Monday, November 18, 2013

Ways I Saved

We have had three birthdays that we were invited to in the last week and a half.  While we were grateful to be invited and desired to attend, two of these parties were held at Chuck E Cheese, and one of them was held at a pizza parlor.  Wanting to be careful with not spending too much on gifts or food and tokens, I decided on a total budget to be spent on gifts (no more than $5 per child), and we will be ordering food to share as a family at the parties.  This money was taken out of our family fun money budget.

The gifts for the birthday children consisted of a pony toy.  This is Little Guy's friend, and she's just turning two.  I focused on him selecting something that she would like.  He did a good job.  He made a birthday card for her, and was so excited to get his very own invitation.

Little Gal picked out beads and string to go in a box for the first party she was invited to.  We found several fun jewelry-making items at the Dollar Tree and we put it in a box that we found there.  Little Gal included a few beads from her collection to add a personal touch.  She made a card for this little friend of hers.  We used wrapping we had on hand.

When Little Gal was invited to the second party, we decided on beads again.  This time, I decided to take a slew of Jo-Ann coupons and buy beads in bulk.  I purchased (2) one-pound bags of pony beads (my gal picked stars and regular beads), plus I let her pick out a small package of specialty beads that were $.50 after the coupon.  Since Big Lots was nearby, I decided to head in and see if they had any string that would be suitable.  They had all kinds of craft bead items for a great price.  We picked out two packages for $1 each.  It ended up costing more overall, but the gift ended up being $5 on the dot when I divided up the cost of the bulk beads, and I still have a gallon bag that is half full of beads which I will use the next time we are invited to a party, or have a party.  We've done bead activities instead of a party favor before.

We had company for dinner one night.  I made homemade pizza (I already had most of the ingredients on hand, though I purchased some Italian Sausage), salad (I made the dressing and used toppings we already had on hand), had Root beer that I purchased $.85 per 12-pack during the summer, and we had fancy ice cream Sundays.  I let Little Gal pick the ice cream, and we bought about 1/2 cup each of four toppings that I let her pick out of the bulk bins at Winco.  I made the hot fudge (HOLY COW THIS WAS GOOD) from ingredients I had on hand, and I had whipped cream in the refrigerator.  I had promised Little Gal that we would have a special ice cream treat if she memorized a part for a church program she recently participated in.  She memorized it in about two days!  The dinner was in her honor and the company had fun participating in the celebration.

I made one of our favorite soups for lunch on Saturday.

On Saturday, we finally had some free time in the morning for some relaxing family fun.  We took our doggy on a long walk around a beautiful neighborhood, went for a little drive, then took the kids to the library.  We sat and read and looked at books for a long time together.  Then, we checked them out and went home.  It was so nice!

I made a vegetable noodle soup (I'll have to post this recipe), bread, fry bread, potatoes, lots of inexpensive sandwiches, pancakes, and muffins.  I'm excited to work on healthier, more frugal meals this week.  Yikes, last week was a lot of junk food!

I also made cookies.  I baked 1 dozen cookies one night for a family night, then I used my cookie scoop to scoop cookie dough balls onto the cooled cookie sheet.  I covered this, threw it in the freezer, and the next day I divided the balls into a couple of bags.  This is a wonderful way to bake without eating all of the cookies (or dough!) by yourself, and being able to pull a few out for a treat later.  Be aware, certain cookies freeze better than others.  I have been using THIS Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and it's wonderful.  I add in the 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar that a reviewer suggested and it makes the most beautiful, bakery-style cookies.  I also leave the cookies on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes to trap the moisture in for the crispy on the outside, soft on the inside effect.  Mmmm.  I want a cookie right now!!  NOTE: I bake these frozen cookie dough balls at 350 for 10-14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

I made a menu plan that will allow for very little food to be purchased.

I made a batch of laundry soap.

Fred Meyer had several items for great prices last week.  I bought 6 half gallons of milk (I freeze them for later use), two half gallons of orange juice (OJ is usually wanted when we're sick, and there never seem to be sales when we need them!  So, I've been keeping a couple in the freezer) for $.99 each.  We go through about a half gallon of dairy milk and a half gallon of non-dairy milk per week for our family of four, so this will last us a long time.  I also bought some canned pumpkin, pasta (woohoo!  our stock was running low), canned beans (I usually make dry, but I like to have the pinto beans in chili sauce for two recipes), P.B. and non-dairy milk on sale.  I was happy to get stock-up prices!

I'm happy to have a more normal schedule coming up this week, I think I'm all tired out from all of the excitement!

What did you do to save money this week?


  1. I am going to try you cookie dough recipe sounds great!

    1. Hello MJ!

      I hope you like it! We were happy to have found such a great recipe. I love!

  2. Hi Katie,
    Birthday parties are a tough one. But it sure sounds like you found a solution that works for your budget, and teaches your children that you really don't need to blow the budget to take part in parties. Well done!

    Can I ask, what recipe do you use for homemade laundry detergent? Thanks!

    1. Oh dear, we tried! I think we did a good job, all things considered.

      I took photos of the detergent when I made it and will be posting the recipe tomorrow!