Friday, January 27, 2023

Fourth & Final Frugal Friday of January 2023

Welcome to Frugal Friday! 

Quote of the Week
Cook your own, serve it with love, keep your money where it should be, paying off your mortgage, for your childrens education, your emergency fund, or for a special holiday.  Stop giving it away to others.
...Mimi from A Tray of Bliss

My heart goes out to Kim over at Out My Window and Sam over at Sam, Coffee, Money, and Thyme who have both lost their husbands recently. 

Nothing in life can prepare us for the death of a loved one. With every death there is loss, which brings us grief in a very painful season of our lives. Please know that so many are praying for both of you. We love you both. 💕 

Psalm 34:18 tells us “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that there is a new way to follow my blog via email and that is through the Follow It link on the top of the right side bar. I had to work out a few kinks, but it is finally working. Yay!

My Frugal Week

Last Friday while I was washing dishes, the water stopped pumping into the house. I called our local well drilling service company and they were out here within twenty minutes. Turns out the points on the pressure switch went bad. Total costs for parts and service was $209 and we had water again within an hour. I’m very thankful for them and an emergency fund to pay for such emergencies.

The house has been chilly inside this week at sixty-one degrees Fahrenheit. I do not have the heat turned on though, just a warm sweater and blanket on my lap. 

It has been so long since I had a haircut. It was last summer I believe, so with Bailey’s help in the back of my hair, I did get my hair cut this week at no cost to me. We use these Wahl hair clippers from Amazon to cut our hair and they have more than paid for themselves over the years. 

Decorating Our Homes

Decorating and furnishing a home infrequently was normal back when I was growing up. My parents didn’t change the décor, paint or add new carpet every year and neither did my friends parents. In fact, it was sixteen years before my parents ever remodeled. They took care of the things they had, so they would last for years. It was considered frugal to hang on to the same things year after year. 

One of my teachers in high school said they had their house built specifically to house certain pieces of furniture and they did not move them. They had lived there for many years with the furniture pieces in the same arrangement. 

Many people yard sale to be able to decorate their homes more affordable. My sister has a really cute decor and she did a lot of it by going to yard sales. And I do change things up if I find something I like at a yard sale as well. 

When my Dad built the house we live in, he did it with the intentions of not having to remodel it later. He put in popcorn ceilings and paneling, so he wouldn’t have to paint. The house is 36 years old now and those things have not been replaced. Bailey thinks the decor is outdated, but to me they are just the same as they always were. 

So, our question of the week is…

Question of the Week

Do you change the decor in your home every year or no? 

How often do you change things?

Joy of the Week

Finally getting my hair cut has been one of the joys of my week. I hadn’t realized how long it had gotten and feels so much better shorter. 


This week I received $10 in PayPal money from MobileXpressions and also received $10.00 in Amazon money from the Consumer Opinion Institute, so an extra $20 for me this week.

I filed my income taxes this past week and am looking forward to a small refund soon. Unless Congress does not raise the debt ceiling as delayed income tax refunds could be part of that problem. 

Avoiding Spending

I’ve spent this week at home, so no spending for me. We will be going to the grocery store over the weekend though to restock, so that won’t last long. 

Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen

This small bottle of Dawn is the one we got free from the Trading Group this month. I decanted it into my squeeze bottle of Dawn. 

I perused the grocery store sale ads online. Food City has ground chuck for $1.99 with a limit of ten pounds when you buy $25 worth of store brands. Many of their “sale” items are not really sales. Bags of flavored popcorn for $6 a bag is no sale to me. We buy popcorn kernels and pop our own cheaper than that. 

I used to pop our popcorn on the stove using a tablespoon of vegetable oil, but now I use a glass popcorn maker that we bought at a yard sale. It requires no oil, which is a money saver, and you can put a pat of butter in the top if you want that. It’s an inexpensive snack when compared to store bought chips or ready made popcorn. 

My own food, cooked at home, is so much better than a disappointing meal outside our home. For example this week I made pizza for us to enjoy and I made it exactly how we like it. No excessive spending for a possibly disappointing meal we are not satisfied with. 

I read a tip this week that said people add milk to scrambled eggs to stretch them out so they will cost less, which made me wonder about it. I add milk because that’s what my Mom did, but when I’m out of milk I add water. I don’t do it to stretch money, but rather to make the eggs fluffier. We aren’t eating as many eggs as we usually do due to the price. Bailey wants to get a few chickens again. 

I watched another video where someone added enough flour to mashed potatoes to make a pastry for pot pies and such. I usually make potato pancakes with leftover mashed potatoes, but I will give this a try soon. 

I made a batch of Chicken & Rice soup in my Instant Pot using the Universal Soup Recipe I posted earlier this week. For the dried herbs I used Herbes de Provence and for the broth I used Better Than Bouillon in the reduced sodium version. There was no need to add salt as there was some in the bouillon. 

The night that I made Taco Rice I made a little extra rice to have for dinner the next night in Chicken Fried Rice. I doctored it up with Sun Bird Fried Rice seasoning mix, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, butter, some of the Better Than Bouillon, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic salt, and pepper. 

Meals This Week

All meals are served with either salad or vegetables and may not always be listed here. 

* If you see a dinner in bold print that means we had it more than once this week.

Chili with Mexican Cornbread
Stir Fry Polish Sausage, Cabbage, Onions, Carrots. 😋 
Chicken & Rice Soup, Saltine Crackers
Taco Rice Belinda, Corn on the Cob, Mexican Cornbread. 
Chicken Fried Rice, Green Beans with Onions and Garlic. 

Recipe of the Week

One way to save money in the kitchen is to make recipes with thrifty ingredients that don't require butter, eggs or milk like those crazy cakes from the Great Depression. 

We had a big can of pumpkin that someone gave to us, so on Tuesday I made these Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins. They are egg, oil, milk and butter free, so they are inexpensive to make. 

Doubling the recipe gave us forty-eight mini muffins and thirty regular muffins (I used a small cookie scoop to fill the muffin tins), so I put some into the freezer. Since they are muffins they are not as sweet as say a cupcake. The pumpkin makes them very moist. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 can (14.5 ounce) pumpkin

1 cup water

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)


Whisk all the dry ingredients together. 

Add pumpkin and water.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. 

Fold in chocolate chips.

Place batter into 24 prepared muffin tins and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes

Saving Money YouTube Videos

Loving Life on Less Channel ~ Dave & Liz from Yorkshire in the U.K. are a thrifty couple sharing ideas and wisdom that enabled them to be debt and mortgage free and early retirees at the age of 50. 

Saving on Entertainment

I'm still enjoying Mama's Family for free on Facebook. 

Thank you for dropping by my frugal blog, you are always welcome here. We would love to hear all about your frugal week in the comment section. 😊 

Mortgage & Debt Free
~ Living within our Means ~
My Linktree

~ She looketh well to the ways of her household ~
Proverbs 31:27

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Corn Casserole ~ Southern Spoon Bread ~ Indian Pudding

Southern Spoon Bread has a rich and storied history believed to be of Native American origin and specifically the early Sewee tribe of South Carolina. The first printed version of this recipe appeared in Mary Randolph’s, The Virginia Housewife in 1828 entitled, Indian Pudding.

The Jiffy mix website calls their recipe Spoon Bread and is very similar to this recipe, but also calls for two eggs and the smaller (8 & 1/4 ounce) cans of corn and cream style corn. 

Corn Casserole ~ Southern Spoon Bread ~ Indian Pudding


1 can of corn, drained

1 can of creamed corn

1 cup of sour cream

1 stick of melted butter (½ cup)

1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.

Pour into a greased 10 x 10 baking dish.

Cook uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until lightly browned.

Mortgage & Debt Free
~ Living within our Means ~
My Linktree

~ She looketh well to the ways of her household ~
Proverbs 31:27

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Fireless Cooking

This blog post was originally created by Anna Downing on Web TV. She used to post on the old frugal usenet boards years ago, which is where I first learned about fireless cooking. At that time I had an old Stanley thermos from my dad’s working days that I used to cook oatmeal, and it worked surprisingly well. 


Fireless cooking is also known as "hay box" cooking. It's a method of cooking which uses heat retained by insulation of some sort. The main purpose of cooking by this method is to conserve fuel but it has many other advantages. The food can be left to cook unattended, no electricity is required, and the food can't burn. This is an excellent way of cooking foods which require a long cooking time. Beans, whole grains, or tougher cuts of meat are good choices of foods to cook this way. It works very much like a crockpot but doesn't require electricity.


The fireless cooker has a long history and has taken many different forms. In Eastern Europe, it's been used for centuries in the form of a chest similar to a cedar chest. The chest was filled with fresh hay and a clean cloth was spread over the hay. The pot used the most was pushed down into the hay to form an indentation, or nest, to hold the pot. An elderly Jewish friend told me that in her childhood in Poland, her family wouldn't cook on the sabbath so they prepared food before the sabbath and used a "hay box" to keep the food warm.

During both World Wars, the fireless cooker was used to supplement rationed or unavailable fuel sources. In England during World War II, it was know as the "Victory Oven". In America the fireless cooker was widely used by pioneers in the treeless prairie states. Willa Cather mentions fireless cookers in her novel, "My Antonia" about Eastern European immigrants to Nebraska.

Many older American cookbooks have chapters on fireless cooking. "The Settlement Cookbook", which was published by the aid workers of the Settlement Houses who worked with new immigrants, had a chapter on "fireless cookers". I own a Butterick Cook Book , published in 1911, which has a chapter on fireless cookers. Currently aid workers in Asia and Africa are encouraging use of the "Wonder Box" (a fireless cooker) to save fuel in deforested areas.


I first began experimenting with fireless cookers 20+ years ago while living in the mountains on the Washington-British Columbia border. I lived miles from my nearest neighbors. I didn't have electricity or running water. I had a wood heating stove and a wood burning cook range. I cut all of my own wood for heating and cooking. I was raising a large family and was the only adult in the house. I had very little money and grew most of our own food. I cooked a lot of beans and whole grains while spending a good part of the day working outdoors. I couldn't be inside feeding wood into the cooking range, but I needed to cook foods that would take hours to cook. The fireless cooker was a tremendous help. After breakfast, I would bring our lunch to a simmer, put it in the fireless cooker to finish cooking and go out to work in the garden all morning. When we came in at lunch, tired and hungry, a hot meal was ready.

During the summer, when I didn't want to heat up the whole house with the wood range, I used a small propane stove to simmer our food and let it finish cooking in the fireless cooker. The cooker also helped me stretch my propane supply.
When traveling I would start a meal before leaving home and load the "cooker" into the car. On road trips, this saved money by providing our own hot meal when we stopped for the night. Besides saving money and being convenient, it gave me control over what I fed my children and gave them the comfort of foods they were familiar with. When camping I've used the fireless cooker to cook a meal while we were away from the camp. It was nice to return from a hike and find lunch ready. I'm retired now and travel for my own pleasure. I still use the fireless cooker to have dinner ready when I pull into a campground for the night.


Almost any container and insulation can be used to make a fireless cooker. The only absolute is that there must be 3-4 inches of insulation above, below and all around the pot of food. My first fireless cookers were cardboard boxes with several inches of newspaper under the pot and old towels around and over the pot. I always intended to build a chest and paint it with Tole paintings, but somehow I still haven't found the time. 

Today, I use a Coleman cooler. Not as picturesque, but it works very well. I have some newspaper on the bottom of the cooler to keep a hot pot from melting the plastic and still use old towels around and over the pot. Sometimes I use one of the foil survival blankets I bought at Wal-Mart for $2. It does a good job of holding in the heat. 

I've known of people to use a foot locker and old pillows for cooking a meal with several dishes. I've also seen styrofoam peanuts recycled by putting them in old pillowcases from a thrift shop and used as the insulation in a cardboard box fireless cooker. Of course, if you're a traditionalist you can always use fresh hay and have an authentic hay box! It's up to you, your imagination and what's available.


It's absolutely necessary that the pots you use have tight fitting lids. You're counting on the residual heat to do the cooking but you won't have much heat if the steam can escape. Heavy pots like a Dutch oven work the best because a heavy pot retains more heat. 

Old pressure cookers are my first choice because they're cheap to buy in thrift stores, have a tight fitting lid and they're heavy. Pots with a small handle on each side, rather than one long handle are easiest to situate in the insulation, but more difficult to find. 

The fireless cooker needs to be moved close to the stove so that the pot can be placed in the cooker quickly since retaining heat is so important. This is a consideration if you're thinking of using a trunk or some other container which is difficult to move. 

Small amounts of food in tiny saucepans don't do well in a fireless cooker because there's not enough mass to retain heat. Larger pots, 2/3 full do the best. There does need to be room at the top of the pot to hold the steam, so you don't want to over-fill the pot either.

UPDATE--- January 20, 2001

For several months, I've been experimenting with using just a heavy towel and one of the $2 foil-type survival blankets. This has worked really well, making the process even simpler. I've cooked rice, black-eyed peas, lentils, beans, potatoes, and soups this way. I brought the food to a boil for the correct amount of time, then just wrapped the pot in the towel with the survival blanket around the whole thing. To keep the survival blanket in place I've used a clothespin or two. It doesn't get much easier!

I hope this will make it more likely for other people to try this method of cooking. Most of us already have some towels around and using towels and the survival blanket doesn't take up much space. With the recent power shortages in California, I hope others will give this a try.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Soup Season ~ Create Your Own Soup ~ Universal Soup Recipe

A steaming bowl of soup can be a hearty and healthy meal. You can use food from your pantry, freezer or leftovers from your refrigerator. You can make a tasty soup in about 30 minutes following this universal soup recipe with seven easy steps. 

Each stockpot of soup will serve approximately four adults. 

Create Your Own Soup

1. Choose One Fat

2. Peel and Chop One Onion

3. Choose One Broth

4. Choose One Protein 

5. Choose One Starch

6. Choose 2 to 3 Cups Vegetables

7. Choose 1 or more Seasonings 

1. Choose one fat.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons olive oil 

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons margarine

Heat in large stockpot on stove.

2. Peel and chop 1 onion

Add to pot and cook over medium heat until tender.

3. Choose one broth to add to the pot.

2 (16-ounce) cans chicken, beef or vegetable broth.

4 cups water plus chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon. 

1 (16-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes and 3 cups water.

4 cups milk and chicken bouillon or soup base. 

4. Choose one protein to add.

1 pound cooked beef, chicken, ham, or sausage, chopped. 

1 can beef, chicken, or ham.

1 can beans, drained and rinsed.

5. Choose one starch

3 cups diced potatoes.

4 ounces dry egg noodles, elbow macaroni, or pasta. 

1 and 1/2 cups leftover cooked noodles. 

1/2 cups uncooked rice.

1 and 1/2 cups leftover cooked rice. 

6. Choose 2 to 3 cups chopped vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned) add to stockpot.









Green Beans



7. Choose one or more seasonings, add to stockpot and simmer 20 to 25   minutes or until vegetables are tender.

1 to 2 teaspoons dried herbs 
(oregano, basil, cumin, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc.)
Bay leaf (remove before serving
Minced garlic
1 to 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (add five minutes before serving)

Mortgage & Debt Free
~ Living within our Means ~
My Linktree

~ She looketh well to the ways of her household ~
Proverbs 31:27

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Third Frugal Friday of January 2023

Welcome to Frugal Friday at Frugal Workshop!

My Frugal Week

It’s been a quiet week around here with a couple of rainy days thrown in there. I spent the week at home working on clothing items for Bailey’s shops. 

The end of the week was full of sunshine and warmer days. There is something special about a warm winter day in Tennessee. 

I remember in January 1987 after we moved here, working in the yard with my parents, clearing the yard and we were wearing shorts. Coming from Chicago, this was unheard of, so since then I’ve always enjoyed the warm winter days. 

Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen

This was a week where I used leftovers in a creative way. For example, I used the mashed potatoes from dinner one night and topped them with Pineapple Sticky Chicken from dinner another night to make lunch one day. I also used the rest of the mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes one day. 

It’s been warm this last week and we’ve been drinking a lot more iced tea as a result. I’ve made a gallon or two just about every day this week. 

Meals This Week

All meals are served with either salad or vegetables and may not always be listed here. 

* If you see a food item in bold print that means we had it more than once this week.

Italian Bread Pizza, Carrot Raisin Salad
Cheesy Potatoes, Green Peas. 
Pineapple Sticky Chicken, Rice, Coleslaw
Chili, Mexican Cornbread
Hamburgers with Cheddar Cheese, Red Onions, Bread & Butter Pickles, Lettuce, Tomatoes. 

So, nothing spectacular to report this week. Just a simple frugal week mostly spent at home. Thank you for dropping by my frugal blog, you are always welcome here. I hope you had a good and frugal week too. We would love to hear all about your week in the comment section. 

Mortgage & Debt Free
~ Living within our Means ~
My Linktree

~ She looketh well to the ways of her household ~
Proverbs 31:27

Friday, January 13, 2023

Second Frugal Friday of January 2023

Welcome to Frugal Friday! 

Quote of the Week

The only time you look in your neighbors basket is to make sure they have enough. 

Price of Gas 

$2.89 ~ Creeping back up. 😢 

My Frugal Week

Tired of paying such high prices for groceries, I decided to do some research online to look for cheaper prices. Through an Internet search I located Gordon Food Service Store, which is a wholesale food service center and is open to the public. 

On Sunday we drove to their store located at 1817 Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga. They also have other locations in some states. 

Some of the prices were terrific, some of them were no better than the regular grocery stores right now, but it was definitely worth the trip. 

Here are some of the best deals we picked up:

5 pound bags of cheddar cheese for $8.00
Ground Beef for $1.99 a pound
Ground. Chuck $2.49 a pound
Chicken Breasts for $1.49 a pound ($1.09 a pound in the 40 pound box)
3 pound bags of onions 99 cents
#10 can (105 ounces) Black Olives $12.99

We were thrilled to find such a great resource and will definitely go back again with those good prices. 

Speaking of saving money on food, Donna Freeman, who blogs over at Surviving and Thriving, recently wrote an article about How to Beat High Food Costs at ‘Salvage’ Grocery Stores for Money Talks News. She interviewed several experts on the subject of saving money on groceries, including myself, and wrote an excellent article on the subject. I hope you get a chance to read it. 


This was the week for freebies. On Sunday Bailey went to the monthly community trading post where donations are brought and traded for free. She brought several things to donate and received several items in return. She picked up a five pound bag of potatoes, a bottle of Dawn, a bag of onions, grape tomatoes, aluminum foil, three cookbooks, Italian seasoning, dental floss, cupcake liners, and a new Dash mini waffle maker. 

Photo of the Week

This week we had Mom’s wheelchair on the back porch to be picked up by the local People Helping People store. Polka Dot and Simba were sure to make good use of it during nap time while waiting for it to be picked up. 

Avoiding Spending

There was NO avoiding spending here this week as I had some work done on my car. New tires, a front end alignment, one new headlight, and an oil change. Having a safe, dependable car is worth every penny for the peace of mind it brings. 

Saving Money In My Frugal Kitchen

There was no eating out this week, which has become the norm around here since the pandemic started. 

Meals This Week

All meals are served with either salad or vegetables and may not always be listed here. 

* If you see a dinner in bold print that means we had it more than once this week.

Marinated & Grilled Chicken Tenders, Soup Beans, Broccoli
Baked Chicken, Potato Salad, Green Beans with Onions. 
Hamburgers with Cheese, Potato Salad, Corn on the Cob.
Homemade Pizza for Movie Night.
Dirty Rice with Polish Sausage, Corn on the Cob, Garlic Bread. 
Egg Roll in a Bowl, Rice, Mixed Vegetables. 

Saving Money YouTube Videos

Thank you for dropping by my frugal blog, you are always welcome here. 

We would love to hear all about your week in the comment section.

Mortgage & Debt Free
~ Living within our Means ~
My Linktree

~ She looketh well to the ways of her household ~
Proverbs 31:27

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