One of the biggest secrets to saving money on groceries has NOTHING to do with grocery shopping!

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Are you ready for the BIGGEST secret to saving money at the grocery store?? And guess what… it has NOTHING to do with SHOPPING!!!
Meal Planning 101
Today I am going to share some amazing tips on how to save money on your groceries and this time… no coupons involved!! We are going to focus on the importance of meal planning!!
If your family is anything like mine our weekly schedule of piano lessons, sports practice, games, book clubs, and even more sporting events keeps our evenings (especially around dinner time) rather busy! Some nights it is SOOOO easy to just take the drive through approach and snag something quick for everyone to eat between events.
You guys!! This is a HUGE expense!! But with a little planning you can avoid fast food meals and save a TON of money!! So let’s get started!!
As with any undertaking you need to know where you are so you can know what your future plans will be.
Tip #1 – Inventory what you have on hand.
Set aside some time to go through your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer. Make a special note of the items that you need to use right away. “Waste not” and all that. Those items that are close to expiring are going to be your first priority to use. Feel free to inventory everything else you have as well for future use. How many times have you cleaned out the fridge and kicked yourself because you forgot all about that ground beef that was hiding in the back of the fridge? UGH! That’s the worst. Literally throwing away money, or food that has gone bad. We have all been there. So let’s use it before we lose it… mmmkay.
Tip #2 – Create meal plans based on what you already have
Now that you know what you have and you know what you need to use up, create meal plans for the week that focus on those ingredients. Chances are the things you buy at the store are for recipes that you use frequently. We are creatures of habit after all. But put that food to work, you guys!
WRITE IT DOWN! Put your meals in your calendar, or snag a really cute printable and display your meal plans for all to see. If you have it planned you are one step closer to executing that plan. My friend Colette at My Computer is My Canvas has some beautiful (and functional) menu planners.
What if you are stuck with a list of ingredients and you have no earthly idea of how to make it into a meal?? No worries! This actually makes meal planning kind of fun. Go to Allrecipes.com and at the top of the site there is a recipe search and an “INGREDIENT SEARCH”. If you found that you have some chicken and zucchini that need to be used soon and you are feeling pasta-ish, simply type those ingredients in and click search! This amazing site will then show you several recipe options that include those ingredients! Slick, right?!
You get to use the food you already purchased and maybe you get to try a new recipe! Win win!!
Tip #3 – Freeze it! Make some for now and some for later!
I LOVE freezer meals!! If you are whipping up a nice dinner, why not just double the recipe and make 2. Eat one and then put the other one in the freezer for another busy night. If you are really ambitious you can carve out a day to assemble several freezer meals. Imagine investing a few hours of work and not needing to mess your kitchen for a whole month!! Glorious, right?!
Now imagine combining those efforts with a few friends. You get a variety of meals at super low prices! Work smarter, not harder, right?! Check out my Freezer Meal Group Kit for more information. Included in that kit are over 50 tried and true, Morris family approved, freezer meal recipes!
Tip #4 – Grab and Go Meals
This tip is for the crazy busy mammas out there. The stay-at-home moms who don’t really ever stay at home because the car is your office. This is for the working men and women who tend to go out to lunch rather than brown bagging it and end up grabbing drive through on the way home because it is just easier. This is for us lazy-ish folks who don’t like to think about what to make for lunch or dinner sometimes. Ok – so basically, this is for EVERYBODY!
As you are looking up recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand, look for recipes that would be great on-the-go. Look for anything that is a self-contained meal. Maybe it’s wrapped in a tortilla, or made in a muffin pan. Think quiche, burritos, and wraps. Make a bunch ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. Then literally, grab, heat and go!
You can also make a small investment in some good re-usable to-go containers. These Bento Boxes are less than $1 each on Amazon right now. As you are putting dinner away, throw some leftovers in one of these bad boys and you are all set for maybe a few lunches. OK – as I type this I feel like I need to tell you that I have never purchased those types of boxes. I am crazy cheap, so what I do is always buy my sliced meat in plastic containers. When we are done with the meat, I get a bonus box that is the perfect size for leftovers. Plus, if I lose the lid I am not crying buckets because it was basically a gift with purchase. Haha.
Moving on…
Maybe you prep a few of these for dinner and heat it up on your way to the kids’ soccer practice. They run around and get all sweaty, and you can sit there enjoying your yummy dinner that was FREE.99 instead of they typical fast food frenzy.
Ooooohhh… I just thought of another cool tip… Get crazy and heat up your meal before you jump in the car and then put it in your favorite portable cooler! Your meal will stay warm in there until you are ready to eat it. I did this once for a camping trip… Cooked a bunch of potatoes in the morning before we left and put them in a towel-lined cooler. Those suckers were still piping hot by dinnertime! K- back on track…
Do you already do any of these things?? What are your favorite grab and go meals and snacks??
Here is your homework/challenge for the next week…. I want you to try these tips!!
DO NOT GO TO THE GROCERY STORE!!
DO NOT SPEND ANY EXTRA MONEY ON FOOD THIS WEEK!!
Let’s see how much we can save by using up what you have on hand and being a little more prepared. Then… take it one step further… You know how much you typically spend in a week on eating out for lunch or dinner, or your typical grocery trip, right? Take that money you WOULD have spent and put it in your savings account or put it towards one of your financial goals!
I would guess that just by accepting this challenge and NOT doing any extra food spending this week you will be able to save a nice chunk of money.
What do you say??? You IN?? I am going to do this challenge with you this week and I will post our progress and some of our meal ideas on Instagram if you want to follow along and see what we are cooking up at case de la Morris.
Make it a great week everybody!!
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Beautiful YOU Challenge!

I don’t know about you, but I am TERRIBLE at self care! I get the concept. It’s like the butter tub mask scenario on the airplane: Secure your mask so you can then assist others. Take care of YOU so you can take care of your family. I get it. I do… But I am dead lousy at implementation!! 

This Beautiful You Challenge isn’t so much about weight loss as it is about making sure you are taking care of the basics. And just to make it fun (and cute) I came up with this little game that you can play alone or with a group of friends!! 

To get started… pop on over to my Savings Shop to snag your downloads! These are super cute printable tracking systems that you can display in your home to help make sure you are literally checking all the boxes each day. Every little task is given a point value (see below) so as you complete each task each day, give yourself the allotted points. Tally your points up each week, and if you accomplish an entire month you get a BONUS 30 points! 

Now, here’s the fun part… If you get a group of friends together… you know… for accountability (and fun), see who can get the most points each week or each month. Maybe you make a friendly wager on who will get the most points. Maybe that wager is either cash or ice cream :). Share pics of your super cute tally sheet along the way and see what changes are accidentally made in your life. 

They say it takes 28 days to make a habit, but for me it has always taken just a bit longer (I’m stubborn). So I have grouped each listing in 3-month bundles so you and/or your group can choose to start a challenge each month or every 2 or 3 months. Whatever works for YOU!! 

In that same vein… I am NOT here to tell you how many calories you should be eating, or what vitamins to take… we are all big kids and can decide what works best for US, right?! 

POINT CATEGORIES

**Calorie Range – Stay within your allotted calorie range and give yourself 10 points. 
**Fruits & Veggies – Did you get all your servings of fruits and veggies in? 5 points.
**Take your Vitamins – 1 point
**Drink at LEAST 64 oz of water – 2 points
**No soda – 1 point (haha… I made that one low because I know I will cave on this point… a LOT)
**30 minutes of exercise – 5 points
**Each additional 15 minutes of exercise – 1 point each – or maybe give yourself an extra point if you get all your steps in for the day. Whatever you want. 
**No eating 2 hrs before bedtime – 1 point – I’ve heard this is a good habit… have yet to test this theory. 
**Get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep – 2 points – Again… goals you guys!! 
**Scripture Study – 2 points – Whether you start of end your day with the good word, doing this will change your outlook in life. 🙂 
**Gratitude Journal – 1 point – I’m excited to start this one this year. Every night write down at least 3 things you are grateful for from that day! Again… perspective. Do you see a theme yet? 
**”Me” time – 1 point – This is the self care thing that I just can’t seem to grasp. But this category I want you to use for whatever this means to you. Maybe it changes every day! Maybe today “Me” time just meant that I did in fact take a shower and put on some makeup. Or “Me” time is diving into that good novel that has been sitting on my nightstand forever. Do SOMETHING that makes YOU happy for a change!! 

After you print out your images, you can display them in a cute frame or sheet protector, or just on your fridge to be marked up each month! And of course… each month is decorated so it will look just darling with your seasonal decorations. Why not? If it’s cute, maybe I’ll use it!! HAHA!

NOW…. HERE’S THE BEST PART!!!

Because my new year has started out a little nutty, and I did NOT get these files ready by January 1st, and we are now a good bit into the month… I am going to give you the JANUARY file for FREE!!!! That’s right… FREE.99! Try it out… I know you will love this so much you will want to snag the rest of the set!!

All you need to do is right click on the image and save it to your computer! I can’t promise the quality will be as good as the file downloads in the listing, but it’s FREE!!

Let me know what you think!! I think I am going to start a thread on Instagram and Facebook each week/month so we can all help each other out… or at least YOU can help ME!! HAHA!! I need some accountability, y’all! What do you think would be the best way to host that?? Seriously… let me know!

Make this year awesome and become your most Be-YOU-tiful self!! 

P.S. I also opened an Etsy shop with all the same printables and downloads in my store in case you are looking for a different payment method that I am not willing to pay for here – #1 Cheapskate over here 🙂

NEW & IMPROVED Price Point Shopping List

PRICE POINT SHOPPING LIST!
New & Improved

If you have been to one of my classes, you would have received a copy of the Free Price is Right tool. This magic list helps you to know when it is that ideal time to stock up on sales (and of course use your coupons) to get the most bang for your buck at the grocery store. Well….. It was high time for a little face lift, so here it is… NEW and IMPROVED!!!

The NEW Price Point Shopping list now COMBINES the information from the Price is Right list with an INTERACTIVE shopping list!! Whoooooo hoooooo!!!
YOU NEED TO check out the new changes!! WAY more interactive!
As always… the price listed in the “Regular Price” column is just a generalized price. Think “national average”. This column WAS the “Just OK sales Price” column. Now, I want you to use this column to put in the regular price of the item in YOUR area if it is different than this price. When you change the price in that column, the HALF off price and the Holy Smokes price will automatically calculate for you!! I’m super excited about this because this will then become 100% YOUR baby with YOUR customized information!!
Here is the really cool new bits…

After the category column (that will help you navigate the store quickly) you can actually compile your shopping list! Put in your advertised sale price, the value of the coupon you found in the Coupon Database, put in the number of coupons you have from your multiple Sunday newspapers, and enter the quantity you will be purchasing in column A. Then wait for the drumroll…. and this sheet will then magically calculate your out of pocket price AND the cost per item so you can then see where that final price sits in the sale scale. How slick is that!?!? I know I just totally rambled through that last bit but I am really excited about how this turned out!!

There are a few more tips and tricks in the “Instructions” tab, so make sure you check that out before you get started.

This cool spreadsheet will always be free for you to use and download from my Saving Shop, but just in case you haven’t popped over there in a while, feel free to click the button below and download your copy RIGHT NOW!!
NEW – FREE Price Point Shopping List – CLICK to Download!
Before I go… I have to tell you that this expansion idea for this file came from one of my glorious class attendees who wanted to see these changes!! Everybody say thank you to Jennifer!! If you find in your life that you need a little extra help somewhere, please let me know!! Or if you have suggestions for improvements in one of my digital kits, please let me know!! We are all in this together!

Make sure you have my email in your contacts so these newsletters don’t fall in your spam/junk folder :). I have some more fun things to share with you next week!! I hope you are ready to start the new year off with a bang!!

Cyber Monday Tips and Tricks!!

Cyber Monday

CYBER MONDAY!

tips & tricks
Did you get my tips for Black Friday!? Well… just in case you decide to skip the store and stay home with the family, don’t worry! You can still snag some GREAT deals on… Cyber Monday!
Last year, I did all our shopping exclusively on Cyber Monday and was able to get all my shopping done in just a few short hours! It was GLORIOUS!
I will say that our family Christmas lists are usually pretty small. Even with 5 kiddos, we like to keep things low key when it comes to gifts. You know… try and remember the REAL reason we celebrate the holiday and mushy stuff like that. For the past 10+ years, we have been using this really cute and simple Christmas gift list (if you click on the picture you can download a copy you can use – you’re welcome).
Christmas List
With this list in hand for each of my kids, I hit Cyber Monday like a champ!! Cyber Monday is all about getting the most bang for your buck. So here are a few tips, websites, and apps to help you win the day!
Cyber Monday – Best Sites & Apps
EBATES – If you are going to shop online, you might as well earn money back while you are at it. Just by clicking on your favorite stores THROUGH Ebates.com you can earn cash back on all your purchases… even AMAZON! This site is a no-brainer for sure! All you need to do is register on the site, click on the store you were going to shop anyway, and BAM! Money back! Slick, right?
EARNY – This one is another no-brainer site/app. All you need to do is sign up, and then based on purchase receipts from your email, Earny will watch for any price drops on the items you purchased. Then you get a refund! If you are worried about not getting the best deal. Sign up for this app and then you don’t have to fret. You will get the money back when the items go for a cheaper price! Easy peasy!
RETAIL ME NOT – While you are shopping through Ebates, before you click to purchase, open up Retail Me Not online and see if you can add a coupon code to your purchase! There are LOADS of coupon codes in this app and all you have to do is click to copy the code and you’ve just scored another sweet deal! Seriously soooo many offers!
AMAZON – Amazon will have LOADS of options for Cyber Monday. But here’s the thing. You MUST have Amazon Prime to get a really good value from this thing. When you are searching products, you can filter them by ones that offer Prime shipping which will save you a bunch. However… here’s the thing. Just because something is offering you Prime Shipping, that company may still be based in China and it will take you closer to 8-10 WEEKS to receive your items instead of the typical 2-day Prime shipping. Just speaking from experience here. When you look at your cart right before you checkout, Amazon will sort out how everything by when it will be shipped. Just do yourself a favor and double check that your Cyber Monday items will actually get to you before New Years. 🙂
SWAGBUCKS – This is a fun site. You can add an extension on your web browser and it will automatically find coupon codes for you for the items you are searching for. You can also earn more SB by taking surveys and such. Just be careful not to get sucked in too far in those. You can waste a LOT of time online doing those. BUT… if you are shopping online anyway, then you might as well double dip and earn extra rewards, right?!
Here are some obscure sites where you can find fun little oddities for that one really tough customer on your list…
Pick Your Plum – This site is supported by many small businesses, which I LOVE. There are tons of really fun items at low prices and a LOT of stuff that you can have personalized!
Zulily – Again… super fun site with loads of unique options. If you are looking for that one thing that you can’t find at a brick and mortar type store, check this site out.
Live Life on Less – Favorite Things – Or maybe you are looking at some direct sales or other small business type deals. I have a bunch of friends who have their own small businesses which I have linked on my site at the bottom of my Favorite Things! Have fun and tell those crazy friends of mine I said hello!
Ok – That’s about it.
What are your best Cyber Monday deals? Is this your first year trying it? I want to know what deals you snagged!! Join my Facebook group to share your awesome finds!
Happy Holidays!!

Black Friday Done Right!

 
Black Friday Done Right!
 
You guys!! How is Black Friday already happening NEXT WEEK! Does it feel like it has come a little earlier than normal this year? Or is it just me??
 
I have chatted with a few of you after the coupon classes about my best secrets and tips for getting the most out of Black Friday deals. Well… I decided it was time to share these tips with EVERYONE!
 
First thing you need to know is that not everything you see advertised for Black Friday is a good deal! Remember… those ads are ADVERTISING! If you are super excited to go buy something in the ad that means those marketers have done their job and done it well!
 
Decorations!
Do not buy decorations on Black Friday unless the store does like what Target did last year where you got a $25 gift card for spending $75 on holiday decor. Otherwise… wait until AFTER the holidays and scoop up goodies for next year at up to 75% off! Such a better deal if you wait a bit.
 
Winter Clothing!
I know it seems like a perfect time to snag a nice big puffy jacket, but the best deals will arrive in JANUARY! If you NEED to get jackets for the kiddos, you might save about 50% off Black Friday which isn’t a TERRIBLE deal, but if you hang tight until after the first of the year you can grab some even better deals!
 
Fitness Equipment!
You may be tempted to get a jump on your New Year’s Resolutions, but really the big sales hit AFTER New Year’s. Don’t get sucked in just yet. Take advantage of the extra few weeks and fill up on all the sweet things!! You have my permission. 🙂
 
Furniture!
Just to keep with the theme here… New furniture is released in February, so in January furniture stores will be looking to clear some floor space. That’s a great time to pop into your favorite furniture store place and then… ask to see the old floor models or the items that have a slight flaw or imperfection. If you know your kids are going to chew the legs of a dining room table anyway, why not get one pre-chewed for a song!?
 
Toys!
Yes, toys! These are some of the most advertised items on Black Friday, but typically stores put these items on deeper discounts closer to Christmas. Again… they need to clear those shelves. You DO run the risk of stores running out of “THE” toy of the season, but hey… kids need to learn about disappointment sometime, right?! HAHA! I’m only half kidding. Plus, if you were really planning ahead, you would have scooped up some major clearance items back in July!! What? You didn’t… well… now you know how to plan for next year. 

 

Anything Outdoors-ey!
I’m not sure that’s a word, but you know what I mean. Patio furniture, grills and those sort of items. Those best deals happen around Labor Day or as soon as summer is over. Same theory as getting Christmas decorations AFTER the holiday. Summer is just one long holiday, so next summer if you want to gift a grill, buy it early and try and keep it a secret for 4 months. Good luck.
 

 

Want some great tips for snagging those best deals??
 
#1 – Do your homework!
Most retailers have their Black Friday ads out right now! Look up your favorites, Kohls, Target, Walmart, GameStop, JCPenny, Amazon, and start making your Christmas list right away! Some of these stores are offering their BF Deals right NOW! Avoid the crazy and still start saving.
 
#2 – Get there early!
Some stores may be offering an extra bonus for their first few shoppers. If you are willing to stand in line, you could snag some extra cash, rewards, or even high end products. Throw on an extra layer of clothes and you may come home with a bonus!
 
#3 – Bring a friend…or 2…or 3!
My most successful Black Friday was when I went out with four of my friends. We each had copies of each other’s lists. We started at one store, and two of us stood in line while the others quickly gathered everyone’s items. When they were brought to the front of the store, we traded places! Two of us went on to the next store even to get a head start on deals down the street. We leapfrogged our way through a fun night of savings! We were extremely tired, and cold, but all our Christmas shopping was done in one day! This is CRAZY fun, but make sure the friends you bring along have the same eye for deals that you do! 🙂
 
#4 – Bring your coupons!
Did you know that some retailers offer coupons for non-food items for Black Friday?! Check the Coupon Database for items before you head to the store.
 
#5 – Stick to your BUDGET!

 

There may be some other items that catch your eye. Beware! These items could end up breaking your budget. If you are typically an impulse shopper, then go ahead and add a few extra bucks to your budget just in case. Make sure you have planned ahead for this special day.
 
GREAT BUDGET TIP… Plan out the stores you want to shop and plan the amount you will spend at each of them. THEN check your local grocery store and see if they sell gift cards for those stores! If you have a set limit to spend at the store, then you can easily make decisions to buy or cut back. ANNNDDD…. if your grocery store offers a rewards program or gas reward program, then you can double dip on the savings!! Whoot whoot!!
 
 
SHAMELESS PIG… I mean PLUG…
If you want more fun budgeting tips like this one… tune in to my Webinar tomorrow night, November 15th at 7:00PM (eastern time) for even MORE ways to get control of your spending!

 
With your registration you will automatically receive my Ultimate Budget Planning Kit that way we can walk through it together on Thursday! Fun, right?! I will ALSO open the webinar up for a live Q&A after we have discussed the REALLY coooooolll budgeting tool I’m sending you for the low, low cost of $10 :). Not bad, right!?
This kit will be sold in my Saving Shop after the webinar, but it NOT be this low of a price!
 
 
Have fun this Black Friday!!
But remember that while these deals may be spectacular, they may not be worth giving up valuable family time. You can always find another deal, but time with loved ones is priceless!
 
I hope you have a very happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday!!

 

 

Sources: 

Dealnews.com | Nerd Wallet | My Own Crazy Experiences