Simple, Healthy, Cheap! Recipe: Haystacks

Haystacks Recipe
One of the free recipes in the “Feed A Family For Less Than $60 A Week: Spanish Week” Menu


I originally learned this recipe from a frugal family of 12. They especially like to serve this to guests, as it is easy to make, allows people put their own combinations together to suite their own tastes, and is inexpensive.

Ingredients

  • Tortilla Chips (2 bags)
  • 2 tbl oil
  • 1 onion (optional)
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 8 to 10 cups cooked beans (black, pinta or 1/2 and 1/2)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • cheese
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • salsa
  • ranch dressing

Instructions

  1. If you went for the optional onion, dice it, then heat oil on medium and saute the onion for a few minutes.
  2. Add the 1 lb ground meat and brown it over medium heat.
  3. Add the 8 to 10 cups cooked beans and stir. Add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.
  4. Cook until meat is cooked and beans are hot.
  5. Shred lettuce, dice tomatoes, shred cheese, set out salsa, ranch dressing, and tortillas.
  6. Serve by setting a base of tortillas on a plate. Add a scoop or two of the meat and bean mixture. Top as wanted with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, ranch, etc…
  7. Should make 3 meals for a family of 5. Stretch to 4 meals by serving Spanish rice and/or re-fried beans as side dishes.

Let me know your favorite Simple, Healthy, Cheap Mexican recipe.

Search coupons to see if you can save on the ingredients of this recipe or any recipe you are making tonight!


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Simple, Healthy, Cheap! Feed A Family For Less Than $60 A Week: Spanish Week

Feed_A_Family_Spanish_Week

I love Ethnic foods. I love themes. And I love to save money. So what better way to put it all together, than a themed, ethic meal plan with the goal of the total groceries costing less than $60 for the week!

What follows is the menu, the shopping list, the estimated cost of the shopping list, and links to recipes, including a few of my own.

Spanish Week Menu

The numbers at the end are the amount of times you should be able to serve the meal during the week if you are a family of 5. The links will take you to recipes – some of mine here on my blog and some found on great food sites.

Shopping List

  • Tortillas – prefer whole wheat for health. Purchase in bulk – 90 tortillas – $15.00 – or make your own for less and use the budget for fruit or veggies.
  • Tortilla chips – 2 large bags – $6.00
  • 2 lbs cheese (shredded or shared it yourself) – $7.00
  • 1 lb ground meat (beef or turkey) – $3.50
  • 2 lb pinta (pinto) beans – $2.00
  • 2 lb black beans – $2.00
  • Veggies – canned or fresh like spinach, bell peppers, corn – $3.00
  • Lettuce head – $1.50
  • Tomatoes – $3.00
  • Salsa – $3.00
  • 1 Can Tomato Paste – $0.50
  • Chili Powder – $2.00
  • Hash browns (shredded potatoes) – 5 lb bag of potatoes – $3.00
  • Eggs – 3 dozen – $4.50
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage – $3.00

Pantry List

Items that are in most people’s pantries (stuff to purchase in bulk a couple times per year):

  • Rice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Chicken stock
  • Oil
  • Oatmeal

Search Coupons.com to see if there are any coupons available for the ingredients to cut the costs even further!


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By the way, have you seen my Asian Week Menu? If not, check it out now! And be sure to subscribe to my blog, as I will be releasing my Mediterranean themed menu in a few weeks!

What other ethnic foods / themes would you be interested in?

How To Keep Your House Organised And Tidy When You Homeschool

Homeschool Organization and Cleaning

Keeping your home always clean and organised is challenging enough, even without homeschooling. When you also add this task to your daily schedule, you may find it impossible to get everything done.

Since you can’t afford to give up the one or the other, the only thing left for you to do is to find a solution. You may have to accept the fact that no matter how hard you try, you may not be able to handle everything alone. That’s why it is a good idea to ask for help from the other members of your family or occasionally hire professional cleaners who will take care of the disinfection of the premises of your home.

You could also use the professional service as a temporary solution while working on ways to handle the problem within your home (and budget). Here are a couple of tips to implement to help you be able to manage homeschooling and housekeeping going forward.

Make a schedule – This is definitely the first thing you have to do, if you want to be able to get everything done. You may feel like the homeschooling is the most important thing in your life, but you are still a parent and an adult who needs personal time. Therefore, making a schedule is the best solution. You can still make the homeschooling a priority, but also make sure that you designate specific hours of the day for the cleaning and organizing of your home and also schedule time for your hobbies and personal interests.

Avoid the distractions – The distractions are your worst enemies, so you will have to learn to avoid them any way possible. If necessary, unplug the phone when you are homeschooling or doing some of the cleaning chores. The computer and/or mobile phone probably also takes a lot of your time, as well as a lot of the time of your kids. You will be surprised how much you can do when you are not constantly distracted by these things.

Encourage your kids to clean – Take the time to explain to your kids how important it is to keep your home clean and organised. This way it will be easier to teach them to clean after themselves, organize their rooms, and even help you with some of the chores. They can start by just arranging their books and supplies after the lessons.

Give up on some of the additional curriculum and/or activities – When you see that the time is not enough, you will have to make some sacrifices. The extra curriculum activities are certainly important, but they are definitely not most significant. The moment you notice that you can’t follow your schedule, you need to start deciding what needs to be dropped.

How do YOU manage homeschooling, household, personal time and more? What are your best tips?

 

HadABaby ItsAGirl

Had a Baby

With a little fear of dating myself, I just had to use this title. It is from a commercial from the late 80’s or 90s. If you aren’t familiar, WAY back then there were no cell phones. If you were out and about and needed to call home, you had to use a pay phone and make what was called a collect call to home. This involved connecting with an operator, telling them your name and maybe even the number you were calling, They then place the call and verify that the recipient would accept the call. If so, I think the charges were like $1 per minute – quite expensive.

The commercial went something along the lines of a new papa calling his family. To avoid actually having to pay the collect charges, he tells the operator that his name is HadABaby ItsAGirl. The family on the other end hears it and that is all they need to know, so they don’t accept the charges. Just funny for that time and I remembered it when I had our baby. I guess I have a little sense of humor. If you remember what company that commercial was for, let me know:-)

The point of all this? We HAD A BABY AND ITS A GIRL! As I am recovering and very much enjoying my new baby, I have not written much. And that is OK. There is lots of useful content on my blogs to check out, Leave us a blessing, read a few posts, leave a comment and pass my blog around to your friends and family.

Travel: Does Disney Penalize Large Families?

Does Disney Penalize

I was recently doing some travel research on hotels at Disney World and I noticed something. Almost all the reasonable priced Disney properties only accommodated 4 people.

To be more specific, I was searching for a family of 4 and seeing what the top hotels were in the area and what the prices were. I was excited to see that the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a low as $203 per night. Wow. This is one place I would want to stay if I ever get to go with my family (maybe in a few years). But then I saw that, even though rooms had two queen beds, it only accommodated 4 people. If I want to accommodate 6 people, I have to spend $400 per night.

Yet, if I stay at a property outside Disney (like Hampton Suites, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, etc…), I can get a room with two queen beds that will allow us to put 6 in the room – not that we would want to unless they had a roll-away bed or a pull out sofa bed (which some do), but still, they allow me to accommodate my whole family, in one room, for around $100 per night.

Then I discovered something really startling – When I changed my search from a family of 4 (what I was doing the research for) to my family of 6 (soon), the prices of most of the Disney Properties went up. Before, I was seeing prices around $300 to $500 per night, now they were $500 to $700 per night. Wow! $200 – $300 per night increase, just because I have two more children. And there are NO discounts that I am aware of on tickets, food, etc… if you have lots of children.

If I go to do some local activities, I see people giving large families a break. Our local water park, Roaring Springs, offers an annual family pass and it is a flat rate for up to a certain amount of people in the family. Our local YMCA and Rec Center have the same thing, family passes that do not matter if there is 4, 6 or 8 in the family. I have seen places that are kind enough to discount 10% or 20% off of activities / attractions after paying full price for the first couple of children.

It seems most business have found ways to be affordable to large families and still make a profit. So, why doesn’t Disney embrace this concept? Leave me you thoughts!

Homeschool Review: Animal Lapbook Studies From Classic Homeschool

Homeschool Review Wolves Lapbook

Recently, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Jen Elgin of Classic Homeschool and getting an opportunity to review a couple of her Homeschool Lapbook Unit Studies. In the case of this review, we selected one of the animal studies: Wolves.

Overview Of The Wolves Lapbook / Unit Study

The Wolves Lapbook is available for purchase through Jen’s Etsy Shop, Created4Fun, as a digital download. After receiving the download in PDF format, we opened the document and scanned through it. The study includes:

  • Intro / cover
  • A sample photo of what the finished lapbook could look like
  • What subjects will be covered (i.e. Biology / Zoology, language arts, art, etc…)
  • A book list (fiction and non-fiction)
  • A movie list
  • An internet resource list
  • A vocabulary list
  • A set of lapbook pieces and the corresponding actions and activities

We then printed up each of the activity pages, picked up books from the library, then scanned through the books to find the answers or resource for each activity. After all the activity pieces were filled out, we then cut them out and glued them into our lapbook (folder).

Feedback on the Lapbook

My children were very happy to take a few days off from our regular workbook studies to do a unit study. There is something about this format that generates real interest in the subject at hand. The girls spent a few hours going through the books to find out where wolves lived, what they liked to eat, what their lifecycle was, and much more. They have also spent a few hours during the week reading some of the fiction books (“Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”) and watching a couple of videos involving wolves.

My only criticism for the study is I would have liked a little more… maybe a few more cutouts and activities or even some non-lapbook specific activity suggestions would have made the study fuller and made me feel like I was getting a complete value out of the study.

How You Can Engage Classic Homeschool

If you would like to see what other studies are available from Classic Homeschool, visit their Created4Fun Etsy Shop. They have American Girls studies (which we are reviewing one of next), lots of animals, Magic Tree House book studies, and more.

Their blog, Classic Homeschool, has more about their lapbooks and unit studies, homeschool information, and homeschool freebies.

Baby Almost Here

If you are a regular reader of A Simple Life Too, you may know that I am due to have a baby very soon. Well, she is now dropped and I have been having contractions, although not consistent yet. If you have ever had a baby, you know that creativity and all that is pretty much history those last few days.

Therefore, I might not be publishing anything new this week – but stand by and subscribe – I will be back soon with more of my 10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 series, my 5 Ways To Make Money Working From Home Series, and some great posts about homeschooling, saving money, and living simply.

Using Your Homeschool Budget Wisely + A Special Offer and Giveaway Link

Classes By Beth Homeschool BudgetAs many homeschool families survive on a single income, it’s vital to make the most of your homeschool budget. Yet, the old adage “You get what you pay for” also applies in most cases. Where does a mom draw the line between the two? Having homeschooled through high school and most often on a very limited budget, I’ve learned a few lessons about stretching those homeschool dollars.

  • Use literature-based curriculum for teaching literature and history. I even used whole books to teach science through middle school. I also used literature and other whole books to teach my children about writing and spelling skills. By using literature and whole books, you can utilize your library which means your core books are free!  Train Up a Child Publishing has well developed, reasonably priced literature based units and lesson plans. Full Disclosure: Beth is one of the authors of some of the TUACP materials, but I don’t receive any sort of compensation for curriculum sales.
  • Check out interlibrary loan. The reference department of your library can provide the details. Did you know you can often get textbooks from libraries all over the country? It takes a bit of planning ahead (some interlibrary loans take several weeks), but you can often extend your borrowing time by telling them you’re an educator.
  • If you know you or your child have a weak area, prioritize your budget to cover that weakness. This is most important in high school, where your child will receive credit, to make sure you have someone covering bases that you can’t. Many parents are finding that “free” high school classes offered by colleges and other organizations don’t actually teach their high school children, but just offer instructional information. Having a real teacher is essential in those tough areas. Accountability definitely matters when you share the responsibility of educating your children with another organization or teacher.
  • Use your gifts to barter with other educators. At Classes by Beth, we currently have one of our teachers and another member of our support staff who work for tuition. It’s a win-win and allows those moms to use their budget in a more creative way. It can never hurt to ask when you’re considering using a specific company’s materials or services. You may have gifts that they can’t afford to purchase.
  • Avoid impulse buying of non-essentials. I really struggled with attending homeschool conventions because I found myself wanting to buy “fun” or creative items for our schooling. Even smaller, less expensive items add up when you buy a few of them. I quickly learned to make sure I had covered all of my essentials before even considering those types of purchases. I also found that the fun items were often put aside quickly, while the essentials provided what my children truly needed.
  • Check out referral opportunities for educational companies that you utilize. For example, with Classes by Beth, we provide direct tuition credit for moms who refer their friends and those friends register for class. It’s a great way to support a company you appreciate and help your family benefit as well.
  • Share curriculum. If you have friends whose children are different ages than yours, consider purchasing curriculum together to share. This worked well for me with foreign language. When all of the children have finished using the curriculum, sell it and split the income. One suggestion: if you split the curriculum cost, the other mom will be less likely to decide to use something else later and leave you footing the bill.

A Special Offer For A Simple Life Too Readers

As a special offer for readers of this post, Classes by Beth will give any reader who registers for at least one 2015-16 CBB class 5 free Momshops (online live workshops covering a variety of topics). Readers who register for more than one class will receive all 10 of our Momshops  for free! Just use the code simplelife in the Referral box on the CBB registration form. Remember to choose courses that will take pressure off of you and allow your child to grow by being taught by an instructor passionate about teaching. That way you’re using your homeschool budget wisely!Classes By Beth WorkshopsTo participate in another free course giveaway, subscribe to the CBB blog by June 30th and you’ll be entered in our giveaway of seven different gifts, including two free classes.

Disclosure: This guest post is from Beth of Classes By Beth. Subscribe to her blog and check out her Middle and High-school Homeschool classes today!

5 Ways To Earn $500 Or More Per Month Working Part Time From Home – Part 3

5-ways-to-earn-500-part-3

Be encouraged, if you want to work from home, there are many, many opportunities out there. This is the 3rd post in the Ways To Make Money Working From Home series! Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you have not yet. Also, join my FB Group – Work At Home Moms Who Want More Than Spam – to network with other women, learn about more opportunities, or share your existing business with others.




Mystery Shopping

Last year, I made a couple hundred dollars a month Mystery Shopping. I really liked it and was able to generally find Shops that I could fit into the routine with my children and our usual outings. For example, one shop was at a grocery store that I shopped at a couple of times per month. So, with a little extra work and time, I was able to get my shopping done and complete a Mystery Shop – I got paid $25.00 for it.

There is one issue with Mystery Shopping: There are a lot of scams out there! Because I have personal experience with this, I wrote a post last year to help people find legitimate Mystery Shopping work.Also, Rat Race Rebellion has a great list of Mystery Shopping companies and I personally used a couple of them.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

Travel Agent

There are actually 3 ways to make a living as a Travel Agent, however, all require some training:

  1. Become an independent agent / run your own agency from home. Of the three options, this will take the most work. You have to get training, get licensed, join an association, get software to connect to all the available reservation systems, and then promote your business.
  2. Work for a Travel Agency from home / remotely. This can be a small, local agency or a large corporation like American Express or 1-800-Cruises. Some of the large agencies list jobs on Rat Race Rebellion. You may have to get some training first to get these jobs.
  3. There is a direct sales (MLM) business that sets you up as a travel agent, provides training, provides a web site, and gives support for a small start-up fee. I know a couple of people doing this, so contact me if you are interested. However, some in the Travel business do not consider these “real” travel businesses, so do your research before getting involved.



Up-cycle and Refurbish from garage sales and thrift stores

This idea came to me recently because I have a friend doing this. They peruse Craigslist and Facebook for stuff that people are giving away or selling really cheap (usually because it has a major issue, is broken, etc….). They then they fix the item(s), clean them up, paint them, etc… and then turn around and sell them at a profit. You can do this on a small scale (i.e. household items, toys, knickknacks, clothing) or a larger scale (furniture, automobiles, appliances).

You can also pickup stuff at Thrift Stores and garage sales and try to resell through Ebay and places like My Kids Threads.

Organizing people’s stuff / home

Another idea that came in the last week was from a friend who has started a personal organizing business. She posts ads on local FB groups (buy/sell or networking) and then helps people organize their “messes.” This could include: setting up or organizing a pantry, helping someone organize their home office, taking a pile of photos and making a scrapbook, organizing an old recipe collection, setting up shelving in a spare room to organize storage, and much more. If you are super organized and love to sort, color code, alphabetize, etc.. this could be  a great PT gig for you.

Organize It Kitchen Organization

House and/or Business Cleaning Service

I know a few people who have successfully started and worked for years doing their own cleaning service. Yes, it is hard work, but most find it easier to market, get and keep clients / customers than many of the other businesses I have mentioned to date. If you keep a clean home and have some great tricks that you use to make your house sparkle, you can make good money. I have known people to make anywhere from $10 an hour doing homes to $30 an hour cleaning offices and businesses.

If you do go the route of cleaning businesses, you will need to have more equipment than cleaning households.


10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10: #4 – Public Pool and/or Lake

10 Things Summer Swim
We love to swim!


So far this summer we have: started the summer reading program, played at the park, and done some arts and crafts during a rainy day. Now comes one of the best activities of summer – swimming.

Unfortunately, swimming can add up quickly – swim suites, floaties, the cost of lessons, etc… However, if you can get some inexpensive suites (think Walmart), or reuse what you have from last year or accept hand-me-downs (some people prefer not and I do understand), and not have to have all the other stuff, you can do summer swimming on a few dollars.

We have found for myself and our 3 children, it is $7 or $8 to take them to the local, public pool. If we add dad, then we come up to the $10 threshold. If you family is bigger, then the public pool could become expensive quickly.

Which brings me to the other option – public lakes. We have a couple of lakes within a 30 minute drive and it costs either $5 or $10 for day use for one vehicle (depending on the lake). Some are even free. We made it really frugal last year by going with another family in their cargo van. They paid gas and I paid the day use fee at our favorite lake.

We also know of a family who has built a pond on their property. They allow families to book a day or half day, for free, to swim there. What a blessing!

What is your most frugal way to go swimming?