The Best Mother’s Day Gift (That Didn’t Cost a Penny)

 

good. gravy.

 

 I am a lucky girl. :)

 

Remember last week when I rambled (probably a little too long . . . ), about struggling with measuring up?

 

Well, my husband took the time to read that mess (he doesn’t read everything here on PPP, but scans some of it every once in awhile), and on a blank piece of copy paper gave me just the best Mother’s Day card and gift I’ve ever received. 

 

I’d told him not to spend money (we’ve been working quite a bit on fluffing up our home, so I was perfectly content with that), but this little note was more than I ever could have wished for.

To spare you the gorey ahemgoofy details, I won’t share it all, but hope he’ll forgive me for sharing a few of my favorite parts. 

“Our marriage has not been perfect, but you have given me the perfect marriage. . .  . you are what I always wanted, not “Barbie.” :) 

 

Folks, this guy looks at this absolute mess of a mom with pudgy hips, saggy soft spots, and one crazy unorganized life, and loves (and cheers!) for me every single day. Back when I first starting working on PPP, when I was literally putting in 40 hours a week and not making a single penny, he stood by as my cheerleader, confidently encouraging me to keep at it, never once questioning my work here despite the extra load it often put on him.

 

The last year has not been our easiest. In fact, probably since our marriage I’ve cried more tears than I can remember. (And I’m not one to shed tears much ~ hardly ever!) Moving 8 hours from what had become our home has been a major adjustment, and we’ve had some other struggles that have popped onto our plate along the way.

 

(Add in parenting both a teenager and tweenager in the midst of that along with one crazy busy 8 year old? Yikes.) 

 

James is oh-so-different from me. He hates social media, rarely watches a movie, and in many ways is an old-fashioned-fuddy-duddy-born-100-years-too late.

 

Bless him. 😉

 

But he loves and encourages me as if I’m amazing (despite the fact that I’m so far from it!), and continues to be this person who just thinks I’m a rockstar even when he sees the truth every day.

 

(Isn’t it a blessing when those who know you best love you most? wow.)

 

Honestly? I’m not great at doing the same thing for him. I get frustrated that the dishes aren’t done, or if the laundry’s piling up, or if I just feel like I’m incapable of keeping up. I have got to work better at being his cheerleader too, but for whatever reason it’s not always natural to me.

 

 

If you’re lucky enough to have a cheerleader in your life too, whether it be your spouse, parents, or a wonderful friend, thank them because they will help you go so much further than you ever can go on your own.

 

And, if you’re like me and struggle to cheer someone else on, goodness gracious, join me and let’s start doing just that!

 

Sometimes just being cheered for is all we need to turn into our very best self ~ and I’m so incredibly thankful to have someone cheering for me. (Especially on those days I’m not so sure of myself.)

 

Anyone else get  just the most wonderful gift for Mother’s Day that wasn’t even all that much? Sometimes those gifts are just the sweetest, and I’m oh-so-thankful for that one today. 

 

 

 

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The ugly green eyed monster – and why I’ll never measure up.

Just last week I was thumbing through Facebook and felt a wee bit more than a twinge of the green-eyed-monster of jealousy rising up inside of me.

 

Okay, okay, I wasn’t thumbing through Facebook really, but it sounds a little more glamorous than scrolling down Facebook like I do every single day ~ don’t ya’ think? 

 

I was jealous of another blogger’s downright gorgeous home. 

 

It was perfect.

 

Amazingly decorated.

 

Seriously, folks, it could have been in a magazine. 

 

I scrolled on down a little further and saw an acquaintance I hardly know, skinny-as-a-rail and just jaw-droppingly beautiful with her oh-so-cute and just about perfect husband sharing their anniversary.

 

They looked so happy.

 

Obviously they had it all together.

 

And I’m betting she hasn’t counted a calorie in her entire. life. 

 

Yup. I hate her.

 

truth. sorry. ahem.

 

Ridiculously, I kept on scrolling.

 

Why look at that. There’s another friend sharing their child’s most amazing accomplishment.

 

And oodles of other mommas cheering them on, because really, their child is phenomenal. clearly.

 

All while my little family just kind of sits around looking plain and ordinary.

 

Then I bounced off Facebook to really get to work and started looking at a few other blogs. 

 

You know, the ones who are all doing it right.

 

The ones who have perfect web sites, perfect content, perfect pictures  . . . and a jillion comments on every. single. post.

 

they really are oh so put together. I’m so not cut out for this.

 

 

Oh-so-often I feel like I just never measure up.

 

I allow myself to be jealous of another blogger’s home.

 

I let myself get jealous of a skinny perfect person that I hardly even know.

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I compare my kids to other people’s kids. (For the record, I have some pretty cute kids even if they are just ordinary. Jeesh.) 

 

And when it comes to blogging? Well, it’s just a stroke of luck that this little website stays on every daySeriously.

 

So I started really thinking about it. Who really looks like the person I want to be?

 

 

Initially, I thought if I could just be more like her, I would totally be there.

 

But then I realized, while she has a beautiful family, amazing business, and, well, keeping it real here folks, she’s skinny, :) she’s not all that in to fluffing her home. (Which is totally fine, but I kinda like a fluffed up home.)

 

So I moved on.

 

Then I thought well maybe if I could just be like this. Amazing home, perfectly-yet-kind-of-quirkily decorated, and of course skinny – but, well, I’m betting she doesn’t really enjoy clipping coupons. (I could be wrong – that’s just a hunch?)

 

Then I thought of another friend who I adore who runs an amazing business, has a beautiful home, and a precious family . . . but struggles some with other issues too.

 

I moved on. This one.  This is it. Perfect home, crazy huge business, gajillion followers on Facebook, Instagram, well, everywhere. Even a perfect husband.

 

and she can cook.

 

But really? As I thought it through, she’s not quite my “measure-up-to goal” either.

 

Honestly?

 

I want the body of Barbie (a little less curvy though, please), the business of Martha Stewart, the mommy-amazing-sweetness of Michelle Duggar (with a few less children though, I think? Maybe June Cleaver would work . . . ), and a home smack on the cover of Southern Living.

 

Oh, and can I cook like Paula Deen? (right, but with Barbie’s figure, got that? hmph.)

 

Ahem.

 

The truth? My twisted standard of measurement is some kind of not-really-perfect-at-all-but-I-think-it-might-be-perfect.

 

And I’m just me.

 

Way down here.

 

I’ll never measure up.

 

Years ago, I read an illustration in Max Lucado’s book In The Grip of Grace (such a wonderful book, by the way . . .) describing what my heart struggles in a way with each day . . .

 

 

“Suppose God reduced the Bible to one command: “Thou must jump so high in the air that you touch the moon.” No need to love your neighbor or pray or follow Jesus; just touch the moon by virtue of a jump, and you’ll be saved.

We’d never make it. There may be a few who jump three or four feet, even fewer who jump five or six; but compared to the distance we have to go, no one gets very far. Though you may jump six inches higher than I do, it’s scarcely reason to boast.”

 

 

My goal is set too high.

 

The standard I’ve set for myself is perfection.

 

Only grace can fill in.

 

God’s grace is okay with me the way I am.

 

It’s okay with a slightly pudgy-hippy girl.

 

It’s okay with my Facebook reach.

 

It’s okay with my kids.

 

It’s okay with the number of people who visit PPP daily.

 

It’s okay with the way I handle being a Godly wife to my poor husband.

 

Bless.

 

him. :) 

 

His grace is sufficient for me. 

 

Just as I am.

 

Ladies (sorry gents, I know y’all hopped off eons ago . . . ), you too are good enough. 

 

You are beautiful enough.

 

You are wise enough.

 

You are capable enough.

 

You.

 

Yes,

 

you.

 

You are enough.

 

Don’t let your picture of perfection be anything other than the one God created you to be.

 

I promise. I’ll stop too.

 

And you’re so not the only one who feels this way.

 

But his grace (thankheavens.) covers us today.

 

promise.

 

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

 

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Bag Lady

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I am a bag lady. 

 

I have a bag for my coupons, my Bible Study bag, a laptop bag, a gym bag, a donation bag, a we’re-going-to-watch-a-ball-game-and-I-need-entertainment-for-my-kids bag, a library bag, an emergency-snack bag . . .

 

and, then of course there’s my purse. :)

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My kids also have their bags. They have bookbags and soccer bags, gymnastics bags, a gym clothes bag, their lunch bags, and even a special bag for drumsticks.

 

Our loads of bags sometimes seem to take over every nook and cranny in our home. (However, as I’m thinking about it, it seems my husband has no bags . . . hmph.)

 

Some days those bags get too heavy to carry, for both myself and my family. There’s not always enough time to clip coupons from the coupon bag, dig through the Bible Study bag, pick up extra donations for the donation bag, and haul eighteen bags around with my kids to each event.

 

As we race between soccer and gymnastics and band practice I sometimes wonder “Why are we doing this?”  And yet, we wake up again the next day and we all pick up our bags again.

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Jackson, now 15, way back in 2011 taking our donation bag to church. I thought he was so big then!

But most of these bags are here for such a short season. 

 

In just a few years the drumstick bag will be off at college.

 

The gymnastics bag may be stuffed under the bed.

 

And those soccer bags might just end up at our local Goodwill.

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For everything there is a season.

 

(This hurts more than a wee bit to even type.)

 

ooch.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today by the bags that you carry, know that it’s okay to leave a bag by the wayside for a small portion of your life. If you can’t clip every coupon, donate to every charity, and read every library book it’s really okay. (I promise!)

 

Sweet mommas, most of these bags just aren’t gonna last. 

 

Embrace what you have, with who you have it, right here, right now, today. 

 

Take a deep breath, gather up those bags, and focus on your favorites as you race them around town today.  These bags won’t last, but who knows what new (cute?) bags we might pick up along the way.

 

(When these bags all head out the door, I’m thinking I’ll pick up a Kate Spade suitcase bag alongside a passport to just about wherever.  Anyone with me?) :) 

 

 

 Leave a comment to share your thoughts if you feel life fleeting way too fast too . . . I love hearing from you!

 

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Clever Idea For Saving On Hanging Baskets

 

I’m so excited about this smart idea to share with you! A PPP reader shared that they had read you could use burlap to replace coconut liners in which seems to me like it would totally work. If you’ve tried it, let me know, and check out this post to see what it looks likeLove it!

Amazon actually carries Gardener Natural Burlap that might be worth checking out.  You can also see how we created beautiful hanging baskets for a fraction of their regular cost last Spring by creating them ourselves. Happy Planting!

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Have You Checked Unclaimed Property For Cash?

 

I’ve had several friends who were able to find Unclaimed Property! It never hurts to try – let me know if you’re able to find anything!

A friend of mine sent me an email about finding a little cash through searching for unclaimed property, and I’ve got to tell you, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  But, I figured it didn’t hurt to see what the sites she recommended had to say, so I checked them out.

 

Well, I didn’t find any money for our own family, but I did find some for a friend of mine’s family (I was shocked!)  It’s pretty simple to see if there are any claims available for you, however I’m not sure how easy it is to actually file get that money back.  If you’re interested in checking out whether or not there is unclaimed property under your name, check out the national site listings over HERE, or HERE.

 

Have you had any experience filing to receive unclaimed property? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 
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The Greatest Coupon

This is a guest post that I’ve shared before from a friend of mine (who knows the value of a coupon!)  May you know the love and peace of Our Manufacturer all year long. :)

 

No deal is perfect. Everything has a cost. Many things come at a high price, yet thankfully most can be discounted. Some things can even be free with a great coupon!

 

The greatest coupons still have problems. Most will eventually expire. They are “void where prohibited.” There is a limit on how many people can use.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of great coupons though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about them. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use them. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything. But every coupon has worth in our eyes, right? Maybe non-couponers would cash in on the offers if they were just taught how. We couponers should share the good news!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) Seek out something you love. 2) Find a coupon, maybe from the manufacturer. 3) Pay the price for the item. 4) Once the coupon has been redeemed, celebrate how much you saved! 5) Tell everyone you know about your great deal. Happy shopping!

 

 

 

No one is perfect. Our sins have a cost. Many sins come at a high price, yet thankfully they can be discounted. We can even be free with the “Greatest Coupon.”

 

The Greatest Coupon has no problems. It will never expire. It is never void or prohibited. There is no limit on how many people can use it.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of the Greatest Coupon though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about it. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use it. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything, but every person has worth in God’s eyes. Maybe non-Christians would cash in on the offer if they were just taught how. We have the opportunity to share the Good News!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) God sought out someone he loves—you. 2) We have a coupon from our Manufacturer. 3) Jesus paid the price for our sins. 4) Since our sins have been redeemed, we can celebrate as we have new life. 5) Tell everyone you know about the Greatest Coupon. Happy Easter!

 

 

My prayer for you this Easter is that you mayt know salvation from the One who values you so greatly that He willingly gave His life for you. It truly is the greatest gift we’ll each receive, and allows us freedom that comes only from Him. As my son reminds me each Easter morning, “Christ is risen!” He is risen indeed.

 

Photo courtesy of billaday on Flickr.

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What Really Impresses Me

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Me with one of my favorites – teaching me more about value than anything else!

 

I read a fantastic article this morning, and goodness, it so hit home for me today. As a busy mom who simply doesn’t have time to keep up with the newest trends, who couldn’t care less that her minivan has 160,000 miles on it (it runs great!), and who’s never owned expensive jewelry other than my wedding ring, it just felt good to have those words written out for me.

 

Here was my favorite quote from the article . .

 

“Too often, people pay a premium just for the privilege of become a walking billboard. I am no longer impressed by the logo on your shirt, your purse, or the face of your watch. Instead, I admire those who are confident in timeless fashion and seek to make an impression by their character and their countenance.”

 

I’ve struggled my whole life with feelings of inadequacy (and am betting I’m not alone.) I’ve looked at skinnier girls, dressier-upped girls, oh-so-put-together girls and from my very earliest memories have never felt I’ve even come close to measuring up.

 

And as I’ve gotten older, it’s gone beyond how I look some days to what I have. Folks, we live in an absolutely perfect home. Ridiculously nice, really. But a few weeks ago when visiting a new house in our neighborhood I noticed the home’s perfect mudroom and excessively large pantry.

 

It was beautiful.

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I came home, and all of a sudden the my own mudroom and pantry just felt a little puny. 

 

Did you hear me? I LIVE IN A HOUSE THAT HAS A MUDROOM AND A PANTRY, AND I LET MYSELF BELIEVE THAT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME? 

 

Jeesh.

 

Wherever you are in your finances, wherever you are in your life, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing more stuff equals more value. 

 

It doesn’t. 

 

And honestly? No matter what you have, someone will always have more, so you’ll never win the if only war.

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Instead, exemplify by your character and countenance your true value, whether you’re checking out at the grocery store or playing with your babies at home. Your value has absolutely nothing to do with your stuff ~ don’t allow this world to trick you into believing anything else.

 

Take a minute to read this post today. 

 

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Facebook Fans: Please Read

 

 

If you follow Passionate Penny Pincher primarily via Facebook, don’t miss this! While Facebook is an awesome place to share deals, Facebook doesn’t always allow everything we post here on PPP to be seen by everyone.  (In fact, less than 5-10% of the PPP fans on Facebook see most of the things I post.)

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Here are a few tips to make sure you keep up with everything:

 

  1. Go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Get Notifications”. This will mean you get updated on everything here on PPP (I think!), but I will warn you that I post 12-18 times per day (just want you to know that upfront so you’re not completely overwhelmed by updates!) 😉
  2. OR, go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Add to Interest Lists”. Create a list (sometime like “coupons”), and then the list will appear on your Facebook home screen.  When you click on the that list, any Facebook page that you’ve included will appear along with your full feed.
  3. Leave a comment or “like” a Facebook post every once in awhile frequently.  The more you interact on a FB page, the more often those sites will show up in your feed!
  4. Visit PPP directly HERE and be sure to sign up for the daily PPP email newsletterI love our Facebook community so much, but there’s no guarantee that all of the content here on PPP will be seen by many folks on Facebook, and often by the time it shows up in your feed a deal may have expired. So, stop here when you have a second and never miss a deal!

 

If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know! We are closing in on TWO HUNDRED & TEN THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (*C*R*A*Z*I*N*S*S*!*), and I love connecting with you all over there.
And by the way, if you’re not on Facebook join in over HERE – you can also check out PPP on Instagram as well!
Thanks for making my job so fun each day!
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What To Buy At Costco: Top 15 Items To Help You Save Big

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What to Buy at Costco

Curious what to buy at Costco? While I think some (many?) items can be overpriced at Costco compared to grocery store sale savings (especially after using coupons), there are some prices at Costco that you just can’t beat.

 

My rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods while shopping Sam’s and Costco – they’re pre-packaged convenience foods tend to be very over-priced from as I’ve compared them to other stores. But, their regular prices on produce, meat, and dairy products are pretty reasonable, so if you can skip them temptation to buy too much while you’re there the membership cost may be worth it. You’ll likely find lower prices on even whole foods during a good sale ad at your local grocery store, but Costco’s prices on these items are usually fairly competitive.  (And, they consistently offer good quality at those prices!)

 

Here are my top 15 deals  . . . 

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1. Milk. At $2.45 a gallon, I haven’t found another store that regularly carries milk anywhere near this price. Occasionally I’ve seen milk around that price at Aldi, but recently even Aldi’s price has been closer to $3.  If your family drinks a lot of milk each week, a trip once every two weeks might be worth the Costco membership.

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2. Bananas. At $1.39 for 3 pounds of bananas, your price comes out to 46¢ per pound. While I’ve seen prices a little lower than these at the grocery store, this is a pretty great price, and are always fresh enough to last quite awhile.

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3. Water bottles. If you absolutely have to buy water bottles (I choose to re-use them when I can!), Sam’s Club has a great price on these. These come out to 8¢ per bottle, which is so much less than you’d ever pay while you’re out!

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4. Gift cards. If you’re planning to eat out anyways, you might as well enjoy some savings, right? Both Costco and Sam’s Club offer gift card savings of up to 20% when you purchase gift cards in store. They include several great restaurants ~ PF Chang’s, Smashburger, Texas Roadhouse and more, and some stores carry entertainment gift cards like Cinemark as well! The best part is you can combine these gift cards with restaurant coupons, which can save you a bundle while eating out.

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5. Salad Mix. 
Costco’s big three pound bag of salad is just $2.79, which is a fantastic price. You can also get their Organic Spring Mix for $4.49, which beats the price that you’ll regularly find at the grocery store, and is so nice to have on hand if you have a large family who eats a lot of salad.
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6. Kirkland Brand Fabric Softener Sheets. These cost $.018 per sheet, and is the lowest price I’ve seen on fabric softener sheets without combining coupons and a sale. If you just need to stock up, this is a great price!

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7. Kirkland Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast. Kirkland’s Frozen Chicken comes out to $1.96 per pound, and while this isn’t the best price I’ve ever seen, it is a really good basic every day price. Worth stocking up while you’re there to make your life easier!

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8. BACON! This one kind of surprised me, but is so worth grabbing when you’re there. Get 4 pounds of bacon for $10.99 or $2.74 per pound ~ we bought this recently and the quality was great (not fatty), so I would definitely recommend this one. (Don’t forget you can freeze it too.)

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9. Honey. Honey at Costco comes out to 17¢ per ounce, which is a great every day low price. If your family uses a lot of honey for baking or as a natural sweetener, this one’s worth picking up.

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10. Canned veggies. Canned veggies at Costco are priced between 43¢ and 46¢ per can, which is almost my stock up price even with coupons! You’ll have a lot of veggies on hand, but you won’t need more canned vegetables for quite awhile.

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11. Sugar. Sugar is $4.39 for a 10 pound bag at Costco, which is a good price for sugar unless you watch for a great sale around the Holidays.

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12. Butter. Butter at Costco comes out to $1.99 per pound, which you may be able to find during a good sale at the grocery store, but since it’s their price every day it’s worth stocking up on while you’re there.

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13. Eggs. Eggs are priced at $1.39/lb at Costco, however they’re sold in as 7.5 dozen eggs, which is a lot of eggs! I haven’t seen those prices on eggs here in the Columbus area in quite awhile, so why I normally think it’s a little high egg prices have definitely gone up over the last few years.

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14. Rotisserie Chicken. For $4.99 you can get one of Costco’s huge Rotisserie Chickens, which is a very good price if you’re in a hurry but need an easy meal. You’ll skip paying too much for dinner out, and their rotisserie chickens are delicious. It won’t be quite as penny pinched as cooking a whole chicken yourself, but on a busy night that convenience is sometimes worth it.

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15. The Costco restaurant. 😉 Okie dokie, if you just want a chance to skip cooking, you can’t beat Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and drink. They also have pizza slices for $1.99 ~ my favorite way to easily feed my kids when we’re running errands out and about!

 

So there’s my top fifteen! What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

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Looking for more? See what to buy at Sam’s Club and what to buy at the Dollar Tree too!

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Crazy Morning . . . But at least dinner’s done!

slow cooked italian beef - PINTEREST

Have you ever had one of “those” mornings? Today was that day at our house I think! Woke up to no internet, found out kids were on a two-hour delay (didn’t know until after they were up ~ grrrr), and PPP’s site on the backend went down a few times this morning. (Whew!)

 

I did manage to pop dinner in the slow cooker (folks, this is the best. recipe.) and am heading out to Costco for some price checking. Hoping for smooth sailing the rest of the day ~ and lots more deals up shortly!

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