Category Archives: Shopping

Money or the Mindset?

Do the little things matter because it’s a little more money in the pocket?  Or because the mindset to save dimes will inevitably save way more than a few dollars?

I wondered this as I got half-way through the parking lot before realizing I forgot my reusable bag in the van.  I walked back for the specific bag for that store (they only give credit for THEIR bags) and shortly after, received my dime’s worth of savings.  As I walked out, it was still on my mind…. I was doing the mental math.  4 bags a week for a year.  Maybe $20 a year in savings.  Maybe.

Sure, there is the whole “green” thing.  I’m not dissing that.  But I was focused on the change.

So does $20 really make that much difference?  Especially when it takes a year to accumulate less than what we need for a family dinner at a restaurant?  Is it worth the walk back for a bag?  Is that dime worth the quick pang of quilt when you don’t have a bag?

Or does the mere intentionality of it crucial to compounding the savings into something bigger?

If I don’t care about the dimes, will I have trouble caring about the dollars?




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Filed under Attitude, Shopping, Uncategorized

Community Supported Agriculture: CSA

We eat our share of vegetables.  I love to garden and the kids like their garden club, so we have more variety now than before all this gardening…but I’ve been intrigued by the idea of CSAs since I first read about them a few years ago.

I would read blog posts about the fabulous things people were eating.  And the value of eating locally grown food that was fresher and better tasting!  Oh how I read it all with envy…

I had never heard of one anywhere near where I live.  And MN has a not-so-long growing season so I wondered if that discouraged the formation of CSAs in my area.

So for the last 3 years I’ve tried to be content with picking buckets & buckets of strawberries at a local berry farm.  WOW! Those berries, fresh from the field are so good!

Then it happened!

I started to hear ads for a local CSA on the radio!  Could I be hearing this right?  It is actually about an hour away, but there will be a drop-off in SmallTown.  I was so happy.  Then I started having reservations about actually buying a share.

A full share (to feed 3-4 people) is $500.  I don’t typically lay that kind of cash out.  We’ve never been ones to buy 1/2 a hog or large quantities of beef…so this was a little outside my comfort zone.

The boxes would come weekly for 20 weeks.  So that broke down to $40 a week.  This is 40% of my consumables budget (food, household/personal products, pet food).  And in addition to the 20 weeks of boxes there are 7 farm pick events.  For instance you get 10 dozen ears of corn when its ready…enough to freeze for winter.  A bushel of cucumbers for pickling, extra tomatoes to pick (for canning) when September comes, and pumpkins in the fall…there are lots of good extras.

So now that $40/week average looks like less since there will certainly be plenty of food to preserve in one way or another for winter.  Two clover-fed chickens are included as well…yum!

Finally last week I signed up!  The boxes start coming next week & I am anxious to see how much food is there each week.  I am excited to eat locally-grown foods and discover new and interesting ways to prepare our old favorites as well as new-to-us veggies.  Each week we get recipes for the veggies that will be showing up that week and the next.

I’ve made a promise to myself that if we have an over-abundance I will find a way to preserve as much as possible by freezing, dehydrating or canning.  When I told my hubby (who supports this whole-heartedly) that I was concerned about waste, he said “how would that be different than the times you occasionally throw out produce now?”  He’s right…sometimes you just can’t get to it all.  So I’ll do my best to use it all in some way…and not sweat the rest.

I would love to know if you have any experience with CSAs.   What can you tell me???

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Filed under Gardening, In the Kitchen, Shopping

Speak Up

Sometimes it’s hard for me to speak up.  Especially when I feel like I probably should’ve said something earlier and didn’t, for whatever reason.

That was the case with Stanley’s new glasses.  He got new glasses in September after losing the old ones, and at first they were ok.  But eventually it seemed that two weeks didn’t go by without a trip into the eye place to have them adjusted.  Once he broke off a nose piece trying to adjust it himself.  He would complain that the glasses would slip right off his head while we was looking down at his paper in school.  The lenses were scratched from them flying off in gym class.  All the repairs and adjustments were free with the one year warranty that comes with the glasses, but it was all getting annoying.

When the new lenses were in and they called to say we could come in and have them switched I decided to mention the aggravation these glasses were causing.  I hoped they could at least tell me if this brand was problematic or if they were maybe made out of a slightly different material that didn’t hold it’s shape as well…something.  And then I was going to make a note to not buy this brand/type again.

Surprisingly the manager (it’s a three person crew) acknowledged that we had been in there a lot with these new glasses and suggested we replace the frames with different ones.  I asked what that would cost.  She said it wouldn’t cost anything, that she’d send them back under the warranty.  Cool.  I didn’t think I could exchange them after almost 5 months.

He’s had his new glasses for a few weeks.  What a difference!

This time mentioning a problem found us a happy solution.  It was certainly worth speaking up.  When did you last speak up about something, and did you get satisfaction from it?

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Filed under Kids, Shopping, You Don't Have to Like It

Double Coupons

I had my first experience with double coupons the other day.  I know.  Some of you can’t believe it.  You use those double coupons and all that other good stuff to get all kinds of things for free, or close to it.  Unfortunately I don’t’ have those resources.  Driving 60 miles to double a coupon doesn’t make much sense to me.

So how did I manage a couple of double coupons?  I noticed a few weeks ago that our local discount store has double coupons for a week every couple of months.  I don’t usually save coupons, partly because I find I save more on generic or lower price brands and I tend to print just the coupons I need for shopping at one of the grocery stores in town, or Walmart.

The discount store had our favorite brand of baked beans on sale for $1 per can (the big 28oz can) so I went to buy a case.  I noticed a sign on some juice that was a good sale price.  Hey!  I have some promo coupons for that kind of juice!  $1 off two.  So…that would be $2 off two, right?  I bought four and after my two coupons had four 64oz bottles of 100% juice for 65 cents each.  I was so excited.

I got a glimpse of the rush that can come from a phenomenal deal…but I don’t think I’ll be looking any harder for coupons.  I will however, keep an eye out for the next double coupon week and see what I have then.  It was a fun thrill, but I still don’t have the opportunities available consistently enough to make it worth my time to start cutting and organizing lots of coupons.

I’ll admit that sometimes I think all the deal chasing is a little crazy…this little glimpse showed me why some of you ladies get hooked!

What’s the best deal you’ve gotten lately??

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Filed under Shopping


Owlhaven put out a challenge to spend less this month.  Her goal is $75 a week for her family of 10 at home.  I’ve seen similar things on other blogs, like Small Notebook’s 30 days of nothing in July.  I am always intrigued.  I love the idea of a challenge.  Maybe because I’m more competitive than I realize sometimes.

My excuse for not participating has always been because of the daycare.  Since it is my business, there are certain food related business costs.  Due to food program regulations I have stringent requirements to adhere to.  I must serve all four food groups at lunch, three food groups at breakfast and two at snacks.  I have to have a certain amount of food prepared for each child…things like that.  But really daycare isn’t a valid reason for skipping the chance to whittle back the budget numbers a little.  Maybe I’m just a bit lazy and complacent…I don’t want to do the hard thing.

My cash budget for groceries, pet items, household and personal products is usually $100 per week.  That includes daycare food, as I don’t really keep that separate from our family’s food.  Except I can’t serve daycare children venison, fish or any other meat harvested by my hunter husband.  And I can’t serve the kids home-canned food, only frozen.

I’ve been thinking that Mary’s challenge could be a great tool for me to really reevaluate my grocery budget.  I thought about adopting the $75 as well, but that is only a $25 cut per week.  I want to see if I can make a REAL difference, even if just for a month.  So I’ve decided to try to get through September for $240. An average of $60 per week.  With my own family and daycare children  I feed 9 people between two shifts for breakfast, pack two lunches and feed 7 more at lunch then 11 at snack in the afternoon.  Suppers and weekends are just the four of us.

I mentioned my plan to that husband of mine.  His comment was that he guessed he’d be losing weight this month…we’ve both been working on that, so it really isn’t a bad thing.  I didn’t shop to stock up at the end of August.  In fact I just decided yesterday that I’d participate after all.  I haven’t spent any money yet in September but will go to the store on Sunday or Monday.  I started working on a three week menu to take us to September 27th.  I’ll be working on figuring out where I can cut out expenses more as the weeks go on.

Wish me luck.

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Filed under Adventure, Doing Without, Menus, Shopping, You Don't Have to Like It

Heathly Habits

Last week we had a few crazy nights, not unlike other busy families.  Grace is in Volleyball and has a crazy practice schedule sometimes.  She needed to eat before the rest of us so I pulled some leftover chicken and a bun out.  Add some BBQ sauce and she had a nice BBQ chicken sandwich.  Glass of milk.  Good to go.

But then I heard, “Don’t we have a banana or carrot or something?”

Busted.  I was out of all fresh produce except for carrots, which she’d had in her lunchbox that day.  She accepted the carrot I offered and ate her dinner quick before leaving.

It was nice to know that they do pay attention to the food groups that show up on their plate.  And even miss some of them when they are absent.  After dropping her off for practice I bought the following produce: 5# bag apples, 3# bag oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, bananas, kiwi and celery.  Happily my total for a basket of fresh produce was only $12.

No one has had to ask for a fruit or vegetable since.

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Filed under In the Kitchen, Kids, Shopping

Rethink That Parking Spot


At a baby shower for my first baby, I got some of the best, most practical  advice I’ve ever gotten.  Most advice people give is subjective.  Some things work, some don’t.  This is a tangible piece of advice that has always worked.

When parking at the store or mall, always try to park next to a cart return.  Always.  As close as you can get…even if that means parking farther from the doors.

Why?  When you have a newborn those carriers are heavy and you are tired.  If you park out farther you can always put that infant seat right in a cart in the parking lot and push the baby into the store.

But the  best part is on the way out.  Have you ever parked a distance from a cart return, then when you’ve unloaded your bags into your vehicle you have to push the cart back?  What did you do with your kids?  I was always nervous about  leaving them in the car…even if it was 6 or 7 parking spaces away.  So I would have had to drag them with when all they would want to do is sit down.  With a baby you are carrying them the extra distance to the car from the cart return.

Now that my kids are older and definitely do not ride in carts, I still park near the cart return.  It is really simple to unload those big things like cases of paper towels or toilet paper, or those 8 bags into the van and then pop the cart in the return stall and be on my way.

Next time you are out shopping give it a try.  Park next to the cart return and let me know if it worked for you…because it has worked for me for years.

For more works-for-me-Wednesday posts check out all the posts at  Rocks In My Dryer.


Filed under Shopping