From the category archives:

living on less

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Weeknight dinners are my nemesis... Just when I think I've got it all under control, I sometimes find myself getting derailed, and you know what that means -- I'm calling up our local pizzeria for delivery. So what's a mom to do? Get right back in the saddle with an easy recipe like the One Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken With Corn & Black Beans pictured above, of course!

If you often find yourself in the same situation, here are five more tips that will help simplify your weeknight meals:

Meal Planning

Meal planning involves mapping out a plan for your meals on a weekly or monthly basis. It can be as detailed or loose as you'd like, but it allows you to plan meals around sales to save money at the same time. I'll be completely honest, though -- meal planning is not my strength. It definitely works if you're disciplined enough to stick with it, though! I've shared some thoughts on meal planning on Unsophisticook, so you can get more info there.

Have A Go To Plan

I find that a "go to plan" is a better method for my family. We have some basic main dishes and sides that all pair well together, and we keep the ingredients for them stocked at all times. Our plan looks something like this: a main protein (burgers, veggie burgers, grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, etc.), a grilled or roasted veggie side (grilled veggies, roasted asparagus, roasted potatoes, grilled avocado, etc.), and a grain or pasta side like coconut milk rice, quinoa, or a fluffy couscous.

Use Your Slow Cooker

There are a number of tools in my kitchen that I consider essential to getting dinner on the table quickly on busy weeknights -- my immersion blender, kitchen scissors, and Le Creuset French oven to name a few. But my slow cooker tops them all! here are six of my favorite tried and true slow cooker recipes to get you started.

Freezer Meals

I love the concept of preparing meals ahead of time that can be easily frozen and reheated or cooked upon thawing. Not all recipes are conducive to this treatment, but with a few substitutions, most can be adapted to become a freezer meal. The easiest way I've found to stock the freezer is to simply double all of my freezer compatible meals when I make them -- one for that evening and one to be frozen for later use. Or if a freezer cooking day to stock your freezer for a month sounds appealing, check out Once A Month Meals, where my friend Tricia has put together an amazing resource for freezer cooking fanatics!

Healthy Snacks

When all else fails, it pays to have some healthy snacks on hand to tide the family over through homework and sports practices, allowing you more time to figure out the all important dinner menu. Find five of our favorite recipes here, including an amazing recipe for healthy homemade granola bars!

What is your favorite tip for getting dinner on the table in a hurry? Share in the comments and you could win a U by Kotex prize package valued at $50!


Today, one lucky Deal Seeking Mom reader will win his or her choice of $50 in U by Kotex 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 U by Kotex products!

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


Saving Our Pennies + $50 Kleenex Brand Giveaway!

by Tara Kuczykowski on September 8, 2014 · 83 comments

I'm always surprised at the amount of loose change my kids find laying around. They're masters at spotting dropped change in parking lots, coins left in return change slots on pop machines, nickels wedged into park benches, etc...

I suppose they come by it honestly. I remember being 16 years old, searching the couch cushions for loose change to put a few gallons of gas in my car -- you know, back when gas was like $0.89 a gallon.

These days spare change doesn't go nearly as far when filling up your gas tank, but that doesn't mean that we should just cast it aside. Those pennies and dimes still add up to dollars over time!

A couple of years ago we decided, as a family, to save all of our loose change. I set out a mason jar in the kitchen, which was quickly filled to overflowing. So I purchased a vintage glass water jug off of One Kings Lane, and now it sits in our entryway where it's easy for each family member to drop in their contributions.

Oh, we're a loooonnnngg way from filling it up, but we definitely have a goal in mind.... These days my kids like to show it off to their friends and tell them it's our "Hawaii fund." I honestly don't even know if our jug can hold enough change to pay for our family of 7 to take a trip to Hawaii, but by the time we (hopefully) fill it up, all of our kids should be old enough to fully enjoy and cherish the memories of such a trip.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying watching my kids delight in checking the rising level of our saved pennies (and nickels, dimes and quarters), knowing that they're learning how to make a conscious decision to save.

What is your family saving for? Share in the comments and you could win a Kleenex Brand prize package valued at $50!


Today, one lucky Deal Seeking Mom reader will his or her choice of $50 in Kleenex Brand 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 Kleenex Brand items!

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


Buzzle Ball | The New Puzzle Challenge!

by Tara Kuczykowski on August 26, 2014 · 0 comments

I've loved puzzle games for as long as I can remember. I don't recall when I got my first Rubik's Cube, I do remember getting a Rubik's Magic for Christmas when I was 8 years old... I loved that thing and played with it frequently -- until I wore the wires out.

My 11-year-old son is very much the same, and he's always loved any type of game or device that challenges you to solve some a puzzle. So when Walmart asked if any of my kids would be interested in trying out the Buzzle Ball, I took one look and knew he'd have a ball with it (no pun intended, lol).

The Buzzle Ball is similar to the Rubik's Cube in that you twist it, trying to align certain colors, but that's where the similarity ends. The Buzzle Ball is obviously round, but it also adds a ring around the outside, adding another dimensional challenge. The pieces twist in all directions, making figuring out how to align them difficult to say the least.

In fact, we're still attempting to solve it a week later! I mixed the Buzzle Ball up for my son after we first received it, and apparently I did a very thorough job on it, because my husband, my son and I've all tried it on and off to no avail. We've all come very close, but those rings seriously throw a wrench into the mix!

But honestly, that's what we love most about the Buzzle Ball. It's a fun little puzzle game that's ultra portable, very challenging, which stimulates and engages the mind, and you can pick it up and put it down at will. Add in the fact that it's made in the USA, and it's definitely a product that I feel good about purchasing for my kids.

The Buzzle Ball will be available in Walmart stores this month priced at $19.97!

Walmart Moms Disclosure


Despite the state of denial I've been living in for the past few weeks, my two oldest boys headed off to middle school earlier this week. I'm not even sure how it's possible -- it feels like they were just born yesterday!

I'd be lying if I said I let them go without a trace of anxiety. I remember middle school all too well... struggling with more difficult classes, the insecurities, trying to find my "tribe", made all the more difficult by raging hormones that wreak havoc on your body and skin.

Gah, that's one period in my life that I have absolutely no desire to revisit!

I guess it's the mama bear in me, but I'll do whatever it takes to protect them from the worst of it whenever possible...

I've noticed some minor issues with pimples and blackheads with both boys over the course of the summer, so I was very grateful when AcneFree introduced themselves to me and asked if I'd be interested in having my boys try their 24-Hour Acne Clearing System. I figured it's never too early to teach them good skincare habits, hopefully saving them from some of the acne issues that both my husband and I experienced when we were younger.

The AcneFree system uses micro-sized benzoyl peroxide, which is designed to work faster and penetrate deeper into pores. Their studies show that you can see results in as little as 1-3 days, and my boys did see impressive results by the third day.

Though the system is designed to use all three products daily, my boys have found that they don't need to use the lotion every day. Washing their face with the face wash and using the toner daily, while adding the lotion on alternating days, has been very effective at keeping their skin relatively clear without overdoing it.

And the best part -- the AcneFree 24-Hour Acne Clearing System is on rollback right now for just $13.97! The weekly dermatologist visits that I needed in high school were at least twice that -- and likely much more (obviously I wasn't footing the bill).

AcneFree has also partnered with SoftLens to help students put their best face forward this year. Though my boys don't need contacts, I've heard great things about the SoftLens daily disposables. With benefits like the following, I'll definitely consider them in the future if we have the need!

  • No daily cleaning, storage, or care required; wear them for a day, then, throw them away
  • Simple packaging makes it easy to pack contact lenses in your travel bag, gym bag, or your purse
  • High Definition™ Optics help reduce blur, halos, and glare across a full range of conditions
  • Slow release packaging solution delivers outstanding all-day comfort

Be sure to ask your doctor about a 5-day supply of SoftLens daily disposables, as well as a $20 Contact Lens Fitting Fee Rebate with the purchase of a six-month supply!

I know I can't protect my boys from all of the difficulties that middle school will entail, I'm glad I can at least help ease the way with products like these.

Walmart Moms Disclosure


You're probably wondering what this rather strange-looking mask is all about... The illuMask is an innovative skincare device that was developed to gently improve your skin's appearance via light therapy.

Yeah, it sounds a little too good to be true, but the truth is, light therapy has been widely used by dermatologists to reduce acne and improve the signs of aging for years. In fact, when I was going through a particularly rough patch of breakouts during high school, I went to the dermatologist weekly for light therapy -- at a much higher price tag than the illuMask, which can be purchased at Walmart for just $29.97.

There are actually two versions of the illuMask -- one that targets anti-aging and another that targets acne. You can actually use them concurrently if you're struggling with both issues. Each mask is good for a total of 30 treatments, meaning you can get results for less than $1 per day.

The illuMask is designed to be used once per day, and each treatment session lasts for 15 minutes. I find myself actually looking forward to my nightly treatment, using it as an excuse for a little me time. I plug my headphones in and listen to music and just veg out -- something I probably wouldn't do otherwise.

I first started using the illuMask Anti-Aging Light Therapy Mask when we returned from a weeklong beach vacation. My skin was parched, peeling slightly, and definitely in need of some TLC. I saw results within the first few days -- my skin was brighter and smoother. And I've continued to see improvements in the texture and tone of my skin.

A couple of important notes:

Once you initiate an illuMask treatment, you cannot pause it during the 15-minute session. The lights degrade over time, so after 30 treatments, you will no longer be able to activate the device. Because of this, make sure you can complete an entire 15-minute treatment before starting a session, and I'd also recommend keeping the mask away from little fingers that may accidentally trigger a session.

Also, the illuMask has not been tested for use while pregnant of breastfeeding, so if this applies to you, use it at your own discretion.

As I mentioned, the illuMask is now available for purchase in-store at Walmart or online on

I'm about 15 days into my treatment sessions at this point, and I'm very excited to see what the results will be like once I complete the 30 days. I'm definitely considering making illuMask a regular part of my skin care regimen indefinitely!

Walmart Moms Disclosure