I did a little fun-shopping the other day. That does not happen very often. One of the places I went was Wal-Mart, to get a few craft supplies. I thought it would be fun to dress up the canning jars I use for storing food.
1/8 yard each of blue and red gingham, because I just love that look ($1.72 for both)
32.8 feet of jute cord ($0.94)
24-pack of Kraft assorted labels ($2.97)
4-pack of 8 ounce canning jars ($4.22)
Total spent for supplies = $9.85/4 = $2.46 per jar
And there are 20 labels, plenty of jute cord, and plenty of fabric left over for other projects.
The materials I used to complete this project will be used over and over, meaning I wont have to re-buy things any time soon.
I’ve decided I love this size canning jar, and will likely buy more. They’ll come in handy for snacks, and can easily be packed into a lunch bag for work. These jars will also hold small bits of food, taking up less space in the pantry than a full size jar with just a little food in it.
Wash the canning jars, lids, and rings. Dry thoroughly.
Place a bowl that is about 7 inches in diameter over the fabric.
Use the permanent marker or chalk to trace around the bowl on the fabric.
Wash the bowl so the marker comes off easily.
Cut 4 circles out of the fabric, where you traced. I folded each of my fabric pieces in half and stacked the two types of fabric, so I would only have to cut once. The fabric was thin enough to do this.
Divide the trail mix or other foods among the jars.
Place the lids on the canning jars.
Center a fabric circle on each lid.
Place a ring on each jar, screwing into place.
Cut four 24-inch lengths of jute cord.
Tie one 24-inch length of jute cord around each ring.
Using the permanent marker, write ‘Trail Mix’, or whatever will go into the jar, on each 4 labels..
Tape the tag to the top of the jar.
If you’ll be putting different types if things in each jar, you might want to use a hole punch to put a hole in each label, and tie them into place at the ring. This way, you’ll be able to see the label at a glance and know what exactly is in each jar.
If I could have found the right color scrapbook paper and the tag punch I wanted at the store, I would have made my own labels.
It’s not likely I will ever get up early enough to make lunches, on mornings I have to go to work. Instead, I tend to spend part of my Sunday afternoons preparing for my first three-day stretch. You see, I work a mixed schedule every week: 8-3, 7-3, 3-10, Thursday off, and then 3-11 Friday and Saturday with Sunday off. Because of this, I like to be prepared for those first few days each week. I bring my 2 lunches and 1 dinner to work with me, and place them in the housekeepers refrigerator. Then I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
What I Prepared
lemon iced tea
butternut squash and carrot mash
zucchini chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
As you might imagine, my place smelled amazing all day!
The first thing I did was start the chili. I always make this in a slow cooker. Find the recipe here. I used New York strip steak, ground sausage, ground beef, and turkey smoked sausage as my four-meat combo. I had a coupon for the sausage: Buy 1 get 1 free, and they were on sale at $2.50 each. So I paid $2.50 for both, and only used 1. Good deal!
While my chili was slow cooking, I made some applesauce. The chunky applesauce recipe is here, though you may enjoy an apple-pear sauce instead. For my sauce, I used 2 Red Delicious and 1 Granny Smith. They came in a bag of about 4 each, with some oranges, and were on sale $3.50 when I was at the store the other day. Another good deal!
Once the apples cooked down, I divided the sauce between three containers. I left them uncovered to cool, then covered and placed them in the refrigerator.
While the chili and the applesauce were cooking, I filled a few jars with vegetables. In 1 jar I put cucumber rounds. The other two jars I filled with celery sticks and broccoli that I had leftover from the previous week. You can find more vegetable combination ideas here. With the broccoli and celery being left over from last week, and the cucumber coming from my parents garden, I did not spend any money to make these vegetable jars.
I also made up a few water bottles of lemon-honey water. I keep these on my table, drinking one each morning. My first morning water is always room temperature. Supposedly, this is good for you. Simply place a few slices of lemon in the water bottle, add a teaspoon of honey if desired, and add water. Cover and set aside. A guest at the inn dropped off a couple of lemons at the front desk, indicating they couldn’t bring them across the border. Free for me!
Using the other half of that lemon, I made lemon iced tea. Considering the tea bags were leftovers from the previous winter, I did not really pay anything to make this either.
The butternut squash and carrot mash was easy to make. Because the squash came to me fresh from may parents garden, and the carrots were left over from last week and figured into that budget, I did not spend anything to make this recipe. Another freebie!
The squash and carrot mash was more than enough to cover dinner, 2 work lunches, and a work dinner. Notice how I used the rest of the cucumber for my dinner.
And I had leftovers.
I topped the squash with chili. Look at that healthy dinner! It was delicious. And already my work meals are taken care of. I had more leftovers.
My 2 lunches and 1 dinner for the beginning of my work week. Squash and carrot mash topped with chili, vegetable jars, and applesauce. Yum!
And the leftovers? Enough for dinners at home Monday and Tuesday. I will have some cucumber and zucchini rounds on the side.
Next, I used my moms recipes to make dessert. A chocolate zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting. I know people tote the separating of wet and dry ingredients, then combining them, but I just don’t do that. It would only mean more dishes to wash. I combine everything into one bowl. For the cake recipe, I used zucchini from my parents garden.
And it is easy to mix everything together.
Because I rent a room, I only have a toaster oven for baking. I made small cakes in mini bread pans, and 6 cupcakes.
I frosted these cup/cakes with the homemade cream cheese frosting, and I kept just a couple small pieces of cake for myself. The rest I gave away to people at work.
As you can see, I had a very busy day of cooking. I also cleaned and did the fall decorating. I was one busy lady.
NOTE: (January 2017) While I am eating much healthier these days, and this blog is going to be reflecting that, I am not above having something sweet once-in-a-while, especially a family favorite such as this cake. I make it once a year.
Every so often you will see a recipe that is not healthy but, for the most part, this blog is now going to be about eating as healthy as possible on a budget,
Vegetable jars are so easy to make. You’re simply filling small canning jars with raw vegetables, covering, and storing in the refrigerator until they are ready to use. The produce will last for most of the week this way. They can easily be grabbed as a component to a work or school lunch.
Some vegetable ideas for jars
Celery sticks, broccoli, and carrot sticks
Cucumber, zucchini, and yellow squash
Carrots, broccoli, pod beans
Pod peas, carrots, and cucumber
Pod peas, pod beans, and yellow squash
Cherry tomatoes, snow pod peas, and carrots
Grape tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumber
As you can see, there are plenty of combinations to choose from.
What other vegetable combinations can you come up with? Let us know in the comments.