Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 1-31: Buying and Eating

$381.61 allocated for the month  with a cushion of $322.34

We were on a riverboat vacation down the Mississippi  December 14 through the 26.  Therefore, we decided to do only one accounting this month.

What We Ate:

Appetizer assortment; leftover pork chops and accompaniments; Philly cheese steak; grilled ham and cheese with tomato soup; leftovers; homemade mushroom soup with fresh bread; sausage stuffed mushrooms, baked potato rounds, roasted Brussels sprouts; nachos from the freezer, fried cheese, salad;  mushroom and sausage frittata, yoghurt with fresh mandarins, leftover potatoes and fried cheese; doctored pizza and chips; appetizers at the hotel in Memphis; chicken, Brussels sprouts, red beans and rice, garlic bread;  red beans and rice casserole with chicken and cheese, left over Brussels sprouts and bread, chicken sandwiches, red beans and rice soup with bread; lasagna from the freezer; appetizer assortment

What We Bought:

Pretzels ( for car trip to and from New York)  $3.69

Aldi:  mushrooms (4), avocados (3), cucumber, mini sweet peppers, Roma tomatoes, mandarins, baby lettuce. $15.38

Giant Eagle:  ground beef (6 lbs), iced tea (free), salmon (lb)  $18.67

Country Fair:  deli ham, deli roast beef, deli provolone (lb each), kielbasa (2)  $13.65

Aldi:  cereal (2), figs (2)  $6.56

Giant Eagle:  30 lbs. Flour, 12 lbs sugar.  $ 8.91

Price Rite:  cheese (3), butter (2)  $9.74

Grocery in New Orleans:  chicken, Brussels sprouts, red beans and rice, garlic bread. ( used the kitchenette in room)  $20.40

Cost of processing Mike's deer. $75

Aldi:  heavy cream (4),  pepperoni, salami (2), green beans (2), cheese (15), tomatoes, peanuts, fresh spinach, romaine lettuce, eggplant, cucumbers (3), zucchini, colored peppers, cabbage.  $73.00  ( a restocking after our vacation)

Eating Out:

Aunt Millie's (on way home from New York)  $20.69
Lunch with Joyce. $10.75
Lunch at Gus's in Memphis. $22.40
Lunch at Graceland.  $12.55
BBQ lunch in Memphis. $32.00
Lunch in Memphis. $17.97
Pizza in New Orleans  $5.99
Taco Bell in Cleveland $8.97
Lunch at airport:  $4.43

We spent $255.00 on groceries and $122.35 on restaurant meals this month for a total of $377.35.  We get to add a grand total of  $4.26 to the cushion, meaning we end the year with a cushion of $326.60.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cheap breakfasts: Save $$$ in the New Year

Cold cereals and frozen breakfasts are convenient but are they economical?

I bet we all know in our heart of hearts that they are not.

But then what do we serve for breakfast?

Homemade breakfasts are much cheaper than frozen or even cold cereal unless you get a stupendous deal.

No time most weekday mornings?  Make double or triple of an item or items on the weekend and freeze for your own convenience.  Most breakfast items don't take that long to mix and with a few shortcuts you can let your stove do most of the work.

So what to make:

Oven baked oatmeal, or oatmeal in the slow cooker.

Pancakes , pour the batter into a rectangular pan to bake and cut into squares when done.

Muffins, you can always pour the batter into a loaf pan to bake and slice as needed.

French toast, layer bread in rectangular pan and pour the egg mixture over, let sit to allow the egg to be absorbed by the bread, then bake and cut into squares.

Raisin cinnamon scones, make one big round to bake and cut servings as needed.

Toast with peanut butter and jelly.

English muffins buttered then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked.

Homemade cinnamon rolls (Mother of the year territory).


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

That and This

Windshield Wipers Help:

Think your wipers need replaced?  Before you do try cleaning them with vinegar and water.  Sometimes it's just all the accumulated road gunk (a technical term :) ) that keeps them from working well.

Pet carrier in a Pinch:

Need to transport a pet or a stray furry friend but you don't have a carrier? Take two same size laundry baskets, use one as the bottom and one ( turned over)  as the top.  Tie together SECURELY.  This works best for smaller pets.  Big Brutus would probably be too big and too heavy.

Gook be Gone:

Have you ever turned your back on a pot of something cooking and by the time you turn around again it has stuck to the bottom of the pan?  Get the burned on gook off easier by covering the bottom of the pan with an inch or two of water.  Add some dishwasher detergent.  Boil for a few minutes.  The gook will come off much more easily.

Full is Best:

Run your washer with full loads only.  Small loads take the same amount of electricity.  And often they take the same amount of water and detergent because we forget to make the needed adjustments.

Run your dishwasher only with full loads.  See above.

When your oven is on, try and fill the shelves to maximize what you cook with that heat.  Cook an extra casserole for later in the week.  Roast some vegetables.  Bake some muffins for breakfast or cupcakes for dessert.  You get the idea.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Special Holiday Breakfasts:

Celebrate the season with a special breakfast that won't break the bank.

Blueberry Coffee Cake:

2 cups flour.                     2 tsp baking powder.              2/3 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar.                   1 tsp salt.                                   1 cup milk
2 eggs

Mix these ingredients in a bowl then put in a greased 9 by 13 pan.
Top with the following:
3 cups blueberries.           1/2 cup sugar.                         1 tsp cinnamon

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes
Also good with raspberries, blackberries, even banana slices.

Homemade Granola:

3 cups of oatmeal.         3/4 cup brown sugar.         1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins, added after time in oven.                1/2 cup dry milk powder
1/3 c honey.                     3/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix brown sugar, oil and honey and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Combine the other ingredients in a large pan.  Pour the sugar mixture over the dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Bake at 375 for15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.    Add raisins.  Let cool.  Store in air tight container.

Puffy Baked Pancake:

2 eggs.           1/2 cup flour.           1/2 cup milk.           1/4 tsp nutmeg and cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter.                    Thinly sliced apples.           Confectioners sugar
Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425.
Blend eggs until foamy.  Add flour, milk and spices.  Mix well.
Put melted butter in a 9 by 13 baking dish.  Swirl to cover the bottom.
Put a layer of Apple in the dish.  Pour in batter and bake 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar and cook an additional minute.
Sprinkle with lemon juice once out of oven.
 Cut into pieces.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cookbooks for the Thrifty

When I am feeling frugal here are two cookbooks I count on for meal ideas.

More With Less by Doris Jansen Longacre :

Written in the 1970's, this classic has withstood the test of time.
One third of the book deals with American dietary habits in relation to the rest of the world's hunger and nutrition issues.
The last two thirds of the book are where the recipes are and you can always skip the first part and move directly to the recipes.
The recipes are full of yummy foods made with basic ingredients that are usually inexpensive, too.
 Lots of ideas for using up your leftovers are also included.

Here's a favorite recipe.  If you like grilled cheese you will like this.

Oven Cheese Fondue:

Preheat oven to 325
Beat well 5 eggs
Add and mix well 1 tsp salt, a dash of pepper, 2-3 cups of grated cheese
Add 2 1/2 cups hot milk and 4 cups cubed bread
Pour into a greased 7 by 11 ( or 8 1/2 by 11) baking pan.
Bake 30 minutes until set.

Not Just Beans by Tawra Jean Kellem:
This book is full of recipes and tips on how to live and eat frugally.
Although it may sound like it, the book is NOT a vegetarian cookbook.  In fact, it has very few recipes containing beans because the author doesn't like them.
Below is one of her fast to make recipes that's a favorite of mine.

Chicken Pot Pie:
2 cups mixed vegetables.          1 1/2 cups chicken.         1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup biscuit mix.                       1/2 cup milk.                    1 egg

Combine the first three ingredients and pour into a casserole dish.
Combine the last three ingredients and pour over the chicken mixture.
Bake at 400 for a half an hour until golden brown.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Super Easy Holiday Appetizers

These are oldies but goodies and they are pretty fast and easy.

Shrimp Cocktail for a Crowd:

1 block cream cheese.            1 can tiny shrimp.         Cocktail sauce

Put the cream cheese on a plate.  Mix together the shrimp and cocktail sauce until it's a consistency you like.  Pour over the cream cheese and serve with crackers.

Liz Keating's Cheese Ball:

1 -2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. (I use two and make sure it's sharp.)
3 ounces bleu cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons dried onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix all together and form into a ball.  Serve with crackers.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Our Family's Sorta Famous Eggnog

Our family loves Christmas with all its traditions.  One of those is homemade eggnog.  This recipe has been in our family for at least three generations.  We really enjoy sipping it during the holidays.  I hope you do, too.

O'Neill's Famous Eggnog

6 eggs, separated            3/4 to one cup sugar.        1 pint rye whiskey.       
1 pint heavy cream.       1 pint milk             Dash of nutmeg

Mix egg yolks, sugar, rye whiskey, cream and milk.
Beat egg whites and fold into mixture.
Sprinkle on nutmeg.

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.


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:

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

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

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.