Thursday, July 28, 2011

Free Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin Sample

Thanks to Carol from CT on a Budget, here is a free sample for Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin. After you sign up for this freebie, you should receive an email from Ball with a coupon for $1.00 off their Real Fruit Pectin, Fiesta Salsa Mix, or Pickle Mix. 

WFD: Thursday 7-28-11 & My Frugal Kitchen today...

Dinner today was homemade chicken tenders, green beans (Dollar General sale) with onions and olive oil, and Cucumber Salad. I had an overabundance of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in my kitchen today, so I've been busy taking care of all of that produce so it does not go to waste. I've already posted about the canning I did today, but I also had a big supply of very large grape tomatoes, both red and yellow. 

The first thing I made today was a Cucumber Salad. I found this recipe in a Southern Living magazine that I had picked up at a yard sale one summer.  Since that time I've made this recipe dozens of times and it has become a tried and true family favorite. Perfect for when your garden is filled with cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Ingredients

2 cucumbers
1 large tomato
1 small green bell pepper
1 small purple onion
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Cut cucumbers and remove seeds with a spoon.
Chop cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and onion.
Whisk together oil and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves. 
(I put the dressing ingredients in a jar & shake well)
Add cucumber mixture, tossing to coat. 
Cover and chill 3 hours.

Another thing I had plenty of today was yellow grape tomatoes, so I looked around for a good recipe and the best thing I could find was to roast them in the oven with some olive oil and basil and oregano. I slow roasted them and it made the whole house smell like pizza, lol. Afterwards I tasted them, but was not satisfied with the taste as they were bitter and the skins were tough. I ended up straining them into a sauce, which smells great, and I stuck it in the freezer for right now to deal with at a later date. We've had a death in the family and need to go to a funeral for the next two days, so I put it up for now.

After canning today I had a pan full of tomato juice, so I strained that today as well to remove the seeds. I ended up with almost a quart of good, homegrown tomato juice, which will be excellent to add to soup the next time I am making soup.  Still have plenty of tomatoes to deal with as soon as everything settles down around here.

What's for dinner at your house today? What is going on in your frugal kitchen?

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011. 
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

New Name for the Blog

I've made the decision to change the name of my blog from Saving Money in my Tennessee Mountain Home to Frugal Workshop. I just felt that the original title was too long, so please drop me a comment and let me know what you think of the new title of my blog. :)

Canning


2011 is going to be the year when we have a bumper crop of tomatoes. Our garden is overflowing with tomatoes right now.  Last night I canned half a dozen pints of tomatoes that were ready to be canned, and I have more waiting in the wings, ready to be canned as soon as they reach the ripeness stage. 

The best place to learn about canning is from the Ball Blue Book of Canning, which is an excellent resource for outlining the steps for processing food at home. It is filled with all the information you need to start home canning, as well as several recipes, and is a worthwhile investment

This year I was blessed with several canning jars from one of my friends who has been cleaning out her mother’s home this year. So far she has given me 15 pint jars, 2 jelly jars, and 1 quart jar. She has also offered me more jars in the future. 

Last year I put up a batch of peach preserves that went over very well, and of course I put more tomatoes up last year. This year I want to try making salsa, and this would be a good year for that considering all the tomatoes we have coming. Canning is one of those hobbies that makes good sense. Not only am I putting food up for storage that will help my family financially down the road, but it gives me a good feeling when I stand back at look at the jars filled with food. Knowing that I have the skills needed to preserve food in this manner gives me a very good feeling.

If you would like to learn more about home canning and preservation, The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a free, self-paced, online course available at this link:  


Also, if you are interested the Ball canning jar company has a message board dedicated to home canning. Here is a link:   


Are you busy looking well to the ways of your household? What are you busy canning this summer?

Belinda
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”




Saving on Gas

(Image Credit)
Recently I decided to add up my gas expenses for the year and so far this year I’ve spent $565.51 for gasoline for my car. After the tornadoes in April I spent and additional $60 on gas to run our generator, but I am not including that in my total for this article. 

During the summer months, my income drops because I work for the school system, and do not receive a paycheck after June. 

This summer, not only have my paychecks stopped for a couple of months, but I’ve also had to make adjustments in my budget because my child support payments have fluctuated for the past four months. 

So, we’ve had to make a few adjustments this summer to make sure that our money stretches as far as possible until I go back to work next month.   

As a result of all of that, I have seen a noticeable decrease in my gas expenditures this summer due to the fact that we have stayed home more this year than in previous summers. 

With less income we have less money to spend and that keeps us at home more than it normally would. And this simple fact has proven to me that one of the best ways to save money on gas is to stay home as much as possible. 

Look at this chart of my gas expenditures for gas the last 5 months:

Month
Total Gas Cost
March 2011
$137.59
April 2011
$151.97
May 2011
$40.03
June 2011
$37.51
July 2011
$60.72

You can tell from the chart that my gas expenditure dropped a great deal during the summer months. For one thing, we were not driving back and forth to school every day. 

I’ve been crunching the budget numbers this morning and making sure we have enough money on hand to pay our bills and meet our needs until I go back to work. 

Other ways that to save on gas include making sure tires are properly inflated, taking advantage of grocery store gas programs, filling the car up with regular gas instead of premium, making sure the car is tuned up properly and using the right type of motor oil, and driving at consistent speeds. All of these ideas will help save money on gas. 

What are some of the ways that you save on gasoline?

Belinda
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grocery Store Ads 7-27-11

Grocery Store Ads here include: IGA, Bi-Lo, Aldi, Food Lion, Cooke's, and Super Saver. There aren't too many things on sale this week that I would consider a stock up price except for the Ground Chuck at IGA. I've included the links if you want to check the store ads for yourself. Following is a list of items I would buy for my family:

IGA
- Ground Chuck $1.99 a pound
- Sugar - 1.99 - 4 pounds
- Crinkle Cut Fries - 5 pound bag - 2/$7.00 

Don't forget, IGA has a weekly web coupon you can print out. This week it's a 24 ounce bottle of Hunt's ketchup for 49¢.


Aldi
- Red Grapes - 99 cents a pound
- Cherries - $1.49 pound
- Strawberries - 99 cents a pound
- Broccoli - 99 cents a pound
- Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts - $1.69 a pound
Food Lion
- Red Grapes - 99 cents a pound

Free Glasses Today Only from Coastal Contacts

Coastal Contacts is giving away 10,000 free pairs of glasses today only. Be sure to go to their Facebook page and "Like" them to get the coupon code. You will have to pay shipping and handling. I have a current prescription for my daughter, so I was able to take advantage of this terrific offer. I also paid for scratch and glare protection, and in the end I was able to pick her up an extra pair of glasses for only $21.

Great Clips


Last time I wrote about Great Clips was to let my readers know about the free Schick razor and coupons they were giving away in June. 

In my post I mentioned that I used a coupon for $7.99 they sent to me in the mail.

Great Clips offers haircuts at a very affordable price. An adult haircut costs $13 while a child's haircut costs $10. Right now they are offering a promotion to win free haircuts for one year. 

You can enter the promotion here: Free Haircuts for a year

Entering the promotion should get your name on their mailing list, which means they will be sending you coupons in the mail for haircuts at reduced prices. 

We received another coupon from them in the mail this week and took advantage of it yesterday to get our back to school haircuts. I saved $3 off one of our haircuts with the coupon they sent. 

Every little bit I can save for my family helps us out financially.

Belinda

Rack Room Shoes Coupon

Rack Room Shoes currently has a $10 off coupon floating around in newspapers and on Coupons.com. My coupon came from their sale ad, which I found in my Sunday newspaper. Turned out to be a blessing as I already had a pair of shoes ordered from Rack Room Shoes for my daughter for back to school. They called yesterday and we went to pick them up. They were on sale for $69, but with my coupon and a $5 off back to school savings they gave us, the ended up costing $54 plus tax. $15 off is a great savings for a good pair of athletic shoes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I am the working poor blog

I am the working poor is a blog I enjoy reading. Here is a person who classifies herself as low income, but still manages to pay her bills, pay down her debt, and save money in the process. And she writes about it in an interesting and entertaining fashion. Her article titled,High Finances for the Lower Incomed, is an excellent read about how she got out of debt by getting herself organized. Read it! You won't be disappointed.

Heat & Beverages

The local news said we can expect more heat and humidity and is telling everyone to drink plenty of fluids, and especially water. My daughter has been having a friend sleepover with her this week and they went through a gallon of iced tea yesterday in about four hours, so I made two gallons this morning and hopefully that will last a little bit longer. I’m prepared to make more if necessary. Making tea at home is one of the many money savings things we do here. 


Drinks and beverages are one of the easiest areas to save money on your grocery bill. In my house I usually have water, milk, and tea to drink. I also have keep Koo-laid on hand just in case anyone wants that. We do not have juice in our house on a regular basis.  Maggy from the original Hillbilly Housewife site always said that any drink other than water, milk, and fruit juice was a luxury. She says when we buy “luxury” drinks we are paying someone else to add water and flavorings for us. You can read her article on the topic here:


After I made the tea, I realized I had some bananas that needed to be used up this morning, and since I had some cream cheese on hand that I price matched at Wal-Mart from the Walgreens sale, I decided to make my favorite banana bread recipe from Southern Living magazine. The banana bread is in the oven right now and the house is beginning to have a wonderful aroma.  When the girls wake up I’m sure they will be in here to investigate. :)



Here is the recipe:

Southern Living's Cream Cheese Banana-Nut Bread

Makes 2 Loaves

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas, (about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Directions:

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients.
Gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.
Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla.
Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
You may want to cover with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary.
Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.
Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.

Worth Reading: 10 Rules to Play Fair While Shopping with Coupons

Paula Worthington at Monroe on a Budget has written an excellent article about rules concerning the use of coupons. I especially like rule number seven number, which states, "Don’t lie about where you live". I’ve seen the Internet chatter about people trying to get a good coupon by changing their zip codes when they use sites like Coupon.com. In fact, one time I read a Blogger suggest to her readers to change the zip code in order to get a coupon for $1.00 off any cheese. One of her readers came back and said she did it, but when the coupon printed it was only good for Utah. For me, changing the zip code just goes against what the program is intended for. You can read Paula's article by following this link:


Paula's list is a terrific set of rules for all of us to follow. Which one is your favorite rule?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grocery Run 7-18-2011

My daughter received an invitation for ice cream this evening, so after I dropped her off I took the opportunity to run to Walmart for a few supplies. 

Picked up two sour creams (24 oz), vegetable oil, olive oil, ranch dressing, 3 pound bag of onions, chips, chicken strips, and tator tots. I was just about out of any kind of oil in the kitchen. I like to buy the big bottles at Walmart and while they do cost more upfront, they are cheaper than buying the smaller bottles and they last for a long time. For example, the one gallon bottle of Great Value vegetable oil is $6.68, which works out to 5 cents per ounce. The 48 ounce bottle works out to about 8 cents per ounce. That might seem a small amount, but trust me...it does add up over time. :)

I did want to make a note here that the sour cream, which is an item I buy regularly has gone up in price to $2.08 up from $1.78. I've enjoyed writing this blog so much because it has become a record of grocery items I buy and the price I paid. I love having this information available to me at a later date.

The chicken strips, chip and tator tots are for my daughter's sleepover tomorrow night. Everything was Great Value brand except for the chicken strips, so no need for coupons tonight. Total spent tonight was $45.69 for groceries and my total for July is up to $137.78.

Inexpensive, But Useful Tool


This is a picture out of my homemade checking account register. A couple of years ago I grew tired of using a standard bank issued check register because it seemed like I was always having to replace it because I filled it up so fast. 

What I did was take one of those 70 sheet spiral notebooks, which I bought on sale for ten cents and decided to use that instead. I started in December of 2008 and just today finished filling up the last page. Two and a half years worth of records in one easy to find place, and it has been a wonderful tool for me to use. 

When I get a receipt that I need to register, I simply place it in my wallet and then when I get home I go to my desk and pull out my notebook, which I keep open to the current page and on a clipboard on top of my desk. I love the fact that I don't have to constantly change it out all of the time, which makes my life easier. :)

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
Professor Penny Pincher 
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 and beyond.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”
"Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle ~ It will help you save money"

What's for Dinner: Cube Steaks


A big part of saving money is the kitchen is planning ahead and changing those plans if the need arises. Things to consider include using up any leftovers, frozen food needs to be taken out of the freezer the night before and allowed to thaw, beans need to be sorted and soaked overnight, if you have produce on hand or ready to be picked in the garden that needs to be taken into consideration as well. 

I had been planning on making grilled chicken for dinner tonight, but a couple of things changed my mind. First off, my Dad fixed something on my car for me yesterday and I wanted to make something nice for him and he isn’t crazy about grilled chicken. Also, yesterday while at the Flea Market my Dad was given 12 ears of Peaches and Cream corn on the cob, cucumbers, several tomatoes and peppers, all of which he gave to us. He also gave us a bunch of grape tomatoes out of his own garden, so all of that needed to be taken into consideration for dinner tonight. 

Dad loves Cube Steaks in beefy mushroom gravy, and I had some cube steaks in the freezer from a sale last month and beefy mushroom gravy in the pantry from a sale the month before, so last night I took the cube steaks out of the freezer to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.  I also went ahead and made a gallon of tea last night, so that it would be cold by dinnertime today.  This morning I went ahead and shucked all the corn and then, since the garbage place is open on Mondays, went ahead and hauled it off with the rest of the garbage so we wouldn’t have that mess in the house.  

When I got back home I went ahead and sliced up some of the cucumbers with a Vidalia onion I had and mix up some vinegar and water and let them soak until dinnertime. I also sliced up some of the ripe tomatoes. I had some baking potatoes that Mom had given to me last week, so I planned on baking them today to go along with the Cube Steaks. 

So this is what our dinner menu looks like today:

Cube Steaks in Beefy Mushroom Gravy
Baked Potatoes with Butter & Sour Cream
Peaches & Cream Corn on the Cob
Sliced Tomatoes
Sliced Cucumbers & Onions
Sweet Iced Tea

By changing my plans from the chicken, which I would have served with rice and vegetables from the freezer, I was able to use up a lot of garden produce that was given to us rather than letting it sit around and possibly go to waste. And, I still have the chicken in the freezer for another day. Planning ahead is a good way of saving money in the kitchen, but we should always hold our plans loosely in case we are given food that needs to be used sooner than we had planned.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good Deal Alert - Mueller's Pasta



Be sure to visit the Mueller's Pasta website and sign up to receive emails from Mueller's and in return you will receive coupons, special promotions, and pasta recipes. I signed up the other day and received a welcome email with a link to click where I was able to print a a coupon for 55 cents off any Mueller's product. Today I took my coupon to Bi-Lo where it was doubled. Bi-Lo offers the 8 ounce boxes of macaroni for 92 cents or the 16 ounce boxes of spaghetti for $1.20. I picked the spaghetti and ended up paying 10 cents for it, which is a great bargain. 

http://www.muellerspasta.com/

Friday, July 15, 2011

What's for Dinner: Hot Dogs & Pasta Salad

Bi-Lo had the Hebrew National hot dogs on sale this week for $5.29 and Buy One Get One Free. I also had a $1.00 off coupon for one package, so I paid $2.15 per package, which is a good price for Hebrew National.  I grilled all of the hotdogs, so the flavor would come through.

Pasta Salad was also on the menu since I have so many cucumbers, yellow tomatoes, and green peppers from the garden that it was a good way to use these things up. I also used a couple of packets of ranch salad dressing that I had in the refrigerator that were leftover from take out we had in the past.

Here is a breakdown of the costs:

6 Hot Dogs - $1.62
6 Buns - 72 cents
1 pound rotini Pasta - 50 cents on clearance
Cucumbers - free
Green Peppers - free
Tomatoes - free
Black Olives - 88 cents
Ranch Dressing - free
Cheese - $1.75
Total Cost: $5.22 for 3 people

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bi-Lo Sale on All Laundry Detergent

Bi-Lo has All laundry detergent on sale this week, Buy One Get One Free. I picked up two bottles, which were $5.48 each, and along with two $1.00 off coupons, I ended up paying $1.74 for each bottle. The sale runs through Tuesday, July 19, 2011.

Suave Shampoo

One of the ways that I save money when I shop is by looking for items marked with the BONUS sign. For example, the other day I noticed we were running low on shampoo, and since there have not been any good sales here lately, I decided to buy my old standby: the 22.5 ounce bottle of Suave at Walmart for $1.38. When I went to buy the shampoo I noticed right away that some of the bottles were 33% more BONUS bottles, which meant I was getting 30 ounces of shampoo for the regular price of $1.38. This was only on a selected variety of the shampoo, which doesn't matter to me, so I bought 10 bottles, which is enough to last us for a long while, and still left some of the shelf for the next person.  The BONUS bottles give me more shampoo for the same amount of money, which is a great bargain and in my case it's like getting three bottles for free.
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