Monday, November 29, 2021

Free Hearts, Homes, and Holidays Kindle Cookbook

Today Amazon is offering the Hearts, Homes, and Holidays cookbook for free on Kindle. You don’t need an actual Kindle to get the free books as Amazon lets you use their reader for free as well. This book includes twenty recipes for entertaining. Make sure that the price is still zero when you go to order it as Amazon changes their prices regularly. 


~ Living within our Means ~
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Friday, November 26, 2021

Frugal Friday ~ November 26, 2021

Welcome to Friday! 

Quote of the Week

~ Start each day with a grateful heart ~

My Frugal Week

Would you like to know the best way to catch a cat here? Just put an empty box on the porch or a new blanket. 😂 

I’ve swept the leaves off the porch several days this week. When you live on fifteen acres of mostly trees, that is a lot of leaves. Hopefully they will all be gone soon as the trees get ready to slumber for the winter. 

We hung up several loads of laundry to dry this week. 

I repaired a cloth pad for Bailey.

Our Christmas cactus has a bloom on it. 

On Saturday we woke up early to go to a garage sale. The temperature was 32 degrees. I don’t know what we or the people holding the sale were thinking. 😂 LOL 

I was surprised how many yard sales there were. I wonder if people were trying to make some money for the holidays. 

We were able to pick up several big bottles of body wash, toothpaste, Lysol laundry sanitizer, and two packs of pads all for $1.00 each. 

The Lysol laundry sanitizer is almost $10 a bottle right now and the pads are over $5.00, so these really helped us save money as these are all items we use. 

We used part of the Starbucks gift card Bailey won last week. She got a Chai Latte and I got an unsweetened iced green tea. 

We also went through a free food giveaway that one of the local churches was hosting. We came home with a turkey, sweet potatoes, cabbage, yellow squash, zucchini, three rolls of ground turkey, one box of fruit snacks, one box pancake mix, one box brownie mix, six taco kits, and two boxes of cereal. 

Now I am not a fan of turkey, but I think if I disguise it with ground beef I won’t be able to tell it’s in there. I figure I could use 75% beef and 25% turkey. I don’t want to waste something that was given to us. 

On Wednesday I shredded the zucchini and made up three bags of it for the freezer. I will use it to make some zucchini bread later this winter. 

They also gave us an item, which we do not use, so I added it to the bag of items we will be donating to the Little Free Pantry located here. 

We also visited the Little Free Library and did some trading. 

This week several packages came in the mail that I had ordered for Christmas presents. I don’t mind receiving preowned gifts like books and my Mom loves to read, so I picked her up a preowned mystery book for less than $1.00 on Amazon as part of her gift. 

My Mom and Bailey are the only ones I will be buying for this year as I cut my list down several years ago because I didn’t have the extra money to buy gifts. 

On Friday, the CDC gave the nod for all adults over the age of 18 to be eligible for the COVID 19 booster shots. I called the local health department on Monday to make an appointment to get ours and they let us go that afternoon and get one. I’m so thrilled to have our booster shots now!

Earning Money

Bailey’s business continues to do well even though her business slows down at this time of year due to the holidays. 

I’ve listed a couple of things on eBay to sell this week. 

Avoiding Spending

We stayed out of the stores this week as usual with the pandemic, which makes week #81. I did buy a few Christmas presents online, so I didn’t avoid spending money this week. 

Joy of the Week

This little succulent, called Donkeys Tail, hangs in our bathroom and brings me joy every time I look at it. 

Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen

Bailey picked four strawberries that she grew this summer. They were so good and sweet. I’d say it’s the last of the season as we’ve had temperatures of 32 degrees some mornings. 

The other day I had a kitchen drawer that would not close. So, I took my grabber stick and tried to pull out whatever it was that wasn’t allowing the drawer to close completely. [As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small fee on items purchased through my links.]

I found a treasure trove of items that had been lost over the years. 😂 Included was a pot holder that Bailey made in Girl Scouts in 4th grade. I have wondered for years what happened to that potholder.

Meals This Week

Friday & Saturday: Walking Taco Casserole, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Onions

: Deconstructed Eggroll, Stir Fry Vegetables, Baked Sweet Potato, Red Peppers, Tomatoes, and Salad for those who wanted it. ~ used the cabbage we received on Saturday. 

Monday: Polish Sausage and Cabbage, Vegetables, Salad (The sausage wasn’t on the menu, but I had some left from the other day that I wanted to use up)

Tuesday: Bailey was feeling poorly from her booster shot and slept until that evening. So, all I did was make her a pizza for movie night along with a salad to go with it. 

Wednesday: Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes along with lettuce, tomato, and onions. 

Thursday: Turkey, Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Broccoli Casserole, Autumn Salad, Cranberry Salad, Cheesecake

Recipe of the Week

This is a recipe I’ve had for a while. I decided to make some changes to it to make it more like we like our taco meat to taste.  It was a big hit. My changes are in red. 

Walking Taco Casserole


1 & 1⁄2 pounds Ground Beef

1⁄3 large Onion, chopped

1 can Green Chilies, small can (omitted)

1 can Enchilada Sauce (omitted)

2 ounces Cream Cheese (used 8 ounces)

1 bag Fritos Corn Chips

1 bag Shredded Cheese

3⁄4 cup Lettuce, shredded

1⁄2 cup Tomato, fresh, diced

16 ounces Salsa (omitted)

8 ounces Sour Cream


Brown ground beef with onion.

Add green chilies, enchilada sauce and cream cheese.

In a 9×13 pan, repeat layers as follows: 

Fritos chips Meat Mixture Shredded Cheese.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

Top individual servings with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream as desired.

What I've been Reading This Week

The Provident Homemaker Documents and Files (Kitchen recipes and files)


I picked up a free calendar from the electric company this week. The very next day Mom asked me to pick her up one from the electric company, so I gave this one to her to use for next year. 

That is all the news to report on our frugal week in Tennessee. Thank you for dropping by, you are always welcome here. We would love to hear about your week in the comment section.

~ Living within our Means ~
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If you are encouraged by what you read here, please consider supporting this site. 

 1. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a small percentage that helps me to earn a living. Any items you place in your cart from one of my links means I will earn a small percentage from that sale. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Tip and a Free Calendar

This is a picture of the white board and calendar I have in our kitchen. I write the date of Bailey’s milk on the white board and on the calendar, so she will know when it about to expire. 

We often go past the expiration date when using the milk, but it helps us to avoid wasting it completely. I prefer almond milk, which has much longer expiration dates. 

The calendar is a freebie from Snort and they are offering them free again this year. In order to get the free calendar they want you to fill out a survey which only takes a few minutes. 

Here is a link:   Snort Calendar 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving Day Week ~ Menu Plan Monday

This will be a big week here along with multiple households across the United States this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving. As for me and my household we have so much to be thankful for this year. 

In no particular order, these are the meals I plan on making this week. As usual, we have plenty of salad and vegetables to serve with these meals.

Walking Taco Casserole

Deconstructed Egg Rolls

Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Chicken Fajita Tacos

Thanksgiving Day Menu 
Remember, more isn’t always better, 
keep it simple this year and stick to 2 or 3 side dishes. 
You can still serve a hearty meal and keep it simple

Sticky Pineapple Chicken

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Come back on Friday if you're interested in reading which side dishes we chose for each meal

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, November 19, 2021

Frugal Friday ~ November 19, 2021

Welcome to Friday! 

My Frugal Week

The weather has been cold and chilly here this week. Leaves are still falling and I cleaned them off the back porch several days this week. 

We did a grocery pickup this week. The cats were out of food again, so I picked up a bag for them at our local Fresh and Low. This is the closest store to us, around five miles away, so I went there to save on gas. 

 They had Hormel canned ham priced at  97 cents a can, which is a great price and has been hard to source from the other stores where I shop. I picked up ten cans of it, which is now neatly tucked into the pantry. 

Gas is priced at $2.97 a gallon right now. Thankfully, I didn’t need any this week.

My Mom gave me a new blanket she had bought for herself, but didn’t use as she thought it was too big. I was in the market for a new blanket, so now I won’t have to buy one. 

I saved the bags the cat food came in after I poured them into our large cat food container. These make great garbage bag liners as they do not leak. 

Our other grocery order was delivered from Walmart. We ordered enough groceries for at least three weeks. Several items were out of stock, so we just did the best we could. 

One loaf of bread I bought was molded when I opened it, so I called and received a refund on that. Also, I bought a box of bleach tablets for the tank of the commode, but the box was empty, so that was refunded as well. I would have thought the shopper would realize how lightweight the box was. 

Norton renewed our antivirus protection for another year one month early and for the full price. So, I called them and was able to get 50% off, so they will be issuing a refund for $57. 

I watched a less than two minute video this week about the food shortages and how some stores are using fake food to try and hide their empty shelves. 

Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen

This week I switched from iceberg to leaf lettuce to save money. The iceberg lettuce was priced at $1.78 and I can do without it at that price. 

On Sunday, tired of being out of bread, I made a loaf of “artisan” bread to have with our dinner. 

We did all the usual things like cooking from scratch, using up any leftovers to avoid food waste, being creative in making meals. Even after I bought groceries, I continued to make meals based on using up the food we had here before the new food was used. 

Meals This Week

Friday: Chili with Macaroni, Salad

Saturday: Italian Sausage, Spaghetti, Tomato and Feta Cheese Skillet dinner. This is something I just made up using ingredients I had on hand. It turned out to be a big hit, so I was happy about that. 

Sunday: Chicken Fried Rice and Stirfry Vegetables 

Monday: Italian Sub Sandwiches, BBQ Chips

Tuesday: Hamburgers with Onions and Pickles

Wednesday: Polish Sausage, Potatoes and Green Beans with Onions

Thursday: Creamy Beef with Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Recipe of the Week

This is a recipe that I was given back in the early 1990s. We thought it was really good at the time, but I haven’t made it since then. Isn’t it funny how you remember something being so good, but you have it again years later and it is just OK? 

Anyway, I made it for Bailey today and she liked it, but said she wouldn’t request it. 

Im not a fan of pasta, especially large pieces of it, so I went with a medium egg noodle for this, which I liked so much better than the large egg noodle. I didn’t even realize there was a difference in the sizes of egg noodles. 

I did use healthy requests soups, so that may have been the difference for me. 

Anyway, here is the recipe in case you’re interested. 

Creamy Beef


1 pound beef stew meat
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup


Brown beef in skillet on stovetop or Instant Pot
If using Instant Pot, add one cup of water and pressure cook for 35 minutes. 
Remove beef, and drain water.
Mix three soups together and add to beef and mix together. Warm through. 
If using crockpot, add browned beef and three soups to crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. 
Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes. 

Saving on Entertainment

I’ve been watching Dateline for free on Peacock TV this week. They have multiple seasons on there if you’re interested. 


Bailey was able to get in on some of the Ibotta freebies this week like the cream of mushroom soup, which we’ve already used. 

One of Bailey’s friends was having a contest on who could list the most items in one day. She won on one of the days and received a $10 Starbucks gift card. We’ve been steaming, processing, and listing like mad scientists this week. LOL 

That is all the news to report on our frugal week in Tennessee. Thank you for dropping by, you are always welcome here. We would love to hear about your week in the comment section.

~ Living within our Means ~
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Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Pantry Principle ~ Managing the Grocery Budget

Amy Dacyczyn describes The Pantry Principle on pages 172-173 in her book titled, The Tightwad Gazette II. Amy states that the idea of planning meals thirty days in advance in not the most frugal way to go about planning menus for your family. She states that planning meals in advance is backward and that stick-to-your-list thinking does not allow an individual to take advantage of unadvertised deals.

The best approach that Amy suggests is what she calls The Pantry Principle which she first learned about in a book written by Barbara Salsbury and Cheri Loveless called Cut Your Food Bill in Half. Amy claims that many families do not take the concept far enough to save the maximum amount of their money.

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. The purpose of grocery shopping then becomes a trip to replenish your pantry, and not a trip to purchase specific ingredients for specific meals.

Make an Inventory of what you have in your pantry and freezer and that will help you use up those items. After you’ve done that you can make a meal plan utilizing those items.

We have a lot of frugal tips in our toolbox such as drinking water, and making tea or lemonade and koolaid to drink instead of buying soda. We do keep Sprite on hand for medicinal purposes.

We make home baked cakes instead of commercially made ones, oatmeal made from old fashioned oats rather than instant packets

We shop the Crash and Burn sections of the grocery stores and will buy food with the yellow mark down stickers if it fits within our budget

We eat meatless meals, such as Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, or homemade Veggie Burgers, or Red Beans & Rice

We eat leftovers or reinvent them into a new dish. For example, we turned leftover mashed potatoes into Potato Pancakes.

We make soups, which can be very economical depending on what ingredients you use. 

We shop at discount grocery stores such as United Grocery OutletSave a Lot, and Aldi

We look for and buy discounted groceries at all the places we shop including the flea market

We peruse the sale ads online and make a list of items on sale and then stock up on those. We keep a price book to check prices. 

Another way you can save money on food is by using grocery rebate apps like IbottaCheckout 51Dosh, and Just Google the grocery store app and read about them and do your research first.

We re-purpose food scraps to make other things like vegetable, chicken, or beef broth. 

We keep a well stocked pantry of food bought at the lowest price and we cook from scratch.

We search for recipes that are cost friendly. We don’t buy foods that cost more than our budget will allow. We don’t buy beef roasts, steaks, or expensive seafood or alcohol. We scour yard sales, used book stores, and flea markets for economical cookbooks. 

One online resource you can use is the online cookbook located here:  Recipes and Tips for Frugal Healthy Meals. 

There are multiple ways you can reduce your grocery budget and I've only scratched the surface here. 

Your way of saving on groceries may contain other ideas I've not mentioned here such as growing some of your food in a garden. 

Let's share ideas with each other.

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, November 12, 2021

Frugal Friday ~ November 12, 2021

My Frugal Week

This week I received news about my health care coverage for 2022. The subsidies that made health insurance affordable for me that were put into place in 2021 will run out at the end of the year, but I want to continue my health care coverage. There will be a substantial increase in cost, so I have some decisions to make about that. 

My laptop died this week and I don’t know what is wrong with it. I use my tablet more than anything, so I’m not too concerned about it. It’s not as easy to type the blog on the tablet, so if you see anything odd, that is what’s up with that. 

I bought a new calendar the other day from Amazon. I used up some gift card money that I had and it only cost me $2.49 afterwards. It’s a five year calendar, so it should last a long time. If I use it all five years, it will only cost 50 cents per year. 

I have several shirts that are the same design, but different colors that I use to wear around the house only. They are still in good shape, but two of them became stained and wouldn’t come clean in the washer, so I asked Bailey to tie dye them for me. Now there is no telling where the stains were and it saved me my favorite shirts for a little while longer. 

Bailey and I cleaned out my bedroom closet and pulled all my sewing equipment up front where I can easily get to it. I want to start sewing again now that my eyesight is fixed. We tossed some things and donated other things. It looks so much better in there and I have better access to some of my favorite things. 

Earning Money

This week I earned $5.00 in PayPal money from MobileXpression. 

I received another survey from Consumer Survey with another $5 bill in it this week. It’s odd for them to send me two of those in the same quarter, but I’ll take it. :)

I sold one item, an apron, on eBay. 

Avoiding Spending

I went out on Tuesday to run a few errands, but other than that I stayed home. Plus I haven’t spent any money this week other than using the gas in my car.

Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen 

It was chilly here on Saturday, so I decided a stockpot of vegetable soup would be perfect. I used up bits of this and that to make it as I had plenty of vegetables for it. I also used one cup of some dried yellow split peas that I had. 

Soup is a very economical dish to feed your family. Even when you think you don’t have any food in the house there are usually items to make soup.

Granola Bars were also made this week using up the last of a jar of peanut butter. I rolled these into balls instead of making bars out of them. 

I had a sweet tooth the other day, so I decided to make some chocolate syrup, so I could make myself a glass of chocolate almond milk. It hit the spot. 

I’ve been making a grocery shopping list for this coming weekend and have been checking prices on items. I noticed that the 20 pound bag of potatoes from Fresh and Low went from $4.99 to $8.99 recently. This makes their ten pound bags for $3.59 cheaper. 

I was watching a Frugal Queen video this week and she said she only buys generic items in her grocery shops. There are many items we can buy here in the states that are generic and more affordable. 

I saw rice in either white or brown for 49 cents a pound this week. I saw a box of four envelopes for chicken noodle soup for $1.12. That is certainly cheaper than a can or two of chicken soup and there is more of it. As always, it pays to shop around and I love that it can be done online in the comfort of our homes these days.

I also perused the grocery store ads online this week making note of any especially good deals that were available. Food City has their meat deal on sale today and tomorrow. You can get 5 packages of meat for $14.99, which is $5 off the regular price. We are going to get in on the deal tomorrow. 

Our microwave started not working a few weeks ago. I believe it had a short in the plug, but it wouldn’t work regularly and I felt it was a safety issue. I’ve been getting used to life without a microwave again, but Bailey really missed having one, so on Friday a new Farberware microwave will be delivered here.

This was a week of using up what we had on hand and so here are the meals we made this week. 

Saturday: Homemade Chicken Sandwiches, French Fries, Broccoli
Sunday: Baked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Cornbread
Monday: Italian Sausage, Potato Pancakes, Peas, and Masa Bread
Tuesday: One successful leftover wizardry concoction  consisting of some chicken soup and fried rice both from the freezer. 
Wednesday: Salmon Patties, Scalloped Potatoes, Butter Beans
Thursday: Chicken Fried Rice with Vegetables
Friday: Chicken Sandwiches, French Fries, Broccoli 


I’m sure by now most of you have heard or read that Ibotta is doing the free Thanksgiving meal again this year, although you need a referral in order to get in on the deal. So, if you’re interested and are not a member of Ibotta already, here is a referral link from me to get you started.  

Ibotta Referral Link

I found two pennies at the gas station when I filled up my car last week. 

That is all the news to report on our frugal week in Tennessee. Thank you for dropping by, you are always welcome here. We would love to hear about your week in the comment section.

~ Living within our Means ~
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