Tag: Frugal

Frugal Cookin’ Carnival

Update: I guess I should mention that our meals are mostly vegetarian. I do buy my husband lots of cheese and pepperoni but other than cheese, eggs, honey, and yogurt we don’t buy much in the way of animal products. It is just plain too expensive, plus I HATE cooking meat. Also my husband and I and one of the kids have a severe allergy to poultry and all of us can only eat hormone/antibiotic free–so unless someone gets us a deer we go without.

I don’t pre-plan meals, I make up a slew of things on Sunday and we all eat what we want of it when we want–especially since each has some things they can’t or won’t eat. That said they eat healthy foods because we don’t have junk in the house and they have seldom had junk food in the first place. So, I adapted this slightly to suit our family-instead of divided up into individual meals it is divided into parts, just like the list of foods the kids has of what they can have for each meal. Also I buy everything in bulk which makes figuring out individual things a bit iffy–for instance I buy organic oatmeal and flour in 25# bags and use organic dry milk for yogurt, organic noodles in 10# bags, and buy yeast in 5# bags–almost all of it is organic due to our eldest’s food issues. The following foods are what the kids and I will eat over a week (my husband eats when he is hungry–usually cheese and pretzels and pepperoni or calzones if I make them) , each Sunday I make some new bulk foods (last week it was calzones, cookies, muffins, and bread, this week it is pot pie, granola, granola bars, bread, and soup. and lots of yogurt and yogurt cheese–Regardless of how they mix and match things each meal comes in at about $1 a person, usually closer to $.60 a meal.) Some of the recipes I have already posted here or at my previous site, Gracedbychrist.com.

Breakfasts and snacks:

  • Homemade granola with honey and flax seed— 1 cup –$.15
  • homemade plain yogurt (the kids add jam sometimes)–1 cup $.16
  • eggs — 3 $.50
  • homemade bread –2 slices (total loaf is $.50 to make so I am estimating the two slices of bread would be $.10)
  • homemade jam (I like the recipes linked here.)–1 T on this I am really not sure since I used what I had to make it–maybe $.10 since it used raw sugar and bought berries?
  • soy milk (bought at Sam’s Club)–1 cup $.29
  • homemade granola bars (see recipe below)–2 bars–$.34
  • oatmeal–1/2 cup $.09 plus 1/2 cup soy milk $.15


Lunches and Dinners:

  • noodles with margarine or cheese–1 cup plus 2 slice cheese $.15
  • noodles with veggies and sauce (I use Bragg’s, with some onion powder and garlic for flavor and whatever veggies I have on hand or I cook noodles in reheated homemade veggie soup which is essentially the same thing)–1 cup $.20
  • salad with nuts and cheese–1 cup plus 1/4 c nuts and 1 slice cheese $.80 (this will be cheaper soon as we have lettuce coming up–this is my normal meal most days.)
  • fruit salad (mango, banana, grapes, pears, plums) with nuts–1 cup $.70
  • mini veggie pot pies–2 muffin tins worth $.10
  • homemade vegetable soup (recipe below)–2 cups $.08
  • peanut butter with homemade jelly sandwiches –1 sandwich $.60
  • eggs– 3 $.50
  • frozen veggies with sharp cheddar cheese–1 cup $.60
  • mini cheese calzones (pictured below: all they are is some bread dough cut in a square with filling then fold up the sides to meet in the middle and bake)–2 for $.30

Recipes below the pictures.

Homemade Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese

To make the yogurt bring milk to almost a boil to kill bacteria or use warm water to reconstitute powdered milk, allow to cool, combine about1/2c yogurt to 1/2 gallon milk–allow to sit covered on top of stove in glass container for 6-8 hours. You can then make yogurt cream cheese by straining it in cheese cloth.

Vegetable Soup

We just fill a pot with water and throw in all the veggies we have available–including but not limited to:

potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, onion, pepper, plus kidney beans–occasionally I throw in texturized vegetable protein but not usually. To this I add garlic powder, onion powder, and Bragg’s Liquid Amino to taste. I cook it until all the veggies are softened but not squishy. I usually freeze half of it and put the other half to be cooked with noodles for a casserole type dish or as filling in pot pies.

For the pot pies I strain out most of the broth and use my grandmother’s pie crust recipe for the crust. I use muffin tins to form the potpies, bake them until just before they turn golden then freeze them in a container. I also make a few large pot pies to freeze in individual containers for quick takeout meals.

Homemade Granola Bars

Keep in mind this is to taste–everyone has different things they like in granola bars, I like mine slightly chewy with lots of nuts and raisins.

Combine equal parts granola +whatever dry ingredients you like with liquid sweetener and nut butter, For example I use almonds, raisins, peanuts, carob chips with granola and mix them with an equal amount wet ingredients: peanut butter, honey, and maple syrup. If it is too sticky add more dry ingredients. Mix well then flatten into a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Bake at a low temperature for several hours (I usually keep it at 200 degrees or so for a few hours then I cut them and refrigerate them in the pan.) This is not an exact science and some come out stickier than others but the kids and I like variety. 🙂 They are not quite equal to bought granola bars but the price makes it well worth it–especially since no matter how much I make the kids will eat them all before they go bad.

Frugal Tips from the Past

One of my favorite things is to read books from the past–children’s stories, memoirs, cook books, household tips, and photographic journals. I love gleaning useful bits of information from them and hanging my understanding of history upon them. I have a pile of vintage household tip and cook books from the 1900’s on.

Alongside crazy home remedies are many useful ideas which I find especially helpful in making our income go as far as I can. I have also gleaned many money saving tips from my grandparents who lived through the depression. I thought maybe I would share some of my favorites. The photos are all from my husband’s family as well as one from my mom’s family (I need to grab the album I did for my grandma and take pictures of those as well.)Read More

Works for me Wednesday: Frugal clay facial mask

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This is kind of off topic for my site though it is a frugal thing that we use so maybe not so much.You know those expensive clay masks for cleansing your skin that they sell in the health food stores (I am sure they sell them elsewhere too.)  Clay masks work wonders for clearing your skin and also work well for spot cleansing on a white or black head.  We also use moistened volcanic clay to draw out any sort of non-open skin infection–you just put a dab of the clay on the area that is affected–dab moistened clay on spot, let it dry, wash off.

The problem is they are also expensive.  Around here a small jar or tube costs $6 to $15.

yhst-34946187506477_1994_1150681015.jpegThere are plenty of recipes online for different homemade clay masks.  A quick google search will bring up dozens.  Our favorite is Bentonite powder which is a soft, volcanic clay known for its ability to absorb toxins. I buy Now brand which is only about $3 a bottle and lasts for about a year of use.  This clay is dry so I reconstitute it buy soaking it for over night with equal parts powder and water.  The result is a clay that you can use straight like I prefer for infections, pimples, and mask or you can combine with essential oils, honey, and/or yogurt to make a nice mask.

Frugal Friday: Saving Energy

You may remember that at some point I wrote about one of the ways we tried to save money this year: putting plastic bags and blankets over all the upstairs windows (the fifty year old metal framed one) and blankets over all the downstairs ones.  I thought I would share the results.

This last week I started taking the blankets and plastic down.  It has warmed up a bit (in the 40’s and 50’s) so we want to be able to open the house up when it hits 60.  We also paid bills this week.  As we looked back over the winter months we realized that we had had our highest bill yet which makes sense since it was COLD last month.

Its hard to estimate how much it should have been this year since gas prices have gone up significantly.  However our gas bill was over $100 LESS a month than it has been in previous years–and gas prices went UP.   So, yeah, it worked.

A Day in the Life 29: You May Be Wondering

why I am not commenting or posting or doing my doodles and whatnot. I have been reading but am still low on words so have been keeping my mouth shut. And for the rest, well, I have been busy, busy, dreadfully busy, you have no idea what I’ve got to do…. Erm. Yeah. Anyway, instead of taking time and making several nice coherent posts I thought I would do one huge mishmash post so I can get back to what I have been doing.

It’s spring you see. I have spent months cooped up in the house and too cold and achy to do too much. Now I am making myself achy by doing too much. 🙂 Though I did discover that working with the shutters on the deep freeze instead of on the floor was much less painful and was able to finish them faster.

The house is finally relatively clean. The kids finished up stairs in record time yesterday and spent the rest of the day making messes and trying to remember to clean them up.

They also helped me make some bread for Rachel, then the bread makers started smoking and set off the fire alarm so we put it outside and made bread the old fashioned way.

I spent the afternoon finishing our raised gardens and watching “Father’s Little Dividend” with the girls. I had never seen it even though I had seen many such movies and it led to many interesting conversations which was cool.

Now all they need is dirt and we are good to go.

I also started exploring Twitter–which I am not sure I like though there is something to say for doing it via the Firefox plugin and making mini posts in the address window. It is good for one liners throughout the day–quick thoughts, short and concise. Concise I need to work on. I am considering adding it to my site but not sure–we shall see.

Today was the big half off of everything in the store day at our favorite thrift shop and my mom convinced me to join her so she could get the kids some gifts. (You see why we end up with too much.) The good news is that she got them things they needed and I got a few more things that were needed plus a new coffee maker for my poor husband who complained daily about his monstrosity of a coffee maker, a lamp for the bathroom our old one was driving me crazy and an IKEA coffee table I have been eyeing for over a month.

For some time now I have wanted two things–to take my husband to IKEA which wasn’t happening since it is an hour away and he hates traveling and to get a table that was big enough to do puzzles and play games on in the living room to replace our old trunk with the bumpy top. The poor trunk is a nice height for the couch but has seen better days and was not so good for doing useful things–like putting things on. Also, we are funny people–we sit on the floor as often as on the furniture. I wanted a coffee table that could be used as a coffee table but also as a floor table. This one has been at the thrift shop for a while since I was praying that it would go down to $25 from its $50 price tag. It was perfect. The perfect size, the perfect color, the perfect shape, with the perfect shelves and drawers at the perfect height. Today it was there, marked down to half price but I didn’t have the $25. Rachel, who has been saving for a big thing had gotten money for Easter and insisted that she get it. She also saw the value of having a table instead of a trunk in the center of the room. We talked and prayed about it and I let her purchase it.

It’s a start

When we moved into this house 7 years ago there was no landscaping to speak of and the attic and basement were full of random objects left behind.  The previous owners had lived out of state and rented it out as a group home.  One of the left behind objects was a partial set of the original wooden shutters.  Old fashioned with a coat of white paint over a coat of red and hinges so they could fold out over the window, these shutters were too precious to throw away so I left them there in the attic.  I had no use for them–they had been replaced with decorative aluminum shutters and I was not going to try to put them back.  Still I hoped I would find a use for them someday so I left them in the attic.

Over the years since that time we have gradually landscaped our front and side yard.  I am no gardener and my husband is not an outdoorsman.  However my dad has donated plenty of old rocks for us to build a flower garden of sorts around the front porch and at one point we edged the side of the house that counts–the one you can actually see from the road, with rocks and tried to plant perennials.  Some of them lived some of them didn’t.  They make for a pitiful display once summer comes though in early spring and fall our daylilies and azaleas try to make a showing.  Still we have large sections where there is nothing but weeds and a little periwinkle.

Today it all came together.  For the last few weeks I have had the urge for a garden in the back of my mind.  I usually do at this time of year but with our fill and clay for top soil our attempts at gardens have been poor indeed.  This year felt different somehow.  I mentioned it to my husband and he practically giggled at my silliness. Still the urge continued.  Then I started seeing hints at how to go about it.  One site talked about making seed starters out of toilet paper tubes, another talked about starting seeds in the basement with a grow light, another talked about raised gardens.  Click.  It all came together.

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Yesterday I mentioned the raised gardens to my husband and he said as long as they were in the bare spots on the side of the house and not where they would block his mowing.   I had been planning onusing some old wooden crates from the basement to buiild but held back because the wood was very splintered and made me nervous (I get hair splinters when I cut hair so wood splinters are a big deal.)  Now that I had the go ahead I was thinking about those shutters and realized that they were the perfect size and shape which meant no cutting.  They were also designed to be outside so we didn’t have to do anything to prepare them.  All we needed to do was move the hinges from the top to the side and we would have our boxes.  Better yet I called my dad who is our family gardener and he said they would be perfect–seldom does he approve my halfway plans so this is a big deal. 🙂 Not only that but he offered topsoil to get them started.  So, other than the seeds and time this project is free (which is good since my husband is leery of my “gardening” projects–he knows how much I “love” being outside in hot weather weeding and whatnot.:) )  The lure of homegrown vegetables is just too much for me and the kids just want the chance to play in the dirt and eat all the vegetables while playing outside.  It will be a great homeschool project, don’t you think?

Works for Me Wednesday: Budgeting foods

Last week I explained how we shop once a month for the main bulk items and then every two weeks for the stuff you are bound to run out of or which will spoil.

Now, our whole family is home all day everyday.  My husband works from home, so do I, and we homeschool our three little lunatics angels.  We don’t do menus or even planned meals because we are together constantly and interact constantly and eat pretty much when we are hungry and what we are hungry for.  This means that we will go on food kicks and the kids will eat all the eggs in less than a week or my husband will eat all the pretzels or I will eat all my chocolate  almonds.  Whatever.

The point is that yes, we do run out of things. We will run out of things.  We are bound to run out of things.   In the past this is what got us into trouble.  The whole point is NOT to run out to the store just because we are out of saltines since that is when I spend extra money.

Instead, everyone knows that I bought this enough food to last a month and other than a few perishables that I will pick up  on my “small” grocery trip at the two week mark, it will ast us till the next big shopping trip.  I have my grocery days on the calendar so the kids know how long before the next shopping trip and if they decide that they want to eat all the waffles this week then they will have to wait for the next “big” shopping trip for more waffles.  If they finish off the eggs or some other “small” item (anything that is refrigerated falls into this category because our family owns a fridge that once belonged to my single aunt–its a bit small) then they wait for my next two week trip.  Both are marked on the calendar.

This way everyone knows that if they want waffles during the rest of the month they had better not eat them all the first week.  I like to think of it as training them to budget their foods so the good stuff lasts. 🙂 It also teachesd them patienc and wisdom and saves us money.

Frugal Friday

I thought I would share a bit more about our once a month shopping and what works for us.  I have several things that make this work for us.  I have three main places where  I shop once a month and other places that I use for “we’re out of” run-ins.

GNC: GNC is where I purchase all our supplements, including mine for RA plus all our enzymes.  Due to the food allergies in our house and Rachel’s neurological issues these are necessities and equivalent to purchasing prescriptions but without insurance covering the cost.  Therefore I purchase them during the first week of the month which is GNC’s Gold Card week–which saves me 20% automatically on my whole order.  I don’t shop at a company owned GNC but at a private, family owned GNC.  The owners know me and my kids and will often order exactly what I need so it is on hand when I get there.  They are also very helpful when I have a question unlike the other GNC’s in our area which are all company owned and have no control over their stock.  Because what I purchase is all GNC brand they usually have those items on sale meaning that more often than not I get what I need for 40 to 60% off instead of just the 20% off.  Since our regular bill there comes to about $300 a month without sales this is a big savings.  (I also stock up on the things I know we will need when there is an extra good sale.)

Sam’s Club (and before Sam’s club it was Aldi):    This is when I get our main groceriesI stock up on paper products (as I mentioned we have a house with too much space and plenty of dual purpose furniture so stashing is not a big deal.)  I also fill our deep freeze with frozen veggies and bread products.  There are also a few frozen  restaurant style foods I pick up–like egg rolls–which keeps us from going out to eat.)  Produce comes from here as well  since we tend to eat a lot of fresh when we have it–those five pound bags don’t last long.  When that is gone we eat frozen until I get back to the store.  We have a “when we’re out, we’re out” policy for many items that I consider treats.  Making fruit a treat is a good thing.  Eggs, soy milk, and bread also fall into this category.   We try to use up most foods BEFORE the next trip (other than crackers and that sort of thing which have a long shelf life.)    Meals can get pretty creative when we start getting low on things. 🙂

Before we joined Sam’s Club  I went to Aldi–there are certain items I will have to get there when we run out because my kids like their Fit & Trim brand of several things and if I am in need of small items then that is where I will go.

By shopping here once a month I save about $200 on our main groceries and another $200 or so just because I am staying home in instead of “running in”. 

Frankferd Farms: This is our local wholesale natural and organic foods warehouse.  Foods are sold in bulk with very little packaging and you wait in the warehouse while they load it into your car.  This is where I get my 25# bag of organic, unbleached white whole wheat flour for $10, my 10# bag of organic spiral noodles for $7, my 1# bag of yeast for $2, and the list goes on.  I get all our baking needs here as well as specialty foods for Rachel.  It often costs me less to get organic versions of bulk foods here than it would to get regular versions at the local grocery store.  I do not buy many prepackaged foods here unless they are on sale because the prepared foods are much more expensive.  It cost me $100 for what would cost roughly $500 at our local grocery store.

Finally, I occasionally make less than wise purchases.  With so many food allergies in the house I occasionally pick up a brand we find that someone is allergic to or we discover an allergy after purchasing the item.  Occasionally we find that I picked up a brand that someone used to like and lo longer does.  In some cases we eat it anyway but if something looks like it is going to be sitting around for months and no one touches I find it is time for a trip to the food cupboard.  We pack up everything that no one easts for whatever reason (the unopened packages) and drop them off so they will benefit someone else. This way we free up space and are helping others out.  Since my kids like to occasionally do a food run for the food cupboard anyway we don’t really consider this a loss.

WFMW: Once a Month Shopping

Doodle to come later–I hope.

You can find more Works for me Wednesday’s at Rocks in my Dryer.

I’m one of those people who cannot enter a store with my kids without exiting with a whole bunch of “we’re out of this, Mommy” type items and dropping $50, at least. And since my kids go everywhere with me, leaving the house gets expensive. No, I don’t give into their every want or even need–but when we are shopping on a weekly basis I end up at the store constantly.

When my kids were younger I was very organized with my shopping, I used coupons and a budget and only bought what was on my list. The problem is I spent so much time agonizing over it that my husband pointed out that since my time is worth at least $10 an hour (he figured it out) we were wasting money. And since we were wasting money with my constant “I have to run out and get this” moments and my love of running in more than one place “since I am out anyway” I needed a better, more time saving solution.Read More