There are many areas that I can tweak in our budget, but I think for us food is probably the easiest. I've talked about my Pantry in previous posts, and about how easy it is to save a lot of money if you have the space to store the food. And better still if you can view the foods easily.
One thing that we do to help with the food bill is that we rarely waste any food. Organization and menu planning really helps with this one.
So we had a lot of zucchini a couple of weeks ago. We'd eaten it several night and shared it with people and we still had this left.
So I brought out the food processor and ended up with quite a lot of shredded zucchini.
Which I vacuum sealed in 2 cup portions. It will go in the freezer.
This food will be much more appreciated this winter when used to make bread or added to quiche or casseroles than it would be if serve it too often right now.
But of course I couldn't resist making some bread.
And it was appreciated plenty. :)
For many more frugal ideas be sure to check out Crystal's Blog!
Friday, August 31, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Wow, what a week last week turned out to be! Everything got started back and we were hammered with all the extra work (and effort it took). The menu was a real help. We did everything but the egg salad on Friday. We ended up not getting home until after 8:30 so we grabbed some Zaxby's Chicken!
There is a lady who brings her kids to the same YMCA co-op that we attend who has chickens. She literally gathers the eggs that morning and brings them to me. And charges me almost the same as the cheaper kinds at the grocery store. How can I resist?
So again, I have an abundance of eggs and some buttermilk (from a cake for my 13yo's birthday Saturday!) that I'm working with this week.
Monday - Homemade beefy onion lasagna with homemade cheesy garlic biscuits.
Tuesday - Spicy crock pot beans and buttermilk cornbread
Wednesday - Bean burrito w/leftover beans, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, picante', etc
Thursday - Crock pot cooked whole chicken, creamed corn and homemade rolls
Friday - Chicken salad sandwiches
For more menu ideas, be sure to visit Laura's Blog!
Friday, August 24, 2007
I really need to update the picture of my pantry. It was almost brand new when I first posted my thoughts on having a pantry and how it saves me money.
I've learned a lot about food staples and it's definitely still a work in progress.
I believe that preparedness and frugality go hand in hand. I can't tell you how many times the day gotten away from me from circumstances beyond my control (or not). And then a child reminds me that they're hungry only for me to realize it's supper time and I've forgotten to thaw anything out.
How easy is it for us to then just order in? Or load up the kids and make a quick run to a fast food place? Or call up my husband and see if he can stop on his way home and pick something up?
I believe that having a Menu Plan is important. It really helps keep me organized and coaxes me to think ahead when needed on certain dishes. But sometimes, things get out of my control and my ideal dinner just isn't going to happen.
So what do I do?
I have a few dinners that are almost completely pantry stocked and that I can make from thought to table in less than an hour.
Tuna Patties is one of them.
I also have a recipe for a Cheesy Chicken Casserole (posted below, pictures to be added later, hopefully) that I got from Candy a long time ago that works perfectly in a pinch. (I've changed the amounts to accommodate my family, but the recipe is basically the same.)
These kinds of recipes are also good for days that I know are going to be crazy busy and I won't have time to cook. And if my pantry is stocked as it should be, there is no reason to run out and grab that fast food.
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
1 13oz can of cooked chicken
4 T butter
4 T Bisquick (I use a low carb version)
2 C Milk
1½ C shredded cheese
½ t mustard (to taste)
½ t hot sauce (to taste)
2 cans cooked mixed vegetables
1 C Bisquick (I use a low carb version)
½ C Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1. Preheat oven to 400. Get out a large baking dish (appr. 9 X 13). Do not grease.
2. In a skillet melt 4 T butter then stir in the 4 T Bisquick, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture turns smooth and starts to bubble.
4. Stir in 2 C milk and return to boiling. Once boiling stir constantly for 2 minute then turn off heat.
5. Stir in mustard, hot sauce and cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture looks like cheese sauce (which is exactly what it is). Set aside.
6. Drain chicken and break into fine pieces, scattered over bottom of baking dish. Drain vegetables and pour over top of chicken. Pour homemade cheese sauce over the vegetables.
7. In another bowl, mix 1 C Bisquick and Parmesan Cheese. Cut in 2 T butter. Then gently mix in the egg. The mixture should be crumbly.
8. Sprinkle over the top of the cheesy, vegetable, chicken mixture.
9. Bake uncovered for 22 minutes or until light golden brown.
Both of the recipes listed here cost less than $5 to make (with ingredients bought on sale) and feed my family of five for two nights with nothing more than a salad throw into the mix. Eating out, even at the cheapest places, would be 3 times that for one meal.
For more frugality be sure to check out Crystal's Blog!
Monday, August 20, 2007
This is our first full week with all the school/co-op stuff starting back, so it's more important than ever for me to stay organized in my meal planning.
The temps here are really unbelievable. And we have an abundance of eggs. So that's what I'm working with this week. :)
Monday - Hotdogs/Hamburgers (leftover from cookout yesterday), baked beans
Tuesday - Pasta Salad with choice of tuna or chicken salad.
Wednesday - Cheesy Chicken Casserole (I'll try to get pics and recipe up this time)
Thursday - Leftovers from the week.
Friday - Egg Salad Sandwiches, chips
For great inspiration in the menu department be sure to check out Laura's Blog!
Friday, August 17, 2007
I mentioned last week a saying that my Great-Grandmother used often when I was growing up..."Take care of your pennies, your dollars are big enough to take care of themselves."
It's an attitude. An attitude that every penny counts.
And even in this day when our pennies are not what they used to be, I still follow this philosophy.
I know that many financial experts advise that you account for every penny. And while I think this is completely sound advise, it's just something that never "stuck" here. If we had extra change in our pockets/pocketbooks we'd spend it because we had it. Not because we needed something.
How often have you given your kids a quarter for the piece of junk in the vending machine or that unneeded soda?
Yeah, me too.
So we decided that every bit of change after the days outing goes into a jar that sits by our door. As we walk in, we empty our pockets.
This is not to say the we don't spend change when needed as we're out doing errands. We do. But at the end of our time out of the house, what's left goes here.
It takes us about 3 months on average to fill the quart jar.
It took Jillian and I about 30 minutes to sort, count and wrap this $82. The "leftovers" go back in the jar.
At the front of our local grocery store is one of those coin change machines. The machines that you just drop your coins into and it counts them and give you the cash. Minus 10%. Almost every time we're checking out there is people standing there, many looking like this is their last coins in the world, using this machine.
Losing that 10%.
I wish they could have known my Great-Grandmother.
For more Frugal Friday tips, be sure to check out Crystal's Blog!
Monday, August 13, 2007
The Fall schedule begins to start back this week. Already. I'm really glad I started planning a menu. I think it's going to come in super handy when lots of our time is structured like it is during the "school" year.
Monday - Roasted Whole Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Homemade Rolls
Tuesday - Hamburgers/Hotdogs (leftover from cookout Sunday), Pasta Salad, Cheesecake (leftover)
Wednesday - Chicken Burritos
Thursday - Hot Sausage, Onion and Cheese Quiche', Salad (We haven't gotten to this yet.)
Friday - Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches, Sauteed Zucchini
For more great menu ideas, be sure to visit Laura's Blog!
Friday, August 10, 2007
I tend to get things like deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, etc for very little money by shopping the sales at C*VS and Wal*Greens. But just because I don't pay a lot for it, doesn't mean that I don't have the same regard for the product.
Meaning, I try my best to NOT be wasteful of anything. No matter how much or little it cost.
So even though I (at this time) won't pay more than 50¢ for deodorant, it still bugs me to no end looking at all the product that is left in the container when it's "empty".
So I decided to do something about it.
There are 5 of us here using deodorant, so there are almost always empty containers. I'd asked everyone to not throw them away for the week and ended up with 3.
In the two smaller ones the little plastic piece came all the way out and I cleaned it out with a toothpick.
In the larger container the bottom stayed in place, so I decided to use this one to refill.
I popped the deodorant chunks in the microwave for just a very few seconds a couple of times, watching it closely. It started to get liquid within seconds. Then I stirred it around to make it more smooth.
It started to get solid again very quickly. Almost before I could get it in the container. I used a plastic spoon and packed it as tightly as possible. Within 2 minutes I had this.
This was actually about half of the tube twisted up, I didn't want to press my luck. This is what my husband and I have been using for over a week now.
I realize this isn't going to enable me to buy a car or home or send my kids to college. But I do believe it's how you handle the little things that mold how you'll handle the bigger ones.
My Great-Grandmother used to say, "Take care of your pennies, you're dollars are big enough to take care of themselves."
And next week I'll expound on that thought. :)
ETA - Now that I know this will work and that I'll do it regularly, I'll get a specific plastic bowl and spoon that I keep just for this purpose so as not to waste paper plates and spoons. I also wanted to point out a price comparison post that I did a couple of days ago that might be of interest to you frugal ladies.
For more frugal tips be sure to check out Crystal's Blog!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Ok, I know this takes a little bit of time to do, but please consider it. I'd love to see where you ladies spend your online time when not reading blogs. :)
Just copy paste this and everything below up until my Five links:
Lara thought it would be cool to have a meme where we post links. We can post up to five. Then we tell five more people to share their links. If we all share who tagged us, our links are sure to be seen!
They can be business links, favorite sites, affiliate links, whatever you want…
There are Five Rules:
1. MUST be clean. No R rated sites.
2. Only FIVE links.
3. MUST tell 5 people.
4. A link back to the person who tagged you
5. Lara’s Place is the meme originator. (an active link would be appreciated)
These are in random order.
Forum for C*VS deals Where I can see the deals in advance and plan accordingly.
E-Sword A fabulous comparative Bible study.
A Game It's addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Netrition I order from them a lot. They carry my low glycemic index pasta that I mentioned HERE and tons of other low sugar items.
Equal Exchange Coffee This place has the worlds best coffee. And the prices are WAY lower than buying gourmet coffee from the store (remember to compare the prices by the pound, they frequently sell coffee in bricks less than a pound). My favorite? Love Buzz Organic Whole Bean.
Now I'm supposed to tag five people.
I don't want to put anyone on the spot, but I'd love to hear from you if you found this informative!
I was tagged by Andrea!
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Beth's Post got me thinking about how our prices vary around the country.
So I thought I'd do a little survey. I'd love to hear what the rest of you pay for the following:
In Southeast TN (and these are approximations based on my best recollection)
Gas - 2.76/gallon
Milk - 5.19/gallon
Bread - 2.50/loaf (just the normal kind, nothing fancy)
Ground Chuck - 3.89/lb.
Apples - 1.59/lb.
Bananas - .49/lb.
Cable Internet - 45.00/month
Power (electric and gas) - 350.00/month average (just increased to this a few months ago)
Water bill - 25.00/month
Grass cut (1/4 acre) - 75.00/each time
If you can think of anything else that you'd like to see compared, leave it in the comments!
Monday, August 06, 2007
This whole month is the start back of our schooling activities. Plus both of my younger girls have birthdays this month. My baby's is tomorrow. She'll be 10! No more single digits in the house. I don't really know how I feel about that one.
It's been, and going to be, busy but I've not forgotten about the questions I've gotten.
Sharon asked about fried spinach. I promise to post the recipe soon. I've not forgotten. Just been busy and wanted to put up pictures with it. Thank you for asking about it!
Jennifer's Ranch Chicken was really, really good (though I'm a doof and thought the recipe called to soak it in buttermilk, so that's what I did and it was still wonderful). If you ever need an easy, healthy chicken recipe...I recommend hers.
HomeSchoolingMomTo3 asked about my Cheesy Chicken Casserole recipe. I had gotten in a long while ago from Candy's Blog but when I went back to link to it for her, I couldn't find it. So I wrote Candy and asked if she minded if I posted it. She doesn't. So I'll get it up for you soon. It's a *great* staple meal that you can have ready in 45 minutes from start to finish. And my family (except my youngest for some odd reason) adores it.
Ok, I think that's all. More when I have some time.
I almost skipped out on participating this week because we're going to be out of the house for much of the week for a neighboring VBS. But I really like the organization I feel when doing MPM.
It's also just almost entirely too hot to cook. Or to eat hot food. The heat index today is supposed to be 105°. So please excuse the lack of creativity.
Monday - (Early supper for VBS) Tuna salad sandwiches. Fruit.
Tuesday - (Early supper for VBS) Pizza party (throw in honor of my baby's 10th birthday!), Birthday Cake and Ice Cream.
Wednesday - (Early supper AT VBS) Dinner and a Movie night. I have no idea what they'll serve.
Thursday - Hot Dogs on the grill, chips (many of the girls friends are coming over to swim)
Friday - Hot sausage and cheese quiche' (it fell through last week), salad.
Now for some real inspiration, go on over to Laura's Blog.
Friday, August 03, 2007
I love the different tips that we get each week with Crystal's Frugal Friday. It's always inspiring to see how different women save money for their family.
I believe that frugality is a mindset. It's how we view every purchase. It's certainly searching out sales but I believe it goes beyond that.
It's how we decide to grab a cloth instead of a paper towel. It's maybe adding water to the very last of the shampoo in the bottle to get one more washing. Maybe we buy products that are re-usable instead of disposable. Several come to mind. Cloths verses paper towels. Cloth diapers instead of disposables. Maybe even re-usable feminine products.
My sister got me a S*wiffer mop for Christmas one year. Really. We're that kind of family. I really liked the convenience. And since it came with several pads, I really got used to it. So when I ran out I, of course, went to buy more. And got sticker shock out of the price. The pads were more than the mop!
So I had to find an alternative.
This is my non-disposable mop.
Of course, it's not a s*wiffer mop. It's another brand. It came with 3 cleaning pads that I wash with my towels. The head has these long Velcro strips and the whole back of the cloth attaches to it.
When I'm done I just rip it off and throw it in the laundry.
I grab whatever cleaner I want (plain vinegar and water that I keep in a squirt bottle), squirt some on the floor and mop away. I can control the amount of fluid and what kind of cleaner goes on what floor.
I paid less than $20 for it (go to QVC, and do a search for "Don Ashlett Mop") and have been using it for at least 4-5 years.
But the point isn't really the mop. It's that I wanted something that I didn't have to continue to throw money into.
It's just the way I think.