Friday, May 30, 2014

My Basics On Saving $$$ On Your Grocery Bill

My sister sent me a text the other day and wanted to know ways to get grocery bills as low as possible and how to cook without meat. I laughed because she totally came to the right person. This girl loves to save. So I told her that I would send her the information when I had time, and to check my blog under "Need to Feed" for a few posts I have already done on meatless meals. So now I finally have some time, and I decided to post here some of my tips on getting your grocery bills down.

Honestly, I miss living in Utah because it was so easy to save. Now that I live in Washington my store options are limited...namely to Fred Meyer. I miss my stores! But there are still lots of basic ways that you can cut down your bill no matter where you are, so I'll start with those.

First key point: SHOP THE SALES

The adds come in the mail in Utah once a week. If you've just moved to a new place, sometimes it takes a couple months to get going, but you can always call the post office to make sure they start coming. They also come in newspaper, and if you don't get that, they are ALWAYS posted online! So if you don't have access to a hard copy, go to the store's website online and check what's on sale that week.

Then based off what's on sale that week, plan your meals! A lot of people will say to plan your meals ahead of time and then go grocery shopping for only those things. That will help keep you from spending money on extras, but if you REALLY want to save, plan meals around what's on sale at the stores that week and then go shopping.

For example: If biscuits are on sale, then I plan for one of my meals to be Pizza Snowballs that week. If there is a great sale on eggs, stock up and make egg salad sandwiches or omelettes another night. Basically, you look at the adds and think "what meals can I make from what's on sale?" By planning meals around what's on sale you're going to cut back the money you spend.

Also, buy your produce based on what's on sale. Don't buy asparagus that is $2 a lb or more. Wait until it comes in season and then make all the asparagus stir-fry's you want. When packaged lettuce is cheaper, buy lots of lettuce and have chef salad. Some produce always stays about the same price like apples, bananas, or fresh lettuces, so keep them as your basics, but others are expensive until they go on sale. Grapes are a good example of this, boy are they pricey until certain times. Strawberries also go up and down in price, so just watch the prices and buy fruits/veggies in their season. I have my base prices that I'm not willing to pay more than for each of my fruits and veggies and I just wait until they get to that base or lower. The more you watch the prices the more familiar you'll be with what's a good deal.

It's also good to compare store's adds to each other. Some people don't like shopping at more than one place. It does take more time, and it does take more work, however, it can pay off. Don't buy cereal at Walmart if Smiths has a giant sale going where you can get it a dollar cheaper a box. Head on over to Smith's!

Now I'm not recommending you take an extra trip to Walmart just because their tuna is twenty cents cheaper a can than Smiths, that would be a waste, but if they have a bunch of canned goods that are all significantly cheaper than take the extra trip to Walmart once you're done shopping at Smiths. Of course you can always price match everything at Walmart, but I personally hate shopping at Walmart and would rather pay a few cents more per item and get it somewhere else. But it is good to know about price matching because if you're already at Walmart, and you know that Smiths has eggs on sale for ninety-nine cents a dozen, instead of taking an extra trip to Smiths, just pick them up while you're at Walmart and let them know Smith's price and they'll drop it down to match for you...saving you the extra trip.

When I lived in Utah I found that I preferred different stores for different products. For example: Reams has the cheapest produce and meat, and occasionally has good sales on other things like cereal. So I just planned a weekly trip to Reams for produce and Smiths for the other items that were more expensive at Reams, and watched the adds for what was on sale to pick up while I was at both places. Walmart has the cheapest base prices for everyday essentials, so if I ran out of flour or spices, or toilet paper, or cleaners I would take that dreaded trip to Walmart. But it's only by following the adds, and being aware of what's going on sale where and when, that you can save yourself the money and time.

Second point: STOCK UP

If there is a couple things that you eat a lot, when it goes on sale buy A LOT and store it so that you have plenty to use until it goes back on sale again. When you're favorite brands of cereal go on sale, buy as many boxes as will fit into your budget or that you have room to store. If you use a lot of frozen strawberries in smoothies, when strawberries go on sale, buy a whole bunch, cut them up and freeze them yourself. Buy enough that will last until the next time they go on sale.

Sales usually rotate every three months (produce is the exception to that because it usually goes on sale based on what's in season). So if your favorite bread is on sale, buy a couple loaves and then buy a couple more to put in the freezer. Buy granola bars on sale to last until they go back on sale. It's amazing the places you can get creative to store stuff, and the amount of food that you can freeze.

Word to the wise: If you do not have the money to stock up when something goes on sale then don't buy so much. You can save yourself right into the poor house. You can't spend $30 on a good cereal sale when you only have $25 to spend on groceries. Know how much money you have to spend before you go. It's definitely a balancing act. However, if you spend $10 on a good cereal sale and stock up, you know you won't have to spend part of your grocery budget on cereal for awhile and can use that money to stock up on something else the next week.

Also, just because something goes on sale, it doesn't mean you have to buy it! Assess what you're low on, what you need, and if you can wait until it goes on sale again. Don't waste all of your money buying cheap hamburger buns if you're not going to have hamburgers. Also, if you already have twenty packages of buns in your freezer, and yet they go back on sale again, don't waste your money buying more! It sounds like a no-brainer, but it's amazing how many people can't help spending money just because it's a good deal.

It's a good practice to stock up because sometimes, when you don't have any money to spend on groceries, you can look at what you have stocked up and make meals and eat from what you already have until you have enough money to go grocery shopping again.


Every store that I've been too has a section of the store that has discounted items for purchase. The two main ones are bread and meat. What happens is that the bread is getting older and they need to get rid of it before it goes bad and they have to throw it out for a loss, so they mark it down significantly just for you! I find it's usually on a bread-rack in the back of the store somewhere. You can buy bread, rolls, bagels, donuts, cookies, cakes, pitas - you name it, it just depends on the week. So check it out and you can seriously score on items you normally wouldn't be able to buy.

They also do it with meat. Each store usually has a refrigerated section that has older meat and cheese and lunch-meat at discounted prices. This is what I love to find because you can seriously score some good deals on what normally costs a whole lot. If you can't find it, just ask someone that works there and they can show you. That way you'll become familiar with the area in the store where it's kept, and just check it every time you go in to see what there is. Sometimes there's not much, and sometimes you really luck out.

There are also produce discount sections and other miscellaneous item discount sections. Not every store has all of them, but there is usually at least a couple places to find the manager specials.

Don't be freaked out that it's "old". It doesn't mean it's bad, in fact, it's usually perfectly fine. It just means the store is going to have to get rid of it soon. Last week I got three pounds of ground turkey for $2.24! That is amazing! It was in the discounted section for $2.99 for a three-pound chub, and I had a coupon for seventy-five cents off Jenny-O. Score! I went home and divided it up into three sections to freeze for later dinners.

Now coupons are a whole different story and can save you SO much, even without being extreme! But that's a whole other post I'll have to get to later. But I'll just say for now, once you've made your list of what you're going to buy, look through the coupons that come in the mail or online and clip ones that match what you're planning to buy for even more savings. There are lots of websites that match up the sales with coupons for you. My favorites are: and

These are just my basic tips that everyone can use for bringing down their grocery spending. It takes a little work planning and preparing, but it really pays off...especially if you need to save the money for other expenses. I never buy something that's not on sale, unless it's a basic staple in our diet (like milk or something), I stock up when it does go on sale, and I always check the discount areas of the store.

All this information might seem intimidating, but just start slow, do what's right for you, and you'll catch on. Next time I'll post about coupons, and maybe I'll even do another meatless dish post as well. I hope that helps Sadie as you start saving money!! :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Craziest April

So much happened in April, and I have so many pictures to document it all. Only problem was, they were all stuck on my phone! I've been having serious issues getting the pictures off my phone and onto my computer. The Picasa uploads stopped working in December, and now Gmail - that I've been using since - is having issues emailing them to myself. Needless to say, I have been very frustrated and I am far behind! But I'll try to get it all in here because I have so many memories of this last month I need to preserve.

First of all, we bought a house.

April Fools! Hahaha. Just kidding. First thing for April is April Fools, of course! Probably one of my most favorite days of the whole year. I just love pulling pranks on people (as long as they are relatively harmless) and nothing held me back this year. I had many victims since I live at my parents and have brothers running around.

I froze a bowl of cereal with milk in it so that when my sister, and the girl I watch in the morning, went to dig their spoon in for a bite, they hit rock solid food. The look on their faces was priceless. Then, because my kids get up later to eat, I was able to use the same trick on them as well. Lydia started to cry because she thought I was going to make her eat it anyway, hahahahaha!

I also stuffed newspaper in everyone's shoes, put plastic wrap 
over the opening of every bottle of shampoo/soap in the house (except mine of course) and then screwed the caps back on, put applesauce on Brigham's sandwich for lunch instead of jam, and switched out the granola bars so that he got a different kind than he expected when he opened it up, turned my sister's backpack wrong-side out, taped down all the light-switches, and put blue food coloring on Brigham's and my brother's toothbrushes. Unfortunately, they all spotted it and washed it out before brushing their teeth. I was mad because that was the one I wanted to work the most. Can you imagine them walking around with blue teeth all day? Hilarious! Everything else went off like a charm :)

It was also my day to cook dinner and I had a couple classics thrown in as well. I had a special "juice" for dinner, which was really just jello in cups. And also dessert was grilled cheese sandwiches.....or were they....? :)  I don't know why I love April Fools so much, but I really do. The kids really got into it and kept trying to April Fool each other too. I think it's mostly fun for them. They really get a kick out of things like trying to drink juice and finding out that it's really jello to eat.

Spring break was also in April and the kids took full advantage of the good weather outside. We even had a blossom shower!

We also had fun going to the zoo during spring break.

Lydia was obsessed with the zoo map and leading us around, we got some one-on-one time with the orangutan up close and personal, and saw lots of other sweet animals.

Classic zoo picture that everyone has to take if they go here. We have multiple pics in front of these monkeys in our family album.

Lydia has a fun preschool field trip to the Children's Museum where Ammon and I joined her. They had so many fun things for the kids and we could have stayed all day.

Although, it's been sunny off and on, mostly it's just rained. That's spring in Maple Valley for you. So when it does turn nice, we soak in every moment of it. Lunch outside is one of our favorites. Gotta get the Vitamin D when we can!

The main events of April though, were during the week and a half that we took for a trip to Utah where I had a brother AND a sister get married, and another brother graduate from BYU all within three days. Easter was also smack-dab in the middle of that trip. So before we left for Utah, we had a couple Easter celebrations so the kids would get a good taste of it, since we would be gone for the actual holiday.

First we had the Primary Easter Party where they were able to find Easter eggs and meet the Easter bunny (it was actually my brother Ryan in the suit, which was awesome!)

The kids scored tons of candy and had a blast. After the egg hunt, my aunt came to color Easter eggs with us since my mom is anti-egg-coloring.

I personally love coloring Easter eggs, and enjoyed it this time as well, though I felt that my creative juices were for some reason lacking this year. Later that night, we did a trial run for some wedding food for the open house that was going to be up here in Seattle.

After our Easter celebration in Washington, we left for Utah that next week.

Here are the kids, headed off to Utah the second morning of our trip (we broke it up into two days on the way down). They were excited to head to Utah to see their family they've been missing.

The very first day after we arrived in Utah, I threw a bridal shower for Polyana (my brother's fiance), and then went to her and Sadie's Endowment in the temple that night. It was so wonderful to be in the temple with both of them and the rest of my family as they made special covenants. Always one of the best parts of wedding week!

After Saturday we had Easter at my Aunt's house in Pleasant Grove. The kids and I were staying with my brother in Provo and we drove over early that moving to my Aunt Raquel's house to see what the Easter Bunny left.

Of course the Easter Bunny left lots of eggs to find and baskets full of goodies, toys, and Easter outfits. The kids were so excited since they were worried the Easter Bunny wouldn't be able to find them because we weren't where we live.

That night we had another Easter egg hunt that my Aunt Raquel put on for her grandkids that came over and my kids were also able to participate in it. This time there were pennies in the eggs, and if someone found an egg with a quarter, dime, or nickel in it, then that person got a special prize.

Lydia ended up finding the one with the nickel in it and won some new sidewalk chalk. Somehow my kids always end up with three egg hunts each Easter, and this year was no exception. It was a great Easter.

One of the best things about Easter is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was especially grateful to celebrate that this year as I went to two different temple weddings, where my siblings were able to be sealed for all eternity to the person they love. Without the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, that wouldn't have been possible. I'm so grateful to celebrate the even that made everything good in my life possible, lasting, and blessed.

After Easter Sunday, I moved from my brother's house to my in-laws so my kids and I could spend some time with the other side of the family we've been missing. We got to spend lots of time with grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. It was wonderful. My kids caught up with their cousins like time hadn't even passed and they were giddy with happiness. The only cloud in the sky was that not all of their cousins were able to be there. I wish I had taken pictures, but alas, I did not.

After a couple days hanging out, and Brigham finally arriving in Utah to join us (he was trying not to take too many days off work), it was finally wedding day number one! Scott and Polyana were married in the Draper temple on a windy, but sunny Thursday.

Here's our family with the beautiful couple. You can't tell but it was super windy and cold! 

I was a bridesmaid and spoke at the luncheon and we had a fantastic day with the family and Scott and Polyana both raved about how the day was everything they could have hoped for. It was special in the temple because, although Polyana wasn't able to have any family here (she's from Brazil and her family couldn't make it), I could feel the spirit of her family members in the temple with us. She wasn't alone and it was touching to all of us.

Later that night we had a reception at my uncle's house in Mapleton and took a couple more pictures there.

This is my favorite because it's everyone in my family and now you can see how big we are getting! One big happy family that I love!!!

The day after Scott and Polyana's wedding was Kyle's graduation. It was very special because Kyle was graduating with honors with a double bachelors as valedictorian. Whew! He has worked so hard and we all kind of expected it with his brains and will. He was selected to speak at the graduation and we were honored to be there and listen. After he spoke, it was special when my uncle (who is dean of one the departments in Kyle's area of study) was able to step down and give him a hug.

My phone couldn't take very good pictures so he looks like he's pretty angelic while giving his speech (it was fantastic by the way), and then when we went out to dinner to celebrate, the picture was back-lit so we just looked like shadows. After some messing around with editing, you can kind of get the outline of my bro and me together. How I love him. We have spent much time with Kyle and Katrina and they are some of our best friends and how he have missed them! Now they are moving to Texas where Kyle can keep on being the man and we will miss them even more. Congrats brother! You deserved all your honors and we were so happy and proud to be with you on your big day.

After the graduation I captured my sister Sadie, who was to be married the next morning, and we had ourselves a mini bachelorette party. I was bummed because I wasn't able to be at her bridal shower or when she tried on wedding dresses, and I was determined to be a part of something as her sister besides just a bridesmaid at her wedding the next day.

So we went to Walmart and picked out some nail polish, and then had literally a half hour before her fiance came to pick her up, to paint our toenails. It was a whirlwind of a party, and you'll never know exactly what kind of trouble we got into. But it was fast, fabulous, and fantastic ;)

The next morning dawned bright and early and started out somewhat dismally with Ammon, after getting all dressed up in his wedding attire, having diarrhea and then, while trying to get some pepto-bismal in him, puking everywhere. Oh boy. Luckily nothing got on Ammon, as we already had him wrapped in a towel so he wouldn't spill medicine on himself. We knew it might be coming considering poor Katrina had spent her husband's graduation puking and curled up in a ball, but we had hoped to avoid whatever was going around. Still, there was nothing to be done but pack extra clothes and be on our way.

Sadie's wedding was beautiful as well and it felt calm, still, peaceful, and bright in the temple despite the pouring rain and dark clouds outside.

Sadie did great for a bride who has to take picture in the pouring rain, and it worked out because you can hardly tell in the pictures. All I can say is that my shoes were made of material and did not dry out the rest of the day. Soggy wet feet, all day. Blech.

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

I was a bridesmaid for Sadie's wedding as well, and also gave a speech at her luncheon. (Although Ammon had an accident during the middle of my speech, so I had no idea what I said for most of it because I was too busy worrying about the poor kid. He did well with his tummy troubles although he was in the bathroom every half hour that day. At least he only threw up that one time in the morning.).

I love this picture of my siblings and I with Sadie and Taylor. We're lined up oldest to youngest, and it fits just perfect with Sadie being right in the middle. I know I'm biased, but we're just the best. 

That night was Sadie and Taylor's reception and it was set up so cute by the decorator.

And we were able to get a picture taken with the lovely couple and our little family.

Brigham's family that lives in Utah were all able to come to Sadie's reception and we enjoyed a final night with them before we left back for home the next day.  

We drove all day the next day, Sunday, so that people could get back to work on Monday. Lets just say we had a long week of recovery.

However, not to be forgotten was Brigham's and mine seventh anniversary on Monday. It's kinda cool that now three of us siblings have our anniversaries two days apart: April 24th, April 26th, and April 28th. Brigham and I didn't do much that Monday because we were wiped out, but later went out to dinner and a movie that weekend.

Our plates of food look disgusting in this picture, but it was DELICIOUS, and we look really creepy because of the lighting of the place, but we aren't :) It was nice to be out, just us, to celebrate the last seven years and reminisce on our own wedding day. We kept it simple and it was exactly what we needed after all the wedding shennanigans and to wrap up our busy, crazy month.

So there you have our craziest April. So much packed in, so much to enjoy. I hope you guys that love wedding stuff got your fill of pictures - I tried to include lots - and that you're all up to speed on what's been happening. Hopefully I can figure out my phone so I can stay up to date better, and hopefully my months won't be so crazy so I can post things besides updates!