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air fryer recipes collage

50 Budget Friendly and Easy Air Fryer Recipes

I keep telling myself I’m not going to buy anymore kitchen gadgets.

But then Christmas or a birthday rolls around and everyone asks me what I want and I usually ask for the kitchen gadget I said I was not going to buy.

But isn’t that what a present is supposed to be? Something you wouldn’t buy yourself?

This is exactly how I ended up with an air fryer.

Christmas rolled around and beyond a new pair of sneakers and some workout clothes, I didn’t really know what to put on my Christmas list. So I added an air fryer because, well, why not?

Turns out it was my most favorite Christmas present and I’m kicking myself for not actually buying it for myself sooner.

Related: Cheap Meals Your Family Will Love

I’m a total air fryer nut now and have been on the hunt for a variety of easy air fryer recipes to try. And of course, I’m always looking for recipes with inexpensive and simple ingredients.

I’ve put together a list of 50 simple budget friendly easy air fryer meals. It’s a pretty long list so you should probably go ahead and pin this.

I’ve organized them by the following categories to make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for:

  • Vegetables
  • Chicken & Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Beef & Pork
  • Meatless


Air Fried Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan Journey to SAHM

Air Fryer Corn on the CobStylish Cravings

Baked Sweet PotatoCourtney’s Sweets

Air Fryer EggplantMelanie Cooks

Keto Airfryer Jicama FriesWholesome Yum

Bacon Wrapped AsparagusMonday is Meatloaf

Cajun Sweet Potato FriesCanadian Cooking Adventures

Roasted Rainbow VegetablesAll Recipes

Roasted Cauliflower Eazy Peazy Mealz

Sweet and Spicy Air Fryer Brussel SproutsMy Forking Life

Green BeansVegetarian Mamma

ZucchiniHungry Girl

Chicken & Turkey

Golden Crispy Air Fryer Chicken BreastRecipes from a Pantry

Tandoori ChickenPiping Pot Curry

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken BreastLittle Sunny Kitchen

Teriyaki Chicken DrumsticksBerry Maple

Garlic Parmesan WingsDr. Davinah’s Eats

Keto Friendly Chicken WingsEveryday Shortcuts

Crispy Chicken WingsWholesome Yum

Tempero Baiano Brazilian ChickenTwo Sleevers

Basic Chicken Breasts (no breading) – Carmmy

BBQ Chicken BreastMy Forking Life

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Meal Plan Addict

Buffalo Chicken Egg RollsThe Endless Appetite

Rotisserie ChickenRecipe This

Chicken Tender “Hot Dogs”Awe Filled Homemaker

Chicken Breast with Cornflake CrumbsCourtney’s Sweets

Cheesy Chicken TendersIntelligent Domestications

Simple Air fryer Turkey DinnerCarmyy

Turkey MeatballsRecipes from a Pantry


Lemon Dill SalmonMama Cheaps

Salmon PattiesMonday is Meatloaf

Low Carb Fried Fish with Dijon MustardThe Endless Appetite

Southern Fried Catfish NuggetsIntelligent Domestications

Perfect Airfryer SalmonNoble Pig

Bang Bang Panko Breaded Fried Shrimp – Stay Snatched

Beef & Pork

Crunchy Air fryer Hot DogsLittle Sunny Kitchen

Air Fryer MeatballsMelanie Cooks

Chili Hot DogsThe Typical Mom

Taco MeatballsTwo Sleevers

Asian Beef and VeggiesThe Meal Plan Addict

Steak Bites (or Steak Tips) With PotatoesBest Recipe Box

Meatloaf PaleOMG

Mustard Glazed Pork TenderloinMy Forking Life

Breaded Pork ChopsKitchen Dreaming

Chinese Salt and Pepper Pork ChopsThis Old Gal


Simple Grilled American Cheese SandwichThis Old Gal

Simply Seasoned Air Fryer ChickpeasMonday Is Meatloaf

Easy and Quick Air Fryer Two Ingredient BagelsLori’s Culinary Creations

Macaroni and Cheese BallsAwe Filled Homemaker

Potato Air Fryer Tacos Vegan Huggs

Mozzarella SticksKimspired DIY

Breakfast FrittataRecipes From A Pantry

Puffed Egg TartsThe Flying Couponer

If you’re looking for more budget friendly meal ideas check out my Weekly Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Series!

two children enjoying a summer birthday on a budget
Kids & Parenting

How to Throw an Awesome and Cheap Summer Birthday Party

Summer birthdays get a bad rap.

Lots of kids are on vacation or at camp.

It’s hot and all the fun indoor spots are crowded.

All these things combined can make it difficult to pull off an awesome party for your child.

My son’s birthday is right around July 4th, so we always had our challenges with planning his party.

4th of July is an automatic lake weekend around here and there are only a few people who don’t already have plans around the holiday.

But year after year we have pulled off awesome summer birthday parties. And we’ve stuck to a tight budget, so we’re not breaking the bank. (Check out his Nerf War party from last year).

So how do you throw a summer birthday party for your child without shelling out tons of money?

Check out these tips for throwing a summer birthday party on a budget!

Cheap and Easy Kids Summer Birthday Party Ideas

Keep the Guest List Small

Try to keep the guest list as small as possible. If you have a big family already with lots of kids, ask your child to pick just a couple of school or neighborhood friends.

Otherwise, try to keep the list to your child’s closest friends. I think around 10 kids is enough to be fun without overwhelming you or your budget!

If you host even fewer kids, say 2 or 3, you can plan to spend a bit more per child and pay for an experience. That might look like going to the movies, rock climbing, laser tag or manicures at a salon.


It’s a good idea to ask for people’s availability well in advance.

Ask around a month ahead of your planned party time to see what everyone’s plans are. This way you can make sure your guests are available and gives you enough time to change the day to suit others availability.

Once you’re sure of everyone’s availability, send the invitations out as soon as possible so friends and family can plan accordingly.

I don’t know when invitations for kids birthdays got so fancy, but I could never get on board with it. Not only is it time consuming to put together those fancy invitations, it’s an unnecessary expense.

Consider using Evite to design your own invitation. There are lots of free designs to choose from and you can send the invitations by email or text message.

Another free invitation solution is to create an event in Facebook with the party details. Send the event to your guests via Facebook and you are done!

Free (or super cheap) Party Space

Cheap Places to Have A Birthday

Birthday party spots are super expensive. And while the convenience of purchasing a party package at a designated party place like an indoor trampoline park or a bowling alley is nice, it also comes with a hefty price tag. Here are some free or super cheap party space ideas:

  • Park
  • Neighborhood/Community Pool
  • Splash Pad
  • Your home/backyard

If it’s too hot for an outdoor party by you and you don’t want to host the party at your house, you can go some place fun for a party.

Just remember you don’t have to buy the party packages at these places for your kids play.

Instead, purchase tickets for your small group of guests and treat them to snacks or pizza from the snack bar. I recommend you purchase the tickets ahead of time, if possible. You’ll also want to choose an off-peak time. These are some simple and inexpensive indoor party spaces.

  • Bowling Alley
  • Indoor trampoline park
  • Video Game Arcade
  • Movies (look for $1 movies in your area)


The easiest way to cut down on the cost of food is to choose a party time when you don’t need to serve a full meal.

Ideally,10am-12pm and  2-4pm are great times for a party and an acceptable time to not to serve a full meal.

You should also include on the invitation what you will serve so families can plan accordingly. Something as simple as “Snacks and Cake Will Be Served” will let your guests know not to expect a ton of food.


Super easy and inexpensive snack food to serve includes:

  • Cheese Sticks
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Goldfish
  • Pretzels/Chips
  • Grapes or Watermelon


If your party is before lunch, consider serving a simple brunch. Some ideas include:

  • Mini Bagels with Cream Cheese
  • Muffins
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt


Here are some simple, kid friendly filling food that won’t break the bank!


For the cake, consider making your own to cut down on costs.

One year, I baked cupcakes and let the kids do the decorating themselves. I bought one fancy cupcake from the store for a couple dollars to put the candle in and sing happy birthday with. The kids loved the cupcake decorating activity, and it saved me a ton of stress trying to get my home baked cupcakes looking pretty.


Budget Friendly Birthday Party decorations

There is no need to spend a ton on decorations, even if your child LOVES paw patrol or Minecraft!

Instead of paying a lot for the character licensed decorations, just choose a color scheme that follows the theme!

For example, if your child loves Minecraft, decorate with green and black. Or if your child loves Moanna, make it more a Hawaiian themed party. 


While you don’t need a super structured plan of activities for the kids, I do always plan one or two activities or party games.

The location of the party will dictate the types of activities you choose but here are few inexpensive ideas we have done, and the kids had a blast!

Water Play

Set up the sprinklers, fill up some kiddie pools and get a bunch of other water toys and let the kids splash and play. Check out the dollar tree for beach balls, water shooters, water balloons and more!

Scavenger Hunt

This is great for any outdoor party space! Come up with a list of things the kids need to find and bring a few of your own to hide! This is also a great way to hide goodies the kids can take home with them as party favors.

Relay Races

Set up some relay races for the kids. Think egg and spoon races, wheelbarrow races, water balloon tosses, and hula hoop competitions! Check out this list of awesome relay races for more inspiration.


A simple themed craft is a great activity to keep the kids busy. This activity also doubles as a party favor.

Goodie Bags/Party Favors

I’m seeing more and more families moving away from giving goodie bags. But if you feel obliged to and your budget permits, there are some inexpensive fun party favors you can send your party goers home with!

You do not, I REPEAT, YOU DO NOT have to send kids home with fancy goodie bags.

Get some fun sunglasses, bubbles, or a little stuffed animal. We bought these mini stuffed dogs and let each child adopt a pet! Kids love them and parents are grateful that I’m not sending the kids home with more sugar or too many little plastic things. Dollar Tree has a bunch of stuffed animals for $1 or you can check out this list on amazon for a wide variety of stuffed animals.

Mom and daughter setting up summer birthday party

The most important thing to remember about making your kid’s birthday party a blast is to relax and have fun! Don’t get too caught up in the details. Kids are happy with cake and their friends. Follow these tips to throw your child an awesome summer birthday party on a budget!

fun and frugal summer activities featured image
Kids & Parenting

Fun and Frugal Summer Activities for Kids

Summer’s almost here and it’s time to get organized with a list of fun and frugal summer activities for kids!

I’m a big fan of having a more unstructured summer with the kids. One year I went crazy and had a super planned out summer and it was not fun for any of us. It stressed us out and we didn’t feel like we had a break. It also ended up straining our budget in more ways than I expected.

The next year I had zero plans, and that was also a mess. We quickly ran out of activities, boredom ensued and there was A LOT of screen time.

I don’t want you to suffer the same fate!

It’s so important to have lots of flexibility and SOME plans and to keep a list of simple fun summer activities for kids in your back pocket for those days you need to do something extra.

For the scheduled stuff you can use this free calendar printable from COZI. Create a free Cozi account and you’ll get the 2019 Summer Planner Printables! That’s where I keep activities like the Minecraft camp at my son’s school he just HAD to do and our weekend RV trips.

I will leave the rest blissfully blank and that’s where this list will come in handy!

I have put together 50 frugal summer activities for kids that are fun but won’t break the bank! Most of these activities are free or cheap to help fit any budget.

50 Frugal and Cheap Summer Activities for Kids

1. Make Tie Die T-Shirts

We did this last year and I can’t even tell you how much fun the kids had. You can buy a pack of white undershirts, a tie die kit, and lots of rubber bands and let the kids get creative!

2. Paper Airplane Competition

Time to fold those paper airplanes. Have your kids make their own paper airplanes and have a race! We love this paper airplane kit.

3. Water Balloon Fight

Water Balloons

Fill up a ton of balloons and let the kids go wild! You can use these to fill a bunch really quickly.

4. Play Flashlight Tag in the Backyard

Wait until it gets dark and send the kids out for a game of flashlight tag.

5. Have a Nerf War in the Backyard

Nerf War | Birthday Party | Sleepver Party #budgetbirthday

Set up bases and have a Nerf War in the backyard. We did this for my son’s birthday but ended up keeping it up for weeks so he could play.

6. Make Lanyard Crafts

How many lanyard bracelets did you have as a kid? I had 20 at any given time and I loved making them! Teach your kids the box stitch or the zipper stitch and they’ll happily keep busy making these bracelets.

7. Free Bowling

Check kids bowl free to see if your local bowling alley takes part in this awesome summer program. All you need to do is sign up and you get 2 free bowls per child every day of the summer!

8. Have a Picnic

Go to a park or set up a picnic in the backyard! Have your kids help make the sandwiches and put together all the snacks. Make it extra special with some lemonade or a fun summer dessert. If it’s too hot at lunch time, make it a dinner picnic and enjoy the cooler evening weather.

9. Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of items found outside and create a nature scavenger hunt. Your list can include pine cones, acorns, a yellow flower, a weed, a clover or anything else your kids might find outside!

10. Backyard Camping

Set the tent up in the backyard and sleep under the stars. Make microwave s’mores and tell campfire stories.

11. Go to the Farmers Market

Find a local farmers’ market and go exploring. Many farmers’ markets have live music, vendors with free samples and even games for kids. Plus, you can stock up on some fresh produce and support your local farmers.

12. Make a Laser Maze

DIY Indoor Laser maze for kids

This one gets tons of giggles in our house. Using tape and toilet paper (if you have streamers or yarn that works too) you create a laser maze. The kids have to make it from one end to the other without touching the lasers!

13. Go Bird Watching Using the Audubon Society App

Find a book about local birds and take your kids out bird watching. Check the Audubon Society for more activities like making birdhouses and drawing birds.

14. Sign Up for the Summer Reading Club

Check out your local library and get the kids signed up for the summer reading club. The kids have to read a certain number of books and once they complete their reading, they’ll receive a prize. Our local library gives a coupon book in the prizes that includes free admission to the zoo and other local museums!

15. Look at the Stars

Spread out a blanket and gaze up at the night sky. Get a book about constellations from the library or use a free app to help you look for constellations!

16. Fly a Kite

Summer is a great time to get outside and fly a kite. Make it even more interesting and try making your kite!

17. Catch (and release) Fireflies

Let the kids have fun chasing after fireflies and putting them into jars. Just make sure you have air holes for the fireflies and you release them when you’re done.

18. Go to a Splash Park

When it’s hot outside a splash park is a great place for the kids to run around and get out some of that extra energy. Most splash parks are free!

19. Plant A Garden

Plant a garden as a summer activity with kids

Whether you plant a whole garden or just plant some vegetables and fruits in pots, your kids will be excited to take care of their garden and taste the fruits of their labor (literally!)

20. Hike

Get out into nature and check out some new hiking trails in your area. Just be sure to bring lots of water and snacks!

21. Go to the Movies

Check out a Matinee or see if your local theater shows discounted movies in the summer. If you have a Regal Cinema near you, they have “the Summer Movie Express”. For just $1 a ticket you can go see a movie!

22. Build a Playhouse Outside

Box forts are always fun, but they are even funner outside! Gather all those empty amazon boxes and make an outdoor playhouse!

23. Backyard Obstacle Course

Create an epic obstacle course in your own backyard. Check out this super easy and cheap obstacle course!

24. Make a No Bake Dessert

No need to heat the house baking goodies. Try an easy no bake dessert. Your kids will love making it as much as they’ll love eating it!

25. Have a Lemonade Stand

Get your kids’ entrepreneurial juices flowing and help them set up a lemonade stand. It’s a great chance to teach them about what they’ll need to spend to get started and how to calculate profit.

26. Write Letters to Family

write a letter to family

Write letters or draw pictures and send them to relatives near and far!

27. Volunteer

Find a kid friendly place to volunteer. Many animal shelters will accept school-age kids as volunteers to help walk dogs or just to play with them.

28. Have a Puppet Show

Make your own puppets and have the kids put on a puppet show. Have them make it official by selling tickets and creating a playbill.

29. Visit a Museum

Look for discounted rates at your local museums. And they don’t just have to be children’s museums. I take our kids to the local art museums, give them a clipboard and some paper and let them sketch as we walk through the museum. Check out this comprehensive lists of museums to find a new one in your area!

30. Make Boats

Make your own boats out of different materials and see which ones float the best. Try using items from your recycling bin and let the kids get creative!

31. Make a Family Cookbook

Work together to put the family’s favorite recipes into a book. Have your kids help you design the cover and add illustrations. Laminate it or get it bound at staples for a few dollars so it lasts longer.

32. Attend an Outdoor Festival

Summer is festival time! Check your local newspaper for a schedule of local festivals. Many won’t even have an entrance fee!

33. Find a Free Kids Workshop

Stores like Barnes and Noble, Lowes and Home Depot often offer free workshops or story time for kids. Check to see if your local businesses offer free workshops regularly.

34. Have a Sleepover or Pajama Party

Have your children invite a friend over for a sleepover party. If they’re too young for sleepovers (or sleepovers just ain’t your thing) have a pajama party with popcorn, pillow fights and movies.

35. Visit a Local Fire Station

Frugal Summer Activity - Visit a Fire Station

Check to see if your local fire station has free tours for the public. Even if they’re not fire truck buffs, they’ll love seeing the station and learning about fighting fires.

36. Balloon and Paper Plate Tennis

All you need is paper plates and a balloon for your very own tennis match. Your kids will giggle as they hit the balloon back and forth with their paper plate rackets!

37. Make a Scrapbook

Print out pictures from your phone and collect mementos from the summer. Then, put them all together in a summer vacation scrapbook.

38. Play in the Rain

You don’t have to be stuck inside on a rainy day. Let the kids outside to play in the rain and jump in puddles. You’ll be the coolest mom!

39. Listen to Audio Books

Use that library card and get some audio books! Check out picture books with accompanying CDs for the little ones and check out chapter books for the older ones.

40. Go Fishing

Nothing says summer like fishing.

41. Make Books

Cut sheets of computer paper in half and have your kids write and illustrate their own books! When their pages are finished, staple them together and have a story time.

42. Make a Fairy Garden (or a Lizard Garden)

Summer Activities for Kids

Find a little spot in the yard and create your own fairy garden. Have them create a path of stones, a house from sticks and plant some flowers around the space. If your child isn’t a fan of fairies, make it a dinosaur garden or whatever other type of creature is their favorite at the moment.

43. Make Shrinky Dinks

Remember Shrinky Dinks? Buy a pack and let your kids draw their creations. Then let them watch the magic as their art work gets miniaturized in the oven!

44. Make a Nature Collage

Remember that nature scavenger hunt I mentioned above? Have your kids create a collage from the natural items they found. See what different animals or scenes they can make using the materials they found.

45. Go to Garage Sales

What? More stuff? Here me out. Give your kids $1 or $5 and let them go shopping. They’ll love going through the toys and picking something out, plus they’ll have something new and fun to play with.

46. Have A Dance Party

Kids Bop Kidz has a YouTube channel with simple choreography you and your kids can do together. They’ll love learning the moves and everyone will burn some energy!

47. Make Bookmarks

Have your kids design their own bookmarks. To make them sturdy, you can use construction paper and then laminate them or use card stock. Add some ribbon at the top for a little something extra.

48. Go Play Miniature Golf

Look for summer rates for miniature golf. You can usually find coupons or discounts for the weekdays during the summer.

49. Random Act of Kindness

Think of some random acts of kindness with your children and make it happen! Bake cookies for a neighbor or sweep their driveway without them asking. Here is a great book with some more ideas.

50. Sign up for Vacation Bible School

Check with your Church or other churches in your area to see if they offer Vacation Bible School (VBS). VBS is usually free to the community and is a week long “camp” for 2 -3 hours a day. It’s a great way to get your kids more involved in church activities and get them out of the house and having fun!


What are some of your favorite frugal summer activities for kids?



Kids & Parenting

Financial Literacy For Kids – Best Books to Teach Kids About Money

According to a recent survey from Charles Schwab, parents are aware that teaching kids financial literacy is very important but they recognize they are not doing enough! In fact, according to the Parents, Kids and Money Survey from T. Rowe Price,  74% of parents responded that they were reluctant to discuss financial topics with their kids!

The good news is you can talk to your kids about money in fun and easy ways.

Through stories and books about earning, saving, investing and budgeting you can begin the foundational work for raising financially literate children. 

To help you get started and introduce these important topics to your kids, I’ve put together a list of some of the best books for financial literacy for kids including both fiction and non-fiction books!

I’ve also included several books for parents that focus on developing financial literacy skills for kids.

You can find most of these books at your local library, but I’ve included links where you can purchase these books and instructional kits.

Download this FREE Savings Tracker for Kids to help teach your kids about making a savings goal and the importance of tracking their progress!


Picture Books and Stories

Bunny Money (Ages 5-6)  Max and Ruby take the bus to buy their grandmother a present but they spend too much money on “emergencies”. Your child will love keeping track of how much money Max and Ruby are spending and will learn an important lesson about wants versus needs. 

One Cent Two Cent Old Cent New Cent  (Ages 4-8) In this story the Cat in the Hat explains the history of currency and currency in different cultures in a fun way children will enjoy.

The Berenstain Bears – Trouble With Money (Ages 3-7) Mama and Papa Bear worry that Brother and Sister don’t understand the value of money. In this story, Brother and Sister try lots of different ways to earn money and learn an important lesson about working for the things they want and not spending frivolously.

The Penny Pot (Ages 7-9) This book is great for teaching kids about counting money, how money is used and saving money for what you want.

Lemonade in Winter (Ages 3-7) This story is about two children who set up a lemonade stand in winter. This book includes counting money and sorting money.  It also teaches about setting up a business and the concept of profit. My kids absolutely love this story!

Follow the Money (Ages 5-8) Your child will love reading the story of a quarter after it is minted! This book illustrates how money is circulated through the economy. The page numbers are in coins and bills to reinforce counting money.

Those Shoes (Ages 5-8) Jeremy wants a pair of shoes that everyone at school is wearing. But when his grandma says they can’t afford them he has to learn the difference between a want and a need. This story also includes a powerful message about gratitude when Jeremy realizes he already has the things that he wants.

Rock, Brock, and the Saving Sock  (Ages 4-8)  When Rock and Brock’s grandfather agrees to match their dollar allowance each week if they save it, Rock can’t help but spend it on cool things while his twin Brock saves and ends up with $500 by the end of summer. When Rock sees how much money his brother saved he realizes he made a mistake.


Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday  (Ages 4-8) From the Author of Alexander and the No Good Horrible Bad Day, this story is about what happens to Alexander when his grandma gives him and his brothers money. Alexander ends up spending it all while his brothers save it and he learns a hard lesson about the importance of saving money.

Lily Learns About Wants and Needs (Ages 5-8) Lily has a long list of things she wants to buy but as she drives through town with her dad she learns that wants and needs are two very different things.

Curious George Saves His Pennies (Ages 4-7) George is saving his money for a shiny red train but he quickly learns how hard it is to work and save money. 

Little Critter – Just Saving My Money (Ages 4-8) Little Critter wants to save money for a new skateboard but he soon learns it’s a lot harder than he thought to save money!

You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime (Ages 5-8) Pete saves his allowance, spends it  on a dinosaur and then experiences some buyers remorse. After learning the importance of saving, Pete decides to start saving again!

Isabel’s Car Wash (Ages 4-8) Isabel really wants to buy a new doll but first she needs to make some money. She decides to start a car wash but quickly learns she needs to spend money on supplies too! This book teaches the simple concept of investment and starting a business in an easy to understand and fun way!


Non Fiction Books and Instructional Kits

Financial Peace Junior Kit  (Ages 3-12) Based on Dave Ramsey’s popular Financial Peace University for adults, this kit for your kids is filled with tons of information, resources and step-by-step instructions for parents. When you purchase this kit you’ll also receive a free copy of the ebook “Smart Money Smart Kids” by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Ramsey!


The Kids’ Money Book: Earning, Saving, Spending, Investing, Donating (Ages 8-12) This book talks about making and investing money, creating a budget and learning the difference between wants and needs. It is one of the most thorough financial guides for kids!

The Everything Kids Book About Money (Ages 7-12) This book provides an in depth narrative along with about 30 activities to help teach children about how money is made and used; investing and stocks; and bank accounts and credit cards.

Growing Money – A Complete Investing Guide For Kids (Ages 8-12) This is a comprehensive look at economics, financing and investing in a fun and understandable way kids will enjoy.  

Making Cents  (Ages 6-9) This is a kid friendly introduction to U.S. currency with facts about money as well as lessons on counting money.

A Smart Girls Guide: Money (Ages 9-12) This is a great book that explores how to earn money and how to save money. If your daughter loves books from the American Girl library, she’ll love this one too!

Money Madness (Ages 4-8)  This is a great starting point for introducing the concept of currency and explains how our current monetary system works.

National Geographic: Everything Money (Ages 8-12) This is a fun read with tons of pictures that teaches children fun facts about money. This book is organized into 4 main parts – the history of money; making, spending and saving money; a section called “The Power of Money” and one called “Fun With Money”.


Do I Need It or Do I Want It? Making Budget Choices (Ages 6-9) This is a great introduction to the concept of budgeting along with a discussion of wants versus needs.


Books for Parents to Teach Financial Literacy to Kids

Make Your Kids A Money Genius A step-by-step guide for parents to teach their children about money. The emphasis in this book is less on counting money and investing and more geared towards instilling certain values when it comes to money. These values include deciding between a want versus a need, what it means to live within your means, and the importance of a strong work ethic!

Allowances, Dollars and Sense: A proven system for teaching your kids about money   This book answers many of the common questions parents have about allowances for kids. This book also includes a good discussion of how to instill positive financial values into your children.


Finance 101 For Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss This is a great book that parents and children will enjoy. It is simple and straight to the point and addresses many important topics including budgeting and saving and the dangers of credit cards!


If you’re looking for some good books for adults about managing your money you might be interested in these Must Read Personal Finance Books.

And don’t forget to download this FREE Savings Tracker for Kids!

child sleeping with teddy bear, featured image for how to create a bedtime routine for kids that actually works
Schedules & Routines

How to Create A Bedtime Routine That Actually Works

Now that our kids are older and have learned to sleep, a consistent bedtime routine has been key to fewer bedtime battles!

This means our kids know what time they need to be in bed and there are fewer opportunities for them to drag out bedtime. (I won’t say we never have bedtime battles because they are still kids!)

Routines make life easier for children. According to the best routines for children are those that are consistent. That consistency creates an environment with less chaos and provides a sense of security and confidence for your children.

When kids have routines throughout the day, it’s easier for us parents to redirect them and make sure they eat/sleep/play/help enough.

When it comes to a bedtime, I’ve always been pretty strict about making sure everyone is in bed when they should be. The main reason is no matter what time my kids go to sleep they still seem to wake up at the same time every morning!

For this reason, our routine leading up to bedtime lays the foundation for making sure the kids are in bed at an appropriate time.

Our kids know exactly how the evening goes and there is less opportunity for bedtime battles. That doesn’t mean they don’t try to stay up later from time to time, but often a simple reminder of our routine is enough to stop their arguments.

Our basic bedtime routine is:

  • Showers
  • Bedtime snack
  • Tooth Brushing/Bathroom
  • Stories/Talking
  • Lights Out

For a little context about our routine: I have two kids – a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old. My 5-year-old is asleep between 7:30-7:45 every night and my 8-year-old is in bed by 8:30.

Because of this, our routine is staggered meaning they aren’t brushing their teeth at the same time or having lights out at the same time. It looks something like this:

Time 5 Year Old 8 Year Old
6:15-6:30 Shower Free Time
6:30-7:00 Bedtime Snack/Tooth Brushing Shower
7:00-7:30 Read Books, Sing Songs Bedtime Snack/Tooth Brushing
7:30-8:00 Kisses, tucking in, lights out Time with Daddy/Reading
8:00-8:30 zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Talking/Lights Out

I prefer this  because it gives me the opportunity to have about 30 minutes of one-on-one time with each of the kids before they go to bed.

With my 5-year-old this one-on-one time means reading books and singing songs. She also always needs a drink of water, a back scratch, and 2 kisses under her pillow (in case she misses me in the middle of the night).

Even though this sounds like a lot, by having this exact routine we both know what is coming next and there is little room for a bedtime battle.

For my 8-year-old, this one-on-one time is more just talking. Sometimes it’s chatting about Minecraft or what he did at recess and other times he’ll share with me any anxieties or worries he has. I also will read a guided meditation from our favorite meditation book (read more about our meditation routine for kids).

I treasure this daily one-on-one time with my kids. Now that they are both in school and I’m working full time there are fewer opportunities for me to connect individually with them.

How did I develop this routine? Here are my exact steps for creating a consistent bedtime routine for our school aged kids.

Choosing a Bedtime

I developed our kids routine based on how much sleep I knew the kids needed.

Preschoolers (ages 3-5) should get 10 – 13 hours of sleep a night, while school aged children (ages 6-13) should get anywhere between 9 and 11 hours of sleep.

If your child doesn’t have a regular bedtime or has a later bedtime than you like, start by paying attention to when they go to sleep and wake up time to help you calculate how many hours they sleep a night.

If it’s less than the recommended sleep times for their age, consider adding the extra time, but add it slowly (in 15 minute increments).

Then look at what time your child needs to be up for school. If they need to be up at 6 am, your 4 year old should be in bed by 8 pm to get the minimum of 10 hours of sleep.

How Much Time Between Dinner and Bedtime?

Now that you have your desired bedtime, how much time do you have between dinner and bedtime? Do you eat dinner at 6:30 and want bedtime to be at 7:30?  Figure out what you can fit in that hour.

Also, try and get the most challenging part of bedtime done first. This includes bath time and tooth brushing.

Be flexible and get creative! Maybe feed the kids dinner earlier, or have them get showered and in their pajamas while you get dinner ready.

Choose A Soothing Activity Right For Your Child

What pre bedtime activity will soothe your child the most?

In our house, we don’t do any screen time right before bed, because it seems to rile up the kids rather than relax them.

Instead, we read books, talk, sing songs or do some simple meditations.

The best advice I can give you is to let your child guide you in what they want this activity to look like. Offer them some choices and let them decide!

Some days it might be reading books and other days that might be telling stories. And that’s ok. The consistency comes from the time you dedicate to that activity.

Getting Your Child Used To A New Bedtime Routine

Talk to your child about the new routine. Talk about the new bedtime and what time you expect them to begin the bedtime routine.

The most important thing to remember is not to get frustrated. Any change in routine takes time for both parents and children to get used to.

If it’s a big change between their usual bedtime and their new bedtime, you’ll need to slowly adjust their bedtime. Don’t just assume they will go to sleep at 8 when they have been used to going to sleep at 10. Instead, start lights out 15 minutes earlier for a few days. Once they are used to that, try 15 more minutes and so on.


Creating a clear routine and being consistent in this routine will go a long way in reducing bedtime battles and establishing good sleep habits for your children.

What is your biggest bedtime struggle?

Toy Easter Bunny holding Easter Egg
Kids & Parenting

The Best Non Candy Easter Basket Ideas

Easter morning is an exciting time with egg hunting, Easter baskets and more. There is no need to add to the excitement (read: craziness) with too much candy and cheap knick-knack toys in your child’s Easter basket! That’s why I’ve come up with the list of the best non-candy Easter basket ideas!

While I always include a small treat in our kid’s Easter baskets, I have steered clear from making it all about candy year after year.

The first couple of years I went nuts at the dollar store buying non candy items for the kids Easter baskets. They were excited by all the goodies but the toys either broke or just added to the already cluttered playroom.

Now I focus on fewer but better quality Easter basket items. That doesn’t mean I’m spending a ton of money either. I’m just more focused on buying items the kids will use over and over again rather than a throwaway toy!

If you’re like me and are looking for inexpensive non-candy Easter basket ideas you are going to love this list

I’ve separated the non-candy gifts out by age and provided lots of ideas for each category. The best part is each item is under $10.

These Non-Candy Easter basket ideas are all under $10. These are budget friendly and includes Easter basket ideas for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, school age and tweens and teens!


Newborns and Babies (0-12 months)


Bubbles, bubble machines, bubble toys, you can’t go wrong with these in the your baby’s Easter basket. Blowing bubbles for your baby helps with their visual tracking and as they get older they can help with hand eye coordination as you and baby pop the bubbles!

Little Kids Fubbles No-Spill Tumbler Includes 4oz Bubble Solution and bubble wand (tumbler colors may vary)


A sweet lovie for your baby is never a bad idea. This little lamby is perfectly soft and something your sweet baby will love snuggling with!

Bearington Baby Wee Lamby, Small Lamb Stuffed Animal Lovey Security Blanket, 8″ x 7″

Board Books

It’s never too early to start reading to baby. Buying age appropriate sturdy board books will encourage you to read more with your child and help build your child’s library! 

Teething Accessories

Oh teething! Teething toys can help baby feel better and keep you sane. 

New Clothes

Babies grow so fast. Easter is the perfect time to buy some cute springtime outfits for your little one. Shoes and other accessories like a sun hat for summer are also great ideas.

Pacifier/Toy Click

Even though this is in baby’s basket this is a gift for mommy and daddy. A pacifier/toy clip will help you keep track of your baby’s binky or lovie so it’s near when you need it most!

Liname Pacifier Clip for Boys with Bonus Teething Toy & eBook – 4 Pack Gift Packaging – Premium Quality & Unique Design – Pacifier Clips Fit All Pacifiers & Soothers – Perfect Baby Gift


Toddlers (ages 1-3)

Sippy Cups/Snack Containers

Having an extra sippy cup or snack container is never a bad idea. These items are something you’ll use often, if not everyday. This is also a great time to introduce different types of cups for your little one.

Bath Toys

Make tubby time fun with some new bath toys in your toddler’s Easter basket. These colorful little boats have numbers on them and are sure to keep your little ones entertained. You can also try some bathtub crayons or colorful bubble bath!

Munchkin Bath Toy, Little Boat Train, 6 Count

Simple Puzzle

As your toddler begins to explore and learn, simple puzzles are super fun and educational. There are tons of chunky puzzle options out there. Melissa & Doug have lots of cute ones for under $10 and this farm one is one of our favorites.

Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle


Whether you choose duplo blocks for your older toddler or some softer bigger blocks for your little one, you are sure to have a happy kiddo on your hands! These really cute nesting blocks from Melissa & Doug (can you tell I love Melissa & Doug) kept our little ones super busy and the pictures and letters added some learning opportunities as well!

Melissa & Doug Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks, Developmental Toys, Easy Storage, Durable Construction, 10 Cardboard Nesting Boxes, 5.9″ H × 5.9″ W × 5.9″ L


Small ones, big ones, light up balls or soft and squishy balls are guaranteed fun for your toddler. 


Kids love balloons. Period. Buy a pack of balloons to blow up and watch your toddler giggle as they bop and play with their balloon.

Night Light/Projectable

Nothing makes bed time a little more exciting than a new nightlight or a projectable. This one is extra cool and your child will continue you to enjoy it as they get older!

Projectables 13347 Six Image LED Plug-In Night Light, Green and Blue, Light Sensing, Auto On/Off, Projects Solar System, Earth, Moon, Safari, Aquarium, and Coral Reef on Ceiling, Wall, or Floor

Music Shaker

Toddlers love making noise. And as long as you don’t mind some extra noise, simple maracas or egg shakers are so much fun for your little on.

Finger Puppets

Finger Puppets are a great interactive way you can play with your toddler. Tell stories and sing your favorite songs with this pack of adorable finger puppets!

ThinkMax 16 Pack Soft Plush Finger Puppets Set – MANSA 10 Animals + 6 People Family Members Velvet Cute Toys for Children, Story Time, Shows, Playtime, Schools (16pcs)


Preschoolers  (ages 3-5)

Coloring Books/Crayons

A new coloring book and some crayons can go a long way. Pick an Easter themed one or a coloring book with their favorite characters.


A new set of paints or a painting kit is a special surprise your preschooler will love. 

Play-doh and Accessories

Play-doh and and play-doh toys are great for this age group. This pizza making play-doh kit is super simple but tons of fun for little ones!

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Pizza Party

Simple Board Games

There are so many great simple board games beyond just Candy Land for this age group. Check out these educational and fun board games.

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel

Little Treasures 3D Snakes N Ladders Kids Classic Board Game Family Night Fun Cooler Newer Look Then The Original Version Compare to Chutes and Ladders

Back Pack

Whether it’s for school or for play a backpack is a practical gift. Also, you can stuff the backpack with other Easter goodies instead of having an Easter basket.

Kids Tablet Back-Bag for Children Toddler Preschool Backpack, Baby Kids Girls Boys Travel Lunch Bags, Cute Little Bee Design for 2-4 Years Old …


Rain Gear

April Showers bring May flowers. Help keep your kids dry with some new rain gear. Stock up on rain boots, rain jackets or even an umbrella. There are tons of adorable options. I love this one from Melissa & Doug because it has a safety open and close so little fingers don’t get pinched!

Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Umbrella for Kids With Safety Open and Close


Indoor garden

Your child will be excited to plant their own indoor garden and watch it grow. There is a wide variety of indoor gardens available. My daughter loves the fairy garden and even after the plants were gone, we filled it with rocks and gemstones and she still loves playing with it!

My Fairy Garden – Bean Blossom

Toysmith Garden Root Viewer


A clock for your preschooler’s bedroom is a great way to begin teaching time and learning what happens at different times of the day! This one is super easy to read and even changes colors.

I2USHOP Alarm Clock for Kids Bedroom, Wake Up Light Digital Clock with Indoor Temperature & Calendar & 6 Natural Sound & 7 Colors Changing Light (Blue)


Sidewalk Chalk

As the weather warms up, sidewalk chalk is great to have on hand to help keep your preschooler busy! This glitter chalk adds a little extra fun to your child’s chalk drawings.

Crayola Outdoor Chalk, Glitter Sidewalk Chalk, Summer Toys, 5 Count



This age group loves things that go! These cars are simple but sure to keep your little one entertained. Matchbox cars are also a great inexpensive Easter basket item!

Pull Back Car, 12 Pack Assorted Mini Plastic Vehicle Set, Funcorn Toys Pull Back Truck and Car Toys for Boys Kids Child Party Favors,Die Cast Car Toy Play Set

Rocket Launcher

This rocket launcher is SO.MUCH.FUN. I’m honestly not sure who liked it more, my husband or the kids, but it was one of the best gifts we gave in their Easter baskets!

Rocket Launcher with 2 Foam Darts Activity Play Set with Jump Foot Trigger – Foam Rocket Launcher Kit for Birthdays, BBQ’s, Beach, Waterpark and Playground


Elementary School (ages 6-10)

Perler Beads

This perler bead kit has everything you need to start making amazing shapes and designs. My son loves making Minecraft themed designes while my daughter is all about the hearts and rainbows.

Perler Multi Mix Assorted Fuse Bead Bucket, 6006 pcs


This is sure to get your kids away from their screens and outside! Kites are a great activity for the whole family to enjoy!

Hengda Kite Kids Children Cartoon Monkey Kites with Flying Line

Science Kit

Watch as your kids are amazed by these simple kitchen science experiments.

4M Kitchen Science Kit


Stock up on puzzles for those rainy spring days. There are so many inexpensive and fun options ranging from standrad puzzles to 3D puzzles.

Board Games

Buy some new games for your family game night. These are a couple of our family favorites!

Jenga Classic Game

Clue Game

Crystal Digging Kit

This is a great kit for your little geologist. The gem digging takes an hour or two and they are a good sized gems so they won’t be disappointed!

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Gemstone Dig Kit – Excavate 3 real gems including Amethyst, Tiger’s Eye & Rose Quartz – Great STEM Science gift for Mineralogy and Geology enthusiasts of any age

Jewelry Making Kit

This is a great jewelry making kit for your little fashionistas. This kit includes everything you need to make bracelets and necklaces. It includes a good selection of beads.

Just My Style ABC Beads by Horizon Group USA


Why not surprise your child with a few dollars so they can pick something out on their own or save up for a bigger item?


Easter is a the perfect time to stock up on summer stuff like sunglasses.

RIVBOS Rubber Kids Polarized Sunglasses with Strap Glasses Shades for Boys Girls Baby and Children Age 3-10 RBK004 (W Blue)

Jump Rope

Get your kids up and moving with this jump rope.

Toysmith TSM9413 Jump Rope, 7-Feet

Book Marks

These magnetic bookmarks are great for your little bookworm.

PDJW Constellation Theme Series Magnetic Bookmarks, Set of 12, Including All Constellation Bookmarks (Constellation Bookmark)

Door Basketball Hoop

If you have a sports fanatic in your house, they will love this door basketball hoop. It’s simple and easy to install!

Nerf Sports Nerfoop Jump Shot


Tweens and Teens

Cool Room Light

Find a cool room light for your tween or teen to personalize their room.

Mood Light Deco Cube with Color Changing LED

Key Chain

Find a funky key chain for your child to help them keep track of their keys!

Wbeng Teris Game Stress Relif Handheld Toy Game Console, Key Chain Pendant,2 Pack (ROSEO + Yellow)

Cell Phone Case/Accessories

Let’s be honest. This age group loves their cellphones. A new cell phone case or chargers are something your teen will love.

Gift Cards 

Instead of giving cash, give your kids a gift card. You can get one for the movies, Starbucks, Target, mall , or to their favorite fast food place.

Picture Frames

For your sentimental teen pick out a picture frame for their room.


If you have a tween or teen that loves to journal, put a new notebook into their Easter basket.

Leather Writing Journal Notebook, EvZ 7 Inches Vintage Nautical Spiral Blank String Diary Notepad Sketchbook Travel to Write in, Unlined Paper, Retro Pendants, Classic Embossed, Sky Blue


This list just goes to show that you can be creative without breaking the bank. I hope you found some non-candy Easter basket ideas for your child no matter what age!

Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas for kids of all ages! This list of budget friendly Easter Basket ideas is sure to have something for every child in your family!