Tag Archives: cheap

Freezer Meals: Week 3

Happy Wednesday!

As promised, here’s this week’s picks for easy, quick freezer meals. This week’s theme: soup! Soup is one of my favorite freezer meals, because one pot of great soup can last SO long, and can be such a hearty, filling meal.

Here are some of my favorite freezer-friendly soup recipes from Pinterest.

  1. Loaded Baked Potato Soup

loaded_baked_potato_soup

Loaded Baked Potato Soup [http://www.momables.com/loaded-baked-potato-soup-crockpot-freezer-meal/]

This is crazy easy!

Momables does it right with this recipe! Do some prep work when you have time to make this recipe ultra-simple. Chop potatoes, ham, and onions, and place in a bag in a freezer. Take them our when you’re ready to make this soup! Thaw and place in a slow cooker with chicken broth + half and half. Cook on low for 6-8 hours + garnish when served with cheese, green onions, bacon, sour cream – anything you’d want on your potato! Not only can you pre-freeze to make this easy, but if there’s leftovers, pop in the freezer! Once you’re ready to eat, thaw in the fridge for awhile and reheat. Couldn’t be more simple

2) Olive Garden Copy Cat Zuppa Toscana

zuppa_toscana

Olive Garden Copy Cat Zuppa Toscana [http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/zuppa-toscana-soup-freezer-meal/#_a5y_p=1171706]

Fabulessly Frugal does a spot on rendition of this very freezer-friendly Olive Garden staple! Much like the loaded baked potato soup above, you can both freezer prep AND freeze afterwards. They recommend that you brown and crumble sausage prior to making + fry up onions and bacon as well to save some time. You essentially make the soup quickly (you can add or not add the greens) and can then place in gallon ziploc bags or any form of spill-proof container. To thaw, simply place in fridge for a few hours and reheat – so simple!

3) Black Bean Taco Soup

black_bean_taco_soup

Black Bean Taco Soup [http://oursimplehappylife.com/2012/09/5-healthy-freezer-meal-recipes-4-hours-21-meals/]

Once again – too easy! Our Simple Happy Life knows how to make a freezer/crockpot meal sound easy. Prep: brown meat and onion, stir remaining ingredients in, pour into freezer-safe containers. Ready to eat? Throw it in the crockpot and cook. Umm…crazy simple!

So there you have it. Give yourself a break this week and try one of these soups!

Hopster: Get More From Your Coupons

Want to share with my readers a website I found fairly interesting this morning: Hopster.com.

Hopster promises more bang for your buck when it comes to coupons by earning points through their website. I visited their FAQ for a more in depth look at how this works.

Hopster

Hopster [www.hopster.com]

Some highlights:

  • Once you register, you can print coupons at anytime
  • You get extra goodies for the products that you buy the most
  • Earn points by liking brands on social media channels, watching videos, signing up for newsletters, etc. and redeem them to increase the value of coupons and save even more money
  • You do need to download and install a Coupon Plugin – this is a one-time quick and easy installation that lets you print your coupons quickly. Hopster claims that their plugin has a 100% success rate, so it’s not going to junk up your computer or cause detriment that so many other toolbars do.
  • You can get bonus points by submitting your receipts – this speeds up the process of Hopster knowing that a coupon has been ‘redeemed’

I took a look at their coupon section to see what kind of selection they have, and was really pleasantly surprised! There is a huge variety of products and well known brands available. Some highlights for me: Barbara’s Organic Cereals + Snacks, Once Again Nut Butters (these are typically so expensive!). Kale Chips, vitamins galore, batteries – really everything here. I was shocked to see so many healthy and organic brands – these generally cost so much more and can deter people from buying them. With these coupons, especially if you boost them with points, the prices are so much more reasonable!

It seems a little bit like Ebates to me – make it a game! Check the site before you buy and rack up the points and savings. I think I’ll give it a shot 🙂

#NationalSmoresDay

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Another week, another opportunity to share some fun, inexpensive recipes, deals, giveaways, and more.

It just so happens to be #NationalSmoresDay today. S’mores scream summer to me – brings me back to my own summer camp days as a child! There’s nothing more fun than finding the perfect stick and toasting (or burning) a marshmallow to gooey perfection. Result = a messy, delicious, delicious treat that will have you asking for ‘s’more!’

Unfortunately, we don’t always have a crackling fire in front of us – lucky for you, we have so many mainstay s’more substitutes that are JUST AS GOOD as the real deal, and just as fun to cook indoors!

S’mores Bites

smores_bites

S’mores Bites [http://thefirstyearblog.com/smores-bites/]

The First Year Blog has an awesome recipe for these mini bites – they’re perfect for a quick dessert or even to bring to a party! Here’s the lowdown: all you need to do is crush up graham crackers, and incorporate powdered sugar + butter as a base. Divide them up into a 24 cup mini muffin pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Then pop in a rectangle of chocolate, and place a marshmallow half inside as well. Pop in the oven and bake until softened. Personally, I like a little brown on my marshmallows – solution: throw on the broiler for about a minute! Cool and serve. They’re so cute + so easy. Enjoy!

S’mores-Dipped Strawberries

smores_dipped_strawberries

S’mores-Dipped Strawberries [http://www.bombshellbling.com/smores-saturdays-smores-dipped-strawberries/]

Bombshell Bling has such a crowd pleaser with this one! I don’t know about you, but my entire family looooves chocolate covered strawberries. This recipe takes things even a step further, and couldn’t be easier. Melt some marshmallow fluff and get dipping! Lay on wax paper to try. Then, same story with chocolate. While still hot and melty, dip into some graham cracker crumbs and lay to dry. Voila!

S’more Stuffed French Toast

smore_stuffed_french_toast

S’more Stuffed French Toast [http://www.heathersfrenchpress.com/2014/07/smore-stuffed-french-toast.html#_a5y_p=2342038]

Oh boy, here we go! S’mores for breakfast! Heather’s French Press has a killer recipe that we won’t even pretend is remotely healthy. It’s pretty easy – grab some honey wheat bread, and spread one slice with chocolate spread (whether this is Nutella or melted Hershey’s is totally your call!) and the other slice with melted marshmallows. Sandwich them together and dip the sandwich into egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla (just like normal french toast!) and griddle until golden brown on each side.

So there you have it – these are all cheap, easy, and sure to please the family. Enjoy #NationalSmoresDay!

Reusable Keurig Cups

Now there’s an idea! Although a Keurig machine is already a budget way to get your daily caffeine intake instead of running to the nearest Starbucks, you can make this even MORE budget friendly.

Groupon Goods is running an incredible deal today for Ekobrew Reusable Filters for Keurig machines.

With it, you get two reusable filters, that you can fill with the ground coffee of  your choice – from wherever you want, for however much you want to pay. You can use this just as you use Keurig cups and then reuse the filter next time.

Not only is this a  budget idea, but environmentally friendly too!

My Love Affair With TJ Maxx

If you’re anything like me, you’re a ‘maxxinista’! My absolute favorite budget-friendly, high value store is TJ Maxx. It blows my mind all the time how I can get so many articles of clothing or adorable knick knacks for my home for such a little cost. I decided it was high time I put my wondering to bed and did some research on the glory that is TJ Maxx.

First, I checked out their website to get some facts. Here’s what they say:

  • Selections of brand names and designer fashions generally 20%-60% below department and specialty store regular prices on comparable merchandise
  • They have ‘buyers’ who not only trend-spot, but buy from everything from big-name vendors to boutique and up-and-coming labels.
  • These ‘buyers’ are opportunistic – basically, when a designer overproduces or another store overbuys, TJ Maxx swoops in and negotiates the lowest possible price
  • They also take advantage of opportunities such as department store cancellations or closeout deals
  • Only a small percentage of TJ Maxx merchandise is ‘past season’

While I was there, I also saw two awesome tips that you should all be aware of before I continue…

  • There are several deliveries per week – just because you didn’t find anything you liked one day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check back a couple of days later!
  • If you like something, grab it. They don’t hold much in their stock rooms + store managers don’t even know what’s coming in until deliveries arrive. Don’t hold back or you’ll lose it!

Then, it was time for me to dig outside of the brand – how is TJ Maxx really doing this?! Do people know secrets behind the budget extraordinaire store?

The Budget Babe’s tell all article “The Truth About TJ Maxx” is pretty insightful. She says that it is a misconception that TJ Maxx buys leftovers from other stores. The Budget Babe claims that they buy directly from 10,000 vendors in 60 countries – same top quality stuff that you can see being sold for more in department stores. One of the reasons that they’re able to do this is because they agree to not advertise or announce the specific name brands they carry – giving dibs to department stores to do that. Pocket Your Dollars mentions that they simply use general statements like “department store brands” instead. The Budget Babe does tip us off to this: sign up for alerts from TJ Maxx and they’ll send you email updates about great new designer names so you’re tipped off on when to head to  your nearest location. Not a bad idea!

Another misconception The Budget Babe tips us off to, is that it’s rumored that TJ Maxx only sells irregular or damaged merchandise. This is entirely untrue! 95% of their goods are top quality with no flaws. The 5% that IS irregular is marked and priced as such – they’re certainly not trying to trick you. The world is not working against you!

On the other hand, though, Medium recently released an article debunking all of this. They claim that brands work directly with TJ Maxx to produce clothing with their label on it in return for a certain percentage. Medium claims that often times, they can be very deceptive with this in mind. So pants that “usually cost $88, marked down to $44” are not in fact ever worth $88 – they were intentionally made to cost $44 – quality, quality, quality.

Where does this leave us? Well, here’s where it leaves me – it’s entirely up to you who and what you choose to believe. If you’ve been a time-old TJ Maxx consumer like myself, and you like the prices and quality, then keep going! I know I will. Now you simply have the facts in case you’ve ever wondered.

Enjoy the weekend!

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!