Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Frugal going into Sept

Corned beef hash bought for 70¢ a can. I did cook 3 cans , one for each of us and one for Hubby's lunch, ended up with leftovers for my bfast (love that) and fried green tomatoes from garden. Batter for tomatoes was Whistle Stop Fried Green Tomato batter ( reheated nice in microwave for Hubby and didn't get soggy)that I had bought some where on clearance. AND now am hunting for it  on sale or clearance because it's the favorite batter for all that we batter fry which isn't very often. I have found it at it's own store but still checking other places for it just to make sure it's the best price especially with shipping.

Leftovers have became breakfast and lunch.Appetizers have became dinner when we aren't really hungry for a full meal. We don't eat much soup as it doesn't transport well for Hubby to take to work and he takes leftovers from our dinner for his lunch.We also mixed a lot of leftovers with eggs for meals.

I had my back injections which brought processing tomatoes to a halt while I recovered and then got a flu shot which always brings me down a couple days also.I did get some older tomato juice etc cooked down for BBQ sauce and got that canned while recovering since I didn't have to stand on my feet much and Hubby could stir it for me. While down I sorted through 150 lbs of softball size candy onions for storage.I had to peel about 2/3rd of them to recure as they had drew moisture and would have rotted in storage also about 10 lbs wasn't good for storage, I am dehydrating some of them and will use the rest for fresh. Rather peel a layer or two and recure than toss an onion that went bad. At least with hanging them in panty hose with knot between each, the whole bunch doesn't go bad because of one.

I'm still picking up a few things that go on sale for our Tday dinner. I'm pretty close to just needing perishables and meat.

I am 2 mos ahead of where I usually am for Christmas savings and have started buying stuff for the Christmas candy and baking.

I have offered to help stock the kitchen for my grandson and his family when they get their first place. They stayed with parents (floated back and forth) while granddaughter was expecting but since Greatgrandbaby (LOL) is born they are looking to move out on their own once they have some extra savings up.I will help by using what we have in our own pantry.

I've not been doing any large shopping...mostly a few needed items that combine coupons and sales or milk. Haven't even bought bread as the last 2 loaves had to be pitched due to mold due to how long they sat there. Maybe when we get our 2nd frig back (son bought one finally, we just need to go get it). I'll bake some and we can store it in the frig.

I've started us eating from the pantry mostly....a couple months early for that but decided to go ahead and start it. I need freezer room for hams and turkeys this fall and right now I don't have any room.

Our trailer broke when we hauled our son's car to the mechanics (shifter broke and the mechanic said it was from resting his hand on it),. Our neighbor runs a fabrication shop and was willing to take a look to see if he could fix it for less than $500. He called today and it was less than $200 and ready for pick up. Better than the $1500 trailer we would have to buy to replace it and we use it pretty much weekly.

Propane is paid in full for the coming season. I still have some caulking and sewing to do to help keep that bill down.

Electric hit $120...still last year it was closer to $185. SO not bad with stove heating canners and the dehydrator running daily along with the AC which I usually don't run this much. I do shut it off in the early mornings and open all the windows to air out the house. We are looking forward to this coming weekend as it's suppose to drop almost 20° and we won't be running it at all.

I have been doing the laundry when I can use the clothes line.

Any thoughts of saving?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

End of August goals

It's the darkest corner of the pantry in the basement and the food we use the most.

It takes over 500 lbs of tomatoes (prefer Roma or paste tomatoes) to furnish a year's worth of tomato products for the two of us.

I now understand why my mother was so "short tempered" at this time of the year with green beans, (don't need anything this yr) corn (done and in freezer) and tomatoes coming in at the same time. I remember 1000 qrt jars and 500 pint jars in the cellar and cleaning it every spring when we planted the garden. Even with me being little (under  6 ) I was helping pick the food and prep it for the canner. I'm not sure she got any much sleep since she only had one water bath canner...FYI it takes 40 min to can tomato sauce in qrts and there is 7 to a canner.
1500 jars of veggies ( no fruit) lasted from Oct(Nov if the weather held and Dad could limp the crop into it) to March. When March came the cellar was pretty empty and Mom was looking for wild greens to put veggies on the table. We didn't go buy veggies at the store. We didn't grow lettuce but the neighbor did and she bartered the lettuce for potatoes that Grandpa grew that we would give her in the fall.

Filling these shelves with the home canned goods of tomato products is my goal this week.

.Final count should be the following:
 top left :enchilada sauce 26 pints (have 32) There is some RoTel and a couple cans of diced tomato with jalapeno sitting on top of it.

Top right: pizza sauce 26 -1/2 pints( have 29)

Second shelf...bought pasta sauce (we ran out of home made and hit the clearance rack with coupons for a good score even though I end up add mustard to counter the sugar in it .) #10 cans of tomato sauce (got on sale in case tomatoes don't do well or can't get them at auction) and a few of homemade pasta sauce that I did early this yr by reusing what I had, like whole tomatoes which I only do when I am tired and needing to get the tomatoes finished before they go bad.

Third shelf is some whole tomatoes that I will reprocess to make either BBQ sauce (12 pints as I use 1 a month) or pasta sauce (52 quarts needed besides what is there) I'll put diced tomatoes (need 104 but doubt if I will get that much unless I score Roma tomatoes at auction again) and the BBQ sauce on this shelf

Bottom shelf is empty...it will have the 52 qrts of pasta sauce.

IF and only if I can have enough of everything I might can chili sauce other wise the #10 cans will go to chili.WHICH I need to can also.

I am also cleaning all the shelves and inventorying what we have in this pantry.Moved some things around the other day and found stuff I didn't know we had and some things I didn't know we needed. I don't know which upset me more. I am half way through the pantry, even with just being down for back injections (still recovering and trying to not do so much and mess myself up) There is 31 shelves and I am down to 10 left to clean,organize and inventory. I plan to do 2 each day this coming week.

I plan to finish the rest of the tomatoes. We still have another good month of tomatoes coming in so I should get closer to the amt I need for the yr for the diced tomatoes.

I had 150 lbs of onions I have been sorting. I have 90 lbs left to go through so I figure 20 lbs a day this coming week to finish.Some need cured again due to having to be "peeled" because the skins got damp which will rot the onions while hanging( tied in panty hose and hung) in storage, better to lose a couple layers now than the whole onion later.I will dehydrate any that are going to go bad soon but most look good at this point. It's early for storage onions but that's how it is this year. I figure maybe by Dec/Jan I will have to be looking for other onions if I don't dehydrate any.

I'm restricted in the gardens (doc knows me so well ) that I can only be out in them with Hubby so I won't get side tracked and try to clean up the gardens in one or two days. We figure maybe 15 min a couple times a day until we see how the back hold, actually it's my neck that is causing the slow down as it's still swollen from the injections (not infection) and causing issues with looking down or up for any length of time.

I have cayenne peppers, mints and herbs to dehydrate and some eggs for noodles that I make at TDay. Eggs are still below 90¢ a dozen here.

What are your goals this week?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Staying on Task of being frugal

BLT's for dinner one night. I went in to Aldi's to get eggs (69¢/dozen) and milk and they had thick sliced bacon on sale for $5.99 for 1 1/2 lbs. I grabbed 2 packages and went out to tell Hubby and he went back in and got 2 more plus more eggs.We haven't had bacon in quite awhile, especially thick sliced. The lettuce and tomatoes came from the gardens.I started baking my bacon awhile back so I could actually sit down and eat with Hubby. I like my bacon crisp and he likes is not crisp (cooked but pliable?) I saved the bacon grease.

Last night we had ratatouille( this picture is BEFORE baking) with polenta. Polenta was on clearance at the grocery store awhile back for 25¢ a box. I took all the boxes they had since it was instant and made 4 servings. Most of the veggies came from the gardens.My yellow bell peppers aren't ready yet so that didn't get put in.I refrigerated the last serving of polenta in a flat pan and then cut it into squares to make fried mush from it.

I started working on "making" my craft/sewing room. I used primer that we had and will be using paint we also had instead of buying new.I found a picture on the internet of what I would love to have, not willing or even able to pay the $2000 to put it together so am looking at what I can find that we already have to set it up that way.

I mended a couple shirts for Hubby.

I harvest thyme,oregano, chives ,all the mints (again still some more SMILING)

I harvested tomatoes,lettuce, bell peppers,red bell peppers, and eggplant for meals.

I made rubber chicken (roasted first meal,then chicken and dumplings (which is actually making 2 meals as one meal is in the freezer for this coming Friday after we get home from the produce auction) and then added it to eggs for what we call big egg (frittata), I got some broth left over from it and some chicken fat to use later.

We didn't do any shopping except for Aldi's which saved us money even though Miss Kira and Rascal felt deprived as they are used to going for a ride two to three times a week.Which that saved us gas money as it's 15 miles one way to town.

Hubby rode the motorcycle all week to work. Not sure if that will happen this week as we have sever storms in the forecast.

I did some fall cleaning in what I call our canning area of the basement. It's where I store the canning equipment,baking pans and those items that there isn't room for in the kitchen (old farm house).  I  store the window AC, potatoes,sweet potatoes and winter squash in this area also so usually in Aug it gets a good cleaning before the AC goes back in storage. (we use the window AC for when I don't want to run the central air but Hubby works nights so he sleeps days. Bedroom gets hot). I had some boxes with what I thought was vinyl tablecloths we use at the reunion and Tday and curtains....well...that's what was on top, what was under that was several boxes of sandwich bags, long heavy duty foil and non stick foil.There is a few more boxes down there I need to check through before doing any shopping.

We redid our budget...then the landlord gave us the update about propane. Usually he just pays it (gets a discount and passes it along to us since he buys for himself at the same time). We usually own him a couple hundred as I make "budget" payments all year....we are paid in full. YEAH!!!! Also, we dropped more than I thought so I can lower what we budgeted for next year. He also let us know he changed electric providers and it dropped our electric bill down about $50 less of where it would have been. Aug is our worst month (hottest and most humid) followed by Dec (baking for Tday and start of Christmas lights and baking) then Jan (Christmas lights and the last of the baking).

My youngest and I have been going over the Tday dinner menu, figuring out what wasn't eaten, what is needed, sales etc.She acknowledged that it's pretty much cut as much as possible unless the kids start chipping in more.Right now the ones that can afford to do, we figure what we do is part of their Christmas.

 She's what we fondly say is the tightest person to do a budget or grocery shop with. I've actually had her argue with me that I didn't need to buy that 3rd can of corn because it was on sale when I needed something else.And don't tell her you have cable and internet when you struggle to pay electric, heat or buy food. She got SNAP for awhile while laid off  and was having to chose between paying rent and buying food and had to attend a class...where she told the instructor they were wasteful for buying rotisserie chicken and canned beans. She took the menu the instructor had, showed what to buy instead and provided recipes and doubled how much food they could get. I had several people tell me about it before she finally admitted the instructor was making her mad for teaching wasteful habits.

How was your week?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

August goals

Sit out on the front porch with my morning coffee (and according to Rascal, play ball).Miss Kira is still staying in the house, needs to cool off about 10° for her to want to be out much. She's over 11 yrs old so we don't fuss at her much about coming out with us.She does go out around the perimeter about 5:30 in the morning. I'm not ready to sit on the porch at that time.

I am still struggling adjusting my routine around my health. I am thinking of physical work one morning and then not doing any more physical work until the next day afternoon to give my body time to recover and hopefully get more done than what I am without causing a total break down where I am down for the count for weeks.

Keep up with the gardens coming in, tidy the gardens and plant some fall crops, not a lot just some.Clear the flower garden. Maybe get some fall pansys  for the front porch for this fall.

Reset the budget. We are coming out of a chapter 13 (Hubby went to 3 days a week for 2 yrs and we pretty much sold everything we could to survive until my medical bills with my heart failure hit and buried us).We know what we have to do to rebuild our credit BUT we also realize that by paying cash for most things we don't build credit that way.Our bank suggested a secure credit card through them that would be half of what we have/will have in savings then if we got hit with another 3 day a week work we would have the money to pay it off and not be in debt (we would pay it off before due EACH month anyways, Hubby learned that lesson) and it would help build the credit. They also suggested since we both have accounts (My son is connected to mine) that we split the savings between us instead of just in Hubby's and that way neither of us pays a fee(my son pays my fee but still).Other than that they felt we were doing really good compared to others customers that went through what we did as almost everyone in this area was affected by that 3 day work week.

Hubby is riding the motorcycle back and forth to work, truck takes 1 gal of gas to go to and from work,bike uses 1 gal to go 10 days to and from work. We do have to watch the weather, if storms are forecasted he doesn't ride, we had a friend get hit by lightening while riding to work and died.

We caught ourselves running to town 3-4 times a week and stopped that. I figured it was over changing when we went to the store to get double fuel pts and not changing when we ran errands plus we take the dogs to the vets for nail clipping (takes 2 people to hold them down to get them clipped and someone to clip them). So I am working on scheduling things when we will already BE in town.

Our youngest is helping me figure out where to cut the budget for the Tday dinner we have. We serve close to 40 people and we provide the most of the meal. I make most of it from scratch. Still through the years we have noticed the old favorites aren't getting ate and even though I don't mind the family taking home leftovers, I don't want to supply all the kids with a week's worth of groceries.Our one daughter has taken on some of the meat so that helps.

Continue to save one dollar bills for Christmas gag gifts (almost have enough). THEN it will be save for the gag gift , then the wrapping paper, then the scotch tape.

Also instead of both of us getting our eyeglasses the same year, we will rotate which one of us gets them.That dropped the budget $600 a year, I have big issues with my eyes . We already reuse frames unless the ins is paying for the frame. We go where our ins pays for the glasses but we both NEED the extras and the ins only pays for basic. My reading glasses (I wear 3 pairs, down from 4 prs) is my cheapest at $25. Our eye doctor runs my most expensive pair through ins first.

Our mechanic (He is a BLESSING) suggested we split getting tires as get 2 tires every 6 months and put the spares in that rotation. He does this for a lot of his senior customers and himself.He is good about checking things out and maintenance. Like telling our son that his tie rod will need replaced so the next oil change that will be done also as you have to remove the oil filter to remove the tie rod.

I talked to my 3 doctors, they have changed my medication so I am still being taken care of but keeping the costs down. My left thumb has a scar that peels regularly. They have prescribed different things that help some for awhile. My primary's daughter that is a doctor also that does missionary work told me to use petroleum jelly. They use it for open wounds etc in the missionary work. It has helped the most and for the longest.SO I need to focus on updating my knowledge of natural meds. Both my great grandmothers are probably rolling in their graves with lack of use I do. One was a "wise" woman (old Celtic) and the other a medicine woman (Cherokee/Black Foot).

I  am focus on keeping the electric bill down to $100 (that's the lowest it goes here and it was running $450 when we moved in, electric heat upstairs and no insulation) and I have already dropped the propane budget down another third from last year. Which is over half from what it was (heats 1st floor only).Landlord replaced the back door( it almost fell off) so that will help. I want to do some caulking on some windows, add batting or old blankets to old curtains to help and plastic the one bedroom window upstairs that is really bad but landlord isn't going to replace it yet.Farm isn't making enough to pay for the repairs.

Stock the non-food. For the first time I have a non-food list and I've been stocking it up with sales and coupons.I printed it off, highlighted with orange what was a NEED NOW, highlighted with yellow is going to need soon and highlighted with green with if on sale and have coupon. What isn't highlighted isn't needed. I do need some shelving to organize this. I have some barn doors that are coming apart, I am going to see if I can use them to make shelves.

Stock the pantry. SIGH..okay deep breath , first, stock the pantry so I can make cookies and candy for Christmas....When I got eggs for 49¢ a dozen I dehydrated 12 dozen for cookies. That's the amt I need to make them. Now eggs are 79¢ a dozen, I am going to get some to dehydrate to make noodles for Tday. They usually run over $1.29 a dozen. I have been matching coupons and sales for baking items.I know I use over 50 lbs of flour so that's on the list.

I updated my pantry list after the last buying session, I printed off only what is needed, if it's not on this list , I don't need to buy it even if it's on sale. My money needs to be stocking what is not already in the pantry at what I consider a "full" amt.I highlighted in orange what was needed now, yellow soon, green is coupons and sales BUT blue is buy in season...example is winter squash, potatoes,sweet potatoes and storage onions.Maple syrup and pie fillings at Tday. Pumpkin in Oct and Nov.Honey is starting to go up in price so I need to get it now.

I'll be moving some of what I store to other places so they store better. My Dad gave me some milk crates for my potatoes with the advice to hang them from the beams or put up on wood and not on concrete.

I plan to finish painting the craft room and set it up so I can do the sewing I want to get down and make the crafts for Christmas without having to keep clearing the dining table.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Frugal stocking of the pantry and my frugal week.

The first thing I have ever told my kids when they went out of their own was have a pantry, even if it's just one week more than you shop.Have an emergency stash of food and water for hard times whether due to weather or no job.It's frugal and it can be a life saver.

I have a pantry, my kids and grandkids will tell you it's a grocery store. One that on several occasions they have had to ask for help feeding their families and were grateful I had a "grocery store" pantry.Yes I stock it like you would see in the store,veggies are together, fruit is together, tomato products together, sweets (pie filling, jams, fruit butters, evaporated and condensed milks etc) are together, in fact the choc chips, caramels, marshmallows are in containers in that area.I need a taller or wider area for tomato products as it takes up more than that one unit.

Variety is the key to what makes us happy.

IF Hubby walked in and said "I'm down to 3 days a week" (paycheck would equal unemployment but his company keeps the people working so they have health ins, WE ARE BLESSED)and he has in the past. I would scrap up the money and buy potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes and sugar. and that would cover us for several months. We have dog food that would need replaced but I would feed the dogs people food of corn bread mixed with veggies, especially carrots. I would even be able to do the Christmas cookies and candy for the family but not as much of it this year.

I have 1400 sq ft in gardens,including veggies, herbs and strawberries. Hubby kept mowing down the other berries.We don't have fruit trees here, something we have already decided on having when we build our own home.I miss my grape harbor I grew up with.

I was raised with a pantry, both of my parents had pantries (they divorced over 40 yrs ago) when I was an adult. Dad whom is still living has a small pantry still that he could eat for a month is something happened. Growing up we ate the pantry until it was gone, didn't think about how long it had been in the pantry, both parents are/were as Mother has passed several years ago for eating food that was over 5 yrs old. You live through the Great Depression, you don't throw food out EVER. I focus on eating it within 3 yrs. In their lives if things didn't grow in the gardens, or if not enough grew, you went without until growing season the following year. I, on the hand try to fill in from Amish sellers or local farmers or really cheap prices.

Since we are talking of Hubby retiring, us moving and building in 3 years. I want to stock now, and the focus on eating everything so what goes in to the new home in that year while saving all that money to build a pantry in the new home.

This past weekend I've been focused on restocking the pantry. Something I realized I had been neglecting and the price is going to be hard. You would think I had learned that lesson already.

The white object is the top of a 5 gal food grade bucket of long grain white rice.There is 10 servings of rice (1/2 cup cooked) in a lb. I have over around 10 lbs. We use 4 servings a meal, so I have about 25 meals in that bucket. I have other buckets of rice also. I have over 100 lbs of different dried beans (15 varieties  and yes, we eat them and yes we eat meat).

The top shelf is an assortment of  condiments like Asian sauces, syrups etc.I make some of the syrups.I would love to learn to make the teriyaki sauce I like. Still surfing recipes for that.

The very bottom shelf is hot salsa that Hubby eats or I put in the chili he eats. My medium and mild salsa is on the shelving unit with the pasta sauce, pizza sauce and tomatoes.Even though that shelving unit is full, I'm short 26 quarts of pasta sauce and 26 half pints of pizza sauce which goes on another shelf.

The middle two shelves are green beans...that Hubby doesn't like to eat but it's what is left from what he brought home for me to can.There is enough for 100 meals so we will be having green beans twice a week with one of those times being 3 bean salad which he does like.

I have 5 of these shelves plus 2 that are only have as high but twice as long so they are equal to what is pictured here. I just spent the weekend filling in some of the empty spaces, even with coupons and sales combined it was a pretty penny,(savings was around 50%) luckily I had been saving grocery money from the months under budget and a few other spots to cover it.I have a 27 cubic ft, 21 cubic ft and a 7 cubic ft deep freezers along with my French door frig freezer.The freezers are full, in fact I need to focus eating out of it to have room for meat this fall) I used to have a second frig that I used for condiments, beverages and bfast foods but we lent it to our son when he bought his house over a year ago and I don't think it's coming back as he just had a roof leaking along with a drive shaft broken in his car. (But he does have a small pantry like my Dad).

BUT still I have 108 items missing...not like 6 cans of hominy, like 6 different things that is 6,12, 24 of each thing. I have over 300 empty spots to fill before November 1st which is when I set my pantry to be stocked except for turkey, ham and prime rib for the freezers and potatoes,sweet potatoes and onions for the root cellar.

Out of the 108, 18 things is coming from my gardens for me to make.... the rest is if we have the money, can I get it cheap and of good quality.

That's a focus of 9 items to be filled each week.

What I did this week?????

I rolled coins to help pay for the kids and grandkids Christmas. I keep my change for this reason. Dad told me to do this.

I dehydrated herbs and mints again this week and I'm dehydrating eggs that was on sale for 49¢ a dozen right now.

I harvested cherry tomatoes, the last zucchini (bugs killed the plants) and another eggplant.

I dug up the onions for curing for storage....no where near what I need to get through to next season.Hopefully I will score 100 lbs at the Amish auction this fall.

I took my extra grocery money and with sales and coupons stocked up in over 35 areas.

I also combined coupons and sales (that wasn't advertised) for paper products that I hadn't planned on buying ( looking for food on the pantry list) but couldn't justify not getting it. I won't need any for several months now.

In sharing some info at the stores, I now have 2 other places that are not my normal places to check into for items that is cheaper that I buy (like freezer bags).

I shop Family Dollar, Dollar General, Save A  Lot ( ours lets me order 50 lb bag of potatoes in the fall) Aldi, Walmart, Kroger, Wagner's IGA, Anna Market IGA, Winner's Meats (also does frozen case sales of fruit and veggies in July), KAH meats, Walter's Meats and the Scioto Valley (Amish) Produce Auction. Winners,KAH,Walters, and Anna Market do a meat bundle sale in Oct. I used to shop Odd Lots, that became Big Lots but they closed in our area.. I was told to check out Ollies (I get Christmas decorations there but hadn't looked at other stuff) and Foodtown. My son has an Asian market near his work that he is willing to stop and check for stuff for me as he has been buying some of his food there. Teriyaki sauce might be cheaper there along with some other Asian foods I use.

I reread some of my old cook books (1937-1943), Tightwad gazette,a couple of them Appalachian and Cherokee along with a couple books with  recipes from the Great Depression, several Amish cookbooks and a couple Italian cookbooks that reflect the cooking that my own Italian grandma (Nonna) cooked....really she was my great uncles wife mother...but she adopted me as her own for better or worse. Gets me back to "down home cooking" instead of going out and buying a ton of things we don't really eat much of.

My spices are bought at an Amish country store or Anna market. I grow most of my herbs.I have been known to go without when my harvest is low. Basil was one a couple years ago.

What can you do to save or stretch what you have?