Sunday, March 31, 2019

Frugal Happenings 3/31

Good morning.  Here we are on the last day of March.  Woke to a white world here this morning.  Yesterday we woke to 50's and rain and more rain.  It rained the entire day.  I was watching a fascinating TV show and noticed I didn't hear the rain hitting the window any more.  YAY!  Looked outside and everything was turning white!!!!!
We got close to and inch of snow.  Crazy.

We had a decent weather week.  Ups and downs, but did get to air the house some.  The outdoor kitties sure were loving the warmer weather.  They love laying out on the deck and sunning, and this was the first week they actually had several chances, when it wasn't too cold or raining.

Things are really starting to green up.  I can see buds on the trees, and my daffodils were just starting to open yesterday morning.  Sigh!  I am betting the blooms don't survive the snow, ice and 20's.

Good morning from Lilly and Coogy - our indoor babies.  They have actually started sharing the same areas to sit.  They are just too sweet!

My frugal week:
  • Finished up the kitchen deep clean.  Polished all the cabinets - they look so pretty & fresh
  • I used up ham broth and ham from the freezer this week
  • Did lots of paperwork this week
  • Working on de-clutter more
  • Put up 18 more individual bottles of water.  Neighbors gave me more pop bottles.
  • Got to air the house 2 1/2 days this week
  • Ran to Kroger for one of their 4 day specials.  I got 5 - 4 lb. bags of sugar for .99/bag.  I also found 2 bottles of Hidden Valley cheddar/bacon dressing and 4 bottles of zesty Italian dressing for .69 each on clearance.  I also got 4 big bottles of Hunts catsup on clearance for .79 each.  They are remodeling the store (again - ugh) and getting rid of a lot of goodies.  Those were my only shopping parcels this week.  Oh, I did buy a gallon of milk too.
  • Made tartar sauce
  • Doing all the normal stuff - making tea, eating all leftovers, cold water laundry, etc.
Meals this past week:
Ham and beans and homemade cornbread (from scratch)
Ham & beans with rice and cornbread
Chili/cheese baked potatoes
DINER food (we bad) - it was sooooooo good!
Tuna patties, salsa mac n cheese
Finger foods - spicy summer sausage, cheese slices, crackers, dip & veggies (we were both tired)
Smoked sausage, fried cabbage and buttered noodles

Kind of quiet of the frugal front.  The week has been stressful, as we are being bombarded with a lot of extended family stuff - but that is another story.

My plans are to continue to go through areas I haven't yet and get rid of more stuff.  Hopefully by weeks end, it will be warmer and perhaps dry out a little so I can do some yard work.
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?  Any great deals or frugal finds?  Are you spring cleaning yet?  
I am sure we are all anxiously waiting for the temperature to change up a bit.

I am adding a lovely prayer from our paper this week:
"Awaken our senses today, O God, to beauty.  Enliven our spirits with hope.  Enrich our lives with virtue.  Season our lives with joy.  Amen"
This just seems fitting for myself - but I imagine for many.

May you all be healthy and safe this week and stay frugal my friends.  
Prayers for those having health issues, that you are touched by the healing hands of God.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

My Favorite Frugal Cookery Books!

It is a well known fact. that I LOVE cook books!  Do I use them often?  Not really.  I cleared out many of the books last year, and I  am sure I still have close to a hundred.
I love going through them and getting ideas - then I kind go off on my own.  I do follow recipes for baking (for the most part).
We just love food, I love easy and yummy recipes and if I can add frugal in there too - it's a win-win recipe for me!

I have several books that have long been my go to books.  Now I do have my Mom's very old and fat  (and well worn) cook book.  I do several baking recipes from it - as they are sure fire favorites of the family.  There are even sweet little notes and suggestions written in the margins in her hand writing.  Many of those recipes have been past on by myself to many of the younger generations in the family.  Those are just special.

Here are a few of my favorite books - that get used often.
I like simple.  The one on the top right that is hard to see is 500 Recipes Using Zucchini.  My MIL found it at a yard sale and thought of me years and years ago.    It was put together by a garden club in Southington, Ohio.  Copyrights are 1968-1988.  I have tried to find information on it, as many others have wanted one as well.  Goodness, my brother actually copied the entire book himself on his home printer.  It cost a small fortune in ink!!!!!
The things we do for our recipes (and our zucchini)!!!!!

I love Amish recipes as they are pretty straight forward.  That book also has a lot of other types of tips and hints and stories as well.   The other books are pretty self explanatory.

I was going through the bookshelf in the other room this week, trying to do some de-cluttering.  There are many books that have been read - and won't be again.  I will keep all my cooking, medical, gardening, herbs, and crafting books, as well as G's books on mechanics, guns, and home fix-it.
There are so many self help books that just may come in handy someday.
If I have read a novel - it really needs to go.
OK - I have veered off path here.
I found these 2 books tucked away in there - and I think they are very wise keeps as well.  The hamburger book is dated 1960 and the other 1980.  Good and easy recipes never go out of date!!

The Amish book I purchased new in the late 80's at an Amish 'fair' of sorts.  All the others came from yard sales for pennies.

If you don't have any simple and frugal cooking idea books - you might think of getting a couple.  They are just fun, but they may give us some super ideas in days that we have little money or variety of pantry goods to work with.  We can't always depend on having a computer to fall back on.  I want good old fashioned hands-on books as well.

Do you have any good basic, easy, fun and FRUGAL books that you tend to use a lot?
I am sure there are many, so please spread the word on ones that are good.
Let us know if we need to be looking for some new ideas.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Meat = Good Eats #4

Today we will talk about stocking up on meat.  I know, not everyone eats meat - and those that find that offensive, probably shouldn't even read this.  We all have our own thoughts on the subject, and it is doubtful that they will be changed by a blog post.

I have an ample supply of meat - a huge percentage is frozen.  I have never home canned meat,  Have you?  It is just something that scares the beejeesus out of me!!!!!!  I am very intimidated by a pressure canner - crazy I know - but that is me.  One of these days I will get brave!!!!

So other than home canned meat, which is shelf stable - there is store bought canned meat supplies that are shelf stable.
WHY do I mention that?  Well, if things go south for our world, and there is disruption of power - shelf stable will be hugely important!  All that freezer meat won't do us a bit of good - except we will have one heck of a cookout for the neighborhood - then the meat will be gone!

I know lots of people are now getting into self canning meat.  They are emptying their freezers and canning.  People are getting scared and want to prepare.  YES, you can process previously frozen meat.  There are many videos and instruction on-line that tell how to do this.  I do believe I will be checking them out in the near future.

So, if we don't can meat ourselves, we need to think about having that particular protein on our shelves.  I know a lot of us keep dry beans, peanut butter, powdered eggs, and even protein powder on hand.  Hopefully, we would be covered for protein - but shelf stable (ready to eat) meat would be nice to have as well.

Some of my stocks include all sorts of meat.
I keep some cans of corned beef (G loves this stuff), luncheon loaf (SPAM or other brands), tuna, chicken and I always have a few of the little canned hams.
I really like the 'Spam' like luncheon loaf from Aldi.  It is a lot cheaper and it tastes good.  If you have never tried - dice up and add to a pot of soup beans.  It truly is good and a great substitute if you don't have ham.
I get those little hams at Big Lots - as they are quite cheap there.  They are just a neat item to have on hand.  Tuna and chicken - well, those are pretty much self explained.

We also keep some mackerel on hand (not much - as it  is stinky), and of course salmon.  I do like mackerel, but it is highly smelly - so I generally cook it  on the grill.  It is also messy to deal with - but I think salmon is too.  So that is just me.  These are very high in protein, so they are good items to have on hand.  Mackerel is much cheaper than salmon, but can be fixed the same way.
I have seen canned shrimp and clams and crab as well.

There are many more items that can be kept on the shelf.  Jerky is a good one.  That lasts a long time.  Pepperoni can be left on the shelf for extended periods of time (until opened).  Pickled bologna and Vienna sausages are also available.  We both enjoy pickled bologna (with crackers) every now and then.  You can also find chipped beef (dried beef) in jars.  That is something I need to get.
There is canned turkey and beef pieces as well (like chicken).  I have had both of those in the past and they are fine.
You can find shelf stable sausage patties and even cooked ground beef.  I have seen the ground beef at WM and for a 28oz. can it runs about $6+.  Not something I would keep a lot of - but it sure might come in handy in an emergency situation.
There is even cooked and shelf stable bacon available now!

You can check out a lot of different sites for large cans of meat and other foods - such as eggs and peanut butter.  LDS sells these items, much can be purchased through WM (online) now, Sam's Club has some survivalist items, Lehmann's sells them - there are many places.
There is quite of variety of meats that are available that are shelf stable - you need to check them out.

I am NOT suggesting that people panic!  I am suggesting you just get busy and get prepared - cause I do believe with all my heart that lean times are coming.  I think the weather situations will have more to do with this than anything (at least in the short run).

If you think meat and groceries are expensive now - JUST WAIT!  So much has been destroyed already and more bad weather is heading in.  I heard this morning that nothing will be dried out until well after May - and that is if ONLY one more big weather event happens.  If there are more - not much will be happening this year in those areas.
Not only have the farms been destroyed (along with homes and towns), but also the roads.  The infrastructure will have to be repaired as well so transportation will be slowed and stopped in many instances.  There is also no power in these areas due to the flooding.  It is a accumulation of devastating things.
It takes great time to replenish livestock and fields and buildings and feed and farms - IF it can EVER be replenished back to normal.  Many farmers will be done now.

I truly don't mean to sound like a panic monger, that is not my intention.  It is just common sense.  If you want your family to eat in the future - you need to get your bums in gear now and PREPARE!
I do not have delusions that any agencies would help us.  We are on our own.

Get busy - add to your pantry as you can.  Maybe make an extra effort now - add a few dollars to your grocery fund each week and stock up.  Make the effort - it is truly important to you and your family.
I just can't emphasize how very important this is.  Don't wait - as prices will be increasing soon!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Frugal Happenings 3/24

Good morning.  Happy Spring to all in U.S..  It hasn't felt a lot like spring in our area, but it has been O.K.  Yesterday got warm enough (and the sun was shining), that I got to air the house out.
I am not going to complain - last year on this date we got 10" of snow!!!!!  So a few clouds and some rain today will be fine!

Things are really starting to pop through the ground and more and more birdies are serenading us every morning.  Daylight hours are getting longer and longer.  We are to get close to 70 by weeks end.  I'll take it and be happy!!!!!

Continued prayers for all those folks dealing with the flooding and snow in the midsection of our country.  It is just so terribly sad.  So many have lost crops, farm animals, feed supplies, homes, and many instances  - entire towns.  Many farmers may not be able to come back from this - it is horrible.

My frugal week:
  • Received a free magazine in the mail
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Colored my hair again (I cut off all the color!)
  • Cooked chicken in the crockpot this week (then baked to crisp skin), but ended up with 2 lovely golden pints of chicken stock for the freezer
  • Put the spring décor on the doors
  • G has been without an ID for a few years as there is no way he can get to and get in the license branch.  They finally have a way for him to get one - but he needed a letter from doc and a POA (power of attorney) for me to sign for him.  We found a lawyer (someone he knew when working), that drew up the POA and came to the house for G to sign.  Very reasonable and he will do our wills as well.  So there you go - a lawyer house call!  We have been fortunate to find so many wonderful people to help us professionally.
  • I ran to feed store (squirrels were almost out of groceries again).  I made the rounds while driving down there.
  • Hit the Kroger that is down that way.  Got cabbage at .39 lb. before the sale ended.  Got about 9 1/2 pounds (3 heads).  I got 5 packs of thick cut bologna for $1 each.  Nice to have around for a quick meals or treat (the date is way in future).  I also found 3 packs of ground beef marked down to approx. 1.27 per pound.  Worked out to about 9 pounds.  I ALWAYS buy hamburger when I find a deal - I use a lot and it can be transformed into all kinds of things.
  •  Then ran by Big Lots on the way home to see if they ever got in any comforters worth bringing home.  The material these days is so ugly in my opinion.  I need a new one - but I am not even considering one till I find something pretty.  Well as I was walking out, I looked and saw a clearance shelf.  There were 8 packages of Archway molasses cookies marked .25 each!  I grabbed them all.  There are only 10 (big) cookies per package - but I couldn't make 80 cookies for $2.  They taste like the ones Mom used to make!  Wonderful treat!!!      Funny side note:  A clerk walked by and said  "can I get you a cart?"  (I had 8 boxes in my arms!)  Nope heading straight for the register.  That is all I got - a cart would just entice me to shop more!
  • Got to air the house a bit - love the fresh air
  • Spent yesterday deep cleaning the kitchen!  Surfaces, under, behind, on top of, inside of...…. you name it.  Not complete yet, but really got a ton done.  I have no stove vent - so things get tacky and dusty over time.  Love deep cleaning!
  • Doing all the normal stuff - meals from home, making tea, laundry in cold, etc.
Our meals last week:
Egg salad sandwiches and chips
Pizza casserole
Chef salad
Chicken thighs and dumplings
Dirty rice with ground sausage and salad
Taco pie (2X)

Not a lot of exciting stuff, but every little thing helps.  We all do what we can to save a little and be good stewards of what we have. 
What was your week like?  Any deals or money saving projects?

I am totally anticipating warmer weather and being able to work in the dirt again.  Trying to get the house in order and just enjoying every day the Lord gives me.

May your week be one of health and happiness.  Stay frugal my friends.  Try to improve your lives each day and to help make the world better one little decision at a time.
Blessings to you and yours from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Time for Concern & Stocking

I am going to take a break from the "simple foods" posts to get a little serious.
We are in some scary and serious times in this world.  So much is happening and it gives me concern that we just aren't doing enough to protect our families in the future.

I don't like to be  panic monger at all, but I am worried.
I mentioned the other day that we really need to get busy stocking as I thought things would get worse sooner than later.
I will tell you why I feel this way.

I am very concerned about the events that are happening around the world.  People are being deprived the basics of life in the name of control and politics.  I guarantee you that five or six years ago these same average middle class people never imagined that they would begging for food, water and medical help.  So many people have died from the lack of basics.  If they protest the situation, they still die, just in another way.   These people who led comfortable lives a few years ago - would be thrilled with the condiments of your frig - as food - that is how bad it is.
It's horrible.
NEVER think that this can't happen where you live - it can.  I don't want to get into politics, I just want everyone to be aware, stay informed, and be prepared to care for your own.  

Secondly, there is the weather situations that are happening, that will drastically affect our grocery store experiences in the near future.  So much of the mid section of this country is totally covered with water (LOTS of water) and deep, deep snow.  That snow will eventually melt and become more water.  More heavy rains are in the forecast.
This midsection of the country supplies much of our food.  Grains, corn, wheat, potatoes, veggies, cattle and pork, etc.
Not only will the cost of food go up - but the cost of feed for the animals will go up as well (for the animals that haven't already died.)  Tens of thousands of animals have died to date.  Many farms will never be able to recover financially.
Predictions are that these farmlands will not get to dry out enough to plant for the entire spring season.

It is not just the mid section of this country, but it's all over.  There is extreme drought in some places on the west coast and also in countries in the southern hemisphere, where many fruits come from.
Heavy frost supposedly killed off the budding olive trees and olive oil prices will go up.  Chocolate and coffee crops have been damaged in recent months.  Have you priced vanilla lately??  WOW.

NOW is the time to really work hard on getting serious about our pantries.  Hunt for those good deals and take advantage.  Odds are you and your home peeps are not your only family or friends.  If the our extended families are in trouble - I am sure we would all want to help them as well.

Buying local is going to be huge for many of us.  Supplementing our garden produce or buying from local farmers for those who don't garden is going to be critical.  Can, freeze, dehydrate all that you can.  I haven't canned meat yet, but that is another idea.  (I will be doing a meat post next week).
Barter - with those who produce what you don't.
Forage for natural growing fruits, nuts, herbs, etc.
These things are going to be important.  Supplies are going to be limited - therefore they are going to cost a lot more.
ALSO REMEMBER - those arbitrary dates that manufacturers put on your food supplies are just that - arbitrary!!!!!  They can be used well past date and they are still fine.  Rotate and use as needed.  

Just remember that whatever you buy now, especially for a discounted price, is 100% totally money in the bank and a safety net for your family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know we are seeing a lot about these things on blogs and FB (not so much in the news), but it is serious.  Again, I try to steer away from politics on here and don't intend this to be a political post - just a wake up call.

If you are so inclined, please pray for our world - it needs it badly.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Stretching Your Money - Meals for Pennies

We have all had lean times financially.  We have all had to stretch our food reserves a little further than normal.  Could you?
No changing events....severe weather downfall...
There are so many reasons to have to really watch your dollars and stretch them further than you ever imagined.
I think we are on the edge of times, that we will have to get creative with WHAT we have and ONLY what we have.  I think our deals and grocery options will be very limited in the near future.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this girl likes simple dishes!!!!  If a recipe has 10 steps and a dozen ingredients - I am probably not even going to entertain the idea of fixing it!  I like simple - but I like variety - and I like stretching my food and money.

Following are many, many ideas for dinners (or other meals) that can be made with foods on hand and for little money.  Just remember - not EVERY meal has to be nutritionally sound!!!  Some meals can be just for fun!
Being full is the main objective when resources are low.  Many of these options can be used for more than one meal.

Think breakfast - any time of the day
Oatmeal, biscuits/gravy, pancakes, waffles, French toast, egg biscuits, breakfast burritos, quiche, any breakfast item at all is yummy!

Baked potatoes - top with whatever you have in the frig (or a can of soup)
Goulash - different in every region.  Here it is mac, gr. beef, tomatoes and cheese
Cheesy mac with hotdogs or sausages cut up in it

Tuna salad, egg salad, pasta salad, chef salad - you can make a salad from about anything.  Bread pudding (it can be made as a hearty dish instead of dessert) - homemade stuffing.

Bean, rice, cheese burritos, chicken (or other meat) enchiladas (make your own sauce), tacos or taco salad, Mexican soup or casserole

Potato soup, ham and bean soup, split, beef and lentil, veggie soup (load up with veggies - doesn't need to have meat), chicken and rice or noodle  (can add pasta or rice to any soup to stretch it)
Serve with bread. toast, or biscuits or cornbread to help fill everyone up.
There is no limit to what can be added to soup.  Jazz up plain ingredients with spices and herbs.

Anything you have leftover - whatever you have on hand, add a can of cream of soup, maybe a little meat and/or cheese and bake.  Top with some crushed crackers, crushed croutons, etc.  Again - no limits to variety.

Fried rice (add whatever you have on hand), stir fry (definitely stretches a tiny bit of meat) and serve over rice
Lo Mein (spaghetti and veggies/meat (or not)  & seasonings)
Homemade pizza
Savory beans and rice - with or without meat
Have a veggie night - meatless meal
Sloppy Joe
BBQ any meat

Serve sides of veggies, salad, biscuits, tortillas, cornbread, fruit - fresh or cooked, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.

Think about getting a roast whenever affordable - they can make many, many meals (use smaller servings to help stretch).  Cook with potato and carrots, then use for pulled pork/beef, BBQ, in tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, stir fry, soups................the list goes on and on.

Use much less meat than normal.  If you use a pound of burger in soup - use a half pound or less.  Stock it up with other items.  Add lots of filler items.

We have been known to have chips and salsa/dip, veggies & dip, cold cut sammies, cheese and crackers, etc. for a meal.  We eat to fill our tummies - so it doesn't have to always be fancy!

There are so many ways to stretch the food budget, the dollar, and yet have a variety of good and fun meals.
Never under estimate the value of simple ingredients and a limited budgets.

Do you have any meal ideas for those tight budget days?  Please share with us!!!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Frugal Happenings 3/17

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.  Blessings  upon you all.

What another weather week we had.  It sure has been a mixed bag.  We got to air the house on Tuesday afternoon, then again on Wednesday and the morning temps were acceptable for that on Thursday - but oh my the wind!!!!!  The wind and rain were unbelievable.  There were tornados in surrounding counties and there was a lot of damage all around.  We had gusts of 60 - 70 mph.
Our neighbor called and asked if they could park at our house as their huge pine tree was swaying 'A LOT' in the wind, and she was afraid it would end up on their vehicle.  Crazy.
This morning it is snowing - snowflakes the size of quarters.  They are huge and plentiful and  sticking!  It won't last long on the ground thankfully.
This week it appears that we may get close to 'normal' temps!  Here's hoping.

The Robins returned this week - and they look pretty stunned this morning pecking around in the snow.  Poor babies.  Also saw the return of the red-winged blackbirds and we now have 3 types of woodpeckers visiting.  Spring is close!!!!

We are so blessed as there are so many people around the country that were inundated with snow and rain and flooding.  It is so sad to see the pictures.  I just can't even imagine.
Prayers for all.

Our frugal week:
  • I have always used a microfiber cloth on my Swifter, but this week I came across a stretched out pair of sport socks of G's - and they slide over the Swifter perfectly.  I will use them from now on.
  • The bottom of our jar squirrel feeder was starting to come apart - so I got out there and fixed it.  A few strategic screws worked wonders.  Temporary fix until I get my new one (I got for Christmas) stained and up
  • I ran errands one day - whew I made a day of it.
  • Gas for Blazer - .30/gal discount.  First fill-up since in January
  • Dollar Tree - got the 5 Himalayan pink salt for $1 each and I got ranch dressing/dip mix - 2 double packets for $1 each.  Love having them on hand for a quick dip or dressing.  Those are over $3 at the grocery
  • I then ran into the Kroger by the DT (it's not one I usually go to) just to check for any mark downs.  I found snack cheese on markdown for .99 packet.  These are great for snacks or quick protein fix at lunch.  They had 5 packs and I got them!
  • On to Joann Fabric - looking for a few odds and ends for a project G and I are working on.  Trying to come up with a prototype hand/finger brace/support for his brother.  Frustrating as there is nothing we can find ready made that would work
  • Rural King - last but not least.  Big stock up on canned cat food and some squirrel and bird feed
  • We fixed our ceiling fan/light in the bedroom.  Our neighbor came and worked on it for us.  I had $8 in parts I had purchased a while back, and he did the labor.  Both chains for fan & light had broke off in the base (unit is 31 years old).  It is a Hunter unit and the quality is superb - we sure couldn't replace with something similar for a decent price today.  Love that it is working and saved!
  • Continuing with the deep cleaning  and declutter - never ending chore.
  • All regular  daily chores
  • Made a batch of pecan/toffee brownies for snacks
Meals this past week:
Swiss burgers, pizza rolls & salad
Beef Manhattans and asparagus
Tuna patties, cheesy mac & salad
Baked spaghetti
Pork chops and veggie/pasta salad
Sliders and pasta salad
Grilled Rueben roll-ups
All leftovers used up in other meals

So there you have it.  Not all that exciting, but we did get some frugal deals and fixes.
How was your week?  Any deals?  Fixes?  Projects?
Look forward to hearing from you.

Prayers that you all have a blessed, healthy & safe week.  May we all 'find joy' in the simple things this week.  Some of our happiest moments come from the simple things.

Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Simple Foods = Good Eats #3

Today let's talk about fruit and veggies.  There are just basics that we all need in our pantries for being prepared for any occasion/problem.  Life can throw some strange moments our way and we need to be prepared.

Many of us garden and during the appropriate months we can have plenty of fresh veggies and often times fruit available.  Not everyone has the space or ability to garden.  You can be prepared as well.
I do garden, but I am limited in garden size, therefore I do keep a lot of store bought veggies and fruit available.  Much of it is canned.  Frozen is wonderful, but I want to be prepared in the event of loss of power.  We can eat veggies and fruit straight from  the can in an emergency.

I can as much of my home grown as possible.  I like to dehydrate many items as well.  Both keep for very extended periods of time.
I think we need to look at all our options!  Store bought, home canned or frozen and dehydrated.  IT IS ALL GOOD!

Things I can't grow - I get at very exceptional sales and prepare myself - like pineapple, mushrooms & apples.
Dehydrated mushrooms that were found very cheaply on sale.  Super easy to do
Zucchini and yellow squash are easy to dehydrate as well.  I slice and place ONE squash per tray - therefore I know how much to put into a baggie.  Great for soups in the winter.

DO NOT FEEL BAD if you can not garden or can.  It isn't for everyone.  Store bought is perfectly OK.  I do not understand people criticizing others for having store bought 'anything'.  Sometimes it is just easier.  It is OK.  If you have dietary restrictions, you may have to rinse store bought food well before preparing and you may have to really watch and read the ingredients.
Remember you can keep it simple - just basics will be a wonder to have in an emergency.

Even I keep a great supply of store bought goods on hand.  I watch sales and mark down and add to my pantry when I can.  I am not ashamed to have prepared goods on hand - it could save a life.

A super sale on fresh pineapple yielded much goodness for our pantry.  Canning pineapple is very easy to do and it tastes so good in the dead of winter! 

There are just many ways to add to your fruit and veggie pantry.  Grow what you can.  Can what you can - then fill in with all the other goodies.

Also - think about looking at LDS and prepping sites for large quantities of dehydrated foods.  Most of those sites carry the #10 size cans of just about anything you can think of and these cans of food last for years and years.  (you just can't be too prepared in this world today).

But start slowly and build up your deep pantry as you can.  If you garden, you have fresh goodies all summer and hopefully can put some back for winter.  Remember you can even grow some things like lettuce, herbs and onions in the house in the winter.
Purchase canned goods you will use whenever you find a good sale or markdown.  Add to your stock and you will be prepared for about any problem.  It may save you and your family.

I know I repeatedly say this stuff - but folks it is important.  Not one of us can predict the future and anything can happen.  
Loss of job, low finances, illness, acts of nature or government turmoil.  I am sure the people in countries that are in  utter chaos at the moment - didn't think it could happen a few years ago either.  ANYTHING is possible.

Get your pantries stocked.  Work slowly but steadily - persistence pays off!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Dollar Stores - My Fav!!!!!

I recently saw in the News that a bunch of Family Dollar stores will be closing.  From what I understand they are owned by Dollar Tree.  They said many would become Dollar Tree's - so you might want to keep an eye open in your area.

I love dollar stores.  Family Dollar has never been a favorite - as the ones around here are very messy and not that clean nor organized.  Just kind of junky.  I really like Dollar General and of course the Dollar Tree!!!

I mean - heck it's a dollar!  Now we must all realize that not everything there is a deal.  I can get many items on discount or sale at the grocery store for less.  Some things just aren't worth bringing home and some shouldn't be brought home.
Watch and read when buying things like toothpaste and beauty aids.  The packaging looks like brand name - but if you read it carefully - it is not the same.  Tons more chemicals added and it often comes from a foreign country.  You really DO have to beware.

That being said - I still find a lot of things well worth that dollar bill!. I buy snacks for G sometimes, candy is often a deal, I like to get cards there as well.  I love making cards - but always try to keep a bunch of ready made for all occasions here at the house.  Most are 2/$1 - that's like dirt cheap.  Cards are sooooooo expensive - and they often just get tossed in the trash.  I buy kitchen towels, peroxide & alcohol, cards, some spices or grocery items, snacks, silk florals (for cemeteries), and shampoo.  Those are my go - to items.  It just depends on the season.

I have been seeing lots of posts of FB talking about Pink Himalayan Salt at DT.  That is what we use and let me tell you that stuff is pricey.  Yes we could use regular table salt, but there is the added iodine and pink salt contains lots of natural minerals of the earth.  It is all natural and better for you.

Well I went yesterday, just to see if ours had the salt.  THEY DID!  I got 5 - 1 lb. bags @ $1 per bag.  Now I know that sounds  pricey compared to table salt - but it is worth it.

This stuff is great.  It is better for you (click on bottom pic to read about it), and it is healing.  G has sensitive teeth and had a tooth hurting for a while and he now keeps a bottle of water (w/pink salt added) in the bathroom and rinses his mouth with it everyday.  No more pain or sensitivity!  It works great for gargling with if you get a scratchy throat.  Much like regular salt water - but has minerals in it as well.
I also use pink salt in my canning instead of buying canning/kosher salt.  No iodine added - so no cloudiness in our canned goods.

I got the mail in yesterday after I came home and there was a booklet from my spice place - Spices, Etc.  I love that place and have purchased our salt from them in the past.
Well check out the price in this flier.
17.8 oz. bag is $19.95!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I paid $1 for 16 oz. bag.  HUGE difference. 
It is pure salt and comes from the exact same place.  I checked the bag I still have.  Crazy.  

I truly do not know how DT can sell things so cheaply.  Is it just that other places are making a fortune?  I don't think so.  Think about materials & labor, processing or manufacturing, then shipping and location to sell, etc.  - it just doesn't make since.
I will continue loving my DT as long as possible - because eventually this cheap train has to come to an end.

These are the kind of deals that make frugal shopping fun!  You might check your store for this deal as well.
ALSO keep an eye on your Family Dollar stores as many are starting the discount pricing already.  I have seen 20% - 25% off at some stores.  Popular items will go fast and you won't even get to think about getting a deeper discount for some things.

Keep your eyes open and shop smart!!!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Frugal Happenings 3/10

Good morning everyone.
Did you change those clocks?  UGH!!!!!!!  I have not used an alarm clock in over 30 years.  I always wake up about one half to one hour before dawn.  Now I did the same today - and I feel like I am running behind.  It will take me a while to get my mind/body adjusted to this - it always does.  Isn't that crazy?  You wouldn't think one hour would make such a difference.
Don't forget to change those seldom used clocks as well - like in your car!

We had a storm blow through yesterday.  We ended up with almost 2" of rain in a 24 hour period and lots of wind AGAIN.  This past Monday and Tuesday we set records for cold temps on those dates that had lasted 146 years!!!!!!  It was cold.
We went from a yard that was rock solid hard to mushy and gooshy.

This coming week is supposed to be a little better, but I am ready for 60's and 70's.
We have had a major weather event every weekend this year, except 2!  I am kind over it - I wish it would just mellow out a bit.  It doesn't need to be so dramatic!!!!

It was an extremely quiet week (AGAIN)
My frugal week:
  • Got my leggings out for about 3 days again to wear under jeans.  They sure do help keep me warm.
  • We had a home doctor visit this week.  All is good with G.
  • I made a "new" belt for me this week.  G doesn't wear them anymore - so I got one of his narrow (in width) leather belts and cut it down and punched new holes.  Now I have a sturdy leather belt for jeans (instead of my decorative one) and it was FREE
  • We got our taxes all printed out and ready to go in this week.  Yes we are old fashioned and mail them - we do not submit digitally.  
  • I did go to Kroger and got 48 cans of tuna for the deep pantry at 2/$1 (my stock-up price) and I actually broke down and bought fried chicken at the deli - marked down 8 pcs. (whole chicken) for 2.99!!  I see it marked down a lot - but never that cheap.  Regular price was 7.99.
  • I went back to Aldi and bought 3 more bags of oranges for 1.99 each.  I have thoroughly been enjoying them.  I get intense cravings for oranges this time of the year.  I guess my body is telling me something!
  • Still working on deep cleaning.  I don't know why we call it "spring" or "fall" cleaning - as it is always needing to be done.  Get through the entire house deep cleaning and it's time to start over!!!!  Right?
  • I finally decided on what the baby blankie will be that I need to make for an upcoming niece (gr. nieces first).  It will be a combo of pretty material and hankies!  When I get it made I will show you all.
  • Doing all the normal things each and every day - how exciting! NOT!!
  • I did a lot of reading, watched some You Tube and research
Meals this past week:
Baked fish, asparagus and rice casserole
Burrito supreme & salad
Cabbage, smoked sausage, potato skillet
Fried chicken (store bought) and red beans and rice
Chicken and veggie stir fry (flavored like General Tso) over rice
Homemade gumbo - used up all leftovers in this (2X)

All leftovers remade into new dishes or used for breakfast

So how was your week?  Any good deals?  Are you planning your gardens yet?  I haven't started - but I generally do the same things each year.
Look forward to hearing what you have been up to.

Prayers for health, healing and safety for all.  May your week be full of frugal living and fun surprises.  Live your days with purpose!!!!!!
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Easy & Yummy Skillets and Mixes

I had someone ask about the Mexican casserole, and someone mentioned they had never made homemade Rice A Roni, so today I will give you both recipes.
We all like easy meals, and homemade, and  frugal.
So here we go - a couple semi-homemade recipes that are just scrumptious.

2 C uncooked rice (not instant)
1 C broken spaghetti - (I place in a bag and smash with a hammer)
6 Tbsp. instant chicken or beef bouillon powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Mix all together and store in an airtight container.
To use - put 1 cup of mix, 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 cups of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil,  reduce heat - cover & simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
(This is the original recipe I started with and it's from the Tightwad Gazette.)

**I do things a bit different now - just to give you options.  This tastes good, but it isn't exactly like Rice A Roni as it hasn't been sautéed in butter.
I mix up the rice and broken spaghetti together - and I mix the seasoning up and keep them separate (in a small jar or baggy).  One third of seasoning mix is used for each 1 C of rice/spaghetti.

It takes 1 cup of the rice/spaghetti mix to equal the amount in a box of Rice A Roni.
I then follow the below instructions
I cut these instructions from a boxed mix years ago, and it is taped inside my cabinet door over the stove. (See how yellowed the tape is?)
Tastes just like the real thing and you know exactly what is in it.  Easy to make up in bulk and have on hand.

OK, you all know I am not huge on recipes unless it's a mix like above or baking - but this gives you an idea of how to make it.  You can add or change anything you wish!

1 lb. of ground beef (or turkey/chicken)
Taco seasoning (mix with meat like you would for tacos)
1 can of corn (drained)
1 can of beans - drained (kidney, black, chili - whatever you have)
About 1 - 1 1/2  C salsa
Approx. 1/2 C uncooked rice
Actually cooked on top of stove until rice was tender - then topped with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese and place in 350* oven until cheese is melted and lightly browning around the edges.
A great one pot meal - serve with a salad.
I cooked in my skillet and transferred it to the oven - super easy clean-up.  I love one pot meals.

3/4 C dried minced or chopped onion
4 tsp. onion powder
1/3 C beef bouillon powder
1/4 tsp. celery seed (crushed)
1/4 tsp. sugar
Mix all together and keep in an airtight container.  2 Tbsp. of mix is equivalent  to one packet of onion soup mix you purchase.
Use as you would store bought soup mix.
I like having this on hand - as we use it a lot for flavoring soups, casseroles and in meat/veggie crockpot dinners.
We are huge onion people (or lets say G is!!!!)

**I buy dried onions in gallon size jars at Sam's club.  It would take me forever and a fortune to dry as many onions as is in a gallon container.  
Sometimes life is just easier to purchase than do it yourself!!! It's OK - we can use store bought when it makes life easier and saves money and time!

I hope these recipes help you stay ahead of the game in your kitchen.  I always like easy dishes and simple mixes to keep on hand.  
I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Simple Foods = Good Eats #2

Last week we talked about dried beans/peas and pasta.  All cheap, yet good eating.  Inexpensive foods can get us through the hardest times and keep our bellies full and give us nourishment that may be very needed.
There are several items that we can all keep in our pantries to aid us in the event that we can not get other foods.  Simple and effective!

Rice is a very inexpensive item to keep on hand.  It is extremely versatile.
It can be used to extend meat or eggs.  It can be used in casseroles and soups.  It can be used in salads and as a side dish.  It can be mixed with veggies, meat, fruit or nuts.  Fried rice is a favorite here or served with stir fry meals.  We like a scoop of rice in a bowl of chili.  There really isn't much that can't be done with it.  It is the GREAT EXTENDER!
(You can cook a bunch and freeze for later as well)

There are so many varieties available, and I must sadly admit that I have tried just a few.  That is one of my goals - try more varieties.
Our mainstay is long grain white rice, then there is brown rice and one of my favorites long grain wild rice.
There is jasmine, Arborio, black, yellow, red, basmati, brown, wild, and on and on.

White rice is processed and the hull (or bran) is gone.  It requires less cooking - and it also contains less nutrients.  It is extremely inexpensive.  It stores very easily on the shelf for long periods of time.
(* a trick to keep it from sticking together when cooking - is a splash of lemon juice while cooking.  Fluffy rice every time)

All others are basically whole grains and are minimally processed, so they have their nutrient rich outer hull in tact. They take much longer to cook and tend to be much more flavorful.  These flavorful and colorful rice varieties can only be kept on the pantry shelf for a SHORT period of time before going rancid (from natural oils).  It is best to keep them in jars in the frig or in the freezer.  I have brown rice and wild rice jars in my frig all the time.

Wild rice is actually a grass - not rice.  It has a toasty flavor and is great for pilaf.
The other varieties  are quite flavorful - from fragrant and flowery to nutty and robust.  Do a little research and give some new rice types a try.  They are all quite frugal.

Easy Fried Rice Bowl
1 C cooked rice
1/2 C frozen mixed veggies
1 egg
1Tbsp. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing or an Italian
1 Tbsp. soy sauce.
Mix veggies into rice, pour egg over veggies/rice.  Cover and microwave for 5 minutes.  Let it stand covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff and add dressing and soy.  Toss to combine.  Super easy meal.
(This can also be done on top of the stove- just watch it doesn't stick)
My hubs would also add sesame oil if he was eating.

Soups can be a mixture of anything!  They are convenient and easy.  They are filling. 
You can keep home canned soups in your pantry, store canned, dehydrated mixes and yes even Ramen!
I know, I know - Ramen is not really nutritious, not healthy (high salt) - but it is tasty and easy to store and it is SO CHEAP (.10 - .20 pack) and could keep you from going hungry.  There are dozens of flavors available too.

I keep a variety of canned soups on hand - that I get on sales - just because they are so convenient in a rush.
I also keep gallon jars of dehydrated soup mix on hand.  I generally add some to my homemade soups that I make with fresh goods.  It is great extender and has lots of herbs in it.  I can also make a 'cup of soup' with dehydrated veggie soup mix and scalding water.
I make up my own mixes for cream of soups and for onion soup mix.  I dehydrate  tomato skins (when canning) to use for flavor in soups, and I even blend dried tomato with different herbs to make my own flavor combos.  
Folks there is nothing you can't do!!!!!!  Don't be afraid to mix and match and come up with your own personal flavor sensations!
Soups are basically meals in a can/jar.  They are easy, nutritious, frugal and will keep you filled up and happy.

Back to Ramen - I have made the noodles many times without the seasoning pack to use with our home made oriental dishes.  It is cheaper than even spaghetti.
The noodles can be deep fried and added as a topping to oriental dishes (this is really tasty - kind of like chow mein noodles).  Those seasoning packets can be saved and used in large pots of soup for seasoning.  If used in a big pot of soup - it cuts the salt factor.  Add cooked unseasoned noodles to soup right before serving.
I love inexpensive ways to extend meals.

1 pack slaw mix (16 oz.)
2 packs beef Ramen noodles (Break into smaller pieces)
1 indiv. size pack of  sunflowers seeds
1 small pack (4 oz.) of sliced almonds
1 bunch green onions - chopped
1/3 C vinegar
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C oil
Seasoning packets

Mix slaw, noodles (not cooked) and seeds/nuts and onion in a bowl.
Mix oil, sugar & vinegar in a separate bowl and add both seasoning packets.  Mix.
Pour dressing over salad 10-15 minutes before serving.

So now we have two more food items to add to that deep pantry for those times that life may throw us a curve ball.
We use these items daily/weekly as well - but it sure comforting to know they are here (and cheap) and will be good eats now and later.

Lets keep those pantries stocked up!  You just never know.
Stay frugal and stayed prepared!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Frugal Happenings 3/3

Happy March everyone!
It sure doesn't feel like it here at the moment.  We are back in a colder state and going to get colder yet this week.  Brrrrrrr.  Back to more normal temps by the end of the week.  It sure doesn't feel like "spring" month.  I understand those in the southern hemisphere are now in "fall" and happy for it.  It has been so very hot there.
I find it amazing and just neat how drastically different it is where we live, yet we are all so similar!

I have noticed that every morning when I go out to feed the fur babies (generally before dawn) the birdies are happily singing.  I hear so much more variety and it does sound like spring.  The daylight hours are most definitely getting longer!  YAY!  I can look out at the horizon and see a bronze mist in the distance - the trees are starting to get leaf buds and it looks kind of bronze like.  I noticed the other day that a few tips of lilies are poking through the ground as well as a few red tips of peonies.  It truly won't be long till the earth comes back to life!

It has been another relatively quiet week here.
My frugal week:
  • I made a butter sheet cake for snacks (I love butter cake)
  • I also made mousse-like chocolate pudding (it was good as a topping on the cake)
  • Early in the week I went out and picked up lots of trash that had blown in from those crazy winds we had
  • I accomplished a little bit of yard work and picking up sticks (again) on a warmer day
  • Colored my hair for about .67!  I used a third of a $2.00 clearance box of dye.
  • Got to air out the house on a couple of afternoons
  •  Continuing spring cleaning - mopping, cleaning windows, mirrors & pictures, working on the cabinets, etc.
  • Received another of my "gifted" Martha Stewart Living magazines - those are neat
  • Did not have to purchase any fuel for the Blazer this month (Feb.)
  • Been working on coming up with a plan for a baby quilt for a soon to be first time Mommy in the family
  • Used a leftover chicken breast and used the meat in soup, and used the skin and  bone to make broth for the same soup.  I also used the hard ends of asparagus in that broth for flavor
  • Used all leftovers for breakfast or lunches
  • I finally ran out on Saturday - I just needed to get away from house.  I ran to Aldi and bought 4 lb. bag of juicy & sweet navel oranges for 1.99.  I think I need to go get more before price changes - they are wonderful.  I also bought a bag of frozen peas (for salads) for .85 and a gallon of milk for 1.59.
  • I am saving the orange peels in a baggy to make cleaner with
  • I washed my quilt and comforter and felt they needed a bit of brightening up.  I washed with peroxide in the water - and the whites are so much whiter and the colors brighter!  It is natural too!
  • Just doing all the normal stuff - cooking from scratch, cold water wash, making tea, etc.
                                                                      Mexican casserole
Meals this past week:
Homemade beef sliders (like White Castle) and chips and dip
Cream of asparagus soup - 2X (with chicken in it)
Mexican oven casserole
Sausage gravy over toast and chicken tender strips
Homemade meat pie (pot pie)
Homemade pizza

I have just been trying to use up everything that we can and not waste.  Thankfully G isn't a traditional breakfast kind of guy and he likes leftovers for breakfast!  That helps use everything up.
Still mainly using the pantry and the freezers for our meals.  I really don't need weekly groceries, except for re-stocking items we get low on or that occasional thing we run out of!!!  (Rarely happens - but it does sometime)
I sure love having a well stocked pantry and freezers!

How was your week?  Any great deals?  Are you all ready the changing of the seasons?  I can't imagine too many that aren't!!!!!

Here is wishing you safety and health in this coming week.  The promise of a new season is upon us, so we should rejoice.  Take time to hug and share this week - those are things we all need.

Many blessings from our humble home to yours.