Look What Mommy Made

A creative, home-made, hand-made blog

A Lesson in Grocery Budgeting

So in December, I decided I was going to write a blog post detailing how I managed to feed 4 people on $150 a month, and then life got in the way and I didn’t get that post written and I didn’t stick to my experiment for January.

However, I decided there are still lessons I can share that will help my friends and others that are interested in this, so we can still get started! The first thing that we all have to do is make a list of what we actually have in our cabinets and pantries. When I went to do this, I realized I had a large inventory, but not everyone will. Here’s my list:


So as you can see, I went through my cabinets and pantry, freezer and fridge. I wrote it all down (as best I could). Please don’t look at this list and freak out if you don’t have as much as I do. When I went broke and we had very little in the house at a time, I got through that and then started stocking up so if I ever ran into not having enough money for food, we would still be able to eat.

Once we have the list written down, we’ll need to make a list of the dinners that we can make out of all of the food we wrote down. We want to try and basically use EVERYTHING we already have. Come up with meals that use it ALL. If you don’t have something that you need for a specific dinner (but you have basically everything else), write down what you need to make it. Our goal is to use it all up without having to buy anything, but if you can’t, you can’t. Just by using up what we have, we’ll be saving a lot of money, you’ll see.

What if you don’t have a lot? That’s okay too. Just write it down, make your dinners, and let’s make a “Meal Plan”. I actually hate that name, but it’s what we’re going to do. I write out the meals for the upcoming month by using a calendar. You can see that below:


To make it easier on myself, I give themes for different days. This really helps when I don’t have any ideas because it gives me a type of food to think about and helps me narrow down a dinner. For example, you’ll see “Mexican” on Mondays and “Easy” (I call it “make it easy on me”) on Thursdays. Tuesdays are for Asian type of recipes, Wednesdays are to try a new recipe, Fridays are crockpot days (which helped a lot when I was going to pick up my stepson for visits, 120 miles away), Saturdays are for leftovers, and Sundays are for pizza-type recipes.

I even created Pinterest boards for each of these types of recipes so I could have a place to put recipes to try out when our typical family recipes get boring. Do whatever works for you!

Now, after creating your monthly menu, you’ll also have your grocery list, which, hopefully, is much less than your normal amount to spend. Remember, though, you’ll have to think about lunches and breakfasts. During this particular time in my life, I didn’t have a lot of snacks because I simply could not afford extra food, so we stuck to peanut butter and graham crackers (K insisted). K is super picky, and unfortunately for our budget, I had to buy Jif. Luckily I could get away with the cheapest grahams.

Another thing I did to save was simply skip a few meals. Don’t judge me. I was broker than I would ever like to be again. I didn’t eat breakfast often. Sometimes I didn’t eat lunch. We ate a lot of ramen for lunch. We had a lot of PB&J (or PB & honey). My kids ate. K ate. So knowing this, you may be able to reach $150 or maybe a little more (or less, depending on your family size).

Part of this whole thing … one of the biggest parts is also knowing how to shop for your family, saving money where you can. But since this article is already so long, I’m going to make the next post about how to shop. I think this should give you some time to go over your stock and figure out your meals, then give you time to make your calendar, coming up with your own theme nights or ways to come up with recipes. 🙂

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. 🙂

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Grocery Budgeting: $150 a month for 4 people

Grocery budgeting is a struggle for everyone, this series will talk about how I did it for 4 people on $150 a monthI recently posted a Facebook post to friends and family, with my intention to be to motivate those people struggling with how to save money. I was inspired after seeing multiple posts from someone in my feed about how bad off they were. She’s always upbeat, but the messages were always about how she can’t get medical attention because she can’t afford it.

My message was this:

“#PSA: If I can feed four people on $150/month.. You’ve got this.
#NoCoupons #NoOutsideHelp #YouDoWhatYouHaveTo”

I have friends that coupon like no one’s business and I’ve seen their posts. PILES of items they managed to get for $0.48. I could never figure out couponing. I tried it, and I tried doubling it with sales, but honestly, I couldn’t wrap my head around how to make it work for my family.

All I knew is that I had an extremely limited budget, I had a husband and stepson to feed and a baby. It might be worth noting we didn’t have my stepson full time, however, during the summer, we had him for a full month, and my budget was no different.

That post got a lot of reactions that I wasn’t really expecting, asking me HOW I did this. And honestly, it’s been a while since I *had* to do it, so when I think about it now, I feel just sort of panicky and downtrodden. But I know I don’t ever want to be there again, so I feel it’s probably pretty fair to share how I did it, so others can benefit.

Please know that this blog is NOT about budgeting. I made this blog years ago when I was a work at home mom with a newborn and I needed an outlet. 🙂 I haven’t written here in quite a while, but it’s the best place I have to share, and I created this blog during the time I was going through this necessary grocery limiting time of life! So it feels like a good place to put this. Stay tuned for a series on how I fed 4 people on $150, where not only will I share how I did it then, but I’ll go through it again for the sake of being honest and seeing how it works now. We’ll get started in January, after the holidays, since it’s already late December.

It won’t be coupons. and IT WON’T BE EASY. A lot of what I learned during those years when I was living this way, was that habits are hard to break and hard to create. But habits are the only thing both preventing you from being able to do this and helping you to keep it up. It’s possible. It just depends on how important it is for you to do at the time.

Stay tuned.


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How to Make DIY Mint Syrup

DIY Mint SyrupIf you saw my post about how to get a free mint plant, than you’ll love this!


What?! Yes! I tell you, it’s awesome.. if you like mint. You can use flavored syrups in a variety of drinks, and some are even good on ice cream or other desserts. This syrup is something I use in my iced tea, and I love it. LOVE.

It’s super simple, if you don’t think you’ll use a lot, don’t make a whole lot.

What You’ll Need:

A jar, bottle, or other clean, recycled container (I used an empty Amaretto bottle)

1/2 cup Sugar

1 cup Water


After you have a decent sized mint plant, and it’s growing wild, you can start “harvesting” it. I waited until mine started to flower. (Side note: any herb or edible plant has it’s best flavor right before flowering. You can discourage flowering by “pinching”, or cutting, off those buds, which will encourage more branching.)

All I did was take my kitchen scissors and go to town. I didn’t want to cut it back too hard, just in case our wonderful summer weather decided to heat up too much, but I had roughly 1 foot stems on the plant and I cut most of those down to roughly 6 inches. I left some stems longer, and just removed the buds, but I was also making a rather large batch!

I know that crushing the leaves and stems releases the flavor, but I just didn’t want to chop all this mint. I took it by the handfuls and just crushed it by twisting and bending it. Your hands will smell delightfully minty. As will your kitchen. If you aren’t like me, and you want to chop it up, go crazy. Chop up everything. Stems and leaves.

Making Mint Syrup

Get a decent sized pot and add your water and your sugar. If you want more, the ratio is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. This should produce a fairly syrupy product. If you want it a little thinner, you can add a little more water.

Turn the heat on medium and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, turn the heat up to med-high and look for a rolling simmer, not really a hard boil. Once you get there, let it simmer/boil for a few minutes, 2-3. (Side note: It’s SUPER IMPORTANT NOT TO BOIL THIS TOO LONG. A few minutes will do. 2-3.) turn off the heat and remove the pot.

NOW.. Throw in your mint! If you were like me and didn’t chop it up, then shove it in. Stir the syrup and make sure the mint is covered or at least wet. Cover your pot with a lid. The minty flavor oils can evaporate, so try to leave the lid in place. I know how nice it smells, but just leave it.

Leave it alone. For a while. The heat from the syrup will “cook” the mint. After oh, 10-15 minutes, go ahead a take a look inside. The mint should resemble cooked greens, like cooked spinach. It will be darker green than it was when we started. If not, stir it around again and leave it alone again.

If everything looks great, it’s time to strain the mint into our bottle. I used a coffee filter in a funnel. It’s what I had on hand! And it worked!

Making Mint DIY Syrup

Just pour everything into the strainer/filter and funnel, slowly! You don’t want to be over zealous in your excitement for that first minty iced tea and spill syrup everywhere (like me. Cough. Cough).

Once it’s all strained, just squeeze the mint, or push on it with the back of a spoon to get out any extra syrup then throw away the mint. It’s all used up.

TA-DA! You have just made minty syrupy goodness!

Mint Iced Tea

Mint Syrup to taste. I just “eyeball it”, but I’m guessing it’s close to a tablespoon per 16 oz. glass. It might be more or less, just depends on how minty you want it and how strong your tea is! 😉

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Sun Tea: How to Make Tea Using the Sun

Making Sun TeaOkay, so some of you think this is the simplest and easiest thing ever, and you’re wondering why I’m writing about it, others of you are thinking.. “What tea?”

Sun Tea. It’s easy. It’s a very frugal way to not heat up the house with a burner from the stove, and save the energy you would use heating that stove, and the A/C it would take to cool it back off.

And it’s just fun for the kids, a lot of the time!

What You’ll Need:

A Jar (I used a clean pickle jar)

Your favorite tea (in bags or if you want to use loose tea, you’ll need a tea ball/infuser)

Fill the jar with water and throw in your tea bags (or the infuser with your loose tea). Now find a sunny spot outside. Leave the jar in the sun for a while, until you like the strength. It will take a while, depending on how warm it is outside. Now, in Oklahoma, it can get pretty hot, so a few hours will do. But if you live in a place where it’s not as warm, you might be looking at 4 hours or more. This is not a speedy thing.

Sun Tea

Once you like the strength, pull the jar inside and finish it with your sugar (because around here, that’s how we drink it). If you don’t like sweet tea (what is WRONG with you?) than you’re all done!

Kids think this is pretty cool, so its a great thing for them to help you with. 🙂

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How to Get Your Own Mint Plant for Free

Mint Plant for Free
If you like to garden so that you can really home-make things yourself, than you’ll enjoy this one.

I like mint flavor. I like the smell. I’m not in love or anything, but I find it pleasant, and even enjoy mint tea on occasion. When I found out that mint plants were easy to grow (and I mean, they-turn-into-a-weed-if-you’re-not-careful, easy) I wanted one.

I’ve actually grown it before, having tried sowing it from seed. This is uber difficult. Apparently, mint seeds have a 50% chance of growing, so out of a seed packet, you’ll get lucky if you get 50% of those seeds to grow. (However, germinating the seeds in a paper towel first, does do some good, that’s another post!).

So anyway, if you’re like me, and you’re broke more often than not, You’ll love finding a way to get this plant without paying for it.

Here are some ways to do it:

  1. Ask around! Mint is SO prolific and easy to grow that if someone has ever made the mistake of putting it directly into their garden, they will be digging it up for years and years. Most people that have a decent sized plant will be more than happy to provide you a plant or two.
  2. Ask for a cutting. If your friends or family don’t really have a lot of mint, but they do have a plant. Mint is SUPER easy to grow from a cutting, and I will explain how to do this in a moment.
  3. Freecycle.org : Go look on Freecycle.org and ask for a plant or two. If you’re frugal, you should know all about this site. It’s like an email list/group of people that all post things they want/need or are looking to get rid of. It’s all for free.
  4. Lastly, you can do what I did, and find some!

Okay, so number 4 is pretty vague. What I did was found out that one of my favorite restaurants had mint growing outside. I have been their enough to have seen them hacking at it with a weedwhacker. That smell is distinct. You can’t mistake mint.

So the last time we went to eat there (which was nearly 6 months or more ago, now) I pinched off a decent stem with my fingers. I had planned to do this before we left, so I had a wet paper napkin from dinner. I put the “cutting” into this paper napkin, making sure the “cut” end was inside the wet napkin.

Once I got home, I picked off the last two leaves (make sure you get one that has 3-4 leaf “sets”, for good measure) and I put the cut end into a cup of water. I also made sure the area I had picked the leaves off was in the water, because this is where the roots will shoot out from first. I put it in my window and made sure to keep the water at the same level.

Growing Mint in a cup

After about 2 weeks, I had roots, and the plant was ready for the outdoors! TA-DA! Mint plant for free.

Growing Mint

Here, you can see the roots starting to grow.

Now all you have to do is get some soil (I used top soil), poke a hole, put the plant in, and cover. Water regularly until you begin seeing new growth (which won’t be long). Once it gets in there, it will start going crazy! It likes sun, so put it somewhere sunny!

Growing Mint

I put mine into cinder blocks, as part of a raised bed. This will keep it from spreading anywhere I don’t want it!

Good luck on your search!


How to make DIY Applesauce

Making-ApplesauceDo you have some Ugly Apples? You know what I mean, maybe they sat on your counter or in your fridge, neglected and forgotten. Maybe they were home grown, so they aren’t all perfect and pretty.

I hate the thought of throwing out good food. (Think of those kids that don’t ever get to eat, besides the money that you’re wasting!) Well, here’s a solution for those apples that people might have otherwise thrown out. Are you ready?

Make Homemade Applesauce

..In your crockpot, no less!

I peeled..

Making Applesauce

..cut, and cored these apples into regular size pieces.

Making Applesauce

Then I added them to the crock pot with the water, sugar, and cinnamon.

Making Applesauce

I covered with the lid and turned it on to cook all day (8 hours on my machine). I was going to be home so it didn’t matter how long it took, to me.

Essentially, all you’re trying to do is get the apples mushy. Once they get there, all you need is a masher (or a fork if you only have a few apples) and mash them all up. I liked the long time, low temp method, mashing when I thought they were soft enough, then I cooked it longer. It made the house smell AWESOME. I just kept mashing until I got it to a smoothness I liked.

Voila! You’ve just made applesauce! Once you’ve made it the first time, you can always take away some of the sugar, or add more cinnamon, or take out the cinnamon, you know? Play with it a little. You won’t be disappointed!

Plus, it’s a healthier alternative to the “high fructose corn syrup” they put into regular applesauce. ENJOY!


7 apples (whatever kind you want. Mine were Fuji.)

1 1/4 cups water

1/4 cups sugar (add a few tablespoons of brown sugar for a darker, different flavor)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon


Survival: Everything You Should Know, Just in Case!

survivalSo, I am not a “Prepper”, necessarily. My family does not own a tract of land in the middle of nowhere with a bunker stocked with an endless supply of food or ammo and guns. However, part of my blog is to get back to the basics, which is what survival essentially teaches you, too. I like to know a lot of these things simply because I want to know how to do it for myself, just in case I ever need to, or heck, want to! Sometimes, it’s just cheaper!

Here’s a short list of various things I have pinned, and learned!

So, if you want to learn all the things I am learning, you should follow my Survival board on Pinterest! I think of things I might need to know in case of something like Hurricane Katrina happens, and trade goods are how you get items you need. What if there are no emergency services? What if you had to deliver a baby yourself? I now know how. Just in case.

So follow my Survival board and learn things with me! Or heck, if you have skills or ideas for skills that could be helpful, leave me some comments! I’d love to hear them!

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12 DIY Drinks for New Years

12 DIY drinksYeah, I said it. DIY Drinks. I’m cheap. lol. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the bar and having some fun, but when you’re a mom and dad and you don’t have 50$ to drop at said bar, you don’t have as much fun. So enters the “get together”.  You find someone to watch the baby and you get people to come over. I love entertaining so this is fun for me. 🙂

Since New Years is coming up, I thought this would be a great post.

12 DIY Drinks for New Year’s Eve (in no particular order)

  1. White Russian – A classic cocktail made with coffee liqueur (Kahlua), vodka and either cream or milk. I generally make it in a “lowball” or 8 oz glass filled with ice, and poured with 1 oz vodka and 1 oz coffee liqueur, topped with milk. Of course, you can play with the amounts til you like it.
  2. Wine Spritzer – wine (any wine, cheap, expensive, whatever) and sprite, or club soda or 7 up, if you prefer.
  3. Mind Eraser – Lowball glass filled with ice. 1 1/4 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua), 3/4 oz vodka, splash of club soda.
  4. Rum and Coke – Lowball glass, filled with ice, 1 oz rum, top with coke.

    DIY Drinks and cocktails

    pictured White Russian and Rum and Coke

  5. Jello Shots – Boil one cup of water and dissolve one box of jello (whatever flavor) in it. Then add one cup of ice cold vodka. Pour in small flexible cups (for easier release) and chill. Try “Jolly Rancher”; watermelon jello and green appleschnapps. Or try “Peach Pie”; rum and peach jello.
  6. “Hot Apple Pie” shot – 3/4 oz green apple schnapps with 1/4 oz cinnamon schnapps floated on top. Best shot ever.
  7. Jager and Red Bull – fill a glass with ice and pour 1 oz Jagermeister and topped with Red Bull.
  8. Beachcomber -1 1/4 oz Vodka, 1/4 oz Coconut Rum, 1/2 oz pineapple juice, 1/4 oz orange juice, serve in a martini glass.. or whatever.
  9. Death by Chocolate -1 oz vodka, 1 oz Creme De Coco, 1 1/2 oz cream, 3 scoops chocolate ice cream, blend with ice and pour in a glass.
  10. Screwdriver – 1 oz vodka, top with orange juice. Another one that you can play with until you like it.
  11. Black Russian – Nearly the same as a White Russian, only you leave out the cream or milk. 1 3/4 oz vodka, 3/4 oz Kahlua. Stir.
  12. Mimosa – 3 parts champagne to 1 part orange juice. (Like 3/4 cup champagne to 1/4 cup orange juice.)

For those of you that aren’t sure, 1 oz is equal to one shot glass. I tried to keep this list down to a simple list of alcohol, because if you’re like us, you may not have the ability to actually go out and buy everything you need for all the “coolest” drinks.

I hope you all have responsible fun!

Happy New Years! 🙂

-Roxanne, LWMM

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3 DIY Gifts for Christmas

DIY Gifts for Christmas

Well, I’ve been away for a while, what, with the holidays and family and craziness. So I thought to make up for the lost time, I would share 3 projects in one post! 🙂

Make Your Own Personalized Mug1.) DIY Personalized Mugs – Porcelain paint pens (or sharpies), mugs, and oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Leave alone over night.

Make your own skull shirt2.) DIY Skull T-shirt – Two old shirts, one stenciled and cut out, then sewn together.

DIY Coffee Creamer Sample Gift

3.) DIY Coffee Creamer Sample Gift – Small glass bottles, a little of your favorite coffee creamer, then freeze. Do this with 3-6 creamers and leave in freezer until you are ready to give away.

Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think, or if you have any ideas that use these projects! I’d love to hear about them, or maybe even feature them! 🙂

-Roxanne, LWMM

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DIY Personalized Mugs

Here’s a fun one. My mother has drank coffee since I can remember. In fact, I remember making her coffee when I was young, and carefully trying to walk with the cup back to her bedroom without spilling it, to wake her up in the morning. My brother and I both did this all the time. So now, I’m older, and I, too, appreciate coffee. So when my mother asked for coffee mugs this year for Christmas, you know that I had to make something, and it had to work with my non-existent budget. 😉

So here we go!

What You’ll Need:

  • Mugs from a thrift store, white or light colored
  • Sharpies or Porcelain Pen
  • Oven

So this is super simple. Get some mugs from a thrift store. Our local Salvation Army has plenty of houseware items like this, and I scored a set of four matching mugs for less than 2$. My husband and I have somehow managed to accumulate what seems to be hundreds of Sharpie markers, so I had no problem there. (BUT I did end up buying paint pens, and I’ll explain why later).

Clean your mugs and remove any stickers from the store. I ran mine through the dishwasher and sanitize cycle. Find some quirky sayings, or your favorite quotes, or anything you want to write or draw on your mugs. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, go ahead and draw or write on your mugs.

Once your oven is heated up, use a shallow pan or cookie sheet to place your mugs on. Then pop them in the oven and wait. I heated mine up for 30 minutes. The first time. I say the first time because after I pulled out the first mug and let it cool for an hour or two, the sharpie scratched right off when I used my fingernail. This freaked me out a little, so I bought those paint pens. HOWEVER, after I did the other 3 mugs with the paint pens, and I was ready to clean the first mug off and try again, the sharpie wouldn’t come off! I scrubbed it, and ran it through the dishwasher and it wasn’t coming off. EVENTUALLY, using LOTS of elbow grease and a “scratchless” scrubby sponge, all of the sharpie came off and I redid the mug with the paint pens to match the others. (But it was apparent to me, that the sharpie method was just fine!)

On the other three mugs, I did use 350 degrees for one hour and I recommend leaving your mugs overnight before throwing them into the dishwasher. They ARE dishwasher safe! (Especially if you use the paint pens)

Have fun! These are really fun, and if you have older kids, they can make some, too, for the perfect permanent artwork. 🙂

-Roxanne, LWMM