Saturday, October 14, 2017

October 1-14: Buying and Eating

I'm stopping at the fourteenth because that is the day we are flying to England.  We will be there ten days while we clean out the boat and get it ready to sell.  Due to some health issues, we are moving on from phase one of our retirement plan.  We will still be traveling, only differently.

Now, on to our food budget for this month.

The allotment for October is $381.61.   We also have a cushion of $480.19.  We will need a lot of this to cover our eating out while in England.  I'm a little nervous.

What we ate:  fried potatoes and onions, baked beans, corn on the cob (fast but a carb overload); BLTs with leftover tomato basil soup; homemade pizza with sausage, onion, peppers, mushrooms, black olives, and eggplant; homemade scrapple, baked yams, fried zucchini; ham salad, fried green tomatoes, leftover baked beans;  cheese strata, roasted Brussels sprouts, salad; gather up the fragments beef stew over mashed potatoes; rice and bean enchiladas, homemade applesauce and roasted cauliflower; cottage cheese pasta bake, Italian tostadas, applesauce; leftover smorgasbord(x3)

What we bought:

Aldi:  pretzel rods. $3.49. (I love the rods but I hate the price)

Aldi:  trail mix. $1.99

Giant Eagle:  yogurt (single serving)  Free with store coupon

CSA:  tomatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, apples, Brussels sprouts, red pepper, carrots.  $12.00

CSA:  tomatoes, zucchini, apples, peppers,eggplant, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, corn.  $12

Giant Eagle:  Nestea peach tea,  Enlightened mint ice cream bars.  Free with store and manufacturer's coupon

Dollar Tree:  5 pounds dry beans (pinto, kidney, black, great northern)  $4.00

Save a Lot:  cabbage, Delmonico steak, round steak (5 lbs)  $24.07

Salvage:  coffee (6), tea (2), baking chips (6), flour (6), brown sugar (2), marshmallows (2), dry black eyed peas, crackers (2), canned milk, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, parmesan garlic salad dressing, mayo, macaroni and cheese (3), salt, nuts (6), rice, iced coffee (4), olives, garlic salt, corn syrup, canned milk, croutons (2), mustard (2), enchilada sauce, teriyaki sauce, pudding mix. $56.89

Meals Out:

Dinner at Taco Bell on trip to D.C. :  $9.73
Pizza Dinner in D.C. after the birthday party :  $13.78 (enough for lunch on the way home)
Lunch with Mike after my audiology appointment:  $3.48
Lunch with Ginger, Anne and Mary Beth:  $4.12
Lunch with MJ:  $17
Lunch with Mike:  $5.30
Lunch for Mike:  $3.29
 food at airport:  $9.71

Of the $381..61 allocated for the month, we have spent $114.44 on groceries and $66.41 on meals out.  That leaves us with $ 200.76  Of the monthly allotment and $480.19 of our cushion to get us through the remainder of the month.  With all the meals out ahead of us, wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuscan sausage and potato soup

This is my go to version of an Italian restaurant favorite.  It's wonderful with freshly made bread.

1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 diced onion
6 diced potatoes
4 cups broth, any type
1 tsp minced garlic
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pkg frozen spinach,  drained of excess liquid; kale or Swiss chard can be substituted
1 can evaporated milk

Combine all ingredients but milk.  The Italian sausage goes in raw and is cooked along with the vegetables.  Cook until the vegetables are tender.  Add the milk and stir well to blend.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Substitute for Savings

Working with what I have, bought at discounted prices, often means a substitution or two when cooking.

This means I avoid another trip to the grocery store. And, I'm not buying an ingredient or two at full price.

Result:  money saved.

And, the more you do it, the more you can do it.  You become more and more comfortable with your creativity.

Ground chicken is turned into sausage instead of using ground pork.  After all, pork is the other white meat.

Cheerio marshmallow treats are made instead of rice krispie treats because I found the cheerios on sale.

No sunflower seeds for in your broccoli salad, use slivered almonds instead.

No mozzarella for your pizza, use Colby or Monterrey Jack or cheddar.

No lime juice, use lemon juice or grapefruit juice or cider vinegar.

Out of pancake syrup, melt jelly or jam over low heat and use that.

Forgot to buy raisins, use craisins.

Out of eggs?   Substitute 1 Tbs of soy flour and 1 Tbs of water  or 1 Tbs of flax meal and 3 Tbs of water for every egg when baking.  Want to make scrambled eggs?  For that you need to use your frozen eggs.

Out of soft butter?  With your mixer, slowly beat in 1/3 cup of milk to a pound of butter.  The result, a pound and a half of soft butter due to the added liquid and the air incorporated while beating it in.

Out of self rising flour, for each cup called for use 3/4 cup of all purpose flour to which you add 1 Tbs baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.

Make your own brown sugar.  Combine 1 cup white sugar and 2 Tbs molasses.  Want it darker, add a little more molasses.

No evaporated milk in the cupboard?  Use double the amount of dry milk powder to the amount of water called for.

Need sweetened condensed milk?  Combine 1 cup dry milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 Tbs butter and 1/3 cup boiling water for each 1 1/4 cup of condensed milk called for.

Thickening something and you are out of flour, substitute 1/2 Tbs cornstarch for every 1Tbs of flour called for.

You get the idea.  Get creative. Substitute ground chicken for ground beef.  Cut the meat in half and substitute beans.  Don't have kidney beans, substitute pinto beans.  Creative substitutes help your budget.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Save Hundreds of Dollars Per Year Doing Ten Things

Need some wiggle room in your budget?  Try implementing some of, or all of, the following ideas and you could save hundreds.

1.  When you need to buy something, check out the used market first.  There's some great stuff out there, and a lot of it has barely been used.

2.  Give your dryer a vacation and hang your laundry to dry.  Not only will you save money but your clothes will wear longer.  Dryers are hard on clothes.

3.  Make your own pizza.  Spend less than half of what a take out would cost you and get exactly the toppings you want.  If you don't want to make your own crust try a loaf of Italian bread and cut it in half lengthwise.  Or use a flat bread.  Or buy a premade crust.  Easy.

4.  Drink a lot of soda?  Substitute iced tea or lemon water.  You can easily save a dollar a day.

5.  Bread is the staff of life.  Save money by making your own bread.  The Cuban bread I recently posted is super fast and super easy.  And, I have never had it fail. If that is more than you want to take on, buy it at a bread store or a dollar store.  When I don't make my own, I buy it for 89 cents a loaf at a local bread store.

6.  Need a lunch for work or school?  Try packing at least a few days a week.  Leftovers are great for lunch if you have access to a microwave.  Pack your lunch the night before after dinner.  That will save you time and stress in the morning.

7.  Help your health and budget by eating at least one vegetarian meal a week.  When you start out go for familiar foods like grilled cheese and tomato soup,  pasta with sauce, vegetable fried rice, or a baked potato bar.  Meat is expensive so even just one vegetarian meal a week can save a ton.

8.  Avoid expensive snack foods.  Trying popping your own popcorn instead.  A big bowl is much less expensive than a bag of chips.

9.  Pilot lights cost money because they are constantly burning natural gas.  So, if you have a gas stove, shut off the pilot lights to the burners.  Light them by hand when you want to use them.. Save natural resources as well as money.

10.  Eating at a restaurant?  Don't order your usual drink.  Drink water instead.  Restaurants make a lot of their money on drinks.  Make sure it stays in your pocket instead.

See, that budget can fit a lot easier by easily saving some dollars.  Good luck.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 16 - 30: Buying and Eating

In September we had a total of $369.30 to spend for the month.  During the first half of the month we spent $185.40.  That left $183.90 for the second half of the month.

What we ate:

Cheese and crackers ( it was late and we were tired); grilled burgers from the freezer, fried green tomatoes, roasted acorn squash; leftover sandwiches from lunch; leftovers (burger, green tomatoes, cauliflower, Waldorf salad); meatloaf from the freezer, baked potato, corn on the cob;  Pork from the freezer, corn on the cob, squash;  sauerkraut casserole, peas, homemade English Muffin bread, brownies; Buffalo chicken casserole, mixed vegetables, tomatoes with mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar;  meatloaf from the freezer with roasted beets, radishes, zucchini and potatoes; leftover smorgasbord; pepperoni balls and taco balls with chips and fruit;  pasta with meat sauce ( made over meatloaf), salad and garlic bread;  tomato basil soup, sandwiches and chips

What we bought:

CSA:  corn, pears, tomatoes, grapes, raspberries, butternut squash, peppers, onions. $12

Tops:  rice side dishes (10),  pasta (5),  tomato soup (5),  wheat thins,  orange juice, celery, chicken breasts (6lb.)   $26.12

Walgreen's:  instant Maxwell House decaf coffee (3), olives (2), tuna. $13.95

Aldi:  mac and cheese (welcome home from hospital meal)  $0.89

Giant Eagle:  canned beans (8)  $4.72.
These are great for fast meals, although I like to work with dried beans when possible because they are cheaper.

Aldi:  eggs (2), macaroni and cheese (2),  butter (2)  $7.04
This butter is the first I have had to buy since last holiday season, almost a year.  Not bad.

Total spent on groceries:  $64.72

Meals Out:

Day out at Yankee Peddler.  $21.72

Lunch with Angela.  $12.50

Lunch with Ginger  $6.72

Total spent on meals out: $ 40.94

Grand Total:  $105.66

That left $78.24 out of this month's allocation to add to our cushion, which now stands at $480.19.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Cuban Bread

This bread is my go to bread when I need a fast and easy yeast bread.  And, it tastes delicious.  Win-Win.

Plus, you don't need bread pans to make it.

Cuban Bread:

5-6 cups flour;  2 Tbs yeast;  2 cups water as hot as it gets from the tap; 2 Tbs sugar; 1Tbs salt

Mix the water, sugar and yeast;  let sit for five minutes to give the yeast time to start working;  work in the flour and salt;  cover and let sit for 20 minutes ;  Do Not Preheat the oven.  Form the dough into two rounds.  Score the top.  Place in Cold oven..on shelf underneath, place a pan of boiling water.  Bake about 45 minutes at 350 until brown and sounds hollow.

Great bread.  Great toast.
And, I have never had it fail.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thrifty Crocheting

I'm an avid crocheter.  I'm not all that talented at it, however.  My skill level seems to be stuck just past beginner.  Sad but true.

I make dish clothes, shopping bags, hats, scarves, afghans and such.

Yarn these days is expensive.  I hate the thought of buying $50 worth of yarn to make a project that might not turn out.  And even if it did, would be more expensive than buying the item.

So, what's a crocheter to do?

 Check out the local thrift stores.  They quite often have yarn at much reduced prices.

But there's a catch.  Usually you don't come across more than two, or occasionally three skeins of the same color.  ( Recently I did find nine skeins of the same color but that is an EXTREMELY rare occurrence.)

That's where your eye for color comes in.

Get out all your accumulated bits and pieces and figure out what harmonizes with what.  And pick your project based on what you have available.

It's fun and appeals to my not too talented artistic side.

And it's frugal and good for the planet.