Friday, October 12, 2018

Moister Beef Burgers

Adding grated vegetables to your burger mix makes moister and more flavorful burgers.  The added benefit is it also stretches the ground beef and lowers the fat content of the burgers.  Give them a try.

1 pound ground beef
1 grated medium potato
1 large grated carrot
1 small finely chopped onion
Salt and pepper

Combine the above and mix well.  Shape into patties.  Cook as usual.

Trust me, you never notice the carrot or potato once the burgers are cooked.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Say Stop and Save Money

Finding bargains on things you need is obviously frugal.
But you can take it farther when you simply stopping buying certain things you normally buy.

Here are some things that are no longer on my shopping list:

Paper napkins, cups and plates:  we now only use ones we can wash and reuse.

Dishwasher pods:  I use a liquid from Family Dollar that I find as good as Cascade.  I stocked up recently when I was sent a coupon for $5 of a $25 purchase.

Dishwasher spot liquid:  I find I don't need it.  I also didn't like the thought of having those chemicals on the dishes I ate from.

Air freshener:  I hate the chemicals.  Instead I use a simmering potpourri when necessary.  I save all my citrus peels and use some for this.

Shower body wash:  Bar soap is cheaper and no plastic.  I buy it at the Dollar Tree.

Hair conditioner:  My hair is short and I don't really need it.

Hair dye:  I used it for years but started to worry about the chemicals.  I'm now proudly gray.

Dryer sheets:  I hang my laundry

Fabric softener:  When I use anything, I use white vinegar.

Here are some things I use very rarely so I don't have to buy them often:

Commercial cleaning items:  My holdout is Murphy's Oil Soap.  The rest are homemade.

Bottled water:  We use a Brita.

Baggies:  I buy one box of each size a year.  Unless they have contained meat, I wash them and reuse over and over.  You can turn them inside out and wash them with your towels, then hang them to dry.

Paper towels:  I use cleaning rags mainly.  But if something is really icky I will use a towel and toss it.  I use a roll about every six weeks.

Finger nail polish:  I use it to touch up my pedicure so it lasts longer.  I buy it at Dollar Tree.  I don't do my nails because the polish never lasts.

Makeup and perfume:  Only when I am dressing up.  Not at home.

My dryer:  As I said, I mainly hang my laundry.  But I do use it when there is a time crunch such as traveling.  My dryer is 39 years old, by the way.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Spending at The Three Quarters of The Year Mark

Time to run the numbers and see how well we are doing so far, 75% through the year.

In the last nine months we have spent $1691.27  on groceries and $501.54 on eating out.

That means we have averaged $186.81 / month on groceries and $55.82 / month on eating out.  For a grand total average of $243.65 / month to feed us.

The government thrift plan says we should be spending $12.31 / day for a family of two or $6.16 / day / person.

In the 273 days so far this year, our groceries and Eating Out have averaged $8.03 for a family of two and $4.02 per person/ day.  We are well under the government's number.

Our freezer and cupboards are jammed.  We need to start eating out of our stockpile more.  I also need to start thinking how I will approach next year's budget.  I am obviously still buying too much when things are on sale.  I would also like to add more vegetarian meals to our diet so we need more vegetables in the freezer and less meat.

I'm also dreaming about what fun thing we can do with our cushion.  Something we otherwise would hesitate to do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Frugal Things in September: The Everyday Edition

1.  While visiting family, we shopped at some area thrift stores and found some yarn to help me keep making my Linus Project blankets.  It has gone up in price but I still save about 60% from store prices.

2.  I stocked up at the salvage store this month.  I saved about 70% over grocery stores.

3.  I found some flavored syrup for coffee at the Dollar Tree.  Now I am making my yummy flavored coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks or doing without.  $5 a drink can add up.

4.  I needed to touch up some chips in my pedicure.  I went to Dollar Tree and found an appropriate color for only $1.

5.  I needed some birthday cards and was pleased to see a selection of Hallmark cards at Dollar Tree.  $1 is much more my speed than the $3.89 marked on the card.

Little things.  But little things add up.  :)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Buying and Eating: =September 16-30

We began the second half of the month with $133.18 left in the budget.

What We Ate:  ham, zucchini pancakes, Waldorf salad, baked potatoes;  pizza and popcorn;  Chinese orange chicken and chicken lo mien; leftovers; hamburgers, French fries, Caesar salad;
The low carb diet has restarted.
Cheeseburger soup, cheese quesadilla, cucumber and onion salad, blueberries;  meatballs, spaghetti squash with Alfredo sauce, sauteed spinach, cucumber and onion salad;  rotisserie chicken, zucchini, cucumber and onion salad;  meatzza, garlic low carb muffins;  chicken cordon bleu soup, Swiss cheese tortilla, strawberries;  soybean and ham soup with homemade low carb bread; leftover smorgasbord; chicken salad sandwich, cottage cheese and sunflower seeds, strawberries; sausage, onions and peppers on the grill, Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons, strawberries

What We Bought:

Walgreen's:  instant coffee for my iced coffee habit (6)  $17.94

Giant Eagle:  cottage cheese. Free with coupon

Price Rite:  vegetable oil, pork roast (7.5 lbs), cheese (5), deli turkey (lb)  $18.70

Aldi:  spaghetti squash (2), butternut squash (2), acorn squash (2), shredded cheese (4),   low carb bars (2), cream   $28.02

Sam's Club: sandwich croissants (12), muffins (9),  chocolate chunk cookies (18) for free, 16 inch pepperoni pizza for free, rotisserie chicken for free, pepperoni (4 lbs), baguettes (2), ground beef  (6lb)  $17.20

Tops:  beef broth (32 oz.),  Folgers (10.3 oz), Rinaldi marinara sauce, lettuce, strawberries (2 lb),     $8.17

Total for Groceries:  $90.03

Eating Out:
Breakfast .$5.85
Oriental Meal .$19.50

Total for Eating Out:  $25.35

Grand Total:  $115.38

Amount left over from budget,  $17.80.

The new cushion amounts are now $664.36 ytd and  $1147.55 in total.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Renewal Freebies and More Good Deals

We recently renewed our Sam's Club membership.  That made us eligible for some deals.  While not all of them appealed to us, there were a few we liked and that made financial sense.

Free Items:

1 rotisserie chicken $4.98 saved
16 inch pepperoni pizza  $6.99 saved
18 chocolate chunk cookies.  $5.98 saved

I love free food!

Money Off Deals:

Bathroom Tissue.   $1.50 saved.   45 rolls  40 cents/roll
Facial Tissue.  $3.00 saved.     12 packages 180count.     $0.75/box
Paper Towels.  $1.50 saved .   15 rolls   $1.12/ premium roll
Garbage Bags   $2.00 saved.     200 flex bags at 7 cents /bag
50 count box of assorted chips (for the lake)   $2.50 saved.    20 cents/bag
French Baguettes.  $1.50 saved.     $1.24/ extra long baguette
Sandwich Croissants.  $2.50 saved.  37 cents/sandwich croissants
Pepperoni. $2.00 saved.     $1.90/pound
6 lbs. ground beef  $6.00 saved.  $1.98/ pound

Savings:  $40.45

Always try to take advantage of these kind of special discounts if they work for you.  They are like found money.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Charitable Donations on a Budget

We like to help those in need.  But what if your budget is tight?
You can still help out.

Sending money is not the only way to donate.
Use your shopping skills.

Donate things that, for whatever reason, are no longer useful to you.

Donate things you have the skills to create.

Below are some donations I made recently.  The monetary cost was nominal.

Humane Society:  old knit throws from around the house, crocheted mini throws for cats and dogs, canned cat food our cats can no longer eat, dog food free with a coupon, dry cat food our cats can no longer eat, generic laundry detergent bought for under a dollar

Linus Project:  nine baby afghans made with thrift store yarn

Food Bank:  food and household items bought free or cheap with coupons, basic food items bought when on rock bottom sale (flour, pasta, rice, beans, peanut butter, canned soup, canned vegetables, cereal, cornmeal)

No matter our budget, we can still have the satisfaction of helping others.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Inexpensive and Good

Baked Meatloaf Potatoes:

Four large baking potatoes                                        2 Tbs oil
1/2 pound ground beef .                                             3 Tbs flour
1/4 cup chopped onion                                               1 1/4 cup milk
2 chopped garlic cloves.                                            Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper.                                                         Paprika for color

With a knife, hollow out the potatoes to make "boats".  Combine the raw p potato, beef, onion, garlic , salt and pepper.  Spoon into the potatoes, mounding the tops.  Bake at 400 for about an hour or until done.
Make a gravy by mixing the oil and flour over medium heat until bubbly.  Add the milk and stir until thick and smooth.  Serve over the potatoes.

This is also great with sausage meat.
You get a great meal with only a little meat and the flavor of the meat soaks into the potatoes, too.
I have used bacon grease instead of the oil and it is wonderful.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Buying and Eating: September 1-15

Our September grocery and meals out budget is $369.30 for the two of us or $12.31 per day for two and $6.155 per person per day.  We do have a YTD cushion of $646.76 and a grand total cushion of $1129.75 we can go into if we need to do so.

We are still low carb dieting and our expenses reflect it as far as fruit, veg, eggs, dairy and specialty ingredients are concerned.  We have been lucky to have a well stocked freezer to use for most of the meat this diet relies on.

What We Ate:  bacon wrapped grilled pork chops, spinach salad, creamy cauliflower with cheese;  creamy kale and sausage soup, tossed salad, homemade low carb bread;  spinach savoury cheesecake, roasted zucchini and Brussels sprouts; steak and shrimp for anniversary with salad and fruit; eggplant and meatballs with sauce; grilled salmon, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit; leftover smorgasbord;  cheeseburger soup with cheese and vegetable quesadilla; meatloaf, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, low carb cinnamon muffins, strawberries; leftovers

What We Bought:

Aldi:  strawberries, blueberries, eggs (3),  cottage cheese, olives (2), whipping cream (2), carb bars (5 boxes)  $31.32

Erie County Farms: cucumbers (3), zucchini (3), cabbage, eggs (8), Smith's bacon (10lbs), onions (10 lbs), pepperoni (lb), cold cuts (lb)   $50.42

New Salvage Store ( for our future stockpile):  crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce (3), diced tomatoes (3), Rotel tomatoes (2), grey poupon, no sugar ketchup, spaghetti (4 lbs), low carb tortillas (2), pork rinds (2), evaporated milk (6), cream of chicken soup (4), tomato soup, clam broth, bean sprouts (2), baby corn, water chestnuts, ripe olives, artichoke hearts, green beans (2), pad Thai Mix, caramel swirl bean coffee (5 lbs), Columbian Supreme coffee beans (5 lbs), ground coffee (2.5 lbs), canned peaches (2), canned pears (2), canned pineapple, soy flour (1 lb), TVP (10 ounces), vital wheat gluten (6.5 ounces), semi sweet baking chocolate bar, hot sauce, croutons, toaster pastries (3 boxes), carb bars (4 boxes)   $77.11

Aldi:  shredded cheese (2 lbs), blackberries, sour cream  $7.54

Commissary at Fort Mead:  shredded cheese (3 lbs), popcorn (1 lb), cinnamon rolls ( a treat), poptarts (another treat), dried lima beans (2 lbs), Mac and cheese, cornstarch, vinegar with mother, brownie mix, Italian bread, apples.  $31.29.      We are taking a break from the low carb diet while we visit the girls.

Total :  $197.68

Eating Out:

Dinner with Ellen  $ 18.85
Dinner at Meg's  $19.59

Total: $ 38.44

Grand Total for Two Weeks:  $236.12

Remaining for September:  $133.18

The budget is taking a pounding but that's what cushions are for.  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Shop At A New Salvage Store

We tried out a new salvage grocery we had heard about.  I like my regular one better and I think their prices are generally lower.  But I did find some deals and some things I don't see very often.  The large bags of coffee worked out to $2.99/pound.  And, I see a yummy stir fry in our future.  :)

Here is what we bought:

Large can of crushed tomatoes
Tomato sauce  (3)
Diced tomatoes (3)
Rotel tomatoes (2)
Grey Poupon mustard (16 oz.)
No sugar ketchup
Spaghetti .(4 lbs)
8 count low carb tortillas (2)
Pork rinds, for Mike. (2)
Evaporated milk (6), an early Christmas stock up
Cream of chicken soup (4), we are entering casserole season
Tomato soup, the perfect comfort meal with grilled cheese
Clam broth (4 cups), for making chowder and clam sauce for pasta
Bean sprouts (2)
Baby corn
Water chestnuts
Ripe olives
Artichoke hearts
French style green beans (2)
Pad Thai Mix
Carmel swirl coffee beans (5 lbs.)
Columbian Supreme coffee beans (5 lbs.)
Ground coffee (2.5 lbs.)
Canned peaches (2)
Canned pears (2)
Canned pineapple (2)
Soy flour (lb)
Texturized Vegetable Protein (10 oz), great for chili
Vital Wheat Gluten (6.5 oz), for bread making
Semi Sweet Cooking Chocolate Bar
Hot sauce
Croutons, for Mike when I don't make them fresh
Kellogg's Toaster Pastries (3 boxes), a post diet treat
Atkins Carb Bars (4 boxes)
80 Glad Garbage Bags
5 Reynolds oven bags
Six rolls of TP for the RV
50 tide pods for the RV

Total Spent:  $93.31:  $77.11 for food items and $ 16.20 for non-food items.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Five Frugal Things From August

1.  Gathering up the fragments at the end of the week at the lake:  butter, lettuce, blueberries, bread, eggs, cheese, corn, ribs, lasagna, potatoes, summer squash, grapes, plums,  pasta salad and frozen treats such as popsicles, etc. that we shared with the camper next to us that had children who will enjoy.  All of this would have been thrown away if we hadn't taken it.  Nobody else was interested, We tried.

2.  We needed some kitchen items for the RV.  Instead of paying to buy them new, we found them in a thrift store.  We got a glass 9x13 pan, a large sauce pan with lid, two cake pans, a muffin tin, a colander and a large tempered glass cutting board for $9.00.

3.  I wanted to read the new biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder but I didn't want to spend the money ($22) to buy a copy.  So I got on the list at the library and my turn came rather quickly.  I'm now enjoying a free read.

4.  Mike found a set of brand new king size sheets at Goodwill for $ 5.99.  They will be great for the RV.

5.  I did some time consuming comparison shopping between our local Co-Op, Amazon, and Vitacost checking the cost of some low carb ingredients I needed to buy.  Vitacost came out on top and saved us about $10.00.  It pays to compare.

Extra:   Taking advantage of a back to school special, I got a half price haircut.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Buying and Eating : August 16-31

Remaining allocation for the month:  $236.42.  Cushion remaining:  $ 620 YTD and $ 1103.59 in total.

My jeans have been talking to me.  It was time to do the low carb diet again, hence the Vitacost order for low carb ingredients and some extra shopping trips.  Expensive, but the diet works for both of us.  :)

What We Ate:  leftover kabobs, baked beans, salad; Sloppy Joe, garlic potato rounds, roasted eggplant, yogurt with raspberries;  Indian curry and lentil pancakes with grapes;  leftovers to clear out fridge for starting low carb diet tomorrow;
The low carb diet is starting:
kielbasa, roasted broccoli, Parmesan cheese crisps;. sage rubbed grilled pork chops, mashed cauliflower, kale wedges, deviled eggs; beef roast with mushrooms, celery and onions braised in beer and cream with crumbled bleu cheese, leftover sides; eggplant based meatzza;  BBQ ribs with a dry rub, fresh strawberries, broccoli salad with cheese, bacon and nuts; Philly cheese steak wrap, fried cabbage, creamed spinach; ham steak, leftover sides; hamburgers on the grill, broccoli salad, strawberries, coleslaw;  meat and cheese burritos, Mexican cauliflower steak, deviled eggs, salad; corned beef and cheese wraps, cottage cheese with sunflower seeds, baked artichoke hearts with Parmesan cheese;  Asian marinated flank steak and leftover sides

What We Bought:

Vitacost:  coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, no calorie sweetener, psyllium husks, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, xanthan gum,  Chia seeds   $ 75.27 (we saved an additional $ by going through E-Bates)

Aldi:  sour cream, cream cheese, strawberries, whipping cream, cantaloupe, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, bleu cheese, feta cheese, onions. $ 18.37

Tops:  lettuce, eggs, butter, applewood smoked bacon  $ 8.35

Aldi:  Apple juice (2) for making vinegar, almond milk, cauliflower, broccoli, cottage cheese, artichokes hearts (2), olives (3), cucumber, sweet peppers, grape tomatoes, fresh spinach, zucchini, cream cheese, almonds and cashews mix (2)  $37.40

Giant Eagle:  goldfish crackers. $0.99

Save a Lot:  English beef steaks (1.7 lbs), coleslaw mix (2), onions (3lb), Brussels sprouts.$ 10.35

Meat Market:  breakfast sausage (2 lbs)  $3.96

Trader Joe's:  Olive oil, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, whole almonds, peanuts, coffee (2), eggs, flax tortilla chips. $34.31

Total Groceries:  $188.50

Eating Out:

Lunch with Ginger   $8.78
Lunch with Joyce. $12.98

Total Eating Out:  $ 21.76

Two Weeks Grand Total:  210.76

Amount to add to the cushion:  $26.16
Adjusted YTD cushion:  $646.76. And total cushion:  $1129.75

Monday, August 27, 2018

Cheesy Kale Wedges

Kale is a super nutritious vegetable.  It's also low carb.  Problem.  My husband is not a fan.  So I have to hide it.

Here is one way I get him to eat it without any complaints.

Shredded cheese, any kind you have and like.  I have used Parmesan, Swiss, mozzarella and cheddar.

Kale, fresh or frozen, cut into very little pieces with my kitchen shears.

Put a layer of cheese into the bottom of a no stick pan.
Sprinkle with kale.
Top with another layer of cheese.

Cook slowly until all the cheese is melted and the bottom is golden brown.
Clip and cook the other side until golden.
Cut into wedges and serve.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ranch Oyster Crackers

The cycle of life has come fully around and once again there are little munchkins at family get togethers.  Snacks are great.  BUT, double dipping is to be avoided.

So I reached back in time to a snack enjoyed when the current group of parents were at the same stage.  Give them a try.  A warning, they can be addictive.

Ranch Oyster Crackers:

1 bag oyster crackers
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 c warm, not hot vegetable oil

Mix the seasonings into the warm oil.
Pour over the crackers.
Mix well.
Bake at 250 for about a half hour, stirring at least twice.
Cool and serve.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Syracuse University's Vanilla Wafer Cake

When I was in graduate school at Syracuse, one of my jobs was at the on campus restaurant frequented by faculty.

A favorite meal ended with this scrumptious coconuty cake.
It's just as popular and just as delicious today.

1 box crushed vanilla wafers  (I use my food processor)
2 cups sugar
7 oz shredded coconut ( I use unsweetened)
1/2 lb melted butter
8 eggs
1 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Mix all ingredients well.
Put into a 9x13 greased pan.
Bake at 350 until brown and a cake tester comes out clean.  Start checking at 45 minutes.

Cool and cut into small servings.  As you can guess, these are very rich as well as very good.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Buying and Eating: August 1-15

We are working with a smaller allotment this month due to our week with Mike's family on Conesus Lake.  I reduced the budget by seven days.

Our allotment for August is $ 295.44.

What We Ate:  Gazpacho and sandwiches;  ham and pea Alfredo, fresh fruit with yogurt, three bean salad; breakfast for dinner; meals at the lake; vegetable soup from the freezer, salad, and Chinese pancakes from the freezer; hot dogs on the grill, cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, corn off the cob with salsa; lasagna, peas, cheesy bread, fruit salad; ribs, baked potatoes, fruit salad, three bean salad

What We Bought:

Tops:  watermelon, Motts cranberry-Apple juice (60oz), Dole mandarin oranges (4), Kraft shredded cheese (4) $16.12

Aldi:  avocados (2), cream cheese, grapes. $ 4.59

Tops:  eggs, potatoes (5 lb.)  $ 2.78

Total Groceries:  $23.49

Eating Out:

Lunch with Dad:  $ 25.46
Lunch with Angela:  $ 10.07

Total Eating Out:  $35.53

Grand Total:  $59.02

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Date Bars: A Blast From My Past

Growing up, Betty Crocker made a date bar mix.  I liked them but my husband loved them.

Betty Crocker no longer sells the mix.  :(

But, there is a recipe on line from them that will help you duplicate the bars at home.


1 pound of chopped dates
1/4 cup of sugar ( I usually leave this out as I find the dates are sweet enough on their own)
1 1/2 cups water

Cook over low heat, stirring, until the mixture is thick.  This takes about 10 minutes.  I do mine in the microwave to make sure that it doesn't stick.

Crust and topping:

1cup brown sugar.  I've used white and it work, too
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients well.

Press half the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.

Spread the filling over the base.

Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top.
Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

Cut into bars while still warm.  Makes about 36.
Will freeze if you don't want to eat them all at once.  Yeah, that will happen.  :)

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Missing CSA

As you have probably noticed, we do not have a CSA membership this year.  Last year's half membership was so large that we still have some fruits and vegetables in the freezer and have just managed to use up others.

We still have blueberries, strawberries, strawberry jam and raspberries.  Corn, pesto, eggplant, green beans, yellow beans, peppers, pumpkin, spinach and kale are also still in the freezer.

Since we can't buy a quarter share, we decided to skip a year and fully clear the freezer of last year's produce.

We paid about $12 / week last year to purchase food that we are still enjoying this year.  I consider that a pretty good deal for produce that is next to organic.

Next year we will definitely be purchasing a CSA partial share again.  Support your local farmers.  Eat healthy produce.  Keep your budget in line.  What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Real Spanish Gazpacho

Over 40 years ago, when first married, Mike and I lived for three years in the Andalusia region of Spain.  There, a local taught me to make gazpacho.  This soup is like eating a cold salad in a bowl.  Make it often and enjoy.

There are no set amounts.  Just remember it is the tomato that should shine through.

Tomatoes, vine ripened are best but if you want to make it in the winter canned diced are much better and have more flavor than winter tomatoes in the grocery store.  I use one can or 2-3 large vine ripened.

Cucumber, about a half

Onion, about a half

Garlic, about 3 cloves

Bell pepper, any color will do, about a half

A slice of bread soaked in water

Olive oil, a generous glug

Vinegar, about 1/3 cup to start then adjust to taste

Lemon juice, about a Tbs

1/4 tsp salt, may not need if using canned tomatoes

Water if too thick

Blend all ingredients but do not puree.  There should still be discernable vegetable flecks.

Adjust to taste.

Chill very well before serving.  This is key.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in July

1.  Using a coupon we received in the mail, we saved $15 on an order of Max's special diet food from  And, because it was our first autoship order, we got another 40%off.  All told, we saved about $42.  And I can cancel the autoship at any time.

2.  Oxiclean laundry detergent, normally $7.49, was on sale for $2.99.  I downloaded a $2.00 coupon.  My final cost was $0.99, or about 4 cents per load.  That's what my homemade laundry detergent costs.  I Saved $6.50  or 87%.

3.  I put the carcass of a roasted chicken to slowly cook overnight in my crockpot.  The next morning I separated the bones from the rich broth.  I also stripped the bones of all remaining meat.  I will use the broth to make a soup.  The meat will become southern BBQ for sandwiches.  Two free meals from what is normally thrown away.

4.  I made two quarts of homemade yogurt for $ 2.00 .  That's $ 0.25 /cup.  Much cheaper than at the store.  I have done this twice this month.

5.  I made homemade bagels.  The recipe made fifteen large bagels.  Because I buy my ingredients when they are on sale, the cost to me was less than.  $ 0.75.  That works out to $ 0.06/bagel.  I can't even buy them at the bread store for that.

Extra:  When I recently made a necessary online purchase I went through E-Bates and received an additional 10% back.  By doing this when I can, I have received a total of $166.60 back for very little effort.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: July 16-31

We have $ 288.82  of our monthly allocation remaining for the second half of the month.     We also have a cushion of  $489.05 YTD.  Our total available cushion is $872.64

What we bought:
Bread Store:  pumpernickel, cinnamon swirl, cinnamon raisin English muffins. $2.78

Aldi:  cherries (1.7 lb), mandarins (3 lbs)  $5.32

Tops:  Italian bread, cheese (8 oz), ballpark cheddar franks, hamburger buns, lettuce, Cheeze Its, blueberries. $9.76

Price Rite:  pasta (4), chips (3), nectarines (2), Greek yogurt for starter, green olives  $11.87

Aldi:  pretzels. $1.49

Giant Eagle:  iced tea (56oz.)  $0.99 .for the lake

Tops:  eggs, cheese. $2.98

Price Rite:  Knorr's noodle side dishes (3), cake mix (2), whole chicken, bananas, mushrooms (3), shredded cheese (4), green olives. $ 17.89

Total spent on groceries:  $ 52.21

What We Ate:
Chicken vegetable soup and leftover Stromboli;  southern style chicken BBQ sandwiches, roasted smashed potatoes, sauteed spinach with garlic; spinach potato frittata, bacon and toast; charcoal grilled garlic chicken, three bean salad, bleu cheese grits, garlic bread;  Welsh rarebit, watermelon, 3 bean salad, black eyed pea salad; Mike was sailing so I had macaroni and cheese; chicken sandwiches with chips or pretzels and fresh fruit; beef curry and lentils pancakes; homemade chicken pot pie and salad; taco pizza; leftovers; BLT pasta salad and cheese quesadilla;  chicken fried rice, Chinese onion pancakes, fruit salad, green salad; sausage and pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and peppers;  leftovers

Eating Out:
Mike's Lunch. $2.62
Lunch Batavia.  $3.24

Total spent eating out:  $ 5.86

Grand total for the second half of the month:  $58.07
Grand Total for the Month:  $139.05. A stupendous month for the budget.

Amount to add to the cushion:  $ 230.95
Our cushion now stands at $ 620 YTD and $ 1103.59 overall

Sunday, July 29, 2018

How to Make Scones

The scone is the English cousin to a baking powder biscuit.

You can make sweet ones for breakfast or savory ones to serve with dinner.

The only limit is your imagination.

The basic sweet scone is:

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 cup sugar, with extra to sprinkle on top
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives
milk, start with half cup.  You can also use yogurt if you like or sour milk.

Extras:  cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon chips, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins or whatever your heart desires.

For a savory scone:

 substitute a tsp. of salt for the sugar and add your favorite herbs and spices such as garlic, onion, rosemary or tarragon, or whatever you like.  Cheese is always a good addition.

When mixing either type, add just enough wet ingredient to make a dough that holds together.  Try to not over handle the dough and make it tough.

Form into a round about an inch and a half thick.  Score the top for 8-12 wedges.

Bake at 400 until golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Serve while warm and enjoy.  Butter is good with them but not necessary.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Very Easy Frozen Yogurt

I recently made some frozen yogurt for the first time in years.  I had forgotten how easy it is, and only three ingredients.

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
1/3 cup brown sugar, or more to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
4 cups vanilla yogurt, I used homemade non-fat

Mix the sugar and fruit and heat until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is syrupy.  I used the microwave.  Chill until COLD.

Process according to the directions that came with your ice cream maker.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, combine well and  freeze until firm in a container, stirring frequently.

We made red raspberry and it was delicious.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Old Fashioned Raisin Pie

My grandmother used to make this pie in the winter when fresh fruit was scarce.  I don't know why, but I felt the urge to make one recently.  It was just as delicious as I remembered.

Have or buy the pastry for a two crust pie.

Put two cups raisins into two cups water.  Bring to a boil and cook about five minutes until the raisins are plump.

 Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 T flour.  Stir these dry ingredients into the raisin mixture.

Cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Cook, stirring, one minute longer.

Add one quarter cup lemon juice and stir well.

Pour on top of bottom crust. 

Add top crust and cut air vents.

Bake thirty to forty minutes at 425 or until crust is browned and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the pastry. 

Can be served warm or cold.

Especially good served with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

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.

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

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.

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).

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

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


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 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 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'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 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
Pretzels:  cheese stuffed and peanut stuffed
Sliced apples with grapes and pineapple
A large bottle of soda

Enough for both meals.  €18.22
€9.11 /meal

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.


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.


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
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
Ham steak
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:

sticky buns
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.