Tuesday, July 31, 2012

End of the Month Pantry Inventory - July 2012

During the month of July I was able to stock up on canned green beans, elbow macaroni,  carrots, bologna, and cheddar cheese. In all, I spent  $224.36 on groceries in July and have a full pantry going into August.   Finances will still be tight for us in August as I do not get my next paycheck until September 20th, so we will continue to plan menus around food obtained inexpensively and what I have stockpiled. 

Last night I made a trip to Bi-Lo and was able to pick up five boxes of elbow macaroni for 50¢ each, a sale which lasts until 9-11-12, four boxes of cream cheese for 99¢, and two cartons of eggs for 88¢. As I was shopping I thought to myself that people who had little money could easily plan menus around the macaroni and the eggs. All it takes is a little creativity in the kitchen. 

Here is a list of my pantry inventory going into August:

Pantry Inventory July 2012

Canned Soup
Broccoli and Cheese – 1 can
Cheddar Cheese – 2 cans
Cream of Celery – 1 can
Beefy Mushroom – 9 cans
Cream of Potato – 2 cans
Chicken Noodle – 4 cans
Chicken & Rice – 3 cans Family Size
Vegetable Beef – 3 cans Family Size
Onion Soup Mix – 4 boxes

Diced Tomatoes – 6 cans 28 ounce
Diced Tomatoes – 1 cans
Whole Tomatoes – 4 cans
Tomatoes – 3 quarts home canned
Tomatoes – 27 pints home canned
Tomatoes with Green Chilies – 2 cans
Tomato Paste – 2 cans, 1 jar
Tomato Sauce – 11 cans
Pizza Sauce – 3 pints home canned
Spaghetti Sauce – 1 can

Institutional Cans
Spaghetti Sauce – 1 can
Pizza Sauce – 1 can

5 quarts – home canned
3 pints – home canned
3 jars

Canned Fruit
Pumpkin – 3 cans
Fruit Cocktail – 1 can
Pear Halves – 3 cans
Apple Sauce – 4 cans
Mixed Fruit – 3 cans
Peach Halves – 5 - 29 ounce cans

Potatoes – 3 cans
Hominy – 1 can
Corn - 2 cans
Creamed Corn – 3 cans
Green Beans – 12 cans
Chop Suey – 3 cans
Peas – 3 cans
Yams – 2 cans
Beets – 2 cans

Canned Beans
Field Peas – 1 can
Pork & Beans – 4 cans
Black Eyed Peas – 5 cans
Refried Beans - 5 cans

Evaporated Milk – 2 cans
Sweet Condensed – 2 cans
Peanut Butter – 4 jars
Sweet Pickle Relish – 2 quart jars
Pickles – 2 jars

Canned Meat
Salmon – 5 cans
Tuna – 2 cans
Tuna – 1 can (small)
Chicken – 1 can
Instant Potatoes
1 box

Spaghetti – 6 boxes
Linguine – 2 boxes
Penne Rigate - 2 bags
Macaroni – 8 boxes
Wacky Mac – 1 bag

Baking Mixes
Snicker doodle Cookie Mixes –1
Brownie Mixes- 4
Pumpkin Bread mix - 1

 1 pound bags – 4.5
2 pound bags – 1
5 pound bags – 1

1 pound bag – 1

Dried Beans
Soup – 2
Pinto – 3

Cherry – 2
Orange –8
Lime – 4

Oats – 18 ounces - 1
Popcorn 1- 2 pound bag
Bread Crumbs – 2

And, off the top of my head, here is a list of possible meals I could make in August just from my list. 

Possible Meals

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas
Beefy Baked Beans
Beanie Weenies
Chili Mac
Chili Tacos
Enchilada Casserole
Macaroni & Cheese
Pork Roast
Salmon Patties
Smoked SausageSpaghetti

Of course, there are several more meals that I could add to this list especially since I have a lot of pasta and eggs on hand. I will be adding to my pantry and freezer as sales permit and my menu will change accordingly. Keeping track of what food I have in the pantry helps me save money by using up what I have on hand.

How is August shaping up in your home?

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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vitacost ~ Free $10 coupon

Recently I came across a coupon for $10 off from Vitacost, so I decided to give it a try. You can see from the photo above and the chart below what I received in my order.

Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce -- 8 fl oz 4 $1.07 $4.28
Item No:MUG 2283156

DaVinci Short Cuts Penne Rigate -- 16 oz 2 $1.43 $2.86
Item No:DAV 0007296

Bionaturae Organic Tomato Paste -- 7 oz 1 $2.87 $2.87
Item No:BNA 0920016

Order Total:
Subtotal: $10.01
Promotion Discount Applied: ($10.00)
Shipping & Handling: $4.99
Tax: $0.00
Grand Total: $5.00

All this for only $5.00 Shipped!

What is Vitacost?

Vitacost is an online retailer that sells over 30,000 products including specialty foods, vitamins, bath & beauty products and more. Vitacost offers FREE shipping on orders over $49 ($4.99 on all other orders).
If you have not signed up yet you can use this referral link to receive a $10 off your first order coupon code.

A few minutes after you sign up, Vitacost will send you an email with your exclusive coupon code. The email will have the subject line “Here’s your $10 Coupon for Vitacost.com”.

Simply place the desired items in your shopping cart and proceed to checkout where you will enter your coupon code.

Plus, Vitacost has a referral program (the links in this post are my referral links). Why am I telling you this? Well, you too can create your own Vitacost referral link and then share your link with family and friends via your blog, email account, Facebook and Twitter pages. When people go through your link, they will get $10 to spend and you will earn $10 to spend. It’s a win-win kind of deal.

 Go HERE to sign up for Vitacost today!

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Online Bill Pay

Save Money by Paying Bills Online

I have used online bill pay since March 11, 2011 when my bank sent me an email asking me to sign up for online bill payment and offered me a $50 bonus for registering.  At the time, I signed up just to receive the $50 bonus, but as time went on I continued to use online bill payment because of the convenience and monetary savings.  Eventually, I realized this habit had saved our family a significant amount of money in the past seventeen months.

I did some figuring and broke it down to see how much money I have saved over the past seventeenth months. I currently have twelve bills that I pay every month and one bill that I pay twice a year. 

I wasn’t sure about the cost of a postage stamp since the invention of the Forever Stamp, so I had to check online to make sure that a postage stamp costs 45 cents. 

My checks come from Carousel Checks, since they have always been the least expensive checks for me. I can order only half a box of checks, since one box will last me for years, which is 125 checks for $3.99, which works out to 3¢ per check. 

Cost of Checks 3¢ per check

Cost of Stamps -45¢ per stamp

12 monthly bills would cost me $5.76 per month 

4 bi-yearly bills would cost me $1.92

Yearly Cost $71.04

Total Cost Saved Over 17 Months: $100.08

This amount might not seem significant to some people, but to me $100.08 would go a long way in my budget because every penny I save is a penny I don’t need to earn. It is enough money to pay for at least four of my monthly bills. For many people this number will be significantly higher depending on the number of bills they have each month. 

If your bank charges for online bill pay you can shop around and find a new bank that does not charge for this service. Banks need your business and there are many large reputable banks that offer free online bill pay. Personally, I bank with First Tennessee and have been very pleased with their online bill pay service.

Do you use online bill pay? If so leave a comment and tell us about your experience with online bill pay.
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Goodwill 50% off Sale

Upcoming Sales

Just a heads up to let everyone know that next Saturday, August 4, 2012 is the monthly 50% off sale at Chattanooga area Goodwill stores. They have hundreds of clothing items all sorted by size and color and now is a good time to go for savings on back to school clothing. 

Here are the sale dates for the next year:

  • August 4, 2012
  • September 1, 2012
  • October 6, 2012
  • November 3, 2012
  • December 1, 2012
  • January 5, 2013
  • February 2, 2013
  • March 2, 2013
  • April 6, 2013
  • May 4, 2013
  • June 1, 2013
  • July 6, 2013
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Friday, July 27, 2012

Swag Bucks

If you are not familiar with Swagbucks, let me explain the program to you. Swag Bucks is an online rewards program where you can earn virtual currency, which enables you to earn real life rewards for doing things like filling out surveys, watching videos, and taking daily polls. 

Swagbucks is also a search engine which rewards you with Swagbucks for searching topics on the internet. You can use it just like Google for searching and you will be randomly awarded  Swagbucks, which are awarded in various amounts once or twice each day.

I spend a few minutes every day taking the daily poll, and doing the NOSO, and then a survey or two and then when I earn enough Swag Bucks, I cash them in for $5 Amazon gift certificates. 450 Swag Bucks will earn you a $5 Amazon gift certificate. So far this summer, I have earned $40 in Amazon gift certificates, which I am saving up to go towards my daughter's Christmas present.  

Just wanted to give a heads up to my readers who might not be aware of this terrific program. :)

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Amy D: Food

Below is a letter written by Amy Dacyczyn of The Tighwad Gazette fame. This is a letter she wrote to help her readers save money on their food bill. I hope you enjoy it.

Dear Reader,

Our family spends less than $180 per month on food. At 6’ and 5’8 ½” Jim and I are not pygmies. Likewise our six children, ages 9 and down to a set of toddler twins, are also of above average height. And most of them eat more than I do. We are all healthy, have great cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, of normal weights and no one feels deprived. 

For the purposes of accurate comparison, my food bill only includes edibles. Many non-edibles that some people buy at food stores can be purchased at other types of stores where they are usually cheaper. I don’t know if a drug store purchase of shampoo is included in most people’s grocery bills. My food bill does include school lunches as well as gardening and canning supplies. We never eat out. Our food bill doesn’t include any additional energy cost for baking food from scratch. In both cases our savings on food FAR outweighs the energy usage. 

Although Jim is a military retiree we don’t shop at the Navy Commissary because of the distance, and so our food bill does not reflect any savings from there. 

We live 25 miles from a large supermarket. We can’t hit all the sales and do little couponing, since we have no double coupon stores in our area. People from different parts of the country have told us they think groceries cost more in the northeast. The prices here seem to be about the same as when we lived in Virginia, except we have fewer stores to compete with sales and double coupons. 

Most of my newsletters have articles on ways to cut the food bill. On the next page I have included experts of three issues. The first is 17 ways to save on the food bill. Most of them are obvious, but you need to do all of them. The second is an article on the price book. Do not skip this step, no matter how time consuming you think it is to make one up. Many readers have written in amazement of their findings, how all of their perceptions were wrong. It will reduce your food bill significantly. The simplicity of some of the meals shows that I didn’t specifically cook meals for the purpose of publication. The menu does not represent our complete repertoire. Since we plan meals around sales, during any given period we may eat more of one type of food than another.  

By using a price book, bulk buying and simplifying your diet you will not only reduce your food bill, you will reduce the amount of time spent shopping. You will spend less time comparing products for price. When you go into a store you know exactly which products you will buy there, so shopping can be completed faster. We usually shop once a month hitting several types of stores for a total of four hours including 1-1/2 hours of driving. And the few other trips we make to hit sales are combined with other errands or business. 

It is my belief that couponing and refunding should be a part of the shopping process, but only a small part It has not been proved to me that major refunding and couponing will reduce your food bill as much as if you use all the strategies. This has been reflected in letters from my readers who say that since they’ve become sharper shoppers, they have reduced their food bill AND are now using fewer coupons. In general manufacturer’s coupons are not good for convenience foods. For example, cold cereal, even when you subtract double-coupon savings, usually costs more per portion than a large range of other breakfasts you could prepare. Remember, it’s not how much you “save” with coupons, but how much you SPEND that counts. Coupons can be very good for pet foods, coffee, cleaners, and personal care products. 

Some people might think our diet is unexciting. Because we choose less expensive foods we have less variation. Also we are extremely busy. When we have more time to prepare food is becomes more interesting. However we do not mind if food is plain. 

Many people PREFER to spend more on their food bill. This is a value difference which I feel is acceptable, as long as they are financially responsible. However, it is my preference to spend money on things of permanence, something that will give me long term enjoyment or convenience, such as a place to live, a tool, or piece of furniture.
Amy Dacyczyn

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Produce Preservation

Have you been trying to figure out how much produce you will need to harvest in order to have enough to make a batch for canning? Hobby Farms.com has done the work for you! They have a beautiful graphic available to use as a guide to calculate how much produce you need to harvest in order to make a successful batch. 

Here is a link to the chart:  Info-graphic: Produce Preservation

 If one of your goals is to feed your family with foods you have preserved, then a plan is definitely in order. First, you need to know how many fruits and vegetables you need to harvest in order to prepare enough food for your family's needs. Afterwards, you can  calculate how much to plant in your garden, or how much to pick from the you pick farms, or purchase from the farmer's markets. 

After cleaning out my pantry last week, I realized how grateful I was to have so many jars of tomatoes that I canned last summer. When I open one of the jars I smell that familiar tomato smell that only comes from a home grown tomato, and I feel pride in the fact that we grew these tomatoes right here and preserved them for our family to enjoy. 

This year I have plans to preserve peaches, sweet pickle relish, dill relish, tomatoes, pizza sauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and plenty more as my time and energy allows. 

What plans do you have for your garden and preserving this year?

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Garlic Bread

Tacos, Mexican Rice

Grilled Chicken, Stir Fried Vegetables

Salmon Patties, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
Pork Roast, Roasted Potatoes and Carrots, Green Beans with Onions
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Frugal Food: Tortillas

Tortillas were a mainstay in our home when I was growing up because we ate tacos on a regular basis. I can remember turning on the gas pilot stove on very low and putting a corn tortilla on top of the stove grate and warming it on both sides and then spreading it with warm butter. It was an inexpensive and delicious snack. 

We used to go by this tiny, Mexican grocery store in Joliet, Illinois to buy the very best fresh tortillas. My late aunt Minnie made the best Mexican food was the one who taught my Mom how to make tacos and we still make them that same way today. 

Nowadays, tortillas are a mainstay in my frugal kitchen, and there are a number of reasons for that. 

Tortillas are inexpensive. 

I can buy a package of 100 tortillas for $3 at Wal-Mart, or if I am at Sam’s Club, I can buy two packages of 72 tortillas for $4.23. If I am at Sam’s Club I make a point of buying them, but if not the ones at Wal-Mart will do. 

Do the math: 

100 divided by 3.00 = 3¢
144 divided by 4.72 = 3¢ 

So, when you look at the cost of a tortilla, 3¢ each, you can see for yourself how inexpensive they are, and that is a good reason to use them in our frugal kitchens. 

 Tortillas are Cheaper than other Bread Products

Cost Comparison

Bread 89¢ for 20 slices = 5¢ each
Hamburger Buns 89¢ for 16 slices = 6¢ or 12¢ for a whole bun

Tortillas are extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes.

Tacos – Beef, Chicken, Fish, or Pork
Mexican Pinwheels
Pizza/Pizza Crust
Breakfast Tacos
Veggie Burger Tacos

You can also make your own tortilla chips rather than buy them already made at the store. All you need to do is cut your tortillas in half and then in half again. 

Fry them in a little oil and you have your own tortilla chips.I salt them a little bit and they taste just like the tortilla chips you would find at a Mexican restaurant. These are terrific served with homemade salsa.

Tortillas can be used for Leftovers

Whenever I have leftovers, like Mexican rice, I can use the leftovers in place of meat in a taco. I simply heat everything up and then add the rice, cheese, lettuce and tomato to a tortilla. My family really likes my Mexican Rice Tacos. You can also use other leftovers  and make them into a meal by using tortillas.You are only limited by your imagination and creativity.

As you can see, tortillas can be a mainstay in your frugal kitchen. They are very affordable and versatile and I hope your family will love them like my family loves them.

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