Monday, January 3, 2011

Watch those shelves!

We love to shop for Christmas and January. We haunt the clearance shelves in Target, going every day or two for the first week or so of the New Year. We usually take care of three or four birthdays with things that they did not get on Christmas that were on their lists. Target is generous in their clearancing this time of year.

We also go to Costco often. They seriously mark down any toy (and other items that are not regularly carried) that is returned. This year, we found $50 sets of Playmobil for $20 and a large Star Wars Lego set for just $10! We also found an illusion set that one daughter really wanted, but by the time she had saved enough for it, it was gone. One was returned and was only $9! She was so happy when we brought it home. Last year we were super-blessed to get the $120 set of Playmobil for $12!

Watch the clearance shelves especially after Christmas, and then again in the fall as stores prepare for Christmas. You may be able to get special things for much less!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Poor Man's Diet

Beans and rice, rice and beans...these are the staples of a frugal diet. There are so many different, tasty ways to prepare them too! Dave Ramsey recommends that anyone working their way out of debt eat beans and rice as often as humanly possible! Of course, the best way to stretch that food budget is to refuse to buy chips, soda, snack crackers and other processed junk. Then you can buy more spices, veggies, meat and fruit. We try not to consume starches too often, but a big pot of beans once or twice a week is a good budget stretcher. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes.

Red Beans and Rice

1/2 pound dried kidney beans, rinsed

1/2 pound dried pinto beans, rinsed

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 quart home-canned tomatoes with liquid

1 jar (4 ounces) canned peppers, drained

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 large sweet red pepper, chopped

1 large onion, chopped (I used 1 Tbsp dried minced onion)

1 cup chopped celery (I didn't have any, so I used 1 tsp celery salt)

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley (I used 1 Tbsp dried)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt (I used less since I used celery salt)

1 tablespoon vinegar (I used the vinegar I pickled the peppers in)

Hot cooked rice (I used 2 cups dry rice...should have used 3)

Place beans in a Dutch oven with water. Bring to a boil; simmer 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans. Return to Dutch oven with broth, garlic and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/4 hours. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until beans and vegetables are tender and gravy is thick. Remove bay leaves. Serve over rice. This dish keeps well. Yield: 12 servings.

Faith's Pintos

Sort and wash two pounds of dry pinto beans (or about 4 1/2 C.)

Cover with 4 quarts filtered water then add:

6 TBS butter
2 TBS. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more or less depending on the heat you want)
4 tsp. salt

Cook on high for at least 7 hours or until beans are tender.

Chili Con Elote

6 Tbsp red palm oil (use olive or canola if you haven't red palm oil, but red palm is wonderful tasting and very good for you!)

1 chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 or 2 green peppers, seeded and chopped (I used 1)

4 cups chicken stock or broth

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)

8 cups cooked pinto beans (begin with 4 c. dried) or use well-rinsed canned beans if you like.

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. salt

2 tsp. oregano

Saute onion and garlic in the oil. Add green pepper and saute 2-3 minutes more. Add chicken stock or broth, the tomatoes, and the corn. Mash two cups of the beans, then add them, the whole beans and the seasonings to the pot. Bring to a boil, then bring down to a simmer. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Slim Down Your Food Bills

As the economy slows and more folks begin to suffer the natural consequences of our increased government regulation and taxation, the food budget is often the first place families tighten the belt. One of my favorite resources for good-for-you, basic recipes is "More With Less" by Doris Janzen Longacre. I swap out fresh milk for the dry called for in some recipes and NEVER use soybeans or soy flour, but otherwise, the recipes are wholesome. Who knows, using this book often may even lead to weight loss! Cutting out expensive processed 'food' can be nothing but good!

Another book in a similar vein is Simply in Season, I don't have a copy, yet, but have heard good things about it. The book I go to for seasonal vegetable recipes is The Victory Garden Cookbook. Whatever strange veggie I bring home from the farmer's market can be cooked up with this book. It's all-inclusive! It even includes advice about growing your own garden.

Another of my go-to's is "Family Feasts for $75 a Week or Less". Mrs. Ostyn feeds her family of 12 with these real life, healthy, basic recipes. I love that the recipes are based on things that have been tried and found true! You can visit her blog at Owlhaven. I wanna be like her when I grow up!

The World's Healthiest Foods is a great value. I bought it at Costco for about $20. This a full nutrition course along with a cookbook. It's a major work and should be on everyone's shelf, and pulled out often! I use it for school, for recipes and for learning new cooking methods. Do ignore the inclusion of soy as a healthy food. I'm sure the author will repent in due time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

50 Ways to Save Money For The Holidays

I'm all about saving some money! Simple, Green, Frugal has a great list of ways to save some cash. I printed out the list and highlighted the ones that we do regularly. I hope to have the whole list colorful as we improve our habits...except Part A of #1. I refuse!

50 Ways to Save Money For the Holidays

Let me know which of these you have tried, and what you would add to the list!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homemade Christmas Gifts From the Kitchen

It's coming up on the season of giving. So many folks give, give, give till they are BROKE! Here's a collection of links to help you build homemade Christmas gifts that won't break the bank.

Cookies In A Jar Recipes

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Food Gifts From Your Kitchen

Assorted Jar Recipes

Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Canning Jars and Equipment

Several years ago, I decided to learn to can. Canning has been a blessing for us! I now can have convenience foods. After a busy day, when I have forgotten to plan something for dinner, I can pull a couple of quarts of soup off of the shelf, throw together a sandwich and call it dinner. I can have home canned beans ready for burritos in a flash. I haven't run out of jam since I first began making it (though there is a downside. I can not enjoy store bought jam any's gross!)

Jars are one of the biggest expenses when beginning canning. At up to $12.00 for a dozen quarts, they are a big investment! I found this stack of jars for half-price at Walmart a week or so ago. Who can pass that up?! I bought a few for a friend, too, who had mentioned that she was out of jars. Make sure to watch for clearance things at the change of the seasons!

An even better way to get jars is to simply ask around. When I began collecting jars, I asked friends and acquaintances if they had any taking up room in the garage. I asked on our homeschool loop, Craig's List and Freecycle, too. You wouldn't believe the number of jars I received simply for the asking! Yes, they were dusty and dirty. One group was even disgusting, all buried in a filthy shed for decades. But they wash. Bleach works wonders. Hundreds and hundreds of jars for free are worth the work!

I was also given a full set of water bath canning tools, the big pot and a ton of rings, all for free, and was able to purchase a wonderful pressure canner for only $15. I got my second pressure canner on E-Bay for less than $50-with shipping.

Tattler lids are another thing to consider. I haven't used them, but have heard that they work well. They would be a good investment for the beginner canner. I bought a large supply of standard type of lids through my co-op, Azure Standard. Their bulk price is better than I could get them at the stores, locally. Then, a friend in North Dakota mentioned that her little general store sold them very inexpensively. She bought a case of each for me and shipped them in a very inexpensive manner. I have lids to last for years. :)

Canning can be affordable if you are patient and watch for the deals.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Homemade Facial Scrub Recipes

Having a houseful of teens means getting requests for facial scrubs. Rather than buying a chemical-filled concoction, try one of these recipes!

Mix equal parts of salt and light olive oil. Rub paste on face in a circular motion. Rinse clean.

Mix baking soda and water to make a paste. Add a drop of tea tree oil and stir well. Apply to face, let sit three minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Make a paste of white granulated sugar and milk. Add a squirt of lemon juice. Adjust sugar to the grittiness desired. Carefully wash face, without scrubbing too hard. Rinse clean.

You can also add ground oatmeal, olive oil and/or honey to the above recipes. You can scent them with any essential oils that you enjoy. Experiment until you get a combination that works well with your (or your child's) skin type! Try using the scrub on your forearm first to ensure you are not sensitive to any ingredients. Do not scrub your skin hard! You will damage your skin and cause yourself pain and possibly even wounds.