What Is Cozi Family Calendar & How To Use The Cozi Family Calendar To Make Life Easier For Your Whole Family!

What is Cozi Family Calendar? Cozi Family calendar is the solution to taking the stress out of your family's busy life. With Cozi Calendar, you can keep up with a shared calendar, chore lists, to do lists, shopping lists, meal planning and more!

I think you will agree with me that sometimes getting your whole family on the same page feels like a never ending battle that we can never ever win. For years, I struggled with the fact that I could talk until I was blue in the face, but my family consistently acted like I was giving them brand new information every single time.

“I told you, we have that meeting today”.

“What?! You never told me that!”.

Cue exasperated groan and questioning why I ever even open my mouth if nobody will bother to listen!

Okay, in reality, I am making it sound MUCH worse than it really was, but to be fair…I could just sense it was going to continue getting even more difficult to communicate the goings on in our lives the older the kids got (because we all know, the older the kids get, the busier the whole family becomes!).

Thankfully, I had a friend YEARS ago that told me about Cozi Family Calendar!

I attempted Cozi Calendar once before when my children were small. Honestly, we just didn’t really have enough going on at the time for me to need to keep up with it. It wasn’t until years later (and a few failed attempts with Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and a few other calendar apps) that my friend’s advice came back to me.

I downloaded Cozi Calendar on my phone (it is also web based), and pretty immediately subscribed to Cozi Gold (Cozi Gold is NOT necessary, but we think it is worth it for our needs and our family. More on that later.).

Now, we have been using (and paying for…although this is NOT a sponsored post, but there are affiliate links in this post) Cozi for well over a year now and we just love it. (My favorite feature? Using Cozi for CHORES! Read on to see why.)

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

Here’s a quick testimonial from my husband:

“A little work in Cozi can go a long way.  With just a few entries, suddenly everyone in the family had an easy reference point to remind ourselves of the kids’ baskebetball schedules.  No need to ask each other or go digging around in old emails to see what time the next game is.  The shared Lists feature is also pretty handy.  Aside from keeping track of your own to-do lists you can easily see what the family has left on theirs.  Great way to keep each other accountable or to see if anybody needs some help.”

I highly recommend Cozi Calendar for any busy family and here is why:

What Is Cozi Calendar?

Cozi is the must-have organizer for families. It helps coordinate and communicate everyone’s schedules and activities, track grocery lists, manage to do lists, plan ahead for dinner, and keep the whole family on the same page.

For us, this looks like our shared calendar, color coded for each family member and synced on everyone’s devices. My daughter does not yet have an actual phone with a data plan yet, but she uses an old iPhone of mine here at home with WiFi. If she did not have a device, she would also have the option to access Cozi Calendar from one of our computers.

This looks like to-do lists for every member of our family AND shopping lists for all of the stores we frequent that anybody can add to.

This also *could* look like our grocery list and meal plan, but at the moment I am using the app Paprika for this (I am planning to transition all of my recipes over to Cozi, but it is going to be a pretty big undertaking, so for now, I don’t mind not using this feature of Cozi Calendar. Paprika is a great app too.).

How to Share Cozi Calendar With Your Family

With Cozi calendar, you have a shared password for everyone in your family.

To add family members, sign into your account from Cozi on the web or from your Cozi mobile app, click Settings, and add names and email addresses. Once you enter names and email addresses for your family members, they will be able to access the account by signing in with their own email address and the shared password

Cozi is meant to be shared as a family, so if you are wanting a personal calendar that your family does not see (maybe for your workday, you don’t necessarily need your family seeing every scheduled conference call!), you might want to keep that on a separate Google Calendar.

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

How to Use Cozi for Family Scheduling

Using the Cozi Calendar for family scheduling is SUPER easy. You just click to add an event and then you can input as much or as little info as you want!

You can even specify which family members need to be reminded about this event so that not everyone needs to be reminded about your upcoming Well Woman’s visit (but like I said earlier, they will still see this appointment if they go in and look, they just won’t be notified by reminders!). 

With Cozi Gold, you can even add additional reminders so if you are the type of person that needs a reminder the night before, the morning of and 10 minutes before, you can totally do that with Cozi Gold!

You can view your calendar in day/week/month format. I love this list view!

You might also like – School Morning Routine Hacks – Get Out the Door with a Smile (and On Time!)

How to Use Cozi For Chores!!!

Okay, right here is my favorite Cozi feature! My kids might not admit it, but even they love using Cozi for chores.

Why would my kids love using Cozi for chores? I have found that giving my children a list of chores/responsibilities takes away from the emotion of the “ask”.

Let me elaborate:

“Could you please empty the dishwasher.”

Finishes emptying the dishwasher. Kid thinks he is done and moves on to something else (fun).

“Okay, now I need you to bring down your laundry”.

Kid brings down laundry. Starts another (fun) task.

“Okay, now please feed the dog.”

Kid feeds dog and then hides from you for the rest of the night.

It’s funny because it is TRUE! I actually remember doing this as a kid myself!

With Cozi calendar, you can create chore lists in the app and either tell your kids to look in the app for their chore list or you can even text their list to them! Then, as they complete tasks, they check them off. Which is not only satisfying for them, but also satisfying for ME as their mom!

I find my kids do great with lists, and they are also obsessed with getting their lists cleared.

My daughter will even add to her list sometimes. Look at her adorable addition to her Cozi Chore list (Cookie is our dog):

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

How To Use the Cozi App for Meal Planning

Like I said before, I don’t really use Cozi for meal planning. I reverse menu plan and have been saving recipes to the app Paprika for a long time. While it would be nice to have our meal plan and recipes on Cozi, I have known it would be a big task to transfer everything over. I might get to it one day though, and if I do, I will definitely update this section!

You might also like: How To Become A Better Cook – Learn To Cook Better At Home To Save More Money!

Other Perks of Using Cozi Family Calendar

Shopping Lists – I have different shopping lists for all of our favorite stores and anybody can add to them at anytime. My daughter is a strawberry FIEND, and if we run out of strawberries, she can easily go in and add them to our HEB calendar.

Whoever finds themselves in an HEB for whatever reason will quickly pull up the shopping list and see what we might need.

You can also add to your shopping list via Alexa!!

Journal – We have not done much with this (but I am currently using the 1 second everyday app and that is super cool), but I want to get better about it. You can keep a journal/photo journal of your family in Cozi! It’s a great way to preserve those special memories and you can even share your journal with family and friends if you choose to! It’s a neat feature that our family definitely under utilizes.

 

Cozi Calendar vs Google Calendar

Why did we choose Cozi Calendar vs Google Calendar? Well, to be honest it has a lot to do with simplicity.

Google calendar is robust and there is a lot you can do with it. You can also subscribe to the Google Calendars for your school district, your PTA, your favorite baseball team, etc. Honestly, it ends up getting super cluttered and it is just a lot of noise.

My husband uses Google Calendar for work, and it is best if he keeps his Google Calendar dedicated to his work. The Cozi calendar interface is just so family friendly and easy enough that our kids can do absolutely everything on it without us even needing to show them.

It just works well for our family and is a one stop shop to help us keep our lives in order.

Is Cozi Gold Worth It?

For us, Cozi Gold is worth it. The additional reminders are lovely and that alone makes it worth it to me.

I enjoy that it is an ad free experience, I like the month view on the calendar and the ability to change the theme. The best part is that you just pay ONE Cozi Gold fee for your whole family.

You can grab a 14 day Cozi Gold trial for FREE to see if it suits the needs of your family.

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

I have been wanting to write a post about Cozi Calendar for awhile. Whether you use the free version of Cozi or Cozi Gold, I think you will find that Cozi Calendar is the best calendar/meal planning/chore app out there to get your family all on the same page and to keep them there!

Do you have any more questions about Cozi Calendar? Do you have any tips/hacks that I don’t know about for Cozi Calendar! Comment below and let me know!

Money-Saving Tips & Recipes To Help Families During This Time

Over the past 10 years, I have written a lot of posts that I think might be helpful to our current situation.

I decided to sit down and comb through my archives to make one big post that would compile all the relevant information in one place.

I hope you find this information useful!

Are you doing just fine right now? That’s awesome! In that case, you might consider reading the article GOOD GIFTS FOR FAMILIES IN NEED – Now is a great time to pay it forward if you find yourself with an abundance of supplies!

REVERSE MEAL PLANNING – HOW I SAVE A TON ON GROCERIES BY REVERSE MEAL PLANNING! – This version of grocery shopping is basically what we ALLLL need to be doing now. Most of us don’t quite know what will be available when we head to the grocery store nowadays. Reverse meal planning will help us make the most of what we already have on hand AND what we can gather during our quick socially distanced grocery trips.

HOW TO BECOME A BETTER COOK – LEARN TO COOK BETTER AT HOME TO SAVE MORE MONEY! – I keep seeing posts about friends and family struggling with having to cook more meals/more often than they are used to. Recipes aren’t turning out well. They are getting frustrated with the constant barrage of hungry people in their household. They only have ingredients to MAKE food and less convenience food than before. Learning how to cook can make this time of being stuck at home a more enjoyable and flavorful experience!

10 WAYS TO MAKE LIVING ON ONE INCOME EASIER – Some advice in this post might not be actionable right now. However, there are some tips in this post that might be helpful if you are suddenly one income short right now.

HOW AND WHY YOU NEED TO CREATE A BUDGET – If you have been living without a detailed budget, now is a great time to sit down and make one! Especially if you have lost an income stream or you anticipate a drop in income. When you sit down and write it all out, you might find places you can cut back and you might actually notice you have more money than you thought you did!

Garden shed with tools and flower pots

10 WAYS TO GARDEN FOR LESS! – Finding yourself with some extra free time? Maybe it’s time to start that garden you have always wanted! FYI, some tips in this post might be hard to take advantage of right now. However, you can order most supplies online and many grocery stores actually carry seeds/potting soil as well. If you have the spare room in your budget, this could be a great calming activity!

10 EASY WAYS TO BUILD UP THE EMERGENCY FUND – This might be difficult to do right now when you might be down an income or if you have uncertainty about future sources of income. However, having an emergency fund can bring you SO much peace of mind! It might be worth bookmarking this and coming back to it when life gets back to normal again.

LIVING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET: EXERCISING – Need some inexpensive exercise ideas? Here is an article that has quite a few!

MARRIAGE AND FINANCES – IT’S ALL ABOUT TEAMWORK – If you find yourself having to pinch pennies where you never have before, this could create some struggles in your marriage or your relationship. This is kind of our story about how we figured out how to manage our own finances as a married couple and the struggles that lead to where we are today.

FREE EDITABLE GOOGLE DRIVE SCHEDULE FOR DISTANCE LEARNING!!! – A great resource if your kids are currently embarking on a Distance Learning adventure! Fully editable for your own personal situation. This has REALLY majorly been a huge stress reliever in our household!

Finally, I have TONS of great frugal recipes on my site! Here are just a few that you might want to try out over the next few weeks:

Click here to see all of my recipes!

Also, here are to fun Easter treats if you happen to have the supplies on hand to make these!

SURPRISE RICE KRISPIE TREAT EASTER EGGS ON A SOUTHERN MOM

EASTER FUN: MAKE BUNNY BAIT WITH YOUR KIDS!

Here are some fun at home DIY/kid activity ideas as well:

I hope that some of these posts can help you and your family make it through this difficult time with a bit more peace, good food and cash in your pocket!

Let me know if there are any other ways that I can help! If you haven’t already, join my Facebook Group for more money saving advice, deals and resources!

Rent Newly Released Movies Digitally Today! – Emma, The Hunt, The Invisible Man

Right now, you can rent the following movies for just $19.99. While that might seem pricey, these are all NEW releases that usually you would not be able to rent from home at ALL for probably 6 months or more!

Choose from:

Emma

The Hunt

The Invisible Man

These are 48 hour rentals.

How To Become A Better Cook – Learn To Cook Better At Home To Save More Money!

Do you want to cook at home more often, but you know you need to become a better cook first? Does your family cringe as you place their dinner plate on the table? You can become a better cook by just picking up a few new and simple habits!

One of the easiest ways to save money is to cook at home. Making meals at home for your family is almost ALWAYS cheaper than getting a meal in a restaurant. Fast food might be cheaper than cooking the same meal at home (think Taco Bell tacos compared to home made tacos with all of the fixings), but the long term repercussions of that fast food might just make you lose money over the longterm in health issues.

The argument I hear OFTEN regarding why people don’t cook at home is that they just don’t think they are a good cook! Or maybe, they think they are an okay cook, but they can’t cook *insert dish here* better than their favorite restaurant can.

I am here to tell you…if this is you…you are WRONG! You can cook! I am under the firm belief that anyone can cook. Maybe you aren’t a good cook now, but you can become a better cook!

Now, here is my caveat…I love to eat out. I love going to restaurants. I do feel I am a good cook. I actually think I am an above average cook when I have the time and inclination! If your budget allows for eating out, then by no means am I saying you need to stop! You still might benefit from these tips to become a better cook though!

My Tips For Becoming a Better Cook

Season, Season, Season –

When I first met my husband, we would go out to eat and he would sometimes declare something didn’t taste so good. I would take a bite, add some salt & pepper and all of a sudden, he couldn’t get enough! The thing I have noticed about most self proclaimed “bad” cooks is that they do not season their foods. (my husband now seasons when necessary and follows this first rule very well!)

Not only do you need to season your food to taste at the end of the dish, you really should be seasoning at every single stage of the cooking process. This is why my recipes (except for baking…baking is like chemistry, you need to have exact amounts!) typically state “Salt & Pepper to taste”. I wish I could also put “to taste” for all of the spices I use, because truthfully…I only season to taste.

Do you hear that? Just because a recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning, does not mean you only need to use 1  Tablespoon! Taste it after it’s had some time to permeate the dish. Does it still need more? Add some more!

Let’s say you are cooking a soup. First you are sauteing some veggies to go in your soup. Season them with some salt & pepper as they cook. Next you are cooking the chicken for your soup. Who likes bland chicken? Absolutely nobody. Season your chicken! Now you put your broth in with your veggies and chicken. Allow it to simmer to let the flavors blend, then taste it….and see if it needs more seasoning! (it probably does!). Don’t be afraid to season your food.

If you are on a low sodium diet, you can get very creative with Mrs Dash type no salt seasonings or other herbs and spices. Don’t let your food be bland! Season, Season, SEASON!

Use Reputable Sources for Recipes

Pinterest rocks. Blogs rock. However…when I want to make a dish I have never made before, I head over to AllRecipes. Why? Because I can crowd source my recipes!

I want to make risotto? (I have an awesome risotto recipe here, lol) I will head over there and look for the one that is rated the best. Then I will read the reviews (not all of them, mainly just the top few) and see where people made substitutions or what their comments are regarding the recipe. If there seems to be a theme through all of the comments (this asks for too much broth, you need to cook this for longer than the recipe says, etc), I will take that feedback into consideration.

The reason I say don’t rely on Pinterest and blogs (and I am saying this as a blogger who posts recipes!!) if you are not somewhat experienced in the kitchen is because often there is no feedback. Nobody else is proving the trustworthiness of this recipe. Often, you’ll just see “Oh I can’t wait to make this!” or “Oh this looks so good, I am making it tonight!” in the comment section of blog recipes. Nobody comes back to update whether they made the dish and how it turned out.

There are some exceptions to this. Obviously, Pioneer Woman gets a lot of feedback on her recipes. That said, (and I am not accusing anyone of anything), bloggers can delete comments that criticize their recipes.

Unless you are an experienced cook who can use blog recipes and Pinterest as inspiration and adapt along the way if things don’t taste to your liking (remember, you need to be seasoning and tasting all along the way!), then find your recipes through cookbooks and/or websites that allow unfiltered feedback and reviews.

Use the Right Equipment

Don’t use a cast iron pan for a recipe that requires non stick. You will just give yourself a headache.

Don’t try to shred cheese using a fork. Make sure you have a cheese grater.

You really don’t have to spend a ton to have a well stocked kitchen. However, investing in good kitchen equipment that withstands repeated cooking, and makes your life easier, is well worth it.

My favorite kitchen items are:

My Instant Pot

My Ninja Foodi

My KitchenAid Stand Mixer

However, you don’t need any of those pricey appliances (although they sure do make my life infinitely easier) to have a well equipped kitchen. Here is all you really need:

This is certainly NOT an exhaustive list. You might find you have no use for a potato masher because you use your stand mixer to make your mashed potatoes/mashed cauliflower (I do). Or you might not need a cast iron skillet because you have no desire to cook with cast iron.

However, having the right equipment can make the difference between you attempting to cook a whole chicken in a pot on the stove or roasting it in a roasting pan in the oven (I’ll give you one guess for which will taste better and actually cook evenly!).

Use Shortcuts

Speaking of roasted chicken! If your budget allows…buy that rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and shred it at home for recipes. Use the carcass for stock and bam…you have made a budget friendly decision that is only a bit more expensive than cooking the roast chicken from scratch at home yourself.

If your budget allows, buy the already cut veggies. The bagged salad. The pre-cooked bacon (although..yuck? I hate that stuff).

Even when you use shortcuts, you can still spend less money and eat more healthfully cooking at home vs going out to a restaurant.

Be Organized and Tidy

This is where I fail y’all. I am just going to admit defeat here! No, I’m not…I will never be defeated by a messy kitchen! I HATE to cook in a messy kitchen, but I also hate to clean the kitchen. What’s a gal to do? (my solution…make the husband and kids do it! Hey, I’m the one cooking, menu planning and grocery shopping!)

Clean the kitchen y’all.

Have you heard of a mise en place?

Mise en place (French pronunciation: ​[mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) is a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” It refers to the set up required before cooking, and is often used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that are expected to be prepared during a shift. – Wikipedia 

This means that you get everything nice and neat and prepared for cooking à la food blogger style. When you have to run to the pantry while the onions are sauteing, you might just get side tracked and they will burn. Ask me how I know this? Trust me, been there, done that a time or two!

When I start off with all of my ingredients in front of me and a clear and defined work space, my cooking experience is much smoother and much nicer. If you pretend hard enough, you can actually convince yourself you are the next Rachael Ray! (grab the garbage bowl and the EVOO!).

These are my tips! I hope they will help you to become a better cook. I know they all make a difference in MY cooking and I think I am a pretty good cook if I do say so myself!

What are some tips you have for becoming a better cook?

Reverse Meal Planning – How I Save A Ton On Groceries By Reverse Meal Planning!

Have you tried reverse meal planning? Learn how I use reverse meal planning to make a HUGE dent in our weekly grocery budget without having to clip coupons!

Over the past several years, I have discussed here on FFF how I truly feel that the “secret” to saving money on groceries is meal planning. Meal planning can make an enormous difference in your grocery budget.

The difference between walking into my local grocery store with a list and without a list is absolutely measurable. I spend so much more money if I walk in without a plan!

Meal planning in general is one of those tasks that can initially seem super challenging, but once you get into a flow and have a few weeks of plans under your belt, it can become incredibly effortless. OR, you can also just outsource meal planning to a service like eMeals, Eat at Home, Six Sisters, etc.

Even though I do find meal planning to be a huge money saver, the biggest money saver I have found regarding grocery shopping is REVERSE Meal Planning! Oh, and I RARELY use coupons when I reverse menu plan…only if they are right there next to the product and stupid easy to grab!

Click to purchase on Amazon!

Oh gosh, what is this fanciness you might be asking?

Reverse Meal Planning is not for everyone.

Reverse meal planning might not be for you if you don’t have:  

Time – It involves shopping multiple stores, or at least going to one store more often than you would typically go grocery shopping.

A lack of brand/store loyalty – If you REFUSE to give up your favorite brand, or maybe you have specific dietary needs so you CAN’T buy just any kind pasta, etc this might not be the form of meal planning for you.

Creativity – Okay, you don’t need a ton of creativity, but some weeks you might only find foods on sale that are not in your typical wheelhouse! You need to be okay with hopping on to AllRecipes or Pinterest and finding a recipe for something that is potentially outside your family’s typical rotation.

Storage – If you don’t have a lot of storage for both perishables/non perishables, this might not be the meal planning option for you. However, you CAN do Reverse Meal Planning without a lot of storage, but you likely will not be able to build up too much of a stockpile which means you will have to be very inventive in the kitchen from week to week as you will have less of an arsenal to pull ingredients from.

Okay, now that we have established who Reverse Meal Planning is NOT for…

Reverse Meal Planning might be for you if: 

  1. You don’t mind stopping by Kroger on your way home. HEB once over the weekend. Aldi a few times a month. Checking the store ads at Walmart/Target/Amazon Subscribe & Save/insert other grocery store here. You will go to the grocery store more often with reverse meal planning.
  2. You enjoy being a bit creative in the kitchen!
  3. You have room to store extra items for when you find a good deal and you are able to stock up!

You Still Want To Give Reverse Meal Planning A Shot? 

Well, here goes…first off, you walk into the store without a list.

Are you shocked? Are you wondering why I just harped on always entering a grocery store with a LIST above and now I’m telling you to walk into a grocery store without a list?

Are you concerned I am going crazy?

Here’s the thing, Reverse Meal Planning is about creating your meal plans based on what is on sale and what you have in your pantry/fridge/deep freezer.

The longer you Reverse Meal Plan, and the more you build your stockpile, the more money you will save!

How to Reverse Meal Plan

First off, you’ll walk into your local grocery store and raid the markdowns! Look for the loss leaders (the top half of the store ad is usually the loss leaders. These are the items that your grocery store is selling for dirt cheap to get you in the door in the hopes that the rest of your cart will be filled with full priced items).

My biggest hint is to look for Manager’s Specials in the meat department. 90% of the proteins I bring into our home are either on sale or Manager’s Specials that are 25-75% off the retail price! Use good judgement here, if the meat already looks iffy…it won’t get better looking at home. I ONLY buy markdowns if they look just as good as the full priced meat.

Often these proteins are so deeply discounted only because they are close to their “sell by” date.

Guess what though? I have a deep freezer! I package all of these proteins in freezer friendly bags and write the date on them (FoodSafety.gov has a great chart for how long items can stay refrigerated/in a typical freezer/in a deep freezer).

Then I scan the rest of the store for good deals. The signage for markdowns in most stores is generally pretty clear. You can usually whiz down aisles pretty quickly and the markdowns will stand out.

You HAVE to be able to resist impulse purchases. Adopt the motto, if it’s not marked down…it does not go in my cart! 

Do this at as many local stores as you have access/time to visit. At first, you’ll still have to menu plan a bit traditionally.

I recommend trying to use Week 1 and Week 2 of Reverse Meal Planning as “clean out the pantry/fridge” weeks. As you gradually build your stockpile, you will be able to menu plan based on what you have on hand. You will rarely be shopping for THIS week’s groceries each week. 

Instead, this week’s grocery shopping trip will be for fresh produce (on sale if possible), fresh dairy for your family and finding markdowns to stockpile for future menus. You will also likely have to buy a few items here and there to flesh out your meal plan.

For instance: 

I might have a dinner of pork chops (found on markdown and frozen a couple of weeks ago), mashed cauliflower (frozen bag of cauliflower found on sale about a month ago and stashed into my deep freezer) and a spinach salad planned for dinner one night this week.

This week, I will put a bag of spinach for my spinach salad on my grocery list, but otherwise, everything else for this meal I already have on hand!

Reverse meal planning will not be for everyone. It requires time and effort. There are many other alternatives to reverse menu planning that will also save you money and cut down on your grocery bill. I encourage you to give it a shot though. Or do a hybrid!

Leave a couple of days of the week unplanned until after you grocery shop. Use your grocery store markdown finds to play your own personal version of Chopped based on what you find.

Do you reverse meal plan? Are you considering it? Comment below and let me know what you think!

How to Feed Your Family on a Budget During Busy Sports Seasons!

Are you a sports mom? Here are some great ideas for how to feed your family on a budget during busy sports seasons! These budget tips are not just for traveling sports moms, these money saving tips will work for all busy families that are on a budget!

Does spring mean weekends spent at the ball park watching your little softball/baseball player play anywhere from 4-10 games in 3 days?

Does the fall mean early mornings at the soccer field followed by running across town to watch another child play in their fall flag football league?

Are weeknights filled with dividing and conquering while this kid needs to be at this practice at 5:30, but this kid needs to be across town at that practice at 5:45 (oh and those two locations are conveniently 20 minutes apart)?

If so, you might be a sports mom! Welcome to the world of being your child’s biggest cheerleader, chauffeur, stain fighter, etc! The days might be long, but the years will go by fast, so soak up every moment!

Have you seen that meme? The one that says, well it’s baseball season! So we’re either having dinner at 4pm or 10pm.

That’s real life y’all!

Unfortunately, if you are a ball-er (haha) on a budget, busy sports seasons can wreak havoc on your budget. Concession stand dinners, quick trips through the drive through, etc. can really add up!

Here are some tips to get through busy sports seasons on a budget:

Meal Plan

First off, the obvious…meal plan! I suggest you read these 2 posts about how to meal plan here on FFF:

Meal planning is essential if you want to really cut down your grocery bill and it is SUPER important if you have a busy schedule.

Meal planning can be as simple as designating each day of the week to a specific food “theme”:

Monday – Italian

Tuesday – Tacos/Mexican

Wednesday – Slow Cooker Meal

Thursday – Soup & Sandwiches

Friday – Pizza Night

Saturday – Eat Out

Sunday – Leftovers

Or, whatever works best for your family!

OR, you can opt to meal plan using an app like Cozi (I have a full review of the Cozi Family Calendar, we LOVE it and this is personally where I do my meal planning and keep my online recipe box!).

In addition, you might consider letting a meal planning service like eMeals do all the hard work for you! They have options for 30 minute meals, slow cooker meals, kid friendly and just about every dietary/nutrtional need your family might have (including Keto, Diabetic, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free and more!)

Regardless of what you utilize to meal plan, the key will be syncing up your meals with the reality of your evening plans. If you have 2 back to back games from 4-7pm, you are pretty much stuck eating dinner VERY early or VERY late. In this case, a slow cooker meal might be most realistic for this day.

Or this might be a day that you pack sandwiches and chips in a cooler and take it to the ball park with you.

This is actually why I love using Cozi to plan our meals. I can see the meal plan right next to the actual events of the day/night and I can get a good picture at how realistic the meals are for that day all in one screen. I also utilize eMeals for meal ideas, so you could say I use a combination of all of the above techniques!

Action Tip: Start meal planning today!

Use your slow cooker/instant pot

I actually have a Ninja Foodi AND an Instant Pot. Both of these can pressure cook and slow cook food for me. Honestly, I find myself doing pressure cooking more often because it just works better for my schedule/family.

However, even if you just have a slow cooker, this can totally save your budget during busy sports seasons! These salsa chicken bowls are SO easy and can also be portable if you  need them to be! This crack chicken travels well as well (and is low carb and keto friendly!).

Slow cookers are great for when your family all needs to eat at different times. You can just pop something in the slow cooker and leave directions for serving so dad can feed the first shift of kids while you feed the second shift while you divide and conquer!

Action Tip: Check out these awesome Instant Pot/Slow Cooker/Ninja Foodi recipes I have posted here on FFF!

Avoid Concession Stand Trips By Having Fun & Filling Snacks on Hand

My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE going to the concession stand! I can’t say that we completely ban concession stand trips. Truthfully, for most leagues, these concession stands are actually fundraisers. So we do try to buy a little something every now and again (and usually, the prices at kids sports activities for a small treat are not bad at all).

However, one of my biggest tips is that mom’s bag of snacks should be a bit more exciting than anything the concession stand has to offer. Snacks that are fun (and different from what they get at home) and snacks that are power packed and filling for your little athlete!

Having a good arsenal of snacks on hand offers you an alternative when your kid is begging for the foot long pixie stick from the concession stand.

Some things I like to pack (especially for something like a swim meet or day long tournament!):

    • hardboiled eggs
    • jerky
    • fruit
    • nuts
    • cheese and meat
    • sunflower seeds or pistachios or almonds
    • gum
    • waters and gatorades
    • chips

Action Tip: Sit down with your kids and write out a list of what snacks they would love for you have on hand. Come to an agreement that if you stock these snacks, that they will only access them when you are on the go and that they will NOT ask for concession stand money!

Utilize containers for meals on the go

This ties into the meal planning and the snacks above. If you are going to be bringing sandwiches or cut fruit to the ball field, you need to have good quality containers to lug back and forth! You also probably don’t want to use your best tupperware though because let’s just be honest, something is going to end up left in the car for a few weeks until you start smelling something funny at some point!

Here are some good quality economical options you might consider:




In addition, if you live in Texas and have an HEB, they have GREAT containers that are very sturdy and inexpensive!

Action Tip: Now is a great opportunity to see what you already have on hand in your reusable container inventory. Pull it all out and see what still looks good, what might have cracks or what doesn’t have a lid. Set aside the containers you are willing to take to the ball field and put the ones that you really only want to use in house for leftovers in a separate place.

Invest in a cooler bag

I think most of us with children own a cooler. A cooler bag can really save the day though for keeping drinks/fruits/other items cold without having to lug your giant cooler to and from the ballpark.



You might consider a smaller rolling cooler if you think a cooler bag might end up being too heavy to carry around though.

We had one like this and it worked great!

Action Tip: If you don’t already have a cooler bag or small soft side roller cooler, start shopping around!

Get to know the kids eat free days and dollar menus at local restaurants

Let’s just be honest…sometimes you are going to have to eat out. It will just be inevitable! Maybe you didn’t have much faith your team would make it to the last round of the tournament and now you have only 30 minutes between games and no time to run home and eat dinner. Maybe you had a tough day at work and rushing to get everyone fed before getting everyone dressed and to practice might just be the straw that breaks YOUR back.

Sometimes you need to grab food on the go. This is okay! I suggest having a good list of what days kids eat free in your area. In addition, remember that the WHOLE meal does not need to be drive through. You can use some of your snacks (like chips and fruit) and then drive through the nearest fast food place to pick up some dollar menu cheeseburgers.

Action Tip: Grab your phone and make a list of what restaurants in your area have kids free days. Also note which fast food joint has options on their dollar menu that will be a good fit for your whole family.

The key to saving money during busy sports seasons and/or your busy everyday life comes down to planning. The death of your food budget (and some would say your diet too!) will always be impulse food decisions.

When you have a plan (even if that plan does include eating out), you will feel more in control and less stressed about what you are spending and what food your family is eating even when your schedule involves multiple extracurricular activities with multiple children every single night of the week!

What are some of your tips for feeding your family on a budget during busy sports seasons?

Groupon – Save Up To 65% Off Great Wolf Lodge (Includes Water Park Passes!)

Groupon is currently offering up to 40% off Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark stays! Plus, use the coupon code SALE3 when you check out to save an additional 10%. This deal is good until 8/30.

  • Book to stay June 25 through August 30
  • Prices vary by day; the price listed is the lowest possible and may not be available all days.
  • Click on a date on the booking calendar to see the individual prices by day.

FYI, your pricing will depend on the park you choose and the dates as well, but pricing seems to start at $89.10 per night.

Thanks Passionate Penny Pincher!

Sleep Away Camp Essentials & Camping Hacks for Boy Scout Camping, Summer Camp, Etc

My son went to Boy Scout camp for the FIRST time a few weeks ago! He has been a Cub Scout since he was just a tiny little Tiger (1st grade), but for the most part, all of our camping has been family camping.

This was his first week long camp without myself or my husband present.

(trying to save up money to send your little one to sleep away camp? Learn how to create some wiggle room in your budget!)

To say I was a bit of a basket case as we drove away from dropping him off would be an understatement. However, he survived (and actually, I would say he THRIVED!) and when he came home we went over what worked well and what didn’t.

I figured these camping tips/camping hacks would be helpful for any parent sending their kid off for camp, so I decided to share it here on my FFF.

What worked:

Pack it all in a trunk

This was a Boy Scout recommendation, but honestly from now on, anytime either of my kids go on any kind of extended stay, we’ll be packing everything in a trunk!

These trunks are super affordable and tough. They also roll! We purchased ours at Academy, but you can also get it shipped right to your door from Amazon.

Write up a packing list

Our Boy Scout troop provided us with a basic packing list. Most likely, whatever camp your kiddo is attending will provide you with a packing list as well. Print out that packing list and use it to pack (of course), but also add to it where necessary.

My son had a few different bags with him. A day pack (his day pack is very similar to this one), a pack to go to the shower, a bag for when he went swimming, etc. We put a detailed list of what was in each bag on the packing list. 

We also gave him a highlighter so he could use the packing list as a reference when it was time to come home. Unfortunately, his tent mate left their tent wide open during a particularly heavy down pour and the packing list was ruined. Thankfully, he returned with all of his property.

He did say the breakdown of what was in each bag was super helpful though when he couldn’t find something he needed.

Send letters/care packages with your kiddo

This was a big one for us! My son LOVED this. Myself, my husband and my daughter all wrote my son letters. We split the care packages into one per day and told him that he had to follow the rule of only opening one per day!

My letters were very “Jesus loves you, so be good!” haha. My husband’s letters were basically a funny story that built on each day (I was dying laughing as I was reading them!). And my daughter basically wrote him video game references that she knew would annoy him.

I snuck in some fun items too:

Day 1 (first full day) – A journal with a few pens/pencils in hopes he would journal his week (he started to do this, and was excited to do this, but the journal was a casualty of the open tent during the rain storm 🙁 )

Day 2 – A few word search/sudoku puzzle books from the dollar store

Day 3 – Some flavor blasted goldfish, his fave! (although he told me next time, don’t pack these…because bears, duh)

Day 4 – Candy (starburst!)

Day 5 – Cash (we sent him with cash for the week, but figured by Friday he probably would be all out, so we thought it would be a fun last day treat)

Day 6 – A promise of something fun at home.

Package outfits in individual ziploc bags

This might not work for older kids, or if you are packing cold weather clothing. My son was going to be wearing t-shirts and shorts all week though, so this made life SO much easier (and was a LIFESAVER when his tent got wet…none of his clean clothes were wet! Because they were in ziploc bags!)

I have used this method of packing on vacations too. It works beautifully!

Send clothespins to hang wet items

Okay, full disclosure…he said he didn’t use these. I can tell by smelling his towel/swimsuit that this is true. Yuck. That was the grossest laundry I have EVER done. Regardless, maybe your kid will use them. I know I’ll bring clothespins camping with us from now on!

Next time, I think I’ll purchase some of these to send with him. I suspect these would get more use!

Send empty plastic grocery sacks for various trash/clothing items that get especially gross

Yes. Yes. Yes. You will have DISGUSTING laundry to do when your kid gets home. There is nothing you can do to change this. It will happen. You will open up their trunk and you will wonder what died in there?

However, the plastic grocery sacks can make things better. He was smart and put his super wet stuff in these bags.

Label EVERYTHING

Get a black sharpie and go to town on everything. EVERYTHING. Chances are, every kid in your kid’s cabin/tent/troop/etc will have similar items. If you want them to come home with what you sent them with, LABEL EVERYTHING. This includes clothing!

His camp chair and his cot (this is the cot he has, it’s great!), his flashlights, his water bottles, everything!

Send water shoes/shower shoes

Foot fungus. Enough said.

A spritz/fan can help a lot!

This was my son’s contribution to this post. I asked him what the MOST important thing was that he packed for his trip. He said a spray bottle with a fan (with extra batteries). This was one of those, eh…whatever I’ll just throw it in the cart purchases, but he said it really made a difference.

Where he camped, they only had 90 minutes of air conditioning a day (I know this because anytime we complain about being hot since he has been home, he likes to remind us about how he went a week with only 90 minutes of air conditioning a day, LOL) . The rest of the time he was out in the hot July Texas sun. He said this made a HUGE difference for his comfort and his experience.

My son had a GREAT time at Boy Scout camp. The memories he made and the experiences he packed into that one week make me feel good about the investment of money, time and how desperately I missed him.

Would I send him again? In a heartbeat!

Are you an old pro at sending your kids off to camp? Any camping essentials tips for me? Comment below! 

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Great Wolf Lodge – You Can Finally Purchase a Day Pass! PLUS Kids 2 & Under are FREE!

Does your family love Great Wolf Lodge? We sure do! Historically, you had to actually stay at Great Wolf Lodge to enjoy the water park.

Thankfully, now Great Wolf Lodge is offering 1 day passes! PLUS, kids 2 and under are completely free!

This one day Great Wolf Lodge pass includes:

  • All-day fun at our 84-degree indoor water park
  • Free life jackets for all the family
  • Access to over 50 activities, including our Adventure Park with ropes course, rock wall, bowling, arcade and more*
  • Live Entertainment and character appearances
  • Restaurants and stores at your service
  • Exclusive Member Deals.
  • Free passes for kids under 2.

This is awesome news!

You can (and should) buy your pass online and pick it up at the front desk.

FYI, there are a limited number of day passes available each day and your cost will depend on the day of the week/season and the location you are going to. It does NOT seem like a cheap option to be honest, especially when you consider that Great Wolf Lodge is regularly available for great discounts on Groupon.com. When I looked at some close dates at the one in Grapevine, the range was from $90-$125 a day and it did NOT seem to give a multi ticket discount.

Ouch! That’s pretty pricey!

Here are some more details regarding the Great Wolf Lodge One Day Pass:

  • Purchase passes online or through Customer Service at 800-905-9653.
  • Towels are available for purchase, or you are welcome to bring your own.
  • Lockers are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Coolers and outside food will have to stay in the car! Our lodges offer a number of delicious dining options.

However, it would be a great option if you live close by the resort, or have friends/family that you stay with that live close to the resort.

Enjoy!