Thursday, January 31, 2013

End of the month ~ January 2013

January was a month with added expenses and less pay due to the Christmas holidays and inclement weather. Therefore, in an effort to have enough money to cover these extra expenses, I turned to my pantry and freezer to save money. Robert Waldroup, creator of the Better Times website, says that low and moderate income families should be encouraged to keep some of their household savings in the form of food. It is good advice and one of the tools we use here at the Frugal Workshop. 

At the end of December, I took an inventory of all the food I had on hand. You can see my list here in my post, Pantry Inventory December 2012. During the month I made an extra effort to use up food I had on hand for meals. Having the inventory helped me a great deal in planning meals. 

I can recall one time years ago, when a friend of mine called to tell me a friend of her mothers had her freezer break down and she had food she wanted to give away from this broken down freezer. I graciously accepted her offer. By the time the food got to me it was clear that this was a freezer that had not been cleaned out in a very long time. The majority of the food had to be thrown out. One lesson that I learned from this was...

I never want my freezer or pantry to be a dumping ground of food that will never be eaten. 

Amy Dacyczyn wrote about Freezer Management in the The Complete Tightwad Gazette. She shared her system for spreading her stockpile out until gardening season rolled around again. Using this system ensured she would not neglect any food and still made the food last until her freezer would be filled again the following year. 

The other day for breakfast I decided to "use up" these toaster hash browns my Mom bought for us in September for school breakfasts. The problem was they did not taste good straight from the toaster and my daughter would not eat them. I figured out that if you cooked them longer they tasted better. So, I decided to bake them in the oven as an experiment and they did taste better.  So, rather than throw them out and waste they money that was spent on them, I found a different, more palatable way to use them up. 

By finding a way to use up the hash browns, I've stretched my resources farther, made another meal out of the food I already had on hand, so I didn't have to spend more money for additional food. I continued this practice all month long, creating meals from my inventory, scouring cookbooks and Internet resources, to find ways to create meals out of what I had on hand. One day when I was looking for my favorite cole slaw recipe, I found one for macaroni salad that I knew I had all the ingredients on hand for, so I added that to my list of meals for the month. 

My menu changed weekly as a result of this planning. And you know what? I felt a great sense of pride using the food in my freezer and pantry. Using up foods that I had on hand rather than letting them go to waste or linger in the back of the freezer ensured that I was using my resources wisely. 

As we close out the month of January,  I can say all of the bills were paid even the extra ones, we had plenty of food to eat and have extra to spare, several of the bills for February have already been paid, and we have a surplus of money left over. Things look good going into February and that leaves me with a good feeling. :)


Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Found Sale on Ground Chuck

Image Credit

IGA has a two day sale on Fresh Ground Chuck this week for $1.89 a pound. It was only for two days and I'm not sure if you can see the yellow bubble inside the ad, but it says "While Supplies Last!" I thought to myself that they probably don't have very much in stock and it is going to sell out fast and I really wanted to get in on this deal. With ground chuck costing $4.00 a pound here right now, I knew this was a good deal.

School was cancelled yesterday due to the freezing rain here, and I had to take my Dad to the hospital for a medical procedure, but I did end up getting to IGA even with all of that and got in on this very good deal. 

There were a lot of people surrounding the meat case when I got there because they were having a good sale on several types of meatbut I only wanted the ground beef and did manage to pick up four packages of this ground chuck. The cashier told me people were panicking because of the freezing rain and she had been swamped all morning.

Here is a picture of the four packages I bought:

8.66 pounds - $16.37
8.57 pounds - $16.20
8.71 pounds - $16.46
8.63 pounds - $16.31

Here is a picture of my receipt as well: 


So, I ended up buying 34.57 pounds of meat for $65.34 or $70.57 with tax.

I came home and packaged this up into two pound packages for my freezer. I ended up with 18 packages with 2 pounds each for the freezer. There are 16 in this photo as I placed two of them in the refrigerator to use this weekend. I am planning on making tacos for dinner tonight.

Here is a picture before they went into the freezer:


The last time I was able to stock up on Ground Chuck was in August 2011, which was over one year ago. I know I've been talking about using up what I have in my pantry, but I also subscribe to The Pantry Principle. The basic idea behind The Pantry Principle is to stockpile your pantry with food that you are able to purchase at the lowest possible price. So, even though I am using up the food in my pantry, I would not pass up on a good sale like this. 

This will last me for quite some time and save me a lot of money. If I had bought this ground chuck at the regular price of $4.00 per pound I would have spent $138.28, so I actually saved $72.94, which was more than I paid for the beef. 

I am just tickled to have found this great deal and be able to stock my freezer with food bought at the lowest possible price.  

Make sure you are checking your weekly grocery store ads each week. This sale was for two days only and I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on it by not reading the store ads. 

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Taco Soup


This recipe for Taco Soup comes from the Get Rich Slowly website. I made a big batch of this soup on Tuesday evening after work and school and we've been eating this for the past three days. I actually made a double batch of this recipe and in the end my 12 quart stockpot held about 6 quarts of this soup. Here is the recipe along with some tweaks (my changes are in red) that I made.


Taco Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
2 large yellow onions, diced and cooked with ground beef
7 cups water (or use beef broth and omit concentrate below)
1 can (about 15 ounces) corn kernels (I drained both cans first)
2 – 3 cups potatoes, diced (This is not enough potatoes, so I used about 8 cups for a double batch)
7 oz. can of diced green chilies (I omitted this because I used a generic can of Rotel in place of one can of tomatoes)
1 package Taco seasoning (I used my homemade version)
1 can (about 15 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used one can of Rotel and one pint size jar of my homegrown/home canned tomatoes)
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup (This is the Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup - I picked this up on sale last week for 99¢ per can and is much cheaper than an 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese)
2 tbsp. beef broth concentrate such as “Better than Bouillon” (I just used regular beef bouillon)
1 can (about 4 ounces) sliced black olives (I use more than 4 or 8 ounces as we love black olives and I buy them inexpensively in the Institutional size cans from Sam's Club)

Directions:
In a large pot combine water, corn, and potatoes and bring to a boil. (I just boil the potatoes with the water and add the corn later just long enough to heat through. There is no reason to boil the corn with the potatoes.)
Simmer 20 minutes.
Add green chilies, taco seasoning, tomatoes, and cooked ground beef & onions. (I browned the ground beef in my skillet along with the onions and then I added the tomatoes and taco seasoning. After the potatoes were done I added those to the ground beef mixture.)
Simmer 15 minutes more.
Add cheese soup, olives, and beef bouillon.
Simmer 5 more minutes.
Makes 10-12 two-cup servings. 

Here is what my portion looked like in my soup mug:





I've been using this recipe for the last five years and it has become a tried and true family favorite. I love making a big batch of something early in the week and then being able to eat on it all week long.  It is definitely a money saver when you don't have to cook all week, but simply have to reheat something.

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday Night Dinner


I had an appointment in town today and afterwards stopped in at Cooke's to see what they had on special. You can't see the coupon anymore, but there was one attached for $2.00 off this package of ground beef. I scanned that portion of my receipt, so you could see the $2.00 off coupon.


With the coupon, this was approximately 2 pounds of hamburger for $1.85 per pound. That is better than the current price of $4.00 per pound.

Monday night's dinner was hamburger steaks with gravy, corn, cole slaw, and mashed potatoes with gravy. 

Here is a photo: 




What are you having for dinner tonight?

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Social Security Tax


Have you been listening to the chatter lately about the "Payroll Tax" or better known as the Social Security Tax? 

Social Security is funded by a 12.4% tax on wages up to $110,100. 

Half is paid by employers and the other half is paid by workers. 

For 2011 and 2012, Congress and Obama cut the share paid by workers from 6.2% to 4.2%.

Starting on January 1, the tax credit expired and workers are now back to paying the 6.2%. 

Did you notice the difference on your paycheck?  

I knew about the tax credit expiring, but did not notice a difference on my check. We received a $10.00 per day raise at the start of the school year, so I've been happy with my paycheck all this time. Perhaps those that had a bigger difference taken out of their paychecks feel differently, which is understandable. I've seen a lot of  articles written with sympathy towards workers

Do you think workers have gotten used to spending the extra 2% and are now  feeling the pain of having it taken out of their checks again? 

What do you think?  

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Aldi Produce Deals


 Aldi is having a great sale on produce this week. I stopped in yesterday to pick up several things. 

Five pound bags of red potatoes were 99¢ per bag, so I picked up two bags.These will be great in potato salad or as roasted red potatoes, which I love.



Tomatoes were 99¢ for a package of three. These will be good for tacos, salads, or sandwiches. 



Carrots were 49¢ for a two pound bag. I picked up two of these as well.


They were out of the onions though...two pound bags for 69¢, which would have been a good deal. I ended up buying a three pound bag at Fresh & Low for $1.50.

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Free Grapefruit Juice


Did you all see the terrific grapefruit coupon floating around the Internet this week? You can Google "$2 off grapefruit coupon" to find it. Several websites have it on their sites this week. 

The coupon is good for $2.00 off 56 ounces or more of 100% juice or 3 pounds or more of grapefruit. 


And just as luck would have it, one of our local grocery stores (Cooke's) had Ocean Spray 100% grapefruit juice on sale this week, 64 ounce bottles priced at 2 for $4.00. 


I was able to pick up two free bottles and only had to pay the sales tax. That is my kind of deal. :)



Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Night Dinner

Image Credit
We remain in use it up mode here at the Frugal Workshop and I have to tell you all what we had for dinner tonight. I have several cans of Campbell's Chicken with Rice soup in the Family Size can in my pantry that no one has been eating. I bought this because it is one of my favorite soups. Someone the other day told me they didn't like it and would not eat it. 

On Sunday I made a Chicken Stir Fry for dinner. 


I worked today and wanted to make something quick for dinner. I thought about several different options and then remembered I had leftover stir fry, but I knew it was not enough to feed three people. 

Hmmmm.....what to do? What to do?

I decided to drain the broth from the can of soup and add it to the stir fry to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it to feed all three people. Well guess what? The one who said they didn't like this soup asked for second helpings!!

Ha, Ha, Ha, I love it when that happens. :) 

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

IGA Run


I made a trip to IGA today and found a couple of deals, which include:

2 bags Cole slaw - $1.00 each
2 red peppers - $1.03
2 one pound bags Black Eyed Peas - $1.00 each

2 packages turkey bacon - $1.00 each (45¢ each after 55¢ coupon from Sunday paper)

Total for all my groceries was $15.70, which makes my total for this month $42.80. Remember I am working on using up what I have in the pantry and freezer, so my grocery total will be lower this month than usual.

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fugal Food: Egg Salad Sandwiches

 

One of our favorite frugal lunches here at the Frugal Workshop is egg salad sandwiches. There are many variations for this frugal sandwich and we usually have it on the menu several times each week. 


I normally hard-boil at least a dozen eggs every week. Yesterday I had two and a half dozen eggs from our chickens that I boiled for this week. After the eggs have cooled, I peel them and place them in a container, which then goes into the refrigerator. We can then eat them for breakfast, have one for a snack, make egg salad or deviled eggs, or include them in a salad. 

If I am making egg salad that day, I take each egg and place it into my egg slicer and slice the egg one way, turn the egg around and slice the other way, and then add them to my bowl.

Here is my very basic egg salad recipe:

5 hard boiled eggs
Several spoonfuls of mayonnaise (I don't measure this)
Several spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish (I don't measure this)

I add all of this together and sort of mash the eggs up to create the texture I want. I then toast my bread and serve the egg salad on toasted bread. If I have celery or green olives on hand I like to add those too, but they are not necessary. 

We have been getting eggs daily ever since finding our first egg from this batch of chickens back in November. We've been getting anywhere from five to eight eggs per day and have so many we have been sharing them with friends. We gave three dozen to a friend who was kind enough to haul our old freezer away when we replaced it last summer. 

The chickens are a pleasure to have around the yard and they provide us with food as well. That to me is a win-win situation. Here is a picture of our rooster who goes by the name Fog Horn Leghorn because he is so big. I threw a piece of popcorn to him the other day and the other chickens came running at him, so he took off running with his loot. It was fun to watch. :)

 

 How is that for free, frugal entertainment? :)

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Evening


My menu plan for this week called for homemade pizza tonight. I made my own pizza dough using this recipe. I used mozzarella cheese, which I had left over from another recipe, which was stored in the freezer, and I opened an Institutional size can of spaghetti sauce, which I divided up into smaller containers and put three of those in the freezer for another use later. I topped it with pepperoni and black olives. It tasted good, my family enjoyed it, and I didn't spend any money on takeout pizza. 

Today was a very productive day here. I woke up early and got started right away doing laundry. I then cleaned out the refrigerator and made soup, boiled eggs, and cleaned all the dishes from that project. Afterwards my daughter and I gathered up all the garbage and took it the garbage drop off center. We are very fortunate as our county drop off center does not charge us to drop off garbage. We are the only county in Tennessee which has free garbage service, although we do have to haul it ourselves. 

Afterwards we made a run to Super Saver for several items including milk, bread, cheese, and corn, which was on sale for 50¢ a can and since I was out of corn, I decided to pick up six cans to add to my pantry. My total at Super Saver was $27.02. Afterwards we drove across the road to fill up our gas tank. Gas was selling for $3.21 a gallon, but I used my Bi-Lo Bonus Card and was able to lower the price to $3.06 per gallon and saved 15¢ per gallon. 

The groceries and gas were the only money I spent all week. I worked two days this week and took my lunch and drinks to work both days. I ate breakfast and dinner at home and did not spend any money buying drinks or snacks or anything. I didn't even buy the newspaper for the sale ads on Wednesday. I just looked up the grocery store ads online.  We were very frugal here this week and I hope you had a very frugal week in your home too. :)

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Use it Up Soup

For Friday night dinner I had planned to have vegetable beef soup. But, when I came home from work my dad had already cooked dinner for us:  Salmon Loaf, Soup Beans, and Corn. It was a pleasant surprise. 


So, on Saturday morning, I woke up and got started on the Vegetable Beef Soup. 

I took the roast, left from Christmas dinner, that I had stored in the freezer and added that to my soup pot. I also added the lone baked potato from Wednesday night’s dinner, the leftover green beans and onions from Thursday night’s dinner, and the soup beans from Friday night’s dinner.  It was definitely a “use it up” kind of soup. I added some chicken and beef broth, which I had on hand and some salt. 

I then let it all simmer on the stove top until lunchtime. Here is what my portion looked like:   


This was a big hit with my family. And I have to say that it makes me feel good to know I am using up food in my refrigerator and freezer rather than letting it go to waste. My Grandmother used to make soup once a week by cleaning out her refrigerator at the end of the week. My Dad still talks about those soups to this day and that was 60 years ago. My Grandmother was being frugal - she was using up what she had to save money.

How have you been "using it up" this week? 


Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Saving Money on Clothes



Pictured above is a pair of jeans I bought for my daughter on eBay.  You can see they are new jeans with the tags still attached with the original price tag of $36.99. I paid $7.99 for these jeans plus a $5.00 shipping charge, so $12.99 for these jeans. I gave these to her as a Christmas present and so she will have a new outfit when she returns to school after her Christmas break. Over the years, I have bought her brand new jeans from retail stores, but it is great when I can find them in the second hand market for a lot less money. 

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This Week's Menus



1.       Tacos
2.      Baked Potato Night
3.      Macaroni & Cheese with Ham, Green Beans  with Onions
4.      Vegetable Beef Soup
5.      Home Made Pizza
6.      Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice
7.      Salmon Patties, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
 
Listed above is our menu for the next seven days. We had Tacos today and did not do the traditional black eyed peas for New Year's Day dinner. We have all of these foods on hand for this menu and do not have to go grocery shopping for anything to make these dinners. Sales advertisements do come out tomorrow though, and I will be checking those, but won't need to buy anything unless it is a good deal. 

My goals for this month include using up foods I have on hand for making meals rather than buying more food. And saving as much money as I can since I have added expenses this month for auto registration, Insurance membership, and automobile insurance. You'll notice two of our meals this week are meatless meals, which will help us save money as well.

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”
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