How to Save Money on Your Children’s Easter Clothes

Today’s post is by Aimee Heckel of ShopAtHome.com.

I’m not going to say my favorite part about being a mom is dressing up my daughter in bows, sparkles and satin ribbons, but I’m not going to say it’s not, either.  I know I’m working against the clock. This Easter, she’ll be freshly 4. And I know the time bomb has already started ticking for the day my kid is mortified by everything about me, especially the clothes I pick out for her.  Moms don’t know anything, you know. Until every child turns 22.

 I’m a seize-the-day kind of mom, so this year my munchkin is going to Easter service dressed up fluffier than a stick of cotton candy dipped in clouds dipped in Dolly Parton’s hair. After all, it may very well be my last chance.  But my desire — nay, motherly need – to swathe my child in the most beauteous and impractical garb possible directly conflicts with my practicality. I know it’s financially irresponsible to drop big bucks on a dress she’ll only wear once, probably for only 13 minutes of the service.

But — sparkles!  My solution: lots of pictures up front and smart shopping.

Here are my favorite ways to save money on gorgeous Easter clothing for the kiddos. Because a good bargain has been known to keep me out of the confession booth.

1. Shop online. I know it seems fun to touch and try on clothes at the store, but, reality check, shopping with kids is actually Dante’s 10th Circle of Hell. Save the gray hairs and do your browsing in your PJs after they go to bed.  Best of all, you can save money by shopping online. Many stores offer online-only specials and coupons.

2. Use coupons. I know you’re busy. But this does not have to be a time-consuming, stressful thing involving scissors, binders, folders, tabs and the Dewey Decimal System. My favorite place to find all the best coupons for babies and kids stuff in one organized place is www.shopathome.com/savings/babies-and-kids-coupons. Browse by store (I’m pretty sure every online store in the vast Interwebs is on here) or by category (hint: Go straight to “kids clothing”).  Here, you can find pages of coupons for stores like Macy’s, Gap, The Children’s Place, JC Penney and more.

3. Pair coupons with Cash Back. Oh no, another step, right? Nope.  The only “work” you have to endure is the 15 seconds it takes to sign up for an account on ShopAtHome.com (you can even log in with Facebook). Once you’re logged in, simply find the store you want to shop, pick the coupon you want to use and click.  You’ll be redirected to the store’s website, just like Google would redirect you, and your purchase is tracked. ShopAtHome will automatically bank the Cash Back in your account and send you a check once you’ve reached $20 (trust me, this happens quickly).

Cash Back seriously adds up. I’ve seen it higher than 10 percent. Right now, JCP is offering 9 percent Cash Back. So take that $40 dress you are wincing to buy for your daughter’s Easter dress. Pick your favorite of more than 250 coupons, like an exclusive deal for 10 percent off your entire purchase and save $4. Then, get another 9 percent Cash Back off that price – nearly $3 more savings – and that dress is suddenly marked down low enough to feel like you’re shopping your own personal sales rack.

Not a total sin. Which frees up your conscience to steal a handful of those jelly beans, right?

Aimee Heckel writes for ShopAtHome.com. Follow the site on Instagram @shopathome.

Meal Planning Monday ~ Family Friendly Cooking

This week’s post is by Kimberly Bergeron of Extreme Coupon Professors.

Hi! I’m Kimberly. I’m excited to be a guest here on Christine’s blog chatting with you about some quick, kid and teen friendly, family meals. We have a pretty large family of 5 kids, youngest being 11, oldest being 15 and they are always hungry. I don’t know how it is in your house, but when my kids get home at 2:30 PM from school, their backpacks haven’t even hit the floor and they’re already asking what’s for dinner. Can anyone relate? I used to love making gourmet dinners but I got tired of them picking through the food to pull out bits of peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. I came to the realization that most of my kids are pretty basic eaters for now and I needed to just go with the flow. That being said, I have one of their favorite recipes for you below. It’s quick, easy and tasty. I hope you enjoy it.

 

No Fuss Stuffed Shells

I call these No Fuss Stuffed Shells because you won’t have to fuss over making them. They’re very quick and simple to put together on a busy night and they’re great to make ahead or to freeze. These are not your traditional shells with Ricotta Cheese and kids won’t be fussing over bits and pieces of onions in them. Yet, these No Fuss Stuffed Shells are full of flavor and a family favorite!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of ground beef or ground turkey, cooked
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese + 1/4 cup reserved for top of shells
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 T Basil
  • 2 T Onion powder
  • 2 T Garlic powder
  • 1 T Salt
  • 1 T Pepper
  • 1-24 oz. Jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 14 Jumbo pasta shells

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Boil shells according to directions and drain.

Mix meat, cheeses and herbs and 1/2 jar of pasta sauce in mixing bowl.

In a shallow casserole dish, pour the other half of the sauce on the bottom.

Stuff shells with mixture, I use a muffin scoop to fill them. Place shells on top of sauce in casserole dish.

Sprinkle the reserved mozzarella cheese over the shells.

Bake uncovered in oven 25 minutes.

We serve ours with sliced oranges, a diced cuke and tomato salad and, of course, garlic bread!

 

Another family favorite of ours, believe it or not is Quiche. Again, this isn’t your typical quiche with veggies and just 4 slices of bacon! This is a quiche recipe for you bacon lovers! I put this recipe together so that my family would like quiche and they love this recipe. Quiche is super to have for any meal. When I serve it as breakfast, I offer cantaloupe wedges with it. For lunch or dinner, I’ll make a tossed salad and sometimes some French bread.

If your house is busy on a school mornings like ours is, you’ll appreciate this breakfast recipe. Throw it together the night before and everyone will quickly be running down the stairs for breakfast! It’s a nice change from cold cereal or a breakfast bar on the run!

My next recipe is one that I’ve been making since I was probably 4 years old with my Gram. Anytime I slept over her house, I had the choice of whatever I wanted for dinner. Almost every time, I’d choose her homemade macaroni and cheese and we’d always make it together. Most time we make this as our main meal, but certainly you can use it as a side dish.

You’ll love this next recipe. We love grilling pizza. I live in New Hampshire, where it’s very snowy and freezing all winter. Yet we pull out our grill and throw together dinner in a jiffy when we make these crispy BBQ Grilled Pizzas! It’s a delicious recipe for  anytime of the year.

I’m a wife, mommy and a lover of life enjoying everything from playing board games to cooking to traveling. Finding deals for our family has allowed us to do the fun things in life with enjoyment and less stress. When I find a deal I’ll always share it on my blog, Extreme Coupon Professors. Hop on over to see all the ways to save!

 

Summer Fun

This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.                   

“I’m sooo bored.”  

“Mom, there’s nothing to do.”

“Can we go to the zoo?  Can we go to the park?  Can we go to the movies?”  

            Oh my goodness child, it’s only the second week of summer break and you’re bored?!  It’s going to be a loooong summer.  I’m sure there are more than a few parents right now thinking this exact same thing.  Luckily, I started preparing for the “summer boredom blues” a few months back.  Each time I went to the store, I picked up a craft item like popsicle sticks, coloring books, and Play-Doh to name a few.  I also looked on Pinterest and found some great ideas to keep the kids busy.  Instead of doing my meal plan for this week, I thought I’d share a few ways to help keep those summer boredom blues away. 

 

Noodle Time! ~ I love this idea! Not only is it cheap, (Walmart has pool noodles for $1.88 and a pack of balloons for $1.) but also it will help get some of the pent up energy out of the kids.  Grab a couple pool swim noodles and a blow up a few balloons and let the kids whack away. 

Bug Hunt ~ If you have boys, they will especially love this game!  Draw a few bugs on a piece of paper (or grab some bug stickers at the Dollar Store).  Then take a magnifying glass, and go out in the backyard and see how many of each bug you can find.  You can also put birds, snakes, or even squirrels on the list. 

Play-Doh ~ What kid doesn’t like playing with Play-Doh?  I did pick up a few packs at the Dollar Store, but I do plan on making my own, too.  (See recipe below.)  It’s so easy to make and the kids will have fun helping you. 

Sidewalk Chalk ~ If you’re feeling really crafty you can make your own or you can grab some at the store for your budding artists.  

Bath Paints ~ I have to try this!  Mix shaving cream and food coloring, throw the kids in the tub, give them some brushes, and see the wonderful masterpieces they create.  I LOVE this idea!

Colored Pasta ~ Looking for a fun food craft?  Have the kids help you dye pasta for dinner!  You need food coloring, pasta, baggies, and vinegar.  Divide pasta into bags put about a teaspoon of vinegar into each bag with a few drops of food coloring, close bag and shake to distribute food coloring, then open bag to dry.  Cook your pasta as usual.

Bubbles ~ Kids loves bubbles and so it seems that we’re always running out.  In a pinch, you can make your own and keep the kids entertained for pennies!

Have fun this summer with your kids!  It doesn’t take a lot of money to keep them entertained.  :)

 

Rainbow Glitter Play-Doh  (adapted from Family Fun magazine)

Supplies

  •  2 cups white flour
  • 2 cups water, tinted with food coloring (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • Plastic gloves (optional)
  • Airtight containers
  • Coordinating colored glitter

 Directions

1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture holds together, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside until the dough is cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.  Turn the clay onto a waxed-paper-lined countertop and knead it for 2 to 3 minutes.  Roll the dough in color coordinating glitter.

3. Once the dough is completely cool, pack it in the spice jars or in airtight containers.

 

 

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ School Lunches

            

 

            This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

           This week is bittersweet.  My little girl starts first grade!  She’ll be away from 8am until 4pm.  I’m sad because she’ll be gone all day… but happy since I’ll be able to spend more time with my other two little ones.  My daughter, Ivy, went to half-day morning Kindergarten last year, so I didn’t have to pack her lunches.  This whole “packing a lunch” thing is new to me!  She starts school on Wednesday, so instead of doing a week of lunch planning, I’ll just give you seven awesome lunch ideas that kids will love.  Here are a few things I thought I’d pack her for lunch:

 
Jack the Skeleton Bento Box (pictured above) ~ One of Ivy’s favorite movies is “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  You can change up the items you put in there also if your kids won’t eat carrots or cucumbers.

Peanut Butter, Honey & Banana sandwich, frozen yogurt tube, and Kettle chips.

Pizza Lunchables ~ She loves these things

Mock Sushi ~ I can’t wait to make this!  Take a piece of bread and roll it out. Spread peanut butter and then lay apple strips (slice apples really thin).  Just roll it up and slice. You could also spread on hummus and top pieces of carrot or cucumber.

Broccoli and Chicken Pasta Salad, frozen peaches (They’ll be somewhat thawed out by lunch) and celery sticks.

 
Sesame Peanut Noodles and Strawberry fruit leather (depending on your school you might not be able to send anything with nuts.)

 
Cheese and Pickle Sandwich, Kettle chips, and frozen yogurt ~ Ivy loves these sandwiches.  2 slices of bread, American cheese and bread and butter pickles.