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Working mom wants help

Last post Sat, Jul 3 2010 2:00 PM by Juneflower. 23 replies.
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  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 5:01 PM

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Working mom wants help

    As one of many working moms (I am employed full-time and going to undergraduate school full-time and have an 11 yr old son) and who does not have the time to cut coupons, search for deals, make from-scratch meals, what tips do you have for us?

    What tips do you have for her?

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  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 5:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    I would say that a good foundation on money management would be crucial. By this I mean making sure she balances her checkbook, pays bills on time, and knows how much money she has at her disposal.

    If she doesn't already have a budget, start making and keeping one. It doesn't have to be a fancy spreadsheet, just a list of who gets her money each month.


  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 5:53 PM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    When my husband was laid off, I worked two jobs, plus put in some paid hours as a debate judge & time as a volunteer coach, with 3 kids at home.  I did not cut coupons, not because I didn't have time, but because I couldn't afford the newspaper. When I had access to a paper, I looked through it for coupons on my lunch hour.  We all find time for what we choose to do.  I listened to my fellow workers & we passed on to each other any "deals" we heard of.  I made time to cook from scratch, because it saved us a lot of money when we had very little cash.  Because I was short on time, I often cooked double the amount & froze it or put it in the fridge for later. I didn't buy my lunch, I took it from home.There was no clothes budget, so none were bought.

  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 6:50 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Working mom wants help

     I am not really a working mom and I homeschool rather than go to school but I don't use a lot of coupons or shop in a lot of stores anymore either.

    I do use Angel Food often as the core of my foods for a month. This, Share or one of the other food programs may be an option to help save money without the time factor of deal hunting.

    I shop at two stores mostly and check the ads on both each week. For shopping this way for meats and produce, I buy what has the best/lowest prices and usually get a little extra to stock up on. I also buy personal items and supplies when they are on sale. Ad checking on only two stores doesn't take long at a all. Just a quick peek at the pages to decide what I am buying.

    Cooking from scratch does not have to be time consuming if the meals are basic. A working mother attending college probably won't have time to make bread by hand but she can choose raw or fresh ingredients over boxed and cannned for some meals. As someone else said, the key to that one is cooking when you do have some time and freezing or refrigerating for later. Beans, stews, soups and more can be cooked this way. There are other meals that take less time that use less processed ingrdients too.



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  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 7:19 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Working mom wants help

    I looked up some sites in case our reader is interested in checking out a few for meal ideas.

    The first site I recommend to new cooks and those trying to expand their homecooked meals is Lipton Recipe Secrets site. I am not kidding when I say this site was my first real step into the world of homecooked meals. Before I got online and found this site, I knew how to cook a few things and relied a lot on canned and boxed foods for many other meals.

    The Lipton site does call for using their soup packets. Early on, I used them but now I have adapted the recipes so I use seasonings and water, soetimes olive oil instead of the prepared soup mixes as flavoring.

    Lipton's Recipe Secrets

    Hunt's site has some good recipes that call for their tomato products. I also recommend trying some of the recipes on the spaghetti sauce cans. Those call for the sauce, pasta and usually only a few other ingredients. They are cheap and easy.



    The Jiffy mix site was another hit in my kitchen. My baking skills were practised on these easy and less time consuming recipes. I no longer use the commercial baking mix but substitute that with a home mixed one. However, Jiffy mix is still an acceptable step to quicker homecooked items.

    Jiffy recipes


    Hillbilly Housewife introduced me to recipes that made cooking those impossible things like pie crust from scratch much easier. A buy mom can't be expected to prepare these often but maybe once in awhile they can take the place of packaged short cuts. Some of the recipes for convenience don't really take more time than their packaged counterparts.

    Hillybilly Housewife


    The other place that took me to new heights in the kitchen was copycat recipes. I have a book and a few printed recipes that alow me to cook a few of the tasty things we would otherwise want to spend more on. For these, check the web and used bookstores or the library for the Recipe Secret book. 





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  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 8:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    As someone else said, the key to that one is cooking when you do have some time and freezing or refrigerating for later. Beans, stews, soups and more can be cooked this way.

    Exactly. My crockpot is my best appliance for this very reason.

    For instance, in the evening before you go to bed, start a crockpot full of red beans, kidney beans or pinto beans & cook overnight up to 24 hours on low until the beans are really soft.  This is important, because they will firm back up when anything acidic ( like tomato sauce) is added, so they need to be completely cooked first.  Next night, add the tomatoes, dried onions, peppers, & spices & let the flavors blend while you brown the ground meat.  Add the meat & you have a crockpot full of chili.  After dinner, package the rest of the chili immediately. You should have enough for 6 meals for two people:

    2 of chili with corn chips (or cornbread muffins) on the side  ( no prep for the chips. Make extra muffins & take them for lunch)

    2 of chili over baked potatoes ( 10 mins in the microwave to nuke the potatoes) 

    2 of chili and hot dogs. (5 mins in the microwave to nuke the hotdogs)

    Depending on how big your crock pot is, & how much your 11 year old eats, you may get more meals.  The secret is to put the extra meals immediately into containers, labeled for the future uses. You probably won't eat all six chili meals in a row, so half the cooking for this week & for next week is done.

    Make stew & it can also become pot pie. (20 minutes in the oven with drop biscuits on top)

    If you have time on a weekend to make lasagna, cut the pieces & freeze in dinner portions. 

    I work nights.  Trust me when I say that cooked, instant oatmeal makes a fine, fast winter meal at 6am, 10 pm, or 3am. It's highly portable, warm, filling & fast - - and happens to be pretty good for you. Most workplaces have the boiling water available, but if not, a microwave works.  If anyone questions why you are eating oatmeal, tell them you are "working on your cholesterol".

  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 9:44 PM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    The crock-pot is your friend Big Smile.  I can recommend the 'Fix It and Forget It' cookbook and also '15-Minute Cooking' by Rhonda Barfield.  Both use crock-pots predominantly and the 15-minute cookbook is made up of meal game plans that you put 15 minutes into in the morning, then 15 minutes when you get home and supper's done.  She has children, so many recipes are kid-friendly...Liz.

  • Fri, Dec 18 2009 11:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    My sister know all about it Ar she is with us this week she is a single mother who is 44 with her secound set of kids she only clips coupons at lunch time I also did that and still to this day do it even if there is no kid anymore mom got tired of it now its passed tto me last month saved them 5.00 this month only 4.00 dollars not to bad could be much better then that...

  • Sat, Dec 19 2009 12:46 AM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    To: The Working Mom    You're not going to like my answer...... you gotta make the time.  I assume that you are "not  independently wealthy" or you wouldn't be working so hard, to hold it all together.  "If you ain't got the money" then you'll have to put in the time.

    Simplify, simplify, simplify!  Organize, organize the rest of the stuff.  Simplify your work wardrobe.  If you can afford it, have a week's worth of clean clothes hanging in the closet, ready to go.  Hang an empty plastic grocery bag around the hook of the hanger.  Put all the little stuff that you would wear with that outfit- underwear, jewelry, hose/socks, scarves, etc. In the morning, grab and go. Clothes for undergrad classes can be even simplier. Put a timer on your coffee pot, so it will be done when you're ready for breakfast.

    Seek out help!  You might work or go to school, with someone who is in the same boat as you.  Find a buddy and cook together on a Saturday.  Split the costs and meals equally and freeze them.  (When I think about how many times in a month, I end up cooking ground meat, chopping onions & garlic, tomato sauce base......) If you're going to cook one whole chicken, why not cook 2 or 3.

    Lists, Lists, Lists!  Posting lists help me, not to have to remember every little detail... it's written down and under my nose.  Post of the refrig door, what you need to pull out of the freezer and put in the refrig to thaw out, for supper that night.

    11 year old boys can learn to cut out coupons.  Do it while you watch TV or listen to music.  Make sure you have a "mechanical servant" (dishwasher; clothes washer, etc) running while you rest & relax.

    Prioritize!  Your relationship with your son should come first and the other things can fall in line, accordingly.  Simplify your life- it will help relieve some of the stress. 

  • Sat, Dec 19 2009 2:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Working mom wants help

    I would suggest cooking larger meals like lasagnas, chili/soup/spaghetti sauce in the slow-cooker, meatloaf, casseroles, etc. and freezing the extras.  Instead of making a 9x13 pan of something, buy the disposable 8x8 pans from the dollar store or family dollar or wherever and just make 2 pans of the food each time she makes something.  Invest in some good freezer bags and when she makes chili or soup, they should eat their fill of it, put some aside for leftovers one night and put the rest in meal sized amounts in the freezer.  Meatloaf can be made in a muffin pan so that serving sizes are easy to pop out and freeze for future use.  If she cooked like this only twice a week for 2 months, she would end up with at least 16 meals in her freezer, possibly more.  Heat them up, add a side and be done with it.  Sides in my house are not much work -- frozen veggies, potatoes or sweet potatoes in the microwave, instant brown rice (10 minutes), buttered noodles (12 minutes).

    Meals don't have to be fancy.  My menu plan often says, "chicken, veg, baked potato" or "salmon, brown rice, sweet potatoes" or "pork chops, green beans, buttered noodles".  If I'm in a rush or didn't pick out a specific way to make my said chicken, chops, or salmon, I'll usually just salt, pepper, and garlic powder them and then either cook them up with some olive oil in a skillet or throw them in the oven for a bit.  Since there's just 2 of them, she doesn't need to heat the whole oven either -- just use a toaster oven for smaller meals.

    If she keeps her meals down to just a few that she wing out without thinking and without needing recipe books, then she'll be set.  She'll also know each week exactly what she needs to buy from the store b/c the menus are basically the same each week.

    I would also suggest, if she's not doing it and can afford to do it, to just have her child eat breakfast and lunch at school.  It would cut back on precious time that she has little of and she could instead just focus on 1 healthy meal a day.

    It's tough working full time, going to school and raising a child, but if she is eating poorly, she will suffer from it.  One really good meal each day will make a world of difference.  (And there's nothing wrong with pizza once a week as long as there are some veggies on it or in a side salad!)

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