Monday, August 11, 2014

Making Do with What's on Hand

This is the time of year that we are in "use it up" mode here at the Frugal Workshop. My income is reduced during the summer months and I tend to get very creative in the kitchen making do with what we have on hand. Our pantry is at the lowest I can remember it being in many years. This weekend I ended up making some Beanie Weenies from one can of pork and beans, the last of the barbecue sauce, and the last of some hot dogs. 

Here is a photo before I baked them off in the oven:

Another day I made some Fried Rice using the last of the brown rice I had on hand, a bag of peas and carrots I found in the freezer, a fried rice spice packet I found in the pantry, the last of the sesame seed oil, and my last onion. I also used the last of the soy sauce I had on hand or thought I had on hand. Then I remember I had bought some packets from Amazon for lunch boxes, and these worked perfectly for those who wanted additional soy sauce with their fried rice. 

Yesterday I cooked some chick peas/garbanzo beans in the pressure cooker that I had soaked overnight. After they were cooked I made some mock tuna salad out of them. I like the mock tuna salad even better than I liked tuna salad back when I used to buy tuna. I don't buy tuna anymore due to the cost and the possibility of contamination.  

As I mentioned earlier, my pantry inventory is very low. Right now I have on hand 4 boxes of spaghetti, one box of Bisquick, 2 bags of frozen carrots, 1 bag of frozen cauliflower, 1 can refried beans, 2 cans of mixed vegetables, 3 cans of green beans, and plenty of canned tomatoes including my last 8 jars of home canned tomatoes. 

Two of the burners on my stove top are not working and I've been making do without them all year. I cannot can on the two smallest burners, therefore I did not can any tomatoes this year. I've been using my electric pressure cooker for so many things that other than canning, I don't even miss the stove top.

I have plans to go grocery shopping on either Tuesday or Thursday of this week and have plans to replenish several things that we have run out of this summer. 

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Meatless Meals Series ~ Chef AJ's Red Lentil Chili

Image Credit
Dinner tonight was Chef AJ's Red Lentil Chili over baked Yukon Gold

Potatoes. Chef AJ is one of my favorite plant based chefs and this 

recipe is definitely a keeper. 

You can see her make it on her You Tube Channel:

Or, you can see it on her website:

Here is the recipe, my changes are in red. 

Chef AJ's Red Lentil Chili

Makes 14 cups


1 pound of red lentils (I used green since that is what I had on hand)
7 cups of water 
2 (14.5 ounce) cans of salt-free tomatoes, fire roasted preferred 
1 (6 ounce) can of salt-free tomato paste 
10 ounces of chopped onion (approximately one large) 
One pound of red bell pepper, (approximately 2 large) VERY finely chopped  
3 ounces of dates (approximately 12 Deglet Noor) (I had/used 5 dates)
8 cloves of garlic, finely minced 
4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (omitted since I was out)
1.5 Tablespoons Parsley Flakes (0mitted)
1.5 Tablespoons Oregano 
1.5 Tablespoons Salt-free Chili Powder 
2 teaspoons SMOKED paprika 
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste) 
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste) 


Blend the dates, tomatoes, red bell peppers and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. 
(I didn't blend anything, I just put them all in the pressure cooker as is)
Place all remaining ingredients in an electric pressure cooker and cook on high for 10 minutes. 
Alternatively, place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Tonight was the first time I made this dish. It is definitely a keeper. 

I hope you try it and your family enjoys it.  :)

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meatless Meals Series ~ Veggie Burgers

Last year I made the decision, for mostly health reasons, to begin to eat a mostly plant based diet. During the school year this spring it was hard to stay on track with that decision, but I am back on track now that school is out for the summer. 

During the Great Depression many families only had meat if they hunted for it or caught them with simple box traps. Otherwise they simply did without. Only since WWII have people started thinking they needed meat with every meal. With the price of meat nowadays though, it can be hard for some families to afford meat at every meal. I know in my own home meat is not served as often as it was the past.  

I've been experimenting with a new vegetable burger recipe this month that was shared on the Whole Foods website. 

Here is recipe with some tweaks made by me: 

Veggie  Burgers


1/4 cup carrot, shredded
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 cup black beans, drained
1/4 cup tomato, chopped
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika


Water saute the first four ingredients for 5 minutes and then combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  The first time I made these the recipe said it makes four burgers, which was too big for my taste. So, the next time I made them I used a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to make uniform patties. With this smaller patty, I was able to make 11 patties out of the recipe. I then placed the patties on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked at 400 degrees for a total of 45 minutes, flipping half way through the cooking time. 

These are good right out of the oven and even cold from the refrigerator. You can eat them with or without buns. They freeze well and are definitely cheaper than buying store bought veggie burgers. You could even experiment and add or omit any ingredients. I think black olives would make a great addition to this recipe. 

Have you made your own veggie burgers? I would love to hear about your experiments in the comment section. 

Also, there are two sites that I want to share with you. The first one is from the Vegan Lunch Box and directs you to the Magical Loaf Studio where you can create your own meatless dinner loaf from ingredients which you choose.

The second site is from the Engine 2 Diet and reminds me of those universal recipes that Amy D printed in the Tightwad Gazette.

I hope you will check both of them out. 

Sorry I have not posted lately. I've had a health issue, which has left me feeling under the weather for the last three weeks, but thankfully I am on the mend. 

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bloom Where You're Planted

Last week I ran across two new companies, which are making cold pressed juices in Chattanooga. Now I would love to try some of these juices, but the drive to get them, which would be a 100 mile trip and the cost both make me pause. They are not something I can duplicate at home since they are cold pressed, but I do have a juicer and a Nutri-bullet, so I could come close to making these juices at home, which is what I did yesterday. 

I am not crazy about the juicer since there is a lot of cleaning up, so instead of juice I made myself a smoothie with the Nutri-bullet. I used Swiss chard, spinach, beets, orange, and some green tea I had made. It was good and satisfying and definitely saved me money. 

Yesterday I had a hankering for some tacos from the Mexican restaurant, but I didn't want to get out of the house or spend the money. So I went into the kitchen and made me some tacos with what I had on hand. And they were good and satisfying. 

Also, I have always wanted to go to the Chattanooga Farmer's Market, but again it is a 100 mile round trip and that and the expense of the produce would cost a lot of money. I know myself and I would spend a lot there. We have a wonderful Mennonite Farmer's Market here and at least 2 to 3 other farm stands here where I can purchase the same things I can get at the Chattanooga Farmer's Market. 

I can buy the same things here that I can get at the Chattanooga market. I look at the pictures from the market and I know I would love to go, but I need to stop and pause and tell myself that I have everything I need right here in my own hometown. And I need to "Bloom Where I am Planted". Maybe someday I will make it there, but for now I need to be content with what I can do here and in my own home.

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Giving Back

Old/New Bleachers

I'm very grateful to the teachers and other school staff members who ask me to sub for them during the school year. The school building where I normally work is old and in need of many repairs. Our gym teacher has been working on several projects over the last two years in an effort to make things better for the students. Last year she worked on getting a new gym floor and this year they are getting new bleachers. Here is a photo of her and 48 other community members tearing out the old bleachers:

We live in a small rural community and do not have any money for many of these projects, so we have to roll up our sleeves and find the money somewhere. The new bleachers are going to cost around $5500 and she sold the old bleachers online and earned $2200 for them. They've also done a Zumbathon fundraiser to earn cash towards them.

I was in a rather odd position one day last week in that I was actually paid in cash for subbing for a teacher who won a free day off. I really, really wanted to help with the bleacher project, but was physically unable to help them take the bleachers down. So I took the cash that I earned and gave it to the gym teacher to go towards those bleachers. I thought she was going to cry when I gave it to her. It made me so happy to do this for her and the school. They help me to make a living for my family and I was very happy to do this for them. 

Freezer Needed

We have a local couple that runs a charity thrift type of shop and they accept donations of anything and feed people, give away free clothes, free meals, food, appliances, medical equipment, help set up a home, you name it and they will help people find it. 

They put the word out (Reminded me of Amy D) last week that they needed a freezer to help store food for 600 children in our community for their summer feeding program. 

We had recently unplugged our freezer on the back porch for several reasons. The cost of food has become so high that it was practically empty and using our above fridge freezer only would save money on the electric bill. So, to make a long story short, we gave them our freezer and they were thrilled. 

We also gave them a garbage bag full of grocery store bags, which they desperately needed and use to give to people to fill up with free clothes. We also gave them a portable bedside commode, a high rise toilet seat, a coffee table, and a TV. They were thrilled to get all of these things and it made me feel good to give them these things. I know they will put them to good use. 

How about you? Have you paid it forward lately or given to your community in some way? I would love to read about it in the comment section.  :)

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”