November 02, 2011

Being Frugal...

All my married life Ive had to try to make ends meet. Just like most of you. And I used to do all sorts of things to accomplish that. But lately Ive noticed that I'm doing more and more of it, not just to save money or time but because I really like it. And so I thought Id make a list of things I do or am going to do so it might inspire you too. Feel free to add to this list so all of us can save. And check back too because as I remember things I do or find new things to do, I will be adding to the list.

1. Planted a garden. This is one of the easiest things to do normally. Only I moved to a coastal area and live on a hill made of rock lol. And so I had raised beds put in and the soil isn't the best either. And then there's the rain factor and the slugs, not to mention critters of all kinds. This is the second yr of the garden. I should say its the first but I did plant a few things late last yr after the beds were in and didn't get much. I'm still struggling this yr but so far we ate lettuce, broccoli, peas and some herbs from the garden. I think the cost of starting a garden can be a bit pricey depending on what kind and how large but over time it can be very frugal.

Its also much healthier because you can decide what to use, organic seeds, compost, etc. I have started a compost pile but I never had one before and I think this might not be done right. But at least I'm recycling alot in there that would normally end up in the garbage. So all around it is a good thing.

2. Ive started an herb garden here. Ive always had one wherever I lived . But it takes time to get some going so its an ongoing thing. I like to use fresh but I will dry some too because some don't make it thru winter. I also buy bulk herbs and spices online. I like Mountain Rose because they are fair trade, organic and very very good. Packaging and shipping are great. No I get nothing to tell you this. I just like to tell you about good places and things. I also buy herbs from my local Health food store. In this way I get all I need to refill jars instead of paying big bucks from the grocery stores.

3. I try to save things from the meals we eat. I will save small bits of meats or veggies to use in frittatas. I get fresh eggs from a farm and maybe once a month make a huge 12 egg frittata with the leftovers. Its good hot or cold and can even be frozen.

4. I save any peelings from my carrots, celery or any kind of onions to use in stock. I also save all the bones from a roasted chicken, even the ones you buy roasted at the grocery stores. And when there is enough I make stock. Then I can the stock in pt. jars for making rice and such and qt. jars to use to make soups. They have to be pressure canned and it does take some time but once its done, you have gold sitting on your shelves to be used from things you would have tossed. 

5. I grind my own peppercorn mix with sea salt and put it on a jar by my stove to use in cooking. Saves me time and since I use alot it gets used up fast. I hate dried out stale pepper from containers. And in this way you can mix the proportions to what you want.  My personal pepper mixture is with Tellicherry peppercorns and sea salt. But I also have a Himalayan pink salt and Tellicherry pepper mix to sprinkle on finished foods too.

6. I make many spice mixes myself in bulk and then use canning jars to store them in. Saves money. All those little packages add up and you can make it for pennies compared to what you buy. If you take a day to make them and make a nice batch, you will have it on hand anytime you want it. I make my own steak seasoning, taco mix, chili mix, rib rub, Cajun spice, chicken fried steak spice and even my own ranch dressing mix. You can buy buttermilk powder to use in that. Its great for baking too.

7. I make my own jams and I make them with organic sugar. I also make them low sugar. Health wise I try to avoid as much sugar as I can. But also because I love to use them in my morning yogurt and who needs all that sugar for breakfast.

8. Ive recently found a blog that tells you how to make canned dog food using scraps and building on it. That is my next project, to start saving dinner scraps and veggies and add some oats and rice and make my own canned dog food. As it is I give her some of our food sometimes. But I don't like to give it to her often cuz she has a sensitive tummy. So then I toss it out. This way I could still use it for her but can it for when I need it. I never thought of doing this before.

9. I'm trying to use up whatever cleaning supplies I have here and go more natural. I just used ammonia to clean off things from my stove. It was really burned on there and nothing including harsh chemicals took it off. A few tbs. of ammonia and the parts sealed in a bag worked like magic. Also borax and a scrub brush work wonders in a shower. I also make a kitchen scrub from baking soda and orange essential oil. I buy that in bulk to keep on hand for cleaning. And the kitchen smells so good when I'm done.

10. Ive started canning some of my leftovers. If you have a pressure canner you can , can chili, soups, stews that you have made. I like having that on hand instead of them taking up room in the freezer. Also if the power goes out, I wont lose them.

11. I dry the leaves from my celery. Most recipes call for the ribs and that's fine. But the leaves have flavor too and are great to add when you don't want the chunks of celery in something. I use them fresh in my meatloaf too. But anything I don't use I dry for those times when you run out of celery when your cooking.  You pay alot of money for that in the stores so when you shop buy a bunch of celery that has lots of leaves. I look for those especially.

12. When buying a bulk package of chopped beef I use it all up in different ways. Today I made meatloaf, so I double or triple or whatever depending on my recipe and then make one for dinner and package the others for quick dinners when I don't have time. Or make your taco meat filling and freeze in small freezer bags.  Its easier to make a bunch and saves time later. While you can defrost it if you have time. I have put them in the oven frozen. I just lower the heat some and cook it a bit longer till its done.

13.I do the same thing for meatballs for spaghetti sauce. You can either make them all and freeze them to cook later or bake them off then freeze them. I find it easier to bake them all then freeze them cuz I also do that to the sausage I use in my sauce. Then I just break it down to pkgs that I will use for several pots of sauce. Since I hate doing these things, it saves me time to do it all at once and there's less mess.

14. If you grow herbs, when you trim them use the trimmings in vinegar. If you don't have a use for them right away making individual bottles of vinegar for salads is a good way to save them. Today I topped all my basil so it wouldn't flower but didn't have time to deal with the leaves. I had a half bottle of red wine vinegar, so I tossed them in. When I want a flavored vinegar, I don't have to spend lots in a gourmet shop. I have one with chive blossoms sitting on my window sill right now too. As the blossoms pop up, I pick them and toss them in the bottle. Vinegar is better to use than oil. Sometimes things put in oil can cause botulism plus, it has to be refrigerated then.

15. When I juice lemons for anything I save the zest. Lately Ive been canning alot and using fresh lemons. I have the peels left over and its such a waste to just toss it all out. And so I grate the lemon zest from the pieces. I put them on a small dish to dry out, then when dry I store in a jar. When I don't have lemon in the house and I want that flavor I can just crumble some into what I'm making. You can do this with any citrus. I add dried lemon to some of my spice mixes. So instead of having to buy it, which I did in the past, I now have my own that's much fresher.

16. I make garlic roasted potatoes with some of my meals. I always make extra. I freeze them in small bags to use in hash, omelets or even burrito wraps. They are already cooked and seasoned with garlic and herbs so they are quick to use when you need some. I just fry them up, with a bit of butter and a touch of water to steam them and refresh them and then put them in whatever I'm making. 

17. I preserve my ginger.  I don't use alot of ginger so when buy it, I often end up throwing a shriveled piece away cuz I didn't use it fast enough. And then of course I don't have it when I need it. So to solve that little problem I buy a piece of ginger, peel it and slice it into 1/4 in . rounds. I put them in a jar and top it with dry sherry, then refrigerate them. This preserves the ginger for when I need it without going bad. And you can even add some of the ginger flavored sherry for more flavor in a dish. When I think of it, I buy a ginger knob and do this after I use it for a meal. This way I always have some fresh around.

18. I make my own vanilla extract. I buy vanilla beans and put them in a small bottle or jar, then I cover them with brandy and let them sit for a month or so. I usually have two going cuz I like vanilla and toss it in everything. This way one is steeping and the other I can use up. You can do this with many things to make your own extracts. I also make vanilla sugar that I use to top pies and cakes with. I mix the cinnamon for snicker-doodles with vanilla sugar too. Some recipes say use vodka for this but I prefer the smoothness of brandy. Plus the brandy adds a little back up flavor of its own.

19. I save the bacon fat. I use it to fry my Chicken Fried steaks in, or refried beans. Its good to saute veggies in too. And a friend told me her family used to put it in baked goods. Last yr. I did that with gingerbread cookies and they were so mellow. 

20. I make crumbs. We eat a lot of bread around here but do not like the heels. So I save them to make breadcrumbs. When its a hard crusty type bread that I know I wont use up, I either make croutons to freeze or if there is enough I slice it and make french toast to freeze. 

1 comment:

Lili said...

My computer's acting funny tonight, but it finally let me read this post after several tries! I really enjoyed all your frugal tips, not just for the frugal part, but for the sheer joy of creativity you possess in everything you do. Love the idea for the sea salt and peppercorns and also the homemade vanilla extract and herbs in the vinegar! Oh boy, I really need to do some of these! Oh and you really should make some nonpareils..they have fiber in them so how bad could they be?! haha ~Lili