10 Back-To-School Shopping Tips that Save Money

It that time of the year again when children finally get out of the house from the summer and go back to school. Yay!!! says every last parent who has had to deal with their kids for the past two months. Now I am sure that everyone remembers the joy, anxiety, and stress that comes with back to school shopping. Let me tell you a quick secret, it doesn’t have to be so painful and crazy. Now in your kids mind, shopping for new clothes, gear, and school supplies may be the only good thing about going back to school, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune every year. However this year I have created10 steps for how to get everything they need and save a few bucks while doing that as well.

 1. Hold off buying trendier gear like lunch boxes and pencil cases. I know that I wanted everything new that came out in the stores, just so that way I could brag out what I have. However kids may love a version they find in July, but once they start school and see that their friends are all using another kind, they’ll beg you to upgrade them and that only results in you spending more cash that most of us don’t have.

2. Shop end-of-summer sales. You know as well as I do that kids wear short sleeve polo shirts all year long, so hit the big summer sales and snap up discounted duds that can be worn well into fall.

3.Stick to The List. The teacher’s supply list at the start of a new school year is daunting enough so don’t waste time and money on unlisted items. Nobody wants to get extra supplies, while they may be cute, will probably never get used and just leave your bank account empty.

4. Head to the supermarket for basic supplies. Check local grocery stores online website for great deals on Microsoft word, and get your weekly grocery shopping done at the same time. Just a quick hint: buying everything in one place will save time and gas money!

5. Let your kids raid the home-office supplies, then personalize them in unique ways. For example, decorate inexpensive plain, white binders with digital photos by creating a collage and inserting the page into the plastic outer cover.

6. Host a back-to-school swap. Round up a couple of other moms with kids the same gender as yours but different ages, and host an annual clothes swap. Trade toys and books, too! You’ll save a bundle.

7. Plan lunch. When you’re in charge of what your child eats, you’ll save yourself money. Check the weekly circulars at your local supermarkets for sales. If turkey isn’t on sale one week and ham is, go for the ham!

8. Buy bright. Lost school supplies may be a given, but gear that’s hard to miss can stave off the inevitable. Pack all their pencils, erasers, and other goodies into a bright backpack or pencil pouch to keep them from disappearing.

9. Shop the big three. Old Navy, Gap Kids, and The Children’s Place rotate merchandise often — ask when they do their markdowns so you can grab the deals. Also, if you see an item you bought in the past 14 days on sale later, you can get the difference refunded, you don’t need the clothing, just the receipt.

10. Browse craigslist.org. Yes, you can find top-quality stuff on the cheap, but you can be a seller, too. Why not get some cash for that barely worn, now outgrown brand-name outfit? Just enter your location and click on “Baby and Kids.”

I hope that everyone enjoyed my quick back to school shopping tips and hints. Please let me know if you have any other ones that you did not see in the comment below and please let me know how I can improve my blog. Thank you for reading this blog today and I hope that you are having a wonderful day!!

 

 

 

How to plan your summer beach vacation!!

It is the desire of everyone to spend some time on beautiful beaches with their family and friends. There are many popular beach destinations across the world and you just need to know where you can go and enjoy the best holiday of your life. Going on a beach vacation is a fun and exciting time and the best time to relax and play. However, a beach vacation on a budget takes time, planning, flexibility and creativity and with the help of Internet things have become easier for travel lovers.

These are eight easy steps to follow, until your off on your dream beach vacation!!

Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 1.jpg

  1. Check online: You can find online travel information on popular beach destinations. There are many online travel portals where latest information on beach destination is available.
    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 2.jpg

    Make a list: While doing your research online, make a list of top beach destinations and narrow down your search as per your preferences and budget. At least opt for two options to be on the safer side. In case you can’t go on the first destination, you can plan for the next one.

    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 3.jpg

    Now do the research: Gather as much information as possible about the beach destinations and try to understand the requirements of the place as a tourist and what you can expect out of your vacation. Make sure the beach destination has got everything you might have thought about.

    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 4.jpg

    Find an online agent: Now check out online for some reliable online travel agents. Browse through their sites to know about the package deals for beach vacations in various locations. You need to note down the prices and key elements of the beach vacation packages.

    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 5.jpg

    Check out other’s viewpoint: Check out some travel forum and read the reviews of previous visitors. While reading those, try to note down the month of the year and the type of travelers who wrote the review. Read reviews by travelers who have visited the place when you plan to go.

    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 6.jpg

    Speak with others: Talk to any of your friends or relatives who have visited your desired beach destination. Ask them about their experiences and be prepared to enjoy your vacation the most.

    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 7.jpg

    Do the bookings: After you are fully satisfied with your choice, it is time to do all the necessary bookings. Book your flight tickets online and reserve your hotel seats online in advance so that when you reach the destination you can enjoy it the most.

    Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 8.jpg

    Now be ready: Once all the bookings are done online, you just need to focus on planning your itinerary and how you are going to enjoy your beach vacation. With the help of online travel information, planning a beach vacation is easy and convenient

26 Foods You Should Learn To Cook In Your Twenties

1. A deliciously melty GRILLED CHEESE

Serious Eats has a great step-by-step slideshow of how to make the ultimate grilled cheese. The key tip is that you should toast one side of each slice, sandwich the cheese between those toasted sides, then toast the other sides. Directions here.

2. A truly perfect ROAST CHICKEN

The only roast chicken recipe that really matters is Thomas Keller’s. (It’s true — we tested a lot of them side by side in a tournament.) Keller’s recipe calls for super high heat, three ingredients — chicken, salt, and pepper — and teaches you essential techniques that will last a lifetime. Instructions here.

3. Basic ROASTED VEGETABLES

Set the oven to 450°F, toss veggies with oil and kosher salt, spread out on a baking sheet so they aren’t too crowded, and roast until they look/taste good. The only trick is that you sort of have to understand which veggies take a little longer to cook — harder veggies like carrots, potatoes, broccoli, etc take longer than soft mushrooms and tomatoes — so you’d cut those into smaller pieces so everything cooks at the same rate. Follow a couple of recipes and you’ll get it no problem after a few times. Get a basic recipe here.

4. Fudgy homemade BROWNIES

Get the above recipe from One Sweet Appetite. A lot of people also love Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

5. MACARONI AND CHEESE from scratch

You don’t even need a recipe.

6. Perfectly seared STEAK

Pat it very dry, season it, cook it over very high heat in the right kind of fat, let it rest. As for doneness — buy a thermometer, poke it with your finger constantly, and practice makes perfect. Here’s how.

7. Killer GUACAMOLE

Authentic guacamole doesn’t have garlic or tons of lime juice in it. (Personally, I think tons of lime juice makes it heavenly, so I add it anyway.) The most important thing is to choose avocados that are super ripe and salt aggressively. Follow this recipe from Roberto Santibanez to make really great guac.

8. Easy homemade TOMATO SAUCE

Tomato sauce is just canned tomatoes with some kind of seasoning that you add cooked together for a while to let the flavor develop. Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce recipe just has you simmer canned tomatoes with a butter and an onion cut in half. That works. So does sautéing a chopped onion, maybe some garlic, then adding the tomatoes and simmering for a while, like this recipe from Bon Appetit. You can also get more complex by sauteeing even more veggies (carrots, celery) and adding red wine and meat by following this guide rather than a recipe.

9. The best CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

The New York Times did a great story in 2008 where they tested and retested different chocolate chip cookie methods to “assemble a new archetypal cookie recipe.” The results indicated that letting your dough rest overnight before baking is essential. Here’s the recipe.

10. Slow-cooked PULLED PORK

This is very easy with a slow cooker (a.k.a. crock pot) — here’s the recipe. If you don’t have a slow cooker, use this recipe to do it in your oven and leave yourself lots of time.

11. An easy FRITTATA

This really comes in handy when you have big group of people to serve breakfast to, or when you have a lot of vegetables and you’re not sure how to use them quickly. Just saute veggies, pour in whisked eggs, cook it on the stovetop for a while, then stick it in the oven for a few minutes. Recipe here. Once you’ve graduated from basics, try a frittata that has potato in it — YUM.

12. Pan-Roasted CHICKEN THIGHS

This recipe is hands down the cheapest and quickest way to make chicken that’s delicious — way better than anything you do to chicken breasts, trust. Follow this basic recipe, you will use it a million times.

13. Simple SAUTEED GREENS

Vegetable oil in pan, get it nice and hot, push chopped greens around in there for a while, seasoned with salt, until you like the way they taste. Works for spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, anything. You can saute shallot, garlic or onion in the pan before you add the greens if you want, but you don’t have to. You can add lemon or vinegar and some red pepper, but you don’t have to. Get the recipe.

14. Fluffy PANCAKES not from a box

Knowing how to do this will make you a Sunday morning hero so many times in your life. Get the recipe.

15. MUSSELS in white wine sauce

You’re going to be shocked by how easy it is to cook mussels — and clams work exactly the same way. Add crusty bread and you’re in heaven. Get the recipe.

16. WHIPPED CREAM

ThinkStockPhoto

A very simple thing that is insanely delicious: Put heavy cream in a bowl, whip it (with a whisk, you can do it, don’t give up, it doesn’t take THAT long; or with an electric mixer) until it thickens, then add a little sugar. Pair with strawberries for the best simple dessert of all time. Here are instructions.

17. A good BURGER

A big part of this will be learning how to clean and fire up a grill, when the grill is hot enough, how to control the heat, which just takes research (ie, watch a bunch of videos online) and practice. But start now with this very basic recipe for burgers.

18. Creamy MASHED POTATOES

To make mashed potatoes you cut raw potatoes into equal-size pieces (you can peel the potatoes or not), cover them with an inch of cold water, bring it to a boil and cook them until they can be easily pierced with a knife, then drain. Meanwhile heat some butter and cream (or milk, or half and half) together in another pot, combine that with the cooked potatoes and lots of salt and mash it all together. You can add more milk, butter and salt until it tastes good if you need to. Lots of people add things like garlic, spices, sour cream, even cheese to the butter/cream mixture for extra deliciousness (like this restaurant-style garlic mashed potatoes recipe). But if you want to just start with the very basics use this recipe.

19. Basic BLANCHED VEGETABLES

This is the most common way restaurants cook vegetables; it can be done to nearly any vegetable. Do not be scared by this. It is easy and awesome. To blanch means to put a vegetable in rapidly boiling salted water until it’s just cooked, usually only 1 or 2 minutes — you will know because your mouth will know when you taste one — then immediately stick it in ice water to stop the cooking. It is an essential basic technique of cooking that you should master asap.

Step 1: Bring a big pot of water to a boil.
Step 2: Salt the water.
Step 3: Once the water’s really boiling, put a couple handfuls of one kind of vegetable in the water for about 1-3 minutes, depends on the veggie how much time. Be careful not to crowd them/add too many vegetables at once. If you’re cooking a lot of vegetables, work in batches; you want the water to stay at consistent boil the whole time.

Step 4: Taste one of vegetables after a minute. For larger things like broccoli, if you don’t want to taste it you can insert a small knife into the thickest part of the stem — if the knife slides in and out easily it’s done.
Step 5: Remove the veggies once they are cooked using tongs or a slotted basket or spoon. (You probably don’t want to just dump the veggies into a colander and lose all your boiling water, because you can cook several batches of different different kinds of vegetables — green beans, then asparagus, then peas — in the same pot of boiling water and make one hell of a delicious vegetable salad. So book the smallest thing last that you wouldn’t want to fish out with a spoon — like peas — then you can dump the water.)

Step 6: Immediately “shock” your cooked veggies: Put them straight from the boiling water into a bowl of ice water — use lots of ice — right away to stop the cooking and so they stay green and bright. Try this recipe for practice, although if you can’t find fava beans (and they are annoying to peel anyways) just use snap peas, snow peas, or green beans.

20. RICE on your stovetop

ThinkStockPhoto

Use this recipe. The Kitchn also has great step-by-step instructions for a basic pot of rice plus tips to cure your fear.

21. Healthy BAKED FISH

If you’re really scared of cooking fish, it’s best to do it in a little pouch made of foil or parchment because that’s the most forgiving method. But making a marinade/sauce and baking it straight up like the recipe in the photo above is great too.

22. Hearty BEEF STEW

This is a good recipe to learn early because it teaches you the basics of braising: Sear meat on all its sides in a hot pot, take it out, saute some onions in that pot, add a little liquid (broth, wine, whatever) and scrape up brown stuff, put the meat back in with lots of stock and some wine and maybe herbs, and simmer on low for a while. Add vegetables like potatoes, carrots, peas (that you want to retain a certain bite) towards the end so they cook until just tender and don’t get mushy. Follow this classic recipe from CHOW or this very similar and amazing one from Gourmet.

23. A simple CAKE for special occasions

To make a cake, you need an electric mixer and some kind of baking pan. The easiest cake in the world is a loaf cake because it’s just like, a loaf, but it absolutely still counts as a thoughtful gesture if it’s someone’s birthday or something. And they are delicious. Here’s a great vanilla loaf cake recipe from Dorie Greesnpan, queen of baking recipes (she also provides a chocolate sauce for it here), and Nigella Lawson’s dense chocolate loaf cake.

24. Basic FROSTING

Buttercream frosting is your basic cupcake/cake frosting that spreads around like magic and tastes creamy and delicious. Most frosting recipes call for a stand mixer (because it takes a while to beat the butter so it’s nice to be able to walk away), but you don’t really need one if you have an electric hand mixer. The basic thing is that you’re going to beat butter for a long time in the bowl and then add powdered sugar. Here’s a vanilla buttercream frosting recipe, a classic chocolate buttercream frosting, a slightly creamier, super-fudgy frosting, and a cream cheese frosting.

25. Easy SALAD DRESSING

You know when you’re at an Italian restaurant and there’s a bowl of olive oil with a little floating pool of balsamic vinegar in it for you to dip your bread in? That’s basically salad dressing that hasn’t been whisked. Once you know the basics, you can truly make any salad dressing recipe, and the basics are:

-The ratio is more or less 1 part acid to 3 parts oil. Acid means vinegar or lemon juice, usually.
-You start with acid then whisk in oil.

HOW:

1. Start with a large bowl or a jar with a lid.* The bowl should be large because whisking in a small bowl is stupid and annoying and you will have to whisk pretty hard to get the dressing to emulsify/thicken.

2. Then start with an acid. The acid can be lemon juice or lime juice or a combination of citrus juices. You can use vinegar instead or in addition to citrus — white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice vinegar, or sherry vinegar will give you a nicer flavor than just straight white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, which are kind of harsh.

Measure the amount of acid you use because you will want to use three times that amount when you measure your oil. Remember if you use vinegar + citrus it still needs to be a third of the oil amount.

3. Slowly whisk in olive oil as a tiny drizzle. So if you use one spoonful of lemon juice, use three spoonfuls of oil. If you used 1/4 cup of lemon juice and/or vinegar, use 3/4 cup olive oil.

If you’re using a jar with a lid you can just unceremoniously add the oil all at once and screw on the lid and shake. If you are making this in a blender, same thing. (Blenders are especially awesome when you have stuff like shallots or garlic in a salad dressing because they get pulverized and taste great.)

4. Add lots of kosher salad and pepper to taste.

(Once you’ve graduated from the basics: If you want to add other flavors, add them to the vinegar or lemon juice before you add any oil. SO — minced shallot, minced garlic, minced ginger, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce, fish sauce, whatever, put any or all of these in the bowl with your acid in whatever amount you think will taste good. Another great ingredient to add to your acid before you add oil is mustard because it does double duty: Mustard adds flavor but it is also a great emulsifier, meaning it will help the oil and acid blend and thicken into a proper dressing. Herbs can kind of go in whenever.)

Follow this basic recipe. Other good basic ones are this lemon-vinaigrette recipe and everything over here, and Cooking Light has good step-by-step photos.

26. A good, unfussy CHEESE PLATE

Macey Foronda

This isn’t exactly “cooking” per se, but obviously it’s very important because cheese. You don’t have to serve a prepacked cubed cheese situation at a party ever again. There is another way, and it doesn’t require a fancy cheese shop.http://http://www.buzzfeed.com/emofly/foods-everyone-should-learn-to-cook