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Miserly Moms > Columns > Miserly Moms

Snacks for Kids, Staying Frugal, Covering a Sectional Sofa
by Jonni McCoy

Q. I was wondering if you have any ideas for frugal, healthy snacks for kids. Mine love crackers, but they can be expensive. Any suggestions?


A. I can relate to this problem! Mine love crackers and other expensive snack too. You can make your own crackers. You can flavor them anyway you like (cheese, garlic, onion, bacon, etc.). Here are some sites to visit for recipes to get you started:

Basic white cracker:
Many varieties:

Other than crackers, there are many homemade treats that are also healthy. I make muffins in large batches and freeze them. When the kids get hungry they can microwave them. I serve popcorn made from scratch. This costs 1 cent per cup. Make available several toppings to make it interesting. We use cheese powder, Lawry's seasoning, garlic salt, taco seasoning, and old fashioned butter. Be creative!

We also encourage sliced fruit and maybe a dip or yogurts for them. Or sliced vegetables with toppings, such as ants-on-a-log (celery with peanut butter and raisins on top). We also make our own granola bars. We first make the granola (see Miserly Moms for a non-fat recipe), than make the bars. Here is a well loved recipe from Better Homes and Gardens The New Cook Book, 1989:

Granola Bars
1 cup granola
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins, craisins, or mixed dried fruit bits
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with foil. Grease the foil; set pan aside. In a mixing bowl combine granola, oats, nuts, flour, and raisins. Stir in egg, honey, oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Press evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool. Use foil to remove from pan. Cut into bars. Makes 24.

Q. Just like going on a diet, I become very frugal for long periods of time, doing all the right things, from writing a menu and a food-shopping list to checking out sales and stocking up. I am restrained and don't buy stuff on impulse and ask myself if I need or want that item. Then after being very budgetwise for a long period of time, I just go lose. I stop doing all those good habits. I start racking up credit card debt again. I stop making menus but just go to the store about buy stuff. Needless to say, we end up in a financial hole, and we have to dig ourselves out. Is this common? How do you stop this cycle?

A. Yes, this is very common. I equate being on a budget to being on a diet. We go on the diet, lose weight, then get tired of the restrictions and go eat wildly again, only to put the pounds back on.

In order to make the budget stick, we have to have a good reason to stick with it. If we do it because we "should," we'll bail on the plan. If we want to stay with a budget in order to reach a goal, then we'll be more likely to stay on it.

My goal was to stay home with my kids and not work. I wanted that very badly. And I knew that if I used my credit cards or over spent on my budget, that I might have to go back to work and not be with my kids. That was my motivation.

You need a motivation. Pick something that will make you say "no" to debt.

Q. I have a sectional sofa that is maybe only 5 years old and is in good shape except for one corner where the cats clawed the material completely off of the arm. I mean, the wood is showing. Is there anyway I can cover it cheaply? Any covers run at least $100.

A. We have the same problem at our house. I have a love seat that the cats have torn up, and I couldn't afford to have it recovered. I tried the throws but those keep coming undone. So I went to a fabric wholesaler who sold the ends of fabric rolls from factories. You have to have this kind of outlet because their rolls are extra long. Since most couches are long, you need the extra length that a regular fabric store can't offer.

I bought enough yards for my love seat for $60, and went to work with a staple gun. I took off each piece from my sofa and laid it out as the pattern for my new fabric cuts. Then I restapled them over the old fabric. I did this for each section. It took 2 entire days, but looked great! And I've never done this before.

I hope this works for you!

Jonni McCoy is the author of "Miserly Moms-Living On One Income In A Two Income Economy" and "Frugal Families-Making The Most Of Your Hard Earned Money!"

Visit the Miserly Moms Website at

Our sincere thanks to Jonni for allowing us to reprint her wonderful work!

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