Hi there! It’s me, Eliza! Just wanted to stop in and say thank you all for being great fans of my mommy’s page. I’ve taken over the computer this morning, so please excuse my mom’s inability to post much today. I’m trying to keep her on her toes by crawling way before I should. Can you believe I’m just 4 1/2 months? No stopping me now! Hope ya’ll have a wonderful day!
One of the first things I learned how to make was lasagna. It’s so simple and easy, anyone can make it, including my 7 year old 🙂
- 4 jars of spaghetti sauce
- 8 cups of mozzerella cheese
- 1 box of lasagna noodles
- 1 carton of cottage cheese
First things, first. Boil noodles according to package instructions, drain, rinse with cool water. They may need time to cool before you can touch them.
1.Spray your pan
2. Spread a light layer of sauce.
3. Layer noodles on top of sauce and add a spoon full of sauce on each noodle
4. Spread the sauce over each noodle.
5. Add a spoon full of cottage cheese on each noodle and spread out just like the sauce.
6. Add 2 cups of cheese spread out evenly.
7. Repeat all steps 3-4 times, or as pan allows room, starting with the sauce layer.
Another great article sent in by reader, Edith. Thanks so much Edith! Do you have an article you’d like to submit? Just use the contact form at the top and send it in!
We all face those endless summer days when it is just too hot outside to play, or we’re hit by a summer downpour and the kids get antsy. You’ve played every board game and watched every DVD you own and need OUT of the house! Here are some budget ideas to help get you through.
Chuck-E-Cheese, it’s not just for parties! Stop by and let the kids play for free. They can fill out rewards calendars found here and get free tokens to play games, or they can just climb around on the indoor play areas. You can also get some good coupons on their site, and especially if you sign up for emails, for food and token combos. Great if you want to stop by for lunch or dinner and let the kids go crazy. We visit CEC often and they have recently changed their pizza recipe and it is MUCH better! A great spot for hot and/or rainy days.
Check out your local Library for Story time and other kid friendly events. Georgia public libraries also allow you to check out a voucher for free admission to Zoo Atlanta for your family (check your local library for details), and Georgia park passes to save you on entrance fees! Also a great place to pick up a DVD for a rainy day along with your summer reading books!
Bounce House Centers
Places like Pump it Up and Jungle Jumpers are open during the summer for kids to come in and bounce! Bring a book and let the kids bounce until they can bounce no more! Check their webpages for times and fees.
Check your local cinema for summer movie specials like free or reduced admission to special showings of kid’s films. Also check out your local $1 (or $2) cinemas for kid friendly features. When it’s hot outside it’s nice and cool in the theaters!
Bowling and Skating
Check out your local bowling alley to see if they have any summer specials, ours is offering free bowling for kids! Skating is another fun way to wear the kids out and stay cool and dry. Our local rink offers deals such as $1 skates times and pizza nights!
Some malls have great play areas for little ones. These can get crowded, so try and hit them early in the day before the crowds get there!
If you happen to live close to and IKEA store you can stop by and drop the kids (potty trained only) off in the kids club area while you shop, hit the food court or just browse without little ones clinging to you!
Do you have any other great spots to cool off or stay dry this summer? Please share them!
A few of you have asked about how to find deals on locally grown produce. One of my favorite sites for finding local produce is a co-op called Locally Grown. Here’s how to find one in your area:
- First go HERE and look at the map to find your closest Locally Grown Co-Op. There are divisions all over the US. (CLICK HERE for the Athens, GA Locally Grown)
- Once you find yours, then click on The Market. You’ll find everything from meats, veggies, eggs, and fruits, to homemade pies, breads and more.
- From here, you place your order and pick it up at the designated time and location in your city. For the Athens area, you can pickup your orders from 4:30 until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays at Ben’s Bikes, located at the corner of Pope & Broad Streets near downtown (670 W. Broad Street).
We’ve placed many orders through the Athens Locally Grown and have been very pleased with the goodies we receive. If you have any questions, just read the FAQ section on their site. It helps out a bunch!
Do you have any experience with Locally Grown or a similar co-op? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
Some of you may remember the last post I wrote about how to save money on meat for April Fools Day. I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that I’m writing the post for real this time! Here are a few tips to save money on meat:
- Check with your grocery store’s butcher and find out if/when they mark down close dated meats. I’ve been able to find close dated meat for more than 50% off at times. You do not have to worry about using it all right away – just throw it in the freezer!
- Sometimes buying meat in bulk is cheaper. Be sure to do a price comparison per ounce to make sure you’re getting the better deal.
- Try to plan a meatless dinner each week. Some of our favorites are black bean burgers and zucchini casserole.
- Consider making the meat stretch by using oatmeal or breadcrumbs and making a meatloaf.
- Stock up during the sales. If there is a great price on chicken, don’t just get enough for that week, get enough for several weeks. Freeze it until you need it.
Do you have any tips on how your family saves money on meat? Leave a comment and let us know!
Taking a vacation with the family doesn’t have to break your bank. There are many ways to take a wonderful trip and still stay within the budget. Here are some ideas that my family has found helpful.
When planning a trip, first choose your destination. It helps if you are flexible on dates or locations. You can look online for free travel brochures such as Travel Alaska or order some from Free Travel Guides website.
Once you have an idea where you’d like to visit, go to Groupon and signup for that city’s deals. We were recently able to get a deal for a suite at a hotel in Savannah Georgia with a $20 food credit for just $69 through Groupon! We bought two nights and are looking forward to a nice little weekend getaway some time soon. I’ve seen most of the cities offer some sort of hotel deal. You also can use this to find great deals on restaurants and other attractions in your destination area. Another place to check out for hotel deals is Priceline.com. This can help you find good rates without having to call a million different hotels. If you do decide to book through Priceline.com, be sure and click through Ebates so you can earn cashback on your trip. Consider staying at a cabin in a State Park. We have done this many times when we travel. It’s cheaper plus they usually have good playgrounds for the kids to unwind. If you are really flexible with dates, check out the Cabins For You facebook page. They offer Flash Sales quite often. They tell you what time to call in and if you’re the first caller, you get a cabin in Tennessee for dirt cheap!
Now that you’ve figured out where you will be staying, time to think about the next necessity- Food! This doesn’t have to be much of a worry if you plan in advance. Our family typically brings our food along with us, allowing to dine out maybe once or twice on a vacation. It’s much cheaper for us since our kids are very hearty eaters. Some ways to frugally dine out while traveling is to take along gift certificates. You can purchase some from Restaurant.com or also from Groupon. Also consider doing a search for daily deals in that city. There are TONS of daily deal sites where you can purchase deals. Also, I frequently talk on my blog about joining survey sites and Swagbucks. That’s where these sites will come in handy! On some of them, you have the option to cash out for a prepaid visa card or for gift cards to restaurants such as Long Horn, Chili’s, and Macaroni Grill to name a few. A few weeks before you take your trip, cash out so you receive your prize in time.
I mentioned using Groupon above, but there are also other ways to save on attractions during your vacation. Before you leave home, do a search for coupons, discount codes, etc on the attractions that you plan to visit. Check out their facebook page to see if they are running any promotions. Call and ask them if they have any coupons out and how you can obtain one. You may be surprised at all the options out there to make your visit cheaper.
These are just some ideas that I thought up about how we make our vacations more affordable. Do you have any ideas that I’ve missed? Leave a comment and tell me what your tips are for dealing with vacations on a budget.
I know we are all struggling with how to save money on gas right now. The prices are just ridiculous and I know we are hurting. I hate having to decide whether or not to visit relatives, take a vacation, or even just run out to the store without thinking about gas. I know we’ve had to reconsider how many times we go to visit our relatives and how many times I go out to the store. I’ve spent the morning trying to find some ways to save on gas. Here’s some that I have found.
*First off, there is a nifty website called GasBuddy. You can go to this website or get the GasBuddy application to find the cheapest gas in your area. Fantastic way to make sure you’re getting the lowest price around.
*Have your car serviced. A vehicle that is maintained properly will run better and give you better mileage, thus saving money on gas. Make sure your tires are inflated properly.
*Try to plan your trips out so you won’t have to do a lot of back and forth driving. Plan your routes to avoid heavily congested areas. This will prevent idling your car and a ton of wasted gas. If neccessary, use a GPS to find the shortest distance or a route away from busy areas.
*If possible, drive as little as you can. Look into sharing rides with friends or co-workers, or consider biking or walking if you are closeby a store. Wait and snag all the deals at once – don’t rush out for every single deal that is posted.
*Use your windows more and the AC less. I know it gets HOT, but on days when it’s not unbareable, try to use your windows.
Do you have any other tips on saving gas? How has the gas prices changed the way your family does things?
I had a reader the other day email me asking this question. I figured I’d make a post for everyone to see so you know that there is a real live person behind these posts 🙂
My name is Erin and I’m the one behind “Mommy Octopus”. This picture was taken when my youngest was about a week old. I’m usually the person behind the camera so there aren’t many of me. I live in the Athens, GA area and I absolutely LOVE it here! Great people, great places, great food! It’s a wonderful place to be. My husband works for the local law enforcement and we have 4 crazy kids. I’m actually kinda shy in person at first, but once you get to know me, I won’t shut up! I homeschool my children and although it’s challenging at times, it’s also very rewarding.
I’m not what you consider an “Extreme Couponer”. I’m more of a realistic couponer. I get the items my family needs and usually some extra if our budget allows to donate. Since my husband is the only one bringing home the bacon, we have to stick to our budget. It’s hard at times, but we make it work. Mommy Octopus blog was started after I was emailing friends and family deals each week. I decided to just post all the deals in a central place and then it grew from there!
So that’s me! Hope you enjoyed finding out who is behind all these posts 🙂 Now the question is, Who are you?
A question I get asked a lot is how to save money on meat products. I decided to write a post and tell about how our family does it. You can decide if this method is good for your family.
The best deals we find on meat are usually in the middle of the night. Occasionally during the day, but most of the time at night. Yes, it’s a pain, but you do what you have to do in order to save money and stick to the budget. I suggest heading out around 2-3 am. Just load all the kids up in the car and drive. The more people you have with you, the better deals you can find, since you have all of those extra sets of eyes. Make sure to head out in a large vehicle – I personally recommend a pickup truck or a large van. Have the kids all look out the window and make a game out of it to see who can find the meat first. If you drive long enough, you will find it!
For my Athens area friends, I recommend heading to Madison County for the best selection. Keep your eyes peeled on the road and you’re bound to find something appetizing. The reason you want to head out in the middle of the night is that you will want to snag the meat before the vultures get to it.
Now from personal experience, I suggest staying away from anything you can’t identify, and especially ones that are black with a white stripe. I absolutely love a good possum stew. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Here’s the recipe for that:
- 1 large possum – skinned, gutted, and cut into pieces
- 4 large potatoes, quartered
- 1 pound carrots, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 onions, sliced
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 medium head cabbage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Throw it all in the crock pot and cook all day. Mmm… so great to smell that possum cooking all day.
With all that being said, just one last thing to add…..
Over a year ago, my hubby and I were listening to Clark Howard on the radio and he was talking about how to make razors last for months. You can read about it in his latest article HERE, where he managed to use the same razor for a year! This really intrigued us since razors can be pricey, even with coupons. I’m happy to say that my husband goes through only about 3 razors a YEAR now, now quite as good as Clark, but we’re happy with the extra savings. He’s one of those guys that by the end of the day, it doesn’t even look like he shaved that morning, so this is a huge deal for us.
Here’s the key to making your razors last a long time:
After you shave, dry your razor off. The wetness is what causes the razor to become dull. You can use a towel, rubbing alcohol, or a hair dryer, just get it dry. Try doing this and see how much longer your razors will last!
Do you have any not-so-common money stretching tips? I’d love to hear them!