Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shave Cream

Use cheap hair conditioner. It goes on like cream and lets the razor glide smoothly. Plus it softens your skin with moisture. Inexpensive, scented, and soft. Perfect and saves $$$$

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hunters Stew

Okay you can call it vegetable soup if you want but Hunter's Stew makes it more apealing to vega-phobes.

Brown one to two pounds of ground beef (break into chunks about nickel size), Drain
Two can stewed tomotoes
one can tomatoe soup
one can corn, drained and rinsed
one can peas, drained and rinsed
one can green beans, drained and rinsed
one can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
two carrots but into slices
5 large potatoes - peeled and cubed into big bite size
1/2 stick of margarine
One packet of beef gravy - mixed with water as on package. (sometimes I use a big jar)
water or vegetable juice can be added now to generate more broth and keep from scorching
Combine all, simmer until carrots are fork tender, taste for salt and pepper needs.
combine all ingredients

I always like to make this when my grocery has canned vegetables on sale it can be made in an hour or two, if you stir and watch carefully or in a crock pot on low while at work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Soup Of the Week

There is nothing more satisfying, filling, and home made than a delicious soup. Soup is a traditionally cost efficient item, if you do not try to overdo it! I try to one every other week. It serves as dinner and then lunch for several days. This week Chili. Here is how:
In a large pot or crock pot, dump one large can of Italian style diced tomatoes. One jar of chunky salsa (use hot medium mild what ever your family usually likes!). 2 cans light, 2 cans dark, store brand kidney beans, pre-drained. And one large can of vegetable juice, I use an off brand, because of price. One tablespoon of chili powder. Stir and put on low so it begins to warm.
Now the meat is a flexible. 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey, or 2 pounds of cheap hamburger meat or combination of the two, work best. Break up and brown in a pan, drain fat. Now take two packets of McCormick Original chili dry seasonings. I have used some store brands and have only one I like as well, I have not seen it available as of late. Place the meat back in the pan, sprinkle the seasoning over it - stir add the next packet and stir. Keep stirring to avoid scorching. Once the meat is completely covered, put all in your tomato mixture. Now take the empty packets fill with cold water and dump in your pan. Heat the pan again allowing the drippings to make almost a sauce. Poor into the chili. Stir. You can leave this on low while at work - but 4 hours is plenty.
This is simple, you can dress it up with shredded taco cheese, sour cream, hot sauce. But for well under $20 you have meal , lunch , and munch all in one! (and a time saver in the long run, you have time to do other things and the dishes are minimal for clean up)

Berverages are Involved, Dude

When it cost $11 for a case of soda or $2 for a one person juice, it is time to look at drinks we can serve for less. Why spend one 1/3 of your grocery budget on drinks that are consumed before the week is out. There have to be some better choices!
We would love to have the kids drink milk and water only, but the reality is they want something taste-rific and we want to give them something that won’t end up as much as a cocktail in an uptown bar. Here some cost saving an fun beverages that can add a little pizzazz.

Your own tea
6 cups of cold water, 8 tea bags. Boil gently for about 10 minutes, then let rest for 20. Fill a gallon pitcher with ice - about ¾ full. Add 16 packets of equal or approximately one cup of sugar. Remove tea bags and pour Hot Tea over the ice and stir. (fluctuate sugar to your taste, and depending on the strength you like the tea, add more bags) Variations can be added with lemon, orange, or raspberry flavorings.

Mix one Kool-Aid packet as directed with ½ of the sugar, (for this example use pink lemonade) one two liter of cheap lemon lime soda. Add one container of lemon sherbet. I like to use ice cream scoops of it. Use a ladle and serve chilled. Makes a lot, you may want to make sure this is a party serving!

Orange Slush
Orange Koolaid mixed with ½ the sugar. Pour into paper cups, ½ full, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once almost frozen remove wrap, top with any clear soda drink that may be now flat and would otherwise be thrown out. Stir. Wrap again and freeze. This should be taken out before completely frozen to achieve the true slush.

Grape spritzers.
Freeze seedless grapes (I cut them in ½, if there are kids that may not be able to deal with a full size grape) Once frozen fill glass with several, then ½ full of inexpensive white grape juice, then top off glass with either ginger ale or sprite.)

Strawberry and crème
Freeze strawberries ( I buy a lot of ‘clearance ‘ fruit, clean, dry with paper towels and then freeze ) Mix ½ gallon of milk with one packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid. Add strawberries to the glass and top with the milk mixture. You can top with a little cool whip or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

These are some examples, you can embellish as you wish, something fun and less expensive than soda, not as boring as water, and more filling than a juice box.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Time to Plan

Without a plan money is spent unnecessary. With too firm a plan, money is not spent wisely.
Every weekend some time must be set aside for planning the menu for the week. As strange as this may sound, I actually take a minor inventory of the cupboard and fridge, then head out to the store to see what meat is going to be available. The most expensive item, the meat, has to be the determinate for the game plan. I shop late in the day or early in the morning, looking specifically for what meats are marked down. Fresh vegetables and fruit are a luxury but seasonal items that are on sale should always be purchased.

Let me stop right here on the issue of the shopping. There are several grocery store maneuvers that can save you a ton immediately. Do NOT follow the flow of the store. Almost all stores are set up to take you past the most profitable items first, the deli section, the bakery, the fresh items. these are the items the store wants you to buy. And there is nothing wrong with that, unless you only have a certain amount to spend. Go to the back of the store, the last isle and start there. Take your list with your pen and paper and keep track of what you are spending. (i use hash marks and round up, slashing when i have five then circling when i have ten) Do not let your store make the determination on what you are going to spend by hitting those big dollar items first. Snake through to the meat counter and get the sale items or clearance items first. Depending on what deals you find, make notes as to what you also need to make the meals complete. Then get your staples and needs, which are no doubt at the back of the line past that cheese cake and deli salads. There are no mistakes in the store set up. They study it and know what they are doing. Tile that clatters under the cart to slow you down, boxed snack cakes on the end cap where you have to pass, packages that pull your attention away from the frozen vegetables over to the heat-and-eats -- These are all their art of the sale.

While they practice their art, combat it with yours!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Something from Nothing

There is an art to satisfying the craving of a family when you do not have a lot in the cupboard. To be able to whip up something fun and delicious when you really do not have the extra dollars it takes to buy bakery goods or packaged cookies and candies. Because we all have days when we have to have something sweet right that moment!

There should be some staples in your pantry. Peanut butter ( a wonderfully diverse little spread), Vanilla, potatoes (They are a requirement), and ..... are you ready?... Powdered sugar. You may want to make this when they are not watching you, so that the first time they eat this they will fall in love and not be quick to judge the ingredients. I have freaked out more than one child / grandchild when they saw first hand what was happening.

Take about 1/4 of a potato, pealed and washed. Boil it in plain water until it is just beyond fork tender, but can be mashed with a fork. Drain and mash in a small mixing bowl until it is smooth. Depending on the size of your potato, you may need anywhere from a cup to a pound of powdered sugar, add small amounts at a time. At first the sugar will react and it will all become liquid. At this point add approximately one teaspoon vanilla. Keep adding the sugar until it starts to become a dough and you can no longer use a spoon / fork to mix it, and have to resort to your hands. The dough needs to reach the considtancey of pie dough. Once it does, you will roll it out like pie dough using powdered sugar to prevent sticking. The thickness should be the same. Now, the peanut butter, cover the surface with a solid layer, you should not be able to see white through the peanut butter. Now roll it like a jelly roll, it may crack, that is fine, keep rolling until you have a giant tube. Chill. Slice into pinwheel pieces and serve.

This is a simple little candy you can make yourself and is both pleasng to looking and really good. It it made from items that should already be in the pantry and does not generate financial demands just to have something sweet!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In The Beginning

I spent most of my twenties struggling to survive financially, to the point of working two jobs while pregnant with my daughter. Nightmarish when I look back but invaluable looking forward to the bleak economic picture. My parents had me while in their forties, but they had survived the depression, and despite my best attempts at the free wheeling spirit of the 70's and 80's, they instilled some basic ideas and principles that have made me squeak at times. I have had to become creative with both money and time over the years. And as I recently hung up the phone from a long frustrating conversation with someone I love very much, I proclaimed, " That girl does not know how to be poor."

My husband said, " you need to teach her."

And the idea came to me that there are a lot of these young mothers and families, that did not have that thrift gene nurtured. The talents of making dinner from next to nothing, boring evenings turned to fun, and the immense pleasure achieved when you have just managed to do something for pennies. So my resolution to teach my young friend has turned into this blog!

Watch out, it may shock you!