Many families we've known have a regular Friday night pizza night. Instead of ordering out for pizza, they make it at home.
This free Kindle book of recipes might help: How to Make Homemade Pizza Recipes
If you're a low-carber, or allergic to wheat, this version is crustless and grain free and works astonishingly well. (more frugal low-carb ideas here, including a menu that can be adapted for the mixed carb family)
If cooking isn't your thing, maybe you'd like to do what some of our relatives did. They would buy the cheapest frozen pizzas on sale, but then add their own toppings.
Fix, or decorate the pre-made, pizzas together as a family or with friends.
While you eat, share stories about your childhood. Here are five questions to get you started:
1. What's your earliest memory?
2. Did you ever get away with something you should have been disciplined for? Tell about it.
3. What was your favorite room in your house when you were little, and why?
4. What was your favorite bedtime story?
5. Tell about something silly you believed when you were little.
After you eat, clean up together, share some popcorn or fruit, and play a game or sing together.
Whatever you do, make it screen-free. Here are some of our favorite games, not all of which require any actual game equipment.
So much of the lost art of frugality has been lost because we got used to others doing our thinking, and our entertaining, for us, instead of engaging in the interested life, and doing things for ourselves.
(Also free on Kindle:
The Art of Perfect Bread Baking (Delicious Recipes)
Making my sixth trip out to the car to bring in groceries, I pause and take time to smell my roses. This lovely, Queen Elizabeth rosebush, purchased about five years ago, is a frugal treasure. Discovered in a box store and looking quite sad and forlorn, with a price of less than $5.00, I took a chance and brought this lady home. Now over six feet in height and twice a year covered in beautiful, pink long stem roses with the most delicate and yet heady smell, this rose bush is a blessing.
Even though I enjoy the stimulating fragrance and appreciate the artistry of this plant, I too often do not take the time to savor the scent and grace of this rose. And I must confess, this can also be my "story." I have been asking myself of late, how to spend more time, "smelling the roses" in life. One of the things I have come to realize when a home no longer has children within the walls, is that life can easily become a checklist. What I mean by that is as a mother of young children I was much more motivated to stop and find the pleasure in what I was doing.
Mothering young children is hard work and I do not mean to romanticize the experience, but it is also lush with opportunity to savor the little things in life. Now often solo when working at home, I find I attack my list of things to do and if not careful, only find my pleasure when a job is done and not the process of accomplishing the task. The truth is life is more process than completion. So I am purposing to take time to smell the roses throughout my day.
I will confess, this is not an easy process for me. Ask Husband and he will tell you that I focus on tasks well. After over 30 years of marriage, he finally understands that I really do not mean to run into him when he walks my way and I am fixated on a task; it is that I need to keep my concentration fast on the goal or deed before me, Concentration helps me not to lose sight of what I am doing or get distracted from my priority. Still most strengths can also become weakness if one is not careful, so I am seeking to be more mindful of the process of my life.
One of the tasks most challenging for me to find appreciation of the process, is the inevitable clean up that accompanies frugal living. Dishes seem to breed more dishes. Some days the thought of opening a few cans and making a meal, appeals to my heart. Homemade soup, broths, breads and salads chock full of healthy ingredients equals pots, pans, and other cooking tools. Yet I persevere for health and finances and try to find a way to at least appreciate, if not find pleasure in the clean up process. I smell the roses in my kitchen with purposeful thoughts of recognition of my blessings.
I tell myself I am blessed to have hot water and enjoy the suds that spill over my dishpan. I savor the light green shade of my dish draining pad and how it complements my kitchen curtains. I practice gratefulness for enough pots and pans to cook my meals and then rejoice in the healthy food that graces my table. I pause to savor the combination of colors on a salad filled with vegetables and stop to enjoy a whiff of my tasty olive oil.
Let me not deceive or give the impression that I now love to wash the dishes. I am learning though to find appreciation for the process and am enjoying finding ways to smell the roses in the mundane tasks of life.
How do you smell the roses in your frugal life?
This is an easier than it looks, versatile, 'what's in your hand' sort of recipe from on my favorite cookbooks, The Thursday night feast and good plain meals cookbook: Natural foods of the Eastern Hemisphere, China, Japan, Indonesia, India, the Middle East by Sigrid M. Shepard. If you click through that link you'll be shocked at the price. I was. I bought mine for about a quarter at a second hand booksale. I think one reason why it is so hard to find is that the original binding is not strong enough for a book this size, so after a few uses, the pages start falling out. So if you see it somewhere, snap it up quick. I'll be putting mine in plastic page page protectors in a 3 ring binder because the recipes in this book are keepers.
Do not make the mistake of skipping the recipe because you don't like one of the ingredients- there are a lot of alternatives suggested, and there's really not a single ingredient here that cannot be omitted and/or replaced with something you do like.
As I said, this recipe is easier than appears at first glance, but you should read through the entire recipe first, then set out your ingredients, and then begin cooking. This recipe can be adapted for use by vegans, vegetarians, or omnivores.
It's what our 17 y.o. girl made for dinner last night- I'd share a photo, but the meal disappeared in minutes.
Bok Choy (or other greens) Stir Fry
Tools: a good knife; a cutting surface; a wok, large frying pan, or electric skillet; a spoon, spatula, or chopsticks for stirring; and measuring spoons and cups.
6-8 dried mushrooms and 1 cup boiling water (we buy our dried mushrooms at our co-op, and usually get shitake. However, if you don't have or do not like mushrooms, just skip this step and use fresh mushrooms later in the recipe, or no mushrooms at all).
If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, set a saucer or lid small enough to fit inside the bowl over the top to hold the shrooms under water. Soak them for 15 minutes to an hour (it's really not that big of a deal which). Squeeze them dry, but reserve the liquid. Remove tough stems, cut each mushrrom into 3 or 4 pieces and set aside for later use.
Meanwhile, while mushrooms are soaking:
3 Tablespoons oil (recipe recommends peanut oil, we use Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, and if the budget is tight, reserve the fat from other cooking and use that).
Protein: 1 cup cashew nuts OR other nuts OR 1/2 cup sunflower seeds OR 1/4 to 1/2 pound of boneless meat (pork, chicken, or beef) cut into very thin strips (easiest when still slightly frozen). OR tofu OR tempeh
Heat your skillet, wok, or frying pan over high heat. Add oil. Add your choice of protein immediately. If using nuts, cook for 1 or 2 minutes until just brown, remove and set aside for later. If using meat, heat the oil until a haze forms. Add meat and stir-fry for two or 3 minutes until the meat is seared but very slightly pink. Remove from pan and set aside for later.
2 thin slices fresh ginger root, julienned OR 2 teaspoons of Minced Ginger in a jar OR 1/2 to 1 tsp of dried ginger (but this is the least delicious option)
2 green onions, cut into thin, diagonal slices OR 1 small onion, minced or diced small-
Add to hot oil, stir and fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute until they are just tender.
10 to 15 stalks Bok Choy, slicing the stalks into long thin diagonals and cut the leaves (I use kitchen shears) into 2 inch strips
OR any cooking greens at all, cut into 1 inch strips (collards, spinach, kale, Chinese or Napa cabbage, etc)
Optional: 4 water chestnuts, sliced thin OR 2 jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes), peeled and sliced thin
Add bok choy stalks, mushrooms, and water chestnuts or jerusalem artichockes if using, to skillet. Stir and fry just until the stalks are barely tender (2 or 3 minutes). Add leaves or other greens and mix well
3/4 to 1 cup of water from the dried mushrooms OR broth of any sort OR a cup of water with a bouillion cube
2 Tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Amino (we use this because it is wheat free. It is a vegan soy product) OR Tamari sauce (also wheat free)
2 Tablespoons sake OR dry sherry OR rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
1 to 2 tsp of honey
Mix ingredients for sauce well, add to bok choy and vegetables as soon as possible after adding the leaves or other greens, cover and simmer one minute and remove the lid.
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch OR cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
Mix starch and water well. Push vegetables to one side of skillet or wok. Add thickening to sauce. Stir 30 seconds to 1 minute until sauce thickens. Add nuts or meat. Mix well and cook just until the meat is finished cooking. Serve hot.
Delicious over rice, soba or udon noodles, or couscous. Serves 4. Increase the rice/noodle to stir fry ratio to stretch it to serve 6. Doubles well. Reheats well the 2nd day, but is not that great frozen and reheated.
Fun to cook and eat with friends- you may also enjoy this post about the joys of eating and sharing a meal together.
I reviewed this cookbook and shared other recipes from it here.
For the best prices on ingredients, it helps to have a pricebook. more about that (and using the pricebook to build or strengthen friendships) here.
As is my custom, I like to share a few of the frugal/budget related titles listed for free at Amazon each day. You don't need a Kindle to take advantage of these offers- more about that here.
- 92 Easy Ways to Save Money: Simple, Practical Tips for Saving Money, Getting Out of Debt, Fixing Your Credit, and Living Financially Free
- Traveling With Kids: How to come home with a memory and not a migraine. DeClutter, simplify, and enjoy parenting while traveling. (Travel Well)
- How to Live on 24 Hours a Day- a vintage title I have shared before. It's really about making the most of your time and self-improvement. It's difficult to describe adequately, but I really love this book. I shared a lot from it here, if you'd like a taste before downloading.
- Herb Gardens Made Easy: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own Herbs
- How To Compost Manure
- Wildlife Ponds. How to make, maintain and enjoy a wildlife pond.
- Organic Beauty Products-Create An Eco-Friendly Beauty Regimen On A Budget
- Superfood Gardening Guidebook: The Gardening Book for Healthy Families Who Want To Grow Superfooods From Home (Gardening Guidebooks)
Are you a stay at home mom struggling to find your way? Maybe you just need to find the right hat.=)
While painting Husband's dresser, on my to do list since we moved into our present home, seven years ago, my thoughts travel back to our previous bedroom furniture. Beautifully crafted and made of cherry wood, this furniture had been passed down to me through my mother's family. For years these pieces graced the bedroom of Husband and myself. The day came, however, when Daughter was to turn the age of 19, that Husband and I made the decision to offer this cherry set, our bedroom furniture, to Daughter as her birthday gift.
You see, the year before Daughter had joyfully followed our move here to Texas, even though her heart was aching. Leaving behind close family and friends made this journey challenging for her soul. Joy and happiness are not always the same. Then our year of transitioning to a new home and state was intensified beyond imagination by the care of an aging parent with a heartbreaking dementia.
Daughter had stood by us strong and cried many of her homesick tears alone as Husband and I were overwhelmed that year with dementia care. Daughter became my right hand as we sought to honor the life of Husband's father and my days and nights were filled with Dad's care. As her 19th year celebration approached, Husband and I wanted to give her a gift of legacy. As Daughter loved family and history, we knew this cherry bedroom furniture would be such a gift for her.
The cost of finding some humble dressers to take the place of our cherry furniture was worth the sacrifice. Now this beautiful cherry furniture graces Daughter's married bedroom and God blessed her willingness to leave all that was familiar and gave her a wonderful husband met in Texas. And so I paint our substituted dresser and consider other legacy gifts we have given to our children.
A thirteenth birthday was deemed most special for Firstborn Son with the gift of a barrister bookcase highly esteemed and once a part of Husband's office. Not only does this bookcase house Firstborn Son's books, but reminds him of a season of life no longer lived by our family. Precious teacups which once belonged to Husband's mother, now long gone, became bridal shower gifts for a niece and my daughters which somehow seemed to make this grandmother a part of the special occasion. I won't take the time to list all of these type of gifts, but often we include some item with memory or family history to our children.
This practice is not necessarily frugal, but bears consideration if funds are limited. Sometimes giving some family treasure or item for a special birthday or other gift giving occasion can be a way to show love and appreciation without spending large amounts of money. Taking time to write a letter documenting past family history or even giving the gift of a book dear to your heart, can also be legacy type gifts. In our materialistic culture where so many gifts get broken or forgotten, passing on a bit of personal history can provide your children with more than just another present.
How about you? Any legacy gifts that have been a blessing in your life?
We had the opportunity to buy organic strawberries this week for 1.25 a lb- freshly picked, too. I was short on help, so I was only able to buy 25 pounds, which really isn't much for a family of 7 people living at home. I have been regretting the circumstances that limited me to 25 pounds. So I have been astonished by the reaction of so many people upon hearing I bought 25 lbs. They look stunned and ask, "Why did you buy so many?"
Planning ahead is a vital skill for frugality, and that I am hearing this question from so many people- mostly in their twenties, but some of them are married and starting families. Storing up quantities in season to hold over for use when no longer in season is the basic lesson in Aesop's fable, the ants and the grasshopper:
THE ANTS were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."
The concept has been part of religious instruction for millennium, as well as just basic common sense. However, I feel the ease of convenience has clouded our judgment and ability to plan ahead. Because we can buy strawberries in and out of season with no more trouble than it takes to grab the keys and run to the grocery store. Even if I only buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, I won't be able to see this price for organic produce very often. So I could scrape together the money from another part of my budget now, or I could spend two or three times as much on fruit buying it in smaller quantities at a time. Sometimes you just don't have the ability to do that, as we know from sad experience, but knowing that you're spending more over the long run is great incentive to find creative ways to reach a point in the food budget where you don't have to pay more over the long run again.
The strawberries were stemmed and rinsed, then spread on trays for flash freezing in our large freezers. We have two because we also either raise or buy our own grassfed cows each year. Later the frozen berries will be used in smoothies and to make our own strawberry yogurt. If I had purchased more, we might have made strawberry jam, or taken time to dehydrate them.
I also made my own yogurt this week using this crockpot recipe and our own raw milk. I haven't had success with the crockpot yogurt versions before, but this recipe worked really, really well, and I didn't even follow the directions precisely. I fell asleep at one stage so the crockpot milk was left cooling far too long. I just turned the crockpot back on for fifteen minutes, then stirred and continued as directed.
This month we will also be saving some money in the produce part of the budget as lambsquarters and day lilies are in season. Lambsquarters grow wild, and the greens are easily identifiable. I use the leaves in omelettes, soups, and stir fries, and I dehydrate them for later use in omelettes and stir fries. I use day lily buds and blossoms in salads and stir fries, and kimchi pancakes.
How do you lay by in store and plan ahead?
More about eating organic and frugal here.
More about eating easily identifiable wild edibles like day lilies here.
Free Kindle Books for the day:
Husband comes in the door, sweaty, tired and with a big smile on his face. Having just played basketball with men more than half his age, Husband is a happy man. Almost one year to the day of a heart attack, Husband plays basketball on a Thursday, hikes four miles uphill on Saturday and then comes home and pushes our lawn mower for an hour and a half with gusto.
Now with a total weight loss of almost 40 pounds and off of most of his heart medication, Husband looks well to his future. We both give all the glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave the grace for life changes that have brought much fruit into our lives through Husband's renewed health and vitality. I think on these things as so often our two year old grandson, Blissboy, asks Nonna where Grandpa is or vice versa. We are a unit in his mind and I am grateful we still have been given more time to grandparent together.
Husband credits this little blue-eyed treasure and our precious granddaughter, Grandgirl, as his motivators. He does not take grandparenting lightly. This glorious experience is one of which he is most mindful comes with a great responsibility. The deepest desire of Husband's heart is to build into the lives of his grandchildren things most meaningful. So much so that he is willing to turn away from so many of the foods he has enjoyed through life and to make sure that exercise, sleep and purposeful living are now his mantra.
Recently, Husband heard of a grandfather who spent two years visiting with his homeschooled grandchildren and teaching them history. Husband is now salivating at the thought of doing the same. Such goals do help to get all the vegetables down.
Along with the incredible joy-filled hearts at continuing to be given time to grandparent our grandchildren and of course build into the lives of our adult children, is our appreciation that we were able to come through this experience still debt-free. I write in my debt-free journal my appreciation for being members of Samaritan Ministries, the doctors who gave Husband samples of very expensive medication, the blessing of Costco pharmacy and that we are able to make a healthy food budget a priority. We do not take these things for granted as we understand that sometimes circumstances can make life goals most challenging.
Husband and I do not presume upon our future. We know that each day is a gift and that life can take twists and turns unexpectedly. However, our hearts are full with the many blessings of the Lord and the hope that you, too, may rejoice with us.
Several streams of events and observations have come together this week in my brain and created a whirlpool of ponderings and wonderings about simplifying, convenience, frugality, and the occasional tension between our desire to make things easier on ourselves, and our need to save time as well as money. I've written before about how the weeds of convenience can overtake our garden of frugality. I still believe that. But I also believe that sometimes it's because we no longer really understand how to truly simplify.
When our second daughter was a wee thing, she was a bottomless pit of hunger. She was a tiny soul, with a huge appetite and metabolism of a hummingbird. Her 3 year old son is the same way, and he appears to have some food sensitivities, so much of her life (as mine when she was young) is centered around finding suitable snacks for this ravenous child. We lived in Japan when our second child was between the ages of 15 mos and 6 years old. One day I noticed that a neighbor child had been given a snack of a cooked sweet potato and sent outside to munch on it. Turned out this was a fairly common snack for her, and she really enjoyed it. She was about ten years old, and she had no objections to snacking on a steamed or baked sweet potato rather than a bag of chips or a box of cookies because she was used to noshing on sweet potatoes.
How convenient, and how frugal! How healthy!
In my weeds of convenience post I wrote:
MP: The authority of mothers was essentially destroyed by the food industry. The $32 billion a year in marketing muscle out there has undercut culture’s role in determining what we eat, and culture is a fancy word for your mom.
TMN: Just to emphasize that number, that’s not the food industry, that’s the food marketing industry.
MP: That’s advertising, studying us, packaging, figuring out how to get us to eat more.
One of the things that 32 billion dollars a year in marketing has bought is our idea about food and how fast we need for it to be.
For some time now I have been a strong fan of K-dramas (Korean television shows)- this seems like an abrupt jump, but bear with me. One program I particularly enjoy watching (and my 17 y.o. watches with me) is called in English, "Dad! Where Are We Going?"
The basic outline of the series is that five real-life dads who have some connections to show-business each take one of their real-life children along on a trip devised by the producers of the show. The dads have little or no idea where they are going ahead of time or what they will be doing. The producers usually take them to little known Korean villages in out of the way places where living conditions are still quite traditional rather than modern, and while in those villages, the dads and their kids are given various tasks. They are filmed the whole time- especially the children.
I know it seems like I'm still way off point, but we're nearly there, so hang in here with me just a bit longer.
Because they go to such out of the way places, the crew shows up at the homes of their father/child pairs ridiculously early and they travel for hours before arriving. After they have scouted out their sleeping arrangements, the fathers and their kids are given a large snack to take back to their separate sleeping quarters and enjoy along with some down time between each father and child. Here's the snack from the first episode:
Those are potatoes, by the looks of them, regular russet potatoes, baked or steamed. Each father/child duo was given a large bowl of steaming hot potatoes and that's what they snacked on. Nobody complained or seemed surprised, although some of the children did want something else to eat once they finished the potatoes.
Other episodes the snacks have been:
Steamed or baked sweet potatoes
boiled or roasted ears of corn
Some combination of the above, usually corn and potatoes, or eggs and potatoes.
They drink water when they are thirsty. I realize at home things are different for the kids, but still, they don't complain about the simple snacks, but eat them with delight.
We look for recipes for dishes that will make our lives easier- grafitating to five ingredients or less (although some of those ingredients themselves have ten ingredients or more on the labels, and we can't pronounce half of them).
If we really want to simplify- why not try snacks and treats of a single, whole, food (butter and salt not counted). In addition to the above, there's:
Bok Choy stems, which are mildly sweet
Jicama, which is also mildly sweet and quite juicy
a peanut butter spoon (ideally from freshly roasted peanuts and with no other ingredients- we have a nearby healthfood store that sells freshly ground nut-butters, maybe you do, too)
In the LIttle House on the Prairie books and Understood Betsy, people snacked on plain raw turnips!
Maybe our tastebuds are too jaded to go straight from pop-tarts and flavored corn chips to turnips, but we might surprise ourselves. I find the longer I avoid packaged foods loaded with artificial ingredients, the stranger they taste when I do have the occasional nibble.
We can apply the same principle to other areas of our lives- toys, for instance. Why so many? Why not use what we have around the house? Handkerchieves or bandanas.... a yard or three of fabric....a beanbag and a bucket, and I have the quickest and easiest beanbag in the world for you to make.... a corncob and some feathers (okay, that may not be an around the house item for you, but we live in the center of cornfields and my son hunts turkeys)
Clothes- With the advent of the sewing machine and automatic washing machine, women's lives became a whole lot easier. While washing clothes got easier, so did buying more clothes. So washing clothes is physically easier, but we own about ten times more clothing to organized, clean, fold, hang up, sort, find, match, clean again, and mend. A chore that used to be done once a week now has to be done almost daily. Are we absolutely certain we can never wear the same outfit more than once before washing it? Do we really need pajamas every night? Can we just sleep in the same clothes we're wearing (maybe yes, maybe not- depends on activity levels and the style of clothing- but maybe we shouldn't take it for granted that we have to change clothes for bed).
Stuff- for instance, the things we accumulate in the kitchen. What would a minimalist kitchen look like?
What are your favourite frugal solutions that are frugal of both time and finances?
My two raised bed gardens can be viewed from my kitchen window. Usually by this time of year in South Texas the garden production would soon be ready to cease. However, this year with a much cooler spring than would be considered normal, our harvest has not yet peaked.
My eight tomato plants are producing green tomatoes, although with our nights now getting warmer they do not seem to be setting many flowers. The peppers and squash have yet to show any fruit and my swiss chard will soon be impacted by the heat. As I have shared before, I find gardening in Texas to be a challenge, yet I continue to persevere.
Recently my determination has been increased by the cautions I have read on the internet, on the radio, and even a source emailed to me by a family member. I am no expert on this subject and am just beginning my own journey of sorts to try to understand what the real truth is in regards to adulteration of our food supply. This information does however encourage me to consider how to be more effective in growing more of our own food.
Recently I came across this information on how to take some simple vegetables many of us purchase and eat on a regular basis, and use the scraps to reproduce the vegetable. I really find this idea intriguing! With all honesty, I have tried to re-grow green onions before in a glass with little success, but next time I make a green onion purchase, I am going to try growing a few bulbs in my raised bed. Although I do not buy everything organic, I do believe I will make organic purchases of any vegetables I want to try to re-plant.
Also, I think you might find this article about PLU codes and how the vegetables you are purchasing in the grocery store are grown. I do want to be sure to make clear I am not recommending any of these websites as I have no personal knowledge of them nor am I seeking to present myself as any kind of expert on the topics. My point is just to share some of the areas that I am giving some thought and research to in the midst of the busyness of daily life.
Please do share if you have tried re-planting any vegetables at your house and tips or cautions your experience could offer.
Since I'm an American living in America, that's where this post will be centered, but I hope you can make the adjustments necessary to make it useful to you in your country and hemisphere.=)
Eating seasonally is about more than simply knowing that strawberries are ripe in May and June, so they are cheapest then, and blueberries are in season in July, and the best time to find persimmons in the midwestern grocery stores is the fall, etc. According to this website: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/strategic-shopping/:
Each advertising collective has its own month—e.g., January is National Beef Month. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association has chosen the month of January to promote eating beef. That means you can expect excellent sales on steak and ground beef in January.
So here's what to look for over:
- Memorial Day Sales
- National Barbeque Month
- National Hamburger Month
- National Salsa Month
- National Strawberry Month
- National Salad Month
This is a great month to stock up on condiments. You will find mayonnaise, catsup, mustard, barbeque sauce, steak sauce, and other such products on sale BOGO. Newspaper inserts start running coupons for these products in April. Hold on to your coupons, and use them for the BOGO sale. (Most stores will let you use two coupons when buying BOGO items.)
If you miss a sale, don’t worry. Such items will go on sale again during the next two months. But do note that the sales on barbeque and picnic items are typically better in May than in June or July.
If you purchase pre-made hamburger patties, May is the month to stock up on them. You can usually find sales up to 40 percent off.
May is the best time to make strawberry this and that. Next year, I want to put up some strawberry jam.
Keep an eye out for picnic items such as paper plates and plastic utensils. Around the summer holidays, you can usually pick these up for half price.
- National Dairy Month
- National Iced Tea Month
- National Seafood Month
- Adopt-a-Cat Month
We are now half way through the year, and the stores of butter you put in your freezer from last Thanksgiving are running low. Count of some excellent sales on butter and other dairy products. Buy enough to last until November.
Strawberries in our town are .99 a quart right now, so we've stocked up. We dehydrate them. The future mother in law of our daughter who is currently courting makes freezer jam. We also have made this 1911 recipe for strawberry shortcake, and we make strawberry 'soup' when it's hot outside (this is sooooo delicious and refreshing!).
Strawberry cottage cheese pancakes : You know how people will share a recipe for something that has no sugar and tell you it doesn’t even need sweetening? Or some food you usually top with butter is so rich that you don’t even need to butter it? I never believe it, either, but I am telling you, this is delicious plain, without any butter or syrup. It might be even better slathered with butter and a tall and cold glass of raw milk on the side, but it’s pretty tasty as is.
You can also make your own strawberry syrup for those, and other, pancakes.
You might also glean some frugal ideas from:
Here are five free Kindle books for today:
Recently, I was slated to have house guests arrive at 6:30 on a Friday night. The challenge for me was I needed to be away from home all day. My guests were traveling and wanted to be able to get to bed early, so to save time and try to accommodate them to the best of my ability, I decided to do my cooking the day before. A cold salad type meal seemed to be the best plan and it proved to be as I was delayed by traffic and reached home the exact time my guests were to arrive.
At some point in my planning process, I had considered making a green salad as soon as I arrived home to accompany the rest of my cold supper. However, my strategy for making Husband's lunch salads for the week by layering them in canning jars came to mind. Remembering my pickle jar collection, I set out to make my green salad the day before my house guests were to arrive.
When I prepare Husband's salads-in-a-jar for work, I make the dressing be the first layer on the bottom of the jar. Then I add the chopped vegetables like celery, carrots, radishes (things that won't get too soggy in the dressing),and add tomatoes, sunflower seeds and any other contributions to health and taste. I always put the lettuce at the top of the jar which keeps the greens from getting wet and unappealing.
So, grabbing two of my 80 ounce large, clean, pickle jars I set out to make my salad. I did not put any dressing in these jars as my guests would be given a choice in what kind of dressing they would like for their salad. Layering several different types of vegetables in the jar and stuffing two different kinds of lettuce to fill the jar, I quickly assembled a delicious and healthy salad that was as fresh and tasty as if I had prepared it right before the meal. By dumping the jars into a large bowl, I had a lovely tossed salad in minutes after arriving home.
This idea is also great for attending potlucks or bringing a green salad if asked to contribute something to a meal away from home. Although I have not as yet tried this plan when traveling, I think it would work well, and for those of us who eat frequent greens for health reasons, make traveling away from home a more healthy experience. I find the jar makes fitting items into a cooler easier and I just bring an empty bowl or plates as depositories for the salads.
Has anyone else tried the salad-in-a-jar idea?
One of the most important ways to be frugal is also one of the most difficult, and that is building your savings account cushion- an emergency fund, yes, but also a fund that makes it possible for you take advantage of unexpected bargains.
We recently were given an unexpected opportunity to buy 1/4 or 1/2 of a beef cow which had been raised by an agricultural student at the local U. He had reared the animal on organic pasture and some non-GMO feed, and now needed to butcher it to finish his class assignment. He was selling it for 3.00 a lb. Without the cushion we have built up in our savings account, we would be unable to take advantage of this. Not only does this save money (since meat of this quality is usually five dollars a lb or more in our area), having a freezer full of meat at 3.00/lb is a hedge against the coming inflationary food costs we know we will be seeing in the grocery store.
There are only two ways to build that savings cushion: find ways to cut back on spending, and using the money you saved for your savings account, or find ways to earn some extra income.
Ways to save money:
Beans and rice and other frugal eats. More here.
Navy showers and other ways to reduce utility costs
Drastic budgeting in the kitchen
Save money on utilities in the winter- I have a post on that here, and one with more tips here.
Stock up on groceries when they are on sale so that you are only shopping to replenish your pantry, and you are doing that only from sales.
I read a tip a few years back from somebody who watches the holiday sales in her area very, very carefully. She cuts back on her grocery buying for a couple months in advance and starts making room in her freezer. As soon as any store has a loss leader sale on holiday meats- turkey, hams, roasts (lambs in the spring)- the sort of sale where you get the turkey practically free for spending a specific amount in groceries- she goes to the store, restocks her diminishing pantry and gets the free turkey. Then she does it again. The she goes to the next store with a similar deal. Her goal, she said, was to get all her meat for free this way and fill her freezer. I’ve never done this, partly because nowhere I’ve lived has offered free birds for a minimum grocery purchase since I read the idea. But it is an example of thinking creatively about the grocery budget and how to make the most of sales. More here.
Try Mechanical Turks (varies based on your skill set- such is life. Our fifth daughter has made nearly 100 dollars using Amazon turks, in things that didn't take her much time))
I’ve written at least two posts here at Frugal Hacks on quick ways to come up with some emergency cash- here, and here.
If you blog, here’s a good place to start reading on monetizing your blog.
Here’s where to get more information on how to buy a parenting ebook I and three other moms of large families wrote togehter! or become an affiliate, which is another way of making some extra income.
These free titles for Kindle may (or may not) be useful
These books are free at the time of listing. This can change, so be sure to check the cost first before you download. I love to hear from our readers, but I do not love to hear that a book listed here is not free because this tells me you did not read the first sentence of this post and that makes me sad. On the plus side, it might even make me sad enough to eat chocolate, so there is that.
You do not need a Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles. That's because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don't remember to recharge them before returning.
If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers. The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens. It does not have 3G, which is why it's their Kindle.
I haven't read these myself unless otherwise noted. They are just free titles that looked like they might be interesting readers. I do take some time to screen- often, but not always, reading the first few sample pages, always reading at least the first 5 star AND the first 1 star reviews, usually more, sometimes even hunting up free titles at Gutenberg so I can read more of the actual text. There are a lot of books I look at that never make it to these 'free4Kindle' posts. Nonetheless, I'm still just skimming the surface- I don't have time to read the books and get them listed before the 'free' listing expires the price goes up. I'm not vouching for the content, unless otherwise noted. I'm just a bird-dog, sniffing through the forest and weeds of free listings and occasionally pointing at something that might be interesting. Then again, it might turn out to be a decoy. I'm not a well trained bird dog.
Starting your own Home Business online can be most rewarding. My home business is selling products online. In this book I’ll tell you about some of the benefits of running a home business online; How to get started even if you have no money, Where to go to find wholesale suppliers, How to approach wholesaler suppliers you want to do business with? There may be one or more suppliers in your own home town and I’ll tell you how to find them. Do I need to pay a fee to the wholesaler to sell his products? How to know if the product you are interested in will sell online and where you can sell them. Can I sell this product for a profit? Can I compete with the big boys? How to get products below drop ship cost. What is drop shipping? How to not get scammed! Before doing any business from home, check with your local zoning board to make sure you can run your business from home. Where and how do you get your sales tax number? Why do you need one? Do you need a website? How do I put up a website? What is Affiliate Marketing? Who are Liquidators?
Discover how to make hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month publishing your own ebooks on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble NOOK and other popular platforms.
Did You Know....
Amazon.com sells 105 ebooks for its Kindle for every 100 printed books.
USA Today recently said 8 of the top 20 best sellers were eBooks.
More than 20% of all book publishing revenue in 2011 was from electronic book sales !!
Here's just a few of the tips and techniques that you will learn from my Sourcebook.
How to find topics that will sell by seeing exactly how many people search your subject on the search engines both in the US and worldwide..and satisfy those
wants and needs.
How to find profitable niche markets and create ebooks that dominate that niche.
Write it yourself or job it out ?....How to find thousands of qualified ghostwriters that will write your book for less than $100... and you don't pay until it's perfect.
Learn how to get your ebook covers designed for under $15 with unlimited revisions that will attract readers and boost sales. The cover for this book was done in 2 hours by a dsigner i found on line in the Philippines !!
Learn how to promote your book and drive buyers to Amazon Kindle, NOOK and other sites.
If you want to increase your income and have a sucessful at-home business... publishing ebooks is the way to go.
Learn how to create a KDP (Kindle) or a Barnes & Noble (NOOK) account and have your ebook ready for sale within hours.
Learn all the formatting tricks that will have your ebook approved and accepted quickly and without problems.
My eldest girl is the mother of two very busy toddlers just 13 months apart, and she's expecting their third before the oldest will be 3. She is bringing in some fun income via ebay- this week she will make a 40 dollar profit on a coffee cup she bought for .42 cents!
You will soon see the headlines saying;
Heirloom Seeds... Organic Seeds... and Non Hybrid Seeds... are ALL BANNED!
The setup for this coming ban can be found in both the Monsanto Protection Act and the EU Plant Reproductive Law.
"Survival Seeds For Life" tackles the controversial coming ban of organic seeds, heirloom seeds and other non-hybrid seeds and shares with you what to do now to prepare and what to do when the ban is in effect.
Yes! Despite the impending ban of these seeds, there is a way to take control of one’s own seeds, crops and food supply... and that's where "Survival Seeds For Life" becomes one of the most important books you will ever read.
GMO's have overrun the marketplace and polluted our plates and battered our bodies with toxins causing sickness, disease and even death.
Add to that the coming worldwide food crisis do to massive crop damage, critical death of pollinating bees and ever increasing food prices... and you have the making of a historic food apocalypse.
This isn't fear mongering or me being an alarmist... this is me being a realist.
Book Profits Dot Com is your complete guide to establishing and growing a PROFITABLE online bookstore. Written by a 10-year veteran of the online book trade, Book Profits Dot Com teaches you the tricks of that trade - from finding free books to making happy customers out of angry ones - that can ensure your online bookstore provides maximum returns for your effort. It also provides a sample business plan that will help you outline your own business strategy, costs, and commitments before you spend a dime on inventory.
If you have ever wanted to own your own bookstore, Book Profits Dot Com will tell you bluntly what you're getting into. It will also reveal exactly how to make the most of it.
Are you a time-strapped senior, or a home-bound mother looking for a fun income source to pay for groceries or your family's vacation?
The Fast Cash system is just what you have been looking for. It is a proven system that consistently earns excellent money for anybody, in any location. The author has developed the system over through twelve years of research and application. Fast Cash complements the system described in the successful Almost Free Money series, and expands it into many new and exciting niches for readers to explore. Fast Cash can be tailored to the reader's situation, providing a little cash for busy people, or a new home business for entrepreneurs.
In Fast Cash, readers learn proven techniques for locating high-yielding used items at venues that can be found anywhere in the world, including garage sales, yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets.
This book is designed to help you sell your handmade jewellery face to face to your customer.
Ther are many guides to small business, but his book concentrates on the process of actually selling your jewellery at craft fairs,wedding fairs, country fairs and markets and through party plan.
It is about marketing and how you can use marketing skills to sell directly to your customer.
How to create your own style,how to set your prices, how to present your business, how to set out your stand, how to package your work, how to promote your business and how to encourage people to buy your handmade designs.
Budgeting came late to Husband and I. Not that we didn't watch over our funds carefully in years past, just that we found the years of self-employment to be quite challenging in setting careful budget categories. Now, I think in this season of life, we do much better with writing out a realistic budget each year. After setting monthly budget allocations, we work diligently at following our plan.
These yearly and monthly budget goals have not only helped us to try to make wise financial decisions but also assist us in making big life decisions. By setting goals so as to anticipate future needs and/or wants,and counting the financial cost of these goals, Husband and I are better prepared to make make life choices. Just checking to see if there is enough money in the checking account so we can participate in an exciting event or make a greatly desired purchase can be deceiving.
One of the things we have learned as we have sought to budget our funds carefully with forethought, is that the unexpected is rarely even that. Truth is Husband and I know our air-conditioner and roof more than likely will need to be replaced in the next five years. Our home will need painting, cars replacing and I could go on and on. Few surprises in life are really surprises.
Certainly, medical issues and unforeseen tragedies occur, but what I am really speaking of here is that it is wise to consider future expenses even when living in the here and now. I know that some seasons of incomes make future planning challenging, if not almost impossible. We just need to keep in mind that our hearts can distract us from being as prepared as possible for "Murphy's" visit.
By being very frugal with both our air-conditioning and heating use, and frequently coming in below our electric budget, Husband and I have been able to save $900.00 towards a replacement air-conditioner. This has not been an easy process. We have spent about five years often being hot in the summer and cold in the winter to make this happen. There has been many a time we could have used that money for something else we would have really have liked to do or replace. Remember when I wrote about our appliance fund and how we finally replaced our washer and dryer? Well, one week later, my dishwasher ended its life and mourning is still being practiced at my house. That $900.00 could really buy a great dishwasher. Yet Husband and I know that when the day comes to replace our air-conditioning (a need for us in South Texas,) having some monies saved will be of the utmost blessing and wisdom.
My point is that there will always be something that encourages us to spend money now for something that will be needed later. Sometimes that "now" is really not as important as later. A simple example is that eating out might be an enjoyable experience for the moment, but may wreck havoc on the monies needed to buy food for the rest of the month.
As a Christian, I know all about the blessings of a provider God. We have experienced so many blessings and have seen God work in ways we would have never imagined. Still, Husband and I know there can be a thin line between faith and presumption and have seen too many times God's people want to spend money on their wants and then have God provide their needs.
Truth is for Husband and myself, our paper and pencil budget really helps us to make big life decisions. Not that we seek to be selfish or hoard our funds, just to be careful to live with some foresight. Quite honestly, we are not as prepared for some of the "bumps in the road" that may come our way as we might like to be, but by keeping the future in mind, we are better able to count the cost for the decisions we make.
Husband calls and with emotion in his voice shares about his Mother's Day visit to a dear friend of ours. Having just completed a work assignment at a conference on the East Coast, Husband drives north to spend some time with a widow woman now stricken heavy with Alzheimer's. In her 90's, this dear woman was once the best friend of Husband's mother. As this woman had no children to call her own, Husband and his brothers became like family to her heart. When Husband's mother died many years ago, soon after the birth of Firstborn Son, this woman loved our children as her grandchildren and our family like her own.
Now, so far from us, she is well cared for in a home and watched over by her living family. Although not able to speak in full sentences, this beloved friend recognizes Husband and his visit blesses both of them. Youngest Son too is there and rejoices in this opportunity to visit with this woman who loved him much. My heart remembers this lady, one of my frugal heroes, as I also ponder a visit with other dear friends this past weekend.
Gazing into the beautiful blue eyes of a 16-year-old young lady as she hugs me tight, I remember her as a little girl of 7. In my mind she is again held close as her mother's body leaves their home in death. Cancer took this young lady's mother, leaving a grieving husband and four young children.
I still can hear my dying friend praying that God would bring a new wife and mother to her husband and children. How many times did I pray with the children and hear them do the same, I ask myself? Now these prayers have been answered and this young woman and her siblings have a new mom and the restoration and healing I see in her eyes brings such rejoicing to my heart.
As my memories and reflections find me in the past, I am amazed at how both of these visits Husband and I have tasted bring back memories of love and frugal living. My frugal hero, now so aged and mentally unhealthy, lived an amazing frugal life of choice. She would have called it good stewardship as she saw all the funds that came her way through marriage and inheritance, gifts of God to be used with the utmost care and generosity. Through all her frugal living, love is what shines most bright.
My little friend, now almost grown, has come from frugal stock. Her parents were a frugal family to be sure. Building their home from scratch and finding many a yard sale treasure, their lives spilled forth a frugal essence. It is the love, however, of mother for children, so sacrificial that she prayed another woman would someday receive her blessings, that fills my thoughts.
I muse on these things. How love and frugal do go well together. Both take a willingness to live sacrificially and make the best of what comes your way. My widow friend so willing to share of her love and resources with so many and my younger friend, with such joy on her face as she lives out the loving prayers of her first mother.
As I listen to this amazing interview of Ken and Joni Tada, I wonder if they too may have a frugal story to add to their legacy of love. They certainly know what it means to live sacrificially. May you be as blessed as you listen.
Would you too, share how love meshes with your frugal life?
One of my domestic treasures is an old book formerly belonging to my great-grandmother. It is titled The Complete Home, An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Life and Affairs Embracing All the Interests of The Household, by Julia McNair Wright. Mrs. Wright wrote to help impoverished families economize during the economic crises of the 1870s, known as The Long Depression. She writes in the first person in the character of a delightful old biddy named Aunt Sophronia. She is giving advice to her three young nieces as they embark on adult life.
“Economy will be especially demanded of young people who have no fortunes but in themselves. Are you capable of self-denial and self-sacrifice? Can you be cheerful while others, your friends, make a greater display and have more showy pleasures? Can you be resolute to save a little every year, even if it is a very little indeed? This strength of character which can attain to self-denial, to perseverance, self-sacrifice, is fine capital…”
“Practise Economy as a Fine Art: make a duty and a pleasure of it; it is the mortar wherein you lay up the walls of home; if it is lacking, or is poor in quality, the home building will crumble. Don’t be ashamed of economy: study it, consult about it; don’t confound it with meanness: economy is the nurse of liberality. Meanness is going into debt for luxury: is keeping behind-hand the wages our work-people have earned [in other words being slow to pay obligations such as rent, plumber's bills, the internet bill, the propane, your lawyer, your babysitter, your paper boy, etc].: is making a show and the street and withholding charity: is presenting cake and confections ostentatiously to our callers, and stinting the kind or quantity of our servants’ food.”
In answer to a niece's question about the rules for getting rich, she says:
“All that has been said can be boiled to a very short and simple answer, ” I replied; “and all the difficulty in the work lies in the needful self-sacrifice. The question first is, What do you mean by getting rich? …Will you be content to call honest independence, enough to live upon tastefully without fear or favor, enough to keep away the wolves of debt and want, and to send out from your door, on your errands, the full-handed angels of benevolence, will you call that being rich?”
“…I will give you the rules, which are few and simple, and easily performed by self-sacrifice. Work hard; see and improve all small opportunities; keep out of debt and carefully economize. That is the best that all the wisdom of the world has been able to digest and formulate as rules for getting rich. The matter is simple and lies in a nutshell: have the end definitely before you; do your own work toward it and do it honestly, and don’t give up until you have reached your goal; the same plain, straight, unadorned and yet passable road is open to all.”
You can read more wisdom from this maiden aunt of yesteryear here.
Pondering the different discussions heard regarding the economy and the future, my heart is heavy. Change seems to come quickly and I for one am not overly fond of much of what I see. A recent phone call with my mother finds her recalling many years ago when I was but a child and her decision to make her way as a divorced woman with two children. Most of the time, her income was all we had to live on. She never even considered getting help from any government programs. Life was not easy. Clothes often came from church boxes, meals on the table were simple and at times lean, but we eked out an existence and made ends meet. I would not have wanted it any other way.
Frugal was not even a word I had heard at that time although I suppose we were living the frugal experience. A remarriage for my mother in the following years improved our financial state, but I learned to never take for granted the basics of life. Now, these many years later I marvel at expectations of what is to be provided to the masses and the attitude so often seen of entitlement. Sometimes I feel a sense of discouragement in what the future may hold.
Even though I rest strong in the mighty hands of a sovereign God, I also know consequences come for decisions made. In my house, when the money is used up, we stop spending and look for other ways to meet our needs or choose to do without. This concept seems to be becoming a remedy many would see as too demanding or limiting for a pleasant life.
So during these challenging times along with my faith in a mighty God, I reflect upon the frugal people I have known and the frugal blogs I read with hope. The dark days that may be ahead or even here for some, look brighter to me because of the many people in our land who purpose to live within their means and seek to pay their way.
I appreciate the fortitude and willingness of so many to sacrifice today so tomorrow will be better. To find ways to pay their debt and to set goals worthy of the cost of their implementation. Those frugal people willing to say no now to their children in hopes they will give them a better future. Those parents who eschew the materialistic society we live in and are teaching their families what is really of value and importance.
It is a blessing to me to have tasted of so many frugal ideas and ways to make ends meet, even those I seldom practice at this time. It is as if I have my own frugal arsenal ready at my disposal should circumstances challenge my present way of life. Something as simple as learning how to better use what is in my hand can provide unseen opportunities for success in endeavors that can at first appear hopeless.
It just seems to me that frugal people don't sit back and wait for others to make their lives better. They do what they can to change difficult situations and learn to make what cannot be changed work. Frugal people are willing to walk a rougher road if necessary.
Each and every generation have had unique and what may have seemed difficult and foreboding challenges. Certainly we can see some changes needed for the years ahead. I am encouraged though each and every time I read a blog, hear a tale of frugal living or meet someone who is willing to walk the narrow road to live within their means.
Frugal people and their stories really do give hope for dark days. I certainly am not advocating all the different decisions and lifestyles, but I find the resourcefulness of people and how they manage their circumstances encouraging:
For an extreme minimalism approach to frugal living check out Annie at Annienygma. If you are reading this on Tuesday, today is the last day to purchase her free book. Then there is Pat at corninmycoffee-pot.blogspot.com whose cheerful attitude makes the frugal life sing. Ruth at livingwellspendingless.com hosts a Thrifty Thursday which has some great ideas and Thriftyfun.com has a great Pinterest!
Where do you find some frugal encouragement?