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Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

I love to pre-plan my monthly menus. I find that this not only makes life easier for me on a daily basis, but it is a huge help in my food costs each month. One area that I always seem to forget is planning out our lunches. Each week, lunchtime is a meal that we just grab something from the pantry. Rarely have I planned ahead. I am making changes to that though.

On Pinterest, I have become hooked at searching the kids’ Bento lunch ideas. Have you seen these cute meals that some parents put together? They are absolutely adorable! Now, our 8 year old daughter is giving all the expected girlie responses to the pictures. Our son, not so much. The basic ideas though are great.

I went to Dollar Tree and found some 3-sectioned round plates with lids in their food storage container aisle. These are as large as a standard dinner plate and about 1 1/4” deep. I ended up buying 5 of them with plans to buy 5 more next time I am at the store. All I will need to make these a perfect option for packed lunches on our outings is to buy an insulated food bag like those found in grocery stores.

I designed a planner form to use for pre-planning the lunches. I based the design upon the layout of the sectioned plates I purchased. I added an extra space in the largest section where an optional 3rd side dish or other item can be placed. The plate chart looks like this:

Planner
The first form that I made is a simple one that is pretty generic for any Bento style container with 4 sections total. The form gives you ample room to record lunch ideas 5 days which include a main dish plus up to 3 sides. The second form is more of a chart with the plate graphic for each weekday. You can fill in the plates with the items you will be packing. The bottom portion of both forms includes a shopping list for recording what you will need for each week’s lunches.

I love the idea of having the written planner for the lunches. Each week, I will be able to have a set plan that I can work from throughout the week. Even though we homeschool, I can still prepare the lunches the night before and have them ready to go the next day. When we have an outing, these pack and go lunches will be a huge benefit. We can continue to eat vegetarian foods in spite of a lack of vegetarian choices at the venues we go to. The packed lunches will also be healthier and cost less than eating out at a fast food or other restaurant.

Just as with my weekly dinner menus, I will save the menus that I put together. This gives me a ready supply of ideas. Typically, when I use my weekly dinner plan sheets, I have a selection of 8 different weekly menus. When I plan m monthly grocery shopping, I choose 4 of the weekly menus and that will give me a month’s worth of meals. Each planner sheet contains a grocery list for that specific week’s menu. Having the lunch planner will make the shopping for lunches a lot easier. Just as with the dinner plans, I can see at a glance what groceries will be needed. When making out my shopping list, I combine the grocery lists from each planner form onto a single grocery list.

You can download a free copy of the Lunch Menu Planner for your own use. I ask that you do not repost the link to the download to your blog or try to pass off my forms as your own. Please refer people back to this blog post to access the download if you want to share it.

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DIY Art Supplies

It is that time of year again when families are getting sticker shock at the prices of Back to School supplies for their kids.  Just like those in public or private schools, children who are homeschooled go through a LOT of supplies each school term.  One thing that I notice in homeschooling Little Miss and Pookie is that we go through more supplies than when my older kids were in public school.  Items like paper and pencils are about the same as when the older children went to school, but art supplies is a whole different matter.

It is amazing how much paint and other basic art supplies we go through.  I like to encourage the kids to be creative in their play as well as art.  In order to do this, I sometimes have to be a bit creative myself when it comes to obtaining supplies.  The best thing I ever did was search for recipes to make homemade supplies.

Now, I know that children who are not homeschooled wouldn’t be able to take the homemade art supplies to school.  They can use them at home for their fun projects.  For families who homeschool, the homemade versions of art supplies can be a huge blessing to the budget.  We also see it as a great way to teach our children to be more frugal.  By making the supplies at home, we are able to get the supplies much cheaper.  In winter months, it is especially helpful to have the recipes so that I am not having to travel to the city to buy supplies we have run out of.  If we run out of a specific color of watercolor paint on a pallet, then I can make more of that one color instead of having to buy a whole new set of paints.

There are two resources that are my “go-to” places to find recipes.  I strongly suggest that you test a few out.  One recipe may work better than another, depending on the type of project you are doing.  I finally began recording the recipes which gave me the best results in a small notebook for quick reference offline.  Some recipes seem to work better than others.  It all comes down to your own preferences.

The first site that I recommend is Make, Create, and Do.  This page has some very good recipes for the basics that a young child or preschooler would use.  I have used several of them with good results.

The second site, Artists Helping Children, has a larger number of recipes to choose from, included some that are better suited for older children.  Overall, they have a wide range of supplies that you can make which would benefit children of any age.

I know that there are many more websites with recipes for art supplies.  Of all that I have looked at and tested recipes from, the two listed above have been the best.  If you know of another website that has recipes that you have tried and had good results with, I would love to know about them.

 

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One of my most frustrating moments is when we run out of something we need for a homeschool assignment.  To help decrease the chance of that happening, I take advantage of the back to school sales. 

Today, I found at one store the 24 count boxes of Crayola crayons for 50¢ each.  They also had colored pencils for the same price.  I bought enough to get us through the upcoming school term.  The same will be done with all other school supplies. I am dedicating a bookcase just for storing the supplies. By the time we begin the new school term, we will have everything we need for the year.

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