As the weather gets nicer, many people start wondering how they can save money on groceries while eating fresh foods. One thing is for certain, growing your own herbs will mean less money spent, and… More
My first week home during this pandemic was the worst. I knew what needed to be done here at home, but just couldn’t focus. I really just wanted to be at work. I did manage to get the financials figured out, but that and a few chores were all that I had accomplished.
Then I sat down with two pieces of poster board and a few permanent markers, and made a couple of lists. The first list was for chores. I did not do my spring or fall cleaning in 2019, because I was too busy, so the list was a good one. Twenty-nine things went on that list and, so far, I have completed nineteen, and gotten two half done. I’ve done good!
The second list had to do with writing projects and the four blogs. Thirty-five items went on this list and, as of the time of this post going live, eleven have been completed, and one partially so.
Creating those two lists helped me to focus, and I’ve been doing little things almost every day since. I have only had two days where I haven’t done anything from at least one of the lists, though I did do regular cleaning on those days.
I’ve taken some walks, on the nicest days, and walked to the stores and Aroma Joe’s up the road twice, though I had tried not to go shopping at all. My daughter Skye and her boyfriend have grocery shopped for me once so far, but were unable to find disinfectant. I ran out twice, and needed to walk to the stores to find some. Otherwise, I haven’t gone near people at all. When they shop for me, they leave to stuff on my step, and I go out and get them. I only walked through the drive-thru at AJ’s, and only because I had to pass by there to get to the stores.
One day Skye and Ryan stayed near their car when I came out, and we chatted across the yard from each other for a few minutes. Another day, I did a video chat with my daughter Zowie’s family. Those are my most treasured moments through this. I do talk with my mother every couple of days, and I am in contact with a couple of my co-workers.
I was not prepared for just how lonely this time was going to be. I cherish what interaction with others that I do have, and I can’t wait to go back to work.
What have I learned from this experience, so far?
People are acting crazy. Buying up stuff like crazy. Not caring about social distancing efforts. Getting far too close to people who obviously are trying to avoid getting near people. Being rude to others just because they aren’t happy with the situation. If you are hollering and/or carrying guns, it is not a peaceful protest – no matter how often you try to convince people it is.
I know that, if ever I start earning enough money from writing that I can stay home and just write, I will need to schedule time for socializing and seeing people.
I’ve had to do a lot more ordering online, just for basic groceries and other necessities, because they can’t keep the store shelves stocked. Is this happening everywhere?
My back feels great! I can more easily be standing or sitting, and get to walk around much more. I’m not lugging things back and forth to work, or carrying groceries for so long. I’m taking my time with cleaning tasks, and not overexerting myself.
I can breath so much better. The last few weeks of work I was using their disinfectant cleaning multiple times per shift, and doing the same here at home. It was just too much for my lungs! I was having some issues breathing. I’m still disinfecting here at home, but I’m just using the peroxide wipes I am making on my own. No harsh chemicals.
This lifestyle change produces too much waste. Packaging and materials to have groceries and stuff delivered. A crazy amount of peroxide bottles and paper towels. Way more trash. More water use because I am eating at home more. These things I feel bad about. I can’t wait to get back to shopping with my reusable bags, where I need to order less online. (Read on for a way I’ll be using less.)
I have never watched so much YouTube in my life, and I am absolutely addicted to thrifting/trash-to-treasure and homesteading videos. I love the Homesteading Family and Roots and Refuge Farm. Another food related channel I am watching is Mind Over Munch.
What’s happening on Fabulous Frugal Life?
What’s happening here on the Frugal Recipes blog?
I’m trying to eat healthy most of the time, so I posted an orange smoothie recipe. I’ve also been posting about the smoothie packs I’ve made, and how I’m storing food in my tiny space. Take a look around to see what else I have been sharing here.
I’m not sure if you know it or not, but my dream is to have my own homestead. While I can’t do that right now, I can learn how to do homestead-like things. This is why I’ve been binge-watching homesteading videos. I want to learn all I can until I get there. That way, I will be better prepared.
Recently I decided to go through all of my herbs and spices. You may be shocked to learn that they were all expired! (Oh, no!) Like I said, I didn’t do my spring or fall cleaning last year.
So now I need to stock back up. How am I doing this? A bit more slowly than normal. I used to just go to the store and buy newer jars of the herbs I always had at home. But I hardly use some of that stuff. In fact, more than just a couple of the jars of expired herbs this year weren’t used more than once. Also, 90% of those herbs and spices weren’t even organic.
I ordered organic ground cinnamon and whole cloves through Misfits Market, and I am ordering fresh herbs from them as I can afford to. The fennel, thyme, and parsley I ordered a few weeks back are already dried and in jars. Right now I have more fennel and parsley drying, as well as oregano and rosemary. I’ll keep adding to my herb and spice stash as I can afford to, but am only going to get the ones I know I will use them.
Did you know you can freeze ginger? I did not, but I learned you can and now have some all peeled and cut up and in the freezer, as well as organic cranberries, mixed fruit and some other things. Because I got a new fridge! The old one did not have a separate freezer, and the freezer it did have did not freeze food well. Yes it was, as is this one, just a little dorm room size fridge. But it is perfect for me since I rent a room. This one does have the separate freezer, and I am loving it! ❤ It actually holds a good amount. Besides the ginger and other things listed about, it holds lots of smoothie packs and plenty of meat for me. Oh, and I have a bag of frozen banana rounds so I can make some banana ice cream on a nice day!
What else is happening?
I am trying to organize my kitchen area. I recently removed labels from a number of jars I’ve been saving to use for food storage, and bought three boxes of canning jars: quart, pint, and half-pint. All this has been a huge help. The food looks so much better in jars, than they did left in the various size packaging, and actually takes up less space.
I’m still getting my Misfits Markets boxes, and have switched to getting the smaller size box weekly during this time, to be sure I have fresh produce coming more often. Since I’m not grocery shopping myself during the pandemic, and my daughter is shopping between multiple stores to try to get the things we both need, not always with the best of luck, this means I know I am getting some amount of healthy food weekly. I am able to give her a little from each box to help her out as well.
I did order some reusable snack, sandwich, quart, and gallon size bags. This won’t make up for all the extra waste I’ve been generating, but it will help me to generate less waste in the long run. I have been washing and reusing the smoothie pack plastic baggies thus far, and any other bag I’ve used for anything other than meat. Once I have a chance to use the reusable ones and see how they work, I’ll write a post for the blog.
Since I’m home, I might as well fill some of my time with projects. I’ve been wanting to do these, but had just been too busy.
- I am going to grow an indoor herb garden to help me to preserve some for my new stash, and to use fresh.
- I bought a couple of bulletin boards for another project. I am going to use one for my regular cooking, recipes I want to try, etc. The other will be a planning board for this blog.
- Continue to organize when possible. It’s such a small space here, as you can see by this picture of my little kitchen, and it is taking some time to decide the best way to organize. Any ideas? Let me know!
Well, that’s it for this season. Keep coming back to the blog to see what else I will be posting, and take a look around now to see what’s new.
I received some kale in the last Misfits Market box. At the time, I was making up some snacks to have while being pretty much quarantined. Getting this in my box gave me the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making kale chips.
No, I am not sick. I do, however, have asthma and my mother, and my daughters, and I were worried about my coming into contact with someone who was sick with the virus that has turned our country on it’s side. Because I work at the front desk at the hotel, and rely on public transportation, I am was on the front lines. I took a layoff and am no longer too worried about in contact with an infected person.
Personally, I cannot wait to go back to work. But being home is offering an opportunity for me to experiment with new recipes and do some other kitchen related things. All of which I am going to share with you!
I do hope you are all being safe. I do understand that some of you are considered essential workers, and hope the best for everyone at this time.
I did make baked collard green chips a while back, so I was excited to try these ones.
(The amounts of oil and salt will depend on how many kale chips you are making.)
- Preheat oven to 275*.
- Wash the kale leaves, checking for bugs and dirt, and lay out on a towel. Cover with a second towel and run your hands over it to help sop up most of the water. Remove the second towel and allow kale to air dry.
- Remove the rib from the kale.
- Tear the kale into chip-size pieces.
- Put a tablespoon or two of oil in a mixing bowl.
- Add a few grinds of sea salt.
- Place the kale chips into the bowl, and gently mix it all with your hands, until the oil coats the kale.
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Put parchment paper on the bottom of a baking sheet.
- Place chips on baking sheet, being sure they are laying as flat as possible, and not touching each other.
- Put the baking sheet into the oven, and bake at 275* for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
- Store in a covered container.
- This can be done with chard and collard greens as well.
- Try using different seasonings.
- Eat like you would any chips.
- Serve crumbled over shepherd’s pie, or over mashed potatoes.
I love fresh herbs. But I rent and can’t really have a garden. So I buy them, and try to use them all. If I can’t, I will dry or freeze them until needed.
But I really like them fresh.
How about you?
Sometimes I buy them at the farmer’s market, other times through Misfits Market, and still other times at the grocery store.
I’ve also been known to buy organic herb plants and put them on my windowsill or my desk. These plants are usually about $2.99, and I get plenty from each.
So you see, you can have fresh herbs even if you can’t have a garden.
I told you about my love of the MightyFix subscription service in my first Favorite Kitchen Tools post. This is post introduces you to another tool I use, when doing dishes.
I’d been using those little scouring pads that kept getting rusty, and wasn’t happy with them. When MightyNest sent me a set of two Spaghetti Scrubs, I was ecstatic. No more rust and yuckiness! I hadn’t even known that anything like it exists. This is one of the reasons why I love my monthly surprise packages. (Yes, that is an affiliate link, because I use their products and love them! I will be compensated if you click on the link and sign up.)
The set of two is going to last me a mighty long time, (haha). I’ve been using the first one for a few months now. I’m only doing dishes for one, and I don’t have to use it every time I do them, so I’m wondering if they will last longer than expected. The description did say that one would last six months, so we’ll see what happens.
These scrubs are made from cotton fabric and peach pits, and remind me a little of sandpaper, but not quite as rough. They resist mold, and are a gentle abrasive. You won’t have plastic packaging waste that is prominent with other scrubbers, which is a huge plus. And the box is made from recycled materials. And, less waste over time!
I’m totally loving my scrubbies from MightyNest. (Still the same affiliate links as above.)
Do you use these types of scrubs? What are your experiences with them? And, if you shop through MightyNest, let us know your experiences with that.
Back in November I posted about making variations of cottage pies, and I did the same with a post about shepherd’s pies back in 2013. Last month I posted a tip about using corn and peas, and their liquids, in the pies as well.
I’ve had a couple more questions and wanted to answer them for everyone.
When cooking the carrots, sweet potato, and squash for pies, you can opt to use the cooking liquid from one of these sources rather than from the corn or peas, if you’d like. I’ve certainly done so. Add one to three tablespoons of liquid, depending on the size of the pan, at any point before adding the mashed vegetables.
Also, you can reserve the rest of the liquid after draining to cook the frozen vegetables in, and then use that as the liquid in the pie. I’ve even simply added the frozen vegetables to the hot cooking liquid and not cooked it. Just cover and let sit a few minutes and the hot liquid will thaw the veggies.
Enjoy your pies!
Being single means I do everything at home, plus work and write. I’m pretty busy and I don’t always have a lot of extra time. Especially during the enjoyable seasons when I am out walking more.
I’m always looking for ways to save time on meal prep. Sometimes this means I have put the time in ahead, other times it means that I just throw something together right then.
When making big meals ahead of time, they can be split into individual servings and then a couple of containers can go into the refrigerator for grabbing quick during the week, and the rest can be frozen. You’d just take one out of the freezer the day before you wanted it and place it in the refrigerator.
I thought I’d offer up some ideas for both.
- I love smoothies as a meal. I like mine a little thick, and am learning about fillers. These will mean I still full longer, and won’t need a snack in between meals.
- I love cottage pies. And I have the most adorable single-serve pie plates that I found on clearance to make them in. These are one of the foods I make a big batch of, then split between the refrigerator and freezer for later use.
- Stuffed squash is another great make-ahead meal that can go right into the refrigerator and be heated in the oven while you are busy doing something else. And, if you are lucky, you’ll have extra stuffing for yet a third meal to place in the freezer.
- If you cook up a couple of chicken breasts or some steak, you’ll have a great salad topping any time you want to have a quick meal. Just slice and store in a container in the refrigerator. Also slice vegetables and shred greens to keep on hand. Keeping fresh berries on hand means you can grab a handful to add to salads.
- Lettuce wraps are quick and easy.
- This super easy chicken soup with crisp veggies.
- And this pineapple-keilbasa soup is amazing.
This is all of what I have on the site so far, but I will be working on more 1-person recipes in the future.
You may also enjoy:
- Busy Cooks Guide to Easy Meal Prep
- Five Laws of Being a Frugal Kitchen Goddess
- 25 Kitchen Secrets all New Cooks Should Know
Winter is a great time to stay inside and cook, especially on the coldest days. I’m happy to stay in my cozy little space and make favorite recipes or experiment with new ones. This week I’m planning a slow cooker meal of vegetables and turkey and an egg scramble, among other things.
I love the smell of food cooking. Sometimes it brings back memories of past days, depending on what I’m making.
Twice my father dropped ingredients off to me and wanted me to make something specifically for him. The first time was when the girls were little, and he wanted pea soup. Had I ever made a pea soup? Nope. But when I told him so he said, “You’ll figure it out.” So, I researched a few recipes and came up with something I thought might be acceptable. He loved it.
The next time he wanted me to make something he at least gave me notice, asking for a shopping list. Skye and Zowie were teenagers at this point. I was all like, “Dad, I don’t know how to cook seafood!” But he had faith in me. Again I researched recipes, and I told him what I would need. And I made my first ever seafood casserole that seemed to go over fine at the family Christmas party at my aunts.
I, of course, felt horrible for killing the lobster. After all, I could hear that thing scream as the water got hot! I had tears, and vowed that I would never kill a lobster again.
I love the taste of lobster, mind you. Have as far back as I can remember. But I’d never done the actual cooking of the lobster before.
This experience had put me in mind of the time Zowie’s father bought a lobster to cook for us. Skye had made friends with it, and was horrified when he cooked her new friend. She wouldn’t eat it. I must have been out of the room doing something else, because I never heard the thing scream.
Any time I think of making a lobster dish now, I think of the screaming lobster. I won’t do that again. If the time comes when I do decide a lobster meal will be made, by me, I will use lobster tail from the grocery store.
Not that I see that happening. Lobster is pretty expensive these days. But you never know.
I tried my first ever lobster bisque last summer at The Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor, and loved it! It’s not Paleo friendly though. I have been toying with the idea of making a Paleo friendly version. We’ll see.
I also tried a butternut squash bisque at Season’s in Bangor, and that was amazing too. I want to Paleofy that recipe as well.
Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me. Until I started typing I didn’t even know what I was going to write about in this edition of the newsletter. It all just sort of happened.
During the fall months, I spent some time working on Cottage Pie variations. Cottage Pie is what I used to call Shepherd’s Pie because, well, everyone else did. Always. Recently Zowie pointed out that my pies are not Shepherd’s Pie’s because they lack lamb. I don’t know how or when she learned this little tidbit. Perhaps on a cooking show. But now I am training myself to refer to them accordingly. Lamb is too expensive for my pies. I think my favorite cottage pie this fall was the one topped with baked collard green chips.
I’m trying new foods, and liking most of them. Those collard green chips weren’t bad. And the raw greens work in smoothies!
Now, as much I am all into the healthy side of eating these days, there are some old favorites that happen and will always happen. For instance, my parents old-fashioned donuts. Just over a week ago baby brother posted (teasingly) on his Facebook a picture of the donuts! Indicating our parents were making and delivering them. no one else had received them yet. I was working a double that day. The next day, however, they dropped a bag of these amazing wonders off at Aroma Joe’s for me, where I was working on my latest manuscript. They gave me six. I didn’t share. This event won’t happen again for another year.
But I told mom they should be making these to sell. Even baby brother mentioned it. They could open a shop, which would be costly. Or, as I discussed with mom, they could just make them from home and and sell them from there. They have a garden where they grow food. Lloyd does wood-working, and mom crafts. My sister and I craft. We talked about how we could set up a road-side stand and sell the donuts, extra produce, the things we make. I told her I’d do the graphics.
I don’t know this will ever happen, but it’s a nice little idea with great possibilities. What do you think?
My Littles wanted to spend the night with me, but I work weekends and they have daycare and school during the week. So I took a couple of extra days off last week, with vacation pay, and got paid to hang out with Little Man and Little Miss. ❤ The sleepover happened on Friday night, after their busy days. We had a great time. They left me a few inches of bed space to sleep on, and they proceeded to kick me in their sleep all night long, haha. At least they got some good sleep. I had a few bruises the next day.
They wanted to hang out with Auntie Skye and Ryan the next day, and go to Governor’s for lunch. Little Man had a gift card from Christmas, and wanted to pay for his own meal with it.
He ordered grilled cheese and fries with a chocolate milk, and had been wanting to try the fried pickles so ordered them as well. He loves pickles! Well, as it turns out, he didn’t like the pickle part at all, but loved taking the fried batter off and dipping that into the ranch. I’m sure his parents ate the pickle parts that evening, while he finished the batter. Little Miss was happy with her mac & cheese and her milk.
I bought them a dessert to share at home, after their dinner, and Skye helped Little Man to fill out his first receipt. She showed him where to put his name, then had him copy onto the receipt the amount to take off his gift card, telling him she’d take care of his part of his tip. Little Man, at 4 1/2, felt like a big boy after that!
Then we went to my parents for a visit. Little Man played outside with Skye and Ryan, and Little Miss hung outside with me and mom. She watched Beat Bobby Flay for a bit after watching the others play outside, and fought really hard to stay awake until Grandpa came in from his workshop. Then she laid on mom and napped.
We all had a great time. I love hanging out with my Littles, and my daughters. Tonight Zowie and I are going to a show at the Collins Center for the Arts on campus, for a showing of The Color Purple. I’ve seen the movie, and have wanted to see the show for eight years.
Happenings on the blog, in case you’ve missed them:
- I’ve been getting deliveries every other week from Misfits Market, a subscription service for fresh, organic produce. And I’ve been adding recipes here on the blog that utilize this produce. This is why I’m trying new foods. I was surprised at the cost, because I know how much I spend in my area for organic food.
- I’m starting a new category on the blog featuring my favorite kitchen items. I’ll be adding to this section throughout the year.
- I’ve been experimenting with stuffed squash recipes.
Happenings on my other blogs.
- We’re talking about Cutting Back on expenses on Fabulous Frugal Life, especially when our life circumstances change and we have less money for the necessities.
- We’re also looking at Winter Heating Considerations.
- I’m making changes on my fiction blog, and adding more content. Some of the things I’m covering are How I Stay Motivated, my Switching to Universal Links, and What I’m Reading.
Join us on those blogs to keep up to date.
Enjoy your winter! And let us know in the comments what you are cooking up this season, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When using canned vegetables, I use one to three tablespoons of the liquid from the can as the liquid in my pies, depending on the pan size. Then I drain the vegetables before adding them to the pie. When adding the liquid to the pan, I do so either before or after I put in the ground beef. It doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference which.
- You could also add the liquid after the corn or peas.
- You can add frozen vegetables strait to the baking pan, pouring them directly over the ground beef along with whatever liquid you use. But…
- You could also cook the veggies in water, using a few tablespoons of that water after cooking as the liquid in the pie, and then draining the vegetables and pouring them over the meat.
As per my new year goals, I’m consuming even more healthy foods this year. Whenever possible, I will be getting in extra vegetables, and consuming at least one fruit every day. I don’t want to go overboard on fruit because I’m working on weightloss goals and fruit has a good amount of sugar, but it’s important to include fruit in a healthy menu. And most fruit is simply delicious.
One way I’m meeting my goals is by really thinking through my snack options. And there are so many delicious, healthy snacks out there. The picture above is a snack I’ve made and intend to repeat. Fruits, veggies, and protein, with a little coconut oil in the dip for the healthy fat addition.
Some other things I’m doing more of:
- Fruit-based smoothies with protein powder, a small amount of coconut oil, and ground flax seed, paired with raw green beans or other raw. Vegetables can be eaten fresh from the garden if you have one, to save money. And any affordable fruit can be used in the smoothies. (In this picture, I used two SnapIt Boards, which I am loving right now. I don’t have the best lighting or surfaces in the room that I rent, so these boards help with my picture taking efforts. This is not an affiliate link, but the people who make the boards did send me the pair to try out.)
- Fruit-based smoothies, like above but with greens. Because greens are super good for you and I need more in my diet.
- Fruit slices paired with some seeds. I especially love sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but I’m also roasting the seeds from different varieties of squash. (If I haven’t posted a recipe recently, I will be doing so!)
- Chicken slices with strawberries, carrots, and celery.
- Nut butter and celery sticks.
- Home-baked chard and kale chips.
- Trail mixes.
- Non-dairy yogurt topped with berries.
I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas.
So how about you? What health goals did you make this year? How are you going to reach them?
(Referral Post: From now until 11:59 PM ET January 4th, 2020, you get 50% off your first subscription box and I will get 50% off a future box of my own. Win-Win! Thereafter, we’ll both get a discount still, it just won’t be as good. The amount changes from time-to-time.)
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to begin blogging more. I hope you enjoyed all the recipes I’ve shared, as well as the descriptions of the Misfits Market boxes I’ve been sharing. The second type of post takes a great deal of time to write. This year I’m skipping the second type, unless I here from a number of you asking me to continue with them. I want to mainly share recipes and articles about food. I’ll still mention the boxes in posts that include a recipe using the Madness Boxes I receive, and let you know when particularly amazing discounts occur. But I don’t plan to post specifically about every box.
In case you missed them due to extreme holiday busyness, my recent recipes have included: Roasted potatoes & carrots, spiced almond nog, cottage pie with Italian herbs & baked collard green chips, and cottage pie variations.
Now, on to this hefty discount from Misfits Market!
What exactly is 50% off?
There are two boxes to choose from. The Mischief Box is filled with 10-13 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables. This box usually goes for $22. At 50% off, the box will cost $11 plus tax and shipping for the duration of this offer.
The Madness Box sells for $35. At 50% off you will pay $17.50 plus tax and shipping for 18-22 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables. – To put this box in perspective, I receive a box every two weeks. After giving some of the produce two my daughters, I still have enough produce left over to last me that long. I am single. I dry herbs and freeze some of the produce so it doesn’t go bad before I can eat. I get mostly vegetables, which is what I need. I do not receive bananas, so I buy these separate. Usually the fruit consists of apples, pears, mangoes, lemons, and/or limes. I have also seen grapefruit, berries, and other types of fruit on occasion. It’s a substantial amount of food that fills a couple of reusable shopping bags every other week.
What you get?
Ten to twenty-two pounds of organic produce delivered to your door, which, depending where you are from, can normally amount to about 40% off the store-bought version. Plus, you’ll get 50% off for the next few days only, ending at 11:59 PM ET on January 4th, 2020. This deep a discount doesn’t happen every day, so now is the time to use it.
What do I get?
Full disclosure, even I can use a discount on my grocery bill. Food is expensive no matter how you look at it. When you order your first box by January 4th using my referral code, COOKWME-PI4FFE, I will get 50% off a future box. The discount normally isn’t this good for me either. I don’t get paid to blog, so these referrals are a help when they do happen.
A little more about this company:
- They shipped more than a million boxes of food.
- They rescued more that 15 million pounds of produce. That otherwise would have gone to waste.
- They prevented more than 1 million tons of CO2 emissions with eco-friendly packaging choices.
- Expanded their delivery to more states.
- Customers get the chance to refer friends and family, so they can get discounts.
This year they will:
- Expand delivery to even more states.
- Work toward giving more customers the ability to customize parts of their orders.
- Offer Monday deliveries.
They are working toward getting to know our needs and catering to as many of them as they can.
How to get your first box:
- Use referral code: COOKWME-PI4FFE – This is an important step!
- Go to Misfits Market to make your first order!
- Let me know how you enjoy your Misfits Market box, and how you use the produce. You can do this by emailing me at email@example.com, or by commenting on any posts here on the blog.