At the end of deer season, we had a friend text us early in the morning: “Could you use any venison? We got an extra deer and don’t have space for it all!”
What followed was a somewhat humorous scramble to say yes to the deer meat. Moving around stuff in the freezer, looking up YouTube videos on how to process venison, staying up til 2 am trying to make cuts out of a quartered deer… you get the idea. Complete novices working hard to save meat without a clue what we were doing.
However, we ended up with a freezer full of some of the best meat you can get– free range, organic, pesticide free– you name it, this was healthy, wild meat to feed our family.
Enter the pot roast recipe. We actually used the deer neck for our roast, based on an internet recommendation. (Do let me know if there’s other parts suitable for a good roast!)
The nice part is that this is a “set it and forget it” type recipe- just dump the ingredients into your slow cooker unceremoniously and leave it for several hours. You’ll have magic when you get back.
Easy Slow Cooker Venison Pot Roast
1 large bone-in venison neck roast
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper (enough to generously rub the surface of the meat.)
2 cups water
This is SO easy. Just put all the ingredients in the crock pot, rub the Venison with salt & pepper, and cover with water. Put a lid on it and cook on high for about 4 hours.
I served mine with oven-roasted potatoes & buttered carrots and peas. I’m sure you could easily put vegetables in the crock pot with the meat if you prefer a one-pot meal.
Another great part about this meal is that it makes its own broth. After we ate our pot roast, I made venison stew the next night with the leftover meat and broth. It was absolutely delicious.
If you’ve never tried venison before, this is a great way to begin! It tastes very similar to a beef pot roast. The meat is soft and falls apart under the fork. No tough, dry venison stereotype here!
I am made increasingly ill each passing year by all the present-buying and consumerism that comes hand-in-hand with Christmas. There’s too much plastic stuff we don’t need, a spirit of I-must-have-it-all-and-then-some, and far more spending than is necessary. While I enjoy the gift giving itself, I am downright sick of the commercial craze.
I want to be able to enjoy Christmas for free. Ideally, I would spend my time enjoying the season instead of worrying about gift giving and receiving. I would love to just be content to read Christmas stories, cook festive meals, decorate the tree, and sing carols. Maybe a small exchange of one meaningful gift per family member, but nothing more than that.
So, for what it’s worth, here’s a list of 30 ways to enjoy the Christmas season (and all of its gift-giving festivities) that cost you nothing- or close to it. 😉
Check out Christmas books from the library.
Read the story of Christ’s birth.
Attend a community holiday celebration.
Make traditional Christmas food for at least one meal.
Study how Christmas is celebrated in other parts of the world.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen, nursing home, or other organization that could use some help and good cheer.
Tastefully gift things that you no longer need- a beautiful scarf you no longer wear, a well-loved book that you want to share, or that lovely photo frame you haven’t found a spot for yet. Who says everything you give has to be new?
Bring a meal to a family who is struggling.
Spend time with someone who doesn’t have any family nearby.
Walk away from that thing that you’re only going to buy because it’s Christmas and you feel like you should get it to give to someone who doesn’t really need it or want it. Trust me, it’s freeing.
Make Christmas music together at home. (Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas for non-musicians.)
Make homemade eggnog. (A tricky drink to get right, but quite tasty!)
Follow an advent calendar or reading schedule.
Watch a traditional holiday movie. Frosty the Snowman, It’s a Wonderful Life, or A Charlie Brown Christmas are all good places to start.
Use scraps of paper to make garlands, snowflakes, and all things wintry to decorate.
Make everything Christmasey! (Christmas bath with red and green tub paint, red clothes to wear, pretend earrings are ornaments, etc.)
I bet you can think of more ideas! How do you celebrate Christmas for free?
I am all for supporting good businesses and giving gifts to people you love. I just don’t think that necessarily implies excessive spending at holidays. Christmas shouldn’t have to be bogged down by commercialism out of a feeling of necessity or obligation. The end.
I’m often surprised when I look at budgeting worksheets to find clothing as a regular category. People actually budget to buy clothing?I guess normal people do- but maybe I’m not normal. 😉 Our clothing budget has almost always been zero.
Bear in mind that I am not fancy, and I’m home with the kids most days. However, even jeans can be expensive, and mine wear out quickly from being on my knees a lot. My husband’s work clothes wear out about 10x faster than mine, as he is usually doing about 10x more hard labor than I am.
However, I do still need some professional clothing for teaching, performing, and at least something semi-presentable for church. My husband needs dress shirts and pants for his middle school gig. The kids can go about in pretty much anything, but I also find that they’re the easiest to clothe for free.
Today I’m going to give you some ideas for clothing your family on very little money. Some ideas will work for you better than others depending on your job and age of your children. That’s okay- just take what works and leave what doesn’t.
1) Thrift Shops- Some folks would never in their life buy something from a thrift store. But me? Salvation Army is one of the first places I check. I’ve scored like-new dress pants for each of us for as little as $2. My husband got a down-filled Structure winter coat for $3 once. Our kids have gotten many pairs of shoes in nice condition that last them through the season, all for a much lower cost than buying them new.
2) Consignment stores– Often, you can find clothing that costs slightly more than a thrift store, but is also in like-new condition at your local consignment shops. Added bonus? You can consign your old clothing while you’re there to get a little extra cash in your pocket.
3) Online Consignment- I’ve found some great deals and freebies on spectacular clothing in perfect shape by searching online. Two of my favorite online consignment shops are Thred Up, which focuses on women’s and kid’s clothing, and Twice, which focuses mainly on women’s clothing.
Each of these sites also offer an awesome referral program, which I get to pass on to you! Click this link for $10 to use at Thred Up, or this link for $10 to use at Twice. No additional purchase necessary. You’re welcome.
4) Accept used clothing. My kids are clothed in about 90% used clothing, often in near-perfect shape in reputable brands. Carters, Baby Gap, Ralph Lauren… they’re stylin’, and I haven’t paid for any of it. Where to find used clothing for free? Friends with older kids, church communities, cousins, even random acquaintances. I’ve had SO many people offer me free kids’ clothing that I often have to turn them down- simply because I’m out of room. Usually, if you make your need known, someone out there has an outgrown something-or-other that they would happily pass on. (And then you can pass on the favor when your kids outgrow them too.)
(The kids dressed up in hand-me downs for a concert.)
5) Shop yard sales. I’ve found nice winter jackets and brand new kids clothes (with the tags still on) for a dollar or two a piece. It’s hit or miss, but it doesn’t hurt to look.
6) Host a clothing swap. My favorite idea. Gather a bunch of friends in varying sizes, and have everyone clean out their closet and bring what’s still in good condition. Categorize items (either by size or style), and you can all “shop” each others’ stashes. I got some nice jeans, shirts, a dress, and cute sandals this way. Don’t want to make it an official event? Just trade clothes with a friend who is the same size for a wardrobe refresher.
7) Smart shopping– When all else fails, don’t hit retail stores planning to pay full price. Come armed with coupons, gift cards, sale flyers, etc. Check the clearance section. I got myself a cute maternity dress for $14 instead of $35 because of an old gift card and a sale.
(Sorry for the bad bathroom selfie.)
8) Take freebies. Much like accepting used clothing, we also accept free t-shirts for working in. We have a lot of free event t-shirts that we may or may not really care about- which is perfect for when my husband is tearing apart the porch or when I’m spraying goat milk on myself. (This applies more if you’re doing a lot of outdoor work/cooking/physical labor where you can’t really wear nice clothing. If you regularly go from office to kitchen-freshly-cleaned-by-the-housekeeper, you may or may not have a need for this category.)
9) Wait to buy it. The biggest way to save money on clothing? Just walk away for a while before you buy something. If you’re still daydreaming of that beautiful sundress a week later, then either give yourself permission to buy it- or reevaluate your priorities. (Just kidding. Sort of. 🙂 ) Before you buy, ask yourself:
Do I really need this?
Do I have an item at home that’s similar?
How frequently would I wear this?
What else could I spend this money on?
I’m not trying to be a damper on everyone’s fun, but when saving money is a priority, it’s good to ask yourself realistically if it’s a true necessity before you splurge.
10) Repair what you have. It doesn’t take much to sew a button back onto pants, stitch up an open seam, or patch the knees on your toddlers’ pants. Few of us repair our clothing these days. However, before a time of so much excess, clothing repair was an absolutely necessary skill. Consider a few simple repairs with a sewing kit before tossing a worn-out piece.
11) Keep what you have longer. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Take care of what you have. I’ve had dressy clothes that last for years because I just don’t update. If you can still swing it, keep wearing it.
A word on teenagers: Some people say that their teens are difficult to clothe inexpensively- and this may be true, depending on their preferences. Not yet being the mother of a teen and having no idea what I’m talking about, I would encourage them to look at saving money on clothing as a fun challenge.
See if they can find a unique piece that’s just their style at a thrift store. See who can find the lowest price on Aeropostale jeans at the consignment shop. (Or wherever kids think it’s cool to shop these days.) See if they like the idea of hunting for a cute designer dress on Thred Up instead of buying retail (where all their friends are buying the same old, same old). See where I’m going with this? It may or may not work for you, but it’s worth a shot.
By clothing my family in this way, I probably spend less than $50-$75 a year on clothing for all of us. I know I’m a cheapskate and not everyone would be happy with getting dressed this way, but probably most people could find something on this list that would help to save them a bit of money.
What’s your top tip for saving money on clothing? Leave it in the comments below.
This post contains a referral link. That means if you use my link for a free $10 gift card, I get a free $10 too. We both win. Thanks in advance for helping to keep us dressed. 😉