Frugal Idea #49: Yummly

I was recently invited to dinner at my friends’ spot. They are recently married and they are both passionate of their crock pot. So far, I have only discovered their homemade turkey chili. However, I am anxiously waiting to try the salsa verde chicken! It was really great to see a couple take time to make home made meals versus eating out for dinner.

After numerous days of eating out during the work day lunch, I realized I needed to stay focused on home made meals and watching that budget. I could not believe I was paying up to $20 for lunch. Ridiculous! As much as I enjoy eating out with the staff and co-workers, eating out will not assist with my financial goals. Having a crazy work schedule and commute, I needed to make quick and easy meals that are easy to pack. Here is how I have quickly adjusted my eating habits to save money:

  1. Invest in Tupperware you enjoy using – I used to buy random Tupperware from Safeway that did not last long (Glad or generic versions). They stained from red pasta sauce, they lost their shape, and sometimes leaked. I decided to invest in quality Tupperware such as glassware. I bought enough sizes to store leftovers, small items like a half used onion, or snacks. I love it!
  2. Organize your Tupperware – One thing that drove me crazy was having Tupperware, but never being able to find the lid that fits. I finally, pulled all Tupperware out of the pantry and threw away any plastic Tupperware that was missing a lid. I decided to buy one of those multi sized packages that comes with 20 Tupperware pieces. If you are more organized, you will be more likely to use the Tupperware and cooking will be a breeze. I now store the lids all together and stack the bottom pieces for easy grabbing and packing.
  3. Get some help – Sometimes I just don’t have time to think about what to cook! I also get sick of cooking the same old meal. I decided to run a Google search on best mobile cooking apps. I decided to download Yummly! It is pretty amazing. You list your favorite cuisines, list any allergies or foods you don’t enjoy (I listed Banana Leaves and sticky rice… just not my cup of tea!), and the app will send you a feed of endless recipes. You can also filter the feed based on the type of ingredients you want to use and how you want to cook it. Tonight, I chose Slow Cooking/Crock Pot and Chicken Breasts. The other great thing is that, you can have all of the ingredients sent to a grocery list for easy shopping! I really look forward to dinner, thanks Yummly!

I hope this helps you out with meal planning and enjoying your time in the kitchen! Let me know what you make.

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Frugal Idea #33: Budgeting 1.5% for holiday cheers

Apologies for being M.I.A. The Christmas season took over me like other Americans. I had numerous holiday events to attend, numerous dinners, spent time shopping online, and spent time roaming the malls looking for last minute ideas for the few white elephant parties I had been invited to. All in all, I am happy that I did not over spend or allow myself to be so exhausted like previous years that I was more stressed than jolly. However, reflecting back on the past few weeks, I decided that I want to be more organized for 2015’s holiday season. After a few quick online studies, I feel mentally prepared to hit my goals next year.

I love giving. I enjoy seeing loved ones smile when receiving surprise gifts. I enjoy receiving a text or email letting me know that they enjoyed the special delivery via U.S. Postal service. This year brought new experiences in my frugal ways during the holiday season:

  • Instead of buying items, I think he/she would like, I purchased items that were consumable. The thought of someone needing to return an item because it did not fit or was not wanted, makes me cringe. So, I took a different risk this year. I purchased items that reflected who I am, but would provide energy by being eaten and is something that will not take up space or time and energy to be returned to the store. Items I gave included organic fruit baskets, organic holiday bags filled with goods from Trader Joes, San Francisco’s famous Ghiradelli chocolate, and San Francisco’s famous Boudin breads.
  • For the fickle consumer, I gave cash. In my personalized card, I said please buy something nice for yourself.
  • I focused on time savers – online shopping. I made quick decisions without looking back. As long as it was budget, I purchased it.

For 2015, I want to focus on the following:

  • Buying holiday items NOW. Buying them when they are 10%, 15%, 50%, or even 75% off. I know stores need to clear their inventory.
  • Buy throughout the year. This is most important for white elephants and items for children. If there is a good sale, buy it. Store it well!

Most of all, I am going to stick to a true budget. After numerous website visits, I decided that this made sense for me: 1.5% of my income goes towards holiday spending. This includes the ornaments on your trees, the Christmas lights, gifts, and dinners. For example, if your salary is $40,000, try to spend a total of $600.00. If you divide that by 12 months, you should save $50.00 a month. It seems more manageable versus waiting for the end of the year to realize how much you have to dish out! I will report next year to see how this works out! Check out this link below!

1.5% of your income should be spent for Christmas!