Jul 20, 2016

How I use Amazon Prime

I have been meaning for a while to put together a post on Amazon Prime and how it is saving me money IF I use it correctly. It has been almost a year since I joined up. Mainly I tried a free trial because I wanted to watch The Good Wife on Amazon Video but I decided it was probably worth a shot for its actual use which is free 2-day shipping and more! At first I was just ordering random stuff and enjoying the nearly instant gratification I got from something shipping so quickly. Then my budget hit me in the face and I realized it is only worth the membership fee if you use it to your advantage.

I really do love Amazon video, they don't have all the shows you would want and you have to buy some seasons for some shows still so we also use Netflix, don't think it's a replacement for Netflix it is definitely not.

I didn't get really good at using Amazon Prime to it's fullest advantage until I found a Facebook group called Closet Deals and Steals. Lisa is the owner of this group and she is amazing! She spends a lot of time combing Amazon for great deals and coupons and price comparing to other stores to make sure you are getting the best deal possible for your family and budget. Finding coupons for things that you already need on Amazon combined with your free shipping, etc. can be awesome for your budget! To name a few things I have gotten for dirt cheap: name brand laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent. dish soap, shampoo and conditioner and recently both birthday presents I already had on the list for O's birthday.

Good deal example
Another key to Prime is Subscribe and Save, I was almost a master of this already but the group furthered it even more by explaining just because you subscribe one month to get the extra savings (5-15% off items based on how many items you subscribe to monthly) doesn't mean you can't cancel the next month or postpone it. Often a coupon will become available on an item that you can also S&S on, so you clip the coupon and subscribe, then after it ships you can delete the subscription. Or often there are coupons for things you already subscribe to, in that case you would delete your current subscription and find the coupon listing clip and re-add the item to your S&S. Lisa has a whole thread devoted to S&S. You have to watch yourself to only take advantage of things you use and not be tempted to hoard and extreme coupon, this is damaging to your budget and I've found there's a deal every month on something you need so if you missed it this month because you didn't need detergent there will be another one next month.

Examples of S&S options, those Meyers products were Prime Day Deals
I don't use them normally and will delete after received. 
Lisa also posted a great tutorial on how to use the Prime Pantry boxes to your advantage. I won't plagiarize her and explain it here but it basically consists of ordering things that have coupons and ordering off a list that if you have 5 items from your box ships for free. I have only used the pantry box once at this point and I'm not completely sold on it as often generic items at the store are still cheaper but if you have a particular name brand something you get you can often get it for pretty cheap via this route.

I hope these tips will help you as much as they have helped me, hubby is very happy with my saving saaviness I have developed and the help it has been to our budget. This is all a bit time consuming but with the Amazon app I find I can do a lot during our bedtime routines, sitting by the bath tub or rocking the baby or laying next to O who still doesn't go to bed on her own.....

Jamie

Jul 18, 2016

Adventures in Pinterest: Homemade Baby Food

Initially I wanted to try homemade baby food with O but I gave up pretty quickly I just couldn't find the time and energy to devote to it. I did a few things like bananas and oatmeal but nothing major. In my new stay at home mom status and in my new budget conscious mindset I decided with Titan homemade baby food was going to be a must. I devoted an entire Pinterest board to it and have tried many different things and thought I would share things that worked for us and things that didn't.

Teenager helped one day and peeled
I had received a Baby Bullet for Christmas with O and while it's not a must it was useful for small batches of food, I don't think it's made for all day food making fests like many of the blogs I researched suggest and I did overheat it several times. If you are really serious about it I think a Ninja blender would be more effective.

Bullet with mangoes
If you are interested in the big batch cooking you also need more freezer trays than what comes with the bullet I had to freeze a set then come back hours later and dump and freeze next set, it took a lot longer versus buying cheap ice cube trays or multiple trays like these to freeze more at a time. I also hope you already have a deep freeze because if you own a side by side fridge your freezer will be taken over by baby food and all your other stuff is going to find it's way to the deep freeze along with your breast milk supply if you are stashing that as well. 

Label and date and freeze
Here's just a quick list of foods I tried and the results. 

Mangoes- to me these are only good for a combo puree, you don't yield much fruit per mango I think maybe I got 2-3 servings and for the mess and price I don't think that's worth it. I had this same problem with peaches so that became one of my combo purees. I think I got at least 6 servings with mixing 2-3 peaches and a mango.

Most foods I boiled or steamed these are peaches
Carrots- these were a big success, bought a bushel of these from the store and it made at least 12 servings. I suggest really thinning for beginners as it can be pretty thick. This is what I overheated my bullet trying to blend. 

Avocados were also a favorite, they are super easy to prepare you don't even have to thin for older babies. I would say 2-3 avocados made at least 6 servings (sorry I should have taken notes while preparing for exact amounts)

Bananas- these are another super easy one to prepare but my sister and I who both have little ones noticed they are hard on some babies stomachs so I only used as a mixer. Reminder that bananas and avocados have to be consumed quickly or freeze them so you don't end up with brown mush. 

Apples was my most successful baby food. Here's my favorite way to prepare (basic applesauce about half way down the page). It makes your house smell awesome! Titan loved apples, and a bag of apples from the store gives you well over a month supply.

Apples prepping for boiling and zucchinis done steaming
Broccoli was a total bust, Titan hated it and it made him very poopy so we didn't use our month supply of it but one big "tree" yields a good months worth. 

Peas didn't go over well either, I found if I mixed them with something I could trick him into eating them but they are best saved for finger foods I think. 

Blueberries are a mess! They stained my counters and my trays and bullet. and a little carton maybe gave me 2 servings. This is one is you are willing to clean up the mess you could use as a mixer. 

Butternut squash ended up being hard for me to find at the store but once I found it this was a great one, it makes well over a months worth and is easy to prepare. Titan wasn't a super fan but didn't refuse it either. 

Zucchini, sweet potatoes and asparagus were also hits that were easy to prepare and made a lot of servings. 

I also tried zucchini squash  and eggplant but they didn't yield many servings. I would use zucchini squash as a mixer and wouldn't mess with eggplant from my research it doesn't provide much nutrition to your baby anyway, 

I did sample this recipe which uses kiwi, it was easy to prepare as well and baby did like it but the amount of servings wasn't worth trying again. 

I never attempted homemade cereal or oatmeal and just got the Gerber version and mixed with breast milk. I also used breast milk as a thinner for all my food. Remember if you use breast milk you have to freeze or use within 3 days and not re-freeze or heat in microwave.

Fridge supply I did one fruit and one veggie
each meal and usually mixed them together
We are pretty much over purees at 8 months now so I have a new board devoted to toddler and finger foods and will work on an adventure post for those later.

I would love to hear what you've tried and done. Check out my Pinterest board for all the recipes and blogs I used. This was the most helpful website to me.

Jamie