From the category archives:

living on less

I've touted the time-saving benefits of freezer cooking many times. It's a great way to simplify the age-old "What's for dinner???" question on busy weeknights. Sometimes referred to as "once a month cooking," freezer cooking will also help you save money, as well.

Saving Money with Freezer Cooking

Save by buying in bulk.
While shopping at warehouse clubs isn't an issue for my larger-than-average family, those of you with fewer or younger children might find that the huge packages you take home from a Sam's Club or Costco are simply too much to use up before the item spoils. Planning a large freezer cooking session will allow you to use up these large packages in one fell swoop, allowing you to enjoy that savings that buying in bulk provides.

Save by grocery shopping less.
I don't know about you, but even when I go to the grocery store with a list, I often end up coming home with items that weren't on the list -- especially when shopping at superstores like Walmart or Target. When you have a month's worth of ready-made meals waiting in your freezer, you may only need to pick up milk and some fresh produce each week. Shopping less frequently helps you to avoid the temptation to grab unnecessary items altogether.

Save by limiting eating out.
It's just a no brainer that cooking at home is going to save money over ordering takeout or eating out on any given night. My family enjoys eating out together, and sometimes it's a necessity when we're traveling for sports, but balancing those splurges with eating at home as often as possible the rest of the time helps us stay within our budget.

How To Freeze Cookie Dough

I know freezer cooking might seem a little overwhelming to some of you, and that's okay. You know how they say there's more than one way to skin a cat? Well, there's more than one way to do freezer cooking. Maybe you're ambitious and want to do a weekend spree to cook for an entire month -- good for you! If you have less time, try a smaller 4-5 hour session.

Or if you're really pinched for time (and this is my favorite method), simply double whatever you're preparing for dinner on a given night. Finish one batch for dinner, and pop the other into the freezer for later.

And who says freezer cooking has to be limited to dinners? I love to make a double batch of cookie dough and freeze half to bake a few here and there. You can find instructions on how to freezer cookie dough on Unsophisticook.

Some other recipes that I often prepare for my freezer are:

:: Recommended Resources

If you're thinking about trying freezer cooking yourself, I wholeheartedly endorse the following resources. They'll guide you through the process step by step, from creating a meal plan, shopping and prepping, to tips for keeping your meals as fresh as possible!

What is your favorite meal or recipe to keep in the freezer? Share in the comments and you could win a Scott Towels prize package valued at $50!


Today, one lucky Deal Seeking Mom reader will win his or her choice of $50 in Scott Towels products!!! Follow the instructions in the widget below to be entered to win...

Be sure to check out the Pick Up The Values website for more valuable printable coupons, including savings on Scott Towels products!

This post is brought to you by Kimberly-Clark. All opinions are 100% mine.


Clean Refrigerator Challenge + $50 Viva Towels Giveaway!

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 7, 2014 · 92 comments

This is slightly embarrassing, but I have a confession to make... You guys know I'm all about saving time and money, right? And I've shared before how a clean refrigerator can help save both.

Well, the truth is I honestly cannot remember the last time I've deep cleaned my refrigerator. I can't even begin to describe the terrible state it had reached, so I'll show you a photo:

Everything stuffed in haphazardly, crumbs, stickiness -- who knows what's lurking in the back?!? But the worst of it wasn't even revealed until I removed the long snack drawer on the bottom...

Apparently at some point several months ago (at least), my kids spilled a significant amount of milk inside the fridge. While they must have thought they wiped up the mess, they clearly did not realize that most of it ran down under the snack drawer. I'm gagging just thinking about it. I will have nightmares about scrubbing that funk out for the next year!

It took a good 45 minutes and a lot of elbow grease, but I turned on some music and started scrubbing. Several Viva Towels later I had this:

Much better, isn't it?!? I took everything out, checking expiration dates as I went and tossing anything that was past its prime. Surprisingly, there wasn't much to get rid of -- I mostly just needed to organize everything better.

After pulling it all out, I was easily able to pull out the drawers (this is when I discovered the milk, blech), which made wiping the shelves and drawers down an easy task. Putting everything back into the fridge in an organized manner was much easier since I had a clean slate to work with.

Now the trick is to maintain it! Since we receive our weekly produce bins on Fridays, I'm pencilling in a quick once-over for Friday mornings with a deep-cleaning once a month.

Are You Ready To Take The Clean Refrigerator Challenge?

Now it's your turn -- I'm challenging you to whip your refrigerator into tip-top shape at some point over the next week. What's the oldest item you had to toss or the worst mess you had to clean up in your refrigerator? Share in the comments and you could win a Viva Towels prize package valued at $50!


Today, one lucky Deal Seeking Mom reader will win $50 in Viva products!!! Follow the instructions in the widget below to be entered to win...

Be sure to check out the Pick Up The Values website for more valuable printable coupons, including savings on Viva products!

This post is brought to you by Kimberly-Clark. All opinions are 100% mine.


My Staples EasyTech Total Support Experience

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 6, 2014 · 0 comments

A couple of months ago I shared a quick overview of the Staples EasyTech Total Support program. If you missed it, you'll definitely want to read up on it -- it's a must-have service for parents that have to share a computer with their kids.

Besides offering anti-virus protection and internet security, EasyTech Total Support also provides an accident protection program that covers drops, spills and malfunctions! It even includes a 1-time battery replacement, all for the low price of $160 for a new computer. Really wishing we'd picked up this plan before my kids spilled a bowl of milk on one of our laptops... It's just a useless hunk of metal currently.

Lesson learned, though -- we took our new laptop to Staples to learn firsthand about the EasyTech Total Support service. Many of you probably know that I'm pretty attached to my MacBook Pro, but the deal on this Toshiba laptop was too good to pass up. The downside? I have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to Windows 8. It's just not intuitive for me at. all. and I hated that I had no idea how to get back to my desktop, even with the touchscreen features.

Luckily the nice supervisor that was working the EasyTech Total Support counter was super patient and took the time to explain all of the ins and outs of Windows 8 to me, even giving me a pamphlet with handwritten keyboard shortcuts so I could find my way around. I was impressed at how he went the extra mile to make sure that my experience was positive.

Because I took my laptop over for my EasyTech installation later in the day, I did have to leave it with them overnight. The technician ran a complete diagnostics, removed some minor viruses that must have come with some of the bloatware that was preinstalled, and also installed and setup my antivirus and spyware protection software. He also took the time to remove and uninstall some of those bloatware installations that I'd mentioned I would never use, freeing up more memory.

My laptop was ready for pickup early the next day. Once again, the supervisor took the time to go through all of the details on the software that was installed and the benefits of the EasyTech Total Support package, making sure that I was comfortable using everything and that I knew how to check the diagnostics reporting in the antivirus software.

I was more than happy with my Staples EasyTech Totally Support experience, and I'd highly recommend it. When you consider that the cost of service for one virus incident is $149, you can see what a great value this is. The accident protection plan alone makes it worth it for me, and you get so much more!

This post is brought to you by Staples. All opinions are 100% mine.


Do You Have A Cold/Flu Get Better Kit?

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 1, 2014 · 0 comments

The weather is turning colder, which means that, unfortunately, we're on the brink of cold and flu season. We've already passed one particularly nasty cold around our household, and I'm definitely not anxious for another bout.

So when Walmart asked me to put together a Cold/Flu Get Better Kit, I couldn't help but think to myself, "What a fantastic idea!" I mean, how convenient would it be to have a small arsenal of meds and such to combat our family's colds and flus already on hand? Usually I'm running to the store for this and that on an as needed basis, which is not only stressful and frustrating for me, but leaves the sick family member in misery far longer than necessary.

Walmart is a one-stop shop for cold/flu needs, so I made a list of my necessities and went shopping. My first stop was the pharmacy area to stock up on pain relievers and more. Here's a list of what I bought for my kit:

  • Equate Ibuprofen
  • Equate Acetaminophen
  • Equate Junior Strength Ibuprofen
  • Equate Junior Strength Acetaminophen
  • Equate DayTime/NiteTime Sinus
  • Equate Nasal Spray
  • Equate Children's Multi-Symptom Cold & Fever Liquid
  • Halls Cough Drops
  • Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick

As you probably noticed, I chose the store brand Equate products in almost all instances. I've always been very pleased with how well they work for our needs, and choosing store brand is a simple and easy way to save in the pharmacy area.

I think all of the items are pretty straightforward for a cold and flu kit, but you might be wondering about the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick. I discovered these when my kids were very young while looking for something to soothe their chapped cheeks in the wintertime. It's now a staple in my purse each winter because it's perfect for soothing chapped skin and lips, most especially around the nose area that gets rubbed raw from tissues. And the scent is just heavenly!

Speaking of tissues, no cold and flu kit would be complete without several boxes of Kleenex. I'm a big fan of the Kleenex Cool Touch tissues -- they're so cool and soothing, and I tuck the Kleenex travel packs into purses, backpacks, sports bags, car consoles, and more.

I also picked up a couple of cans of Progresso Chicken & Dumpling soup to keep in the pantry. I think it's safe to say that we all far prefer my homemade chicken noodle soup when we're sick, but the Progresso will do for an easy lunch when one of us is feeling under the weather.

In my opinion, prevention is far more important that treating the symptoms once we're sick, so I also grabbed a bottle of Bolthouse Farms C-Boost juice. The extra vitamin C will help boost my kids' immune systems to hopefully help them fend off germs before the get sick. I also do a lot of reminding them to take extra care in washing their hands thoroughly and frequently.

Rice Heating Pad

One last thing I'd recommend for any cold and flu get better kit is one of these no-sew rice heating pads! We actually have several of them, keeping some in the freezer for bumps, bruises, headaches and such, and several others that we can warm in the microwave to soothe aching muscles.

What items do you keep in your cold and flu get better kit?

Walmart Moms Disclosure


Fight Hunger, Spark Change With Walmart

by Tara Kuczykowski on September 30, 2014 · 1 comment

Our family has been through some pretty lean times, but we've always managed to put food on our table -- something I know so many struggle with each day. In fact, one in seven Americans, including 12 million children, turn to the Feeding America food bank network for food assistance each year... That's a pretty staggering fact, isn't it?

The sad truth is that food banks across the nation are facing a growing need for donations these days. To help combat the historically high rate of of food insecurity, Walmart has joined with Feeding America to support food banks and local partner agencies across the country in the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign. Even better, they've enlisted the help of six of the nation's largest food companies, including General Mills, Unilever, Hormel, ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo/Quaker and Kellogg Company.

How You Can Help Fight Hunger

So how can we help out? A great starting place is by voting voting online for your local food bank at! You can cast one vote per day, and at the end of the voting period, the top 50 food banks will each receive a $60,000 grant. Food banks really know how to stretch that kind of money -- that's the monetary equivalent of 37 million meals!

Currently, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank (my local food bank) is in 17th place, making them a strong candidate for receiving one of these much-needed grants. I'd love to see my local friends jump in and vote daily to help keep them there! Or if you'd prefer to support your own local food bank, you can easily search for it by state.

When you place your vote, you'll also received information on how you can donate or volunteer to take a direct action in the fight against hunger in your local community. Together we can make a lasting impact in helping to reduce hunger in America!

But don't wait -- voting is only open through this Sunday, October 5th...

Walmart Moms Disclosure

{ 1 comment }