21st Century Homemaking

I’ve come such a long way from being a young wife who bought frozen and boxed foods to feed me and my husband.  I was so young and had no idea about healthy cooking from scratch or that buying in bulk actually saved loads in the long run, and I especially didn’t believe that buying healthier foods could be more cost-effective than the counter parts.

When I found http://www.onegoodthingbyjillie.com and http://www.pinterest.com I slowly but surely graduated to homemaking and experimented with resources and foods to make it eco-friendly and save us money.  I would be lying saying it was easy and it all worked out like it was supposed to, but believe me I have had a number of ‘nailed it’ moments and pitfalls.  In fact the first thing I tried was crockpot yogurt, and because I was young and naïve I tossed it out because it tasted sour.  Years later I find out it was supposed to taste like that because it wasn’t regular yogurt, it was plain Greek Yogurt! All I had to do was add fresh fruit or jam to it and it would taste awesome.  Needless to say I laughed it off and haven’t stepped foot in the yogurt section at my regular grocery store since. 

I then tried homemade powdered laundry soap and homemade fabric softener alongside homemade dryer sheets.  This worked especially when we were in a pinch, and would last us months for pennies worth of laundry, but I prefer to stock up on free and clear laundry products with my couponing strategies.

One product I’ve mastered is mixing Downy fabric softener with water in a spray bottle to make deodorizing spray which mimics Febreze, and my husband loves the smell of this and the savings!

I also homemake a batch of dry pinto beans in my crockpot and divide them to make refried beans and the other half is for meals that call for pinto beans.  I do the same thing for black beans, and trust me the savings are inextricably wonderful!

Therefore as you can see I am just like any other wife.  I make mistakes, but with patience and willpower I made it through and I have saved my family tons! 

Since we moved to Michigan within the past year and had our first baby, a number of things have changed.  My husband works 50 plus hours per week while I am a SAHM and full time student online, therefore we are very limited on our spending.  I am still learning ways to cut costs, but so far I am doing an awesome job with couponing and stockpiling, homemaking some foods, and finding clever ways to bring in extra cash when needed. 

One of the ways I save money is my Sunday coupons which get delivered right to my door.  I also print coupons from http://www.coupons.com, and other manufacturer websites.  Kroger and Meijer have their own separate website coupons so I take advantage of those too.  Probably my most favorite store lately is Target because they allow you to use their store coupons on top of your manufacturer coupon, and you can use their cartwheel app too!

Now when we schedule our monthly grocery list I make a menu of 15-20 dinner meals for the entire month and we may buy what is on the list.  The only way something else ends up in the basket is if I unexpectedly find an awesome deal that is too hard to pass up.  Sticking to the list really does help cut down on the monthly grocery bill!

On a typical monthly grocery trip I stop at three stores: Aldi, Dollar Tree, and Meijer -or- Kroger (depending on the deals).  We had a Costco membership and we were able to purchase some things for a great deal, but we found that we rarely used the items fast enough, and we didn’t have enough space to stock it all. However if you have the space I would greatly recommend the membership!

Due to Aldi non-couponing policy and products being generic, I generally only purchase dried pinto and black beans, pasta, condiments, milk, ground turkey and chicken, produce, and baking supplies. I have yet to try their cheese because we’re rather picky on our dairy choices.   

Our Dollar Tree has the coupon policy intact, so I stock up on a number of name brand products with coupons and most of the time can walk out of there with foods or household products for half the price or near to nothing. I generally purchase Bounty paper towels, Puffs Kleenex, Hormel pepperoni, tortilla shells, Hefty Ziploc bags, Kellogg Pop-tarts (for the hubby), and if I find another great deal that I can use with coupons I’ll splurge.

Meijer or Kroger is always the last stop on the list and I typically always have coupons for almost anything I need.  I especially like using coupons when they have their B1G1, or buy 6 and save, etc.

My theory of savings, as well as my way of homemaking in today’s society may not meet up to your standards, but it works for my family and that is all that counts.  Whether or not you use all my tactics, or just a few I hope you are able to make things easier financially for you and your family.    

 

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Next Chapter With Some Valuable Lessons Learned

As God is my witness, as well as my husband, my family and friends, I have been struggling and panicking of the unknown that was falling around me.  My husband and I have been in a tremendous down burst of financial worry ever since December, and it seemed as the past three months have tagged along, the financial burden worsened instead of bettering itself.  It’s been scary. I was doing everything I could to cut corners.  I was homemaking our laundry detergent, fabric softener and fabric sheets.  I was home preparing store-bought mixes *Bisquick, corn muffins, nesquik, pancakes, etc*, we cut out our once-a-week date night evenings, we had no cell phones, and we ended up in my Grandparent’s basement.  In other words, money was tighter than tight, it was non-existent.  There were days where I would cry myself to sleep and questioning why all of this was happening to us.  We were good Christian people who tried each and every day to live by God’s eyes, why us?  If it wasn’t for our love for each other, and our faith in God, we never would have made it through.

Sooner than later I knew my Savior was going to pick me back up and dust the dust off of my knees, but the waiting process was getting hard.  We began making a back-up plan of moving back up to our home-state, Michigan, to live with my Mother-in-law, where we would be shoved into a small bedroom with just our bed and placing all of our other belongings in a friend’s garage for a few years until we picked back up on our feet financially.

However, just as I was breaking off my chains and throwing them aside, God answered my prayers: I got hired on full time as a CNA at a hospital!  My dream of becoming somebody in the health care field has come to reality.  I am so grateful for this opportunity, all I want to do is fall down on my knees and thank the God Almighty for all that He is and all that He promises and grants.

By the way, if you are wondering how I home-make a couple of my things I use on a daily basis here are the links:

Pancake Mix: http://www.armommy.com/food/home/

Bisquick Mix: http://www.ehow.com/how_4533016_homemade-bisquick-mix.html?ref=Track2

Corn Muffin Mix: http://thewelcominghouse.blogspot.com/2012/01/making-do-without-missing-thing-master_03.html

English Muffins: http://myfairbaking.blogspot.com/2012/12/homemade-english-muffins.html

Pizza Dough: http://lizziejanebaby.blogspot.com/2012/08/tasty-tuesday-homemade-pizza-dough.html

Nesquik: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/08/homemade-nesquik.html

How to regrow your green onions: http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/2011/11/kitchen-tip-green-onions/

Laundry Soap (I prefer powdered, but there is a liquid option): http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2011/07/brand-name-laundry-detergents-last.html

Fabric Softener: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/homemade-fabric-softener-finally.html

Fabric Sheets (I went to the thrift store and purchased $1 fleece blanket, and cut it into equal sized squares instead of cutting up washcloths.  I also use my homemade softener in this recipe.): http://thefrugalfind.com/frugal-diy-homemade-dryer-sheets/

There are a ton more things I do to save money.  In fact I’ve realized buying certain things in bulk actually saves you money and time in the long run.  An example: Cottenelle 12 Double Rolls at Walmart is $6.97, but if you buy the Cottonelle 24 Double Rolls at Walmart its $13.97.  They’re the same price in the long run, but the larger package would last twice as long, saving you time.  Example number two: Purina Dog Chow-an 18.5 lb bag costs $12.88 at Walmart, but a 46 lb bag costs $24.88 is also available at Walmart.  Buying the bigger item saves you money because you are getting more pounds for a lesser cost!   Another great hint: Walmart is not always the cheapest place for certain items.  I’ve learned to shop around for every little thing.  Sometimes I will shop at Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Super Dollar (grocery store in my neck of the woods), Walmart, Sam’s Club, Food Lion (another grocery store), etc. just to save a few extra dollars.  For instance, a 10 lb bag of granulated sugar costs around $5.58 at Walmart, but at Sam’s Club it is $4.87!

I even go to the extent of  compiling a monthly grocery list of 20 dinner meals, Sunday breakfast meals and lunches for the entire month!  This literally takes me two weeks, sometimes more, to sort out each and every recipe, compile a list of each ingredient I will need to purchase (then I calculate how much or how many of each product), then I go through my coupons and see if there are any that match the products I need.  When it comes close to the day I decide to go grocery shopping I then begin shopping around for the best deals.

My husband cannot believe all the hassle I put myself through when it comes to the grocery shopping, but when he sees the final bill and all the things I purchased he is always astonished!

In other words, I’ve learned to cut alot of corners by shopping around, clipping coupons like crazy and learning what to buy in bulk when necessary.  It has kept us on our feet for many of years, and still will in the future.

The one great thing about being economically scarce in this economy is I realized the importance of living off of the things you need and using eco-friendly versions of typical resources that are available store wide.  In fact, I’m still going to continue making things homemade and I’m still going to shop around and look forward to Sunday couponing!

In addition to clipping coupons out of my Sunday newspaper, I also visit http://www.coolsavings.com/, http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com/, http://www.craigslist.org/, I purchase All You magazines and clip out valuable coupons, I ask family and neighbors for their unused coupons, and so much more.

What are some of the ways you have handled living in tight circumstances?  Have you gone to the same stretches I have?  Are you willing to take a chance on any, if not all, of the links above?