Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eat From Your Pantry Challenge And This Weeks Menu

Wendy over at Around My Family Table has issued an Eat From Your Pantry Challenge. When I first read about it I thought it was a great idea! What is more frugal than using up what you already have? Always being the type of gal who is up for a challenge I thought I would participate. It will be a great way for me to use up some of the stock pile in my storage room, freezers, and pantry. Here are the rules:
  1. The challenge will begin November 1st and end on November 15th.
  2. Prepare all meals with items found in your pantry, freezer, etc.
  3. You may purchase minimal dairy and fresh produce.
  4. Be creative with your menu.
  5. Post about your experiences and link back to the Eat From Your Pantry Challenge.
  6. Include the Challenge button in your post or side bar.
  7. All participant who follow the rules will be entered for a giveaway!
If you are up for the challenge CLICK HERE for all the details!

I decide if  I was going to cook from my pantry I had better plan out my menu for the week (Yes! Miracles really do happen!)  I have dutifully inventoried (and cleaned out) my pantry and freezer (See this is good for me already...... three miracles in one day!). Here is this weeks menu:

Baked potatoes
Steamed broccoli
Cheese sauce
Baked butternut squash

Potato broccoli soup
Garlic bread
Green salad
(Sunday's leftover potatoes, brocolli, and cheese sauce will be used in the soup. Leftover hoagie buns will be turned into garlic bread.)
Sausage Biscuit Casserole(from Losing It Here)
Cubed pineapple

Mashed potatoes w/ brown gravy
Green peas
Crustless pumpkin pie (from The Frugal Girl)
(Leftover squash will be used to make crustless pumpkin pie.)
BBQ Chicken sandwiches
Sweet potato fries 
Jello with cubed pears(the kiddos love jello w/ fruit in it)

Date Night (Woo Hoo!)
Kiddos get  Corn Dogs and Macaroni and Cheese(from a blue box)

Leftover Night 

The goal this week is to use up all the odds and ends of fresh produce from my Bountiful Basket. If you notice potatoes on the menu quite frequently, it's because I do live in Idaho (we are famous for potatoes!) and my father in law brought us 100 pounds of free potatoes (straight from the fields....WOO HOO!). So, all you brave souls out there in blog land, come join me in my two week challenge! Our pantries and freezers will get cleaned out before the holidays, and our groceries budgets will see a little relief, too!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Autumn!

I really have nothing profound, frugal, or earth shattering to share today! It's just a beautiful Fall day in my neck of the woods, and it's making me feel all happy inside!  I love, love, LOVE Autumn. It is my favorite season. The temperatures cool down, but it is still warm enough to just wear a sweater during the day. I can finally put my fuzzy fleece blanket under the quilt on my bed. Here is what I love about Autumn:
  • Pumpkins. Piled in the field, sitting on my porch, at the grocery store. I just love their fun shapes and vibrant color.
  • The leaves change color. I like to ramble around the walking trail at my local park on my lunch hour and admire the jewel toned foliage of  the trees.
  • Baking. I justify it by telling myself that turning on the oven will help warm up the house!
  • Hot chocolate with a Hershey kiss stirred in it when I am feeling chilly.
  • Apple and pumpkin recipes! Enough said!
  • Pumpkin pie milkshakes from Artic Circle (they serve Mom and Pop style food). They make them the old fashioned way. Ice cream, a big scoop of pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice all whipped up together with big scoop of whipped cream on top! I'd eat one every day (but I wouldn't fit into my pants for very long)!
  • Cool crisp air.
  • Wearing my fuzzy slippers around the house, because my feet are feeling a little chilly.
  • Putting my cold feet on Dear Hubby's legs at night to warm them up. Dear Hubby does NOT appreciate this(but it is kind of fun, anyway)! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Love My Cast Iron Skillet!

Sometimes on my frugal journey  it becomes apparent to me that "cheap" is not always the best option. Disposable items like food and toiletries should always be bought when they are at their lowest price. Children's socks are another disposable item that I have learned to buy as cheaply as possible ( My children have a "thing " for wearing their socks outside to play...WITHOUT shoes. Gold Toe, Reebok, and Nike socks wear out just a  fast as Walmart brand in this scenario, so I pick my battles!). Non stick frying pans are another item I have decided are on the cheap list (after much research, a.k.a. half a dozen non stick skillets later). It doesn't matter what brand or what price range I buy, the finish always starts to flake off within six months to a year. Even when I follow the cleaning and care instructions to the letter.

I decided it was time to go another route. People have been using cast iron to cook in (and on) for hundreds of years. If it had been tested for that long it must be good. I headed to my local sporting goods store and bought a Lodge cast iron skillet the next day.

There is some prep work to be done before you can use your skillet (to "season" it, and make it non stick). Basically, you need to:
  1. Liberally grease the inside of your skillet with vegetable oil or shortening.
  2. Place your skillet inside a 350 oven for one hour. Your skillet may smoke a little bit, so turn on the exhaust fan.
  3. After an hour turn off the oven a let the oven and skillet completely cool.
  4. Wipe out any excess oil from the skillet with a paper towel.
  5. Now it's ready to cook in!
It is different to cook with cast iron. I have learned (sometimes the hard way):
  1. Cast iron holds the heat better than regular frying pans, so you need to cook at a lower temperature (If you want to cook something on Medium heat, turn your burner to Medium Low and adjust gradually from there.)
  2. Gradually heat up your skillet. Never turn your burner to High heat. It will crack your skillet, and/or start a fire!
  3. Lightly grease the skillet before the first few times you use it. I still use non stick cooking spray and have never had a problem with build up.
  4. If something sticks to the bottom of the skillet. Fill the skillet with a couple of inches of hot water (NEVER put cold water in a hot skillet!!!!!), bring to a low boil, and let it  boil  for five minutes. This will loosen the stuck on food, so you can gently remove it with a plastic scraper. 
  5. To clean your skillet you are suppose to use hot water only. You can scrub your skillet with a no scratch sponge or scrubbie. This instructions say not to use dish soap on your skillet (it ruins the finish), but that seems icky to me. I scoop a few bubbles from the top of the dish water with my scrubbie  and wash my skillet with those. 
  6. Do not cook acidic foods, like tomatoes, for prolonged periods of time. The acidic ruins the finish of your skillet. Regular cooking is fine.
  7. If  the finish of the skillet wears off, just reseason your skillet.
  8. Buy a brand name skillet. Cheap or generic cast iron can have flaws that effect their performance.
 Cast iron skillets are oven proof, so they are great for making cornbread, or frittatas.Of, course my skillet didn't come with a lid (you can purchase them separately). I like having a domed glass lid, so I can see what's going on in the pan. I purchased and old glass lid from a crock pot at the thrift store for a $1.00. Problem solved!

I have been using my skillet for five years now. It just keeps getting better with age! I have made everything in it from pancakes and french toast to sloppy joes and tamale casserole(cook the main ingredients in the skillet pour the cornbread batter over the top and pop it in the oven to bake). The more you cook in it the more non stick it becomes. It's fabulous for frying chicken and scones. Cast iron holds heat well, so temperatures don't fluctuate making deep fat frying a breeze. I have seen a bazillion cast iron skillets at yard sales and thrift stores that just need some TLC (a little steel wool to scrub out the rust and a good reseasoning) for cheap!!! In fact, I'm currently on the look out for a small one for cooking eggs! My initial $25.00 investment has more than paid for itself in the last five years. Compared to the $100.00 plus dollar I spent on the six  Teflon coated frying pans, it's a steal!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Few Grocery Shopping Tips and Ridley's and BiLo's (Associated Food) Deals 10/26 - 11/1 and

A lot of you probably wonder why I post my local Associated Food stores sales deals each week. I do it for a couple of reasons.
  1. I use it to create my grocery list for the week as I map out my errand run. I try to group my errands according to geographic area, to save on time and gas (Ridley's is several blocks from our local library, so I always stop there on my way home from my weekly library visit).
  2. It gives my local blog readers (and those with an Associated Food store in their area) an idea of the weekly sales items that are a great deal. Ridley's and Nel's BiLo do not put their weekly grocery ads in our newspaper (which keeps costs down for them, but is inconvenient for shoppers).
I learned along time ago that in order to save the most money on my grocery bill, it is a good idea to shop several places. I take advantage of the grocery ads in my local newspaper to stock up on the things I use regularly. I usually only buy the sales items (paired with a coupon, if possible) at those stores, because regularly priced items are more expensive. For my regularly grocery shopping I go to my local Winco Foods store. It is a step above an Aldi's (which I wish I had in my area). Winco has very few frills, a scaled back deli and bakery area (which is okay because I rarely buy those items anyway), and you bag your own groceries. The prices are the lowest in town (they are usually lower than Walmart).

Here are this week deals at Ridley's and Nel's BiLo. It looks like there are some really great produce deals this week! Check them out:
  • Pepsi products (12 pack (12 oz) cans or 6(20oz) bottles) 4 for $5.00
  • W.F. (5 quart) ice cream buckets $4.88 each
  • Old Orchard frozen juice concentrate (12oz) $.85 each
  • Crisco shortening (butter flavor or regular) $3.88 each
  • Gold n Plump chicken (20 - 24 oz. package thighs, legs, or bone in breasts) $.95 each
  • Boneless pork country style spareribs $1.59 pound
  • Frozen turkeys $.89 pound
  • Fresh spinach $.69 a bunch
  • Butternut, Acorn, or Spaghetti squash $.59 pound
On Friday and Saturday Ridley's is having another 2 day produce sale. These items will be on sale:
  • Dole salad (12oz bag)  $.87 each
  • Fuji apples $.57 pound
  • Cucumbers 5 for $1.00
  • Roma tomatoes $.57 pound
  • Medium sized yams 3 for $1.00
  • Radishes or green onions 4 bunches for $1.00

Friday, October 22, 2010

Frugal Ways To Enjoy Magazines

I am a big magazine fan. I can enjoy reading without the total commitment a book requires (even though I do enjoy a good book, when time permits)! Magazines are a fabulous way to glean handy tips, find great new recipes to try, keep up on current events, and learn a new skill or two. The downside is that if I subscribed to every magazine that is geared toward my interests, the poor mail carrier would have a hernia from delivering them all (and I would probably be on his/ her Naughty List).   

I do have subscriptions to several magazines that I love! Some have been gifts. I can get my Reminisce  fix thanks to my mother. She renews my subscription every year. Thank you, Mom!!! I also love Taste of Home and Simple and Delicious magazines that are published by Reiman Publications (so is Reminisce,by the way).  In fact, I am a big fan of cooking magazines. It's fun to see the tried and true recipes that cooks from all over the country (and world) feed their families. I really am a sucker for cooking literature of any kind! Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens are also favorites.

Subscribing to magazines can get expensive quickly.  I have done some searching to find the most frugal way to indulge my habit.
  • There are several website that offer discount subscriptions., and are several sites I have found great deals on. I just renewed Taste of Home for $3.85.
  • Share subscriptions with friends and neighbors. My friend subscribes to magazines that I don't, so we swap issues. Twice the pleasure have the price.
  • Check out magazines from the library. The library is a great resource for all sorts of periodicals.  Lately, I have been checking out all sorts of crafty magazine to find decorating and gift ideas for the upcoming Holidays.
  • Give a magazine gift subscription to a friend or family member. It a great gift (and easy gift to give)!
  • Check magazines for reduced rate subscription cards. Magazines want to "hook" you as a devoted reader, so they will often offer deeply discounted first time subscriptions. 
  • Renew your magazine subscription for 2 - 3 years at a time. Most companies offer a discount for a prolonged subscriptions. I just renewed Better Homes and Gardens for 3 years. They gave my a 3 year renewal for the price of one year ($9.99 or $3.33 per year).
Of course, it would be totally UNFRUGAL to just toss those magazine when you are done reading them! I am a big fan of  magazine swapping, but there are other good options:
  • Donate magazines to Assisted Living, and nursing homes.
  • Share magazines with elderly neighbors. The elderly are often shut in or on fixed incomes, and new magazine or two to read is always a fun diversion.
  • Donate appropriate magazines to schools or Cub Scout groups for projects. I have donated many cooking and craft magazines to my friend who is a Home Economics teacher. Her class uses them for research and class projects.
  • They can be donated to hospital and urgent cares,too.
  • Always recycle magazine, sales circulars, and catalogs when you are done reading them.
Bloggy Friends......What are your favorite magazines to read?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recycling Hamburger/ Hot Dog Buns

Hello, all my fabulous bloggy friends!! I have been really trying to reign in our food budget lately. This is getting harder to do now that my kid's (and their friends) are getting bigger and eating more. One of the things I have been working on is to use up rather than throw out leftovers or unused bits of food. It's been going fairly well, except that our household can not seem to judge the bun to meat ratio. There is always the rogue person (me) who has their hot dog or hamburger without a bun. It always cracks me up when I send Dear Hubby to the store to buy hot dog/hamburger buns (He is usually the one who initiates the whole let's grill hamburgers tonight scenario), and he comes back with a 12 pack of buns for 8 hamburgers or hot dogs. In his mind the bigger package is always the better option!

I sometimes use the leftover buns to make "hoagie" sandwiches for the kid's lunches. If I give it a fancy name, maybe they won't realize they are eating lunch meat and cheese on a hamburger bun! I have also layered pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozarella cheese on a hot dog bun, broiled it and called it a Pizza Dog (see it's all in the name!). My favorite way to use up leftover buns is to turn them into garlic bread, or if I'm feeling fancy (and I have cheese to use up) garlic cheese bread.

It's very simple:
  • Split the buns and lay the halves in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet
  • Spread softened butter on the bun halves.
  • Sprinkle lightly (or heavily, if your a garlic lover) with garlic powder.
  • Broil in the oven for 5 - 7 minutes (if you are going to make cheese bread go for the lesser amount of time). Watch bread closely so it doesn't burn!
  • If you want to make garlic cheese bread. Sprinkle Mozzarella (or a combination of Parmesan and Mozzarella) cheese on top of the toasted buns.
  • Broil for a few more minutes until the cheese is bubbly.
  • I have also mixed 1/2 cup softened butter with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 teaspoon parsley flakes and spread that on the bun halves in place of garlic powder. It is very yummy, too.
They make a great addition to soup or spaghetti night. Best of all they don't end up in the trash!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ridley's (Associated Foods) Deals 10/19 - 10/25

Wow! There are some really great deals at Ridley's this week! Be sure to check your local Associated Food Store for similar deals. It's definitely worth checking out! I thought that the following items were very good price:
  • Capri Sun juice drinks (10ct.) 3 for $5.00
  • Cheetos or Fritos (7.5 - 11 oz) $1.48 each
  • Country style spare ribs (bone in) $1.27 pound
  • Honeysuckle brand one pound chubs of ground turkey $1.69 each
  • W.F. all purpose flour (10 pound bag) 2 for $5.00
  • W.F. sour cream $.99 each
  • W.F. (18 ct.) large eggs $1.09 each
  • W.F. (2 pound) brick medium cheddar cheese $3.99 each
  • Pumpkins $.09 a pound (this is a FABULOUS price)
  • Broccoli or cauliflower $.49 pound
  • Yellow onions 3 pounds for $1.00
Also CLICK HERE to check out the in store coupons for extra savings. The coupons are on the back page of the sales circular. Sales ads can be found by the front door of the store.

Don't forget to check out the great weekly specials at Nel's Bi-Lo, too. They offer great produce deals every Thursday and meat deals on Saturday!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ways To Conserve Energy?

I have been thinking a lot about conserving energy lately. It probably has something to do with the changing of the seasons. Usually, our area gets a temperature "reprieve" in September and part of October. It works out so that we don't need to use the air conditioning, furnace, or water the lawn for about five or six weeks, saving us money on our utilities. Now it's getting to be time to switch gears and start thinking about heating bills, again.

Two years ago, Dear Hubby and I saved our pennies and installed a new furnace and air conditioner. The original builder of our home was a total jingle bell, in my opinion. He/she put in top of the line carpet(which is the thorn in my behind 27 years later, because it's this horrendous blue color but still serviceable), and paid for professional decorating, but( as far as I can surmise) to save money they installed a furnace and air conditioning unit way to small for our square footage. We froze in the winter and sweltered in the summer, and still paid ridiculous gas and electric bills! The new furnace and air conditioner have helped immensely, but it still costs money to heat our square footage.

I have started a short list of ways to conserve energy and save on our utility bills. So far I have come up with:
  • Weather stripping. It's not something you think about until you see that crack of light shining between the outside door and the door jamb. It is amazing what a difference new weatherstripping makes around outside doors.
  • Insulate switch plates and electrical plates. You can buy these at Home Depot or Lowe's.
    Drafts can sneak in around switch and electrical plates located on outside walls.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed on days when the sun isn't shining. Of course, open them up on sunny days to let the sun help heat the house.
  • Throw an extra blanket on your bed, so that you can turn the heat way down at night.
  • Wear a sweater or layers during the day, so that the thermostat can be set at a lower temperature.
  • Bake on cold days. It helps warm up the house (and it smells great,too).
  • When you use your oven bake several items to eat through out the week, and bake several things at once. For example, bake your veggie, main dish, and a bread or potato in the oven at the same time (See picture at top of post, and disregard dirty's on my To Do List.....I promise!).
  • Run the washing machine and dishwasher during non peak hours. Usually, later at night.
  • Turn off lights in unused rooms. This should be a no brainer, but the troops have not grasped this concept at our house. I am the light Nazi, going through the house turning off lights and ranting to all that will listen!
So, what are some of the ways that YOU, all my wonderful bloggy friends, have found to conserve energy and save money?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Removing Build Up From The Inside Of Your Dishwasher

I was at Child #4's flag football practice a couple of weeks ago, lamenting that my dishwasher was causing me grief. The main problem being that the dishes were coming out dirtier than when they went in. I am not new to this dilemma. I am lucky to live in an area that is surrounded by mountains, trees, and rivers. It is a beautiful place, but it has some of the hardest stinking water in the U.S. (seriously, it does!). Hard water can wreak great havoc on washing machines, dishwashers (I am on #3), faucets, pipes, siding, basically anything it touches. I do own a water softener, but that does not keep things totally in check (it just slows the process down). Anyway, the combination of lime scale, hard water, and dishwasher detergent build up had trashed the inside of the dishwasher, so when I ran a load, little bits of build up were being deposited on my dishes. One of the mom's that was chatting with me mentioned that a plumber had told her to use The Works toilet bowl cleaner to remove the build up. Being a gal who is always up for a cheap answer to a problem, I thought I would give it a try.

You can buy The Works toilet bowl cleaner at the Dollar Tree and Walmart.

Basically this is what I did:
  • Turn off heated drying cycle on your dishwasher.
  • Place newspaper under dishwasher to catch any drips. This is VERY important if you have laminate or hard wood floors. If the cleaner sits on your floor for very long it will eat the finish off of your floor! Wipe up spill and change wet newspaper IMMEDIATELY!
  • Squirt toilet bowl cleaner on the sides and around the entire bottom of the dishwasher.
  • I squirted some into the holes of my sprayer arms because they were filled up with crud,too.
  • Let cleaner sit for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how bad the build up is. I let mine sit for 10 minutes.
  • Fill the detergent cup up with toilet bowl cleaner.
  • Run the dishwasher on the Light Wash cycle (that way the dishwasher doesn't drain out your cleaner before it is done working).
  • When dishwasher hits the drying cycle, open the door and let the steam escape.
  • Use a wet sponge to wipe out any remaining grunge.
  • Run your dishwasher without anything in it through a second cycle to remove any remaining cleaner.
  • Admire your beautifully clean dishwasher!
I had to repeat the process a second time, because my dishwasher was so funky gross, but it was worth it. Here is the dishwasher before:

Here it is after a thorough detox:

Almost like new! The best part is the dishes actually came out clean and sparkly! The troops are happy, too. They were getting tired of doing multiple loads of dishes by hand everyday to keep up. The big babies! I remember when I was growing up I had to do dishes by hand...uphill... in a snow storm....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Makeshift Mudroom

I really wanted a mudroom, or at least a place where I could organize all those coats, hats, backpacks, and seasonal items that seem to clutter up my household. I have a coat closet, but it is in the most inconvenient place in the house. It proved far to difficult for the troops to walk through the kitchen and open the door of the closet to hang up a coat and/or backpack. Apparently, it is much easier to just drop it on the floor! It made much more sense to turn the coat closet into a pantry(that of course, is another post entirely). A pantry is nice, but it didn't solve the mudroom dilemma. Of course, frugality is all about improvising. You have to make do with what you have available to work with. The stairs going to the basement are right next to the kitchen door (which is the most used door in the house). The landing on the stairs is fairly roomy, and since most of the troops assorted items seemed to pile up in that area anyway, I figured that the landing would work for a "mudroom".

Since, my coat area would be open for all to see I wanted to find a coat rack that was attractive.
I found this at a craft show and it had been discounted.

The cute sign was found at another craft fair, and it since it pretty much was perfect I bought myself a Mother's Day gift (that was my big splurge).

Dear Hubby took a leftover piece of fence (from our fence repair earlier in the season), cut the end off to fit the space, added some hooks, and secured it into the wall studs. Now there is a place to hang backpacks, and purses. Someday I will paint it to match the's on my To Do List.

The ladder was a gift from my Brother and Sister In Law. They found it in the back of the shed on the property they were renting. Knowing how much I love old things, they painted it and gave it to me for my birthday. It makes the perfect "shelf".

Wicker baskets purchased at thrift stores for a dollar or less make perfect cubbies for gloves, hats, the dog leash, bubbles, side walk chalk, and all the other things that seem necessary for survival.

I found these fabulous S hooks at our local army surplus store for a dime apiece. They fit on the rungs of the ladder perfectly, and are great for hanging lunch bags, fly swatters, and reusable grocery bags.

The big wicker basket was found in the clearance section of a decor store for $6.97 (75% off). It works great as a catch all for shoes, and assorted sporting equipment.

The perfect makeshift mudroom! Now, I just have to convince the troops to put their "stuff" in the appropriate places.......and not on the floor!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ridley's and BiLo's (Associated Food) Deals 10/12 - 10/18

Ridley's and Nel's Bi Lo both have some good deals in their ad this week! There are some especially great produce sales.
  • 2 liters of Shasta soda $.49 each
  • 2 liters of Pepsi products $.99 each
  • Betty Crocker cake mixes $.79 each
  • 7 pound bag of Krustez pancake mix $4.99 each
  • W.F. (6 oz) cartons of yogurt $.39 each
  • W.F. (8 oz) package cream cheese $.99 each
  • 15 pound bags of russet potatoes $1.47 each
  • Red or black grapes $.97 pound
  • Red bell peppers $.59 each
  • Green bell peppers 3 for $1.00
  • Cucumbers 3 for $1.00
  • Apples (Granny Smith, Gala, Yellow or Red Delicious, Jonagold, and Braeburn) $.57 pound

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thrift Store Fun

One of my favorite past times is thrift store shopping. I am lucky to have access to several second hand, consignment, and thrift stores in my area. I have found that if I am consistent I can find treasures fairly frequently. There are trips when I don't find anything or only an item or two, but there are times when I hit the jackpot. Yesterday was one of those trips. My girl child (Child #2) has caught the thrifting bug, as well. She had several babysitting jobs this summer, and bought the majority of her own school clothes ( I was very proud of her for that). It didn't take her very long to realize that her money went a lot further at the thrift shops than at the mall (even though she and her little friends hit some awesome clearance sales and got some great deals, too). Here's what we found:

Child #2 found three cute sweaters to take on her Debate trip in November.

Child #2 found the cute brown dress, but I found a couple of dresses for me.

We also found two books, a brand new twin sheet set (that matches #2's bedding set), a purse for me (I'm so excited, because the inside of this purse is filled with pockets. Now maybe I will be able to find my keys and cell phone. Wishful thinking?), a pair of ballet flats ( I had to do some finagling to get to keep those. Dear daughter and I wear the same shoe size. I may have to hide them!), two stylish belts (Child #2's little fetish. She has a drawer full of them.), and three DVD's.

Here's a close up of the DVD's. "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Princess Diaries" were both brand new! Yoo Hoo! Our total amount spent was $60.97.

If you want to be a thrift store shopper there are several things to remember:
  • Keep a note book with items that you are looking for. I have a page for each child with needs and sizes. I also have a page with a list of house hold and misc. items I am looking for.
  • Have a general idea of prices for new items in your area (you can keep those in your notebook, too). It's silly to pay the same price for used as for new items on sale.
  • Check clothing for tears and stains. Also try the zippers to make sure they are working properly. If they are missing buttons or the stains appear to be easily removable buy the item. A little bit of work will score you a treasure.
  • Canning jars, wicker baskets, picture frames, holiday decorations, movies, and books are generally always a good deal at thrift stores.
  • Furniture can also be a thrifty find, but most of the time it will require some work to clean them up or repair. Always check springs, joints, and framework for damage before purchasing.
  • Browse the entire store. If you find something you like, but aren't sure about, put it in your cart anyway. You may go back for it, and find some else has beat you to it.
  • Visit them often. Thrift stores receive new donations daily, so inventory changes often. I usually go about twice a month. I will go weekly if I am looking for something in particular.
  • Don't get discouraged. Sometimes you see A LOT of ugly ducklings before you find a swan!
  • If you have items that you are not using, donate them. Some one else may be able to use them!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

I haven't posted about Bountiful Baskets for awhile, so I thought I would show you all what was in this week's basket. I am still loving that I can get all of this produce for $15.00 (plus $10.00 for 5 loaves of bread that is made with all natural ingredients). This week Mother Lode included:
  • A giant head of leaf lettuce
  • Three tomatoes
  • The artichokes
  • Two (1 pound) bags of carrots
  • Three red peppers
  • A head of celery
  • Two pounds of green grapes
  • One pound container strawberries
  • Eight gala apples
  • Three pound bunch of bananas
  • Ten kiwi
  • One cantaloupe
The only item that is baffling me is the artichokes. I am not quite sure what do to with them. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baking Day And Home Made Yogurt

I have decided that I must spend at least half of my life in the kitchen! I don't do this intentionally, I just always end up there. In all fairness, I do split my time equally with the laundry room (the laundry room is where I hang out when I want privacy. Nobody dares enter the laundry "lair", or I'll put them to work sorting or folding. Both are considered dreaded work)!
I don't really mind being in the kitchen (except when it's messy). It is considered the heart of the home, after all!

Lately, I have probably been spending extra time in the kitchen, because I have been taking a good long look at my families eating habits; and trying to can, cook, and bake more home made items, for several reasons:
  • It does save money to make things from scratch.
  • If you make it yourself you know what's in it and where it has been.
  • It's healthier.
  • I feel like I'm nurturing my family if I am feeding them home cooked goodness.
Wednesdays are my day off from work, so I have set aside the last couple to put my experiment into action. Last week I reinvented my leftover's from the fridge while I did my baking. This week I have kept a pretty good rein on the leftovers. Today the only thing that needed used up was some leftover applesauce (imagine that!). The kids are tired of eating plain applesauce, so I turned the little bit that was left into Applesauce Muffins.

I found a recipe for Brown Sugar Banana Muffins at Recipe They sounded yummy, so I switched out the bananas for applesauce.

I decided to put some of the apple pie filling that I have been canning to good use, and baked a couple of pies. This time of the year always get an urge to bake pie. If you double a batch of pie dough and throw some in the freezer pie baking is quick and easy. One went to the neighbor's, who has just had surgery, to cheer him up.

I also tried my hand at making home made vanilla yogurt, too. I have been very excited to try this since I read how to make yogurt on The Frugal Girl's blog a couple of weeks ago. She is one smart cookie when it comes to frugality. I figured that a half gallon of whole milk from my local no frills grocery store costs $.84 and 1/2 cup of sugar cost my roughly $.06 so for 8 cups of yogurt I spent $.90 or $.11 for an 8oz. a serving. The cheapest I can buy yogurt for is between $.29 and $.36 for a 6oz a serving. Here is what the finished product looks like:

I snitched a taste, and it is yummy! It is going to taste great mixed with fresh fruit, or a swirl of raspberry freezer jam! Next time I make yogurt I think I will do some plain, too. You can trade out plain yogurt for sour cream in most recipes, and $.42 cents for 4 cups of sour cream substitute is pretty cheap. Looks like it's muffins and yogurt for breakfast at our house tomorrow! Yum!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ridley's and BiLo's (Associated Food) Deals10/5 - 10/11

It's the second week of the Gigantic Case Lot Sale at Ridley's and Nel's BiLo. I asked the clerk last night and she informed me that shipments come on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights; so if they are out of something you need check back today, Thursday, or Saturday morning. In addition to the case lot savings I noticed that:
  • 20 pack of Pepsi products are $3.88 each for your first two
  • Iceberg lettuce is $.69 each
They are also having there One Day Produce Sale on Friday, October 8th. It includes:
  • Fuji or Jonagold apples $.77 pound
  • Bananas $.42 pound
  • Yellow onions 4 pounds for a $1.00 (this is a great price. Stock up and store in a cool dark place)
  • Strawberries (1 pound container) $1.87 each
  • Dole (12 oz) bag of salad $.97 each
  • Mushrooms (8 oz) containers 2 for $3.00

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Applesauce Fun!?!

I mentioned in my previous post that Dear Hubby "surprised" me with two boxes of apples from a friend's orchard. The troops have been doing there best to eat them, but with the way above average temperatures here the apples had started to get a little soft. Not wanting to waste them I decided to throw together a batch of applesauce. Of course, I grossly under estimated the project! I started off by quartering the apples:

Tossing them into my trusty kettle. This pot is one of my most prized possessions. It belonged to my Great Grandmother, who used it for the exact same purposes, as I do. Then it was passed on to my Mother who would make giant batches of chili in it to put in the freezer, for later. I became the proud owner of it several years ago, and I have put it to a myriad of uses.

While the apple were "cooking down" (This takes about thirty minutes. Don't forget to stir them occasionally so they don't scorch!). I put together the Victorio Strainer. I picked this wonderous culinary gadget up at the local thrift store for $6.00. A HUGE bargain! Purchased new this would cost much, much more! This handy gizmo is one of my favorite canning items. It eliminates the need to peel, core, and seed fruits and veggies. It does the work for you. Notice the trusty Pyrex pans waiting to catch the yummy goodness!

Once the apples are soft load the hopper and start processing them.

Of course, it is always nice if you get a little help! Surprisingly, Child #3 and #4 love to help do this part of the process. They fight over who gets to "plunge" the apples and who gets to turn the crank!

Just like magic! Applesauce come out the side and the apple "poop" (Yes, another "Barrettism" created by my delightful children. Nice potty language, huh?) shoots out the center. The apple "poop" gets tossed into the garden to break down over the winter.

The applesauce goes back into the kettle, and it is time to add sugar. I usually taste test the amount of sugar I stir in. Sweeter apples need less sugar than tart ones. These were fairly sweet, so I only added 3 cups of sugar to the whole kettle. You can add cinnamon and nutmeg at this point, too, if you like spicy applesauce.

Once the applesauce comes to a slow boil and the sugar is dissolved pour the applesauce into hot sterilized jars (dishwashers are fabulous for doing this!).

Top the jars with new lids that have been simmering in hot water for 5 minutes, and tighten down the lid down with a ring. Place them in a on the plate of the steam canner.

Cover with the dome lid and bring to a boil (a steady flow of steam will start shooting out of the steam holes in the lid), process for 20 minutes (if you live at sea level). I process mine for 30 minutes because I live at 4,600 ft. above sea level. If you don't know what adjustment to make for your altitude you check out this link. You can also use a water bath canner if you don't have a steam canner. Just follow the instructions for water bathing in The Ball Blue Book. I fact, the instructions for making applesauce can be found in The Ball Blue Book.

When you are done processing the jars set them on a hard surface to cool. Don't they look just lovely?

Woo, Hoo! Apples are all done! Another check mark on the canning list! Is that list getting shorter? Maybe,..... but wait ....... what do I see simmer on the stove? More salsa, anyone?

Really, I can stop anytime I want to............................

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Need A Canning Intervention!

I swear, I made a promise to myself, at the beginning of the Summer, that I would NOT doing any canning this year! I had just inventoried the storage room downstairs and realized that 2/3 of the stash of garden produce I had put up from 2009 was still sitting pristinely in their cardboard boxes. That is because I was WAY out of control in 2008 and basically canned anything that would hold still for 5 minutes; leaving a surplus! I really had good intentions, and I held out for quite awhile but................
  • Bountiful Baskets had such great deals on peaches, and pears, that my Dear Sweet Friend and I just did a "little" canning to take advantage of great prices and put a few things away.
  • Then the stinkin' green beans that I had been lamenting were not going to produce, did just that! So, I thought I'd just put up a few more jars (12 to be exact) of Dilly Beans ( for a grand total of 36 pints of Dilly Beans in the storage room).

  • But then Bountiful Baskets offered a fabulous price on a 36 pound box of Gala Apples. My Dear Friend and I really did need to stock up on Apple Pie Filling and it was just one box. In the end we netted 22 quarts.
I am NOT an addict! I can stop any time I want to! Only...........
  • Those darn tomato plants that were loaded with green tomatoes that I knew were not going to ripen, did so all at once! Not to mention that those jalapeno pepper plants have been just so industrious, and so have the green pepper plants!
In fact, I don't think my peppers have ever produced anything close to this amount....ever! This is just one weeks picking. I have 2 gallon Ziploc bags of green peppers in the freezer already!

  • I just couldn't waste all these beautiful veggies that my garden had worked so hard to produce.
  • I would just make one batch of salsa to use them up....or maybe four batches (32 pints later).
  • Oh, No! When I drained the tomatoes to makes salsa, it left a gallon and a half of perfectly good tomato juice. Of course, Waste Not Want Not! There was no way I could pour that juice down the drain. Besides, I had all the canning equipment out anyway, so I steam canned 6 quarts of tomato juice.
  • Then I still had a pile of jalapenos! Now, if I tried to feed the kid's that many hot peppers all at once, I'm sure something VERY, VERY bad would happen! It would only take a minute to pressure can a few for later. Twelve more 1/2 pints later (bringing the grand total of canned peppers to 35).
  • I'm sure I am done now! Oh, wait! Dear Hubby brought me "flowers" in the form of two more boxes of apples from his friend's orchard. Looks like I'll be making applesauce tomorrow.....and what about all those yummy beets still in the garden.....and the carrots, we can't waste those!
Hello, my name is Tightwad Mom and I have an addiction problem...........!


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