helpful tips

#NationalChickenWingDay

It seems like every single day there is a new “national something day” – frankly, I’m not mad about it. Generally, so many people buy into it that there are TONS of deals, and, if nothing else, dinner inspiration for the family that night.

So here we are celebrating #nationalchickenwingday!

Time.com released an article today with all the best deals from restaurants around the country on chicken wings. Here they are! Hopefully one of these restaurants is in your area:

Black Angus Steakhouse: The National Chicken Wing Day deal, announced to those who signed up for this 45-location chain’s promotional emails, is $9 for a dozen wings and a 16-ounce draft beer.

Beef O’Brady’s: Order 10 wings, get an extra five for free; order 20 wings, get an extra 10 for free; and so on.

East Coast Wings: Get six free wings with every adult entrée purchase on Wednesday.

Glory Days Grill: This sports bar restaurant with franchises in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is hosting a special of $5 for a half-dozen wings, any style.

Hooters: An all-you-can-eat wing deal is priced at $12.99 for boneless, $14.99 for traditional bone-in wings.

Hurricane Grill & Wings: All-you-can-eat wings for $12.99.

Ker’s Winghouse: Buy 10 wings, get five free at this wing specialty restaurant with roughly two dozen locations in Florida.

Wings-N-Things: Buy one traditional wing meal with a drink on Wednesday, and a second meal (with drink) is free at this wing chain clustered around San Diego.

Sidenote: I know that Hooters gets a bad rap, but frankly, I think their wings (and all food) is unbeatable among competitors. Don’t tell anyone my secret!

If none of these spots are near you, celebrate #nationalchickenwingday at home! They are crazy easy to make and very inexpensive. Sure to please! Here’s two favorites in my house:

Skinnymom.com Skinny Hot Wings:

skinny_hot_wings

Skinny Hot Wings [http://www.skinnymom.com/skinny-hot-wings/]

Don’t tell the rest of the family, but these ‘skinny’ hot wings are all the taste and none of the calories. Perfect guilty pleasure without any of the guilt!

You only use a little bit of flour and butter, and the rest is mostly spices and hot sauce – big flavor! They are baked, not fried, coming in at only 250 calories for 5 wings total. Not too shabby!

Not all kids (or people in general) love hot wings though, so I also wanted to include a more savory, less spicy wing recipe that is well-received in our home.

Carlsbadcraving.com’s Baked General Tso’s Sticky Wings

baked_sticky_general_tsos_chicken_wings

Baked Sticky General Tso’s Chicken Wings [http://www.carlsbadcravings.com/baked-sticky-general-tsos-chicken-wings/]

Who’s favorite meal from Chinese ISN’T General Tso’s Chicken? It is always a staple on Chinese takeout nights, but these flavors are so easy to get in your very own home. Like the hot wings, this recipe is baked, not fried. No guilt should be felt with this recipe! These are super tasty and very, very popular.

Heck, make them both tonight!

Enjoy yet another “day”, everyone with #nationalchickenwingday!

Cell Phone Plans for Kids

It’s a highly debated topic – should your child have a cell phone? If so, should there be limitations on it? What age is appropriate for a child to own a cell phone? How much should you be paying for this cell phone, depending on what you intend for them to use it for? I decided to compile some options for you so you can figure out what is best for you and your family.

I want to divide this into two separate thoughts. I think that younger children and older (preteen, teens) should be treated as different entities here. My own personal thoughts lead me to believe that younger children should be using cell phones for emergencies and calls to family only. More of a safety precaution than a social tool. Older kids will want to be texting and calling friends.

Younger

gizmopal

GizmoPal [mobicrunch.com]

I think that the most appropriate phone for a younger child is probably what is called an ’emergency cell phone’. Emergency-cell-phone-review says that emergency cell phones are a great option, designed for those who aren’t necessarily ready for a full-fledged cell phone. This way, your child can have the means to reach out to you or to first responders in an emergency. They recommend Verizon’s GizmoPal as a top choice. It is advertised as the perfect companion for kids aged 4 and up. It is rubberized, water-resistant, and durable, and even fits around your wrist, kind of like a watch. The device pairs with a primary number (parents) and the child can call with just the push of a button. Additional numbers can be added, but the child is only able to receive calls from these numbers, not call out to them. There’s also a GPS component to the phone, which will allow you to know your child’s location at all times. The device has a very strong battery life and is a solid option as an emergency phone for your small child.

Older

There’s a few more options when it comes to older kids, depending on limitations that you want to set regarding what the phone is used for, how much it is used, and what you want them to be able to access.

preteens_and_cell_phones

Preteens and Cell Phones [michelleinthemiddle.com]

1) Prepaid

Prepaid phones are great options for pre-teens and teens to teach them the value of money, and even have them pay for their phones themselves. You’ll never have a shocking bill at the end of the month, since calls, texts, and data are hard set limits. Whistleout.com notes that prepaid plans start around $10/month, more top tier plans closer to $80/month. Many prepaid offers are bring your own phone/SIM, so most times, you can simply use one of your old cell phones for this use. Tons of options here.

2) Adding to family plan

Adding your child to the family plan is generally going to be inexpensive. T-Mobile’s Simple Choice family plan allows  up to 5 devices, Verizon Wireless allows up to 10 devices, AT&T allows up to 10 devices, and Sprint allows up to 10 devices. You’ll have the capability to limit your child’s access to certain data, websites, etc. Examiner.com provides links for each cell phone provider on what your options are:

AT&T click here

Verizon click here

Sprint click here

T-Mobile click here

3) Kajeet

Wanted to also show you all Kajeet. Kajeet is ‘designed for kids by parents’ and offers plans specifically aimed at parents wanting to  monitor their child’s cell phone use. All plans are prepaid with unbeatable levels of parental control (whistleout.com). You can control when your child uses their cell phone, which contacts they can communicate with, and what websites and applications your child can view.

kajeet

Kajeet [razoo.com]

Figure out what’s best for you, and please, feel free to reach out with any questions! I have tons of resources that I have been sifting through this morning trying to compare all of these options 🙂

Freezer Meals of the Week!

Happy Wednesday, All!

First and foremost, I wanted to make sure that you all know that I have a Pinterest page. Here is where I draw so much inspiration for my inexpensive lifestyle for my family! I have tons of boards and pins from tips to making money, to DIY, to Freebies & Coupons. My personal favorite board is my ‘Cheap Recipes’ board – go figure. So many of my pins lately have been freezer friendly meals that not only make life cheaper but so, so easy. I want to share some of my favorites with you today, and hopefully in future blog posts as well. The sky is the limit with these!

Without further ado….FREEZER MEALS OF THE WEEK!

1) Mom On Timeout’s Breakfast Burrito Bonanza

burrito_bonanza

Mom On Time Out’s Burrito Bonanza [http://www.momontimeout.com/2011/08/breakfast-burrito-bonanza/]

Not only is this recipe super easy and delicious, but it’s so, so versatile to all of your personal tastes. Their recipe calls for 3 types of meats, eggs, cheese, and potatoes. I know this is right up my husband’s alley, but personally, I’d love mine to be chock full of veggies. Just as easy! Fry up your meat or veggies, roast potatoes, scramble and season eggs, and wrap your ideal burrito up! Put them on a tray and flash freeze for an hour, and then plastic wrap each individually and place in a ziplock bag and pop in the freezer for the long term. To heat these up, wrap in a wet paper towel and heat for 3 minutes on 50% power. Great for an on-the-go quick breakfast!

Have some extra time? Serve with sour cream and salsa for a full meal. This is sure to please everyone.

2) Fabulessly Frual’s Cheesy Stuffed Shells

This is a staple meal. I ate this growing up, my kids will eat this growing up, and hopefully their kids too. Stuffed Shells is the ultimate comfort food for the Anders and Fabulessly Frugal has a great recipe for it that’s very freezer friendly.

cheesy_stuffed_shells

Cheesy Stuffed Shells [http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/freezer-meal-recipes-cheesy-stuffed-shells/]

 The recipe they prove makes 6 8×8 pans of stuffed shells. Each pan holds 12 shells and serves about 6 people. Meals for days!

The recipe is incredibly straightforward and is exactly how I like my shells, chock full of cheesy goodness + lots of spinach!

To prepare for the freezer, all you need to do is cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. You can freeze up to one month!

To prepare for cooking from the freezer, you remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil cover. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil + bake an additional 15-30 minutes and you should have a warm, bubbly dinner all good to go!

3) EatGood4Life’s Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

This is an awesome meatless freezer meal option. Though this recipe does not describe this as a freezer meal, generally any casserole can be stored and frozen, ready to be reheated at any time. This one in particular is incredibly easy, as you don’t even have to pre-cook the quinoa! In the comments, there are some seriously awesome ideas on serving and tweaks to the recipe. One user suggests adding additional veggies + chicken, some suggest adding additional garlic.

broccoli_quinoa_casserole

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole [http://www.eatgood4life.com/broccoli-quinoa-casserole/]

If you choose to freeze, baking time just needs to be increased by 10-15 minutes. Another protip would be to defrost in the fridge before freezing instead of placing in the oven frozen. Give this one a try, and leave any tweaks or tips you have in the comments!

I’ve got tons more, but I’ll leave you guys with 3 awesome recipes for this week. Stay tuned next week for more goodies!

Read on the Cheap

If you’re anything like me, you’re a reader. My favorite part of the day is getting into bed and relaxing with a book. I have always been a really quick reader, so I drill through books so fast that buying them is simply NOT an option. I wanted to share with you some of my greatest tricks of the trade on how to get very discounted or even FREE books.

1) The Library

This may seem obvious, but as I transitioned from hard copy to e-books, I had NO idea that there was such thing as an e-book library. There really, really is. Join your local library and get a login for their e-book collection. There are a few pros and cons here. Pros: FREE, quick and easy download so long as  you are connected to wifi – immediate! Cons: Some libraries have larger collections than others, you can generally only ‘take out’ an e-book for 2 weeks (sometimes long books take longer than that!), popular books often have waitlists.

That being said, this is my mainstay for reading for free. I want to read so many books that waitlists don’t bother me (there’s always SOMETHING available that I can read while I wait). It’s truly so easy and gratifying.

2) Book Clubs

Book clubs are great ways to find likeminded readers that enjoy similar literature to you. Not only is it social and you can read books together, but between books, you can always lend out other books and circulate them amongst friends. Don’t forget, you can also lend books to friends via your Kindle!

3) Free Kindle Books

In an article on quickenloans.com, I learned that you can search for no-cost Kindle books by typing 0.00 into the search bar. There are thousands of free e-books out there – a lot of ‘classics’ are FREE!

4) BookBub

BookBub is a free daily email that notifies you about deep discounts on acclaimed e-books. It compiles all limited-time offers into a daily email, showcases the best deals from retailers like Amazon Kindle store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, Apple’s iBookstore, and others. Often times, book publishers offer deals at these sites for promotional purposes. You may have to search around, but when you hit this right, it can be really awesome.

Try some of these out, or, better yet, leave your tips and tricks in the comments!

Goodnites $4 Off Coupon

So I just had a pretty awesome first “Twitter Party” experience for #ConfidentKids promoting Goodnites Tru-Fit machine washable underwear. These are for older kids who are still having bed-wetting issues, as they use absorbent inserts for outstanding nighttime protection.

Honestly, I’ve experienced delayed potty training once in my family, and I can tell you it’s tough. Tough for both me as a mom in terms of maintenance and exhausting efforts to stop it, and tough for my daughter as she struggled with confidence issues, delayed and avoided sleepovers and any overnight social event. Crippling for us both!

Goodnites are discreet and look just like real undies – the other kids won’t know, and your kid won’t feel like a baby having to wear diapers or pullups. Definitely an awesome option for bedwetters.

goodnites_tru_fit

Goodnites Tru-Fit [goodnites.com]

Click here for a $4 off Goodnites Starter Kit coupon!

Buying in Bulk

Good morning! Happy Tuesday!

As promised yesterday, today I wanted to kick off blogging with a buying in bulk tutorial. Is it worth it? Are there items worth buying in bulk? Are there items you should never buy in bulk? Are you actually saving by buying in bulk? Let’s get some answers.

In a US News article, they highlight 3 huge sources of “bulk-buying failure”:

1. Perishable items

2. Unnecessary items

3. Items you don’t have room to store

These are all pretty sensible. Perishable items you’ll have to make absolutely sure you can finish before they go bag. Personally, I find that sometimes I have trouble finishing normal sized perishable items, so bulk perishable is simply not on the table for purchase, unless there’s a party to plan for. Unnecessary items are exactly as they seem: unnecessary. Buy items in bulk that you regularly use and KNOW you will use. Otherwise, you’ll be finding yourself trying to take hundreds of Tootsie Rolls to the face, just because. And, of course, always make sure you have room to store bulk items, otherwise they are just a hassle.

“Good” bulk items:

1. Bathroom items: toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo&conditioner, etc. These are items that you use daily and always find yourself running low on. You’ll never be upset to have extra of these things.

2. Household items/cleaners: trash bags, detergents, etc. Same story as bathroom items – you’ll always need these things!

3. Dried pastas, beans, rices: these will never go bad, and you will always find use for them. Great to have on hand.

4. Household and office supplies: notebooks, pens, lightbulbs, etc. These things never get old and always need to be replaced.

Now let’s get to a price breakdown for the top bulk stores. This should help you figure out what option is your best!

Costco

costco

Costco [costco.com]

Executive Membership: Executive Membership is our highest level of membership. All Executive Members enjoy a 2% Reward (up to $750 per year) on most Costco purchases, as well as additional benefits and greater discounts on our suite of services.

Business Membership: Business Membership, available for business owners and managers, allows the purchase of products for business, personal and resale use. Business members may also add up to six additional card holders to their account for an additional $55 each, includes household membership.

Gold Star Membership: This option is mostly for individuals. Gold Star Membership is available for individuals who want to purchase products mainly for personal use.

*An article by twocents.lifehacker.com notes that Costco is an incredible source for saving money depending on what you buy, and compiled a list of Costco items whose items will single-handedly pay for your membership fee. Tires, wine, and rotisserie chicken. Good thing we love rotisserie chicken!

Sam’s Club

sams_club

Sam’s Club [www.samsclub.com]

Sam’s Plus: Cost is $100. This membership allows Cash Rewards ($10 for every $500 spent, up to $500 annually), Extra Protection Service Plan (additional year of coverage), Early Shopping Hours, Extra Value Drug List for Plus Members, Optical Plus Member Benefit, Optical Discount RX Eyeglasses, Sam’s Club Mastercard, Instant Savings, Tire & Battery Center Access, Club Pickup, and Add-On Memberships up to 16 people.

Sam’s Business: Cost is $45. This membership allows Early Shopping Hours, Optical Discount RX eyeglasses, Sam’s Club Mastercard, Instant Savings, Tire & Battery Center, Club Pickup, and Add-On Memberships up to 8 people.

Sam’s Savings: Cost is $45. This membership allows Optical Discount RX Eyeglasses, Sam’s Club Mastercard, Instant Savings, Tire & Battery Center, Club Pickup, but no Add-On Memberships.

*An article by WCPO notes that Sam’s Club is a worthy membership if you shop at Sam’s Club at least 9 times, depending on how much you spend during each trip.

BJ’s Wholesale

bjs_wholesale

BJ’s Wholesale [bjs.com]

BJ’s Perks Rewards™ Membership: A business card option, you can earn 2% back on most BJ’s in-club and online purchases. $100/year

BJ’s Business Membership: A business membership for any size business that comes with a FREE second membership card. Enjoy tax-exempt or resale options for business or personal purchases. $50/year

BJ’s Perks Rewards™ Membership: A personal version of the business option – 2% back on most BJ’s in-club and online purchases. $100/year

Personal Membership: For individuals and families with a FREE second card for a household member. $50/year

*An article on timesunion.com notes that BJ’s is totally worth it, especially if you buy certain items (diapers, formula, gas, and pet food are specifically mentioned)

forum on community.babycenter.com notes that you can often times get a free 30- or 60-day membership to any of the clubs. Check out your local bulk store and see if they can work with you so you can give things a trial run and see if it is worth it for you and your family! Hope this helps 🙂

Make RetailMeNot A Habit

Wanted to share a habit that is so ingrained into my online shopping habits that I hardly think twice before doing it: RetailMeNot coupon codes.

retail_me_not

RetailMeNot [retailmenot.com]

Whenever you purchase ANYTHING online, from clothes to a pizza, there is almost always a special field for ‘Coupon Code’ or ‘Coupon Promo’ – this is not for special people. This is for everyone, if you play your cards right!

Go to retailmenot.com and search for whatever site you are purchasing something from. I’ve found that about 75% of the time, I can get whatever I’m purchasing for cheaper, or get free shipping. I can’t imagine how much money I wasted before I made this part of my routine!

You can even visit their site before you shop to see where the promos are, they present their trending deals and can direct you to where you will find what you need for the cheapest. ADDICTED.

Not only can you find coupon codes, but I LOVE that they show you how many people used the coupon today, as well as the success rate – you don’t have to waste your time trying knowing other people have already tried and succeeded or failed.

For example, today I decided I wanted to try Peapod home delivery groceries. A friend told me that it makes her life significantly easier. As I loaded up my cart, a quick search  on RetailMeNot before checkout yielded SO many deals, some for new customers, some on your first order, some on pick up orders – deals for every person interested in Peapod.

peapod_retail_me_not

Peapod on RetailMeNot [retailmenot.com/view/peapod.com]

Here’s the one I ended up using. It worked and I saved $20 off of my usual grocery price. Not too shabby! I encourage you all to make RetailMeNot a habit in your life 🙂

Do I Need Cable?

In this day and age, I’m really beginning to wonder if I need cable. It’s costing me hundreds of dollars a month, when I really find myself so much more often relying on my DVR, Netflix, Apple TV, or Hulu. Yet, I have this strange attachment and an innate fear of cutting ties with cable. Today I decided that I wanted to make the call once and for all and did some research.

Here’s my biggest concerns:

  • Wanting to simply watch mindless television sometimes. Can I still do this and surf around without cable?
  • Live sporting events

Both of these concerns were immediately squashed in my research. You DO NOT need cable to access great tv shows, movies, and live sporting events. What you DO need is to know your options.

Here are some:

Moral of the story here: you have options. Explore them + figure out what is best for you, and your wallet! Comment with any of your cable-cutting tips please!

DIY’s Time to Shine w/ Advil’s Sweepstakes!

In the mom world of DIY, we all have had our successes and failures.

nailed_it

Nailed it. [boredpanda.com]

Advil’s latest sweepstakes “Failed? Nailed?” invites you to share them all. All you have to do is post a pic of your DIY project to Twitter or Instagram tagged with #DIYrelief and #AdvilSweepstakes. Make sure to follow @AdvilRelief on Twitter and Instagram so they can contat you if you win!

If you win, you’re rewarded $15,000, a videochat with Carter Oosterhouse, and daily great prizes like gift cards, toolbelts, and t-shirts!

We’ve all shared our DIY’s to our friends and family via social media before – throw on some hashtags and enter to make some cash!

#NationalJunkFoodDay

Just noticed it’s #nationaljunkfoodday. So soon after Sunday’s #nationalicecreamday? Here’s some healthier hacks for some of my personal favorite junky foods. Enjoy!

1. Nachos

I recently discovered that homemade tortilla chips are not only SUPER easy to make, but also (in my opinion) tastier AND much healthier. You should be able to find uncooked corn tortillas in your local grocery store. Simply quarter the circles, spray some Pam on a cooking sheet, lay down the quarters, spray some Pam on top, and then season to your liking. For me, a little bit of salt was enough. Pop them in the oven at 400, and keep an eye on them, you’ll notice when they’re done. Voila, chips. Add your favorite healthy toppings! My favorites? Black beans, avocado, plain Greek yogurt, and pickled jalapenos. Miss cheese? Luckily, when you make your own nachos, you’re in control of the type and amount you put on – go for it!

healthy_nachos

Healthy Nachos

2. Pizza

When it comes down to it, there is really no replacement for junky, cheesy, oily pizza. BUT, you can find similar satisfaction with cauliflower crust pizza, I promise. It’s a lot to type out and explain, so check out my favorite cauliflower pizza recipe here. Eat an entire one to yourself and don’t even TRY to feel guilty about it.

cauliflower_crust_pizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

3. Soda

Personally, I gave up soda years ago. I was a hardcore Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper aficionado and I never, ever thought I’d be able to last. I replaced my diet sodas with flavored seltzer water and lemon water, and honestly, I rarely miss it. I love seltzer water so much that I’m looking into a soda stream to make my own. Does anyone have experience with one? Please share!

soda_stream

Soda Stream

4. Dessert

All of them. I love all of them. It’s really difficult to eat a piece of fruit and claim it fills the void of dessert. Here’s some links to recipes that I find are at least healthier for a sweet tooth:

Hummingbird Muffins/Cupcakes – these are awesome. Chockfull of fruits and nuts (use whole wheat flour to be even healthier) these are all the pleasure without as much guilt. Top with a whipped cream cheese if you want some icing!

Banana Ice Cream – one ingredient. You read that right! You’ll need a food processor, and that’s about it.

Cool Whip Sandwiches – I’ll always remember this as the greatest Weight Watchers recipe EVER! It couldn’t be easier and it’s absolutely fantastic.

dessert

Dessert