Thursday, October 25, 2012
My Frugal Weeks
In My Kitchen:
I had a couple of apples that were bruised or too soft to be eaten out of hand. I cut them up and served them as caramel apples with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as dessert for one of our meals.
One chicken, four meals. That was my goal and here's what I did. I cut up the chicken into parts.
Meal one: Barbecued chicken (two legs, two wings, one pulley bone). Meal Two: Chicken Kiev (using the two breast halves which I boned and skinned myself). Meal three: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole (two thighs). I didn't have enough for a fourth meal, but I got 2 quarts of broth from simmering the thighs, back, neck and bones.
Made a pot of chili. I set aside enough to make a second meal for us before making chili mac for dinner.
I've found a quick and easy cake recipe that stirs up in four minutes. It makes one deep layer or a dozen cupcakes. I opted to make cupcakes this week. Half became Boston cream Cupcakes. The rest were frozen.
I had a bit of leftover ganache. I put that in the fridge to save to make chocolate butter cream frosting for the rest of the cupcakes later. I know we'll be having the rest of the cupcakes this next week, so the ganache will keep nicely.
We've had a full week and as we draw near the end of a pay period, I strive to slow or even stop spending altogether. I shopped at home when I ran out of milk, bread, coffee, ketchup, mustard, turkey sandwich meat. It's so nice to have a pantry/freezer with basic items like that available.
Added another item to my freezer: 1/2 recipe of Corn Pudding (unbaked) which will make a nice addition to a meal in the future.
I've been looking at recipes over on Pinterest. Even though I won't pin food, I do love to look at the recipes friends have posted. Well I broke down this week and tried one of those recipes: Chicken Kiev. It seemed simple enough for a 'fancy' dish and the recipe has been around long enough to be a classic. I halved the recipe to serve just two. I also crushed some leftover croutons I'd made to use as breadcrumbs. Fancy dish that turned out to be economical as well as super tasty. I'll be making this dish again.
Leftover wild rice from the Chicken Kiev meal was mixed with the leftover chili. I'll make burritos with the rice/bean/meat mixture and some shredded cheese. The rice is a nice 'stretch' for the chili.
We were out on Friday all day long. I didn't do any food prep for Shabat dinner. No matter. I pulled prepared meatballs from the freezer and made a Spaghetti and meatball dinner. Preparation on Saturday took only about 15 minutes.
We had some leftover tomato sauce from the meatball dinner. I figure it's just enough to cover a pizza dough for sauce. Put the leftovers in a jar to freeze.
Planning menus, I came across a recipe I set aside last autumn. It calls for lasagna noodles as the pasta in the dish...aren't there always leftover noodles after making a pan of lasagna? The 'sauce' is a combination of beef cubes (supposed to be sirloin. I thought I had sirloin but it turned out to be stew beef. Worked just fine!), mushrooms and grape tomatoes. I happened to have the grape tomatoes in the freezer, too, some we'd failed to touch when I brought them home.
Cooked twice as many potatoes as I needed for potato salad. Half were set aside for breakfast hash brown potatoes.
At the fair, John bought coffee and used a pump bottle of flavored creamer to flavor my cup. I found it very tasty, not too sweet which I've always found with flavored creamers. I have an allergy to Carrageenan which is used as a thickener in these creamers so must keep it to very occasional use...Sad to discover that Coffeemate has that too. But at the grocery, John's quick eye spied a Coffeemate NATURAL BLISS creamer which is nothing more than sugar, cream, milk and flavoring. Imagine that! Now I can have my flavored coffee, lightly sweetened as I like it, and enjoy it.
Put a roasting chicken in the crockpot while we were gone the other day. It was a Friday and I had no desire to greet another Saturday with the need to spend time in the kitchen. I had planned to make a green salad and warm leftovers of Corn Moussaka but we had company. Next easiest meal was chicken sandwiches and apples and chips. We used only one breast from that chicken to make sandwiches.
A frugal meal I love to make is chicken fried rice, a great use of leftover chicken. Today I cut the 'cost' just a wee bit more. I always have to cook the fried rice a little longer because I also use leftover rice, which is usually cold. Today I used my microwave to pre-heat the cold rice, tossed it in the pan and cut the cooking time by about 8 minutes.
Made a batch of yogurt. I decided to use the stovetop method. It took only a few minutes.
I sterilized jars for the yogurt. Then I used the warm water in my cooler to incubate the yogurt. I added cool water to bring it down to the right temperature.
Used the remaining cool water (from the cold water bath to cool the milk down) to water plants.
Brought out the reserve cookies we'd set aside last pay period when we had a glut of sweets on hand. Nice to skip the baking.
In My Home: Hung a load of sheets on the line to dry. I washed a full load of clothes and hung the remainder of that load to dry indoors. (Since I first wrote this I've hung a number of loads of clothes on the line. That sunshine and breeze does wonders for drying quickly).
The dogs and cat have not been overly hungry lately. I stacked food pans with uneaten food in the covered bins to keep ants away from it and served at next mealtime.
The cat simply did not want the dollar store food...The dogs could care less, so I mixed that bag in with their food and opened a fresh bag from the grocery for the cat. Lesson learned via that cat. No matter how much money I think I save buying the food at the dollar store, she simply does not care for it. I can smell a difference myself, even though it's the same brand and no, it's not my imagination. I even did a side by side comparison of the aroma and there's a noticeable difference. Glad the dogs don't care about the cat food but I will note here they stopped eating the food I was buying at the dollar store for them, too.
Washed and dried a full load of clothes one misty morning. I timed it for 35 minutes, took out the two slightly damp towels at the 30 minute point and hung them to dry but let the sheets finish drying on their own for the last five minutes. Perfectly dry.
Now that this is dragging on for a span of a couple of weeks or more, I can say honestly that we've washed a lot of clothes by the full load. And when it wasn't a full load but John was antsy to do a load he lowered the water level. We've hung them indoors and out to dry and occasionally run a short time in the dryer, but for the most part they've hung to dry.
John mowed grass but didn't have quite enough gasoline to finish up the job. He went for more but only bought a gallon. It's doubtful we'll mow again this year and we don't want the extra gasoline sitting about and getting moisture in the gas can.
We ate at the fair but I carried along water with me. One bottle from home vs. one bottle from a vendor for $3. That's savings!
It's very unlikely we'll buy a new home, no matter how much in like we fell with that home at the fair. However, culling inspired ideas for furniture arrangements, colors to use, built-ins to replicate, are blissfully FREE.
Using what I have: I hung the sheers (from the master bath mirrors) in the living room behind the curtains. Just the touch needed to dress up those windows said my husband. It really does look well and adds a much needed bit of color.
Created a new look in the guest/craft room as well, combining elements I already had with like colors. It looks rather nice if I do say so. I left the green dust ruffle and curtains from summer. I put a maroon spread on the bed, folded a wedding ring quilt (maroon, green, gold on a cream background) over the foot and then a rusty red/maroon/green/cream print pillow sham I made last year for the master bedroom on the pillows. The room looks quite nice with my 'on hand' items.
Followed my new mantra: A good clearing up makes a world of difference. That's what I did with the guest room this afternoon after I got the bed made up fresh. I straightened the room and the mess of curtains, quilts, etc. I'd dragged out this week and had been piling up in the spare room.
Then I followed it further and took the last of that good cleaning solution (vinegar and dish soap) and began to clean the kitchen walls, cabinets and counters. I'm just doing one section at a time to keep from being overwhelmed but I'm very pleased with the results.
Followed a friend's share link on Facebook and received a coupon good for one free bag of Lindt chocolate truffles. We picked this up this past week at Publix while we were doing our grocery shopping. I think Lindt chocolates are pretty good, but seldom indulge. I am sure, however, that FREE chocolate tastes even better than bought chocolate.
Completed a survey and agreed to try a dish-washing detergent in exchange for my honest opinion. Full sized bottle arrived yesterday in the mail. I can't share the name, etc. at present. I am obligated to use for two full weeks and then fill out a survey about my opinion of the product.
Checked an email from JCP (Penneys) and discovered a printable $10 off $10 or more in store coupon. Printed that one out, too. I'll use to cover cost of a Christmas gift I plan to pick that up this week.
John steam cleaned our carpets with the Bissell cleaner we bought a few years back. I asked him to do the two rugs in the kitchen (a runner and a mat that are in front of the sink and stove). Those two rugs look brand new all over again thanks to that cleaning. I laid the two rugs outdoors to dry in the sun.
As the previous pay period panned out we ran out of snacks. It would have been easy enough to stop while running errands and buy more but my budget has been whacked the past two months. We drew a line in the sand and said to each other, "Nope. No more chips, no more bought snacks until pay period." (We have a 1 bag per week rule and we'd overeaten the previous week). We stuck to our guns. John got paid on Monday and we went down to the workplace to pick up his check and deposit it. Then we drove to the store and bought chips and chocolate, lol. It was so good and I told John I'm pretty sure making ourselves wait as we'd done meant it tasted just that much better. BTW that money came out of our pocket money, not our checking. We don't buy anything from the paycheck until we write our tithe check.
Harvest night I was a bit downhearted over how the money dwindled. Normally I get a certain amount from the bank for groceries and my allowance. This week I did something I seldom do: just used the debit card. I'm so happy to report that we came in UNDER budget for groceries this week, which means we're spot on budget for this month. After two months of a whacked out budget I'm very pleased indeed.
John and I both had the same idea. We want to replace our carpet but at present we're just not able to do so. We'd thought a rug to go under our feet at our chairs would help prevent further wear. Then we saw a small rug at Aldi for $39 that we contemplated. At John's suggestion we went to Lowe's and discovered one for $19. That fit right in with our house account balance, so we bought it. It just fits the area between our two chairs and covers the places that were bearing the worst wear.
I think we have a new world's record for our least expensive trip to Walmart. Total: $12 and change. I bought two packets of incense and two sheer curtain panels for the dining room area to go behind our curtains. It was not so very hard to be frugal on this trip as we had just been to talk to a flooring specialist about new carpet and kitchen tile. By the way, paid for those Walmart items out of my 'found' money.
I was plundering in the shed and discovered a couple of sets of sheets I'd put away two or three years ago when Mama gifted me with new sheets on my birthday. As it happens, those 'new' sheets are showing a bit of wear and these will nicely work into rotation to prolong their life. I washed and hung to dry today.