Quick Tip: Now is the Time for Thanksgiving Savings

Gather the sales fliers and clip those coupons. It is time to be looking for deals on Thanksgiving and autumn related items such as foods, candles, and other kitchen needs.

Saving money on these items now is a great way to stock your pantry for the coming winter and next year. Look for cans of pumpkin, spices, paper plates, cups, and bowls. Table cloths, napkins, dish towels, platters, and more items will be found. Take advantage if you can. Anything on sale this time of year is fair game.

While many things can be put away to use while decorating the kitchen and table for Thanksgiving next year, the food items can be used throughout the winter.

First year doing this? Keep track of how many of each item you buy, what the regular price for each item was, the sale price, and the coupon discount. How much did you save overall?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shannon

Making Soup with the Bestest: Missy’s Vegetable Soup

This post was supposed to have been published last winter, but I am horribly late.

I spent a few days with the bestest. She needed some healing time, and I went stay with her. It is difficult to watch your best friend go through some things. I ran errands with her, helped with the daily cleaning activities, and was just there for support when she needed it, when I wasn’t at work.

One night, she decided to make a soup with a bunch of different ingredients, and agreed that I could share the process with my readers. So many people had brought food during this time, that we needed to use up what we could so nothing went bad.

This is such a great recipe because you can use whatever you have on hand, even leftovers from other meals or a get-together. Or whatever you can find cheap at the grocery store. There is no set amount of any ingredient, because you are using up what you have on hand. The recipe can be changed up according to what is available.

Ingredients

olive oil

leftovers from a vegetable tray: Carrots and celery

red and yellow peppers

chicken/vegetable broth

water

grape or cherry tomatoes

corn

peas

thyme

basil

minced onion

  1. I heated some olive oil in a large pot while I chopped some baby carrots into thirds, and added the carrots to the pot as she collected the rest of the ingredients we would need.
  2. Then I cut celery into about 1/2 inch sections, sliced in half the long way, and added them to the pot, stirring everything together.
  3. Next I de-seeded and chopped a few each of the red and yellow peppers. I never cook with peppers because I do not like them, but the bestest said it is a good idea to get rid of the seeds. I took her word for it. I added the chopped peppers and stirred it all again, letting everything cook until I could get a fork into the carrots.
  4. Then we added a little broth to cover everything and continued to sauté. The main thing is to sauté the harder vegetables before adding the softer ones.
  5. We chopped the tomatoes into fourths, adding them to the pot, and heated everything for couple of minutes.
  6. Next she added the rest of the broth to the pot, as well as the peas and corn. Missy says to add some water if you want to stretch the liquid further, or if you want to lessen the broth taste.
  7. Then she added a little more olive oil.
  8. Cook this for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

9. Add the seasonings and heat for a few more minutes.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

Photograph by Melissa Ackley-Thompson copyright 2015.Missy does note that she tries to use organic and natural ingredients when she can. And that she will use fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables, whatever is available when she wants to make a soup. This soup can be different each time you make it, so be creative.

Once this soups starts to boil, it smells amazing!

Tips

  • To save money, use produce from your own garden.
  • Grow herbs in pots on a windowsill or on the porch to save more.
  • Shop sales or roadside stands.
  • If you have a store coupon, this recipe could end up costing next to nothing.
  • Make your own broth.

Serving Suggestions

  • It is important to have a protein source along with all the vegetables. Maybe a few slices of chicken, or even a couple of hard-boiled eggs on the side.

Enjoy! And please share with us the results of soups you try on your own.

Shannon

 

 

Toaster Oven Pizza

I love homemade pizza, but I’m trying to eat healthier. My old way of making this delicious treat just wasn’t going to cut it. I had to come up with something different, not using white or wheat flour. Also, I no longer have an oven, because I rent this room, so I had to come up with something for a toaster oven I still don’t always use with great success. I was pleased with how this came out, though I think I need to play with the dough a little to get it just right.

(Update January 2017: I finally bought a new toaster oven and ditched the small ancient one, as well as the microwave. Don’t need those any more. This new one came with an owner’s manual, and I’m pretty darn good at the baking in a toaster oven thing now. Yay! Now, this pizza is even easier to make.)

I started with this dough from Ditch the Wheat, using just two pinches of the sea salt as well as 1/4 cup of parsley.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015After covering the toaster oven pan with aluminum foil, (I know! Please don’t judge!) I used a little EVOO to just cover the foil then pressed the dough into the pan to form a thin crust because the sides of my pan are not very high. Then I added my toppings.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014Stew beef is what I had on hand, left over from the previous days cooking. Use whatever meat you want, or different toppings all together. Experiment. See what you like best.

Ingredients

Almond flour pizza crust dough

EVOO

coconut oil, organic

stew beef, about 1/2 to 3/4 pound

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

garlic powder, to taste

1/2 can of crushed pineapple, drained

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

4 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese

  1. Melt a little coconut oil in a pan.
  2. Add the stew beef, as well as the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  3. Heat until almost cooked through.
  4. Spread a little EVOO over the pan.
  5. Smoosh the dough around until it covers the bottom of the pan, then bake for 10 minutes at 350*.
  6. Sprinkle the cheeses on the crust dough.
  7. Once the pineapple is drained, add it to the pizza covering the cheese.
  8. Spread the seasoned stew beef over the crushed pineapple.
  9. In my very old toaster oven, I baked this on medium dark and 300* for 30 minutes. This may be different for your toaster/regular oven, so watch the pizza. You want the cheese to melt, and the crust to cook through.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Notes:

  • I think I should have waited a bit to remove the pizza from the pan. The first piece came out more crumbly than I would have liked, but the ones I removed after I was done eating (to place on a plate and into the refrigerator) came out nicely.
  • Pour the pineapple juice into a bowl, along with the other 1/2 can of crushed pineapple. Cover and freeze to use in a smoothie another day.
  • Use leftover ingredients from other meals as toppings to save money.
  • Almond flour is expensive, but I don’t use it every week or even every month. It is for a treat item, like pizza or muffins, not for every day use.
  • Save money on cheese, herbs, and spices by using coupons.
  • Try coupling coupons with sales for even more savings.
  • I don’t actually eat cheese often. It is also considered a treat. I am just too stubborn to give it up completely.

Serving Suggestions

  • I had mine with a side of raw carrots, celery, broccoli, and peas.
  • Serve with a side salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices.
  • If using vegetables on the pizza, and not fruit, then serve with a fruit salad.
  • Serve with raw broccoli and cherry tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Try This to Save Money on Groceries

I don’t buy as many groceries as I used to and, when I do, I generally have a recipe in mind when I get to the store, as well as a shopping list and a menu planned. But, I’ve been wondering if there is a better way to shop that will allow me to save more money. After all, every penny counts these days.

My plan is to try a little something different during an upcoming shopping trip.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Step 1:

Start how what I normally do. Go through my coupons and the sales papers to see what sales I can match up with my money saving coupons. However, while I will make note of the item and the coupon value, I wont be making a main shopping list. I may not actually end up buying these items because there may be better deals.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Step 2:

Make a mental note other coupons I have, and be prepared to bring these to the store as well. I have an organizer for this.

Also note what my budget is. I will likely break this down by section. Ex: $12.00 for meats, $15.00 for fresh produce. But, maybe not. I might find it better, once I get to the store, not have a set amount per grocery store section. Maybe I will do two shopping trips, to see which is better.

Step 3:

Write down any foods I absolutely have to buy, whether I have a coupon or not. Non dairy milk and eggs are necessities most weeks, but I will not stick with my usual brand if another, more affordable brand costs less but offers the same needs nutritionally.

Spend a little time researching companies (I wont have to do this for every trip to the store) to determine which brands use BPA and other harmful toxins in their can/freezer bag linings. Note which companies do not, because I would rather buy from them.

Step 4:

Grab my coupons, make-shift list, reusable bags, and a pen, and calculator (I have one of these on my phone), and head to the grocery store.

Step 5:

Remember to look for in-store specials, which are not always advertised. Also try not to be brand loyal, and keep in mind that store brands are usually just as good as the name brand. In many cases, the store brand is the same exact product, with the label being the only difference.

Photogrpah by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Step 6:

Look around the store. Meat is essential, so I will check out what they have to offer. What are the cheapest cuts? Would a slightly more expensive cut be more affordable with a coupon? If not, go for the cheapest cuts and worry about what I will do with it when I get home.

Do the same in the produce section. Then with the eggs and the milk. Be sure my options are healthy ones, and I am not buying a lot of processed foods. Instead, I will use the money I save by not buying those foods to go toward more fresh, canned (packed in water), and frozen produce, or a little more meat. Or, I might use it to begin a stock of canned coconut milk or to buy some almond flour – a real treat.

Step 7:

Go home and put everything away, keeping my receipt handy to refer back to during a meal planning session.

It will be different, not having it all planned out by the time I get to the store, but I am hoping this method will save me a little more money on my grocery budget. I will keep you updated.

Do you have a similar method? Tell us about in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. What works for you? What does not?

Shannon

Autumn Sausage Slow Cooker Meal

Autumn is here, and I’m using the slow cooker more and more. I love this time of year! The beautiful colors. The smell smoke from a wood stove here and there while out walking. And the aromas coming from kitchens as people are baking and cooking.

The squash I used in this recipe came from my parents garden, and it was delicious. I also used some of this squash when making the Butternut Squash and Carrot Mash.

Ingredients

2 carrots
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 small-medium butternut squash
19.5 ounces beef sausage

beef broth to cover (or you could use water)

  1. Rinse the vegetables.
  2. Cut the ends off the carrots, and peel the sweet potato and squash. Save the carrot ends and sweet potato peels in an odds and ends bag in the freezer, to be used when making homemade stocks and broths. Throw the rest out or compost it.
  3. Cut the vegetables into bite size chunks and place them into the crock.
  4. Add the sausage after cutting it into bite size pieces.
  5. Pour beef broth or water over the contents of the crock.
  6. Cover and cook. High = 3 hours/Low = 5 or 6 hours. Carrots should mash easily with a fork.

Tips

  • Try different types of squash. Acorn is a good one, and there are others.
  • There are also different varieties of carrots.
  • Grow your own vegetables to save money.
  • Use coupons combined with sales when buying sausage to save even more.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a side salad of greens, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.

You may also enjoy

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Yum!

Harvest Salad

Enjoy!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: A Simple Food Platter Idea

What would a Fourth of July celebration be without a food representation of the US flag? This simple platter is placed out at the beginning of the party or picnic, for everyone to snack on until the main foods are brought out.

You are simply going to fill a rectangular food platter with red, white, and blue foods, in such a way that finished platter resembles the US flag.

Ingredients

1 pint blueberries

small watermelon

1 pound strawberries

2 pints raspberries, or another red berry

cheese cubes, enough to fill white lines – mozzarella/provolone/another type

  1. Cut the watermelon into slices. Chop into (about) 1 inch squares
  2. Rinse the berries, and use a towel to gently pat them dry.
  3. Hull the strawberries, and cut them in half.
  4. Place the blueberries into a square, white bowl, just big enough to hold them. Put this bowl in the upper left corner of the platter.
  5. Cut a few cheese cubes into quarters, to place on the berries to act as ‘stars’.
  6. Beginning next to the bowl, at the top of the platter, you are going to add lines – red and white stripes. Start with a line of watermelon for red, then a line of cheese cubes. End with a line of watermelon for red, and a line of cheese cubes above that. In between, use the strawberries as red lines, raspberries as red lines, and watermelon if you need to. Do these separately, so only one type of fruit is in each line. (The order does not really matter.) The white lines will all be cheese cubes.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Tips

  • Place on a table and let everyone enjoy while hanging out.
  • Cut expenses where possible. Look for coupons on cheese. If you notice a sale, most cheeses freeze. A sale combined with coupons will save a lot of money. Some fruits, such as watermelon, can also be bought when on sale and frozen.

You may also be interested in

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Fruit Salad

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Berries and Cream

Easy Burger Options

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Berries and Cream

In trying to come up with some easy patriotic recipes, I find myself concentrating a lot on berries because of their brightness of color.

Fresh, they are the tastiest fruits to use. Try picking them on your own for the most affordable way to get them. Growing them is easy, or you can find them out in the wild. Picking them at farms is another way to go, though this time of the year (end of June) you may find they are just as affordable in the store.

This is a simple way to use berries. Find clear bowls, or even clear sundae cups (coupled with real tea spoons!), to chill and serve these in.

Ingredients

1 pint blueberries

1/2 to 1 pint strawberries

a fresh mint for each bowl or cup for garnish, + extra for chopping

coconut cream concentrate

1 tsp or more pure vanilla

  1. Rinse the berries, and blot dry carefully with a clean towel.
  2. Hull and slice the strawberries, and add them to a bowl with the blueberries.
  3. Rinse the sprigs of mint as well, again blotting dry with a towel.
  4. Peel the leaves of mint from a sprig, and chop roughly. Add this to the berries.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine coconut cream and vanilla, whisking or beating for a couple of minutes to combine well.
  6. Fold the cream into the bowl of berries and mint, carefully mixing until coated. Start with half the cream, then add more if needed. A light coating is all that is necessary.
  7. Spoon the berry mixture into clear bowls or cups, and add a sprig of mint to each.
  8. Chill until ready to serve.

Tips

  • Try different berry combinations. Use whatever is in season.
  • See if you can stock up on cream and vanilla while on sale, and look for coupons to save money.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Serve this as a side with a burger and side salad.
  2. Or, serve as a dessert after lunch or dinner.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Watermelon Stars

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Fruit Salad

Berry Parfait

Red, White, and Blue Parfait

Have a happy Fourth of July!!!

Shannon

 

The Frugal Kitchen

There are many ways to keep a frugal kitchen, from smart pantry stocking to using up leftovers. What you do will depend on your style and budget.

Many are trying to live more frugally out of necessity, but others are making a lifestyle choice by cutting back their budgets. No matter the reason you are trying to be more frugal, these tips will help.

  1. One of the best ways to save money is to prepare your meals at home. Eating out, in any semblance of a healthy way, is expensive. If you make easy meals at home, preparing some things ahead, you’ll save a good deal of money over the course of a year.
  2. Stop wasting food. Eat your leftovers. Use them for work or school lunches, for a second dinner, or to create new recipes. Leftover vegetables and meat combined with new ingredients make a great soup or casserole. If you know you wont eat something right off, take the time now to freeze it so it can be used later.
  3. Make a budget, and try to stay within that budget. Have a few dollars each week to dedicate to stocking your pantry as well.
  4. Use coupons coupled with sales when possible, if it will save you money. Sometimes generic/store brand items are still your best bet, so do the math before making your choice.
  5. I learned something important when I started figuring out how to be more frugal. It’s something that not everyone is aware of. A lot of the time, the store brand is simply the name brand with different packaging. So be sure to try a store brand before ruling it out. Be a smart shopper.
  6. Learn how to make homemade cleaners, such as dishwashing detergent, dishwasher detergent, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner and oven cleaner. NOTE: My favorite window cleaner is straight up rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle.
  7. Another way to save money in the kitchen is to buy glass containers for storing leftovers, and reusable baggies for bringing sandwiches and snacks to work or school. While the cost seems higher in the beginning, you’ll save a great amount of money over time. You might even be able to acquire some of these items as gifts for Christmas or your birthday, saving even more money.
  8. Grow a windowsill herb garden to save money. Herbs are expensive to buy, but can be grown organically inside your house year round.

How do you keep a frugal kitchen? Let us know in the comments for this post, or send me an email at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. Your tips will help others to live the frugal lifestyle more easily.

Shannon

Top 10 Frugal Cooking and Food Tips

We are all looking to save money where possible, and food is a good place to start. By getting our grocery bills under control, we can more easily distribute money where it has to go: On bills, clothing, and education, for instance. Here are some tips for saving money in the kitchen:

  1. Use your leftovers! Try not to throw anything out. If you wont use the leftovers right away, store them in the freezer so they don’t go bad.
  2. If you do not have enough money for food, check out the local food cupboards. They are very helpful resources.
  3. Pack affordable lunches for your children to take to school.
  4. Couple sales with coupons for ultimate savings when buying groceries.
  5. Learn how to eat healthier for less. Eating healthy foods means less doctor bills later.
  6. Cook frugal meals. Change recipes to suit your needs. What do you already have on hand? What can you buy that costs less than the required ingredient?
  7. Cheap roasts, combined with root vegetables, make a great affordable meal that will give leftovers for later use.
  8. Make homemade sauces when pears, apples or peaches go on sale.
  9. Grow your own food.

What are your best frugal cooking and food tips? Share them in the comments below, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. Remember to share this article with others who may find it useful.

These eCookBooks will be helpful:

Beverages on a Budget

Main Meal Magic

Very Frugal Vegetables: Recipes and Uses

Fabulously Frugal Fruits: Recipes and Uses

Shannon

Grocery Shopping for 1

Grocery shopping for one is different from grocery shopping for an entire family and daycare children. When I started shopping only for myself, I had no idea what I was doing. I would go into the grocery store and wonder, what do I want? and how much do I need just for me?

There are a number of things to take into consideration when you begin shopping just for yourself.

  1. What do you like to eat? Never mind what anyone else liked, it really is all about you now. So take some time before heading to the grocery store to decide what you want to eat this week.
  2. Make a note if you want to double or triple a recipe to have enough for leftovers, lunches, or freezer meals.
  3. Now decide how much of each food you’ll reasonably eat. You don’t need to buy for all those people, but you do need enough to feed yourself.
  4. Make a list of the ingredients you need to make what you like, adding those items you don’t already have on hand.
  5. Check the sales papers.
  6. Decide whether you want to stock up on pantry items.
  7. Search out coupons to use while shopping. Mark the items on your list that you have coupons for, so you remember when checking out.
  8. Grab your reusable shopping bags and head to the grocery store. Many stores give a small discount for each bag you reuse. Maybe .05 per bag.

Be aware that, on your first few trips out, you may find things you hadn’t realized you wanted. Decide that you’ll consider these for your next trip. Or, you could bring extra cash to cover one or two items.

How was your transaction to grocery shopping for 1? Let us know in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon