Budgets…

So, my husband and I are about to work on our family budget. Previously we have used Excel for it, but I have been looking at online options, and other software that are more budget specific than Excel is. We haven’t decided what will we use yet, so I’d love to hear from you if you use anything like Mint.com, Quicken, or YNAB. Or maybe we’ll kick it old school and use paper and a pencil!

Hopefully I can share a bit about our process in the near future, but in the meantime you can check out some previous posts I wrote (see below), as well as the awesome posts over at Real Housekeeping, since it is Budget Week over there, and they are so nice to consider me a contributor! (Only one post so far, but many more to come in the future!)

A Stylish Bump on a Budget

Meal Plan!

Kids Room on a Budget

Women’s Money Week: budgets

Closet Organization on a Budget

Saving Can be Easy

 

Again, I would love to hear from YOU. How do you budget? What program/software do you use? Do you love crunching the numbers? Or hate it? Remember, budget doesn’t have to be a “four letter word” ;)

Meal Plan Monday – October 27 2014

I think today was the first morning it was below zero for the walk to school! So I am warming myself with a cup of tea while I write this :). O love these cool days, staying cozy in sweaters and slippers, but who doesn’t?! We hit the pumpkin patch this weekend since Halloween is coming up, and the kids played for hours in the leaves at their Grandma’s house too. What a wonderful time of year! We buy our pumpkins from an older couple that runs a small farm in our town, and she gave use a free pie pumpkin, so it looks like I’ll be making something with that this week. I’ve never made pumpkin anything from a real pumpkin, I always buy the canned puree…so this will be interesting!

Here is what we are eating for dinner this week:

Monday – cheesy sausage skillet (we didnt end up eating this last week, so it’s on the menu again this week!)

Tuesday – ham, roasted potatoes and green beans

Wednesday – pizza and Greek salad

Thursday – breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, fruit)

Friday – pierogies with peppers and zucchini and KD for the kids

This menu plan isn’t very inspiring. And since we have a well stocked freezer and pantry right now thanks to some great sales, things are very likely to change. Which is the great thing about a meal plan, you can easily mix things up, it’s not set in stone, so don’t stress over it and think you are stuck with what you planned out if you change your mind. It’s supposed to make life easier, and that crazy dinner time rush a little more relaxed!

 

As always I am linking up with Org Junkie. Happy meal planning everyone!

mpm-1

Hosting Parties: when to DIY and when to not

If you search online for tips to save money on hosting parties, most sites and blogs are going to tell you to do it yourself. Spending the time to make things and do the food yourself is the easiest way to save money. But you also have to realize that your time is worth something too, and spending loads of timing DIYing may not be the best way for you to save money.

I used to do everything myself. Food, decorations, party games, loot bags, invitations. Everything. When I had one kid it was easy, after the second I started doing a little less myself, and now with three, I have cut back even more. I’ll buy the fruit tray from the grocery store because I enjoy doing the crafty things like making the pinata. For me, right now, it’s all about balance of saving money and time. And after this last birthday party, I know why many people rent spaces to host the party. The amount of cleaning up after my house was invaded by a dozen 5 year olds was enough to put an end to that many little kids at once! Future parties will be smaller or not in our house that’s for sure!

So, would you like to see all the DIYs I did do for my daughter’s 3rd birthday and my son’s 5th? Check them out:

My daughter’s 3rd birthday was a Frozen theme, and we went a little overboard with the decorations and games. Thankfully I had some help from my mom, and the grocery store made the sandwich tray, which saved me loads of time!

frozen party food

The table set up was full of little notes of the movie, from snowballs, to chocolate hugs (because Olaf loves warm hugs) and chocolate kisses (to melt a frozen heart). I made little signs for some of the food, just to show how they related to the movie.

frozen decor

My mom got in on the fun by making some snow flakes to hang all over the house. We had them on the doors, windows and in the basement where the games were happening. This saved me a ton of time, since I didn’t have to cut any of them out, and she even hung them up for me! We played Pin the Carrot Nose on Olaf, Do You Want To Build a Snowman (the kids wrapped white streamers around each other and used hats, scarves and gloves to dress the snow men up, and the birthday girl picked the best one), and Destroy Elsa’s Ice Castle (they threw styrofoam “snowballs” at some clear plastic cups stacked up like a castle).

frozen party

One big money saver was that I made the cake myself. I arranged cupcakes in a shape to look like Olaf, and decorated it with cookies, licorice, candies and pretzels. I think it turned out pretty well!

Everyone had a blast, my son said that the Do You Want To Build A Snowman game was the best game ever (he got to be a snowman!) so we will have to do versions of that game at future parties for sure!

For my son’s party, we ordered pizza and I bought a fruit tray for the kids, which really cut back on my prep work! I spent the days leading up to the party making a mini pinata for each kid (which was kinda a lot of work!) but it was only 2 layers of paper, and the kids helped to paint them. His party was a Skylander theme, so these pinatas became Chompies, and the kids got to stomp on them to break them open, to reveal an explosion that was needed to defeat Kaos in a Pin the Explosion on Kaos game (don’t you just love that you can create a “pin the ____ on_____ game for just about any theme!) Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of that part!

Skylanders party

 

They also played a version of musical chairs, but they had to stop and stand on an element (there are 8 elements in the games) instead of a chair, which I just drew on construction paper. The kids also collected chocolate coins and little burgers (life sources!) as they played the games. They had a blast, but it was very very loud.

Loot bags for both parties were simple and inexpensive treats (thank goodness my kids are born near Halloween, lots of cheap treats in stores!) and dollar store items. Obviously both parties could have been much simpler, which would have been even cheaper, and easier on me too. But I do love throwing parties, and its only once a year, so I suck it p for a few crazy weeks!

Next things will be more low-key for the older kids, since we will have a 1st birthday to plan, and I like to do those up even bigger :)

Meal Plan Monday – October 20 2014

Well, after a crazy weekend I am so glad to be back to our weekday routine. Weekends are always busy around here, but this one was loud. And intense. And did I say loud? We hosted our son’s 5th birthday party in our little house, with 13 of his closest friends. Those kids were super loud! Oh the yelling, occasional fighting, and wrestling! We tend to host the parties in our house because it is so much cheaper, but its very likely that next year it won’t be at our house! Or if it is, only a handful of kids will be invited! But, it was still fun, and the kids loved the games I planned, so watch for a post later in the week about how to save money on kids parties by DIYing!

For now, lets just focus on the dinners we will be eating this week:

Monday – burgers and fries

Tuesday – one pan cheesy sausage skillet (this was a HUGE hit with everyone last week, so you’ll be seeing it a lot!)

Wednesday – baked chicken breasts with easy potato skins and Greek salad

Thursday – spaghetti

Friday – pierogis with red peppers and zucchini

Saturday – breakfast for dinner

As always, I am linking up over at Org Junkie! Happy meal planning.

meal plan monday

 

 

The Return of Meal Plan Monday

It’s only been oh, 5 months (!!!!!) since I last posted our meal plan. I love sharing our dinner plan with you, and I know there are a few of you who check my plan for your own dinner ideas, so I hope you are as excited as I am to have it back!

I know a lot of people think I’m a little crazy for jumping back into sort of fancy dinners (meaning they are from scratch and sometimes complicated), and making soup and bread from scratch. I feel like I should clarify that my family doesn’t expect these meals, I just really love cooking. If you can count making healthy meals as a hobby, than count it as one for me! I love looking through my cookbooks and Pinterest for new recipes, tweaking them to fit our tastes, and seeing if I can even make it with sale items. And planning out these dinners allows me to relax, knowing that I don’t have to think up dinners at the last minute each night.

But, don’t think things always go as planned. I do have a 8 week old after all, which means sometimes she needs me and I can’t stand in front of the stove or oven for even 15 minutes! That’s when the frozen pizza, box of pasta, or takeout happens. We aren’t perfect, we don’t eat super clean and healthy all the time, but I don’t think anyone does. But this week I will try my best, since we have been enjoying far too many cakes and pies since we’ve had several birthdays plus Thanksgiving recently. When my hubby requests salad for the meal plan, I know it’s time to step up on the veggies, and cut back on the carbs!

So here is what we are eating this week:

Monday – Thanksgiving leftovers with the inlaws (turkey, ham, more pie, but lots of veggies too!)

Tuesday – Bill Clinton’s Fav Enchiladas, using leftover turkey (my husband requested this, so a change to the meal plan was made)

Wednesday – Salisbury steak with homemade bread and Greek Salad (with my favourite and super easy dressing)

Thursday – Cheesy Sausage Skillet with garden salad

Friday – Baked tilapia with french fries and peas

Saturday – Harvest bake (with sausage, apples, raisins and rice) and garden salad

 

I also have plans to make soup at some point, and probably muffins too.

 

meal plan monday

 

As always, I am linking up over at OrgJunkie. Happy meal planning everyone!

 

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