I’m a snacking enthusiast.

While we’re still on the subject of investing in frugality, I’d really like to take the time to reiterate what I said in my previous post. That message is quite simple: There are really no right or wrong ways to go about this. If you’re making progress, you’re making progress. To be honest with all of you, these last couple of months have been challenging – I’ve been occupied with some of life’s many obstacles, and this blog, as well as this lifestyle, has taken a backseat to overcoming them, as well as prioritized self-care.

During this time, I still needed to work with a very small budget, and I found myself snacking A LOT. I have a tendency to skip meals in order to save money (as well as under large amounts of stress), and though this is a hard thing to hear, it’s incredibly common. It is, however, very bad for you and your body! So, please, don’t skip meals! In my opinion, the best way to combat missed meals is to invest in affordable nutritious snacks. Keep easy access and easy to eat foods in your home – especially foods that do not need to be prepared or cooked (with the exception of oatmeal!) Some of my favorite snacks are fruits, vegetables, yogurt, oatmeal, popcorn, and biscuits or crackers.

When buying fruits as vegetables, I suggest to stick to carrots, apples, and bananas because they’re often cheapest year-round. Buy a generic box of plain saltines or biscuits. For yogurt, always go for the tub! Never buy those tiny cups. Sure, they’re convenient, but it’s insanely cheaper to buy the tub. Another great option is buying cheese by the block, and cutting them up into cubes. Hard boiled eggs can be cooked and stored for later. A friend of mine suggested any kind of sausage you can cook and store away for later is another great option. I’ve been told they’re very tasty eaten cold, wrapped in cabbage with a little mustard, however, I’ve never tried that myself!

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Living Frugally: Is Money More Precious Than Time?

Many would say that saving money, particularly on food, requires a huge commitment of time and effort. And, that really is true in most cases. Cooking in bulk, clipping coupons, using grocery apps, and meal/budget planning before even leaving the house are big factors in saving money. And, all of these tasks require disciple, commitment, and a whole lot of time. Being frugal is indeed a time-consuming process – but a process that does pay off in a big way.

Over time, I’ve realized that this kind of investment of time isn’t always an option. When I ask others what stands in the way between them and their goals, the answer is always TIME and INVESTMENT. Over recent months, I’ve learned that even I find this way of life not ideal. Ideally, I would like to reduce the time and effort it takes to save money. You’ll notice this when you read some of my blog posts regarding concepts such as grocery delivery where time and effort are greatly reduced. Think crock-pots!

Truly, what’s the point of saving money, if you have no time to spend it elsewhere? Yes, saving money, living minimally, and frugally, is important to me, and I choose to live this way for numerous reasons, but that is not who I am. Balance, baby.

Before everything else, I am a wife, a daughter, and a friend – an optimist, a humanist, a lover of life, an educator, a poet, and a painter. Heck, most of my free time is actually spent gaming! Eventually, I’d like to learn to incorporate all these other parts of me into my blog. I’m sure my readers don’t actually think my life is just an array of throwing together tasty slop, clipping coupons, and writing about it!

What is the purpose of this post? (You don’t need to tell me I went off on a very obvious tangent – I see that :P) I just want to tell all of you that if you’re making progress, you’re doing everything right – keep pushing, keep grinding, but most importantly, be you always. Also, that I wrote this post for you just as much as I wrote it for myself.

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Shopmissa Mini-Haul & Giftcard Giveaway!

Want to win a $25 giftcard to my favorite online dollar store – Shopmissa.com?! Comment on this post with your favorite products from Shopmissa.com and/or what you’d get with your $25 giftcard! Winner will be annouced 7-27-16!

Overall, it is always a fantastic experience. This time around, I recieve a very small package (of 6 items). Even though the package was very small, it arrived much later than expected. It took almost a week to ship! However, once it was out, arriving at my apartment took just a matter of days. Best case scenerio is they were out of stock of one of the items, having to wait a few days, and that’s why it took a bit longer than usual. Still, I am so happy with all of the items I recieved!

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The L.A. Colors lip gloss and the Burt’s Bees tinted balm are not from my Shop Missa A order but I wanted to share them! It makes the perfect combo for a a bold lip.

Of course, I took some selfies to show you folks how the Kleancolor “Madly Matte” lipsticks look when worn!

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My personal favorite – Congo Pink #2281 (Kleancolor Matte Lipsticks)
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A bright, and I’d say “fearless” color! Fearless #24 (Kleancolor Matte Lipsticks)

What’s that in my nose?

Faux nose clip and 2 faux septum rings!

Want these for yourself? Here are the links:

2 Piece Gold Rhinestone Septum Rings

Madly Matte Lipstick- Pink Tones

Madly Matte Lipstick- Orange Tones

Oatmeal Oxygen Bubble Mask

Want to win a $25 giftcard to my favorite online dollar store – Shopmissa.com?! Comment on this post with your favorite products from Shopmissa.com and/or what you’d get with your $25 giftcard! Winner will be annouced 7-27-16!

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6 Month Anniversary & Forums!

So, it’s come to my attention that as of today, it’s been 6 months since I started brain vomiting all over WordPress!

I’ve learned so much in the process of building this blog, and for the most part, I’ve been doing this casually, just for fun – for myself.

To be honest with you, I’m still struggling with sharing my blog with other people outside of WordPress and the blogging community. I’m not really the type of person to throw myself out there and tell people about my life…”then why do you have a blog” Yeah, yeah, I know. LOL. Life is just a big fat ironic thing.

I’ve really surprised myself by how often I look back and reference my own posts! This gives me reassurance that the content I am sharing is useful, beneficial, and worthy of reading.

As of today, I have just a few folks shy of 1,400 loyal subscribers.

I thought this would be a great time to thank all of you for your interest in what I write. 

Today, I’m expanding my blog by including forums on my blog.

Though these forums will be public, they’re mostly there for my subscribers. So far, I’ve made this blog all about me. But, this is a learning experience. As an instructor, as a writer, as a growing and learning human being – I believe in the art and power of collaboration. Let’s help each other by sharing our experiences. Life is hard, no? It’s also very expensive. Where the coupons at?

Cheers to the future,

Jocelyn

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Planner Printables

I’ve always been a huge fan of planners since my adolescent days. I like to feel in control of my life. Who doesn’t?

Setting small goals and completing them (sometimes something as small as following through with today’s meal plan (really provides a sense of control in a very hectic world). Not to mention, heck, it’s instant gratification that you’re allowing yourself to have on a daily, if not hourly basis.

Bullet Journaling is also a great way to take charge of your life. Successful people – people who get stuff done? They plan. They plan everything. And they plan it well.

What’s the catch? Well for starters, keeping up with your daily planner requires some serious self-discipline. It doesn’t help that planners, really well-made ones, are expensive. They can easily cost you $30 to even $100! I get through life best by writing it all down, so for me, well-designed planners are a good investment. Some great brands are Erin Condren, Plum Paper Designs, Passion Planner, and Day Designer.

Each planner is superb in their own way. Passion Planner is definitely more along the lines of goal setting and very good for young people and post-grads. Erin Condren and Plum Planner allow you to basically create your own custom-made planner to fit your specific needs, and Day Designer is all about organization. Me? I could benefit most from Day Designer because I’m very disorganized and really can’t get anything done without a schedule.

Finally, let’s talk about what’s printable. Now, printing your own planner pages really is a great way to get started immediately (assuming you have a printer, ink, and paper readily available), and don’t want to invest (just yet) in buying one. I find that this is also a great way to sample layouts and decide what is most useful for you. Day Designer has an amazing selection of printable pages. In fact, I believe they offer every page design for you to print yourself for absolutely no cost. Check it out here! Passion Planner also offers their entire planner for printing free of cost. Here’s a link!

Let me know what you think! Is there a planner you recommend? What about free printable(s) online that I missed? Let me know!

 

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Peapod Grocery Haul – $28.09 Per Week Budget/Meal Plan

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I can’t even begin to explain how much I am loving Peapod right now, and how much of a bargain it has been for me and my family. When it comes to feeding myself and my husband healthy and wholesome meals (for the most part 😛 ) for very little money, this really is where it’s at.

So, just to start, I’d like to let you know that my order came out to over $100. About $20 of those dollars went to household items such as toilet paper, dish soap, and cat food to last the month. The rest? Food for nearly 3 weeks.

It could last a bit longer depending on how much we actually end up eating on a day-to-day basis. We also aren’t quite at bare fridge/freezer yet. We have a 3-4 days, if not more of meat in the freezer. We also have frozen vegetables, and leftovers in the fridge. Regardless, I calculated this food plan for 21 days.

I’d like to also throw it out there that I will probably be going to the street markets once a week and spending a few more dollars on fresh fruit for snacking and smoothies. I might also pick up some rice. I also took it upon myself to “shop the pantry”, therefore there are some items I will be cooking with over the next 3 weeks that I already have at home.

Though my meal plan is still sort of a rough draft, this is what I have in the works right now:

Breakfast:

  • Waffles
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal (in pantry)
  • Smoothies

Lunches:

  • Sandwiches
  • Smoothies
  • Leftovers

Dinners:

  • Italian sausage, Peppers, and Potato Bake x3
  • Spaghetti & Meat Sauce x3
  • Beef Stew x2
  • Teriyaki Chicken x3
  • Spanish Chicken Stew x2
  • Classic Roast Chicken x3
  • Tacos x2
  • Chili x2
  • Oven-baked Fish Fillets x3

The idea behind this meal plan, (and for the most part, all of my meal plans), is buying and cooking in bulk and eating leftovers for 2-3 consecutive dinners. It is also using the same ingredients, with different seasonings, for many different dishes. Stews are very inexpensive to cook and it makes a TON!  The stews, as well as the Italian sausage bake will all incorporate the same vegetables. Chili and tacos are both very low-cost, especially if you buy your beans dry and cook them in bulk for the week. (However, this week, I did buy them canned because they were less than 60 cents a can.) The fish fillets are indeed frozen – value size bag of 12 for $3! Teriyaki chicken is very low-cost and simple as well. It only calls for (the cheapest cuts you can find) chicken, soy sauce, sugar, and a few fresh ingredients such as garlic and ginger which I keep on hand.

This is really handy for families who have differing work schedules and don’t spend a lot of time at home during meal time. It not only saves time and money, but when it comes to soups, stews, and chili, it really does get better the longer it cooks and the more times it is reheated on the stove.

I honestly really enjoy the process of cooking, but I realize that a lot of people just don’t have the time/don’t want to invest the time in cooking when they could be investing that time in doing something else (leisure activities, for example). I’d rather be spending my free time playing video games than cooking and cleaning! No lies here!

 

 

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Key Foods Haul $60 2-week Budget

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This morning my husband and I trekked to Key Foods, about a mile away from our apartment. I’ve only been here a few times and already I can tell this is going to be  new favorite neighborhood grocery store! (I also just found out they deliver to Brooklyn!)

They have an awesome selection of generic, as well as premium foods. In terms of bargains, the best was hormone free/organic chicken thighs for less than $1/lb this week. They also had some nice cuts of chopped steaks and pork chops for less than $2/lb.  Key Foods offers many mark downs and manager’s specials on both meat and produce. As you can see in my photos, I scored both mark down veggies as well as meats.

If it wasn’t so far away (and it wasn’t soooo damn hot outside!), I’d definitely be heading down there more often. I can’t seem to locate my receipt, so here is a list of what we purchased:

  1. Gal. of Milk
  2. Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
  3. Jelly Rolls
  4. Peach Pie
  5. Prelude Popcorn Chicken
  6. 5.5lb Hormone-Free Chicken Thighs
  7. 3lb Pork Loin
  8. 1lb Cubed Steaks (4 total)
  9. Jennie-O Turkey Kielbasa
  10. Oscar Myer All-Beef Hot Dogs
  11. lb Lemons
  12. Earthbound Farm romaine lettuce
  13. Carton of White Button Mushrooms
  14. Veggie Medley – Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli (fresh)
  15. Jumbo Yellow Onion
  16. 12 Pack Poptarts
  17. Bag of Berry Colossal Crunch – Generic Cereal (Captain Crunch)
  18. Town House Butter Crackers
  19. Best Yet Angel Hair Pasta – Whole Wheat
  20. Italian Village Cheese Ravioli – Frozen
  21. Friendship Sour Cream
  22. Key Foods Paprika

Meal Plan:

  1. Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
  2. Chicken Noodle Casserole
  3. Creamy Mushroom Chicken
  4. Raviolis
  5. Meat Jun
  6. Teriyaki Steak
  7. Smothered Pork Chops
  8. Breaded Pork Chops
  9. Kielbasa Stir-fry
  10. Homemade Corn-dogs

Lunches – Sandwiches/Salads, leftovers

Breakfasts – Cereal, Pop-tarts

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Reminder: Check A-L-L Grocery Catalogs!

 

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When I load up my Flipp app, there are literally hundreds of catalogs that pop up. On a regular day (or week), I usually don’t bother looking at any of the catalogs for stores that I don’t frequent. To be honest, I am probably missing out on deals I’m not even aware of. In truth, it is kind of a pain to skim through tons of catalogs, but in the long run, you do save money. Effort always pays off.

 

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Minimalist in Manhattan Update

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Hey gang,

Summer is officially here! What does that mean? Seasonal fruits popping up at your grocery stores, BBQ-ing, and outings with family and friends to local parks and beaches, among many other things. I’ve noticed some very obvious changes in sales at our local grocery store that has somewhat made budgeting difficult over the last few weeks. Aside from eggs and cold cuts (such as hotdogs), everything has been insanely over priced!

Before I meal plan for the week, I’m going to check out all the catalogs for nearby grocery stores that I don’t usually shop at to see if prices are any better.

Anyone else experiencing a spike in prices?

-Jocelyn

 

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Frugal Foods: Simple Sandwiches

When it comes to saving money and time, sandwiches are an awesome alternative to large meal prepping. I love sandwiches – really. I love being able to whip something up quick and easy without really getting my hands (or the kitchen) dirty. When I’m feeling lazy, sandwiches are my go-to meal.

One of my favorite memories is sitting on the dining room table with my grandmother at 7:00am with a mug of roasted brown rice tea, and a fresh bag of Pandesal (Filipino dinner rolls). She’d scramble up a few eggs and we’d stuff them inside these warm bread rolls.

Today, I still enjoy a simple egg sandwiches. However, you could say I’ve branched out a little bit as well. Here are my top 10 favorite sandwiches I like to make for breakfast, lunches, or with leftovers the night before:

  1. Basic tuna and avocado sandwich. Literally just these 2 ingredients with the exception of a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. No mayo! Perfect between 2 slices of whole wheat bread. If you like to get a little fancy, here is a great recipe that adds a little something extra.
  2. Avocado and fried egg sandwich. Again very simple – very basic!
  3. BBQ chicken sandwich. Today for lunch we tossed boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the oven smothered in honey BBQ sauce and baked it on low for a few hours before shredding it up. Works great topped with your favorite shredded cheese blend – piled high on a sesame bun! This is a really affordable and easy lunch or dinner idea that anyone would love.
  4. Basic BLT club sandwich with your choice of deli meat. I love a simply turkey sandwich with bacon, lettuce, tomato and real mayonnaise.
  5. Tuna salad sandwich with the works.
  6. Chicken, beef, or lamb gyro with Katt’s Valhalla Sauce (NYC’s infamous white Halal sauce). Ok guys – just so you know, that sauce is crack. LOL.
  7. Meatball sub with fresh mozzarella.
  8. Grilled Cuban sandwich
  9. Vietnamese sandwich
  10. Last, but not least – and definitely the best – Philly cheese steak sandwich!

 

 

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