Fab Ideas For A Fun Family Evening

The stresses and strains of parenting on a day-to-day basis is a rewarding chore – but a chore nonetheless. The beautiful creature you created is a gift to you as a well as an annoying pain in the backside! Whether it’s their behavior or their well-being, you can never switch off. After a long, hard stint of watching over them – whether they’re six or sixteen! – being freed from the struggle of guardianship sometimes feels like a huge weight removed.

But it doesn’t always have to be that way, you know! You may have forgotten amidst all of the chaos, but good old fun can be had with the whole family, and it’s always nice to cherish times together that can be almost exclusively joyful and anxiety-free! Here are a few suggestions that can boost your evenings together.

Movie Night

A movie night is a common pastime among families and friends. But that doesn’t stop it being a fantastic evening and a great idea for everyone. You could make a plan one night to surprise the kids and take them to the movie theatre. Nowadays a lot of streaming services make movie nights a lot easier. As long as you have a TV and an internet connection you’re pretty much good to go. Careful, though, you may want to test the speed of the connection – you don’t want it to get to the crux of the story and start buffering! It happens!

Games!

From silly activities like charades to video games. Getting a laugh and a smile on faces is a feeling like no other and stimulating the brain while enjoying yourself is one of the best ways!  

Cooking

Cooking is a beautiful hobby to take part in – especially one with the whole family. We all like food don’t we? Getting to enjoy a meal while learning how to make it is rewarding not only for the stomach but for the brain too!  

Arts And Crafts

Similar to cooking, it’s fun and simple to do. You can open someone’s creative side, and with kids at a young age taking things in like sponges, it can be super beneficial for them as they may grow up with an artistic side or a problem-solving side!

Build A Fort!

You have to be a real grumpy goose to not get on board with the idea of a fort in the living room! Similarly to before, it’s creative as well as a good laugh. Just make sure you plan for it all and are ready to clean up and get everything back in order!

Puzzles

Puzzles are another great way to get the whole family involved. If they’re super young, the kids can have a whale of a time working out what goes where in a small, cheap jigsaw. But they can also help out with big family projects that take a lot more time. Some take weeks and months so the whole family can spend some evenings getting these little projects completed – having fun and developing the brain in the process!  

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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How to Bake on a Budget

If you’re baking on a budget, you need to be creative to ensure that you prepare quality products without straining your finances. However, this does not mean that you survive on minute rice and pasta every night! A little planning will turn your kitchen into a den of creative recipes that no one will believe that you conceived and implemented them on a budget.

The season is ripe for hot chocolate, frosted window panes, and roasting of chestnuts on an open fire. Do not be left behind just because you are on a tight budget!

You may want to invite your friends over for a glass of wine and gingerbread cookie. Everyone has that special urge to make your house smell of chocolate while treating your family for a decorating and cake-eating festivity. These feelings are absolutely normal and you shouldn’t resist!

We will give you several tips that will ensure that you achieve your baking desires.

 

Apply Smart Spending

When you are working with limited finances, you may have to think through the necessity of everything you purchase.  With a little preparation you can save money which comes in handy especially around holidays like the 4th of July or Christmas, where food and gift-exchanges like secret Santa are common additional expenses.  

We advise that you buy a few must-have baking ingredients (ensure that you do not overbuy; if you need 200 grams of a specific ingredient, ensure that you don’t buy a whole kilogram of the same). Some of the crucial baking ingredients that you may want to consider include vanilla extract, whole nutmeg, molasses, and cocoa powder.

For more savings, consider buying your baking supplies in bulk around November. These things often go on sale then!

 

Make Proper Use of all The Ingredients Already in Your Kitchen

Before you go out shopping, it’s necessary that you embark on a stock-taking activity to avoid double buying. Only buy those ingredients that you do not have. If you have some stocks, it’s paramount that you check the quantities and top-up in case they are insufficient.

You should optimally utilize all the ingredients. For example, you can brown your butter, and toast your nuts and spices to level them up. If you have anything that’s perishable or fragile, you should ensure that you store it inside your freezer for later use.

 

Use Your Leftovers to Bake

There is the point when your creativity will count! You can use your leftovers to prepare an incredibly delicious cake for your family. For example, you can use leftover eggs to create a tasty meringue. Need more ideas? Well, get this; you can use wine leftovers for making poached pears, and beer leftovers for making bread!

 

Be Creative and Crafty!

You can DIY some of the expensive baking ingredients which will help you to cut the cost of baking significantly. For example, you can make your coconut milk or almond meal at home!

 

Use Cocoa Powder

Using cocoa powder instead of chocolate is cheaper yet it makes equally delicious cookies! Use the trick to cut your baking cost by a significant percentage.

 

Make a Big Batch of Cookie Dough

You can prepare a large batch of  dough and then preserve it in the freezer. This will reduce waste and ensure that every time you need a cookie, you’ll get the best quality fast.

 

Bake a Loaf of Bread

If you need to satisfy your urge to bake but you do not have enough money, you can always bake a loaf of bread! You will just need to invest in a few packets of yeast and you’ll have your bread in a few hours.

 

Freeze Excess Fruits and Vegetables

When you realize that you have extra fruits and vegetables, never be in a hurry to discard them. Instead, you can freeze them and use them later.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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20 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Trying to spend less this year? Cooking dinner for your family doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your wallet. Here are 20 tips on cutting costs while buying groceries:

 

  1. Avoid inner isles

Go straight to the shelves of essentials groceries. Stores place basics on opposite ends to trick you into buying more products.

 

  1. Use coupons

Coupons will save you money on groceries. Combine products that are on sale with coupons to save more.

 

  1. Forget toiletries

Toiletries are expensive at the supermarket. Instead, buy them at a cheaper price at the pharmacy.

 

  1. Avoid fad brands

Generic brands are cheaper than name-brand products, but they still are made up of the same ingredients. Don’t be fooled!

 

  1. Check out all the shelves

You first see products in your eye level. Stores often place pricier items on these shelves. Look for cheaper groceries on the shelves below or above your eye-level.

 

  1. Consider rain checks

Basic items sell out fast when placed on sale. Ask for rain check items; these products’ sale has been extended.

 

  1. Buy dried beans

Cooking dried beans is cheaper than buying canned beans. They have a superior taste, too. Beans make for a cheap and easy meal.

 

  1. Eat before shopping

Don’t shop on an empty belly. You will buy more groceries than you actually should.

 

  1. Avoid pre-cooked meals

Pre-cooked foods can be twice as expensive as the ingredients and are often not as tasty.

 

  1. Buy produce that is in season

Buy fresh produce that is in season. Out of season products aren’t as fresh and cost more.

 

  1. Check out international markets

Most exotic spices at your local store are expensive as they have been shipped from afar. Buy cheaper imported spices at an international market in your city so that you can create meals inspired by some of the most amazing places in the world!

 

  1. Rethink when buying bottled water

The bottled water industry is worth a billion dollars, with a 16oz bottle going for a dollar. The recommended four bottles will cost you $120 every month. Why not treat water at home?

 

  1. Go with a shopping list

A shopping list helps you stick to your budget for things you need while avoiding groceries you don’t need.

 

  1. Say no to children!

Your kids will only help you increase your expenditure with stuff you don’t need. Learn to say no to their requests for junk food and toys.

 

  1. Pre-washed groceries cost more

You will pay a price for the ready-to-cook groceries at the store. Purchase groceries that have not been pre-washed instead.

 

  1. Pre-packed fruit is expensive

The store hired someone to cut and pack their fruit, and you will pay for it too. Do not buy fruit that has already been packaged for you.

 

  1. Pick fresh herbs from your kitchen garden

If you aren’t gardening, you may be paying a small fortune for herbs at the grocery store. Consider using the space available to you on your kitchen or porch for a small herb garden.

 

  1. You’re paying for the convenience of grated cheese

Grate your cheese at home with a box grater. It is easy and will save you loads of dollars.

 

  1. Prepare your spice mix

Make your spice mix at home with easy to find seasonings and spices. This way, you aren’t paying extra for someone to mix and package it.

 

  1. Compare similar products

Products such as potatoes can be cheaper when bagged as opposed to loose ones. Check product prices and make big savings.

 

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9 Tech Gifts to Avoid

Sometimes, gift-giving can cause you as much anxiety as good cheer. For the most part, the anxiety manifests when it’s time to give out all of the gifts — after all, everyone likes to receive something, and most people like to give. But how do you know if you should give what you can afford, and if it will be good enough to convey good wishes?

When it comes to tech, for example, can you afford to get multiple people a game console? Are digital photo frames still en vogue? Although it’s the thought that counts, we think it’s still better to avoid certain gifts that might have been marketed elsewhere as good. Without further ado, here are almost two handfuls of tech gifts that you should pan.

1. Computers with Just the Basics

We felt the need to put this one first, because of the sheer popularity of computer deals that crop up once the holidays roll around. Obviously, you know just how essential a computer is in the modern environment, so this prohibition might at first seem curious to you. The problem is not with the computers, themselves, it’s the starting level that’s advertised as a steal. Computers with basic specs are all but useless for anyone who wants more than a word processor; 4GB of RAM limits the number of tabs you can have opened and still expect to work without lag. Always opt for at least one level above the entry specs when buying a computer for someone.

2. Virtual Reality Headsets for a Smartphone

This is a no-no; the cheap VR sets are the perfect example of the old adage “you get what you pay for.” If you want VR, then opt for the high-end ones such as Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the Playstation VR. The cheap brands are simply taking advantage of the novelty of VR — don’t get caught in their snare.

3. Generic Smart Home Devices

This isn’t merely a quality issue — it’s also a safety issue. You do not want to risk the shoddy internet security of generic smart home devices; hackers have little trouble getting on those networks. You also want to go with a highly-regarded company in the event of power outages, so that you can recover your information easily on their robust servers and their customer support. Basically, then, avoid the startups and go with Google, Amazon, Nest, or Wink.

4. Headphones By Celebrities

Although these may not lack quality, make no mistake — it is you the consumer who is footing the bill for the celebrity to add her name to the product. You can ALWAYS get a better deal with headphones that work as well or better. Go with the tech company that is well-known for this kind of thing. Beats by Dre from Apple is an exception — but it’s just about the only one.

5. Digital Frames for Pictures

These sound like a good idea for a gift — until you realize that they come with almost no storage and bad software. Like with celebrity-endorsed headphones, go with brand name smart home devices such as Google’s Home Hub, a Lenovo Smart Display, or an Echo Snow.

6. Premium Cables

This refers to those gold-tinged HDMI cables with name brands; they are worth the marked-up price. Go with value brands instead — cables don’t have to have Amazon or SONY on them to perform their straightforward functions.

7. Electric Scooters and Skateboards

For these gifts, always go with the time-tested, popular brand. You cannot risk a battery failure with a substandard brand on a toy like this; many of them have been known to catch fire mid-ride. Go with Segway, Boosted Boards, or Acton because they go the extra mile in order to compete. This is why the price point is higher.

8. Cameras With Point-and-Shoot Options

First of all, in the days of multiple-megapixel smartphones and tablets, does any amateur actually need a camera at all? Especially if you have a late generation iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S9 series or Google Pixel — these blow those little $100 point and shoot cameras right out of the water. Simply put, cameras all by themselves are a thing of the past. These days, it only makes sense for professional photographers to invest in one.

9. Drones

This is a popular gift for teenagers and adults; but they suffer seriously restrictions within city limits. You cannot just fly one willy-nilly. Even so, most of the drones on the market are pretty bad when it comes to battery life, range and shoddy Wi-Fi connection. You have to go with a brand name here — such as the Mavic Pro or DJI — if you even want a sniff at a capable, intelligent drone. Even so, it will cost you. Generally, avoid drones as a gift.

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