FRUGALITY

FRUGALITY- "Prudence in avoiding waste." (wordnetweb.princeton.edu)

Why This Blog?

I am on a pretty strict food budget; I also pray that my family and I will never go hungry, so after so many years of being creative with limited food supplies and money (including a three-pound whole chicken turned into 13 meals for the 5 of us), P-R-A-Y-S became a food and household budget philosophy. It can be anything that keep you in line with your budget. Like PORTION, ROTATE, ANTICIPATE, YELL (from joy of having money left over) and SAVE. Each post will show how this philosophy was broken down with every dish and budgeting I share. So hold on to your wallets and stay tuned!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reinventing Christmas


Now that Thanksgiving is over and we've all managed to be filled with gratitude, it's time to focus on Christmas. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I TRADITIONAL or CONTEMPORARY?

2. Am I ready to change themes or just add?

3. Will I be hosting a party- sit down or buffet?

With most of us, hanging on to what's in our pockets, how do we make Christmas look fancy without spending the gift money? Easy!

If you're a Traditionalist,

PURCHASE clearance white string lights and ribbon reels of the traditional colors, but with a modern interpretation.

REPLACE old light strings with newer ones to create more sparkle to those heirloom ornaments.

ALIGN each year's decor to according to how your family lives. Don't go country if you normally contemporary.

YELLOW GOLD decor items are better for more colorful theme. Stick with a matte or sparkly beige silvery gold shade to bring in some real bling to your style.

STAY within your budget. Not all theme is a good theme, so get your ideas and create your own according to what's affordable for you.

For Contemporary or Whimsical tastes,

POUR OVER the different colorful choices from the year before to either add or refresh your theme.

REFRAIN from starting too many ideas. Focus on the tree, wreath & garland first and incorporate the theme to the rest.

ASSESS your inventory. Don't decide on a theme until you are confident about the space and items you have. It'll save too many trips to the craft store.

YOU have to love it. Many contemporary or whimsical themes can be gaudy. Fit it to your own personality and lifestyle.

SUBTLY research the newest trends and incorporate your clearance finds from last year. From a hosting standpoint, you'll be hip while your colors and items are not in every home window!

However you answer the questions and decide on a theme, the worst critic is you, so enlist the whole family's help and ensure everyone's "oohs and aaahhhs"...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fast and Cheap

Sound like a typical movie plot lately? Well, that's not what I meant here.

I am talking about the whole meal I made that only cost me LESS than $3.00! It fed all 4 of us, plus leftovers!

BRAISED BEEF RIBS w/ ROOT VEGGIES over GARLIC COUSCOUS

I found the great looking meat on Manager's Special corner in Kroger yesterday. It had a higher MS price tag of $4.63 than the original $2.56 so I inquired at the Butcher Shop and lo and behold, gave it to me for $1.53! Since I don't use a lot of meat, total score!

I needed and bought broccoli, milk, apples, marshmallows and bread. I spent a total of $10.62!

Braised Beef Ribs w/ Root Veggies
1 lb. beef ribs
3 med potatoes, peeled and cut into big bite pieces
1-4 small carrots, peeled and cut same as potatoes
1/4 large onion
Saffron
Beef Broth- 1 can
Basil, Oregano, Garlic powder, Paprika- 1 tsp. each
2 cups water
1 T veg. oil
1/2 lime juice
Worstershire sauce- 2 tsp
S&P
Nutmeg-pinch

In a deep pan or dutch oven, brown ribs on both sides. Then set aside.
Assemble ingredients for broth. Do not add nutmeg, potatoes and carrots yet.
Put ribs back in and braise for 45 minutes on Med High.
Adjust salt then add in the root veggies and nutmeg.
Braise for another 15 minutes until sauce is reduced.

Garlic Couscous
2 cups of water
Saffron-pinch
S&P
Garlic powder, turmeric- 1 tsp
Butter or margarine- 1 tbsp.
2 cups of couscous

Boil water and spices. Add in couscous, mix in well.
Put lid and kill heat. Wait 5-8 mins and fluff.

So let's see how PRAYS played its part in this wonderful meal.
I only PURCHASED what I needed and can afford.
By REPURPOSING the existing veggies I have, I was able to create a dish I didn't have to fuss over.
ASKING the kids for input helped round out the meal. Kids love to give ideas on food.
In saying YES to their input, we put together a great meal that's already in our kitchen.
SUGGESTING and hinting that you need help with dinner often makes for a better meal plan.

Can you find a great meal in your pantry?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clear Out Your Pantry Challenge!

Ok, for about 1 1/2 weeks now, I have not bought a single thing and decided to just use whatever I had on hand.

I first PREPARED myself that I may not be able to do much.

Then the REAPING began. Whatever's in the pantry, cupboards, fridge, freezer-fair game!

I didn't tell my family what I was doing, so ANTICIPATING their reactions to what I made was part of the fun.

I was so glad when no one YAWNED at what I made. Woot!

SCOPING out all that I have allowed me to be creative and create more of my own recipes. Score!

Let's see what I made, shall we?

Smoothies-Berry, Fusion, Pina Colada

Sorbet-Berry & Pineapple

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Tinola (chicken broth with ginger)

Chicken with Root Veggies in Tomato Sauce

Crab Cakes

Lime Garlic Couscous

Steamed Veggies

Quiche

Palabok (Filipino noodle mix) with boiled eggs

Ganache for & with Cream Puffs

Omelette (Spinach, Eggplant & Tomato)

Steamed & Fried Rice

Spaghetti & Homemade Sauce

Lemonade

Nesquick & Hot Chocolate

Wow! Can you imagine all of that food just lurking around in my kitchen?

I challenge you to do the same; just take a good look everywhere, start pairing ingredients and see how many you can deliciously create!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's For Dinner?

Isn't this the age-old question of every household?

Well, it is mine and my friend Heather's as well. She has MS (and a spokesperson for Chronic Disease Fund), and is currently in a wheelchair which makes cooking very tiring and overwhelming; but her spunky and loveable nature have not been touched by this awful immune system attacker at all. LOVE HER!

Well, it was an honor to be asked again to help her put together a dinner menu using ONLY what she has in her pantry and fridge. It has to last a while and has to be varied enough for her picky son, Chase.

The last time we did this, she only had a 3-lb roaster chicken and whatever she had lying around. Well, I know I can meet this challenge since I did it before, but at her place...
We made 19 meals! Yes, 19! Including chicken noodle soup and fried rice!

Today, I brought some stuff for her to have on hand, and--

Today, we wanted her to focus on nutrition so in under 6 hours, we made...

Power Smoothie- no ice, no sugar (4 servings)

Berry Sorbet- frozen fruits, no sugar (3 servings)

Roast Beef with veggies (6-8 servings)

Beef Stew a la CAM (4-6 servings)

Creamy Potato Soup with Ham (4-6 servings)

Health-ier Meatloaf (ground beef & breakfast sausage) (4-6 servings)

Spaghetti Sauce (6-8 servings)

Baked Tilapia with Lime Butter Sauce (4 servings)

Green Beans & Tomatoes (3-4 servings)

We PLANNED the cooking day (not the menu), RAIDED her pantry, ASSEMBLED each meal according to cook time, YAMMERED happily about life and nutrition while we cooked, and SUCCESSFULLY made meals big enough to feed 3-4 people though there's only her and her son!

My angle, make meat the side dish, not the main item. You focus on the nutritious sides, and meat suddenly just becomes the flavoring!/

BERRY SORBET

1 C frozen blackberries

1/4 C POM Pomegranate blueberry juice

1/4 C frozen pineapples

1/2 fresh orange juice

1/4 fresh lime

Put all the frozen fruits at the bottom

Add the other ingredients and blend.

Put in a freezable lidded container and mix every 15 minutes to "fluff" the sorbet to keep it from freezing solid.


Til next time!




Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Learn to Grow...

... plants I mean! What, you thought I was gonna attack the topic of immaturity? Nah...

Now that we have a house, its care, beauty and updated look falls on just four shoulders, mine and my hubby's. Sure, our kids help, but the grunt work and maintenance, all ours...

Well, gardening, (as if it's not obvious) fell on my "Honey To-Do" list. Only one problem. I don't really do landscape gardening! I've had success with messing with petunia cross-pollination (Genetics 101) for color variety and hardiness and indoor potting adventures, but not a full on, permanent-until-I-pull-it-out gardening! Never! So yeah, I was nervous...

But I had a PLAN: Find dying plants, clean it up of its energy-sapping dead limbs and foliage and bring it home.

By getting dying plants, often deeply discounted, I have a REALISTIC view that if I can't maintain it, I'm only out a few dollars!

Once at home, I let them ACCLIMATE to their new environment by letting them sit in their pot for about 3 days with daily, almost drowning type of watering-it energizes them and roots starts to breathe again. I learned that in Biology and BHG!

Then, the YO-YO effect commences. Do I pot it or in ground? If pot, do I want it to "shoot up or bush out?" If in ground, will it fit with the growing needs of others, or will it be strangled by the other roots? (Hello, it's a process, people! That's why we have a whole science "branch" on just plants! LOL I made a pun!) :-)

So I sit and SURF the web for ideas and care tips so I don't have to be a practicing "Dr. Kavorkian" of the fauna world (poor orchid, ivy (all I tried), and diffenbecchias... I hope they're not too mad at me...). It's difficult on the ego more than you know! (Admit it, you agree! lol)

Indoors, I've taken on, FERNS, DIFFENBECCHIA, POTHOS, AND NOW, ORCHIDS, plural! (Yeah, me, orchids! Yep, must be a glutton for self-destruction. Ok, you can stop laughing!)
You've heard it before and it's true... NASA discovered that live plants indoors refresh oxygen you vitally need to stay healthy when you're home. Why? Here's a quick Botany 101-Plants use carbon dioxide for growth and development. When they are done, oxygen is the byproduct that gets released in the air! Ergo... (drum roll, please...) oxygen is replaced in its immediate area! But did you know that a small plant (6-8") can replenish the oxygen in a 100 sq. ft. of space? How much is that $5-7? And if you put in the time, you can grow a beautiful specimen for only pennies since you rescued it from the clearance prison!

Many of these plants, I bought in super tiny pots to save money and sanity.
I also learned not to give up on my plants that are struggling, this one above, moved with me from AZ!
My clearance and transplant finds... Even the pots, are deeply discounted.

Being Asian and having grown up in a Subtropical climate, this info is "duh!"-we use plants indoors as part of everyone's cheap decor! Plus, part of our cleaning routine, unless it's storming or during a heavy rainfall? Is to open windows, all of them! It's funny, many of us, admire tropical places because of their display of lush foliage, even indoors. Just think about it, you invite the sun in the morning & afternoon, and refresh the air thru windows and doors and you'll probably grow a lot of plants indoors, too!

Though I'm a bundle of nerves in tackling our "Operation Tropical Paradise" on the front yard, I know that if I arm myself with great information, I not only save countless lives of those surely doomed plants (wishful thinking), but I also learn, at the least, a new skill I can perfect each time I dig up that dirt...

So grab those trowels, gloves and watering cans (or hoses, your choice)! You have a lawn to beautify and plant lives to save!

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Season, Same Attitude

What do I mean by that? Simple! It means that seasons may change, but your attitude about saving and sensibility should be the same.

Fall and Winter hold many of the major holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's.

Celebration often equates to extra money being spent, but if in the face of excessive events, we still use moderation and creativity, we can truly be enjoying the holidays and the people we share it with.

Here are some tips I gleaned from browsing the internet:

PREPARE both your budget and your body for the event. Weigh your options of the different types of party you're committing to.

RESEARCH recipes that are quick, easy and inexpensive. That way, doubling the servings won't hurt your bottomline.

ALLOW for the unexpected. Sometimes, guests will surprise you. So having an "all types of guests" friendly menu can include all. Designate on the invite who are invited so no one assumes otherwise.

YEARN for a great time, not perfection. If you can't keep your eye on your guests to entertain them, your party is a flop.

SIMPLIFY the menu. If you can't remember it, neither will your guests. Also, designate what kind of party so they can attend appropriately.

As I do a lot of FAMILY style SIT DOWN dinner parties, I save time and money by not worrying about extra napkins and cleaning afterwards. I also ask for them to bring something to kick the party off to a great start!

What's your best and economical party tricks?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Money Is Just Not There

Good Housekeeping dot com

How do you deal with" very little" or "no money" situations?

I just read one of my friend Lara's post on how they managed a summer of no paychecks and it's amazing how when money's not a problem since it's not there, people get creative and become happier and more talented, if not wiser in the end. I, too, share that sentiment.

We've had our financial throw-downs over the past decade. But somehow, we have always managed. How?

We always PRAY for help. It gives us courage and open mind to rethink our situation and not let it overwhelm us. Back in 2004, when Mr. Man lost his well-paying job and had to be a cashier at a resort, our pleas brought us the decision to move to Mesa, AZ and he went back to school. Most of our school loan surplus went to paying the rent and electric bill during the hot spring and summer months! (you know I'm not exaggerating! AZ spring time is very warm and summers are brutal!) With coupons and careful math, our fridge, freezers, pantry, linen closet and room closet were full of what we needed. I was able to stock up diapers for my son and even help out a family for two full meals when their electricity went out due to a failure.

REINVENTING uses of what we do have help to stretch our dollars and creativity. Plus we get to spend more time together as a family. Our mentality of FREE is the best price for everything keeps us patient and courageous enough to ask for things that others discarded. We've also instituted the idea of "if we can spend money, we can find money". Ever heard of dumpster diving? Mr. Man, a total fan if there's a worthwhile coupon to hunt down.

ACCOMMODATING needs first have helped us focus on what's important and to live within our means. We have a needs list that we renew every year and is prioritized accordingly. We talk and research and then we wait. We even time our school shopping during tax-free days, money for shopping and deep clearance times to make sure our small budget hauls in big budget finds. Our children give up old clothes and shoes to be donated for new ones twice a year. It helps them hold on to their clothes longer and not have the "gimmes" in the store. "Gimme" whines are simply not allowed.


YOUR choices make a difference. During one extra lean year, I chose to hold a daycare for extra income and play the coupon game aggressively so that our cupboards never emptied, and it didn't! I ended up getting mostly free food and was able to use our then $20-a-week food budget towards other necessities that normally have coupons. We also no longer do gift-giving at Christmas time. Back in 2007, when Mr. Man's paycheck didn't even cover outside of our rent and car payment, we were blessed with amazing support from family, church members and friends. Miracles poured in left and right. We decided that we would focus the month of December in showing our gratitude to He who made our lives intact while living on practically nothing for 6 months. From that decision stemmed the January Shopping Spree where we save up $1 a day and use it in January for a "whole day shopping spree" of individual and family gifts, a movie and lunch.

We also make it a point to SAVE items with multipurpose potential for household "last minute" ideas and money from change, found coins and any extra from paychecks. We stick to a small budget and take advantage of unbelievable deals on items on our needs list. We literally celebrate when the bank is not screaming for us to pay any fees or when we have enough for an emergency dinner during a hectic night of "school functions".

I've learned that when we follow moderation and sensibility, our financial stress level does not go up (or even make a tiny hiccup) and we reap the benefits of being DIO (Do It Ourselves) people. We emphasize quality over quantity so that most projects are done once. I consult my pantry carefully for dinner time and always remind myself that we have enough food for the day.

So, how do you deal with your lean years?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Food Storage Spotlight- Oils


EVOO, Canola, Vegetable, Corn, Peanut, Butter, Lard...

They all have their place in our kitchen repertoire. Now it's up to us to store enough so that when there's an emergency and water is scarce for boiling, we can still bake and fry enough food until we can secure water.

It is best to understand that oils are both good and bad for you. But in moderation, they offer, Vitamin E, belly fat busting benefits such as Omega fats 3 & 6.

Sites like Nutra Ingredients dot com endorses mixing oils to harness the most benefits and books like Flat Belly Diet touts that with the right oils and fats, you can start to target belly fat that is quite harmful to your overall posture and heart health. Butters can be home made from whipping cream and block butter harden and can be frozen.

As with your other Food Storage,
-PICK the oils you wish to store and will use.
-RESEARCH best containment for long storage.
-ASSIGN an area where oils are far from variable temperature to secure freshness.
-YIELD oil amount to water amount storage. Water is more important to secure, inspect and rotate.
-STORE oil bottles in plastic containers to catch any spills that may happen during rotation.

This is from LDS. org about oils:

Storing Fats and Oils

Oscar A. Pike, “Storing Fats and Oils,” Ensign, June 1999, 71–73

Anyone who stores cooking oil knows how quickly it can develop “off” odors and flavors, a state called rancidity. An understanding of the causes of rancidity and proper storage conditions can help us enhance the storage life of cooking oil and other foods containing fat.

Some populations throughout the world obtain too many of their calories from fat and are striving to limit dietary fat. Nevertheless, we all need some fat in our diet from the standpoint of nutrition and taste. With respect to nutrition, certain fats are required in the diet for growth and good health, and fat is the “carrier” for certain essential vitamins. Regarding taste, many of the textures and flavors of foods that make eating enjoyable are attributable to, or carried by, the fat.

Storage conditions that affect the deterioration of fats, oils, and food in general are summarized in the acronym HALT: Humidity, Air, Light, and Temperature. Reducing exposure to humidity, air, light, and warm temperatures will prolong storage life. Proper food packaging can reduce or eliminate moisture, air, and light. Newly opened oil should be left in its original container or be placed in a clean container, since even a small amount of old oil mixed with fresh oil will hasten rancidity. Temperature dramatically affects the storage life and quality of fats and oils. Some fats, such as butter or margarine, can be frozen to prolong storage time. All fats, oils, and foods containing fat keep better in a cool area of a house, such as a basement.

Fats and oils vary in their ability to store for prolonged periods. Generally, shortening can be stored for several years, whereas cooking oil must be rotated more frequently. The storage life of fats and oils and foods containing them varies widely for several reasons: (1) storage conditions differ, (2) expiration dates differ, (3) most food products contain a mixture of different kinds of fats that vary in stability, and (4) individual consumers differ in their ability to tolerate rancidity. What may taste acceptable to one person may taste unacceptable to another. However, almost everyone can detect rancidity when only a very small amount of fat or oil has deteriorated. Thus foods containing even less than 1 percent of fat or oil can have a reduced storage life because of rancidity.

Food storage rotation, important in avoiding rancidity, is easier when we buy and store the types of foods we are accustomed to eating. In the United States, an average adult consumes each year the following approximate amounts of dietary fat in these various forms: 24 pounds in cooking and salad oils and mayonnaise-type dressings; 23 pounds in shortening and frying fats; 20 pounds of dietary fat from meat, poultry, fish, and cheese; and 13 pounds in butter, margarine, peanut butter, and other foods.

Obviously an ideal list of what everyone must store does not exist. Differences among countries, cultures, climates, and individual preferences require flexibility in food storage. Still, an understanding of the causes of food deterioration and proper storage conditions is helpful in maintaining quality food storage.—Oscar A. Pike, associate professor of food science, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah


Once you understand that oils are entirely your enemy, you can easily add them to your Emergency Food Storage knowing that with moderation, fried foods or salads have endless selection!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Decorating on a Budget

Do you find yourself in this situation?
-You have more design or idea magazines than furniture that you actually like?
-You have more ideas than pieces that you can afford?

Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.

PICK out pieces you like from all sources until you have a style in mind.

REDUCE your choices until it is manageable and you can visualize them in your space. Incorporate what you already have to further reduce cost.

ARRANGE your pieces according to what room you wish to start in.

YOUR eyes are your best tool; keep on the lookout for deals on the pieces, on a great deal, that are very similar to your choices. Do not get stuck in exactness; similar lines give off the same feel without damaging your wallet too much.

START pairing your choices and ideas with paint samples to best show them off once you've gathered enough to start a room redo.

We got our new house back in March. Our Family Room looked like this- white and blah
By starting to place items that might work, the idea solidified in our heads. So we got started...

Here's our (almost) finished Family Room:
We wanted a Tropical Jungle feel. Deep in the jungle where the sun doesn't reach much.

We first decided on paint colors that would give us that feel. To eliminate claustrophobia, we painted the far wall a deep red to give that tunnel like effect to give depth. I kept the greens to the plants to further emphasize the tropical feel.

Paint-Lowe's with 10% off coupon. Red and Camel
Sofa-JC Penney; 60% off plus extra 10% coupon
Lamp bases- Lowes; Clearance $17 each / shades-40% off
Live plants and pots-Home Depot; 50% off
Orchids-Michael's 2009; 50% off
Mirrors-Ross 2008; $10 each
Curtains-Walmart; $10 each
Turtle Prints- JC Penny Outlet-70% off + 10% off on Tuesdays
Vases-Ross; $5 each
Bookcases-Ikea; 40% off
Books- Half Price Books; on clearance for another 50% off
English table with tropical feel-JC Penney; 80% off + $10 off
Ferns-Walmart; $3.50 each
Asian pot-Friend; FREE /stand-Arizona 2002; $10
Candles-Ikea; $10/3


Even designers go through much research in finding just that right piece to bring out the theme of the room without being too loud or garrish.

With a sharp eye on deals for pieces you absolutely want, you can soon enjoy the room you've always envisioned. Happy designing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Two?

Just two. Ingredients that is!

Panda Pork Chops

3 lbs. pork chops, cut thick ones in half to thin it out
Panda Express Orange Sauce (Costco or Panda Express)

Cut and rinse out the chops. Lay out into a glass baking dish. Pour over some the sauce and spread it all over the chops. Cover tight with foil. Put dish in cold over then set @ 350F for 1 hour. After 1 hour, poke holes on foil to release some steam and bake for 15 more minutes.

The result is some of the most tender pork chops you'll ever have!
(Sorry I have no pics... The kiddos dove in as soon as it hit the table... Maybe next time!)

PULL recipes that you can REINVENT with lesser ingredients but do ATTUNE your new dish with those the family's accustomed to. That way, you'll guarantee some YIPPEES! and big SMILES!

More great tips next time!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Yahoo + Walmart = Dinner Choices

Yep, Yahoo has an article presented by Walmart about some great dinner choices for the week.

Check it out then apply the PRAYS philosophy to further stretch those dollars and culinary imagination. The name of the game is find, improve and save!


PERUSE media for easy recipes. READ thru for any conflicting ingredients; i.e. allergies, cost. ASSIGN each dish for a better day on the week. YOU are in control; therefore, SUBSTITUTION of all kinds is totally up to you.

Using what you already have while rotating your stores is a sure way to be more pleased with the dish that is now your very own recipe!

For example, back in 2006, I had all these Asian spices that prompted me to create my own sauce. I marinated chicken in it overnight. I came up with Sweet Asian Chicken that is still a great crowd pleaser.

This week, while looking up some Hawaiian dishes for a themed dinner I'm hosting, I came across HULI HULI CHICKEN which to my surprise, uses the same ingredients I have in my sauce! The only difference in my recipe, lemon juice!

Just that discovery alone made me feel like a real chef since the same dish have been feeding a whole island for centuries! Wow!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Just Do It!

Happy MET MONDAY to all! Yay, I get to join in again today!

Thanks much to our host Susan of Between Naps on the Porch and for all of you for stopping by.

Oftentimes, it's easier to find a pro or expert to get the job done.

But honestly, where's the fun in that? First, you blow all that money away and all you get to do is choose and wait until it's all done. (Ok, I know that's fun and easy, but you can't outdo being your own Michaelangelo or Rembrandt of your landscape.)

I've been gardening-both indoors and out. But with summer being still too hot, I have to wait until the cover of night to get things done. The other hold up, bugs!

But, gardening takes PLANNING, RESEARCH, ASSESSMENT areas of YARD and once you've done all that, you can then START your vision of your desired landscape!

Here's the BEFORE picture of our front door. See the purple? Totally F-A-K-E!!! The previous owners did not really tend to the yard and often blamed the wind for the dead plants they often end up with. The ground cover is some climbing vine that over run the area and choked the soil.

Also, the main plants around were crepe myrtles, bush and trees alike, pinks- 3 shades! I think enough is enough don't you?
My vision started with wanting a Tropical Landscape; so what's more of an obvious landscape emblem?

Hibiscus of course! I found these big pots of red ones at Walmart for $3, yep, $3! I got two...
My urns were first there and I got these Ixoras at Lowe's a few months ago and are barely holding their own. In the Philippines, a SE tropical country, Ixoras are called Santans and I loved picking these flowers as their nectar is quite sweet.
And so far, here's what my entry looks like. What do you think? Am I headed in the right direction? I did all of these myself. I have the sweat, dirt and back pains to prove it!
I can't wait to add some spider plants, ferns, succulents and some climbing vines.

Start envisioning and with all that savings from not needing extra labor, you can start to enjoy some great accessories and a congratulatory drink! In my case, a nice cold pina colada!

What are your gardening projects?

Food Storage Spotlight: BEANS

Picture from Cooking Light dot com


Here are some great recipes I came across and can't wait to try myself this Fall--







We all have dried beans stored away. From various reasons and seasons. But most of us, don't know how to cook them. Well, this Fall, why don't you "healthy up" and "cozy up" with your savings by using this wonder food- protein, vitamin and fiber packed!

Here's what I got from RWood dot com: (click on the link) Let's use these tips together and enjoy our other protein source without the guilt!

No need for meat at all, but a few sprinklin's of Spam or bacon, these dishes will win anyone!

So, which bean recipe got you all warmed up inside?

Pantrys Need Love, too!

This is from our old residence when we organized our upstairs Linen Closet-turned-Food Pantry; back in March 2009.

Our main problem: Our kids help us fill this closet and a very busy household.
Our incentive: We were starting a 10-day NO EATING OUT or SHOPPING.

Well, we got the pantry organized tonight. Thanks to my great hubby, Mr. Man!

Some befores:



This is just right before we got started in reinforcing some shelves... We had to take stuff out as you can see...


This is my "oh-so" gorgeous hubby making sure those shelves will stay put. There he is testing out the new layout... Almost done!


And the afters! Doesn't my pantry look ready for a 10-day raid? Mr. Man did such a great job, "thank you, Mahal!"
Above is the left side where we put the cans and heavy stuff, and below is the right side where the lighter stuff now resides! And look, an empty container! Yay!

One of our children have many food allergies and maintaining a strict "hide the nuts" policy have to start in this closet for his safety. Making each inventory more visible and accessible, our son can help grab stuff out without any danger of being exposed to any nuts. Thank goodness he's not "nuts dust" allergic-purely skin contact and direct ingestion.
I'm off to tweak the menu for the week as we found a lot of goodies we'd rather eat! We're off to a good start with our family project!

NOW TO THE PRESENT...

As you can see in the pictures, the pantry is full of things we eat and use. It housed both our Food Storage, Everyday Stock and Non-Food Items. Since it was the only closet for all of our needs, we decided to be really organized about the space.

We partitioned using FREQUENCY, PURPOSE, STORAGE, TEMPERATURE SENSITIVITY. (it is upstairs so naturally, it is a bit warmer). Food Storage on the bottom and back shelves, Everyday Stock in middle shelves while non-food items are up top since we have our children help us bring stuff up and down this closet.

So, we... PONDERED about our needs and space. Then we REDESIGNED to have easier ACCESS for even two people. We no longer had to YANK what we needed at the higher shelves since we place a step stool inside and since we were set on a 10-day shopping hiatus, this new setup, made our experience SIMPLE and SUCCESSFUL!

Good luck to your own organization projects!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Smoothie for Every Wallet

Yep, it's a smoothie that anyone can afford! And you don't even have to go to a local dive.

This recipe has always come to about only $5.00 for 2 full blender pitchers or 4 Liters!


Most likely if not already on hand:
Crushed pineapple or Frozen OJ- 1 can
Honey- 2 tbsp
Milk- 2 cups
Ice- 2 cups

Fruits to get:
Any berries in season- 1 container each

For example, I bought strawberries and organic blueberries-total $4.50

Recipe:
Wash berries and take off tops of strawberries.
Line up all the other ingredients.
Half all the ingredients per blender use.
Blend fruits, juice, honey, milk and ice until well mixed.
Enjoy all the great nutrients for you and several friends.

Yield- 4 Liters or (33.8 ounces x 4= 135.2 oz. /8= 17)

Considering a typical drinking glass is about 8 ounces, you can have up to 16 friends to share with! Since I already have the stuff from my previous smoothies, this time it only cost me $4.50!

So that makes it 4.50/17 = ONLY .27 each glass!

PRAYS execution:
PURCHASE produce in season for smoothies. RESEARCH easy recipes to fit your budget. ALLOT other ingredients you don't use up for your next batch to reduce cost. Look for different YUMMY combos for every season. STAY within you smoothie budget by watching out for great sales of the season or opting for frozen fruits.

Seasonal fruits are both fresh and economical so go ahead, indulge and stay healthy at the same time!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kroger Deals- Something FREE

Have you a Kroger grocery store where you are? If so, you are lucky. Why, because they do this "Buy these Get these FREE" promos on a weekly basis.

This week, the deal was Buy a Fajita meat and Caesar Salad kit for $8, get Real bacon bits, a reusable bag, a baguette and croutons for FREE- total $7

So for only $15, I only had to pay $8 and I have a real meal or two to make, but in my case, about three.

-Beef Fajitas and Rice with black beans
-Spaghetti with baguette, Caesar Salad and croutons
-Omelette with bacon bits and spinach

Since I already had all these other ingredients in my pantry and fridge as staples, all these dishes still will just cost me, $8!

PRAYS execution:

PRICE the value of the deal. Will it be a good fit to your normal menu line-up?
ROTATE new purchase with ingredients on hand for the weekly menu.
ASK yourself if this deal can work again. If not, don't get it next time.
YOU should use the new ingredients soon for taste testing with the family.
SET ASIDE the money you saved, put the money in a jar and let those savings rack up!
Bold

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eye On Deals

Tonight, though still recovering from major travel fatigue and lack of sleep, we hit the grocery stores to replenish our milk and fruit supplies.

But, as you know, with school just around the corner, deals are everywhere! Such as this:

Kraft Cheeses- Buy 5 Save $5 (You get $5 off next shopping trip)
Kroger Promo- Buy 10 Save $5 (Regularly $2.38 each; Buy 10-$1.88 each)

Right in front of the cheese aisle was the auto coupon dispenser for $1 off 2 pkgs. of Kraft items

So, I bought 10 bags. Here, cheese goes fast so it was already a great deal.

Let's calculate our savings shall we?

$1.88 x 10= $18.80 - $5 coupon= $13.80-$10 NST coupons= $3.80 / 10= .38 (cents) a bag!

PRAYS execution:

PAY attention to the in-store deals. REDISTRIBUTE grocery budget to accommodate unexpected but great deals. Meaning, if you borrow extra money, take off that amount from your next grocery trip. ALIGN your menu to incorporate extra food items bought. YEARN no more for those dishes that can use what you bought. Use and indulge. You were able to afford it this time. STRETCH the deal further by mixing up your menu with items you already have on hand.

Another post up, another dollar saved. Gotta love that!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Little Price, Big Impact!


I knew I wanted some privacy drapes for our back door, but the first green one I grabbed from Wal-Mart just didn't cut it. I spent $10 for 2, but when it got dark, the kitchen was still pretty visible from the outside.

One day, we were roaming around in another Wal-Mart and since it was being renovated, they had all kinds of stuff on clearance! Even some of the draperies! I came across this one and it was normally $10, marked down to $3.50! I took it immediately and hoped for another one. No such luck!

As it turned out, I didn't need it! After trying it out the first night, I couldn't see anything clear enough from the outside! So I immediately returned the first two I used and got my money back.

I POUNCED on a great deal. I REALIZED its extra potential (backdoor was not the original spot it was intended for). I ALLOWED for flexibility. I thought of colors for both Feng Shui and the YELLOW that was already in the kitchen. I SOLVED a problem with extra money in my pocket!

With the summer heat, the red actually is dark enough to help cool the kitchen. Awesome!

Patience is Vital

Have you ever noticed that when you exhibit self-control, things and situations tend to sort themselves out? That's the reward of patience. My incredibly patient (and hot) husband has been my great teacher and our children have never gone without.

Since I started working back when I was 16, spending my hard-earned money was always a non-issue. Saving it was easy and I just focused on working. While I wasn't a money hoarder, no store can ever claim me as their "favorite and loyal customer" either. LOL

Now that I have a family, patience in stretching any little money we had was definitely a battle I didn't want to lose.

I use PATIENCE in deciding everything, even our needs. I prioritize then purchase. For example, clothes and shoes are not for others' approval, they are for comfort and modesty. It's clearance or nothing. My children are not allowed to have a say in what they wear until they are about 12.

I have RE-TRAINED my thinking to ask two more questions for things that catch my eye. If I cannot find two extra reasons to buy something, I put it back.

I ALWAYS weigh my options. What do I need or want it for in my life?

I only say YES to items or services that provide major impact in our little budget.

I opt for SAVINGS over immediate gratification so most of what we own are FREE or Clearance items.

With a little restraint and ingenuity, I have adapted my food and household budget to what we can afford, to enjoy both what we need and want. I've tried to live like a budget-less gourmet, but always ended up with a pauper's pantry.

Patience has served us well; often only exercising a bit of restraint before finding our "wants" marked down to an incredible deal!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Listen to Wal-Mart

Remember seeing those ads by the retail giant about eating in related to great savings? Well, it's true!

Though restaurants make it seem so convenient and generous, what you pay to eat out, dramatically outweighs any savings you may accumulate in the long run if you eat in more.

Using PRAYS, choose wisely and PLAN your restaurant indulging. Even a quick lunch will hurt your bottom line if done too many times. RESTORE your fridge and pantry's appeal by cleaning it out and buying foods you eat for lunch and dinner. Be AWARE that your money can and should be like a YO-YO and STRETCH to the next paycheck.

So, with that in mind, Wal-Mart hit it on the nose. So visit one with your lunch and dinner menu list and see that dollar reeeeee-aaaach!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Salad & Gooey Brownies

Nothing says YUMMY than a fresh and nutritious salad and brownies that melt in your mouth.

Using PRAYS, I PURCHASED just what I needed like basil and the eggs I didn't have. REINVENTING the recipes, I got exactly the results I wanted. I also APPOINTED the time that I would make them to not use too much electricity. After both came out perfectly, I said YES to keeping them into the recipe vault in my head and SAVORED the fruits of my labor!

Summer Pasta Salad- all it required were olive oil, lemon juice, basil, tomatoes, garlic salt and black pepper. You cook the pasta, and make the dressing separately. If you don't have shaved parmesan cheese, you can use any cheese that you normally eat outside of processed cheese slices, of course. We love Laughing Cow wedges here so that's what we used for this salad.

I feel so good that when I came across this recipe in the newspaper, I was only missing the basil. So I only had to pay $2.65 for a great summer dish!

This afternoon, we decided to have brownie cupcakes. I didn't have to buy anything but a dozen eggs to accomodate the two I needed and spent only $1.35! But I also do not like to dirty my pans so I always watch cupcake liners on clearance after any big holiday. But instead of the suggested baking time, on the box, I cut it down to only 15 minutes, then I let it cool down for 15 more on a rack. The result is a gooey brownie cupcakes rivaling a molten lava cake!
So see, if you stock up your pantry well, you can come up with amazing dishes and quick desserts that won't burn a hole in your wallet!

Two dishes, for only $4.00! Anyone can afford that, right? Right!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Food Storage- LDS Style

Essential-Architecture.com


You might as well know, I am a Mormon. Well pleased of it and lovin' every minute. In our belief, we endorse and practice provident living.

Meaning we are taught to live within our means and stay out of unnecessary debt.

"But living providently is more than just putting aside food for future need. It encompasses all areas of life. If we want to face the future with confidence and peace of mind, we must prepare ourselves in six areas: literacy and education, career development, financial and resource management, home production and storage, physical health, and social-emotional and spiritual strength. When we strive to prepare in each of these areas, we can enjoy peace of mind as we face the uncertainties of the future."- Liahona, 1987; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

So today, I'll be sharing what we do for our food storage.

We have a guideline for basic nutrition for 1 adult for 1 month or a year, depending on what we need if there is ever a need for it.

OILS- Canola, Extra Virgin Olive, Corn.

BEANS- Store and use what you eat or learn new easy recipes to boost your nutritious mix

PASTA & GRAINS- Most are easy to cook

SUGARS- Honey and regular, but if you can afford others, go for it.

FLOUR- All sorts if you're not allergic to gluten

SALT

CANNED Meats, Veggies, Fruits

POWDERED Milk, Juice

WATER (see recommendation)

The point is... Though we have similar basic nutritional needs, we are still in control of what we can add to the basics.

In addition to above, my family and I add a lot of other noodles that can extend our pasta and grains. Mung and rice noodles are healthy choices.

We add snacks that having staying power like pudding, crackers, and dried fruits.

We have extra spices like turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, garlic and onion powder to ensure flavor.

Cereals are in abundance.

Since we often eat these additional stuff, we don't create too much waste. But since we have a lot of them, our pantry does seem cluttered most of the time. LOL

So, we PICK our add-ons. We go to Costco twice a year to REPLENISH. We then ALLOT for storage and for daily use. We assess YEARLY if an item or items are not making the cut and SLEEP better knowing that we are prepared-somewhat.




Before the Market, Open Your Pantry

(Photo courtesy of Healthline.com)

Back in the Philippines, where I'm from, pantry is a luxury. Often, our excess non-perishable items are just on simple shelves. Unless of course, you have the means to have what we enjoy here in the U.S.

So often, we head to the market knowing exactly what what we want to eat and when. In more rural or poor areas, we go both before lunch and just before dinner so fresh food is actually, well, fresh!

Back to now and here in the U.S. Modern thinking led us to big massive containment. Both for saving time, gas and money. Well, if we look at it, are we really saving on all these three big factors of our lives?

Let's look at that, shall we? (I'm guilty of this, too as well as my husband)

We often get things we don't really need that only sounded great at the time or someone else convinced us to get it.
We don't organize our current stock so that we have an idea of exactly what we have therefore no time to organize what we can do with them.
We make a lot of food but don't really like eating it all or we eat it all within a few days and we're back to square one of not having enough.
We make too many excuses!

I've learned during lean times that change has to start with how I use what I already have before thinking I can afford what the stores offer.

So... I've learned to PORTION, REINVENT, ALLOCATE, YAMMER for ideas, and finally SOLVE my problems of what to do with what I already have!

Who Knew You Can Find Money, too?

From April 5, 2010 Family Blog:


(Photo courtesy of Finance with AFP)

When it comes to money, I prefer earning and saving over spending anytime. Am I a miser, some may say that but of course with a family, even being a miser is not always feasible.

So... I've made sure that I find money, too! Yep, I find them! Meaning, I look at all the deals and promos out there-not ignoring any mail that comes in with offers.

For example, in mid-March, we've researched and researched the price ranges of the style of refrigerators (french doors, freezer bottom) I wanted. When the time came, I even considered buying the classic style (two doors, freezer top) to stretch our budget, but by sharing this idea with a good friend of mine, she referred me to a Sears Outlet Store that mainly dabbles in appliances.

We looked around the refrigerators and making sure not to resort to "need to pee-pee" dance like movements, I quietly approached MY fridge. The one that I've been hoping to be able to afford for years now. Brand spanking NEW! As in "just came from the manufacturer assembly line, but got rejected so it ended up in the outlet NEW!" The inside smelled of styrofoam, plastic and tape because the whole inside was filled with them! So cool!

And for $1,000 LESS. SAVED MONEY!
I was able to use that money to pay for NEEDS that popped up like new clothing for school and work and shoes for school and prom plus AP tests, my graduation pictures, Spring pictures, lunch money and various moving expenses AND NOT BREAK THE BANK!

Then, we came across a bank offer of $125 for opening a new account with a minimum and direct deposit. So we did. In 3 weeks, that account will be $125 fatter. FOUND MONEY!

Kohl's had a TAX-FREE, 20% off for $100 or more purchase AND $10 for every $50 spent promo from April 1-3. We took advantage of that and saved tons of money for clothes and shoes, plus earned $20 in Kohl's Cash for me! FOUND MONEY!

Tonight, while picking up the mail from our house, we came across a store offer of $5 giftcard to invite my business. Then we realized that we haven't checked our apartment's mailbox. Sure enough, there's one there, too! Mr. Man "dumpster dived" to see if there are more that others foolishly threw away. Yep, three more! A total of $25 giftcards. FOUND MONEY!

The kids all had great report cards and high A's in their recent TAKS practice tests, homeworks, and projects so we treated them to Souper Salad. I had a coupon! One for "Kids Eat FREE (normally $6.39 each) for every paying adult" and the other for, "$5.99 AYCE (regularly $7.25)". We made sure we all ate "well and healthily" and... made room for some soft serve. We saved a total of $14.05! SAVED MONEY!

In the same mail stash at our house, was the new debit card for our new account, in it was an offer of $30 cash just for enrolling the card number into a program to get you started in online bill pay. And you only have to pay 3 bills to earn it! Guess what?! I have three bills to pay by the end of the month! So before April 30, that new account will have an additional $30! FOUND MONEY!

How are you doing with your money hunting? I hope you'll be as lucky as I am!

Here, we used the PRAYS philosophy by first, PUTTING together a budget and PERUSING ads for incentives. We RESEARCHED and RESERVED the good deals for when we can use them, ASSIGNED and ASCERTAINED our decisions. We also YIELDED to what our extra funds really is (minus bills, tithes and necessities) then SURPRISED ourselves with all the deals we got to enjoy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Living On Less- Some Tips

From March 19, 2009

Often, we don't have any PARTICULAR reason why we handle our money the way we do. When in truth, we should RESPECT money and know the impact it has on our well-being. When we have an ANGLE, we can YAWN our way to restful living since having left overs bring SANITY.


I've been reading up on some of my AZ friends' blogs about Food Storage and living on less. As I somewhat experienced this more than twice (early marriage, job loss, pregnancy expenses, moving squeeze...), I'd like to share some of the things that worked for us.

Coupons are your friend. Don't use these when it's convenient, use it because you want to see your piggy bank get fat! If you calculate all those $1 off ones on those you normally use, that you threw away every week, you'd realize that you are at least $300 poorer!

Stock up on non food items during easier times. This is self explanatory; it is easier to buy necessities on sale when you have the money to stretch your budget than trying to stretch it with non-Gro items because you ran out. Most non-Gro items are rarely ever on sale when you need it.

Make room. Indulge only when you can afford it, and only after you stock up on your needs. Believe me when I tell you, when it comes to good clearance finds, even 1% of your meager good year, can go a long way. Also, stock up to share, the blessings are incalculable.

Gauge your stock between short and long term. If you're in a location for only 6 months, DO NOT buy 2 year's worth of stock. Buy enough with enough extra for just in case, but not waste. 'Nuff said.

Buy packed food items you NORMALLY eat. If you don't eat it, why have it hanging around in your pantry? If it's still there after a year or so, it just becomes a reminder that you wasted your money. If you got it FREE, give it away, blessings come to those who share...

90% need, 10% want. If you are stocking up, go for things that you know you will use spiced up with some things that you want. It is very easy to feel tired of the same things, but the "wants" make it more interesting. For example, we stock up on Cheerios a lot because it's nutritious and versatile, but we also get the Multi-grain and/or Honey Nut to stretch out our stock and add a little sweetness to the mix for the kids and not use up our sugar.

Get powdered. Powdered milk and juices are great in a pinch for instances of needing to choose between milk, juice or gas money.

Drink up! There had been an article or two about keeping dehydration at bay if you just eat foods with soup or broth on top of drinking your daily ration of beverage. So, to stretch your dollars during the lean times, use broth to perk up pasta, noodles and rice dishes. Even your breads will get a second life just by dunking it in broth, so stock up on water and different stocks! Have very little stock, add 1-2 cups of water and some veggies and create a whole new stock!

Half Off. I extended my meat recipes just by cutting them in half and chopping them into cubes. So during lean times, I don't make lasagnas or any recipes asking for more than 5 items or a lot of meat.

Salt is Gold. If you salt your meats first, the flavor spreads better in dishes. A quarter of a small onion can also do enough flavoring, if you saute it with meat and a little salt as salt draws out moisture, the flavor mix easier.

Can the Greens. Find as many different canned veggies as you can THAT YOU EAT so that when you are strapped for some Lincoln greens, you have the canned ones to still feast on.

Ask yourself twice. If you see something you want, ask yourself what you'll do with it then add two more reasons. If you can't come up with two, YOU DON'T WANT IT THAT BAD. Put it back!

One is plenty. You can make a whole dish with four ingredients of 1/4 cups of onion, veggies and 1/4 pound of meat plus 1 package of pasta and 1 cup of water or broth. I've fed my family of five with this exact measurements.

Brace for the downpour. If we pay our tithings, we increase our faith and contentment. Place the same faith in your budget by putting away 1/2 to 1% of your income in a savings a month. For any bonus, put away more. There was an article about the significant difference of putting away two quarters a day. That totals to $182.50 a year! How much more if you can put away just $1 or $5 a day! And do not ignore any coins, just like a drop of oil is insignificant on its own, a jar of coins can easily add up to get you from point A to point B and back! I sent my husband to work several times on a jar of collected coins!

Bills are non-negotiable. Though most places will accept a 50-75% payment arrangement, remember that your budget should include bills every month and not seasonal shoes or purses or that hobby you started once.

Hope these tips can help you; I have a family of five, one of which is a son with food allergies.

A Tale of Three Toilets


What?! I went from Food to Toilets? Am I insane? NO! The PRAYS philosophy is sound here as well...

We found this house near our old apartment back in March. It is currently 20 years old. As expected some of the plumbing need to be checked and re-checked. With three children in a two-story abode, water disasters are bound to happen. Couple that with old plumbing, well...

So we made a decision. Back in May, to take advantage of all the tax credits for energy and water efficiency, we decided to change out our toilets first before the fixtures.

We PRICED out all possibles places, REALIZED Costco had the best deal @ $98 a complete piece, ASSIGNED each purchase per room priority, YEARNED for the next paycheck that can allow us the purchase, and SAVED a minimum of $156 over the cheapest competition! And... since it has the Water Sense logo on the boxes, they qualify for the tax break! Yes!

The first one and also the first installation of Mr. Man, went to the Master Bath, then the upstairs Bath. The third one, is still awaiting his glory to replace his water guzzling counterpart.

Too Many Veggies?

No problem! Combine them into your own stir-fry! Who says stir-fry has to have baby corn and carrots alone or even the standard broccoli?

In the vein of USING WHAT YOU HAVE, don't forget that WASTE OR WASTING is the worst "cuss" word in the food world. In our fast-paced nature, it is more prevalent to use what's available before the dreaded "gunkies" take over, even in the fridge! Or else, you go broke!

Here's an example:

Two weeks ago, I visited our local Asian market and fell in love with practically all the fresh produce. On top of that, we found some great deal on produce at Wal-Mart! Next thing I know, we were headed to Utah and my fridge is groaning from being invaded by the GREENS!

Bless my fridge, it's one of those newer models and it kept these nutritious beauties fresh! So, since I am not, I repeat, am not a recipe person, I once again decided to experiment!

I found in my freezer the $4 chopped up beef from Wal-Mart that I separated into two PORTIONs. Then I looked at my veggies and found my bokchoy and broccoli. Then I remembered I had some shallots in the dining room fruit holder. But I wanted something crunchy, so I looked and looked until I found some red potatoes underneath my kitchen towels in a deep drawer of my island!

Pretty RESOURCEFUL, huh? I also, ALLOTED the broccoli and bokchoy to be used for another great dish. Then I YANKED my brain into what dish I want out of it. Voila! STIR-FRY!

So, knowing I don't want the typical stir-fry, I didn't use much oil and stirred the chopped meat until they are cooked. I set them aside. Then, I sauteed the sliced medium shallot and quartered potatoes and stirred. I then decided to give it a little sauce so I used 1 tsp. soy sauce and water each. Then I remembered that Mr. Man picked up some of the Panda Orange Sauce from our last Costco trip, so I added a tsp. of that with some garlic powder. I put the lid on and I let the potatoes tenderize from the steam for 7-10 minutes and then I added the meat back in, then the broccoli and bokchoy next. I put the lid on for about 7 minutes on med-low heat then stirred the whole thing until the meat and veggies were covered with the sauce.

I steamed some rice that I always have on hand and had ice water.


How did it taste? My oldest said- "Mommy, this tastes like the teriyaki beef (which she loved) at the Asian restaurant we went to but yours tasted much better."

The next day, my friend came over and we shared the left over and she loved the fact that it wasn't greasy, full of veggies and that the meat wasn't intrusive!

There you go, another proof that "She who PRAYS, eats!" Til next time!

Less than $13 for 3 Families

From a previous post on the family blog:

You read right... I made dinner for three families: Mine, Next door and a Mother&Son. A total of 12 mouths.

I made Spaghetti with Homemade Sausage & Parmesan Spaghetti sauce and Texas toast.

Real Food Real People dot com


Here's my total:

Barilla Pasta- 4 boxes- 99 cents each = $3.96
Tomato Paste- 1 can- 35 cents
Tomato Sauce- 75 cents (big can)
Tomato Diced- 75 cents
Parmesan, Herbs, Spices- FREE (already had it)
Texas Toast- 1.5 boxes- $1.97 each = $2.96
HF Beef Smoked Sausage Links- 1.5 pkgs.- $2.50 each = $3.75

$3.96 + .35 + .75 + .75 + $2.96 + $3.75 = $12.52 Total

Why did I do it? Well, it was back on Sunday night the 7th, before I-Dude's birthday, so the spaghetti is a traditional dinner to wish him a long life ahead. For our next door neighbor, it is to help their daughter who comes to YW, get some of her Personal Progress checked off and because my friend Annette has started working again. For my friend Heather and her son, it was because her MS turned for the worst and she needed some dinner help while the steroids did their thing to help her legs.

See? Service and Frugality can be totally complimentary. (I actually already had the pasta from last month, February, so technically they're already FREE, according to my budget.) No need to go to the store for the whole meal if you just stock up on few necessities...

Here, I PORTIONED what I have in the pantry, RESEARCHED what each family can eat, did not ADD any drinks to customize their dinner, taught a YOUNG girl to cook a big dinner, and SAVED all of us time!

How do you like that? Til next post!

Brownies on the Cheap!

This post is from February 1, 2010 from my family blog during one of our non-necessities Shopping Hiatus

We had to buy milk, bananas and toothpaste today for our needs, but food for dinner, noooo problem!

Last week, I got these Hormel Polish Sausage 2-pk, BIGIF for $4.99. So that made it $2.50 each pk for us. Then in the freezer, I had these two store brand frozen bags of stir-fry veggies with rice that only cost me $1 each. What to make, what to make?

A one dish wonder called Sausage Stir-fry!

I only used one of the sausages, making it $1.25 + $2, subtotal- $3.25 (Sorry, no picture, the family ate the whole thing)

Then, my children found a box of family size brownies in the pantry, that cost me $1.49 (on sale, $2, reg. $2.50) since I bought it with a promo of B10G$5off from Kroger.

We only had water and 1 full plate each (that's all we needed, oddly enough).

So let's see... $1.25 + $2 + $1.49 = $4.74 / 5 of us = .945 or 95 cents a plate + dessert!

Can't beat that!

On this one, I took advantage of a great PROMO PRICE, RESTOCKED my pantry, ALLOWED room for dessert in the budget, the YES on the brownies made the fam happy, and the SALES didn't dent my wallet, how can you not be happy about that?

She who PRAYS, eats! What did I tell you?