Menu Monday and Cheap Cooking

I am really trying to tighten my budget when it comes to grocery shoping. So going to try and cook on the cheap, the real cheap. Why? I want to save money for our first family vacation in 10 years.

So here is the menu for this week….

Monday-Kraft dinner and hotdogs, broccoli ($2)

Tuesday-Sweet and Sour Tofu, rice,red peppers($3)

Wednesday-Meatloaf, mashed potatoes,corn($5)

Thursday-Leftovers($0)

Friday-Cheese Pizza, and salad($5)

Saturday-Kid Pleasing Spaghetti, and Salad($4)

Sunday-BBQ Chicken Pieces, rice, carrots($3)

Now I am off to Laura’s to see what is cooking for everyone else.

Gardening on the Cheap

 With the weather finally getting warmer here in Toronto it is time to think of gardening. On the weekend my favorite daughter Roo decided she was going to do yard work. I am really impressed how clean our garden is. It looks good for mid April.

As we look at gardening this year we will be doing mostly vegetables and fruit. We will have a few flowers though, and will be doing some herbs as well.

What is planned to go into ours: Tomatoes(both full size and cherry), strawberries, lettuce, red peppers, pumpkin, green onions, and for herbs we will do cilantro, basil, and parsley. Really a very basic garden for Toronto. How do I do it and do it on the cheap?

1. First I start everything almost from seeds, that is of what I buy. The only exception is what I get from friends  and that will be started strawberries and tomatoes. Seeds are a cheap way to go and your children get to watch the whole growth cycle.

2. Water in the eveing or morning only, and water roots not leaves. First it is the roots that need the water, not the leaves, as well by watering in the early morning or on in the eveing it takes longer to absorb and is better for the soil and plant and you dont end up wasting water. It is also good to do it at this time to save on the pocket book.

3. I also keep my tools on the minimum and to be honest I got them all for free or from the Dollar store. There is no need for expensive tools.

4. NO chemicals…most of the things you need to fight pests,etc can either be done organically or by using your compostable stuff. For weed killer try PULLING them. Just think of it as a workout.

Well it is evening here and with the weather being so nice a perfect eveing for a walk. So here is hoping that some of you are getting your gardens ready just like me. 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Being Cheap or Frugal Costing You Money?

I read this interesting article on Yahoo today and wanted to share my thoughts on how being cheap frugal need not cost us money.

First I never want my cheapness to cost me money over the long haul! That means I do NOT buy on credit. I love Dave Ramsey’s money envelopes..and follow a budget. I would never think to buy a car, or furniture no matter how needed on credit. For me this is a major no no. Why? Because of the interest attached, every company wants your credit purchases it means money in the bank for them, but for you it means paying more unless you pay off your credit card every month- lets be real how many people pay off their balance each month? Very few.

Right now there are 3 what I consider large purchases that I want to make this year- a laptop, a new sofa bed, a trip to Nova Scotia for Christmas…all are being SAVED for, and will not be bought till cash is on hand. Then I will look for deals and compare prices and sometimes I can even go into a store and ask for a cash discount and get it. As for the trip I am saving money each month so that I can buy my tickets in the early fall, I hope to take my Roo by train to finally see the ocean.

I do shop sale flyers and coupon collect but I don’t buy what I don’t need or can not use in rotation, and because our household is just the two of us well buying in bulk does not make sense except for buying packages of meat. This I take home and break down into smaller packages and it works this way I never spend more then $40 a month on meat. I only ever buy enough for 2 months at a max because I know sales rotate and come back.

As for buying the newest and latest well that just isn’t me…I can wait. Do I really need a plasma screen? does Roo need that latest video game? The answer is NO..do we lose out because we don’t have the latest find? I don’t think so.

As for clothes there is no reason for anyone to ever buy these on credit not with the many garage sales, discount stores,  etc offering great buys. I have 3 leather purses all bought for less the$10 and they all get wonderful compliments. I buy GAP, ROOTS, and the like all at Value Village for my daughter and most are hardly worn, which is good for me and the pocket book.  I don’t buy the latest trends and wear mostly classics found at Value Village, other consignment stores or Winners.

There are many ways to that being frugal ie stocking up at sales, could cost us money if we are not careful, but if you are careful use a budget, pay cash, and plan for larger purchases then it need not cost you a penny in-fact you could end up saving many more and isn’t that what being frugal is all about.

What Works for Me Wedesday: Valentine’s Day For the Frugal Parent

Yesterday over at The Lucky Cannuck I wrote about Valentine’s day and being lucky in love even though I am a solo parent. Today for me a cheap frugal parent there are lots of ways to make tomorrow special for my daughter and me….I think this year I spent $5 for the day.

1. First shhh..but she will wake up to her favorite breakfast of waffles and at her spot in the table she will find a wee present from mom —I used a left over clay pot, filled it with jelly beans and heart shaped lollipops both bought at the dollar store..it looks like a plant! Also from the dollar store was the cutes lil heart purse so she is getting that too. I made her card.

2.For dinner we will actually be doing something different then I had planned on the menu. We are having one of OUR fav meals —Lasagna.

3. To take care of me and show me some love–after she goes to bed well it is ME time..a nice bubble bath, and a good read are in store.

There are lots of ways to celebrate the day and be frugal at the same time and include the kids. One of the themes we are doing all month so we can really see the love in this house is to document it on our LOVE WALL. When we catch each other being loving and kind we cut out a read heart and write a note sharing what we saw..we then put this up on our love wall( we have one wall dedicated to hearts).

So how are you celebrating tomorrow? Don’t forget that ecards are a great way to show lots of people a little love!  Now off to Dont Try This At Home to see what is working for everyone else today.

Planning for the Future

I have been thinking alot lately about the future I want and dream about for my daughter and I. I have decided that as she enters junior high and high school I don’t want her here in the city. It is very expensive to live here especially doing it on $1200 a month.  So where do we go, I am investigating several possibilities.

While doing this I am trying to also make sure I am prepared for whatever the future might hold. I am doing my will, and learning all I can about fiances here in Canada. There is FREE help out there for us Cannucks. The Canadian Financial Security Program offers free downloadable books that can help us achieve our goals whatever they are. There is the Will Preparation Kit, Shopping for Life Insurance, Starting a Home Business and Investing Wisely. Why not take a read? For us cheapies out there knowledge equals power and the ability to do more while being prepared.

Getting Dental Work Done the Cheap Way.

Well today I am off for to the dentist. Since mid December I have been in dental pain and too chicken to go to the dentist. First here in Toronto there aren’t many dentists who will take an Ontario Works client. When you are poor and live in the city it is harder to access dental care at least it is here in Canada. But luckily I found one who will do the emergency treatment that I need. But for the long run she was telling about some programs that are here. Since then I have found that many major cities across Canada and even North America have options similar to this. So why not take care of your mouth?  For a long time for me it was a fear factor. Don’t know why or where it began but I feared the dentist.

So where to go here in the city first to get my teeth cleaned there are several options George Brown offers free cleaning, as do many other private colleges here in the city that train dental hygienists. So no more excuses for teeth not being cleaned, you do however have to be available for about 5 appointments.  For things like needed fillings, root canals and like there is the University of Toronto and there is a cost. The cost is 1/3 what you would have to pay at a dentist’s office.   In Hamilton they have the Dental Bus for emergencies and a local dental hygenie college so i do remember what is there.

So after many years of hating my mouth it is time that I attack the issues of poor dental care. If you are anything like me you can do it too just search out your local programs.

Freebie Alert- Ebook of Poems for Scrappers

If you are a digital scrapbooker like me this will excite you. It is for a free ebook of poens that they are giving away as part of their countdown to Christmas.You put the item in your shopping cart and proceed to the checkout. You will NOT be asked for credit card info. After transaction is complete you can download your book on the last page.

But you must be quick because the offer expires today at Midnight EST! I have mine!

Go Here to shop for your free ebook! Thanks Computer Scrapbook!

Toronto Life and Cheap Finds

Living in the big city there are so many ways to save and find things on the cheap. We have a local magazine called Toronto Life that celebrates all things To and in this month’s magazine there is an article on Good Stuff Cheap, but they aren’t cheap. They are merely good deals for those with decent pocket books.

Now for really going cheap ( well actually frugal) in this city read what I have to say instead of the magazine. As a mom living on less here in the city there is much you can do to do almost everything on a way that keeps your money where it belongs in your wallet.

So first for clothing finds: I love Value Village ( the ones at Danforth and Woodbine and the one on Queen Street both have great selections-thanks to good donors from the Beaches)! I have found so many great finds here. Designers even with tags attached for under $15. My beautiful leather purse that gets lots of compliments was $3.99.For Roo I also love Ages and Stages on the Danforth. It is a great small consignment shop that does a brisk business. This week I saw a wonderful in new condition Gap winter coat for $18. 50

 If you have to have new we have so many warehouse sales through the year by almost every company, the Toronto Star always lists these every week. As well I shop the end of the season this way I can get what I want and well save some. I also try and buy mostly classics but have one or two funky for fun days items in my closet.

For furniture: Yes I dumpster dive, well not actually dive but I have picked up pieces that others are throwing out, as well here again Value Village comes in handy, but so do garage sales and Craigslist and freecycle. I can get any piece of furniture that I need here in this city for under $100, and it be a good piece not the stuff sold at Walmart. Roo’s cast iron day bed cost me $100 in like new condition with mattress. Her dresser was a freebie, as was my leather love-seat from the 60’s. Can you say our place is vintage!

Once you get to know neighbourhoods here in Toronto you can do anything and everything on the real cheap. As for you who live in other cities well all these skills and transferable to where you live.

Works for Me Wednesday Part 2-Fix It!

Shannon wanted us to post this week what we FIX it a hurry for dinner. You know those days when you are too tired to follow that menu you planned on Monday..well since I try real hard to stick to the menu so I can stay on budget..I wasn’t sure what to put but there are days when I do change things up….so what does this cheap mom do?

Okay once a week in my house is breakfast for dinner anyways so often I will swap days with another, if I have already does breakfast for dinner. Then it is leftovers, and if that don’t work then I use : grilled cheese and soup, which is also a standard cheap and healthy meal in this house.

So there now go and if you are a Cannuck read Part 1 of what really is working for this frugal mom.

Planning Our December

Do you find that this time of year seems to be about hustle and bustle and so much of what is really important gets forgotten. For us it kind of creeps up on us and then from the beginning of December till the new year it is a time of busyness. So this year we came up with a Holiday plan…each weekend there is 1 thing that takes out of of the house besides church no more.

This weekend Roo and I will hit the mall for the last time. I have $75 in free Shopper Drugs shopping to do with my Optimum points. With it I am getting Roo some small presents and stocking stuffers. Then on Sunday Roo is singing at church–a solo, and taking part in the children’s presentation.

Next weekend we have been invited to a party so that will be fun, and on Sunday Eve we will be watching a holiday movie on tv.

Then the weekend before Christmas is about getting down to what is really important, the reason to celebrate. We will go to a live nativity pageant downtown, and to church.

On Christmas Eve it is company coming over, and then Christmas Day will be our traditional pj day..Christmas (my birthday) is the one day I can stay in pjs if I want to and I do!

I find by having a plan there is no longer the need to get caught in the bustle. Roo and I can relax and enjoy things like the pile of Christmas stories on her shelf, a Christmas special or just some time together. So do you have a plan or do you get caught in the bustle?