Finances

Living a frugal, financially secure lifestyle is not only necessary, but it’s the way to financial freedom and peace of mind. Saving money on groceries won’t do you any good if you don’t have other areas of your life in financial order. Deals to Meals financial contributors share tricks, tips, and methods they’ve used to gain financial freedom. Find out how budgeting and finances can be fun again!

Financial Resources

Melea Johnson
Create Your Own Money-Saving Adventure

In Create Your Own Money-Saving Adventure, you get to pick what YOU want to learn. Not ready to dive into the world of coupons? That’s OK! You can learn about price matching, getting out of debt, raising your credit score or saving money on travel. At the end of each chapter, your choices will start to make you a money-saving master.

Pick and choose different adventures depending on your lifestyle, time and personal money goals. It’s the Ultimate Money-Saving Guide for everyone!

Jordan Page
Budget Boot Camp

Check out Jordan Page’s amazing online budgeting boot camp videos. This program has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, TLC (and more!) and has changed the way families budget all over the United States.

Her Budget Boot Camp was designed to be as simple as possible. They’ve removed the fluff and stress that you see with typical budgeting programs, and replaced it with simplicity, effectiveness and FUN. You need to check this program out!



 

Jordan Page’s Simplest Budgeting Method Ever!
July 5, 2017 | No Category | Jordan Page

I don’t know about you, but summer is a time I find my budget can get a little out of control. With all of the family vacations, activities, eating out and great grocery deals, I find it’s…

 

7 Ways to Make Room in Your Budget for Food Storage
May 23, 2017 | No Category | Deals to Meals

We totally get it. Money is tight and there seems so many items vying for a space in the budget. Food, clothes, gas, utilities, and so on, the list goes on and on. Have you ever wondered how to make r…

 

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half and Deals to Meals Giveaway!
May 16, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

Check out Jordan Page from Fun Cheap or Free on Rachel Ray yesterday! See how she uses Deals to Meals to cut her grocery budget in half–even clear across the country in New Jersey 😉  To …

 

Meet Jordan Page and Learn How She Uses DTM to Save BIG Money!
May 10, 2017 | No Category | Jordan Page

Yep, it’s Tuesday and that means I get to introduce you to another one of our fabulously talented blog contributors. This is my beautiful (yes, inside and out) friend Jordan Page. She is the aut…

 

How to save 30-70% on groceries and the BEST deals this week!
March 29, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

People ask me all the time how I keep a well stocked food storage on a budget. For our family, having a reserve of food is an important aspect to our preparedness goals. This can be tricky however, if…

 

Grocery Deals: Spent $112, Saved $64
March 22, 2017 | No Category | Shandra

Well, after my last big shopping trip, I figured it was time to restock my fridge and freezer with some of the awesome deals this week. I had a crazy day so I needed to plan my meals, shop and be home in an hour. Using Deals to Meals I was able to do it […]

 

Save 50% Off on Groceries
November 20, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

Check out some of the awesome deals I stocked up on this past week at Smiths. They had some great deals on cheese, peanut butter, rice, eggs, sugar, cream cheese and much more! When grocery shopping, remember to focus on the ‘red/great’ deals on our website to sa…

 

Thanksgiving Prepping 101: Tips to Simplify and Plan Ahead
November 19, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, so it’s the perfect time to start prepping for all of your upcoming parties and meals. Here are a few tips to help make your day go more smoothly and …

 

5 Tips to Save you TIME and Money this Thanksgiving
November 17, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

1. HAVE A PLAN  The holidays are in full swing and all of us are looking for ways to save a little money and keep from pulling our hair out from unwanted stress. I am excited to share a few of my…

 

Money Saving Tip: Prepackaged Chip Bags
November 16, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

For those who follow our Instagram (thanks mucho!) you might have seen a Money Saving Tip I shared earlier today. Making home lunches for my children can be a challenge and it can add up quickly. Although it is still much less expensive to send a home lunch, sometimes having…

 

Costco Comparisons: 6 simple tips to help you save money at warehouse stores!
June 6, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

This past weekend I did my two week meal plan and wanted to share with you some tips I use to help keep my grocery budget low. If you are like me, you…

 

Spent $92 and saved $95 on my grocery shopping trip today–that’s over 50% off!
June 3, 2016 | No Category | Shandra

Went out today for a midnight munchie run with my teenagers and found some great prices at Smiths I wanted to share with you. Yes, I’m not sure …

 

5 Simple Tips to Save You Time and Money this Thanksgiving!
November 18, 2015 | No Category | Shandra

1. HAVE A PLAN  The holidays are in full swing and all of us are looking for ways to save a little money and keep from pulling our hair out from unwanted stress. I am excited to share a few of my…

 

10 Tips to Combat Walmart’s New Price Matching Policy
July 30, 2015 | No Category | Shandra

Are you having problems price matching lately? Are you frustrated with Walmart’s new price matching policies? Well, let me help. I feel your pain and am just as annoyed by their new policy as you ar…

 

8 Tips to Plan and Host a SIMPLE and INEXPENSIVE Christmas Party!
December 3, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

 love to party! I love hosting. I love people and I love having people over to our house. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. However, I am not a cutsie-crafty-pintresty-kind of ga…

 

Easy Bean and Cheese Burritos
September 19, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

  Do you ever need a super-simple-easy-peasy recipe to make for dinner? This recipe is the one for you! I can not think of a time when we have gone on vacation and I haven’t brought this meal to make for our family (or our kids). One of the ways we save a lot of […

 

Want to save on groceries? Find out how to save $1,000’s every year!
August 5, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

I have great friends. I have patient friends. I have friends who love me even though as long as I’ve known them I bug them about everything having to do with grocery shopping and saving money. D…

 

12 Simple Ways to Save Money on Road Trips
June 12, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

It is nearly summer and that means vacation plans are probably in full swing at your house. It has been in our neck of the woods these past several months. My husband and I spent the last several months planning a 10 day road trip to Banff Canada. This trip has been a dream …

 

What to buy at Costco (And What NOT to buy)
April 3, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

After our last post about Costco I thought it was ironic that I had to do my monthly shopping trip to Costco the next day. As I was there, and was observing all of their prices, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite items at Costco. I really try to not [&helli…

 

Restaurant Copy Cat Recipes
January 26, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

My friend Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free asked me to do a post on how to save money from eating at home instead of going out. That is so up my alley so I told her I would love to. I have to admit even I was shocked that you can save up to […]

 

Don’t EVER pay full price for groceries!
January 22, 2014 | No Category | Shandra

What a fun weekend I had! My sister and friend joined me at Jordan’s Frugality Boot camp and we had a great time. Jordan did a fabulous job hosting another successful boot camp and I was honored to be one of their presenters again. Any time I can talk about grocery sho…

 

Grocery Budget Extenders and Mexican Black Bean Corn Tacos
October 8, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘make your dollar stretch’?  Of course you have, you’re reading Jordan’s amazing blog! Well, there are a few simple tips I’ve learned over the yea…

 

Cut your vacation food budget in half
July 20, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

Our friends at One Good Thing by Jillee asked me to write a guest post about ways I save money on our vacation food budgets. We are excited to be giving away two FREE membership to Deals to Meals as well as a $50 Walmart gift card to help you with your upcoming vacations. Vi…

 

4 Simple Steps to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half
June 10, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

 This past week an awesome blog (One Good Thing by Jillee) asked me to do a guest post on ways to save money on groceries. I was able to take Jillee’s daugher in law shopping and we had a g…

 

Grocery Saving Tips
January 26, 2013 | No Category | Shandra

Jordan, from Fun, Cheap or Free did a great job on Studio 5 today! Not only is she totally adorable being 8 months pregnant but she was spot on with all of her grocery and meal planning tips she shared. We of course loved that she mentioned our service as we obviously feel D…

 

How to combat inflation
May 1, 2012 | No Category | Shandra

I received an email from a woman I thought might be worth sharing.  Here is her question and my response, in case you have similar concerns or issues. Inflation is a HUGE issue for many families and I hope I can shed some light on how you can keep inflation down, and st…

 

Money Saving Tip
February 4, 2010 | No Category | Shandra

I was making a recipe the other day that called for 3 cans of chicken broth. I couldn’t remember if I have shared my chicken broth tip with you or not? There are several items in my kitchen that are ‘must haves’–for example: lime juice (we go through …

 

Money Saving Tip
December 12, 2008 | No Category | Shandra

With Thanksgiving come and gone, how many of you used SEVERAL cans of chicken stock? Well, I have a simple and inexpensive solution for you. Instead of buying Swanson Chicken Broth at .50 a can, but the McCormick Chicken or Beef Base from Costco. It is like Chicken bouillon …

 

Great Christmas gift ideas that can help you be more prepared
November 20, 2008 | No Category | Shandra

Here are a few GREAT gift ideas for the holidays. There is something for everyone, on any budget: *A GIFT CERTIFICATE TO MY FOOD STORAGE DEALS!! (Information coming soon)*First aid kits*Flashlights fo…

Jordan Page’s Simplest Budgeting Method Ever!

I don’t know about you, but summer is a time I find my budget can get a little out of control. With all of the family vacations, activities, eating out and great grocery deals, I find it’s easy to lose track of our budgeting goals this time of year. I wanted to share with you a simple method for budgeting shared by my long time friend and fellow blogger,  Jordan Page of Fun Cheap or Free.

Pretty much everything she does and shares with her readers is genius and I know you will be a ‘Freeb’ before you know it! I noticed she just posted one of her simple budgeting methods I have loved for many years. Use this easy method to help keep your food budget in check this summer. Check out her hilarious (and informative) video and see how she has used this method to help keep her family out of debt and is living the life of her financial dreams! 

 

7 Ways to Make Room in Your Budget for Food Storage

7 WAYS FOR FS BUDGETWe totally get it.

Money is tight and there seems so many items vying for a space in the budget. Food, clothes, gas, utilities, and so on, the list goes on and on.

Have you ever wondered how to make room in your budget for food storage? Aren’t we all on a tight budget these days?

I personally dream of the day that I’ll have enough extra money in the budget to splurge on Tide with Downy and Charmin toilet paper. But until then, I’m making my own laundry detergent and using Marathon 2-ply toilet paper (which is a step up from the 1-ply, lol).

Sometimes, it may seem like the budget just can’t eek out another cent to put towards building a food storage or supply of other toiletry items. But where there is a will, there is a way to have enough money in the budget to systematically build a great food storage which is why we created our 7 Amazing Ways to Make Room in Your Budget for Food Storage.

7 Amazing Ways to Make Room in Your Budget for Food Storage.

  1. MENU PLAN: Don’t waste money (and calories) on impromptu trips to McDonald’s…or worse…Little Caesars in lieu of dinner. Eating out is a total budget and calorie buster! Instead, serve up a healthy meal for under $2 a serving. When you take the time to plan your family’s meals, you remove the excuse of not knowing what’s for dinner and you can start preparing your meal much earlier, eliminating last minute trips to the store. When I already know what that I’m serving beef on Thursdays, I can get started on dinner without staring at the fridge for 20 minutes, waiting for a magical dinner fairy, or resorting to a fast food meal.
  2. SHOP SALES AND SHOP ONLY ONCE: You don’t have to be super coupon mom to save money on groceries. You just need to know a few smart strategies so you don’t overspend (check out our Grocery Shopping 101 posts HERE to learn all of the grocery store tricks they don’t want you to know), It’s imperative that you only shop once and get everything you need in one trip. Braving the store at dinner time for a forgotten loaf of bread or gallon of milk can cause you to repeatedly overspend all week long and waste gas.
  3. BUY BASIC FOOD STORAGE FIRST: We say this time and time again. Start with the basics! Those inexpensive items that will sustain life. Sustaining life isn’t fun and exciting, but it is the foundation for a great food storage! Items like wheat, beans, rice, powdered milk, sugar or honey, salt and oil. Basic food items are cheapest from the LDS church storehouse and all can be purchased online and shipped straight to your house and you don’t even have to be a member of the LDS church to shop there. A basic food storage for one person from the LDS church storehouse costs around $400. You can view their items HERE.
  4. ARRANGE FOR A STAYCATION: Skip the big family vacation for one year. Think of how much that over priced Mickey Mouse shaped hamburger cost you last year. Instead of blowing your budget on a trip to Disneyland, see what fun stuff you can do nearby instead. (Maybe even do a camping trip in your backyard where you can practice using all of that emergency preparedness gear you have.) Even if you can take a few days off work and school, a “staycation” can feel like a vacation even if you’re sleeping in your own bed….or backyard. As long as you make it fun for your kids, whether it’s historical sites, campgrounds and hiking trails, free museums, or a cheap matinee at the dollar theater, they’ll hardly miss the trip. Plus, you can make Mickey Mouse pancakes at home. 😉
  5. ENTERTAIN AT HOME: It can be tempting to spend money to get out of the house when the kids are driving you crazy, but your day trips can spell disaster for your budget! Instead of nixing family time altogether, dust off those board games, run through the sprinkler, have a snowball fight, or a home movie night complete with popcorn can keep your kids occupied for pennies. If you need to get out of the house, try hitting all the parks near you and critiquing them. It’s fun, and let’s you know which place to come back to later. Or visit the library for new books and movies to watch.
  6. BE ENERGY SMART: Everyone is going green…which means it’s totally chic and OKAY to save money on your utility bills. Of course, not all of us have the means to install a new low-flow toilet or tankless water heater. Still, you can save money by conserving energy the old-fashioned ways: Turning off lights, timing showers, closing vents in rooms that are unused (check guest rooms, guest bathrooms, large closets, etc.) Or even try keeping your thermostat a few degrees warmer or colder depending on the season.
  7. MAKE AN EFFORT TO SAVE MONEY….EVEN IF IT’S ONLY A FEW PENNIES A DAY: With all that is going on in the world, let us reassure you that getting prepared is a cause worth fighting, scrimping, sacrificing, and saving for. You deserve the peace preparedness brings, the comfort of knowing you have food for your family, and the tools you’ll need to make a preemptive strike on rising food prices. It’s never too late to begin or finish what you have started. So for, literally pennies a day, you can save enough to buy a year supply of the basic food storage items with a couple hundred left over for the fun stuff. Here’s how it works: save a penny for every day for 365 days. The first day you’ll save $0.01, day 2 will be $0.02, day 100 is $1.00 and by day 365 $3.65. Your grand total at the end of the 365 days will be $667.95 and it will hardly feel like a pinch to your budget!

JOIN US IN THE 365 DAY FOOD STORAGE PENNY CHALLENGE!

365 penny

So let’s do it! Let’s make this our year to get our food storage. All we have to do is to decide, commit to do it, and then keep the commitment….oh, and download our handout and take part in our 365 Day Food Storage Penny Challenge. Let’s keep the conversation going, make sure to follow us on Instagram @storethisnotthat, for more tips and tricks for building your food storage!

Of course, once you have your money saved, be sure you get the most for your money. Did you know if you purchase your basic food storage items (wheat, milk, beans, etc.) from the LDS Home Storage Center, you will save over $1,000 compared to other food storage companies. That is A LOT of money you can use towards other food storage items. If you want some help knowing how to get your food storage for only $10 a week, click here and download the schedule and feel free to share it with friends.

You may also want to check out our book, Store This, Not That! (available at Deseret Book and Amazon.com) where you will be empowered with unbiased information in food storage options from REAL experts. We’ll coach you through every step of successfully obtaining your food storage.

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half and Deals to Meals Giveaway!

Check out Jordan Page from Fun Cheap or Free on Rachel Ray yesterday! See how she uses Deals to Meals to cut her grocery budget in half–even clear across the country in New Jersey 😉 

To celebrate Jordan’s debut on Rachel Ray, we’re going to offer a giveaway and let two lucky winners learn how to cut their grocery bill in half too! Not only will two winners get a year membership to Deals to Meals, but also a copy of each of our four Ebooks. This is a total of 

Watch Jordan Page on Rachel Ray!  Want to cut your grocery bill in half too?

Give a membership to Deals to Meals a try!

Through May 31st we are offering our memberships for only $3.50 a month. After this month, our prices will go back to the $4.95 a month, so it’s the perfect time to see how much money and time you can save! Email us at discount@dealstomeals.com to get this one-time discounted price. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet Jordan Page and Learn How She Uses DTM to Save BIG Money!

Yep, it’s Tuesday and that means I get to introduce you to another one of our fabulously talented blog contributors. This is my beautiful (yes, inside and out) friend Jordan Page. She is the author and mastermind behind Fun Cheap or Free. I have known Jordan for many years now and am continually amazed at all that she accomplishes and can do. This lady is unreal-amazing!!

Not only does she run her own business, but she teaches classes all over the U.S., makes awesome self-help videos, is a Mom of 5 little kiddos, flies all over the U.S. to be on television spots (um..yeah, that’s her with Rachel Ray–airs May 15 so set your DVR), cooks, cleans, blogs and is always gorgeous and put together.

 

Now, despite this seemingly perfect Jordan, she is also real about life. She’s real about the hardships of being a mother, balancing life, financial difficulties, and running her own business. I think that is what is so mesmerizing about Jordan. She is one of those people who have an ability to make you love her through her perfect-ness and yet real enough to make you feel like you’re normal and doing okay.

Jordan is one of a kind and I’m so excited to share with you more of what she has to offer. You name it–she has a video or post about it. Anything from finances, to family, fashion, etc.–she blogs about it all. If you have yet to follow Jordan, you need to! She will brighten your day with her smile, and help you reach all of the goals and dreams you have for your family. 

 

Jordan is also a huge fan of Deals to Meals. Really, Deals to Meals wouldn’t still be around without Jordan. She has been an answer to our prayers and has really helped our service be what it is today. Jordan…you are heaven sent! Here are some of my favorite videos from Jordan that might help you with your grocery shopping and price matching questions we’ve all had lately. Beware..once you start watching her videos, you’ll be hooked for hours! She is so entertaining, they are a blast to watch. Take it away Jordan…

Price Matching Scoop Video


How Jordan Grocery Shops without Using Coupons

How Jordan Grocery Shops Plus Meal Planning Tips

Grocery Shopping Q&A

 

How to save 30-70% on groceries and the BEST deals this week!

People ask me all the time how I keep a well stocked food storage on a budget. For our family, having a reserve of food is an important aspect to our preparedness goals. This can be tricky however, if you are on a tight budget like we are. The trick is to only stock up on those items that are great/lost-leader prices that will save you the most money. This can be hard to keep track of, and that’s why Deals to Meals is here to help!

Don’t try and stock up on several items every week, just focus on the really great deals to save you the most money. All ‘red’ deals (or great deals) from our website are worth buying a few extra of. However, really pay attention when an item goes on sale for a starred/stock up deal. These items range from 30-70% off and will save you hundreds of dollars throughout the year. 

This week there are several of these stock-up deals. In fact, some of these prices I have NEVER seen in the past two decades. For example, here in Utah there are Associated Stores that have powdered and brown sugar on sale for only $0.35 per pound. That is a CRAZY-AMAZING-SUPER FUN deal! Don’t buy just a few bags, buy cases of this sugar because it will last 10-15 years and you know you will use it. For less than $25 I could have my family’s year supply of powdered sugar and brown sugar. You’ll save over $30 by stocking up on just this one item. Remember…we do ALL the work for you for under a $1 a week. Now that’s an investment with BIG paybacks 🙂

There are case lot deals happening this week as well. Here are a few of the great/lost leader deals we thought you should be aware of. For ALL of the best deals, login to Deals to Meals and see for yourself. If you’re not a member, hurry and take advantage of our lowest prices we’ve ever offered. Check out how to sign up here for only $3.50 a month (that’s a 25% savings).

Albertsons 

Best Deals: Chicken of the Sea Tunafish 5oz. $0.59, American Beauty Pasta $0.69, Top Ramen Noodles 3oz. $0.12

Blairs, Ridleys, Fresh Market, Dan’s Market, Petersen’s Market, Lin’s Market, etc.

Best Deals: Western Family 1 lb. Brown Sugar or Powdered Sugar $0.35-$0.50, Western Family Tuna Fish 5oz. .59, Western Family Sugar or Flour 4-5 lbs. $1.50, Pilsbury Cake Mix 15.5 oz. $0.78. Hundreds of great deals, so login and get shopping before they’re gone!

Smiths

Best Deals: Kroger Peanut Butter 16 oz. $1, Libby’s Canned Vegetables $0.50

 

Gerbes, Bakers, Dillons, Kroger

Best Deals: Kroger Peanut Butter 16oz. $1, Quaker Cereal up to 14 oz. $1.50

 

For ALL of the best grocery deals in your area, login to Deals to Meals and start saving some serious money!

Grocery Deals: Spent $112, Saved $64

Grocery Deals-saved $62Well, after my last big shopping trip, I figured it was time to restock my fridge and freezer with some of the awesome deals this week. I had a crazy day so I needed to plan my meals, shop and be home in an hour. Using Deals to Meals I was able to do it with five minutes remaining! I quickly logged into our website, clicked on the best deals I wanted to get at the two stores I wanted to shop at, and was on my way. My meal plan also came together in minutes as I quickly glanced through the grocery list to see what produce items I’d need for my recipes.  I was thrilled when I only spent $112 and saved over $60! The best part about this, is YOU can do the same thing too! No need to spend full price at the grocery store. With a little effort, you can also save some BIG money on your groceries.  Remember, we are offering our LOWEST membership price to Deals to Meals. Sign up today for less than ONE dollar a week. You can’t beat that, right? I saved 60 times that amount in just one shopping trip. Here’s the link to get this special promotion (ends March 31st, so hurry!).

3.50 mo. pricing logoNot to mention, it’s fun!! I love coming home with lots of fresh produce, meat for my freezer and everything I need to make cooking easy. Tonight I was able to whip together an Orange Moroccan Chicken dish in less than 30 minutes and I can’t wait to share it with you! I calculated this recipe cost less than $10 and fed our family of 7. Watch for this recipe next week in our meal planner. You’re going to love it 🙂moroccan thumbnail

 

Save 50% Off on Groceries

Check out some of the awesome deals I stocked up on this past week at Smiths. They had some great deals on cheese, peanut butter, rice, eggs, sugar, cream cheese and much more! When grocery shopping, remember to focus on the ‘red/great’ deals on our website to save you the most money. I only bought items that were red deals and saved over 50% off my total. Now my freezer is filled with cheese at the lowest possible price, my food storage is bulked up with sugar and peanut butter, and I bought everything at rock bottom prices. Now I won’t have to buy these items again for several months which will save me BIG money! Visit our website and login to see how easy (and FUN) it is to save time and money 😉

Thanksgiving Prepping 101: Tips to Simplify and Plan Ahead

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, so it’s the perfect time to start prepping for all of your upcoming parties and meals. Here are a few tips to help make your day go more smoothly and allow you to enjoy the holidays without too much stress.

24-48 hours before: Do your grocery shopping (using Deals to Meals) and use your grocery list to make shopping easier. Pick and choose those meals you want to make for your upcoming Thanksgiving meals, as well as leftovers and your week’s meal plan. You don’t want to have to go out shopping over the weekend with all of the crowds, so plan ahead for a week’s worth of recipes your family will love.

Went shopping today and got my 14 days of recipes, extra pork, turkey, ham, chicken, sausage and roast for my freezer, everything I need for Thanksgiving and food storage items I needed to stock up on. All of this for under $200! Login to Deals to Meals to see all of the best grocery deals in your area.

12-24 hours before:  There are several items you can prep ahead of time to make Thanksgiving easier. Here are a few of the recipes you can prep ahead of time.

  • Sweet Potato Casserole: Boil the sweet potatoes, drain and let them rest and cool until you are ready to peel them and get them ready. Once they are cool, peel them, add the butter, brown sugar, salt and eggs and beat them together until smooth. Once they are smooth, put them in a baking dish and cover with tinfoil. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Make the crumble (or use marshmallows) and have that ready to put on the casserole right before baking. Sweet Potatoes also freeze really well if you want to make them weeks in advance.
  • Fresh Cranberries: Making fresh cranberry sauce is super easy and so much better for you. This can be made up several days (even a week before) and kept in the fridge until ready to serve. It also freezes well if needed.
  • Fresh Green Bean Casserole: Make the casserole a day or two ahead of time and keep in the fridge until ready to top with the French’s Onions and bake. This casserole also freezes and can be made ahead.
  • Stuffing mixture can be made (sausage, onions, celery, etc.) and stay in the fridge for several days. If you need dried bread, cube that and place on a cookie sheet to dry for a few days until ready to combine the two ingredients and make your dressing. 
  • Appetizers: Most of my favorite appetizers that I like to make for weekend parties can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until the party. Some of these are: stuffed mushrooms, dips, salsas, hummus, and much more.
  • Rolls: Rolls can be made, rolled onto a cookie sheet and frozen for later. On the morning of your meal, remove them from the freezer and let thaw for several hours until risen and then bake.
  • Creamed Corn: This recipe also is easy to make several days before and kept in the fridge until ready to warm and serve. 

10-12 hours before: Depending on the size of your turkey, you will want to make sure and have it completely thawed and ready for cooking. 

 
  • Turkey: I like to season my turkey and have it all ready to go in my roaster pan the night before so when I wake up I can put it straight in the oven (or slow cooker). 
  • Mashed Potatoes: You can peel, dice and place the potatoes into a large pot of water. You can keep the potatoes in the water for several hours until you’re ready to boil them and make the mashed potatoes. One tip: If you are needing to make the potatoes several hours before serving, keep them warmed in a slow cooker on low heat until ready to serve.
  • Stuffing: Assemble the stuffing and have ready to bake an hour before cooking.
  • Pie crusts can be made, as well as the fillings and kept in the fridge until ready to bake and assemble. Pie crusts also freeze really well in case you need to make them several days ahead and have ready to bake.
  • Decorate: It doesn’t hurt to begin decorating the night before your party. The more you can have ready ahead of time, the less stressed you will be the day of.

 

3-4 hours before: There are a few things that need to be made the morning of your meal.

 
  • Rolls: Although you can make rolls ahead of time and freeze them, I am a little obsessed about having fresh, warm rolls right out of the oven. Give yourself three hours to make several batches of homemade rolls so you have plenty of time to let them rise sufficiently and be beautiful and delicious 😉
  • Check the cooking turkey and make sure it will be ready on time. Plan according to when your turkey will be done.
  • Bake all of the casseroles you made ahead of time so they will be ready for serving.
  • Cook your pies so they have time to cool before serving if needed.

30 Minutes Before: Have everyone gather so you can pull everything out of the oven and be ready to eat as soon as people gather to the table. No one wants cold food, so make sure people are ready when you take the food out of the oven.

Give Thanks: Going around our table and each of us sharing things we are grateful for is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. It is such a great time to reflect on all of the blessings we have been given. To share these feelings and blessings with family and friends is even a greater blessing. I hope your week goes smoothly and you are able to enjoy this time with those you love. I sure love and appreciate each of you!

 

5 Tips to Save you TIME and Money this Thanksgiving

1. HAVE A PLAN 


The holidays are in full swing and all of us are looking for ways to save a little money and keep from pulling our hair out from unwanted stress. I am excited to share a few of my favorite time and money saving tips to help you during this Thanksgiving holiday.

First and foremost, have a plan! If you are able, start planning your Thanksgiving meal at least a week (or more) before the holiday begins. Have a quick list of what items you would like to make, who will be making each recipe, and have a game plan for the busy day. There are lots of different components to planning a Thanksgiving meal, so think through the different aspects to the meal (and day) and put it on paper. Everything from decorations, shopping, food prep, cleaning can all be organized and put to a schedule to help the day go more smoothly.

Our free Thanksgiving Menu Sheet is a great way to stay organized. We upload this as a Google document so family members can all add to the document and decide what they would like to help with.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2GlPW5TKJfmelV4MGR0RnJLUFk/view?usp=sharing

Want help with your menu plan as well? Deals to Meals is here to help simplify your life! On November 18th we will give all Deals to Meals members a detailed Menu Plan and Grocery List to help make your meal planning easy and fun! Members of Deals to Meals also have access to all of our tried and true recipes we know your family will love.

2. START EARLY AND MAKE EXTRA

Once you have a plan, it’s time to start thinking about ways you can relieve stress the day of your party, by doing things ahead of time. Many Thanksgiving recipes can be made a week, or several days before, and frozen for later.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that work well with this method.

*Sweet Potato Casserole freezes beautifully and can be baked an hour before serving (thaw in the fridge the night before).

*Homemade Cranberry Sauce can also be made several days in advance and either frozen or kept in the fridge.

*Homemade Pie Crusts are another great recipe that can made, rolled out into pie shells, and frozen until ready to bake (or of course, you can use store bought if you wish).

*Mashed Potatoes can also be frozen ahead of time. Make them as usual, let them cool, and then freeze in a large tupperware or Ziploc bag. Before serving, thaw the potatoes in the fridge the night before. When you are ready to reheat the potatoes, place them in a crock pot to heat slowly. Add some more heavy whipping cream and butter to help soften the potatoes and whip them with an electric mixer once they are warmed through.

*Turkey: if you are using a turkey breast, you can crock pot the turkey, shred the breast meat and freeze until the day of the dinner. When ready to reheat the turkey, you can place into a crock pot and warm on low heat for 3-4 hours, or until ready to serve. Add some chicken broth to keep the turkey nice and moist before serving.

*Homemade rolls are so fun to make ahead and have in your freezer (I use this method all year–no more Rhodes in our freezer!) Make the dough recipe as normal, put the rolls on a greased cookie sheet and then wrap with saran wrap. Put the rolls in the freezer as soon as you have them rolled out (you don’t want them to begin to rise). The morning of Thanksgiving, pull the frozen rolls out of the freezer and place in a warm spot of your home. Let the rolls rise on the counter on a pan (about 2-3 hours) and when they have doubled in size, bake them as usual until they are golden brown. If you want to have these rolls on hand for other recipes, just put the frozen balls of dough into a Ziploc bag and keep in the freezer until ready to use. These work great for monkey bread, calzone dough, etc.

Another tip is to double your holiday recipes so you have plenty of leftovers you can enjoy the following week, or freeze the extras for later. For example, my family loves sweet potatoes all year but yams are rarely on sale besides in November. I always make 3-4 pans of the sweet potato casserole and then freeze several of them for later. Keep freezer tins/pans on hand to make freezing the recipes easier. We also love having cooked meat in our freezer for quick meals on busy nights. So, while I am cooking one turkey breast, I always throw in a second so I know I have lots of leftovers and turkey for another meal. You can do this same thing if you are cooking a ham, pork roast, beef roast, etc.

 

3. BE AN INFORMED SHOPPER

Being an informed shopper will save you BIG money this week. Most families will spend an average of $50-$100 on this one meal, so it’s important you know what you are buying and where to get the best deals. Some of the year’s BEST grocery deals are on this week. Nearly everything you need for your holiday meals will be on sale. Whether you are looking for turkey, canned pumpkin, frozen pies, stuffing mix, soda pop, potatoes, yams, etc., it is ALL on sale this week.

Deals to Meals will tell you where all of the best grocery deals are in your area. We compare all of the grocery store prices to Costco and Walmart and tell you when items go on sale for great deals (without having to use coupons). Just login to our website, click on the stores you want to shop at, and you’re set to save!

4. STOCK UP AND SAVE 

There are over 25 grocery items everyone should be stocking up on this week. If you miss the chance to stock up on these items, many of them won’t be go on sale again for another 365 days! That’s a long time to wait for a another sale–especially if it’s items your family uses on a regular basis.  So, save yourself from having to buy these items at full price throughout the year and stock up this week!

I went shopping last week and spent $109 on many of the Thanksgiving deals I wanted to stock up on and saved $166! That’s nearly 60% off Walmart’s regular low prices. How cool is that? Tip: don’t just buy the items you need for the one holiday meal, stock up and buy several to put in your pantry or food storage for a later time. Check the list below to see which items you might want to stock up on.

Visit Deals to Meals for a detailed list of where all of these grocery items are on sale. Focusing each week on the gold starred items (meaning they are LESS than Walmart and Costco), will save you the most money (up to 70% off)!

5. SIMPLIFY

There are many things you can do to simplify for the holidays. Here are some of my favorite tips:

*Use paper products instead of fine China. If you are less formal, this is an easy way to save you hours of doing dishes.

*Let people help you. Don’t try to put the entire meal together on your own.

*Keep your menu simple. Stick to only those recipes your family loves and cut out any extra recipes that don’t seem to be people’s favorites.

*Cook a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. Turkey breasts can be cooked in a crock pot and are much easier to carve and bake. Here’s our favorite turkey recipe.

*Remember the real meaning and purpose behind the holiday season. It’s not a time to be stressed and run around unable to enjoy the holiday. Keep your focus on family and relishing the moments we have together.

*Keep your meal plan simple, do a lot ahead of time, watch for the best deals, stock up when items are on sale, and you will be set for the greatest holiday season ever!

Here at Deals to Meals we wish you a most delightful (and delicious) Thanksgiving season.

Money Saving Tip: Prepackaged Chip Bags

For those who follow our Instagram (thanks mucho!) you might have seen a Money Saving Tip I shared earlier today. Making home lunches for my children can be a challenge and it can add up quickly. Although it is still much less expensive to send a home lunch, sometimes having all the ‘fun’ snacks, can break the bank. My kids love chips (they get it from their mother ;), so instead of buying prepackaged bags of chips, I make my own. The nice thing about this is that I can determine how many chips I want in each bag and what kinds of chips my children like to eat. It seems I buy those big packages of pre-bagged chips and they tend to only like a few of the flavors. So, when a chip goes on sale that my children like, I buy a couple bags and then come home and put a handful in separate bags for my children’s lunches. This week chips are on sale for only $1.77, so I was able to get 17 bags of chips for only $0.10 each! That’s a fourth the price of the bags you can buy at the store. Hope this simple tip helps your family save a few extra dollars each month 😉

Costco Comparisons: 6 simple tips to help you save money at warehouse stores!

This past weekend I did my two week meal plan and wanted to share with you some tips I use to help keep my grocery budget low. If you are like me, you LOVE shopping at Costco. What is there not to love about it–samples, hot dogs for only $1.50, great quality products, and the fact they seem to have everything you need in one place. However, many people end up shopping at warehouse stores and spending MUCH more than they planned–leaving their food budgets over extended and their families finances in a pinch. I’m excited to share six simple tips to help you stay in your food budget and still have the flexibility of shopping at wholesale stores–saving you some BIG money!

*All of the items above from Costco as well as a regular grocery store only cost me $128! That was everything I needed for my two week meal plan. Fab, huh?! 🙂

Here are SIX simple tips to help you save money at warehouse stores:

1-Only shop at warehouse stores once a month
Although these stores are fun to shop at, you can get sucked in by all of the other ‘fun’ items to buy and leave spending WAY more than you expected too. The items I buy at Costco will last about a month and it seems to work out great for our family.

2-Shop the coupons
Costco comes out with a coupon book once a month. You can find all of the best coupon deals on our website. Login and see if any of the coupon items are items your family NORMALLY uses and then stock up. Many of the great deals on coupons have a limit, so buy as much as you can afford if it’s an item you use anyway. For example, this month mayonnaise is on sale, so stock up and buy several to add to your food storage. With the coupon you won’t be able to find it much cheaper any other time of the year. However, be careful and not buy items ‘just because’ they are on a coupon deal. ONLY buy items you normally use and know your family will eat. Here’s a link to some great tips on how the pricing works at Costco to save you money.

3-Go with a shopping list
Don’t go to these warehouse stores without an exact list of what you need–and stick to it! I know this can be hard. Don’t get caught up in all the different foods that seem fun to try and buy. If you are on a tight budget, stick to the items you know and try and keep your blinders on for all of the others–no matter how great the samples taste 😉

4-Make items from scratch
One thing people love about warehouse stores are all of the pre-made products. I know these items are delicious and fun to eat, but they are WAY over priced. For example, a small container of Avocado Hummus costs almost $6. However,  you can make this from home (here’s our awesome Copycat recipe) for under $2 for a HUGE batch. Another example, Costco sells frozen taquitos, burritos, etc. You get about 15-20 burritos for about $1 each small burritos. Why not make up a batch of frozen burritos from scratch and keep in your freezer. They are healthier and SO much less expensive.

5-Use Deals to Meals to help know which items are less than Costco and Walmart
Focus on stocking up on these items to save you the most money. Use Deals to Meals to help you know where to shop and what to buy. Whether you want to shop at regular grocery stores for the best deals, or price match all of the best deals at Walmart, this will save you BIG money!! For example, this weekend I went shopping at Costco and bought my ‘regular’ Costco items. I then stopped by our local Sprouts to get some of the items that were on sale at their store. Between the two I had everything I needed at the very lowest prices possible. It took only an extra 20 minutes to stop by a second store but allowed me to get many of the items much less.

6-Be an informed shopper–know what to buy and what not to buy
Just because a product is sold at Costco or Sam’s Club doesn’t mean it’s the best deal. In fact, many items are over inflated because they know you will ‘grab’ extra items once you are there doing your other shopping. One place Costco really inflates their prices is on produce. Yes, they have good quality produce, but unless you want to spend twice the amount on many items, you might as well be an informed shopper and shop where prices are less. Here are some examples of items I bought at a ‘regular’ grocery store instead of a warehouse.

Here is a link to a post where I listed the items I buy on a monthly basis. 

Spent $92 and saved $95 on my grocery shopping trip today–that’s over 50% off!

Went out today for a midnight munchie run with my teenagers and found some great prices at Smiths I wanted to share with you. Yes, I’m not sure who kidnapped their mother?!–this was SO not like me! Despite my unusual behavior, I was thrilled to get all sorts of great deals at Smiths–for things we didn’t need, as well as those we did. Not sure ice cream and doughnuts are a ‘need’, but the kids sure loved them 😉

Either way, this is a great week to stock up on some items your family might use on a regular basis. Things like pasta, chips, snack foods, chicken, produce, peanut butter, fishy crackers, marshmallows, Juicy Juice drink boxes, yogurt, eggs, milk, etc. I spent $92 and saved $95! That’s over a 50% savings WITHOUT using coupons or price matching. Knowing what to buy, as well as what not to buy, is what will save you the most at the grocery store. Login to Deals to Meals to help make your grocery shopping experience SIMPLE and FUN–no matter the time of day.  I think I am finally ready for bed now that the house full of teenagers are gone 😉 Ahh, peace and quite. That’s a good part of the day, isn’t it? Have a great night!

5 Simple Tips to Save You Time and Money this Thanksgiving!

1. HAVE A PLAN 

The holidays are in full swing and all of us are looking for ways to save a little money and keep from pulling our hair out from unwanted stress. I am excited to share a few of my favorite time and money saving tips to help you during this Thanksgiving holiday.

First and foremost, have a plan! If you are able, start planning your Thanksgiving meal at least a week (or more) before the holiday begins. Have a quick list of what items you would like to make, who will be making each recipe, and have a game plan for the busy day. There are lots of different components to planning a Thanksgiving meal, so think through the different aspects to the meal (and day) and put it on paper. Everything from decorations, shopping, food prep, cleaning can all be organized and put to a schedule to help the day go more smoothly.

Our free Thanksgiving Menu Sheet is a great way to stay organized. We upload this as a Google document so family members can all add to the document and decide what they would like to help with.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2GlPW5TKJfmelV4MGR0RnJLUFk/view?usp=sharing

Want help with your menu plan as well? Deals to Meals is here to help simplify your life! On November 18th we will give all Deals to Meals members a detailed Menu Plan and Grocery List to help make your meal planning easy and fun! Members of Deals to Meals also have access to all of our tried and true recipes we know your family will love.

2. START EARLY AND MAKE EXTRA

Once you have a plan, it’s time to start thinking about ways you can relieve stress the day of your party, by doing things ahead of time. Many Thanksgiving recipes can be made a week, or several days before, and frozen for later.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that work well with this method.

*Sweet Potato Casserole freezes beautifully and can be baked an hour before serving (thaw in the fridge the night before).
*Homemade Cranberry Sauce can also be made several days in advance and either frozen or kept in the fridge.
*Homemade Pie Crusts are another great recipe that can made, rolled out into pie shells, and frozen until ready to bake (or of course, you can use store bought if you wish).
*Mashed Potatoes can also be frozen ahead of time. Make them as usual, let them cool, and then freeze in a large tupperware or Ziploc bag. Before serving, thaw the potatoes in the fridge the night before. When you are ready to reheat the potatoes, place them in a crock pot to heat slowly. Add some more heavy whipping cream and butter to help soften the potatoes and whip them with an electric mixer once they are warmed through.
*Turkey: if you are using a turkey breast, you can crock pot the turkey, shred the breast meat and freeze until the day of the dinner. When ready to reheat the turkey, you can place into a crock pot and warm on low heat for 3-4 hours, or until ready to serve. Add some chicken broth to keep the turkey nice and moist before serving.
*Homemade rolls are so fun to make ahead and have in your freezer (I use this method all year–no more Rhodes in our freezer!) Make the dough recipe as normal, put the rolls on a greased cookie sheet and then wrap with saran wrap. Put the rolls in the freezer as soon as you have them rolled out (you don’t want them to begin to rise). The morning of Thanksgiving, pull the frozen rolls out of the freezer and place in a warm spot of your home. Let the rolls rise on the counter on a pan (about 2-3 hours) and when they have doubled in size, bake them as usual until they are golden brown. If you want to have these rolls on hand for other recipes, just put the frozen balls of dough into a Ziploc bag and keep in the freezer until ready to use. These work great for monkey bread, calzone dough, etc.

Another tip is to double your holiday recipes so you have plenty of leftovers you can enjoy the following week, or freeze the extras for later. For example, my family loves sweet potatoes all year but yams are rarely on sale besides in November. I always make 3-4 pans of the sweet potato casserole and then freeze several of them for later. Keep freezer tins/pans on hand to make freezing the recipes easier. We also love having cooked meat in our freezer for quick meals on busy nights. So, while I am cooking one turkey breast, I always throw in a second so I know I have lots of leftovers and turkey for another meal. You can do this same thing if you are cooking a ham, pork roast, beef roast, etc.

3. BE AN INFORMED SHOPPER

Being an informed shopper will save you BIG money this week. Most families will spend an average of $50-$100 on this one meal, so it’s important you know what you are buying and where to get the best deals. Some of the year’s BEST grocery deals are on this week. Nearly everything you need for your holiday meals will be on sale. Whether you are looking for turkey, canned pumpkin, frozen pies, stuffing mix, soda pop, potatoes, yams, etc., it is ALL on sale this week.

Deals to Meals will tell you where all of the best grocery deals are in your area. We compare all of the grocery store prices to Costco and Walmart and tell you when items go on sale for great deals (without having to use coupons). Just login to our website, click on the stores you want to shop at, and you’re set to save!

4. STOCK UP AND SAVE 



There are over 25 grocery items everyone should be stocking up on this week. If you miss the chance to stock up on these items, many of them won’t be go on sale again for another 365 days! That’s a long time to wait for a another sale–especially if it’s items your family uses on a regular basis.  So, save yourself from having to buy these items at full price throughout the year and stock up this week!

I went shopping last week and spent $109 on many of the Thanksgiving deals I wanted to stock up on and saved $166! That’s nearly 60% off Walmart’s regular low prices. How cool is that? Tip: don’t just buy the items you need for the one holiday meal, stock up and buy several to put in your pantry or food storage for a later time. Check the list below to see which items you might want to stock up on.

Visit Deals to Meals for a detailed list of where all of these grocery items are on sale. Focusing each week on the gold starred items (meaning they are LESS than Walmart and Costco), will save you the most money (up to 70% off)!

5. SIMPLIFY

There are many things you can do to simplify for the holidays. Here are some of my favorite tips:
*Use paper products instead of fine China. If you are less formal, this is an easy way to save you hours of doing dishes.
*Let people help you. Don’t try to put the entire meal together on your own.
*Keep your menu simple. Stick to only those recipes your family loves and cut out any extra recipes that don’t seem to be people’s favorites.
*Cook a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. Turkey breasts can be cooked in a crock pot and are much easier to carve and bake. Here’s our favorite turkey recipe.
*Remember the real meaning and purpose behind the holiday season. It’s not a time to be stressed and run around unable to enjoy the holiday. Keep your focus on family and relishing the moments we have together.
*Keep your meal plan simple, do a lot ahead of time, watch for the best deals, stock up when items are on sale, and you will be set for the greatest holiday season ever!

Here at Deals to Meals, and  One Good Thing By Jillee, we wish you a most delightful (and delicious) Thanksgiving season.

10 Tips to Combat Walmart’s New Price Matching Policy

Deals to Meals, Price Matching Tips, walmart price matching, new walmart price matching policy, help with price matching, tips to price match, save money on groceries,

Are you having problems price matching lately? Are you frustrated
with Walmart’s new price matching policies? Well, let me help. I feel your pain
and am just as annoyed by their new policy as you are, but I have a few tips to help you continue to save money and time. It’s a lengthy post, so bare with me. Lots to discuss 😉 Feel free to share your comments or feedback of what works for you below. We can all learn from each other on this one 😉


————————————————————————————————————————–

We’re committed to providing low prices every day. On everything. So if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product, tell us and we’ll match it. Right at the register.

We gladly match the price in the following types of ads:*

  • Buy one, get one free ads with a specified price
    • Example: Buy one for $2.49, get one free (BOGO)
  • Competitors’ ads that feature a specific item for a specified price
  • Preferred shopping card prices for specific items that are in a printed ad
  • For fresh produce and meat items when the price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb.; each for each)

*The following are guidelines and limitations:

  • We will match any local competitor’s advertised price.
  • We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor’s ad, but we reserve the right to verify an ad at any time; we also require the store to verify the ad if there is a difference in price greater than 25% from the competitor.
  • The system will prompt for supervisor verification at a 50% reduction in price or greater. 
  • Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.). No substitutions
  • In all situations Walmart reserves the right to limit BOGO quantities to one per customer or household
————————————————————————————————————————–
Now that you have the policy from Walmart themselves, here are a few tips to help you make the most out of it and continue to save lots of $$!

1-Shop Individual Stores.
I know this method won’t save you lots of time, but it will help you
continue to support your local grocery stores that WANT your business—and are
actually nice to us 😉 Shopping at different stores will help you take
advantage of the different stores’ best deals and still save you money. Deals
to Meals is even more important now than ever. Before you choose a store to shop
at, login to our website to know which store(s) has the most/best deals so you
can take advantage of several great deals in one place. If a certain store has
an item (that is not a name brand), that you know you need in your food
storage/pantry and you need to buy several, make a quick stop to that store.
For example, pork and beans (Western Family) were on sale the other week for
.33 a can. I needed some in my storage, so I swung by and picked up 48 cans
because I knew I needed several, so it was worth my time and gas money.

2-Know which type(s) of items
are on sale
.
Walmart will not longer price match Great Value items for store
brand items on sale at other stores (enter frowny face and frustrating grunt!
UGH). So, on the great value items that you can no longer price match at
Walmart, you will want to go to those store(s) to buy that particular sale item.
If you don’t want to go to different stores, you will have to buy those items
at Costco or Walmart for their regular prices. For example, if sour cream is on
sale for .99 at Smiths (Kroger brand) and I need 3 for my recipes that week, I
will just have to deal with paying the extra .28 at Walmart to save me time
from running to Smiths, or…go to Costco and buy a 5 lb. tub at the lower price
and you’ll just have to use up the big container because it was less per ounce.

3-Buy name brands.
You will normally hear me pushing store brands, which I still do.
However, if you look through the weekly deals on our website and you see ‘name
brand’ items on sale, then it’s a good time to stock up. For example, last week
Kraft Salad Dressing and Capri Sun Drinks are on sale for great deals. These
are name brand items that Walmart WILL price match. So, these are items you
will want to add to your grocery list and buy. Same thing with items like
canned beans. A Utah store just had S&W canned beans on sale for less
than the store brand beans generally go. When you see this happen on our site,
and these items are ‘red/great’ deals, then it’s a great time to stock up—and
price match if you wish. Since it is a name brand item, you can price match and
buy several for your pantry/food storage. Watch for these name brand items to
go on sale for great prices and stock up.

4-Find the best, local place
to buy produce
.
Since Walmart is being stinkers about price matching certain produce
items (like oranges, watermelon, etc.—because they are sold individually) you
will want to find an alternative option for produce (if you can). However,
Walmart will price match MOST produce items, so if you want the ultimate one
stop shopping trip, still price match as much produce as you can at Walmart.
 However, if you live near a Sprouts (LOVE them!) or a Rancho
Market/Hispanic Market then shop their low produce prices each week. The
best part about Sprouts is they have double ad Wedensday’s which means their
sales from the past week and the new week are all valid on Wednesday’s. I have
found shopping at Sprouts on Wednesday’s allows me to get most all of the
produce items I need for my week’s meal plan in one place. I then swing by
Walmart and get the other items I am in need of. If you don’t live near a
Sprouts –send them an email letting them know you want one near you J Until they build
one near you (they are expanding like crazy!), then buy your produce at Costco,
price match at Walmart or find another local farmer’s market that sales produce
for a good price.

5-Have a well stocked pantry
and food storage.
Stock up on sale items to save you from having to buy items when
they are not on sale. As you stock up a little each week on the items your
family uses on a regular basis, you will find most of the items you need for
your week’s menu planner are fresh produce and meat–which can still be price
matched at Walmart. This stocking up method also goes for meat and dairy items.
For example, if cheese is on sale for $4.99 (32 oz. bag) at Fresh Market, and
my family uses a lot of cheese, this is the time to stock up. If this item is a
store brand item that can’t be price matched, I would go to Fresh Market and
buy 5-10 of these bags of cheese so I don’t have to worry about buying them
full price another time. A well stocked food storage and pantry will make meal
planning SO much easier and help you save money throughout the rest of the
year. And bottom line, the more food you have stored in your home, the less
items each week you have to price match.

6-Keep staple items well
stocked.
 
There are several items each week that rarely go on sale. These are
‘staple’ items that won’t have a grocery store sale item linked to it in the
grocery list. These items are ones you need for almost every recipe and ones
you should have plenty of in your storage/pantry. Here is a list of staple
items you should always have on hand and where the lowest prices are to buy
them.
Deals to Meals, Price Matching Tips, walmart price matching, new walmart price matching policy, help with price matching, tips to price match, save money on groceries,

7-Only shop once in a 10-14
day period.
Since Walmart’s price matching policy has changed, and shopping is
no longer as convenient, you will want to shop fewer times a month. The good
news is, the fewer times you shop at the grocery store, the less money you’ll
spend –yay! Try and do all of your shopping in one day so you get to relax the
next couple weeks and not have to worry about shopping again for last minute
items you need. If you shop using our meal planner, those recipes should last
you 1 ½-2 weeks and should help you shop fewer times each week.
Deals to Meals, Price Matching Tips, walmart price matching, new walmart price matching policy, help with price matching, tips to price match, save money on groceries,

8-Be organized.
Since one stop shopping is not as readily available any longer, you
will want to make sure you are extra organized. Before I shop, I like to know
which stores I am going to, which items I am needing to buy, and what meals I
will be making with the items I’m purchasing. Using our weekly meal planner on
Deals to Meals you will have delicious recipe options that you can serve your
family for the next couple of weeks. Click on the recipes you wish to make for
the upcoming week (or create your own meal planner) and then link the
ingredients to the weekly deals. Once you print out a grocery list, you will
know what items you need to purchase and where to shop.

9-Watch for the small print.
Walmart used to be pretty relaxed about grocery store deals that
had: Buy 1 Get 1 Free, Limits, Certain Day Specials, Online Coupons, etc. In
the past they used to be okay matching some of these ‘specials’ no matter which
day it was, or how much of an item you wanted to stock up on. They are now more
particular. If an item in the ad has a limit of 2, they will only let you buy
2. If the item is on a BOGO sale, they won’t let you purchase those items
unless it lists the exact price for 2. And if an item has an online digital
coupon associated to a price, they will no longer price match those items at
the ‘coupon’ price. They will only price match the price BEFORE the coupon’s
discount is deducted. Any of these specific details will be listed on our website
under the far right column of our deals page. Any details the ad mentions, we
will put in that column to help you be an aware customer.
Deals to Meals, Price Matching Tips, walmart price matching, new walmart price matching policy, help with price matching, tips to price match, save money on groceries,

10-Share your feedback (and
be kind).
I have to admit I have had to hold my tongue at Walmart the past few
times I’ve shopped. I don’t enjoy feeling like I am a criminal just because I
am price matching and following their own stores’ policy. Customer service has
never been a strong suit for Walmart, but it never hurts to let them know what
we think. In a kind, and civil way (ha!), let the store manager of your nearest
Walmart know your frustrations. The manager’s I have talked to said they want
to know what their local customers think and how their store is performing.
Make sure and get the name of a cashier if they are great, or not so great, to
help their managers know how they can improve. According to their own store
policy online, you shouldn’t have to show ‘proof’ for a deal unless it is more
than 25% off the Walmart price. On those items, you might want to come prepared
with our Deals to Meals print out, the grocery store ad or at least know which
store the deal is from so they can look it up online.

8 Tips to Plan and Host a SIMPLE and INEXPENSIVE Christmas Party!

 love to party! I love hosting. I love people and I love having people over to our house. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. However, I am not a cutsie-crafty-pintresty-kind of gal. I am WAY too cheap for that 😉 This is the time of year many of us are thinking about, or planning Christmas parties. I wanted to share with you 8 tips that help me stay sane this time of year, and have helped throw hundreds of SIMPLE parties. Christmas parties are my favorite, so I will focus on Christmas parties in general but the tips could work for any time of year. The key is to keep it simple and focus on good food and structuring the party so your guests have a fun time. I don’t stress about having the perfect house, or making things look super cute. Who has extra money this time of year to throw fancy-shmancy parties? Not me 😉 Just be yourself and throw a party that gets people together to enjoy this special time of year–and no matter what you do it will be success!
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So, here is how I throw our Annual Adult Christmas Party without ANY fuss and headache 🙂
Cost of the party…under $25
*Invitations: EVITE–not as personal, but totally easy and free 😉
*Don’t stress about the food yourself. We have each couple who comes bring an appetizer or dessert to share with everyone. I usually will make 3 or 4 that I double and make extras of the month before. I then freeze them until the day of the party, which cuts down on prep time the day of the party. If you have enough people coming to your party, you will have plenty of food to feed the whole group.
*Decorations–don’t go crazy, keep it simple. No one really cares and they add up quickly if you’re not careful. Some key things I make sure I have are cute plates, napkins and cups. They set the color scheme for the event and help make things look nice.  After that, a nice tablecloth and centerpiece and you’re good 😉 Once the food is on the tables no one really will be noticing the decorations.
*White Elephant–who doesn’t love a good white elephant party? We do this every year and it is the highlight of the party! We laugh so hard our face hurts. The bigger, crazier the better. This year the big hit was a huge candy dispenser (the kind you see at stores). It was hilarious that everyone was fighting over it. Have each person who comes to your party bring a white elephant gift wrapped. We all draw numbers, make the rule that each gift has a maximum steals of 3 and then it’s frozen. You can also play this game with dice if you have less people.
*Ugly Sweater Contest--not a necessity but it sure is funny 🙂 We have a small gift for the winner.
*Charity–there isn’t a better time of year than Christmas to work together for a good cause. In our neighborhood we started 6 years ago the tradition of NOT doing neighborhood gifts. Instead, we all donate to a local cause. This year we all rallied together for a family who lost their father. It was amazing to see people’s generosity and it felt good to all of us to help someone in need. 
*Christmas Questionnaire–My husband is a huge Excel and Powerpoint fan and always has an annual questionnaire. He just has about 30 random Christmas questions/trivia that people have to answer. We then have prizes for the winners (candy bars, small monetary gift cards, etc.). It’s fun to see people get competitive and have a fun time trying to remember all the answers to simple questions that we should know but forget (like ‘On the 9th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me_____). Simple questions like those get people laughing and talking and makes for a simple game/activity.  
*Make it a tradition. Starting traditions in a neighborhood are important. It gives people things to look forward to and it brings unity to your community. Pick a certain weekend that works for you, that you can do every year. The Saturday after Thanksgiving so far has worked perfectly for us. It’s fun that we all look forward to this party now each year. You may only have a few people the first time you throw a party. But each year, it will get bigger and bigger. We are now up to just shy of 45 people and it is a blast! The more the merrier is my philosophy 😉
With these simple methods, this Christmas party is a synch to plan and throw. Other than cleaning my bathrooms (my least favorite thing to do), this party can be planned in less than an hour.  Merry Christmas!

Easy Bean and Cheese Burritos

 

Do you ever need a super-simple-easy-peasy recipe to make for dinner? This recipe is the one for you! I can not think of a time when we have gone on vacation and I haven’t brought this meal to make for our family (or our kids). One of the ways we save a lot of money on vacations is by bringing ingredients from home that can quickly be made into a meal for our family. I usually do a little ‘shopping trip’ through our food storage before we leave and grab several items I need to put together some simple meals to save us from going out to eat every night. These Bean and Cheese Burritos are one of the most simple recipes to make and are extremely kid friendly.

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Being on vacation with a family of 7 can quickly break the bank if you are eating out every meal. We have a rule of only going out to eat once each day…and try several days to not go out to eat at all. Even when we are going to an amusement park we always pack in a lunch to save from having to eat in the park (which always costs an arm and a leg!). Breakfast is easy to do at a hotel or a condo so we always do simple meals like yogurt and homemade granola, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, sweet breads, etc. As for dinner, there are several times we choose to just eat at the condo (or hotel). To take our family out to eat it will cost anywhere from $40-$80 depending where we go. Contrast that with the cost of these Bean and Cheese Burritos. This recipe feeds a family of 7-8 and costs (assuming you bought everything on sale) ONLY $7! That’s only a dollar per person. Serve these burritos with a simple salad or some fresh fruit and that’s a meal for 7 for less than $10! That’s a savings of over $50-$70 every time we choose to eat in. This one tip has saved us hundreds of dollars every vacation we go on. By planning a little before your trip you can save $100’s while at your destination.

Visit this post 12 Simple Ways to Save Big Money on Road Trips and Cut Your Vacation Food Budget in Half to give you some more simple tips to save you money while on vacation!

*One more tip..if you are like us, you don’t have a lot of room to bring a large cooler for all of the food you want to pack. Every trip we go on a vacation  I only have room for a small 18 inch cooler. Over the years I have learned to pack more bang for my buck. In my cooler I only put items that will save me the most money if I have to buy them at a store while away from home. These are items like butter, cheese, meat (chicken, beef, hot dogs, etc.), dairy items (like sour cream, cream cheese, etc.) and lunchmeat. Items like a gallon of milk take up too much space and we just buy that when we get to the store. I also pack a produce bag in one of those large cooler bags with all of the fresh produce I usually already have in my fridge before we leave. By having several produce items and all of the expensive items in my cooler..as well as items from our food storage, our shopping trip at our vacation location usually only requires us to get milk, bread and eggs. So, when packing your cooler, pack the right items to help you save BIG while away 🙂

Easy Bean and Cheese Burritos
Burritos
  1. 2 can refried beans
  2. 2 cans black beans, drained
  3. 2 cans (4 oz.) diced green chilies (or 1 cup salsa verde)
  4. 2 tsp. taco seasoning
  5. Juice of 1 lime
  6. 1-2 cups shredded cheese (I used half colby jack and half pepperjack)
  7. 15-20 ct. flour tortillas
  8. Butter, for brushing on burritos
Cilantro Dipping Sauce
  1. 1 cup ranch dressing or sour cream
  2. 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (or you can even use dried cilantro)
  3. 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies or salsa verde
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine the refried beans, drained black beans, diced green chilies, taco seasoning and lime juice. Stir until combined and then add in the shredded cheese. Fold in the cheese. Place a 1/4-1/3 cup of the bean mixture into a tortilla and then roll up as tightly as you can. Place the burrito on a greased cookie sheet. Continue until all of the tortillas are filled with the bean mixture. If you have leftover bean mixture you can freeze this for a later meal. If you would like to make these burritos as a freezer meal, you can place them all on a cookie sheet and then put the pan in the freezer until the burritos are frozen. Once they are frozen you can remove the burritos from the pan and place in a Ziploc bag so you can remove one at a time and cook for serving. If you are cooking these burritos right away, then you can brush the tops of each burrito with a little melted butter and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown and ready to serve. You can serve these burritos with salsa or with our easy cilantro dipping sauce (below).
  2. Cilantro sauce: Combine all of the ingredients together and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
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Want to save on groceries? Find out how to save $1,000’s every year!

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I have great friends. I have patient friends. I have friends who love me even though as long as I’ve known them I bug them about everything having to do with grocery shopping and saving money. Did I mention they are patient? I tend to be a little fanatical about these things and the other day I couldn’t stand it one more second that some of my dearest friends do not use my website…and do not price match (heaven forbid!). Ha! It’s not about them using their friends silly website, it’s about them saving money. Not just a little money…a LOT of money! Some of my friends have been spending nearly double what their family could be spending on their food budget. You add that several hundred dollars they could be saving each month over the next year and you are looking at a few thousand dollars. Now doesn’t a fun trip somewhere exotic (like Hawaii?) sound way more fun than spending money on groceries? That’s a no brainer for me 😉

The best part about saving money on groceries is it is NOT hard! I know price matching can be scary. I know using a new website can also be intimidating. However, with a little patience and some effort you can save money too. My friends were literally petrified at the thought of price matching. I drug them along and showed them just how easy it was. Despite the fact they were sweating and nearly had an anxiety attack, we all survived and they were shocked at how much money they saved. They thought for sure their carts of groceries would be around $300. To their surprise their 10 day meal plan and extra food storage items only came to $116! You would have thought they won the lottery. They were taking pictures, calling their husbands and instagramming all of their savings. The best part about this savings spree is it can happen EVERY time you shop!

Simply login to our website, choose the stores you want to shop at (or the ones with the best deals in your area), click on the items you want to purchase and away you go. You can shop at the individual stores or do some one stop shopping at Walmart and voila..you are a penny pincher shopper at it’s best. The best part is if you need help knowing what to make for dinner, our website helps you with that to. Follow our meal plan suggestions and you will save even more money by having your meals planned based on what’s on sale.

Remember, everyone is welcome to try our service for FREE for two weeks to see just how easy saving money can be. Also, for those who missed our post a year ago about ways to save money on groceries, here is a refresher course for you–just follow the link 🙂

12 Simple Ways to Save Money on Road Trips

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It is nearly summer and that means vacation plans are probably
in full swing at your house. It has been in our neck of the woods these past
several months. My husband and I spent the last several months planning a 10
day road trip to Banff Canada. This trip has been a dream of my brother in laws
and husband for over 5 years now. We were so excited it was finally time to
make their dreams come true. This trip was amazing
and I knew I had to share some tips with you when we realized this trip would
have cost us over $3,500 but we were able to get it around $1,600. That’s a 10
day, amazing, majestic, dream-filled vacation for more than half the regular price!

Whether you are planning a couple’s overnight getaway, or a
10 day long road trip, I have 12 simple ways to save you a lot of money.  Here are a
few of the tips we found very helpful when planning our vacation. Use one tip,
or all 12 tips–you choose. Either way, I hope these tips help you enjoy a wonderful
vacation that fits into your family’s budget 😉
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*Carpool with other friends and/or family to save
money on gas.
We drove in two vans with 14 adults and gas was much
less expensive. We spent $350 on gas driving from Utah to Canada, all around
the different sites, and then back home. Divided by three couples in our van
that was only $115 each couple (a savings of 33%).  Of course you can’t drive to every vacation
spot, but for those destinations with that possibility it will save you BIG
over flying—especially with extra people. Our trip to Canada was over 14 hours away
but we divided it into two days. We also split a hotel room with my sister and
brother in law to cut our cost of the hotel too. This may not be comfortable
for everyone but it helped to cut the cost of the hotels each way in
half—that’s $150 savings right there (all we did was sleep and wake up and go
anyway). We also found hotels with a continental breakfast to save us from
buying an extra meal. Driving in one car also saved us BIG on our pass into
Banff National Park. It is $120 for a week pass into their park. If it were
just my husband and I in one car we would have to cover that entire expense
ourselves. However, divided by three couples the $40 was much easier to
swallow.
*Find lodging that can accommodate several couples.
We were able to use my parent’s time share which allowed us to rent a three
bedroom Condo in Canada for only $900 for 7 nights. Divided by three couples
this was only $300 for the week or an average of $45 a night. If you are not
part of a membership to a time share you can find great deals on homes or
cabins that can be rented for inexpensive. Most of the time if you are staying
a week you can find better deals on home rentals than you can hotel stays. Our
favorite rental sites are www.vrbo.com or www.expedia.com, www.hotels.com, etc. Take your time and do
your research and watch the ratings carefully. We had 14 adults and one baby and we had a blast–the more the merrier is my philosophy 🙂
*Find a hotel or condo with a kitchen or with cooking
possibilities.
There was a Costco 45 minutes away from Banff and so
we bought most of our groceries there and kept them in a cooler until we got to
our condo. The grocery prices in small towns or tourist towns are much more
expensive than they will be in the outskirts. Buying items in bulk at Costco
saved us a lot of money. We bought enough food to eat in our condo every
breakfast and lunch. This made it so we only ate out once a day which cut down
drastically on our food budget. If we were out hiking all day we would bring a
small cooler with lunch items that we could all share.
*Plan ahead to eat “in” a few times during your stay.
Although eating out is one of the highlights on our trips, I always look forward
to eating in at least a few times during the week. We planned to eat at our
condo Sunday and Tuesday. Before we left we brought all of the pantry items we
needed from home for the two recipes we knew we would be making (Bolognese
Spaghetti & Sticky Coconut Chicken). When we were in Canada we picked up
the few produce and dairy items we needed and then our meals were ready to go.
For 7 breakfast meals, 6 lunch meals and 2 dinner meals our group only spent
$47 per couple. That’s only a little over $1.50 a meal per person. Compare that
to our average $50 meal in Canada and that’s a huge savings!
*Do your research on restaurants before you go on your
vacation.
With the help of my brother in law we had all of our
restaurants picked before we went on our trip. In each city we stayed in we did
some research and found restaurants that would fit within our budget, and that
would serve food we liked. Use sites like www.urbanspoon.com
and www.yelp.com. We also love to check for
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for small Ma & Pop places that might be a
diamond in the ruff 😉 Before we left on our trip we had a pretty good estimate
as to how much our eating out would cost. There are few things more awkward
than sitting down at a restaurant and realizing the least expensive item on the
menu is WAY over your price point. Save the embarrassment and do your homework
ahead of time. This will help you stick more closely to your budget. Many times
you can also find coupons for local restaurants online or at your hotel.
*Share meals when possible. My husband is a
big eater and so am I. However, one way we save money is by sharing meals when
possible. We have found at most restaurants we can order one appetizer and
share a meal and be sufficiently fed. I can’t talk my husband into doing this
every time, but the times we can, this helps cut the cost of our eating out.
Having leftovers on vacation don’t work very well, so it’s better to be a
little under fed verses waist money on food you can’t save for later. Also,
when possible, choose restaurants that offer a free appetizer to your meal
(bread and butter, chips and salsa, etc.). This will help fill you up so it’s
easier to share a meal 😉
*When doing activities, look for group discounts.
We found that with our group of 14 we were able to do many excursions with
group discounts. With groups of 6 or more we were able to get a 20% discount on
our canoeing trip. We also signed up for group package/tours which saved a lot
of money. We were able to do four of the most popular activities in Banff for a
savings of over 35% off the regular prices. This was offered through our condo,
or you could purchase this deal online.
*Plan your days efficiently. With most road
trips it is easy to do a lot of driving, which means you will spend a lot of
money on gas. Gas is expensive so we found if we planned our days to have
little, or no backtrack, we could save a lot of money (and time) on gas. We
mapped out each day and where we would be traveling to help cut back on
unexpected delays or extra travel time. It takes a little prep work before hand
but saved big in the long run.
*Plan for treats/desserts before your vacation begins.
My husband is a huge fan of ice cream. Nearly every night on vacation he loves
to have a bowl of ice cream after coming back from all of our activities. If he
had his way he would eat at a specialty ice cream shop (like Coldstone) each
night. However, each small cup of ice cream is over $6 which can add up
quickly. At the beginning of the trip, each couple purchases some of their
favorite treats (ice cream, donuts, popcorn, etc.) and they become ‘communal’
treats. We spend much less buying treats this way verses paying high-end bakery
or ice cream shop prices and still get the satisfaction of a yummy treat at
night. Any treats you can bring from home will save you even more money (candy,
microwave popcorn, etc.)
*Prices in the states are less than outside the U.S.,
so take advantage.
If you are leaving the U.S. make sure and fill up
your tank with gas BEFORE you cross over the border. Gas was an average of
$5.60 a gallon in Canada instead of $3.50 in the U.S. On a 20 gallon tank
that’s $50 more each fill up. Fill up both times in the U.S. instead of Canada
and that saves you $100 by that one choice.  Gas prices can change drastically from state
to state. Do your research and fill up where it’s less expensive. Food prices
are also MUCH more expensive in other countries. Stock up and bring as many food
items as you can from home to help keep your food costs down. We even brought water bottles from home (on sale here for $1.99 verses in Canada $5.00).
*Use your credit card instead of cash.
Using your credit card instead of cash, or a currency exchange, can save up to
5%. In Canada for example they have a .92 cent exchange for every American $1.
However, if you don’t exchange your American money for Canadian money the
stores will only give you a $1 to $1 ratio—meaning you lose .08 for every
dollar you spend. When you use a credit card however you will get the full .92
cent exchange. They will charge a 3% international fee but you still come out
ahead 5%. Add on to this 5% savings any reward points or money back from your
credit card purchase and you come out ahead every time 😉 Tip: bring a few
different types of credit cards. We found not everyone took Visa and/or
American Express. Doing this also makes it so you don’t come home with extra
money from another country that is useless back here in the states.
 *Come up with a babysitting exchange. Our
family loves to vacation. However, this means we leave behind 5 children if we
are doing a couple’s only trip. Hiring a professional nanny can be extremely
expensive. We have found that creating a babysitting exchange works great with
our family and friends. If a sister (or friend) watches my kids for 7 days then
she is promised a 7 day trip where I watch her kids. If you have a friend you
trust, look into putting together a babysitting swap where you can have a few
days away– in exchange for watching their children. You leave feeling more
comfortable leaving them with loved ones and you can save $100’s during your
trip. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Vacation expenses (for my husband and I) without using
these tips verses using them:
Gas $350 (spent $115)
Lodging $650 (spent $300)
Pass $120 (spent $40)
Hotels $300 (spent $150)
Food $200 (spent $47)
Eating Out $700 (spent $350)
Treats $70 (spent $20)
Excursions $300 (spent $200)
Babysitting $1000 (spent $400 on gift cards and thank you’s
for our babysitters—could have been $100 but we had to hire a sitter for 5 of
the days. It’s hard to find sitters when 3 of my 4 sisters and my parents are
with us)
Cost of trip without using
these tips: $3, 690
Cost of a 10 day trip to
Canada using these tips: $1,622
That’s more than 50% savings–love it! Happy vacation
planning 😉

What to buy at Costco (And What NOT to buy)

After our last post about Costco I thought it was ironic that I had to do my monthly shopping trip to Costco the next day. As I was there, and was observing all of their prices, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite items at Costco. I really try to not go to Costco more than every couple of months. Reason being, I spend WAY too much money! This store drains my food budget quicker than any other. Yesterday I went to Costco and spent $150 for the above pile. When you compare that to a pile I get at Walmart for the same price, that is not too impressive. However, there are a few items that I like to always keep on hand (from Costco) that make my life easier and help me save money in the long run. Here is a brief overview of some of the items I buy each month at Costco. All other items I need for my meal planner I purchase from our weekly deals and plan my shopping trip around those items that are on sale for LESS than Walmart & Costco (the red deals on our website 😉

 There are a couple items I am pretty fanatical about and that is lunchmeat. I can’t stand a cheap, pressed, slimy piece of lunchmeat. I know lunchmeat in itself is not high on the healthy list, however with 4 kid’s school lunches to make a day, we do go through a good supply of lunchmeat (and bread). Since I want to eat lunch too, I treat us all to the ‘good’ stuff from Costco. I love their Kirkland Ham as well as their triple pack. These items are not necessarily the least expensive brand of lunchmeat but if you want quality, this is something I’m actually okay to pay a little more for.  We also enjoy the Kirkland All Beef Franks. My husband loves hot dogs and if I have to eat one I am going to eat one that is made with ‘real’ meat and has good flavor. Again, not the least expensive hot dog, but worth the price for the quality (for me ;).

Costco generally has the lowest prices on bulk spices. However, if you have a Winco grocery store near you their bulk section will beat Costco in price on certain spices they carry. What would my life be without Montreal Steak Seasoning? Thank you Costco for introducing this all-around-best-seasoning to my kitchen. I love it! Other items like soy sauce, vinegar, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, yeast, lemon juice and a few other condiments are also great prices at Costco.  However items like ketchup, mustard, mayo and bbq sauce are generally NOT the best deals at Costco. Watch the sales and you can get these items much cheaper per ounce plus have the convenience of a smaller container.

Let’s talk about produce. Produce at Costco is hands down one of the areas people spend a lot of money. Although the quality at Costco is generally a little better than my neighborhood Walmart, the price you pay is NOT worth the difference in quality. If I watch the weekly sales on produce I can save up to 50-70% off certain produce items compared to Costco’s price. There are however a handful of produce items that are ‘generally’ the best deal anywhere you can find:
*Romaine lettuce--these packages last several weeks and taste great for the super low price
*Spinach–I love the big bag of spinach from Costco. You can freeze some for smoothies or just make lots of yummy salads.
*Colored Bell Peppers–Costco generally has the best price on peppers. However, if you watch the ads you will see red and color bell peppers go as low as .50 each if you are patient. I use lots of peppers so when they go on sale I stock up.
*White Mushrooms–generally mushrooms don’t get lower than Costco’s price. The only down size is you have a large amount of mushrooms for this low price. Just make some stuffed mushrooms with your extras and you’ll be just fine 😉
*Strawberries–Costco has the best over-all price on strawberries. However, if you watch the Mexican Markets in the summer you will see strawberries go as low as .99 a pound. That’s the time to stock up and make jam 😉
*Snap peas–much less at Costco per ounce.

Other than these above produce items everything else you can find for less if you watch the ads closely and are patient (potatoes, onions, bananas, oranges, apples, berries, etc.).
Other items I buy monthly or bimonthly at Costco because they are a good deal:

*Corn tortillas–flour tortillas go on sale ALL the time for less than Costco but corn tortillas are harder to find on sale so I buy them at Costco and freeze them for later.
*Heavy whipping cream–I love whipping cream and it gets so expensive buying it in the small containers at the grocery store. Costco has the lowest overall price and so I usually keep a container in my fridge for all of my favorite cream based recipes and desserts 😉
*Milk–is generally cheapest at Costco unless there is a great sale that week.
*Buns and bread--hamburger, hot dog or hoagie buns are much less at Costco than a regular store. Sandwich bread is also a great ‘everyday’ low price at Costco (unless you can get loaves on sale in the ads for under $1.50).
*Butter–unless it is holiday season and butter goes on sale for super cheap, Costco is the best overall price.
*Crackers, chips and snacks--items like graham crackers, cookies, fruit leather and pretzels are all great deals at Costco. However, snacks like fruit snacks and microwave popcorn you can find on sale for much less than Costco if you are patient and then stock up when items are on sale.
*Specialty cheeses–cheese like feta, gorgonzola, laughing cow, parmesan, etc. are all the lowest price at Costco. Separate these cheeses into smaller containers or bags and freeze for later use to save money.
*Cleaning supplies, Tinfoil, Saran Wrap and Ziploc bags are all a great deal at Costco.

Items I NEVER buy at Costco: toilet paper, paper towels, pork, bacon, chicken, sour cream cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, frozen potatoes, cream cheese, yogurt, concentrate juice, cereal and MUCH more. All of these items will go on sale throughout the year for MUCH less if you are patient and watch the ads. When items go on sale for less, then stock up and buy a 3-6 month supply to save you money in the long run.

Happy shopping! I would love to hear some of the items you can’t live without from Costco or Sam’s Club.

Restaurant Copy Cat Recipes

My friend Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free asked me to do a post on how to save money from eating at home instead of going out. That is so up my alley so I told her I would love to. I have to admit even I was shocked that you can save up to 87% by making the same recipes at home. That’s a lot of savings! Here is the post I shared on Jordan’s site. Hope you enjoy a few of my favorite copy-cat recipes 😉

I have to admit one of my guilty pleasures is going out to eat. It’s not that I think their food is any better than I could make in my own kitchen but the fact there are no kids, I’m waited on, and it’s quiet is a huge bonus for me! As much as I love eating out though, the expense of entertainment can add up quickly. For our family of 7 if we go out to eat it can be anywhere from $40-$100, depending where we go. That’s a good chunk of change for one meal. Considering I can feed our family of 7 for $200 for a 2 week period (using Deals to Meals), that’s nearly 50% of my weeks grocery budget. It’s amazing what restaurants can charge for a plate of food–it’s pretty much high way robbery 🙂

I am excited to share with you today some of my favorite copy-cat recipes that can save you legitimate savings compared to eating out. Now…I know making food at home is not quite as relaxing, and takes more effort, but with a little preparation the payoff’s of delicious food can be just as satisfying to eat at home. For me, it’s all about great tasting food. If the food I am eating melts in my mouth and tastes even better than restaurant food I am one happy lady!! Not to mention with teenagers we have a pact that I cook and they clean–it’s awesome 🙂

The other day my husband and I went out to eat for our anniversary. I love Lemon Chicken Picatta and it was $38 a plate at Christopher’s Steakhouse. It came with a roll, chicken and mashed potatoes. Unreal expensive and so not worth the money. I decided to come home and recreate the same meal and was able to make it for MUCH less!

Restaurant price: $38 a plate
Homemade for a family of 7: $10 or $1.50 a plate
That’s a 96% savings!

Who doesn’t love Winger’s Sticky Finger Chicken Salad? Since making this from home several years ago I can’t stomach eating at Winger’s knowing how cheap I can recreate this recipe. This is one of our family’s favorite salad recipes. Delicious!! All of these ingredients are on sale this week as well (chicken $1.69/lb., tomatoes .49/lb., croutons $1, cheddar cheese 2lb. $3.99 (use half), red onion .33/lb., lettuce .88 a head, ranch $1.50, Franks $1, brown sugar $1)

Restaurant price: $10.99 a plate
Homemade for a family of 7:  under $10 or $1.50 a plate
Savings of 86%

Another favorite dish of mine is at Outback–Alice Springs Smothered Chicken. At Outback Steakhouse it costs $16.99 a plate. It comes with bread, mashed potatoes, smothered chicken and honey mustard sauce. This week by following the Deals to Meals website I was able to get all of the ingredients for this dish for under $15 for a family of 7 (chicken $1.69/lb., bacon $2.50, mushrooms $1.69, cheddar cheese 2lbs. $3.99, tomatoes .49/lb., green onions .25 each, potatoes 10lb. .99, and mayo $1.99).

Restaurant Price: $16.99 a plate
Homemade for family of 7: $15 or $2.15 a plate
Savings of 87%

Who doesn’t love a gourmet hamburger? At Smash Burger, Five Guys or Chili’s you will pay over $12 a plate. Hamburger’s are one of the most ridiculously priced items out there. You can get a gross, processed hamburger for a $1 at McDonalds or pay $12 at a nicer restaurant. The bottom line is you can make a healthier, burger from scratch for under $2.00 a plate. And the fact they taste a hundred times better is fabulous!! These ingredients are also on sale–find all of the best deals at Deals to Meals! (Hamburger $2.49/lb., lettuce .88 a head, tomatoes .49/lb., gorgonzola $3, buns $1.50, mayo $1.99, onions .49/lb., mushrooms $1.69, jar roasted red peppers $1.50)

Restaurant price: $12.00 a plate
Homemade for family of 7: $12 or $1.75 a plate
Savings of 85%



I love salads for dinner and California Pizza Kitchen makes a fabulous BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad entree. It is fresh, healthy and full of great flavor. Gourmet salads at restaurants cost a lot of money for how inexpensive lettuce and vegetables are. Their mark up is outrageous. This chopped salad at California Pizza kitchen is over $10 and from home it was under $8 for our family of 7. Deals again this week (chicken $1.69/lb., lettuce .88 each, can of beans .59, frozen corn .99, green onions .25 ea., bbq sauce .49, chips .99, tomatoes .49/lb.)
Restaurant price: $10.00 a plate
Homemade for a family of 7: $8 or $1.15 a plate
Savings of 88%
Visit our blog for MANY more copy cat restaurant recipes you can make for less!

Don’t EVER pay full price for groceries!

What a fun weekend I had! My sister and friend joined me at Jordan’s Frugality Boot camp and we had a great time. Jordan did a fabulous job hosting another successful boot camp and I was honored to be one of their presenters again. Any time I can talk about grocery shopping, meal planning and food storage I am one happy gal! Stay tuned on her blog to how you can purchase her entire boot camp (including my classes) on video.


In my class I stressed the importance of NEVER paying full price on groceries. Seem hard to believe that can be done? I promise it can! With a little planning and help from our website we can help you know which deals each week are the best priced. The picture above shows groceries I bought last week that I showed at my class. Everything in that pile averaged over 50% off Walmart’s already low prices. Many items were on sale up to 63%. Who doesn’t want to get 60% off their groceries? By knowing which items are on sale each week, and learning to NOT purchase those that are not, you can literally save $100’s each month. 

Many people think they don’t have time to be a smart shopper. That is why Deals to Meals exists! I wanted to make shopping (and meal planning) easy for busy family’s. All you have to do is login, click on the stores you want to shop at, choose the items you want to purchase and then go shopping. You can price match everything at Walmart or choose the stores that have the best deals.

For example, this week I didn’t need a big Walmart shopping trip but I did want to run and take advantage of some of the great deals at Smiths (or Kroger). Do you need toilet paper? They have a great deal on Cottonelle toilet paper and Brawny Paper Towels. Do you need cereal?  They have General Mills cereal on sale for $1.99. With a printed coupon from coupons.com (THE ONLY coupons I ever clip), you get .50 off each box. That makes each box $1.49–you can’t beat that!

Need pasta in your food storage? They also have a fabulously, wonderful deal on pasta. If your family eats pasta then STOCK UP this week while it is only .49 per pound. That is a crazy-good deal. That is 67% off the regular price. For a year supply of pasta each person should have about 40 lbs.–that’s only $20 for a YEAR SUPPLY of pasta. Love it!! Login to our website to find ALL of the best deals in your area. I spent just over $70 at Smiths and saved $52.

You can save on groceries too! Let Deals to Meals help make this simple and fun! 🙂

Grocery Budget Extenders and Mexican Black Bean Corn Tacos

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘make your dollar
stretch’?  Of course you have, you’re reading Jordan’s amazing blog! Well, there are a few simple
tips I’ve learned over the years that have really helped my family’s dollars
stretch…especially when it comes to meal planning and shopping. I am excited to share with you a few
of these simple ways you can help your money go further at the grocery store.
 
If you are like my family, we go through WAY too much of
certain items. A few of those items that I can’t seem to keep on hand long
enough are butter, bread, meat, milk and eggs. I feel like I am always pulling
out a pound of butter here and a pound of butter there. Too often I find myself
digging through the depths of our freezer hoping to find one more pound of
butter for a recipe I am making. Well, here in the U.S. a pound of butter costs
anywhere from $2.85-$5.00 a pound—crazy! If you are using a lot of butter, like
me, that can add up very quickly. I am SO excited to share with you my favorite
tip to save money on butter, and many of these other ‘staple’ items!
 

 

Use white bean puree instead of butter and oil.
What? Beans instead of butter?! I promise, it works and it’s awesome! If you do
a lot of baking like I do, pureed white beans makes for a healthy AND
inexpensive replacement for butter. If you are new to using pureed white beans,
here is a
post
where I explain exactly how to do it. Basically you cook hard white
beans in a crock pot until completely tender. Drain the water and then put the
cooked beans in a food processor and puree until smooth (you may have to add a
little bit of water to help them puree easier—don’t add too much though or they
will be too runny).
Once the beans are pureed, put ½ cup measurements of beans
into Ziploc bags. Keep these bags in your freezer and pull out when you are
ready to bake. In a recipe you can replace HALF of the fat in a recipe with
beans. Keep the other half the butter or oil that is called for in the recipe.
Using half white beans will not change the texture of your recipe but will add
nutrients and help keep the cost of your recipes down. Your kids will never know! Here are some of my
favorite recipes where I replace fat with beans:
 
 
Use powdered milk. Besides butter, milk is
another expensive part of a family’s meal plan. 
If you have children like I do, I am sure you go through several gallons
of milk a week. A simple way to cut down on your grocery bill is by replacing
half of your regular milk with powdered
milk
.  When a gallon gets to less
than half of the jug I prepare some powdered milk and pour it into the milk jug
back up to the top. So far my kids haven’t caught on that the milk seems to
keep replenishing itself 😉 Besides using powdered milk for drinking, you can
also use it in your baking.  I use this
trick ALL of the time and love it!! If a recipe calls for a cup of milk in a
recipe, you can add instead 3 Tbls. dry powdered milk and 1 cup water. You
don’t need to mix this before hand, just add the dry ingredients with the dry
ingredients in your recipe and the water with the wet ingredients. It works
great in many recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:
 

 

 
 
 
Make your own bread from scratch. Homemade
wheat bread not only tastes better, but is much less expensive than store
bought. Learn to make homemade breads of all kinds to save you money throughout
the month.

 

 
Use Meat Extenders. Meat is one of the most
expensive parts to a family’s meal. 
Besides going meatless, there are simple ways to help stretch the meat
in your meals so you can use less to feed more people. One of my favorite ways
to do this is with Mexican food. My family of 7 would normally have to use 2-3
lbs. of meat when making a recipe. However, I always add black beans and corn
to my taco meat to make it so I only have to use one pound of meat instead
(that’s a savings of $6-8 each meal!). Not only does it save money but it is
actually healthier too!
 
Another tip, if you enjoy ground beef use half beef
and half turkey. Turkey is $1-$2 less per pound and when added with regular
ground beef you can not tell a difference, and it’s healthier. It’s a win-win!
 
 
Here is a recipe for one of my family’s favorite Mexican
dishes that helps stretch your grocery budget.
 
Mexican Tacos with Black Beans and Corn
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  2. Taco seasoning, to taste
  3. 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  4. 1 can black beans, drained
  5. Hard shell tacos or flour tortillas
  6. Shredded lettuce
  7. Shredded cheese
  8. Sour cream
  9. Salsa
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. In a sauté pan, turn to medium heat and ground the beef or
  2. turkey until mostly cooked. Season with the taco seasoning, add the tomato
  3. sauce and sour cream and then add the corn and black beans. Simmer until warmed
  4. through and serve on your tacos with your favorite garnishing’s.
Print
Deals to Meals http://www.dealstomealsblog.com/
We also love to use this replacement in these Turkey
Enchiladas
—they are wonderful and healthy!!

 

Besides using corn and beans, you can also use cabbage. Here
is my recipe for Mom’s Sweet
& Tangy Sloppy Joes
where you add shredded cabbage to extend the meat.
It works great and your children won’t even know you have added cabbage and
some extra nutrients.
 
You can also add shredded potatoes to your taco meat as
well. Just microwave your potatoes until tender, peel and then shred the
potatoes into your cooked ground beef. All of these meat extenders help fill
your family up quicker too so they eat less, and you can feed more people on
less 😉
 
Use Powdered Eggs. I know most people have
never used Powdered
Eggs
but I encourage you to give them a try! With egg prices continuing to
rise, having powdered eggs on hand can help save you money on those months your
food budget is tight. You can use powdered eggs in nearly every recipe you use
regular eggs in and they work great! Just like with the white beans, if you use
half regular eggs and half powdered eggs you will never know the difference!
Here are a few recipes where powdered eggs have worked great for me:
 
 
Learn to cook from scratch. Boxed items and
prepared packages will cost you much more than learning to make items yourself.
A muffin mix can cost you up to $4-$5 but if made from scratch would cost less
than $1-$2. Boxed rice sides like Rice Roni will cost you over $1 and if made
from scratch would be pennies. It’s nothing more than rice with seasonings and
a little butter and chicken broth. Pancakes
from a box? Learn to make your favorite breakfast items too to save you lots of
money over time! Our blog has hundreds of homemade family favorite recipes to
help you learn to cook from scratch.
 
Buy items when they are on sale and stock up.
I know I say this all the time, but this is the best trick to cutting down your
food budget.  When items go on sale for
great/red deals on our website, this is the time to head to that store and stock
up
! If it’s an item that can be stored long term, then buy as much as you
can afford of that item and keep it on hand for when you’ll need it in the
future. This way, you will try and reduce the times you have to pay full price
for groceries. Watching for items to go on sale will save you anywhere from
30-75%. This will bring BIG returns throughout the year! If you have questions,
check out Jordan’s blog
post
where she explains how she saves 50% on groceries (without using
coupons!). Or, visit our website or blog to find out the best deals in your area
and get started saving money!
 
See why Jordan chooses to use Deals to Meals to save her BIG money on her groceries!
 

Cut your vacation food budget in half

Our friends at One Good Thing by Jillee asked me to write a guest post about ways I save money on our vacation food budgets. We are excited to be giving away two FREE membership to Deals to Meals as well as a $50 Walmart gift card to help you with your upcoming vacations. Visit her blog HERE to enter to win, or leave a comment on this blog and we will also enter you to win. Thanks and good luck!

Summer is in full swing and here at Deals to Meals we are excited to help all of you save money on your vacation food
budgets. If you are like my family, we love to vacation! With a family of 7
however, the food portion of our vacations can sometimes price our trips
out of our reach. Besides the hotel costs, the food expenses can be the next
highest cost of a trip. I am excited to share several tips that will help you
cut your vacation food budget in half (or more) and help you save money so you
can do all of the fun things you are hoping to do this summer.

1-Know your food budget before you go on vacation. If you don’t have
an idea of what you want to spend on food, it is easy to over spend. Food can
add up quickly and be a hefty part of your total vacation cost. Know what you
can afford and how much you want to spend, and try to stick to those figures.
Knowing your budget will help you determine where and what you should and
shouldn’t eat during the week.

1-Have a food budget before you go on your vacation. If you don’t
have an idea of what you want to spend on food, it is easy to way over
spend. Food can add up quickly and be a hefty part of your total
vacation cost. Know what you can afford and how much you want to spend
and try to stick to those figures. Knowing your budget will help you determine where you should and shouldn’t eat.

2-Do some research and have a plan before you leave. Before going on your
trip do a little research and put together a plan of where you will be eating
for each meal (whether in the hotel or out to eat). Find what food options are
in the areas you will be visiting and find places to go that have discount
coupons or specials. By simply doing a Google search you can find discounts on many
of your favorite places to eat. An example of this is restaurant.com where you
can get up to 50% off many restaurants in the areas you will be visiting. Whether
you are eating out each meal or cooking from your hotel it is good to know
where you are going and know a rough estimate of how much you will be spending
on food.

(Using Deals to Meals we got ten days of groceries for our family’s vacation for under $165!)

3-Stock up on snacks, treats and vacation items throughout the year when
they go on sale.
Many times people do their last minute vacation shopping
right before they leave on their trip. They buy snacks, treats, chips, fruit
drinks, soda, crackers, fruit snacks, etc. and find they have to pay full price
for these ‘vacation’ items. These items are great to keep kids quiet and happy
while traveling, but can break the bank if you pay full price. The best time to
stock up on these snack items are the first and last week in July (as well as
the week of Thanksgiving). These are the times when snack items go on sale for
their lowest prices. Instead of buying one box of crackers, stock up and buy
several so you can keep them in your own ‘grocery store’ in your pantry, and
have them on hand for several months to come. Having bought these items on sale
can save big throughout the rest of the year. If you have not had time to stock
up, remember to check Deals to Meals before
you go shopping to find the best deals in your area.
                               

4- Plan your vacation around the ability to make homemade meals where you
will be staying.
Families,
depending on the size, can easily spend anywhere from $30-$100 on
one meal. This can add up quickly if you are needing to eat out three meals a
day. That can be as much as $100-$250 a day spent just on food, depending where
you choose to eat. Could you eat at Taco Bell for less, yes, but who wants fast
food three times a day? So, the better option is to find ways to eat homemade
meals where you will be staying. Whether you are sleeping in a hotel, a rented
home/cabin, camping in the outdoors, or in a condo, you can easily cook
homemade meals and cut your food budget in half.

My family has made nearly 20 week long trips to Disneyland (I know, my
husband is a Mickey-fanatic). In the beginning we were spending nearly $800 on
food for a week at Disneyland. Food in Disneyland is not cheap and with a
family of 7 eating outside the park wasn’t a great option either. We found we
could eat homemade breakfasts, lunch, and dinner meals from our own hotel and
spent less than $150 for the entire week. How did we do it? Here are a few tips
of how to cook simple meals and save hundreds of dollars for the week.

a. Book a hotel with a microwave
and/or a mini fridge.
If they offer free ice, you could even do without a
fridge. Many times a hotel with a mini kitchen or microwave is only a few extra
dollars a night but can save you big on your food budget. Having a microwave
can make meal prep easy in your hotel.

b. Bring the right tools. When I
travel and plan on cooking in our hotel there are a few must-haves that make it
much easier for me. I always bring an electric skillet. Not a flat griddle, but
the skillets with the two inch sides. It is amazing what you can cook or warm
up in these skillets. I can cook nearly every breakfast, lunch and dinner
recipe I want between a microwave and a skillet. The skillet can be easily
packed and is large enough to cook food for a large family of 7 like my own. It
is also smart to bring paper products, plastic utensils, a kitchen scrubber,
paper towels, and a small container of dish soap to make clean up a cinch.

c. Choose the right hotel (or accommodations)
that allow you to prepare homemade meals in your room(s).
Booking a hotel
with a continental breakfast is not always the least expensive way to go. Most
of us can eat a pretty simple breakfast and be fine (toast, bagels, cereal,
fruit, yogurt, etc.). Many times the hotels that offer the free breakfast will
charge you more than it would cost for your family to eat your own breakfast in
the hotel room. If you can find a hotel with a reasonable continental breakfast
and the price is not more than you could feed your own family breakfast then
that is a good option.
Below are several meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner that are easy
to prepare and serve in a hurry. If you are flying to your destination you
could easily make a quick shopping trip for some of these meals to make in your
hotel without a lot of effort. Preparing homemade meals and serving in your
hotel will save $100’s on your vacation budget.

BREAKFAST MEALS:
*Cereal
and milk
*Bagels,
cream cheese and fruit
*Yogurt
and granola
*Pancakes
(can be cooked on an electric skillet brought from home)–bring a box mix or
put the dry ingredients for a homemade pancake mix in a Ziploc bag and bring
the wet ingredients separate.
*Eggs
(can be fried on an electric skillet or in the microwave)–add some cheese and
hashbrowns and you could make breakfast burritos without a lot of effort.

LUNCH MEALS:
Lunch
meals are easy to pack and can be brought around easily on the road as you are
traveling. You can feed a family a healthy lunch for under $10, where as going
out for lunch (even at a fast food chain) would cost most families over
$25-$40. Here are a few of my favorite lunch options that can be brought from
home. Add a bag of chips, some veggies or fruit and you have a complete meal at
a low price.
*PB&J
sandwiches
*Lunchmeat
sandwiches (Monte
Cristo’s
, Cubans,
deli sandwiches, etc.)
*Tunafish
sandwiches
*Simple
Salads (Rumbi’s, Golden Gate Chicken Salad, Sesame Salad, etc.)

 
DINNER MEALS:
Here
are a few of my favorite simple dinner meals I pack from home when going on an
extended vacation. One time saving tip is to make a few of these meals 1-2
weeks prior to your vacation. Double the recipe and eat one batch for dinner
the week you make them and then freeze the second half for your vacation. It
takes a little more thought and prep, but makes cooking on the vacation simple
and hassle free.
*Tacos
(cook up the taco meat ahead of time, freeze and warm in the microwave or
skillet for a quick meal). Pack along shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce and taco
shells and you have a quick and inexpensive dinner. I usually bring extra taco
meat and serve the rest in a taco salad later in the week (just bring more
lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, ranch dressing, chips and a can of kidney beans).
*Soups
or Stews
–soups can easily be made ahead of time and frozen for your
vacation. Warm up in the microwave and serve with store bought rolls for a
quick dinner. If you are in a hurry you could even just use canned soups or
stews.
*Shredded
BBQ Pork Sandwiches-
-crock pot a large pork loin, shred and freeze the meat
for your vacation. Frozen pork thaws perfectly. You can add some bbq sauce for
a nice sandwich or serve in a burrito as a wrap. Serve with fresh fruit and
chips and you won’t be dissapointed.
*Shredded
Pork Tacos
or Carne
Asada Tacos
-these tacos are one of my favorite are simple to make on the
go. Just cook and shred the pork ahead of time and all you have to pack is some
salsa, corn tortillas and cheese. Make these tacos on your skillet to melt the
cheese and you have a simple dinner.
*Quesadillas
or grilled cheese sandwiches
are simple and inexpensive to make. Add some
refried beans to the quesadillas to help fill your family up or some ham to
your grilled cheese for extra flavor.
*Breakfast
for dinner
is another simple approach to dinner. A good old’ pancake dinner
never hurt anyone for dinner and is much less expensive to make than most
meat-heavy dinners.
*Potato
Bar
-this is simple to make away from home if you just microwave the
potatoes and cut up the toppings ahead of time at home. When ready to serve
just open up the potatoes, place the toppings on top and you have a dinner
ready in just a few minutes.
*BLT Sandwiches-Buy the precooked
bacon that can be warmed in the microwave, throw on a piece of toast with
lettuce and tomatoes and dinner is done! Serve with a side pasta salad made
from home or a store bought salad to share

If you don’t have room to pack all of the ingredients for these meals, I
often pack the frozen meat and dairy items (usually the most expensive parts to
a recipe) in our cooler and then shop for the produce and bread at a grocery
store on vacation. With a membership to Deals to Meals you can login to our
website anywhere in the U.S. and know what the best grocery deals are in your
area.

ENTER TO WIN:
TWO DEALS TO MEALS MEMBERSHIPS & $50
WALMART GIFT CARD!
We want to help a couple of you save on your
vacation grocery budget, so we are giving away a FREE 12 month membership to
Deals to Meals and a $50 Walmart/Sam’s Club gift card.  The second winner will win a 6 month
membership to Deals to Meals.
At Deals to Meals we help you save $100’s on
your grocery budget every month by telling you where the best grocery deals are
in your area. We then take those best deals and turn them into a weekly menu
planner helping you save even more money and time. Visit our blog for delicious
and homemade recipes your whole family is sure to love!
Tell us One Good Thing by Jillee sent you and
you will get a FREE 2 week trial to see how much Deals to Meals can save you!
Three ways to enter:
1-Like Deals to Meals on our Facebook Page and leave a comment on this post saying you did.
2-Post a comment on YOUR Facebook Page about this giveaway and leave a comment on this post saying you did.
3-Follow Deals to Meals on Pintrest and leave a comment on this post saying you did.

4 Simple Steps to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half

 This past week an awesome blog (One Good Thing by Jillee) asked me to do a guest post on ways to save money on groceries. I was able to take Jillee’s daugher in law shopping and we had a great time. I thought I might as well re-post these same simple steps on our blog 😉 The great news is we are giving away THREE 12 month memberships to Deals to Meals. You can visit One Good Thing to enter to win (one of two memberships) and at the end of this post you can also enter to win a membership here on our site). That’s three options to win a FREE membership.  Good luck!
For those who are new to our site and are wondering how our service works, visit this post that explains how you can save $100’s without using coupons! This link will help you understand how our website works and how shopping can be easy & fun!
4 Simple Steps to Cutting Your Food Budget in Half!
For
most families their food budget can either make or break the bank. Most
families spend more on groceries than they do any other household expense,
except for their mortgage. Most of us plan for our future, for retirement, for
vacations and for nearly everything in life. However, most people don’t have a
plan when it comes to sticking to a food budget. Many families walk blindly
into a grocery store, pick out food that looks good, make a meal or two from
those items, and then  return to the
grocery store to start the whole process over again (national average is 1.7
times per week—that’s almost 8 times a month). The average family when they run
to the store for a gallon of milk ends up spending over $50. Do that too many
times and your entire month’s budget could be eaten up by impulse shopping
trips. Sound familiar?

I
am excited today to share with you how you can cut your grocery bill in half!
That sounds pretty bold I know, but if you follow these four simple steps, it
can be done! I will share with you ways you can eat healthy, fresh, homemade
meals without spending a lot of money.  Living on a tight food budget doesn’t mean you
have to eat Top Ramen every night. There is a smart and simple approach to
grocery shopping and meal planning that will save you $100’s throughout the
year. Let me show you how easy and fun this can be!
 

Using
Deals to Meals Kaitlyn
and I went shopping at Walmart and  had a
great time shopping for our week’s groceries and saved over $100 between the two of us. Here is our ‘loot’ we got by price-matching
all of the best deals here in our local area (remember, prices will vary
depending where you live and where you choose to shop).

 

Let’s
jump into the steps and show you how easy it is to save TIME and MONEY!
STEP
1: PLAN YOUR MEALS AROUND SALE ITEMS
Most
people shop first and plan later. Before you go shopping decide how many times
you will cook a homemade meal. Some weeks this could be 3 times and others it
could be 7 depending on your schedule. Planning your meals first and then
shopping will save you $100’s on your groceries. Take the time to look through
the ads (or let Deals to Meals do it for you) to find out what the best deals
are. Then, plan your meals around what is on sale. For example, if chicken,
tortillas, cheese, sour cream and cilantro are on sale, make Chicken Enchiladas
for dinner. If beef roast is on sale, make French Dip Sandwiches one night. This
is berry season, so use those berries on sale for a side dish or dessert. Simple
enough, right?
The
great part about Deals to Meals (our online grocery shopping and meal planning
service)  is we give
you a weekly meal plan that goes with the sale items in your area. For example,
this week pork chops, potatoes and squash are on sale. On our meal plan we have
a recipe for Lemon Grilled Pork  and
sides that will feed a family of 6 for under 
$10.  Without these items on sale, this meal would be more
than double that.

 

One
tip to keep dinner time exciting is to try new recipes. Everyone gets bored of
spaghetti and tacos. Use your creative powers and try new recipes that will
excite your tastebuds. Keeping new and fun recipes rotated into your weekly
meal plan will keep you (and your family) from getting in a dinnertime rut! We
have over 1,000 recipes on our site that your family is sure to love 
STEP
2: SHOP THE DEALS
Taking
the time to look at the grocery sales in your area is another crucial part to
saving money. Be an educated shopper. There are basically only 3 places to buy
your groceries (besides having your own garden): Costco/Sam’s Club, Walmart, or
regular chain grocery stores. Most food items at wholesale stores (like Costco)
are NOT good deals. Walmart
has over-all good prices, but these prices can be cut dramatically if you price-match
items that are on sale from other stores.
If
you are opposed to shopping at Walmart and price matching, that is okay! Just
go to the individual stores and stock up on their sales.  It will work out to be the same, but it might
just take a little more time.
The
sale items you want to focus on are the ‘loss leaders’ from every store. These
are the deals that will be LESS than Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart. When an
item goes on sale for these great deals, this is the time to purchase them and
use them in your weekly meal plan. Each week every grocery store will have
anywhere from 5-15 of these great deals (which will be advertised in their
store’s weekly ad). Purchasing these best deals will save you up to 75% on your
groceries. The more you can be disciplined and ONLY purchase these deals, the
more money you will save.
I
have to admit, this will take a little self control. I know it is hard to leave
a store without your favorite snack or cans of soda. However, if it’s not on
sale, PUT IT BACK! Be patient. Over time nearly every item in a grocery store
will go on sale for these ‘great’ sale prices, and that’s the time to stock up.

Deals
to Meals  makes this part of grocery shopping
SUPER simple. For those living in the United States we tell you where the best
deals are in your area. Our service is available in all 50 states in the U.S.,
for those living outside of the U.S. these concepts can still help you save
money. All you have to do is login to our website choose the stores you want to
shop at, create your grocery list and off to the store you go! It literally
only takes a few minutes to put your shopping list together and have your meals
planned for the week around those best deals.
  

Choose
from the grocery stores in your area to shop at, or price match ALL of the
deals at your local Walmart. Visit our blog for tips on making price matching
easier.
Kaitlyn
uses a great post-it note trick that saves a lot of time and frustration when
price matching. As you place the items in your cart, just jot down the sale
price on the sticky note and place it on the food item. This way the cashier
knows what the price is and will change the price for you without a lot of
hassle. Genius!!
 

 

Price
matching, or buying those great deals each week can save you SO much money!
Here are just a few of the items and their sale prices that Kaitlyn and I took
advantage of.

Produce
and meat are the two most expensive portions of a family’s food budget. If you
can save on these items you can save $100’s a month! Most of our recipes are
made with fresh produce, meat, fish and whole grains. Using these items normally
would be very expensive, but when bought at sale prices, you can eat healthy
meals by shopping the deals.
 

The meat we price matched was almost half the
price of Walmart’s already low prices. 
Produce
prices continue to rise, so take advantage when prices are low. For example,
red bell peppers are on sale at Sprout’s Market this week for only $0.33 each
(regularly $1.64 each at Walmart). That saved us $1.31 on just one pepper.
Kaitlyn and I bought 12 peppers, which saved us $15.72 on just peppers.

STEP
3: STOCK UP WHEN PRICES ARE AT THEIR LOWEST
This
is one of the most fun parts of grocery shopping for me! There is nothing worse
than running out of items right when you need them. Building up your own
grocery store’ in your pantry and freezer will save you all year long on your
grocery budget.

When
items go on sale for those rock bottom prices, that’s the time to stock up!
Each week (or at least monthly) choose an item or two that you will stock up
on. Our website will give you an idea of how much you would need of each item
to have a 3 month supply of food on hand for your family. Here is a link to the
best food storage inventory sheet on the web.
Not only will this food come in handy
during an emergency or job loss, but it will also save you from having to buy
items at full price in the future. Here are a couple of the items on sale this
week for great prices that can be added to your ‘stock pile’ (peanut butter,
pasta, and cereal—the eggs, of course, won’t store but stock up and keep them
in your fridge for several weeks).

STEP
4: LEARN TO COOK FROM SCRATCH

We
live in a day of conveniences.  Many
processed and boxed foods, although easy to prepare, are overpriced and filled
with preservatives. You can save a lot of money by taking the time to learn to
make more of your favorite recipes from scratch. Not only will it save you
money, but it will be a healthier option for your family.
Our
blog has hundreds of recipes that will help you know how to use the whole
grains, beans, powdered milk, and other items you are storing. We have tried
and true recipes for homemade Wholegrain Pancakes, delicious Whole Wheat Bread,
Chilis, Soups, Homemade Salad Dressings, and MUCH more!
Now
that you all know the four simple ways to cut your grocery budget in half, we
are going to make life even easier!

We are offering ALL of you a FREE two week trial to Deals to Meals to see how much time and money
you can save! 
We
are also excited to give away a 12 month membership to Deals to Meals (as well as another 2 on One Good Thing–that’s three chances to win!).
How
to enter to win one of these memberships:

*Follow our Deals to Meals Blog and
leave a comment (on this post) saying you did so.

*Follow
Deals to Meals on Pintrest and leave a comment (on this post) saying you did so.
*Follow Deals to Meals on Facebook (we have a NEW Facebook account so follow this link ;), and leave a comment (on this post) saying you did so.

Grocery Saving Tips

Jordan, from Fun, Cheap or Free did a great job on Studio 5 today! Not only is she totally adorable being 8 months pregnant but she was spot on with all of her grocery and meal planning tips she shared. We of course loved that she mentioned our service as we obviously feel Deals to Meals is the simplest answer to anyone’s food budget or dinner woes 😉

View her cute video here!

Also, below is a little clue to the BEST deal of the week. Smith’s is selling a pound of butter for $1.67 (sale ends January 29th) . You can’t beat that! That’s 44% off of Walmart’s already reduced prices (regularly $2.98 a pound). I had a hard time not filling my entire freezer with butter. Butter and brown sugar….my two favorite things in my storage 🙂 To save money later in the year, make sure and buy up as many butter’s as you can get your hands on (and afford of course). Happy shopping!! Login to our website to see all of this week’s deals–there are some GREAT deals on many name-brand, food storage items that should be added to your food storage this week (canned beans, canned tomatoes, canned fruit, sugar, snacks, chips, pasta, pasta sauce, and MANY more!) Save $100’s a month by knowing exactly which items to purchase, how much to buy, what to stock up on and make our delicious meals this week with all of the items on sale.

How to combat inflation

I received an email from a woman I thought might be worth sharing.  Here is her question and my response, in case you have similar concerns or issues. Inflation is a HUGE issue for many families and I hope I can shed some light on how you can keep inflation down, and still eat healthy & homemade meals (on a budget!). 

Question:
“I have been a long time follower of your blog. Which I love
and enjoy all the helpful information, recipes, and resources. I have never
paid for your service because I have been a coupon-er and used other online
services. With the raising prices of groceries and the restrictions placed
on my favorite coupons; I am finding more and more that I need a new system.
I was wondering about your thoughts on adjusting your price
matching “best prices” with the inflation. Specifically, I am finding
there are only a handful of okay sales each week in comparison to a
cart-ful each week, say two years ago. I’ve noticed on your blog that your
documented fantastic shopping trips are few and far between. I guess what I am
wondering is what is your take on price matching with increasing food prices?
Have you adjusted your dollar amounts to reflect a great deal given today’s
inflated prices? When you give out your deals to your subscribers are you
finding so few deals, it’s not even worth the trip?  I am feeling sad
every time I shop and walk away with out that feeling of savings like I use to.”
Answer:
 I agree with you!  The prices of yesterday are so
different than today.  I am sure we will never see a 25 lb. bag of flour
again for $1.99 (those were the good ol’ days!!).  However, I still feel
with price matching I haven’t felt the strain on my food budget like I should
be.  I am extra careful about only purchasing the great/red deals each
week and find I am stocking my freezer more full when certain items go on sale
(meat especially).  As I am stocking up when prices are at their lowest, I
notice I don’t feel the inflation quite so much because I have a year supply in
my storage that I can turn to as prices get higher.  I then stock up when
those items go on sale for great prices (sometimes less often, but it still
happens) and that seems to help keep prices low.
As far as my grocery bargain pictures, I should be better at
posting more of those.  To be honest I never know if people think those
posts are lame, or if I should do them.  I still shop every 2 weeks and my
piles are just as impressive as they always are..I just get lazy and don’t take
pictures 😉  Thanks for the reminder to keep up on that!
As far as keeping up with the inflation prices I just compare
the prices each week to Costco, Sams & Walmart (all of which have gone up quite a bit
the past couple of years).  I do have to adjust the red deals to these new
prices, but there seems to still be several great deals each week.  Some
week’s have more great deals than others, but over all, the lost-leader
prices from each store are still rock-bottom prices (which makes me happy each
week!) and worth shopping for.
One item to watch very closely is meat prices.  Meat
prices, especially red meat, are sky rocketing!! Gone are the days of most meat
prices at $2 or under per pound.  The ‘new’ low price for red meat is more
like $2.50-$3.00/lb.  This is a lot higher than a year ago.  So…when
meat goes on sale for great/red deals, stock your freezer with as much as you
can fit and afford.  This will help you not have to get in a pinch and buy
these items at full price, or a not-so-great sale later in the month.
As far as couponing, I find I can save more money on all of the
regular food items my family eats on a regular basis–without clipping coupons.  I am a strict
shopper and don’t buy very few (if any)  pre-packaged or processed foods/snacks and so
coupons have never worked for me.  I know you can get the occasional
coupon that works for items I use, but it is not worth my time or money to clip
and organize them.  For me, using Deals to Meals is easy and saves me
hundreds of dollars!  I only shop 2x’s a month, plan my meals using our
weekly meal plan (one week’s meal plan feeds my family for 2 weeks), and price
match at Walmart.  By using this method I am able to keep my family’s
budget to $500-$550 (plus or minus a few) a month, keep up my food storage, and
stock my freezer with lots of good stuff!  We have a family of 7 with BIG
eaters and appetites, so the fact I have not increased our food budget in 2 years, makes me feel I have inflation at bay.  Just remember…be a wise shopper, don’t impulse buy, go to the store with a plan & stock up so you have extras on hand. Doing all of these things will help keep your budget low and your wallet full!  Hope this helps 😉

Money Saving Tip


I was making a recipe the other day that called for 3 cans of chicken broth. I couldn’t remember if I have shared my chicken broth tip with you or not? There are several items in my kitchen that are ‘must haves’–for example: lime juice (we go through this like water in our kitchen), Montreal Steak Seasoning, Costco’s Garlic Spread, etc. The list could go on and on. One must have in my kitchen though is Chicken and Beef Base or Bouillon.

Many recipes call for chicken/beef broth or chicken bouillon in recipes and to buy it by the can is extremely expensive. I was just at Walmart the other day and their Great Value can of chicken broth was almost $1–ugh! If you add 3-4 cans in a recipe that is an expensive addition.

So, the tip: Keep your kitchen well stocked with Chicken and Beef Base (this is least at Costco or Sam’s Club-McCormick or Tone’s makes are good brands) and large #10 cans of Chicken and Beef Bouillon (you can get this online, Maceys, or most Walmarts).

I keep a glass mason jar in my spice cabinet filled with the chicken and beef bouillon so I can easily measure out a tablespoon or teaspoon, add with water and use in my favorite recipes. The chicken and beef base needs to be kept in the fridge once it is open, but will last at least a year once it is opened. The base is a little more expensive but has an awesome flavor, so I ration that on my ‘high end meals’ and use the powdered bouillon for large soups, stews, etc.

These are also great items to have in your food storage in the event we had to live out of our storage and eat all of our dried beans, rice, noodles, etc. we would want some flavor!

That is probably the longest post in history about bouillon, but it really is one of my FAVE items in my kitchen! Have fun cooking!

**One other benefit is they are MSG free!

Money Saving Tip

With Thanksgiving come and gone, how many of you used SEVERAL cans of chicken stock? Well, I have a simple and inexpensive solution for you. Instead of buying Swanson Chicken Broth at .50 a can, but the McCormick Chicken or Beef Base from Costco. It is like Chicken bouillon but in an easy to use container that stays in your fridge. You just add a teaspoon of the chicken base with some water and you have chicken stock. This container of the beef/chicken base at Costco is around $3 and mine lasts for 6 months or more! I have SEVERAL of each flavor in my food storage. They don’t have to be refrigerated until they are opened. For the same price as a few cans of stock you get ALL of the flavor without the expense. I also use the base in rice to add more flavor, soups, gravies, on my roasts, etc. It is nice and salty & one of my favorite ‘special’ ingredients…next to my beloved Montreal Steak Seasoning 🙂

Also shown in the picture is the Morning Moo Chicken Base. This will last longer in your storage and is another inexpensive option instead of stock or bouillon cubes when bought in bulk (wait until February for the next case lot sale for this to go on sale). Enjoy!

Great Christmas gift ideas that can help you be more prepared

Here are a few GREAT gift ideas for the holidays. There is something for everyone, on any budget:

*A GIFT CERTIFICATE TO MY FOOD STORAGE DEALS!! (Information coming soon)
*First aid kits
*Flashlights for the whole family
*Jumper cables
*Fuel for your camp stoves or grills
*Camping stove
*Shovel
*Water storage containers
*Water purifier (such as the Katadyne)
*Heavy duty work gloves
*Warm winter clothing
*Spices and herbsseeds for the garden
*Nice heavy duty blankets or sleeping bags
*Car kits/back packs
*Bottles/jars for canning
*Dutch oven
*Solar-powered radio (or solar radio/flashlight combo)
*Wheat grinder (hand held or electric)
*Ready-made 72-hour kits
*Pressure cooker (small)
*Dehydrator
*55-gallon drum for water storage
*Rotating shelf systems (small)
*Large solar oven
*Generators (for information on these, read a Popular Mechanics article here)
*Extra gas canisters filled with gas for your generator (fill up now that gas prices are low 🙂
*A chest or stand up freezer
*Space heaters
*Extra extension cords
*Snow shovel
*Propane Lanterns
*Rope
*Tent
*Other camping supplies
*Giving basic food storage items for Christmas is also a great idea! Bags of wheat, beans, sugar, flour, powdered milk, honey, etc. are all GREAT items that can be bought for under $10 that would be a great gift.

Happy holidays!