Tools to stretch your dollars from two women, Jaci Dunphy and Theresa Vardilos
From Jaci Dunphy
Over the last 10 years, I have been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom and as a result, have really learned the value of a dollar. Penny-pinching and finding new ways to save money has always been a top priority. I have tried many different ideas but the only thing that has worked for me, saved me time and proved over the years to save the most money, is to be prepared. Preparedness is the best advice I could ever give to help save money and time in the kitchen.
On the weekdays, we are always keeping the road hot. As you can imagine with four kids and each of them being involved in something, Mondays thru Thursdays we aren’t home until 6 p.m. After a long day, the last thing I want to do is come home and figure out what to make for dinner. Stopping on the way home for a burger and French fries would be an easy option, but before you know it there’s more than $80 a week and over $320 a month, gone! So let me share with you a little about what being prepared looks like in our home.
We do our Costco runs about twice a month and get pretty much the exact same things every trip. Justin and I are on high protein diets and track our daily intake of carbs and fats. Because of this, our Costco list consists of LOTS of boneless-skinless chicken breasts, quinoa, sweet potatoes, eggs, Greek yogurt, fruits, and veggies. Going to Costco with a list is also a great tip for keeping your bill to a minimum.
Sundays and Wednesdays are our meal prepping days. On Sundays, I cook enough food to make portions for five meals per day, through Wednesday, for Justin and me. I also make enough to use for dinners for the kids, through Wednesday. I do mix it up for the kids though and stir in things like taco salads, chicken tacos, and even breakfast for dinner. Having the main ingredients prepared already makes it a million times easier to throw something together when I get home in the evenings. Then again on Wednesday, I meal prep all over again.
The Dunphy essentials recipes:
Boneless skinless chicken breasts—our favorite ways to cook our chicken is on the stove and on the barbeque. We use garlic, salt and pepper as our seasonings.
Sweet potatoes—my FAVORITE! Peel sweet potatoes, cut them up into small cubes, throw them into a pan, add a whole onion chopped and mix together with a little coconut oil. Cook until potatoes are cooked through.
Quinoa–we cook our quinoa as instructed on the package.
Veggies—we don’t always do our veggies the same. I do like to mix this part up. I love sautéed veggies, so I do sauté a variety of veggies in coconut oil with garlic, salt and pepper. I also steam our veggies sometimes, or even boil frozen veggies in water.
I know that every family won’t be ok with eating the essentials that we do. Finding those foods that you and your family would enjoy would be your first step. I recommend a lean meat, a potato, rice or quinoa and then a couple different veggies. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. I would love to help in any way. Your wallet won’t be the only thing thanking you for your preparedness, but your health and figure will too!
From Theresa Vardilos
When I was asked to share a few of my “thrifty tips” I immediately thought of our health? We are firm believers in taking care of our bodies by doing healthy things (exercise) and by eating healthy foods. Exercise is an easy one. You don’t need to be a member of a gym or own expensive equipment. You just need to get up off the couch and move more. Park further out at the mall or grocery store and take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
However, eating healthy foods can be a challenge. Buying and eating organic and natural foods can be expensive so my thrifty tip is to join a food co-op that supplies locally grown organic and natural foods. Buying locally supports our area growers so we will always have access to healthy food options and by joining a co-op you help our growers and yourself to keep costs down.
I’ve found two local growers that I really like who offer co-op programs. They are Azure Standard and J.R. Organics. I’ve found both of these growers to provide good quality organic fruits and vegetables at a fair and competitive price. Take a minute to check them out.
Buying organics and eating healthy can seem more expensive at first, but in the long run you will feel better, look better, reduce your medical expenses and save money.
The next thrifty tip I thought about was the benefit of becoming a do-it-yourselfer. There are so many “how to” videos and instructions online to make and do anything yourself from gifts to home decorations to refinishing furniture.
Even if you’re not a crafty person that likes to do this as much as I do, for I’m almost always in the middle of some project, you can still learn lots of money saving tips by learning how to do simple things yourself. Whether it’s finding a healthy recipe, creating a new centerpiece for your table or making a special gift for a friend … doing it yourself will save you lots of money and add just the right personal touch that only you can. Plus, you just might develop a new skill and find a new hobby that you really enjoy. Best of all, nothing is more special or shows your love and the love of Christ more personally than blessing a family member, friend or co-worker with a handmade, handcrafted gift. One of my favorite websites for finding simple, easy and creative ideas to make just about anything you can think of is Pinterest. It’s a relatively new site, but well worth checking out.
The next time you are out shopping, looking for just that perfect gift, stop and ask yourself, “could I make something myself for less money?” That’s how many of my ideas get started and how I stretch our dollars.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
I am 30 years old and am a stay at home wife and mom. My husband and I have been married for 8½ years and we have 4 children, Donovan (9), Drake (7), Irelyn (3) and Raegan (1). We keep our kids active in sports and activities, so we are very busy, most nights not getting home until 6pm. Fitness and nutrition are a huge passion of mine. My goal is to become a certified personal trainer to help and motivate others to achieve their health and fitness goals.
Married to Byron for 17 years, we have four wonderful children, two boys and two girls between the ages of nine and 14. I’m a stay-at-home mom busy with homeschooling and the daily duties of managing of our home. Some of my favorite things to do include inspiring other through prayer, teaching and making things with my hands from floral designs, knitting and beading to bread making and adapting recipes to meet the health needs of my family. We’ve attended The Father’s House since 2003. My current favorite verse is “Truly He is my rock and salvation; He is my fortress; I will not be shaken” Psalm 62:6.