How much can you get for $0.21 at Staples?

 

Staples Deals

How about $117.45 worth of school supplies?  Yep, you’re reading that right!  I walked out of Staples yesterday paying ONLY $0.21!!!! Would you like to know what all I bought & how I got my price down that low?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Here’s what I bought:

Three 1 1/2-inch binders (buy 2 get 1 free) (**FYI:  These are the really good heavy duty notebooks – not the really cheap ones.  We have found that these will last a lot longer than 1 year of school so well worth the $$**)

Five  1-inch binders (*buy 2 get 1 free – meant to get 6 but that’s what shopping with your kids will do – you lose count!)

one 500 count lined index cards

2 packs of arrowhead erasers

2 packs of post-it notes

2 packs of Stickies Flags

6 composition notebooks

one 3-hole punch

1 pack dry eraser markers

2 packs jumbo paper clips (100 count each)

2 notepads

1 Back To School Savings Card

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Retail price:                                      $117.45

Sales:                                                  -$32.40

BTS Card Discount:                        -$11.26

Reward Coupons:                          -$73.60

Subtotal:                                             $0.19

Tax:                                                        $0.02

Grand Total:                        $0.21

 

I’m not a shopper by nature, but I do LOVE this kind of shopping!  I will say that I had been saving my Staples Rewards for this, so that really helped out a lot. I won’t be able to duplicate this again, but shopping the sales & using the BTS savings card really helps out.  You get an extra 15% off ALL school supplies (excluding things like computers). 

How much do you really save on school lunches vs. making your own?

I hear this conversation (aka argument) at the beginning of every school year. How can it be cheaper to send lunch with your kids every day than to buy school lunches, especially when sending fresh fruits & veggies? My answer? It’s easy! Buy on sale, make it your self, and portion control! Do NOT buy prepackaged items! Have you looked at the sodium and sugar levels (not to mention the preservatives) in most of the prepackaged “lunch” items? It’s outrageous! And, if you have a child with ADD like we do, we try to limit the amount of sugars and Red Dye #40 that we give our children. We really see a difference in her demeanor when we do this. She can focus better and get her work done better.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Instead of chips, send pretzels – a bag of pretzel sticks costs me $1.18 and lasts me for about 1-1/2 weeks.
  • Buy fresh fruits & veggies in season as much as possible and give them choices, just don’t give them too many or they will be overwhelmed.
  • Write up a menu and place it where they can see it easily. Let them choose what they would like to take the night before. This makes already rushed mornings easier to deal with because you already know what they want. Also, prep as much as you can the night before. Shaves off a few more minutes of your already crazy morning.
  • Make food fun! Make cut outs in the sandwiches if they’ll eat it better that way. Here’s a tip: Cut the bread before adding the “filling”. If taking things ham & cheese, cut those and then place on the sandwich. You can put the extras on your sandwich at lunch or on a salad. The extra bread can be cut up and made into croutons or turned into bread crumbs.
  • Make roll-ups using tortilla shells and their favorite sandwich ingredients. It’s a nice change from the usual. You can also add a thin layer of cream cheese if using meats and cheeses. It gives it nice flavor and keeps the filling where it belongs.
  • Make homemade cookies instead of buying them and, instead of baking all the dough, freeze half of it in the form of balls so that when you need more cookies, you just pull out the amount needed, place on a cookie sheet, and bake. It only adds an extra minute or two when baking.
  • Instead of baggies, use some small Gladware (or equivalent) containers and reuse them. This saves us about $6.00/month (1 husband and 3 kids) or $72/year. May not sound like much, but it does make a difference.
  • Send leftovers! Soups are really good for this! Get a good metal thermos for this. It’s worth the extra money needed up front, but pays for itself very quickly and it can be used over and over and over again. Here’s a tip. Fill the thermos with boiling water and place lid back on. In the mean time, heat food to extremely hot/boiling. About 5 minutes before they are ready to leave, pour out the water and fill with boiling food items into thermos and replace lid. The food will still be warm at lunch.
  • Instead of prepackaged juice pouches or sodas, invest in a stainless steel thermos and send 100% juice, water, tea, etc. It’s reusable and will quickly pay for itself. Plus, you’re not sending drinks full of artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Here’s a great list of items that you can send that usually go over very well with all ages:

  • cheese (buy blocks and cut it up yourself – it’s cheaper)
  • raw veggies with dip (if they like that)
  • small salad with romaine lettuce
  • fresh fruits (canned will work, just buy lite syrup)
  • air-popped popcorn – very nice change from chips
  • baked tortilla chips and salsa
  • homemade soups, especially chicken noodle during cold/flu season
  • nuts are a good side
  • applesauce
  • homemade pizza roll ups
  • homemade “Lunchable” using crackers, ham, & cheese, or drizzle thin french bread slices with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, season with oregano and toast and send with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni slices.
  • pita bread sandwiches/pizzas are a nice change
  • homemade trail mix
  • yogurt with fruit and granola

Last but not least, I thought I would give you an example of what my kids took this week and how much it cost/saved me. Our school lunches are $1.75 at the elementary and $2.00 at the middle and high school. Each day varies depending on their choices, but here’s what my kids took for lunch one day this week:

Melia:

  • 3 pizza roll ups – $0.36
  • fresh strawberries – $0.45
  • Banana – $0.20
  • Pretzels – $0.05
  • 2 choc. chip cookies – $0.34
  • water – $0

Total: $1.40 Savings: $0.60

Katie:

  • 3 ham & cheese roll ups – $0.29
  • pretzels – $0.05
  • carrot sticks – $0.05
  • 2 peanut butter cookies – $0.14
  • Sweet Tea $0.01

Total: $0.54 Savings: $1.46

Michael:

  • 3 ham & cheese roll ups – $0.29
  • pretzels – $0.05
  • banana – $0.20
  • 2 choc. chip cookies – $.34
  • Apple Juice – $.20

Total: – $1.08 Savings: $0.67

Grand Total: $3.02

Total Savings: $2.73 or 47%

That’s a savings of approximately $10.92/month or $109.20/school year – give or take depending on sales, appetites, and what it costs to make the items.

This doesn’t include what my husband took, but if he were to eat out every day, it would cost us around $30-$50/week depending on where he went. By taking his lunch, we save anywhere from $24-$44/week or $96-$176/month or $1152-$2112/year! That’s a lot of money!

So, in the end sending a sack lunch with your kids to school DOES save money! And it’s not as hard as you think it is! Just a little time and planning ahead are all you need!

For more great frugal tips, check out Frugal Friday.

Baking day!!

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Since school was starting back for us, I spent Saturday baking lots of goodies for the freezer for their lunches. It took me 11 hours from start to finish, but it will be well worth it in the next few weeks when they are needing something for lunches. I even went to the trouble of breaking down my costs for each recipe. But, keep in mind that I have chickens so my eggs are free to me. So, factor in the costs of your eggs. I did not break down the cost of things like salt and baking powder because the last time I did that (many, many moons ago) it came up way less than $0.01/tsp, but I don’t remember exactly how much. Also, each recipe I made (except for the bread & french bread) I made a double batch but my prices only reflect a single recipe. Remember, cook/bake once and eat 2 or more times!

Bread – makes 2 loaves

sugar – $0.11
yeast – $0.06
oil – $0.08
flour – $1.08

Total: $1.33 or $0.665/loaf

French Bread – makes 2 loaves

yeast – $0.04
Hot Roll Mix (from Make-A-Mix Cookbook) $1.26

Total: $1.30 or $0.65/loaf

Crescent Rolls

sugar – $0.05
butter – $1.13
yeast – $0.08
flour – $0.90

Total: $2.16 or $0.045/roll

I accidently added an extra cup of water to my recipe, so this is where my pizza crusts came from. Cost came to $0.72/crust.

Ham & Cheese Crescent Roll Ups

Crescent Rolls – $2.16
ham – $1.20
cheese – $1.20

Total: $4.56 / $0.095/roll up

Pizza Roll Ups

Crescent Rolls – $2.16
Salami (didn’t have any pepperoni) – $2.28
Mozzarella cheese (2 cups) – $1.38

Total: $5.82 / $0.12/roll up

Cupcakes

2 box mixes (yes, I cheated with this one) – $1.76
oil – $0.43

Total: $2.19 or $0.045/cupcake

Butterceam icing

shortening – $0.96
butter – $1.50
vanilla $0.01
milk – $0.12

Total: $ 2.59 or $0.03/Tbs

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Butter – $1.50
Sugar – $0.02
Flour – $0.41
Brown Sugar – $0.60
Vanilla Pudding – $0.75
Chocolate Chips – $1.92

Total: $5.20 or $0.17/cookie

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter – $ 0.36
Brown Sugar – $1.00
Flour $0.32
Shortening $0.24
Milk – $0.09

Total: $2.01 or $0.07/cookie

Banana Crumb Muffins

Flour – $0.29
Baking Powder – $0.01
Bananas $0.59
Sugar – $0.045
Butter – $0.50
Brown Sugar – $0.27
Cinnamon – $0.0025

Total: $ 1.71 or $0.14/muffin
w/ chocolate chips $2.43 or $0.20/muffin

Sweet Muffins

Oil – $0.08
Buttermilk – $0.125
Flour – $0.27
Sugar – $0.045
Baking Powder – $0.015
Fruit – $1.00

Total: $1.54 or $0.13/muffin

Pancakes

Flour – $0.32
Oil – $0.04
Sugar – $0.045
Baking Powder – $0.06
Buttermilk – $0.19

Total: $0.0655 or $0.003/pancake (21 pancakes)

All of this costs me a total of $ 36.56 and 11 hours of my time to make. But I couldn’t have done it all without the help of my sweet husband.

Here’s a list of what I ended up with:

32 choc. chip cookies
32 peanut butter cookies
28 choc. chip cookie dough balls in the freezer
30 peanut butter cookie dough balls in the freezer
48 cupcakes with buttercream icing filling (instead of putting it on top, I put it inside the cupcake) I used up some leftover icing I had in the fridge – very frugal!
48 ham & cheese crescent roll ups
48 pizza roll ups
3 pizza crusts (2 for supper and 1 in the freezer)
2 loaves of Basic frugal white bread
4 shaped and 2 mini loaves of french bread, sliced into a total of 78 slices
28 banana choc. chip crumb muffins
28 mixed berry muffins
21 pancakes

This should give them a good variety for a while. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll be sharing some of these recipes over the next few weeks. I’d love to hear how you prep for the school year. Leave me a comment and let me know. New ideas are always welcome!

This post is linked to:

Tips For Making School Mornings & Lunch Preps Easier

wfmwbannerKRISTEN

It’s hard to believe that it’s time for school to start back once again. It feels like we never really had a summer break since time flew by so quickly. But, ready or not, it’s here.

Besides what seems like endless shopping for school supplies, there’s the never-ending school lunches to prepare x 3 (well x 4 counting Brian, LOL). It takes a lot to make sure that everyone gets a well-balanced meal plus something they like. My children take lunch every day instead of buying lunch. This way, I know that they have something that they like AND they’ll eat it instead of throwing it away. And most of the meals that I send with them cost me considerably less than school lunches anyway.

So, how do I get everyone’s lunches packed and out the door with them every day? I keep a bunch of plastic containers of different sizes on hand to use as portion control. They also pull double duty because I can use them to prep some things ahead of time. I can portion out fruits and veggies into these containers at the first of the week, and then they are placed in a designated area in the fridge to that I can just “grab-n-go” in the mornings. I also reuse containers as much as possible. If they are taking sandwiches, the containers will be wiped out and reused instead of washing it each and every day. If they took grapes one day and I still have some to divide out, then that container will be refilled and placed back in the fridge at the bottom of the stack. Now, if the containers are all sticky and yucky, yes, they will be washed before being used again.

I also keep paper napkins on hand, as well as plastic utensils for the days with soups, pasta, etc. where a utensil(s) is necessary. But, my children (and husband) know to bring them back home to be rewashed. But, mom doesn’t have to worry if they get thrown away, misplaced, or broken because it’s not my silverware, and they don’t have to wait in line to grab utensils in the cafeteria.

This year, I bought them stainless steel thermoses to instead of the generic plastic ones AND I don’t have to worry about grabbing juice pouches either. It’ll save a lot of money all around.

Another thing that I do for my family, especially during the school year, is to prep a bunch of items and place them in the freezer for a quick breakfast/lunch/snack. These items are usually muffins, sweet quick breads, cupcakes (for desserts in lunches), waffles, pancakes, breakfast burritos, burritos, crepes, etc.

These are just some of the things that I do during the school year to make my mornings go much quicker and easier.

Don’t forget to check out We Are That Family for more Works For Me Wednesday tips!

Katie’s 5th Grade Honor’s Tea And Graduation!

We are equally proud of our daughter, Katie, for all of her hard work and great grades!

The Honor’s Tea was for those in 5th grade that maintained an “A” or “B” average all year long.

Here she is at the Honor’s Tea:

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She received a medal and a shirt.

Here she is with her teacher and a couple of friends afterwards:

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We were so blessed that she had such a wonderful, Christian teacher. I’m always very thankful to have teachers that are wonderful with kids and that my children really love.

Here is the 5th grade graduation:

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She was also the top reader in her class!

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I’m so thankful that all of my children love books!

Here she is with her cheesy grin!

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It’s so hard to believe that my baby will be in middle school next year. Congratulations, sweetie! We’re so proud of all of your hard work!

Melia’s 8th Grade Graduation

We’re so proud of our daughter, Melia, but it’s also a little sad to know that my baby is old enough to be going to high school this fall. Melia graduated from 8th grade on Monday, and she received a total of 11 awards plus a plaque for her outstanding grades. She graduated in the top 10% of her class! We’re so proud of her!!

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That’s her on in the red dress.

Here’s a couple of pictures of her receiving her awards:

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Here’s a pic of her afterwards:

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Congratulations on all of your hard work! We are so proud of you, sweetheart!