With 5 growing kids, our grocery budget is our highest household expense. Every week I am shocked to see how quickly we go through the food that I buy.
I am constantly tweaking the menu and trying to make things stretch as far as I can. Since I know many of my readers are in the same boat (tight budget, but you gotta eat!) I thought I would share some of the more surprising ways I have found to reduce our grocery budget.
(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.)
1. Don't use coupons.
Yes! You read that right! Now there was a time when I would have vehemently disagreed with that statement, but I've completely changed my tune now!
I used to be quite the couponing queen – to the point that I often made money buying my groceries. As I traveled further and further down the path to a more healthy lifestyle, though, I eventually realized that there weren't too many coupons for healthy foods, and the coupons were only tempting me to splurge on unhealthy things way too much. (Read about the time we ate 40 boxes of Pop-Tarts!)
I ended up spending 25 cents here and 50 cents there on food I would have never purchased otherwise just because it was cheap. You might be very surprised to find out that once I stopped using coupons, we were actually able to eat better quality food for less money.
Because I was nickel and diming myself to death on the cheapest things I could get, but that we didn't necessarily need. Sure, our grocery bill was very low, and cooking was a breeze with all those boxes and cans in my pantry that I could just dump into a pot. But I didn't have planned-out, healthy meals; it was just pure randomness.
Once I started planning healthy meals, and I ditched the coupons, our health improved and our grocery bill went down. I found that planning trumped randomness on both quality and cost, even when the randomness only cost a few pennies!
2. Use cash.
Paying for my groceries with cash forced me to create a plan and stick to it.
And as I already emphasized, planning plays a gigantic role in lowering the grocery bill.
When I use cash, I am adding up the cost of all the ingredients as I add them to the cart, and if I'm over budget, I can't cover it with a credit card; I'll just have to put something back.
There's no better way to stick to a budget than by giving yourself no other option!
3. Don't shop on the same day each week.
This strategy might not work for everyone depending on your family's schedule, but one really successful way I have found to keep my grocery budget low is to only shop when I run out of food.
Even though meal planning is important, things don't always go as planned.
When I'm cooking I might decide I can use 1/2 the meat that the recipe called for and substitute beans for the rest.
We may be invited to someone's house to eat and not end up using the meal that was planned.
We may sleep in and have brunch instead of breakfast and lunch that day.
So if I plan to shop once a week, inevitably there will still be random food articles left in the fridge on shopping day.
But if I wait until I've used up everything in the fridge and pantry, I can stretch our budget for an extra day or two (or if I'm really feeling resourceful I can sometimes make it an extra whole week!)
Using everything up before I shop keeps my fridge spic and span without forgotten leftovers rotting in the back too.
Want even more help reducing your family's grocery budget?
Grocery Budget Bootcamp is a course that my friend Tiffany put together with families like yours in mind. She has a passion for helping people feed their families well without breaking the bank. Numerous testimonials like the following are coming from her students:
“I just want to say THANK YOU for the course and the depth it goes into. I've saved $300 from the first 2 weeks!” – Kristen
“In just 2 months I've trimmed my grocery budget by 43% AND saved nearly 10 TIMES what I paid before the course was even over!” – Laura
Right now you can enroll in her FREE 3 part video course, Grocery Savings Made Simple, which I highly recommend as a great starting point for cutting your family's grocery budget.
Easter will be here very soon. As I reflect on Christ's resurrection, I thought it would be appropriate to share some Easter Bible verses that you too can meditate upon during the coming days.
Here are 15 scriptures to help you celebrate the Resurrection:
1. And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. Matthew 20:17-19
2. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. 30And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 31Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Matthew 26:26-32
3. And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. 45And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. 46And they laid their hands on him, and took him. Mark 14:43-46
4.And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the
King of the Jews? 13And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. 15And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. Mark 15:12-15
5. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 47Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. Luke 23:33-34; 46-47
6. When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 58He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. Matthew 27:57-60
7. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? Luke 24:1-5
8. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8And they remembered his words, 9And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. Luke 24:6-9
9. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26
10. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:8-11
11. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:31-34
12. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:9-13
13. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day
according to the scriptures: I Corinthians 15:1-4
14. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20But now is Christ risen from the dead,
and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Corinthians 15:19-22
15. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I Corinthians 15:19-22
It was nearly time for me to leave for the grocery store, and I was still frantically googling for “Real Food Menu Plans”. I had a list of dream features in my head for what I needed/wanted in a menu planning service, but I assumed it didn't exist because it was basically like I was hoping for a personal mind-reader.
I saw Real Plans come up several times, clicked on it, and left the page. Like 3 times. I assumed it wouldn't be everything I was hoping for, even though it looked close. On the 4th time, I said, “You know what? I can just do this for a month and see how I like it. I don't have to keep up a subscription if I don't want to.”
So I did. After the first week I said, “Yup. I'm buying the whole year subscription.”
And now, 3 months later, I'm still finding new things to love about it.
This is going to be a long post, because honestly it's got everything. But here we go. Here is why I am loving Real Plans so stinking much.
(Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links)
1. Customize likes, dislikes, food allergies, etc.
When you first set up your profile, you can choose whether or not you eat a specific type of diet, like Paleo or Whole30. I don't even remember how many choices there were. There were a lot. I just chose a traditional diet.
Additionally, if you have specific allergies or even foods you dislike, you can add those and it will not include any recipes in your meal plans that have any of those ingredients in them.
I so much love that all of the recipes are real food recipes, and not something where I have to make manual substitutions for foods we wouldn't eat.
2. Customize your meal schedule
I can choose which days of the week I want it to plan menus for and which meals I want planned. So, for instance, if I know we don't eat breakfast on Saturdays but have a large brunch instead, I would set the Saturday schedule to only plan breakfast and dinner. I can event set the Saturday breakfast settings to “large” meal size so that it would be appropriate for brunch.
Every meal can be customized with advanced filters. So, for example, if I know we have soccer practice on Thursday nights, I can set the prep times for Thursday night dinners to always plan a 15 minute dinner for me. (What?! I'm still blown away by how amazing this software is.
If I want to have a crockpot roast for Sunday dinner every week, I can tell it to do that.
If I want to do a Mexican Mondays, I can set Monday dinners to always be Mexican cuisine.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point that you can do so much with this software!
3. Customize to your real food cooking style
Another thing in your account settings is what your real food cooking style is. Do you typically buy organic, pre-made ingredients from the store? Do you make every ingredient from scratch? Do you make certain easy things like bone broth and purchase the rest?
Depending on the settings you select, the software will add ingredients to your shopping list or else add to your weekly instructions that you need to prepare those ingredients.
4. Customize how many servings you want
A downfall of some menu planning services is that the recipes are based on a certain number of servings and you have to adjust your own shopping list accordingly if your family is larger or smaller.
With Real Plans, I can set each meal to be the number of servings I want, and it will automatically adjust the recipes and my shopping list.
Right now, I have all my dinners set to 14 servings, and I leave the lunches blank. This way I don't have to cook a separate meal for lunch, and I can be sure that my dinner recipes make enough to ensure leftovers that we can eat.
5. Use pre-made menus, customized menus, or a combination of both
After you set up your weekly schedule, your menus are automatically generated for you each week. Simply log in or open up the app on your phone and your menus and recipes are already there waiting for you. Don't care for a specific meal on the schedule? You can search the database and replace it with any recipe you like, or you can play “recipe roulette”, where they will generate some random choices. You can keep clicking the thumbs down sign until you see one you like and it will replace the originally planned meal with the new one you selected.
6. Add more recipes from your favorite bloggers or import your own
Real Plans comes with a database of 1500 real food recipes, but they have also partnered with some favorite recipe bloggers. You can also purchase an upgrade and it will add every recipe from their site into your recipe rotation.
Additionally, you can install the chrome extension (free) and use it to import any recipes you wish from around the web and then add hem to your meal schedule.
7. The shopping list is automatically created and syncs to the phone app
No matter how many adjustments I make to my meal plan, the app automatically adjusts every ingredient on my shopping list.
I LOVE that the shopping list is divided by section of the store, making everything so quick and easy to find. Each item has a check box beside it, and once I've added it to my cart I can click it and it disappears. This makes it so nice so that I can see the items disappearing off the list instead of hoping my eyes haven't missed something as I skim over the list.
(If I make a mistake, I can go to the “Got it” section and re-add the item to my list.)
8. Additional shopping list convenience
Since I shop at multiple stores, I can tell the software which items I typically purchase from which store. Every week it puts my Aldi items on the Aldi list, the Walmart items on the Walmart list, the online items on the online list, etc. That way when I go to Walmart, I only see the 3 items I need to get when I'm in Walmart.
If I always have certain items on hand, coconut oil or apple cider vinegar for instance, I can check “always have it” and it will not clog up my shopping list with those items week after week. If I want to purchase certain items on a schedule (for instance, I like to order my sprouted flour once a month) I can set the shopping list to schedule it for me once a month so that I remember to buy it. (I'm telling you, once you enter your settings, Real Plans is like having your own personal mind reader!)
9. Cooking timeline
If you know anything about real food, it's that you always have to be a couple steps ahead of the game. (Whoops! Beans for supper tonight, but I forgot to soak them yesterday!)
Real Plans is so smart that it reads the ingredients in your recipes and creates a timeline for the week. Here's a snapshot of mine for the week:
10. Cooking convenience
With other menu planning services I've used, I either have to print the recipes out, or go tracking them down via my Pinterest profile when I'm ready to cook. It's time consuming and a pain.
With Real Plans, all I do is open the app on my phone, and the recipe for whatever meal it is automatically pops up. (If I decide I want to eat tomorrow's meal today, I can just scroll down and click on it.)
I also just noticed that there is a place to rate each recipe from 1 to 5 “hearts.” I'm assuming that if you really like a recipe, you can just give it a high rating and Real Plans will add it to your meal rotation more often. (Like I said, I keep finding new things to love about it!)
11. Nutritional data on every recipe
If you have special health concerns or you're dieting and want to count carbs, each recipe has all the nutrition facts included.
12. 24 hour chat
If you're stuck or confused on how to use a certain feature, you can just click the chat button (available 24 hours a day and they will help you immediately.) Seriously the best customer service ever. They even called me when I first signed up to see if I needed anything.
13. Money back guarantee
Not that I think you would need it, but it is always reassuring to know that if something doesn't work for you, you won't be out anything.
I paid $72 for a year of Real Plans and even though it's only February, I have already more than paid for the service with the amount of time I've saved and with the money I've saved at the grocery store.
We don't waste food because I have a specific plan for my leftovers.
It's easier (and cheaper) to make ingredients from scratch because Real Plans reminds me early enough in the week that I'm not grabbing a jar or package at the last minute.
Having a shopping list ensures I buy only what I need – no more and no less.
Having a meal plan and everything I need on hand to make the recipes keeps us from spending money on spontaneous splurges
I am super picky about products and don't often recommend things because I'm hard to impress. But Real Plans has honestly been like a dream come true for me. We're eating healthy meals and saving money in the process!
I can still feel the pit in my stomach. Our family had recently made the most difficult decision of our lives, and we had no idea what lay around the next corner.
Would people support us or would they ridicule us? How would we pay for the necessary expenses? Would people understand just how difficult this was for us or would they assume we had gone off the deep end?
As I sought for a good “thinking place” amidst my turmoil, I decided to lie down on a sheet on the ground outside. It was a balmy spring day, and I could feel a gentle breeze brushing over me.
With my head so close to the ground, my attention was drawn to the tiniest of flowers – flowers I couldn’t even see without being down so low.
My children were running around in the grass near me, and I watched as the flowers seemed to be crushed under their feet.
But no sooner were they crushed but they sprang right back up, no worse for the wear.
As I watched those little flowers, I thought of the song by the late Alfred B. Smith:
I was wearied, I was worried with my trouble,
And my heart by its burden was oppressed.
Now I’ve learned my Savior’s lesson on the lilies,
And I find in its teaching perfect rest.
In case you didn't catch it, that song is based on Matthew chapter 6, where the Holy Spirit through the writer tells us not to be concerned about whether we’ll have enough to eat or drink or whether we’ll have clothes to wear.
Matthew 6:24-33, KJV:
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
God knows what we need before we even know ourselves what we need.
As we are faithful to seek Him above all things, he will faithfully provide all that we need – whether that be physical needs or even emotional needs.
God said that even Solomon with his riches and glory did not compare to the beauty with which God clothes the lilies of the field.
Grass and flowers which are beaten down by wind and rain and trampled underfoot are cared for directly by the hand of God – how much more will he take care of his children?
Those tiny purple flowers which go completely unnoticed under normal circumstances are important to God! He clothes them in beauty and provides the resilience for them to make a full recovery after being crushed underfoot.
Will he not care for my needs? Will he not give me the strength to heal when I’ve been hurt? Will he not give me courage when I’m afraid?
When I’m tempted to look around at my problems, I recall the image of the purple flowers and I remember that God is there.
And I can rest peacefully in Christ’s lesson on the lilies.
As I sit here typing, I can hear the baby “talking” loudly in her crib while her big sister indulges her by speaking back to her in baby talk.
They should be asleep, and I should finally have some silence to think, plan, and accomplish some things. But instead, you’ll most likely end up reading a blog post full of jumbled thoughts as I try in vain to think clearly amid the ruckus.
Life around here is never dull, which means it’s never very quiet either!
I have so many things I need to be doing, but most of them require clarity of thought – something that is hard to come by when there is noise all around me!
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant noise?
Maybe it’s the constant “Mama! Mama!” you hear all day long.
Maybe it’s the sound of the vacuum and the dishwasher and the washing machine (and the smoke alarm?) all going at the same time.
Maybe it’s the never-ending buzzing and dinging from your phone.
It’s highly possible that it’s all of the above.
Is there hope of finding peace when you can’t even seem find a quiet moment to go the bathroom alone, let alone think about anything important?
Homemaking places so many demands on us, not just physically, but also mentally and even spiritually.
Quiet moments do not come easily; therefore you will have to intentionally create them.
If your life seems chaotic and disorganized, creating some quiet time to get your thoughts in order will go a long way toward helping you create a more peaceful home.
So how in the world do you create quiet time when you’re overwhelmed with all the noise in your home?
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
1. Get up early.
Say what? I have little ones who don’t sleep through the night! OR I have chronic insomnia, and there is no way I can get up early!
Don’t worry. There are other suggestions here to help you create some quiet.
Hint: You might want to check out Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Morning course. She teaches you how to overcome some of the overwhelm in your day with a smooth morning routine – regardless of whether you can get up early or not!
2. Stay up late.
Okay, now you’re confusing me. I thought you just told me to get up early. I can’t do that if I stay up late!
I agree. If you’re going to get up early, you need to get to bed and get some sleep. But maybe you’re just not in a season of life where you can do early mornings right now. So flip that on its head and stay up a little later than everyone else. Not late enough to wreak havoc on your body, but just enough to hear yourself think after the house is (finally!) silent. I know it’s tempting to just veg. out in front of a screen because you’re tired, but taking 10 – 15 minutes to get a clear picture in your head of how you need to order your day will save you from frustration and chaos tomorrow. Hint: If you’re more of the evening type, you’ll want to snag Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Evenings course, where she’ll walk you through how to use your evening to create a peaceful day the next day. Best part – her courses are super affordable!
3. Institute a daily quiet time
If you have small children, most likely they will still take naps. Do your best to put them down for naps at the same time so you can have an hour or two of quiet in the midst of your day. If your kids are too old for naps, you can still have a mandatory quiet time every day.
In my home, the kids may read or color or play quietly with Legos. Occasionally I will put on a movie for them. Having everyone doing something quiet gives me a few minutes to breathe, regroup, and prepare myself mentally and spiritually for the remainder of the day.
Even if you don’t have children in the home, taking a time out in the middle of your day to just Be Still (Psalm 46:10) will do wonders for your soul, especially when your mind feels pulled in a million different directions.
4. Turn it off
I am a big proponent of listening to Godly, uplifting music in the home. It can keep our hearts and minds in the right place and help us to keep our focus on Christ. But occasionally I find that it’s just adding to the noise of the moment. With lots of little people talking and timers beeping and phones ringing, it’s just one more thing to add to the cacophony. Don’t feel guilty turning off the music if it’s doing more harm than good!
To keep a peaceful and orderly home, it’s important not to be mentally distracted. Turn off notifications from your phone, stick to set times to be on social media, and even remove apps from your phone if you find yourself picking it up too often throughout the day. Too much social media adds to the mental clutter and creates noise in your brain.
I don’t know about you, but for me it doesn’t matter whether the noise is in my brain or in my ears – noise is still noise! And too much of it makes it hard for me to focus on keeping my home running smoothly and giving the attention to my children that they need.
6. Learn to focus on one thing at a time
This is an area where I struggle. I know I need to get the laundry done, get dinner made, oversee the children’s schooling and chores, and accomplish all of the other miscellaneous to-do items from my list each day. But like the internet browser on my computer, ALL THE TABS ARE OPEN AT ONCE. Instead of finishing one thing, I flit around from one to the other. And it’s just more mental clutter.
When I focus on one thing at a time, I can do it well, and it doesn’t hurt my brain because I’m not trying to remember 20 other things at the same time.
7. Go outside
When I’m starting to feel like the noise is closing in on me, one of the best ways for me to regroup is to go outside for a while. The fresh air does me good and helps me clear my head (not to mention, when the little munchkins get outside to run, they’re a lot less noisy when they go back inside.)
8. Prioritize your to-do list
I could cook and clean and take care of kids for a hundred years, and I would never, ever run out of things to put on my to-do list.
But looking at a list of 25 things is a lot for my small brain to take in, and adds to that mental clutter and feeling of overwhelm.
But listing the top 3 things I need to do? That is much more manageable and helps to create a little bit of “white space” in my mind so that it doesn’t feel so noisy in there!
9. Take a break
If you want a sure-fire way to burn yourself out as homemaker, then don’t ever take a break from your responsibilities and just relax with no guilt!
You don’t ever need to feel guilty for leaving the kids with dad or a sitter and taking a shopping day or a bubble bath or whatever else you want to do! Me time is not selfish when it is done in the interest of recharging your batteries so you can be fresh and revitalized for your family! (Here are 13 Free Ways to Take Care of You!)
10. Play the Quiet Game
When the chatter reaches its highest crescendo, and you can’t even hear yourself think enough to remember whether it was two or three teaspoons of baking powder you just added to the biscuits, it’s time to play the quiet game.
Whew! The sound of silence immediately after a deafening roar is heavenly. It only takes a few minutes of the quiet game before you’ll be thinking clearly again and ready to continue managing your home well.
One final way to help reduce the clutter in your brain is to reduce the actual physical clutter in your home.
To help you do that, I’ve negotiated with some of my favorite people to bring you an amazing giveaway! Click here or on the image below to enter!
“Christmas is only 11 weeks away” my son informed me. I groaned inwardly, not because I don't like Christmas, but because I was not prepared for another stressful season of shopping for the perfect gifts and then trying to make homes for all the things my children receive. I longed for a Christ centered Christmas, and I knew from years past that in spite of my intentions for Christmas to be a simple celebration of Christ's birth, there was still too much emphasis placed on the gifts.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think that gifts are a bad thing or that giving and receiving gifts at Christmas is always materialistic. We try to give our children things they need or things that will have some usefulness for many years rather than loading them up with the latest toy trends.
But shopping for those gifts takes a lot of my time and energy away from some of the other things I'd like to do to celebrate Christmas. When you live with a chronic illness, even the simplest things are difficult and stressful.
Additionally, our budget is not exactly what you'd call large, and trying to find gifts that fit within it is a challenge and a time suck.
What I want this year is to enjoy spending time together as a family celebrating what Christmas really is instead of spending so much time shopping for gifts.
So I sat the children down one evening and told them that Christmas gifts were going to be extremely simple this year. I was honest with them about our budget as well as my desire to put even less emphasis on the gifts than we usually did.
I asked them what, in their opinion, would make Christmas meaningful.
Instead of groaning that we were cutting back on our already simple gifts, they seemed excited. I learned something that evening that I already knew: KIDS DON'T WANT GIFTS; THEY WANT YOU!
“We could sing Christmas Carols together.”
“I would like it if we could play some silly Christmas games together.”
“I just want to spend time as a family.”
These were the kinds of answers they gave me that night.
And so, as I began to brainstorm what a Christ-centered Christmas would entail, I came up with some guidelines:
A Christ-centered Christmas means serving others.
A Christ-centered Christmas means focusing on family instead of gifts.
A Christ-centered Christmas means we aren't afraid to have fun and be filled with the joy of the Lord!
For several weeks, I mulled over exactly how we could do those things. We knew where we wanted to go; we just didn't exactly have a plan to get there yet.
I prayed for wisdom and ideas, and in time the Lord showed me exactly how we could celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas.
My 4 year old went shopping with grandma on her birthday, and one of the things she picked out was a little Christmas mailbox.
At first, the kids used it to deliver kind notes to each other (sounds like they were already in the spirit of a Christ-centered Christmas!)
But after a couple days, it got to be overload on the little scraps of paper all over the house. They were beginning to write nonsense instead of meaningful notes just for the novelty of using the mailbox.
So my husband told them they had to wait until we came up with some guidelines for using the mailbox.
After about a week or so, I had an idea!
Our mailbox will be a central part of our Christ-Centered Christmas!
Each morning when the kids come to the table for breakfast, they can check the mailbox. Inside I will have placed a folded slip of paper with the day's date on it. On it they will find the day's Christ-centered Christmas activity.
I'm really excited about this because it doesn't have to be completed in advance like a lot of Christmas countdown calendars I've seen. This will give me the freedom to decide based on how I'm feeling that day whether I write something simple and low-energy or something more ambitious. Plus, as I see different Christmas activities come up on our local community calendar, I can decide on a whim whether to include that in our mailbox.
So, I know what you're wondering. What are some of the activities I'm thinking of putting in the mailbox?
I have here a list of 25 Christ-centered Christmas activities to get you started on your own family Christmas.
If all goes well, I imagine this will become a yearly tradition for us.
1. Go see Christmas lights.
Remind the children the Christ is the light of the world. You could also do this fun Christmas lights scavenger hunt that's included in free Christian holidays printable set from Not Consumed.
2. Make a meal together.
3. Write a letter to a relative.
Be a blessing to someone you don't get to see very often.
4. Sing Christmas Carols together.
Talk about the meanings of the songs that you sing.
If you've been reading the blog for the past couple days, you've seen that I'm sharing ideas for crossing items off your gift list for free or really cheap!
A couple free things here and a couple free things there will knock a nice chunk off your budget!
I try to take advantage of each of these opportunities that comes my way and by Christmas I have a good little stash of gifts already collected. It's a huge help when money is tight!
Today I'm going to tell you how to get free clothes that you can give as gifts!
Here's how it works:
Sign up for an account at Thredup and/or Schoola (Thredup is my favorite!)
When you sign up you'll get a free $10 credit in your account.
Shop for an item that is $10 or under and you'll have another gift crossed off your list for free!
Tips and Tricks:
Thredup and/or Schoola sell gently used clothing, which you may or may not feel comfortable giving as a gift. However, you can find plenty of articles that are new with tags. On Thredup, click on the “price” filter and check the box that says New with Tags. On Schoola, you'll click on the “condition” filter and choose New with Tags.
If you're giving something to your children, you may not care if the item doesn't have tags on it.
For example, my 10 year old is into Under Armour, so I've been able to find inexpensive Under Armour clothes on Thredup for him. He won't even care or notice whether they have tags on them!
Browse the list below for some nice stocking stuffer ideas that you can get free with your credit.
Shipping is free on your first order of $10 or more!
Check off some stocking stuffers from your list!
(If you already have a Hollar account, you won't get another $5 credit; however, you can share this post with your friends and ask them to use your referral link instead of mine. You'll both get $5 when they sign up!)
I'm in Christmas shopping mode, but unfortunately this year we've found the need to cut our budget back quite a bit. I'm coming up with lots of creative ways to “purchase” gifts for free or very inexpensively.
I'll be sharing lots of my ideas here, so be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to stay in the loop!
Today I have a list of 10 gifts you can purchase for free or very inexpensively from Grove Collaborative.
2. Browse the list below for some of my favorite products that will make great gifts!
3. Apply your credit at checkout and voila! Check of another gift (or 2 or 3) from your shopping list without spending anything!
4. (If you're already a Grove Collaborative customer, you won't get another $10 credit; however, you can share this post with your friends and ask them to sign up through your referral link instead of mine. You'll get a $10 credit when they sign up!)
Grove Collaborative auto-ships items each month, so you need to double check to make you are not scheduled for automatic delivery of more items (they will send you an email each month to remind you to check your subscriptions.) You DO NOT have to continue to have items shipped to you unless you want to, but be sure to double check!