Tag Archives: saving money

The Best Kitchen Hacks To Save You Time, Effort, Money, and Misery

My Best Kitchen Hacks!

Welcome to this compilation of my best kitchen hacks!

I’ve been cooking and baking since I was a little girl, and I’ve learned a lot from my mom, a neighbor that let me cook with her, and my own personal experience since getting married.

Today I’m sharing with you kitchen hacks that took me decades to learn! (Two decades to be exact, but it is quality, not quantity that matters.)

My Best Kitchen Hacks!

Baking Muffins¬†Evenly – Only ended up with 11 muffins instead of 12? Fill any empty muffins cups with water to ensure even baking. So say my mom and grandma, anyway….could be family folklore, but I still do it every time. ūüôā

Boiling pasta¬†(etc.) – Place a wooden spoon across your pot and it won’t boil over. This is apparently scientific but only works if you do it before you run screaming to the stove because the contents of your pan¬†have already gone over the edge.

Oil/butter substitute for baking – Keep those¬†snack size¬†containers of unsweetened applesauce on hand.¬†Measure yours, but the ones I buy for my kids are¬†just about an exact 1/2 cup. That’s perfect for substituting in recipes that call for 1/2 cup of butter or oil. It may not be eco friendly, but it’s a lot better than opening a big jar only to have it go moldy in the fridge because you forgot about it. Not that I would ever do that.

Healthy Banana Substitute – Dislike banana but find it in EVERY healthy recipe? I knew I¬†wasn’t the only one! Cook a sweet potato in the microwave until soft and use that instead (equivalent amount- you may have to guesstimate). Applesauce will sometimes work, too. Or, pick a banana that’s on the greener side. They’re not as sweet and not as banana-y tasting. ūüėõ

Multitasking coffee grinder – Gave up on grinding your own coffee beans? Or upgraded to a new grinder? Keep that old extra grinder on hand to grind your own¬†spices. Or nuts, flax seeds, grains….

Make your own oat flour – Ever see a recipe calling for oat flour? My fav muffin recipe calls for it, but I’ve never once bought a bag of it. I grab my Ninja food processor bowl and toss in whatever kind of oats I have on hand. Whirl and pulse until fine. Voila!

Food Processor

Keep your cold foods¬†cold – Having a party and need to keep your salad¬†cold during the event? Put some ice in a bowl that’s slightly larger than whatever your salad (or other cold item is in). Nestle your bowl of salad into the larger bowl of ice and it should keep for longer! I also saw this idea on Pinterest –¬†How to Make an Ice Bowl. Great for serving shrimp, or chilling wines, maybe keeping fruit cold?

Rising Bread – Trying to master¬†homemade breads? Most recipes tell you to put your oven on warm to rise your bread, but¬†that doesn’t always work. My oven is still pretty hot on the warm setting and begins baking the bread prematurely! Instead, microwave a couple mugs of water until boiling. Stick the mugs in opposite corners of your microwave and put your bowl of dough in, covered with a light towel as usual. Close microwave and leave to rise – but occasionally check the warmth inside. You may need to remove the bread and reheat the mugs of water. Do NOT leave the bowl of dough inside when you microwave the water. Your towel might catch on fire. Not that I would know this from personal experience…

Stop¬†crying while chopping onions – Freeze onion briefly or refrigerate before chopping. This is scientific – look it up! You can also run under cold water but it’s not as effective.

Rotten Eggs – Not sure whether your eggs are still fresh? Play sink or float. Place your eggs in a bowl of cool water. If they sink they’re fresh; if they float they’re no good. (To remember which is which, remember – dead fish float to the top, and so do your dead rotten eggs. Ha!)

Save on Citrus Fruit¬†– Don’t you hate when a recipe calls just for citrus zest, no juice? Or vice versa? Next time, squeeze the juice from your citrus fruit and freeze the rind. Next time you just need the zest, you won’t have to waste a fresh lemon, lime, or orange!

Save On Citrus!

Another lemon tip – Enjoy having fresh lemon in your water? Or a slice in your tea? Slice up a couple lemons all at once, and freeze in a layer on a parchment paper lined pan. Or use my lazy man method –¬†line them up in a freezer bag and carry it as carefully as you can over to the freezer. Either way works! Next time you want a lemon slice or two for your drinks, grab one from your frozen stash!

Softer edge brownies – I don’t make brownies much anymore but I learned as a kid, it is best to grease the pan, not spray it. You have more control this way…brownies do NOT like greased edges and the cooking spray often gets on the sides of the pan whether you want it to or not. Also, bake at 25 degrees lower than the box calls for and a few minutes longer. The edges won’t get too crisp before the middle is done. It depends on your oven (and your pan) of course, but this tip helped us be able to stop throwing out concrete edged brownies.

No more grating on my nerves (or cheese)¬†– Let it be known that I HATE grating cheese or anything else. So one day, I had this brilliant idea (or, okay, I’m not gonna lie, maybe I saw it on the Food Network, I really don’t remember). Roughly chop up your bar of cheese and throw it in your food processor. Pulse until you have tiny little crumbles. Once it melts, no one is the wiser for your time saving method! You’re done in about 2 minutes as opposed to the hand-cramping hour it would normally be (give or take, ya know). This also works for zucchini! And¬†I sincerely doubt that anyone will care if you have zucchini crumbles instead of shreds¬†in your bread or muffins.

I hope you’ve found some of these kitchen hacks to be useful! I also have a coffee hack post,¬†How to Make Gourmet Coffee at Home¬†in which I share an easy way to quickly froth your own milk!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share with your friends, so they can save time and misery too. ūüėČ

My best Kitchen Hacks to Save You Time, Effort, Money, And Misery

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!

10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!” is a post I wrote to add to a prompt-based weekly linkup. I got excited when I saw the writing prompt, because this is MY THING. My forte. My jam, if you will. If I’m proficient at anything, it’s saving money. And my kids always look cute, I’m telling you! This is no lie, and I spend so very little on their outfits. Today I am sharing my ‘professional’ tips with you! And as cheap as I am, I’m sharing these tips for free. Gasp!

  1. I shop at yard sales. Duh. I’m not an avid shopper (anymore) but I still hit plenty of sales- enough to clothe my daughters for a year or more.
  2. I plan ahead. So what if my daughter is not in a size 6 yet? If I see a super cute shirt in brand new shape for only 50 cents, I’m going to snatch it up. She will wear it in a year or two.
  3. I buy multiple sizes. I know, without a doubt, my daughters will need snow boots come Wintertime. The unknown factor is size. I can do my best to guesstimate, but growth spurts are curve balls. Regardless, if I find a great pair of Stride Right boots for $2, I will grab those babies up faster than you can say “snow day!”. And if I find another pair in a bigger or smaller size, I’ll grab them, too. Because now, for under $5 I have two great pairs of boots, and surely one will fit. That is still cheaper than any retail sale! And better quality boots, too, than if I ended up running to Wal-Mart at the first hint of snowflakes falling from the sky.
  4. I get excited when I come across Fill-A-Bag Sales. Do you know how much stuff you can shove in a bag for only $5? One summer, I hit the jackpot and got sooo many cute sundresses for my little girl! I notice towards the end of a yard sale, people are more likely to offer fill-a-bag, or churches sometimes on the second day of their rummage sale.
  5. I buy multiple seasons of clothes.¬†Knowing which season for which size is tough with babies, especially. You never know how big your baby will be, or how fast they will grow. So with my newborns, I bought both warm and cold weather clothes in different sizes. You can always use those short-sleeved onesies as undershirts, if nothing else. At 50 cents apiece (my optimal buy price), if something doesn’t get used, or is only worn once, I’m still saving money when one outfit usually costs a minimum $10-$15 ¬†at the store!
  6. I accept hand-me-downs. This doesn’t happen¬†often¬†since my friends have kids that are my kids ages, but I also accept hand-me-downs for myself!! ūüėČ If we need specialized items like ballet leotards or tap shoes, I’ll ask friends or¬†my¬†MOMS club¬†if I can buy their older daughter’s outgrown dance items. Sometimes they just give it away, and my daughters can play dress up if nothing else! I think we’ve bought only one leotard and one pair of ballet shoes brand new since the beginning of my daughter’s two years dance ‘career’. Not too shabby!
  7. I keep an eye out for¬†Consignment Sales in the area. And sign up to be notified of the next sale, if that’s an option. In my opinion, consignment sales are sometimes expensive. This is where, though, if you really need something, you have a better chance of finding it. The Winter boots you need may be $6 instead of $2, but still cheaper than the mall.
  8. Secondhand¬†stores are always an option, too. Definitely the most expensive way to save, lol, but again, if you really need something, you will probably find it there! You’ll at least score name brand items for Wal-Mart prices.
  9. Ask for clothes at Christmas or birthdays. If I find that my girls don’t have enough leggings, or something specific, like plain colored shirts, I ask my mom. ūüôā She is always happy to buy adorable little girl clothes and they make a great gift, rather than¬†more toys to¬†organize and pick up!
  10. Sign up for e-mail notifications of sale events at your favorite kids retail store. And then never open the e-mails. Seriously. Open them, and you’ll be sucked in. But when you want to splurge, or need something in particular…the promo codes will be there. Look for a clearance sale- you can even find in-season clothes on clearance. Wait until they offer an extra percentage off clearance and that’s your ticket to shop. I went a little crazy at Oshkosh last year around Christmas, buying my girls adorable matching outfits, sweaters, and dresses. But I still only spent $100, and they made great Christmas presents. ūüôā
10 Ways I Dress My Kids Super Cute and Super Cheap!
My girls in cute outfits from yard sales- my oldest is wearing a nice Gymboree top I paid a dollar for!

Bonus tip!: Make sure you sign up for a cash back program like Ebates, or Shop At Home. So when you do shop online, you will get cash back! Just be sure to start at the Ebates or Shop At Home website, and they will track what you spend so you’re credited for it in your account.

(If you sign up for Ebates with my referral link, we’ll both get $10¬†deposited in our account!)

My kids always look nice, except maybe when we play out in the yard. And even then, they’re decent. Nicely combed hair helps, and a clean face. Our holiday outfits almost always come from yard sales or consignment sales. That is an awesome¬†thing to score, since your kid and the kid before that will likely only wear it once or twice. So your kids’ clothes may be last season, or the season before that. Your friends won’t see it on the shelf next time they’re at Gymboree or Carter’s. As long as it is decent and clean, who cares?¬†I’d rather have more money for vacation or eating out than spending $30 on a dress my daughter will wear once and stain.

How do you save on your kids clothes? Did I miss any stellar tips?

 

I added this post to the Share The Wealth Link-up. Click the button below to check it out!

Fun Money Mom

Groupon Coupons (And Other Ways to Save Money!)

Ways I save money and make money online!
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.
Save money

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you heard of Groupon Coupons? I use Groupon all the time, but had never heard of Groupon Coupons until just recently! We pretty much don’t do anything without a coupon, a promo code, or a special discount. That’s why I was excited to hear of this program!

Just go to:¬†¬†https://www.groupon.com/coupons¬†and from there you can check out “Today’s Top Coupons and Offers” or search by store. So if you know you need to¬†shop at¬†Kohl’s, you can type “Kohl’s”¬†in the search box. Right now, they have online or in store coupons/promos for 15% off your order.

Planning to travel this Summer? With Groupon Coupons, you can save on vacation, too! Find¬†deals on¬†Travelocity,¬†Hilton¬†Hotels, Hotwire….I even saw an awesome Groupon exclusive for “zipcar” that gets you a $25 free driving credit.

In fact, there’s all kinds of categories in which you can save!

This isn’t even half of the categories available, but you get the idea!

Another way I like to save, besides Groupon restaurant deals (my fav!) or Groupon coupons, is an app you can use at the grocery to save on food, even fresh produce!

It’s called Ibotta.

Works very similar to paper coupons, but on your smart phone. And you can still use your paper coupons in addition!! Ka-ching! All the money you save is available to you once you’ve hit $20 in ‘rebates’ and is redeemable for gift cards OR REAL MONEY! Connect your PayPal account and deposit the money there. I absolutely love this! You can also earn¬†bonuses for buying multiple items from the same brand, or accumulating a certain amount in rebates in a given time period.

How it works:

  • Unlock coupon (read a blurb about the product or answer a question, etc.)
  • Buy item
  • Scan item (at home)
  • Snap pic of receipt

That’s it! Adds a few extra minutes to your shopping trip, but totally worth it! I especially like that I don’t have to do all these steps IN the store- I can do it at home. Shopping with kids is hard enough without further distractions! The app updates it rebates¬†every Thursday (I believe…) so this week you may get 2o cents off a gallon of milk, but next week, it is gone. Some rebates stay on the app for ages, some for just a short time. I can’t remember exactly when I signed up, but in a year or more, I’ve saved $173.90 with the Ibotta app.

Sign up for Ibotta with my referral link (https://ibotta.com/r/ghfbsg) and you will automatically get $10 when you redeem your first rebate within two weeks (and I’ll get $5 for referring you!!).

Once you’ve hit the store with your Groupon Coupons or Ibotta app, come home and scan your receipts into Receipt Hog to earn ‘coins’ which you can exchange for Amazon gift cards or for cash deposited into PayPal.¬†Eligible receipts now¬†include:

  • Grocery
  • Gas
  • Restaurant/bar
  • Bakery/cafe

I don’t do much shopping beyond the grocery store, so it has taken me a long time to amass rewards with this app. It is very easy to do though, and as a stay-at-home mom, I try to do what I can to save money. I recently redeemed my coins for $10 sent straight to our PayPal account though, so that felt pretty good! That’s like, 2 or 3 lattes¬†worth of cash! ūüôā Receipt Hog doesn’t currently have a rewards program, but I like you, so I’m letting you in on this secret regardless of the fact that there’s nothing in it for me. ūüėČ

Another easy money maker I use is Swagbucks. I basically:

  • Answer a daily poll
  • Click through and say “No thank you” to some ads
  • Watch a couple videos every day.
  • Use Swagbucks as my search engine to win Swagbucks!

I earn points, called “Swagbucks” for all of that which I redeem for Amazon gift cards! There are more ways to earn your “swagbucks”, like taking surveys and signing up for special offers, but with two kids, a small business,¬†and a blog, I no longer have time for those earning opportunities!¬†I’ve made $250 in Amazon gift cards since I signed up for Swagbucks¬†at the end of January in 2012. They have many other retailers available, but Amazon has historically¬†been the best redemption value. The deposit to PayPayl option is now available with Swagbucks too.

When you refer friends to Swagbucks, you get 10% of whatever they earn for life! For example: When they earn 500 SB, you get 50 SB!

So use my referral link, and sign up! The sooner you do, the sooner you start making money!

 http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/rlosborn

Those are my absolute favorite ways to save (and make!) money. What are your tips? If you know of an app I should be using, feel free to let me know in the comments below, and leave your referral link!

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