Moneywise Menu Plan 4-26

It’s the end of the month, which means the end of my grocery budget. I try to cook as much as I can from the pantry and freezer this time of the month to stick with my goal of feeding my family healthy and frugal meals. I’m keeping it simple this week because I’m waiting for my new niece to be born. If she’s on time, I’ll head out of town for some newborn cuddling and toddler wrangling over the weekend. I’m so excited! Here’s the plan for the week:

Moneywise Menu Plan 4-26 | frugal family meals | MoneywiseMoms

Moneywise Menu Plan – 4/26

Sunday: Grilled burgers, veggies and corn with our neighbors
Monday: Baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese
Tuesday: Mushroom chicken with rice and green beans
Wednesday: Avocado Basil Pasta from Dear Crissy (my son picked this out as a new-to-us recipe to try)
Thursday: Green Chile Chicken Casserole from the freezer
Friday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches and salad
Saturday: Leftovers night (there should be plenty from the past two dinners)

 

Menu Plan Resources

 

Clean Spring Contest at Harris Teeter

This post is sponsored by Harris Teeter.

Harris Teeter Clean Spring Giveaway

No one likes spring cleaning, especially me! Instead, I see the spring as a time to try some new things and put some new habits into place. After all, it’s a lot easier to keep the house clean when you do a little at a time. When I let things go, it’s so much harder and takes too long to scrub and clean. Harris Teeter has some great (and simple!) ideas to try this spring for clean eating,  DIY beauty, cleaning, and home organization. Here are my favorites:

Stair Buckets

Keeping the house organized and tidy means putting everything back in its place. In a multi-level home, it’s easy for toys, clothes and gear to end up on the wrong floor. By putting a stair bucket or basket in place, there’s a spot to collect these items to reduce clutter. We have one on each landing, and my three kids have to empty the baskets before we have dinner each night. It really works!

DIY Garbage Disposal Fresheners | Harris Teeter Clean Spring Contest

Garbage Disposal Fresheners

Use a few simple ingredients along with a lemon and baking soda to make these DIY fresheners for your garbage disposal. I know that in my home, that’s often the source of a stinky kitchen.

Strawberry Water

Spring is a great time to break the soda habit. Drink more water with this simple recipe using lemon and strawberries. It calls for seltzer water, but I bet it would taste great with regular water, too.

Harris Teeter Clean Spring Contest

Harris Teeter wants to help you towards A Clean Spring with prizes of products, gift cards, and coupons. Enter the Clean Spring Contest using your VIC card number between now and May 19th.

Contest is open to those in the Harris Teeter service area–North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia–and no purchase is necessary.

USS Constellation {Baltimore, MD}

Traveling with the family? Get outdoors for your museum experience by visiting the USS Constellation docked in Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s one of four Historic Ships in Baltimore. There’s plenty to see just walking around the beautiful harbor, then you can head to the ship for a trip back in history.

USS Constellation in Baltimore | historic ships #familytravel

Before you head up the stairs to the ship itself, there’s a small Museum Gallery that includes artifacts and personal effects that belonged to the ship’s crew. There’s also a fabulous miniature that shows the ship in full sail (the masts are cut on the real one). You can also check the Plan of the Day, a list telling what is taking place on board that day, such as the next live firing of the Parrott rifle.

Audio tour wands are complimentary, and as you go to each section of the ship, you can punch a number to hear a narrative portrayal of the ship’s crew, captain, and visitors. Since I enjoy learning about history through stories, this was great for me, and it’s fun for kids to have something to hold onto since there isn’t much they can touch on board.

Wheel on USS Constellation in Baltimore | historic ships #familytravel

Uniformed crewmembers are on board to answer questions. There are four decks to explore–with narrow, steep staircases and very low ceilings in some places–so be warned. Each deck has something to explore: sailing operations, the gun deck, Captain’s Cabin and Galley, the berth deck, and the hold. 

Captains Quarters on USS Constellation in Balitmore | historic ships #familytravel

With the ship docked and holding completely still, it’s hard to get around. It was hard to imagine what it must have been like for the crew members to live on a constantly rocking boat in such tight quarters. Kids ages 6+ can take the Powder Monkey tour and learn about the life of young boys who served on the ship.

Ship Interior of USS Constellation in Balitmore | historic ships #familytravel

If you’re only visiting the USS Constellation, tickets are $11/adult, $5/youth ages 6-14. Kids 5 and under are free. There is a discount if you show military ID.

Keep an eye out on the daily deal sites for discounted tickets. Right now, LivingSocial is offering a discounted ticket to all four History Ships in Baltimore Harbor, through April 30th.

View from USS Constellation in Baltimore | historic ships #familytravel

Heading to the Baltimore area? Your family will also love The Walters Art Museum.

Moneywise Menu Plan 4-12: More Spring Salads

Another lovely spring week is ahead! I’m finding that prepping a cold salad early in the day (or even the night before) is a great way to save time & stress on nights when we have sports practices. Since I’m all over Pinterest looking for new salad recipes, I’ll have plenty that we’ve tried and loved by the time summer swim team rolls around. Then, it’s great to make those ahead for nighttime meets, saving us a TON of money by bringing our own dinner instead of eating out. My kids are enjoying the hunt and test of new spring salads.

Moneywise Menu Plan - More Spring Salads - MoneywiseMoms

Moneywise Menu Plan – 4/12

Sunday: Mini Broccoli Quiches (making extra for lunches this week) and 30-Minute Dinner Rolls
Monday: Spinach & Feta Pasta Salad
Tuesday: Oriental Chicken Salad from Chef in Training
Wednesday: Chicken sausage sauteed with mushrooms, onions, spinach and tomatoes, served over pasta
Thursday: Chopped Cobb Salad from Yellow Bliss Road
Friday: Homemade French bread pizzas with lots of veggies on top
Saturday: Daddy’s in charge of dinner, so something like Pigs in a Blanket, probably

I’m heading out of town over the weekend for my annual Moms of Multiples Club’s regional convention. It’s a great way to connect with other moms of multiples and get a little away-from-the-kids relaxation time). Can’t wait!

Would love to hear your favorite spring salads. Please share in the comments below.

Menu Plan Resources

Tax Day Freebies 2015

tax day freebies

This Wednesday, April 15th, is Tax Day! Plan to grab a few of these Tax Day Freebies and Deals to get a little perk for yourself:

Boston Market: Buy one meal, get one free.

Bruegger’s Bagels: April 11 through 15, get a Big Bagel Bundle for $10.40 with printable coupon from their FB page.

California Tortilla: Get FREE Chips & Queso when you say, “Taxes Schmaxes” along with any purchase on April 15th.

Great American Cookie Co: Get a FREE Sugar Cookie, no coupon needed, at participating locations.

Hard Rock Cafe: Sing a song onstage between 5-7pm, and get a FREE Local Legendary Burger on April 15th.

HydroMassage: Get a FREE Hydromassage with printable coupon, April 13-17th, at a HydroMassage location near you.

Office Depot/Office Max: Use this printable coupon to get up to 2 lbs. of FREE Shredding through April 25th.

Schlotsky’s: Get a FREE Original Sandwich with purchase of 32oz Fountain Drink and chips, no coupon needed, on April 15th only.

Staples: Use their printable coupon to get up to 5 lbs. of FREE Shredding done in-store through May 2nd.

 

Know of any other Tax Day Freebies?
Please let us know in the comments below!


Original image by StockMonkeys.com

7 Ways to Make Laundry Easier

Laundry. It never ends.

I’ll take any way to make laundry easier. Thankfully, having three children has given me lots and lots of practice. I’ve found a few strategies that really work to save time and stress.

7 Ways to Make Laundry Easier - my top tips! MoneywiseMoms

Before You Wash

Have a system for dirty clothes. Does everyone know where they go (and it’s not the floor)? Whether you use one hamper for the whole family or one in each bedroom, expect the kids to use it to keep the laundry regimen in motion. Part of our system includes wearing pajamas twice before they’re washed, and wearing jeans twice unless they’re dirty from outside. This saves wear & tear on the clothes as well as reducing the amount of laundry.

All white socks. Boring, maybe. But over the years, it has saved so much time and trouble. There’s no matching needed, and if a sock is lost or gets a hole, there are plenty of others to make a pair. Yes, we do this with the girls too, not just the boys.

Have less clothes. I know not everyone will like this one, but if you’re truly feeling overwhelmed with laundry piling up and drawers overflowing, I hope you’ll consider it. I came to this realization when the twins were 1 and my son was 3. We’d received tons of wonderful hand-me-downs and gifts, but I couldn’t keep up. Now that they’re older, everyone has enough clothes to get through 8-10 days, and it works with a weekly laundry cycle.

All Free Clear Laundry Detergent | Ways to Make Laundry Easier | MoneywiseMoms

While Washing & Drying

Do laundry every day (or almost every day). When all three kids were babies at the same time, we did laundry twice a week (my dad had to help, because it was 15+ loads a week). Now, we’re down to 5-6 loads plus towels and sheets, so it works to just do one load a day. It feels better–and you don’t lose a whole day (or weekend) to the chore. It’s also easier to get everyone to pitch in and help when it’s just a little each day.

Use one detergent for the whole family. I’ve used all free clear for over 10 years now. I started when my son was a baby and had terrible excema. He still has sensitive skin (as do I), and between everyone’s allergies, it’s just easier to stick with one laundry detergent that works for everyone. all free clear is the #1 recommended detergent brand by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for sensitive skin. It’s also 100% hypoallergenic.

All Free Clear Laundry Detergent | Ways to Make Laundry Easier | MoneywiseMoms

Folding & Putting Laundry Away

Have the kids help. Starting from age 2, kids can help sort types of clothing (shirts, socks, etc.) and help put their own things away. Laundry is a family necessity, so teaching kids to help out is part of teaching respect and cooperation.

Use bins and drawers, and skip folding. We started this when the kids were toddlers, but it’s still working so I’m sticking with it. They throw (that’s the fun part) their socks and underwear into bins or drawers. No folding needed! Now that they’re older, they hang shirts and pants in the closet or even lay pairs of shorts on the closet shelf. Easy peasy.

All Free Clear Laundry Detergent | Ways to Make Laundry Easier | MoneywiseMoms

Laundry isn’t going away, so figure out how to make it work for you.

How do you make laundry easier?

 

Moneywise Menu Plan 4-5: Salads for Spring

The weather is going to finally be spring-like this week: 60s and 70s with plenty of rain. I’m so excited to be outside walking again, and the whole family is in the mood for lighter food (you’ll notice the word “salad” shows up a lot on this week’s menu plan). A great benefit of cold salads is that I can prepare them ahead of time, and they’re ready to go on a busy weeknight. We have one night this week where we’re all eating at different times and going in different directions, so a big bowl of salad will make sure we get fed well. It’s a great time to try out some new salad recipes I’ve added to my Salad & Veggie Sides Pinterest board.

Moneywise Menu Plan 4-5 | Frugal family meals and salads from MoneywiseMoms

Moneywise Menu Plan – 4/5

Monday: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork (my last freezer meal) with brown rice and broccoli
Tuesday: Quesadillas made with leftover pork, corn and black beans, plus salad
Wednesday: Skinny Veggie Crockpot Lasagna from Pinch of Yum
Thursday: Greek Quinoa Salad from Back to Her Roots
Friday: Crustless Bacon Asparagus Quiche and Rosemary Potatoes
Saturday: Tuna, Green Bean and Potato Salad

Coming off of that month of freezer meals–wow, that was worth the time and trouble. While I’m not in the mood for casseroles right now, it was a reminder that having a system in place (in this case, meal planning and prepping food ahead of time) makes everything run smoother. I need to find a way to apply this system to the spring and summer using different meals than we typically eat in the fall and winter.

What are some ways you adjust for the warmer seasons?

 

Menu Plan Resources

Kids Castle Playground {Doylestown, PA}

Kids Castle Playground in Doylestown PA #familytravel

Over spring break, we took another trip to Philadelphia, where there’s so much to do! This time around, we spent some time visiting family in Doylestown, which is an hour north of the city. We found a real gem. The Kids Castle Playground is completely FREE and an absolute blast for kids of all ages.

Kids Castle Playground in Doylestown PA #familytravel

The Kids Castle Playground is located in Central Park in Doylestown, and it’s open every day of the week, from dawn to dusk. There’s actually a lot more to this park than I took photos of, but I was busy chasing my two nephews around and following my big kids as they explored. There were plenty of swings, both big-kid and baby-sized, plus an accessible chair swing. We also saw trails, picnic areas, and more, but we spent all our time climbing in the castle.

Kids Castle Playground in Doylestown PA #familytravel

The castle structure is eight stories of maze-like tunnels, ramps and ladders to climb. The slides varied from medium to high-intensity, and I did ride the “big one” (seen below) with my nephew. Scary! It twisted and turned and was completely dark at one point. He loved it, of course. I did follow him through the castle, but it was rough on my back since I had to be bent in half most of the time. The castle is meant for kids 5-12, and there is another structure–a very cool Pirate Ship–for younger kids just next to this one. It was elaborate, with canons to boom, fake rocks to climb, and a fun bridge.

Slides at Kids Castle Playground in Doylestown PA #familytravel

After they were tired from climbing and sliding, my kids tried the scavenger hunt. Within the maze-like corridors inside, you can find these objects up on the walls. It took a lot of tries to find everything!

Scavenger Hunt at Kids Castle Playground in Doylestown PA #familytravel

Whether you live in the area or find yourself traveling that way, I highly recommend this very fun and FREE park. If you’re going to be in the Philadelphia area, you may also like:

And be sure and follow my Mid-Atlantic Family Trips board on Pinterest.

Mid-Atlantic Family Travel

Quarter One Update: 2015 Financial Goals

Every year, I share my family’s Financial Goals, then update them each quarter, both to hold us accountable and to inspire you to write out and achieve your own goals.

Quarter One Update 2015 Financial Goals

How are you doing on your 2015 Financial Goals? Have you done your taxes yet? Since we were expecting a refund, I did ours as early as I could. It felt so good to get my business paperwork done over the winter break and be ready to hit the ground running in January.

As expected, our motivation to stick to these goals has faded since the new year. That’s why I appreciate updating these here on the blog; it’s good to be held accountable and hear how others are doing. Here’s the Quarter One Update for our 2015 Financial Goals:

1) Live off a two-paycheck budget each month ONGOING
We’ve based our monthly expense spreadsheet (nothing fancy, we just use Excel) on our two-paycheck income instead of monthly. That gives us two “extra” checks every year to achieve our other goals, and we don’t see what we’re missing.

2) Work to reduce our monthly expenses.  TRYING
We’re so old-school. There’s a piece of paper on the fridge with our variable categories listed: groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. and we just write down anything we spend daily. It’s been working just fine. Three months in, we’re on budget and trying to stay motivated. One of my goals for 2015 was to tackle a few budget categories each month and bring them down even lower (and document it here on the blog to help readers) but it just hasn’t happened. These first three months have been a whirlwind of illness (both kids and me), snow days, and lack of routine. So that’s still on my to-do list.

3) Deposit the maximum into my IRA for 2015.  ONGOING
I set up automatic deposits for once a month to go to my IRA, which is the first time we’ve done this since we opened it two years ago. It feels so good to know this is taken care of rather than have to play catch-up on our taxes.

4) Add $5,000 more to our emergency fund.  NOPE
This really should have been first. And it technically should have gotten done before I paid for summer camp and some other once-a-year expenses that come up in the spring. But it hasn’t. Ugh. Still, as I look over these goals today, I feel good about what’s getting done.

5) Set aside $3,000 for an orthodontics fund.  ONGOING
I set up automatic deposit to occur with every paycheck, so this money is being set aside. One of the girls got an appliance put in on her bottom teeth in January, so this money paid for that, and we were able to get a 10% discount by paying all at once. My son’s appointment is in April and will give us a plan for the rest of the year (our orthodontist is waiting until a few more baby teeth fall out to start his braces).

6) Earn $12,000 (net) with my two side businesses (blogging and babysitting).  ONGOING
I’ve hit my goals the past three months for the blog, even with the chaos of kids home so often with snow days (11 this year!) and illnesses. I want to stick with these goals through April, May and June so that I can take July off and focus on swim team and kid summer life.

 

What progress have you made on your 2015 Financial Goals?

 

 

Original image from Ryan McGuire at Magdeleine