Living A Frugal Life A Frugal Life is a Rich Life Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:08:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Neat: Vegan Meat Substitute Review And Giveaway Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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Neat: Vegan Meat Substitute Review And Giveaway is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

While I was at the Natural Products Expo a couple weeks ago.  I met a few people with this amazing new product called Neat.  They offered me a taste of their mexican flavor on a chip.  I was thinking it was taco meat so I jumped on it because if you know me, you know that I am a mexican food lover.  I took one bite and was sold.  I then realized it wasn’t meat at all.  It was a vegan meat substitute.  I grabbed the bag and looked at it and was so surprised to see it was made of chick peas and pecans!

Neat Foods Giveaway

Crazy hu?  I am always on the look out for non meat items that have protein and are healthy.  So I asked them all I could about it.  I have a very picky eater who only likes taco meat and “nugits” (as she says) and refuses anything else. I immediately thought of her and I wondered if she would even taste it. So I asked my wonderful new, bright, intelligent (I am not sucking up!!!!)  friends if I could take some of there product home to try with her.

They said yes!!!

I cooked it up for dinner for her a couple nights ago and she gobbled that stuff up!  We actually didn’t have enough for her.  she just kept wanting to eat more.  Now, as a mom, anything that is healthy that my kids gobble up is a win in my book, but the fact that she loved it as much as she did really put it over the top for me.

Because I am now in love with this product, no really in love, I wanted to let one lucky reader try it and fall in love too.  So one lucky winner will get a 3 pack of neat, with one mexican, one italian and one original.  I promise you will want to get more as soon as you can get your hands on it.(and as a little secret for you, they just came out with their 4th flavor, Maple, for the breakfast crowd.  I was able to try that too and it was SO good.  I am waiting patiently for it to hit the shelves so I can buy all they have… ;) )

To get your hands on some Neat, enter below and be sure you come back and do the daily items everyday so you have the best chance to win this wonderful new product!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t want to wait to win some Neat, you can also buy it from the eat Neat website or on Amazon

You can also find out more about the product on their facebook, twitter, and pinterest pages.

Neat: Vegan Meat Substitute Review And Giveaway is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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So, I looked…. Fri, 04 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0000

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So, I looked…. is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

Debt Payment Plan

I shouldn’t have done it, but I did.

I looked at how much we owe on our student loans.

I was pleasantly surprised to find we owe less then I thought we did.  That was a bit of a relief despite the HUGE debt we have.  But as I have been avoiding it all these years because we just needed to do what we did, It is time to face the music.  Time to face the hole we have dug and jump in with 2 feet.

So I printed off a few budgeting worksheets that I will be posting as free printables soon(!!!!) and I started to make a plan.  I have now written down every loan we have and how much is owed.  I am in process of getting an idea of how we can best pay them off.

I am feel like we have a huge hole to fill back in but knowing the whole picture has been surprisingly calming to me.  I now feel like we know what type of a shovel we will need and how we can make it happen.  I have a goal to pay it off in 5 years.  This goal sounds really crazy if you knew how much we had, but I feel like if we get really intense and start making this work then we will be able to do it.

Especially because we are moving.  Yup, you heard that right, We are moving.  We will be back in the Fresno area.  This is going to require some fancy footwork on my part to get everything done before the date, but We will save SO much money if we do that.

I hope you will join me on this journey.  We have never had to pay off debt because this in the first debt we have ever had in our lives.  So I have never paid it off.  I plan on posting weekly or bi-weekly updates.  If my husband ok’s it I will be sharing our total and how we are paying it off as well.

To motivate me in this process, I am looking for people who have debt pay off stories to post on the blog.  It can be something you are working on now or how you accomplished the pay off completely.  If you have a story that you are ok with me posting, please email it with a picture of yourself or your family to me at Melissa @ and title it “Debt Story”.

I am excited to get this crazy journey started and to get it all paid off so we can be debt free and away from the pressure of all this.

Do you pay off debts in order of amount of debt or amount of interest rate?

So, I looked…. is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review And Activity Sheets Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review And Activity Sheets is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

Captain America

I asked my husband to write this review because well, lets be real, this movie is SO his kind of movie and SO not mine.  I watch them though because it is something he loves.  I thought the movie was ok, but I knew he would do the movie justice better then me.  So here he is…

Last week Melissa and I were fortunate enough to go and see Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  After leaving our four kids with the babysitter and battling Los Angeles traffic, we sat and enjoyed a great show.  The movie begins with Cap (Chris Evans) going for a morning run where he shows fellow war veteran (Anthony Mackie), and soon to be friend, just how much the super soldier serum has boosted Cap’s physical abilities.  Quickly thereafter we’re treated to the typical action that makes Marvel comic based movies so exciting.  However, the movie is not a non-stop action fest.  There are peaks and valleys where we see character development and feel the struggles that the team are going through.

One thing that this movie does, which isn’t really seen in any other movies from “The Avenger’s” franchise, is include a dark political undercurrent that hits home given modern-day concerns of an all knowing government.  We see the issues that arise when corrupt persons in high political positions abuse their power and resources for their own nefarious designs.

All in all, it was a really good movie.  Typically, I’m a fairly simple, easy to please person but I don’t think that came into play here.  The movie is well done with great special effects, action choreography, and dialogue.  It furthers the depth of preexisting characters while introducing new ones.  If you’re a fan of comic book movies, this is a must see.  For all others, this movie will not leave you bored and checking your watch to see if the 136 is nearing its end.

Oh, and as with all the other movies in the “Avengers” franchise, stay all the way to the end of the credits for see a little bit of a bonus!

Be sure to check out these coloring pages and activity sheets for your little one who loves comics.

Captain America Activity Sheets

Captain America Coloring Sheets

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review And Activity Sheets is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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$45 in Natural and Organic Product Coupons Giveaway!!! Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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$45 in Natural and Organic Product Coupons Giveaway!!! is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

natural product coupon giveaway

While I was at the natural products expo I was able to taste and try a TON of new products.  I can honestly say I am sold on some of them and they will be part of our home from now on.  But as a bonus as I was walking around I was able to collect a ton of coupons for all different natural products.  I don’t want to keep all the fun to myself, so I thought I would give away most of them to one lucky reader!!!!

Enter below and don’t forget to come back daily to tweet and share on facebook!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$45 in Natural and Organic Product Coupons Giveaway!!! is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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5 Tip for Successful Bartering Fri, 28 Mar 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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5 Tip for Successful Bartering is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

successful bartering

Bartering and negotiating are two skills that seem to have gone to the wayside for so many, but they both as useful to a savvy businessperson as the budget minded mom or dad. Developing the ability to hold your own during negotiations or while bartering your way to a desired item or outcome takes some skill. Most businessmen and businesswomen have developed this skill and use it all the time in the boardroom, but it is not just an activity meant for the corporate world.

For whatever reason you want to learn to negotiate better and be able to barter confidently for, you need to get over and past a couple things that keep most people from even trying or being able to close the deal.

5 Tip for Bartering Successfully

Understanding the Difference

Before you can learn how to negotiate and barter better, you need to understand the difference between them. You can negotiate within a barter, but when you negotiate you are talking and making allowances and requests that will ultimately get you what you want and still walk away with the better deal– if only in your eyes. When you barter you trade or exchange goods or services without either party having to use money. You can negotiate yourself to a better barter by making the other party understand and see the value and worth in your item or services.

Get Over Any Negative Ideas You Have

Over the years negotiating has become a negatively viewed activity for women to engage in, and bartering has been viewed as something only done by those that are unable to pay or unwilling to. Neither of these skills is any of these things, and it is a skill that is important to have in your toolbelt. If it feels like something that is negative to you, try negotiating or bartering in a way that puts the idea out there as something that will be beneficial not just to yourself, but also for the person you are bartering with.

Go For What You Want

One of the best ways to improve your skill as a barterer and negotiator is to keep your use of the practice solely to the things you want most. An impassioned negotiator fights harder for the things they want and deserve, and this will help you hone the skills needed.  Success leads to getting the things we need and gives us the confidence boost to try again.

Use Your Network

Rather than starting to barter or negotiate outside your network of already established friends or family, keep it personal. Ask family and friends first, and if there is no one in possession of what you want to barter for, ask them who they know that might be interested in working with you. When people know who is involved in their barters personally, it is easier to work out a deal and negotiate in a friendly way that everyone is comfortable with.

Timing is Everything

If you have something that you have been wanting to barter for a while, but the timing is not right for other people, you might have a hard time negotiating something that works for you or is fair. Hang on to seasonal items or services that are not in demand yet. The same goes for the condition of the items you are bartering or details you are trying to determine for your negotiation. If you cannot trade items when you are making arrangements, wait until you can.

The best negotiators and barterers are the ones that ask. Make that first step and you’re sure to surprise yourself.

What other tips do you have for successful bartering?

5 Tip for Successful Bartering is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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Favado App: Get Coupon Deals and Price Comparisons On Your Phone Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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Favado App: Get Coupon Deals and Price Comparisons On Your Phone is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

So a couple years ago I used to post the deals every week.  I would go through and get all the coupons and match them up to make your life easier.  I loved doing it and helping you, but my time just had to shift as my life got busier with kids and homeschool and trying to manage the house by myself.  Since then I have been trying to find something to take the place of the match ups on here.

Well I am SUPER excited to say that I have found it!  The geniuses over at have come up with a really great way to get the deals and for you to always have the most up to date info and the best part is that they have a way to compare the stores too!!!!

Sign Up for favado

The first thing you have to do is sign up for it.  This is really important because you want to have your account set up before you download the app.

Once you receive confirmation via email, then you can download the app to your phone! It’s a 2 step process, so be sure to sign up first here!

Each week store deals are updated by Saturday and Wednesday. You can go view the top store deals and also the full match-ups for that store. You can check the deals you want, then print out your list. You can have all of your deals for each store on one list as well.

Also once you sign up, the store match-ups will also be emailed to you as well as any coupons you can print to go along with those store deals!

**Be sure to sign up online FIRST, then you will be sent instructions on how to download the app to your phone! It is important that you sign up online first so you can make sure your zipcode is imputed for the stores in your area!

Some of the great features favado has are:

Price comparisons:
The Favado app will take the guesswork out of checking for the best deals in town by doing the comparing for you. With over 65,000 grocery stores and drugstores on Favado’s network of deals, you are sure to get the best deals in town as well as be 100% confident that your favorite shops are included.

favado app 1

A handy search function:
No need to scroll through deals on items you aren’t interested in buying. You can literally look up every item on your shopping list and find out where it has the best deal at. This makes price-matching so simple and cuts the time you spend hunting for these through ads in half!

favado app 2

Personalization of the items you buy frequently:
Just add the deals you are always on the lookout for to your personalized list and get notified when they go on sale! It couldn’t be simpler!

Couponing couldn’t be simpler!
With Favado’s knowledge of the latest coupons available for the items you want to buy and it’s ability to show you how much you will save by matching them with coupons, you will never miss an amazing sale again. It may even turn you into a coupon shopper if you aren’t one already when you see how easy it is to save on all your favorite brands.

favado app 3

My List Feature:

the “my list” feature allows you to build your shopping list right in the app! And, with the ability to share your shopping list with others Via email, you can make sure to get the gang rounded up for shopping trips at several stores at the same time, or, just make sure you are able to have someone stop and pick up what you are needing on their way home with no hassle.

Plus, not only will you know the best published deals, but Favado even knows about “secret savings” that are not general public knowledge. The deals in the Favado app are hand-picked by consumers just like you!

I am so excited about this app and will be using it all the time now.  So be sure you get signed up and are using it too so you can get the best prices and save 70% off your grocery bill!

If you need a newspaper subscription for coupons be sure to check out the Newspaper subscription discounts available!

Favado App: Get Coupon Deals and Price Comparisons On Your Phone is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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11 Must Have Tools and Gadgets for Cooking on a Budget Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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11 Must Have Tools and Gadgets for Cooking on a Budget is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

Cooking on a budget can be a challenge sometimes.  especially when you kitchen isn’t stocked with the tools you need to cook from scratch.

Here are my top picks to tools I use regularly in my kitchen that help me to cook on a budget.  Each of these have many uses in our house and I try to only keep items I can use for multiple things.  Because it can be hard to cook with recipes like low budget chicken enchiladas if you don’t have the right tools.  It also helps to keep your kitchen less cluttered if you are focusing on just having the things you really need and using them for all the uses they have.

cooking on a budget

I have each of these in my kitchen so if you have any questions on how I use them please ask!

11 Must Have Tools and Gadgets for Cooking on a Budget

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Kitchen Aid - This may seem like a large cost for something in a frugal kitchen.  But I can’t tell you how much easier this makes bread making!  Also you can use it to shred chicken, beat eggs or other items and many other things.  This is the one large tool I wouldn’t trade for the world.  It is worth the cost you pay for it and then some.

Silicon Spatulas – These are the perfect tool to me.  You can cook with them in hot pans, use them in baking or use them to scrape pans out.  They are easy to wash and they last for years!  We have about 4 of these because we use them a lot.  But I could probably get by with only 2-3 if I didn’t have space for the extras.

basic kitchen tools set - This tool set includes a can opener, a peeler, plastic spoons, tongs and a whisk.  You will use all of these in your cooking and preparing of the food.  I use it and wash some of these items a few times a day since we have no dishwasher.

wooden spoons - These are great for so many things.  There will be times where you want a non-plastic spoon.  These are great for stirring mixes and breads and also for cooking those items that are cooked on a higher heat then your plastic spoons will take. I have 2 of these.

Measuring cups and Measuring spoons - I would suggest having a couple sets of these in your house.  I have 2 sets of measuring spoons and I have a set of wet measuring cups and a set of dry measuring cups.  I really use this brand too.  ;)  We use these all the time.  I am usually washing them multiple times a day because I will use them and then need them for the next meal.  I do this so I don’t have too many items in my tiny little kitchen.

Quality set of pots and pans - This is important just because of longevity.  You will use these every day.  It is important to invest some money into something that will last.  otherwise you will be spending a ton a little at a time replacing the scratched and bent pans.  The type of pans you get depend on your preference, but this like the mixer and the blender are something you want to budget extra for the quality.

Deep Frying pan or Skillet - I use this on a daily basis.  I cook everything in it.  Because I am cooking for 6 people I usually need a bigger pan then our larger frying pan because I have to stir it.  So I use it all the time.  The important part of this for cooking frugally is that you can use this to make double batches of your meals so you can freeze some for later!

Wok - We make a lot of stir fries.  this is a great way to stretch money on meats.  When you make a stir fry you can use 1 breast of chicken or 1 cut of meat for a while meal.  This is also great for cooking meats in bulk because you can easily stir it so it cooks evenly.

Quality Knives - Like the pots and pans these get used a lot!  If you don’t get quality knives they go dull very quickly.  They also may bend or break.  Getting quality knives helps you to be able to cut items faster and better and it also helps you cut them in bulk.  This is really important in any family!  Faster prep equals faster meals and more time to spend with your family!

Mixing Bowl set - We have 2 different sets of these.  We have a glass set and a plastic set.  The reason we have the glass set is because we have certain breads and recipes where we need a glass bowl.  But You can get what fits your family.  We use these at least once a week depending on what we make that week.  Glass is good because you can cook in it if needed too.

Vitamix or Blentec - We have a Vitamix.  We use it for everything.  we have made scrambled eggs in bulk in them, We use the dry container to grind our wheat.  We make smoothies, soups, and so much else.  We don’t have any other blender because this does it all!

What other items do you think are important when your cooking on a budget???

Be sure to check out our other recipes and tips for cooking on a budget!



11 Must Have Tools and Gadgets for Cooking on a Budget is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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My Natural Foods Conversion at Expo West Wed, 19 Mar 2014 13:00:00 +0000

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My Natural Foods Conversion at Expo West is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

Expo West is the mecca of all natural and organic products.  I honestly had no idea just how big the natural and organic industry was until I walked through the doors of the Expo.  My exposure with natural products was almost non existent before this.  I had not been prepared for how this would change my ideas of what was good food.

Expo West

I can honestly say that I have never cared for anything organic.  I have felt like it is not worth the money.  Honestly I still don’t feel like a lot of it is worth the money.  but the natural food and product industry is a totally different thing.  Everything I have tasted was SO good!  I kept tasting more and more and realized natural food products are completely different then organics.

I have been trying to eat clean lately.  I have been trying to more aware of what I put in my body.  I am addicted to sweets though.  I have a really hard time sitting and blogging and not snacking.  I got samples of SUPER good natural foods and I would sit and eat it night after night because it was SO good!  I can’t tell you how frustrating yet appeasing it has been.

It is because of this that I have decided that natural product just taste better!!!  and why do you think they are better?  because they aren’t processed, they don’t have a bunch of “stuff” added to it.  It is natural foods!

So I have decided that I am not going to try to be “healthy”  I am just going to try to eat more whole natural foods.  I am going to try to snack less, and watch my portion sizes, but mostly I am going to try to have more whole foods and natural foods in the house.  I am going to go back to cooking more often and making items in double batches so I can freeze some for later and still have good whole foods.  I am also going to plan some no meat meals so that I can

So to do this the best I can, I went through the samples I got.  I picked out my top 4 products and then also share some more of the others later as I highlight my favorites with reviews and giveaways!

My favorite 4 products from the Natural Foods Expo

berry breeze

Berry Breeze - When I saw this product I was a little unsure what it was.  So I picked up the box and when I saw what it was, I just wanted to take it home with me and tell the world about it!  Berry Breeze is a product that you put in your fridge and it creates a perfect oxygen level to preserve fruits and veggies so they last longer in your fridge!  What is more frugal then that???  If you want to read others reviews or if you want buy one now you can do it here


Neat – Neat is the best meat substitute I have ever had.  It is made with garbanzo beans and everyone who tastes it says it tastes just like meat!  I gave it to my picky eater 3 year old and she gobbled it up!  She had no idea it wasn’t taco meat.  I can’t wait to share more about that with you later.  It will seriously change your life!  If you want to know more or if you want buy one now you can do it here

Mommi Protein

Mommi Protien – This is the best invention for pregnant moms since sliced bread!  I can’t wait to share more with you about this later.  But basically mommi is a protein shake that has pregnancy safe protein with all your prenatal vitamins and DHA!  Basically a dream for any pregnant woman who throws up all the time.  I was that mom when I was pregnant with my girls.  couldn’t keep anything down for 6 months yet gained 60 pounds with my pregnancy because I ate crackers all the time.  This isn’t even out for sale yet, but if you go to the website you can sign up for a free sample of it to try it out.

Daiya foods

Daiya Cheese – This is a dairy and soy free vegetable based cheese.  It is SO good!  I seriously love it more the regular cheese.  I can’t wait to find more of their products.  The best part is that all their pizzas are dairy, soy and gluten free.  They are so fresh!  If you know where their products are sold in So cal please share so I can get them soon.

What of these products are you most excited to hear about?

My Natural Foods Conversion at Expo West is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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How To Save Money on Prom Attire Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:05:59 +0000

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How To Save Money on Prom Attire is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

How To Save Money On Prom Attire

Prom is one thing many high-schoolers look forward to, but the costs associated with it can be higher than their weekend job budget allows. Whether it’s a tux or a ball gown you are after, here are some tips for saving money on your young adult’s formal wear.

How To Save Money on Prom Attire


Rent a tux. It is often much cheaper to rent a tux, especially if you are going to be color-coordinating with your date and you want the newest looks and style. This can run you around $80-$150 depending on the style and “extras” (different ties, shoes etc.) you want. A tux that you buy will cost you hundreds- thousands of dollars.

Borrow a tux. This is obviously the most economical, but it might be hard for you to find someone your size willing to let you borrow.

Go for a suit rather than a tuxedo. You can buy suits as low as $50 for new and even less for used at thrift stores and many times they are in style and just what you need. Just make sure to try it on to make sure it fits and has not been altered.

Go to a wedding expo and get coupons. This may sound goofy, but larger communities have wedding expos in January or February for grooms and brides to be and there are a lot of useful coupons for tux rentals.


Formal Dresses:

Shop at bridal stores. Wait until the wedding sales start happening in February and snag a great deal on a bridesmaid dress. You will probably be able to find one for less than $100 this way.

Shop craigslist. Around this time of year, former prom-goings and bridesmaids start offering their dresses for sale on sites like Craigslist for low prices. I have seen many below $100 and even some very nice ones below $50. Be willing to try the dress on before you buy though so alterations can be made if it is your dream dress.

Pop some tags at a thrift shop. You would be surprised at how quickly people donate their formal dresses to thrift stores and the prices they sell them for. Just make sure to check for stains, holes and tears.

Rent a dress. Just like tuxes, you can rent a formal dress. The price can be cut significantly and only cost you $30-$50. Just do an internet search in your area for places that offer this option.

Shop out of season. Don’t wait until Spring to find that perfect dress. Many formal shops offer great deals just after the Holidays so shopping in January or February may be just what will get you the best deal.

How To Save Money on Prom Attire is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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13 Green Food Ideas for St Patrick’s Day Fri, 14 Mar 2014 13:05:19 +0000

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13 Green Food Ideas for St Patrick’s Day is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

We have a tradition in our family that dinner time is green every St. Patricks day!  We love green food and the kids love that as well.  I have been on the hunt for some new green food recipes to spice up the meals this year.  I love to have green dinner ideas, but there were too many good desserts this year to miss out on these lovelies.

Here are my top favorites for this year.  If you have any other ideas please be sure to add them in the comments.  I would love to find more!

Green Food Ideas

Green Food Ideas

rainbow poke cupcakes

These rainbow cupcakes are SO cute!  Would make a great after school treat!

Mint Chocolate Oreo Truffle

These Mint Oreo Truffles make a great addition to a party or a great dessert for a green dinner!

St. Pattys Day Minty Pudding Parfaits

These Oreo parfaits look so good!!!  Great for a dinner party!

St Patricks Pancakes

These spinach pancakes would make a great surprise to start the day!

St Patricks Day Punch

This St Patricks Day Punch would make a great addition to any meal!

mint chocolate grahams

These chocolate mint graham  bars would be a great lunchbox treat!

mock lime cheesecake

I love Cheesecake!  Who wouldn’t love lime cheesecake??

Green Breakfast

These green breakfast ideas are so cute and fun!

Easy Key Lime Pie

This key lime pie looks so yummy!!

St. Patricks Day Cookies

If you have a green lover these green cookies would be a huge hit!!

Leprechaun Shake

These Leprechaun shakes are so easy kids could make them!

grasshopper cheesecake bars

Grasshopper Cheesecake Bars are SO good!  They will make your party complete!


Check out these other green food ideas!

13 Green Food Ideas for St Patrick’s Day is a post from: Living A Frugal Life

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