Meal Ideas For Busy People

By now most schools have gotten started, and along with all that comes the activities, appointments and after school commitments.  So what do you do to keep your family out of the drive thru or from hitting that convenience store for a quick lunch?

Drive Thruphoto credit

You read these great tips I have found for freezer meals and amazing and healthy lunch ideas!

You guessed it, I’m in the same boat as you.  Things get pretty busy around here when school gets started (we are starting Monday), and I don’t have time to be in the kitchen all the time worrying over meals, while I need to be helping the girls with school ….. or washing and folding the never ending laundry.

I found several great articles on lunch ideas, freezer meals and slow cooker freezer meals.  I will be trying some of these over the next couple of months as well as using some of my favorite recipes to help my family stay out of the drive thru.

I will be sharing my experiences, opinions and recipes with you guys, as well as pictures of my work, good or bad.

I will also return to sharing my grocery shopping trips and amounts with you guys again!  I didn’t know everyone liked them so much, but I have gotten so many emails asking for me to start doing this again and I am happy to oblige.

Lunch Ideas photo credit

Rock The Lunchbox has great ideas in pictures to help you get started on packing those lunches.  You can check the boxes towards the top to see ideas for different dietary needs.  There is also a place to print some coupons for healthy lunch additions.

Think Outside The Sandwich is a video over at 100 Days of Real Food.  You will find some great ideas in this video as well as a recipe index for many real food recipes.  You might also find 10 Recipes to Freeze For School Lunches and 10 Ways To Switch Up Your Kids Lunch very useful as well.

The Humbled Homemaker has 5 Easy Real Food School Lunches Ready In 30 Minutes For Less Than $5.

20 Non-Sandwich School Ideas For Kids featured allergy free and gluten free ideas and pictures for getting those lunches packed.

Don’t Waste The Crumbs has a great read on Making Your Own Healthy Homemade Lunchables.

freezer slow cooker freezer meals

New Leaf Wellness shows you how to prepare Five Freezer Slow Cooker Meals in an Hour, as well as Seven Slow Cooker Recipes In an Hour and also How To Stock Your Freezer In Four Hours or Less.  

There is also a list of 25 Freezer Meals That Don’t Require any Cooking Ahead of Time, complete with links to the recipes.  I also found this article on Freezer To Crockpot 101 very helpful.  

Ruth at Living Well Spending Less also has 10 awesome Freezer Meals In an Hour and 7 Easy Tips For Freezer Cooking Like a Pro.

Midget Momma can help you Prep 16 Meals With Fresh Ingredients In About an Hour.

The final link I have for you today has many great recipes, tips and photos in it from Stockpiling Moms.  I think you will really enjoy reading through the whole Freezer Cooking Series.

I hope these ideas can help make meal prep easier for all of you.  I know I got some great ideas from all these amazing bloggers, and I can’t wait to get started and share everything with you.

If you have some recipes, tips or ideas to share, I would love to hear from you either in the comments or by sending me a quick email.  Guest posts are always welcome at Practicing Frugal as long as they meet the needs of the site.

Are you ready to get some meals in the freezer?  Which ones got your attention?

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How Our Family Is Responding To Rising Grocery Prices – Freezing Produce

The USDA Economic Research Service recently published their 2014-2015 Food Price Outlook, and it basically says what we all have probably already noticed at the grocery store, and that is that food prices are rising.

While the USDA ERS states that food prices were relatively flat in 2013, we are noticing the crunch this year as the prices are increasing at a historical norm (about 2.8% per year since 1990), but meat prices will continue to rise due to the Texas/Oklahoma drought and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (pork).

So I have been trying to be a bit more diligent about preparing for the price increase.  While I may have to increase our grocery budget this year, but I am going to do all I can to try not to have to increase it too much.

This summer we focused on getting fresh produce in the freezer, whether it was homegrown, purchased from a farm, or on sale at the grocery store.

It is important for me to let you know that this has been a very busy summer for us, but I have managed to put up a record number of items in the freezer, and I even canned some jelly and peaches.  I must say though, that the pictures of these events went away in a very unfortunate wet cell phone death (not so frugal, but never fail I made do with a free used phone).

rising grocery prices

The first thing I have been putting in the freezer is tomatoes.  Yes, I do freeze them whole until I have enough tomatoes and/or time to process them.  I will be cooking these down for tomato sauce that I will freeze in freezer bags.

rising grocery prices

We then made a trip to a fairly local fruit farm and were able to pick 25 lbs blueberries, 46 lbs peaches and 2 lbs blackberries.  After eating blueberries fresh, adding them to yogurt and making muffins and pancakes, I froze the rest in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. I froze them on a cookie sheet before putting them in a bag, which allows me to use less than the entire package, as the berries do not stick together in the bag.

We also ate fresh peaches before canning peach halves and freezing peaches in 2 cup portions in a light simple sugar syrup.

The enormous blackberries were a blessing after spending several days picking tiny small berries in the wild around our house.  My arms looked like I got in a cat fight after picking the wild berries, but they were very good in blackberry cobbler.  I also used some of the big blackberries for a cobbler and then froze the rest the same way I froze the blueberries.

All in all this was a great family fun trip.  We scored the berries for $1.70 a pound and the peaches for $ .99 a pound.

rising grocery pricesOur garden has produced an amazing amount of tomatoes, okra, and grape tomatoes this year.  My lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini did not fare so well.

I did manage to blanch the okra and freeze it in bags for future use.  I had heard that you can freeze the okra without blanching it (makes it easier to cut without it falling apart), but I have not tried it.  Has anyone done this?  Do you have any okra suggestions for me?   I am pretty new to okra, but have found it easy to grow.

rising grocery prices

Our next project was to deal with 145 ears of corn.  What was I thinking when I asked hubby to order 1 bag of corn, and he insisted we get 2!  Crazy I know.  After my back recovered from shucking, blanching, cutting the corn off cobs and packaging for the freezer, I am really glad we purchased all that corn.  This cost us $40 for the 2 big bags.

rising grocery pricesNow our freezer is looking much more prepared for the months to come.  I’m not done yet, I have a few other things up my sleeve to get this freezer stocked, and I plan to share those with you guys as they come around.

What are you doing in response to the rising grocery prices?  Have any ideas you want to share?

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Educents Back To School Blowout Sale

If you are a teacher, homeschool teacher or parent looking for educational items, be sure to check out Educents biggest sale ever going on from July 30 – August 2, 2014.



I love the deals I can often find on Educents and think you will too.

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This post contains affiliate/referral links.  I would be very grateful for your support if you decide to use my affiliate links.  The earnings from these links help cover the costs of maintaining practicing frugal.  For more information see my disclosure policy.

Reading PDF Documents and Ebooks On Your Kindle, Tablet, Smartphone or PC

This post was previously posted here, but now includes some updated information due to changes on Amazon.

Did you know that you can read all those ebooks or pdf documents that you download on your Kindle, Tablet, Smartphone or PC by using a Kindle app?  Sure you can purchase or find free ebooks on Amazon, but what about all the other ebooks you download from your favorite bloggers?

PDF Docs and Ebooks

If you’re like me, you may do most of your reading while waiting at appointments or kids activities, and who wants to lug the bulky laptop all these places.  You don’t have to.  You can send these ebooks to your Kindle or Kindle App by email with these simple instructions and read them on the go.

Maybe you don’t have a Kindle and want to read these books on your computer.  You can do that too?

First you will need a Kindle or a Kindle App.  The Kindle App can be downloaded to many smartphones, tablets and PC’s by searching for the Kindle App in your app store.  For more information on Kindle reading apps, you can go here.

Next you will log into your Amazon account and click on “Your Account” at the top right of the page, to be taken to your account information page.

Now scroll down and find the digital content area and click on “manage your content and devices”.

content and devices

Next you will look to your right and find “settings” and click on it as shown below.


Scroll down to “Personal Document Settings” and find the device you want to send documents/ebooks /PDF’s to.  Jot this email address down (it will end with or add it to your contacts in your personal email account.

Now scroll down to “Approved Personal Document E-mail List” just under where you find the email list.  Make sure the email address you will be using to send these documents/ebooks /PDF’s to your Kindle or Kindle App is listed.  If it is not listed, be sure to use the “add a new approved email address” feature to get your email address listed.  This is a security measure to help prevent spam on your device (I have never had any spam).


Place the kindle or kindle device email address in the “to” field on your email or select it form your contacts list.  Remember this email address ends in  Place the word “convert” in the subject line and your documents will be changed to kindle format. Now attach your document (ebook) to the email as you would any other file. Making sure to do only one ebook/document at a time.  Now it may take a bit for these to send, but when you open your Kindle app on your device, you should find the items in your cloud under books or documents. Your app must be open for the files to download.

Keep in mind that the documents/ebooks that you send to your Kindle will be in the cloud. This means that any Kindle or kindle app devices on your amazon account will be able to download this ebook/document to their device as well.  Generally this is not a problem, my kids don’t want to read frugal ebooks, but you should know in the case of reading important or private documents.

That’s it!  You can now read those ebooks on your Kindle or device with a Kindle app.

I’m so happy to be able to take all those ebooks I have collected over the last few years with me wherever I go.  I can read about frugal living, homeschooling, faith, recipes and so much more while on the go.

If you have any questions you can feel free to ask me, I can try to help you out, or you can go to Amazon for help with the Kindle Personal Documents Service.

Happy Kindle reading!  Have any questions?  Feel free to link up any free ebooks that you think our readers will enjoy.  Due to spam settings on the blog, you will have to make a seperate comment for each link.  

Want to share this article?  Feel free to use the buttons below to share on Pinterest, via email, on twitter, facebook and google.  I love it when you share my blog posts with your friends!  It gets me excited to know you are enjoying the content here.   

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I have recently found a couple ebooks that may be a great help to some of my readers. Please remember I do make a small commission from the sale of these books through this website and want you to know that I appreciate all purchases made through any of the links on my blog.  Your support helps me maintain this blog.  Thanks to you all.

Until July 31, 2014 Home Educating Family Association is giving this ebook – Focus on Special Needs to my readers for FREE.  The price of $2.99 will come off after you add it to your cart.


Facing unemployment or know someone who is unemployed?  Check out this ebook.

and for those with that sewing machine they don’t know how to use!

Sewing School 101

{this moment}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment}.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

this moment

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Using What You Have, but First You Must Find IT

One of the biggest tips in living a frugal lifestyle is to use what you already have.  Well that’s all just fine and dandy if you can find it!

post it pile

Not long ago I was ready to add page markers or flags to my grocery list when I realized that a few years ago I got a bunch of post-it products on clearance combined with a coupon, making them almost free.  Not long after that there was a rebate that when combined with coupons resulted in more free or almost free post its.

At the time my oldest was infatuated with these types of things, so they were often included in gifts to her or just given to her for her desk.  I wasn’t working at home at the time, so I didn’t need them.

Fast forward a few years, big girl is off to college, I’m homeschooling the little girls, I work on this blog, and I need some page markers.  I remember all of those freebies I got and set out to find them in her room.

I found the mother load!

Score one for momma, she won’t need page markers for a long time, and the little girls were so excited about those cute little pads!

Just don’t tell big girl!

Getting Organized

So what do you do if you cannot find some of the things you already own?

It’s time to consider working on getting organized.  A lack of organization is as big of a frugal train derailment as a lack of planning.  I mean really, if you can’t find the things you know that you already own and you end up going out and buying more, you’ve spent money that could’ve been used somewhere else.

Take some time each day (15-20 minutes) to work on areas in your home that need help getting organized.  Tackle a little bit each day until that project is complete.  I promise you will feel so good when you get one area organized, and you know where things are.

You will most likely find things you forgot you had.

Be sure to sort things into piles for trash, donation, yard sale, ebay or even craigslist ads.

Take a look at a series I did a couple years back on Taming The trash with Organization.

Have you ever spent money on something you knew you had but couldn’t find?  

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Our Homeschool Room Makeover

This post is so long overdue, that I hesitated even posting it today, but I decided that in order to show you any future improvements to this room, I needed to catch you up to where it is now.

Our dining room is where we have our homeschool most days, unless the sun is calling us out to the deck.  We only use the table for the kids to eat on holidays, so using the table in the dining room doesn’t conflict with meal times.  We use our big bar that is between the kitchen and dining room for all other meals.

My future house (we are hoping for a big move in next year or two) will have an area for a big table, not a formal dining area since we are just not that formal, but a place to fit a table like this.  I already have hubby looking for just the right wood!  I just love that table!

Back to the makeover now.  It’s time for the before pictures.

wall 1 before

The dining room is situated where it is the main traffic area through the house, making it a poor choice for a dining area, but a great area for a school room.  This opening leads to two bedrooms and a bathroom.

wall 1 corner before

This is the corner of the first wall and the second wall.  The one section of wall has the return air vent and the thermostat, making it harder to hang big items on the wall.  To the left is the opening into the living room.  The opening is large, which gives this house a nice open feeling to it.  It originally had french doors on it that swung into the living room, but they just didn’t have a purpose and they covered valuable wall space.

wall 2 & 3 before

A view of the other corner, our table and our big window.  I considered recovering the fabric on the chairs, but it is in great condition and it kind of gives the school room a retro funky happy feel.

chair 2

The rug, it definetly needs to go, but rugs are a tad bit expensive, so maybe I will find a nice one on sale or at a yard sale.  We will see.

wall 3 & 4 before

This photo is a tab bit blurry, but I wanted you to see this last section of the room.  This is the view looking into the kitchen.  I bet you get that point.

We need some color.

ceiling before

My ceiling.  No light.  A few years ago I was dusting the ceiling fan and it fell off the ceiling. Fortunately nobody got hurt, but I decided to take the fan to another room that needed its broken fan replaced.  We didn’t use this ceiling fan in here, but we did need a light.

Fast forward a few years, we still needed a light.  I hate picking these things out and they are so darn expensive.


school room paint

I started this makeover by researching ideas for the color of walls for north facing rooms.  I decided that I needed to get something with blue tones in it.

I found this paint at Walmart that I liked called Wishful Thinking (shade of gray) by ColorPlace.  It was only around $18 a gallon compared to the excessive prices elsewhere, and I am all about saving money, or spending less of my hard earned money.  You know what?  I can’t tell that it is any different than many other paints.  I even have enough left over to paint that hallway that comes into the side of the room.  Just gotta get on that one.

Next it was time to find a light that I liked.  I am really a fan of school house lights, but I didn’t really want to pay the price of some of these lights, so I went to looking online at Lowes.  I ended up finding this one and figured I could paint it to look like one of those high dollar school house lights.

I haven’t painted it yet, but will probably do it after we get some more color in the room.  I’m thinking about what exactly I want to do with it.

Don’t worry, I will try to be more prompt with my room updates from now on.

lightIt’s not huge, it’s not as pretty as those others, but its functional and only cost me $44.97. Since we aren’t planning on being in this house for too much longer, that is all I really wanted to spend, otherwise I would have to tell potential buyers “you get the house, but not the light”!

So now I have a bunch of pictures of the after.  Keep in mind, it’s still in progress.  We have a few more things we want to do.

wall 1

I switched out my cabinets.  This black one was in the living room, so I just moved the brown one into the living room and brought this one in for school supplies.

school cabinet

It was nice to get things organized and give them a place.

spice cabinet

I love using things that I already have, which makes for a frugal project.  Using this old spice cabinet that used to belong to my grandparents fit in perfectly.  It also holds many small things that would normally be in a desk drawer.

brown cabinet

This vintage child sized wardrobe remained where it was in the room, but it got a good cleaning and organization.

brown cabinet inside

I love being able to store my printer inside.  It works great for printing and I don’t have to look at it when it’s not in use.

small cabinet

This small cabinet was in my attic for a future building project, but I decided that the theme didn’t really work for me anymore, so I was gonna sell it at our yard sale.  Well I had it out, but luckily nobody wanted it for $10.  So I had a light bulb moment (I don’t know what took me so long) and decided that I would keep it and paint it.

little cabinet after

I just took the door off, took it outside, taped it off and sprayed it with a few coats of chalkboard paint.  The paint cost me $4.97, but will be able to be used on a few projects.

I may eventually paint the sides a different color, but for now it’s really cute.  It stores more books too!  Every school room needs more book space.

wall 2 & 3 after

This is the corner next to the window.  It’s the 3rd before picture above.

I found this great little dresser at Goodwill for $20 and thought it would be a great addition to our room for daily supplies.  The girls have the top drawer for pencils, rulers, notepads, markers and more.

The second and third drawers hold each of their books, notebooks and binders they use each day.  They love having their own drawer.

The bottom drawer is for the teachers books.

I couldn’t find a before picture of this dresser.  It was brown, scratched and ugly, but it had great potential.  It’s is solid wood though, and who doesn’t love solid wood?

The two black picture frames above the dresser came from Hobby Lobby and hold art made by my girls.  They cost $5 each during a 50% off sale.  I need another one now.  I have a picture made by each girl, but only have 2 of them hung.  I cannot be a bad momma!

If you’ve been around these parts you might remember that plant sand/stool, but if not you can see how and where I got it and it’s friend.

dresser top

I spent $2.99 on the little basket I found at Savers.  It holds the crayons we need each day and looks so cute atop this little dresser.

The lettered basket on the left holds many of the phonics helps that we are needing right now.  I used a coupon at Hobby Lobby and scored it for only $5.99.  I just love how the letters on it add to the theme of this room being a school room.

The other items you see in the rooom are things we already had.  So I included only the items we bought for the total cost of this project.

I realized after writing this post that I don’t have pictures of some areas of the room, so next week I will take pictures of where we are at right now.  So you can see the big picture.

I will have a new camera, so the pictures will be much better quality!  I’m so excited.

Right now the total spent in this room is at $124.92.  Pretty darn good to me.  Now I could have done without a few things and it would be a lot cheaper, but I had certain things I wanted to achieve.  I still don’t think that is a bad amount at all.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Do you have any suggestions for our room?  What do you think about our updated room?

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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