I’ve always loved eating out, but I found that I was spending way too much on each trip and thought I would have to give up restaurants completely. I was totally wrong, though! Eating out doesn’t have to be banned completely when you’re on a budget – especially if you follow these tips…
Instead of ordering an entire kids meal that your kiddo likely won’t eat more than 3 bites of, just get a few dishes that the whole family can share! Just be aware that some restaurants may charge an extra fee for sharing plates.
Opt for water
Ordering soft drinks (or coffee or juice or tea) for everyone in the family is going to add up quickly – you could buy a whole liter of soda for around the price of one glass at a restaurant. Instead, have everyone opt for a water! Not only is it healthier, but your wallet will thank you.
Find promotions and discounts
Groupon always has lots of great discounts for restaurants, and it often forces you to try out somewhere new! Also, lots of places offer days where kids eat free, and sign up for emails to score birthday discounts (lots of places offer up a free entree for the birthday boy or girl), free appetizers and more!
Take leftovers home
Never be shy about asking for a to-go container to take home the rest of the bread or the last few bites of pasta. You’ve paid for all of it, so don’t just leave it behind!
Say “no” to appetizers
You’ll likely get plenty of food with your entree, so unless you have a coupon for a free appetizer, or it’s your favorite part about that restaurant, steer clear. Ask for extra bread or a basket of fries to munch on instead.
I had no idea that National Flip Flop Day was a thing until a couple days ago. HOW FUN! As soon as the weather gets warm enough I transition from my boots, flats and sneakers to nothing but flip-flops. I’m honestly a very lazy person – so much so that even the thought of taking a few extra seconds to strap on sandals is enough to keep me wholeheartedly addicted to flip-flops.
Even if you aren’t a huge flip-flop wearer like I am, I doubt you’ll be able to resist how cute these flip-flop wreaths I’ve found are! They are the perfect symbol of summer, and you can usually score them for super cheap at Walmart or during a sale at Old Navy! Take a second to look through the following tutorials – then get crafting!
Here are a few of my favorites…
You can make this fun flip-flop “wreath” welcome sign in under 30 minutes! Now that’s my kind of craft! Head here for detailed instructions.
Head here for a tutorial on this style of flip-flop wreath. There are 6 different flip-flop wreath themes that A Day in the Life with TJ has crafted, from Patriotic to Wild Colors!
This last wreath is also super inexpensive to make, and has a cute flower in the middle! Check it out here.
Frugal Easter Basket Ideas
How to save on the basket:
Many people will save baskets from year to year. This is a great idea. Saves money, time, and creates a tradition! If this is your first year buying a basket, check the Dollar Stores. If you’re looking for a nice, sturdy, specialty basket, however, you may want to wait until the POST EASTER CLEARANCE. Buy the $1 basket for THIS YEAR, and after Easter buy that extra special, durable basket that will last year after year.
Another great idea is to use something that is reusable and the kids will put to use. A sand bucket, makeup carrier, or flower pot are just a few ideas.
Candy and other treats:
- Dollar stores are great for small bags of candy and even chocolate bunnies.
- Use clearance candy that you stocked up on during the post-Valentines Day Sales (check exp dates)
- Shop EARLY and USE COUPONS
- Bake cookies shaped like eggs. Wrap in colorful plastic wrap and add to basket.
- Jelly beans can be found for as little as 99 cents per bag. Fill reusable plastic eggs with jelly beans. *make sure to SAVE the eggs for next year. Recycle, reuse!
Save on non-candy items:
- Fun and inexpensive toys and books can be found at Target’s $1 spot and local dollar stores. Stop by from time to time throughout the year to stock up, especially during clearance sales. Target will mark the $1 items down to as little as 10 cents throughout the year.
- Thrift stores are great for books and DVD’s and the prices can’t be beat.
- Buy crayons for as little as .50 at Wal-Mart and Target.
- Did you know Michaels Craft Store has a $1 section? Check it out!
- Print coloring sheets from free sites to add to the basket.
- More inexpensive toy ideas: bubbles, coloring books, stickers, cars, and stamps.
What To Buy In November
Did you know that specific items are cheaper to buy in specific months throughout the year? If you were not aware of this, be sure to pay attention to the list below. It will save you money throughout the year.
APPLIANCES: It’s time for NEW models to start coming out, so pick up last year’s leftovers at a deep discount. Stores want to move these out fast. So, you’re going to find some deeply discounted appliances.
ELECTRONICS: Need a new TV? November is the month to grab yours. Mainly because of the holiday sales I’m sure, but November is the month to buy your higher priced TV’s at amazing prices. This is going to also include gaming consoles AND laptops!
CANDY: The day after Halloween, November 1st, through November 15th, you’re going to find discounted Halloween Candy. The stores need to make room for Christmas sales. If you’re store is already out of Halloween candy, no worries. Many stores have amazing sales on holiday candies throughout the month, preparing you for Christmas.
APPAREL: I was quite happy to read about this one. Big stores like Kohls, Amazon, and Target, offer doorbusting sales on clothes for the whole family during November. Again, vamping up for the holiday shopping season.
Sign up here for FREE email newsletter and exclusive coupons (up to $250 per year in savings).
Taking the time and money to take your spouse out is hard in our busy society, but it helps remind them how much they mean to you. Date night doesn’t mean it has to break the bank! Remember whether it is free or costs the world, a date is only as good as the thought put into it.
Grab a couple of blankets, spread them out in your backyard and gaze up at all stars and planets in your night sky. Did you know there are even apps available (such as Skyview which is available for iPhone and Android), that when pointed to the sky, will help you decipher what you are looking at? So fun!
Bonfire and S’mores
Light up the backyard fire pit and get to cooking while sharing a drink and laughs– and remembering why you fell in love in the first place!
Antiquing or Thrift Store Shopping
Take a walk through local antique or thrift stores and talk about all the quirky things you find. Better yet — purchase an item to redo and upcycle together!
A great way to enjoy each other’s company as well as give back to the community is to look for volunteer opportunities. Check with your local animal shelter or other community organizations such as Red Cross.
Take to the internet and search for possible haunted locations in your area. Everything from an old abandoned insane asylum to the local legends surrounding your local watering hole can be fodder for the best “hunt.”
Create little cards with clues on them to lead you from the starting point to your ultimate destination. You can keep it small by keeping it around the house or let it grow to something that covers the whole city. A cute twist would be to have the “treasure” be something that holds significance for the both of you, such as the place of your first date.
Remember, it is always the thought that counts. Whether you are going on your first date or celebrating your 10th wedding anniversary just being together and enjoying each other’s company is the goal. Think outside the box and remember to have fun no matter how you spend your time with the one you love.
Parties and getting together with friends is a ton of fun. It could also mean a ton of food, drinks, and left overs that don’t really fit into dinner plans. While fun at the time, most of us don’t want to waste food, or see food wasted. It breaks our thrifty hearts. Here’s how to reduce the amount of party leftovers you will have and tips for what to do with what is left over.
Think Before You Buy
When having people over consider having foods that will last longer, morph into meals and are semi healthy. When you have candy you will either destroy your diet or never be rid of it. When you have tortilla chips and bean dip you can later add salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream to make nachos for lunch on the day after your get together.
Make It Potluck
Potluck parties are the best because with everyone bringing something you know two things. First, there is going to be plenty of food. Second, everyone should have something there they like. After the party you can just send people home with the leftovers of what they brought. You can send everyone home with something they didn’t bring.
Try To Pawn Them Off
If you have thrown a party or had a family get together, try to pawn some of the food off on those that attended. Often you have paid for the food, but what is left over is more than your little family unit can ( or should ) eat before it goes bad. Make plates or bags designed with the purpose of sending your food orphans home with family and friends.
Left Over Day
Have the day after your party be a left over day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner should all be comprised of left overs. So should any snacks that are consumed on that day. While you will have some less healthy options and some interesting meal combinations, you will also avoid wasting those costly party foods.
No one like to waste money by wasting food. Smaller, more picker members of our families, however, may not care at all how much we are spending on groceries. They may demand a diet of peanut butter sandwiches for a year if we allowed it. It’s tempting some days, but we don’t. Still how can we get our little one to eat right without breaking the bank.
Believe in Seconds
You aren’t sure if your little food critic is going to devour dinner or turn their nose up at it. So give them a tiny portion to see if they like it. They are more likely to try it because it’s such a small amount. This means that your more likely to get them to eat it because they now know they like it. If they don’t like it, you haven’t wasted a full portion on them.
Never Force Food
Having control of what they put in their mouth is big for little independent minds. when you try to force food on a child they are more likely to rebel against eating it. This will set a precedent with all new food. It’s important that your child gets to choose what they will try. Offer small amount of a large variety of foods. You can do this by buying or making fruit, vegetable, and cheese platters with crackers and various dips. There could be yogurt dips, peanut butter dips or just plain old ranch dressing. This gives you picky child the opportunity to pick.
Mix It In
Put a new vegetable in a casserole or in some pasta. Put fruit in pancakes. Make things that are salads (potato, pasta, or egg) that otherwise wouldn’t pass as a salad. Get veggie dogs or vegan chicken nuggets. Make sweet potato fries instead of regular french fries. Get bread with a fruit of vegetable in them. A little camoflauge could go a long way if your little one isn’t paying attention.