Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grocery List Template

I'm continuously making efforts to get my life more organized, but grocery shopping is something I've nailed. I've always shopped with a list, but it was just a scribbly jumbled thing and inevitably I would get home and discover that I forgot 5 items and then would waste time and money going out to a shop to pick those things up. Enter the spreadsheet!

This template follows the general order of most grocery stores. As you complete one section of the store you can fold that part under to make it more visually streamlined. I often do this and I find that it's helpful. Also, sometimes I have a trip to two stores planned or am picking things up at the Farmers Market (I only go to two stores if one store lies along a route I'd be taking anyway that week). In that case I'll highlight items in two colors so it  becomes two lists in one. I post mine on the fridge for us to add things that we run low and then as I do my meal planning for the week (more on meal planning soon!) I fill out the rest.

Download my grocery list template here!

This simple list has saved me loads of time that I can then spend doing more interesting things than grocery shopping. It means I rarely have to backtrack in the store and I need to make less trips elsewhere to pick up items I didn't get.

The template prints two lists per sheet. Print on paper that's already used on side to make it more eco and budget friendly!

I hope someone else finds this template as useful as Ido.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments May 19 to May 25

our 'new' sofa

This week I wasn't so much frugal as very lucky!

This week of great luck started out with a Community Clothing Swap where I had very good success. Swaps are such a fantastic idea. I took in some of our items that don't fit us well anymore and some that I find myself just never wearing and in exchange scored: 3 shirts and a pair of pj pants for L, a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans (which I need to get taken up but are otherwise perfect), a summer skirt, and three summer tops for myself. So 9 free and really nice pieces of clothing.

The week ended with the mother (in-law) lode of luck. My mother-in-law is moving this summer from a house to a much smaller townhouse and needed to re-home much of her furniture. She offered us lots of her very nice furniture (she has great taste) for free, we just had to move it-- which is what we did this Saturday. She could have easily sold all of it and I am so appreciative of the fact that she just gave all these items to us. We picked up: a sofa (pictured above), a solid oak dining table and 6 chairs, an 11x8 ft wool rug (now in our room, framing our bed), and a solid oak armoire made by my husband's grandfather. We sold our old furniture which wasn't nearly so nice and used the money to cover the cost of renting a moving truck and we're going to use some of the surplus to purchase a new shoe cabinet (I find it impossible to currently keep our entrance tidy) and the last extra money to put towards debt.

Made instead of bought: wipes, chicken broth. I made the chicken broth from leftover bones and vegetable scraps that I collect in the freezer in a gallon bag  until it's full.

When we went to a baseball game, we were give a card for .5 cent off every liter of gas for 50 liters.

I made several very economical meals, including: Tomato and Lentil Soup served with Pita and Hummus and Ham and Brocolli Pasta Toss (made with the last bit of Easter ham left in the freezer).

 That's it for this week, what about you?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments May 12 to May 18

I went thrift shopping a Value Village for their 50% off sale, because I have one of their Super Savers cards, we were able to beat the crowds and the deal a day early. I really usually only go once every couple of months, but I've been Spring purging at home so have had lots to drop off, so I end up exchanging those items for things that are more useful to us right now. Above is a game I bought for L for 1.99 that he's been playing ALL WEEK. It's a well-made knock-off of Hungry Hungry Hippos (but with frogs). I also got 2 pairs of shorts for him and some summer tops and a dress for myself, all for very very little money.

Made instead of bought: vinaigrette and brownies.

We used a movie pass for two that I was gifted as a thank you after doing someone a favour to go see a movie as a family, so it only cost us $8 (just for one child) for us all to go.

I got some great grocery deals this week like tissues for the best price I've ever found and strawberries. I stocked up on strawberries and froze some whole for smoothies and baking and I also froze some as strawberry coulis to use over greek yogurt, lemon pound cake, or ice cream for dessert or pancakes or waffles for breakfast.

For the first time ever I picked up some produce from from the reduced rack. I had always been too embarrassed to even look at what was there. However, I got a bunch of bananas that were almost ripe for very very cheap. While the ones in the store were bright green, these were ready to eat in a day. I always thought that the reduced food would be nearly rotting -- but there was absolutely nothing wrong with the bananas I bought. We ate them before they were past their prime, but if we hadn't, we could have just thrown them in the freezer to use later in smoothies and baking.

So that's about it for me, what did you do this week to save money?

Friday, May 17, 2013

DIY: Poster to Canvas Wall Art

I was cleaning out a cupboard that had evaded any sort of de-cluttering for a very long time (I'm currently on a big purging kick), and I found a map of the world that had been a free pull-out from a National Geographic a few years ago.

I had been trying to think of something to use an old canvas for to put on L's bedroom wall, so it seemed like it could be a perfect match. This project cost me absolutely nothing as I used all things I already had around. However, even if you were purchasing all the materials, it would still be very inexpensive.

What you need:

- Mod Podge
- brush
- poster
- stretched canvas
- paint of choice (optional)
- spray sealer (I used this one because that's what I had)

How to:

1. Prep your canvas. For mine this meant painting it with leftover paint, however if you'd prefer to leave it white or if your poster is an exact fit, skip this step.

2. Working very quickly, use a brush to coat surface of canvas in mod podge. Wet your poster well. This is the important step when working with paper. Apply poster to canvas and position. Once positioned don't move it around but use your hands or a roller to smooth out air bubbles. Don't stress too much though, they'll get better as it dries and it's impossible to get it absolutely perfect. Allow to dry fully.

3. Brush over entire surface one or more layers of mod podge.

4. Let dry then spray surface with spray sealer.

5. Hang!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments May 5 to 11

This week was a bit of a struggle. The first week back to work after vacation is always a bear! I really struggled with my chronic migraines this week just to make it extra fun. Here's to a better next week!

What we made instead of buying: I made Italian breadsticks and my husband made homemade tartar sauce (to use on yummy Po'Boy sandwiches!)

I regrew green onions from the leftover roots.

I washed out some freezer bags to use again. I try to cut down on our plastic use (although I fall short of completely elimiating it at this point) since the fact that every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in the world and will persist for centuries is something I find really depressing.

I used the peels from our oranges to make homemade Citrus Cleaner, which since I started making, I always try to keep some around since works awesome for cleaning and disinfecting kitchen counters.

I used items I already had to make new artwork for Luc's room for free.

Our family used some of the MANY hotel toiletries we have had hanging around this week to use some of them up.

I ordered a couple of useful coupons from

What did you do to be frugal this week?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Good Deal

My best score thrift shopping last week was this pair of Citizens of Humanity Avedon super skinny jeans, which retail for about $200 for $9.09 (they were $12.99 but I had a 30% off coupon).They look like they've never been worn.

They fit so absolutely perfectly that when I tried them on I actually made a small squeal of delight in the change room. My son L was with me, he looked confused for a second then asked 'Mommy, what's wrong? Did the pants hurt you?".  No honey, everything's just fine!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Storing Parsley to Last for Weeks

I recently discovered a way to keep parsley fresh and ready to use for 3 weeks at a time. I got the idea from An Everlasting Meal, which is an absolutely wonderful book.

This method is a little tedious, but it really only takes 1/2 an hour once every 3 weeks and you can watch TV at the same time. For this batch I actually played Monopoly while I was doing it!

Step 1: Wash the parsley, stems and all, and dry as much as possible using a salad spinner.

Step 2: Pick all the leaves of the stems (this is the tedious part). Add the stems to your vegetable scraps for making broth another day.

Step 3: If the leaves aren't totally dry spread them out on a surface until they are. Pack them in a clean air-tight container and store in the fridge.

Step 4: Chop as needed and use to add brightness to nearly everything you make!

I use a repurposed pickle jar as my vessel of choice. For one, it's just the right size to hold an average bunch of parsley and secondly, it's clear so there's no chance of me forgetting that this parsley is in the fridge since I see it every time I go in.

Frugal Accomplishments Apr 28 to May4

Lancaster County, PA

For the past couple of months, I've been keeping a small notebook where I track my frugal accomplishments for the week. I was inspired by the Prudent Homemaker blog, although I will never reach her impressive level of thriftiness, this simple act has helped to keep me on track with making smarter choices on daily basis. I figure that by posting them on here where someone could actually see my list, I'll be encouraging myself to do even better. Well, that's the theory anyway!

This week was not a particularly frugal one as my husband and I drove down (L stayed with his grandparents) to visit his grandmother in Pennsylvania, which included lots of eating out and some shopping. However, we stayed more or less on budget and we saved for this trip in advance -- which is something that we never used to do.

When my parents left our place (they were also dog and cat sitting!), they left lots of food, including bread, fruit, juice, and vegetables -- so that meant I didn't have to buy as much this week.

This week I made: zucchini bread (to use up an extra zucchini leftover from a meal) and Italian Dressing.

Repaired my wallet with superglue to get a few more months of use out of it before I need to buy a replacement.

Donated items to Value Village to get 30% off coupon. Scored some especially great deals (including pants for Luc, shorts, shirts, jeans for me, a toy, and a board game) and saved $18.86 on what I would have bought anyways.

I made a couple of servings of dog food using some freezer burned cooked roast beef, part of a badly bruised apple, part of a old carrot and some leftover sushi rice and mixed it all up in the food processor. Our dog doesn't do well with meat by itself and he'll pick out the meat if I don't blend it together. I got 3 meals for him out of this food that would otherwise go to waste.

What did you do this week to save money?

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