8 Must Have Spices
If you are like me, you have a plethora of spices in your cupboards and only use about 8 or 9 of them regularly. I counted and I have 6 jars of dry mustard and I don’t know why. There are really only about 8 that I seem to use on a regular basis, so I have listed them below. So, go through yours and filter out the ones that just take up space and tuck them away.
- Kosher salt. I love this amazing salt because I can use it for everything. I also have table salt on hand, but find myself using kosher salt because of the stronger salt flavor. I keep a small bowl of it on the counter for easy access.
- Ground black pepper. Same goes for pepper. A small bowl sits on the counter next to my salt for simple seasoning as I am preparing a meal. It’s also great to have a pepper grinder nearby or on your dinner table as well.
- Garlic Powder. Yum! For those recipes and meals that call for real minced garlic, I can substitute garlic powder for the same great taste only less prep work. Garlic salt is also good to have on hand, but be careful adding when also using regular salt.
- Chili Powder. Not only can chili powder accent a great batch of chili, I use it for everything from baked chicken, fish, and it’s awesome sprinkled on fresh seasonal or even frozen vegetables.
- Red pepper flakes. Spice anything up with either red pepper flakes or even try ground cayenne pepper. Go easy though if you still want to enjoy your food. If you crush the pepper flakes between your palms, you will release the most flavor.
- Italian seasoning. This is the most versatile of all the spices in my opinion. It’s great to have basil and oregano on hand, but if you are limited on storage, simply keep Italian seasoning available for everything.
- Onion flakes. When you are in a rush to get dinner on the table, try minced onion flakes as an alternative for fresh chopped onion. I tend to go a little heavy on it because I love the onion flavor in my dishes. Onion powder works great too and I love it along with garlic salt in scrambled eggs.
- Nutmeg. Don’t forget about lovely nutmeg. Not only used in baking recipes but great for all sorts of savory dishes like marinara sauces and most Italian meals. When added to sauteed fresh vegetables, it adds a wonderful kick. Try adding a little of it to your mashed potatoes!
10 Cheap & Healthy Foods
It’s rare that the words cheap and healthy can be used to describe food and what we buy in the supermarket. But it is doable to watch what we eat and stay on a budget as well by simply stocking up on healthy options especially when they are on sale. Below are just 10 of some cheap and healthy foods to stock up on now.
- Canned tuna. Packed with protein and omega-3, tuna is a must have in your pantry for cheap and healthy meals. Added to salads or mixed with a light or fat free mayonnaise, tuna is a great bet.
- Dried Beans. So many beans, so little time. Buying and preparing dried beans is not only inexpensive but they can be used in so many recipes.
- Whole grain pasta. Again, the variety is endless in the pasta aisle. Not only is whole grain pasta more nutritious than regular pasta, but it is usually the same price as well.
- Frozen vegetables. What a great stock up item when these go on sale. Used a side dish with a healthy meal or added to soups and stews, frozen vegetables can do no wrong in your freezer and are always there for you.
- Bagged spinach. Surprisingly, this produce item is so cost effective and typically on sale especially in the summer months. It’s always ready to go, lasts about a week in it’s own bag when sealed properly, and is great for salads and also sauteed for a quick healthy side dish.
- Whole wheat bread. Whole grain and whole wheat bread is an excellent choice to always have around. When they are buy one, get one, stock up and freeze extra loaves to save money and always have available.
- Eggs. This amazing food is not only a healthy one but super inexpensive too. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner calls for any type of egg recipe.
- Sweet potatoes. Either served sweet with butter and cinnamon or savory with some spices, sweet potatoes are super for sides and a light lunch. Rich in vitamins and nutrients, simply bake and serve.
- Canned salmon. We often buy tuna, why not canned salmon? Make salmon cakes or add to salads and get a ton of protein and omega-3’s in your diet.
- Greek yogurt. Now that greek yogurt varieties are endless the dairy aisle, stock up when they are on special. They make a great healthy snack and are portable especially when you are on the go.
I hope this quick list of cheap & healthy foods helps stretch your budget — if you think I missed something, please share!
Decorating your house is a big task. It isn’t easy, and it most certainly isn’t cheap! If you have a smaller budget but still want beautiful home decor to liven up the rooms in your house, these tips of mine will help you find home decor for cheap or even FREE! I have used many of them to “stockpile” stuff for the new house — they work like a charm! I filled 4 rooms for under $1,000 (before deducting the things I sold on the same groups!)
1. Search yard sales.
You’d be amazed at the awesome home decor people give away for dirt cheap at yard sales! Check tons of yard sales, and if you don’t find much at first, don’t get discouraged! It takes some time to find really great home decor, but eventually you’re bound to find something awesome. Make sure to carry cash and change when you go just in case you find the perfect piece for your home! I have gotten large area rugs and even nightstands for just $10!!
2. Shop thrift stores!
Thrift stores are another great way to find some beautiful home decor for cheap. Make sure to search all your local thrift stores too, as well as bigger places like Goodwill or Savers. Often times, Goodwill has a section of knick knacks and old home decorations that can be repurposed and upcycled into beautiful home decor – so make sure to take your creativity hat with you! I LOVE candlesticks and by simply painting a variety of them, they can now match.
3. Ask friends!
It might seem odd but if you have friends who love home decor too, they might be replacing theirs and you could come up on some really beautiful home decor for cheap that way! Ask around, see if anyone you know is trying to declutter or get rid of stuff and see what you can find! If they decide to sell it, hopefully you’ll get a huge discount or even snag it for free! Um, you will soon see my new “tiffany style” drop lamp — yup, from my buddy Angela!
4. Yard sale groups on Facebook.
There are many, MANY yard sale groups on Facebook and most of them are specific to a certain area! Type your area (or the closest major area you live near) into the Facebook search bar and see what pops up. Often times they’ll have the city name first followed by “buy/sell/trade” or “swap/exchange” or something along those lines. These are a great resource for finding beautiful home decor for cheap! Recliner, bed frames and even white cubby units came from here…yippee!
5. Wait for sales!
Write down your 3 favorite places to find beautiful home decor and start keeping an eye on them every week to see if they’re having any sales or deals that you can score big on! You’d be surprised to find how many deals and sales there are for beautiful home decor and it’s a great way to find out about other sales at the same time!
Have you ever found beautiful home decor for cheap that you were just amazed by? Where is your best find for home decor?
How to Build Your Stockpile within Your Budget
How much did you spend the last time you went to the store to stock up? Did you blow your budget and get everything you need or did you stick to your budget, but miss a few items? Stockpiling can be super expensive if you don’t watch what you’re doing, but it is possible to stay within your budget. Check out these steps and soon you’ll be building your stockpile within your budget.
To start, make sure that you have a list of what you need and how much of it you need. Without this, you could buy items that you won’t use and blow your budget. Make sure you include both food and non-food items.
Next, you’ll need to learn how to make use of coupons if you don’t already. While some of the items you are going to stockpile won’t have coupons, a lot of them will. Just be sure that you’re only buying items that you will really use and aren’t purchasing them just because you have a coupon. That’s a surefire way to cost yourself money.
Also be sure you’re picking up your local sale ads. This will let you know what items are being advertised as on sale at your stores so you can plan to pick them up on your list. Just keep two things in mind; 1. Make sure that the sale price is really a sale price and 2. The store will also have unadvertised sales to be on the lookout for as well.
Now, start looking for deals in places OTHER than your local grocery stores. Check places like Walmart.com and Target.com. Target especially is awesome for great deals on laundry soap. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, be sure you check out the deals in the Prime Pantry program. With the coupons they offer, you can usually find some really NICE deals to help you add to your stockpile!
Once you’ve tracked down the deals, be sure you’re not going out and buying your entire stock amount all at once. To stay within your budget, you’ll want to add just a few items each week and stock up slowly. Building it too fast means you’re likely spending too much money. Of course, if you find a great deal on an item and have the extra room in your budget, go ahead and pick them up.
Staying within your budget while you stockpile isn’t as hard as it sounds. The real key to it is simply paying attention. If you don’t, you could easily find yourself swimming in stockpile, but drowning in your budget.
You do your best to save money at the grocery store by clipping coupons, watch for sales and use store coupons but is your grocery budget still in desperate need of help? Grocery shopping is not a chore most of us like to do and it’s very easy to get into a routine of bad grocery shopping habits. You may be able to get your grocery budget down even more, possibly you just may have some grocery shopping habits that end up costing you more money.
- You don’t Plan: If you don’t have a plan before going to the grocery store you will almost certainly buy items you don’t need and forget to buy items you do need. If you have not yet start meal planning now is the time to start. Make a list of meals you would like to make for the week and then check your pantry for items you need. This takes 10-15 minutes and it’s going to end up saving you lots of money, and extra trips to the store.
- You assume the store brand is the least expensive: Many of us just assume that the generic store brands are cheaper and therefore they must be the best deal. This is no longer the case as big brands want your business and if you are one to automatically grab the store brand you are missing out. Often times you can get the name brand items for the same price or possibly even less than store brands. Also check to see if a coupon is available on the name brand item, likely you will find one to score an even better deal!
- Not Checking the Expiration Dates: Grocery stores do their best to sort through and find items that are expired however they are still there! It’s not fun coming home to find out you have rotted produce, or expired milk or cheese. Gross!! Stores will take these items back but its trip to the store.
- Buying Out of Season Produce: Do your best to plan around what’s in season. Buying strawberries in the fall will cost more than double the price than if you purchased them in the summer. When your favorite items are in season, stock up for later! Most fruits and veggies can be frozen to use for later. I buy lots of strawberries and green beans to freeze. When they are out of season I use the berries in smoothies or cobblers and the veggies in soups and stir fry’s.
- You Ignore Unit Prices: This is one of the top grocery shopping habits that will cost you more money. Just because an items total price is the least expensive does not mean it’s a better deal. Often times it is just the opposite. Get in the habit of checking the items unit price which is listed right beside the price. You may only find it’s a few cents difference however that adds up to quite a bit of money when you have a cart full of groceries.
Do you do any of grocery store shopping habits that cost you more money? I admit I have been guilty of a few of these but little changes can make a BIG difference.
Easy Ways to Save Money on Landscaping
Landscaping is one thing that makes a home look more beautiful, inviting and gives you wonderful curb appeal. If you have done any sort of landscaping projects you know first hand it’s not cheap. With the warm weather now here to stay I know many of you are probably getting started on the spring landscape projects. I’ve got some easy ways for you all to save money on landscaping.
Figure out what you Like: The first step to save money on landscaping is to make a plan and figure out what you like. Drive around take pictures of plants and landscape layouts you like. You can also find so many great landscaping ideas on Pinterest.
Spend Smart: Trees, bushes and plants all grow at different rates. One way to save money on landscaping is to know the growth rate. Most nurseries will have the growth rate listed on the tags for you. If you are purchasing a plant that grows quickly you will get the most bang for your buck if you purchase a small size. This will allow more money to spend on larger sizes of the plants that are slow growing.
Purchase Perennials: Don’t purchase plants or flowers that you will need to replace each year. When you purchase annuals it’s like throwing money out the window. Purchasing perennials is going to save you money since they come back each year. Not to mention they are less work.
Buy in Bulk: If you need a lot of dirt, mulch or rocks your best bet is to buy in bulk. You can purchase these items in bags at the home improvement stores but you can save as much as 50% by contacting a garden supply company and having it delivered. If you have a truck you can save even more by picking it up and not having to pay a delivery fee.
Do it yourself: When we first built our home we got quotes for landscaping and let me tell you the prices were not cheap! One small area of our yard was going to cost us over $2,000 with labor and the cost of materials. We decided to tackle this project on our own and spent a total of $500! Talking this small project on our own saved us $1.500!
Landscaping makes your home more beautiful but it is a BIG expense but using these tips to save money on landscaping will end up saving you hundreds or thousands in the long run. You can get more money saving tips from Operation $40K by following us on Facebook!
Seventy five years ago, the thought of buying someone’s used garbage was almost unheard of — my Mother-In-Law, who was married just after WWII simply couldn’t understand my fascination with them. I tried to explain, but she didn’t quite “get it”.
When the approximate cost of raising a child today is about $225,000 – buying things second hand can really help you save a chunk of change! Little people grow so fast that they often grow out of clothes and shoes before they wear them out. This makes for a perfectly good re-saleable item!
So, here are my big tips to save HUGE money by taking advantage of your local garage sales:
Make a list. If you plan to buy ahead for your little people, you need to know what you already have so you can see what you need so you can fill in the holes. Many parents stockpile clothes for a season or two ahead, pick up toys for a fraction of the cost, and redecorate a bedroom for pennies.
Create a Budget. It is easy to get carried away and buy everything that seems like a great deal but it is really important to work with-in your means. Temptation can de-rail your original plans to save. Go over your list and start putting your maximum price to each item. I know that I won’t spend more than $5 for a dress for Miss Sarah or $0.50 for a T-shirt.
Make a plan. Are you looking for specific things? Tell your other garage sale buddies to keep their eyes out too! Use tools like “Yard Sale Treasure Map” to help search online listings for specific items and create a optimized GPS driving route. That makes it easy to breeze through a City Wide Garage Sale instead over being overwhelmed with a sea of signs and sales. If you score big at one house, make note of it. That way you know to hit it again next year during the next city-wide sale, as they have similar tastes to yours.
Watch What You Buy. It’s hard to tell if used bike helmets or booster seats have been involved in an accident or not. They should be avoided if they have been as their integrity has been compromised. Let’s not forget toys and items on recall lists. Check HERE to make sure you don’t get anything that might actually harm your little people. A general rule of thumb for toddler toys? If it can pass through a toilet paper tube, it is too small to let them play with Old baby furniture might have lead paint, cribs can have too large a gap between the railing posts, and so much more. Make sure all pieces are there for games, that electrical appliances work, and clothes are stain/hole free.
Are you a seller?
Ask yourself a question: do you want to make money or get rid of things?
If you want to get rid of things, price things accordingly. T-shirts from Walmart shouldn’t be priced the same as ones from Justice or Gymboree. Your former cherished coffee mugs won’t garner $5 each, but will be more attractive to buyers at $0.25-0.50 each. Consider grouping things together in bundles or sets like all old Happy Meal toys in a zippy bag for $5 instead of $0.50 each. If you offer books at $5.00 a bag instead of $0.50-1.00 each (still offer to sell books individually), they will disappear before your eyes!
If you are trying to make money, make sure you advertise EVERYWHERE and do a detailed list of things you are offering. Antiques, name brands, and make sure you use lots of pictures. You might want to think of selling your things on EBay or through a resale shop instead.
Do you love garage sales as much as I do? Do you have any great tips to share?
Aldi’s is a great place to find fresh groceries at a great price. If you have shopped Aldis in the past, you probably already know this. But did you know that there are still ways to save even more money while shopping there? Take a look below at some helpful tips for saving money at Aldi’s grocery stores. When you follow these tips, you can really fill that grocery cart for less!
1. Take your own bags.
When you take your own grocery bags, you won’t need to pay for theirs. This can save you an extra dollar or two per trip. Take your own bags that are big and sturdy and pack up your food for less.
2. Check the end caps.
The end caps often contain sale or reduced for quick sale items. Always check the end caps for sales and specials and snag an additional deal or two. You can also find clearance items on rolling carts placed near the frozen food aisles. Items will vary but typically you can find some real deals.
3. Get on their mailing list.
Aldi’s sends out the occasional coupon, sometimes as much as $10 off a $25 purchase. Be sure you visit their website and sign up for their mailing list. This is a great way to not only get coupons but get notified of upcoming sales as well.
4. Buy their brand.
Buy the generic Aldi brand as opposed to any name brands that are offered. This will always save you a considerable amount and the quality is just as good. Their store brand cheese comes from Sargento and they have beyond great prices on their gluten free line.
5. Check out their website for savings.
Aldi always posts their weekly sales and specials on their website. Be sure to check it out each week so you can plan your shopping list and menus according to these sale prices.
6. Shop on Wednesdays when possible.
Wednesdays is when Aldi’s offers its weekly meat specials. Swing in on Wednesdays and see what the special is so you can take advantage of it. Even if you can’t use the item that week, you can always buy it and freeze it for later.
7. Shop the day before your Aldis ad changes over.
If they overbought on the weekly sales specials, they will have great clearance prices. I have gotten broccoli crowns for $0.15/# Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts for under $0.90/#.
8. Stop in often.
The inventory of Aldi’s changes often and you never know what unadvertised items will show up. Make a habit of swinging in often to see the deals that are to be had.
You can really get more groceries for your budget when you shop at Aldi. Give these tips a try the next time you shop and save!
10 Places to Sleep While Traveling That Will Save You Money
If you travel often, or are thinking about hitting the road and are in the research stage, you know that the cost of accommodations can be daunting. It’s difficult to find low-cost hotels that are clean and good quality – no matter where you are in the world. Instead of sticking with hotels, consider one of these other options to save some serious cash.
1) Hostels – Hostels have a bad rap. From the idea of the dirty backpacker hiking his way around Europe to parties late into the night and rooms packed full of strangers. But, today’s hostels are far from this picture. Sure, they still exist but if you do a little bit of research you can find an amazing place to stay for a small price tag and in the process you’ll meet interesting people from all over the world. Some hostels even cater to families or couples.
2) House swap – There’s a gaining trend of renting rooms or even swapping homes with strangers. Say for example there’s a family in Paris that wants to spend a week in New York. You both list your homes for a swap and then decide on a week that works for both people. Swap and stay in each other’s homes and no money needs to exchange hands. You may be taking a slight risk but it could really pay off in the long run.
3) Camping – One of the oldest ways to save money while traveling is through camping. Whether you want to pitch a tent and spend the night, or rent an RV, camping is a great way to explore and save money while doing it.
4) Stay on a Rural Farm – In many agricultural areas like Italy, France, and Portugal farm stays are becoming very popular. For a visitor you’re able to get outside of the city center to see how people live in other parts of the country. The only downside is you’ll most likely need your own vehicle to reach the farm.
5) Short Term Room or Apartment Rentals – Extended stay hotels are one way to save money but if you want a more cozy experience look into a short term room or apartment rental. Sites like airbnb.com offer a place to list and search for rooms and apartments around the world that are available for rent. Aside from cost savings, you’ll also be able to discover residential areas you wouldn’t have known about before.
6) Religious Housing – Monasteries, nunneries, and religious student housing exists all over the world but especially in Europe. Most are aimed at travelers who want to experience the monastic life but some religious orders have built small hotels to host travelers. You’ll need to follow the rules and this is often not a choice for family travelers. But, if you really want to get away you may find the solitude you seek inside the walls.
7) Vacation Rentals – Timeshares and short term apartment rentals can seem like a large investment but often save money over the course of your vacation. You’ll have your own kitchen and often plenty of on-site entertainment that is included in the price of accommodation. You might also be eligible for special deals and discounts to other attractions nearby.
8) Academic Housing – When college students go away for the summer, dorms are left open. Some colleges open up their dorms for rent. Of course, the downside is you’ll be in a dorm but if you plan to stay in an area for a little bit of time and are traveling with a big group you can find good housing at a dirt cheap price.
9) Airport Sleeping – This might be the least desirable choice when it comes to spending the night but if you have an overnight layover this is the way to save some money on hotel costs. Airports know that travelers face this and the majority don’t care if you sleep in the airport. Be prepared for this by packing a small blanket or blow up pillow to try and make your night somewhat restful. Seek out quiet, darker places in the airport. You can consult websites like SleepinginAirports for advice from other travelers who have slept in the airport. This might not be the best option if you’re traveling with little kids in tow but can be a fun adventure if you have older children!
10) Night Trains – Today it’s often possible to find low-cost airfare for a lower price than a train ticket, however taking night trains can help you accomplish two things. First, you’ll save money on housing because you can sleep on the train and second you’ll arrive at your destination in the morning, ready to explore! So before brushing this option aside for a low cost airfare, factor in the cost of an additional night in a hotel.