Tag Archive for Saving money

Cook 1 Chicken, Make 3 Meals

How to use leftover chicken three ways, instant pot friendly recipes

I saved a ton of money and time buying one whole chicken and making it into three wonderful meals. Buying whole chickens is much more economical than just getting boneless skinless chicken breast. Whole chickens have a better variety of meat and nutrition available as well. Making delicious meals from leftover chicken is super easy.

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Eat Healthy AND Save Money!

Is it possible to eat healthy and save money? I hear people say all the time, it’s expensive to eat well. There are many reasons why it’s much less expensive to eat high quality, nutritious food. Let me show you a new way of looking at it.

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Saving Money by Wasting Less

In childcare, we consume a lot! I hate waste. I hate wasting my time, I hate wasting my money and I hate wasting environmental resources. I can’t stand it. So how can we cut down on waste when there is so much we have to do with our kids? Families are no different than a daycare when it comes to waste. You can use the same techniques to save money in your own household even if you don’t have a daycare.

We must have disposable paper towels for hand washing. There are a thousand little messy fingers to wash throughout the day. We have to clean up tons of spills and messes. We have to cook meals. The diapers are endless. Art supplies, paperwork, messy faces, the usage of resources is unending.

By the time I buy all of the supplies it requires to run my business, there is not a lot of the income I make left for myself and my family. I try to waste as little as possible so I can keep more of the profit. I hate spending money on things that aren’t important. How can I cut back?

Let’s start with food.

How can we stop wasting so much food? My food budget for the daycare kids is over $7,000 a year. There is a lot of potential for cutting waste there.

  • Plan your menu and only buy the food you need so you make sure you will use it. Click here to see how to plan a daycare menu. This can be used for your family as well.


  • My food program allows us to serve food family style. As long as the components are on the table that should be served, children can choose how much of something they want. This helps less food end up in the trash. It’s a fact that you will have to throw away some food from their plates, but you can compost it as long as it’s not meat. This helps less food end up in our landfill and it’s great for our gardens! Click here for info on composting.
  • Grow your own food. Kids are a lot more likely to eat something they helped to grow, so growing food with them will cut down on waste. It’s much cheaper to buy a packet of seeds than the food it produces, so that helps cut waste from the budget as well. We have tons of gardening posts on the blog. Click here to get started. 
  • Learn to use the parts of the food you would normally throw away. Stems and leaves of many foods are perfectly edible and very nutritious! Click here to see some great tips for that.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze your food in portions. This helps cut down a lot of wasted time and energy. You only have to make the mess one time when you make a double batch of something but you can use one batch and freeze the other cutting down on a lot of dish washing and area clean up.
Let’s talk about art supplies.
  • Recycle used paper and let the kids create with it. They can draw on the back, practice cutting, fold it up to make creations or all kinds of things. Think of all the thinks you could do with all that junk mail!
  • Repurpose food containers and other trash. You can use a cereal box or paper towel tube to create all kinds of imagination using creations. This cuts down on your budget and the amount of trash you are throwing in the landfill.
  • Make your own paints and playdough. There are tons of cool recipes you can make in a snap. Check out Pinterest!
What about toys?


  • Get toys for less at consignment shops or garage sales. So many toys get broken in childcare, this is a great way to save a ton of money. You need toys, but getting them second hand just requires some looking and a little cleaning.
  • Less is more. You don’t need every toy ever made. Actually the more toys you give the kids the more behavior problems you will see. If they are overstimulated they get bored and act out. Save on your sanity and your pocketbook by simplifying what you have for them to play with.
  • Make your own. You can make lots of toys for less like discovery bottles and homemade books. You can also let the kids make toys as well. Instruments, books, and all kinds of stuff are even better if the kids create them. Click here to see more ways to save on toys.


What about household supplies?
  • Buy the paper towels that have the half size tear marks and use half what you would normally use. If you are dripping your bacon or fried okra onto a paper towel, one little half sheet will do the job. Lots of messes will clean up off the floor with only a half sheet.

    • Cloth diapers could save a ton of money and resources. I don’t use them, but some providers do and it’s a great way to cut back on waste. Look into it.
    • Clean up your messes with a towel or rag instead of using any paper towels for that.
    • Send the kids to the bathroom to wash their hands and face instead of using wet wipes. You will save a ton of resources that way. I think it gets them cleaner anyway.


    • Use foaming soap in the bathroom for them. This helps them to regulate how much soap they use which is good for your budget and the sewage system. 

    • Use single fold paper towels in the bathroom for them. Mr. Kent found me a paper towel dispenser at the thrift store and it has saved me hundreds of dollars on paper towels. When I had a roll dispenser, they would tear off 5 at a time or more and use a whole roll in a day or two. I can get the bulk cases of individual paper towels at the janitor supply store (and they have ones made with recyclable materials) The towels come out one at a time. Since the kids don’t have to tear them, they don’t pull off half the roll each time they use them. This saves so much on the environment and my pocket book. 

      • Don’t use disposable dishes. It’s not that hard to wash a plate. Using regular cups, plates, and silverware saves you tons of money over the course of a year AND saves all that disposable product from filling up our landfill. We have the power to do a lot to help the environment. Don’t think it’s not important. If you care about the kids you’re taking care of, care about what kind of earth you leave for them to live on.

    • Use a steamer on your floors. It disinfects them with the heat. Steamers don’t use any harsh chemicals that will get in the air and get breathed in by you and the kids. They use very little water compared to a mop and they get the floor so much cleaner. Steamers save time and energy as well as resources. 

    • Don’t waste wipeys. I KNOW that when you need several wipes for one diaper, you NEED them. Consider wiping their hands and face first and then starting on the poopy diaper. Wipe as much of the doodie off as you can with the diaper to cut down on wipes needed. Get good quality wipes like Huggies that get a lot of it off with one pass so you don’t have to use 40 to get the job done. Use as few as you can, but as many as you have to. You gotta do what you gotta doo doo.

  • Buy in bulk. The prices are less and you will be throwing less plastic into the landfill in packaging.


  • Use vinegar to clean. It kills germs and is super cost effective, plus it’s not harmful to the environment. We use as few cleaners as possible to cut down on allergy problems. Vinegar can be used as fabric softener, window cleaner, deodorizer, disinfectant, and many other things.

There are tons of ways you can cut corners and save money on your budget while wasting less resources to leave the earth better than you found it. Our kids deserve that.

What are your best money/time/resource saving tips? I can’t wait to hear them!

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How to Stock your Dress up Center for Less

Kids LOVE playing dress up and it’s great for boosting their creativity. Is there anything better than pretending to be a princess, a super hero, or an animal? I love supplying my kids with a ton of creative supplies to enjoy dramatic play.

Kids learn so much through dramatic play. It helps them express their feelings, try different roles and see what it’s like to be someone else, and work through their problems in a safe way. There is so much more going on during dramatic play than meets the eye. They need pretend play for growth and development.

Small receiving blankets and bandanas are a great resource that doesn’t cost a fortune. They can be used to wrap babies, as blankets for playing house, tied up as a pouch to carry things in, You can make them into a picnic blanket or table cloth. Kids can tie them around their heads, wrists, or waist as super hero or rock star gear. The uses are limitless. I always have several available.

Some items from around the house.

Bags of all kinds can be used as diaper bags, purses, totes or any number of other things when kids are playing pretend. Plastic or real keys on rings are a big favorite for kids to pretend they get to drive a car. Kids also love wallets to put their stuff in. They can be old wallets you are done using or plastic toy ones, the kids don’t care.

Another great item for dramatic play is big button up shirts. Kids can pretend they are using them to dress up as doctors, veterinarians or pretend they are suits to be a business person or preacher or whatever they wish. These are always a big hit at Little Sprouts.

Dress up center.

Dress up clothes can be super expensive in the daycare/teacher supply stores. Another great way to get dress up clothes that won’t break the bank is by getting Halloween costumes. Many times I have had daycare parents give me old costumes their kids grew out of. My mother in law used to work at Wal-Mart and she would buy me costumes on clearance after Halloween for my dress up center. There’s nothing like blessings from other people.

Oriental Trading Company offered me some costumes in exchange for my honest opinion about them on the blog. All opinions on the costumes are completely my own. I jumped on the chance to see if their costumes were quality and would last in the dress up center. I chose Captain America, Elsa, and a Ninja Turtle. We have been playing with them like crazy and they are super durable.


The costumes are not very expensive, click here to see their selection. They are inexpensive enough to use for Halloween or a great price for filling your dramatic play area as well. I prefer to choose costumes that don’t have pants because those are hard for my young children to get off and on by themselves.


Captain America costume.

The Captain America is super cute, equipped with big muscles and everything. Sometimes the kids put it on backwards and have super pumped backs. I think that’s so cute. It came with a mask that looks awesome. The kids all love to be a super hero. Who doesn’t. They have put this costume on and off 100 times and it is still holding up like new. It’s definitely worth the price and a great addition to my dress up center.


Elsa Costume.

The Elsa dress is a dream come true for my little girls. Several of my girls have had them at home and loved bringing them over, so I knew the kids would love to have one here. It’s super cute with great features that remind them of the movie. Everyone loves being a princess.


Ninja Turtle Costume.

The Ninja Turtle costume is by far my favorite. It has a chest plate and a turtle shell for their back. The costume is super cool looking. It also comes with not just one face mask, but all 4, so the kids can choose which turtle they want to be any time. It’s fun to be able to change your mind. Even better is that 4 kids can be superheroes or Ninja Turtles, so that’s even more bang for your buck.


All of the Oriental Trading costumes are holding up well. I was surprised by the quality for the price they are listed. I would totally recommend you ordering from Oriental for your Halloween needs, and of course, you can do like I did and use them in your dress up center. They are a great way to get costumes your kids will love without having to spend a ton of money. They have a huge variety of costumes to choose from in so many sizes, even for adults.

How do you stock your dramatic play area?

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How to Save Money on Quality Toys

Toys are a big expense for a family childcare provider. They are a big expense for parents as well. Even grandparents get to buy toys for the little people in their life. In my childcare, things get broken on a regular basis with so many kids playing with them.

Buying a quality toy is a great way for me to save money on this big expense for my business. If I buy a really good quality toy, it’s going to be an investment in the future. If I buy cheapo toys, I may have to replace those in no time. Melissa and Doug make some of my favorite. Every toy they make is high quality, they have many wooden toys, and they are all educational in some way. I love the values they have in their products.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Shop Groupon Goods

When I am looking to save money on toys, I look to Groupon Goods first. Click on the red link to check out what great deals they have to offer. They carry a good variety of Melissa and Doug toys. I can always find some when I’m looking.
saving money on toys

Right now, Groupon Goods has a great deal on foam alphabet floor play mats and many other high quality products. The whole set marked down from $49.99 to $24.99. I love these mats! Click here to check them out. I also saw a great deal on Duracell batteries. 100 AAA or AA batteries for only $27.99. Head over to Groupon Goods to check them out! I know I have tons of toys and other things that need batteries. I love Duracell because they last much longer.


Buy used toys

Another way you can save money on toys is buying used. I have gotten some of my very best toys my kids have played with for 20 years from thrift stores. I only buy things used that can be disinfected, but I love to scour the children’s used clothing stores for really cool toys that are new to my kids. Don’t forget about garage sales too. You never know what you will find.

Don’t forget, less is more. You don’t need every single toy ever made for your kids to have a good time. Actually, you will find that if you have too many toys out at once, the kids get bored and don’t play with any of them. I keep many of my toys stored away in totes and just leave out a few all of the time. When I rotate new toys out from the totes, the kids find interest in them again and enjoy playing. It really cuts down on behavior problems for me. I would totally recommend it.

Share with friends

Another great idea to get more mileage out of a toy is to trade toys with a friend. I used to have a family provider friend that I shared toys with. We would borrow toys from each other for each unit we were doing. That way we only had to buy half the number of toys over the year. I recommend you having someone you can really rely on to use this method. I have shared things with people for all kinds of reasons and most of them never return them. I only traded with her because she was reliable in bringing them back. I made sure I took good care of her things as well. If you have someone like that, share away!

Shop around

Make sure when you decide on a toy you’d like to purchase; you check in as many places as possible for the best price. If you can buy it local, great. If not, make sure you are getting the best deal. Groupon Goods is a great website to keep in your favorites to check the price on every item. You could save a bundle of cash. We all know daycare is not a lucrative business, so saving every penny is important. Each dollar you save on expenses is another dollar that goes toward taking care of your family. It’s worth the time to check it out. Click here to check out Groupon Goods.

What are your favorite ways to save on toys?

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How to Save Money on Quality Toys


How to Save Money on Back to School

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine. I love a great deal on back to school. I wait until this time of year every year to stock up on crayons, markers, paints, glue and glue sticks. I also buy folders and spiral notebooks for writing. I LOVE a bargain.

You might be wondering how to navigate all the sales and get the best deals. The best suggestion I have is to use patience. Be willing to watch and wait. Don’t get in a rush to get it all done at once. Every week after the week of the 4th of July, different stores have different things on sale.

This year, a group I’m part of called Replenishing Oklahoma is doing a back to school supply drive for a local school that serves underprivileged students. We are kicking our sale shopping into overdrive to get the very most we can for the money we are raising. We are looking for mass quantities of supplies.

The first thing you need to do is check out the sale ads for the week.


Make a list of what you need. Write next to each entry the bottom dollar prices for those items. I have a mental idea because I buy so much of it, so I kind of know what prices are the best around.

back to school savings

Walmart has less sales and more everyday low prices than other stores. Staples has some of the best sales around. I try to keep up with the sale flyers to Staples, Office Depot/Max, Walmart and Target. I also compare prices on Amazon. I used this article from Passionate Penny Pincher to come up with a list of some basic best deals. Then when I see a sale, I can tell if it’s a good one or not. Amazon is usually the best price when buying in bulk, but for single items, I didn’t find any best deals.

She’s got a great site here, check it out for tons of saving ideas!

Please keep in mind that Crayola, Elmer’s and Fiskars are far superior products.

school supply savings, back to school money saving

Generic or Rose Art crayons and markers just do not work as well, stick with Crayola. Elmer’s makes much better glue sticks than the off brand. You might as well throw your money in the trash before you buy that junky glue. Fiskar’s scissors are the only ones young kids can be successful with. You don’t want your child to struggle because their scissors are crap. You won’t be saving if the kids can’t use the supplies you buy.

Item                                      Walmart Regular Price   Target Regular Price       

Crayola Crayons, 24 ct.                   .50                               .50

Elmer’s Glue                                    .50

Elmer’s Glue Sticks 2/pk                  .50

Pink Erasers                                     .48

3 Prong Folders                                .15

70 Sheet Spiral Notebook                 .17                               .17

Filler Paper 150 ct.                           .82

Crayola WASHABLE Markers           1.97                             1.97

Crayola Markers                              .97                                .97

Highlighters, 2/ct.                           .77

Index Cards                                    .48

School Box                                      .57

Crayola Watercolor Paints, 8          1.97

Crayola Colored Pencils                   .97                                .97

#2 Pencils 20/ct.                            .97                         

You also notice that Target doesn’t beat Walmart on everyday low prices. If you want a one stop shop, Walmart is the best deal.

saving money on back to school

Check out the website for Staples, Walmart, Target and Office Depot/Max if you have those stores nearby. There is a link on the landing page that says weekly ad, that’s what you need. Find the things on the list that are on sale and check this list to see if it’s a better deal.

Be careful because lots of times, the sale price at one store is more than the regular price at another. That’s how they get cha. Make sure of the limit you can purchase AND if you have to buy something to get it. This week there was an Office Depot/Max ad that offered a package of pencils for a penny if you spent $5.

Here was the deal I made: There were 24 packs of Crayolas on sale for .25 each limit 3, packs of 5 highlighters on sale for .25 each limit 3, Sharpie markers on sale for .25 each limit 3. We needed all of those items for our supply drive, so I made the deal of 3 packs of crayons, for .75, plus 3 packs of highlighters, bringing it up to $1.50, plus 3 sharpies for .75 each, bringing it up to $2.25. Then we picked up three packs of index cards that were on sale for $1 each for a total of $5.25. When you add the penny for the pencils, it came to $5.26.

Office Depot back to school savings deal

These items rang up $27.37 and we got them for $5.71 including tax.


The key to getting the best deals is to plan ahead with the ads. Then after you do that at a couple of stores for two weeks or so, head to Walmart and get whatever else you still need.


Another amazing way to save is to use Groupon Coupons. You can get discounts at Target, Walmart, Amazon, Staples, and Office Depot by checking here at Groupon Coupons to find even further discounts on the school supplies you need. Click here for instance, to print out a target coupon to get a free $5 gift card if you buy selected school supplies. You could get your glue sticks and scissors at Target and get a $5 Target card to use on something else.

You can use this link to get 20% off or $10 off $50 purchase at Office Depot. You can even shop for your supplies online and get this deal on your total order! Then you could pick up at the store for free to save on shipping. Amazon and Walmart have similar pages on Groupon where you can print coupons for things you need or find special deals through Groupon on stuff you’re looking for. Check the Groupon Coupon website to see what they have to offer. 

When it’s time to work on back to school clothes, check out JCPenney or Kohl’s for great deals on clothes for back to school. Grab some great sales on shoes at Footlocker. These Groupon Coupons are a percentage off your whole school clothes shopping order or whatever else you’re needing at home. Groupon Coupons has so many great ways to save. It can make your back to school shopping so much less painful!

I love checking there before I make a purchase because usually I can find a way to save even more.


Go check out Kohl’s for a great deal. You can use the 15% off your order coupon to get a great deal. There is lots of stuff at Kohl’s on sale right now, you can use the Groupon Coupon link to go straight to the sales as well.

Follow Groupon on Facebook or Twitter so you won’t miss a thing! 

Back to school shopping is an expensive time for families. Doing whatever you can to make it more affordable is always worth the effort. I hope you save a bundle with some of these ideas I have shared with you today.

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How to Save Money on Back to School

15 Ways to Stop Throwing Your Money Away on Food

Are you tired of throwing your money away? Groceries are a big expense for your family and much of it gets wasted. Get the most out of your produce. Stop throwing away what could be used. Help your budget and the earth. It just makes good sense. 

There are tons of things we are throwing away every day that are useful, nutritious, and tasty. In America we waste over 40% of the food that is grown for consumption. Forty percent folks, that’s no joke! We cannot continue to be such a wasteful society!

save money, don't throw food away, little sprouts learning

There are so many hungry people in this country and the food we are throwing away could help them thrive if we had one thing, transportation! The reason there are hungry people and people wasting in the same place is all a matter of getting the food to those that need it. We all need to do something thinking about how we could help those in need.

Many foods are wasted because they are ugly, not uniform sizes, have a mark on them, or are otherwise unappealing to consumers in some way. I watched a Food Network special one time that showed how we wasted and I’ll tell ya, I was horrified and moved to tears. There are people going hungry all around us. We need to take the resources we have, and make them last. We need to use what we have to the best of our ability and make sure we save as much of our income as we can to help others who have nothing.

In the special, the chefs on the show were challenged to feed 100 people meals using nothing that could be bought. In many places it’s illegal to feed the hungry, did you know that? You cannot just walk out onto the sidewalk and serve soup to hungry people. I am amazed by that. The chefs on the show had to go to the fields and glean produce that could not be sold, and most of it they were taking to the compost piles was perfectly good food. The show was life changing for me and for the chefs competing.

There are so many ways we can cut down on waste in our own kitchens, here are a few I want to share.

  1. Carrot tops: Did you know carrot tops and the greens of many plants are tasty and nutritious? You can cook them down like greens with some fat and seasoning, you can use them in stir fries, eat them raw in a salad, or just about any other way you can think of to eat greens, carrots can be eaten that way as well.edible carrot tops, saving money, little sprouts learning
  2. Cruciferous vegetable leaves: Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and the outer leaves of cabbages can be eaten as greens as well. The stems are also super tasty and can be cooked right along with the main part of the vegetable we are used to eating. Click here to see how I roast my veggies like broccoli.
  3. Radish greens: The greens of radishes are a bit spicy and delicious in salads or cooked down as well.
  4. Corn cobs: When you are processing a bushel of corn, don’t throw away those cobs! They can be boiled down to get the last of the nutrition and flavor out and used in soups and chowders. Corn broth is AMAZING! (Don’t forget the husks can be used as well for wrapping tamales, making dolls or other old fashioned crafts)
  5. Tomato cores: If you take out the cores and pulp from the tomato for your recipe, don’t throw them away, juice them, blend them up and cook them down for sauce, save them in the freezer in a bag for the next time you make stock, they will add amazing flavor.
  6. Vegetable skins: When you peel your carrots or potatoes, or other veggies or cut stems and other things off of them, save those in the freezer as well for making stock. You can fill a big stock pot with water, add your vegetable scraps and some seasonings, and boil it for 30 minutes to an hour. You will end up with an amazing stock for soups, stews, and sauces. Super yummy and you’re saving all of that stuff from the trash! That saves it from going to the landfill AND keeps more money in your pocket! Even if you have orange peels, lemon peels, grapefruit peels, or lime peels, you can boil them in water on the stove for a room freshener or you can steep them in vinegar for a couple of weeks to enhance the cleaning power of your vinegar. use veggie scraps for nutrition, little sprouts learning
  7. Apple cores and peels: Apple scraps can be fermented to make apple cider vinegar, click here to see how to make it. 
  8. Herb stems: Herb stems can be boiled in stock to add flavor. They can also be cooked in olive oil or butter and then removed before you add your other ingredients to the pan when starting a sauce, casserole, or stir fry. They will flavor your oil and add a depth to it. saving money on food, stop throwing it away, little sprouts learning
  9. Onion tops: Onion tops can be saved and used to flavor cooking oil as well or thrown into stock. You can also slice up the green tops and use them in your recipe in place of green onions. onion tops, money saving, little sprouts learning
  10. Sweet potato vines: Sweet potato vines are edible. Instead of tossing them all way when you harvest your sweet potatoes, cut the leaves off the stems and cook them as greens. They are tender and delicious!
  11. Garlic scapes: When you trim the scapes off of your hard neck garlic to encourage bulbing under the ground, don’t throw them away, chop them up and use them to flavor soups or sauces or stir fry them and add texture and flavor to your dish.
  12. Pepper cores: When you core your hot or sweet peppers to use in your recipe, save the cores and boil them up to add amazing flavor to your stock.
  13. Watermelon rinds: Watermelon rinds can be pickled and eaten. They are a tasty treat, click here to see how to pickle them.
  14. Potato skins: Potato skins make a great snack, trim them from the potato thickly and bake them in the oven until done, add some toppings like cheese, bacon, chives, or whatever you like and you have a delicious snack or side dish!
  15. Vegetable skins and peels: Another thing you can do with your skins and peels is dehydrate them and grind them up in your blender. You can add them to dishes like soups and casseroles for added nutrition, use them as a thickener for sauces and soups, sprinkle them under pizza sauce to add vitamins and minerals to your pizza, or use them in breads and cakes to add nutritional value to those goods. stop throwing away money on food, little sprouts

There are so many ways to preserve your food to make it last longer. Click here to see how to dehydrate greens and herbs and here to see how to store produce so it will last as long as possible. If you need a tutorial on how to make a nourishing soup stock from your bones and scraps, click here. It’s easier than you think!

If all else fails and you cannot think of one single thing to reuse your scraps for, please don’t send them to the landfill, mix them with leaves or dried grass and compost them for enriching your yard or garden. How you do keep from wasting food at your house?

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15 Ways to Stop Throwing Your Money Away on Food (1)