Monday, September 26, 2011

Soup/Gravy Thickener

I love roux.  I love butter, flour, and the beautiful toasty thickening bonanza it becomes.  However, I do realize that #1 - butter is expensive, #2 - butter is high in calories and fat, #3 - butter can burn badly and ruin an entire dish.  Cream is also a high dollar item to have go bad in your fridge.  So, I have been watching my Julia Child videos, and she gave a most valuable tip that is easy, cheap and healthy.  Use rice.  Take cooked rice and put it in a blender and add some water (just a couple of tablespoons for  a cup) and blend until smooth.  Then, add it to your soup, and voila, you now have a cream soup or a thickened gravy.

Today, I used leftover cooked brown rice and made a lovely, no lump beef gravy nice and thick.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saving Money After a Purchase

Recently, we purchased a new computer through Of course, I had researched my product to make sure I was getting the most for my money! (We are economically savvy, yes?!)
Something I didn't consider before the purchase was
Don't forget about comparing prices for a couple of weeks (14 days after purchase specifically for Staples) after you shopped! I was leafing through my Sunday sales flyers and spotted the same exact one on sale again for $30 less than before. One painless 800 number phone call (about 10 minutes time with very polite customer service)...and that bargain I already had found got even better!
Other companies offer similar do your research and check those sales flyers!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I had a dress emergency yesterday, and that 'necessity' made me 'invent' something useful and wonderful.

I needed something to smooth out my tummy and thighs. So, here it is, 4 hours before I have to leave for a funeral, July, hot and I had too many kids to run out and get a satiny thing to help me.  So, I took an old pair of pantyhose and chopped them off at the knee.  This gave me smoothness from the waist to the knee (read as 'no chub-rub), and wasn't too hot.  Plus it was a lot cheaper than a Spanx and I didn't have to go anywhere to get it.

Don't toss holey pantyhose - you never know when you are going to need them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shampoo Update

I can happily say, that after about 2-3 weeks of using baking soda instead of shampoo, my hair has not only survived, but done just fine.  No dryness, no frizzies, no funky feeling, no nothing, just hair.  And I love that!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stretching Ground Beef

We eat quite a bit of ground beef here. Spaghetti, lasagna, nachos, enchiladas, hamburgers, beef skillet (a homemade version of hamburger helper), meatloaf, meatballs, shepherds pie, pastits, etc. Anyway, I have been working on ways to increase the bulk of the ground beef while using less beef, decreasing fat and calories, not greatly changing flavor and not going the soy route. Here is what I have come up with and how it works for us:

carrots: My preference with these is ground (if you have a meat grinder handy), but shredded works fine too, works best with Mexican and Italian flavors, decrease the amount in things like meatloaf and burgers

onions: I use this in pretty much all of my beef mixes, grind or finely chop

brown rice or steel cut oats: these give the chew texture that is similar too beef, dont go overboard with it though or it will give a 'fake chewuy' texture that I just cannot describe

mushrooms: these have a naturally earthy full flavor of their own that works well with beef. I would not buy them primarily as a meat stretcher, but it is a great way to use up extra mushrooms before they spoil, these go over well in burgers and meatloaf

breadcrumbs: use any type of leftover bread heels or whatnot for this, a little goes a long way, hels uwith binding for burgers, meatloaves, meatballs, etc

Anyone have any other 'dirty little secrets' for stretching and (dare I say) fortifying their beef?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chest Freezers

My dad is giving me a chest freezer. It was given to him by a friend who didn't need it anymore, and he already has one so he is passing it to me. I am very excited as I enjoy bulk cooking, shopping, etc. to save time, money, waste, etc. I do think it to be imperative to formulate some sort of syystem/worksheet or something in order to keep up with what's in there, ane how long it has been there. Any suggestions or methods you have found effective?

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I have finally found a shampoo recipe that does not leave a residue, does not dry my hair out and does not smell funky . .... . (drum roll please) - using no shampooo at all!  I was visiting the Simple Mom a couple of days ago and she posted about going shampoo free, the alternative recipe for a hair rinse she did post and I tried it, and it has actually worked better than any of the other recipes ever.  Add one tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup of water, stir well and pour on hair.  Use your hands to work it through a couple of seconds, do it again, leave on for a couple of minutes, then rinse.  If you use a lot of hair junk, you may have to rinse a couple more times.  But that was it.  There is the option of a vinegar rinse, 1 tbsp cider vinegar in 1 cup water, but that does leave a smell.  I did it yesterday, both the baking soda cleaning rinse and the vinegar softening rinse, and my hair looks and feels great - tonight I will do it without the vinegar and see.  I will post an update on this experiment in about  week to see how my hair is doing.

For a better explanation of how this all works, go to,

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Summer Crockpot

Most people generally see the crockpot as a fall/winter tool, but I love it's versatility all year. For instance, tonight I made enchiladas in my crockpot. They were wonderful, and I managed to NOT heat up my kitchen in the process which is great because it has been in the 90's and I am trying hard to keep my AC unit from going into overdrive. So it's. Twofold victory - great dinner and lowered energy cost. Sounds win-win to me. Next recipe to try, crockpot lasagna!

I still need a good way to make bread in the crockpot, but that one is a little more difficult to sort.

Monday, June 27, 2011

One Week

. . . . And I am still on the same squeaky clean trash bag!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My List

I have a few things on my list I really want to accomplish, and I will post progress as I go.

1). I want to do once a month shopping, not cooking, but shopping. I was working on the numbers and I believe that once a month shopping, including Costco, is going to be least expensive way for me to go overall. For one thing, I drive an Expedition and gas is $3.50 a gallon. Another is that I have become an on sale/discount/coupon impulse buyer. So I need to stay out of the stores as much as possible. I think this will help me get under and start under budget.

2). I am in need of organizing my stuff. I have plenty of hand me down kid clothes to figure out how to manage so I don't double purchase things, plus my food storage is a bit messy and I don't want that stuff to go bad or break or whatnot. I also get really tense when the messiness and clutter builds, even a little. I just can't function optimally when I can't get to what I need when I need it. It becomes a stressor.

3). Style. My hair is atrocious and I need to figure it out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bag Reusing

Not everyone reuses ziploc bags or the like, but consider the potential. Each little baggie costs about .07, which I realize is not a lot, but let's say you reuse enough bags in a year to not waste 100 bags. That alone accounts for $7.00. Not much, eh? True, but one small habit started soon spills over into many habits that pile up. There is an old saying that I read in Isabella Beetons Book of Household Managemnt" that I love but will Americanize, "Take care of you pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves" (she used pounds and farthings I think )

I do have a few rules about reusing bags though, never after raw meat of any sort, allow to thoroughly dry after washing, when you fill it with water and the leaks resemble a sprinler system, either throw away or use for crayons and markers only.

Any of you have any good bag reuses?

I reuse store bread bags for homemade bread too.
I keep ratty reused bags in the car for trash collection.
In the summer I also keep spare bags for wet bathing suits,etc.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trash Bags

I have been pulling out my tightwad gazette lately, so watch out.....

When you go to the grocery store, wal-mart, etc., you usually leave with a ton of bags whether paper or plastic.  In my area, the little plastic ones are pretty much illegal, so we get paper.  So I now have a ton, and I use them for lots of things, including wrapping books and packages for mailing since they protect the package nicely.  I have also been putting them in my trash can (with plastic glad bag lining the can).  This way, I just pull the paper bag up by the handles about once a day and toss it, instead of pulling out the much more expensive glad bag.  Plus, the paper bag is at least biodegradale, whereas the plastic bag is not. 

I wonder how long I can make one glad bag last

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The proverbial wagon

Oh come on, we all have one- a wagon of some sort that we keep falling off of. Mine is record keeping of all of my purchases.

I have a desire to manage our money so well that I can account for every dime, and have eliminated as much waste as humanly possibly. But then I'll forget to write a couple of things down, and then get frustrated with myself and stop, then on the first of the following month, I will go through it and torture myself all over again when I fail. However, I was forgetting something, I don't have to wait until the beginning of the following month to stop letting myself drag behind the cart and get back on the cart. Where had that rule come from anyway? No one normal I am sure, and certainly no one with small kids.

So, I got back up out of the dirt and started writing it all down to evaluate again, a d it was freeing not to wait ntil the beginning of the following month Hallelujah!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Butter Paper

I know some people who save butter papers for greasing cookie sheets, etc, and that's fine.  I do not.  I use a scraper (the flexible, silicone type) and I scrape down the paper to get every bit of butter off and then the wax paper is generally butter free and has no use for greasing.  This is especially helpful when you let your butter soften in the wax and lots of it likes to stick.  You can lose 1-2 teaspoons that way easy!

So scrape it off, or grease stuff with it - but don't let all of that wonderful (and $3 per pound) butter get wasted!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A cup with lid in a pinch

Have you ever lost a child's straw cup?  I have hundreds of times, and now I am only down to a couple of them.  I did however, see an alternative tonight.  If you need a cup with a lid in a hurry, go to your fridge (or if you like me, go to your cabinet), and get out a sour cream container, or any plastic. round container with a lid that is taller rather than squattier - you know what I mean.  Clean it well, punch a straw hole in the top, put the drink in it and pop in the straw - presto.

Now, please do not think that this will be spill proof.  Let's face it, cups that say spill proof themselves are not spill proof.  We are talking not losing the entire drink on the floor or seat if it takes a tumble - don't be too picky.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dishwasher Powder

I discovered when reading one of the volumes of "The Tightwad Gazette" that you can easily get by with only 1 tbsp of powder instead of filling the whole stinkin cup - and it's true!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I have not forgotten

I promise I have not forgotten this blog, I just haven't really come up with anything new lately.  But, after 250 posts, that was bound to happen.  I am working on some new stuff though, so I will be posting again soon!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The gas/food balance

Until the past couple  of days, I had forgotten how much the price of gas influenced the price of food.  For example, a 5lb bag of sugar at Food Lion that was 2.99 is now 3.59.  Coconut Oil was 5.49 at Food Lion and now was 6.29.  Cucumbers were .69 and now are 1.29 each.

Plan well, shopping lists, menus and travel.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


This is one of those expenses I really have a hard time getting around.  Sometimes, you just need a sitter.  The best things I have done to really cut down cost in this area is to babysit for someone else for free (like a co-op) and then that person keeps your kids for free when you need them.  Another option is family, just don't wear them out. 

The final option is to plan your outing really well.  I pay my sitters by the hour, and I round to the half hour.  So, I plan what can be done in that time to maximize my babysitting dollar.  If I have a MD appointment, I stop by the grocery store, bank, post office, etc on my way to and from the appointment.  I also plan to arrive at my appointment on time, not 15 minutes early, 5 maybe, but not 15 because you end up sitting longer.  While I am waiting I write any lists, take note of any ideas or thoughts, read or knit.  Keep the idle hands busy.  Do as much as possible and be as productive as possible when you are paying someone to sit your kids so that you can get the most out of your dollar and make your minutes count!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The List

I have a list, well, several lists.  There is the 'to do' list, the 'wish' list, the 'grocery' list, etc.  But today I am talking about the 'Yard Sale/Thrift Store' list.  Everyone who yard sales, thrift store shops, or has older relatives always trying to give them things, should have one.  It serves as a great reminder of 'things' you are in the market for, that you don't need right now, you are willing and able to wait, and you want to get the best price for

Here is my current one:

antique kitchen items
manual grain mill
boy's ski bibs
le creuset bakeware
cast iron
wooden spoons
Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan
Fireking batter bowl
homeschool items
guilletine style paper trimmer
handmade USA pottery
7 inch santoku knife
knitting needles
glass kitchen storage
sewing books
knitting books
self-sufficient living books
pullman loaf pan
pottery bread crock
pottery bread pan
clothing steamer
pinking shears
potato and onion bin
ceramic/glass travel mug
tea pitcher
magazine filers
flower pots
serving pieces
organizing items
bolts of fabric
train decor

Now, I do check places like craigslist, ebay and etsy for these item too, and I have found good deals.  But I have had people just give me things because they looked at my list too.......

Friday, March 4, 2011

Half gallon size cartons

I was shopping in the grocery store last night and picked up orange juice (now, just for the record, I don't generally look for ounces first, I look for what country the oranges came from - I try to always choose USA).

Now, as I was looking for the 'USA only oranges' label, I noticed the ounces marking beside it.  Want to know what it said '59 ounces'.  59 ounces is NOT a half gallon, 64 is.

Do you want to know what is very sad - I bet there are a millions of people who would not know that 59 ounces is not a half-gallon.

Case in point, I had a semi-argument with a stock person one day while trying to find a gallon of regular bleach - she insisted that the 96 ounce bottle was a gallon, I tried to reasonably tell her that no, a gallon is 128 ounces, not 96.  She looked at me like I had 3 heads and said something like "Well, these are our gallons."  Really?  Gallons are different based on store now?

Anyhoo - check your ounces and make sure you figure that into your calculations

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Managing Fuel Consumption

Ok, it's time again to look at how we travel and our fuel consumption.  Currently, regular gas is 3.39 a gallon in my town, and I drive a Ford Expedition, which gets about 17 mpg.  So, I am having to rethink some of my going.  Now I was not one for going everywhere all the time, but if I just wanted to go look in at a particular store just to 'see what they had', I would go (most of the time).  But now, I really have to add in how much gas it takes for that trip.

If you have an appointment, or have to pick something up in a neighborhood other than your own, ask yourself 'is there anything in that vicinity that I need or will need soon'.

Can you put off a trip to the library/store one more day?

How badly do I really need an item?  Can I make a substitute?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mason Jars

Did you know that if your glass measuring cup breaks, or if you just need a spare, most Ball/Mason/Kerr canning jars have measurements on the sides.  They are usually by the half and whole cup, but hey, the desperate need not complain!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


My husband is not a fan of soup - but I have won him over on 3: clam chowder, goulash & zuppa tuscana

The wonderful thing about soup is that it is generally cheap to make, you can add tons of healthy ingredients, and, if you have a husband who doesn't love lots of 'chunks' of stuff in his soup - you can take an immersion blender right to the pan and buzz away until you get a smooth and even texture.

I love my immersion blender!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Produce pre-packs

You know those 3, 5 and 10lb bags of produce at the store?  Apples, potatoes and onions, especially come in pre-packaged 3,5 and whatnot sized bags.  Well, did you know that when the bag of apples says "3lb" it does not mean that there is only 3lb in it, but that the minimum has to be 3lb.  So I started weighing them, and turns out, most of them are 3.25lb, some are 3.5lb and I have even found a few almost 4lb.  Now I don't stand there and weigh them all day, I look through the stash, pull out the ones with the best looking produce (no bruising, rotten spots, etc) and then I weigh only the best looking ones and buy the one that weighs the most.

This is one of the many wonderful tips I picked up out of one of the editions of "The Tightwad Gazette"

If you have never read the tightwad gazette I, II or III - I highly, highly recommend it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ice Cube Tray Uses

Not just for ice anymore!

I use them to freeze milk too - the kind towards the end of the jug - you know what I mean, it's not spoiled, but nobody wants to drink that 'old' milk when there is a fresh new jug right beside it.  So I take the milk no one wants (when it's iffy but not actually bad) and freeze it in ice cube trays then pop them out into a big zippie bag.  So, when I'm baking or cooking and a recipe calls for milk, I can use up the 'old' milk instead of my fresh milk.  No waste!

I also use ice cube trays for leftover bits of pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, etc.  Just have your collections in different bags.  Thaw in the microwave for a minute or so and you're ready to go. If you like to drink tea, but don't like the way ice dilutes it, make a tray of ice tea cubes and use those in your tea

One of my friends told me she does this with cream of mushroom soup too - she said it separates just a little bit when thawed, but that a quick whisk fixes that and she's ready to go again.  She likes to buy the huge can and separate it out to save money since cream of whatever soup is so expensive.  If you try this, let me know what you think.  If I try it I will definitely post a review.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Workshop #1 - Last Night

I had so much fun - the audience was a small women's group from our church, and I had 24 in the audience.  I managed to talk for about an hour and maybe 15 minutes (about strategy to save money on food) without dry mouth or blubbering (if you know me well, you know this is a first for me).  I also passed out some evaluation form and received some great feedback about what people were interested in learning savings strategies for:

9 votes for utilities, shopping, debt reduction strategy
7 votes for reusing
6 votes for cleaning and home
5 votes for clothing, insurance and children
3 votes for natural/organic, travel, recipes
2 votes for media, priortizing, and crafts
1 vote for auto and beauty

A couple of these suprised me  -  I would have expected reusing to fall lower on the scale and clothing to rise higher - but hey, it's alright with me, I just like knowing what people want so I can deliver according to their needs to the best of my ability.

New Blog Site Starts Tomorrow

This site is closing due to threat of a legal hassle.  Please go to:

to find me!  Thank you -

And my first blog post there will be about my speaking engagements!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Speaking Engagements

I have 2 speaking engagements coming up.  I am so excited and nervous at the same time.

The First one is at our church's Whole Ministry Center at 7pm on January 13th, and the topic will be related to food, grocery shopping, meal planning, making things homemade, gardens, etc - pretty much anything food related.

The second one will be at our local library in their multipurpose room in the back on Monday January 31 from 630pm until 8pm.  I will begin with the same topic (different crowd) but will expand into laundry and electricity as needed.

I am soooo excited!