Category Archives: Frugality

5 Things Thursday: Oh, What a Dollar Can Buy!

Well. I know one thing about you guys now. You like jeans. A lot. All but one of the 7 pairs were gone in an hour yesterday. Wow.

So, I’m thinking that maybe I should post some more designer jeans, huh? If you have a size/brand that you’d like me to keep an eye out for, I will gladly. Just shoot me an email, and I’ll do my best to find you a good deal! (I always thought “personal shopper” would be an awesome side job).

And since we’re on the topic of great deals, I thought I might share 5 finds that I scored recently for—wait for it—one dollar. Every single one of them is something I either a) wanted already or b) have a totally awesome place for even though I wasn’t already hunting for it.


An adorable decorative bowl from Hobby Lobby. It has a little chip in it, but I plan to use my friend, Mandy’s, succulent hack to fix that, which is perfect since the poor little plant has been languishing in it’s ugly plastic sleeve since I bought it.

dollar deal 5


These pretty, matted paintings were $1 each at Goodwill. I love the soft, yet vivid colors and the charming scenes, and I’ve got a little section of wall that’s just begging for something just like this.

dollar deal


The next three things were bought at an outdoor tent sale at a local Mommy and Me consignment store. Everything there was $1, and I scored lots of great deals for Della and even some friends who are having babies (who don’t care if they get gently used awesome baby clothes as gifts).

dollar deal2

I can’t wait to see Della’s reaction to this princess-y dress. She big fat loves all things tulle and tutu-ish (she asks for “my skirt” to wear over her p.j.s every night before bed). I’m saving it for her birthday in November because it’s still a tad big for her, but I’m thinking it will be a huge hit. And since it only cost $1, I can definitely afford to splurge a little on the wooden kitchen I hope to get her to go with this next find.


That would be an oh-so-cute wooden Kid Craft stand-mixer for only one smackeroo! Della looooooooves to help me cook, so I’m thinking she’ll be pretty excited to have some gear of her own.

dollar deal4


And, finally, we have the coup d’état, the piece de resistance, the dollar deal to top all other dollar deals:dollar deal3 

That would be a pair of Joyfolie shoes in very good condition. FOR. ONE. DOLLAR. I spotted them from across the parking lot as soon as I got there, and I literally ran (while holding two car seats; so, really more like shuffled rapidly) over and snatched them up, all while casting wild glances around for possible rival swoopers. I was ready to pull out my BODYCOMBAT moves (I’ve always wondered what would happen if I’m ever attacked; would I seriously throw down or land one punch and be like, “Ow! Real hitting hurts!” I’m guessing the latter). Fortunately, no one got in my way, and the feverish BARGAINOFTHEYEAR haze cleared from my mind before anyone got hurt.

If you’re not familiar with Joyfolie, you should be, if for no other reason than that Jessica’s lovely shoes are fun to drool over, even if you can’t (or aren’t willing to) afford their price tags.

I actually wrote about them as my inspiration for making reversible baby booties, and I even got to get my hands on two pairs that Jessica was nice enough to send me at a steep discount for twins.


You better believe I was doing a major happy dance over all my awesome dollar loot. $5 for shoes, a princess dress, a toy, a bowl, and some art ain’t too shabby if you ask me.

What’s the best dollar deal you’ve ever scored?

Also, if you have any tips on finding one of those really cute wooden play kitchens for a great deal, I’m all ears! (I’m looking for something along these lines).

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Try-it Tuesday: A Trip to Mrs. Baird’s Bread Outlet

I had a different post planned for you today, but because of…(insert long list of legitimate but lame-sounding excuses)…it didn’t happen.

So, instead, I thought I’d do a little post about a trip that the girls and I took to “the bread place,” as my boys so eloquently refer to Mrs. Baird’s Bakery Outlet.

bread outlet

We eat our fair share of sandwiches around here (so much so that Ezra almost starts tearing up when I talk about putting a turkey sandwich in his lunch on the days he goes to school). In fact, my trooper of a husband has eaten a sandwich for lunch for practically the last month straight (and then the month before that, and the month before that, and the…you get the idea).

Also, Della’s latest obsession is “beegulds.” She’s especially wild about the blueberry and cinnamon raisin variety (because if she had anything to do with it, carbs + sugar would be her only two food groups).

bread plus della

And although we don’t go very often (as in, I hadn’t been since the twins were born), when we do, we go big.

As in, this big:

bread everywhere

Pardon the horrible-mcawful blurry picture. I was holding Evy while I took it, and she thought it was really fun to grab Mama’s cell phone while she tried to hold it still. That was the best of three attempts, believe it or not.

I did a quick tally (which I didn’t bother to double-check), and I think I ended up with 27 large items (bagels, bread, chips) plus two snack cake/donuts that were free with a certain quantity of purchase, and a bag of pretzels, which was a total impulse buy.

And the total? (drum roll, please): Just under $43.

So, that brings the total for each item, without regard for its normal store price to: $1.59.

And considering that fact that I’ve been paying $2.97 a pop to support Della’s bagel habit, I’m going to say that’s a vast improvement.

Could I improve it considerably more by making my own bread? (homemade bagels are never going to happen)


Is it likely to actually happen?


And I, for one, think one bagel in Della’s hand is better than two in the bush…or something like that.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering what the deal is with bakery outlets—they’re basically a one-stop shop for all things carbs that have been on the conventional store shelf for as long as they can but still have enough shelf-life left to be edible. That may not sound like a very appetizing description, but, with the exception of cheap hambuger/hotdog buns and some breads that get tough/crumbly fast, I’ve found that most of the items (especially the bagels and English muffins) freeze and thaw really well. We have a deep-freeze, which is where the great carb-haul of 2013 is being stored, and it’s really nice to be able to grab a loaf from the mudroom when I notice we’re out, instead of running into Walmart on the way home from the gym with 5 kids in tow just for bread.

If you’re not sure whether there’s a bakery outlet near you, ask around on Facebook or Google it for your area. It’s not fancy, but it’s one way we keep the grocery bill a tad lower for our big-ish family.

So, what about you? Have you ever been to a bakery outlet?

Would you go if you had one close by?

What other money-saving, grocery-shopping tricks do you have up your clever sleeves?

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

5 Things Thursday: Save Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Okay, first I have to point out that my husband came up with the title for today’s post after I had trouble thinking of an all-encompassing description for it.  And it took him about .02 seconds to do it. I love being married to a clever wordsmith who can also fix my computer glitches and build a hall-length closet from studs to mudding/texturing in about 4 days (yes, that was one of our “projects” last week). Sorry, girls, he’s aaaaalll mine.

Anyhoo, I suppose I should stop advertising for a man you can’t have and get on with the business at hand, huh?

We don’t eat out just tons. Sure, there are periods of extreme busyness during which we find ourselves in the car more often than usual, which always translates into more pit-stops at our favorite (or at least most convenient) restaurants. But I’ve still been cooking all my meals for the week each Monday, which I luuuuurve. So at least Monday-Thursday are taken care of. But even when we do eat out or treat ourselves to something else non-homemade, I prefer to keep the tab as low as possible. After all, who wants to blow $20 every time you have a smoothie-craving? (something that’s crazy-easy to do with 5 littles in tow).

So, without further ado, I give you:



Buy the Kids’ Meal.


{Who could resist such an offer?}

Those of you with small children may be shaking your heads at such a rookie suggestion.  After all, at most restaurants, you pay close to $5 for a white-bread PB&J, 6 oz. of milk, and two apple slices. But hear me out. Because, while I think that buying individual kids’ meals for the munchkins is a way to spend major money fast, buying the kids’ version for yourself at a fast food restaurant is actually a money-saver.

I’ll give you my favorite example.

Chick-Fil-A (which, yes, can primarily be found in the South…so, so sorry, Northern friends!) has a “sandwich kids’ meal” that doesn’t even show up on their menu, and here’s what you get:

  • A full-sized sandwich
  • A small order of fries, which, because it’s served in a sack instead of the rigid cardboard containers that the larger sizes come in, actually has just as many French fries as a regular adult order
  • A kid-sized drink (which you can refill as many times as you want if you’re eating in)
  • Ice cream (did you know you can exchange the unopened toy or book that comes with the meal for a cup or a cone?)

That’s a full-sized meal, dessert, and a drink for…wait for it…approximately $4.50 (because it’s not officially on the menu, I have found that the method for ringing it up and reaching the end total varies from store to store and can end up being a little less or more depending on where you are).

Both Dairy Queen and Braum’s are other great examples, offering a decent-sized burger (which you can load with adult-quantities of veggies and condiments), a reasonable quantity of fries, a drink, and a treat—all for less than $4.

Are these super-healthy options? Um, negative.

However, for an occasional treat or quick meal on the go for not much dough, it’s hard to beat.




{Clearly, these kitties understand that sharing is caring} 

My children are learning from a very early age that the term “MINE” is practically a nonexistent word in our vocabulary. We share everything…including especially food.

Example: I loooooooooove Coke Icees. It’s one of the few items that will tempt me to “drink my calories.” I average about 1 every week and 1/2. And although my children never drink anything other than milk, water, or watered-down 100% juice at home, I do occasionally let them join me in my Coke Icee indulgence after a particularly long round of errands in “town.”

If I were to buy my older kids their own Icees, they would be consuming 14 oz. each of sugary bad-for-them-ness, and—my drink included—the total would exceed $5.

So, instead, I keep extra cups/straws in the car and buy only one of the largest sized Icee to divvy up between us. That’s 32 ounces split 4 ways (although, the kids definitely get less than Mama), and there are several gas stations in my city that have a constant $0.99/any size special.

Do we get less? Yes, but that’s a good thing! And for 1/5 of the price, we get a nice little treat without OD’ing on the sugar or the price tag.

Runner-up: We love ordering the Chicken Crisper adult meal from Cheddar’s to split between our three oldest. It comes with a massive amount of chicken plus two sides for about $7.50. All three kiddos get full, and we usually have some to take home.


Go with bottomless appetizers (to-go too!)

chips and salsa


With a big family, one of the best money-savers when we eat out is going somewhere with lots of “complimentary,” or at least cheap, appetizers to take the edge off the hunger, so we don’t over-order for the main meal.

And there are puh-lenty of options for complimentary bread or chips.

Our favorite thing to do recently is order Chili’s chips and salsa to go. You get a really big bag of chips that they fill completely to the top (as opposed to the expanse of empty space at the top of every store-bought version I’ve ever encountered), and you can ask for multiple containers of salsa at no extra charge (because it’s “bottomless” when you eat in). It’s so much fresher and tastier than store-bought chips and salsa, and it always lasts us at least 2 meals (with some snacking in between) for only $3!!!


Buy in bulk 

We have a Sam’s Club membership, and, while we’re not there every week, we definitely have certain items we stock up on regularly that more than pay for our yearly fee.

First up:

raisin bran

Ezra, Simon, Della, and I all eat Raisin Bran every. single. morning. (Apparently, we’re all old-at-heart). And, while it’s pretty easy to pay $0.20/oz. for Raisin Bran at Brookshire’s, the Sam’s Club price is a mere $0.09/ounce. It’s practically the cheapest cereal (name brand or otherwise) that I’ve found anywhere.

Another favorite is gum.

orbit sweet mint 

{I love Orbit’s Sweet Mint flavor}

It’s my go-to “bribe” or reward for the kids for small accomplishments. And I like it a whole lot too. In fact, I used to be addicted. About 10 years ago, I had a pack-a-day habit. Gasp! (I know). And that can add up fast—especially if you end up snagging a pack for $1.70 at the gas station every time you realize you’re out. Even the grocery store versions cost at least $1 each.

But if you buy gum in boxes from Sam’s (or another bulk food store), it brings the total down to anywhere from $0.60-$0.70 per package. Which is totally doable—especially since our entire family only consumes a pack every 3 days or so.


Get the ice to go

sonic ice

If you’re a Sonic Happy Hour addict (I’m not, but I have frequented it at times more than others), then you might be thrilled to know that they will sell their “pellet ice” for about $2/large bag (I think it’s a 10-pounder). Outside of the caffeine kick or sugar rush, from what I can glean from friends’ comments, the number one reason for a twice-a-day “cheap drink” habit seems to be those awesome nuggets of crunchy, icy perfection that you just can’t get at home.

Except now that you know you can take the ice to go, you can! Because even at “only” $1/large drink, that’s a bill that can give you chills pretty darn quick (get it? chills? because it’s ice? ahem).

I could go on, but I’d love to hear from you. Because I know you guys have some awesome tricks up your sleeves for saving moolah when you’re buying instead of making your food and treats.

So, spill!

What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving your money where your mouth is?

P.S. Did you SEE that Texas-sized giveaway from yesterday? It’s so stinkin’ awesome, I’m actually having a debate with myself about the ethics of having my husband enter to win (okay, not really, but it’s sooooooo tempting!).

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with or endorsed by any of the brands I mentioned today. They just so happen to be my faves.

Linking up:

Monday Funday

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):