Superstition Ranch Market

I'm going to blog some of my favorite spots around town...

First up is Superstition Ranch Market.  I know this isn't a secret, but thought I would post it in case any people haven't heard or been to the ranch market.

This place has gobs and gobs of fresh produce for a steal!  As a disclaimer, I need to state that typically the produce from here has a slightly shorter shelf-life, and you sometimes have to dig for something good, but not always.  And the prices usually counteract any inconvenience of digging through for a few seconds longer, for me at least!

I typically do my grocery shopping at WinCo (a little at Costco) every few weeks.  In between these trips, I will pick up the produce I need at the Superstition Ranch Market every week, or week and a half.

Here is a glimpse into one of my shopping trips...

As you can see, the prices can't be beat.  I mean, 8 red bell peppers for $1?!  Usually one of those beauties can cost $1!  Stuffed bell peppers for dinner, anyone?

Depending on the day and time of day you come, this place can be packed.  I like to try to go during times that aren't "peak" times (i.e., not on a Saturday, not right before the dinner hour, etc.).  There is a lot of produce packed into this small store, so we wear the Moby for easier navigation.

Not many other places can you score grapes for this deal!

They even have a huge assortment of specialty cheeses, fresh breads and cinnamon rolls, and dried goods as well (although I never buy the dried goods here, the price point on these is fairly high).  

I got all this produce, for a whopping $9.02.  What a deal!  We will have yummy meals and snacks this week!

2 cantaloupes, 1 watermelon, 4 bananas, 2 cases of strawberries, grapes, green onions, 3 regular yellow onions, 3 zucchini, 5 avocados, 8-9 Roma tomatoes, 2 Produce Partners mixes (1 for salsa, 1 for guacamole).

And if you don't live close by to make regular stops, it is a good place to buy in bulk to can or bottle produce.  Or, you can stock up and freeze produce.  My friend Kara from Not Quite Mary Poppins, did a blog post here, on how to do just that!  Very simple tutorial with pictures, so check it out!


Frugal Fitness: Free Version

I already posted about gym options that are more affordable, but what if the gym isn’t your thing?  Exercise can be free!  Usually the best kind is free!

Here are a few ideas of things you can do that are free, or close to it:

A lot of communities have courts you can use for free—like at parks and high schools, or community centers that only charge a few dollars.  If you already have equipment—free!  If not, ask to borrow from a friend, check your local thrift stores, garage sales, and Craigslist.  And even brand new, the equipment isn't terribly pricey if you aren't looking at professional level quality.

Before little Landon arrived, we used to meet our friends nearly every week to play doubles!  McKenzie and I actually met at a tennis clinic in high school and have remained dear friends ever since. 

Bike Ride
For a birthday present a couple years ago, my parents gifted us a set of bikes.  Then this last Christmas, a baby seat was another gift so that we can enjoy bike rides as a family.  It isn't the most intense exercise for us, but the fact that we are out and about moving and enjoying nature still has its perks!  Again, if you don’t have bikes and you want to go on a bike ride, see if you can borrow from a friend, check local thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist, and even some venues have affordable bike rentals.  Groupon, and sites like it, might also have bicycle rental promotions in certain locations.  You’d be surprised at how many people probably have a bike collecting dust in their garage and would love to let you borrow theirs!  This new site, Spinlister, is still growing, but it is a really cool concept for bike rental both locally and while you are traveling!  Check it out!    

Just take a jog around your neighborhood or at a local nearby trail.  Free and good exercise!

Workout Videos
These have not proven to be the best option for me to stay motivated, but I need to work on it because you can get a slew of options with workout videos!  From yoga to cardio, and everything in between.  Many of them require no equipment other than your own body for weight resistance, and once you own the video—it’s free!  Look for videos at thrift stores (who doesn’t love a retro video with neon and leotards?!) and second hand entertainment stores (like FYE), on Craigslist, or borrow from a friend.  There are also some cool apps on smart phones that are inexpensive or free (like the Nike App) and with YouTube, you can find all sorts of videos and even subscribe to channels that offer very vigorous workout options—all for free! 

I am not even scratching the surface when it comes to free or really inexpensive options for exercise.  Please comment and tell me what you do or what your ideas are!  These are all pretty obvious examples, what are some more unique ones or other obvious ones I didn't mention?


Accessories: K Momo Style

So, the other day I was out and about, and had a few minutes to spare before I needed to be back to work. So I decided to run into this store called K Momo.  Never been inside before, but had passed it numerous times and my curiosity was peaked.

I scored this adorable necklace for $5.  It's a style I have been looking for, for a while!

I quickly perused the clothing and saw some things that I thought could be quite cute as well, for pretty good prices.  Also, if you are in the market for a wig, they carry those too :)

I think it is safe to say, I will be popping in to that store now and again to see what other deals they have going on.  Next time I hope to have more time, so I can try on a few clothing items as well.

Check it out if you are local!  The store I stopped by was located on Southern, in between Alma School and Longmore (on Stewart, I believe).


Frugal Fitness: Gym Time

Fitness, exercise, working out, training—the list of what you can call it goes on and on.  But we all know that taking care of ourselves physically is important.  Depending on your personality and attitude, it might be the thing you look forward to, the thing that gets you through the day, the thing you dread, or the thing you don’t get around to doing.  And for some it is entirely free and others it is extremely expensive.

For me, I am kind of in the middle of that mess.  I go through phases of loving working out and then others of dreading/avoiding it.  I don’t spend gobs of money on fitness, but I do spend a little bit.  Usually once I start a good routine, I realize how much I do enjoy it and how good I feel when I make it a priority.  But if I get out of the habit, then it is hard to find the energy/time/desire/etc. to get my booty back in shape.  I am sure this is representative of a lot of other people in regards to working out. 

Here in AZ, wintertime is the better time of year to exercise outside (less expensive) due to reasonable and bearable temperatures that don’t endanger your health (intense exercise in 115 degrees isn’t usually a good idea, folks!).  However, I am very safety-conscious, and since it gets dark a lot earlier, it was hard for me to find the time to go during day light when someone could watch my baby and working out indoors just wasn’t working out for me.  So I broke down and got a gym membership.  A few thoughts on gym memberships:

Gyms can be extremely pricey and have expensive start-up fees, sneaky cancellation fees, and tricky salesmen who try to hide the fine print.  I think many people can’t afford the regular standard gyms anymore.  But I have noticed a lot of “no-frills” gyms are starting to pop up in a lot of places.  No-frills = more affordable.  The no-frills doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t perks, but they just might not have the overly-excessive benefits that some high end gyms have.  They might not have child-care, they might not have every single machine, the locker room might not have blow-dryers, they might not have racquetball courts—you know what I mean.  So if something is really important to you, make sure they have it before you sign up. 

Two gyms that fall under the no-frills and affordable category that I have personally been to are:

I currently have a membership at Planet Fitness.  They have two membership options, one that costs $10/month, the other $20/month.  You get access to some more benefits if you have the more expensive membership, which includes unlimited guest privileges (you can take a friend every time you go—motivation!) and access to tanning and massage beds.  They do not have child care and their class options are more like brief instruction. 

Kelly, me at Planet Fitness working out (she came as my guest and to motivate me!)
I used to be a member of Gold’s Gym and it had very similar membership plans.  They did have a child care center, more options for classes, and unlimited guest privileges on the more expensive membership.  They did not have tanning and massage beds.

Both of these gyms seem to have more and more locations, you should see if there is one near you if going to a gym is how you get the best results! 

Do you know of any other gyms that are affordable? 

Stay tuned, because I have another post coming up on other options for free or inexpensive exercise that are not gym-related!


Upgraded Terracotta Pots

I wanted a little bit of Spring in our home, and since we're in AZ, cacti and desert plants seemed like a good option.  When I stumbled on the itty bitty ones in Home Depot and they had vibrant Spring colors--coral, pink, and yellow, I was convinced.

Terracotta pots are really inexpensive, and an easy DIY for a customized look.  I got the idea when I was leaving work, and there was a beautiful terracotta pot on the patio that was painted yellow on the bottom.

I just taped off, and used newspaper to protect the part of the pots that I didn't want painted.  I just used a little spray paint for the color.  Once they dried, I removed the tape and newspaper and planted.  Now my living room has a little bit of color and life.  I love it!


Movie in the Park

So many communities now offer Movies in the Park for free!  Check your local areas to see it it is an option for you, or if you are in AZ, you can check out this link of movies in the park at the Biltmore mall.  We have gone several times, and it is great!

We went a few weeks ago, and we were able to go early and just hang out in the enjoyable weather.  We packed a picnic dinner and picked up some drinks on the way, which was a very frugal approach.  But you could always pick up some dinner on the way, keeping your price point reasonable--and it would still be a very affordable get-together, date, or family outing.

We saw Casablanca, it was my first time seeing it.  We met up with some friends for the movie.  Everyone brought their own dinner and we all shared treats.  It was a blast!

What do you do outdoors when the weather is nice?  We are trying to soak up the outside time before Arizona starts reaching the triple digits on a daily basis!

We got there really early to relax and save spots.  Best decision, we would recommend it!


Snacks for a Crowd

We are heading down to my husband's hometown in southern AZ for the weekend.  I love taking weekend getaways down there!  We will be watching our church's general conference broadcast and spending lots of time with family.

I always take a few snacks down for us to munch on over the weekend.  Both of these snacks will feed a lot and are real crowd-pleasers.  I make one homemade and cheat and buy the other (but I am sure there are plenty of knock-off recipes that are delish!)

The first, is an easy-peasy black bean salsa.  The recipe is from my Aunt Debbie.  Most of this is just dumping things in a bowl!  Here is the recipe:

Aunt Debbie's Black Bean Salsa

1 can black eye peas, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 cup white onion, chopped (I don't usually do quite that much)
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 package Good Seasons Italian Mix (dry, not mixed)

For the peppers, I just used a few mini sweet red and orange peppers and I added a little jalapeno this time to give it some kick!

The other snack I take is the jalapeno artichoke cream cheese dip from Costco.  Serve it warm or cold, eat it with tortilla chips.  It is so good!  But like I said, I am sure you could easily make a dip like this homemade and it would be equally delicious.

I just buy a huge bag of tortilla chips at Costco and take these snacks down and they last the big Allred family the whole weekend long.  These would also be good snacks for Superbowl Sunday or any other big get-together.  What are your go-to crowd pleasing snacks?  I want ideas!  I want to plan a party soon, so send them my way!


Frugal Fashion: Easter Edition

I am a big believer in dressing "seasonally" appropriate with colors, styles, etc.  For example, wearing a burnt orange colored cardigan in the middle of Spring would be a big "no-no" for me.  And who doesn't love a special outfit on Easter Sunday?  But it gets too pricey to buy brand new outfits for every special occasion.  Here is how we did our Easter Sunday outfits on a budget!

Here is the little family Easter morn...

I really wanted to get Brett a new tie for his "Easter Basket" but was just too exhausted ran out of time (lame wife!) to get to Ross to check on their inventory.  They seem to usually have a decent selection of ties for around $10.  But he did get a new white shirt (Kirkland brand from Costco--I really like them and they run around $18 and are wrinkle-resistant) that he needed desperately.  

Hope this can inspire you to have some frugal, but cute "Springy" outfits!


Stretching Meals: Easter Edition

How do you use up your leftovers from Easter dinner?

We used our leftover rolls and ham to make sandwiches (throw a little Dijon mustard on there to kick it up a notch), potato salad (using all those hard-boiled eggs that are dyed over the weekend), and some veggies and pickles we keep on hand for salads and snacks.

Easy and delicious dinner!

Ham is also good in lots of casseroles, omelets, on homemade pizza, and in potato soup.  Or, if you have the ham hawk, boil it to make a stock and make ham and bean soup.  Yum!

For those hard-boiled eggs, use them to make egg salad sandwiches, in a salad, or plain with a little salt for a protein-filled snack.

Any other ideas on how to use up those hard-boiled eggs and ham?  Hope your Easter weekend was wonderful!