You know how it goes: You worked hard all day, and your partner did, too. But you dread going home.
It’s not that you don’t miss your family; rather, this feeling is due to your lack of dinner planning.
You now have two choices: eat out and blow your food budget, or destroy the kitchen by cooking something at home (while you’re exhausted).
This used to be me. I was tired and spending way too much money on food: about $1,000 a month for a family of three back in 2010.
And it’s not like we could afford it. We were deep in debt and running a deficit in our budget every month.
That’s when I made some serious changes and started using dump recipes to save my budget and my sanity! They allowed me to decrease our food costs from $1,000 a month to $200!
Six years later, our family has grown to six, but we still rely on dump recipes to keep our food budget as low as possible.
First things first: Dump recipes are recipes where you simply throw all the ingredients together in a baking pan or slow cooker, then cook them all together.
No pre-cooking. No using multiple pots and pans. Super easy. My favorites are slow cooker recipes.
When I first tried to slash my grocery bill, I got crazy about saving money on food. I’d shop sales and double up the savings with coupons, but I'd still have to base my cooking plans on what I bought.
Then, I started preparing dump recipes, which can be as easy as tossing three chicken breasts (that I bought on sale) and a half bottle of barbeque sauce (that I also got on sale and purchased using a coupon) in the slow cooker.
Often, dump dinners only cost us $3 or $4 total and provide my husband and me two days worth of leftovers for lunch. They made a HUGE impact on our monthly spending.
For someone like me, who doesn’t really like to cook (and I used to really be bad at it, too), it’s amazing. You don’t even need to know how to cook.
My savings from dump recipes are threefold:
Don’t lie… How much food do you end up throwing in the garbage every month? Remember that asparagus you bought because you were planning on serving it with chicken piccata? You didn’t exactly get to it, so it went in the trash.
Food wasted is money wasted. And you’re not alone: The average American family of four wastes up to $2,275 a year on food!
Dump recipes significantly reduce this. Why? Because I am ACTUALLY able to follow my meal plan each week. If I plan out seven meals to make for the week and grocery shop accordingly, I’ll follow through and make all seven slow cooker recipes.
I’ll use exactly what I buy -- every single piece of meat and every vegetable. They go in the slow cooker before work, and I don’t have to worry about the end-of-the-day craziness of getting food on the table.
My previous food budget of $1,000 a month included about $300 of eating out and ordering takeout. That’s not too far from the $250 per month the average American family spends on food prepared outside the home.
Since I’m actually making all the meals I shop for, I rarely make unplanned trips to restaurants or takeout orders. The feeling of panic I described earlier? It simply doesn’t happen to me anymore.
I’ve got nothing against restaurants, but I’d rather spend my money at them when I want to — not because I’m exhausted and in a panic to feed my family.
With dump recipes, it’s super easy to make big batches of food. I usually make more than my family needs. When my husband goes to work, he always has some amazing leftovers with him. So he NEVER has to go out to eat for lunch.
Before I cooked this way, he would go out for lunch about three times a week. At $8 to $10 a pop, that’s over $100 a month.
Between shopping sales, hardly wasting any food, not going out to eat and having leftovers for lunches, I reduced my monthly food budget by $800.
If you want to do it too, I’ve got an awesome recipe to share with you right here! Trust me: This one is super easy and super good! It will take you about five to 10 minutes to put together; then, just let it cook all day on low.
[caption id="attachment_45839" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Photo credit: Lauren Greutman[/caption]
1. Place chicken thighs in the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Add all other ingredients on top.
3. Cook on high for four hours (or medium for six, low for eight)
4. Break apart chicken and serve however you'd like (in tortillas, over rice, with tortilla chips).
5. OPTIONAL: Dump all ingredients in a gallon zip-close bag and freeze for later.
Your Turn: How have you slashed time and money from preparing meals for your family?
Lauren Greutman is the author of laurengreutman.com and the best-selling book, “The Recovering Spender,” and a national media personality. Lauren helps busy moms create financial freedom for their families by sharing simple, easy ways to take back control of their money.
Before you throw out the “useless” stuff kicking around your home, you might want to check this list!
I did some research for you and found some surprising things that you can sell on eBay. I took pictures of already sold listings, so you can see what kind of money people are getting for their items. I came up with some fun things!
What?! Yes, that’s right, empty boxes will sell on eBay, depending on what the boxes are for.
Usually higher-end product boxes sell well.
A specific example could be empty American Girl Doll Boxes. Don’t believe me? Here is a specific listing where the box sold for $30.00!
These boxes sell for good money because the dolls are frequently archived, and people who purchase used dolls for their children (due to the expense) like to give their children the “new doll” experience by putting it in a genuine American Girl Doll box.
If you choose to buy a brand-new doll (approximately $125 dollars) you can earn back some of the money you spent.
Also try looking up shoe boxes, iPhone boxes, etc.
Old phone chargers (even your ANCIENT ones), power cords to video game systems, computers, USB cords and camera cords will often sell.
They may not sell for a ton of money, but every little bit counts. If you were planning to throw them out anyway, why not earn a few bucks?
Because these items are small, they are often easy to ship. Here is an example of a Playstation 3 Charging cord that sold for $4.00 (and some change). That’s four bucks you might have just thrown out!
Nowadays, you can find most instruction manuals online.
However, vintage manuals or even just older manuals may not be online. These can often be sold for some money.
If you no longer even have that item the manual corresponds to, why not make some money off it?
If you have an older computer, printer or copier, it is possible that the drivers you need to install haven’t been put on the web.
Sell these old discs on eBay for some cash. If your printer dies, before tossing out the instructions/CD ROMs, check whether they have any value on eBay.
Do you have a Keurig at home? Or maybe your Keurig died and you’re choosing not to replace it?
Sometimes we may fall into the trap of buying in bulk when it comes to certain items. Often this is the best way to get a good deal with K-Cups.
Unfortunately if your machine dies or you simply don’t like the flavored coffee, you’re stuck with all these K-Cups you can’t use. Sell these partial boxes on eBay. You may not be able to completely recoup what you spent, but anything is better than nothing.
Be sure to display the expiration dates and explain that the boxes are not complete. Be prepared to answer questions as to why the boxes are opened.
Continuing the trend of items that don’t necessarily sell for much… people sell huge baggies of the My Coke Rewards caps and codes. If your family members are big soda drinkers, but you don’t want to use the codes, why not sell them on eBay?
This is another instance where you could potentially offer free shipping. Skip it altogether and manually type the codes into a message to the buyer.
Surprisingly enough, you can frequently find bundles of boxtops on eBay. Some schools offer competitions and prizes to classes that collect the most, so parents are looking for cheap ways to get these codes.
It’s wonderful if you choose to donate these codes to one of your local schools, but if you find yourself just throwing them out, stop. Maybe you’d be more tempted to clip them if you could earn some cash for it.
Have you ever gotten a gift card to a restaurant or store you don’t particularly like? Maybe a relative gave you a gift card to some place that isn’t local. What do you do?
You could re-gift the card to someone else. Or you can sell it on eBay.
This also works with PARTIAL gift cards. If you only have a few dollars left, for example, people will still purchase them. They often do not sell for the full value, but this is a way to keep those cards from sitting around and gathering dust.
People purchase used gift cards for many reasons. Perhaps they can like saving a few bucks on the value of the card. Maybe they want to give that card to someone, but don’t have a way to get a card from that store. They may live in another country.
You can offer free shipping on this if you want to email the buyer the code and PIN. Keep in mind you need to be exact in terms of how much is on the card. Sometimes the buyer might also want the physical card.
When your television breaks and you replace it, the remote may still work. Rather than tossing it out with the TV, see if they have any value on eBay.
For every TV that dies, there may be someone out there who broke their remote. Check out these TV remotes for sale.
It helps if you know the specific model TV the remote goes to. Be sure to specify the condition and whether or not you include batteries.
You can sell broken cellphones, laptops, video game systems, blenders and other items on eBay for quite a bit of money.
All you need to do is be clear the item is NOT working and is intended for parts only. If you are particularly skilled, you can even dismantle items, such as vacuums, and sell the parts individually.
When selling devices for parts, consider your safety, identity and personal information. If you sell an item for parts, you are taking the risk that someone can fix that item. If you used the device for banking, purchasing items online or anything like that, you may not want to sell the item in its entirety.
Thrift stores often throw out crafting supplies. However, you can find people looking online for vintage patterns, modern patterns, knitting needles, thread, buttons and much more.
Yarn and material can be particularly popular because they are fairly unique and can be difficult to match if you can’t find the exact lot number. Before you toss out that lace and other sewing supplies, take a peek at the listing on eBay.
Chances are when an item is discontinued, someone out there is still using it or looking for the parts.
Be sure to try eBay before you toss the item in your yard sale. For example, Coconut M&M’s are selling for CRAZY prices on eBay right now!
This is also a great way to unload old toys. Sometimes people don’t start collecting a certain toy line or their kids aren’t interested until after the item is discontinued.
In some cases, even items with damaged or missing pieces can still be sold on eBay. Just make sure you’re honest.
Seriously, 10 large pine cones can get you $6. The best thing about this is if you live in the country, near woods or have pine trees on your property, they’re free! Pine cones are fairly lightweight, which makes them cheap to ship.
Think about other things you may have around your property or area such as real fall leaves which have been pressed/dried. Anyone can do that!
Did you realize you can sell your used clothes on eBay?
Keep in mind that this might not earn you big bucks, but it can often earn you more than you would make at a yard sale. Obviously, better name brands sell for more money.
However, common items in great condition sell very well. For example, standard black dress pants may have a good market because many people need them but don’t want to or can’t afford the prices in the store. Children’s clothing tends to sell exceptionally well on eBay.
You probably think I’m joking. I’m totally serious.
Empty toilet paper rolls will sell on eBay because they make great craft supplies for kids. They may not sell for a ton of money… but what else were you planning to do with them?
Whether someone has a favorite product or is looking to try something new, perfume and makeup samples can do well on eBay.
Just be clear with the name and age of the product. How often do you get free samples that you have no intention of using, so you just toss them out?
Seriously. Items with the words “junk drawer” are plentiful on eBay.
Remember the saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”? Before you dump that junk drawer in the garbage, see if anyone will snag it online.
This can also work for items you may not recognize. Simply include the word “junk” or “miscellaneous” in the listing title.
Yes, that’s right. Dentures can (and do) sell on eBay.
So if you come across some dentures, maybe you should consider listing them. If you don’t have the dentures themselves, denture supplies like cases and cleaners will also sell.
These are huge hits with crafters, people planning weddings and much more. Often, empty perfume bottles can sell for good cash.
What a great idea for something you’d otherwise just toss! Think about other containers you might be able to sell, too.
Panties, as well as other vintage clothing items, can be hot sellers on eBay. You might be surprised how frequently these items are bought and sold.
Before you take all of those old clothes to the thrift store, be sure to check eBay.
Current or vintage magazines can sell incredibly well depending on the publication, condition, featured articles and other factors. Even “normal” or “boring” magazines will sell to crafters or collectors.
Be sure to list any specifics in terms of the name, date, volume/issue number and condition. This information will help someone seeking one specific issue. Also, some CATALOGS will sell -- check out these American Girl Doll catalogs.
Say what? Yes, empty egg cartons will sell on eBay.
Why exactly? They can be used for a variety of things such as crafts or for people who sell eggs.
Because they are lightweight and can easily stack inside one another, they’re fairly easy to ship.
Before you toss out all those old computer games and other CD ROMs from your old devices, take a peek at eBay. It can be very hard to find some of these old CD ROMs and programs. You don’t want to risk losing out on some easy cash!
As an added bonus, even if you no longer have the disc, empty CD and DVD cases can also be sold on eBay.
Are you tired of spending lots of money trying to complete your perfect kitchen theme? Chances are other people feel the same way.
Before you give away all those pig-(or rooster-, or cow-, or horse-, or well, you get the idea) themed items, take a peek on eBay and see what they’re going for.
Consider selling a “lot” of themed items rather than individual ones. You’d be surprised what’s selling.
If you’re anything like me, coffee mugs seem to just pile up. Go on a trip, get a mug. Friends give you mugs because you drink coffee. Someone sees a coffee mug with your name on it.
You get the idea. Old coffee mugs can be sold on eBay because somewhere someone might be looking for the one you have. People often like to replace their favorite items if they break or wear out. Your mug doesn’t necessarily need to be a collectible.
These are just some of the more unique items you can sell on eBay. Before you get rid of all those dust collectors, make sure you aren’t losing out one some extra cash.
Keep in mind that some of the items on this list may or may not be approved to be sold on eBay. Make sure to double-check the rules on eBay before you list.
Your Turn: Which of these surprised you the most? The dentures one caught me pretty off guard!
This post was originally published at I Am That Lady, where Lauren Greutman writes about getting out of $40,000 in debt by learning how to meal plan. She now teaches others how to meal plan and enjoy life on a budget.
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!