Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Homemade Spirit of the Season

Aunt Ellen's Homemade Kahlua:

Boil and cool  2 ounces instant coffee,   2 cups water,   4 cups sugar all combined
Add 1 tablespoon real vanilla and 1 pint brandy

You can still make this as a gift or for sipping during the season.

Enjoy!








Saturday, December 9, 2017

Refrigerator Potato Dough to Bake All Week

This is a real oldie but a goody.  Promise.
This recipe comes from my very old (41 years) Betty Crocker cookbook.

I can mix it up on Saturday or Sunday and use it all week.  It's good for bread sticks, hamburger rolls, calzones, stromboli, cinnamon rolls and, of course regular bread.  The dough last well all week in the refrigerator.

Refrigerator Potato Dough:
The potatoes keep it moist during its stay in the refrigerator.  I use instant mashed potatoes.  Just add the separate ingredients to make to the dough mixture.  Easy peasy.

2 tsp yeast.          1 1/2 cups warm water.         2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening or butter/ margarine.              1 1/2 teaspoon salt   
 2 eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes, or ingredients to make        7 to 7 1/2 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water with sugar.    Add shortening, eggs, potatoes, salt, and half the flour.  Mix to form a dough.  Gradually add more flour until dough is no longer sticky.  Knead for about five minutes.  Put in a greased bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before use.
When ready to use punch down dough and take off the amount you need to use.  Recover the rest and keep refrigerated.   
Form the dough you are using into a loaf, rolls, etc.
Let dough rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours before baking at 400.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Don't forget your furry friend

Make sure your furry friends have some Christmas treats, too.

Homemade dog biscuits:

5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup nutritional yeast, optional
1/2 cup non fat dry milk
2 eggs
4-5 cups broth, homemade is richer in flavor
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix together the water, sugar and active yeast.  Set aside to allow to activate.
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients and yeast mixture.
Mix well.
Roll out dough and cut into cookie shapes.
Place on greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for about an hour.
Remember, they will harden some as they cool.
You do want them hard.

These are great for your pet and you know what's in them so you can feel comfortable feeding them to him or her.  They are one fourth to one third cheaper than most store brands.


Crunchy Cat Treats:

1 can undrained tuna
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup water

Mix the ingredients until a dough forms.  Roll out on a parchment lined sheet until about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into small pieces using a pizza cutter.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Will continue to harden as they cool.
Let your kitty enjoy.
MUCH less expensive than commercially made treats.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

November 16-30: Buying and Eating

$140.19. Left of monthly allotment
$422.10  cushion amount

Sorry I am late with this.  Tis the season.

What we ate:
Pasta with sausage and pesto, bruchetta; frozen pizza; leftover hot chicken salad; baked potato with mushrooms, peas, green onions and cheese;  homemade vegetable soup with fried bologna sandwich;  chicken with Italian sauce, pasta and broccoli with garlic and cheese, garlic toast;  flatbread pizza and fried potatoes;Cuban black bean soup; pork chops, scalloped cabbage, butternut squash, rice pilaf; beef and bean burritos


What we bought:

Salvage:
Crackers (5), marshmallows (2), marshmallow fluff, coffee (2), salad dressing (2), rice a Roni, tomato puree, stovetop, plum sauce, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, oil (gal), almonds, peanuts, Pam, dried orange peel, maple syrup (1/2 gal), olives, tomato paste, cilantro, Apple pie filling, salt, pepper, sun dried tomato, liquid dishwasher detergent.   $60.05

Aldi:
Onions (9lb), potatoes (10 lb), eggs (6 doz), bleu cheese, feta cheese, parmesan, cranberry white cheddar, plain Greek yogurt, butter (12 lb), corn chex, rice chex, stuffing mix (2), raisins, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, fresh cranberries, pretzels. $52.92

Aldi:
Butter (6), dark bordello cherries (3)     $20.91
I'm going to use the cherries to make homemade maraschino cherries for next year's Christmas bread.  Much healthier than the bleached and redyed ones the stores sell.

Meals Out:
Mike lunches while hunting. $16.50
Dinner in D.C.  $50
Lunch coming home from D.C.  $4.24
Lunch going to D.C.  $21.53
Dinner coming home from D.C.  $13.80

We are definitely over.  But tis the season to celebrate with friends and family.

We spent$106.07 on groceries and $133.88 on eating out with friends and family.  That takes us substantially into the cushion($99.76) which now stands at $322.34.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Quick Breads

I don't make Christmas cookies any more now that my kids are adults.  I do make Christmas breads.  Very fast and much easier.

Aunt Evelyn's Zucchini Bread:

3 eggs.           1 1/2 cups sugar.           2/3 cup oil.           1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp baking powder.            3 cups flour.           1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt.           1 tsp vanilla.            2 cups grated zucchini.  (I freeze grated zucchini in the summer when it's abundant and cheap.)

Mix all the ingredients together and mix well.  Makes 2 large or 3 smaller loaves.
Bake at 325 for about an hour.


Sharon's Pumpkin Bread:

3 cups sugar.           4 eggs.           1 tsp nutmeg.           1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt.            1cup oil.       1 cup pumpkin.       2/3 cup water
2 tsp baking soda.             3 cups flour

Mix all ingredients well.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Not Store Bought: For the Younger Set

Make your kids or grands some fun things to play with and be the super mom or grandma.

Play Dough:

3 cups flour.                   1 1/2 cups of salt.                   6 tsp.  cream of tartar
3 cups cool water.         3 tablespoons oil.                   food coloring or unsweetened                                                                                                 Koolaid for very vibrant colors

Mix the dry ingredients in a big saucepan.  Blend the liquids then combine with the dry ingredients.  Cook over medium heat, making sure you stir constantly.
Cook about 5minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat.  Knead until smooth.  Store in an airtight container.

Note:  This keeps well for up to a year.  If it gets sticky over time, knead in a little more flour.


Bubble Solution:

9 ounces water
1 ounce dishwashing liquid, name brand works best
1/2  ounce glycerin, available at drugstores

Mix and let sit at least a week before use.  For some reason, letting it sit makes it work better.


Finger Paint:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups cold water
Food coloring
Dishwashing liquid

Soak the gelatin in some warm water to cover.  In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and sugar.  Add the cold water a little at a time and cook over low heat until everything is blended.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the softened gelatin.
Divide the mixture to make different colors.
To the different colors add a Drop or two of dishwashing liquid then food coloring until you have the color you want.

You can store this in the refrigerator for about a month.


Sidewalk Chalk:

Plaster of Paris
Water
Food coloring
Toilet paper tubes

Mix two parts plaster of Paris with one part water.  Mix in the color you want.  Pour into the tubes (make sure to have sealed the bottom opening with duct tape or such).  Let dry completely.  Drying may take a few days, depending on the humidity.  Remove from the tube and let the artwork begin.




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

After Thanksgiving Soup

Want to know what you can do with all those turkey bones?  Make soup.

First, put the bones into a large pot and cover with water.  To the water add a small amount of vinegar to help draw out some calcium from the bones into the stock.  ( No, you won't be able to taste it.  Promise.)
Simmer the bones in the water for a half hour to an hour.
Remove the bones from the broth.  Don't throw away!
Cool the broth in the refrigerator until any fat comes to the surface and can be skimmed off.
Meanwhile, remove any remaining meat from the bones and set it aside for the soup.  Safely discard the bones.
Prep 2 ribs of celery, 3 carrots, 1 onion for the soup by chopping fine.

Place the vegetables into the cooled and skimmed broth, along with the meat you got off the bones.  Cook at a simmer until your vegetables are tender.
Now add 1 cup uncooked noodles or pasta and cook until the noodles/pasta is tender.  Seas with salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pie Chart Economy

Pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving just isn't the same in my house without pumpkin pie.
If the same is true for you, don't buy one this year.  Try making one.
They are easy to make and you can save about 50% by making it yourself.

Pumpkin Pie:

1 pie crust, make your own or buy one.   You need a deep one.
2 eggs.         1 can of pumpkin.         3/4 cup brown sugar.         1/ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon.           1 tsp nutmeg.         1/2 tsp ginger.           1/4 tsp cloves
12 ounces evaporated milk

Blend all ingredients well.  Pour into the crust and put into a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 15 minutes then LOWER the temp to 350 and bake an additional 45 minutes.  When you can insert a knife into the center of the pie and it comes out clean the pie is done.

If you don't have pumpkin, substitute mashed winter squash, sweet potatoes, or carrots.  The spices will make it taste the way you want it to taste.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 1-15: Buying and Eating

Allotment of $369.30 for the month.
Cushion of $422.10.
Total available of $791.40.

What we ate:
Meatloaf from the freezer, roasted butternut squash, noodles with broccoli and Parmesan cheese; leftovers; beef stew from freezer, applesauce, bread; homemade pepperoni, onion, and olive pizza with stove popped popcorn; popcorn shrimp, roasted squash, Dauphin potatoes, garlic bread; leftover pork from the freezer, corn on the cob, mashed cauliflower; leftovers; Macaroni and cheese; mushu pork with spicy Asian noodles and salad; chili and cheese nachos; pepperoni pizza and chips( we got it free on Veteran's Day);  hot chicken salad, spinach salad, roasted squash;  shepherd's pie from the freezer and spinach salad; leftover hot chicken salad and squash with green salad;  pasta with pesto and sausage, bruchetta;

What we bought:

Aldi:  raisins, aged white cheddar, white cheddar with cranberries, shredded Parmesan, Brie, whole berry cranberries (3), maraschino cherries (2), prosciutto and mozzarella roll, butter (3), Bavaria, smoked salmon, stuffed olives (2), cottage cheese, pretzels (2), French baguette. $ 45.33
As you can guess, I have started to purchase treats for the holidays.  :)

Tops:  butter, chobani yogurt (2), cake mix, Turkey breast (7.2 lbs.), butterscotch morsels, Sargento string cheese (2), Barilla pasta, wet cat food (4), popcorn shrimp (32 oz. )  $31.49

Giant Eagle:  cereal (3), Snapple tea (free), gala apple's. $5.95

Bread Store:  Monk's rye bread, Monk's pumpkin spice bread, Thomas' onion bagels  $2.52

Aldi:  butter (4), sugar (2), eggs (2), green onions. $13.41

Price Rite:  Pam, baking soda, instant coffee, olives, lentils, split peas, mushrooms, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, Apple's, cheeses (6), cream cheese (3)  $34.78

Tops:  tortilla chips, pretzels (2), chips (2), onions (2lb), potatoes (3lbs), carrots (1lb), brownie mix, cream mushroom soup, fresh organic herb blend, beef broth, Chuck roast (4lbs), Italian bread, 12 pack of water, 48 oz. vegetable oil  $17.68
This included an 11% Veteran's Day discount.
Also reflects a buy a Chuck roast and get some items free promotion.

Aldi:  brown sugar. $0.99

Christmas Tree Shop:  nutmeg, chili powder, syrups for coffee (3), cookies for Mike (4)  $4.92
This reflects a 25% Veteran's Day discount.

Meals Out:

Taco Bell with Mike:  2 free tacos and Mike got a bean and rice burrito and a drink  $2.12
Dinner before theater:  7.00
Lunch with Angela:  $11.31
Veteran's Day breakfast with Mike:  $14.16
Veteran's Day lunch with Mike:  $8.50
Lunch with Angela:  $12.45

We spent $173.57 on groceries and $55.54 on meals out.  That totaled $229.11.
We therefore have $ 140.19 of the allotment for the rest of the month.  We will be into our cushion.  No problem. That's what it's there for.

Monday, November 13, 2017

This and That

Getting Stains Out:

I have been using this stain remover for over twenty years.  It rarely fails me.  If you are going to have to discard something because of a stain, what have you got to lose?  I keep it in a sealable container between uses.  Then I don't have to waste it or remake it for every stain.

Stain Remover:
1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent
1 cup powdered Clorox II

Dissolve in hot water ( I use a kitty litter container.)
Soak the stained item(s) overnight.
Launder as usual.


Buy Them Identical:

For all the sock wearers in your family, buy them several pairs of identical socks.  No need to match them up.  Just put them in the sock drawer.  Whatever two socks they grab will automatically match.
 When a sock wears out or gets lost, keep the good one.  It will find a different mate.
Want some variety?  Pick two or three colors to buy.  Just make sure you buy multiple pairs of each color.  (Don't buy navy and black.  They are too hard to tell apart.)
Save frustration, time and money.



Want a Neater Looking House?

Put into action the following:  items in a container automatically look neater than items strewn all over a surface.
Have a large attractive basket for mail so it doesn't just get dropped onto the first flat surface inside the door.
Dirty dishes gathered in the sink look better than scattered all over the kitchen.
Dirty clothes in a laundry basket don't look as bad as dirty clothes all over the floor.
You get the idea.



Just a Drop:

Condition your hair frugally.
 Wash your hair as normal.  Towel dry.  Put 1 DROP of conditioner in your hand.  Rub through your hair and style as usual.


Need to Shave Your Legs?

Use hair conditioner to prep your legs and soften the hair.  Remember, a little goes a long way.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

How to Save the Most you Can

1.  Buy it cheaper.
2.  Make it last longer.
3.  Use it less.

Save with each option.
Combine two and save more.
Do all three and maximize your savings.

1.  Buy it cheaper.
     Sales.  Salvage groceries.  Thrift stores.  Discount stores.

2.  Make it last longer.
     Use less. Use less frequently.  Repair instead of replacing.

3.  Use it less.
     Can you use something else in its place sometimes?  Can you do without completely sometimes?

An hypothetical:

Buying it cheaper saves you $10.00.
Making it last longer saves you another $50.00.
Using less also saves you yet another $50.00.

If you can buy it cheaper and make it last longer you can save $60.00.

If you can do all three, you can save $110.00.  Not bad at all.

For example, you buy a great pair of dress shoes on sale and save $10.00.

To make them last longer, you only wear them at work.  You wear an older pair to and from work to take the wear and tear of driving, rainy days, and snow covered parking lots.

 Your shoes now last a year longer and you save $50 by not having to replace your shoes every year.

To use them less, you alternate between two pairs of dress shoes so that each can dry out between wears (feet sweat) and each pair has a day to be cleaned and polished as necessary.

 Consequently, each pair lasts an additional year. That saves you another $50 per pair.

 $110 saved.  Now that was easy, wasn't it?

(Oh, and that $50 per pair was just for the example.  Good shoes can COST.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Stretching Ground Meat

Mixing in non meat items with the meat can save you $$$.

To every pound of ground meat I am about to use or put into the freezer I add two large grated carrots, one large grated potato and one large grated onion.  I then add 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs or oatmeal.  The resulting mixture is then divided into thirds and each third is used in recipes calling for one pound of hamburger.

I have cut the cost of my ground beef by almost 66%.  The vegetables add flavor and moistness.  The soft bread crumbs or oatmeal adds bulk and substance.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October 25-31: Buying and Eating


Coming into the home stretch of the month, we had $2.14 of the original monthly allotment of $381.61 left.  Then we would be into our cushion of $480.19.  Below is how it played out.

What we bought:

CSA (the last one):  grapes, Apple's, red peppers, cucumber, potatoes, corn, butternut squash, turban squash, gourds, Indian corn. $12

Giant Eagle:  frozen hash browns (2.75 lbs)  99 cents. (for cheesy potatoes during the holidays)

Tops:  goldfish crackers (3), Apple cider (gal.)  $2.49 (Mike loves goldfish)

Aldi:  sugar (20 lbs), feta, bleu cheese, parmesan, avocados (4), butter, pecans (pie during the holidays), canola spray.  $25.85

Country Fair:  salami (~1 lb)  $3.03

Save a Lot:  pork sausage (4)  $3.96

Giant Eagle:  frozen pizza (3)  (will be used for easy/quick meals), Life cereal  $3.96

Total groceries:  $52.28

What we ate:
  leftover stack enchiladas from the freezer, corn on the cob, fried green beans, mint brownies;  spaghetti squash with butternut pasta sauce and garbanzo beans, garlic bread, steamed broccoli;  homemade veggie burgers, sauteed mushrooms and onions, homemade French fries, cucumber salad;  roasted chicken with acorn squash, Dijon roasted cauliflower and cucumber salad;  vegetarian cottage pie using some of the vegie burger mix),,  yogurt, Parmesan supper bread;  Italian beans and rice soup (gathering up some fragments from the freezer), bread pudding (more freezer fragments); southern bbq (made from the meat picked off the chicken carcass after I made broth)

Meals Out:

Breakfast with Ginger, Amy and Cindy. $7.95
Total:  $7.95

Grand Total for the week:  $60.23

Amount of cushion needed:  $58.09.  New cushion balance:  $422.10

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Savings on Non Food Items, 2



Tide simply oxide 24 loads, normally $4.25.  On sale for $2.94.  We used an instore cash back of $2.00 to take the price down to $0.94.  Normally, the price per load would be$0.18.  At the price we paid, the cost per load would be $0.04, the same price as my homemade laundry detergent.

Dawn 4X, 8 oz., normally$1.79.  On sale for 0.99.  We used a coupon to bring the price down to $0.74.  Then we found another Dawn Platinum, regularly priced at $1.19,  on sale for $0.99.  We used $0.20 in rewards savings and a $0.25 coupon taking the price to $0.54.  These will be used to create my homemade cleaning products so they will last a long time.

20 Gallon reclosable storage bags ( I'm using a lot now freezing fruits and vegetables).  Originally priced for $2.99 they were on sale for $0.99.  Originally, each bag cost $0.15.  Now they only cost $0.05 per bag.

A 4pound bag of Domino sugar, normally $3.46 or $0.86 per pound.  It was on sale for $1.89 or $0.45 per pound.  This will come in handy for jam making.

1000 sheets toilet paper, normally 79 cents each, on sale for 50 cents each.  That's a 25% savings.

Xtra liquid laundry detergent, 34 loads, normally $3.69 each.  On sale for $0.89 each.  Normally, the price per load would be $0.11 per load.  At the sale price, the price per load is $0.02.  That's half the cost of my homemade laundry detergent.  That's a big win.  And we have enough for 204 loads.

Scott paper towels, 15 rolls, are normally $15.79 or $1.05 per roll.  I bought them on sale for $9.99 or $0.67 per roll.  A definite savings.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Grocery Shopping in England Oct 15-24: Buying and Eating

We spent ten days in England cleaning out our boat and getting it ready to sell.  It was hard to say goodbye but certain issues forced our hand

Now we have to plan phase two of our retirement.  I see an RV in our future and some touring of the U.S. and Canada.

But, back to our England trip.  :)


What we bought:

Food Co-Op:   blueberry mini wheats, berry soft breakfast cookies, potato crisps, English breakfast tea bags, 6 eggs, crackers (2), chocolate macaroons, Lincolnshire sausages, pepperoni pizza, Cornish pasty, pork pies, double cream, chicken Kiev, potatoes, root vegetables, strawberry apple pie, bacon, pate, cheddar (2), garlic baguette, wine (2), bananas, butter, mussels (2), whole chicken, sliced salami, marmalade. £36.20 or $48.10. Most of the items were yellow stickered (reduced).

Co-Op:  butter £1.69 or $2.20

Total spent on groceries:  $50.30

When we started cleaning out the boat in England we found some food items that were still good to eat ( cans, dried, bread mix, etc) that we will work into our menu while here.  That's a score as far as the budget is concerned.  :)

What we ate:

Breakfast- eggs and bacon; homemade toast; cinnamon toast; Lincolnshire sausages and toast; beans on toast; fried potatoes with eggs and cheese; toast; leftover beans on toast with bacon; Belvita breakfast cookies

Lunch- Cornish Pastie and crisps; lunch courtesy of friends Leslie and Pete; bacon sandwiches, bananas, chips and cookies; leftover pizza; lunch with Annie; ham sandwich with crisps and cookies; leftovers; lunch with Annie; grazed the leftovers; meat, cheese and crackers for the airport

Dinner- pepperoni pizza;  Chicken Kiev, baked potato, fruit, garlic bread, pie;  pasta with mussels, garlic, wine and cream, roasted rhutabegas, cheese bread;  chicken with mustard sauce, mashed root vegetables, fruit; ham, fried potatoes, corn; leftover smorgasbord; pork pies, corn and mash; pate and cheese; dinner with Kim and Robert; back in Erie late so settled on cereal

What we spent in restaurants:

Lunch with Annie. £11.00 or $14.50
Lunch with Annie  £10 or $13.20
Dinner with Kim and Robert  £26 or $34.30
Total in restaurants:  $62.00

Total spent:  112.30

We had $114.44 of October's allotment to spend so now we are at $2.14 left plus the cushion of $480.19.  This week's CSA will take us into the cushion.

But, all things considered, I'm pleased with where we are at.  Only one more week to go this month.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Stovetop Stuffing Swiss Casserole

This is more a list of ingredients than an actual precise recipe.  But that is true of most great casseroles.

Here are your ingredients:
Cooked chicken (think leftover), cut into cubes
Swiss cheese, grated, or use the cheese you have
Cooked pasta, leftover works
Sour cream or Greek yogurt
Stuffing mix with flavor packet
Cream of chicken soup

Mix the chicken, pasta and soup.

Mix the dry stuffing mix with the flavor packet and the sour cream.

Layer the chicken mix, then the stuffing mix and top with the cheese

Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly.

Dig in and enjoy.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ingredients DIY'd

Hate the cost of certain ingredients?

In the middle of a recipe and missing an ingredient?

Make them yourself and save.


Brown Sugar:  1 cup sugar mixed with 2 T molasses

Mock Cream:  double the amount of dry milk to the normal amount of water

Sweetened Condensed Milk:  1 cup dry milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 T melted butter, 1/3 cup boiling water makes 1 1/4 cup

Self Rising Flour:  3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt

Corn Syrup:  substitute 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 c hot water

Pumpkin:  use the same amount of cooked and pureed winter squash or sweet potatoes

Sour Cream:  substitute Greek Yogurt

Bread Crumbs:  depending on what the recipe calls for, fresh or dry, zap slices of fresh or dried out bread in your food processor.  You can dry out bread quickly in your oven if need be.

Fat in baking:  substitute an equal amount of applesauce

Buttermilk:  1cup milk and 1 T lemon juice or vinegar



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.

Enjoy.

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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Pantry Principle: Rock Bottom Prices

When I was first married, decades ago, I bought a magazine that had an article about "The Pantry Principle".  It appealed to me and I have used it ever since.  I can't even begin to tell you how much it has saved me.

So what is the pantry principle?  Shop the sales to restock your pantry and then shop your pantry when making meals.  Create your menu every week from what you have on hand in your pantry, which includes your refrigerator and freezer, that you have filled with sale items.

 Try not to buy anything that isn't on sale.  The more you build up your pantry, the easier that will be.

Below are some suggestions for what to keep on your pantry shelves:

Dried or canned beans;  I keep mainly dried because they are cheaper but I do have some canned for when I need them fast
Cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Spices;  garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cayenne, oregano, basil, sage, etc.  Stock what your family likes and you use.
Condiments:  mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, salsa, soy sauce
Peanut butter
Almonds
Rice
Baking powder and soda
Oatmeal
Lemon juice
Cocoa powder
Popcorn
Cornstarch
Flour
Dried salad dressing packets
Salt
Corn meal
Oil;  vegetable and olive
Vanilla
Yeast
Milk; powdered and evaporated
Sweeteners:  sugar, honey, molasses
Canned items:  Corn, green beans, tomato products, mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, creamed soup, tuna
Pasta
Spaghetti sauce
Dried fruit:  raisins, cranberries
Coffee and Tea

In my freezer:  hamburger, chicken, pork chops and roast, turkey, ham, white fish, vegetables, fruit, butter, eggs, orange juice, leftovers

In my refrigerator:  eggs, butter, bread, milk, condiments, seasonal fruits and vegetables, leftovers that will be lunch or turned into a makeover

Your pantry doesn't have to be identical to mine.  It all depends on what you cook and what your family will eat.  There is no right answer.  There is only money savings.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting the Most from your Meat Purchase

If you read my previous post you know that I recently bought a nine pound ham for 99 cents per pound.  But that was only the start of our savings.

When we got home, Mike and I started to process it to make the most out of every cent we spent.

First, Mike removed the thin layer of fat that is always to be found on hams.  He then began to slice it for various uses:  ham steaks to grill, thin slices for sandwiches, chunks for casseroles, and small bits and pieces for ham salad, soup and ham loaf.

Meanwhile, I took the pieces of fat and began to render them down.  We eventually got half a jar of renderings that will now be used in cooking.

  I can hear that shocked intake of breath.  But let me just point out that my cholesterol is low; my good is high and my bad is low;  and, my triglycerides are fine.

At the end of all this work, the bone and the rendering remnants went into my soup pot and were covered with water to cook and become broth for future soup.  We got enough broth for five small pots of soup.

Once cooked, the bone is stripped of any remaining ham which is added back to the soup broth.  The broth is then chilled and the fat removed from the top and added to the rendering.

The result:  enough meat and broth for at least 36 meals for the two of us.  That comes out to 12 1/2 cents per serving.  The flavor added by the renderings to future meals is extra.

Granted, in lots of the meals the meat will be more of a condiment than the main focus, but the flavor will still excite our taste buds,  the reduction in meat consumption will be healthier, and our budget will thank us.


Friday, September 15, 2017

September 1-15: Buying and Eating

September is a thirty day month with a budget of $ 369.30.       We also have a cushion of $ 401.95    for a total available of $ 771.25.       .

What we ate:
Homemade veggie soup with deli sandwiches; stacked enchiladas with rice and beans; macaroni and 4 cheeses, Asian peanut salad, broccoli, cheesy bread; cheesy brats on the grill, chips, corn on the cob; leftover Mexican; leftover sandwiches and popcorn; Welsh rarebit and sauteed beet greens and broccoli;  carrot and potato pancakes, corned beef hash, eggs and toast; meatloaf, roasted vegetables, potatoes; chilli spaghetti, sauteed corn; shrimp and pea Alfredo with Waldorf salad and Parmesan wine supper bread; ham steak, breaded cauliflower, Waldorf salad; leftover smorgasbord; makeovers of potato pancakes, ham, eggs and toast

What we bought:

Giant Eagle:  Pepperidge Farms onion buns.  $0.99

Salvage Grocery:  crushed tomatoes, dry navy beans, white whole wheat flour (20lbs.), self rising flour (10 lbs.), soy sauce (2), cream of onion soup, cilantro cooking base, dried cranberries (21 oz.), organic beef broth (64oz), poppy seeds, ground cloves, sesame seeds, baking powder, organic tomato sauce (2), Certo liquid pectin, to pop salted caramel popcorn (3 pouches), organic salsa, kosher salt (3lbs.), Starbucks ground coffee (6), Ghiradelli brownie mix, ginger snaps, pineapple (20 oz.), garlic croutons, walnuts (4.5 oz.), honey roasted sliced almonds.  $43.48.

I began my stock up of flour, as you might have noticed.  :)

I also purchased by Halloween candy at salvage but it isn't shown above because it comes out of the gift budget.

Tops:  pasta, Chobani yogurt, eggs, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, spaghetti sauce, dark kidney beans, flour tortillas, chili seasoning, lettuce, ground chuck (4.88 lbs), Italian bread, fresh cauliflower. $21.65.      They were having some great deals I couldn't pass up.

Save A Lot:  bacon (5.5 lbs), dry milk (2), cornstarch, bananas, radishes.  $28.89
I just had to have the Smithfield bacon at $2.29 a pound.

Aldi:  cheddar brats (2), powdered sugar, brown sugar, chibatta rolls, Pam, mayonnaise, cumin, chips (5)  $18.67

Our to date subtotal is $113.68.  I'm hoping the specials won't be too irresistible for the next week or two so that I can add some more to the cushion for November and December.  Fingers crossed.

CSA:  tomatoes, beets, beet greens, cauliflower, jalapenos, strawberries, raspberries, concord grapes, lettuce. $12
CSA:  grapes, Apple's, grape tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers, gypsy peppers, acorn squash, yellow beans, corn  $12

Giant Eagle:  Wishbone bleu cheese dressing. $0.98

Aldi:  pretzels, baby Bella mushrooms (2), olives.  $6.61

Save A Lot:  pork and beans (3)  $1.47

Price Rite:  baby Bella mushrooms (2), grated sharp cheddar (2.5 lbs), grated mozzarella (5 lbs)  $19.46

Whole Foods Co-Op:  molasses. $1.24

Save a Lot:  onions  (6lb)  $1.98

Tops:  Italian bread, cereal (3),  brownie mix, pasta shells, Kaiser rolls, canned vegetables (6), pasta sauce (2), cheese, hot dogs, ham (9 lb), bananas (4lb), apples (3lbs)        $28.80.   Plus $3.50 off a future purchase.
Again, they were having some specials I didn't want to miss out on.

Total:  $148.22

Meals Out:
Lunch with Jim and Robin. $18.42
Lunch on Saturday out.  $6.76
Ginger birthday lunch  $12
Total:  $37.18

Grand Total:  $185.40. Not bad considering that we have added quite a bit to our stockpile, too.

For the next 15 days we have $183.90 of the monthly allotment available plus the $401.95 cushion, should we need it.

I feel comfortable. Although, I am down to my last pound of butter out of the stockpile I bought last year during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.  Bring on the sales.  Soon, please.  :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Salvaging our grocery budget

If you want to cut your grocery budget even more, you need to step outside the traditional grocery store box.  A salvage grocery store could be exactly what your budget needs.

Salvage groceries are often found in Amish communities.

 The one I shop is, unfortunately, an hour away.  But a friend and I make an outing of it once a month and find it to be well worth the trip.

First, rest assured that salvage grocery stores are safe to shop.  They are inspected and regulated just like the more "normal" grocery stores you are used to.

So, what do you find there?  :  items in seasonal packaging, items in torn outside packaging, items in old packaging once new packaging has been introduced, closeouts, overstocked items from stores, salvage from truck wrecks.

You never know what you might find since the store is receiving new stock all the time.  You have to be willing to be flexible.

But, you can easily save 50 percent or more.  Here are some of the bargains I took advantage of recently:

Dry navy beans at 50 cents a pound
Flour, 20 pounds for $2.00
Self-rising flour, 10 pounds for $1.00
Organic beef broth, 32 ounces for 75 cents
Organic tomato sauce, 15 ounces for 49 cents
Starbucks ground coffee, 12 ounces for $2.99
Ghirardelli brownie mix for 25 cents
Cornmeal, 2 pounds for 49 cents
Ritz crackers, 12.9 ounces for 99cents
Multi grain crackers, 12 ounces for 79 cents
Frosted Mini wheats, 15.5 ounces for 75 cents
Honey Nut O's, 13.5 ounces for 50 cents
Steel cut oatmeal, 25 ounces for 89 cents
Taco boats, 8 for 25 cents
Corn tortillas, a huge stack for 25 cents
Greek vinaigrette for 10 cents
And for your furry friends, Purina cat chow, 6 pounds 3ounces for $3.99

See, it really can be worth it.  It can really help keep your food budget in check.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Master Baking Mix

Master Baking Mix is your homemade biscuit/pancake mix.  Think of that mix that starts with a B.  :)  And, it can be used to create lots of other yummy dishes.  Keep some in your cupboard and you can always make a meal.

Homemade Master Mix:  makes 13 cups
9 cups flour,  1/3 cup baking powder, 1 Tbs salt, 2 tsp cream of tartar, 4 Tbs sugar, 2 cups dry milk, 2 cups shortening (work into dry ingredients thoroughly with a pastry cutter)  Make sure everything is mixed together well.  Does not require refrigeration.

Master Mix Biscuits:
3 cups mix ,  2/3 to 1 cup water
Blend and either drop onto baking sheet or roll out and cut.

Master Mix Pancakes:
3 cups mix, 2 Tbs sugar, 1 1/2 cup water, 1 egg
Blend and pour onto griddle

Pumpkin Pancakes:
1 3/4 cup mix,  1/2  each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 2 Tbs sugar,  1/4 cup oil, 1 cup milk

Master Mix Muffins:
3 cups mix, 2 Tbs sugar, 1 cup water, 1 egg
Mix, place in muffin tin and bake at 425 until done.  As an extra, add blueberries or cranberries or such.  A crumb topping is also good on top.

Master Mix Parmesan Wine Supper Bread:
1 1/2 cup mix, 1 Tbs dry minced onion,  1/4 c milk,  1/2 tsp dry oregano, 1 Tbs sugar,  1 egg,  1/4 cup white wine or apple juice,  1/2 cup Parmesan divided
Mix ingredients, including half the Parmesan. Put into an 8 by 8 prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the other half of the Parmesan on top.  Bake at 450 until done.

Cranberry Orange Bread:
2 1/2 cup mix, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 c milk, 3/4 cup chopped cranberries, I egg, 2 Tbs orange peel
Makes one loaf.

Master Mix Gingerbread:
2 cups mix, 4 Tbs sugar,  1/2 cup water,  1 egg,  1/2 cup molasses,  1/2 tsp cinnamon,  1/2 tsp ginger,  1/2 tsp cloves
Mix ingredients.  Bake at 350 until tests done.

Master Mix Oatmeal Cookies:
3 cups mix, 1 cup sugar,  1/3 cup water, 1 egg, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup oatmeal, raisins (optional)

Master Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies:
3cups mix, 1 cup sugar,  1/3 cup water, 1 egg,  1 tsp vanilla,  1/2 cup chocolate chips

Master Mix Yellow Cake:
3 cups mix, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 1 c water, 2 eggs,  1 tsp vanilla

Master Mix Chocolate Cake:
Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the above recipe


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stop Throwing Your Money Away, Literally

Disposables like napkins, paper towels, paper plates and more are money wasters.  You have to buy them over and over and soon you have nothing to show for the money you just spent except garbage that ends up in the landfill.

Why not try using cloth napkins, dish rags, kitchen towels, and  washable reusable dishes. These can be easily cleaned and reused countless times.

 I have been using some napkins over and over for the last twenty years.  Really.

Making napkins and rags or buying them cheaply can make this quite frugal.  Old bathroom wash clothes become dish rags, old bathroom hand towels become dish towels, old towels get cut up and become rags, old sheets, especially fitted , get cut and hemmed for napkins ( vets and pet shelters can always use your old flat sheets).

I also use newspaper squares for vegetable peelings and for cleaning up yucky messes that are just too bad for rags that you wash over and over again.  Newspaper is for those messes that need to go straight into the trash.

Not only will kicking the disposable habit help your budget's bottom line, it will also help you be nice to our environment.  Mother Nature will thank you.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Meatless Meats


 While living in England I discovered several ways to put meatless meats on the plate.  This was helpful because our refrigerator was very small and we had no freezer space.. So meals relied heavily on shelf stable items.

They can also be great money savers.  Give one or all of them a try.  My husband eats them so they can't be too bad.  :)

Yorkshire Meatless Sausages:
1 pound potatoes, mashed, 1 oz butter, 4 oz finely chopped mushrooms, 4 oz shredded cheese (use what you have), 3 oz bread crumbs
Fry mushrooms in butter; mix together the mushrooms, potatoes and cheese; form into sausages, roll in breadcrumbs;  chill until firm and fry

Glamorgan Sausages:
2 oz. grated cheddar, 2oz. fresh bread crumbs, 1 Tbs finely chopped onion, 1 tsp dry mustard, 2 eggs, separated, 4 tsp water
Mix cheese and half the bread crumbs, onion and mustard;  add the egg yolks and water;  stir until the mixture begins to form a large ball;  from portions into sausages;  dip the sausages into the. Lightly whipped egg whites;  roll in the remaining bread crumbs;  fry until lightly browned

Oatmeal and Herb Sausages:
1 c salted water;  1 c oatmeal;  1 finely chopped onion; 1 tsp mixed herbs (Italian, Mexican, French, mixed poultry seasoning, whatever sounds good); 1/4 c ketchup; 1 egg
Stir the oatmeal into the boiling salted water;  simmer the mixture on low heat for half an hour;  let cool slightly before adding the remaining ingredients;  form into desired shape and fry

Vegetable Meat:
1/4 c wheat germ; 1/4 c oatmeal; 1/4 c rye flakes (or add more oatmeal); 1/4 c wheat gluten; 2 eggs; 1 Tbs beef or chicken bouillon; 1 T dried onion; 1 tsp dried garlic; milk until it holds together
Form and fry or cook in a liquid like spaghetti sauce, chili, soup, etc.  Will absorb the flavor of what it is cooked in.

Meatless Breakfast Sausage:
2/3 c flour;  1/4 tsp sage;  1/2 tsp cayenne;  1/4 tsp celery salt;  1/8 tsp cumin; 15 oz can black beans; 2 Tbs chopped onion; 1egg
Mix ingredients together; let sit for at least 15 minutes;  from and fry

Eggplant Bacon:
Cut very thin but long slices of eggplant;  sprinkle with smoked paprika; fry

Mock Chicken:
2 2/3 c oatmeal;  1/4 c diced onion; 1 1/2 c chicken broth; 2 eggs; 2 tsp sage; 2 tsp poultry seasoning;
Works well in pot pie, chicken and dumplings, etc.

To make Mock Beef:
Season the above with beef broth, onion soup mix, black pepper, onion and some garlic

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 15-31: Buying and Eating

We started August with a monthly allocation of $381.61 and a cushion of $178.94, giving us $560.55.  The first half of the month we spent a total of $70.74.  That left us with $310.87 of the monthly allocation and the $178.94  cushion.

What we ate:
Hummus, crackers, grapes and brownies; Greek salad, pasta salad with turkey, watermelon, grapes; leftover hamburger from the freezer, pasta salad with mozzarella, shortbread cookies; Greek salad with hamburger and blue cheese on top; Pulled pork sandwich, corn, potato chips;  baked potato bar, peas, sauteed cherry tomatoes with onions and mushrooms, garlic cheese bread;  Alfredo noodles with ham; smoked sausage with baked beans and corn; beef, bean and rice taco boats with rustic tomato salad and fruit for dessert; tuna chowder with crackers, tomato sandwiches, peaches with blackberries; chicken salad stuffed tomatoes, grapes, corn on the cob; orange glazed pork, potatoes Anna, steamed broccoli, watermelon; eggplant Parmesan with pasta, rustic salad and garlic bread; leftovers; spaghetti squash with Asian peanut sauce, peaches and peas

As you have noticed, meals were simple while I was in the hospital and recovering.  Nothing wrong with simple meals, but I do like to throw in a  "Sunday dinner" on a regular basis.  Maybe soon.

What we bought:
CSA:  lettuce, peaches, tomatoes, potatoes (5 lbs), beets, colored sweet peppers, cucumber, green beans, acorn squash $12
CSA:  potatoes ( 10 lbs), cherry tomatoes, strawberries ( about half were frozen), cucumber, cantaloupe,  Hungarian peppers, yellow sweet peppers $12
CSA:  strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, peaches, blackberries, corn, spaghetti squash, onions, eggplant. $12
CSA:  peaches, tomatoes, raspberries, butternut squash, broccoli, green peppers  $12

SaveaLot:  grapes( 2.5 lbs. ) , ground turkey ( 3 lbs) .    Total: $4.52

Bread Store:  cinnamon raisin English muffins, regular English muffins, Monk's rye bread, cracked wheat and oats bread, seasame seed bagels  $ 5.35

Aldi:  crackers; sliced cheese (3); deli ham, turkey; shredded cheese (2); cream cheese (2); eggs (2); Parmesan cheese; Greek yogurt. $28.01

Giant Eagle:  goldfish crackers  $0.99

SaveALot:  bologna $0.99

For the second half of the month we spent $87.86.  So, the total spent for the month is $158.60.  That averages out to $5.12/day this month.  Thank heavens for stockpiles.

 We are left with $223.01 of this month's allocation to add to the existing cushion.  So, our cushion now stands at $401.95.  Love it!  I see turkeys, hams and baking ingredients being added to our stockpile in the near future.  :)  That's my happy face.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pickles, Pickles, Pickles

Here are some great and easy pickles to use up your extra cucumbers and/or zucchini.  You may never buy pickles again.  Also, these make great gifts.

Dill Pickles:
2 c water; 1 c vinegar; 1 Tbs canning salt-  bring to a boil
In each sterilized jar place 1/2 tsp alum; 2 Tbs dill seed; 3 cloves of garlic
Leave small cucumbers whole or cut larger clues into spears or slices;  pack cucumbers into hot sterilized jars;  fill with the hot liquid and top with sterilized seals and bands; water bath seal
If there is one that doesn't seal, refrigerate and use first.  If you don't have cucumbers use zucchini.

Candy Dill Sticks:
Cut cucumbers in sticks and cover with boiling water; Let stand in water for four hours;  drain; pack cucumbers into serialized jars with 1 Tbs dill seed;
Cover with the following mixture that has come to a boil:
3 3/4 c vinegar; 6 c sugar; 3 Tbs canning salt; 4 1/2 tsp turmeric; 4 1/2 tsp celery seed;  3/4 tsp mustard seed
Top with sterilized bands and seals; water bath seal
Aunt Evelyn's tasty pickles.

Relish:
16 cups shredded zucchini, skin on
2 cups chopped onion
5 Tbs canning salt
Mix together in a large bowl.  Let stand overnight, covered, on the counter or in the refrigerator.  In the morning, drain and rinse well.  Let drain thoroughly while , in a large pot you mix together
2 chopped sweet peppers, I like to use red for contrast but green is cheaper
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups vinegar
1 Tbs nutmeg
1 T turmeric
1 Tbs celery seed
1 Tbs mustard seed
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbs corn starch
Bring mixture to a boil, add zucchini mixture, let simmer for 15 minutes.
Pack into sterilized jars and top with sterilized lids and bands.
Process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.
Makes 8 pints.
I shred and freeze the zucchini until I have enough to make the relish.

Bread and Butter Pickles:
5 1/2 cups thin sliced cucumbers
2 1/2 cups thin sliced onion
1 1/2 Tbs canning salt
Combine and chill for 1 1/2 to two hours
Drain, rinse, drain
In a large pot mix the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup vinegar
1 1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp turmeric
Add cucumber mixture and bring back to a boil
Pack in sterilized jars with sterilized lids and bands
Process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes
My grandmother's favourite pickles.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Freezer meals the super easy way


The idea of freezer meals has always appealed to me.  But, traditionally, you need to set aside an entire day for cooking and freezing.  Therein lies the problem.

I can't seem to find an open day to cook combined with the ambition to do so.  More often than not it is the ambition that's lacking.

But by inadvertently over cooking (I seem to be unable to just cook for two) I can put extra meals in the freezer for quick meals on busy night's.  These meals are also good for when money in the budget runs out before the month does.  :)

Mooshu, fried rice, partially cooked burgers, salmon burgers, cheeseburger scalloped potatoes, soups, chili, stew, refried beans - they all end up in my freezer awaiting their turn to reappear on the dinner menu.

Over made breakfast items can also be frozen for quick meals later.  Think muffins, pancakes, coffee cake, scones and breakfast burritos.

I make extra inadvertently but you could do it on purpose and reap the same rewards.  Sound good?  Happy cooking.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Make Them Thrifty

When manufacturers make something for you, you will pay a high premium over the cost of the ingredients.  A bottle of salad dressing or a jar of meat rub to season your ribs costs MUCH more than the cost of the ingredients alone.  So why not try making some of these things at home.  Here are some definite money saving possibilities.

Memphis Dry Rub for meat:
1T paprika, 2 tsp chili powder,  3/4 tsp salt,  1/4 tsp dry mustard,  1/4 tsp garlic powder,  1/8 tsp pepper

Kansas City Dry Rub for meat:
2 T Brown sugar,  1T white sugar,  1T  chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 2 T paprika, 1 T garlic powder, 2 tsp black pepper,  1/2 tsp dry mustard

Chocolate Syrup:
1/2 cup cocoa powder,  2 cups sugar, 1 cup water,  1/8 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients but vanilla.  Heat and boil 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and stir

Catalina Dressing:
2/3 cup ketchup,  1/2 cup sugar,  2/3 cup oil,  1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 T finely minced onion

Bleu Cheese Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise,  1/4 cup buttermilk (or rev milk with a small amount of vinegar added),  1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 c cottage cheese, 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp salt, 1-2 ounces bleu cheese

Ranch Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup buttermilk ( or milk and vinegar mix), 1/4 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 Tbs minced onion, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp dried parsley, 1/4 tsp garlic powder

10 Second Mayonnaise:
1 egg, 1/2 tsp salt,  1 cup oil, 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 2 Tbs lemon juice
Mix with an immersion blender for ten seconds until thick

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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My CSA and Thrift

Community Supported Agriculture

I don't garden.  I've tried but I have less than ideal conditions ( small city lot and lots of shade, backyard patio that is the yard, all of it, and very limited front yard that faces north).

So I just buy from the farmer in the form of belonging to a CSA.

Mike and I bought a half share this year.  It runs from June to October.  If you've been reading my bimonthly grocery posts you know what we have been getting so far:  zucchini, onions, strawberries, potatoes, lettuce, rhubarb, kale, corn, beets, peas, cherries, cantaloupe, blueberries, raspberries, green peppers, green beans, broccoli, black raspberries .

Although not certified organic because of the cost of going through the process, I am comfortable with how these vegetables have been grown.  They taste fresh and wonderful.  We have been eating like kings.

And, I have had enough extra to freeze zucchini, strawberries, rhubarb, peas, blueberries, raspberries , green beans and corn so far.  They will taste wonderful later this year.

We pay about $15 a week for our half share.

So is it strictly frugal?  No.  I could find fruits and vegetables cheaper in the grocery store.   However, we would probably not have the variety and they wouldn't be anywhere near organic.  They also wouldn't be local.  And, they wouldn't be as fresh.  Also, I wouldn't be supporting a local farmer.

For the few extra dollars it is worth it to me.  Everyone has to make their own decision on this one.  We have enough wiggle room in our budget to make it work. You may not.  We didn't either for years.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Big Bread Store Discounts

I love to bake bread.

And bagels, English muffins, tortillas, pitas.........

But not in the summer in the heat and humidity.  Call me a foul weather baker.

And, let's face it, sometimes life gets in the way and there literally is no time to breathe let alone bake bread.

That is when I head to my local day old bread store.

We try to go on Monday for an additional 15%military discount.  Every penny saved counts.  They all add up into dollars eventually.

Most visits we buy a variation on the following:

Monk's Bread, apple cinnamon, normally $3.99 ; every day price at the bread store $0.89

Thomas's Onion Bagels normally $4.99 ; every day price at the bread store $1.19

Arnold's Double Fiber Bread normally $3.99 ; every day price at the bread store $0.89

Strohman's English Muffins normally $2.99; every day price at the bread store $0.89

Military discount 0.58

Total cost:  3.28.

We saved$12.68 over normal grocery store prices.

Well worth the trip.

Could I make them for less.  Yes.  But did I mention I get really cranky when I'm hot?  :) 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Thrifty in the Kitchen

Fancy ingredients are expensive ingredients.  Simple ingredients are thrifty ingredients.

Ingredients like chicken and beans, ingredients that can be used in more than one recipe, end up being frugal ingredients.

Tougher cuts of meats that you can marinade to tenderize and flavor, or cook slowly in your crockpot, are budget wise purchases.  Steak and lobster are not unless you can find a great sale.

Root vegetables are cheap vegetables.  Think onions, potatoes,carrots and garlic.

Eggs are versatile, a great source of protein and inexpensive, especially on sale when you should stock up.

Keep a bag in your freezer for vegetable scraps and when it is full make your own vegetable stock.  Do the same with beef, pork and chicken bones and meat trimmings.  Your own broth will be less salty, taste fresher and cost a lot less.

Have leftover or stale bread?  Make bread crumbs, croutons and sweet or savory bread pudding.  Or use it where you won't notice:  French toast, regular toast, bruchetta, garlic bread.

Have a lot of shelf stable items in your kitchen such as beans, rice, pasta, and some canned goods.  These will help you put together meals for less.

Use spices to make inexpensive ingredients taste different and wonderful.

Be careful not to over buy perishables like fruits and vegetables because that can lead to expensive waste when things spoil.

Any food you throw away is expensive food.  Use it up.  If you can't use it now, put it in the freezer before it spoils and use it later.

Cook as much from scratch as you can.  Convenience food is expensive food.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July Groceries, Part 1

For July we get $381.61 to spend on food.  We also have a cushion of $307.25.  So, theoretically, we could spend a total of $688.86 this month.  I sure hope I don't.  But, summers can be more expensive due to the CSA.  And then there are the season's special deals I like to take advantage of to build up my stockpile.  So, I expect we will spend some of the cushion in support of that good cause.

So, for the first half of July my here is the breakdown:

What we ate:  leftover pizza; leftover buffet (2); leftover brats and sauerkraut with tomato and mozzarella salad and fresh peaches; salmon/spinach/feta burgers with salad and baked beets; applesauce BBQ chicken with slaw and potato salad; leftover cheeseburger scalloped potatoes from the freezer with tomatoes, roasted broccoli and fried cabbage; Pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches topped with coleslaw, tomatoes and cucumber salad, watermelon; mooshu from freezer with quinoa fruit salad with honey mustard dressing; frozen seafood crepes with sauteed beet greens and salad; leftover pizza

What we bought:

CSA:  lettuce, onion, corn, cherries, broccoli, peas  $17

Giant Eagle:  eggs (2)  $0.98

Giant Eagle:  2 pints ice cream, one jar instant decaf coffee (for iced coffee)  $6.50

Walgreen's:  green olives (2), black olives; 18 oz. jar of decaf coffee (4)  $18.93

CSA:  green beans, green peppers, beets and beet greens, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe , peaches, apples  $17

Aldi:  mushrooms (2), pretzels, multi color peppers, olives, shrimp, prunes, 10 pounds potatoes, blue cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese(3) for pesto to freeze. $29.75

Country Fair:  potato chips (2)  $5

Tim Horton:  donuts and coffee $3.18

Salvage (probably the last until late September or October):  oil (gal), flour, sugar, vegetable broth, chicken broth, quinoa, oatmeal (2), popcorn, cornmeal, Ritz crackers, multigrain crackers (2), maple syrup (pint), soup, rice, frosted mini wheats (2), honey nut O's (2),  m&m's (2 large for cookies), raisins (2), sugar cones, taco boats, panko, cat food, cheez it's, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, coffee (4), butter beans, red enchilada sauce, chopped clams, Greek vinaigrette, Russian dressing, natural peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, dried apricots, honey roasted almonds, slivered almonds. $63.47


Meals Out:
Aunt Millie's for lunch on way to N.Y.  $14.17
Aunt Cookie's sub for lunch coming home from N.Y.  $8.31
Dinner with Jim and Robin. $35.76  WOW!!!  We had leftovers but still.
Lunch with Angela $17
Birthday dinner $8
Lunch after salvage: $ 20.00

In total, $ 161.81 was spent on groceries and $ 103.24 was spent on meals out.  That means a grand total of $  265.05 was spent during the first half of July.  Of the $ 381.61 allocated to July, we have $ 116.56 remaining for the second half of the month.  My freezer is almost full.  My cupboards are stocked.  So maybe we will be OK. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Saving on Non Food Items

Shopping sales and using coupons isn't just for food.  In fact, I use more non food coupons than food coupons.

Penney's periodically gives out in store coupons for $10 off a $10 purchase.  The last time they did so my husband and I managed, by shopping sales, to purchase $66 worth of clothes for gifts and only spent $3.66.

 Using a $10 off a $25 purchase Penney's coupon we managed to purchase six bath towels and two hand towels for $22.18 with tax.  We saved $55.08.

Free photo deals at drug stores can result in some great gifts.  My dad, at 87, really doesn't need more stuff.  But, new pictures of his great grandchildren can be a real hit.

Back to school sales and coupons are great for stocking up on copy paper, pens, mechanical pencils, sharpie markers, staples, tape, etc.  They are also great for buying children's art supplies for later gifts from grandma and grandpa.

Wal-Mart recently had 24 packs of Crayola sidewalk chalk on sale.  I haven't seen any in thrift stores for quite awhile, so I stocked up.  My grandchildren love sidewalk chalk.

Starbucks often has half price sales between two and  five.  My husband and I will periodically indulge our coffee addiction then.  If we have a gift card (generous daughters) it's even better.

Restaurant coupons are great for when we want to or must eat out.  If we don't have a coupon we look for the $1 menu.  If there isn't one we usually order one entree and split it. We enjoy eating out and by keeping the cost under control we can do it more often.

I shopped a sale at Walgreen's , used two $3 coupons, and got two normally priced bottle of oxiclean detergent for $0.99.  The bottle does 26 loads at about $0.04 per load.  That's cheaper than the $0.06 per load for my homemade detergent.  Normally, the detergent would have cost $7.49 which would work out to about $0.40 per load.  I love great deals.

Another Walgreen's deal I did was on the 12 roll pack of Charmin.  Normal price is $8.99.  It was on sale for $4.99.  By using a coupon I lowered the price to $3.99.  That makes the price per roll $0.33.  Normally the price per roll would be $0.75.  I bought two twelve packs because I had two coupons.

My final Walgreen's deal was on Bounty in the six pack.  Normally the package is $7.49 or $1.25 per roll.  The sale took the price to $4.99 and my coupon dropped the price to $3.99 or $0.67 per roll.  These six rolls will last me about a year.

So, look at those advertisements and match them with coupons to see what deals you can score.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Composting for the lazy but patient

I am all for composting my kitchen and yard waste.  It's good for Mother Nature and a great way to build up the soil in gardens and flower beds.  And, it is frugal.

All your plant based kitchen waste can be composted as can grass clippings and leaves.  So much better to make something useful from them rather than put them in the landfill.

Usually, compost goes in big bins, is built in layers, and needs to be periodically turned so that the stuff from the outside end up in the center and the stuff from the center end up on the outside.  This helps things decompose into compost faster.

I get that.  Really.  But I'm just not thrilled with turning decomposing kitchen waste.  So I compost in a way that is much easier, although slower.  I use a series of garbage cans.

First, I have my husband drill some holes in the bottom, sides and lid.  Then, we place them on blocks or bricks to allow air flow.  The first layer is always newspaper followed by grass or leaves.  Then I start adding plant based kitchen waste and egg shells.  Don't add greasy things, fat or meat.  They slow the decomposing way down and could attract unwanted critters.

The holes provide drainage and airflow, and the holes in the top allow rain to get in and keep things moist.  This will aid in decomposition.

Once you start adding kitchen scraps you will be pleasantly surprised at how long it takes to fill the garage can.  This is because as things decompose they shrink down and settle, allowing you to add more.

Once the can is full, add a layer of grass, leaves or shredded paper,  wet things down, put on the lid and move on to can two.  I usually have three cans going at once.

Decomposition is faster in warmer months and slows down as things get colder.  I've found that where we live it takes about a year for things to reach compost level.  Different climates will be faster or slower.

It is compost when it looks dark and rich and you can no longer identify the ingredients that made it.

And no, it is not smelly.  If you begin to notice a smell add a layer of newspaper, grass or leaves and wet things down well.

Also, we have never attracted unwanted critters.

Best of all, it I easy.

Help Mother Nature.  Save money.  Save work.  A triple play.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Clean Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet


Manufactured cleaning products are expensive.  And, it seems you need a special one for every cleaning task.  The dollars quickly add up.

Also, upon reflection, you may not like that idea of using so many potentially harmful chemicals with names you can't pronounce in your home.  I know I don't.

I also was not fond of all the packaging that I kept sending to the landfill.

So, I did some research and started making my own.  The homemade versions work well for me.  I know exactly what is in them.  I reduce the packaging I need to dispose of.  And, I save some money to be used for something more fun than cleaning.

Below are some ideas for making your own cleaning products.  I would say enjoy but somehow that doesn't sound right when talking about cleaning.  :)


All Purpose Cleaner:  Mix 2T of Dawn with 2 cups water and put it into a recycled spray bottle.  This cleans kitchen and bathroom counters, stove tops, woodwork, fridge surfaces, kitchen tables and more.

Glass and Mirror Cleaner:  Mix equal parts of white household vinegar and water and keep in a recycled spray bottle.  Also good for stainless steel and metal kitchen sinks.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:  Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of the water.  Pour in some household vinegar and let it fizz. Scrub with your toilet brush and then flush.  The vinegar will help kill germs.  And, if you have  pets that insists on using this big water bowl, you no longer have to worry about what dangerous chemicals they are all drinking.

Scouring powder:  Baking soda is a very gentle scouring powder.  Use salt if you need something stronger.

Rug deodorizer:  Fill an old parmesan container with baking soda.  Sprinkle on your carpet and let sit for a few minutes then vacuum.  Baking soda is a good deodorizer for lots of things.  Try it with funky smelling plastic containers, litter boxes, trash cans, smelly sneakers and more.

Counters:  To sanitize spray with vinegar, let sit for a minute, wipe.

Shower surfaces:  To help prevent mold and mildew spray with vinegar and let dry.

 To clean floors:  Use a solution of vinegar and water.  No soapy residue that seems to attract dirt.

Faucets and shower heads:  Soak with vinegar to remove calcium and lime deposits.

Softener in your wash:  Just a quarter cup of vinegar will soften the entire load.

Laundry detergent:  There are several versions.  You can make a liquid by dissolving soap and adding borax and soda;  you can make a dry version by grinding up the bars of soap;  or you can be lazy and just add Dawn to the dry ingredients and mixing well.  When I first started I made the liquid but it took a long time and needed a lot of storage space.  Then I figured out how to make a powdered version.  Faster and easier to store.  Then one day I needed detergent and was out of soap so I figured out how to make a super easy and fast version with Dawn.  I now use both powdered versions depending on how lazy I feel.  (Just keeping it real.)  Below are the actual recipes.  Wal-Mart stocks the needed ingredients.

Liquid: half a cup each of washing soda and borax, one third bar of Fels Naptha soap and 6 cups of water heated until everything dissolves.  In a LARGE container add the mixture to 5 quarts water and stir.  Let sit overnight to gel.  Use one half cup per load

Powder:  grate 8 oz of Fels Naptha, mix with 1 cup each of washing soda, baking soda and borax.  Mix well.  Use 2Tbs per load.  I use my food processor to grate the soap and mix everything together.

Powder Version Two:  one half cup each of borax, washing soda, baking soda and Dawn mixed together well.  Use 2Tbs per load.  Again, I use my food processor to make sure everything mixes well.


Dishwasher Detergent:  1 cup each of borax and washing soda mixed with one half cup kosher salt and one half cup unsweetened lemonade mix ( I use two packets of unsweetened lemonade Koolaid and it works fine).  Use 1Tbs per load.  Use vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser for fewer spots on your dishes.

So, go out and buy a LARGE box of baking soda, a box of washing soda, a box of borax, a jug of household vinegar, a bar of Fels Naptha, a bottle of Dawn and some unsweetened lemonade Koolaid and you are set.

Wish I could honestly say enjoy.  :)