Category Archives: frugal

Back-to-School #CleanCouponing Twitter Chat

Back-to-school time is nearly upon the typical American family, and preparing children for this transition is no small test of parental endurance!  Could you possibly fill the class supply list for under $50?  Why did the teacher ask for the impossible-to-find brand of #2 pencils?  Why did Johnny have to outgrow every pair of shoes during the summer?  Should you choose school lunch or pack your own?

pile of books with one book open on empty green  school board background

Join a back-to-school themed #CleanCouponing chat on Thursday, July 23 from 9 to 10 pm Eastern time, when @CleanCouponing and @FlourSackMama host this monthly chat on Twitter.

Please help me spread the word by copying and tweeting this:

Join me for Back-to-School #CleanCouponing chat with @CleanCouponing & @FlourSackMama Thurs, July 23, 9 pm ET!

We’re inviting public/private school parents, homeschooling parents, and any parents who wants to share tips and encouragement about this annual rite of passage.  We’ll cover some tips on stocking up with supplies, encouraging schools to be wellness-minded and eco-friendly, and green back-to-school ideas that could save you money.

Please follow guest panelists @Mike_Schade who is Mind the Store campaign director for @SaferChemicals@Langford_Mom who can speak to homeschooling, mom Tamara at @LeadSafeAmerica, Spit That Out author @PaigeWolf, former Kindergarten teacher @IrishRed02 and @CleanAirMoms_TN!

Five #CleanCouponing Back-to-School tips…

Stretching a Dollar with Castile Soap Refills

“We can’t afford that!”

“It’s too expensive!”

Do you find yourself saying that about certain home products you’d like to try but don’t think fit your budget?

I used to think that about hand soap, until I realized the real cost…

Castile Soap Refills

Dr. Bronner castile soap with four soap dispenser refills

This is not a sponsored post, just an honest show & tell about one way we use #CleanCouponing at our home to stretch a dollar while choosing to be frugal with our health.

Anti-bacterial triclosan that could be adding to antibiotic resistance, synthetic fragrances hiding potential hormone disrupting phthalates, artificial colors and even more mystery ingredients are all things our family can easily expose ourselves to every time we simply need to wash our hands.  There are numerous reasons why I decided to switch what we use at home every day to something that simply gets the job done: castile soap.

I realize we’d been spending between $3 and $6 for a typical 8-ounce plastic bottle of plastic hand soap.  How  wasteful!  We switched to reusable soap dispensers for our home instead.

I typically spend no more than $12 for a 32-ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (you could use any brand, but this is a leading one and you absolutely need to find a brand that is transparent about the ingredients inside).  Then, if I put 8 ounces of castile soap into four different bottles, I’m at no more expense that I was spending before on soap bottles. Since this castile soap is actually touted as three times as concentrated as traditional soaps, here’s where the potential for extra savings comes in.  If I stretch this soap with distilled water, it costs half or even a third of those other soaps.

If texture is important to you, and you want to get fancy with it, I’ve noticed that pure vegetable glycerin in my soap dispensers helps give this castile soap a thicker feel on the hands.  Otherwise, when I dilute the soap it with water, it does feel watery, although it certainly seems to clean just fine on our hands.  Instead of the artificial scents in other soaps, our family alternates choosing a castile soap scented with the natural oils of everything from almond to lavender to peppermint.

One of the biggest mistakes with concentrated castile soaps is using too much, so I would suggest stretching it in some way or at least getting accustomed to using less than you did with those other soaps that contain artificial fillers.

The oils in these soaps can tend to clog pumps, so it takes a little attention from time to time. Definitely worth the trouble for our family, since we have peace of mind about what’s going on our children’s hands.

An added #CleanCouponing bonus of using castile soap for refilling is cutting down on petroleum-based plastic bottle waste and protecting our environment.

How are you #CleanCouponing in your home?

Basil Harvested

Kitchen Garden #CleanCouponing Chat

If you could pick one thing to grow organically in your own kitchen garden, what would it be?  Will you be growing some of your own fresh vegetables and herbs this year?  Join us Thursday, March 12 at 9 pm Eastern on Twitter for our next #CleanCouponing chat on growing a kitchen garden!

Tomatoes Garden Twitter chat

 

What easy plants would an expert gardener suggest you try?  We’ll share those ideas.

Is seed saving really worth it?  I’ll share how that’s been working for me.

Where can you go to find open pollinated, heirloom seeds that you could use to continue seed saving each year?  I’ll share some of my favorite sources for non-GMO seeds.

Be sure to join us tonight at 9 pm Eastern and follow @FlourSackMama and @CleanCouponing.  Use the hashtag #CleanCouponing to join in the conversation!

Here’s to More #CleanCouponing in 2015!

Are you fed up yet with the rush to save a dollar at the grocery store, only to find you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the box of food-like stuff you bought with your coupon? I used to revel at how many dollars I “saved” when I clipped coupons for name brand products.

Baby with Ring

Then I realized I was frugal with more than money.  Parenthood awakened a new sensibility about caring what was in the products I would buy to feed, clothe and care for my babies.  The more I learned, the more frugal I became about values like health, quality and reducing wasteful plastic packaging.

#CleanCouponing is not the traditional way of looking at couponing.  It’s about sometimes clipping coupons and sometimes saving money, of course.  But it’s more than that.  It’s about finding a way to balance all of the values you and your family choose for yourselves along with living in the real world of finite resources for grocery budgets.  It’s about doing what works for you and about being creative enough to stretch a dollar without compromising nutrition and health.

Once each month in 2015, we’ll continue our #CleanCouponing Twitter chats or parties hosted by Flour Sack Mama of the parent Flour Sack Mama blog.  We’ll feature leaders in all areas of #CleanCouponing from food and home to fitness and family and beyond.  If you’re a blogger who would like to enlist for the panel of one of these chats, or a nonprofit that would like to be featured, or even if you’re interested in sponsorship, you can give us some input here in this quick online survey.  The survey is also a chance for you to share which #CleanCouponing topics you are interested in seeing in 2015.

Thanks to all of the special guests, blogger panelists and sponsors who’ve supported the beginnings of our #CleanCouponing chats in 2014.  Here’s to an even better year of #CleanCouponing for all!

Wraps Lunch CC

Rock the Lunch Box Back-to-School Ideas & Giveaway!

*This is a sponsored post in cooperation with Organic Valley, Stonyfield Organic & other Rock the Lunch Box brands, bringing you yummy content plus a giveaway!

We’re all inundated with back-to-school deals this time of year, matching prices and clipping coupons.  But is it really a good deal if the product isn’t a wholesome food we’d normally feed our kids?

Because at Clean Couponing we’re frugal with more than money, we’re looking for real food.  Even when we buy packaged, processed foods for convenience, we’re scanning for recognizable ingredients without a bunch of fillers, preservatives or artificial colors.

Melon Ball CU

An entire spectrum of colors is available when lunch planning starts in the produce aisle, garden or farmers’ market.  Those are all great places to get kids involved.

I asked my young daughter to draw her dream lunch for school.  She spent a lot of time designing a very pretty tote, then she clearly indicated she likes strawberries, milk and chocolate.  While I’m not promising candy bars at lunchtime, I can agree on chocolate milk sometimes, IF it’s organic milk from Organic Valley’s dairy cooperative.

Kid Art Lunch CC

Chocolate milk is a part of the healthy lunch we created along with other foods from Rock the Lunch Box participating brands.

Most importantly, my daughter helped me choose fresh carrots, cherry tomatoes and a bell pepper from the produce section and picked green beans from our little organic garden.  She really likes watermelon, so I tried mixing that up with cantaloupe since they’re priced low at the end of summer.  Another time, we’ll put strawberries in her lunch box; and when we can’t find great deals on fresh fruits, we’ll use frozen.

We created a mini-wrap using tortillas from Rudi’s Organic Bakery, leftover pasta sauce, turkey and bell pepper.  She had a little ranch dressing for dipping her crisp vegetables, and a colby jack cheese Stringles from Organic Valley.  Plus, we cut a circle of Rudi’s gluten-free bread and added almond butter for a high-protein addition to her lunch.  It’s likely the Annie’s chewy granola bar and Honest Kids juice will get saved for her snack later in the day.

Wraps Lunch CC

You’ll find hundreds more fun lunch ideas plus cool coupons at rockthelunchbox.com. Getting dollars and cents off wholesome foods you’d want your kids to eat:  that’s what we call “clean couponing!”

One lucky Clean Couponing or Flour Sack Mama blog reader will win a Rock the Lunch Box toolkit, featuring a Laptop Lunches Bento and free food coupons, a $50 value!  Enter via the Rafflecopter form here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We tried another Rock the Lunch Box combination at the Flour Sack Mama blog!

Thanks to the fun #RocktheLunchbox brands for food samples & lunch gear.

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

KaleChipsCleanCouponing

Frugal Baked Kale Chips

Have you noticed how pricey kale chips can be in the health food store?  Fresh kale itself is pretty reasonable.  And growing organic kale yourself is the most frugal way to go.  Here’s how we turned part of our virtually free harvest into a healthy snack:

KaleChipsSnackCleanCouponing

Baked Kale Chips:

KaleRinsingCleanCouponing

1. Rinse kale leaves, remove spines, and tear leaves into pieces.  For best results, thoroughly dry before baking.

KalePiecesDryingCleanCouponing

2. Preheat oven to 370 degrees.

KaleTossedOliveOilSaltCleanCouponing

3. Toss bowl of kale with just enough olive oil to thoroughly coat pieces.

4. Sprinkle sea salt to taste.

KaleChipsBakedCleanCouponing

5. Place kale pieces in a single layer on baking sheet.

6. Bake approx. 15 minutes, watching to be sure kale becomes crisp without burning.

Serve as a snack.  Or, add to a soup for extra flavor.

*I got in a hurry by not drying this batch enough, then went too heavy on the oil.  They still tasted great.  Yours will probably turn out even prettier than ours.

Dehydrating kale has become very popular.  In this post the Food Storage Moms show you how easy it is to prepare kale with a dehydrator.

The Crafty Garden Mama created an entirely different sort of kale chip recipe that’s worth a try.

Prefer your kale in salad? Eating Made Easy has some savory salad ideas.

No matter how you serve it, kale remains a strong choice for snacks and meals.

USDA Average Food Costs for Families

How much is your grocery bill each week?  As you might has guessed, the average price for food has crept up a bit each year, with USDA-estimated costs for feeding your family at least a couple of dollars more each week than it was a couple of years ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The United States Department of Agriculture keeps tabs on average prices for all food categories, then figures this in, along with dietary guidance and consumption patterns, to come up with its food plans. Continue reading

StrawberriesCleanCouponing

Dr. Greene Shares Tips on Economical Healthy Food for Kids

Kids and snacks.  They just go together.  You know they’ll want something to eat between meals.  So what do you feed them?  Conventional couponing might help us snag popular snack foods with cents off.  But clean couponing means getting the most value. FlourSackMama.com recently asked Dr. Alan Greene for some kids’ snack food tips. The popular pediatrician hosts a regular Twitter chat called Let’s Talk Kids’ Health!  Here’s some of what he had to say:
StrawberriesCleanCouponing

PopcornCleanCouponing

Boxed Versus Bulk Bin Popcorn Comparison Shopping

Does your family eat popcorn for family movie night at home?  Is it a snack the kids ask for often?  We always try to stay stocked up on popcorn at our house.

PopcornCleanCouponing

Maybe you’ve seen the wide range of costs for popcorn these days.  We decided to do some comparison shopping. Continue reading