Ultimate Money Saving Guide: Best Tips to Help You Reduce Spending

how to reduce spending

How to Reduce Spending: Your Ultimate Guide to Saving Money

In this article I will discuss more than 20 ideas for how to reduce spending so that you can have more money available for the things that will help you reach your financial goals and ultimately lead to your financial freedom!

 

Tip:  Pin the image above so that you can easily refer to this article on how to reduce spending later!

 

Tips for How to Reduce Spending

If you are serious about changing your financial future then one of the best things you can do to help you to accomplish that goal is to reduce spending.

That is simply because even though the best way overall to change your financial trajectory is to gain needed knowledge and skills and increase your income, you will always outspend your earnings—no matter how high they become—until you learn to control your spending to live on less than you make.

Two important factors that can help you to reduce your spending include identifying your financial why and learning to be content with who you are and what you have. Two additional essential stops on the path to financial well-being are creating a written budget or spending plan and really distinguishing between needs and wants, which will allow you to find areas where you can begin to really reduce your spending.

 

Reduce Spending by Eliminating Nonessential Expenses

As part of your money-saving strategy, you might want to cut some nonessential expenses and bills altogether (see ideas below), at least for a time while you’re working to get out of debt or working toward other financial goals with full intensity.

Remember, the more intense you are willing to get to reduce your spending, the faster you will see results. When I know I want to lose 20 pounds, personally I’d much rather cut out sweets and really rev up my exercise routine to lose those pounds in two to two and a half months, rather than going at the more leisurely (and admittedly easier) pace of four or five months or six months. I’d rather have the quicker results because then I can really see progress and it keeps me motivated and I know I’m only sacrificing for a relatively short amount of time (and I don’t have as high a risk of my willpower giving out on me).

And so to me it’s worth the greater level of sacrifice. So consider if going hard core in a similar way with your finances might help you to be more likely to stick with your plan and reach your financial goals.

 

 

 

How to Reduce Spending by Cutting Some Areas Completely (for a While)

To really reduce spending, go for a certain amount of time without spending any money at all in some areas.

This method for reducing spending is sort of a twist on a no-spend challenge, where you simply decide that for one week or one month or six months or one year you’re not going to buy a particular item or do a particular thing that costs money. Some of the areas where you could drop your spending down to zero, at least for a while, might include the following:

Eating out

One of my best tips for how to reduce spending is to spend less money eating out.

The average American family spends about $3,000 a year on eating out. Even though you’ll have to replace some of that cost with the cost of buying food to eat at home, the savings here can be amazing. (To learn how to save money on your grocery shopping, read this article with more than 50 ideas for how you can slash your grocery spending.) For more than 10 years we’ve spent less than $200 a year on eating out for our family, and I know that that has been part of the reason that we’ve been able to reach other financial goals that we’ve set. Read this article to learn how to save money eating out.

Clothing

Another great way to reduce spending is to spend less on clothing.

It’s likely that you have enough clothes in your dresser and closet to last you for the next six months or year or maybe even longer. This is another area where the potential savings can be huge.

Even if you simply reduce your spending by buying essential clothing items on sale, from second-hand clothing stores such as your local Goodwill or similar thrift store, or from other budget-friendly clothing stores or online sites like eBay, you can save a significant amount. To learn how to save money on clothing, read this article.

Cable or satellite

There are a lot of free or cheaper alternatives to cable and satellite that can help you reduce spending, so try pulling the plug on these services and banking the savings. With digital TV through a standard antenna, there are many channels available just on your regular TV. If you haven’t checked them out for a long time, you should!

And if you can be a little patient, the library also carries many of the programs you regularly watch, for free. You can just check out movies and shows like you do books and other materials. (That’s what we do! We haven’t had TV since we moved to our current home almost eight years ago now.) But if neither of those options works for you, you can try Netflix, Hulu, Sling, or other similar options.

Magazine, newspaper, or online subscriptions

For those you don’t use, and even those you do, cancel them in order to help you reduce your spending. You can likely find free versions or similar free offerings online.

 

Gym or club memberships

Same thing applies here. Especially for those you never or rarely use, cancel them. Even if you do use them regularly, at least look into free or cheaper alternatives. For example, maybe your workplace has a gym and might even offer free fitness training, so why are you paying for a membership and personal trainer somewhere else? (And yet I have coworkers who do just that because they didn’t know that we have free fitness trainers available at our on-site gym.)                 

Auto insurance and registration on an extra or seldom-used vehicle

If you have a third or second vehicle that rarely gets used, you might cancel these services or even sell the vehicle to help reduce your spending.

If you really don’t use the car often, you’ll likely save money by looking to other options such as using a bike (or walking) or using public transportation, using a service like Uber or Lyft, or even renting a vehicle for the few days or week or whatever time period for the few times a year when you really need a second vehicle.

You could also look at earning extra money by becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft (or both!).

Read this article to learn more about how to reduce your transportation expenses.

Furniture and appliances

When you’re working to reduce your spending in order to stop living paycheck to paycheck or to get out of debt or reach other financial goals, avoid purchasing furniture or appliances unless something essential breaks that you need to replace.

Try repairing it first if you can save money that way, and if you have to replace the item, buy it used from a used appliance store, Craigslist, or your local online classifieds.

Electronics and toys

I know that it’s fun to have the newest iThing or the latest video game or motorcycle or ATV or game system, but so is financial security! So is watching your debt go away and your net worth grow! And so is doing one of many, many free things that don’t involve gadgets or toys at all.

Even if it’s something for your kids, you can refrain. So to help you reduce your spending, cut down on the number of electronics and toys that you buy for yourself and for the family.

 

Important tip for parents: I know for some of us it’s harder saying no to our kids even than saying no to ourselves, but even fairly young children can understand why you can’t buy something if you explain that you’re working toward other important goals instead. In fact, I know of instances where parents have explained their financial situation to their kids, and the kids are sometimes the ones to keep the parents in line and remind them not to buy something because it’s not in the budget or because they’re working toward something even more important!

 

Reduce Your Spending in All Other Spending Areas

Once you look at what areas you can cut completely from your spending for a time, also look at spending areas where you can reduce spending.

There are many other areas where you maybe can’t (or won’t want to) eliminate the expense altogether but you can reduce your spending—in some cases, substantially. Here are some examples.

Food

Food is one of the areas where most people can reduce spending and save a lot of money if they choose to because there are so many options involved and because the difference between what is expensive and what is cheap is so drastic sometimes.

For example, the local discount store where we buy most of our groceries regularly sells frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1 a pound. And yet you can also easily spend $5 to $10 a pound or more on expensive cuts of meat or seafood.

The same goes for produce in season versus produce that is not in season. This article shares more than 50 ideas for reducing your food spending. And if you don’t want to cut eating out completely from your budget (for a time), then you can still save money eating out.

Housing

Another potentially huge way to reduce spending is by reducing your housing expenses.

If you own a home you should look at whether your house is eating too much of your monthly income. In order to meet other important financial goals, you should not have more than 25 percent of your after-tax income (and after deducting tithing or charitable giving, if you give a substantial amount) tied up in housing so that your budget won’t be too pinched.

If you have much more than that of your monthly budget tied up in housing expenses, then look into reducing your housing costs. (This may be the case if, for example, your household income has dropped since you purchased your home because of a reduction in salary or because one earner has left the workforce and you are now a one-income family.) In such cases you should look at moving if you are renting. and possibly even at selling your home if it’s unlikely that your income will increase significantly in the relatively near future.

You can take some time to make this shift, but if your house is a financial burden and the situation is unlikely to change relatively soon, then work toward selling your home and either buying or renting something less expensive within the next year or so.

Similarly, if you are renting a place that is costing more than about 25 percent or 30 percent of your income (since you won’t have the expense of home maintenance), you should see if you can find something less expensive to rent, particularly if you are also trying to save up money to purchase a home.

Read this article to learn more than 30 ways that you can reduce your housing expenses.

 

Transportation

Saving money on transportation costs is another great way to reduce spending.

One of the best ways is to drive paid-for cars. The best make and model of car to own is the one that doesn’t have any payments. 🙂 Learn a simple method to buy cars with cash here. And also learn how to get out of an upside down car loan here.

There are also many other things you can do to reduce spending on transportation. Of course for the longer term you want a vehicle that is reasonably safe and reasonably comfortable and that you don’t have to worry too much about breaking down on you, but for the shorter term, if you have car payments on a vehicle and it’s really squeezing your budget and you can’t increase your income soon, and especially if you won’t likely be able to pay off the car in the next 18 to 24 months at the most, I would strongly encourage you to sell the vehicle.

Even if that means selling the car at a little bit of a loss (when you’re upside down on it), that is often the best way to go. Then to fix the situation, you can take out a small loan for the difference (between  what your current car is worth and what you can sell it for) if needed.

Then sell some stuff or work extra or even borrow a little extra money from your credit union or local small bank to be able to then buy a $1,000 to $3,000 car that you can get around in for a while.

This is often a good idea because having, say, $3,000 to $5,000 of debt on a personal loan and inexpensive get-around car is a better option than keeping a large debt—like $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, or more—on your current automobile. And then over time you can save up money to buy a more expensive car with cash.

You can also save a significant amount of money on gas by being intentional about your spending in this area. Download and use a free app such as GasBuddy to find the least expensive fuel in the area where you are driving.

To learn more about how to save up and buy a vehicle you can afford (with cash!) and to find more than 30 ways to save money on transportation expenses, read this article.

 

Utilities

In order to reduce your spending you can lower your thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. For example, many economists recommend setting your thermostat to 62 degrees during the winter and 78 degrees or higher during the summer. You can also look at reducing your water consumption (consider rockscaping or xeriscaping in dry climates, for example) and power consumption and so forth.

Read this article to find more than 30 ways to trim your utility bill.

Pet food and related items

There’s no denying that people can spend a lot of money (a ridiculous amount of money, really) on their pets. But being a pet owner doesn’t have to cost very much money, and it is pretty simple to reduce your spending in this budget category.

Beyond basic food (which in our area you can get for even a large dog for $40 a month or less and for a cat for less than $30 a month) and cat litter (less than $10 a bag) and the like, you really don’t have to spend much money on your pets. What they really want is your love and attention.

 

Cell phones

You can also reduce spending on your cell phone or smartphone by not paying for features and services you don’t use.

And if you really need or want to cut your monthly expenses, trade your smartphone for a cheaper smartphone service (such as Republic Wireless or Mint Mobile or especially Xfinity Mobile [where your monthly bill can be as little as $3.51 a month per line—like ours!]) or for a basic cell phone. Learn how we pay just $3 a month per smartphone line here!

Or trade your cell phone service for a very cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone service such as TracFone or even a super cheap internet home phone service such as ObiTalk.

For more information on how to reduce your cell phone bill, read this article.

To save money on your monthly landline, if you still have one, check out an internet phone service such as ObiTalk (the cheapest option and the one we have), MagicJack, or Ooma.

Internet

If you’re paying more than $40 a month, you can likely reduce your spending on your internet bill. Even though you might not get super high-speed internet for that price (at least, not without bundling with other services you don’t need), and even though super high-speed internet is really convenient (so I’ve heard—we’ve actually never had it!), so is money in your wallet.
*UPDATE*: We do have higher-speed internet now, from Xfinity, for $40 a month. That’s the introductory cost; it will be $65 a month after the first year—but you can be sure we’ll work to see if we can get that lowered!

Alarm monitoring

For a low-cost, no-contract alarm monitoring service that doesn’t require a home phone service and that has great customer service and great reviews, I highly recommend SimpliSafe. We’ve been using them for almost eight years now, and we pay just $14.99 a month total. It’s great!

Car maintenance and repairs

To reduce spending on car repairs, be sure to shop around among the mechanics in your area. Do this before you need the work done so you won’t be in a bind and needing the work done right away. Look into Craigslist and your local classifieds. We’ve saved a lot of money and had good experiences (fortunately, no bad experiences so far) by going with independent mechanics who do auto repair work on the side.

And for minor repairs and part replacement, if you are a little bit mechanically inclined, or have a family member or friend who is, try looking up how to do the repair on YouTube. And buy your parts from RockAuto! We learned about them from one of the independent mechanics we’ve used, and they are so much cheaper than even the big-box auto parts stores—like, often 50 percent cheaper or more. So check them out. I give them two thumbs way up!

Read this article for my best tips on how to save money on car maintenance and repairs!

Gift giving

You may also want to look carefully at reducing your spending on gift giving. If your budget is really tight, explain to your friends and family that you’re going to have to postpone spending money on gift giving for a time.

If you do it with the right spirit, and if they’re truly your friends or if your family relationship is a healthy one, they’ll understand and they won’t worry about it. Your participation in the special event (wedding, birthday party, or the like), not a gift, is what truly shows your love and support.

Check out this article to learn about saving money on Christmas and other gift giving.

Personal spending money

While you’re working to build more room in your budget (by decreasing your expenses and increasing your income), you might want to significantly reduce or even cut for a time your personal spending money (your fun money).

Entertainment

Another area where you can reduce your spending is with entertainment. To save money on entertainment, find things to do with your spouse or family that are free or cheap. There are so many fun activities that you can do for little or no money that reducing spending in this area really isn’t very hard. Check out this huge list of fun free and cheap activities that you can do with your family.

And also read this article on other ways that you can save big on entertainment.

Vacations

To save money when vacationing, try going on a stay-cation, where you vacation at or near your home. No matter where you live, you can find tons of fun things to do in your own backyard! Chances are there are tons of things that travelers come to your area to do that you have never done—so check them out!

You can also save money by staying at people’s homes through Airbnb and by staying in hostels. And by camping.

When you do travel, try staying at places through Airbnb or VRBO. We’ve been staying at places through Airbnb for the last couple of years, and it’s been great. It’s how we’ve done most of our vacationing during that time—even more than camping. Sign up for an Airbnb account and receive $40 to use toward your first stay. Pretty sweet!

Read this article to find awesome fun and cheap family vacation ideas. And read this article for more than 20 fun and budget-friendly summer vacation ideas.

 

 

Conclusion

I know that figuring out how to reduce spending isn’t easy—believe me. If it were easy, we would all be wealthy (at least eventually) and no one would live paycheck to paycheck.

But despite the fact that it is difficult, when you have a strong motivation and the right knowledge and tools, you really can reduce your spending and change your money habits to begin saving and investing and work toward achieving your financial goals and dreams. And I want to help you do it!

 

 

What are your best tips for how to reduce spending? I would love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

 

 

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help a family member or friend or people in general? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being with others. Thank you!

Join Our Facebook Group!

Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.

how to reduce spending

25 Best Non-Toy Christmas Gifts Ideas for Kids

non toy Christmas gift ideas

Non Toy Christmas Gift Ideas

In this article I am going to share my best non toy Christmas gift ideas!

Do you feel like I do—that your sweet kiddos already have plenty of toys? (In our case, way too many toys . . .)

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year! But this year, I want to focus on gifts other than toys!

In this list you will find some of the best non toy Christmas gift ideas, including some classc favorites as well as new ideas that your children will love!

Tip: Do you want your gift fast and free? Have you tried Amazon Prime yet? Get free 2-day shipping when you sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, and enjoy the many benefits of this awesome service!

Also be sure to check out this article with 11 must-do tips to save money on your Christmas shopping! And learn 5 super simple ways to save $500 or more for Christmas! And also learn how to enjoy an awesome, debt-free Christmas! #win No Christmas hangover come January!

 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to this article on best non toy Christmas gift ideas later!

 

 

Best Non Toy Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

Here are some of my favorite non toy Christmas gift ideas for kids of all ages! If you are looking for budget-conscious non toy Christmas gifts for kids, then check out these awesome gifts at a great price!

Click the images and links below for more information about each gift idea!

 

Coupons for Experiences or Acts of Service

One of the best non toy Christmas ideas (and one of the best gift ideas for non stuff, in general) is to give your children experiences insteead. That could mean a weekend vacation, a nice staycation, a day at a local theme park, an afternoon at their favorite park, or a day where they get to pick to do whatever they want and you get to tag along for the ride. 🙂

If you want to even take things up a notch from there, give your children coupons for acts of service you will do for them, such as doing their chores one day or cleaning their room for them.

 

Family Passes to a Museum, Theme Park, Zoo, or Similar Venue

Like the non toy Christmas gift idea just above, get a day pass or an annual pass to a theme park, zoo, museum, or similar place could be a wonderful way to spend some great time with your kids.

Books Your Kids and Family Will Love

 

Reading to kids is so important. Leaders are readers, and the average millionaire reads a nonfiction book a month. So to help set your children up for long-term success in life, instill a love of reading in them. 🙂

Here are a list of some of our favorite books:

Christmas story books

Easter books

Bible story books

Animal books

Train books

Eric Carle books

Dr. Suess books

Sandra Boynton books

Berenstein Bears books

Beverly Cleary books (my daughter loves these, just like I do :))

Ann M. Martin books

 

Best Movies for Kids


Find some of the all-time best (most popular) movies for kids!

Sports Balls

Playing ball is a great way to keep kids active and help them to learn important life skills like teambuilding. Find great deals on sports balls for kids.

Sport Equipment for Kids

And find ideas for other awesome sports equipment for kids, as well!

Bikes

Bikes are a great way to keep the whole family active and doing something fun together! These are some of the most popular bikes for kids.

 

Scooters

Our kids love their scooters. Scooters are another great way to get your kids exercixing and keep them active. Click to find some of the most popular scooters for kids of all ages.

 

Rollerblades

Rollerblades are another great way for the kids or the whole family to enjoy being active. Check out these popular rollerblades for kids.

 

 

 

Musical Instruments for Kids


Nurture your children’s musical inclinations with fun musical instruments like electric keyboards, ukuleles, guitars, drum sets, and more!

 

Music Lessons

A great companion gift to a musical instrument is music lessons for your children to learn how to play the instrument. (You may want to buy some ear plugs for you, at least for the early days. :))

 

Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to help build critical thinking and problem solving, and they are a great way to keep kids quietly engaged for hours. 🙂

Science Kits

Science and experiment kits are another great way to help your children learn and to foster their imagination.

Piggy Banks

 

Teaching your kids to work hard and to manage money well is so important! Get them into the habit of saving when they are young so that they have a better chance of being savers when they are adults.

You will love all of the fun options for piggy banks to choose from.

 

Art Sets


My kiddos love to color and draw and marker and paint—and I bet that yours do, too! Check out these awesome art sets for kids of various ages!

 

Bedding

New bedding could be the perfect thing to brighten up your kiddos’ rooms.

 

Christmas (Easter, Winter, Themed) Outfits

I try to not get caught up in buying new outfits for our kiddos for every occasional, but we have gotten Christmas dresses for our girls and a Christmas outfit for our son each Christmas. (Bonnie Jean dresses, like the dress above, are my favorite!) The Christmas dresses are just so pretty, and it’s a great time to get family pictures, too!

Clothes

 

If your kiddos need some new clothes anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone and get them some for Christmas?

 

Shoes

And children’s shoes are another great option, if your kiddos need them.

Electronics for Kids

We’re careful about the time our kids spend in front of a screen, but even they each have their own tablet (because that’s admittedly easier than risking World War III all the time). Of course we got them for a great deal. And the electronics below are a great deal, as well.

LCD Writing Tablet

We do not have one of these, but I think the idea is totally cool! We go through a lot of blank paper (a lot of blank paper), particularly because of my older daughter the aspiring artist, and so having a little writing/drawing tablet like this would be awesome. I’ll have to give that some thought …

Handheld Game Console for Kids

These awesome portable retro game console bring back fond memories! (Hey, I still have a Super Nintendo—that I love! No judging! :)) And at just $20, these are an awesome deal!

Fire HD 8 Tablet

The 8″ HD Fire tablet is a great deal if you are looking for a fast, long-battery life, durable tablet.

 

Conclusion

Non toy Christmas gifts can be a great way to give your children more opportunities to learn and develop new skills. And with so many options, the possibilities for fun really are endless!  

What are your favorite non toy Christmas gifts for kids this year? What frugal  non toy Christmas gifts for kids do you recommend? I would love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below and let me know!

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help a family member or friend or people in general? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being with others. Thank you!

Join Our Facebook Group!

Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.

Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan


Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

In this article I am going to talk about my cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan. This is how I lost more than 80 pounds on a very tight budget! Find out how you can get back to a healthy weight without spending a ton of money and breaking the bank!

 

Tip: Pin the image above so that you can easily refer to this article on a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan later!

 

A Simple and Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan for Weight Loss

You really can lose weight cheaply and easily! You do not have to buy expensive foods to follow a special diet plan (as several people I know have done in the past).

In fact, it is much better if you don’t, because that will make your long-term weight management more sustainable. Sticking to foods you already eat and love will make it easier to course correct in the future if you need to to lose a few pounds and get back to your ideal weight.

Another of my simple rules of thumb to help guide me in my decisions of what to eat on a 1,200 calorie diet plan is this: I try to eat no more than 300 calories for breakfast or breakfast/morning snack, 400 calories for lunch or lunch/mid-afternoon snack, and 5 00 calories for dinner or dinner.

This helps me to easily do portion control for the three meals of the day.

Find ideas for a simple and cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan for weight loss below.

 

Check out these related articles:

 

What to Eat on a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

Below is my simple (and effective; I have lost more than 80 pounds following this plan) diet plan for cheap weight loss success.

Read on for my simple ideas for foods to eat for a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan.

I like to keep things simple, and so I no longer write down everything that I eat and how many calories each thing has (though I definitely did do that for at least the first few months when I was initially working to lose all that weight).

Instead, I simply make sure that I eat no more than 300 calories for breakfast/morning snack, 400 calories for lunch/afternoon snack, and 500 calories for dinner, as a general rule of thumb.

I am a big advocate of keeping things simple, because I really think it helps people to stick with and accomplish their goals.

Note: If you want to lose weight and do it on a budget without spending a ton of money, check out this article with 15 tips for how to lose weight on a budget!

 

Breakfast Ideas for a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

Simple and cheap breakfast foods you can eat on a 1,200 calorie diet plan include the following ideas.

Fresh or frozen fruit and yogurt

Many pieces of whole, medium-sized fruit are 100 calories or less. This includes various varieties of apples, bananas, peaches, nectarines, plums, oranges, and more.

One cup of fresh or frozen strawberry halves is only about 50 calories, and a cup of blueberries (which would be a lot of blueberries! I would mix that up with other fruit like strawberries or bananas, since they are cheaper :)) is about 85 calories.

A cup of mixed fruit is generally also 100 calories or less, and a cup of mixed berries (like the bags you get from Walmart, such as Great Value, or from Dole) is generally about 80 calories.

Some of these fruits you can cut up and eat directly in your yogurt, like bananas, strawberries, and other fresh or frozen berries.

I like to eat my fruit with Dannon Light and Fit yogurt, which has only 110 calories per cup.

With a cup of yogurt at about 100 calories and whole fruit or cup of cut fruit at about 100 calories or less, this leaves me 100 calories for a snack later in the morning.

For that morning snack, I usually eat another piece of whole fruit or baby carrots or something similar.

 

Oatmeal

Many of the packets of flavored instant oatmeal that you get, such as maple and brown sugar (160 calories) or apple cinnamon (130 calories), are around 150 calories. If you eat one of these packets of oatmeal and a piece of whole fruit, that keeps you within your 300 calorie breakfast allotment.

However, if you want a heartier breakfast with more oatmeal, then you can eat 2/3 cup regular oatmeal mixed with a tablespoon or two of artificial sweetener like sucralose (the Great Value kind is pretty cheap and really lasts a long time!), and just cook that in the microwave for a minute or two, instead (depending on the power of your microwave).

Another cheap and easy oatmeal option is to eat 2-ingredient banana oatmeal cookies, where you mash up banans and oatmeal and form them into balls and bake them for about 8 to 10 minutes.

And an even simpler variation of that that I eat quite regularly (even when I am not counting calories) is mashed up bananas and oatmeal, not baked. I mash up one banana with about 2/3 cup oatmeal, and it is naturally sweet and yummy!

 

Toast and jam

Another cheap option for low-calorie breakfast is to eat a couple of pieces of toast (usually 100 calories or less for a simple slice of wheat or whole wheat bread) and sugar-free jam (usually about 10 calories per tablespoon).

If you eat the bread like the one we do that is about 80 calories, then two slices is 160 calories, and two tablespoons of jam (one per slice) is another 20, so that leaves you just over 100 calories for a piece of whole fruit or cup of cut fruit later in the morning for a snack.

 

Fried eggs with toast

Again, for about 160 calories, you can have two pieces of regular wheat or whole wheat bread, and a medium egg is 70 calories. So two medium eggs is 140 calories, plus 160 calories for the toast, and that gives up our 300 calories for breakfast! 

 

Cereal and milk

Cereal and milk can be a pretty inexpensive and low-calorie way to go, if you get the right cereal.

For example, a cup of toasted Os (the generic version of Cheerios), which is not laden with sugar like many breakfast cereals, has about 110 calories. Add a cup of nonfat (skim) milk, and that is about 80 calories. So you can have a cup of cereal and cup of milk for less than 200 calories, and then eat a piece of whole fruit later in the morning for a snack.

 

Bagel with jam

You can get the slimmer, lower-calorie bagels that have only about 110 calories, but they are more expensive than the regular bagels.

Sara Lee blueberry bagels, for example, have about 260 calories, and with two tablespoons of sugar-free jam, that keeps us within our 300 calories allotted for breakfast.

 

Hard-boiled egg with cheese in a tortilla

This is another great option to include for a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan. A medium-sized flour tortilla is about 100 calories (but watch this; some fatter tortillas are quite a bit more than that!), a slice of low-fat (pre-sliced) cheese is around 80 calories (depending on the type of cheese), and a large egg is about 80 calories. 

So you could eat your egg and melted slice of cheese in a flour tortilla, and then have a handful of baby carrots or cup of raw, chopped broccoli or similar thing as a mid-morning snack.

 

Lunch Ideas for a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

To save money and time, I like to keep lunch really simple (whether I am working to lose weight or not!).

By keeping lunch simple and cheap, I am able to save a ton of money every month by not going out to eat every day at work! And that savings helps me to max out my Roth IRA and save the amount that I want to for retirement. Learn how to literally become a millionaire by bringing inexpensive lunches from home and investing the money that you save from not going out to eat!

So here are some simple ideas for low-calorie lunches on a budget.

Again, when doing a 1,200-calorie diet, I allocate 400 calories to lunch or lunch + afternoon snack.

 

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a piece of whole fruit and veggies

Two pieces of regular wheat or whole wheat bread (depending on the brand) can be abourt 160 calories total, plus one tablespoon of peanut butter (which you can get by on if you spread it pretty thin) is about 90 calories, plus one tablespoon sugar-free jam is 10 calories. So that is about 260 calories.

Then if you eat a piece of medium-sized whole fruit that is generally less than 100 calories. Top that off with a handful of baby carrots or cup of your favorite vegetables or a simple salad with low-calorie dressing.

 

Luncheon meat and cheese sandwich with whole fruit and veggies

Another inexpensive option for lunch when keeping to a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan is to eat a meat and cheese sandwich with fruit and veggies.

Calories vary depending on the type and brand of luncheon meat, but you can eat a good amount of most luncheon meats (like, three or four slices) for under 100 calories. One slice of pre-sliced cheese is generally about 80 calories (though some, like provolone, have fewer calories), and two slices of simple wheat bread is about 160 calories. A large handful of spinach or lettuce adds less than 10 calories.

So that gets you up to about 350 calories, which leaves you 60 calories for a simple green salad with low-calorie dressing, a handful of baby carrots, a cup of vegetables, or a small fruit or half of a medium fruit.

 

Meat and cheese wrap

A simple variation of a meat and cheese sandwich (described just above) is to create a wrap. This can save you 50 to 60 calories, too, if you use a single medium flour tortilla (at about 100 calories) instead of two pieces of bread.

 

Quesadilla

Another simple lunch option is a cheese quesadilla or meat and cheese quesadilla.

With a medium flour tortilla cut in half (about 100 calories) and two slices of pre-sliced cheese (about 150 to 160 calories total), the main part of your lunch is about 250 calories.

Then you can eat a piece of medium fruit with about 100 calories and a serving of vegetables for about 50 calories.

 

Tuna sandwich

There are about 80 calories in a half can of tuna, and about 70 calories in two tablespoons of light mayo. That adds up to 150 calories. Then if your piece of wheat or whole wheat bread has about 80 calories, that would be 160 for two slices. So your tuna sandwich will be just over 300 calories. That leaves you 100 calories for a medium piece of fruit and a handful of baby carrots or a cup of vegetables or a small salad with a tablespoon or two of light vinaigrette dressing (which is about 25 for two tablespoons).

 

Egg salad sandwich

If you boil two eggs to include in your egg salad sandwich, that is about 150 calories. Then, with one and a half tablespoons of light mayo, that is another 50 calories or so. That adds up to 200 calories.

Then with two pieces of wheat or whole wheat bread, that would be an additional 160 calories for two slices. So your egg salad sandwich will be just over 350 calories. (Or make it a wrap, and save about 50 or 60 calories.)

That leaves you about 50 calories for a handful of baby carrots or a cup of vegetables or a small salad with a tablespoon or two of light vinaigrette dressing (which is about 25 for two tablespoons) or a half a piece of medium fruit.

 

Chicken salad sandwich

One average boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 270 calories. If you use half a chicken breast to chop it up and add two tablespoons of light mayo to make your chicken salad mixture, that is about 210 calories. 

Then add your favorite seasonings, and spread it on a slice of wheat bread. Cover with another slice of bread, and that is 370 calories for your chicken salad sandwich.

Then you would have about 30 calories left allotted for a serving of vegetables.

 

Simple green salad

You can eat a ton of green salad for not very many calories, which is why it is such a popular diet food! For example, you can eat a cup of spinach or lettuce for less than 10 calories!

So start with two or more cups of spinach, add in a cup of chopped broccoli for about 30 calories, one cup of chopped carrots for 50 calories, a cup of chopped cauliflower for 25 calories, a couple of tablespoons of low-calorie dressing, and you have a huge salad for less than 200 calories.

Then you can have a piece of medium fruit on the side (such as apple, banana, orange, or peach) for less than 100 calories, and even tear up a piece of sliced cheese (sliced cheese is just easier when you are on a diet because the calories are already calculated so easily for you) and add it for less than 100 calories. And there is your 400-calorie lunch!

 Dinner Ideas for a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

Again, as I mentioned above, to keep things simple, I allocate 500 calories to dinner when I am following a 1,200 calorie diet plan. The suggestions below fall within that allotted calorie count.

When I am on a low-calorie diet, I keep my dinner options really simple, to help me be successful in counting calories and therefore losing the weight that I want to.

And if we get invited to dinner at someone’s home, for example, I am not afraid to take my own simple dinner, such as a salad I make in a few minutes at home, or a simple lunch meat sandwich and fruit. This is a very simple way to keep from getting derailed from your diet. So please do this to help youself stay on track! 🙂

 

Chicken salad

As I mentioned above, an average-sized boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 270 calories. Chop that up, and it is the base of your chicken salad.

Add a couple of cups of spinach, and that is about 15 calories. Add a half a cup of chopped carrots, and that is 25 calories. A cup of chopped broccoli is another 25 or so calories. Add a chopped roma tomato to that, and you will add another 35 calories.

That brings us to 370 calories. Add two tablespoons of light vinaigrette salad dressing for another 25 calories or so (round up to 30 calories to keep the math easy :)). That brings your calorie count up to 400 calories.

Then you could have a medium piece of fruit for less than 100 calories, and that would keep you to your 500 calories.

 

Grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables

Again, one average boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 270 calories. Grill it up on the stove or the grill, and add your favorite seasonings.

Serve with your favorite steamed vegetables. One cup of steamed vegetables is about 50 calories.

So you could eat two cups of steamed vegetables for 100 calories, which would bring your calorie count to 370 calories.

Then eat one or two servings of fresh or frozen fruit to round out your meal and get to your 500 total calories for dinner.

 

Spaghetti with green salad

Normally we make homemade spaghetti sauce, but you can keep calorie counting simple and still keep your meal economical by buying a simple spaghetti sauce in a can or a jar.

One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles is 200 calories. One cup of meatless spaghetti sauce adds another 80 or so calories. That leaves you about 200 calories for a large green salad or a small green salad and a piece of whole fruit.

 

Chicken sandwich

An average frozen chicken patty has about 200 calories. A slice of pre-sliced cheese, again, is 80 or fewer calories. A big handful of lettuce or spinach on your sandwich is less than 10 calories, and a few slices of tomato on top of that is about 20 calories. So that is 310 calories or less. Add two pieces of bread and that brings you up to 470 calories, and then add a tablespoon of barbecue sauce is about 30 calories. That totals your 500 calories for dinner.

Or, another option I do a lot when I am on a low-calorie diet is to eat my chicken sandwich as a lettuce or spinach wrap. So instead of 160 calories for two pieces of bread, you can consume just 30 calories or less by substituting with spinach or your favorite lettuce.

That way, you can have calories left over to eat a piece of fruit and another serving of vegetables.

 

Simple green salad

As I mention above, you can eat a ton of green salad for not very many calories, which is why it is such a popular diet food! For example, you can eat a cup of spinach or lettuce for less than 10 calories!

So start with two or more cups of spinach, add in a cup of chopped broccoli for about 30 calories, one cup of chopped carrots for 50 calories, a cup of chopped cauliflower for 25 calories, a couple of tablespoons of low-calorie dressing, and you have a huge salad for less than 200 calories.

Then you can have a piece of medium fruit on the side (such as apple, banana, orange, or peach) for less than 100 calories, and even tear up a piece of sliced cheese (sliced cheese is just easier when you are on a diet because the calories are already calculated so easily for you) and add it for less than 100 calories. And there is your 400-calorie lunch!

 

Chili

Chili is a pretty cheap and easy option. It is especially easy if you use canned chili, and if you add a can of chili beans or kidney beans to your can of chili, it makes the chili even cheaper, with fewer calories.

A standard cup of chili is about 280 calories (but this can vary, so make sure you check the nutrition label!). But a standard cup of canned chili beans is only 220 calories. So if you add a half cup of chili beans to your cup of chili, that brings your calorie count to a little under 400 calories (280 + 110 = 390 calories).

Then you could add a serving of fruit or a couple of servings of vegetables, or even a serving of tortilla chips. There are about 10 calories per tortilla chip, so that is easy math (but make sure to check the nutrition label to make sure that is correct for the type of tortilla chips you have).

 

Simple bean and cheese burritos

In 1/2 cup of refried beans there are about 180 calories. If you add a slice of pre-sliced cheese to that, that is another 80 or so calories, which brings you to 260 calories. A medium flour tortilla shell is about 100 calories, as I mentioned above, shich brings up to 360 calories.

That gives you 140 calories or so for a piece of whole fruit and a serving of vegetables (read items in the list above for more information on calorie counts for various fruits and vegetables).

Or if you want to go super easy, then you could even do frozen burritos. The number of calories varies dpeneding on brand and kind of burrito, of course, but a El Monterey beef and bean burrito has about 360 calories, for example.

 

 

Homemade chicken noodle soup

Of course the calories for homemade chicken soup can vary significantly depending on the recipe that you use. This chicken noodle soup recipe that I like has about 185 calories per one-cup serving.

 

 

Griled cheese sandwiches

Again, one slice of pre-sliced cheese is generally about 80 calories (though some, like provolone, have fewer calories), and two slices of simple wheat bread is about 160 calories. If you want to add vegetables to your grilled cheese sandwich (which I have done, and which is pretty good!), you can add a large handful of spinach and it adds fewer than 10 calories.

You can also add lunch meat to your grilled cheese sandwich, if you want (that is what we usually do in our family). Again, calories vary depending on the type and brand of luncheon meat, but you can eat a good amount of most luncheon meats (three or four slices or sometimes more) for under 100 calories.

So that gets you up to about 350 calories, which leaves you 160 calories for a simple green salad with low-calorie dressing, a handful of baby carrots, or a cup of vegetables and a small fruit or half of a medium fruit.

 

Quesadillas

I mentioned this meal option for lunch as well, but quesadillas are a great, simple option for dinner, as well.

 

Frozen pizza

If you want to keep dinner really easy and pretty inexpensive, you can eat half of a Totino’s triple meat frozen pizza, for example, for about 350 calories.

Then you could eat a green salad to go along with it, or some whole fruit and a cup of vegetables.

Or you could eat about 3/4 of the Totino’s pizza for about 520 calories. This goes over the 500 calorie allotment, of course, but you can solve that by eating a little less for lunch (so, shave off 20 calories at lunchtime).

 

Hot dogs

The standard-sized hot dogs (like the Bar S variety) are actually only about 100 calories. So you could eat two hot dogs for about 200 calories, put them in a slice of bread each for another 160 calories, and add a tablespoon of ketchup between the two for another 10 calories. That would total about 370 calories.

You could then eat a serving of french fries that you cook over the stove (without oil) for about 120 calories, and have another 10 calories left over for ketchup to dip the fries in. That would bring you up to your 500 calories.

 

 

 

Conclusion

This cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan for weight loss really does work to help you lose weight simply and cheaply.

When I first wanted to get serious about losing weight several years ago, I had over 80 pounds to lose. And I was able to do it by eating the simple foods listed above!

I was able to lose that weight (and have now kept it off for more than 10 years) by exercising more and counting calories on the basic, inexpensive foods that I ate. I didn’t buy any special diet foods or follow any diet plan or program.

And I feel that doing things that way really does make maintaining a healthy weight easier because you aren’t drastically changing what you normally eat and normally do.

 

Do you have a great, cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan for weight loss success? What are your favorite go-to foods  and best tips for inexpensive weight loss?  I would love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment and let me know where you are at in your weight-loss journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invitation to Share

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Cheap, Quick Meals: Cheapest and Easiest 1-Week Meal Plan

cheap quick meals

Cheap, Quick Meals

If you are looking for cheap, quick meals, then look no farther! This is the article for you! 🙂

In this article I am going to share more than 20 super cheap, quick meals you can make with virtually no (real) cooking required! These cheap, quick meals will help you stretch your dollar farther and get food on your table fast!

If you are in a season of life when time is scarce and the thought of meal planning overwhelms you and when money is really tight or you need to save money fast, then these meals are a good option. They will help you to make the most of a small grocery budget!

And if you want the easiest one-month meal plan ever (and one of the cheapest, too!), simply repeat these same meals (or some combination of them) for the next three or four weeks, as well. That will give you a whole month’s worth of super simple, cheap meals!

 


Tip:
Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these ideas for the cheap, quick meals later!

 

 

 

20+ Cheap, Quick Meals

Below are more than 20 ideas for some of the quickest and cheapest meals you can make. These simple meals are ready in less than 10 minutes!

Though I list these meals in order of what you would traditionally eat for breakfast, then lunch, and then dinner, you can of course eat toast and jam for dinner and chili and chips for breakfast, if you prefer! 🙂

 

Quick caveat: These meals are quick and cheap; they are not uber nutritious nor totally balanced! If you want awesome ideas for eating healthy on a budget, then check out this article! And you can also find 47 of the cheapest healthy foods you can eat to slash your grocery budget!

And for even more cheap and easy meals (though not as easy as these; cooking is required for most of those :)), check out this huge list of 100+ cheap and easy meals for when money is tight.

OK, now, without further ado, here are 20+ cheap, quick meals to eat when money and time are scarce! (Or these meals are great for when you are doing a no spend challenge or other money challenge and want to save as much money as possible!)

 

Cheap, Quick Meals for Breakfast

1. Oatmeal

You can eat the little packets of oatmeal that come premade that you just need to heat up in the microwave for about 25 cents each. That is a pretty economical breakfast, if you eat a packet of oatmeal and a banana or other fruit of your choice (or a couple of packets of oatmeal).

However, you can make oatmeal for even much cheaper than that if you put half a cup of oatmeal in a glass bowl with three-fourths to a cup of water (depending on how thick you like your oatmeal) and simply add your sweetener of choice. Sugar is likely the cheapest, but you can also get no-calorie sweetener for a pretty good price if you get the Great Value brand from Walmart, for example (and it lasts a long time because it is sweeter than sugar so you do not need to use very much at a time).

 

2. Eggs with Toast

This is another very cheap, quick meal that we love! (We sometimes eat it for lunch or dinner, and not just breakfast!) You can top with salsa to get in more vegetables.

To make this a no-cook meal, you can stir the eggs with a little bit of water or milk and cook them in a mug, a glass bowl, or plastic egg poachers. When you microwave them, cook them on medium and check them every minute or so so they don’t explode (they will only take a couple of minutes or less, so you will not need to watch them for long).

 

3. Toast with Jam

Toast with jam is another quick, cheap meal option that is even easier than eggs with toast. The very cheapest jelly is generally grape, but even if you buy a more expensive jam such as raspberry, this still makes for a super economical meal!

 

Check out these related articles:

100+ Cheap and Easy Meals for When Money Is Tight
5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
75 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
19 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment

 

4. Breakfast Rice

One of my best friends introduced me to this cheap breakfast back in high school. All you need is some instant rice (from Great Value or your brand of choice; leftover rice from dinner works great, too, and it is a great way to use it up!) and water to cook it (with optional salt). Then when it is done add some milk and sugar (or other sweetener) and cinnamon to taste! This cheap, quick meal is a tasty comfort food perfect for cool mornings!

 

5. Fruit and Yogurt

Fruit and yogurt can be another great option when you are looking for cheap, quick meals. To save money, buy the generic yogurt in the biggest tubs, and measure it out or portion it out into individual servings yourself. Bananas are generally the least expensive fruit you can eat with yogurt, but strawberries and other berries are a great option when they are in season and on sale!

 

6. Cream of Wheat

Our kids, and particularly our older daughter, love cream of wheat. We generally add some brown or white sugar to sweeten it, and as a rare treat, we even put sweetened condensed milk (did you know they even have caramel flavored?) in it sometimes. Totally fattening but totally tasty!

 

7. Cold Cereal with (or without!) Milk

Most of the cereal we eat costs about 10 cents an ounce or less—that’s the rule of thumb I go by when I buy it. My husband’s favorite cereal (and one of the few that he really likes) is raisin bran, which is great since it is one of the cheapest. 🙂 The other cereals we buy when they are on sale.

Some other less-expensive breakfast cereals are crispy rice, corn flakes, and shredded wheat. And of course many of the sugary cereals you can buy for cheap, too, especially the less-expensive brands when they are on sale.

 

8. Toaster Pastries (PopTarts)

Another cheap, quick option for a super easy meal are toaster pastries. You don’t even have to microwave them if you don’t want to. (I know these have virtually no nutritional value, but occasionally I just loving having s’mores [s’mores-flavored toaster pastries] for breakfast!)

At our local Walmart, you can get a box of 12 for $1.50, so you can eat two for breakfast for about 25 cents!

Cheap, Quick Meals for Lunch

9. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Good old PB&J is another one of our favorite cheap, quick meals. Or if you prefer, you can make peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Or peanut butter sandwiches alone are great, too!

 

10. Tuna Fish Sandwiches

Though not as inexpensive as it used to be, tuna is still an inexpensive way to go for lunch. My husband and kiddos love to add chopped-up pickles to theirs (and I like it too, even though I generally don’t really care for pickles).

 

11. Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

With a slice of cheese, a few slices of ham (or another favorite lunch meat), a few slices of tomato if you like, and a handful of lettuce or spinach if you want, this is another quick and cheap meal.

 

 

 12. Egg Salad Sandwiches

To make egg salad sandwiches with no cooking required, use plastic poaching cups (or use a glass mug, if you prefer). Then just chop them up, and mix with a little mayo or salad dressing and your choice of seasonings.

 

13. Cheese Sandwiches

Though grilled cheese sandwiches (with tomato or another favorite soup) are delicious, you can get food on the table even faster by simply heating a slice or two of cheese betwen two slices of bread. This is one of my kiddos’ very favorite foods.

 

14. Quesadillas

This is another cheap, quick meal you can easily prepare in the microwave in just a few minutes! 

Quesadillas are so easy! You can use just your favorite tortilla shells and type of cheese to keep things very simple, or add sliced lunch meat, spinach, hot dogs (kind of weird, but my younger brothers love it), beans, or your favorite cooked vegetables. Yum!

 

15. Simple Green Salad

For another cheap, quick meal, prepare a simple salad for lunch with foods such as your favorite lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, sliced carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, or other favorite vegetables.

Or for a heartier option (if you want to have salad for dinner this is a good way to add some bulk), you can do what I do to make my favorite green salad: I basically turn it into a sandwich by adding croutons, chopped cheese, and chopped luncheon meat (generally ham). 🙂

 

Meal Planning Made Even Easier: Consider Using an Inexpensive Meal Planning Service

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to create a meal plan and add one more thing to your to-do list, then an inexpensive solution is a service like $5 Meal Plans could be a great option for you. $5 Meal Plans costs just $5 per month, and they do all of the planning for you!

They plan the meals you will eat and include the ingredients you will need to buy and the recipes you will need to follow to prepare them. Pretty cool! With $5 Meal Plans, the dinners themselves also cost less than $5 per meal to make! And the service comes with a 14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose! If this sounds like a good option for your family, you can check out $5 Meal Plans here.

If you’re regularly spending several hundred dollars on groceries or hundreds of dollars eating out per month, one of these services could really help you get on the right track and save your food budget.

 

Cheap, Quick Meals for Dinner

16. Chicken Patty Sandwiches

Though not as inexpensive as buying chicken breasts (or the even cheaper chicken thighs), when you are looking for quick and cheap meats, chicken patties are an easy and tasty option.

Just microwave the chicken patties (if you have 4 or 5) for about five minutes, flip them over, and microwave them for a few more minutes. If you want to include cheese, then melt that over the top of the patties during the last minute of cooking.

Then top with your favorite sandwich fixings such as lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, mustard, barbecue sauce, ranch, mayo or salad dressing, or other condiments.

 

17. Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes is such a super cheap and easy meal! And by cooking them in the microwave in these awesome cooking pouches, you can have perfectly cooked potatoes in just four minutes! I love them!

Once your potatoes are cooked, top them with shredded cheese, chili, sour cream, barbecue sauce, butter or margarine and salt and pepper, seasoned salt, or other favorite toppings.

 

18. Bean and Cheese Burritos

You can make your own bean and cheese burritos really easily by using canned refried beans and shredding your favorite cheese over a flour tortilla. Then simply warm in the microwave for a minute.

Or the frozen variety of burritos, at about 35 cents per burrito, are a fairly inexpensive option, as well.

 

19. Ramen Noodles (with Vegetables)

I know that ramen noodles are not really healthy, but they are super cheap and they are super easy. We make eating them healthier by adding our favorite vegetables.

To cook them in the microwave in a matter of minutes, cook the noodles first with the seasoning in a large glass bowl, and then add your favorite canned vegetables such as corn, peas, or carrots.

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20. Hot Dogs (or Corn Dogs) and Chips

Hot dogs and chips are another one of our go-to cheap, quick meals.

Since I don’t like to have to keep hot dog buns on hand, we generally eat our brats and hot dogs with bread rather than buns. To me they taste just as good, and they are also cheaper that way! (We do the same thing with bread instead of hamburger buns, for the same reasons.)

Corn dogs are another simple option, for variety.

 

21. Chicken Nuggets

This is another cheap, quick meal loved by many young children. Serve with ranch or barbecue sauce. To keep this a no-cooking-required meal, eat with potato chips, chips and salsa, corn or other vegetables (cooked in the microwave), or baked potatoes from the microwave (see above).

 

22. Chili

Chili is a great cheap, quick meal, especially when the weather turns colder.

To cook in the microwave, put in a large microwave-safe bowl, and either cover loosely with a glass lid or use a splatter guard. Cooking on medium for a little bit longer time will also help to avoid splattering.

Serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers. You can also top with cheese, sour cream, or other favorite toppings.

 

23. Noodle Dinners

Noodle dinners such as those made by Nissin and Maruchan are a notch up from their sibling ramen noodles. Some common varieties are teriyaki chicken or beef, spicy chicken, and regular chicken or beef.

These cook up in about four minutes (depending on your microwave), and if your microwave is large enough, you can cook more than one at a time.

 

Frozen Pizza

I decided to add one more super cheap, quick meal idea: frozen pizza. This doesn’t require cooking, but an oven is preferable (though my young siblings cooked the little Totino’s frozen pizzas in the microwave when they were in college …).

When you can get the little frozen pizzas like Totino’s for a dollar or less, that is a great deal. But check your prices; sometimes you can get the (better tasting and probably better for you) store-brand pizzas for close to the same price, or not much more. Our local grocery store has a brand of frozen pizza that is really good and a quite a good price, and so we buy it pretty regularly.

Conclusion

These 20+ ideas for cheap, quick meals will let you get super inexpensive food on the table fast! And with virtually no cooking required, mealtime cannot get much easier than this. 🙂

 

What do you like to eat for your cheap, quick meals? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to meals that you love? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts! 

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!

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Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.

100+ Fun Free Fall Activities

free fall activities

Best Free Fall Activities

Are you looking for fun and free fall activities?

The weather is getting a little cooler and the leaves are starting to change colors—it is starting to turn so beautiful outside! I love this time of year with all of the stunning, vibrant color!

Are you ready for some fun free fall activities to help you enjoy this wonderful time of year? Great! Below you will find 100+ ideas for free fall activities for kids, adults, or the whole family. Whether you are at home or on the go, with a honey ow with your whole family, you will have hours of fall fun ahead of you!

 

Check out these awesome related articles:

31 Cheap and Fun Fall Dates
100+ Date Night Ideas on a Budget
5 Fall Slow Cooker Meals
11 Slow Cooker Meals for under $5!
100+ Cheap and Easy Meals for under $5!
59 Simple Ways to Slash Your Grocery Budget in Half!
73 Totally Fun Free and Cheap Activities for Kids
55 Fun, Inexpensive Winter Date Ideas
97 Fun and Frugal Summer Activities for Kids!
61 Awesome Free and Cheap Winter Activities for Kids
12 Best Tips for How to Teach Your Kids about Money
12 Must-Know Tips for Teaching Your Kids to Work Hard

 

 

Free Fall Activities to Do at Home

Rake up a pile of leaves, and jump in them.

Jump in leaves on the trampoline. (My kids love this one; just be careful, as usual. :))

Carve or paint pumpkins.

Make pumpkin pie.

Make apple or caramel apple pie.

Make gingerbread cookies.

Draw or paint pictures of pumpkins or Jack o’lanterns.

Make a scarecrow.

Watch a (age-appropriate) spooky movie.

Make Halloween costumes from stuff you have around the house.

Make a fruit cobbler.

Go around in a circle and share the things you are thankful for (you can keep taking turns till you run out of ideas).

Press leaves in a photo album or other book.

Host a potluck Thanksgiving dinner.

Watch an animated Halloween movie such as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Make homemade Thanksgiving cards.

Write thank-you notes to loved ones.

Bob for apples.

Compete to eat donuts on a string fastest (if you already have donuts on hand that you made or bought).

Make a collage with colored leaves.

Make leaf rubbings.

Make a handprint turkey.

Play flag or Frisbee or regular football.

Make homemade pizza.

Make chocolate milk or hot cocoa and make and decorate homemade donuts.

Make and decorate fall-colored cookies.

Make banana splits or hot fudge sundaes.

Make caramel popcorn.

Make caramel apples.

Host a Halloween party.

Host a neighborhood trunk or treat (use candy and decorations you already have on hand).

Play dolls or superheroes.

Play pirates or ships.

Build a race track and have a race.

Play with a wooden train and track.

Read a Halloween story together.

Go on a fall-themed scavenger hunt.

Draw a map and go on a treasure hunt.

Write and act out a simple play.

Color or marker fall-themed pictures together.

Play house (or family, as my five-year-old daughter likes to call it) or school or bakery (or ice cream shop—you get the idea :)).

Paint fall-related scenes together.

Do finger painting.

Have your children invite a handful of friends over to play simple games like “Duck, Duck, Goose,” “Musical Chairs,” “Hot Potato,” “London Bridges,” “Follow the Leader,” and so on.

Have a tea party.

Play dress-up.

Dress up as pilgrims and Native Americans, and share a meal together.

Form a band (create or gather together simple musical instruments to play together as a family or with friends).

Dance together.

Choreograph a simple dance routine.

Do aerobics or other exercises together.

Do simple (sometimes edible) crafts together.

Give the kids a bubble bath.

Decorate hard-boiled eggs in fall colors.

Play age-appropriate board games and card games together.

Play with wooden blocks.

Play with marble tube games.

Play with plastic building blocks.

Do (fall-themed) puzzles together.

Do chalk art of your favorite fall themes.

Blow bubbles.

Use a flashlight in a darkened room to make shadow puppets.

Build a fort out of chairs or sectional furniture and large sheets or blankets.

Let the kids help to make a simple fall-themed meal.

Sing favorite songs together (especially ones related to the fall).

Play on your swing set.

Jump on the trampoline.

Color fall pictures with chalk on the sidewalk.

Play tag in the backyard.

Play hide and seek.

Let your kids help you garden.

Play catch.

Play Frisbees.

Play kickball.

Go camping as a family in the backyard.

Have a hot dog or marshmallow roast in the backyard.

Go “camping” in your family room for the night.

Watch a movie together (let your kids pick it).

Ask your children what they want to do, and then do it.

 

Free Fall Activities for on the Go

Go for a bike ride, or ride scooters.

Go for a walk (or a drive) to see the fall colors.

Go to a neighborhood trunk or treat.

Go to a free fall festival at a farm or ranch.

Collect leaves.

Go for a drive up the canyon.

Visit a nearby state or national park on a free day.

Go camping somewhere free near your home.

Visit cousins or set up a play date with friends.

Go to a free music concert.

Go for a walk or hike.

Ride skateboards or inline skates.

Go to the park.

Play hide the button at the park (the hider lets the other children know when they are getting warmer or cooler as they look for the button).

Find a grassy hill to roll down.

Find puddles to jump in.

Fly kites.

Go for a short run together as a family (and if you like it, work up to doing a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or even marathon together!).

Go on a picnic.

Visit free museums or aquariums (or go on a day when admission is free).

Go to the zoo on a free-admission day.

Go to activities or to read at the library.

 

Conclusion

There are so many free fall activities you can do to keep entertained this fall! Whether at home or away, there are enough activities to do to keep you happy and busy all season long!

 

What fun free fall activities do you like to do? I would love to hear what you or your family does for fall fun, as well, so leave a comment below and let me know!

 

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40+ Best Christmas Gifts for Kids (Awesome Deals on Christmas Gifts for Kids!)

frugal Christmas gifts for kids

 

 

Best Deals on Christmas Gifts for Kids for 2019!

In this article I am going to give ideas for some of the best Christmas gifts for kids!

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year! But I want to find great deals on gifts that are a great value, and I don’t want to shell out any more money than I have to!

In this list you will find some of the most popular gifts for this season as well as classic favorites that your children will love!

Tip: Do you want your gift fast? Have you tried Amazon Prime yet? Get free 2-day shipping when you sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, and enjoy the many benefits of this awesome service!

Also check out this article with 11 must-do tips to save money on your Christmas shopping. And learn 5 super simple ways to save $500 or more for Christmas!

 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to this article on best Christmas gifts for kids later!

 

 

Awesome Deals on Christmas Gifts for Kids

Here are some of my favorite Christmas gift ideas for kids of all ages! And if you are looking for frugal Christmas gifts for kids, then check out these awesome gifts at a great price!

Click the images below for more information about each gift idea!

 

Games Your Kids and Family Will Love

I am a huge advocate of family game nights because they are a wonderful way to spend quality time together and strengthen family ties, which is so important in our society today! Playing games was one of the ways that my own family (of 10 kids!) stayed close growing up.
These are some of my own kids’ favorite games, or games that would for sure put on our Christmas wish list! Many of them are less than $10, so if you are looking for frugal Christmas gifts for kids, than these are a great buy for you!

 

The Floor Is Lava

My kids love this game, and I know your kids will too! I think all kids do! One of the reasons that I love this game is that it gets kids up and moving!

Monopoly Junior

This kid-friendly version of the classic game will provide hours of fun for the whole familly!

Race to the Treasure

I haven’t played this game yet, but I’m definitely intrigued by it and want to give it a try! It’s touted as being a cooperative game where players work together to win, and I love that. The reviews on Amazon are great. (I’m not sure why the image isn’t available for this one. 🙁 )  Click here to learn more about or purchase this  game!

 

Hedbanz

This is another game that my kids love! I’m sure your family will love it too!

Candyland

This classic game is a regular at our house!

Jenga

Do you have this game yet? I grew up with this game, so it’s a classic! If you don’t have it yet, your family needs to get it! This simple and fun game provides hours of fun!

Connect 4

My daughter loves this game! (Our younger twins haven’t quite figured out the concept yet, but I’m sure they’ll love it when they do!)

Guess Who?

This is another classic game that my kids love, and yours will, too!

 

Twister

I best you loved this game as a kid! And your kids will love it too! (Ours do!)

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

This is another game yours truly grew up with—but it is still as popular today as it was when I was a kid! Your own kids are going to love it!

 

Regal Games Classic Card Games

How about getting all of your favorite kid card games together, and for a great price? I love it! It’s a double win!

 

Clue Junior

We love this game at our house! (I generally let my daughter win; that may or may not be one of the reasons that she loves it. :))

Spoons

Have you played this game yet? This was another classic that we played a ton when I was a kid and teenager. Tons of fun!

Zingo

If your family loves Bingo, then you have to try Zingo, a fun twist on this classic game!

Don’t Break the Ice!

This is another game that my family loved growing up. Fun and suspenseful!

 

Awesome Deals on Toys for Kids

I know that buying toys for your kids can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Set a reasonable holiday (Christmas) budget based on your income and financial situation, and then buy guilt free for the little cherubs! Here are some of our family favorite toys or toys that I’m gonna put on our Christmas wish list!

Dinosaur Toy Figures with Activity Mat

Does this not just look like the coolest dinosaur set? My kids love dinosaurs (the girls too), and we have dinosaurs, but we don’t have this—yet! 🙂

Alleck Scooter

My kids love their scooters, and as a mom, I love the fact that these scooters have the stabilizing second front tire for a safer (and smoother) ride. Kid tested; mother approved!

Crayola 140 Count Art Set

My older daughter has an art set very similar to this one that her aunt gave her, and she loves it. She can literally spend hours coloring with the crayons, pencils, and markers. If you have a budding artist, as well, then this art set is a must-have for your young Picasso!

Magnetic Fishing Set

This (water-safe) fishing set is perfect for your fishing enthusiasts! Great for backyard fun, family reunions, carnivals, kids parties, and more! What young kid doesn’t love to go fishing!

Kids Camping Set

We are big campers in our family, so of course I was totally enamored with this kids camping set! Our kiddos have a toy tent, but it is definitely not as cool as this one! This camping set has everything your young outdoor enthusiast needs: lantern, shovel, binoculars, multitool, hat, compass, backpacking stove, mess kit, and more! Love it! (This is going on my own kids Christmas wish list!)

Calculator Cash Register

Your kiddos will have tons of fun practicing their counting skills with this best-selling calculator cash register. It is a great way to help develop early counting skills!

Deluxe Doctor Tool Set

We got doctor tool sets similar to this one for my daughters (and now I wish we would have gotten one for my son, as well! There would be less rioting …) They have had them for close to two years now, and they still love to play with them. On sale now for less than $10! This is a steal!

100-Piece Triple Loop Wooden Train Set

We bought a wooden train set for our kiddos similar to this one a couple of years ago, and it is still one of their favorite things to play with! (I’m not sure why the image isn’t available for this one. 🙁 ) Click here to check out this train set!
 

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Dress-Up Dolls

My mom bought my older daughter a Melissa and Doug magnetic dress-up doll set similar to this one a few years ago, and she still loves it! These magnetic dress-up dolls are durable and sturdy, and the interchangeable outfits are a lot of fun (even for me :)). Melissa and Doug make great stuff!

Kids Walkie Talkie Set

I loved walkie talkies as a kid growing up, my kids love walkie talkies (though the ones they have are not quite as cool as these!)—who wouldn’t love walkie talkies!? And these ones have great reviews and a five-star rating!

Marble Run Track

My brothers and sisters and I loved playing with the Marble Madness tube set we had as
kids growing up. And my kids still love playing with the marble set at Grandma’s (we really should get our own …) Hours of fun for kids old and young!

 

Outdoor Games for Kids and Families

My kids love spending time outdoors, and we love spending time outdoors as a family. Check out these awesome outdoor games that will provide your family with hours of fun! These are also another great option for frugal Christmas gifts for kids, as most of them are $20 or less!

Bullseye Bounce and Cornhole Toss Games

My kids love this fun and simple game, which works great both outdoors or in! It’s also great for kids’ carnival games put on by your church, school, or community!

Classic Ring Toss

This is another classic fun and easy game for kids (and adults!) of all ages! Again, this works great outdoors or inside, and it is a great game to have on hand for church, school, and neighborhood get-togethers!

Giant Timber

If your family loves Jenga, give this life-size version a try! It is an awesome game for gatherings with family and friends, family reunions, neighborhood nights out, and more!

Hot Potato

I’m sure you played hot potato as a kid—and the popularity of this game has not waned! It is a #1 best seller on Amazon! It is a fun and simple game that is great for outdoor play with a crowd, or play it in your family room as part of a fun family night!

Giant Bubble Wands Kit

Do your kids love giant bubbles? Yeah, mine too. With this kit you get the giant bubble want, a big thing of bubble concentrate, and a book with tips and tricks. Pretty awesome! Take it to a family gathering, and you will be the hit of the party!

Toy Archery Set

Do your kids love to shoot bows and arrows? Yeah, mine too! And this set is perfect (pefectly safe :)) for even fairly young kiddos; it’s geared for kids 5 years and up.

Foam Pogo Jumper

My sweet in-laws (in-laws are amazing; am I right?) got pogo sticks for my kiddos, and they are awesome—but my kiddos just aren’t really big enough to use them well yet. And they probably won’t be for at least a couple more years. So that’s why I love these foam pogo jumpers for young kids! All the fun, in a younger-kid-friendly version!

Giant 4 Connect in a Row

If your family loves Connect 4, than give this life-size version a go! Outdoor fun for the whole family!

Giant Inflatable Bowling Set

This huge bowling ball set is perfect for a fun afternoon with family or friends. Great for family reunions and gatherings, school carnivals, church functions, and more!

Kids Scavenger Hunt

My kids love a good scavenger hunt, and I bet yours do, too!

Lava Monster

My kids love to play this game when we go to the park, so I love that they have it as an actual game you can buy! This would be the perfect activity for an afternoon of backyard fun!

Slammo

This is another outdoor (or indoor; we’ve played both) game my family loves!

Electronics for Kids

We’re careful about the time our kids spend in front of a screen, but even they each have their own tablet (because that’s admittedly easier than risking World War III all the time). Of course we got them for a great deal. And the electronics below are a great deal, as well.

LCD Writing Tablet

We do not have one of these, but I think the idea is totally cool! We go through a lot of blank paper (a lot of blank paper), particularly because of my older daughter the aspiring artist, and so having a little writing/drawing tablet like this would be awesome. I’ll have to give that some thought …

Handheld Game Console for Kids

These awesome portable retro game console bring back fond memories! (Hey, I still have a Super Nintendo—that I love! No judging! :)) And at just $20, these are an awesome deal!

Fire HD 8 Tablet

The 8″ HD Fire tablet is a great deal if you are looking for a fast, long-battery life, durable tablet.

Kids Electronic Keyboard

My older daughter started taking piano lessons a couple of months ago, and it has been so fun hearing her start to play. If you want to to encourage a love of musical instruments among your own children, an electronic keyboard like this one could be a great option for your family, espeically if you don’t have the money right now for a full-sized piano.

 

 

Conclusion

 

What are your favorite deals on Christmas gifts for kids this year? What frugal Christmas gifts for kids do you recommend? I would love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below and let me know!

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help a family member or friend or people in general? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being with others. Thank you!

Join Our Facebook Group!

Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.