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Baked Goods – A Perfect Gift


The twins’ birthday just passed. This next week will be the first Thanksgiving that I haven’t had all my kids with me. (There were a couple of years when one was away, but never like this.) And I couldn’t, COULD NOT do nothing.

But I also knew that I couldn’t do much. I let the twins know that we could do a birthday celebration for all of us fall babies when we are together at Christmas. It broke this mama’s heart to not be able to do anything at all other than send them a text message.

But with the tides turning, I had to do something for the three boys on their first Thanksgiving away from home. So we…

Princess baking holiday goodies


Princess graciously made a day trip home this past weekend. She and I spent Sunday baking goodies new and old and packaging them up to be shipped out to Virginia, Texas, and Las Vegas this week. We froze things and used $0.50 containers from Dollar General.

We made banana bread with chocolate chips and nuts, corn flake wreaths (pictured), chocolate chip cookies, almond pralines, and a lemon pound cake. My house smelled so good. We played Christmas music, cleaned as we went, and had a wonderful time.

Frugal Shopping

I have to be honest, I have never, ever fretted over grocery costs so much in my life. I made a grocery list from the recipes I wanted to make. Then added them all to my Walmart grocery app (I typically do pick up.) Then I went to the cheapest grocery store in town, Quality Foods. I compared prices between the two for every single item. As I added something to my Quality Foods shopping cart, I would remove it from my Walmart app.

I googled substitutions for things I knew I wouldn’t use again. I bought off, off brand items that I wouldn’t consider if I wasn’t using them for baking. After I finished my in person shopping trip, I placed the online order for pick up of the remaining items.

And in the end, I spent over an hour and a half in the grocery store, stressing over every single penny I spent. And I will be honest, I am not sure the amount of money I saved justified the additional time and stress of it. I don’t think it added up to more than $10 of savings.

But it was an experience. And it set us up for a fantastic baking experience.

Boxes went in the mail a few days ago. None of them knows they are coming. I hope they will bring joy to their faces and yumminess to their tummy’s.

As an aside, postage is absolutely crazy. It cost me $56 to ship the 3 boxes to the boys. Granted I did choice priority since it was baked goods, but man, that was expensive.

Do you bake and gift homemade goods for the holidays? Do you enjoy receiving those types of gifts?




  • Reply Hannah |

    So if you add up the costs – the ingredients, the shipping, the packaging – what did you spend in total? What is a better use for this money? My first Thanksgiving away from my parents, they sent a sweet card. Most likely cost them under $2 with a dollar store card and postage. It was a heartfelt note and it was a kind gesture.
    You can’t get out of a financial hole if you continue to justify large expenses (and with your current income, this is a large expense) that you just can’t afford.

    • Reply Hope |

      You are absolutely right. The ingredients were nominal. The packaging less than $2. But the shipping…ouch! Definitely a lesson learned.
      On top of that, with the time it takes to ship from this tiny town, I am just praying it’s still yummy.
      We had a ton of fun baking. And my dad is definitely going to enjoy the goodies when they arrive in Texas today.
      It is a lesson learned. We will definitely bake again, but not shipping, that cost is prohibitive.

      • Reply Anonymous |

        I think you should read back your response to Hannah’s comment with an open mind. She said “if you continue to justify large expenses” and you did exactly that. “we had a ton of fun baking” “my dad will enjoy the goodies”. Your kids will not think you love them any less if you stop doing these things. This could have been a large sum of money on any number of your debts. You cannot afford any of this!

        • Reply Hope |

          I feel like I agreed with her assessment that is was a poor choice. Out of ignorance on what shipping baked good entails…the cost, the worry, etc. I won’t be doing it again. Lesson learned.

          I was in no way meaning to justify it. Just saying that we did enjoy the experience and my family will/is enjoying the fruits of our labor. We don’t do it again.

      • Reply Jen |

        I would consider doing nut-free items as well. Nuts can add a lot of cost to baked goods. I’ll never tell someone to leave chocolate out of something, though.

        In future, it would probably be a good idea to try and plan for things like this in advance and watch the sales fliers. Wal-Mart does well at pricing things competitively day-to-day, but if another store is running a sale on baking items (or meat, or whatever) you can save a decent chunk of change. Since we’re coming up on holiday baking season, I would expect stores to start running sales on flour, sugar, chocolate chips, butter, etc. Buy ahead, but don’t buy so much that it will go bad before you can reasonably use it.

        • Reply Jen |

          The reality is that you can’t afford to be doing this at all, especially with the shipping. I figured I’m wasting my time trying to tell you that. But as someone who bakes I also room for improvement on what you made and how you shopped for it.

          • Hope |

            You are right. I did not consider the cost of shipping when I came up with this brilliant plan. I thought I was saving money by baking goods instead of shipping a box of food like my mom used to do to me when I spent holidays alone…way back when. Lesson learned.

      • Reply Hannah |

        So what did you spend in total?

        Loving your adult children doesn’t equal spending money. You financial security will buy them long term piece of mind, but if you refuse to live in your means, you will be a massive burden on them in the future.

        • Reply Hope |

          It ended up costing somewhere around $80 in total for all three boxes including shipping, packaging and ingredients.

        • Reply Lisa |

          Her ingredients alone were over 35, as that’s the minimum for a walmart online order. :/
          Is Gymnast living with Hope’s parents? not sure how her dad would taste the goodies if he wasn’t.
          Hope, was this money taken from your grocery funds?

          • Hope |

            My ingredients were around $12, the Walmart order included some of them that were not cheaper at the other grocery store. It primarily consisted of groceries for the house.
            Gymnast is living with my sister. They live about 20 minutes from my parents. I shipped his box to my parents’ house and included lots of extras for my siblings and dad because Gymnast work schedule is crazy and I didn’t want it sitting in the Texas heat. He visits my parents 1-2 times a week to do laundry and help with my mom.
            I spent around $12 extra on ingredients that we didn’t have at home or were outside of what I would normally order. It was the shipping costs that really killed this idea.

  • Reply Laura |

    I thought you were committed to getting out of debt? It makes no sense to spend $50 shipping baked goods when you are behind in bills and racking up credit card debt. These little and big things that you think you must have to do or buy add up, and are why you are in this position. You will never get back on your feet if you don’t stop spending.

    • Reply Hope |

      You are right. I did not consider the cost of shipping when I came up with the idea. When I spent my first holidays alone, my mom shipping me a box of snacks and goodies (not homemade.) In my head I was trying to recreate that feeling of love even long distance that I got from my mom’s box.
      It was a poor choice financially. Lesson learned.

  • Reply Hebe |


    What does it take to get it through your skull? You’re all ears! But you’re going to yes but everything.

  • Reply Sarah |

    I know you see things from a mom perspective, but as a daughter whose mother is not in a good financial situation, it makes me crazy when my mom does stuff like this that I know she can’t afford. I would so much rather she put the money toward things she actually needs. You will see your children in a month, you could have saved the baking until you were able to enjoy it when you are all together and saved yourself the shipping. I feel like this is more about you assuaging your mom guilt than what your children actually need or want.

    • Reply Anonymous |

      I feel this comment so much, Sarah! My mom is the same way and it drives me insane. I’m an adult, married person for 20 years now and she still insists on bringing a gift every time she comes over or dropping random things on our porch. Parents of adult children listen up – stop doing this!

    • Reply Hannah |

      When they’re here, I would have a very honest conversation – explain that this year has been financially difficult and you need to focus on getting out of this mess. It means you can’t afford to take them to lunch or to travel or buy gifts for the next couple of years, but that you love them and you’re fixing this situation for them. Your love and support is forever, you just have to buckle down for now. It’ll be hard, but if you truly cut all excess spending, got out of this horrible debt and saved an emergency fund, you’ll get back to a place where you have the freedom to do what you want. The hard thing is there’s always a reason to spend (and overspend). You have to learn to stick to boundaries and realize that you’re at the point in life where overspending will trickle down into a burden on your kids.

    • Reply Kate |

      100%. I am trying to figure out how to help my mom get her real estate taxes paid and she is talking about buying my daughter a Christmas present. I have told her a million times that she needs to take care of herself. Hope, your kids are old enough that they will understand you needing to make a hard choice and take care of yourself. This is the best gift you can give them.

    • Reply Hope |

      You are right. I learned this lesson. I did not consider the crazy cost of shipping in this case.

  • Reply Lana P |

    Like you, I learned the lesson on mailing home baked items. Years ago I mailed 2 loaves of bread to my husband in Alaska. It cost me $23. Told him, never again.

    • Reply Hope |

      Exactly the lesson I learned. Not to mention, fretting over them even being good after 3-4 days shipping. I won’t be doing it again.

  • Reply Angie |

    Honestly you’re following the same patterns you’ve always had that have led you into trouble. The second you come into the promise of money (you haven’t even got paid yet!) you want to spend it on something. While it sounds admirable because it’s for family. It really doesn’t matter because you’re adding to debt.

    I’m kind of appalled that you admit to not caring or comparing prices on groceries. That’s frugal 101. Even 10$ saved is 10$ not adding to your credit card balance. Store brands are typically manufactured at the same exact facilities as brand name. You have 20k in debt at over 20%. Every extra dollar counts.

    • Reply Laura |

      I agree on grocery costs comparison. And what’s with the off, off brand you wouldn’t consider buying unless you were baking comment? You can’t afford to be a label snob.
      Hope, you need to start acting your wage. Your kids will look back with resentment at all the times you thought you were treating them when they eventually have to support you, which WILL happen the way you are going.

      • Reply Hope |

        It’s not about being a label snob. It’s about the taste of some “off brand” items not being the same. When I use them in cooking it doesn’t matter as much, but chicken soup. for example, is not always the same. And buying a cheaper brand that no one can tolerate is just a waste of money.

  • Reply Mari |

    If you keep telling your kids that you do not have the money & then buy expensive ingredients for making goodies and then pay to ship them, they will never be able to believe what you say. You say one thing but contradict yourself by spending money you dont have. A heart felt homemade card with living words & add a coupon for a future “experience” giift of some sort. That would go a long way.

  • Reply Anna |

    Hope, while you may have learned a very specific lesson about the cost of shipping baked goods, the reason so many of your followers are frustrated is because there are many other lessons here that you are ignoring: the importance of planning ahead and considering the whole cost of a project, the possibility of substituting thoughtful but financially appropriate gestures (someone else mentioned loving getting a sweet Thanksgiving card from their family), the seriousness of your financial situation, etc etc. You don’t have to make every mistake once in order to find out what to avoid! These decisions are really adding up.

  • Reply Emilie Martin |


    My suggestion is to stop looking at the big picture and look at savings as a challenge. What can you skip or cut back on to keep money in your pocket. At the times in my life I have NEEDED to cut back vs wanting to cut back I have categorized expenses like this:

    Absolute needs-these are the things that I will lose progress in my life without having paid. Aka, water bill because you NEED to be able to have water to survive and working without having access to a shower is a bad idea. Food is an absolute need, variety of food is not. One CAN live on PB&J and bananas every meal with a multivitamin daily. Is it fun…NO…possible…YES.

    Category 2 is Strong wants-these are the things that make it hard to stay motivated if I go without and protect my mental health. Things like a birthday card for a kid/mom or a occasional treat from the grocery store. I lump animal care needs in this category because as much as I absolutely love and adore my pets…having a pet is a want not a need. They can be rehomed if the choice is them eating or me/my kids eating the choice is clear.

    Category 3: Debt payoff. You never get out of the cycle if you do not handle this. It is more important than the last category EVERY SINGLE TIME

    Category 4 is pure wants–these are the things that are left. If it doesn’t fit in the first or 2nd category and it isn’t debt then it belongs here.

    When money comes in, it pays the first category stuff first. What is left goes to the 2nd category and if and only if both of those are satisfied for the next 4 weeks…do we even CONSIDER flowing into category 3 or 4. Depending on how consistent the income is…depends if I extend that to 8 weeks. Bottom line, do not risk things you are not willing to lose.

So, what do you think ?