Butter and Maple Syrup

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I don’t care what you buy, as long as you include real butter and real maple syrup.” Steve 1988.

My husband is a very easy man to cook for so when he asked for those two things I happily complied…

Until 2008.

I hated to do it but when times got tough I had to quit buying butter and syrup. I truly think that was harder to live through than my experiments in cooking beans and baking bread were.

Thankfully my husband is a trooper and knew I eliminated those items from the grocery budget as a last resort. The kids did not mind as much but it was still an adjustment.

Today I am happy to say I am back buying real butter and 100% pure maple syrup.

What about you? anything that was hard for your family to give up? Tell us about it in the comment section.

This post is part of a 31 day series.

Buying In Large Quantities

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Buying in large quantities has always been touted as a way to save money. Today I am going to explore that idea.

When we hit on hard times several years ago I accidentally discovered the idea of buying in large quantities. One day I went to buy a container of oatmeal and was met with empty shelves. I really needed the oatmeal so I went over to the bulk section of my grocery store to see if I could find some. I did and it was priced at 40% less per ounce!

In addition to being able to scoop some into a bag the store had 25 pound sacks at the same low price. I realized that by buying a large sack along with a bucket to store it in I was money ahead. I also realized that I would not have to buy rolled oats for another 6 months. From that day on I was hooked on buying large quantities.

Something else I discovered was the value in stockpiling large quantities when items were on sale. When foods like spaghetti sauce or peanut butter were on sale I would buy big.

Of course I was always cognizant of my budget. If I had the money I bought, if I didn’t then I walked away. Something else I paid attention to was the “out of code” date. I only bought an amount I was sure I could use before the product expired.

One day I sat down and figured out how much money I saved by buying this way. I discovered it to be around $600. At the time it was half of my yearly  grocery budget!

Buying large quantities for several years kept us well fed on a small budget and kept my pantry full of food.

What about you? Any thoughts on buying large quantities? Feel free to share in the comments section.

This post is part of a 31 day series.

 

The Fourth Set Of 3 Frugal Meals With Cost

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Everyone needs a few frugal meals that they can make over and over. I also think it is nice to know about how much they cost. The dollar amounts listed here approximate what these would cost to feed my family of four using today’s prices.  Here is the fourth set of 3 that I have made regularly throughout the years. Enjoy!

1. Black bean burgers and roasted veggies with extras.

Cost: Beans, eggs, flour, sautéed veggies and seasonings. $1.75.

Cost: Potatoes, carrot, onion, cooking fat. $.60.

Cost: Extras- Barbecue sauce $.25, Cheese $1.oo.

2. Chicken and noodles and plain noodles with butter and jam.

Cost: Chicken, onion, carrot, butter, flour, milk, noodles and seasonings. $2.00

Cost: Flour, baking powder, salt, milk, oil, egg, butter and jam. $2.00.

3. Black bean soup with corn or leftover roasted veggies and plain muffins with butter and jam.

Cost: Beans, bouillon, seasonings, corn, tomato sauce. $1.50.

Cost: Leftover muffins with butter and jam. $2.00.

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Menu Plan 14

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We spent a glorious Saturday at the coast with my daughter and son in law. It was a sad moment when they drove off to Idaho.

Here is what we are eating this week:

Burgers

Spaghetti

Pintos and cornbread

Tostadas with rice

Pancakes

To start a conversation leave a comment.

This post is part of 31 day series.

I also post these in the Menu Plan Monday section of Org Junkie, where you can find more people who believe in the value of a weekly menu plan

 

 

Homemade V Readymade

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We all know that homemade food tastes better, but did you have any idea how much cheaper it is too?

Baked goods are where I got the biggest bang for my buck. I learned years ago that baking from scratch saved me a ton of money. I also found that I was less likely to waste if it was something I had made myself.

Keep in mind that when I started baking for my family I did not know how. Like everything worth learning it took some trial and error. I have heard people say that they tried baking bread once and it did not work. Once?????? I tried it a dozen or more times and it did not work. However I learned something each time and can now bake bread effortlessly.

Interestingly, I found cookbooks to be of very little help. They always seemed to assume I had a level knowledge that I did not posses. For instance, what do you do when your recipe is too sticky? Or how does whole wheat flour behave differently from the all purpose variety?

I scoured the internet for resources that could answer my questions. I also read obscure books from the Library which talked about the chemistry of bread. And of course I threw a lot of loaves to the chickens.

I highly recommend looking to the internet and books for information. Better yet if you have someone in your life who can get elbow to elbow with you in the kitchen choose that option.

Below is a short list of what I baked for my family on a regular basis:

Sandwich bread, French bread, focaccia bread, dinner rolls, pizza, muffins, biscuits and cornbread.

May this post be the inspiration you need to start filling your home with the delicious aroma of home baked bread!

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Third Set Of Frugal Dinners With Cost

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Everyone needs a few frugal meals that they can make over and over. I also think it is nice to know about how much they cost. The dollar amounts listed here approximate what these would cost to feed my family of four using today’s prices.  Here is the third set of 3 that I have made regularly throughout the years. Enjoy!

1.Roast chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and corn.

Cost: Chicken $2.00.

Cost: Potatoes and gravy $.50.

Cost: Corn $.90.

2 .Red beans and rice and biscuits with butter.

Cost: Red beans, celery, onion, seasonings and rice. $1.35.

Cost: Flour, salt, baking powder, shortening, milk and butter. $.75.

3. Chicken noodle soup, biscuits.

Cost: Broth (free), seasonings, carrots, celery, onions, noodles, chicken. $2.00.

Cost: Leftover biscuits.$.50.

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What To Do With Pinto Beans

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In addition to being part of a 31 days writing challenge, this is the third post in a series titled What To Do With Beans. Click here to read the first post and second post.

You know the saying “Rice and beans and beans and rice”?

In 2008 the real estate market turned south and took our income with it. I was suddenly faced with the need to drastically slash my grocery budget and did not know how to do it. I would walk around saying “but I don’t know what to do with beans”. It was true. I did know how to order bean burritos from fast food restaurants and open a can of lentil soup, but did not know what people did with beans in their own kitchens.

Several years and hundreds of dinners later I finally know what to do with beans. For the next few weeks I am going to talk about different types of beans and what to do with them. Since my personal recipes are not in a publishable format I will include as many links as possible. This is the information I wish I had had in one place so long ago. Whether you are funding college, retirement or anything in between I hope you find this information useful.

http://wegotreal.com/crockpot-pinto-beans/

http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/uncategorized/slow-cooker-pinto-beans-make-a-meal/

http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2007/02/chicken-and-pinto-bean-soup-with-lime.html

http://thewanderlustkitchen.com/mexican-pinto-bean-soup/

http://www.savvyeat.com/pasta-and-beans/

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pinto-beans-and-rice

http://www.culinate.com/books/collections/all_books/40341/mexican_brown_rice_with_pinto_beans

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/tex-mex-pinto-bean-burgers/

http://www.dramaticpancake.com/2013/05/swiss-chard-pinto-and-bacon-burritos/

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/vegetable-pinto-bean-enchilada

http://eatathomecooks.com/2010/07/bean-and-cheese-enchiladas.html

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/pinto-bean-tacos/

http://www.cooksrecipes.com/salad/pasta_and_pinto_bean_salad_recipe.html

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/19338/zesty-southern-pasta-and-bean-salad/

To start a conversation leave a comment.

Fruits and Vegetables

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First I tell you to cut coffee from your budget. Then I tell you to cut back on the meat. You know where I am going with this post don’t you?

I am aware of the recommendations to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetable each day, but I just do not agree.

Fruit and veggies are expensive. I would not want to see anyone doing completely without them however. Since they are important to your health as well as being delicious, let’s look at 6 ways to keep them in our diets.

Share. Quit thinking of a whole piece of fruit as a serving. When sliced on top of bowls of oatmeal, one banana can feed 4 people.

Buy less. Consider the veggies in your soup or casserole as enough. There is no need to serve a salad next to lentil soup that has carrots, celery and onion in it.

Buy the cheapest. Most likely these items would be in season. Think peaches in late summer and cabbage in winter.

Buy frozen. Sometimes frozen peas in December are your cheapest choice. A quick comparison of prices will make this clear.

Grow some. I know this in not feasible for everyone. If you can and do it frugally you should though. I think the veggies  most worth growing are tomatoes and greens of any kind, especially Swiss chard, lettuce and spinach.

Get it for free. I know there are gleaning resources listed in various places on the internet. I never took advantage of these , instead employing a different strategy.

Our church is one of those where people bring excess produce and others take it home to enjoy. One day I asked the church secretary what they do with all the leftovers. She said “We throw it away”. After hearing that I knew what I had to do. From then on, I purposed to be the last one  to leave each week, taking all the remaining produce home with me. I was so very thankful for all of the free food. We ate extremely well that spring and summer.

If your budget can handle 5+ serving of fruits and vegetables per person each day then go for it. If it cannot,then maybe one or more of these 6 ideas will be helpful to you.

To start a conversation leave a comment.

This is part of a 31 day series.

Eliminating The Sacred Cow

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Here is a statement I have heard more than once, “I could never get my husband to quit eating meat”.

I am never sure how to respond. Thoughts like the following flit through my mind…

Is he unreasonable?   Why don’t you just talk to him?   Maybe your situation isn’t serious enough to cut meat from your budget.

But what if it is?

I highly recommend developing a list of meatless recipes that rely on beans for protein. Find or develop recipes that your family enjoys. Here is a short list to get you started:

Bean and rice burritos, bean soup, beans and rice.

Keep in mind that there are many varieties of beans and thousands of recipes to choose from.

This does not mean that you have to completely eradicate meat from your dinner plate, unless your budget absolutely dictates that you do.

How about skipping the meat every other night? How about roasting a chicken and seeing how far you can make it last?

Of course each one of our circumstances is different causing us to make different choices.

In all honesty, I never completely cut meat from our budget. We certainly did not have I often though. Twice a week or so.

At the very end of our hardest times we were out of meat and had no money to buy more. It was exactly at that point our finances started to turn around. If things had stayed the same, I would simply not have bought any more meat and we would have been just fine.

Think about your situation  and decide if it is right to start cutting meat from your budget.

To start a conversation leave a comment.

This is part of a 31 day series.

 

Second Set Of 3 Frugal Dinners With Cost

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Everyone needs a few frugal meals that they can make over and over. I also think it is nice to know about how much they cost. The dollar amounts listed here approximate what these would cost to feed my family of four using today’s prices.  Here is the second set of 3 that I have made regularly throughout the years. Enjoy!

1. Chicken fried rice with shredded carrot and egg, peanut butter noodles.

Cost: Chicken, eggs, carrot, rice, soy sauce, cooking fat. $2.25

Cost: Noodles, peanut butter, ground ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper. $1.50

2. Bean and rice burritos, corn or chips and optional salsa and cheese.

Cost: Beans, rice, tortillas. $1.35

Cost: Corn $.90 or chips $.65.

Cost: Salsa $.60, cheese $1.00.

3. Lentil soup , toast on homemade bread with butter.

Cost: lentils, bouillon, onions, carrot and seasonings. $.75

Cost: Bread $.30, butter $.20.

This post is part of 31 day series.

 To start a conversation leave a comment.