No Spend Grocery Challenge Update Days 1 & 2: Spent $5.17 (Almost?)

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This post is a little L-O-N-G – grab a cup of tea and hang in there if you’re up for it! ;)



We’ve survived two days into our No Spend Grocery Challenge, and while we started off on a roll we kind of messed it up just two days in. 


(Keep reading.) :)


We woke up yesterday to lots more snow – and it snowed most of the day. While we normally eat out on Sundays after church (which we planned for during the challenge!), we ended up staying home and listening to church via podcast, and skipped heading out to lunch.


While searching for a podcast to listen to during our make-shift-church-at-home lesson, :) our kids shared this video they’d recently seen. My youngest has a jar to raise money for the project, in and was trying to figure out how to earn money to add to it. We decided as a family to donate the money that we’re saving by drinking water at restaurants while eating out the next few weeks, and she was pretty excited. It’s amazing how quickly those $2 drinks can add up, so we’ll see how she does!

I found the best price on bacon last week at Costco ~ 4 pounds for just $2.50! The food’s not all that pretty, but you get the idea ;)

My 14-year-old (who loves to cook), decided we should make a big brunch at home, so we ended up making eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy ~ my bunch all love breakfast, so everyone was pretty pleased. (And I was thrilled because I’d frozen leftover gravy at Christmas and wasn’t sure if it would re-heat well or not ~ it turned out perfectly!)


While we were cooking Jackson and I had a long discussion about finances. As he’s getting older I’m not always sure that he “gets” money as much as I’d like (and goodness, we only have a few more years to teach it!) He asked how much we probably spent on brunch at home (I guesstimated $7), and then we talked about how a single meal out last week for our family had been a whopping $60. S.I.X.T.Y. D.O.L.L.A.R.S. 


The sad part? Even he agreed that the food we had out at that restaurant wasn’t even that good, and we spent more than six times what we spent eating in our own kitchen.





For dinner I roasted the chicken that I’d gotten last week at Fresh Thyme, and used half the meat for nachos and the other half to freeze for soup.

I did grab a bottle of Pantene and Herbal Essences on Amazon for $1.37 each (they were a great deal, and I wasn’t sure if we had enough shampoo in our stockpile to make it the whole month!), so $2.74 was our total spent Sunday. Success!


And, for the rest of the story, here’s day two. ;)

We started out pretty well, until I called my husband and he decided he “couldn’t pack a lunch” because their were no chips in the pantry. (This has been a nineteen-year-debate at our house – he’s convinced that a packed lunch doesn’t count without potato chips . . .  I’m convinced that pretzels and fresh fruit are a much healthier alternative so I rarely buy chips.)  I guess I’ve got to go buy a bag of chips because in 19 years I haven’t yet won this battle (ugh!), but he did spend just $3.17 on lunch at Wendy’s trying to help stick to our no spend goal. ;)

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I was thinking we were oh-so-ahead-of-the-game even after his (tiny!) splurge, until he texted that we were heading out to eat for dinner because of a success he’d had at work today. (We’ve had a standing rule for years – whenever either of us have success in our businesses, we treat the family to dinner that night!) We headed to Max & Erma’s, used a $5 off coupon, and all stuck to water (um, one of my kiddos was not too pleased about that!)  It’s always so nice though to enjoy a success with a bit of a splurge, and I think our total spent was around $35 + tip. (Just amazing the difference drinking water makes!)


Here’s the biggest thing about this challenge for our family. We’ve penny pinched for years to get to a place of financial freedom, and whether or not we stick perfectly to our goals this month isn’t really the point of the challenge for our family. But just like anyone else, we so often look at our food budget and wonder four days in to our two week budgeting system where our money has gotten to. So this is our way to really see where exactly where we’re at, and decide where we want to go.


I want to help our children learn to be good stewards ~ whether in plenty or in want.


And honestly? I want to be a good steward of all that we’ve been given. 


Even just two days in our family has had conversations we wouldn’t normally have, and we added $8 to my daughter’s donation bin tonight by drinking water. While I definitely started this out a little anxious about whether or not it would be worth it, I’m convinced that it’s worth it for the lessons we’re already learning, and am curious about what other conversations will come up over the next few weeks!


If you’re joining us I’d love to hear how you’re doing too (remember it’s not too late to start!) 



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25 Days of Penny Pinched DIY Projects Day 25: $28 Planked Wall



It’s the last night of our 25 Days of Penny Pinched DIY series, and I’m a little sad to see this series end (you all have really seemed to enjoy it, and I’ve loved hunting down these little treasures too!)  I may try another series like this out soon (have a few other ideas up my sleeve first . . . ), but it’s been fun to see all the fantastic DIY project there are out there. )

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I love this last transformation though that cost just $28, and am so impressed with the finished results. Go HERE to see how Shannon from Fox Hollow Cottage totally changed the look of their bathroom with just some wood, and be sure to click HERE as well to see her complete bathroom makeover. (I absolutely love this one and am betting you will too!)


Check out more penny-pinched DIY projects from PPP over HERE – happy penny-pinched-DIY’ing!


Looking for more penny pinched DIY ideas?


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No Spend Challenge: Get Ahead On Lunchbox Duty


This is a re-post from a few years ago, but one of my favorite tips to make lunch-box-making at home go a little more smoothly, especially while we’re working on our No Spend Grocery Challenge this month!  At this point my kids each school lunch a few days a week just to make life easier, but I feel like the meals we make at home are so much healthier and less expensive than what they get there. Take a minute to read the comments on the original post HERE if you have a minute – so many great tips!


I have a confession to make.  I have been horrible this year at keeping up with my kids lunches, and every morning live in chaos before racing my kids to the bus because I just don’t have it together!  Soooo. . .  I thought I’d remind you all (and myself!) of how to get ahead on lunchbox duty.  (I’m determined to get my fridge back in lunchbox shape over the weekend!)

Found these super cute Lunchbox kits on Amazon ~ I’m thinking they’d be perfect for our sandwiches that are pre-wrapped each day!


When I saw this post last year from Money Saving Mom, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought to make at least a week’s worth of PB&J’s instead of pulling out all the lunch supplies each day.  (Duh???) You might even try making sandwiches ahead for the entire month and freezing them, but we start by preparing a week’s worth of lunches each Sunday afternoon  . . .


Note the “C” for Caroline – she likes only peanut butter, Jackson can’t survive without jelly :)

I’m not quite up for those homemade Uncrustables (thankfully my kiddos enjoy their crust . . . however I do applaud you mommas who de-crust your children’s sandwiches!)  Just taking a few minutes though to prepare our lunch supplies makes such a difference in our mornings, so I’m determined to get my act together again.  When I’m completely on top of things, here’s what our lunch stash looks like in the fridge . . .



The drawer below this one holds the fruit stash:  fresh apples and strawberries. I could definitely use some tips though on how to  pack fruit like strawberries or grapes ahead of time so that they don’t get soggy, because I have a very picky eater who keeps complaining about soggy grapes. If you have any ideas on keeping fruit fresh for lunches, I’d love to hear them!


I also try to keep items wrapped up for snacks – popped popcorn and wrapped homemade brownies make great inexpensive treats, as well as a few pre-packaged items found on sale . . .


My goal is to pack their lunches as soon as those lunch boxes are unpacked after school each day, which only takes a minutes when I have my supplies in order.  My kids can even pack their own lunches when I take the time to catch up, so this one is definitely on my to-do list for the weekend. . . I’m so ready for more peaceful mornings around here!


Do you have any great tips on handling lunch box duty (and suggestions besides PB&J for your children’s lunch box meal?)  I’d love to hear them, so take a minute and leave a comment to share!  


Looking for some super cute lunch box ideas?  Check these out . . .

These are all way fancier than I’m up for . . . we’re just sticking with the basics here.  But aren’t they so stinkin’ cute???

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Menu Plan & Printable Grocery List (+ Our No Spend Grocery Challenge For March!)



Link to this week’s free menu plan and grocery list 

Here’s this week’s menu plan and grocery shopping listMy husband and I have been discussing our family budget over the last few weeks, and are going to try to do a “No-Spend Grocery Challenge” through the month of March leading up to Spring Break. I just purchased a new kitchen table and chairs (so excited for them to get here – I scored a great deal!), and while we’re waiting for that to be delivered we thought it would be fun to see just how much we could shave off our weekly grocery expenses by eating from the pantry.


So, what does that look like for us? We’ll still have budgeted money for specific items – we’re just really trying to keep things simple by saving on groceries and eating out. Here’s what we’re planning:

  • 2 meals out per week as a family. We usually choose “high end” fast food places (i.e. Chipotle) ~ sit down meals for our family of five are just so expensive, and we rarely have time for them! I have a few restaurant gift cards because I was taking advantage of 4x fuel perks at Kroger this week, so we’ll use those first.
  • Only water while eating out. (This will be tough – we sometimes enjoy sodas at restaurants but they’re such a budget buster!)
  • Possibly one lunch date out for my husband and I on the weeks we can meet, limited to very inexpensive restaurants. We enjoy the chance to get together without kids so much when we can – but for a few weeks can survive with the dollar menu (I think!)  Getting the chance to catch up with one another is what we love about our lunch dates, and we can do that as easily over baked potatoes at Wendy’s (honestly though, this one will be tough for us!)
  • Spend $50 or less at the grocery store through March 27th. I *think* we should be able to spend much less (between $20 and $30?), but know that milk and fresh produce alone can quickly get spent, so wanted to be realistic in my goals.

(Note: the only exception may be next weekend ~ I’ll be out of town scrapbooking with friends, and since my husband’s in charge of feeding our bunch, I’m betting he’ll tweak things a bit!) :)

I’ll update you all throughout the week with how things are going – I’m hoping we’ll be able to stick to this, but we haven’t really tried this before so we’ll see! 

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Curious what that means for our menu plan? Well, our fridge and freezer are pretty well stocked, so I think we should be able to fairly easily use up what we have. I just did a quick inventory of our freezer, and here’s where things stand:

  • 10 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (I have issues, when I see a good price on chicken I can’t stand not to stock up!)
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 4 lbs ground beef
  • 1 pork loin
  • 1 beef roast
  • 4 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs salmon (have been waiting for grilling season – but may try to bake it in the oven and see how it goes!)
  • 2 steaks
  • 4 frozen bread loaves
  • several bags frozen veggies

I don’t have much (any?) cheese in our freezer, so I’m sure some of our weekly budget will go there. So, here’s what we’re planning for our first week . . .

*Note – for easy roasted potatoes I quarter roasted potatoes and put in square pyrex, sprinkle with Lawry’s seasoning salt, and spray with a little Pam cooking spray (could substitute with olive oil easily I think), then bake at 350 for 40 minutes.


And here’s what items you’ll need to make these too if it’ll help get you started this week . . .
  • 2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
  • 1 package ravioli
  • 28 oz jar spaghetti sauce
  • 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 16 oz can black beans
  • 16 oz can kidney beans
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • 2 14.5 oz cans rotel
  • onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • frozen pizza

Side Dish Extras

  • bag salad
  • red potatoes
  • cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips (for topping chili)

Pantry Staples

  • Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • vegetable oil
  • dijon mustard
  • maple syrup
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • fresh ginger for pork loin (I’ll probably omit this since I don’t have any)
  • chili powder

I created this handy dandy free printable google doc for you to print if you’d like to follow our menu plan – hopefully it makes your life a little simpler this week (let me know if you like it!) If you’re new to Google Docs, here’s how to print your list:

  • Open the document HERE
  • Click “file” in the top left hand corner of the screen
  • Click “print” at the bottom of that menu and print your list
Do you have anything yummy on your menu plan this week?  I’d love to hear what you’re having, and if you have any great recipe ideas please leave a comment to share, and join my Pinterest Menu Planning Board to for more ideas!



Check out my recipes to try board on Pinterest, and see more penny-pinched recipe ideas.  This post is linked up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday where you can find lots more menu planning ideas! 





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25 Days of Penny Pinched DIY Day 23: ALS Auction Cabinet Makeover



Tonight’s Penny Pinched DIY project is so fun! See how Nikki from The Lovely Residence complete transformed this $30 Goodwill cabinet. 

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Go HERE to see the finished results ~ I love this one!

If you have a blog where you’ve created an incredible DIY post I would love to share it here during the series too – send me an email at contact@ passionate penny pincher (leave out spaces), and it may get featured. You can also check out more penny-pinched DIY projects from PPP over HERE – happy penny-pinched-DIY’ing!



Looking for more penny pinched DIY ideas?

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Spring Cleaning Bundle Sale 2015



I’m so excited to share this incredible offer for you if you’re ready to tackle some Spring Cleaning at home! Right now you can get this incredible printable bundle pack from some of the very best organizing bloggers for just $20, a savings of 85% and an incredible deal. If you need some motivation and encouragement to tackle projects in your home, chores with your children, and just organizing in general, this printable pack is for you!


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Spring will be coming soon (we hope!), and it’s time to open up the curtains and freshen up our homes. With the help of a brand new wildly popular printable bundle, you’ll be able to accomplish all of these spring cleaning tasks right along with us! Clean Mama & A Bowl Full of Lemons have partnered again with several creative & fabulous bloggers, to bring you everything you need to spring clean this year. From tons of cleaning recipes, checklists and outdoor cleaning tasks, to chore charts, closet purging & natural cleaning guides, you’ll be all set and ready to conquer those dust bunnies and overflowing closets. It’s all included in this one of a kind cleaning bundle. From February 20th to the 28th, you will have a chance to purchase this exclusive bundle. You don’t want to miss out on this 85% off sale. For only $20, it’s definitely a good thing.


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What’s included in our Spring Cleaning Printable Bundle?


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[Read more…]

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Anne Of Green Gables Series Only $.99


Download The Anne Stories: 11 Books in the Anne of Green Gables series for just $.99 right now! I loved reading these as a girl, and have just started reading them with my daughter. Head on over and download yours while it’s available at this price!


Thanks,  Money Saving Mom! Don’t have a Kindle? You can also download Kindle books to your IphonePCMac, or Blackberry. See more Amazon deals over HERE.


Remember that pricing on Amazon may change at any time.

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Laurie’s Fresh Thyme Market Trip: Such Fun Deals!


Who says you can’t save on whole foods? :) I just got back from our new Fresh Thyme Market, and goodness gracious, they have such fantastic prices on fresh meats and produce if you’re willing to really shop their sales ad.

I went this morning and took advantage of their double ad Wednesday (meaning you get to enjoy last week’s ad savings as well as the savings for the new ad which starts each Wednesday), and was so pleased with my trip.  Here’s what I bought:

  • 1 whole chicken $3.60 ($.99/lb – chicken is 50% off this week)
  • 2.67 boneless skinless chicken breast $6.31 ($1.99/lb. after 50% off sale)
  • 1 cantaloupe $1 each
  • 1 bunch celery $.99
  • 3 lb bag golden delicious apples $2.99
  • 7.93 lbs grapes $.77/lb
  • 1 bunch green onions $.50
  • 1 pineapple $2
  • 1.61 red potatoes $.50/lb
  • 6 packs strawberries 4/$5 (ends today)
  • Total = $33.18, saved $37.77



Do you have a Fresh Thyme Market in your area? It looks to me like they’re fairly new in many towns, so I’m curious if the prices will continue to say so low on their sale items. (I sure hope they do!) Hopefully they’ll be opening more of these in different cities (it looks like they are on their website) – and if you’re near one I definitely recommend swinging by! (But be sure to take your stock-up price list with you so you stick with buying only the best deals.)




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25 Days of Penny Pinched DIY Projects Day 20: Clever Side Table Makeover



You won’t believe how Crystal from Funky Monkey Business transformed this plain side table into the perfect spot for her kids to play!

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Go HERE to see the finished results (so smart!), and check out more DIY ideas at Fussy Monkey Business.

If you have a blog where you’ve created an incredible DIY post I would love to share it here during the series too – send me an email at contact@ passionate penny pincher (leave out spaces), and it may get featured. You can also check out more penny-pinched DIY projects from PPP over HERE – happy penny-pinched-DIY’ing!



Looking for more penny pinched DIY ideas?

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