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Monday Q&A | Frugality for 8, Husbands and Ice Cream, and Recipe Organization

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

I have three small children (ages 5, 4 and 2) and am expecting triplets sometime in the next 6 weeks or so.

We are finding ourselves using more and more convenience items at this time, specifically paper plates (we don’t have a dishwasher and I can’t easily reach past my belly to the sink to wash dishes– so sad!) I foresee paper plate usage continuing into the future after the babies are born. I justify this by reasoning that it is more important for us to eat actual meals as a family at this point and we recycle lots. I know that you have said “you don’t have to make yogurt” (and I’ve been buying it of late!), but can you also delve into what (if any) conveniences you see as “worth it”?

Finally, as a soon-to-be mom of 6 (yikes!), I must ask you if there are any frugality pointers that are especially germane as one’s family gets larger.


Whoa! Hats off to you, girl! You will really have a houseful of small people.

I think that you’re on the right track in thinking about this, because I’d have said that probably the most effective money-saving thing you can do right now is to eat at home. Almost anything you can do to make that happen is going to be less expensive than eating out (eat simpler meals, buy more convenience foods than you usually do, etc.)

It’s hard for me to say specifically what you should do/not to, but I’d suggest that you look at what other frugal things you do that get you the most bang for your buck…things that require a small-ish time investment for a big savings. For instance, planning a menu will help prevent eating out, and that will save you a ton. On the other hand, line-drying laundry does save money, but not a ton, so feel no guilt over throwing your clothes in the dryer!

Let the little stuff go at this stage of your life.

As far as large family tips go, I feel really unqualified to speak to that since I have four kids and none are multiples!

But since you asked here are a few thoughts.

  • Keep the focus on relationships, not things.
  • Buy quality when you’re purchasing something all six kids will use.
  • Remember that children can be quite happy without all the must-haves our society expects us to give them.
  • Let it be known in your community that you love hand-me-downs!
  • Don’t feel like you’ve got to have your kids in lots of extra-curricular activities. Family time and free time are really important for kids, not to mention your sanity and financial well-being.

I’ve been wondering…does Mr. FG ever buy groceries when you aren’t getting what he wants? For example, if I decide I want to cut back on the expenses, and skip buying ice cream for a while, or special breads, or whatever, my DH just goes to the store and brings it home.

I never notice those kinds of expenses in your grocery budget, Kristen. Does your husband never bring home “goodies” that he wishes you had, or do you always provide all the goodies, ice cream, etc. he wants? Or maybe it is from a different part of your budget and doesn’t really count towards groceries or your $100 goal?


Fortunately for me, Mr. FG is quite good about this. He doesn’t tend to go to the grocery store unless I ask him to, and when he does go, he sticks to the list almost all of the time.

He does sometimes do things like stopping for coffee, or getting takeout with friends at work, but since those expenses aren’t sending us into financial ruin, I don’t really worry about them. And I do try to compromise some with him by buying a few non-frugal items that he really prefers to have (like not-from-concentrate orange juice with breakfast).

I don’t know your situation, of course, but from what you wrote, it sounds like maybe the cutting back on expenses thing is mostly your idea and not his, and I’d hazard a guess that he might feel like you’re forcing this on him. So, maybe he’s feeling deprived and/or stubborn.

If that’s the case (and I’m totally willing to accept that I’ve read this wrong!), then I’d sit down and have a talk with him about financial goals and see if you can come to a meeting of the minds over what the grocery budget should be (maybe he can give up some goodies and you can agree to buying them at least some of the time). If you’re both in agreement, that’ll go a long way!

There is a dirty pile of papers on my kitchen counter. Yes, I will admit it’s mostly because that messy stack is comprised of all the recipe printouts, notes and sheets that I have been collecting for years. It is time for me to organize my recipes but filing them seems so last decade. Do you have a way to organize your recipes? Do you use a software, stash them in files, or re-write them in a notebook? If you use a software, do you have any recommendations?


Well, my non-cookbook recipes are in two different places. I have some on notecards in a little recipe box, and then the rest are in a standard ring-binder, which has sections for things like Chicken, Beef, Pasta, Bread, and so on.

A lot of the recipes I try are printable on the internet, so I just print them out onto standard paper and file them in the binder. If I come across one that’s not printable, I just type it up in Word, print it out, and add it to the binder.

If you don’t want to go to the work of typing up a bunch of recipes, another option would be to buy some 8.5×11 inch clear plastic envelopes made for binders. You could get one for each section of your notebook, and that would be the place for the newspaper-clipping type of recipes.


Readers, do you have any helpful advice to add to mine? I know there are some of you out there with much larger families than my own, and probably some of you have multiples too.


Today’s 365 post: Sunday Night Dinner

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Kelly C

Wednesday 22nd of February 2012

I have been using to store my recipes. Many sites you can pin the recipe with a bookmarklet right into the site without copying and pasting and others like from many blogs you can copy and paste. It is a free site and has a calendar to do the meal plan on. I've been slowly adding my older recipes here also so its easier to do the meal plan. It also allows you to do a grocery list of the ingredients needed. You just mark off all the ones you have in stock already.


Wednesday 15th of February 2012

After almost 20 years of collecting and printing recipes, I've got a quite unmanageable folder as well, and need to someday organize those better. But for the past 2-3 years, I've been getting a lot of recipes online and I just bookmark the recipe (or save as a favorite, same idea) in a recipes folder. Then I subdivide that into the ones we've already tried and liked so I can find it again. I'm not a high-tech person at all, don't have an ipad or iphone or anything, but I do love bringing my laptop into the kitchen to look up a recipe now. It's much more organized.

I'll always have my favorites written out on paper and recipe cards, some are from my mom and even my grandma, but the new method is working great for everything that comes in from now on.


Tuesday 14th of February 2012

I am loving all of these ideas for Kristin...I'm about to have #4 and these suggestions are all wonderful...I cannot imagine having SIX!

I especially appreciate the notion that you don't have to have the kids in a lot of outside's hard enough with 3...we only do one extra-curricular thing for each right now and then have my two older kids in an enrichment class for home schoolers once a week (which is a nice break for me) and believe me, that is enough. I have friends who have their kids in two or three different activities/sports and they're always asking, "Do you have the kids signed up for this or that?" like it's an expectation. I don't think people consider that with a large family, those activities can be very expensive, and it's just too much for them.

Congratulations in advance to you on expecting triplets, Kristin, and good luck! I think all of these helpful ideas are going to be a big help!


Tuesday 14th of February 2012

I whole heartedly agree with you that eating at home is frugal, and much more intimate and "connecting" than anything else. A sandwich at home usually is not only healthier, but tastes better most restaurant food eaten "just to eat". That's what I'm all about.

And a great shout out to Kristin and her upcoming "big" event! Wow! May God give you strength, grace, patience, and lots of friends!


Tuesday 14th of February 2012

Kristin, mom-of-6

I have three recommendations for you:

Item one- Buy compost-able plates and keep them in a bin in your back yard. This way you don't have anything to feel guilty about!

Item two-Check out once a month cooking. You can make a large large percentage of your food in advance and just pop it out of the freezer the day before you need it.

Item three- consider finding a mothers helper, at least in the beginning. I spent 4 years working with a family of 4. The mother just gave birth to her daughter and the family just went through a divorce. The children were 0-2-4-6 when I came into their lives and I stayed with them for years. I was the one who oversaw the children, helped clean up, and had the extra energy to play kick ball in the back yard while their mom got a shower or checked her email or had a moments peace.

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