I’m sure I am not the only person these days looking for ways to stretch my dollars. We are blessed with a comfortable home and land enough to raise children, animals and a garden. Yet there are times when I find myself “wishing” for things that would make my life easier or more efficient. During these times it’s helpful for me to be content with what I have. This allows me time to get over the “want” and determine if I really need the item, am willing to afford and make the purchase,or if the item is just fluff to waste money on.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to be frugal minded, but it does take an openness of mind. Many people like brand named items to wear, use, and purchase. I am of the school of “use what you have and make due”. For instance, you get reusable wax bags every time you buy a box of cereal or crackers. Don’t throw them away. Recycle the box and reuse the bag to hold leftovers, odds ‘n’ ends, sandwiches for your lunch, or vegetables. I’m sure you can think of more items that need a storage bag. I keep all my bread bags too. These work great to store home made bread, contain sack lunches, and a dozen other things that come up each week at my house. I very rarely have to purchase storage bags and this makes my piggy bank happy. I do set aside a reusable bag to store all the wax, plastic, and bread bags that come in through the door and keep it handy so I can quickly get what I need. I purchase store bought bags sometimes, but I wash them out and reuse. My only rule is that if it holds meat, it gets used once and then thrown out.
I also save every glass jar and plastic container that comes in my door. I find myself using them to hold bulk food items, canisters for sugar, flour, & home made biscuit mix, cosmetics and lotions I make at home, refrigerator pickles, buttons, safety pins, Q-tips, dried herbs out of my garden, the “not enough to fill a canning jar” food stuff and the list goes on and on. Yes it takes storage room; if you live in a small apartment or condo you might prefer to put this on your “to-do” list for when you move into a larger home. But it might be worth your time, however, to get a plastic storage bin in a size you can manage and keep some of the glassware & plastic containers you purchase to use again.
This afternoon I had a cavity filled at the dentist and by suppertime I didn’t feeling like cooking. I rarely order out so I went through my frig and pantry and came up with a frugal and easy soup. Let me share what I came up with. Good for you if you have all or most of the ingredients in your garden; but if not, this is an inexpensive but satisfying and delicious meal.
Stick to Your Ribs Broccoli Soup
4-5 white potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped in small pieces
1 head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
1/2 c flour
2-3 Tblsp butter
2 cups milk
Velveeta Cheese to taste
salt, pepper, cumin, & curry powder to taste
Cover potatoes and onion with water or chicken broth and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add broccoli and cook until all vegetables are soft. In the mean time, melt butter; add flour and 2 cups of milk. Stir until smooth then add to the vegetable mix. Stir until smooth and bubbly. At this point, add as much Velveeta cheese as you like, in small pieces, and the spices to taste. Stir until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Serves 4 people healthy portions or 6 people normal portions. Side dish suggestions: salad, crusty or home made bread, crouton garnish.
I found a recipe this week in a cookbook called “Buy Fresh Buy Local”, by B. Carlson for zucchini jam. Anyone who grows a garden understands the need to find ways to use all those zucchini that the plants produce even without rain and in miserable heat. I made the recipe because yes I am overwhelmed with zucchini and cannot stand to waste any; given how much it will be worth in the grocery store in a matter of months. (Even now at the peak of the season they are $1.49 a pound at my local grocery). After I made the jam, I realized this was an economical recipe too. Fresh fruit made into jam is a lot more expensive even if you grow the fruit yourself. So for those of you that need something else to do with your zucchini give this recipe a try. You will find it a sweet addition to saltine or town house crackers, biscuits and toast. It’s also quite easy on the pocket book.
Makes 4-5 pints
5 1/2 c grated zucchini
6 c sugar
1 c water
2 Tblsp lemon juice
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
2 (3 oz ea.) pkgs. jello (any flavor)
Boil 6 minutes zucchini, sugar, and water. Add lemon juic and pineapple. Boil 6 minutes more. Add two 3 oz. each packages of jello. Boil 6 minutes more. Pour hot into jars, put on lid and screw bands. Jars will seal without processing if poured hot into hot jars using hot lids, but to be on the safe side, water bath for 15 minutes.
This recipe tastes fresh and would make a nice gift too.
One of Life’s Simple Pleasures for me is using what I have and being frugal when and where ever I can. I know this stems from my father’s influence during my childhood and young adult years. He grew up during the depression and resisted spending any money he didn’t have to…probably to a fault! In my adult life I have finally
found a middle ground which allows me to make thoughtful purchases without too much guilt, and which also allows me to enjoy finding ways to be frugal and a good steward of my household.
Being frugal can be one of Life’s Simple Pleasures. Go on….give it a try.