"A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Family Meals for under $5 - Pork Roast

Family Meals for Under $5 - Pork Roast

"...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good..."

A very busy day prompted me to make this weeks Under $5 dinner. After thinking of all I had to do during the day and the meetings I had that night I decided the crock pot was the way to go. I really need to use mine more. I love being able to just throw the ingredients in, give it a little stir, turn it on and wait until dinner time. An added bonus is that you can use cheaper cuts of meat, perfect for an under $5 dinner.

This time I used a Pork shoulder roast which I got on sale for 78c lb at Winco Foods. At such a great price I got 2 and saved one for another meal. I went for bone-in instead of boneless and saved 20c per lb and picked one that didn't have much bone in it. Steamed cabbage makes a nice side dish. I was in such a hurry that day I didn't bother to make a gravy from the drippings but you could do that if you wanted. My family really likes ketchup though.

Pork Roast with Vegetables - $3.96

Steamed Cabbage - .48

Total - $4.44

Pork Roast in the Crock Pot
3lb shoulder chuck roast - 78c lb = 2.43
3 ribs celery, sliced - .24
4 carrots, sliced - .36
6 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into big chunks - .36
3 cloves garlic - .06
1 onion, chopped - .27
3 beef bullion cubes, crumbled - .24
1 bay leaf
1 t dried basil
1 small head cabbage - .28c lb = .48

Trim fat from meat. Season well. In a large pan, brown meat on all sides. Place carrots and potatoes in crock pot. Add onions, celery, garlic, roast, seasonings and 1 1/2 c water. Cover, cook on low for 10 -12 hrs or high 4-6 hrs.

When roast is almost done wash cabbage and cut into large wedges. Steam until tender.

A couple of things you may have noticed.

  1. I don't count things like salt and pepper and other seasonings in my totals. I figure these are things that you already have and the cost is really infantisimal.
  2. I usually don't peel my potatoes. To me it's just extra work and the peel is where all the vitamins are anyway!

Finally, when the garden is in, the salad or in this case the cabbage is cheap and plentyful, so make sure to plant a garden. For great gardening tips checkout our raised bed gardening blog.

Live less, live more,
--Renee

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Frugal Tip - Summer Fun Bags

Frugal Tip - Summer Fun Bags
 
For my “Works for me Wednesday” tip I’ve shared something I learned from the school of hard knocks. I Hope it will work for you too.
 
My family and I tend to be somewhat spontaneous and have been known to decide to go somewhere at the drop of a hat. That’s part of what summer is about right?
 
A problem that we ran into is that after deciding we wanted to go we had to spend way too much time packing up all the gear that we needed. Children became frustrated and mom got frazzled trying to grab everything while reassuring the kids that we were “almost ready“, eventually forgetting something important and arriving much later than desired.
 
In a hurry I’d decide to just run to the store to buy some item I had at home, just so I could get out the door. Just the way you want to start an outing with the kids, right?
 
My solution to this was to keep a “Summer Fun Bag” in the back of my car stocked full of the things that we would most likely need for our outings, which for us was usually to the lake.
 
Now, if we want to go somewhere the list of what to grab is significantly shorter and everyone is in a better mood and able to have a good time.
 
Below is a list of some basic things to keep in your bag. You may want to add to it depending on what your family likes to do.
 
Spontaneous Summer Fun Bag contents:

  • Towels
  • Sun block
  • Bug spray
  • Toys - Frisbees, shovels, beach ball
  • Water
  • Snacks - crackers, granola bars, etc…
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Diapers (if applicable)
  • Blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Etc...

More more great tips, visit Works For Me Wednesday

Live less, live more,
--Renee

Passive Solar Design - Making Full Use Of The Sun's Free Energy

By T McDonald
 
Passive solar design is one of the simplest ways to improve your home's value and save electricity at the same time.


Passive solar design is a clever way of using the sun's natural heat and light energy in your home. An example is the use of different building designs and materials to effectively cool and heat your home. What's so appealing about passive solar design is that it requires little upkeep, it is easy to setup, it improves the value of your home, and you can benefit from tax breaks.


When working out the passive solar potential of your home, you need to consider how it was built and what materials is was built from. The ideal position for your home would be either be on flat land or on a sun-facing slope. Also, in suburban areas, any trees nearby should be deciduous to shade your home in summer, and let through the sunlight in winter.


If you plan to build a new home, make sure it is designed so that the majority of it faces the sun. Also, the size, type and shape of your windows will affect how much sunlight and natural heat your home gets.


So how exactly does your home warm up from the sun? In 3 different ways:



1) Direct gain - direct heat from the sun shining on a surface.


2) Indirect - this is heat given off from objects heated by sunlight.


3) Isolated - the hot air that circulates through your home.


The get the most out the the above 3 heat sources, you should try install large windows on the sun-facing side of your home, as this will allow the most sunlight in.


But there is no point designing your home to let in a lot of natural sunlight and warmth if that energy cannot be stored for later use. Ideally you would want to use materials that absorb sunlight and radiate that heat for a long time. In winter, to get the most out of the natural heat in your home, you could close off cold, unused rooms from the rest of the house, and sit in the sunnier, warmer rooms during the day.


During summer, the right length roof overhangs or eaves can be used to control the amount sunlight and heat in your home. The eaves should be wide enough shade out the intense midday sun, but let the let low-angle sunlight through during dusk and dawn to light up and warm the home. Again, the right trees and shrubs can be planted to regulate the house's seasonal exposure to the sun.


To make your current home more energy efficient, an easy way would to get the latest windows that can retain up to 50% more heat. Than can cost up to 15% more than traditional windows, but they will save you a lot of energy and money in the long-run.


Also known as Low-emissivity (Low-E) windows, double-glazed windows are great at letting through sunlight, but retaining that natural heat inside. Some of them have multiple panes of glass with a gap of argon or krypton gas to store the heat. Also to reduce heat loss, make sure your windows and doors are well-sealed.


What your windows are made from can make a big difference too. While metal framed windows generally conduct heat out the house, wood, vinyl and fiberglass frames insulate the heat better. Always ensure any modern windows bought have labels issued by Energy Star or the National Fenestration Rating Council. These labels provide statistics on how effective and efficient the windows are at retaining heat, which helps you purchase the right windows for your conditions and budget.


The whole idea behind passive solar design is to use the sun's natural heat in such a way that it reduces your energy consumption and expenses. So before going out and getting the latest and greatest passive solar design and products, always weigh up the cost involved with how much you will save in energy bills in the long-term.
 
About the Author:
 
While using the sun's heat is one way of reducing your energy costs, another is to build your own solar/wind power system. Learn how you can do this for under $200 by getting your copy the Earth4Energy Guide for FREE and start saving up to 80% on your energy bills. Or, read the full Earth4Energy Review first.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Family Meals for Under $5 - Sloppy Joes

Family Meals for Under $5 - Sloppy Joes

"...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good..."

This weeks recipe is a kids favorite, Sloppy Joes. You should like it too since it’s pretty quick to make. The recipe was a friends submission in our church cookbook. Thanks Tamara. I used ground turkey since it was on sale. There were some good deals that helped make this an under $5 meal. Since there is no dairy make sure you get your 3 servings of milk at another time in the day, or you could top these with some grated cheddar cheese (37c/cup).
 
Sloppy Joes = $2.48
Frozen Corn (16 oz bag) = .98
Tossed Green salad = $1.15
 
Total = $4.61
 
Sloppy Joes
1 ½ lb ground turkey ( $3.98/5lb chub) = $1.20
½ c onion chopped = .13
½ c bell pepper diced (44c ea) = .22
1 10.75 oz can condensed tomato soup = .50
¼ c water
2T ketchup (38c/24 oz bottle) = .01
1T Mustard = .02
1t Worcestershire sauce = .02
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
1 pkg 8 hamburger buns (38c/pkg) = .38
   
Brown meat, onion and bell pepper till meat is done. Add soup, water, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered for 10 min. Split and toast buns. Serve meat mixture on buns.
 
Salad
½ head Romaine lettuce (1.68/ea ugh) = .84
½ cucumber, sliced (44c ea) = .22
1 carrot grated = .09
 
You may have noticed that I have a tossed green salad at most of my meals. It’s what I grew up with and now continue with my own family. I remember my mom saying that you should always have something green with your dinner. A salad is an easy and healthy way to do that. Plus, you can vary the ingredients so much. I always use a leafy lettuce - no iceberg, since it’s more nutritious.

Finally, when the garden is in, the salad is cheap and plentyful, so make sure to plant a garden. For great gardening tips checkout our raised bed gardening blog.

Live less, live more,
--Renee

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Economy Crisis Is A Great Time To Start Saving On Health Care

By Alexandra Vrugt

Taking care of your family's health is one of the hardest and most expensive parts of managing a household. With the cost of doctor's visits skyrocketing and fewer employers offering health care benefits, how can a family have their health care needs met? It can happen! Many of your family's health care expenses can be decreased using the same cost saving techniques that you use for daily household budgeting. Here are a few money saving strategies for getting a more positive outlook for your family's health care expenses:

It pays to know people! Believe it or not some medical practices offer discounts or special services for referrals. Financially, it makes lots of sense for them. If one patient brings another, then, that's more money that they make. So, it's nothing for them to toss you a freebie or a co-pay reduction. Imagine the finances that they rack up for all of those visits, tests, and of course referrals! But more importantly, if you trust your health care provider, then it's good to tell others about them. Why not do it and get a little financial break along the way?

Making the effort to avoid those high priced designer drugs! Buy generic drugs whenever possible. You will get the same results and the price for a 30-day supply could be as low as $1. If you run after the higher priced, name brand drugs you can expect to pay lots of money, sometimes more than $200 for the same or less! There is usually lots of medical research to support the fact that generic drugs are the same as the designer ones. They simply are there for saving cost conscious people money!

Watching for eyeglasses deals! You will see them throughout the year, but especially around back to school time. These eyeglasses deals usually can range from as high as discounts of 50-75% to actually free specs for certain family members. Additionally, there are always loads of coupons in the Sunday newspaper that can be used for reduced pricing or buy-one-get-one deals on glasses. If your family is low to moderate income, check your child's school or the local hospital which usually knows or offers children free eyeglasses to ensure that they are able to perform properly in school.

Grab those gift cards! Many drug stores offer actual money or store gift cards when you transfer your prescription to them. Unless you are in a deep relationship with the pharmacist, you could get lots of cash and gifts just by switching stores! For many people, this is a no-brainer and they do it every time they get a new prescription.

Clipping those coupons! Check the local circulars, the in-store flyers, and the Sunday newspaper for coupons for different health care services and products. You may be surprised at what you can actually get for free. From exams to drug samples, these coupons may end up being a lifesaver for you or someone in your family.

When it comes to saving, cost conscious customers can get the discounts every time with a little research and effort. Even in an economy crisis, you and your family can be well taken care of and can have all of your health care needs met on the cheap!

About the Author:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Family Meals for Under $5 - Cheesy Potato and Ham Casserole

Family Meals for Under $5 - Cheesy Potato and Ham Casserole
Works For Me Wednesday

"...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good..."

I came up with this weeks recipe one night when I was desperately trying to figure out what to make for dinner out of what I had in my house - ever been there? So instead of running to the store, I adapted a recipe I had for scalloped potatoes and ham with what I had and what my family likes. Here is the result.
 
Cheesy Potato and Ham Casserole
2c diced turkey ham - 1.42 lb for Festive brand @ Wal-Mart = .94
1 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup = .50
8 potatoes, scrubbed and diced - .07 ea = .56
2 green onions, sliced - 39c pkg - .03ea = .06
½ c powdered cheese sauce from Provident Pantry = .88
Mixed w/ 1c warm water to make 1 c sauce
 
Mix soup and sauce in a 13 x 9 dish. Add potatoes, ham and onions. Stir to mix well. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 oven for 1 hr.
 
Serve with tossed green salad and steamed carrots
 
Tossed Green Salad
½ head Romaine lettuce = .75
1 carrot grated = .09
1 sm tomato on the vine @ .96 lb = .25
 
Steamed Carrots
10 carrots scrubbed and sliced = .90
Steam until tender
 
Total = $4.93

Alternative Options
I realize many who read this may not have powdered cheese sauce or know what it is. Think of it as the cheese sauce that comes in a box of cheap macaroni and cheese. I buy it in a #10 can to have in my food storage since my family LOVES cheese. More about food storage in later posts.
I’ve included a couple of alternatives to this, along with their prices and subsequent totals.
 
1 10.5 can cheddar cheese soup = $1.39
If you choose this option omit the steamed carrots to keep your total under $5
Option 2 Total = $4.54
 
2. 2 c grated cheddar cheese - $3.78 2lb loaf on sale - .34c = .68
¼ c milk = .03
Option 3 Total = $4.76

Hope you enjoy your meal...
 
Live less, live more
--Renee

For more great ideas checkout Works For Me Wednesday

Friday, May 8, 2009

Family Meals for Under $5 - Skillet Potatoes

Family Meals for Under $5 - Skillet Potatoes

...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good...

This week it’s breakfast for dinner. A local grocery store had eggs on sale so I knew it was a great time to do something a little different. Aside from being extremely cheap, this meal can be made pretty quick.
 
Skillet Potatoes
1c chopped celery = .16
½ c sliced green onions -39c/pkg = .09
2 cloves garlic, minced = .04
1 cube chicken bullion, dissolved in 1 c hot water = .08
¼ c water
8 potatoes, cubed = .48
1 c carrots, julienne = .18
3T butter -$1.68 lb = .15
 
In a large skillet cook celery, onion and garlic in butter till tender. Add bullion, water, potatoes to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 15 min or till potatoes are tender. Uncover, simmer 5 min more or till broth is slightly thickened, stirring often.
 
While potatoes are cooking prepare the eggs.
 
Scrambled Eggs
2 doz eggs - on sale for 25c/doz = 50c
2 green onions, chopped - 39c /pkg = .06
1 Roma tomato, chopped -97c/lb = .15
1 ½ c grated cheese - $3.99/2 lb loaf select varieties = .54
3 T butter - $1.68 lb = .15
 
In a large skillet melt butter. Meanwhile wisk eggs till fluffy. Add eggs to skillet and cook till partially done. Add tomatoes and onions and continue cooking till done. Add cheese and stir to distribute. Serve immediately.
 
Serve with toasted English muffins - 68c/ 6ct pkg = 1.36
Orange juice from concentrate - 98c = 98c
 
Total = $4.92
 
I threw in the English muffins and orange juice because I knew I could. Trade the English muffins for toast and just have water and you can come in quite a bit under $5
 
Live less, live more
--Renee

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Frugal Tips - Garage Sale Shopping

Frugal Tips - Garage Sale Shopping

Saturday was a beautiful day! Not just because the sun was shinning but because of the bright pink and green signs saying “Yard Sale” tacked on light poles around our town.
 
It was my first yard sale of the season and it didn’t disappoint. What first caught my attention were some area rugs that my mother-in-law needs. I could tell by the prices on them that this was a “we want to get rid of this stuff” type of sale. I ended up leaving with a steam juicer that looks as if it had never been used. I paid $9 for it! Quite a good bargain since I saw one that looked just like it in a catalogue for $129 and another for $149.


 

Garage sales can be a great place to find just about anything. Here are 5 garage sale shopping tips:

  • Have a budget. You can really break the bank at these sales. It’s easy come home with an armful of stuff. So before you leave your house have a certain amount of money that you will spend and when it’s gone, you’re done.

  • Start early. If it’s a good sale like the one I went to this past weekend, a lot of the good stuff will go fast. Caution. Don’t go too early. If the sign or ad says it starts at 8 am don’t be there at 7:30 rummaging through boxes that they haven’t put out yet.

  • Test it before you buy it. It’s not a good deal if it doesn’t work.

  • Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap. As I said before, it’s easy to come home with an armload of stuff and your house will end up full of things you don’t need and you’ll have wasted your money. Those nickels and dimes really do add up.

  • Make a list of things that you do need. Sometimes it’s hard to remember exact details of what you needed so make a list including dimensions and sizes. Also, ask family members what they need or what they use, have to buy, or even replace most often and keep a running list, so you can fill it when the opportunity presents itself. You definitely could call this “opportunity shopping”.

Yard Sales are a fun and great way to find things that you can use. Like the saying goes “ One man’s junk is another mans treasure.”

Live less live more,

--Renee

Friday, May 1, 2009

Family Meals for Under $5 - Shepherd's Pie

Family Meals for Under $5 - Shepherd's Pie

...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good...

For our $5 dinner this week I have a classic, Shepherds Pie. I like this recipe because it's quick and also versitile. You can vary the soup and vegetables for a different twist. I've tried cream of chicken soup with broccoli and tomato soup and green beans. Again I served this with a tossed green salad. I usually make this on nights when I just don't know what to cook or if I have a meeting since it really is fast to make.

Shepherd's Pie
1 lb ground beef = $1.46 lb
1 sm onion ( 5 lb bag for 99c) = .02
1 10.5oz can cream of mushroom soup = .50
16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables, rinsed = $1.18 (not on sale)
8 potatoes @ .06 c each = .48
1 c grated cheddar cheese (2lb loaf @ Costco for 3.99) = .38

Tossed Green Salad
1/2 head Romaine lettuce = .65
1 carrot, shredded = .09
1 Roma tomato, diced = .15

Total = $4.91

In a medium pot boil washed, skined and quartered potatoes till tender. Meanwhile brown ground beef and chopped onion till beef is no longer pink and onion is tender. Season well. Add cream of mushroom soup and mixed veggis. Stir to mix well. Place in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Mash potatoes and spread on top of meat mixture. Bake in a 350 oven for 25 min. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake 5 min more or till melted.

Live less live more,

--Renee

Giving To Charity

Giving To Charity

Now on a few of my posts, I mention giving to charities. Some may say this is not frugal, but I think it is, let me explain. You see most financial planners will tell you to give to charity because it just seems to help out the bottom line, they often say they're not sure how it works, but that it does. Well, I know it works from personal experience and I'll see if I can explain the reasons why.


First, I've noticed that those who do give wind up paying more attention or better manage there resources. Second, there's an old saying that says "you receive through the whole you give", meaning if you give through a little tiny whole, that's how you'll receive, but if you give through a large whole that's how you'll receive.

I often describe it as the "Box of Chocolates" theory. Where I have six children and if I had a box of chocolates and I knew if a gave it to one of my children they would keep it all to themselves, but if I gave it to another child they would share it with all the rest, who would you give it to? Everyone always answer that question the same... the one that would share.

I believe life is no different, God blesses those who share the chocolates. So give it a test and see what happens.


Less is more,

---Greg