Friday, January 6, 2012

Saving money day by day: Healthy food shopping at ALDI, stocking up at the library and more tips.

Hi all,

Like most people, my family and I try and save money however we can. There are some things we really want, like cameras, paints, parts for the classic cars...and then there are things we need, like food, reading material, utilities, a roof over our heads, etc.

This was our first Christmas not going all out and spending an insane amount of money. As hard as it was seeing my son disappointed, as he did not get a laptop, flat screen TV or $300 worth of X-Box games, it's been nice not worrying how to catch up on basic necessities.

I know for a lot of women, a photo shoot with me falls into the category of things they can't afford after paying the bills. I too have to save money to buy the things I desire, so I decided to do a blog on some steps I take to save money. Hopefully some of these ideas can help you and your family! And hopefully even if you don't practice these tips, you are able to save a bit of money to buy something for yourself every month or so. Even if you don't book a shoot with me, you deserve things for yourself! Too many women sacrifice everything to make their families happy. This is your life too, so make sure and take time to make yourself happy!

Healthy Shopping at ALDI

I like to eat 1 yogurt a day for good health, and my family enjoys them too. Does this brand have sugar? Yes, but it's still a healthier choice than ice cream, or full-fat yogurt. I do read the labels no matter where I shop, and make sure not to buy items with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oil, when possible.

When money is tight, food can get unhealthy. Frozen pizza, pasta, white bread, processed cheese, these are affordable foods. Sometimes it seems like vegetables, fruits, and good lean meats are out of the price range of any family or person struggling financially.

I found that we were eating HEALTHY food less than once a week about six months ago. I was pretty horrified, not to mention unhappy with my health and weight. However, just because I made this realization didn't mean we all of a sudden had more money! I decided to shop at ALDI for the first time, and I was so happy/surprised with what I found there.

If you can set aside enough time for yourself to really read the food labels, and really pay attention to what your're buying, ALDI can be a lifesaver financially. Do they have a ton of unhealthy food there? Yes. But if you shop smart (shop S-Mart...sorry Evil Dead reference) you can find some healthy choices too.

Dairy: ALDI has yogurts for around 30 cents. I don't buy milk there because we like 1% and they only have skim, 2% and whole. I did buy some sliced Swiss cheese. Yes, it's processed and in the little plastic sheets, but it's still better than some of the alternatives. Sometimes I feel like we are too hard on ourselves. If your choice is a sandwich at home with processed cheese or a fast food hamburger, you're still probably better off overall eating at home.

Breads/Pastas: I buy the oat bread, since it has fiber, and the wheat they carry doesn't. The bread tastes great, I have no complaints! I also get whole wheat pasta at ALDI, which is just as good as more expensive brands. This time I got some rice cakes. I know rice cakes get a bad rap, but I love them. You gotta be careful though, eating a bunch of rice cakes is still fattening, haha. You have to eat them in moderation, because they don't have much or any fiber.

Fruits and Veggies: ALDI is funny here. They don't always have the same items, and you need to look over what they do have super carefully to avoid buying older produce. However, I always find good stuff. This last time I got oranges, red onions, garlic, limes and lemons. They all looked great!

The yummy produce I got at ALDI yesterday!
Misc: Juice, Vanilla Wafers, Hot Chocolate, Corn Tortillas, Canned Fruit, Honey, Tuna lunch kits...ALDI has all this stuff.

We might not be perfect when it comes to being healthy, but we've come a long way  from our completely unhealthy ways!
Using the Library

I know, I know...the library is nothing new. So why am I just now taking advantage of it? I've been using the Riverside branch of Mid-Continent for the past few months, and I couldn't be happier. Gabe picks out books for his reports, and I read up on things that interest me. The internet is a vast resource for info, but there's still nothing like picking up a book. And it's fun to put those library skills we learned in elementary and middle school to use. Today I went in just wanting a Pilates DVD, and ended up with a bunch of books! All for free, well, I did pay an old fee...$3.00. Hardly the price tag I used to get at Barnes and Noble. I'm not saying I will never buy books again, but for now this is just the resource I need!

I even got a book for Chris!
Take those freebies

When my grandmother in Prairie Village was remodeling her kitchen, I commented on how much I liked her vintage curtains. "Do you want them?" she asked. "Okay," I said. Now I have these adorable vintage curtains she didn't want, and I got them for free. Too often people ask us if we want stuff like hand-me-downs, and we say no out of pride. If you need it, say yes! They are offering because they want to help, or just don't want the stuff anymore. My grandma in Briarcliff asked me once if I wanted a beautiful mink stole, and I said no because I was embarrassed for some dumb reason. I would love to have it now! I should have said yes, now the moment has passed.

Sorry, the pic is a little dark, but the curtains are darling!
Make the best of things

My sister Stevie left a pink carnation at my house after our photo shoot last week. Instead of letting it die, I put it in an old Shatto milk glass bottle, and I've been admiring it ever since. Its the little things in life we can treasure, health, a flower, a might sound corny, but I'll take this stuff over a shopping spree I can't afford any day!

So pretty.
My husband is handy when it comes to home repairs. We didn't really like our kitchen, but instead of tearing out all the 1940's cabinets, and spending a ton of money on new granite counter tops and such, we decided to put a new floor and some new backsplash tiles ourselves. We are blending our style with what was already here. We don't always get all the materials we want at the same time, but we keep working even if it takes months. It really helps with moral, and it gives us a continual purpose and goals for our home decorating.

It's a start!
I hope some of these tips were helpful to you! Please feel free to give me some tips in the comments. Let me know what you do to save money!

As always, for questions about the photo studio, or anything else, email me at

Love you all!

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