Friday, January 30, 2009

Freezing Banana's -Easy instructions

Yes, you can freeze banana's. Crazy huh? I just recently started doing this and I wish I could of found this out a LONG time ago. This would of saved me a bundle.
Depending on what store you shop at, most the time they will have a area for banana's that have black spots and are usually half price. These I bought today for 39 cents per lb but I have found them for as low as 29 cents per lb. This is a excellent price. So I buy as much as I can, take them home and get a cookie sheet out.
I peel them all, and put the peels in my counter top compost bucket (available at World Market for $14.99).
I break each banana in 3 pieces, and lay on the cookie sheet making sure they don't touch.
Then put in the freezer for a few hours or until frozen completely.
Take out of the freezer and put in a separate zip lock bag.
Put back into the freezer.
These can be frozen for up to 3 months and used in so many things. When you need them, take them out and let thaw out (or put in microwave). What I like about the frozen banana's is you don't have to cut them up into pieces. They are softer than fresh ones and you can just break them up with your wooden spoon. They can be used in muffins (our favorite), puddings, etc. Anything you want that involves banana's.
This method can be used for tons of other produce. Bell peppers, beans, corn, beans, and just about anything you want to freeze before they go bad or you want to last for a long time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

10 Super Low Cost Budget Meals (or even free!)

So to make my food budget stretch even further, here are some meals I make that are super cheap. Most are super easy to make too.

1. Chili-4 cups of Kidney Beans (canned or dried that you have cooked and froze)
2 Palm fulls of Chili Powder
1/2 Palm full of Cumin
1/2 of medium onion chopped
1 tsp Minced Garlic or 1/2 tsp dried Garlic Powder
Optional: for added fresh flavor add red/green/or yellow pepper chopped up(or frozen) Serve with crackers of any kind. Saltines are super cheap.
How much to make: $1 if you cooked the beans yourself.
$2 if you buy canned beans

2. Noodles with White Sauce -1lb Whole Wheat Noodles
2 tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
2 tbsp Flour
2 cups Milk (or 2/3 cup powdered milk with 2 cups water)
How much to make: $1 for the noodles in bulk
Everything else should be in your pantry

3. Bread Crumb Noodles-1 lb (or 3 cups)
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
3 tbsp Olive oil or Butter
1 tsp Garlic minced or 1/2 tsp Dried Garlic Powder
Boil noodles till done. Seperate pan heat up oil on medium, add garlic, cook for 30 seconds, add bread crumbs, cook for 1 minute, add noodles and stir. Done.
Optional: Parm cheese sprinkled on top.
How much to make:$1 for bulk noodles
Everything else should be in your pantry.

4. Everything Soup- Use any vetetable that needs to be used in your fridge
Stock of any kind. (I always make mine with chicken bones from dinners in the past)
Pasta or Rice (what ever you have)
Crackers are optional. Saltines are super cheap.
How much to make: Free if you use what you have that is going bad and needed cooking.
Or you can buy whatever items you want and could cost up to $5.

5. Macaroni and Cheese-1 lb Whole Noodles of any kind
2 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Butter or Oil
2 cups of milk (or 2/3 cup of powdered milk with 2 cups of water)
1/2 cup Cheese of any kind
How much to make: $1.50. Noodles are $1 and about 50 cents worth of cheese. Everything else should be in your pantry.

6. Egg Drop Soup-1 egg
2 tbsp Corn Starch
3 cups of broth (homemade or bought)
Combine broth and cornstarch and heat till boiling and clear. 2 tsp of broth and 1 egg mixed in small bowl, add slowly when broth is done. Egg will cook all stringy. Done.Optional: Chives or dried chives. Sprinkle in Soy Sauce for added flavor.
Cost to make:25 cents if you use your own free homemade broth (reccomended) or could cost up to $3 to make if you buy broth.

7. Warm rice and milk-1 cup hot cooked rice (use left overs)
1 cup of milk (or 1/3 cup powdered milk with 1 cup of water)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar
dab of Butter
Put all in a bowl, mix and serve. My childhood favorite. Kids just love this one. Plus wonderful on a cold day.
Cost to make:Free if you use left over rice and powdered milk. Could cost up to $1 if buy the rice, cook it and add fresh milk.

8. Pasta with red sauce-1 lb of whole wheat noodles
1 can of pasta sauce or crushed tomatoe
1/2 can of black olives (use other half for another dinner)
Optional: Parm cheese if you have it
Cost to make: $2.25

9. Mexican Rice -3 cups Brown Rice (or white)
1 cup Black Beans (cooked, and froze. Or bought canned)
1 Palm of Cumin
2 Palm of Chili Powder
1 tsp Garlic Minced or 1/2 tsp powdered garlic
1 cup Frozen Corn or canned
Cook rice, add spices and garlic, corn, and beans. Add water if needed. Done. You can eat this alone, add it on lettus to make a mexican salad, put it in taco's(stretching your budget even further), or add 1 cup of broth and make a mexican soup.
Cost to make:$2 if you make and freeze your own beans from dried beans, and buy rice in bulk. Otherwise its about $4 if you bought everything canned or easy to make.

10. Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup-Bread
1 can of Tomato Soup
Cost to make:About 1.50. Super easy to make. Very filling and super yummy on a cold day.

I make these on a regular basis. This has cut cost down in so many ways. I usually make 3-4 meatless dinners a week. Since most have beans in it, we still get our protein intake. All are made with Whole Wheat or Brown Rice so you get plenty of fiber. I try to use fresh produce that last a long time. Like Carrots, Onions, and Celery. These are budget friendly because they can last up to 2 weeks in your fridge and you can use them when needed in many meals. I reccomend cooking dried beans highly. This alone saves me a bundle. $1 average for 1 lb of beans. When cooked this will make 4-6 cups of beans. If you bought canned beans, it would cost you $6 to get the same amount. I also reccomend buying your spices either in bulk or places like Walmart which are only 50 cents. We go through so much Chili Powder, Cumin, and Garlic Powder. One added reccomendation is buying in bulk. Places like Winco have bulk items for super cheap and are adding more and more healthy options like whole wheat and organic items. Also try to make your own broth and freeze it. Just need bones and water to make. Super easy. Boil water and bones on low boil for 20 minutes. Refridgerate, skin off fat that will harden and float up to the top, and freeze for later use. Done!
My monthly food budget is $400 for a family of 6. I usually have some money left over to save for splurges later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Banana Foster Bread Pudding ,Yes its frugal!!

Yes, I know. Sounds like its expensive but its not. I found an amazing recipe and tweeked it to my perfection. This is so yummy and you could never even tell its frugal. Most people think "frugal" is no taste and bland pallet. Not anymore! Try this one out.

Banana Foster Bread Pudding

6 cups of bread ripped into pieces (you can save all the butt ends and make this later to save money) or buy day old bread at a discount.

2 1/4 cup milk (you can use prepared powdered milk and it taste the same)

3 eggs

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla (or banana flavoring)

3 banana's or fruit of choice

Tip: I buy spotted banana's for 29 cents per lb, cut them each into 3 pcs and freeze on baking sheet. Then take out and put into ziplock bag for later use. They will be easy to mush.Last 3 months)

Optional:ice cream, or frugal thing is confectioners sugar for dusting.

Heat oven to 350 degree's. Tear bread apart and put into pan you are using. I use a larger 9inch pan, use what you can. 2 8x8 will work too. Put into oven and bake until a little crisp to add flavor.

Wisk milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla into a bowl until sugar disolves. Pour over your bread cubes and gently stir. Let stand for a few minutes. (I just bake and dont wait)

Bake, covered, 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 25 minutes. Enough time to let pudding set.

Take out and let stand for about 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

This is so easy and takes such little amount of items to make. You can use any fruit you want with this one. Dried fruit works well. We just love banana's the best. If you dont have fruit, just use fruit flavoring. Same affect. Add cinnamon and dried apples. Or maybe just raisens. This is up to you. Options are endless.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Top 10 tips for a less waste 2009

I cannot express enough how important it is to reduce waste. Not only does this reduce the amount of waste that will end up in our landfills, but its a money saver. Here are a few tips brought to you by and myself. Reusablebags is my #1 store where I find bags, containers, and just plain inspiration from. So here you go...

1. Ditch Dryer Sheets. Yes, we love the smelly dryer sheets and dont think twice when we use them and throw them away. Think about it, you use one per load of laundry. And I could go on and on about the chemicals they put in them that are very unhealthy. If your like me, I do 2 loads a day, thats 2x365=730 a year. Adds up. Well now there are plenty of ways to get around this. Dont use them, use plant based liquid softner, biodegradable sheets, or you can even find dryer balls at for around $17. They are pretty neat and im ordering them very soon. Just think how much money you will save from not buying them.

2. Bring your own cup. Yes you can do this. Ive yet to find someone object to putting a drink in my own cup I brought from home. Starbucks, Tulleys, and even little coffee shops will do it for you. They encourage you to do this. Less cups they have to buy, less tree's to be cut down, less waste in the landfill, less you have to recycle. Bringing the cost down for everyone involved.

3. Use reusable utensils. Yep, seems little but helps out alot. There are several options for you. You can use your own from home, you can buy traveling ones made from bamboo, or now Whole Foods has earth friendly options. For a little over a buck, you can buy silverware made from corn. Yep, use them then throw them away. They are biodegradable and look exactly like the plastic ones. I use these everytime I throw a birthday party. And when I hand them out, I tell everyone (usually children) and they just love this information and talk about it. Hopefully inspired and told their parents. Just think how many plastic utensils you threw away in your lifetime and I can almost guarentee that they are still in a landfill somewhere.

4. Bag the Sandwich baggie. Another thing I was guilty of until just about a year ago. Ziplock bags. Yes very handy but very harmfull. They pullute our earth in more ways than one. Landfills are packed full of them, and they end up in oceans killing marine animals and fish. Just think how many you use, then remember that almost everyone in the world use's them. Makes my stomach hurt thinking about it. You can not only reduce your use of them but actually cut them out of your life all the way. Use friendly plastics and containers. I use mostly Tupperware but you could use Rubbermaid or whatever you want. My daughters have enough room for a sandwich, crackers, fruit, and even a drink in their regular size lunch box's. Only time I use ziplock type bags is when I freeze my meat. I reuse them until they fall apart. I just wash them very well and hang dry them. I feel so much better knowing that I help with the decline of ziplocks. Contact your ziplock company and express how you want them to make biodegradable ones. You can buy sandwich wraps made from fabric at for pretty cheap as ell. There are many other companies too, just google it.

5. Say "NO" to gift wrap. At christmas this is really hard to do. I start saving up newpaper a month befor christmas to use as wrap. Its recycling at its best. We use left over ribbon or twine too. We also make our own gift tags. You can even reuse paper that people wrapped your gift in. Just turn it over, let your kids color it, and wrap the gift up. Or you can just put it in a basket. I bought baskets from thrift stores and used them for gifts at christmas time. Wrapping paper has chemicals in it that can do harm. If you burn it, it releases them into the air. Just plain bad in every way. So express to people that you dont like gift wrap, tell them just to not wrap it or get creative.

6. Reuse a plastic bag. Im pretty good at not having them but every once in a while one slips in somehow. I will reuse it as a trash bag, donate them to thrift stores, recycle them, and pretty much do anything but throw them away. Some stores have biodegradable ones which is so amazing. You know they pay more for them and im sure they know its better. As stated in #4, wash them and reuse them. Use them to organize crafts, hold toys(barbies etc.), get creative.

7. Bring a bottle. Going for a walk, bring your own water in a reusble bottle. Lunch? Pack your own drink. Work? Bring your own. Even if you want to buy a coffee, just give them your cup to fill up. Just do it!

8. Pack a sustainable lunch. We reuse our lunch box's until they fall apart before we buy another one. Use safe plastic storage containers. Make everything so you dont have to pay and recycle packaging. Bring your own utensils or buy biodegradable ones. My girls do this everyday and we have no waste from any of their lunches. None, zip, ziltch. Its worth the investment to buy reusable containers. If you have money, just find them on but if you dont , their are options. I found all my Tupperware in thrift stores. Took a few months to gather everything but I did it. I think I paid maybe $10 total for all my Tupperware in my home. Ive saved over $100 easily over a few months from not buying ziplock bags or buying prepackaged food.

9.Carry a reusable shopping bag. Now days their is no excuse to not use them. They are everywhere. I would reccomend getting them from thrift stores first. I frequent these stores alot and see them all the time. Or you can make your own out of old clothes. Get creative and make one you will love. There are free patterns all over the net. Or you can buy one from your favorite store or even has hundreds of choice's. My favorite bags are from reusable bags. My 2nd favorites are from Trader Joe's. They are made from sturdy fabrics and have amazing handles. Only $1.99. I bought organic cotton mesh bags from reusablebags and use them for my produce. I can wash them whenever I need to. I have a large bag, several small bags and my mesh bags all put into my large bag in my van. Carry with me at all times. If I can carry my items, I will do this too. Do you really need a bag to hold 2 packs of toilet paper? no. Last time I went grocery shopping, I forgot my bags in my van. I just paid for my items, asked them just to put them back into my shopping card, went out to my van and put the items in the bags. Rethink your thinking.

10. Buy in bulk. Winco is amazing for this one. They are the cheapest ive found for bulk items and they have way more choices than even Fred Meyers. You pay less because there is no packaging. Plus more and more there are healthy even organic options. They have Bobs Red Mill grains, organic just about anything you can think about, and even spices. I reccomend Winco highly for anyone on a budget or just wants to help out the earth.

Okay, so there are 10 ways to help out. I challenge you to rethink your lifestyle. Rethink your daily routines. Rethink your habbits. Took me a while but now its just there. I dont even have to think about it. I just do it. And you can too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Easy ways to cut back on your grocery bill

I have cut back alot more than usual lately. With buying a new house, selling our old house and us in between both, money is super tight. I am trying not to burdon my husband with high grocery bills. Budget was $500, then went up to $600, and now is back down to $450. Yep, $450 for a month of groceries. I can do it and will do it. Im determined. If I can save money on grocery bills, and relieve my husband of some worries, I will do it. So here is some ways ive been making things stretch further than usual.

1. Cut out meat. Yep, it can be done. Sub with some sort of protein like beans. Instead of meat in our meals 7 days a week, ive cut it down to 4. Ive been incoorporating beans into our meals so no one has even noticed. Beans are way cheaper than meat especially when bought in bulk. Usually .50-.99 cents per pound. Soak, cook for hours, and 1 lb of beans can be used in 5-6 meals.

2. No unhealthy snacks. No chips, prebaked anything, no easy to make box food, etc. Nothing. For snacks we make popcorn in our large pan. For treats, I make cookies. Or seasonal produce is bought.

3. Free is okay with me. Walks, board games, movies, craft time or just playtime listening to music. All this is free. Plus you get family time!

4. Make due with what you have. Yes it would be nice to have a new pair of shoe's. Do I really need them? No. Can I make due till later when we arent in a crunch? Yes. Yes it would be nice to have them but I dont need them. Get creative. Need to clean a stain out of your carpet? Borrow a neighbors cleaner and in return do something for them.

5. No eating out! Even if its a $1 item, its $1 more than you have. You will feel guilty later when you needed that money to buy groceries, plus its almost always unhealthy. Avoid these places and you wont even notice it.

6. Take handouts. Yes, get over it and do it. Give your old items you dont need to others. Its a way of recycling and helping others

7. Family gathering or friends invite? Use what you have. Cookies, cakes, or even dip can easily be made with things around the house. Dont go buy a platter of food (usually $10-$20) just use your prettiest plate and make some yummy cookies. Snickerdoodles are the easiest and a favorite. Plus take little time to do.

8. Cut out uneeded spending. We turned off our dish, and got rid of our land line. $100 back in our pocket every month. Once my cell phone plan runs out, super cheap landline it is. Saving us even more money. Just cut out stuff that you really can live without. Bonus, now days you get more channels on regular tv's. A handfull of public channels, 24/7 kids toons, your regular channels 2, 6, 8, 12 and new ION channels. Plus there are about 4 religious channels too. We dont miss our other channels, just the ability to push the pause button. Oooh how I miss it.

9. Drive less. Walk to places within 2 miles of your home. You get free exercise, and no gas. Less you pay at the pump.

10. Turn down the heat. We have ours at 63 degree's at night and 69 degree's during the day. If its sunny, we just turn ours off all together and turn it back on later. The sun will heat your house, just open all your blinds or drapes.

11. If you need to buy something, buy it 2nd hand. Need extra blankets (since you turned down the heat) you can find these for $2 in thrift stores. Sometimes even less. Need kids shoe's, there are plenty there. Much less than going to the store and buying them new. Tell your friends, and family your in need of whatever it is and that you dont have money to buy them. Usually someone has extra of everything. Same goes for you. Have an extra item, give it to someone who needs it.

12. Hand me downs. Save clothes from older children and hand it down to younger ones. I have a box in each of my girls rooms full of items they need to grow into. All backpacks, shoe's, nicer clothers, lunch box's and things like that are saved in my home. Take good care of them and they will go a long time.

13. Buy food marked down. Yogurts, cheese, meat, and discontinued items are always marked down. Yogurt items are eaten so quickly that you really dont have to worry about it going bad. Meats can be frozen that day for later use. Discontinued items can be incoorporated into meals. Example:After christmas they marked down cornbread stuffing to 99 cents per box. I bought them up and we used them about once a week in our dinner meals. These items wont be around so buy them up if you can budget them in. Things like peanut butter, boxed noodles, dented can's, etc can be used later.

14. Clearance and super sales. After seasonal sales are the best. Christmas stuff like baking items, cranberry sauce, etc are super cheap. Get them while you can. Muffin papers that are christmas are super cheap, who cares if they have designs on them. They just get thrown away. Stuffed animals with christmas hats can be cut off and replaced with a pretty ribbon. Save and use for gifts later. Rethink everything you can. Think how could I use this?

Anyways, I could go on and on about stuff. Just be creative and try to rethink everything possible in your everyday life. You can save money, just rethink stuff and dont spend! lol

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Go green? Frugal's its easier than you think!

Most people think going green cost more money, when it fact its not. Since ive gone green, ive saved myself hundreds each year. Here are some easy ways ive gone green.

Laundry-I make my own soap. I save myself $12-$20 each month just by making my own soap. I spend about 1 cent per load I wash. Yep, and its super easy. Learn how here:
You can use eco friendly dryer sheets which are usually about the same as standard sheets. I tear mine in half and use them a few times. They work for about 4 times. Making my sheets go super far.

Cleaners-You can make your own for pennies easily. Just look up on google "homemade cleaners" and you can find thousands of recipe's. Most cost just pennies to make.

Furniture-Instead of buying new furniture, buy second hand. Its recycling! Find a couch you love 2nd hand but its an ugly color? Buy a cotton cover for it. You can wash it whenever you want, and cotton is the most durable. This will save you hundreds of dollars. We found a table set we wanted for over $500 at Ikea, looked on and found the same identical set with matching buffet for only $400. Rethink your thinking!

Clothing-again you can save hundreds each year if you buy 2nd hand. Here are ways I save a bundle each year to buy clothes for my 4 daughters.
-2nd hand. Goodwill Outlets sell by the lb. 0-20 lb $1.59 per lb. Or buy 50 lbs of clothing and household items for .59 cents per lb. So go in with a friend and split the cost. 50 lbs of clothing for only $35? I say yes to that! And its recycling!
-Free. Let friends and family know you will take anything from them. And do the same in return. Give them clothes your children have outgrown for their kids. They will do the same. Ive given and recieved so much great clothing this way. Plus its FREE and its recycling.

Food-I buy alot of food in bulk. Its cheaper because you dont pay for packaging. Packaging im going to have to recycle when I get home. You can find lots of organic, whole grain healthy items there. Buy more, they will in return sell more items in bulk. Winco is excellent for this. Also buy from markets. They are organic, dont use pesticides, and are super cheap. Buy at the end of season and get even super deals. If you know how to can items, even better. You can save them for later. I do this with green beans. I paid $16 for a huge 20 lb box of green beans. I canned them and am still using them now 6 months later.

Household items-I shop online for alot of my green items. has great deals. You can find anything to do with the home at this site. My #1 reccomended site of all. I found cotton organic mesh bags for my produce for only $1.99 each. Can be washed and is eco friendly. Buy or find at thrift stores(even better) and reuse your bags. Saving tree's from being cut down to make paper bags, and save plastic bags from being left all over our planet. Also saving alot of animals. This saves stores money ( bring their prices down), you money(putting that money somewhere else) and is eco friendly.

Outside-Stuff like lawn mulch, plants, and compost can be found for free. Start a compost bin by using a old trash bin with a lid by just drilling holes in it everywhere. Use this compost later for new soil. Have a friend getting rid of plants? Take them and incorporate into your garden. Left over wood from another project? Use it to make a flower bed and grow your own garden. Left over bread items? Tear them into pieces and throw them into your yard for all birds and animals to eat. Neighbor throwing out rock? Use it as barkdust. Weeds cant grow because the rocks get warm in the sunlight and they never break down. Think outside the box.

I hope ive inspired you to be more green. This is my life goal and I continue to teach and hopefully people learn how easy it can be to be green. And in return saving you some green.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Its not what you save, its what you spend. Lessons learned

I was thinking about the days when I was coupon crazy. I would sit for an hour shuffling through my coupons, looking through my ad's and planning my day to use them. It got me thinking about how much I really saved. And I came to the conclusion that I wasnt saving anything. Unless the item was free, it wasnt worth it.
First I had to gather coupons. From newspapers which I had to pay $1.50 for. Or scour the internet looking for them. Using up all my ink to print them out. Is it worth is? No, in my openion it isnt. Im paying $1.50 for my coupons? And wasting my ink that im gonna have to replace eventually because of it. My ink cost over $60 to replace. SO not worth it. So I stopped. I will only use ones sent to my home. And only for the brands I know I buy.
I would look at my reciepts and be excited because I would save a bundle. But I would spend alot. It confused me. Yes I saved $56 on my bill but still spend $30. My grocery budget was super tight the week before my husband would get paid. So I started thinking about it. If I bought things we needed on sale, I spend less overall. Yes, I would rather spend $5 than save $56. It saves me more. So dont be confused by the companies or end of reciepts that say you saved 55% off your bill. You still spend too much $. So I needed to change my way of thinking.

Most coupons are for non healthy items. Chips, crackers, premade food. We were not eating as healthy when I went coupon crazy. I just was thinking how much I was spending on things that werent healthy and how my money wasnt going very far. So I changed my spending habbits.
This is how.

Coupons-I went through my pantry and found all the brands I loved. Bobs Red Mill, Annies, Amy's, etc. I checked their websites out and requested any coupons they had. If they didnt have any, I cantaced them, told them how much I loved their products, and asked if they had any coupons and if they did could they send me some. Ended it with how appreciated I would be with or without them. 99% of the time I recieved coupons. Did you know that the ones they send you have expiration dates of over a year away? Yep. They need to have a longer one because they get request from so many people, they would expire before they could send them all out. Then I wait for the items to go on sale, and use my coupon. SUPER discount!
Produce I started buying only what was in season or marked down. I didnt go to the store looking for a particular item. Just needed a fruit or vegie. If apples were on sale or in season, I bought apples. If brocoli was on sale or in season, I bought brocoli. I worked my menu around those items. If they were marked down and I couldnt pass up the deal, I would take home and freeze for later use.
Staples-I call these fillers. Food that will fill you for a long time. Things like noodles, rice or what not. I used to buy boxed items. 1 lb box of rice, or noodles. Then I discovered bulk items. No packaging means better prices. I could spend 59 cents per lb for white rice, eat it and be hungry within 2 hours. Or I could spend 69 cents per lb for brown rice, eat it and not be hungry for 4 hours. Which would I choose? The brown rice. Healthier and keeps you full longer. So instead of buying preboxed 1 lb for $1.50 each, I buy bulk brown rice for 69 cents per lb. Make sense? Noodles the same way. We buy whole wheat noodles for just 10 cents more per pound, and save by buying bulk, and our tummies are fuller for longer. No more "Can I have a snack?" only 30 minutes after dinner. Saving me money.
Meat-Again this one is debatable. Most people dont want to buy meat on the bone. This is how I think when buying meat. Why am I spending $2 more a lb for meat just because it doesnt have bones? So instead of paying $3 or more per lb per meal, im only paying $1 per lb. Example:Chicken breast off the bone is $3.99 per lb in most places. Yes its easier to use, and quick to cook. But it cost twice the amount each meal. Making each meal about $8 for my family of 6. Instead of that I pay about $3-4 per meal doing it my way. I buy instead checken thighs for 99 cents per lb. 2 legs each meal. $1 per meal for meat. We eat dinner from 5-5:30 so I take my chicken, put it in a glass baking pan, cover it and cook for 1 hr. Then while its cooking I prep and cook the rest of my meal. Not only doesn this save me money, it is much more tender, and yummier. Plus an added bonus, I can use the bones to make my own broth. Boil the bones in water for 20 minutes, drain, and put in ziplock bags for later use. Not only is this free, its healthier. No sodium. I use this broth to cook our rice in adding much more deeper flavoring.
So yes, you can save $2 on a sale meat paying $5 or spend $3 on this other meat. I would much rather spend $3.
Same goes for everything else in your home.
Example: I have been wanting a wool walking jacket for months. Could of spend $100 for one easily at Gap, or Old Navy. Yes, I saved $50 because they were on sale. But if I waited long enough I would find something for less. So I waited. And waited. 4 months later, I fould the perfect jacket on that was only $39.99. Free shipping and I had a 7% off coupon from my entertainment book. So I paid around $35 for my jacket. So pay $100? Or pay $35?
Second hand clothing is a huge savings as well. My daughter needed shoe's so I looked for some on sale. Sketchers were on sale for $5 your $20 or more purchse. Making them $15 per pair. I have twins so this means $30 for shoe's. I found a pair of the almost identical pair of shoe's for only $2 at a thrift store. $2 or $15? You bet im gonna pay $2.
So I retrained my way of thinking. Before I buy anything, I think these questions.
Do I really need it?
Whats the total cost not the discount?
Can I find it 2nd hand?
What other way can I find this?
You can always come back!
You have more than 1 son or daughter, save old clothes from your oldest for the youngest. FREE! You have neighbors with other children? Ask them if you can have their outgrown clothing. FREE! Give them yours if you have any they will need. Tell your friends or family that your looking for something in particular. They can in return let you know if they see it 2nd hand or on sale. Or even better if they have it and dont want it. FREE! Ask for something you really need but cant find it cheap enough for birthday gifts or holidays. FREE to you!

Last but not least, think about it.
Would you want to save 50% on something and pay alot or spend only $5 for the same thing but only $5? I would much rather pay only $5. Get the idea? Rethink your spending habbits.

Before I spend $600 a month for groceries for a family of 6.

Then I rethought and came up with this plan. You know how much I spend this month on food?

Did we suffer in any way? No. Did I buy less food? No. Did my family even notice? No. Did I save any money? YES! $200 bucks to be exact!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Gardening on a budget

Just thought I would pass along some of my tips on anything to do with a garden. Over the years ive accumulated alot of stuff in many ways that have saved me a bundle.

Garden Bench-not something you "need" but nice to have. My husband was going to build me one. He went to the store and gathered everything and it came up to over $75 for it all. I found one for only $40 at BI Mart. Just needed to be put together and painted. So you can find them for pretty cheap. You can store pots, and shovels easily on one. It doesnt make you a better gardener, ive learned that. LOL!

Pots-I have alot of various sized pots that ive accumulated over the years. Some free from friends, some from free box's at garage sales, and some bought new. Large terra cotta pots were bought from Michaels with their 40% off coupon. Each one only cost me $3. They are about a foot tall. I gather them anytime of the year.

Shovels and gadgets-Again some were free, from friends, or found at thrift stores. But some were bought new. After the season of gardening is gone, most stores discount them for super cheap. There isnt alot of people running out to get these kinds of things so I almost always find what I need for super cheap. They are everywhere. Walmart, Rite Aid, Ace Hardware, and Target. Rite Aid has deep discounts for theirs. If its cheap enough, get it. Yes, you dont need it at that moment but get it then so you dont pay more when you actually need it.

Seeds and plants-Again after season sale. You can get seeds for as low as 10 cents. I just save them for spring. Bulbs can be bought for pretty cheap as well. Just plan where you want to plant them, plant them now, and reep the rewards next year when they pop up. During the summer I buy potted plants when I find them marked down. I did the whole front of my house for only $7. We just bought 6pks for 50 cents, planted them, dead headed them, and they bloomed for a couple of months. And for a fraction of the price. They just needed tlc. Seeds can also be bought off the internet or from catalogs for pretty cheap.

Soil,compost,etc-My #1 reccomended tip is to start a compost. Not only will this save you money from buying it, it will save you money on your garbage bill. We started on with a garbage can w/lid for $5. Look for one in a dark color, speeds up the process. Just drilled holes all over it. You can throw anything in but meat and dairy. Some would argue this but I choose not to have animals trying to get to my compost (make sure to get one with a secure lid) . We had a medium size garbage can we paid for each month and were able to get a small one because we cut down on our trash. Saved us $10 a month. You can throw in weeds, plant and grass clippings, food waste, animal poo, etc. Just remember to roll your can every week or so to mix it. Takes a long time to fill, but seems like it would fill fast. Mine fills about 2 times a year. Wonderful nutrient filled compost for free!
TIP-Starbucks puts their old grounds into bags and gives them away. Just give your local Starbucks a call to ask when they have some and you can just pick it up for free! Wonderful to sprinkle around your plants.

Garden beds etc-My husband builds me a raised garden bed whever ever we live. Usually built from extra wood scraps from other projects. My old house we build some from the left over wood from a play structure we built. This house we build one from left over wood from our fence. Pretty cedar shakes and all. Depending on your soil, you can just add some compost or leaves to fill it. My soil in the town im moving from is just rocks and clay soil so I have to invest in getting potting soil. My new home the garden beds are already built so bonus for me. Just use old tires if you dont have the money. My parents lay an old tire down, fill it with dirt and compost. This works well for them plus less weeds. Not the most pretty thing I might note but works well. Plus usually free. Almost everyone has old tires laying around.

Also make sure to put a garden bed in the sunniest area of your yard. Things will go super slow or not at all. The seeds can even rot if they get too much water and not enough sun. And if you have pets, invest in some screen of sorts or your pet will eat all your hard work. My dog did this at our old house and I just wanted to cry. Didnt get a single tomato that year. UURR. They will do just about anything to get to your produce. Make sure its safe and secure.

Mason Jars-Super cheap at garage sales. Second hand ones range from 10-50 cents. New ones are $6-8 for 6-12 depending on the size. Lids and seals can be bought seperate for $1-2. Just make sure you wash them carefully and look for cracks and chips.

Canning pot-I paid $14.99 at Walmart for a large old fashion blue canning pot. Old way of canning but frugal. If you find one at a garage sale, snatch it up! You can spend over 50 for a pressure cooker but I wouldnt. Big investment. Maybe ask for one on your birthday, Mothers Day, or even for Christmas.

Jar grabbers-cant remember the technical word for it. The tool that takes jars from the boiling water in the pot. Those can be $5 and up. I found mine at a thrift store for 50 cents each. They are everywhere. You just have to know what they are. I dont think the store knew what they were. Worth the money! I didnt have one last summer and used tongs. Not reccomended.

Hats, shoe's and gloves-Again wait for super sales on these. My hat (reccomended for those hot days) was bought for me on Mothers Day from my children. Make sure you get one that have chin straps or fits snug. Every time you bend over, this will be an issue. Shoe's were bought at Goodwill for super cheap. Gloves are also found super cheap from stores. I have tiny hands so it took me a while to find a pair I liked. Worth the money to get these. I had to dig up and turn soil in my last home and it took me hours of hard labor. Gloves saved me from blisters.

Pesty bugs and disease's-Use a soap/water mixture to spray on the plant. Keeps bugs off. Make sure the soap is a vegetable based one to be safe. For disease use a baking soda water mixture. They dont like it. Apply weekly. You can even use a pepper mixture. In a blender use the hottest pepper you can find with water. Blend for a minute or two. Strain through cheese cloth and put in a spray bottle. Again spray once a week. Just make sure not to get on your skin. You will suffer! Dont ask how I know this. LOL! This is a great alternative to all those ones you can buy. Most are not safe or organic. Rock salt works great for slugs. The biggest rock salt you can find. Slugs dont like it at all. Good alternative to the one you buy at the store. Its a powder and is hard to keep where you want it. Plus cant be good for the plants that will be growing around it.

Already grown pruduce-at the end of season they sell produce for super cheap at markets or farms. I bought a huge box of green beans for $16. I think it was about 15 lbs. I canned them during the summer. I think I made about 24 jars of beans with that. Still eating them now. Worth every penny. I even recieved a box for free. They were going bad so a gentleman gave them to me for free. I took them home, pulled out the bad ones, and froze them. Layed them on cookie sheets froze them, pulled them out and put them into ziplock bags. They were super yummy! and FREE!!!! Get produce at super discounts and freeze them. Any peppers can be done the same way. Chip into slices and freeze. Onions, berries, and even banana's can be done this way. Banana's you just depeel, freeze into small pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze. Can be used all year round for muffins, breads and anything you can imagine. And if you buy older banana's , you can get them for as low as 29 cents per lb. Super frugal tip!
If you dont like something or can use it quick enough, give it to a friend or neighbor. Later they will do the same. Kinda like the old saying "Pat my back and I will pat yours". Saves you both money. I almost always bake stuff, or have left overs and give them to my friends. And they do the same. I get many things like produce, soups, and baked items free this way. Feels good to help others and be helped out too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Growing your own groceries the frugal way

Ive dabbled in this for many years now on my own. My mind is flooded with memories of taking a drive to my grandmothers house during the growing season. My grandmother had a large old house (little spooky too) with a huge garden. She grew just about everything you could think of. Mom and my favorite Aunt Robin would be helping with weeding, watering, harvesting, and storing all our yummy produce. From our very own tomato sauce, zucini relish, green beans, and many more things. My favorite thing about going to Grandma Mary's house was on the dinner table, there was always a clear vintage drinking glass filled with water and small green onions for everyone to munch on. Yep, onions. I never ate them but I sucked on them for the flavor.

So here are a few tips I have found that you might find usefull.
Keep overhead low. No need to invest in fancy garden gadgets. Make your own plant supports out of twine and tree branches. Use newspaper, grass clippings, or straw for mulch. There's no better fartilizer than compost-and its free!
Avoid spraying as much as you can.Tolerate a few holes in your leaves instead of pulling out the pesticides. You'll avoid ingesting chemicals and spend less at the garden center. Hand pick pest and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
Invest for future savings.Some food will take a while to give you a return. Most fruit tree's dont produce for 3-5 yrs. Combine these with long term investments with other foods like lettuce and radishes, that produce in just a few weeks.
Consider time. I would focus on low maintenance foods such as lettuces, peppers, asparagus, squash and fruit tree's. Some produce takes more time than others.
Save food for later. Instead of buying expensive jar sun-dried tomatoes, dry your tomatoes in your own oven and freeze them in small bags. Love pesto? Make your own and store in small bags . Also consider refrigerator pickles, apple butter, and no-cook or no-seal jams. Much cheaper. You can find jars at thrift stores all the time, just get new seals and rings. Make sure you check for cracks or chips. Alot of older seniors have garage sales and 100% of the time they have these.
Grow vegetables that store well. Some produce, such as squash, is easy to store at room temp . Just pick them and keep them in a cook, dry place, like a pantry or in a bin in a cupboard. Apples and pears will keep a long time in the fridge.
Assess your space. Unless you have a very large garden, plants that take lots of space, such as sweet corn and pumpkin, will be hard to accommodate. Instead grow produce like sweet peppers and tomatoes.
Consider a deep freeze. Yes, these are expensive, but sometimes you can find them secondhand. It will allow you to not only freeze vast amounts of produce, but also store meat, bread and other items you purchased on sale for even bigger sales.
Plant these to save the most money
Fresh Herbs
Bell Peppers
Tree Fruits

Tips for saving even more money
Buy after the season sales. Seeds you can get for as low as 10 cents. Stores just want to rid their stuff from their stores. Need that garden hat but dont want to spend the money? Target and Walmart have huge sales after the season is over. Get a $20 hat for as low as $5. Worth every penny when your out in the garden when its 100 degree's out. Garden clogs? Most handy item's ever. Get them as low as $5. Plan ahead. Want a garden next year, start planning, and gathering your items after the season when they are on sale. Hit up your second hand stores. I find most my canning tools this way. Super cheap. Have a friend giving stuff away, ask if they have any gardening items. Most always you find them at thrift stores. Why spend over $50 for a pressure cookier for canning? I bought a large canning pot for $15 at Walmart that worked just fine. Even better if you find it second hand. Think around what you need and plan ahead.

In my new home were movng into, the last owner had about 12 garden beds nice and seasoned. So these will be mine this growing season. So excited! When we went to look at the house, there will still tomatoes and squash growing in them. My heart just about jumped out of my skin. I said " I want this home". I knew this house was meant for us. Old house made very well, play structure for my kids, storage unit and garage for the hubby, very well built 1967 home never touched original everything, and on a cultasack. It was meant for us. This home is in a highly saught after neighborhood that homes go for over $300-$400,000. We snuck in ours for only $297,000. Only thing new in this home was the carpet. Eye sore for most, opportunity for us. Plus we just like retro old stuff. 4 weeks till we move. I cant wait.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

10 Reasons to air dry your clothes

"We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately."
-Benjamin Franklin
I just recently found a great site called . Check this site out when you get the chance. Truly inspiring.

Anyways I found this project on their site and thought I would pass it on. Ive been doing this basically every summer/dry season since I was little and try to do it all season long. Not only does this save you money, but your items smell so nice.

10. Save money. A average family can save an average of $25 or more each month off their electric bill.

9. Conserve energy and the environment , while reducing climate change.

8. Clothes and linens smell better without adding possibly toxic chemicals to your body and the enviroment.

7. Clothes last longer. Where do you think lit comes from?

6. Its moderate physical activity that you can do inside or outside.

5. Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.

4. Indoor racks can humidify in dry winter months.

3.Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths,and 400 injuries annually . The yearly national fire loss for clothes dryer fires in structures is estimated at $99 million.

2. Can be a outdoor expierence that is meditative and community-building.

1. Demonstrates that small steps can make a differance, Dont have to wait for the government to take action.
Big thanks to frugalyankee!
Seriously, look at their site!

We payed how much?

So my husband and I discussed ways of saving money the other night. Knowing that when we move, we would be paying two house payments and needed to cut back at least until our house sold. There was plenty to cut back on. First was our dish network. $50 a month just to have extra channels that we ended up only watching a few. Channel 112 hgtv, and channel 12 local news was pretty much the only thing we watched. Was it worth it? I guess the answer was yes until we looked at it more closely. Well, its now gone. Turned off and goodbye. I do miss the pausing live tv button. With kids, its needed and nice. So rabbit ears it is. I will miss our dish network but I dont need it. Every month we had issue's with dish network and took forever for them to fix each problem. But the second we told them we didnt want their service, they were bending over backwards wanting us to keep their business. Payments, extended plan, lowering our bill, etc. Crazy. If they would just be that way all the time, they would have more customers.
Makes you wonder.
Now onto the phone. Do we really use it? No. Living in this town, you have to have long distance. Its long distance from this town on for some reason. But the town next to us isnt, just a little too wierd. Anyways, we really dont call anyone anyways. We both have cells and dont talk on the phone much so this was something we had no problem getting rid of. $50 just for that. When we move, and my cell phone plan runs out (in a few short months) we will get basic phone service. $10 a month. This will save us a bundle.
Thinking about it now, I feel pretty stupid paying $100 month just for these two things. Thinking about it made me realize how much time I really did spend watching tv and how little I really did talk on the phone. We could of been saving $100 a month if we had thought of this earlier. I could kick myself. This could of been put in savings and we would have well over $2,000 by now and it would of had interest too. UURRR.
My point, well I try to have one but sometimes it doesnt happen. lol! Look at what you spend every month. Ask yourself, Do I really need it? Is $50 worth having a few extra channels? Do I talk on the phone that much? Where else can I save money?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Reusable Bags Product Review

Reisenthel Market Basket $39.99

Winner prestigious Design Plus award
Durable, lightweight aluminum frame
Tough, tear-proof polyester cover
Collapsible, with removable supports on sides
Sturdy bottom with rubber feet
Soft rubber-grip handle
Zip pocket inside

Test. I took this shopping and just loved it. The removable supports I didn't use because I found it easier to take with me because it could collapse and store much easier. Bright and very beautiful! Super sturdy fabric is a big enough reason to buy this. I had so many comments on how pretty this bag is and wanted to know where I bought it. Perfect for browsing and small shopping. My kids just love to carry it for me. This is my all time favorite bag to use.

Reisenthel Cityshopper XL $34.99
Large bag - good alternative for bulky, odd-shaped items
Durable, lightweight, tear-proof polyester
Carry over shoulder - 2 sturdy carrying straps with snap hooks
Large inner zip pocket with mobile phone pocket

Test. This bag again is so beautiful and I had so many comments from it. I use this one to hold all other reusable bags and when I do big shopping. Perfect size for large items. Thought I would have an issue with the handle but its perfect to hang on your shoulder.
Trying to come up with a bag that I like better but I cant. I love them both. I would recommend buying these bags from reusablebags. Not only are they amazing for reusable anything, but they are budget friendly. Think about how many uses you can get from these. Going to grandma's house, bringing gifts over to a relatives house, books, going to the gym, groceries, and just about anything else. I just love reusablebags. This site is amazing. They have had some great sales, and their customer service is top notch. Not only are they helping you find things that are budget friendly, but they are helping to support companies that are earth friendly, give you every detail they can come up with, and their site is super easy to navigate. This site is the best I found that isn't trying to get you to spend money on stupid stuff. Its all about conserving, sustainability, Eco friendly, and is family friendly. From adult stuff, to kids items. They have it all. This is my number one site!

In Transition.....

It will be touch and go for the next month or so. We will be moving in 4 short weeks so im going to be pretty busy with packing, etc. I should be able to still blog but there might be occasions where I just am too busy. So heads up, and wish me luck.