Dollar Stores. This includes dollar sections at my favorite stores like JoAnn's, Micheal's, and Target, as well as The Dollar Tree, Honks All A Dollar, Family Dollar and Dollar General. Party supplies, cleaning supplies, first aid stuff, health and beauty, kitchen stuff, and craft supplies... all for a buck! I usually steer clear of most of the kids toys-- they don't last long and we have a plethera of
Here are some of my favorites from The DollarTree.
(Lining up photos is a talent...that I don't have!)
Thrift Stores. Learn when they have their sales. Shop with something general in mind (large picture frames, toddler girl summer clothes, and a round tablecloth) but be open to browsing. DO NOT TAKE KIDS! Especially if you are shopping for clothes for yourself.
Garage Sales. I love summer! Go early and bring cash in small bills. It's a bit awkward to talk them down in price and then hand them a 50 bill for change. Just saying.
Freezer Meal Swap. There are several online websites with recipes and how-to's on host a freezer meal swap. I have two favorite ways of doing this. First way, decide on the recipes and what needs to be purchased. One person shops or divide the list. Put everyone in charge of as much prep-work that can be done the day before (chop veggies, brown hamburger, cook chicken, etc.) Get together and assemble the meals, making the mess in only one kitchen. Second way, pick a friend or two and decide on meals to make. You buy everything for your meals and assemble them on your own time. Total up the $ each person spent, even up with who owes who still (usually only a few bucks) and exchange meals. Make sure you trust the cooking habits of those you switch with; consider allergies, dietary restictions and even pet hair (that's a killer for me!).
Or go solo and just double recipes (or for small families, divide the recipe into two dishes) and freeze the extra. When I make brownies, cakes or cookies I usually freeze half too. Especially in the summer when I want brownies, but I don't want to heat up the house.
Buy generic. Get to know your store brands and what's good and what's not. I'll buy generic canned beans and but not toliet paper. Often generics are made by the same manufacturing plant as a brand name. For instance dairy prodcuts. My dad was an engineer for several dairy plants. Look on the packaging for the plant ID # (formatted like this --> 00-00). My generic milk reads 49-70, but so does my name brand cottage cheese (it was on sale). Both these brands are made in the same plant and probably come out of the same machines with a different label slapped to the sides.
Learn how to cook inexpensive meats. Cook 'em low (temp) and slow is usually the rule for tender meat. Crock pots are great for this. Check to see if your grocery store's meat department and bakery mark products down that have today's sell-by date. If you can freeze it or use it that day-- go for it!
Shop Sales. Tuesday is my favorite mail day--the ads come. Buy what's on sale, or take the ads to Walmart--they will price match off those ads. Brand for brand and any generic/store brand for their Great Value brand. Shop end-of-season clearances and post-holiday celerances, too! I got my kids winter coats and tennis shoes for next year when they were clearanced more than 50% off!
Energy Conservation. I'm kinda proud of myself here. We run the AC a total of maybe two weeks total around here in the summer. Watch the weather reports, cool off the house at night, close it up during the day (windows/blinds/drapes) on the side that the sun shines through. Take advantage of breezes. Avoid using the oven on hot days--crockpots, microwaves, rotisserie chickens, tacos, etc. A box fan in the kitchen circulates the air nicely.
Kid swap. Have young kids at home and none old enough to babysit? Find another family or two in the same situation. Trade for weekly play dates or monthly date nights. I LOVE this! I'm always amazed at how much I can get done even when the play date is at my house and I don't have to entertain my own kids. I've also traded my neighbor-- my sewing skills (hemming curtains, making window seats cushions, etc) for sitting my kiddos.
What are your thrifty ideas?