Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Easy Homemade Yogurt

No formal machine is needed to make yogurt at home.  I use a small cooler for incubating the milk, two mason jars, an instant read thermometer , a container of yogurt with ACTIVE yogurt cultures (I use plain or vanilla with the later giving a less acids taste to the batch), milk and a large bowl.

First:
Scald the things you are using with boiling water to kill any stray bacteria.

Second:
Get the milk ready.  You might want to make a quart to start with.  I make it two quarts at a time.

You can use fresh milk, dried milk, soy milk.  Anything you have.  If I use dried milk or soy I add some extra dried milk to the mix, about a half a cup for two quarts, to give it more thickness when done because I like the consistency of Greek yogurt.

Heat the milk up to 180 degrees.  I do mine in the microwave at 50%
power because you don't want it to boil over.  I don't like scrubbing scalded milk of the bottom of saucepan.

Cool the milk to 110 degrees.  This is IMPORTANT.  If you kill the active yogurt cultures it will not work.

Third:
Add the yogurt with ACTIVE cultures to the mason jar(s) and stir.  SLOWLY add the 110 degree milk, stirring constantly.  Put the lid(s) loosely on the jar(s).

Fourth:
Put the jars into a small picnic cooler.  Fill the chest with warm water up to the neck of the jar.  Place the cooler in a turned off oven to help retain the warmth.
Let incubate, without disturbing it, overnight or about 12 hours.

Refrigerate for up to 2 1/2 weeks.

Use as yogurt (add jam for fruit yogurt and to impart sweetness), sour cream, to replace buttermilk, in salad dressings.



Sunday, July 15, 2018

Buying and Eating: July 1-15

We started the month with an allocation of $369.00 and a cushion of $489.05 ytd and $872.64 in total.


What We Ate:  Jambalaya, fried green beans, cornbread muffins; homemade sausage, peppers and onion pizza; brats and pasta salad; scalloped potatoes and ham, cheese bread, three bean salad;  leftover smorgasbord;  deli sandwiches and pretzels;  chef salads and Italian cheese bread with raisin pie;  pasta with Serrano ham, edemame and creamy cheese sauce, watermelon, cheese bread and pie;  quinoa salad with egg salad wraps; grilled ham steak with pear jelly glaze, cauliflower with three cheese sauce, quinoa salad, watermelon; meat, bean and rice stack enchiladas with corn and watermelon;  ham and smoked turkey Stromboli with popcorn; pasta, salad and garlic bread


What We Bought:

Save A Lot:  spare ribs, hot dogs, olives, bbq sauce, peaches $ 14.41

Aldi:  onions, pretzels, colored peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, spring mix. $ 10.24

Save a Lot:  butter, cinnamon, baking powder.  (In the RV and forgot.) $ 5.18

Save a Lot:  T-bone steaks (3), peaches (3), plums (3), nectarines (3), orange mint thins. $ 16.03

Save a Lot:  Smith's bacon (12 pounds), olives. $30.04

Giant Eagle:   sea salt, yogurt ( starter to make a batch), McDonald's coffee frappe. $3.93

Total Groceries:  $49.83

Eating Out:
 Taco Bell on way to New York. $ 8.35
 Lunch in New York.  $ 12.85
Lunch going to New York. $10.15

Total Eating Out:  $31.35

Total for First Half of the Month:  $ 81.18

Remaining for the Second Half of the Month:  $288.82

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Slow Cooker Tea Cake


I wanted something special for breakfast.  But I wanted easy.  And since it's summer, I didn't want to heat up the kitchen more than necessary.  So in the afternoon I made a tea cake, literally.  It contains tea.

Mix together the following:

1 cup sugar, we found it to be over sweet so will cut the sugar next time
1 cup tea, I used orange spice but any tea would work
1 cup dried fruit such as raisins, I used dried cranberries.  Next time I'll try prunes
1 cup flour, I used whole wheat and upped the liquid some to compensate, I used orange juice but you could just use more tea to keep costs down
1 tsp baking powder

Cook for 1 1/2 hours in a container that fits into your slow cooker.  Cooking times will vary  with the type of slow cooker so add time as you need to.  Cook on high.  Put a tea towel under the lid to absorb condensation.


This is a very simple British  recipe updated to bake in the slow cooker.
I baked a treat without heating up the kitchen.  WIN!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Two More Inexpensive Vegetarian Meals

Bean and Rice Burritos:

Either cook up some beans from dry (cheaper) or drain and rinse canned beans, either pinto, kidney or black beans will work.

Mash the beans and season as you like.  I add cumin, garlic and onion powder, and chili powder.  If cooking from dry, add some salt.

Cook some white or brown rice. Feel free to cook more than you need and freeze the extra for quick future meals.

Season the rice with your favourite salsa.

Place beans and rice on a flour tortilla.

Add sour cream or Greek yogurt, chopped tomato and onion, lettuce, cheese or whatever you like.  Some more salsa is also good.

 Roll and enjoy.


Meatless Taco Soup:

Cooked or canned beans:  pinto, kidney, black or a combination.

Whole kernel corn.  Canned works well and is often cheaper.

Rotel tomatoes.

Tomato juice.

Chopped onion.

Spices such as garlic, cumin, chili powder.

Heat through slowly to blend flavors.

Crumbled corn tortilla chips on top when serving for garnish.

Some cheese is also good.





Friday, July 6, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in June

1.  We used points to pay for our Hotel rooms in both Amsterdam (x2) and Dresden.  As a very conservative estimate, that saved us over $300.

2.  Parking the car at a Park and Fly in Toronto that was running a special:  pay for a week, park for a month.  That saved us about $375.

3.  Shopping at local grocery stores in Dresden, Prague, Budapest and Amsterdam for most of our meals rather than paying restaurant prices.

4.  Drinking the free coffee on the boat rather than paying €4 for a cola.

5.  Downloading only the free books on Amazon.

An Extra:  We saved $48 in speciality food for our cat Max because we were willing to take food three days beyond its best by date.  It pays to use the same vet for 30 years.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Buying and Eating: End of June and Half Way Through the Year


I allotted $61.55for the last five days of the month  plus we have a cushion of $455.78 YTD and $839.37 in total.

What We Ate:
Grilled steak, rice, corn, strawberry shortcake (all from freezer);  black bean casserole, Mac and cheese with salsa,  lima beans and strawberry shortcake;  pasta with meat sauce (using meatloaf from freezer), garlic cheese bread, three bean salad, fruit salad and cookies;  Italian beef stir-fry and cranberry apple muffins;  homemade pizza with three cheeses,sausage, onion and peppers

Eating Out:
Aunt Millie's on trip home from Toronto  $14.22
Lunch with Bill and Ginger. $14.06
Total:  28.28

We were able to eat from the freezer and the cupboard so our only cost were two meals out for a total of $28.28.  That leaves $ 33.27 to add to the cushion.  So, our YTD  cushion is now $489.05 and our total cushion is now $ 872.64.

We are 181 days into the year and in total for groceries and meals out we have spent $ 1739.06.  That averages out to $9.66/day and $ 4.83/person/day.

So far this year we have spent $ 207.41 eating out or $1.15/day.
For groceries we have spent $ 8.51/ day or $ 4.25 /person/day.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Easy cranberry muffins

I can often get great deals on cereal at the salvage groceries.  Last month I got two boxes of Quaker Multigrain Flakes with cranberries and apple for $1.

I decided to use some to make some muffins.

I followed a muffin recipe from my very old Betty Crocker cookbook (40+years old), substituting the Wheaties called for with my Quaker flakes.

They were yummy for breakfast and would also go well with a light dinner or for a snack.

1 egg
1/2 cup milk  (I substituted orange juice)
1/4 cup oil
2 cups Quaker Multigrain Flakes with cranberries and Apple
handful of dried cranberries for fun (optional)
Mix above well and let sit for ten minutes or so

Add
1 cup flour
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
Mix well

Put into a greased muffin tin and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes
Makes 12 muffins

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June: An Unusual Month for Buying and Eating.

We have been on vacation this month visiting our daughter in Berlin and taking a two week river cruise on the Danube and Rhine rivers.  Food was either provided or fell under the vacation budget.

Now that we are back,  I have allocated $12.31/day for 5 days or $61.55 to get us to the end of the month of June.

This will be needed to restock our bare refrigerator.

July we will be back to normal.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Literally Modern Cologne

Cologne was a bit of a letdown.

The city has a long Roman history.

It was a major city during the Middle Ages.

In 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

After WWI, it was part of the Weimer Republic and suffered inflation and hyperinflation.

During WWII, the city was heavily bombed, destroying 96% of its buildings.

The decisions made when rebuilding the city focused on creating a modern city of the 1950-1960's.

Modern architecture abounds.

Rectangular cement buildings are everywhere.

Except for the Cathedral, it's as if the city has no history.

A little sad.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Zithering

Tomy Temerson,  a musician with his own Wikipedia page and one of the best concert level players in the world, was brought on board to perform a concert for us on the oldest folk music instrument of the German speaking countries of Austria, Switzerland and Germany:  the zither.

The zither is very difficult to play.  You must play the melody and the accompaniment at the same time.  Just like with the harp, piano, organ and guitar.

Playing the zither is like playing three guitars at once:  melody, bass and rhythm.
The musician must play three different rhythms at once with only two hands.

There are 42 strings in total:  5 melody and 37 accompaniment, on a concert zither.

To play it well, the player must develop a full set of thick calluses on both hands.  The calluses allow the player to get between the strings to pluck them or hold the melody strings down when playing the instrument.  Without calluses this is quite painful.

To tune the instrument by ear takes 45 minutes.
And since the zither is very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, it must be tuned every time it is played.

Listening to a zither concert is like listening to three classical guitarists play perfectly together.  However, only one very skilled musician is playing all the guitars.  Bravo!



Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Rhine River Valley

Today we took a beautiful and relaxing morning cruise through the Rhine River Valley.

Wine grapes have  been grown along the Rhine since Roman times.  The vineyards are beautifully terraced along the steep sides.  Today, most of the grapes grown here are Riesling grapes.

Some of the vines are young, 3-20 years old.  Some are medium age, 20-50 years old.  Some, 50 plus years, are considered old,  Using a mixture of these grapes gives the wine a complexity and balance.

Originally, some of the fortifications along the river were originally built to protect the vineyard owned by the church.

Also, half timbered houses, small villages, and castles high above the river abound.

All but one of the medieval castles along the Rhine were destroyed by the French in 1689 to weaken the German defenses.  A lot later many were rebuilt by the state or privately and are now private residences, hotels or hostels.

At one place you will see the Statue of Germania, like our Statue of  Liberty and from same time period, standing majestic, high in the vineyards.

In the 1950's Germany gave a mountain along the Rhine to the Netherlands so that they could use the rock to reinforce their dams.  Although Germany expected them to later return the mountain, the Netherlands has never given it back. So you still have a piece of the Netherlands on the banks of the Rhine.

Some tunnels along the Rhine were used by the Nazis to hide art and other valuables.  They were made to look like ancient fortifications by the Nazis because the allies had orders not to bomb the ancient castles and fortifications.

In one town there is a connected pub and church.  You must enter and exit the church through the pub.  I don't know which came first, the church or the pub.  Unique.  Have a pint or two on Saturday then proceed to church on Sunday to confess your sins.  One stop shopping.










Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rothenberg

Rothenberg is a city that defines what picturesque is.

 Its largely preserved Medieval Old Town, with nary a modern building in sight, is still fully contained inside the original walls of the city.  Ancient cobblestone abounds.

 After the Thirty Years War in the 1600's, the city of Rothenberg could be said to have fallen into a light sleep.  The city was deemed unimportant.  Development stood still.  Luckily for us, this allowed the city to be faithful preserved in all its ancient beauty.

In the early 1930's Rothenberg became a Nazi stronghold, garnering 83% of the vote.  By 1938 all of Rothenberg's News had been expelled and its synagogue destroyed.

In March of 1945 the city underwent Allied bombardment, destroying some of the eastern part of the city.  Luckily, the most important part of the city's architectural heritage was preserved.

 After the war, the destroyed buildings were faithfully reconstructed.  Some of the reconstruction was financed by donations from Americans who felt guilty about destroying part of such an historic site.

An April 1945 artillery attack was avoided due to the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany's knowledge, from his mother who had visited the city before the war, of the great historical and cultural significance of the city.

Considered a prototype of a German Medieval City, the area is a magnet for tourists who like to walk its quaint narrow streets and gaze upon its many half -timbered buildings.  To sit and sip a local wine, eat a Bavarian pretzel and relax is a must.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Nuremberg

Nuremberg was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Imperial Diet, a negotiating body, and the Imperial Courts met in Nuremberg's castle.  The city was one of the most important cities of the Empire.

For the Nazi Third Reich, Nuremberg again took on political importance.

Because of its past importance to the Holy Roman Empire, and with a desire to a align itself with the glory of that empire, the Nazis decided to hold their 1927, 1929, 1933-1938 enormous propaganda rallies in Nuremberg.

These huge propaganda events, catering to emotions and not intellect, were held to espouse the ideas that were the underpinnings of the Nazi party, including Aryan superiority.

In 1935, the infamous Nuremberg Laws laws were passed here.  It was with these laws that, it became illegal for Jews to marry non Jews, and the German citizenship of all Jews and non- Aryans was revoked, a necessary precursor to the Holocaust which was to follow.

The famous Nuremberg War Crimes trials were held here and not in Berlin because

      1.  Due to the numerous Nazi rallies and the passing of legislation to strip Jews of their citizenship here, it was felt to be symbolic that the Nazis should also be held accountable for their war crimes in Nuremberg.

      2.  The courthouse was one of the few in Germany that had a large enough courtroom, was relatively intact, and has an adjoining jail to hold the accused.

 Military and political leaders, including Herman Goring and Rudolph Hess, were held accountable for their involvement with the Holocaust and other Nazi war crimes.

Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and others, who would also have been tried, had already committed suicide before they could be brought to justice.  Others had fled to Argentina.

Twenty four individuals were tried at the initial tribunal.  Twelve were sentenced to death.  Three were sentenced to life in prison.  Two were acquitted of the charges against them.  Others were given lesser sentences.

Tribunals, prosecuting lesser individuals and holding these individuals culpable for crimes instead of the all encompassing state, were later held.

The Nuremberg tribunals are important, also, because they are the basis of today's International Criminal Court.

 The Nuremberg trials brought to the forefront very sobering examples of man's terrible inhumanity to man that should never be forgotten.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Regensburg

Regensburg's largely preserved old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2006.

Although it was first settled in 5000 B.C., like countless other cities it can trace its "modern" roots to a Roman fortress.

Romanesque and Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages  created the old part of the city.  The old stone bridge constructed during the 1100's is a symbol of the city's wealth during this time in history.

House towers were constructed by the affluent families of the time.  The Golden Tower remains today as a fine example of the architecture of the time.

In 1273 the construction of the Regensburg Cathedral was begun.  Today it is a landmark and architectural gem.

In April of 1809, French troops led by Napoleon, retook the city of Regensburg.  During this battle, Napoleon suffered his first and only injury in all his campaigns.

During WWII several Nazi work camps were established around Regensburg.  Here prisoners of war did forced labor and lived in squalid conditions.  Over 700 died.

An aircraft facility was also located west of the city.  It was bombed by the Allies and destroyed in August of 1943.

Regensburg was slow to recover from the war.  This had a silver lining:  The old buildings of the town were not torn down in the name of redevelopment.  By the 1960's, when recovery did begin, preservation of these buildings was, thankfully, considered paramount.

Visit today and step back in time to Medieval Europe.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Salzburg and the Sound of Music


Salzburg is a city of churches and beautiful town squares.

From the 1300's until the early 1800's it was an autonomous city ruled by Bishop-Princes who controlled both the religious and secular parts of life.  They also built beautiful residences and countless churches.

However, in the early 1800's, as a result of a command by Napoleon, the autonomous city became part of Bavaria.

Mozart was born and lived here until his early death at the age of 35.

The popular Mozartkugel, a ball of chocolate with a marzipan center, was first made in Salzburg.  Even today they are still handmade here, although mass produced in other European cities.  You can't come to Salzburg without trying one.

Another sweet you must try is a unique version of meringue, served in the form of three mountain peaks.  We lunched in St. Peter's Restaurant and tried them after some wonderful schnitzel.  They were divine.

The Alps have their beginning in Salzburg.  On one of the hills, a large medieval defensive fortresses from the 11th century, one of the largest in Europe, stands guard over the city.

To walk the city is a fine way to discover its fine examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern architecture.

However, what most tourists, of which there are many, identify with the city is the 1965 movie The Sound of Music.

Set in Salzburg during the run up to WWII, it uses some of the existing sites in and around the city as background for the movie:  the cemetery of St. Peter's, the beautiful gardens across the Danube from the city, the historic Benedictine Abbey and the Salzburg Music Festival, to name a few.

However,it must be remembered that the movie, though based on fact, is not always accurate.

For example, Maria and Captain von Trapp were married in the late 1920's and not the late 1930's.  And, they did not walk over the Alps to Switzerland, hundreds of miles away.  The took the train to Italy and from there proceeded to the U.S.

A beloved movie almost world wide, the movie remains widely unknown, except by tour guides, in German speaking countries.  Made only twenty years after the end of the war, memories were fresh and the depiction of Nazis unappreciated.

It remains unknown to this day.  Ironic.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Wachau Valley, Durnstein and Melk Abbey

Today we sailed through the "Golden Wachau" Valley.  Terraced grape vines along its 25 mile stretch attest to the famous wine growing industry of the valley.  The picturesque villages hug the hills with ancient fortifications soaring above them.

One such village is that of Durnstein.  It became famous in 1192 when it's castle held the English king Richard I, the Lionhearted, who was captured on his way home from the Crusades and held for ransom.  The ransom was paid after a few months and Richard was released.

Today it is a popular tourist city.

It is rumored that Diana, Princess of Wales, would stay in the town's luxurious hotel and enjoy the fabulous scenery as she tried to avoid the paparazzi.

Further down the Danube is Melk Abbey, perched high above the town of Melk on the rocky hillside.

Leopold II gave the Benedictine monks one of his castles in 1089 to be used for a monastery.  One hundred years later a monastic school began.

With time, the monastary's library of manuscripts gained renown, as did the Abbey' production of hand inscribed copies of manuscripts.

Today's Abbey was constructed in the early 1700's in Baroque style.  The decoration lavish and awe inspiring.

Its library contains a large collection of Medieval manuscripts, including musical manuscripts.

Its school is still functioning, having a student body of almost 900 young men and women.

It is a piece of still living history.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Vienna

Vienna is a large capital city of what is now a small country.  One third of Austria's population lives in the Vienna metropolitan area.

But Vienna has a long and glorious history of being the capital of great empires, thus its size.

From 800-1806, it acted as a capital for the Holy Roman Empire and, in 1440 it became the center of the Hapsburg's dynasty.  In 1867 it continued as the capital of the newly created Austria- Hungarian Empire.  It would remain so until the collapse of the Empire in 1918.  In 1919 today's smaller Austria was born.

1938 saw the absorption of Austria by Nazi Germany.    Berlin became its capital.   65,000 Jews would be sent to their death during the course of the war.

It would not be an autonomous nation again until 1955 when the Soviet hold on the city ended.  Modern Austria is governed by the Social Democratic Party and has declared itself a neutral country.

With a strong economy, a geographic location that makes it a gateway to former Eastern Bloc countries, and ranked as one of Europe's most livable cities, Vienna is a tourist magnet.

The city is home to many international organizations and a member of the European Union.

During the centuries it developed deep  musical, cultural, educational, architectural and economic roots still visible today.  History is around literally every corner of the city.

In 1913, this melting pot of a city was home to Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Sigmund Freud,  Joseph Tito, and Adolph Hitler, men who would define the twentieth century.

The late 1800's saw the dismantling of the historic wall around the city and its replacement with a beautiful boulevard around the heart of the city.  Lined with governmental buildings and large homes, yet also full of relaxing and reviving green spaces, this area is a must to explore.

With repair, restoration and reconstruction of the damage of WWII complete, the palaces, churches, city squares, and cultural buildings of Vienna once again exert a pull on tourists, as they should.

Music ,theatre, opera, museums, cafes, cuisine:  Vienna has it all.  A must see city.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia as well as its largest city.  It is the cultural and educational center for the country.

Slovakia is blessed to border on both Austria and Hungary. This geographic placement making exporting easy,  and the country's business friendly policies and skilled workforce have helped to make Bratislava a car manufacturing and tech center.

The Romans introduced grape growing and wine making to the region and this industry continues to today.  However, since all the wine is consumed internally, none is available for export.  (These people can party.)

From 1536-1830 eleven kings and queens of Hungary were crowned in Bratislava at St. Martin's Cathedral in the city center.

After 1830, Bratislava began lose importance to Vienna and Budapest who then became the centers of social and cultural life.

At the end of WWI, with the breakup of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, what is now Slovakia became a part of the newly created Czechoslovakia.

The country came under Nazi domination during WWII and 15000 Jews were transported to concentration camps and ultimately died.

The Communist party seized Czechoslovakia in 1948 and it was part of the communist bloc until the the fall of Communism as the result of the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

In 1993 Bratislava  became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic when Czechoslovakia divided itself into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, sometimes referred to as the Velvet Divorce.

Today the economy is very strong with car manufacturing, technology and service jobs being the strongest three sectors.  Tourism is also a rapidly expanding sector.

This young but proud country and its beautiful capital city are poised to grow even more in the years ahead.  Well worth a visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Buda and Pest

Until 1873 there was no Budapest.  There was the city of Buda and Obuda on one side of the Danube and the city of Pest on the other.  When they joined together Budapest was born. The capital and largest city in Hungary, it is also one of the largest cities in the European Union.

The city started out as a Celtic settlement, then became a Roman capital.  The first Hungarians arrived in the 9th century.  Later, beginning in 1541, it was ruled by the Ottomans for 140 years.  The Hapsburgs drove the Ottomans out in 1718 and established  the Kingdom of Hungary.  Still later, from 1867, it became the co-capital of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.  When the empire dissolved at the end of World War I, an independent Republic of Hungary came into being.  After World War II, The People's Republic of Hungary was part of the Soviet block until the fall of communism in 1991.

Although partially destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1944, and the destruction of every bridge over the Danube by the Germans, Budapest has recreated itself as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The architecture of the city reflects its long and varied history.  You can see everything from Roman ruins through modern skyscrapers, although the majority of building are kept low to preserve the historic nature of the city.  The multitude of architectural styles coexist well and give the city its unique sense of self.

There are many things to see but one thing you must make time to see is the Jewish temple, the mass graves of Holocaust victims located there, and the evocative Holocaust memorial.  This was what touched me the most of all the places we visited.

Hungarian cuisine is another reflection of the country's varied cultural history.
Influenced by European and Asiatic foods, the resulting dishes are very flavorful and unique with the use of paprika and sour cream holding pride of place.

Plan more than one day to explore and appreciate this wonderful city.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in May

1.  Visiting a salvage grocery, or two.  At the first I spent $ 93.63 for 105 items.  At the second I bought 115 items for $ 102.07.  My cupboards are stocked.

2.  Making homemade bread for about $0.20 versus buying it at Aldi or the bread store.  I can also make English muffins, tortillas, pitas, nann and bagels.  I just need to motivate myself to get back in the habit.  This bread is a small step forward.  (  But I still was bad and went to the bread store and spent $  5.56 on  7 items.    I could have made them for under $2.  My excuse is the RV is small for baking bagels, English Muffins and such.  That's my story and I am sticking to it. )

3.  I got lucky again and found another stash of yarn.  It was $1.25 per skein but still a great bargain.  I have had a hard time recently finding any but it seems my drought is over for awhile.  Now I just need to find a place to put it all.  :)

4.  Washing out zip lock bags.  I do this regularly for any bags that didn't contain meat.    I can reuse a bag several times before it ends up in the garbage.  By doing this I only need to buy one box each of sandwich, quart and gallon bags per year.  Every little bit counts.  And, it helps Mother Earth.

5.  Gather up the fragments vegetarian chili.  I put in a partial jar of homemade salsa that had been in the fridge awhile, the seasoned broth from cooking some pinto beans for refried beans, a half a can of enchilada sauce that has been lurking in the freezer, a small amount of the refried beans mentioned above, one can of beans and one can of Rotel tomatoes.  I let it all cook down.  I made enough for chili, chili spaghetti and chili burritos.   About 50 cents per meal.

An Extra:  Being lucky enough to go to the Middlefield Cheese Co-Op and buy about 12 pounds of cheese at about $2.39/pound on average.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Compact

With the world focused on the environment and what can be done to help Mother Earth, I thought now would be a great time to talk about The Compact.

An informal loose association of people world wide, The Compact is an agreement to try to source items needed from the used market:  thrift stores, charity shops, garage sales, etc.  Normal consumer outlets for consumer goods are your last resort.

 By doing this, you can help stop perfectly good items from ending up in a landfill.  The Compact hopes to be at least part of the answer to rampant consumerism.

You can set up your own rules for any exceptions you want to have.  Mine are that I am free to purchase undergarments and gifts new.  There are no Compact police.  No one will be monitoring your compliance but you.

I joined The Compact five years ago.  The woman who inspired me to join has been living this Earth friendly way for over fifteen years.  I encourage you to give it a try at the level that feels comfortable to you.  The environment will thank you.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Exploring Prague


Built along the banks of the Vltava river, Prague is used to being a capital city.  It was home to the kings of Bohemia; the center of government for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV; the capital of Czechoslovakia; and now the capital of government of the Czech Republic.

Known as the city of spires, its beautiful and varied buildings, painted a delightful array of colors, reflect the varied architectural styles of its over one thousand year history.  And, the buildings are of a very human scale, being generally four to six stories tall, making it a very comfortable city.  Its cobblestone streets and stone mosaic sidewalks harken back to another age.

Full of ancient churches, great museums, historic bridges, a university that is the oldest in Central Europe, as well as a beautiful palace, it's no wonder tourist flock to visit the city, making it the fifth most popular destination in Europe.

Geared towards its tourists, there is always someone who speaks English;  restaurants abound; and things in general are affordable, unless you desbyire to shop for Dior, Cartier and such.  They are also available for those with deep pockets.

Prague should definitely be on your bucket list of places to visit.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Visiting Dresden

Dresden has a history that dates to the 1500's.  The beautiful city reflects the many centuries in its varied architecture.  And yet, most of the buildings are less than a century old.  Some are less than a decade, although they appear much older.

In 1945, near the end of WWII, the city was virtually destroyed by Allied bombing raids in February of that year.

Faced with rebuilding, the decision was made to restore the city to the way it looked in 1940.  Starting in the 1950's and still continuing today, the city is restoring itself to reflect its past beauty.

At noon everyday is a walking tour that highlights the progress to date.  Museums, churches, palaces and homes are highlighted for the participants to observe and reflect upon.

Like the Phoenix arising from the ashes, Dresden is meticulously recreating its past grandeur.

It's a wonderful place to also reflect upon the historic and beautiful structures and artistic endeavors forever lost to us due to man's inhumanity to man over the centuries.

May we eventually learn from our past mistakes.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eating in Amsterdam and on the Train to Berlin

Jet Lag equals no energy to go to a restaurant.

Local Grocery equals a good option.

We needed a dinner and lunch for on the train the next day.

We bought these items for our gourmet picnics:

4 hard rolls
Gouda cheese with caraway seeds
Salami
Olives
Pretzels:  cheese stuffed and peanut stuffed
Sliced apples with grapes and pineapple
Donuts
A large bottle of soda

Enough for both meals.  €18.22
€9.11 /meal
€4.55/serving

A sandwich alone would have cost us at least €4.99.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: May 16-31

We started the month with $381.30.  A total of $212.59 was spent during the first half of the month.  That leaves 168.71 for the remainder of the month.  We have a cushion of $849.06 ($465.47 ytd) that we can go into if needed.

What We Ate:  grilled salmon Caesar salad, fresh strawberries, asparagus;  grilled ham from the freezer, leftover sides, bread pudding; shrimp Caesar salad with toasted English muffins;  cheesy ham and potatoes from the freezer, mixed vegetables, fruit and rice salad from the freezer, banana muffins; turkey divan from the freezer, sweet and sour red cabbage, garlic and onion smashed potatoes, leftover fruit salad;  grilled Polish sausage, roasted cauliflower, rye cheesy bread;  Meatloaf, baked potato, corn;  leftovers; easy small pita and English muffin sausage pizzas with popcorn; Cincinnati Four Way Chili and bagels; homemade cream of asparagus soup and sandwiches; steak, creamy spinach rice, applesauce; smoked and BBQ ribs, coleslaw, curry potatoes, strawberry shortcake; leftovers then vacation

What We Bought:

Aldi:  strawberries (2), asparagus.   $4.27

Middlefield Cheese Co-Op:  12 pounds of cheese.  $28.63

Middlefield Salvage:  tomato juice, 46 oz., Pam (4), gal. White vinegar, sugar cone ice cream bowls, sauerkraut, 3 bean salad, corn, beignet mix, jerky, barley, Mac and cheese (6), Pecan Sandies, crispy dried onions, pie crust mix (6), cream of chicken soup (3), Pepperidge Farm sourdough bread, cereal (4), crackers (8), salad dressings (4), oatmeal, beef bouillon, digestive cookies (2), coffee (6), low carb tortillas (4), breakfast bars (6), gal.  corn oil, broth (2), shelf stable soy milk (2), candy bars (5), chocolate mint baking morsels (2), tuna (3), natural peanut butter (2), canned white beans (4), lasagna noodles, diced tomatoes .    $67.44

CVS:  Maxwell House instant coffee (9)  $21.91

Price Rite:  canned beans (3), kielbasa (3), cheese (4)   $13.13

Total for Groceries:  $135.38


Eating Out:

Breakfast with Dad at the Geneva Lodge:  $21.22

Lunch with Pat:  $21.80

Total for Eating Out:  $43.02

GRAND TOTAL:  $178.40

We went into this year's cushion by $9.69 this month.  The first time this year that we have gone over the monthly allocation.  Not bad.

Our YTD cushion now stands at $ 455.78 and our total cushion is $839.37.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Making Onion Bhajis

I needed a side dish.

 I was in the RV.

I had few vegetable options.

 So I googled.

And, I decided to do a version of Onion Bhajis:  basically onion rings without rings and with extra seasoning.

I need to say that traditional Bhajis contain coriander.  I didn't have any so I left it out.

My Onion Bhajis:

1  onion cut in half and then sliced thinly
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1 cup flour
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp cumin

Mix all together.  Fry in small rounds in oil until each side is quite brown.

Great taste for a person who loves onion rings but struggles to make them successfully.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Use Up Those Vegetables Deliciously

Vegetable/Potato Pancakes

I love potato pancakes.  But I think about nutrition.  So, I mix other vegetables in with the potatoes most of the time.  But, if you want to, you can make them the traditional way with all potatoes.


Potatoes
Zucchini
Carrots
Onion

Shred potatoes and one or more of the other vegetables.  Use what you have.

Wrap in a towel and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.  Use an old, stained towel.  Doing this will make the stains worse.

Return to a bowl.  Add an egg or two and some flour depending on the amount of vegetables you have.  This will help hold them together.

Fry in oil or bacon grease.  Salt and pepper.

Serve with sour cream and apple sauce.



This recipe is a good way to use up leftover vegetables or the items in the bottom of your crisper drawer.  Anything goes.

Pasta Primavera:

Look in your fridge and freezer for bits and pieces of vegetables.

I like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, and spinach or kale.

 I also add some cooked dried beans or green soy beans for protein.

Steam, microwave or roast the vegetables.

Cook some pasta of your choice.  Mix the vegetables with the pasta.

Make a white sauce with cheese or use pesto to dress the pasta and vegetable mixture.

Serve with more cheese.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Middlefield, Ohio Bargains

Mike and I took the RV and headed to Amish country just south and east of Cleveland.  While there we did a little ( a lot) of shopping.


Salvage Groceries:  Couldn't resist.

Vanilla wafers for lake (2), 4 count storage containers (2) under household, minced sun dried tomatoes for lake,  46 oz. tomato juice, Pam (4), marshmallows for lake, gallon of white vinegar, sugar cone ice cream bowls, sauerkraut, 3 bean salad, corn, beignet mix, coconut (2) for lake, jerky, roasted red peppers (2) for lake, barley, macaroni and cheese (6), cookies (3), crispy onions, mandarin oranges for the lake, pie crust mix (6), cream soup (3), Pepperidge Farm sourdough bread, hello (3) for the lake, canning lids (4) under household, cereal (4), crackers (2) for the lake, salad dressings (4), oatmeal, crackers (6), pasta salad (4) for the lake, beef bouillon, coffee (6), liquid plumber under household, low carb tortillas (4), breakfast bars (6), gallon of corn oil, 11 lbs, cat food under household, broth (2), shelf stable soy milk (2), candy bars (5), chocolate mint morsels (2), tuna (3), crunchy peanut butter (2), canned white beans (4), lasagna noodles, diced tomatoes (2)   115 items for $102.07
I call that a bargain.


Cheese Co-Op:  The Original Middlefield Cheese

I buy the cheese on special.  I know you're surprised to hear that.  :)

Today it was Swiss and sharp cheddar.

The cost per pound was $2.59.  We bought about  8 pounds for $20.57

I also look for the deli cheese ends.  These are only $2.00 / pound.  Today we were lucky to get  a mixed bag of cheese types of just over 4 pounds for $8.06.

So, for $28.63 we are now stocked up with about 12 pounds of cheese at an average cost of  $2.39/ pound.  And this is really good cheese.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Huge Salvage Shop

I haven't been salvage shopping in awhile.
 My cupboards showed it.
The length of my receipt showed it.
And my bill showed it.

 I didn't get everything I was looking for (no baking powder, Pam, olives, cocoa, beets, raisins, cumin, cayenne, chilli powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, soy sauce) but I did stock up on quite a few things, as you can see below.

Kellogg's pastry thins for the RV     4@$0.89
Black sesame seeds to make sesame oil.    8 oz @$0.99
Salad croutons     2 @ $0.79
Boxed potato mix for the RV.    3@$0.49 box
Cereal     $0.99
Barilla spaghetti  2@ $0.79/lb
Chicken broth  48 0 ounces.    $1.50
Maggie seasoning.     $1.50
Organic Cereal   4@ $1.50/box
Creme.    2@0.49
Barilla rigatoni .     2@$0.99/lbs
Crackers      7@$0.79/box.     Two are for the lake later this summer
Townhouse crackers, large box. $1.00
Dried cranberries.     2@.99/bag
Ginger Snaps for the RV.    $0.79
Gluten free crackers.     2@$0.99/box
Natural peanut butter .   5@$1.99/jar
Small bags of Snyder's sourdough pretzels.     4@$0.35 /bag
5 grain hot cereal.    $0.99
Candy bars for the  RV  5@ .25/bar
Dry ranch salad dressing mix.     4@$0.50/envelope.   2 for the lake
Corn meal     $0.50/5lbs
BBQ sauce .    $0.65/bottle
Organic no salt green beans.     2@$0.49/can
Crushed pineapple.     $0.69/ plastic container .    For the lake.
Steel cut oatmeal.     $0.99/bag
Mayo.     4@$0.25/quart
Cheeze Its, small bags for the RV .    4@$0.25/bag
Salad dressing.     2@$0.25/bottle
Tea bags.     2@$1.99/box of forty
Coconut cookies for the RV .    2@$0.99/tray
Italian salad dressing to use as a marinade      7@$0.10/bottle.    For the lake.
Pizza crust      2 for $0.10
Coffee      7@2.99/bag
Coffee .    1@$1.99/bag
Crushed pineapple .    $0.99/can .   For the lake.
Velveeta family size macaroni the cheese for the RV.   2 for a total of $0.99
Stovetop for the RV     2@$0.79each
Lime juice.      $0.99
Mandarins.  $0.69/ plastic container.     For the lake.:/
Cashews.     $1.25/bag
Wet cat food.     4@$0.29/can

Grand total:    105 items for $93.68

As my husband just said, I need to go more often so the list isn't as long and the bill isn't as big.  But I don't think I did so bad.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Buying and Eating: May 1-15

We began May with a monthly allotment of $381.30 according to the government's thrifty plan for food.  We are carrying over a cushion of $849.06 in total, with $465.47 being from this year.


What We Ate:  BBQ pork ribs, grilled Italian zucchini, leftover sweet potatoes from the freezer, garlic sourdough toast;  vegetable fried rice, onion bhajis,  melon; Italian marinated ribs, fresh green beans, melon, muffins; spaghetti from the freezer, sauteed zucchini, melon, scones from the freezer;  homemade hummus, pita bread, grilled peppers and on, leftover zucchini, melon; grilled ham steak, grilled corn on the cob, fried cabbage, macaroni and cheese, garlic toast; fried rice from the freezer, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, fresh strawberries, cheese bread;  Asian spicy peanut noodles, leftover sauteed cabbage, green beans, strawberries; leftover smorgasbord;  homemade sausage, onion and pepper pizza with pretzels; turkey and gravy from the freezer, stovetop, mashed potatoes, lima beans; homemade vegetation chili with onion and cheese; pizza from the freezer


What We Bought:

Aldi:  bacon, pork ribs, zucchini, Parmesan cheese, fresh green beans, ice cream, pretzels, sourdough bread, avocados (3), French roast coffee (2), peanut butter cups, cookies. $27.40

Aldi:  strawberries (2)  $3.98

Price Rite: cheese (5 lbs), special K (4), canned beans (3), Atkins bars, expensive but Mike likes them (3)  $40.22

Salvage: Kellogg's pastry thins (4), black sesame seeds ( for homemade sesame oil), croutons (2), boxed potato mixes for the RV (4), cereal (5), Barilla pasta (4), chicken broth (48 oz), Maggie seasoning, creme (2), crackers (6), dry ranch dressing (2), dried cranberries (2), ginger snaps, natural peanut butter (5), Snyder's pretzels, small (4), regular oatmeal, steel cut oatmeal, mayo (4), cheeze its, small (4), salad dressing (2), tea bags (2), coconut cookies (2), pizza crust (2), ground coffee (8), candy bars (6), macaroni and cheese, family size, for the RV (2), stovetop, for the RV (2), lime juice, cashews , corn meal (5 lbs), BBQ sauce, green beans (2),    $88.48

Bread Store:  Thomas's English Muffins (3), Thomas's Onion Bagels, Monk's whole wheat bread, Thomas's cinnamon swirl bread, soft rye bread.   $5.56

Total for groceries:  $165.64


Eating Out:

Breakfast with the kids. $ 19.19
Lunch With Joyce. $18.72
Lunch at Sara's, an Erie landmark  $ 9.04

Total for eating out:  $46.95

Grand Total:  $212.59

That leaves us with $168.71 for the second half of the month.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Two"Exotic" Meatless Dishes That Are Husband Approved

We have spent a great deal of time in England and these two recipes come from there.

Glamorgan Sausages:

6 ounces bread crumbs,  I estimate and add more if needed
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar,  the sharper the better
2 eggs
1 onion, finely chopped
Large pinch of dry mustard
4 Tbs milk

Mix together and form into patties.

Roll in flour to coat patties.

Heat oil to fry, using bacon grease is wonderful.



English Monkey:

1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 eggs
3/4 c grated cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
Chopped onion to taste

Scramble the above mixture.
Serve on toast.
Serves 4

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

RVing: Final Stock Up

We could have got by without them, but we decided not to.

So, we did a final shop.

Mike wanted to grill so we got some ribs.  Part will be BBQ and part will be Italian.

Zucchini and fresh green beans, on special, made it into the cart.

Some more bacon for breakfast, Parmesan, sourdough bread and coffee rounded out our needs.

But, the gremlins added ice cream, peanut butter cups, cookies and pretzels.

Can't say we won't enjoy them.  It's vacation after all.

 Total $26.20

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in April

1.  I found 24 skeins of yarn for $.99 each.  I can make quite a few Linus Project afghans with those.

2.  Eating our meals mainly in the RV has saved us a bundle, even when you subtract the approximately $50 we spent on groceries.

3.  I'm framing and hanging pictures of the grandchildren.  I found several nice frames for $.99-1.99.  I even found a Jim Thompson silk frame for $.99.

4.  When we did eat out with our friend, we ate out at lunch instead of dinner.  Lunches are generally less expensive to begin with and going simpler is usually fine with everyone.

5.  When we needed laundry detergent for the RV, we checked local sales, downloaded a coupon to our phone and headed off to CVS.  We saved 75%!
Yes, I have lots of laundry detergent at home, but that didn't get the laundry done now.

An Extra:  While we were playing tourist, a heavy rain stopped us from touring part of an historic site (too muddy for the horse drawn wagon.)  We asked for and got a raincheck that allowed us to return a few days later for free.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

RVING It: A Second Restock

We were still doing well with the main courses for meals, but some of the peripheral items were running low.

So, off we went to the local Aldi to pick up just a few strategic items. 

And, some totally unnecessary goodies snuck into the cart when my back was turned.  :)

What we bought:

Coffee, because there is no morning without coffee
a melon for fresh fruit, it was on sale
Some pitas to serve with hummus
Pretzels to have with lunches
Mustard for sandwiches since we are almost out
Frosted mini wheats to snack on

Chips and dip, cookies and peanut M&M,  for no good reason at all except we are on vacation.  :)

The cost:  $ 16.38

Monday, April 30, 2018

April 16-30: Buying and Eating

We started out the month of April with a $369.30 allocation for groceries and meals out.  During the first two weeks we spent a total of $52.64 for both.

That meant we had $316.66 of the allocation remaining for the second half of the month.  Here is how we did.

What We Ate:  bean nachos; French bread pizza with sausage, onions and peppers;  seafood Alfredo, lima beans, garlic bread; leftover bean nachos and grapes; steak salad and garlic bread; hamburgers on the grill, fried green tomatoes and cheesy coleslaw; stroganoff from the freezer and noodles with buttered carrots and salad;  white bean Alfredo with pasta, garlic cheese toast, sliced peaches with yogurt; easy cheeseburger potatoes, leftover sides;  leftover BBQ chicken from the freezer, fried sweet potatoes,lima beans,  leftover fruit;  hotdogs on the grill, baked beans, leftover sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, fruit;
Cheeseburger potatoes, leftover baked beans, leftover mixed vegetables;  tuna noodle casserole from the freezer, salad, peas, muffins; spaghetti with sausage and peppers, tomato bread, lima beans


What We Bought:

Commissary:  pretzels, poptarts, baking chocolate (2), onion soup mix , Italian dressing, sliced peaches, chopped mango, chocolate frosting, sliced pears, Greek yogurt (2small), frozen lima beans, garlic bread (2), bagels, whole grain bread, rainbow sweet peppers, green onions, carrots (1lb), cucumber, salad greens, brownie mix, green tomatoes, tomatoes.  $35.23

Aldi:  Coffee, chips and dip, pretzels, cereal for snacking, M&M's, melon, mustard, cookies, pitas. $16.38

Total for groceries:  $51.61

Eating Out:

Breakfast with Marge:  $22.90
Chinese Food with Margea:  $20.11
Lunch with Marge:  $17.80

Total for eating out:  $60.81

Grand total for the second half of the month:  $ 112.42

Grand Total for April:  $165.06   Having a stockpile of items really helps you eat well for less.

The unspent $204.24 will be added to our cushion which now stands at $849.06 with a total of $465.47 being from this year.  Buying mainly when things are on sale adds up.

For the first third of the year we have spent $ 1013.51.  That averages out to $4.65/person/day for groceries and meals out.

Friday, April 27, 2018

RV Cooking From Scratch, Sort of

Even with bringing lots of food precooked and frozen, there will come a time when you want to or need to cook a meal.  But, if you are like me, you probably want to keep it simple.  Here are a few I like.


Cheeseburger Potatoes:

1 box scalloped potatoes, I used a store brand, mixed as directed except I used 2/3 cup French Onion dip, again a store brand, in place of the milk called for

To the above I added 1 1/2 precooked cheeseburgers and a cup of cheese crumbles

Bake as noted on the box.

Two meals and a lunch.

A little help made this "scratch" meal RV simple.



Vegetable Fried Rice:

Cook a package of Knorr's fried rice as directed but add vegetables such as peas, sweet peppers, onion, carrots

Season with extra ginger and soy sauce

When cooked, stir in a scrambled egg or two.

Serve with fruit.  Melon is good.



Spaghetti With Marinara Sauce:

Heat jarred pasta sauce, adding ingredients as desired  (onion, sweet peppers, meat, mushrooms, olives)

Cook the pasta of your choice

Serve pasta with sauce and cheese

RV super simple.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

An Easy, Vegetarian Dinner for Two Adults For $0.75

Bean burrito pizza.

2 cans kidney beans  $1 (on sale), pureed in food processor with the enchilada sauce.  Or, make from dry and save more.

3 cups grated sharp cheddar. $1.50. (On sale), sprinkled on top

1/2 can red enchilada sauce. $0. 25 (bought at salvage)

Homemade pizza crust. $0.25 I used the quick Cuban Bread recipe.

$3 for 16 large slices.

 That is enough for  four meals for the two of us, at a cost of $0.75 per meal.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Easy RV Meals: Restocking Shop

We are parked at a military base, $23/ night vs $75/night, and decided to do a restock shop at the commissary.

Here is what we bought for the next week or so:

Pretzels since we are out of the chips we brought
Poptarts for breakfast since they were on sale
Onion soup mix for burgers since it was only fifty cents for two envelopes
Italian dressing for salad
Canned sliced peaches, pears and mango since fresh was costly
Chocolate frosting for a chocolate cake I made
Greek yogurt to go with fruit and for a recipe
Frozen limas for vegetable variety
Premade garlic bread to make pizza and serve with meals
Multi grain bread for sandwiches and toast
Rainbow sweet peppers for pizza and salad
Green onions, cucumber, salad greens and tomatoes for salad
Carrots for salad and vegetable variety
Bagels for breakfast and to serve with meals
Brownie mix because Mike is hungry for some
Green tomatoes because I love them

The above cost us $34.23.

We still have prefrozen meals, meats, cheeses and eggs.  So, we are all set for awhile now at a cost that doesn't break the bank.

I could have made the pizza crust and bread and skipped the onion soup mix, but opted for ease and convenience over cost.  The poptarts, brownies, and green tomatoes are pure treats.  Money isn't everything.  :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Easy RV Eating

RVing is supposed to be a vacation.  But, if we eat out every meal it's a vacation we can't afford.

So, cooking a lot in the camper is a given.
Feeling like a drudge is not.
Here's how I do one without the other.

First, in the couple of weeks before we head out, I cook extra and freeze meals.
I stock these frozen meals in the camper freezer to draw upon during our trip.

This vacation we will be feasting on:

Cuban black bean soup
Stroganoff
Beans for bean nachos
Ham and cheesy potatoes
Bacon and lentil soup
Penne with sauce and cheese
Leftover steak for steak salad
chicken slices in gravy
White bean Alfredo

Then, I think of easy sides I can cook and freeze:

rice side dishes
cheesy potatoes
tomato bread
fried green beans
garlic cheese bread
Asian rice salad

Then, I go for basics out of my freezer and cupboards to make easy meals:

frozen veg
boxed potato mixes
rice mixes
Beans and hotdogs
hamburger
kielbasa
Ham steak
shrimp
chicken
pasta sauce and pasta
tuna for sandwiches and tuna casserole
canned potatoes for tortilla Espana
canned garbanzo beans for hummus
Pasta and peanut butter for spicy Asian peanut noodles
Cold cuts and cheese for sandwiches

For breakfast I have been making and freezing:

muffins
sticky buns
pancakes
waffles
French toast

We also have eggs, bacon and bagels along.

A few things will be bought along the way and there will be a few meals out.

But, we are fairly well set for the trip.  It will be pretty easy and most was purchased at sale price so we don't break the budget.  A win all around.



Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 1-15: Buying and Eating

Our April monthly allocation is $369.30.  We have carried over a cushion of $587.83, of which $261.23 is from this year.

For the first half of the month:

What we Ate:

white bean pasta Alfredo with peas, cheesy bread, fruit, yogurt; meatless chicken fried steak, green beans, stuffing; for Sandy liver and macaroni and cheese; Welsh rarebit on English muffins, fried potatoes, peas and carrots;  maple glazed grilled salmon, oven roasted smashed potatoes, corn; leftover turkey from the freezer with gravy, rice made with chicken broth, fried green beans, strawberries; pasta and sauce from the freezer, tomato cheese bread from the freezer, peas and carrots; ham and potato from freezer, mixed vegetables, toasted bagel half, grapes; chicken with gravy, stuffing, cheesy potatoes and peas, all from the freezer; ham steak, baked sweet potato, fried cabbage, tomato bread, grapes;cheesy and creamy chicken with rice, baked sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, and raspberry muffins; BBQ chicken, corn, macaroni salad; tuna noodle casserole, peas and carrots, grapes

What We Bought:

Save a Lot:  cherries  $1.99

Aldi:  olives (2)  $6.58

Price Rite:  jasmine rice (25 lb), spaghetti sauce (4), salt, cherries, ketchup (2), coffee, ground turkey (3 lb.), grapes, cheese (2), eggs (6)  $30.26

Total groceries:  $38.83

Eating Out:

Lunch coming home from D.C.    $4.02
Bar Stool Sailing for Mike:  $ 9.79

Total eating out:  $13.81

Grand total:  $52.64

We have $316.66 left of the monthly allocation for the last half of the month.
I feel great about that.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Two New Meatless Recipes



The Prudent Homemaker, a wonderful frugal blog, has a recipe section that I often peruse.  These two recipes, husband approved, come from there.  I'm trying to increase our number of meatless meals since they are better for our health as well as our budget.

White Bean Alfredo:

2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pound pasta

Blend first four ingredients and heat.  I use the microwave so it doesn't stick.
Serve over cooked pasta with extra cheese.
I add peas for color.


Meatless "Chicken" Fried Steak:

2 2/3 cups oatmeal, not steel cut, they won't work
1/4 cup dried onion
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth. I use chicken broth
2 eggs
2 tsp sage
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp seasoned salt

Mix above ingredients til wet and sticks together.
From into patties.

Oil for frying

Fry.

Serve with gravy:
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3 cups milk, I use reconstituted dry milk

Mix together and heat.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Use It Up Stromboli

Leftover pasta sauce, a few slices of pepperoni, a small amount of Italian sausage, sauteed onion, mushrooms and sweet or hot peppers, chopped olives, mozzarella cheese, the dough for one loaf of bread.

Roll out into a rectangle.  Cover with toppings.  Roll.  Bake.  Slice.

Sub in leftover meatloaf or hamburger and use cheddar cheese.

Try smoked turkey or ham with Swiss cheese and ranch dressing instead of pasta sauce.

This is a great way to use up the bits and pieces lurking on your refrigerator shelf or in your crisper drawer.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

1963 Cake Mix Cookies, Slightly Updated

One white cake mix, chocolate peanut powder, and peanut butter pieces equals easy chocolate peanut butter bar cookies.

I have an old 1963 Cookie Cookbook.  It's one of my favorites.

Some of the recipes make life easier by using a cake mix as the base.  These were my go to cookies when my girls were young.

The Original recipe was

1 cake mix
1 egg
1/3 c oil

Mix and bake.

Today I decided to try a new take on these cookies.

Awhile ago I purchased some chocolate peanut butter powder at salvage that I have been working my way through.

In my Christmas stocking Santa gave me some peanut butter pieces.

I decided to take one of the inexpensive cake mixes I have and make some chocolate peanut butter cookies.

1 white or yellow cake mix
4 ounces peanut butter pieces
1/3 cup chocolate peanut butter powder
1 egg
2/3 cup oil
1 tsp. Real vanilla

Bake at 375.  Do not over bake.  They will get crunchy if you do.

If you use real peanut butter and don't use the peanut butter powder, decrease oil to 1/3 cup.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Chicken Paprikash Soup

My mom and sister make/ made straight Chicken Paprikash.  Me, it's too much work.

So, I turned it into a soup.


Chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cups chicken broth, I used homemade

Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 5-8 hours.

Mix 1 cup sour cream with 2 Tbs. flour.

Add to above just before serving.

Serve with crackers to take the place of the traditional dumplings.  Oyster crackers work especially well.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March: Buying and Eating

We began March with a monthly allocation of  $381.30 and a cushion of  $498.91, with $172.31 of the cushion coming from this year.

After the first 15 days of the month we are left with $218.78 to see us through the end of the month.

What we Ate:

Asian glazed shrimp from the freezer, Asian rice salad from the freezer, peas, cake mix peanut butter cookies from the freezer;  Reuben, potato and cheese slices, Irish Chocolate cake; Stromboli from the freezer and popcorn;  leftover pizza from the freezer and homemade snack mix;  homemade clam chowder from the freezer and leftover sandwich and stromboli from the fridge; cheesy potatoes and ham, salad, corn on the cob;  penne pasta bake, peas and carrots, tomato bread;  Moroccan spiced garbanzo beans with vegetables over couscous, homemade chunky applesauce, toasted tomato bread; venison stroganoff with noodles, asparagus , salad; pork chops, broccoli and rice, strawberries and bananas; red beans and rice with Cajun venison sausage, garlic roasted cabbage wedges; leftover smorgasbord;  Cuban black bean soup, cheesy cornbread and fresh fruit

What we bought:

Aldi:  pretzels, cabbage, onions (3lb.), bananas (1.5lbs), cream cheese, bleu cheese, feta cheese, nectarines (2lbs), strawberries (lb), asparagus (lb), tomato juice, orange juice.  $18.03

Tops:
Semi boneless ham (11.94 lbs), Folgers, cream cheese, cheese (2), chocolate chips. $21.09

Giant Eagle:  protein bar, breakfast seasoning    Free with coupons

CVS:  instant Maxwell House (3)  $8.97

Aldi:  mushrooms. $1

Save a Lot:  cantaloupe, sweet potatoes (2),  butter (10)    $22.23

Dollar Tree:  vanilla syrup for coffee  $1

Aldi:  butter (6)  $11.94

Giant Eagle:  frozen vegetables. (10),  fresh asparagus,  yogurt ( free)  $13.98

Tops:  cheese (4)    $9.99

Save a Lot:  au gratin potato mix (2), scalloped potato mix (2)  $3.16

Whole Foods:  frozen edemame (2)  $3.98

Total groceries:  $115.37


Eating Out:

Lunch with Angela . $12.49

Mike lunch:  $2.00

Total eating out:  $14.49


Grand Total:  $129.86

We had $218.78 to spend this two week period.  So, we get to transfer $88.92 into the cushion.

A good month.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Dinner for two for $1.00

A container of Moroccan chickpea soup $.49 bought at salvage but you could buy any chunky soup on sale.

Served over Couscous $.25 bought at salvage.  You could use pasta, rice, or potatoes.

Homemade Toasted two ingredient tomato bread $.10 .  Any bread or roll bought on sale would work.

Homemade chunky applesauce  $0.15.  Any fresh or canned fruit bought on sale would work.

You may not hit on $1.00 depending on your choices and your sales, but you can get close.

We even had enough leftover for a lunch.

Do this a few times and your budget will thank you.



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Two ingredient Quick and Easy Italian Tomato Bread

This recipe is making the rounds of British food blogs.  I tried it recently.  We liked it out warm out of the oven and even more toasted with butter.

2 cups self rising flour
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce

Mix and put in loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until it tests done.

Since I am unable to ever follow a recipe exactly, I did add some Italian seasoning and garlic powder to my batter.  But, you don't have to.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Restaurant Copycat Bacon Lentil Soup

A friend and I used to love to meet for lunch on Mondays to enjoy a bowl of bacon lentil soup and a slice of the restaurant's famous cheesecake.

So, when times changed and our visits didn't often occur on Mondays, I started searching for a way to make that tasty soup at home.  This is what I came up with.

Several slices of bacon chopped into small pieces ( or some leftover Easter ham)
2 cups chopped onion
2 carrots diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or equivalent of garlic powder
12 cups of chicken broth.  I used homemade.  You could use bouillon cubes.
1/2 Tbs. Thyme
1/2 tsp.  ground celery
1 1/2 c. Lentils. (As they cook they will be absorbing some of that broth)

Put all ingredients in your crockpot and cook overnight or all day.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Easy eggs Benedict


Eggs Benedict is a wonderful Easter brunch.  And it doesn't have to be hard to make.

First, toast three English muffins and butter.

Heat up thin slices of ham and place on muffin halves.

Poach six eggs (I use a microwave poacher).

Put one egg on each muffin.

Prepare some blender hollandaise sauce.

Blender hollandaise:

3 egg yolks, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp cayenne
Combine in a blender, blending until light in color then slowly blend in  10 Tbs of melted butter.

Spoon sauce over each half and serve.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 1-15: Buying and Eating

We have $381.30 allocated for the month to cover the cost of groceries and meals eaten out for the two of us.  We also have a cushion of $498.91, with $172.31 being from this year, of money allocated but not yet spent.

What We Ate:  Buffalo chicken dip with homemade toasted tortilla chips, Italian green beans,  Mexican fried cheese and strawberries; tilapia with Parmesan crust, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, grilled asparagus;  sausage in sauce, garlic cheese bread, Italian green beans, zucchini pancakes, chocolate-peanut butter protein pancakes;  Mexican hamburgers and leftover vegetables;  Dutch oven roasted chicken, cranberry sauce, fried green beans, salad and homemade chocolate pudding; Chicken Paprikash Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches; leftovers for Sandy; leftover smorgasbord; eggplant Parmesan, asparagus, roasted cauliflower and broccoli; Thai red chili chicken and vegetables curry with Asian onion pancakes and strawberries; venison, spinach and feta pie, salad; boneless pork chops, cheddar and cabbage bake, asparagus, blueberries; ham, green beans, beets, garlic cheese bread; chicken Paprikash Soup from the freezer, cheese bread, frozen strawberries


What We Bought:

Aldi:  eggs (4), Romaine lettuce, cucumber, Bleu cheese, Parmesan cheese, strawberries (2), grape tomatoes, sweet peppers (3)   $18.27

Giant Eagle:  cheese (11pkgs)  $20.68

Price Rite:  Goya beans (3), cabbage, celery (3), hotdogs, roasting chicken (7.5 lbs), cheese (3pkgs)  $15.29

Aldi:  peanuts, almonds, cream (2)   $10.86

Giant Eagle:  Chobani yogurt drink. Free with coupon

 Price Rite:  cheese (10pkgs),  olives, roaster chicken, bacon, corned beef point cut, fresh garlic (2 lbs).  $44.71

Aldi:  Greek yogurt, Pam, cream. $7.17

Whole Foods:  yeast. $1.50

Bread Store:  rye bread, cinnamon raisin bread, English muffins, everything bagels (2)  $4.55

Sam's:  yeast (2#)  $4.78

Total spent on groceries: $123.81

Eating Out:
Lunch with Jim and Robin:  $20.59
Mike Barstool Sailing:  $7.47
Lunch with Girls:  $10.66

Total spent eating out:  $38.71

TOTAL this two week period:  $218.78

We stocked up on cheese, taking advantage of some good sales.  I also invested in quite a bit of meat, including 2 roasting chicken and a corned beef.
Over the next two weeks I will looking to be investing in a ham or two, maybe some butter if it's on special and eggs which are almost always on special around Easter.  Of course, there is always asparagus, the taste of spring.

For the rest of the month I have $218.78 of the monthly allotment remaining.  If necessary, I will go into the cushion of $498.91, $172.31 of which comes from this year.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Low Battery Diet

I inadvertently started a new diet yesterday.

When I stepped on our digital scale it told me I had lost 17 pounds in 24 hours!

Boy did I like the look of that number!

However, I have a feeling I will be gaining it all back very quickly.

Mike is going to replace the batteries today.

I have a sinking feeling the number won't be nearly as nice.

Drat!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Irish Chocolate Cake: Made Easy With a Mix

I found a recipe for a scrumptious chocolate cake with coffee, Irish whiskey, and dark chocolate chips.  It sounded wonderful but time consuming.  So, I decided to simplify it.

In December, I bought some cake mixes at a great price.  One of them was for a Devil's Food cake.  So, that is where I started.

One chocolate cake mix
1 cup Irish whiskey (to take the place of the liquid called for in the recipe, don't worry, the alcohol cooks out leaving only the flavor)
2 Tbs. Instant coffee granules
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix and bake as directed on the box, adding the chocolate chips at the end of the mixing.
Sift confectioners sugar over the top of the cooked cake.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Homemade Asian Feast

Going through the freezer I discovered some peeled halos, an orange and some citrus peels.  My brain immediately went to Asian cuisine.  Using several recipes as a base, this is what I came up with.


Orange Rice Salad:

3 servings cooked rice. ( I had some in the freezer to use up)
1 orange, peel and all, zapped in the food processor
1/4 cup sugar
One fourth onion, chopped fine
Red or orange pepper, chopped fine
Tablespoon of sesame oil
Dash of vinegar
Crushed red pepper to taste
Halo orange sections

Mix all together.  Can be served cold as a salad or heated through to use as a warm side dish.


Orange Glazed Shrimp:

5 halo oranges, with peel, zapped in the food processor
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs sesame oil
Dash of soy sauce
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 Tbs. Corn starch

Mix all together and cook until thick.

I cooked some battered shrimp and then tossed them in the sauce to coat.
This turned out really well.

Sesame Peas:

Frozen peas
Dash of soy sauce
1 /2 tsp sesame oil

Mix and cook in microwave.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Homemade Snack Mix: All the Taste, Half the Cost

50 ounces of Chez Mix costs about $5 when homemade or about $10 when bought at Wal-Mart.

  And, homemade has no preservatives or other ingredients you can't pronounce.

We also like to tell ourselves it's healthier than other snacks.  (Leave us with our delusion.)

I tweak what I put into it every time I make it, depending on what I have in my cupboards that I manage to get good sale prices on.

Today I used a box of rice chex ($1.50),  a box of cheerios (50 cents), a bag of pretzels (99cents), and a box of cheese crackers ($1.44).  Add some butter, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, cook slowly in the oven and enjoy.

Get creative with what you use.  Your imagination is your only limit.  Bagel chips?  Goldfish crackers?  Nuts?  Dry roasted edamame or garbanzo beans?  Small size wheat crackers?

I'm already planning the next batch.  :)

Friday, March 2, 2018

$1 Equals celery For A Year

We went out to do some grocery shopping yesterday.  We go through the ads that come every Wednesday and check on the specials.  After that we decide on which specials we will take advantage of. 

But, as we go through the store we keep our eyes open for in store/ manager's specials.

Yesterday we found celery 3/$1.  A great deal.

This morning I used my food processor to help me get it ready to freeze.  That saved me a lot of chopping.

Now, we have one and a half cups of celery leaves and four cups of sliced celery ready for the freezer.

We are also having braised celery with blue cheese as part of our dinner.

Not bad for $1.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 15 - 28: Buying and Eating

Allotment remaining:  $262.86

At the beginning of this two week period I was bitten by a cold/flu bug so meals were simple and based on freezer leftovers.

What we ate:  Roast beef sandwich and popcorn; leftover roast beef, shrimp cocktail, spinach balls and bread pudding;  pasta and tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich; leftover sloppy Joe from freezer, corn on the cob, pasta with garlic and oil;  homemade corned beef hash and toast with fruity yogurt; Italian stromboli, garbanzo bean salad with olives, pimento and sun dried tomatoes, steamed green beans; chicken Swiss Casserole from the freezer, peas, applesauce;
lasagna from the freezer, green beans, garlic bread; Asian glazed shrimp, orange rice salad, sesame peas; lentil bacon soup with cheese and crackers; clam chowder with egg and tuna sandwiches; Stromboli with potato medallions and yogurt with applesauce;  leftover soup and sandwiches; spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and fruit with yogurt


What we bought:

Aldi:  cream cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, Ahi tuna.  $10.96

Erie County Farms:  smoked turkey breast, bologna (2), ham, pepperoni (2), corned beef (2), Swiss cheese, provolone cheese.  $27.03

Save a Lot:  onions (2), Italian sausage (3 lbs)  $7.60

Giant Eagle:  cod fillets, salmon fillet, battered white fish, tilapia, shrimp, canned tuna (6)  $54.41

As you can see, we did our yearly seafood stock up.

Salvage:  low carb tortillas (4), coffee (8), cereal (6), granola bars (10 boxes), organic Mac and cheese (4), flour (10lbs.), crackers (2), craisins (2), croutons, cheeze it's (4), sunflower seeds (36 oz,), sesame seeds (21.5 oz), lime juice, canola oil spray, Ghirardelli chocolate chips (2), Alfredo sauce (2), Thai red curry, tomato paste (6), soft taco boats, pine nuts, poppy seeds, yellow curry lasts, sun dried tomatoes, dill pickles, grey poupon mustard, cream soup (4),broth (2), evaporated milk (2), diced tomatoes (2), tomato sauce (2), Rotel tomatoes (2), green beans, cream style corn, water chestnuts (2), Chinese mixed vegetables, vegall, great northern beans, Italian green beans.   $68.55

CVS:  cereal (3)  $4.97

Aldi:  Worcestershire sauce (2), olives, grapes, pretzels. $8.45

Aldi:  cheese (8), onion powder.  $20.01

CVS:  instant coffee (3)  $8.97

Eating Out:

Ruby Tuesday:    $5.35

This half of the month we spent $210.95 on groceries, including stocking up on fish and doing a big salvage shop.

We also spent $5.35 on a lunch out.  The last of the big time spenders.  :)

That means we get to add $46.56 to our cushion.  It now stands at a total of $498.91, with $172.31 being from this year.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Chowders


Chowder is a comfort food for the winter.  Give one or all a try.

Tuna Chowder:

2 shredded carrots.         1 chopped onion.           1 small rib of celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter.                   1/4 cup flour.                 1 can corn     
  1 can tuna, undrained.    1 large potato, diced
2 cups chicken broth.       2 cups milk.                   Salt and pepper to taste

Saute carrots, onion and celery in butter.  Add flour.  Add remaining ingredients. Cook until potatoes are done and soup has thickened.

If you find a good deal, substitute canned salmon for the tuna.


Easy New England Clam Chowder:

1/4 cup diced bacon.           1/4 cup diced onion.           1 can cream of potato soup
3/4 cup milk.                         2 cans diced clams.            1/8 tsp pepper

Cook bacon and onion together.  Stir in soup and milk and heat through.  Stir in clams and their liquid.  Add pepper.
Note:  I add corn to this, too.


Easy Corn Chowder:

1/2 pound diced bacon.         1 medium diced onion.       
2 tablespoons flour.               4 cups milk.                                Salt and pepper
1 can cream style corn.         1 can corn.                   1 can tiny whole potatoes, diced

Cook bacon and onion.  Blend in flour.  Cook until bubbling.  Add milk and heat until boiling, stirring constantly.  Stir in corns and potatoes.  Season as needed.
Heat through.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Spent $17.17 And Saved $30.66 Plus

CVS, Walgreen's, and GNC had some good deals that I paired with some coupons and got some great deals.

I bought 6 Valentine's Day cards, 2 jars of instant coffee, a 25 load bottle of Purex detergent, a 25 load bottle of Tide, a marshmallow treat bar, broad bean crisps , two  34 load bottles of Xtra laundry detergent and a 6 ounce tube of Colgate toothpaste.  My cost for ALL of this was $17.17.

I also got two free 8x10 pictures of the grandchildren thanks to CVS and Walgreen's.

Another successful shopping trip. I love getting things for nothing, or next to nothing.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cranberry Orange Muffins from Leftovers

I had about 3/4 cups whole berry cranberry sauce and about a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate languishing in the freezer.

Cranberry orange muffins for breakfast made sense.

I used the basic sweet muffin recipe found in my 40 plus year old Betty Crocker cookbook.  This one uses oil instead of butter which works because I am rationing my butter supply.

 I just didn't see the sales at Christmas on butter to allow my usual stock up for the year.  I only have about half of what I usually buy.  Therefore I need to make what I have go further.

Muffins

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

I used self rising flour I got for 10 cents per pound before Christmas.
 The egg was from a dozen I spent 69 cents on. 
I used the moisture from the cranberry sauce and orange juice in place of most of the milk. 
I did need a little more liquid to get the batter at the right consistency, about 1/4 cup.  I used water and dry milk.

My grandmother's old muffin tin was used.  No mini or maxi muffins here.  Just twelve average ones that were baked at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes.

Result, three breakfasts for us that are quite tasty, if I do say so myself.  :)

And, only about 15 cents, or less, per person per breakfast.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February 1-14: Buying and Eating

Allocation for the month:  $ 344.40.      Cushion:  $ 452.35. ($125.75 from this year.)

What We Ate:

Baked potato, salad, butter beans and homemade apple sauce;  Ham and bean soup with homemade bread; leftover Mexican casserole from the freezer and salad; turkey pieces in gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted beets; leftover nachos from the freezer, cheese/beans and rice, homemade applesauce;  liver and onions for me, meal out for Mike; leftover ham and bean soup and Mike's leftover soft pretzel; pasta with faux meat sauce and garlic bread;  mushroom rice, cranberry sauce, dilled carrots, buttermilk biscuits; pizza; leftover mushoo from the freezer; Philly cheese steak sandwich with homemade French fries and peas;  ham and cheese strata; shrimp cocktail, spinach balls, Delmonico steak, yogurt and strawberries,  heart shaped cinnamon rolls

What We Bought:

Aldi:  pretzels (for chex mix), Swiss cheese (2), bleu cheese. $8.55

Price Rite:  butter (2), eggs (6), frozen pizza (2), kielbasa (4),  Italian sausage (3 lbs), pasta sauce (4), cheese its  crackers (2), peas (2.5 lbs)  $30.79

Bread Store:  bagels, artisans bread (2), hearty rye, English muffins. $3.54

CVS:  Honey Nut Cheerios  (2)  $2.98

Save a Lot:  cider for vinegar. $2.99

CVS:  Maxwell House instant coffee (2)  $5.98

Giant Eagle:  Chobani yogurt. FREE.    Saved $1.79

GNC:  marshmallow treat and broad bean crisps  FREE. Saved $5.98

Tops:  butter, cereal. $3.68

TOTAL:  $58.71

We did a lot of eating out of the cupboards for this two weeks and it shows.  We basically bought only what we needed or what was just too good a deal to pass up.

However, we do need to do a salvage shop.  And that will cost.
Also, I hope to take advantage of some Lenten fish and seafood specials.
The last two weeks of the month will definitely cost more but I'm OK with that.


Eating Out:

Mike Barstool Sailing:  $10.44
Jury duty lunch:  6.25
Arby's 2/1 sandwich. $6.14
Mike breakfast with Rick:  $2.68

TOTAL:  $25.51

Grand Total:  $84.22

Remaining Allotment:  $260.18


Monday, February 12, 2018

Irish Coffee, With Coffee This Time

Recently I met a friend downtown at an Irish Pub and ordered an Irish Coffee.
I was confident what I would receive.
I was terribly, terribly wrong.  Emphasis on terrible.

First, my drink arrived over ice.  Wrong.
Next, there was no whipped cream.  Wrong.
Third, believe it or not, there was no coffee!!!
Wouldn't you think the name might give it away?

I'm not sure what they did give me because one sip did it for me.
But they swore it was Irish Coffee.

Really???

Below is a process that is guaranteed to give you a REAL, traditional,  Irish Coffee.

First, brew a pot of Good coffee.
To a mug add a shot of Irish whiskey.  (Regular whiskey will work in a pinch.)
Add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to the whiskey.
Fill the cup with the coffee.
Stir.
Top with whipped cream.

This is a wonderful ending to a great meal in the cold of winter.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Saving 71 Percent

Yesterday I did a shop at CVS.  Taking advantage of their sales and my coupons I saved 71% and purchased :

4 liters of Pepsi
1 box of Puffs with lotion,
2 Arm and Hammer Detergent with Oxiclean (25 loads each)
6 mega rolls of Scott's paper towels
2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (12.25 oz)
1 Dial foaming hand soap (7.5 oz)

I saved $33.11 overall, spending only $13.68.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.  :)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Hourly Rate

It takes too long.  It's not worth my time.  But is that really the truth?  How long does it really take?  What does it "pay" you per hour to do it?  What is your hands on time actually worth?

I can make a large pepperoni pizza in 20 minutes of hands on time:  making the dough, stretching the dough to fit the pan, adding the sauce, cheese and pepperoni and getting it into the oven.  I'm not including the time it takes for the dough to rise or bake because that doesn't take any of my effort.
Theoretically, I could make 3 an hour.  Each pizza costs me less than $3.  To order a large pepperoni pizza, using a coupon, would cost me a bare minimum of $7.  I save $4 per pizza, or $12 per hour. 

Because I can buy my flour for 50 cents a bag, and I buy my yeast in bulk, I can make a loaf of delicious homemade bread in ten minutes for 20 cents. The same quality of bread costs at least $3.50.  I can make 6 loaves an hour, saving $19.80, at a minimum.

I can make two quarts of ham and bean soup, using my homemade broth and meat picked from the ham bone and dry beans bought at the salvage store for a total cost of 55 cents.  I would need to buy 2.5 cans to make the same amount of soup, and I don't think it's as good.  The canned soup, bought on sale, with coupons, would cost me at least $3.75.   Because it only takes me 5 minutes to gather together the ingredients for the crockpot or pressure cooker, I could make 12 batches an hour.  Each batch saves me $3.20 so 12 would save me  $38.40,  $39 an hour. A great wage in my book.

And, besides saving money and making a decent hourly "wage", I have the enjoyment and satisfaction of making something and knowing exactly what's in it.  No small thing.

Then there's my salvage shopping.  I go once a month and the round trip driving and shopping takes about 2  hours.  I estimate, conservatively, that I save an average of $120 each trip.  That comes to $60 an hour.  And, because I go with a friend I get some very enjoyable girl time thrown in for free.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: January 16-31

I'm reminded of how expensive protein sources are.  The nuts and the protein powder put more stress on my budget than I wanted.

This was to be a month we relied on the freezer and pantry.  We did, but we also bought more than I expected.

And, of course, this would be a month we ate out more.

But, such is life.  One must roll with it.  :)

We began the second half of the month with $ 291.74  left of the monthly allocation and a cushion of $ 326.60 .

My goal was to add a fairly good amount to the cushion.  I added some, but not as much as I had hoped.

What We Ate:  beef stew with red wine;  taco salad with avocado and homemade salsa; pork stir fry with bacon wrapped water chestnuts;  mooshu pork (makeover);  creamed chicken and vegetables over mashed cauliflower;  beef fajitas with Mexican slaw; pork with lemon and caper sauce, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, tzatziki cucumber salad ; slow cooker BBQ country style ribs, three bean salad, spinach pancakes; tortilla chicken and pesto and traditional pepperoni tortilla pizza;  cheesy salmon patties, bleu cheese wedge salad, leftover spinach pancakes; sloppy Joe; grilled cheese sandwiches


What We Spent:

Trader Joe's:  soy protein, soy and flax tortilla chips, peanut butter (2), low carb chocolate (2), cheese (2) , low carb flax bread. $37.64

Save a Lot:  Apple cider (to make vinegar), Pam. $7.54

Wal-Mart:  instant coffee, low carb tortillas. $ 5.80

Aldi:  lettuce, nuts ( 6), yogurt, mushrooms. $31.16. Nuts, for low carb, are expensive!

Tops:  goldfish crackers (3)  $3.00

CVS:  Adkins bars (2)  $12.68. Good for an overactive sweet tooth.  If not used now will be good in March.

Price Rite:  butter (2), frozen pizza (2), low carb tortillas, eggs (4)  $13.31

Total of groceries:  $110.53

Eating Out:

Lunch Before a Movie:  $9.58
Breakfast with Dad.  $23.80
Lunch with Joyce. $11.42
Dinner using an $11 coupon from Ruby Tuesday and free sandwich coupon from Arby's   $2.11
Lunch at RV show:  $8.55

Total of eating out:  $55.46

Combined total:  $165.99 for this two weeks.

That left me with $ 125.75 of the allocation for the month to add to the cushion which now stands at $  452.35.

And, February will be a low meat, eat from the pantry month.  I will, however, be taking advantage of the Lenten specials.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Adjusting the Recipe to Cut Cost, Not Flavor

The Original Many Faceted Seafood Casserole:  (from Amy of the Tightward Gazette)

4 to 5 ounces pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 white wine or milk
1 can condensed cream of whatever soup
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 tsp dry mustard or dill weed
6-8 ounces drained canned seafood (shrimp, crab, tuna, salmon)
Crunchy topping

Cook pasta.  Drain and set aside.
Combine mayonnaise with wine or milk.
Stir in soup, cheese and seasoning.
Gently stir in the pasta and drained seafood.
Put into a greased casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Uncover and top with the crunchy topping.
Bake five minutes more.

Crunchy Topping can be:
Breadcrumbs tossed with butter, crushed potato chips, delivered almonds, or French fried onions.

To Adjust and Save$$:

If mayonnaise is too expensive, try salad dressing.  Always look at the cost of store brands.  They are often made by the same company as the name brand.

Wine or milk:  both will work but the wine does elevate the flavor for special occasions.  Milk is cheaper.

For cheese, use what you have.  Hopefully you bought it at its rock bottom price.

Pasta can be any shape you managed to buy on sale.  You can up the pasta to  6 or 7 ounces since the recipe makes a lot of sauce.. The result is an extra serving.  Lunch anyone?

Buying premade condensed soup can be expensive if you can't get it on sale.  Any cream soup, celery, mushroom or chicken works.  Don't be tied to a specific kind.  Or, make your own based on a white sauce.

The seafood, tuna is the cheapest.  But sometimes you can find a sale on shrimp, crab or salmon for special occasions.

Using less expensive ingredients can cut the cost of the recipe by 75%.  Nothing to sneeze at.

For special occasions pull out all the stops.  It will still be cheaper than going to a restaurant and may even taste better because it was made with love and care.

Enjoy!