Tuesday, January 30, 2018

No Grocery Budget? No Worries!

We all know there have been times in our lives, for whatever reason, that we have had no grocery budget.  I can remember a time, before I got enlightened, that I ate lots of crackers and macaroni.  I lived alone, had no money, and that was what I could afford!  Water was my beverage of choice!! LOL!!   I survived (thanks to Sunday dinners at Moms).

Today, I feel better prepared, as are most of you.  We know that bad times CAN happen and that we need to be prepared.  I think most of us can go for a long time, stretching and re-inventing what we have.  At least I hope so.
If you haven't been listening and learning - then maybe you can use some advice.
ALWAYS buy a little extra each week.  Keep extra can goods and frozen goods on hand IN CASE! This is why we talk so much about pantries!  You are always prepared for the worst scenario.

Remember - when you are broke that you can still eat well - just maybe not like the Ritz!  YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE ON JUST BEANS AND RICE EITHER (although I love them).

Oatmeal or baked oatmeal
Biscuits or toast (cover with peanut butter and/or jelly)
White gravy - so easy to make and filling
Homemade burritos
Muffins/sweet breads - can use leftover rice. oatmeal, fruits, or cereal as ingredients
Leftover rice - top with butter and sugar or a little syrup
Grits, polenta -  both are cheap and easy to make
Pancakes or waffles (make ahead and freeze to always have on hand)  Keep general baking mix on hand!
Homemade breakfast sandwiches - use biscuits or English muffins (or bread) along with egg/cheese/meat - whatever you have
Eggs if you have them (we always keep some frozen) and I keep instant eggs in pantry
ANY leftover!!!!!!!  I have had soup, pizza, lasagna, you name it for breakfast!!

Tuna salad on bread or with crackers (or any type salad)
Cheese slices w/crackers
Fruit (canned is fine)
Baked potato
Peanut butter/apple/celery

Fried rice (use all kinds of leftovers - veggies and/or bits of meat)
Soup - ANY KIND  Veggie, soup beans, potato - no limit.  You can add rice or pasta to any soup to extend it  GARBAGE SOUP - add anything and everything left in bits and pieces in frig and freezer.  It may be the best soup you ever had!
Beans and rice
Fried potatoes
Baked potatoes
Dressing/stuffing - is easy to make and is filling and a great meal extender
Bean and cheese burritos
Quiche - use leftovers with your eggs.
Salad if you have fresh ingredients or garden
Pasta salad - pasta w/any veggie or meat and any kind of dressing you have on hand

ANY fruit can be sautéed with a little sugar, honey, or syrup for a warm treat
Make a simple crisp
Rice pudding
Bread pudding
Simple cornbread with butter and warm syrup
Cake mix cookies or bars
Jello w/fruit

In the warm months learn to garden (if only a few things) - also learn to barter with others and forage.  There may be fruit trees on empty lots with fruit you can take or nut trees, and learn to forage greens from your own lawn (if no chemicals).

Learn that meat can be an added ingredient and doesn't have to be a main course.  A little can go a long way.

Extend casseroles and soups with rice or pasta and 'cream of' soups.
Learn that just about ANY veggie can be fried, sautéed or broiled/baked.  Gives you some variety to a limited supply.  (Basically the same holds true with fruit)

Use bread crumbs for breading foods to fry - if no bread try cracker crumbs, non-sweet cereal, pretzels, chips, flour, cornmeal, etc. - whatever you have.

Did you know?  You can make soup out of those hamburger helper meals and out of boxed red beans and rice, dirty rice, Rice - A - Roni, etc.  Just add more liquid or broth and throw in anything else you have and you have a nicely flavored soup.  I have done this many times for a nice soup starter.

REMEMBER - a meal doesn't have to involve several courses.  We have had many a meal that consisted of finger foods.  As long as you get full - that is what matters.

Keep some canned potatoes on hand in case you are out of fresh.  They can be fried, used in soups and casseroles, smashed, etc.

We never know what life or the world has in store for us.  We can be thrown a curve ball at any moment.  BE PREPARED - HAVE AN EXTENDED PANTRY!  If you have staples on hand you can live and eat well.
LEARN - read, watch, absorb from others, all the information you can.  It may save your life.

Add a little at a time if you are just starting out - JUST ADD!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX - it can be beneficial to your family!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Frugal Happenings 1/28

Happy Sunday everyone.
We have had a roller coaster weather week again.  We have had freezing rain and ice and warm days and sunshine.  We even had a bit of lightening and thunder this week.  It sounds like this up and down weather pattern is to continue for a while.
That is fine with me, as each of those warmer days, just knocks off one frigid one and puts us closer to Spring!  Daylight hours are increasing, which always helps with my winter moods!

It has been pretty quiet around here.  I have been trying to stay home as much as possible due to the flu threat in our area.  So many have been affected.  I figure the closer to home I stay the better!

                                                                    Good morning!

My fugal week:
  • I received a FREE Reminisce magazine.  It was a complimentary copy - they are trying to entice me back!
  • Got to turn the heat off for 2 days (daytime) and aired out the house
  • Made hard boiled eggs for quick breakfasts or snacks
  • Made a gallon of OJ from concentrate
  • I did go out one day, and did a major cat food stock-up (dry and canned).  Meijer had a great sale.  I also bought an 8 pc. box of fried chicken marked down to 3.49!  That lasted for dinner, lunch and breakfast!
  • NO other grocery shopping this week
  • Used an Outback gift card and got a great dinner for us both (parts of 2 dinners actually)
  • Watched several movies and shows on Netflix  and listened to some 'new' music on You Tube.
  • Did a lot of cleaning and de-cluttering in the kitchen and the office/cat room.  Rearranging makes things look so fresh!
  • Doing all my usual things

Meals this past week:

Open faced Sloppy (Mex.) Joe sandwiches, fried green tomatoes and fried dill pickles
Ham slices (from freezer), oven baked fries and side salad
Homemade Patty Melts and chips
Outback dinner
Leftovers from Outback night along with steak from freezer
Fried chicken and slaw
Salsa meatballs over rice and jalapeno/cheese poppers

What have you done to stay on the frugal train this week?  Have you added anything to your long term pantry?

I sure hope everyone is staying healthy.
May your coming week be blessed beyond measure.  Please stay safe and healthy my friends.
Best wishes from our humble home to yours!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Simple Celebrations for Less

We all have celebrations in our lives.  There are those special days that 'some' celebrate, like Valentines Day.  We also have birthdays and anniversaries, retirements, house warming, all sorts of fun things to celebrate.
You know what?  You don't need a "special" day to have special moments and memories.  Everyday is special that you above ground!

You also don't need to spend a lot of money!  Small and simple gestures can mean more that an elaborate celebration.  I  like simple - but I am a simple gal!

We had an anniversary this week (32).  G can't leave, so I went and picked up the special dinner he wanted (Outback), and all it cost me was a little gas.  We had a gift card, so the entire dinner was FREE.  The best thing is that it will give the best part of 2 evening meals for each of us!
It was special, because he wanted it and we don't have often and it cost nothing, and it was special - because of what we were celebrating and the company we shared!

Things that can make any event fun and special:
  • First, it doesn't even have to be a dinner!  You can have s fancy breakfast, a picnic lunch, or a nice tea/coffee and dessert setting
  • Make the simplest dinner an event.  I don't care if you are having PBJ's, burgers or steaks - make the setting pretty and nice
  • Place a candle on the table and turn the lights down
  • Use pretty dishes.  We all have those dishes that are for special occasions!  What are we saving them for?  Isn't everyday LIFE special enough?
  • Get out the china, the vintage dishes, or the pretty teacups and pots
  • Place a tablecloth on the table, use the real napkins. 
  • Have an indoor picnic and lay a pretty quilt out on the floor
  • Place flowers on the table if you can.  In the summer you can pick them.  During the winter you can purchase at the grocery store (keep track of mark-down day).  Place flowers in an old wine bottle, jar or vase.
Treats and gifts:
  • Make a batch of rice crispy treats and form into a "Hershey Kiss" - wrap in foil and you have a giant kiss
  • Make someone a special gift of fudge (instead of buying expensive candy).  You can use a small cutter to cut into shapes (or pour into chocolate molds) or you can individually wrap.  Create a pretty bag or box for the gifting.  There are so many flavors of fudge - this could be fun!
  • Place a bag of Hershey kisses or other candy in a pretty re-cycled jar and add a lovely ribbon, bow, or poem (or saying)
  • Make up a batch of homemade hot chocolate mix - add to re-cycled jars (add some pretty colored marshmallows)
  • Make a gift that will give all summer.  Use a clay or plastic pot - add dirt or Styrofoam.  Get several sticks from your yard (various lengths) and with a dab of hot glue - attached flower/veggie seed packets to sticks.  Place in the pot for a pretty pot of seeds!
  • You can also make a 'flowerpot' of candy as well.  Get a bag of assorted wrapped candies and do the same thing.  Add a dab of hot glue and attach to sticks to make bouquet of candy!
  • Think about making some sweet coasters out of scraps of materials.  Make them look like a quilt
  • Write a poem or a letter to someone special telling them why you care.
  • Make a special dessert for someone, package in a pretty container, and include the recipe
  • Make homemade jelly or preserves and gift
There are no limits to the fun and inexpensive things you can do.  Just look for things that may be different!  Set the bar higher for everyone else to get creative!!!!

Plans ahead:
  • If you don't have any 'pretty' teacups, dishes, or accessories - look at thrift stores and yard sales.  You can often buy antique looking dishes for pennies.  Mix and match!  That is all the rage now and it really is pretty to mix up designs
  • Think about using pretty hankies for napkins.  I have gotten a lot of pretty hankies at Amish stores and dollar stores for next to nothing.  They can be used in lots of projects as well.

  • Cut up a second hand tablecloth (one with stains here and there) and make your own special napkins.  You won't feel bad cutting up something with stains (just cut around them).

Get creative folks!  Don't just keep doing the same thing over and over - variety is the spice of life!!!
You CAN have a lovely event for little money.  It can memorable, sweet, and simple.
I don't know about you, but I would be impressed with an original gift or dinner or setting.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Wise Man

Todays post is going to be short and sweet.  I found a statement by Abraham Lincoln that I feel is so absolutely relevant today.
Our society has become something that I don't even recognize any more.  So much of what we see is not about how to treat others, but all about the "ME" and "I".
I am so saddened by people daily!
I am forever disappointed by the frivolity of people today and the lack of responsibility and the total feelings of entitlement by so many.

Back in my day, we had to work hard for everything we had.  There was no expectation of anything being handed to us.  I was taught to be respectful of others.  I was taught to be respectful of what I had.  I started working at a young age and earned the special things I wanted.  I worked and paid for my education myself.  I helped out at home, because I was part of the family and I lived there.
I respected my parents and my elders.
Life wasn't always easy, but it sure was educational and an experience.  I still practiced those things I learned as a youngster, as I am sure you do.

I believe this should be made into a poster and plastered EVERYWHERE!!!!  It should be in school rooms, offices, homes, stores, and politician's offices!
We should be reminded of this everyday!!!!
We should practice this everyday!

How is it that a man who led, during a horrifically difficult time in history, could be this brilliant over 150 years ago? 
Everything he says you 'cannot' do, is what is being taught and practiced today all around the world, as what we should do.
It's so disheartening.

One by one we need to spread the words of Lincoln and teach our young people that our actions, deeds, and beliefs have consequences, not just for us, but for others - for years to come.

Lets take our world back - to a sane place to live!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Frugal Happenings 1/21

Happy Sunday all.  Hope everyone is doing well.

We have had quite a whirlwind week of weather.  Started with snow and frigid, sub-zero temps and has ended with upper 40's and rain.  We went from a frozen tundra to a mess of mud.  Most of the snow is gone and we are having a bit of rain today.  Amazingly the forecast for the next 7 days has no frigid weather predicted.  The worst listed is the 30's.  I can surely deal with that.
Each day and week we escape sub-zero, is one closer to Spring!!!

I finally got the Blazer all thawed out on Thursday.  It was a solid chunk of ice!!!!  I didn't even attempt to clean it off earlier in the week, as it was just too cold.

I go out every morning before dawn to feed the outdoor kitties, and I hear all the birds already singing!  It just reminds me of Spring.  I love it.
The days are gradually getting longer hours of daylight, which is lovely.
The kitties are loving the warmer weather.  Yesterday Momma and Fluffy were both out in garden chairs basking in the sunlight!

My frugal week:
  • I got a lot of much needed paperwork accomplished
  • I used ALL leftovers in new dishes
  • I found and rounded up 3 partial bags of ice melt to use on the walks and drive (had been stuck back in the basement last year)
  • Reconditioned and polished the kitchen cabinets
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Salvaged an 18 oz. candle jar (with lid) to use for storage
  • Colored my hair with supplies on hand
  • I finally got out Friday (over a week at home) and ran to Kroger.  I got lettuce for.99, a bag of bell peppers and one of onions for .99 each, and a gallon of milk for 1.39.
  • My Kroger deals this week were 8 packets of 3 each - of yeast for .25 each (dated 9/2019).  And 4 marked down packs of meat.  2 packs of beef cubed steaks and 2 packets of thinly sliced uncured ham for sandwiches.  YAY!

  • Have gotten to actually turn the heat off during the day the past couple days!  Sunshine has been keeping the house warm enough!
  • Just doing all my normal stuff

Meals this past week:
Spicy mac n cheese, fried kraut with beef hotdogs
Calzones (or hot pockets - whatever you want to call them - used up leftovers)
Mushroom/pepper creamy chicken over rice
Baked 'pizza' spaghetti
Cubed steaks, mashed potatoes, gravy, asparagus
Cheesy beef & potato bake
Beef, bean & cheese nachos
All leftovers used for lunches

Homemade calzone or hot pocket.  Stuffed with a combo of spicy mac/cheese and veggies & meat from leftover soup.  (Broth got frozen for soup starter later).  These were so yummy!

How was your week?  Did you get any great deals?  Create any lovely items?  What ways did you save?
Let us know what is going on in your area.

May your upcoming week be blessed beyond measure.  Health and happiness to you all.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Unconventional Uses

We all love to use things up!  We recycle and re-use things all the times.
We know to save our leftovers and make new meals and dishes.
We all know to save bottles, jars, baskets, boxes, tins, etc. to use in our pantry storage.
We all know the saying "waste not, want not".

Today I want to show you some of my unconventional uses for things.  I like thinking outside the box a bit (if you haven't noticed!).  I don't generally see anything that just has one intended use.

I keep 2 coffee grinders on hand, and they aren't for coffee!  One I use for nuts and/or herbs.  One I use for hot peppers.  I got both of them for $1 each at different garage sales.

I received a Ped Egg FREE at one point with something that I ordered.  We had one that is used for its intended purpose - removing calluses from feet.  The second one is kept in the kitchen!!  I use it as a handy dandy zester. It works wonderfully.

A few years ago we received a lovely gift of Biscotti for a gift.  It came in a beautiful container.  Today that ceramic container is my teabag jar.  One side says Biscotti and has a pretty pattern - the other side is just the lovely fruit pattern.

                                                           It easily holds a 100 tea bags.
I keep the jars that larger candles come in - 18 oz. and up.  I remove the labels - and soak and clean and soak some more - then I use them for gifting wrapped candies.  They are pretty and most have lids. 

I love that shelf liner that comes in many colors.  I cut it and use under table runners and mats on tables to keep them from sliding around (kitties can make about anything move!).
We have a couch table in our little hallway that is a picture gallery.  It is right outside the bathroom, and G was continually bumping it and knocking pics over when rolling into the bathroom.   I came up with a solution.  I used shelf liner in a tan color that looks pretty good and works wonderfully.  No more slipping pictures.

As you can see the liner is tan.  Shelf liner can be purchased at a lot of the dollar stores and it comes in a variety of colors.

Most people keep their citrus peels to use in homemade cleaners (I do that too), or apple peels/cores for jelly making (have done) - but I also like to keep them in a freezer bag and from time to time I put some of them in a pan of water on the stove and make my own air freshener.  Simmer the peels/cores in water (maybe add a little cinnamon) and your house smells lovely.  All natural and FREE.

I have a wooden mission style chair that has leather cushions in the living room.  I have a kitty who loves to lay up on the back of the chair.  I started noticing a few picks to the leather from her claws.  My remedy was to cover the upper portion of the cushion with a second hand quilted pillow sham I had on hand.  Problem solved.

I keep all those squirt tops that come on many items we purchase.  They are on shampoo, liquid soaps of all types, and even on Hershey's chocolate syrup.  Often times the bottles are just to large for everyday use (those get recycled) - so I also keep individual pop or water bottles that people leave at my house.  The squirt tops fit perfectly on those bottles.  I them put my blends of shampoo or dish soaps in them.  They also work well (thoroughly cleaned)  on water bottles when working the yard (no bugs in your drink and no spilling).  There is no limit to the uses for smaller bottles with added squirt tops.

This is my dish soap.  I mix it up and squirt away.  I buy soaps in large containers and simply re-fill these easily handheld sizes.

Don't forget to keep those lids from Parmesan cheese containers.  The green lids fit perfectly on small mouth Mason jars!  Keep the spout tops from table salt and cut to place under rings on Mason jars to make pourable containers.  Both give us new uses for our Mason jars used for storage.

When my jar candles get down to the end, they don't burn nearly as well.  I remove the candle wax from the bottom of the jar and keep to use in my melt devices.  It smells great and doesn't just get tossed out.

There is always more than one use for things.  Take time and think outside the box a bit. 
What kinds of items do you use in unintended ways?

Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tips from my Kitchen

Good morning.  Today I am going to give a few tips that I use regularly in my kitchen, that may help others.  We all look for ways to stretch our budgets and to make life a little easier.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned freezing eggs again, and some new readers didn't realize you could that.
It is really easy.  I freeze mine in muffin tins.  I lightly spray each opening with cooking spray - crack and drop in an egg into each opening.  I then use a fork to break the yoke.  Place in freezer and freeze.  Remove and place in freezer bags for storage.  I have actually had eggs that I have used after being frozen for a couple years.
These are great for baking purposes and for scrambling.  Take advantage of a great price when you find it!!!

We used to camp a lot and we had lots of people to cook breakfast for.  We found that a great way to extend our eggs was to get them ready for scrambled eggs - then add crushed crackers (or crushed cheese crackers).  Once the eggs are cooked you have no idea there are crackers involved.  It really does extend the eggs.
I have done this at home as well, when we were down to a couple eggs.

You can also add a couple scrambled eggs to leftover rice to extend a little further.  More egg and less rice than fried rice - but a great healthy extender.

I have heard that a lot of preppers dehydrate eggs as well.  I have seen them scrambled and place on racks and dehydrated.  Vacuum seal in jars.  Shelf stable.  I have not tried this - but it is on my bucket list to do.

I also mentioned freezing soaked dry beans a week or so ago.  I generally soak dry beans overnight in water to help break them down.  Sometimes, I soak a double batch, and place the extras in freezer bags and freeze for later.  They will not take nearly as long to cook, as the moisture and freezing then thawing help to break down the fibers and they cook faster.

*Did you know that you can cook in freezer type bags?  I often place leftovers in a good quality freezer bag and freeze, and when I am ready to cook - I simply place the bag in water and boil.  Homemade cook in bag! 
NOTE:  They do need to be decent quality bags.

*I microwave potatoes for a few minutes before frying them.  I microwave them whole - cool and peel - then slice and fry.  Cuts down on the cooking time.

*When I make homemade meat balls, I generally don't make balls!  I mix up all the ingredients and place onto a flat pan.  I mash the meat into a rectangle/square about 1" thick.  I then cut meat into 1" or so squares.  They are easier to cook, as they lay flat - and they are easier to freeze for the same reason.  You can lightly flash freeze if desired before cutting - it makes placing them in bags easier.

*Next time you are coating and frying chicken or chicken strips, try coating the pieces in mayonnaise and then cover with your coating/breading.  It sure makes for tasty moist chicken.

*USE EVERYTHING.  So many people I know do NOT use leftovers at all.  I do not understand this.  We don't mind eating the same thing a couple times - but I most often re-invent into a new dish.
Most often we think of adding leftovers into soup and casseroles.  There are other options as well!!
Soups, stews, casseroles
Fried rice
Stir fry
Just to name a few!!!!

Going to list this site again.  It is great when groceries are getting low and you just have no idea what to cook.  Check off the ingredients you HAVE and you get ideas and recipes for meals.  It doesn't get much easier.  It is kind of fun to use even when you have plenty of food - to get a few new ideas!
*Stale pop, leftover coffee, juice from canned fruit, tea, etc.  FREEZE in ice cube trays and use to either flavor iced tea or to cool a extra hot cup of coffee.  It keeps things from getting watered down and adds flavor.

I hope these ideas help someone save a little money or save a little time. 
What are some fun tips you use?  Please share.

JUST REMEBER:  If the world doesn't fit you - make it fit.  Backup, look around, and go do things another way.  Limitations are basically just in your head.
Have a happy day!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Frugal Happenings 1/14

Good morning all.  It just dawned on me that we are half way through this month already.  WOW!
Time flies when you are having fun!

What a weather week we have had.  It started out frigid, and by Thursday we had 60*.  It melted all the snow and it was great seeing green grass for ONE day!  Within hours the temperature dropped 40*, and we had rain, ice, sleet and snow again!  Oh boy!
All the snow has been shoveled for now.  More snow coming in tonight and frigid again.  Next weekend is supposed to get close to 50*  Crazy weather.

I was out back this week after the ice and snow feeding the birds and squirrels, it was cold and windy and just plain yucky - YET I stood there listening!  It was just wonderful listening to all the different birds singing.  I stood quietly, and I heard so many different songs.  It was lovely.  I was then brought back to reality by the squirrels standing at my feet begging for peanuts!
We have such a variety of birds -- woodpeckers (large and small), blue jays, cardinals,  juncos, finches, sparrows, nut hatches, and even pigeons and crows.
It is nice to slow down sometimes and just listen and watch - so much beauty.

It has been a quiet week around here.
My frugal week:
  • I made up a double batch of Co-Co Wheats for G.  I bought a box of them a couple weeks ago with a GC we received as a gift.  He has been wanting some for ages!  Childhood here we come!
  • I re-arranged the freezer and found enough room for that whole ham I got cheaply last week.  That will be great around Easter.
  • I mentioned last week that the garage door was broke.  Well, it actually WAS frozen (to the ground)!!  You could see no ice at all and the handle was moving, but not far enough.  I guess I just didn't have the correct amount of strength needed!!  We had called a repairman, but G's Uncle came by and got it open for us!!!!!  YAY!  That saved us a lot of money on a service call. YIPEE.
  • I re-arranged several items in the living room, so as to be able to display recent gifts
  • I ran to the feed store to get more squirrel corn.  Oh what lovely corn I got this time.  Huge full ears!  It is sold by the bag and there is a specific number of ears.  Last time the ears were short and partially full.  These are lovely and will last longer.
  • I stopped at the orchard while out, and got apples.  They are about to close for the season and are having a B1G1 sale.  No matter how many (5 lb., 10 lb., I/2 bushel).  I got 2 - 10 lb. bags for eating.  They will last us the rest of winter.  Didn't need to can any - still have plenty canned.  They ended up costing .80/lb.  Pretty darn cheap around here.
  • I used ALL leftovers either in chili or soup.
  • Made a batch of onion dip
  • I got to turn off the heat and open the doors for a while on Thursday - aired out the house
  • I have made ice tea (cooled outside), filtered water, made a gallon of OJ from concentrate, used the Soda Stream, and drinking home canned juice.
  • G has a rolling desk that he utilizes daily.  One roller quit working - so I messed with it and greased it and got it working properly for him
  • I actually started reading a book!  It has been ages since I set down to do nothing but read!

Meals this past week:
Chili (2 X)
Sausage gravy/biscuits & fried potatoes
Homemade meatball hoagies
Baked fish served over beans and rice
Hamburger/veggie soup (2X)

How was your week?  Are you keeping warm (those in U.S.)?  Are you Aussie gals keeping cool?
Did anyone get any great deals this week?  Let us know what you are doing to stay on the frugal path!

I hope you all have a lovely week, and that God blesses you with health and happiness.
Stay safe my friends.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Grocery Store Tricky Tactics

We all go to the store.  We all HAVE to go to the store at times.  Hopefully, we have a well laid out plan before going.  WELL, that doesn't mean the store isn't going to try to get more of your money than you planned on parting with!  They don't have to say a word either - they just know what the heck they are doing, AND they do it well!

The assault begins the moment you walk in the door.
Generally there will be a display with some sort of 'seasonal' item.  You may not buy any, but it gets you to slow down and look.  This type of tactic is called 'speed bumping'.  It is much the same as a speed bump on the road - you slow down and proceed with caution.

Scents have a big impact on us too.  Many stores have scent machines that they use - to get pleasant scents into the air.  Most rely on a much simpler method - place good smelling stuff at the front of the store!  Just about every grocery I go to has a floral department at the front, as well as the bakery and the deli.
I have a couple stores in my area, that I believe use fans to waft the smells outdoors.  You are hit with the wonderful aroma of baked goods in the parking lot!
Special smells like flowers and baked goods, generally relax us and take us to another time in life.  These people are smart!

IF you eat healthy, they know you shop differently.  Most likely you won't be browsing the center aisles, and you will be shopping the perimeter.  Oh but they still try to get you.  They make all the end caps very appealing and bright to get your attention.  Pay attention next time - most of the end cap stuff isn't very good for you - but you sure do look at it!
We tend to think that if it is on the end cap it's a SALE!  That generally isn't even close to being true.

Height is a huge strategy they use.  The most expensive items are at eye level or at kid level.  Candy, cookies, sweet cereals, etc. are often at the level of kids (or at least kids in carts).  They figure the average height for women is 5'4" and that is where they want you to look.  Lesser priced items (store brands) are most likely higher or lower on the shelves.
A new thing is now called vertical staging.  The stores have figured out - that WE have figured out what they are doing.  NOW they make several vertical rows (top to bottom) of product to keep you purchasing more expensive brands.

Have you ever noticed that milk, eggs, cheese, butter, juice and meat are almost always at the back of the store?  The grocers say that is because that is where the refrigeration and freezers are - ummmm - build them up front!!!  They could put them up front - BUT then you wouldn't have to traipse through the entire store.
There is a method to their madness!
It has basically been this way since the first grocery stores open.

The stores always have music playing.  Do you intentionally pay attention or does it just kind of grab you?  Many stores play what a lot of us call 'oldies' or disco type music.  According to grocery stores "disco is the sound of money".  No matter how old you are - that music has an uplifting beat, and you often catch yourself tapping a foot or humming along.  The lighter your mood, the longer you will wander around.

So the next time you go in for a gallon of milk, and spend a small fortune - I guess you could TRY to blame it on the store!!!!  LOL

It is so important to know the layout of your store (then you don't stray), go in with a list and stick to it, shop with cash if possible (not as app to overspend), and WEAR BLINDERS!!!!!
Don't make many trips a week.  Shop once and be done!
DON'T shop hungry either!
They will tell you that they JUST want you to have a pleasant experience at their store -  NOPE - they want your money, and as much of it as they can get.

Be wise - shop wise - and save money.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Being Green (somewhat) Can Save Green

"It isn't easy being green" said Kermit the frog!  Well, sometimes it is and sometimes it takes a  little effort.  In the end - it can save money - another type of green!  Maybe it doesn't save huge amounts of money - but it all adds up!

Things to think about:
  1. Keep the freezer full!  The freezer doesn't have to work as hard to chill, if it is full.  If you do not have enough food to fill it, add partially filled jugs of water.  They freeze, which keeps the freezer cold, you will always have cooler chest ice available, and you will always have water available
  2. Keep the freezer and frig closed.  How many times have we all opened the door, leaned there a bit, trying to figure out what we want?  Leaving it open for too long, just requires more energy to keep things cool.
  3. Let things cool before placing in the frig or freezer.  NEVER put hot foods in there.  It has to work so much harder to stay cool.
  4. Check the seals on the frig.  To test them, close the door on a piece of paper.  If you can pull it out easily, then you need new seals.  (You can do this yourself)
  5. Use your oven light when checking on foods in the oven.  It enables things to cook more evenly, and then there is the obvious - you aren't letting out that precious cooking heat.
  6. Set your timer, and turn the oven off a couple minutes early.  Leave it closed and the heat will finish baking your item.  Unless I am baking cookies or cakes, I put the food (casseroles & such) in while it is pre-heating.  All heat cooks!
  7. Re-use plastic bags - wash and re-use. (I do all except those containing meat).  Better yet, DO AWAY with plastic!  Keep containers on hand that can be used over and over.  Use bees wax sheets to protect food, make re-usable bowl covers, etc.
  8. Quit using paper towels!  Not only does this save money - but it helps the environment.  Make rags from old clothing or use older dish cloths or towels.  I use black face cloths for my kitchen.  They don't show stains at all, and they are washable.  I know the black ones are strictly for kitchen use - not the body!
Think of new ways to use what you have

  1. After turning off the oven, prop it open for a while.  (Keep kids and pets away from it).  You might as well use that heat, instead of wasting it.  It can help your heating.
  2. Use a ceiling fan, winter and summer.  In the summer, a fan keeps the air circulating (helping to cool).  In the winter (reverse fan) it helps push warm air down into the room.  Remember science class - warms air rises!!!
  3. Leave curtains or blinds open on sunny days (in winter) to help heat the room with solar energy.  Close them at night to keep the warmth in.
  4. Don't just let the water run down the drain.  When waiting for water to get hot - catch it to use for pets, plants, flushing, drinking, etc.
  5. Flush responsibly!  Generally you don't need all the water stored in a average toilet tank to flush.  Place a brick in the tank (wrap in plastic bag to keep it from flaking) or add a 2 liter bottle of water to the tank.  That displaces some water, so it doesn't take as much to refill the tank or to flush.
  6. Try catching rain water in nicer weather.  You can use on houseplants, garden plants, hair (softens), or even for flushing.  It's FREE!
  7. Try switching light bulbs.  LED lights or CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) can reduce energy consumption.
  8. Turn off lights when leaving rooms.  I do not use lights except when it is dark.  In the summer, I very seldom turn on a light, as it is light early and stays light late.
  9. Hang laundry outside if you can.  If you must - just toss in the dryer for a few minutes to soften.
  10. Skip the dry cycle on your dish washer - better yet, wash dishes by hand.

We can all save money by being a bit more cautious of our household ways.  Little things can make a difference.  REMEMBER:  pennies make dollars. 
Are you going to save a fortune over the year?  Probably not.  BUT, you will save and you are also helping the environment.

Try thinking of new ways of doing things.  Try thinking of new uses for normal stuff, that is being tossed away.
We need to be observant of the waste in our world and in our daily lives.

Be green and save green!  $$$$$$$$$$$

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Frugal Happenings 1/7

Howdy everyone.  It is hard to believe we have already ended the first week of the year.  It will be spring before we know it!!!  I anxiously await that time, but I am trying to just bide my time and not wish my life away!

It has been cold this week - oh, so cold.  Some days it didn't get out of the single digits and nights were well below zero.  Brrrrr.  We are having a heat wave coming through starting today!  LOL.  We MAY hit 32* today, but we have snow, ice and rain coming through as well.  The weather man says we may get to the upper 40's by the end of the week.  People will be out in shorts (seriously).  People around here are crazy!
We reached a couple record lows this week that broke weather records that stood for over 100 years.
I feel sorry for those in the southern hemisphere as well.  Our friends in Australia are having some terribly hot temps that I don't think most of us would want to endure.
Hope everyone stays safe - whether hot or cold!

I can't get our garage door open.  It doesn't appear to be frozen, but perhaps the locking release is broken.  I guess we will call the door repair guys this week, although I hate to.  I do need in there, as bird seed and squirrel feed is in there, as well as freezer number 2.  I guess we will bite the bullet.

My frugal week:
  • I made pudding with chilled shelf stable milk that was needing to be used
  • Saved boxes, bags, tissue paper, and card fronts for next years Christmas
  • Changed out the furnace filter on Jan. 1 with one on hand
  • I know it sounds crazy - but I made ice cream.  I use a big spoonful daily in my homemade mocha frappe - I ran out and wasn't leaving home.
  • I want to show you my home crafted gifts I received for Christmas - meant to show them before now
Aren't these the coolest?  I just love them.
  • I did some re-arranging on the basement pantry - still more work to do
  • I have worked some on the craft area - it makes my head spin!!
  • Got the upstairs pantry all cleaned out and organized.  YAY one thing DONE!
  • Stayed home until yesterday.  Hadn't left the property since the Thursday before new years.  I was getting cabin fever big time.
  • I did a cat food run - mainly dry food
  • While buying cat food at WM (cheapest) I walked the perimeter of the store and I found a 14.8 lb. Cumberland Gap (so yum) whole semi boneless ham on clearance.  This will provide so many meals in the future.  I love Cumberland Gap products, but generally will not pay the price they cost!  This was a deal.
  • While out, I also ran up the road to Kroger (yeah I know).  I got milk (1.39/gal.), a bag of 5 yellow tomatoes (.99/bag) and a bag of 3 huge orange bell peppers (.99/bag).
  • We have really been using the heck out of the bagged veggies I got for 1.99/bag before new years - sure has come in handy
  • I soaked a 3/4 lb. of black eyed peas last weekend.  Used part for NY dinner and the others went in freezer for quick cooking at a later date.
  • Using the Soda stream a lot this week

Meals this past week:
Seafood assortment for NY Eve - our yearly feast!
Corned beef, cabbage, and blacked eyed peas (NY day tradition)
Reuban sandwiches, chips, and dill pickles (kraut and pickles home canned - chips from get together)
Steak burgers, dirty rice, and fresh veggies as a side
Strip steaks, roasted veggies with mushroom gravy
Beef and bean burritos
Cheeseburgers, baked beans, and fresh veggies as side (in Italian dressing)

I had decided to strive for a no spend pantry challenge for the month of January, except for essentials.  I told G the other day, we have been eating basically from the pantry for weeks and it hasn't even made a dent.  I did get the ham and fresh items, so that isn't too bad.  I really don't need anything else for quite a while.
I do believe we could eat from our pantries/freezers for months and months (except maybe milk, eggs, & fresh).  I even have frozen eggs, powdered eggs, shelf stable milk and lots of veggies and fruit canned - so we are in good shape.

I plan to work on my project list more this week.  Looking forward to a few days of warmer temperatures!

How was your first week of the year?  What are you working on?  Any deals?
Who else wants to join in the no spend pantry challenge his month?

Prayers that you all stay safe and healthy in the coming week.  I pray those feeling frigid temps get a reprieve as well as those suffering the extreme heat.  God bless you all my friends!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Simple & Encouraging

I try to keep life fairly simple, as do many of you.  However, this is often hard to do in the age of technology!  We are always in a hurry, we are always connected, we always bombarded with adds telling us what we need, we are always bombarded with stuff!

I want my life to be simpler in areas that I can control.  I want to make closer connections with like minded people, I want to have less stuff, and I want to eat a more wholesome and basic menu, I want to learn the 'old ways', I WANT TO SHIFT MY PRIORITIES!
How about you?

We have become such modern people - and I (personally) would kind of like to live on the fringe a little more.  I want a SIMPLER life revolving around family, friends, God, nature and learning.
I want to be free of the burdens that society thinks we should have.
I truly don't care about stuff - all the stuff in the world won't make us happy.

We all strive to be more independent.  We are striving to be frugal.  We want to keep more of our hard earned funds and still have a great life.
WONDERFUL.  I want to save what we have - but I have come to see that 'working harder to have more money - actually takes away some of our freedom'.  This is not to say that we shouldn't work.  We need enough to pay our bills and support our family, and to take care of emergencies and older age - but do we need to do it in an extravagant way?  This is where the terms WANTS and NEEDS come in to play.  We need to keep our life simple and humble.

 We made it!  Every morning you awake - you get another chance to get it right.  It costs NOTHING!

I recently saw a quote and a prayer in our daily paper that really hit home with what we all seem to try to live.

"When contentment is elusive, it's time to re-examine our priorities."

WOW - that is pretty profound in my book. 
Are you where you want to be?  Are you living the way you want to?  Do you feel complete?
If you answer NO - then it's time to re-examine what you are doing and how you are living. 
Quit worrying what others think, quit trying to impress, be honest with yourself and be the you that you want to be.  Make YOU the priority!

"Help us O God, to live simply, instead of accumulating stuff, help us to share blessings.  Help us to have more by needing less.  Amen"

I love this.  Yes, we can have more by having less material stuff.  We can have more of the important things - family, friends, happiness, feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction, contentment, etc. - more of the good life.

I just wanted to encourage each of you to step back and re-examine your priorities and what you really want in your life this year.
Since you are here reading this, I figure you want more life and less stress like me.

I pray this year we can ALL achieve our goals and encourage each other on whatever road that life gives us to travel.
Blessings my friends

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pennies and Pantries

2018 here we are!  Are you ready for a new start?  I am.
We have a chance to begin again on everything.  New habits.  New friends.  New skills.  New ways.  New saving.  New everything!!!!!!
Let's reboot and recharge and get our lives and pantries in the best place they can be.

The state of affairs in the world is a mess right now.  We never know from day to day what could happen.  It is OUR obligation to be ready for any disaster.  Lost wages from job cut backs/loss, illness, horrible weather and acts of nature, inflation, even results of acts of terror can change our daily lives.

I show lots of pictures of the deals that I find for pennies on the dollar.  These have saved me a small fortune and have tremendously helped stock my pantry and freezers.  These are the types of things we all need to look for and do!   I rarely buy  much at the grocery that isn't a markdown. 
YES, it takes some time to walk the aisles and look - but it is worth it!

If you have salvage stores near your home - GO VISIT them!  They are wonderful.  The only one close to us closed it's doors this summer.  So sad.  I used to go to the Amish store when I traveled more.  They have wonderful deals and most also have a salvage section.

Remember too - dates on food items are NOT expiration dates!  Most are BEST IF USED BY - that doesn't mean they magically go bad on that day.  It just means that over time they may loose a bit of nutritional value - but if sealed, they are still good (canned goods).  I am careful with meat.

Coupons can be a  money saver for many.  I used to get tons of stuff for almost nothing with coupons, then our stores quit doubling (and even triple) coupons.  Most coupons in our area are very short term and for things that I don't buy.  Gee, I remember when coupons lasted for months!  I do use them when I can for cat food.
REMEMBER - Buy what you eat!!!!!!  It isn't a deal to get things you will never use.

I save my change as well.  I pick up pennies or change when I see it on the ground - I am not too proud!  Money is money!  Pennies add up and make dollars and dollars make twenties.  This money can be put back in your savings, used for special items, or used for all those wonderful clearance items you find or just to add to your long term pantry!
Coupons are money as well!

Remember that your pantry is not just about food! 
You need to have health and beauty items on hand - like over the counter medicines and vitamins, bandages and wraps, soaps and shampoos, lotions and antiseptics, laundry supplies, TP, anything that you use daily. 
You also should have gardening supplies (seeds) on hand.  It may come to a point that you HAVE to grow your food.
Self help books are a fantastic thing to have on hand.  We continue to grow and learn every day and books and the knowledge they carry may save your life some day (you may not always have internet).
Books for entertainment are also important, as well as games.  We all need distractions in life!!
Crafting and mending supplies count as pantry items as well.  We all need to re-create, re-invent, and take care of what we have.  That can save so much money!

Freeze eggs when getting them cheaply.  Great for cooking and baking!

Figure out new ways to store the deals you get.  There is no need to pass up a deal because you can't use quickly.  Freeze, can, dehydrate, etc.  You can process just about anything for long term storage.
Dry goods can be stored in totes and tins to get them away from pests and humidity.
Canned goods can be stacked in boxes in out of the way places - closets, under beds, behind couches, in basements, under stairs, etc.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX this year.  Be prepared for anything.
We all need to work together to get creative, to share tips and hints, to encourage, and to be better prepared.
Change your thinking.  Your pantry and your deals ARE like money in the bank!

I look forward to sharing ideas and learning from each other.