning and bake in the evening. There are also slow cooker freezer meals, where you assemble all the ingredients into a bag that you put into the freezer until the morning you need it. Simply dump all ingredients into the slow cooker and cook throughout the day.
I love to cook, but only when I have time to do it. I hate feeling rushed, and at night, that is exactly how I feel. Who has time to peel the carrots, then cut them up into pieces, then cook them all while keeping two children occupied?
I recently met another like-minded mom, and we talked about having a freezer meal party, where we split the cost of food, prep together so it is fun (the dads get along, and the kids do too, so the dads and kids are at one house, while the moms are at the other house doing food prep). This could be something small like my friend and I are planning, or something more elaborate with many moms coming together to share the workload, the costs and the laughs (throw in a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck to enhance the latter). Instead of buying that 5 pound bag of potatoes, you can buy the 10-pound bag that costs $.10 more and share with the group.
But the money saving doesn’t stop there! Pinterest is an amazing source for birthday party ideas (some are quite elaborate, but others will give you a nice party theme without spending thousands of hours on minute details the kiddos won’t even care about), entertaining ideas, homemade gift ideas (complete with packaging ideas that don’t look homemade), and so much more. But watch out – Pinterest is more addictive than you could possibly imagine!
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