Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Introducing: Website Wednesday

Can you tell I like silly names? I was driving today and got to thinking, how many thrifty websites are out there? Well, probably quite a few. Then I thought, how many are actually worth their salt? I have no idea so I thought I would look into it and see what I could find! I can't say for sure how long this will run, I suppose until I run out of websites to share! This will include blogs, websites, whatever I can find! And if you have a blog about thrifty living that you would like featured, let me know and I'll check it out. I can't promise that I will feature it or if I do, when it will be but I will check out everyone who posts! And if you have a blog about thrifty living that you would like featured, let me know and I'll check it out. I can't promise that I will feature it or if I do, when it will be but I will check out everyone who posts!

Also, you may have noticed that I didn't post anything for Thrifty Tuesday. Well, I decided that not only does the title Thrifty Thursday sound loads better, but Tuesdays are just a day that do not work well for me to get on here every week so stay tuned for a new thrifty recipe and tip of the week on Thursdays!!

To start off my Website Wednesday I have to share the forum that introduced me to thrifty living because it's the reason I'm here today, at home, on a budget and having paid off thousands of dollars of credit card bills. Okay, maybe not the EXACT reason but it gave me the little kick in the butt that I needed to get to where we are today!! I found this website when I started my daughter out in cloth diapers. I couldn't afford brand new ones at $18 or more a pop so I was on the hunt for good used ones. I came across Diaper Swappers and was in hog heaven. Er, diaper heaven? ha-ha Around the same time, my work said to me "We understand that you want a work and family balance but unfortunately there is nothing we can do for you" and I told my husband that I was quitting my job so we had better figure something out (yup, they actually said those words to me).

Anyways, I joined Diaper Swappers and was perusing through the site when I saw a forum called "Thrifty Families". I went in and starting reading some of the posts and was immediately hooked. These women are absolute geniuses!! Almost all of them were mamas (or mamas to be or trying to be mamas) who were trying to live thriftily. I had already made a budget but when I looked at some of the budgets posted there, I was able to dramatically change mine which lead to our plan for me to be able to stay home! I started a great budget, meal plans, a super tight food budget, learned great recipes and made some amazing friendships through this particular forum. I can't say enough about the women who post on the Thrifty Families forum and I HIGHLY recommend checking it out to find some real women who are living day to day thrifty lives!!

Stay tuned every week for Website Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday!

I'm back after some unplanned time off. Next time, I'll try to give some advanced warning.

Anyways, it's Thrifty Tuesday and I have a super yummy recipe to share and a fun tip!

Thrifty Recipe of the Week

Broccoli and Noodles Supreme

  • 3 cups uncooked medium egg noodles (or whatever pasta you prefer) $0.99
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli flowerets $0.75
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup $0.89
  • 1/2 cup sour cream $0.50
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese $0.75
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Add broccoli for last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain.
  2. Mix soup, sour cream, cheese, pepper and noodle mixture in saucepan. Heat through.

Thrifty Tip of the Week

 With summer and spring here, I started to think about pest control and I realized that all of the products out there to help with that are not only EXPENSIVE but also extremely dangerous. Going along with the theme of my blog about being thrifty AND green (I love it when I get to incorporate both!!) I did some research and found a really great site about living frugally and found some wonderful tips for frugal and natural pest control. I will DEFINITELY be trying these instead of getting ant catchers or spray to kill any bugs! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday!

It's that time of the week again!!

Thrifty Tip of the Week
When you're taking a trip or leaving the house, bring a reusable bottle with a drink and a snack. Do not buy soda or snacks at the gas station. Believe me, I know how tempting it is. In fact, I just did it yesterday on my way to the doctor. The markup on gas station food is 30-40% above grocery store prices. On this note, don't buy those bottles of soda, the 12 ounce ones. They cost almost $2 these days. You can go to the grocery store and buy two 2-liters of soda for that price if you catch a good sale or buy the store brand. Once my husband and I stopped doing this, I kid you not we saved well over $100 a month!

Thrifty Recipe of the Week

Chicken Fried Rice

4 cups cooked whole grain rice, should be cooked the day before $0.50
2 chopped chicken breasts, fried $1.50
3 teaspoons soy sauce (pennies)
frozen or fresh veggies as desired $1-2
2 eggs $0.25
Total= $3.25-4.25

1. Make sure to cook the rice the day before. It works with freshly cooked rice but tastes oh, so much better with day old, refrigerated rice.
2. Mix together the vegetables and rice in a skillet, cooking on medium.
3. In a separate skillet, scramble the 2 eggs.
4. Mix together the eggs with the rice/veggies. Add the soy sauce and fry until the soy sauce is mixed in.

***The beauty of fried rice is that it's essentially Chinese casserole. You can use any leftover meat and veggies you have or whatever veggies you have laying around. Last time we made it, it had carrots, green beans, onion and peas.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What to do with all those bread crusts

One of the breaks I've given myself in the first trimester is to buy bread from the store instead of making it. I can get a loaf of whole grain bread from Roundy's for $1.94. Not the best price ever and I think I'm going to check out the bread store but a much needed expense while I'm dealing with nausea and exhaustion constantly. Prior to my thrifty lifestyle, I always bought bread and we always threw the bread crusts away because none of us ate them. The other day, I got to the end of my loaf of bread and as I was about to throw it away I thought, wait, there has to be something I can do with this! I put it up in the cupboard and decided to try to find a way to use the bread crusts. 
I did a bit of research and found some things that I could do with them. Admittedly, some of the ideas are not things I would generally do in my everyday life but I'm certainly willing to try it, especially bread pudding. Yum!! 

-Make bread pudding
-Make homemade croutons
-Make homemade stuffing
-Make into bread crumbs and use it for toppings in casseroles and other dishes. 
-Crumble and use it to make meatloaf or meatballs. 
-Make into bread crumbs, season and use to coat cuts of meat as a healthier alternative to frying. 
-Use as a topping for French Onion Soup. 

Non-Food ideas to use up your bread crusts
- In a blender add about two cups of torn up old bread crusts, two cups of water, and a table spoon of plant food. Puree the mixture then poor it around the base of all your plants. It will act like a compost and will inprove your soil and nurture your plants.
-Make play clay. Use fresh bread crusts. Put the crusts in a bowl, make sure the crust is in very small pieces. Mix with a fork, slowly adding SMALL amounts of water. When it becomes too globby to mix use your hands and knead the crusts until it turns into a strong dough. You can add salt if you like to preserve it more. Let it set next to the window for a few days to dry and harden. This is a non toxic clay mixture, great for even the smallest children who may try to eat it! 
-Feed the birds! 

What do YOU do with your leftover bread crusts? I'd love to hear more ideas! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How lost I am without my weekly menu!

For the last few weeks, I have not been making out a weekly menu. I tried the week we got back from our mini vacation but definitely didn't follow it. If it's not a food aversion, I don't have the energy to cook something. I actually broke down last week and bought bread. I was too exhausted to cook. It's so pathetic, what did women do 100 years ago? They baked their gol-darn bread at 5 AM. What am I doing? Laying around bemoaning my every-minute-of-the-day-but-morning sickness and complete exhaustion. And here I am, I was planning on writing about how lost I was without my menu and what do I do? I whine.
Whining OVER! On to the real topic. Since I started on my thrifty journey, I have made a menu. When I was working full time, I made a 2 week long menu and when I started staying home and had the illusion of more time, I made a weekly menu. It helps me stay on track, I never have to worry about what we're going to have for dinner except picking something from the list I made up and I know what to buy at the grocery store. Nowadays, I try to make a plan but by 5, I'm so darn tired I don't have the energy to do more then cut up a banana and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not exactly a healthy, well balanced dinner. My menu has always kept me on track and now I'm completely off track. What's funny is that prior my newfound thrifty ways, I NEVER planned ahead of time what I was going to make. I would usually call my husband from work and ask him to take something out of the freezer and then I would peruse recipe sites at work looking for something for dinner. I feel like I"m back to doing that and I feel very out of control. At a time like this, when nausea and exhaustion can completely control my day, I don't want to feel out of control about what we're going to eat. It was easy when I was pregnant with Olivia because I lived on toast and cereal (which sounds great!) and my husband brought frozen dinners to work. Well, in an attempt to be healthy, green and thrifty that doesn't exactly work!
What I think I'm going to do is to try and mesh together a sort-of-meal plan until the first trimester is over. I'm thinking of having a long list of meals that are easy-ish to make that I know don't make me nauseas, extremely easy lunches and rely on leftovers and my crockpot. I need to learn to be prepared for dinner by early afternoon because I know that the worst time for me is in the evenings.

I believe it was last week that my Thrifty Tip of the Week was regarding a meal plan. And that is no joke. I have gone over my grocery budget without having a meal plan and by walking into Costco with my debit card and a pregnant, hungry belly. BIG mistake. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a meal plan when you're trying to be thrifty. Meal plans can mean different things to different people. Some people plan what they will have every day of the week, for every meal. Some people, like me, like to have a list of meals to choose from. There are many different ways to meal plan and you may not even know what works best for you. Try a few different ways on but I'm telling you, meal plans are KEY in being thrifty!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday!

Good evening everyone. I haven't put anything up in almost a week! Very unlike me and I apologize. I've been so sick and on top of babysitting, being utterly exhausted and constantly's just been pushed to the side. I feel like I'm making a lot of excuses, sorry!! I'm finally over my sinus infection and the cold so I really am going to make an effort to post more often, as I usually do!

But, I had to make sure I put up my Thrifty Tip and Recipe of the week!

Thrifty Tip of the Week

Replace your light bulbs with CFL bulbs. I know, you've heard this a million times but it really does make a huge difference. CFL bulbs take about a quarter of the electricity AND you don't have to replace them nearly as often. I still have some CFL light bulbs from 4 years ago that I bring with us when we move! They are on sale constantly. I even got 2 for free a few weeks ago because I had a double coupon and they were on sale!

Thrifty Recipe of the Week

1.5 lbs ground beef $3.00
3/4 cup rolled oats $0.25
2 eggs $0.35
Ketchup as desired

1. Mix together ground beef, eggs and rolled oats. If you know a way better then using your hands, let me know!
2. Put in a loaf pan and top with ketchup as desired.
3. Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

*This is a lower carb option to regular meatloaf with crackers. When I was pregnant with my first, I had gestational diabetes and this had lower carbs because of the rolled oats.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Being thrifty while pregnant

Oh yes, not only is this my blog post for today but it's also my clever way of letting all my fabulous readers that I AM PREGNANT!!!! :) I'm 7 weeks along and due in December. So excited but also very nervous about being a mama to TWO!

Now that that's said and done, on to the real topic. How do you be thrifty and frugal while pregnant?

Seriously? Anyone know? Because I don't!!!

I crave junk food and fast food. It's terrible. I've spent the majority of my blow money (the money my husband and I get each month to spend however we want) on McDonalds. Isn't that just awful? All I want are McDonalds McChickens. Thank goodness they are on the $1 menu but it's not exactly thrifty and it's DEFINITELY not healthy! So here I am, 7 week pregnant and I'm too tired to cook or clean or do anything but stare blankly at the TV after I've put my never-stops-moving 1.5 year old rambunctious little daughter to bed.

So, here are a few things that I've come up with:

*HAVE blow money that you can spend on the junk you crave. Seriously, if you know you're going to spend it, you need to budget for it.
*Either add a little extra to your grocery budget if you can or be willing to give something up to make room for all of the ice cream you are craving.
*Keep snack and easy to make and/or grab food items in the house to prevent you from making unneeded trips to buy something. I just started watching a sweet little 3 month old baby boy along with my daughter during the day and he's a fussy sleeper. I get SO hungry with those two and today I had nothing I could just grab and eat except, thank God, a banana.

So far, I haven't done very good though. Thank goodness I had some blow money leftover from last month and extra grocery money so I stocked up on ice cream and I've been giving into my cravings. I've also been trying to find ways to fit my cravings into healthy foods. For instance, this baby loooovvveeesss chicken. For dinner tonight, I made a big leafy green salad with chicken. Very yummy. I also had a bag of rolls I got for free for purchasing something else so we had a big chicken salad with rolls.

I haven't made a menu for this week because I haven't quite gotten into the groove of how to cook with a 3 month old on my chest all the time and a 1.5 year old hanging on my legs while being completed exhausted. I guess I'd better figure that out really fast though right? :)

So what are your tips thrifty mamas?! How did you stay within budget while you were pregnant? Or, how are you staying within budget? OR how do you THINK you could stay within budget? I know, this blog is about being thrifty but I don't know it all! So I'm reaching out to you! What do you do when, in the middle of the night, your baby is craving apple juice and pepsi mixed together? (Which by the way, doesn't actually taste as bad as it sounds!)