Monday, September 28, 2020

Frugal Fall Fun

 Fall is my favorite time of year for so many reasons, and one of my favorite things of all is the change in temperature. We had cool days in the summer time back in Illinois where I grew up and have even sat outside with blankets on the Fourth of July. But Tennessee summers are HOT and the cooler weather of fall is a welcome relief.  This is the time of year to get outside because there are so many great things to do outside.  It’s not too hot or too cold and nature provides plenty of free entertainment.

One fun thing for children to do is to collect leaves and acorns and make a home out of them. My friends and I spent hours doing this when we were children. We would rake up all the leaves into a big pile and then we would “draw” the outline of a house on the lawn. Then we played house in all the rooms we made. We used our imagination and had a lot of fun. 

Gathering black walnuts or pecans, or whatever nuts grow in your part of the country. You can spend your time shelling them and tucking them away into your freezer to save for the holidays. You can roast them as well, which is another frugal activity for the fall months. 

Another fun fall activity is apple picking or any of the multiple apple festivals they have during this time of year.  There’s an annual apple festival here every year and it’s a great place to have some inexpensive fall fun by playing games, listening to good music, or enjoying the foods that normally coincide with this time of year such as caramel apples,  apple cider, or apple pie.

Many apple orchards allow you to pick your own apples from their orchards, and several here offer treats such as fried apple pies and apple cider, and even allow you to take a hayride with your family.

What better fall fun is there than visiting a pumpkin patch?  Picking out the family pumpkin to carve or decorate for Halloween is a great fall tradition.  Have a contest among family members to see who can come up with the most creative pumpkin. Back when I worked at the hospital we had a pumpkin decorating contest every year and it was so much fun to see all the entries. 

Speaking of favorite fall foods, here is my favorite recipe for spiced cider. This recipe came from an elderly lady who attended the same baby shower as I did back in 1990 at the Methodist church in Dayton, Tennessee. The recipe calls for 3/8 cup of brown sugar. Her and I figured that 4/8 would be a half cup, so this recipe would call for slightly less than half a cup.

Spiced Cider

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 allspice cloves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3/8 cup brown sugar
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Boil for 5 minutes with the spices.
  3. Enjoy!
Notes: This is a very old recipe, consider the 3/8 cup of brown sugar. I figure it is slightly less than 1/2 cup and that works well for me in this recipe. Also, I have substituted apple juice for the apple cider with good results. 

What about you?  What activities and traditions do you have for taking advantage of the fall season?

~ Living within our Means ~
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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Meals to Make with Dried Beans

Both of my parent's families came from Kentucky and although I grew up in Illinois, my language and cooking definitely has southern roots due to my heritage. Dried beans were always a part of that heritage and continues to be true to this day. 

Dried Beans 

Dried  beans are one of the most economical dishes you can feed to your family and they taste great when prepared properly. A one pound bag of beans generally costs anywhere from $1.00 to $1.50 and sometimes up to $3.00 a pound for some specialty beans. 

You may think there isn't much savings when buying a bag of dried beans verses canned beans, but there are savings to be had not to mention the added flavor of home cooked beans. 

A one pound bag of dried beans will cook up to make the equivalent of around three 15 ounce cans of already cooked beans, so when buying dried beans over canned beans you will be saving money. 

I make all kinds of dried beans in my frugal kitchen. Great northern beans, lovingly referred to as soup beans, pinto beans, cranberry beans, lima beans, yellow and black eyed peas, 15 beans, navy beans, yellow and green split peas, and lentils. 

If you need directions on how to cook beans from dried, you can find that information here

We can make a meal out of just beans, although cornbread is good to go with them if you have those ingredients on hand. Other meals you can make with beans include...

Ham & Beans


Chili Tacos

Bean & Cheese Burritos

Mock Tuna Salad

Bean Tacos

Hurst Pizza Beans

Barbara G's Homemade Beanie Weenies

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice

Refried Beans

Amy Dacyczyn, writer of The Tightwad Gazette, stated that beans should be considered a staple of the tightwad diet and are nearly always cheaper than meat.

Amy's recipe for Maine Baked Beans was printed in the first TWG book. 

Amy's Maine Baked Beans

2 pounds dried beans (4 cups)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 medium onion
1/2 pound bacon or pork salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. In the morning pout off the soaking water and parboil the beans with baking soda in fresh water until the skins crack when blown upon. Cut the onion in quarters ad put in the bottom of a bean pot or large casserole. Add parboiled beans. Put cut up bacon or salt pork on top of the beans. Mix brown sugar, molasses, dry mustard, and salt, with a pint of water. If necessary add more boiling water while baking. Bake at 300 degrees for 6 hours or more. 

Homemade baked beans are less expensive than store bought baked beans. And if you regularly cook from scratch, you'll probably already have these ingredients in your panty, so no need to make a special trip to the store for ingredients. If you don't have molasses on hand you can substitute dark corn syrup. 

Do you cook with dried beans in your home? If so, what kinds of beans do you serve? Do you have any recipes to share with us? We would love to hear all about it in the comment section. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Comparison Shopping with a Price Book?

Have you ever looked at the cost of an item on the grocery or drugstore shelf and wondered if you could find the item at a different store even cheaper?

If so you have just applied the concept of a price book. Amy Dacyczyn believed in the value of a price book. You can read a letter from her regarding saving money on your food bill where she also mentions price books here.

Amy who wrote The Tightwad Gazette, wondered if "the various sizes and brands was part of a huge conspiracy to confuse consumers?"  She says the keeping of a price book "revolutionized our shopping strategy more than anything else we did". 

If you don't know what a price book is, it's a frugal tool that people have used for years to purchase items at the lowest possible price. It is also how some frugal people build up their stock pile. When I find a good deal, I buy enough to get me through until the next sale, which is usually twelve weeks, although I usually buy them in quantities of ten. 

This week Food City has canned salmon on sale for $1.99 per can. I already have two cans of salmon in my pantry and we have this item for dinner about once a month, so I bought two more cans, which is enough to last the rest of the year. During that time I'm sure it will go on sale again and I can stock up again.  

A price book is related to the concept of watching the sales, but takes that tactic a step further. Some people use their price book to track actual retail prices of specific items on a week to week basis. Some people do not go that far into the details, but either way will work and I would use the one that you know you will do and works for you. 

Image Credit: The Tightwad Gazette

In a price book each page will contain prices for one item like the photo above. The pages of items will be in alphabetical order for quick reference. Amy includes her code for the name of each store, the brand, the size of the item, and the unit price. Doing this really gave Amy a feeling of control over her food budget. 

Some people today may consider a price book to be archaic. With a computer or smartphone these days people can go online and find the lowest price while staying at home. Or, if you are standing in a store it's easy enough to check the price of the same item in another store if you have your smart phone with you. 

Recently I needed to purchase Ibuprofen. I simply went online and compared the price of each bottle at Walmart and Amazon. I checked these two merchants because I can get free shipping with them. 

1,000 Ibuprofen at Walmart $13.98

As you can tell here, Walmart had the best deal on the Ibuprofen the day I checked. That might not always be the case though. It pays to check before making a purchase. 

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my price book consisted of all the items I bought and the price I paid on a Word document. It was easy enough to change the prices as needed or check a price and I could easily print it out as it was only one page. 

If you'd like to read how Trent over at The Simple Dollar dos his price book, you can read about that here

Whatever system you use this is one frugal tool that will help you save money on your food bill. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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Friday, September 25, 2020

Frugal Friday

Welcome to another edition of Frugal Friday here at the Frugal Workshop. We stayed home again this week, so no gas money used here. 

In My Frugal Kitchen 

I used up a can of meatloaf starter from my pantry when I made a batch of chili last Friday. I didn't want to add it to any of my meatloaf recipes because I want my meatloaf to taste a specific way and didn't want this to change that. I'm glad it has finally been used up though.

Meals This Week:

Crispy Onion  Chicken, Rice, Brussel Sprouts
Bruschetta Chicken Bake, Broccoli, Dressing
Salmon Patties, Dressing, Green Beans with Onions
Macaroni & Cheese with Ham, Green Peas
Ham, Soup Beans, Carrots

Gather The Fragments

This week I took a small bowl of pumpkin and a small bowl of pizza sauce I had in the freezer and put them both into the chili I made. It was an easy way to disguise these items and use them up with no food waste. It also opened up that space in the freezer. 

Other Frugal Things

As usual, we use our cloth napkins exclusively.  We spend no money on paper towels. 

We also use cloth handkerchiefs. They are both pretty and save money. We have no need to buy tissues anymore, which is also a money saver.

We always save the twist ties on our bread bags. They come in handy for keeping extension cords neatly organized. I also use them to hold my fan cage together after the original clips broke.

We've been able to turn the a/c off at night every day this week, the cooler weather is a welcome relief. 

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I'm not going to debate the issues with homemade laundry detergent today, but wanted to share what we did this week. 

Image Credit @BaileyAlexInc

We haven’t been couponing for a while now and especially since the pandemic started and as I've been telling you lately, we are running out of commercial laundry detergent. ⁣
Bailey made a batch of homemade laundry detergent years ago and that batch lasted about three years. This week she mixed up a new batch, grated in the bar soap, and added in her favorite scent beads. 

Here is a breakdown of the cost:

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - 55 ounces/7 cups - $4.12
Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar -  5.5 ounce - 97¢
20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster - 65 ounces or 9 cups - $4.47

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda - 5 lbs/10 cups - $3.88
Downy Unstopables Scent Booster -  20.1 oz  - $11.97
OxiClean Stain Remover - 3 lbs/6 cups - $7.73

We spent $35.08 on our batch of laundry detergent and we dated our container to see how long it will last. We used all the optional ingredients, but you don't have to use them if you want to save even more money. 

Arm & Hammer washing soda is an excellent booster and whitener to commercial laundry detergent. I like to add some into my wash even if I'm using commercial laundry detergent because I can tell a big difference in cleanliness and whiteness when I do. 

Image Credit @BaileyAlexInc

The homemade laundry detergent cleans so well and only uses one or two tablespoons per load. We just keep a jar of it in the laundry room and have the tub in storage. ⁣

Image Credit @BaileyAlexInc

This is a good way to save on laundry detergent if you can’t or don’t have time to coupon. ⁣

The path to good money management will be a long road for some,  but people can change if they want to. We’re living in an age where we have plenty of resources at our fingertips that we can use to teach ourselves how to make the best use of our money, resources, and time.

How was your week?

~ Living within our Means ~
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Friday, September 18, 2020

Frugal Friday

Good Friday to all my readers! 

Blog News

Last week I received an email from someone that couldn't comment on the blog, so I have switched the comments section now to where any email can post a comment. You don't have to have a Gmail account to make a  comment now. All comments will continue to be moderated however. 


This weekend I was feeling sick with fever, chills, and dizziness, so I went to the doctor's office twice. The first doctor thought it might be something viral and told me to call back in 7 to 10 days if I was not better. 

The second time I went to the doctor's office, the receptionist looked at my symptoms and told me I would have to wait outside, so I went and sat in my car. They took my temperature and blood pressure while I was in my car. The doctor even came out and talked with me in my car. 

They ended up testing me for Covid outside in the parking lot, and I called today and my test was negative. (Woo Hoo!) 

The second doctor's only concern was if I had Covid right now. 
They were suited up like people wearing hazmat suits. It made me feel like I had the plague. If I were in their shoes, I would be dressed out the the same way though. They must be scared just going to work everyday. My heart goes out to them.

I'm not surprised I tested negative, I have not been around another person except the ones I live with and we've been self-quarantined for months. I'm feeling better though in case you were wondering. :)

This week I won another giveaway. This time it was  Facebook giveaway from Om Mushrooms. 

To continue celebrating #MushroomMonth, we are giving away this awesome mushroom kit, which includes Om Mighty Veggie Miso Broth, Om Mushroom Hot Chocolate Blend, Om Immune Defense Capsules, an insulated tumbler cup, milk frother, pair of socks and mushroom beanie.

In My Frugal Kitchen:

Miss Bailey stepped up to the plate and made dinner for us several nights in a row this week. This is not her forte as we consider the kitchen to be my domain, but she did a great job and I am so grateful. 

One evening she made us baked potatoes including sweet potatoes. The next morning I made us some home fries using them. The sweet potato ones were so good and healthy to boot. 

Later in the week I made a potato soup using the last of our two baking potatoes, some leftover cooked carrots, onions, and broccoli. I used my last envelope of Instant potatoes to thicken the soup and added two ounces of cream cheese to make it creamy. It was good to use up some things and it fed us dinner for two nights as well. 

The only grocery item we received this week was a twelve pack of Hormel ham we ordered last week from Amazon. This has been out of stock on a regular basis, so it's nice to be stocked up on this item again. 

Other Frugal Things:

 The weather has been much cooler in the mornings here and is a welcome sign of things to come. Then this morning as I sat outside feeding the cats I enjoyed the cool breeze, which came from Hurricane Sally. We've had cloudy days this week because of her and rain yesterday. 

Other frugal things I've done this week include air drying my hair, using an empty cat food bag for garbage, and wearing the same clothing items, unless dirty, since we've been staying home  helps to save on washing and drying. 

How was your week?

~ Living within our Means ~
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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Saving Money with Tea Bags

It's been twenty years since I wrote an article about saving money with tea bags.  

Back then a two liter bottle of pop could be had for 99¢. While that can still be true today, a two liter bottle of Pepsi regularly goes for $1.25 at Walmart these days while a two liter bottle of Coke is going for $1.68. 

The price we currently pay for a ten pound bag of sugar is $3.76  and $20.88 for six hundred Red Rose tea bags. My daughter prefers the taste of Red Rose, so that is what we use. 

There are 22.5 cups of sugar in a 10 pound bag and at a cost of $3.76, that works out to 17¢ per cup. 

We use 1 cup of sugar in our gallons of tea, which works out to 17¢ for sugar. 

There are 600 small tea bags in the box of Red Rose tea we buy, and I use 10 bags for each gallon of tea, which works out to 35¢ for the tea bags. 

Figuring out the math we determined that a gallon of tea cost us 51¢ to make at home.

One gallon of Tea = 51¢ ($53.04 @ 2 per week for 1 year)

We also figured what a gallon of soda would cost if it were sold by the gallon:

One gallon of Pepsi = $ 4.74 
($492.96 @ 2 per week for 1 year)

One gallon of Coke = $ 6.36 
($661.44 @ 2 per week for 1 year)

These figures amount to a savings of $608.40 if you drink tea over Coke or $439.92 if you drink tea over Pepsi. 

Of course, you can lower your costs with the tea even more. 

Switch to a lower cost tea bag to save money. Red Rose is one of the more expensive brand of tea bags. Of course, we save money in other areas, but this is one area where we splurge. 

Using less sugar or none will also save money. 

Using less tea bags than we do will save you money too. 

For example:

100 Great Value tea bags cost $1.94, which works out to 20¢ per gallon using 10 teabags plus more if you use sugar. 

100 National Cup tea bags cost $1.00, which works out to 10¢ per gallon using 10 tea bags plus more if you use sugar. 

We like our tea strong, so ten bags works for us. You may find that using less tea bags works for you. At only 51¢ per gallon, I'll happily use ten Red Rose tea bags and not worry about it. :)

Of course we all know the ultimate way to save money on beverages is by drinking water but that is another topic for another day. ;)

~ Living within our Means ~
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Friday, September 11, 2020

Frugal Friday

Welcome to Friday to all my frugal readers. September is definitely in the air right now as we have woken up to some very cool mornings this week, which feels great. 

In My Frugal Kitchen

Do you remember when I wrote that Bailey didn't like the Cinnamon Toast Crunch creamer? Well...I decided to make French Toast the other day and used that for the milk and guess what? She loved it! So, we will still use it up, avoid food waste, and not waste the money that was spent on it. 

We made more Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches this week. 

Kroger has peanut butter on sale for 99¢ this week along with eight ounce blocks of cheese for 4/$5.00. 

My Amazon grocery order arrived this week and now we are stocked up on tuna and green beans.

Doing the math this week, I refigured what it cost me to make one gallon of tea these days. Look for an upcoming blog post on that soon. I also figured the cost of eggs right now, which works out to 8¢ each according to current Walmart prices. Eggs are always a good and frugal food to have on hand. 

Other Frugal Things

I made a goal this week to list one item on eBay everyday and I succeeded. 

I've been watching Prepper Princess videos again on YouTube this week. She used to have mostly prepper videos on her channel, but now has multiple videos on saving money, which is right up my alley. 

PP mentioned in one of her videos that she adds 20% of water to all her shampoos and soaps. I use Neutrogena T-gel shampoo, which is expensive at $8.50 a bottle, so I added water to mine this week to make it s-t-r-e-t-c-h farther. I already do this with my Dawn dishwashing detergent to make it stretch as far as possible. 

I earned a $10 gift card to Amazon from Microsoft Rewards this week. I used it to purchase 12 cans of Hormel Ham for our pantry. I have this ham as one of my subscribe and save items on Amazon. The price I've been paying for the ham for the 12 cans is $9.71. 

I don't know about you, but I've been watching the prices on Amazon fluctuate widely lately. This ham is going for $45 right now and the price I paid is nowhere to be found. I've noticed that the prices on some of their items is so high. I can't wait until we can go back to grocery shopping the way we used to do it. 

Miss B and I both cut our hair at home this week using this Wahl hair trimmer. It's cordless and I can take it outside to do my own hair, which makes for easier cleanup. I used the two inch comb on my hair, which is just the way I like it. Last time I cut my hair I used a smaller comb and it was so short I didn't have to trim it again until now. 

This week I rearranged my office space and it is much more functional than it was before, which is a win-win for me. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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Monday, September 7, 2020

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce

1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon peeled ginger
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon water
2 teaspoons sesame seeds


Add soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and water together to make a slurry and add to saucepan. Bring back to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add sesame oil and sesame seeds. 

To make Teriyaki Chicken take two chicken breasts and cut into bite sized pieces. Add small amount of oil to skillet and add chicken. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Brown chicken until done. Add teriyaki sauce and pineapple, if desired, and heat through. 

We had this for dinner tonight. I served this with cooked carrots and a teriyaki vegetable stir fry. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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Friday, September 4, 2020

Frugal Friday

Word of the Week
Shrinkflation is the process of items shrinking in size or quantity, while their prices remain the same or increase.
Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen

Last Friday I took some planned over chicken, ramen noodles, steamed broccoli, hoisin sauce, stir fry seasoning, and some sesame oil and made an Asian noodle dish for supper. It was a big hit and gave us leftovers for lunch the next day. 

On Monday I made some homemade meatballs.  The reason I decided on meatballs is because I wanted to use some crackers to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the meat as far as possible. 

Additions like oatmeal, crackers, vegetables, etc. all add bulk to your meat, which makes it go farther and saves money. The meatballs I made with one pound of ground beef made enough for two dinners by doing this. 

I was going to make a meatball stew or spaghetti and meatballs, but then my sink decided to stop draining. So I put those in the fridge and on Tuesday I made a brown gravy and added the meatballs and made mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables to go with it. It was also a big hit. 

We had a problem with the kitchen sink this week. I was washing dishes when the sink stopped draining. I tried using a plunger and Liquid Plumber, but neither one would work. So I tried to DIY and took the pipe off under the sink, but there was no clog that I could see. 

So, I knew it had to be farther down the line. I could rent a snake, but in the end decided to hire someone who used a snake attached to the hose and blast it out of the pipe. It was just a buildup of old junky matter, but it is fixed now and running great. I'm so grateful to have a clear running drain again. 

It's a funny thing that we've had more repairmen in the house since the pandemic struck than we have in the past few years. First the a/c installation, the dryer repair, and now the kitchen sink. Knock on wood that this will be it for a while. :)

Photo Credit: @BaileyAlexInc
Bailey made us a chocolate cake to have for snacks or dessert this week. 

On Wednesday I took a large package of six chicken breasts out of the freezer to thaw. On Thursday and Friday I cut each breast in half and made copycat Chic-fil-A sandwiches at home. 

One CFA sandwich cost $3.79. My six package of breasts cost $9.41, which made 12 filets. My 12 filets cost about 79¢ each, which is a great price for them compared to CFA. 

The secret to making them taste like CFA is to brine them in pickle juice. They end up tasting like the real thing. 

We ordered a few groceries like lemon pepper tuna, peanut butter, V-8 juice, and green beans from Amazon, but they will not be here until next week. 

Oh Monday I needed to run some errands, which included a stop by Lowe's for Liquid Plumber to try and clear the kitchen drain. 

We also went to Publix to pick up an RX, checked the mail, and since I earned a $10 gift card to Papa Johns from Mobile Expression this week, we bought a pizza for dinner.  

I am a rewards member also and earned 31 points for the pizza, which in turn earned us another $10 gift card, so we will use that at a later time. 

eBay sent me an email this week giving me a free $25 gift card for being with them since the beginning in 1999. I was so excited! I decided to buy some more inventory to make items for my Etsy shop. So I'm going to turn this $25 into even more money. 

Last week I entered a contest on Instagram that @Debtfreegonnabe was offering for $50 and a 30 minute consultation. She emailed me on Wednesday to let me know I was one of the winners. Woo Hoo! That sure came in handy this week after a $100 plumbing bill. 

Saving Money with Reward Apps

Microsoft Rewards - Finally MR has went back to giving five points per search (rather than 1 point) on my account. People had been discussing it on the MR Reddit board and I never did figure out exactly what was going on, but it's fixed now and I'm close to another $10 Amazon gift card. 

They've added new rewards, so if you have looked before and not been happy with the rewards, look again, you might be surprised. 


If you're not already a member of MyPoints, September would be a good month to join up. If you use my referral link you can earn up to an additional 500 bonus points this month. You can cash in your points for money such as 1,590 points in exchange for $10 in your PayPal account, which is what I like to do with my points. 

Free Entertainment

For movie night this week we watched a 2017 version of The Secret Garden, which is free to watch on YouTube. This is a Steampunk version of the classic tale by Frances Hodgson Burnett, with orphaned teen Mary Lennox discovering the magic and mystery of the secret garden.

Bailey and I have watched almost every version of The Secret Garden that they have out there and this one is an updated version with Mary and her cousin Colin being teenagers. 

If you read the reviews you'll find that many people found the acting to be cheesy, but I liked it. Mrs. Medlock is much nicer in this version while a new character, Dr. Craven is the evil villain. 

For game night we played There's a Moose in the House, which is a cute, matching card game for both children and adults. 

Other Frugal Activities

We went forging one day this week and picked the black walnuts on our land. 

How was your week? Any frugal activities to share with us?

~ Living within our Means ~
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