Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Frozen Milk Review

The milk did fine - and I could not tell that it had ever been frozen. So, the next time I went to the grocery store I picked up an extra gallon to freeze. We hate running out of milk, and now we don't have to, which is good because a lot of the homemade things I make require milk.

BTW - the milk does turn a light yellow color when frozen, I don't know why, but it turns creamy white again when thawed. Strange, but true.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Frugal Friday

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade . . . . Who hasn't heard that one?

My household is going down by 7.5% due to payroll cuts at hubby's job (hey - at least he still has one). So, I need to cut my variable expenses by about 10% to compensate. That doesn't sound like a lot, but when you already are trying to be frugal to keep costs low, an additional 10% can be a real challenge. So that's it - a frugal challenge

10 ways I can cut 10% off my variable expenses:
  1. turn down the thermostat about 3 degrees
  2. eat more beans & rice
  3. negotiate a trade for services (the lady that cuts our hair like my homemade poundcake so instead of money I give her a cake in exchange for haircuts - makes our hair cheap to maintain), I wonder if the man down the road with hens would trade cake or bread for eggs?
  4. increase my use of the crockpot instead of the oven or range
  5. do I really need half and half for my coffee or can I get by with milk?
  6. discover more ways to cook chicken and ground beef since I have a ton of both
  7. cut out all prepackaged food (I generally keep a few things around in case of emergency so we didn't have to order out - but I guess this emergency means I won't buy any more)
  8. stay away from the stores - why even bother going if you don't have the moolah to spend
  9. more pb&j for lunch and less grilled cheese
  10. try to go meatless 2 days a week instead of 1

I welcome other ideas. I already make homemade bread, pancakes, waffles, sauces, etc. I also use my clothesline and make homemade laundry soap and my own household cleaners.

What's a mommy to do?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baby Wipes

Have you ever thought about how many baby wipes you use in a day? 10-20? More? Well, I was discussing this issue and the associated cost with my mother and her statement was "We didn't have baby wipes when you were a baby, we just used a wash cloth and washed it in the maching with the rest of the laundry." Well, I try to do that now. I will admit, I do keep the baby wipes around for a couple of things - car trips and poopy diapers. I do break out the washcloths at home and use those for a pee diaper though. So, now I only probably a third of the baby wipes that I used to. Baby wipes are not expensive, but why not save the penny where you can because you may need it somewhere else.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Leftover Makeovers

There are several fast and yummy ways to get rid of your leftovers without them resembling the original meal AND only doing your major cooking chores about 3 times a week (for those of you not in love with cooking!), you just have to throw a little more (not alot) in your original pot. For instance,
  • Sunday's roast chicken with rice and a salad,
  • Monday's pot roast with mashed potatoes and veggie medley and
  • Tuesday's Spaghetti and meatballs with salad and garlic bread

The rest of your week can be transformed like so:

  • Wednesday chicken fajitas with spanish rice (Sunday's chicken cut up with peppers and onions and seasonings added - plus leftover Sunday rice with chopped onion, garlic and seasonings added, and a few tortillas),
  • Thursday beef stroganoff from the leftover pot roast adding egg noodles, mushrooms, sour cream and seasoning, veggie medley on the side as is or you can add a little cheese sauce
  • Friday's meatball sub - just add cheese and a bun(or use your garlic bread), with a salad on the side
Salad components are generally stored separated anyway and can show up again as a side dish for any meal and veggie medley can be added to a casserole or just show up as a side dish again. Re-used side dishes are better if served with a new main course than with the same main course again.Things to consider when re-using leftovers:fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, stir fry, casseroles, homemade pizza (any style), soups (add a few beans for protein and filler).

Get creative, and let me know some of the things you do to stretch your meals out - I need new ideas too!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Using Energy

This is probably going to be a redundant thing to most moms, but let's just say that sometimes I'm a little bit behind. Anyway, I realized today, while getting the things together for roasting some chicken leg quarters, and making some white rice to go with it - instead of roasting the chicken in the oven, and cooking the rice on the stove or in the microwave, why don't I put the rice and other rice cooking ingredients in a dish with a lid (like a corning ware or pyrex type dish), put the lid on and stick it in the oven with the chicken. This way instead of using electricity for the chicken and gas for the rice, I use the same amount of electricity for both the chicken and the rice at the same time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Better late than never :)

Friday, February 20, 2009


For you cost-wise folks out there...Kmart is getting ready to have a double/triple coupon promotion. Starting the 22cd until the 28th, they will triple coupons up to .75 and double coupons from .76 to 2.00. I've never used this shopping opportunity before, and am not real familiar with what Kmart might have cheaper than my normal shopping. But, it could be a bargain! (I'm not sure what other restrictions might be...I'll have to wait to read the fine print later~when I get the sale paper). Have fun saving!

Homemade Muffins

In the grocery store, the name brand ready to make muffin kits are about $2. Here is the homemade version that I like to make:

Homemade Muffins

Preheat oven to 400

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (I use home milled whole wheat)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil

mix dry
mix wet
mix together
pour in muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes (watch it, my oven cooks a little faster.)


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Free is good

I just love free stuff! Especially when I get to try free samples of products I already love or haven't tried, but want to!

Those of you who know me are aware of my love of coffee! I drink it throughout my day, and even at night! Fortunately caffeine does not keep me up!

So, I was excited to see an email in my inbox from talking about a new product. It was an instant version of their already delicious coffee. (Normally I don't like instant anything because I think of all the stuff they may have put in it, but we're talking coffee here!!) It gets better because I can get a free sample!! Go here to get yours! I can't wait to see how it tastes!

Also, I signed up at for a catalog and they send you a sample of their tea. I received it the other day and the sample included was for green tea! I started looking at their catalog and the items in there are so cool and definitely not free. It was fun to browse though!

There are other good sites to get free stuff and you would be surprised how much you can stockpile. One last site is at

As with anything, just be careful what offers you sign up for. Any offer that "requires" you to go through a lot of steps or sign up for multiple offers in order to get your free product isn't worth it. Trust me. I tried once and was bombarded with spam email for the longest time. I eventually changed my email and made my old email address my junk email. Now I don't see the junk. Only the free stuff!

Have fun "shopping"!

Beating the Electric Company

Electricity is costly - and it's going to get worse, and if you lose your job that just throws another monkey wrench into the whole thing. Start getting into the habit of conserving now and watch your electric bill come down.
  • turn off the lights if you're not in the room or if it's daytime (everyone needs this little reminder from time to time)
  • unplug your electric appliances (mixer, toaster oven, coffee pot, hair dryer) when not in use because they actually do use little bits of electricity when they are not on (and if you have small children, they find a way to turn them on without your permission)
  • hang some clothing to dry. If you do not have a clothes line, can't have a clothes line, or just don't want one, but have a spot somewhere then hang a few things up to dry. Thicker, harder to dry items like sweatshirts and jeans take the most dryer time to dry, so that's where you can get the most bang for your buck. It will take a little longer to dry than outside unless you put it over/under a heater vent. If you really want to be constructive, get a piece lof alundry line and a small bag of clothespins from the Dollar Tree and do like I did my first year - string a line up from window to window or around the posts of my spare bedrooms 4 post bed - or even your own bedroom (I wouldn't do it in the kids' room though). The string from the dollar tree is about 100 feet long, so you can furnish yourself with a few small clothes lines here or there.
  • put ice in your freezer if it's not full. What I mean by that is, take empty plastic jugs and fill 4/5ths with water and put it in the freezer. This helps keep your food cold and reduces the amount of time your freezer runs. It'll also be there for when the electricty goes out and if you need the ice jugs to pack your sam's freezer bag for a trip
  • If you're not home during the day, turn off your computer - this also helps prevent hackers into your system - it's not like you're using it when you're not there anyway
  • turn down your hot water heater to 120 - you don't actually need to burn yourself silly to get a hot shower
  • CHECK YOUR BILL for accuracy, and for extra charges. Just this month, dominion has added a $22 fuel charge for my area - call and complain about superfluous charges!

Happy Saving - and remember, why give your hard earned money to the electric company when you could be keeping it yourself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Freezing Milk

I will admit that I have never done this. However, a mom in my homeschool group says she does this routinely so she doesn't have to pack up her 4 small children just to go to the store for more milk. She also says she uses about 4 gallons of week, so that's a lot of going to the store.

According to her, she buys a lot of it from Sam's when she goes because it's cheaper there than anywhere else and she just pops it into the freezer, she doesn't take the top off or pour any out at all and had never had an explosion issue. I am going to try this, and I'll let you know.

She also says she just takes a gallon out at night and by morning it's almost completely thawed and she just puts it in the fridge to finish.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Dryer Sheet Alternative

This one was emailed to me by my friend and blog-follower Jodi

Instead of using dryer sheets (I ran out last night), put a couple drops of hair conditioner on a clean washcloth and toss in the dryer with your laundry. Worked like a charm.

There is lots of creativity to be discovered.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Going the Way of Cloth

Cloth diapering was, for millenia, the only way to diaper. Disposable diapers weren't 'born' until around the 40's or 50's (from the info I can find), but still didn't gain real popularity until the 70's. Nowadays, most parents use disposables for convenience, or so they think. So let's touch on this a second.

First, pee diapers - When you change a disposable, you throw it away; when you change a cloth, you throw it into a laundry basket or diaper pail. Either way, you have to throw it somewhere and it takes about the same amount of energy.

Second, poop diapers - when you change a disposable, you have 2 options: dump the bulk of the poop in the toilet and flush before you toss it in the trash or just toss it poop and all in the trash. when you change a cloth, you dump the poop in the toilet and toss it into the pail or basket. Not a whole lot of difference there, I mean we're talking 30 more seconds of work per poopy diaper which is usually only a couple of times a day.

Third, money (everyone like money to some degree) - average cost of a pack of size 5 diapers (30#) is 9.99 (unless you get a sale, then it's more like 7.99) - you know what, we'll go with the 7.99 figure for this since this is a money savers post and most of us are not paying full price anyway. So, the price per diaper at 7.99 is .28 per diaper (7.99 + 6.75% tax = 8.53). The average for a new package of Gerber 6-ply diapers (6#) is about $12 or 2.14 each (tax again). So the startup looks pretty high, especially since you really need about 2 dozen for a good startup other wise you're doing laundry daily. So, we'll use 102.72 for 2 dozen 6-ply cloth diapers. Pins are usually $1 for a pack of 4 - and you can only use 2 at the time so you don't need more - I mean you can't really lose something that's actually on the child all the time. Anyway in 1 year of disposables at .28each x 6 a day (a very conservative figure) = 1.68 a day x 365 days in a year = 613.20 per year. Okay now cloth: 102.72 +1 for pins= 103.72. Okay, if you only wash diapers together 3 days a week and you pay for water, the water use is about .04 per load (check your area), the electricity about .05 and the store purchased detergents are about .15 per load = .72 per week x 52 weeks = 37.44. If you homemake your laundry soap, that goes down to about .02 per load or .06 a week x 52 weeks = 3.12 per year. If you line dry - there is no additional cost, if you dryer dry, that's about .15 per load (again, check your dryer and your local rates)= .45 per week x 52 weeks = 23.40. So, let's compare:
  • disposables = 613.20 annually (for conservative diaper use)
  • cloth with line drying and commercial detergent = 141.16
  • cloth with line drying and homemade laundry soap = 106.84
  • cloth with dryer drying and commerical detergent = 164.56
  • cloth with dryer drying and homemade laundry soap = 130.24
  • cloth with line drying and homemade laundry soap (after 1st year, assuming you don't have to buy anymore diapers = 3.12 the second year (boy that's a lot better than 613.20)

Fourth, the environment. Do I really need to go over this?

A few things to consider:

  • If you add cloths to you collection, add an additional $2.14 per diaper added to your figure
  • If you use a more expensive brand of cloth, add for that too
  • If you homemake your cloth diapers from scrap material, just use the cost of the material instead of the 2.14 per diaper
  • If you buy from ebay or thrift store secondhand, use that cost

Under all of those circumstances, the cloths come out cheaper by far. Most moms today say cloth is too hard or too messy. I used to say those same things until I used them. The first couple of times were a little difficult, but after about my 3rd or 4th diaper change, it wasn't hard at all, and after about 1 1/2 weeks, it was like second nature.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cheese Please!

I am one of those people who loves to make homemade - well, everything. When it comes to my mac & cheese, that is homemade too. I used to buy medium cheddar and use it in my bechamel to make a nice cheese sauce. The problem was that it took nearly half a bar (4oz) to get the cheese flavor where I want it. So I have been watching my food tv and tried something new. I purchased a block of extra sharp cheddar to use in my sauce instead of medium cheddar, and it took only about 2 1/2 ounces to get my cheese sauce flavorful and yellow - yum! Medium cheddar and extra sharp cheddar cost about the same, and I only needed about half as much!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some of the Deals

Okay, so here is a breakdown on some of the coupon deals I got at Harris Teeter this morning:

Clabber Girl Baking Powder - 1.99/can - 1.65 (.55 tripled coupon) = .34
Wacky Mac Veggie Spirals - 1.59/bag - .20 VIC savings = 1.39 - 1.50 (.50 tripled coupon up to price of 1.39) = FREE
Suave body Wash - 1.97/bottle - 1.50 (.50 tripled coupon) - .47
Land o lakes Buttery Spread - 2.39/small tub - .40 VIC savings = 1.99 - 1.65 (.55 tripled coupon) = .34
Dannon Light & Fit yogurt 6pack - 2.50/6pack - 2.25 (.75 tripled coupon) = .25
Cottonelle Ultra toilet paper - 3.89/4-double roll pack - .89 VIC savings = 3.00 - 1.50 (.50 tripled coupon) = 1.50
Betty Crocker Frosting - 1.99/tub - 1.50 (.50 tripled coupon) = .50

That comes to: $3.40!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Triple Coupons for 4 Days

Harris Teeter is offering triple coupons for 4 days (February 5-Feb 8). The couponing rules can be found here. Scrap up as many as you can and you can walk out of there with a lot of free stuff. The biggest thing is that the face value has to be .99 and under in order to be tripled. But that's okay, most coupons are only about .50 which makes them worth 1.50

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Aloe Vera Gel

This stuff has been around as a sunburn cure for ages. I have a ton of it, and in an effort to find a good use for it in order to use it up, I tried something new that worked REALLY well. . . . I used it in place of shaving gel. I noticed a couple of very specific things about it; it clings to the skin really well so that the shower water doesn't rinse it off as easily, it moisturizes at the same time, if you nick yourself you get instant first aid, it's cheaper per oz than the gel you get made just for shaving that has aloe vera gel in it, it's safer in case you kid tries to give it a taste test, LESS RAZOR BURN!!!!