Sunday, May 21, 2017

Frugal Happenings 5/21

Good morning to all my frugal friends.
I hope all are safe and healthy!

We have had an interesting weather week.  It got quite warm and humid for a few days this week - actually had to turn the AC on for a few hours on a couple days.  We have had a couple nasty storms.  We faired well, but other areas of the state had a lot of flooding and even tornados.  We had a couple days that were extremely windy - 40-50 mph winds.  Couldn't get much done outside on those days.
I see some areas of the country had SNOW again this week.  WOW!
It appears that this coming week will cool a bit and we will have some lovely weather. Hoping to get a lot done outdoors this week.

This past week:
  • Picked 2 more bouquets of peonies.  I absolutely adore that smell.  They are now done for the year.
  • Boiled eggs for quick and easy meals and snacks
  • Made a big bowl of chunky salad.  Broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onion, cukes, dressing, sunflower seeds and frozen peas.  Was good for several meals.
  • Sprayed fence rows and out back with vinegar solution to kill weeds and grass
  • Line dried laundry
  • On calm days I got to paint some yard art and freshen it up a bit.
This is the chair I found in trash a while back.  Repaired and painted - it called out to be purple!  Now a plant stand in my front flower bed.  I love the pop of color.
  • I made a run to my favorite family owned greenhouse to get some plants.  They have really cut back (trying to sell out).  I got most of my stuff needed for $28.  Still need to find a few other things and a place that sells them cheaply.  I can't believe how expensive plants are around here, at other places!
  • Got a .20 a gallon discount on gasoline
  • Got my container garden in - still haven't got main garden done
  • Went to Joanne Fabrics to get fleece for the blanket I am making for graduation.  Didn't realize they were having a 4 day sale!  Fabric regular $24.98 - I PAID $9.98.  I also bought a 3 pack of Fiskar brand scissors.  Regular price 19.98 - I PAID $11.99!!  So I got the fabric and scissors for less than the price of what the  fabric should have been!  CALL ME HAPPY!
  • Stopped at Kroger on the way home (of course I did!) to check out clearance.  I found 14 - 16 oz. bottles of salad dressing on closeout for .47 each!!!!   Got Ranch, Italian, Caesar, and Honey BBQ.  No way I could make it that cheaply!  (dated 5/2018)  YAY!!!
  • I also got 4 sets of silicone ice cube trays in cute designs (flowers, stars and moustache).  These went into the gift box/pantry.  They were reduced to $1 per set of 3.
  • Made hummingbird nectar
  • My rain barrels are about half full - FREE garden water
  • Finally made it to the Farm Market up the road yesterday (just before a storm hit).  Got some nice radishes, baby turnips (we use in salad), salad greens and a loaf of Artisan bread.  Cooked the radish and turnip greens for lunch (nothing wasted)
My Farmer's Market goodies.  YUM

 Meals this week:
Chunky salad and chicken strips
Salad and tuna patties
Ground pork burgers, dirty rice and side salad
Pork chops, leftover rice and green beans
Sloppy Joes and oven fries
Fried chicken livers and country gravy (definitely non-diet day!)
Chef salad
SNACKS:  sliced strawberries, fruit smoothies and sherbet

How was your week?  What have you done to help your pantry and/or your pocketbook??
How does your garden grow?

I absolutely love hearing from each of you.  I love how we are getting a number of new readers.  The more the merrier - so many more ideas to share!
Take care my friends and may you have a truly blessed week.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Sub Pantries"

I know we all work on our pantries weekly.  In most cases people think of everything they buy and put back for future use as their pantry.
I look at it a little differently.  I figure I have SUB PANTRIES!

What do I mean? 
I categorize by different items and uses.

Here are a few that you may JUST consider pantry!

Pet pantry
Health aids and beauty pantry
Craft pantry
Gardening pantry (seeds, etc.)
Cleaning and canning pantry (supplies)
Reference pantry (informational books and guides)
Food pantry

Here is where I do something a little different - my food pantry is divided into special areas.

This contains the supplies I keep on hand to make knock-offs of fast food.  It saves money from wanting to make a special trip for that favorite food.
  • I always keep ALL supplies to make Mexican food - taco seasoning, beans, salsa, sauces, cheese, taco shells, and wraps (I also make my own wraps)
  • I keep supplies on hand for pizza night - sauce, pepperoni, chopped frozen veggies in case I don't have fresh, hamburger and/or sausage.............
  • I keep seasonings on hand to make Chinese or Oriental (hubs favorite).  I also always have thin pasta (for lo-mein), rice, water chestnuts, and veggies that can be used in stir fry, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, etc.
  • We also love Italian food - I always have homemade spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes and sauce, pasta of all sorts (lasagna, shells, elbow, spaghetti - all sizes), cheese, etc.
  • I also keep a bag of seasoned wings, tasty breaded fish, thinly sliced ham, turkey and beef in the freezer.  Once used - I replace.  This enables us to have a quick 'fast food' meal without having to spend the money on take-out!
Part of my upstairs pantry supplies.  There are shelves above what you see and they are all about 3' deep.  Spice racks on the door for extra containers.

There are just nights that none of us want to take the time to cook a big dinner.
You DO NOT have to cook every meal!!!  You are allowed to just get lazy some times!
  • I try to keep soup beans, homemade soups, maybe even a casserole in the freezer.
  • Soup and sandwiches are my favorite go to.  I have home canned soups, and store bought soups on hand always
  • I always have some kind of sandwich fixings - even if it is just grilled cheese
  • I keep bar cheese and beef sticks on hand - for those nights we veg out on cheese/meat and crackers
  • Fresh veggies and dip are great as well.  Always keep a bag of nacho chips on hand for salsa (chips are so easy to make from tortilla's)
  • Keep tuna, hard boiled eggs on hand for making a quick sandwich salad.
  • Spam and eggs are super easy and filling as well - add some toast and you have a meal
  • Egg sandwiches
  • Salad

We all want our tasty yummy goodies and treats.  Homemade are so easy and much cheaper.
  • Keep the items on hand to make cookies, brownies, and cakes (Even if it is pre-packaged mixes - it's better to have on hand at home
  • Learn to make trail mixes (actually about anything you might want to throw together)
  • Popcorn and different salt flavorings
  • Fresh veggies and dip (always keep sour cream on hand for making dips)

OK, you get where I am going with this.  Make sure that you have all the supplies that you might need for any type of scenario.  There is NO reason to run out and spend precious funds on fast food or 'lazy' food when you can do it right at home.
SURE we all need a restaurant meal once in a while - I am not saying never eat out.  It is just so costly any more - even going to McD's, Taco Bell, or Arby's!!!!!!

I love Taco Bell - but have learned how to make most of the items they sell.
G loves Chinese, and I keep supplies on hand to re-create some of his favorites.
We both LOVE the Outback - I can do steaks on the grill and have learned how to make Alice Springs chicken myself (my fav).
YES, we do have restaurant meals from time to time (especially when we have gift cards).  Yes, we do splurge once in a while.
But we have become so accustomed to eating from home, and it tastes so much fresher - that this is what we do most.

Are there any certain things that you consider "SUB" pantry??
Do you keep items on hand for those knock-off meals??

I look forward to hearing how you handle your pantries and what specialty items you try to keep on hand.  I am always looking for new ideas.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SIMPLE Solutions

We are all looking for ways to save time and money, no doubt about it.   There are so many things we can do at home, that just makes since - but we don't often think about them.

Today I have a few ideas, hacks, and even a recipe that will hopefully aid you in your every day life.

  • A seriated knife will cut a tomato without ever smashing the tomato.  It works perfectly every time!
  • The green lids from jars of dry parmesan cheese will fit a canning jar.  Works great for storing your own spices or mixes
  • The top from a pouring salt box, can be cut to fit under the band of a canning jar.  Makes a perfect pouring jar. (I have several of these jars)
  • Freeze fresh herbs in oil.  Use an ice cube tray.  (I always keep extra ones for herbs and food - different from the ice ones).  A great way to infuse fresh herb flavor in frying.
  • Keep your water from boiling eggs or potatoes, or water from steaming veggie - let it cool and use on your plants.  It contains lots of minerals.  **Make SURE there is no salt  in it - just water.
  • Pour scalding water bath water on weeds you want to kill.  No sense pouring it down the drain.
  • Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the ice cream in an opened container.  This will prevent ice crystals from building up on the ice cream.  (Ours never lasts that long - but just in case!!)
  • Freeze seedless grapes and use in a glass of wine to keep it chilled.  Frozen grapes are a wonderful summertime snack as well
  • Honey NEVER goes bad - although it may crystalize.  Warm it up and it will liquefy.
  • Grease a measuring cup before measuring honey or anything else sticky.  It will pour right out.
  • Make 'ice cubes' from tea, coffee, juice, wine, etc. in muffin pans.  Larger cubes take longer to melt and you don't water down drinks 
  • Add fruit - berries, grapes, lemon, oranges, etc. to cubes for an added summer splash
  • Freeze tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, or any tomato product in ice cube trays.  When frozen place in a baggy in the freezer.  Pull out what you need.
  • Place parchment paper on baking racks when roasting veggies - super easy clean up!!!!
  • Keep a designated pair of FOOD scissors in your kitchen.  I love them for cutting up lettuce, celery, some meats, and even small pizzas.  So many uses!
  • NEVER  throw out the woody part of asparagus or broccoli - DEHYDRATE and GRIND into powder.  Adds so much flavor to soups and such.  I also like to peel the stems of broccoli and cook.  That is my favorite part (keep peelings to dry)
  • Place 1 CUP of uncooked rice in your coffee grinder and pulse.  It will clean and sharpen the blades
  • Use old place mats as drawer liners, picnic basket liner, padding between fragile dishes, or even as protection when  packing shoes (keeps clothes clean)
  • Drill tiny holes (about 6 - 3 each in 2 rows) in the top of a plastic bottle lid.  Add vinegar to bottle and you have a weed killer bottle that allows you to pour vinegar exactly where you need to.  I have been doing this in areas of flower beds this spring.  Works wonderfully!
  • Lay slices of lemon on your grill before grilling fish.  Lay the fish upon the slices and get the flavor of lemon and fish will not fall through the grates
  • Grate FROZEN  or VERY COLD butter for baking recipes.  So much easier to incorporate.
  • Make your own non-breakable GAZING BALL for your garden.  Get an old bowling ball and spray paint whatever color/colors you wish!  My brother did this and it was amazing!!!!  You can also glue copper pennies to one.
This was my brothers 'gazing ball'.   You could place the holes on the bottom or silicone them closed.  That is what he did. 

Crush rice Chex cereal and use as 'panko' crumbs.  No gluten!  This would work with ANY gluten free cereal you might want to use.

1 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh if possible)
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 C water.
Spray fruits and veggies to clean.  Pat dry and refrigerate.
Saves money - and there is NO added chemicals or "secret" ingredients!

I hope a few of these ideas may help you in the kitchen or yard.  I have many more ideas and hacks - but that is another day.
Do you have any great ideas to pass on?  Inquiring minds want to know!!!

ENJOY your day!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Frugal happenings 5/14

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all you lovely Moms out there.  It doesn't matter if you 'baby' is human or fur - you ARE a Mom. 
Enjoy your day!!!!

We have had a lovely upturn in our weather - it is definitely more spring/summer like now.  The sun is shining and the temps are lovely.  This coming week we are supposed to have several dry days with temps in the 70's/80's!  MAYBE I will get some garden work done!

One of my hummingbirds is back.  It has been visiting the feeders and the honeysuckle daily.  Such a joy to watch.
We also have a pair of rose breasted grosbeak's show up this week.  Oh my goodness they are so beautiful.  We have never had them in our yard before.  We are truly enjoying watching all the nature.

We are trying to work on losing a little weight.  Too many goodies over the winter was not a good thing!  We are eating more lean meat and way more veggies.
I remade a couple of leftover thin lean steak burgers into kind of a fajita wrap.  I thinly sliced the burgers into strips and sautéed with mushrooms, onion, and pepper and served in soft tortillas one night.  Trying to use all the leftovers in a new way.

This week:
  • Got to do laundry in cold and line dry
  • Did a lot of yard work.  Trimmed all the bushes out back, weeded, cleaned all the rest of pots out, and trimmed fence row on neighbors side (yet another neighbor who can't seem to get close to the fence)!
  • I received a tote of t-shirts and jerseys from a nephews high school sports activities.  I have been requested to make a quilt like cover for his graduation in a couple weeks.  SIGH!  I am not sure if I should be happy or upset, that I am the GO TO person.  I guess they like my work and they know Auntie will make it nice.  I have been in planning stage - I'll show it when done.
  • Dropped off a lot of donations to church thrift store - YAY - out of the house!!!!
  • Picked a couple more bouquets of peonies.  My house smells so good!!!!

  • I got together a bag of goodies for the letter carrier food drive on Saturday
  • Turned the mattress.  We have our mattress in a water bed frame - so I vacuumed under it while turning (dust and dander - ick) - of course changed all the bedding as well.
  • Doing all the normal stuff trying to be thrifty - tea, filtering water, windows open, using what we have on hand, etc.
  • I did make a purchase for myself!  Maybe not frugal - but maybe.  I bought a new vacuum at Big Lots.  Mine just hasn't had the power it used to and it is cumbersome.  I got a new upright (vs. canister on other).  It sure has some power!!!!!  No bags to buy - it is bag-less.  It is the second one we have bought in 31 years - so not bad.  Hopefully it lasts for years to come.  Cost less than $100.  I am a happy camper!!!!
I cleaned the bedroom carpet and an area rug in the living room and couldn't believe what it picked up.  I vacuum several times a week - yet, this seemed to pick up a whole cat (in fur)!!!!  LOL
I think I will love it.

Meals this week:
Little slider burgers and oven fries
Small pizza and salad
Baked spaghetti and salad (2X)
Chef salad topped with chicken strips
Lean steak burger steamed broccoli and side salad
Fajita wrap and bowl of cabbage soup (home canned)

Got a small loaf of zucchini bread out of freezer for a snack.  Also had popcorn and fresh sliced strawberries

How was your week?  What ways did you save or add to your families preparedness and well-being?

Are you getting your gardens started?  I know many areas are having PRIME harvest time now.
We haven't even started!!!

Prayers for you all for health, safety and blessing from Above!
Have a splendid week!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Mission to Help

Yesterday I saw a report on the news about a young man in my city, that is making it his mission to feed the hungry.  (He doesn't live all too far from me)
This young man named Austin, is currently 11 years old, and he started his work 3 years ago (at age 8)!!  His family had little to eat, and he decided he had to take care of that.
This adorable kid now has a nice garden in his yard to feed his family, and he has started a community garden to feed the neighborhood!

We can't get adults motivated to do this - yet this babe has taken it upon himself to end hunger.   I am attaching a link to the story that was on the news - I hope you take the time to read it.  there is also a link to his You Tube station in the article.
He says "It's his destiny - Gold told him to do it".  
WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!  What an awesome kid.


We have a local organic co-op grocery a couple miles north of us - which we invested in as owner/members before it opened, and we continue to be members.  It is something that we really want to see succeed.
This grocery is located in an area that is considered by some as a food desert - there are no other grocery stores in the area that can be easily accessed if one has no vehicle.  It is a low economic area and kind of a high crime area.
The only availability to food before was 'junk food' at the corner quick mart/gas station.
Prices are a bit higher than the average store, but the food is healthy and lots of it is local.

They have implemented a summer program that insures SNAP (food stamp) recipients double their stamp value.  ALL food purchased with stamps will be reduced in price 50% - so the person can purchase twice as much for the money!!!!!

This is their 'kids are home for the summer' program.  They know people will spend more when children do not have free lunches and breakfasts at school.  WHAT A WAY TO HELP THIS COMMUNITY!!!!

ALDI has lowered many of it's regular prices for the summer.  I don't know if it is for the same reason as above - or if it's just to help with summer activities.
All I know it's a GOOD thing!!!!!!
Many items have been lowered .25 - .75 each - which many not seem like a lot, but it all adds up.

KROGER and many of it's affiliates have been giving points for purchases that can be used for gasoline discounts for ages.
Last week the double points program started again and goes through most of the summer.  Present a coupon at checkout and get double points instantly.  You can still go on-line 4 times a month and answer a survey and be awarded 50 FREE points.
You can take  UP TO $1 per gallon in discount.  ($1 = 1,000 points)
Considering our state will be implementing a new gas tax on July 1 (.10 per gallon) - every discount we can get helps.
It is great that this is done during the summer while people are traveling, vacationing, and out having fun as families. 


This is 4 groups that are working to end hunger and help folks financially just in our area.
It really does make my heart happy.
Check around your areas and see what is happening.  Do you have grocers or communities working to help each other?
IF NOT - maybe YOU can get something started! 
I for one would like to try to convince the vendors at local farmer's market to donate their end day items to area food pantries or soup kitchens.

If we all try and do a little - it will have a big impact.  These are OUR communities!
As Austin said "It's our destiny"!  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dry and Powder

There are so many things to think about when we are trying to stock our long term pantries.  You don't want to stock things you will never use - AND you want to have plenty of what you do use.
There may come a time in the near (or distant) future, that we will have to become self sufficient through NO real choice of our own!  The world is scary, and we just never know what can happen week to week.

We all seem to have our freezers full - and that is wonderful, unless we are without power for a long while (and do not have generators).
Home canned goods and even store canned goods can pretty much all be eaten straight from the jar or can if we HAD to!

I figure if the worst happened I can heat foods up over a gas grill or a wood fire.  You could cook in a fireplace as well.
I like having powdered and dehydrated goods on hand as well.  Many people dehydrate about everything do to little storage area.  You can get a whole lot of food in a quart jar when it's powdered or dried!

Things I keep on a normal basis:

Milk and buttermilk
Cheddar cheese
Ham - beef - chicken seasonings
Homemade cream of soups
Spices and herbs

I keep:

Herbs and spices
Green beans
Tomato skins (also goes under powdered)
Vegetable soup mix (I buy by the gallon)
Berries - raisins, craisins, and other dried fruit

Zucchini and yellow squash are easy to dehydrate.  Great for soups.

Tomato skins dried and powdered.  Great for seasoning.  I do this with all my herbs I grow as well

I consider a lot of things for dry storage.  In my opinion, ANY dried beans or peas go in this category, also rice, and pasta.  They can all be kept in dark dry locations for ages and ages.

I like using jars of all types and sizes for my kitchen pantry storage of beans, rice, pasta, oatmeal, etc. (gallon jars are also used for my long term storage).  The cabinet holds all my flavor extracts (I am an extract junky!).

Not all spices and herbs are dehydrated at home.  I like to keep several large containers of store bought spices as well.

Another item that I deem an absolute necessity is SALT.  I keep iodized salt, Kosher, canning, and several grades of pink Himalayan salt (fine grind to coarse).  At present time I probably have 25 lbs. of salt on hand.  It is great for pickling, preserving, seasoning, and can even be used for health reasons.  Salt is a great barter item in desperate times.

ALSO I think sugar, flour and grains are important to keep as dry goods.   Oats are good and healthy to eat, great to cook with and can be ground into flour if necessary. 
Sugar is so important in preserving and flavoring. (It's a great barter as well)
Rice and dried corn can also be ground into flours if necessary. 
Wheat berries are a wonderful addition to long term storage (they last for years and years), and can be ground.
I think of coffee and tea as dry storage items as well.

Of course I like to keep other things like baking soda and baking powder on hand.
My WANT LIST includes powdered honey and vanilla (I have a tiny bit of powdered vanilla).  I will be adding those things in the near future (among other things).

There really aren't too many things that can NOT be dehydrated.  I have heard of people scrambling eggs and drying, cottage cheese, canned and frozen fruits and veggies, meats - you name it!
Once dried, about anything can be powdered.  They kind of go hand in hand.

What items do you like to keep on hand that are dried OR powdered? 
What items do you dehydrate yourself? 
I know I for one, am eager to learn what others do - it is so helpful to me in planning my future preps!  I am sure it will help others as well.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Frugal Happenings 5/7

Good morning all.
Oh the sun is shining this morning and it makes it feel as if all is right with the world.  It is really nice to have a couple dry, sunny days.  My mood has taken a tremendous boost upwards!!!!!

We were blessed with  a new great-great niece this week.  Cali is an absolute chunk in the pictures I have seen and has a head full of blonde hair!  I truly believe it is the first blonde new baby I have seen!  She is perfect and healthy.

It came to our attention a couple days ago that Opie (the opossum) is probably an Opina!!!!  It appears that suddenly the belly is big and close to the ground.  I am figuring many babies in the pouch - from reading they are usually born in or around April.  I guess we will see.  We'll still use Opie as a nickname!!!  LOL

Momma kitty seems to have gotten a cold.  Poor baby.  She is sneezing and sounds stopped up.  She spent way too much time in the wet and cold the last couple weeks.  She is now resting daily in the greenhouse and sleeping in there at nights (good kitty).  I have been giving her pet grade Brewers Yeast in her food daily (has antioxidants).  I know a cold usually wears itself out in 7 - 10 days with cats, I just hate seeing her feel bad.

My week:
FIRST I didn't leave the house till Friday - it was just too miserable outside.  Staying home always saves me a ton of money!
  • I inventoried all of my home canned goods.  Needing to figure out what I have to can this summer.
  • Did a lot of reading and research on the computer
  • Got one day in the middle of week, that I had a brief chance to mow!  Thank goodness, as the rain came back with a vengeance and the grass is growing like crazy!
  • I made a pot of chili which seemed appropriate for the wet and chilly weather
  • I came across what is probably 40 tomato plants that are self seeded from last year.  They are where the grape tomatoes were - so we will see what they become this year.
Baby tomato plants.  There are dozens.  I will transplant some as they get a little bigger.  Tomatoes are tomatoes to me!  YUM!
  • Cleaned and polished the wood floors - they look so pretty (they are original finish 1947)
  • Picked a bouquet of peonies - oh, the smell!!!!!
  • I went to the feed store Friday and stocked up for the next month on squirrel goodies!
  • I ran by Kroger and ran in to see what (OK say it with me) 'CLEARANCE THEY HAD'!!!!
I know I talked this week about buying less packaging - so I was really BAD at Kroger.  I got some deals I just couldn't pass up - as I couldn't make my own as cheaply as I bought some things.  The packaging is all recyclable here - so that is my saving grace.

I found:
6 cans of Libby corn for .39/ea. (12/2019)
4 bags of organic croutons .49/bag (3/2018)
2 boxes of microwave popcorn 1.09/ea.  (3/2018)
2  - pound pkgs. of ground pork, 1.47 & 1.48.  I froze for now - but will be making sausage.
20 lb. bag cat liter (torn and only 18 lbs. in it)  1.39
5 containers of spices and seasoning - all 1.09 each.   2 - all purpose seasoning, 2 zesty table blend, and 1 creole seasoning
Packets of seasonings for cooking.  6 - beef stew season, 6 ranch dip season, and 4 sloppy joe season all .19 each! (I can't blend that cheaply)

Meals this week:
Tuna patties, green beans with potatoes, sliced carrots with Italian dressing
Small ranch - cheese - ham & potato casserole, leftover green beans and slaw
Chili (2X)
Cajon rice with sausage and side salad
Chili cheese dogs and chips and dip
Leftover dogs with kraut and chips and dip
Sliced strawberries with whipped cream for desserts
All leftovers were used for lunch or breakfast

I am hoping to get a little weed pulling and yard work done this week - in between the rain!  Yes, we have chances of rain just about each day.  UGH!

Did you have a good week?  Tell us about all your frugal achievements this past week!  Each of you inspire me to do better.
Take care and may all the blessings of God be upon you!