Saving Money on Holiday Meals

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on November 24, 2017

List of ways to save on holiday meal planning and shopping. Cooking a feast for your family can be inexpensive and delicious!

The concept of frugal holiday meals may sound like an oxymoron, but it really isn't as impossible as it may seem. There's nothing stopping you from serving up delicious holiday meals without destroying your budget in the process. The key to saving money on holiday meals is planning.

Follow these strategies to save money on your holiday meals this year:

Consider Portion Sizes

Consider your guest list to ensure that your portions match how many people will be eating. Limit waste by only buying and cooking what your guests will actually eat. If you want to have generous leftovers, simply figure them into the math as well.

Remember the Leftovers

Plan out your leftovers so you use them effectively and nothing goes to waste. Package your leftovers in portions sized for meals and store them based on when you plan to serve them. Meat and many side dishes can be frozen, so consider how you will use your leftovers to promote frugality and prevent waste.

Printable Coupon Websites

Use printable coupons to save on your cooking essentials!

Grab Grocery Bargains

The day after Thanksgiving is ideal for stocking up, especially if you plan a repeat performance for Christmas. Turkeys, hams, and many of the fixings from Thanksgiving will be available at a steep discount the day after the holiday. Stock up on anything that you can freeze or store to cut down significantly on Christmas holiday meals.

Turkeys often go on sale for as little as 25% of their original price, and hams are often sold in a similar fashion. If you plan to cook something similar for Christmas, make some room in your freezer and take advantage of this sale to cut costs for your upcoming holiday meal.

Free Holiday Shopping Guide

Download our Free Holiday Shopping Guide today!

Convenience Matters

Some conveniences are worthwhile and will save you money while others will not. Canned sweet potatoes cost less than fresh, for example. Pre-baked rolls are often less expensive than making your own during the holiday season. Plan ahead to learn which convenience items will help you save money in the long run.

Save on Holiday Meals

Use Favado to meal plan and save for your holiday meals!

Cook from Scratch

When it's possible to do so, cook from scratch. Stuffing and gravy are two staples that you can create at home more cheaply than you can buy them. Boxed mashed potatoes are cheap, but the real thing costs even less and tends to store well.

Start on your stuffing ahead of time, since you can use the heels from bread loafs or leftover stale sandwich bread. Let the bread dry out on a cookie sheet and you can use it as breadcrumbs in your homemade stuffing.

Holiday meals are meant to be enjoyable. You and your guests will enjoy the meal all the more when you're not stressed out over the cost. Plan ahead, cut costs where you can, and have a wonderful holiday meal that fits within your budget.

What is on your holiday menu this year?

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Blessings Bags – Great Idea to Bless Someone in Need!

by Savings Lifestyle: Emily on November 21, 2017

This was a guest post by Savings Lifestyle contributor, Emily!

My oldest daughter, Ella, is 4 and VERY aware of surroundings these days. We love to head down to the Cincinnati Children's Museum once a week to run the wild out of her.

One day, she noticed a man on the side of the overpass begging for anything anyone could spare for him. I explained to her that we are so lucky to have what we have and that we should always share our blessings with others. She began to list things she wanted to share with her new “friend.”

Once we got home, we started gathering all that could fit in a Ziploc bag, including her precious Tangled fruit snacks. She was ecstatic knowing she could help someone and she beamed with excitement. We have the bag stored in the van for the next time we see him or one of “his friends.” What a day that will be :)

Blessings Bag Supplies

  • Ziploc bag (Quart or Gallon Size)
  • Toiletries
  • Food/Snack Items

Assembly Instructions

  1. Decide on size of Ziploc bag.
  2. Gather supplies to put in a Ziploc bag. Examples to include are fruit, snacks, personal hygiene things, etc.
  3. Store in car or tote bag that you carry for errands.
  4. Be on the lookout for someone that you can Bless!

Project Cost

The cost for this project is close to nothing because you can use items in your stockpile that you have bought for free or close to it.  These would be great for the extra toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap that you can get for free throughout the year with coupons.

However, the reward in this DIY is forever. What a difference a few goodies from your cupboard will make for someone in need!

These Blessings Bags are a great idea to bless someone in need!

Print

Great Idea for a Blessings Bag for Someone in Need

Great Idea for a Blessings Bag for Someone in Need

  • Author:

Ingredients

  • Ziploc bag (Quart or Gallon Size)
  • Toiletries
  • Food/Snack Items

Instructions

  1. Decide on size of Ziploc bag
  2. Gather supplies to put in a Ziploc bag. Examples to include are fruit, snacks, personal hygiene things, etc.
  3. Store in car or tote bag that you carry for errands.
  4. Be on the lookout for someone that you can Bless!

{ 2 Comments }

Easy and Beautiful Thanksgiving Centerpiece

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on November 20, 2017

This is a guest post from my Aunt Mary! She created this for her own Thanksgiving Centerpiece and I wanted to share it with all of you – Enjoy!

With many homemade or craft projects, the cost of the materials can add up quickly. With this Thanksgiving Centerpiece, I focused more on the ease in creation as well as the lowest possible cost. You can really use anything from around your house and not have to purchase anything new. That's always a plus!

I made this in about an hour and it looks beautiful on my table. I don't know if I will light the candles or not, but it would be completely safe to do so. Here is what you will need to make this Thanksgiving Centerpiece:

Materials

  • Soup Tureen or Large Decorative Bowl
  • Candles
    Search for candles around your house. I purchased new ones at a discount store on sale.
  • Bird Seed
    Purchase just enough to fill half of the bowl. You could also use beans, stones, or glass marbles. I like the bird seed so I can feed the birds after Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving Picks or Leaves
    See if you have any left over as part of an old decoration from last year.
  • Newspaper and clear plastic wrap (i.e., Saran)

Directions

  1. Crumble the newspaper and put it inside the bowl until it is about 3/4 filled.
  2. Place the clear wrap on top of the crumbled paper.
    This will help hold whatever you are using so it will not fall to the bottom.
  3. Pour the bird seed over the top of the clear wrap and smooth out.
    This should fill the bowl to just under the rim.
  4. Place the candles around the inside of the bowl.
    Add a few leaves, pumpkins, gourds or whatever else you may have too!
  5. If you have a platter, like I do, you can add a few decorations around the bottom. If you are using a bowl, maybe lay some picks around the bottom of your bowl.

After Thanksgiving, you can feed the birds and start over, only using Christmas items from around the house. I always recycle and reuse from previous centerpieces and decorations. I'll use a few of these items for my Christmas centerpiece too (which I will share)!

Enjoy your Centerpiece and the Holiday!

Aunt Mary will be sharing some inexpensive ways to to decorate as well as some frugal DIY stuff over the holidays. And, I'll always refer to her as Aunt Mary when she shares anything here because I'll be in trouble if I don't :)

This Thanksgiving Centerpiece is easy to make and is a beautiful addition to any tablescape!

Print

Easy and Beautiful Thanksgiving Centerpiece

  • Author:

Ingredients

  • Soup Tureen or Large Decorative Bowl
  • Candles
    Search for candles around your house. I purchased new ones at a discount store on sale.
  • Bird Seed
    Purchase just enough to fill half of the bowl. You could also use beans, stones, or glass marbles. I like the bird seed so I can feed the birds after Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving Picks or Leaves
    See if you have any left over as part of an old decoration from last year.
  • Newspaper and clear plastic wrap (i.e., Saran)

Instructions

  1. Crumble the newspaper and put it inside the bowl until it is about 3/4 filled.
  2. Place the clear wrap on top of the crumbled paper.
    This will help hold whatever you are using so it will not fall to the bottom.
  3. Pour the bird seed over the top of the clear wrap and smooth out.
    This should fill the bowl to just under the rim.
  4. Place the candles around the inside of the bowl.
    Add a few leaves, pumpkins, gourds or whatever else you may have too!
  5. If you have a platter, like I do, you can add a few decorations around the bottom. If you are using a bowl, maybe lay some picks around the bottom of your bowl.

{ 2 Comments }

Reindeer Hot Chocolate Mix

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on November 17, 2017

This Reindeer Hot Chocolate Mix is a simple gift that would be cute for a classroom party. It's easy enough that the kids can assemble themselves. Don't forget to print the free gift tag to take along too!

Here's another easy gift that would be cute for a classroom party. It's easy enough that the kids could put it together in the classroom themselves! Print off a sheet of these labels to go along with all of the supplies.

Reindeer Hot Chocolate Supplies

  • 2 Piping Bags
  • 1 envelope, Hot Chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp, Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup, Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 Red Pom Pom Ball
  • 2 Googly Eyes
  • 1 Rubber band
  • 1 Brown Pipe Cleaner
  • Glue
  • Ribbon

Reindeer Hot Chocolate Directions

  1. Pour hot chocolate mix into piping bag (get it all the way into the tip).
  2. Twist Bag Closed and wrap with the rubber band.
  3. Trim off the top of bag.
  4. Put Bag into another Piping Bag and flatten.
  5. Layer in mini chocolate chips.
  6. Add layer of mini marshmallows.
  7. Twist and tie off with ribbon.
  8. Glue Pom Pom Nose near tip of bag.
  9. Glue google eyes Near the top of the hot chocolate mix.
  10. Wrap Brown Pipe Cleaner around top for antlers and shape.

Find MORE Easy Crafts HERE

This Reindeer Hot Chocolate Mix is a simple gift that would be cute for a classroom party. It's easy enough that the kids can assemble themselves. Don't forget to print the free gift tag to take along too!

Print

Reindeer Hot Chocolate Mix

Reindeer Hot Chocolate Mix

  • Author:

Ingredients

  • 2 Piping Bags
  • 1 envelope, Hot Chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp, Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup, Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 Red Pom Pom Ball
  • 2 Googly Eyes
  • 1 Rubber band
  • 1 Brown Pipe Cleaner
  • Glue
  • Ribbon

Instructions

  1. Pour hot chocolate mix into piping bag (get it all the way into the tip).
  2. Twist Bag Closed and wrap with the rubber band.
  3. Trim off the top of bag.
  4. Put Bag into another Piping Bag and flatten.
  5. Layer in mini chocolate chips.
  6. Add layer of mini marshmallows.
  7. Twist and tie off with ribbon.
  8. Glue Pom Pom Nose near tip of bag.
  9. Glue google eyes Near the top of the hot chocolate mix.
  10. Wrap Brown Pipe Cleaner around top for antlers and shape

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The Best Kitchen Gadgets for Every Budget

by Savings Lifestyle Team on November 15, 2017

Big list of the best kitchen gadgets that you will actually USE! Everything from the best kitchen gadgets under $20, the best kitchen knives you need to buy, or the best kitchen gadgets on Amazon. This is a MUST SAVE list!

When stocking kitchen your kitchen you find gadgets of all types, from basic pans to the latest electrical innovations. Whether you are looking for the best kitchen knives, or want the best kitchen gadgets under $20, you can easily find a new addition for your kitchen (or as a gift) with this list.

While cool new devices are popular don't overlook some of the best innovations in history like the classic cast iron skillet. Here are some of the best kitchen gadgets with something for every budget. Give your kitchen a boost or find the perfect gift!

Every kitchen needs a crockpot! They come in handy for literally everything from breakfast casseroles to gourmet dinners! I also have a small dipper for appetizers.

The Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System (above) is now on my personal “want” list. Just go read all of the things that baby can do! It can replace the need to dirty a pan if a recipe calls for browning beef, or sauteeing vegetables before slow cooking.

I received my very first slow cooker as a wedding shower gift. I just sold that one in a garage sale last year. It still worked great, but my larger ones were getting used more and I was trying to declutter all my kitchen gadgets. Whatever slow cooker you choose, it is a MUST HAVE in every home chef cabinets and makes a great gift!

The Instant Pot is the top kitchen gadget right due to its many capabilities. The instant pot replaces many common kitchen gadgets allowing you to save space and money.The Instant Pot can work as a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, and Yogurt Marker all in one device.

Of all of the gadgets on this list, this is one of two that I have purchased myself. I got it on a Prime Day sale because everyone loves their Instant Pot and I just knew that I had to have one! Can I be honest with you? I have only done the water test with mine! I know, I know! It is an awesome gadget but I find that I use my slow cooker more frequently.

A Kitchen Aid Mixer is packed with great uses and makes the perfect kitchen gadget. Never knead dough, shred chicken or mix your batter by hand again. You will never want to make a large batch of mashed potatoes for a family dinner without this mixer again.

My mom purchased my Kitchen Aid Mixer and it sits on my kitchen counter. I probably use it more for shredding meat than I actually use it for baking. But, hey, it still saves me time with that one task so it's worth it!

My Vitamix Blender is another gadget that I was gifted. It is somewhat pricey but I can honestly say that I use it weekly. I make all types of things including my Homemade Salsa. Just add the ingredients, blend and you're good! You can also make soup using the Vitamix. It literally heats up while you're blending. Ice cream is another one that my friends have made using their Vitamix.

If you're a blended coffee lover, this is a gem to have around too! You will notice most coffee shops have one of these to blend your specialty coffees or smoothies. It pulverizes the ice into perfection! This is one that you will have for many years!

This is the best spiralizer for making zucchini noodles! We have been *mostly* eating a primal diet for a while following Whole30 or the newer healthy keto diet. This makes the best zucchini noodles. I have not used it for anything else but it does fun spirals if you want to make french fries or other fancy slices to root vegetables.

I will keep this in the original box in my pantry when it is not in use. It is super easy to clean and does the job well. It is also inexpensive so if you need to purchase something for a friend who wants to eat healthier in the new year, it's a perfect gift!

A meat slicer lets you cut thin meats and veggies in no time making cooking quick and easy. They are great for carving your meats and save you money at the deli. You will never go back after making fried potatoes cut wafer thin for an amazing crunch.

Also, who remembers the Seinfeld episode where Kramer carried his meat slicer around everywhere? I mean if that didn't convince you it was a multi-purpose tool than I don't know what will! :)

A Food Processor is a great gadget you can find in nearly any budget. They can do some pretty magical things like make no churn ice creams and unique nut butters. A food processor also makes the perfect texture for hash browns.

I received a food processor as a gift from my aunt. It was a garage sale find she picked up for me costing $5! It is the best food processor that is easy to put together and a breeze to clean. If you don't want to buy new, check your local thrift store or hit the garage sales in the spring!

Everyone needs a cutting board and this cutting board set comes with different cutting boards for different uses. This is a great inexpensive tool for your kitchen. This may not be a high-tech gadget but it is perfect for helping prevent cross contamination and keeping your kitchen safe without having to think about. Life is so much easier when you don't have to worry about being late.

I have several cutting boards but, of course, I have received one as a gift too! My best friend's mom gave me a nice marble one. When it lost the slip-proof padding on the corners I purchased some cheap replacement pads used for furniture, cut them down to size, and super glued them onto the board. It does the job!

Really good quality knives are worth the small investment. With a quality knife set, cooking is so much easier when you have a sturdy sharp knife. Without a great knife food does not come out as well and cutting foods is LESS safe. While you may think otherwise the sharper the knife the safer for you as it is less likely to slip and cut you. If you do not want to sharpen your knives yourself you can get them sharpened at most farm or sports shop or even better your local farmers market.

And, guess what? Yes, I have received these as a gift too! They are several years old and I actually need a new really good set. I will probably get a set of the knives above…or whatever is gifted to me!

You may be on team “add a pinch” but if you bake a lot you want some good measuring spoons! I love these Long Handle Measuring Spoons because they have, well, long handles! How many times have you been cooking or baking and cannot find your measuring spoons because they are shoved into your kitchen drawers? It happened to me all.the.time!

I keep these in my utensil holder by the stove so they are ready to do their job! I love that I can use them to stir, saute, and even swat the kids on the butt when they get out of line. :) Gotta love good multi-purpose utensils! You can grab them on sale on Amazon (no coupon code) or directly on utensi.com (save $5 on each set with code SLFAVES). They make PERFECT gifts too!

 

Stainless steel pots and a cast iron pan. Stand transfer heat well. Stainless steel pans are sturdy and transfer heat well. A well seasoned stainless steel pan works wonderfully for many of your favorite dishes.

So many people receive nice pots and pans as a gift for their wedding. I was recently gifted a new set from my mother-in-law. I guess when you have family come and stay, and they cook while you're gone, they may find a few things that you need…and that you won't buy yourself. It's the best kind of gift! I love my new pans!

A cast iron skillet is a must for any kitchen. Cast iron holds up for years, gives you a non stick surface without the chemicals in modern non-stick pans, and even helps put iron into your diet. Once you get your skillet well seasoned you will never want to go back.

When my husband and I got married my mother-in-law gave me one of her seasoned cast iron pans. I was so inexperienced in the kitchen that I didn't know how to use it well and returned it to her. Since I've come into my own as a home chef, I have been begging her for one of her pans again! One day I'll get the best seasoned cast iron skillet and I can't wait!

Did I leave any great kitchen gadgets out of this list?
Leave me a comment so I know about it!

 

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52 Week Savings Challenge

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on November 14, 2017

Piggy Bank Saving Online

It is not too early to start thinking about your savings plan for the new year! I'm sure you've seen the 52-week savings challenge that has been floating around Pinterest. Unfortunately no one can find the original source of inspiration for the printable that outlines how you can save $1,378 by saving a little bit each week.

Well, I wanted to create something for you to help you in an attempt to save more this year. In doing so, my  personal application with this challenge and spreadsheet nerdiness came out while I was thinking about it. Rather than just a straight printable, how about a spreadsheet that you can edit yourself in case you want to save more? That way you're in control!

52 Week Savings Challenge Spreadsheet

If you want to follow the standard savings to the “T” you will see the two tabs outlining how much to save each week with the straight (starting at $1) or reverse (with your savings deposit starting at $52).

If you want to make it easy to do an auto-deposit into your savings account, the amount you need to add each week is $26.50 to ensure you have $1,378 at the end of the year. You can set up a Capital One 360 account for this and get the $50 bonus that is still available too and you would have your first bonus deposit too! Details on the account and bonus are here.

I realize $1,378 is a lot to save in a year, I'm challenging you to save even more! You will see in the spreadsheet that there is a column for a Bonus Deposit. There are formulas in the Actual Balance column so it will add up whatever information you add/edit in the Deposit and Bonus Deposit columns. So, let the sky be the limit! Perhaps you can take the money you save from using the Savings Tracking Tool and add that as a bonus deposit each time?

You can open the 52 Week Savings Challenge spreadsheet here in a google doc. Just click File – Download As – Excel File to save onto your personal hard drive and use in Excel. Or, click File – Make a Copy to save to your personal google drive. I use google docs for literally everything since it's always available wherever I go.

Let me know if you plan on doing this challenge this year! I will be by doing an auto-deposit to our savings account.

Take the 52-week saving challenge to grow your savings account! Find a free printable inside to help you save $1,378 a year if you follow the plan!

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Harry Potter Golden Snitch Ornament

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on November 12, 2017

harry-potter-golden-snitch-ornament

Do you find yourself always watching the Harry Potter movies whenever they on TV? I proudly can admit that I totally do! I loved the books and the movies still don't get old to me. Every single time the series is showing on tv, I will always watch (even when I have the movies on DVD).

If you have a Harry Potter fan in your house this easy Golden Snitch Ornament is a must do for your Christmas tree! The Golden Snitch is easily one of the most identifiable icons from the Harry Potter Series. Super simple and fun to make it is a great project for kids or grownups to get their hands into!

Make your own Golden Snitch with this easy DIY!

Golden Snitch Craft Supplies

Golden Snitch Craft Directions

  1. Start by removing the hanging cap from your ornament.
  2. Hold ornament by the neck where the cap was and quickly paint it with a thick layer of craft glue all over.
  3. Dust glitter around the entire ornament, repeating as necessary until it has a thick even coat of glitter.
  4. Carefully replace the cap and hang your ornament to dry for a few hours.
  5. While the glue is setting up you can move onto the wings.
  6. Fold your gold sheet over and cut 2 shapes like feathers/ leaves. I found that 4”-5” is a great size for the golden snitch wings.
  7. Cut halfway through on each side of your feather shape to define the feathering.
  8. Gently tap excess glitter off your ornament and if desired, spray your ornament with a coat or two of clear sealant to keep it from shedding glitter.
  9. Use hot glue to firmly secure the wings to either side of the gold glittered ball. Hold the wings in place until the glue is cooled and set.
  10. Add a hanger or ribbon.
  11. Your Golden Snitch is now ready to take its place of honor in your family tree!

This would be something fun to do with a school class for a holiday project! Or, have a Harry Potter day to watch the series and make your golden snitch for the tree!

Don't forget to Pin this on Pinterest to save for later!

Find MORE Easy Crafts HERE

Easy DIY for the Golden Snitch from the Harry Potter series!

Disclosure: This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Harry Potter Golden Snitch Ornament

Easy DIY for the Golden Snitch from the Harry Potter series.

  • Author:

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Start by removing the hanging cap from your ornament.
  2. Hold ornament by the neck where the cap was and quickly paint it with a thick layer of craft glue all over.
  3. Dust glitter around the entire ornament, repeating as necessary until it has a thick even coat of glitter.
  4. Carefully replace the cap and hang your ornament to dry for a few hours.
  5. While the glue is setting up you can move onto the wings.
  6. Fold your gold sheet over and cut 2 shapes like feathers/ leaves. I found that 4”-5” is a great size for the golden snitch wings.
  7. Cut halfway through on each side of your feather shape to define the feathering.
  8. Gently tap excess glitter off your ornament and if desired, spray your ornament with a coat or two of clear sealant to keep it from shedding glitter.
  9. Use hot glue to firmly secure the wings to either side of the gold glittered ball. Hold the wings in place until the glue is cooled and set.
  10. Add a hanger or ribbon.
  11. Your Golden Snitch is now ready to take its place of honor in your family tree!

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