Sunday, January 30, 2011

This Week's Menu 1/31

 (here's what is in this week's Bountiful Basket)

 I am proud to announce that I spent $387.86 this month on groceries; this includes food and non perishable items (a.k.a. toilet paper, laundry soap, dog food, etc.). That also includes my weekly contribution to Bountiful Baskets (my half of the contribution is $8.25 per week). I did not buy very much meat this month, because I am trying to use up a slew of frozen chicken and venison from our freezer. My meat purchases consisted of pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and a couple packages of turkey lunch meat.

This week's menu is kind of boring, but I polled the troops, and the following entrees won the popular vote. I suppose if they decide what's for dinner, they  will be required to eat it! I'm sure that is an unwritten law..........somewhere!

Dinner At The Neighbors ( I provided dessert. Brownies and Ice Cream)

Bacon Fried Rice

Venison Stew
Buttermilk Biscuits

Soft Tacos
Refried Beans
Tomato and  Lettuce

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (using leftover taco meat in the sauce)
Green Salad
Easy Breadsticks

Leftover Night
Steamed Broccoli

Hashbrown Sausage Bake (new recipe that I'm trying)
Fruit Salad
Muffins (the kind depends on what leftover fruit or veggies need used up)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Utilities Saving For January

Tonight was bill paying night. After  paying the bills and having a Pow Wow with Dear Hubby on the State of the Finances, I did a quick comparison of last months utility costs with this month's bills. According to my calculations we saved $8.35 on our electric bill, $6.51 on our water (sewer and garbage) bill, but our gas bill went up $23.56. I was a little bummed out about the increase for the gas bill until I realized that we have had temperatures in the teens and below freezing for the better part of last month. I also compared this month's usage with January 2010 and we used exactly the same amount of natural gas. Last January was much warmer than this year, so that made me feel better. All in all it was not the huge savings I was hoping for, but even a little bit saved is better than nothing at all.
This month I am going to make a better effort to line dry more of our clothes and conserve our water usage. The days are starting to get longer, so maybe we can start using artificial light a little less, too. I guess, "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day", so I guess ginormous utility savings isn't either. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Stylish Blogger Award.....

I am blushing right now! Two lovely bloggers have given my "The Stylish Blogger" award. Many, many thank yous to Lianne at  Family Life and Shannon at 4 Growing Boys! It warms my little heart to realize that other bloggers enjoy reading what I have to say! Quite honestly, sometimes I wonder if writing about my frugal antics, is helpful to anyone else, but kind comments from my readers and FABULOUS awards, like this one, make it all worthwhile!

Here are the rules to the award:
     1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
     2. Share 7 things about yourself
     3. Award 15 other bloggers
     4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

Okay here are seven things about me:
  1. I love, love, LOVE Diet Coke.
  2. I bake as a stress reliever.
  3. I love aprons. I always wear one when I cook or bake.
  4. I have four silly, sassy, infuriating, wonderful children (and one silly, sassy, infuriating, wonderful hubby, too!).
  5. I love to read. Especially cookbooks and books on thrift or frugality.
  6. I love to garden (and therefore, I love to can and freeze the excess).
  7. I am a closet farm girl. Secretly, I want to milk cows, gather eggs, and grow a ginormous garden. Maybe someday, when I grow up............
Now, for fifteen FABULOUS blog:


My Frugal Fun Life

Oomph An "Aha"

Sometimes these blogs make my laugh, sometimes they make me cry, sometimes they just get me thinking. Each of these great ladies are geniuses in my mind, and never cease to inspire me. I consider them all great virtual friends!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nifty Fireplace Decorations

When we bought our house, one of the selling points was that it had a fireplace in the living room. I am a sucker for a fireplace. I had visions of rocking my babies by a roaring fire on cold winter nights. It didn't take us long to realize that while that was a beautiful thought in theory, in actuality the fireplace was a heat sucker and very drafty. This fact, was a sad reality for a young couple who had just invested their life savings into their "house of dreams", and did not have spare money to spend on outrageous heating bills. So, Dear Hubby stuffed insulation into the chimney to keep the drafts at bay. Sad for me, because I couldn't built my homey fires. I did try placing candles in the grate and lighting those to simulate a fire burning. Also great in theory, but candles produce heat and have open flames, that may or may not, start the insulation on fire. My poor fireplace sat forlorn and empty, until I discovered the joys of flameless candles.I am thinking these are one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread!! Looks like a candle (they are made from real wax), smells like a candle (mine smell faintly like vanilla), tastes like a candle (just kidding, I really didn't "taste" it). All the pros to real candles without the flame or the mess. The little LED lights flicker just like a real flame, they are battery run, and mine even  has a timer. I can turn them on, and five hours later they turn themselves off (thus saving battery life).

If  I use my imagination they even kind of look like fire burning in the fireplace. I saw the candles at Costco. They were next to the Christmas decorations and were priced at $19.99. I thought they were a dandy invention the first time I saw them, and I knew they would be perfect for my fireplace redo. I even put them in, and took them out of my cart about three different times during the Holiday season. I just couldn't justify spending $20.00 on frivolity, so my sneaky husband bought them for me. He wrapped them up and put them under the Christmas tree. He looked like the cat that had eaten the canary when I opened them up on Christmas morning; bless his sneaky little heart!

Along with my spiffy new candles, I added in a few Aspen logs that hold smaller LED flameless votive candles. They originally held small candles, and I scored them for FREE from a friend's yard sale. I placed some cinnamon pine cones that I bought a few years ago in an after Christmas clearance bin in between the candles and votive holders. The pinecones have lost their cinnamon smell, but they look pretty festooned around the candles. Now whenever I am hankering for a fire, I can just flip the little switch on the bottom of my candles and almost fire!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins And A Couple Handy Tips

In order to keep up with my self imposed goal of baking and cooking more from scratch, I have been trying to bake several recipes at the same time. It is more efficient to bake several things at once while the oven is already preheated, baking supplies are already out, and the kitchen is already a mess (at least in my case!). For instance, if I am going to bake bread, I will mix together and knead the bread dough. While it is rising I will whip up a batch of muffins (doubling it, so half  can go in the freezer for quick breakfasts or lunch box treats) or cookies (also doubled,  because if word gets out that cookie baking is going on at the Tightwad household the kid's friends will always show up to "help" us eat them!). The warm stove top (from the heat generated from the oven) is great for letting bread dough rise, and using the oven efficiently  reduces energy waste.
A couple days ago, I was going through the refrigerator finding odds and ends that needed to be used up. I came across an almost empty jar of home made applesauce and half of a leftover baked butternut squash. Muffins popped into my head. Since I was already planning on baking a batch of cookies, I thought muffins would be a great addition, too. Muffins and quick breads are a great way to used up leftover cooked carrots, squash, over ripe fruit, or odds and ends. I looked through my new cook book  "The Taste Of Home Baking Book" (thank you Dear Hubby).

In it I found a recipe for Pumpkin Streusel  Muffins. I tweaked the recipe a little bit so that I could use up the leftover applesauce. I also doubled the original recipe to have leftovers to freeze. Here is what I came up with.

"Pumpkin" Streusel Muffins
(makes about two dozen muffins)
1/2 cup butter (or shortening), softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups pureed butternut squash (you can also use canned pumpkin, or cooked, mashed carrots)
1/2 cup applesauce ( or add 1/2 cup more pumpkin to the recipe)
1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk, or plain yogurt, or sour cream)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup molasses
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
4 1/2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into twelve small sections
(Combine flour and brown sugar in a bowl. cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. I just mix it together with my clean hands.)
  1. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add squash, applesauce, buttermilk, molasses, and mix well.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour , baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture into wet ingredients until just blended (the batter will be lumpy).
  5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
  6. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter. 
  7. Bake at 375 for 20 - 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack. Cool at least 15 minutes before eating.
HANDY TIP #1: I love streusel topping, but it is notoriously messy. I discovered that if you put a round cookie or biscuit cutter over the top of  muffin before you sprinkle the crumbly topping it will go on the top of the muffin batter and not all over the pan and counter (and the floor, if you are like me!)

HANDY TIP #2: Watch for paper cupcake/ muffin liners on clearance racks and at Dollar Stores. You can some times find them cheaper than at the grocery store. If your not picky about the design you can get them for pennies. I didn't think the Troops would mind snowman faces on their muffins and I scored these for $.43 a 75 count package ( or $.005 a piece).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ridley's and BiLo's (Associated Food) Deals1/18 - 1/24 ( And A Thought Or Two)

 I know it's been awhile since I posted Ridley's weekly deals. I didn't really grocery shop during the holidays this year. I really relied on the plethora of  meat and veggies residing in my freezer, and pantry basics (not to mention all those home canned goodies I "put up" this summer and fall). Throw in holiday parties, dinners, and bless the fabulous friends and neighbors who kept my family fed the week before Christmas while Dear Daughter recuperated from surgery; and I really didn't need to buy a lot of grocery extras. Now that I am back in the frugal saddle trying to stretch the grocery dollar a little further, so that I can pay down medical bills, perusing the grocery ads has become a necessity, again.

I am a little disheartened, though. I have noticed a trend the last few months. The grocery ads for my local grocery stores are offering fewer sales items each week. Those items that go on sale really aren't a super cheap price, and coupon match ups are not fabulous, either. Pair that with the fact that I am trying to remove most prepackaged and processed foods out of my families diet (cold cereal is still a staple I just have been buying "healthier" options)  has kind of made me revamp how I shop. Ridley's has actually been offering better sales prices than either Smith's or Albertson's, lately. So, I will be going back to posting the weekly deals, if only for my benefit. Here are this week's deals:
  • Quaker Cereal (Life, Oatmeal Squares, Capt'n Crunch) $1.89 each
  • 2 liter Pepsi products $.93 each
  • W.F. (4oz) Diced Chilies 2 for $1.00
  • Dole (12 oz) frozen 100% Orange or Pineapple Juice concentrate 4 for $5.00
  • Old Orchard (12 oz) frozen  100% Juice Blend concentrate 5 for $5.00
  • Libby (12 pack) canned Corn, Green Beans, and Peas $6.00
  • Fresh Pineapple $.79 pound
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower $.79 pound
  • Hunts (26 oz) cans of Spaghetti sauce 11 for $10.00
  • American Beauty (12-16 oz) packages of pasta 11 for $10.00
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (4 pack) $2.32 each ($.58 per individual box)
  • W.F. Cream of Mushroom or Chicken soup $.69 each
  • Tillamook (5 pound) brick of Medium Cheddar Cheese $11.95 ($2.39 per pound)
  • 10 pound box of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts $13.95 each ($1.39 pound)
  • Boneless Country Style Pork Ribs $1.79 pound
  • Tide (100 oz) Laundry Detergent $9.69 each
  • Sauve (15 oz) Shampoo or Conditioner $.88 each
Harper's Home Made Bread (White, Honey Wheat, and Bran) are still 4 for $5.00. A little heads up for any couponers. Ridley's no longer accepts internet coupons, but still accept regular manufacturer's coupons.

I'm just curious, have the local grocery stores in your area changed their sales tactics, as well?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Week's Menu 1/17

(my half of this week's Bountiful Basket)
Woo Hoo!! Bountiful Baskets offered tortillas this week. For $7.50 you get 7 dozen tortillas. Three dozen giant sized  flour tortillas, two dozen soft taco sized flour tortillas, and two dozen white corn tortillas. Of course, I split the tortillas and basket with my Dear Friend. My children love, love, LOVE the giant tortillas. They are big bean and cheese quesadilla fans, and those big tortillas make a man sized quesadilla (I'm just quoting the troops!). Anyway, this week's menu is a continued effort to use up leftovers, and I am still trying to add more fruits and veggies into our diet.

Hashbrowns (shredded the extra baked potatoes I baked for last week's Chili Cheese Baked Potatoes)
Sausage Gravy 
Scrambled Eggs
Pumpkin Struesel Muffins(recipe forth coming)

Bacon Fried Rice
Brussel Sprouts (for me)
Green Beans
Pineapple Chunks

Shrimp Alfredo
Penne Pasta
Strawberry Jello with Kiwis in it

Chicken Enchiladas (using the white corn tortillas and green chiles from Bountiful Basket)
Refried Beans
Tossed Salad (have a cucumber and tomato to use up) 
Apple Crisp
Tuna Noodle Casserole (this was on Budget Confidential's menu last week and she totally made me crave it)
Baked Butternut Squash
Sliced Pears

Pizza or Calzones
Any leftover Fruits and Veggies that need eaten

Now that I have faithfully planned a menu for the last month or so, I have realized that committing a menu plan to print really helps me keep a mental checklist of what needs to be used up and what is in the freezer and fridge most of the time. It has really helped me keep food waste to a minimum and I have been able to keep my weekly grocery spending to about $80.00 a week. Not bad considering I am feeding 2 adults, an 18 year old boy, 15 year old girl, 11 year old boy,  9 year old boy, and a stray friend or two.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Makeshift Dishsoap Container

 I like to buy dish soap at Costco. If you watch their monthly coupon book that they send to their members, you can usually get a large container of dish soap for around $5.00. A 90 ounce bottle of dish soap will last our family about three months. The only down side is that an extremely large bottle of dish soap does not sit daintily on the edge of the sink, and it's kind of heavy to be constantly dragging up from under the sink. I usually have a  recycled hand soap dispenser filled with dish soap sitting by my sink, but the pump of the dispenser finally broke tonight. I didn't have a spare soap dispenser handy, and I didn't want to go buy a new one. I started looking around the kitchen for an alternative, and notice an empty one liter Diet Coke bottle sitting next to the dish drainer. Don't worry I do not regularly down a one liter bottle of Diet Coke everyday (some days I want to.........but I don't). When Darling Daughter was in the hospital last month a very good friend brought me a care package to get me through in my time of need, and it included the one liter bottle of my beverage of choice. After fiddling around with the screw off pop up lid of the dish soap bottle, I noticed that it would screw down nicely onto the Diet Coke bottle. The light bulb went on! I filled the soda bottle up with dish soap, took the label off the bottle, and screwed the pop up lid onto my new dish soap dispenser. It's just the right size to sit on the edge of the sink, but the best part is that is was FREE! I just turned potential trash into a treasure (or at least a useful solution to a little problem)! YEAH ME!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Sometimes it takes a couple of really great friends to kidnap you, and make you take a night off!

Sometimes they just need to make you stop loading the dishwasher........and yelling at the kids..... and whisk you away from everyday monotony.

Sometimes you just need to break into your secret stash of cash that you've been saving for a rainy day to pay for the movie ticket (at the second run theater).

Sometimes you just need to sit in a dark theater with your buddies.....and sip Diet Coke........and eat movie theater popcorn....... and laugh........and laugh.........LAUGH!

Sometimes that is all it takes to make you realize that life is wonderful, again..............and that you are REALLY LOVED!!!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

This Week's Menu 1/10

This is what I received in my half of the Bountiful Baskets this week.

It is still the cheapest way for me to buy produce, especially this time of the year! I am still loving B.B.! The produce is always fresh and lasts well over a week, or longer. The menu this week is kind of boring. It's a super busy week for our household, so I am opting for easy meals. I had a spare few hours Saturday afternoon (that hardly EVER happens), so I baked a batch of rolls, two loaves of Cinna Burst Bread, and Apple Cake to save myself some time during the first part of the week (The cake looks burned in this picture. I promise it's not. It's spice cake of sorts, so it is just dark on top. It really is tasty.....and sinfully moist!)

I am also relying on several  items I stashed in the freezer over the Holidays to make dinner prep easier.

Home made rolls
Apple cake (Delicious recipe that used up several mushy apples. I'll be sharing it soon!)
Ice Cream
French Toast (using Homemade Cinna Burst Bread)
Orange Slices

French Dip (thawing out leftover sliced roast in the crock pot)
Au Jus
Home made rolls
Steamed Brussell Sprouts
Frozen Corn (for the Brussell Sprout haters)

Shrimp Lo Mein
Stir Fried Veggies (using yellow squash and broccoli from B.B.)
Cubed Pineapple

Chili  Topped Baked Potatoes (Last time I made chili I doubled the batch and stashed it in the freezer.)
Green Salad
Pudding Salad (this is bumped from last week's menu)

Pizza Night 
Green Salad
Cinnamon Sticks (another recipe from One Crazy Cookie)

Finally, I just wanted to share the fabulous deal I got at Big Lots this week. I decided to make a quick trip to Big Lots to buy some facial cleanser (a.k.a. Noxema) and mascara for Child #2. When I walked in the front door of the store their was a cart full of discounted grocery items. They had these jars of Spaghetti sauce marked down to $.50 a jar (regularly $1.90). Their sell by date is for January 13, 2011, but jarred spaghetti sauce will still be good for at least another 9 months. A few of the troops aren't huge fans of Chunky Style Spaghetti Sauce, but a quick whirl in the food processor will take care of that!

Here's a handy tip if one jar of Spaghetti Sauce isn't quite enough to feed all the hungry mouths at your house (Mine seem to eat more and MORE  all the time!).  Stir in one (8 oz) can of tomato sauce, 1/2 can of water, 1 tablespoon of ketchup, and a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning into the sauce. It should give you and extra serving or two and no one will be the wiser. 
Handy tip #2. If you have a tiny amount of ketchup left in the bottle, add a tablespoon or two of water into the bottle. Screw the lid back on tight and shake the bottle to mix the ketchup and water. Pour into spaghetti sauce, soup, chili, or sloppy joes. Waste Not Want Not!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saving Money On Utility Bills

It seems like utility rates have  increased quite a bit where I live. I know for a fact that our power supplier increased rates 12% recently. Our gas bill has seemed high, too. This does not bode well for my new uber tight budget, so I have been trying to find ways to decrease our consumption. This has not been an easy task, because I live with four children that didn't realize that the light switch goes UP and DOWN! They are great at turning lights on, but off ....not so much.  I have become the families Black Out warden; only I'm not protecting us from enemy planes, just outrageous energy bills. I may being instigating a $.25 fine for every infraction that occurs if my barrel of  Monkeys doesn't get on board soon. Anyhow, after much thought I have implemented the following energy saving measures at our house:
  • I have turned the thermostat down to between 67 - 68 degrees during the day, and 62 degrees at night. I have noticed that the kids have been wearing the knit caps they got for Christmas around the house, and a few have been wrapped in blankets while they watch television. I have been wearing fleece socks, slippers, and a sweater around the house.  At least nobody is going to freeze....right?
  • I have been opening all the blinds on sunny days to help warm up the house. 
  • I have also been placing rolled up towels ( I just happen to have a few old towels lying around lately) against the bottom of the door to prevent drafts.
  • I have been uber vigilant on turning off all the lights that get left on, and waiting until absolutely necessary to turn them on a night. I have been using lamps more, instead of the over head lights.
  • I have been filling the sink with water to rinse the dishes while I am loading the dishwasher, instead of running them under a stream of water.
  • I run the dishwasher at night after 10:00 pm, when the rates are cheaper.
  • I have been washing most of the laundry in cold water ( I still wash towels, socks, and undies in hot water, because I am raising boys, and they are.....NASTY! I combine those loads.) 
  • I have purchased a second drying rack and am going to try to hang at least two loads of laundry a day up to dry. I have to wash 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day to keep up.
  • I have been rewearing some of my clothes before I wash them. It's too cold in my house to really sweat right now, so I wear my jeans and the cami's I wear under my shirts twice before I wash them. I have been making the kid's wear their pajamas 2 or 3 times, as well. They bathe at night before bed, so theoretically they are clean. Towels are SUPPOSE to be hung up to reuse several times, but this is still a work in progress. You can only train the Monkeys to do one thing  at a time.
  • When I do any baking I try to bake several things to last us several days, to cut down on heating the oven up unnecessarily. I have been thinking of using the crock pot more to cut down on using the oven.
Speaking of baking, this is totally off subject, but I forgot to post pictures of Child #4's Birthday cake this week. Making a birthday cake is a more frugal option than buying one (and I just want to show off my handy work), so hear it is:

The baby loves all things Star Wars. His original request was for a cake made into the shape of the Death Star or a 3 D likeness of Chewbaca. Since, I am not a miracle worker, he had to settle for a battle scene. The action figures were part of his gift (bought on sale with an extra 10% off). The magma (all alien planets have to have a molten lava surface, I was informed) is raspberry jam, the "dirt" is crushed chocolate graham crackers from the pantry, and the candy rocks came from the bulk section of the grocery store. Pretty good for a last minute "making do" cake.

Bloggy friends, give me your ideas! How do you save money on your energy bills?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Recap of 2010 And Some Goals For 2011

It's probably a little late to be posting New Year's goals, but it is still the FIRST week of January; so I'm going for it! When I started this blog last year, I basically did it to have a place to store all the useless bits of information I have accumulated through the years. Along the way I hoped it would help somebody else, too. I am eternally grateful to my Sister In Law for pushing me to do it. This blog has really helped me keep focused on maintaining a frugal lifestyle, despite a year on of financial instability. We bought out my husband's business partner in the Spring of 2009. Shortly after that the economic downturn hit our local economy hard. My husband livelihood  relies on people having crown and bridge work done; something people do not do if they are struggling to survive. His business has seen a 30% drop in production. So, 2010 has provided the stress of  keeping a business(and our employees) afloat, as well as, a myriad of unexpected, and expensive surprises. Here's a recap of  last year, in twelve short month's:

  • Dear Hubby slipped on the ice and shattered his knee cap.Required surgery and  recuperation time.
  • Dear Hubby starts Physical Therapy
  • My oldest two children are in a car accident (It was Child #1's fault. DO NOT text and drive). Totaling Child #1's car and sending his sister to the hospital.
  • Plumber comes to repair a split pipe that is flooding the basement (Note to self - learn plumbing repair!)
  • The fuel pump goes out on our Suburban (that's what you get when you drive a 14 year old car, but it's paid for!)
  • Continued Physical Therapy for Dear Hubby
  • Shower pipe splits in the wall requiring another repair (Bless our sweet Neighbor that came to our rescue and fixed it).

  • More Physical Therapy
  • Washing Machine decides to blow a sensor ( I have an HE front load machine)
  • Child #1 decides to jump over a pile of rocks while playing paint ball with his friends. Pile of rocks was actually a small cliff, and  pressure fractures his arm.
  • Nothing....Hallelujah!
  • Hubby's truck needs repair work (also older, but paid for!)
  • Help Child #2 purchase a new vehicle so he has transportation to and from work.
  • Our School District implemented an increase in school fees to offset budget cuts. The increased fees also coincide with two children attending High School ( Child #1 is a Senior).
September - November:
  • Lull before the storm (a.k.a. Christmas)
  • Christmas (enough said)
  • Three Children's birthdays over a six week period
  • Child #2's gall bladder goes wonky the week before Christmas and requires immediate removal.
I'm really not hosting a pity party right now, I promise! Despite our share of bad things A LOT of good things also happened. We are lucky to have a FABULOUS circle of friends and family that came to our rescue more than once. We were alsoable to pay for the Lion's share of our expensive with money from our savings, but as the year wore on our savings was depleted and we did incur some debt. We are going to have to make payments for our daughter's medical bills (We are self employed, so we have an  high deductible that has to be met.). Frugality  has always been a lifestyle for me. I naturally hate to squander what my Dear Hubby and I work so hard to earn. In 2011 frugality is going to be what keeps us alive, and gets us back on track. We really need to pay our debt down quickly, because we have some preplanned financial obligations that we will need to meet at the end of this year.  After some brain storming I have set the following goals to help us get back on top financially.
  1. I am going to REALLY  live by the addage, " USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT, MAKE DO, OR DO WITHOUT". 
  2. Purchases will only be made for necessary items.  I have been asking myself  "Do I NEED it, or do I WANT it. This really is an effective tool to eliminate overspending.
  3. I am not going to make any new purchases for house hold items (With the exception of a possible new fridge. Ours is 26+ years old and its on it's very last leg. Hopefully, when the time comes I can find a used one to fit the bill). I will be making do with what I already have.
  4. Any extra money will go toward paying off debt.
  5. I will be continuing to contribute to our saving accounts out of each paycheck to rebuild or savings.
  6. I am going to try keeping the grocery budget to $75.00 - $100.00 a week. That includes non grocery items, eating out, and my weekly contribution to Bountiful Baskets. I will be cooking and baking more from scratch, and relying heavily on bulk pantry staples and all the garden produce I canned and froze last year.
  7. Here's the hardest, but most important thing I want to accomplish this year. I want to keep a POSITIVE ATTITUDE about  living on a shoe string budget.
Of course, I will be continuing to post all about my FRUGAL JOURNEY  right here! You have all become my frugal conscience, so to speak! Committing goals to print (or cyberspace) will help me to stay focused! Thank you, DEAR READERS, for being my support team...........YOU ARE FABULOUS!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pudding Salad

I got this recipe years ago out of a Church sponsored cook book that I found at a thrift store. I have tweaked the original recipe several times, but it is now a tried and true favorite at our house. Since, this shows up in my menu's quite often, I thought it would be fun to share with all of you. The beauty of this recipe is that you can put any type of leftover fruit into it, and it always tastes great. Here are the staples you will need:

Pudding Salad
1 (3.4 oz) box of instant pudding
1 1/2 cups liquid (if  I am using canned fruit I use the juice from the can. If using fresh fruit I use water)
3 cups of fruit (canned, fresh, or a combination)
1 (8 oz) container of whipped topping

Whisk liquid into the dry pudding mixture. Let sit for 2 - 3 minutes. Add fruit and stir until well combined. Fold in whipped topping. Chill for at least an hour.

If you are on a restricted diet or watching your weight you can substitute sugar free pudding, and sugar free whipped topping. It will still taste great! Some of our favorite combinations are:
  • Lemon pudding, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and bananas
  • Cheesecake pudding, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas
  • Vanilla pudding, peaches, pears, and pineapple
  • Chocolate pudding, bananas, strawberries, and pineapple, chopped almonds

Sunday, January 2, 2011

This Week's Menu 1/2

All the holiday fun (and laziness) seems to be over. It's probably a good thing, because I think I have been a little cranky, lately. In fact, I think my kid's were trying to tell me something this afternoon. When I came into the kitchen from changing laundry, I found this:

Tomorrow the kid's go back to school, and Dear Hubby and I go back to regular work schedules. Well, it's time to get organized again! This week's menu  will be using up all the odds and ends that are lurking in my fridge. This week's menu:

Pork Roast and Gravy
Steamed Butternut Squash
Baklava (a very kind neighbor brought some over this afternoon)

Cream of Vegetable Soup
Pumpkin (a.k.a. Butternut Squash) Muffins
Green Salad
Birthday Cake (Baby #4's Birthday Today. Happy #9, son!)

Pork and Veggie Stir Fry
Leftover Rice
Leftover Green Salad

Venison Finger Steaks
Mashed Potatoes
Green Peas
Pudding Salad

Beef Stew

Newly Instigated Pizza Night (trying out the new pizza stone)
Any Fruits and Veggies that need to be used

Leftover Night or Baked Potato Bar (can't decide)

I feel like I am in a menu rut, lately. This seems to happen to me every so often. Maybe some of my blogging buddies can help me out of my rut!
What are some of your families favorite dinners?


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