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4/9/18 It’s Spring Cleaning Time! If you are looking for some tips or tricks for your spring cleaning projects this year, or you simply like hearing about someone else’s goofy cleaning adventures, check out this post for Good Housekeeping
4/6/18 It’s Frugal Friday! When I was growing up, my family was below the poverty level, but my parents made no excuses and asked for no assistance. My mom was the queen of frugal recipes, every day of the week! She could stretch ingredients or take a few grocery dollars and make them last for several days. One of the dishes we had often was her version of Shepherd’s Pie. This is NOT the traditional Shepherd’s Pie of Great Britain, but everyone in our household loved it when I was growing up. It’s a casserole of filling comfort food; the frugality is just a bonus!
My Mom’s Shepherd’s Pie (This version serves four.)
- 1/3 or 1/2 lb ground beef
- 2 medium or 3 small potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 TBS butter
- 1/4 or 1/3 cup milk
- 1 15 oz can mixed vegetables (or whatever type of canned vegetable you have on hand)
- 1 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup (this is optional)
- 4 slices of American cheese
- a sprinkling of garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper
Peel, wash, and cut potatoes. Place in saucepan with enough water to cover and the teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook until soft. Turn oven to 350. Brown ground beef in skillet. Drain off any excess fat. Drain and rinse the can of vegetables; add to skillet. Stir in cream soup, if using, combining all ingredients. Spray a 9×9 square baking dish with cooking spray. Pour meat mixture into dish and top with slices of cheese. Drain cooked potatoes. Add milk and butter and mash. Spread mashed potatoes on top of cheese. Sprinkle with spices, if desired. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
3/9/18 Today’s DIY and Frugal Friday–Decorate It Yourself for Cheap! Earlier this week I shared some budget party foods from Aldi. I know we cannot be the only family trying to stretch our budget or live on one income. When I was working and we had two steady incomes, I honestly didn’t put much effort in trying to budget or save money. Then it became a necessity in our lives. Now, it’s kind of a fun game. I get excited when I find bargains and deals! Today, I’m going to share how I decorated my home for Easter by using (mostly) Dollar Store finds. Disclaimer–I am not affiliated with, sponsored by, or compensated by any of the stores or companies mentioned in this post.
3/7/18 This is a great idea for your next Bunco or Bingo night, Oscars night, or even if you’re planning a March “Craziness” gathering this month. First of all, don’t worry about getting fancy trays or specialty boards. I used my big wooden cutting boards to arrange the food items. They aren’t the same size, but that’s okay. I would recommend getting some nicer containers for dips and such. In hindsight, my plastic dishes look pretty cheap and tacky. Ah, well. Anyway, here’s what we served for our budget-friendly buffet, all purchased from Aldi. Check out the shopping list and prices on my post With Age Comes…Impatience.
2/12/18 So now you know that grocery shopping has never been one of my favorite chores, but I sure do like to eat, so that’s a big motivator to get me there! I also play a little game with myself…Grocery Ad Guru. Hey, whatever makes it fun, right? Anyway, I peruse the week’s grocery ads and see what’s on sale and build meals and recipes around the cheapest finds. That’s how today’s recipe comes to you. Last week’s sales included breakfast sausage, mushrooms, fresh spinach and shredded cheese. They also had eggs for 99 cents a dozen, which is really good in our area. All the berries were on sale, too. So one of our meals this week included Sausage Quiche with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions. I served the slices with a side of fresh strawberries. If you like the combination of spinach, mushrooms, and onions, check out my recipe for Chicken Quesadillas with Spinach, Mushrooms, Onions, and Habanero Jack Cheese. If you like quiche, be sure to check out my recipe for Sausage and Cream Cheese Quiche.
1/19/18 So speaking of unpredictable and changing plans, have you ever experienced this when time to fix dinner for your family? Ice storm hits before you can get to the grocery store? Baby comes down sick and you spend your time cuddling and consoling, but rest of the family wants to eat? Worked late? Stuck in traffic? Holding out for one more day until the paycheck comes in? Forgot to thaw meat from the freezer? I can identify with every one of these scenarios. So how do you prevent meal-time melt-down? Two key tricks: Always save your leftovers! The only exception to this is if they are “expired.” Don’t risk your family’s health, but we always get to our leftovers quickly, so that’s not a worry for us. Second, don’t be afraid to get creative! I’m going to share this recipe for a Beef and Bacon Hash, but to be perfectly honest, this dish could change every time you make it. It’s all about whatever you have in the fridge and pantry. One potato? That’s all you need! Small amounts of a few different meats? Use ’em all up! Random vegetables in the crisper? Slice up whatever sounds good! That’s how I get a substantial hash dish that’s very filling and comforting for dinner and no stress! Feel free to sub in and out vegetables and meats for this dish according to your family’s likes and your refrigerator’s contents. Traditional hash is going to have some type of meat, potato, and onion. The rest is up to you!
1/8/18 Last week I shared a couple of snack recipes for those of you making healthy eating resolutions. I know very well that resolutions come in all shapes, sizes, and topics. Some of us make resolutions about spending and budgeting. Maybe you have decided to spend less at the fancy coffee drink place and make more of your own specialty coffees from home. If a rich and creamy cappuccino drink is your go-to morning vibe, why not keep a stash of this homemade mix handy?
This was one of our budget-friendly moves this past year. My husband still uses coffee pods because he likes a stronger brew than I do, but I keep a stock pile of homemade hot cocoa and cappuccino mixes in the pantry. They’re super economical and we have a hot drink choice available at almost any time. Today I’m sharing the French Vanilla Cappuccino Mix. Try giving it a dusting of shaved dark chocolate to enhance the coffee flavors.
Added 11/30/17: Read about pantry staples, grocery budgets, and Chicken Fajita Skillet at Fully Stocked Shelves.
Added 9/22/17: Today’s Recipe I am sharing Four Cheese and Bacon Baked Macaroni and Cheese today for our Frugal Friday recipe. Now I’m going to make three disclaimers about this recipe. First, it’s frugal if you stock up on things when they are on sale or if you keep staples like dry pasta and bags of shredded cheese on hand. This recipe also works well when using up odds and ends of cheeses, as you can easily mix and match the cheeses you use. I got my 24 ounce bag of macaroni for 88 cents last weekend. Kraft also was running a special that if you bought 8 qualifying products, you would save $8 at the register. It was very easy to stock up on the qualifying products for this mac and cheese dish. I also got the bacon on sale for about $4 per pound. By the way, when did bacon become so expensive, anyway? I calculated the cost of this dish per serving based on the 8 entrée-size servings and it came out to $2.02 per serving. When you take a bite of this decadent main dish, it will be worth every penny!
From Grasping at Happiness Straws on 9/5/17: Time Saver and Budget Friendly!!! When bananas start to get too brown to eat on their own, peel and place in zip-top bag. Place these in the freezer to be added to breads, muffins, or smoothies!
From Frugal Friday and Save it for Saturday on 9/1/17: While I know I’m not supposed to love money or make it a priority in my life, I also know I need to be a good steward of the resources God has blessed us with. We also need to exhibit financial responsibility to insure we have plenty to share (Acts 4:32), giving to the greater good of God’s Kingdom, while also guaranteeing provision for our own families (Proverbs 6:6-11). In closing, I would recommend taking a look at your household budget, if you do not already. You may be surprised where you can find some “hidden” money. If you aren’t keen on the idea of starting a budget from scratch on a program like Excel, I use the budget sheet found at Credit Repair to Credit Scores. It’s a free download and I printed copies to use each month to help track our spending. You may find some other helpful links on my “Budget Friendly” page of this website, or my Budgets board on Pinterest.
Budget Friendly Grocery Trip on 8/19/17: I cannot possibly be the only person out there that wants to save money on groceries each week! The reason I know this must be true is that there are a ton of money saving apps for our mobiles and pins on Pinterest. Today I have decided to add this Budget Friendly page to my website, so that I can share my tips and insight. So if you want to try to save a little money, stop by my “budget friendly” page every so often and see what my new tips and tricks might be. I’m going to start today by sharing my grocery trip from this morning. My family and I often discuss, a.k.a complain, about not being able to eat healthy on a budget. Because my family seriously detoured from our healthy eating routine this summer, I was determined we were going to eat healthy this week. I started by checking the local grocery ads and mailers. Aldi often has the most budget-friendly healthy choices, and this week was no exception. They had special buys on fresh salmon and fresh chicken. So, I planned our week’s meal with those things in mind. I left the store with a week’s worth of healthy meal options for UNDER $70! The spurge was the fresh salmon at 11.37 and will feed us for one meal. Other items in my cart included boneless, skinless chicken thighs for 5.36 and frozen chicken breast tenders, 3 pounds worth for 6.99. The chicken will feed us for several meals this week and are so versatile! I also bought cheeses, 2 loaves of bread, milk, fresh broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, cucumber, strawberries and blueberries. Snacks will include Greek yogurt that was on special for 59 cents a carton and graham crackers. I needed some seasonings and condiments and bought a box of instant brown rice. I did not need to buy breakfast items for the week, so I left the store with a week’s worth of meals planned out for $66.71! IT CAN BE DONE! The key to my success this week includes the following: 1) Check the grocery ads and plan around the week’s specials. 2) Plan out the week’s meals ahead of time and don’t forget to take stock of what’s in the pantry, fridge, and freezer already. 3) Know portions and serving sizes ahead of time, so I can plan double uses for meat packages or when leftover will work for lunch or dinner. 4)DON’T be afraid of leftovers or shopping at “discount” stores like Aldi. This same amount of groceries would have cost me at least twice as much at another local grocery store. Now, I will admit that I only have a household of 3 to shop for, so my packages will stretch farther than if you have a larger household-you will need to plan accordingly. Are you ready to take the healthy budget challenge?
From 5 Things I Will Not Apologize For on 8/18/17: My number 2 on the list is “Living Below My Means.” This means being frugal. Sometimes I’m even cheap, but living with frugality is not always synonymous with cheap. There are times my family spends a little more for a little better quality or a nicer version of something, and we don’t feel guilty about that either. Being frugal is knowing when and where to save money, when is the right time and place to splurge, and how does a purchase fit into the overall budget. When I worked on our family’s budget to prepare for leaving my career and cutting a third from our income, I was astonished at how much we spend on food each month. We were spending more each month on groceries, dining out, and convenience store stops than our mortgage. Yikes! When cutting budgets, some things don’t budge (ha ha), like mortgage and car payments. But one area I knew we were going to need to improve greatly was the food expenses. One of my first moves, was to do the bulk of our grocery shopping at Aldi. I also downloaded a ton of coupon and savings apps to my phone. And, I began stockpiling some budget friendly recipes and ingredients.
Link-Ups: I appreciate other fellow bloggers sharing their tips and tricks for all of us, too. If you would like to find out more information, check out these blogs: