Friday, August 18, 2017

Make Overs for Leftovers in Your Budget

Almost everyone has turned leftover baked beans and grilled hotdogs into beans and franks.

Or turned a little of this and a little of that into a comforting soup or stew.

Recently, I made applesauce BBQ chicken,a  Taste of Home recipe, using leftover cinnamon applesauce from the freezer, leftover chicken and BBQ sauce I got for $1.00.  I served it with the leftover potato salad from the night before and a simple vegetable.  Three leftovers made another different and delicious meal.

Another time, I used flour to thicken leftover vegetable soup and turn it into a pot pie.  With a little extra onion for added flavor, this leftover made a new meal.

I made kale salad with lemon vinaigrette recently.  The next night, I sauteed the leftover salad in oil with some garlic to turn it into a great side dish:  garlic sauteed kale.

Leftover green salad with Italian dressing was recently  pureed and became the flavorful base for Italian vegetable soup.

Leftover rice and meat regularly becomes either a rice pilaf or fried rice.

Leftover veg  and meat, with some added milk and eggs, turns into quiche.

Leftover corn or baked potatoes or both is turned into a chowder.

Coleslaw leftover from your picnic meal can go on top of pulled pork (or chicken) sandwiches.

Once piece of ham becomes a family meal when cubed and tossed with pasta and peas in a light cheese sauce.

One or two leftover hamburgers can feed a family of four when turned into cheeseburger scalloped potatoes.

Small amount of leftover roast beef can be a family meal when you turn it into a cheese steak pizza.

Get creative with recipes.  Improvise if you don't have the exact ingredients listed.  This gets easier the more you cook.

Eat more makeovers and have some leftover money in your budget at the end of the week.  That's a win.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 1-14: Buying and Eating

With July's 31 days, our monthly allotment is  $381.61.  Our carryover is $178.94, for a total available of  $560.55.

What we ate:
Tuna macaroni salad; pasta with peas, chicken and pink sauce; leftovers as we prepare for a vacation;  family prepared meals while on vacation;  grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with chips and fruit; leftover pork, pasta salad, corn, toasted bread;  pasta salad with turkey and peas, cheesy bread, brownies

What Groceries We Bought:
Eggs, 8 lb. turkey breast, 7 lb. boneless pork loin. $22.39. (We saved $25.31 by shopping the loss leaders.  Fifteen pounds of meat for $22, the eggs were 39 cents.  On average, $1.47/ lb.)

Meals Out:
Lunch at Ruby Tuesday between doctors appointments. $5 (used a coupon and shared)
Lunch with Pat, our  $14.54
Dinner at Subway on way to lake  $3.94
Mike lunch after golf. $6.99
Lunch at Taco Bell on way home from lake. $5.28
Lunch with Ginger. $12.60
 Total meals out:  48.35

We spent $22.39 on groceries and $48.35  for a total of $70.74.

We have $310.87 of our monthly allotment left, plus all the cushion of $178.94.

I'm posting this a day early since I am having surgery tomorrow.  I didn't want to not post.  See you later.  Shop well, Eat well.  :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Extreme Frugality

Some frugal ideas may sound too extreme for some to try.  But, others need to be a little more extreme to balance their budgets.

Below are some ideas some may embrace but others will say no way.  It's up to you.  Frugality is different for everyone.

Extreme?

1.  By hand, empty and reuse your vacuum cleaner bag.  I have been doing this for years and have never had a problem.  On occasion I have even reused it twice.

2.  Wash and reuse your Ziploc bags, except those that contained meat.  I wash mine with my kitchen towels and add some bleach to the load.  A box of bags lasts me a LONG time.

3.  Save cereal bags and reuse them as you would waxed paper.  I haven't bought waxed paper in years.

4.  Wash and reuse barely dirty aluminum foil.  It really isn't hard.

5.  Reuse coffee grounds a second time by adding an additional half of the usual amount on top of the used grounds.  You can get two pot for only 1 1/2 the usual amount of coffee.  And truly, unless your taste buds are really sensitive, you will never taste the difference.

6.  Cloth bathroom paper and intimate articles that are washed and reused.  You stop buying toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.  But, you have to deal with the washing of these items.  This was a step too far for me, but maybe not for you.

Now you decide what works for you and your family.  And remember, little savings will, over time, add up to big dollars.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Homemade Extracts for Baking

Extracts are flavorful but expensive.  Why not try making your own?  They are easy but do take some time to age.

Vanilla Extract:
10 vanilla beans split down the middle (I buy mine from Amazon)
1 liter vodka, go for the cheapest
Put beans in the vodka and sit away to age at least three months

Orange or Lemon Extract:
Zest three average sized pieces of fruit, add to 1/2 cup vodka
Age for three months

Almond Extract:
15 chopped blanched almonds, 2 cups vodka
Let age three months.  Strain before use.

Mint Extract:
1 cup mint leaves of any variety, 2 cups cheap vodka
Age for three months

Chocolate Extract:
1 cup vodka, cheap,  1/4 cup cocoa powder
Let age for three months.  Strain before using.

Remember, homemade extract can make great gifts for those who love to bake.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cook Once, Eat For the Week


If your family likes Mexican food this menu plan is for you.  I use it when every square of the calendar is jammed with commitments.

First, make a HUGE pot of chili using your family's favorite recipe.  I start with dried pinto beans because they are the cheapest.

I usually use half the meat called for in the recipe.  When money is squeaky tight, I leave the meat out entirely, add some beef bouillon, and make sure there are plenty of beans.  If I have them, I use more than one type of bean.

For the first night, serve the chilli as is.

Night two:  cook some pasta, dice some onion, grate some cheese.  Serve the chili over the spaghetti, top with onions and cheese.

For the third night:  puree a scoop or two of the chili to make the filling for burritos.  You may have to strain the chili some so it isn't too moist.

Night four:  strain some chili to use the beans or beans and meat for filling tacos;  Serve with your favourite accompaniments.

Now we are at night five:  Make or buy a pizza crust; slightly strain some of the liquid away from the beans and meat and then puree; spread the puree over the crust;  If desired, dot with salsa;  sprinkle with onion and cheese and bake.

Day six:  We will be using the chili liquid to cook eggs in.  Put the needed liquid into a broad bottom container such as a deep dish pie pan.  Crack eggs into the liquid and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in the oven at 350 until the eggs are cooked.

And finally, cook the necessary amount of rice needed for your family.  Mix the remaining chili with the rice.  If you want to, stir in some salsa.  Add some onion for added flavor.  Top with cheese and bake until warmed through.

If you have some cornbread, green salad, fruit, tortilla chips and salsa, with some sour cream you are all set.

There you go, a week's worth of meals from one pot of chili.  Happy eating.

Monday, July 31, 2017

July Groceries and Meals Out, Part 2

We have $116.56 left from July's allocation.  Then we have to move into our cushion of $307.25.

What we ate:  cheese filled burgers with mushroom wine sauce; shrimp scampi salad with olive cheese bread; grilled salmon burgers from the freezer with sauteed kale, peaches and yogurt and olive cheese bread;  mooshu from the freezer, homemade fried rice, Asian broccoli, mixed fruit salad with honey and lime; salmon macaroni salad with mixed fruit salad and garlic crackers; ribs, corn on the cob, fresh fruit salad; leftovers; leftover ribs, baked potatoes and zucchini; bacon wrapped shrimp, broccoli salad and fried rice from the freezer; soup from the freezer, salami and cheese sandwich, leftover broccoli salad; leftovers times two


What we bought:

Bread Store:  English muffins, bagels, Monk's apple cinnamon bread, double fiber bread.   $3.28

Save a Lot:  quart of chopped garlic,  dry milk, reduced bananas, reduced strawberries, reduced fresh ginger.   $16.51

Walgreen's:  sugar $1.89

CSA:  corn, potatoes, black raspberries, zucchini, broccoli, onion. $15

Tops:  6.3 lb. Roasting chicken.  $4.29

CSA:  tomatoes, peaches, cherries, beets, beet greens, green beans, acorn squash, cauliflower.   $15

Then, we killed the budget by taking a trip to Pittsburgh's Strip District.  And I do mean killed it.  Here is what we bought.

PrestiGious Coffee and Tea:  5 lbs. Specialty coffee  $50.37.    Mike loves this coffee but, because of the cost we make it last.

Pennsylvania Macaroni Company:  gallon of extra virgin olive oil and 16 oz. jar of capers $27.48.   Both will last a LONG time.

Market Outlet:  Romano cheese (2),  dry salad dressing mix  (4), marshmallows (2),  snack items(6),  crackers (4)  $24.90


Meals Out:

Lunch at IKEA:  $14.75

Dinner at Pita Pit:  $7.75

Lunch on way to Rochester:  $10.75

Lunch coming home from Rochester:  $22.90

The last half of the month we spent $188.72 on food and $56.15 on restaurant meals for a total of $244.87.  We only had $116.56 left from July's food allocation.  The result is we went into the cushion by $128.31 (see the Pittsburgh trip above). That means our cushion is now down to $178.94.

The good news is that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  The better news is that our pantry is now getting to be full.  And remember, we are working off the thrifty allocation, including both meals at home and meals out.

But, if I want money to stock up on holiday specials this November and December I need to add to the cushion in August, September and October.  Wish me luck.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Refrigerator Organization to Prevent Waste

 Over the years I have developed an organisational plan for my refrigerator.  It helps me keep food waste to a minimum and that saves me money.

So here is what I do.  You may find a different system works for you.

On the day of my CSA delivery, or the day I am heading to the grocery store for produce, I clean out a crisper drawer, putting everything I have into one drawer.  The now empty drawer is for the newly purchased vegetables and fruits. That way I use the older items before the newer.  If I can't get it all into one drawer, I really don't need to restock, I need to use it up or freeze some of what I have before it goes bad.

One shelf is only for leftovers to be lunch or makeovers.  Otherwise they get lost and go bad.

On another shelf, it's the bottom shelf in my refrigerator, I keep a box for cheese so that it doesn't end up lost all over fridge because of the smaller packages.

One part of a shelf, the top shelf for me, is where the eggs and bread items go so I don't inadvertently squash the bread or run out of these important basics.  The rest of that shelf is for miscellaneous items like yogurt, cottage cheese, oj, and such  things as milk/half and half and cream.

The door is for condiments and the top shelf of the door is for butter, and other basics I need to be able to easily keep track of or access.

By keeping track of items like this I am more likely to make sure they are used before they turn into science experiments.  If you know where it is you can use it before it goes bad.