Category Archives: frugal

Got Budget Woes? Simple Grocery Savings Ideas


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


Groceries are one of the few flexible items in a family budget, but it can sometimes be challenging to find creative ways to save on regular family food costs. The following are some simple tips for reducing your grocery expenses. If you’re an old pro at frugal living, some of these may be old hat, but I’m amazed at how many people still find these types of tips helpful.

  1. Plan ahead. Whether you’re cooking your meals ahead of time to store in the freezer, or just planning your menu and shopping lists in advance, it helps to know what you’re going to eat, and when. With fewer last minute food-related decisions, this also helps keep your family away from developing a first-name relationship with the pizza delivery guy! (And your own home cooking is probably a lot healthier than the pizza guy’s wares, anyway.) Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under budget, family, food, frugal, frugal living, frugality, homemaking, saving money, simple living

Debi’s Baked Ziti


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


This is one of those recipes my family can never get enough. I remember my youngest daughter when she was about three, holding out her plate with a huge smile and asking in a sweet little voice, “More yummy noodles, Mommy?” Always a pleasure when the kiddos enjoy an easy meal the grown-up folks love, too. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under budget, budget meals, casseroles, cooking, dinner, family, food, freezer, freezer cooking, freezer meals, frugal, frugal living, frugality, ground beef, homemaking, kitchen ideas, make-ahead, meals, OAMC, once a month cooking, pasta, recipe, recipes, saving money

Debi’s Hacienda Breakfast Sandwich

In a hurry for breakfast but have a few minutes to scramble an egg? With no more effort, you can make this simple breakfast sandwich (or substitute the English Muffin for a corn tortilla for a gluten-free burrito option).

This recipe is for a single serving, but simply multiply each ingredient by the number of people you’re feeding. It doesn’t take much longer to scramble one egg for yourself or four for the family.

And making a breakfast sandwich at home is so much cheaper than buying one on the way to work at the local drive-thru.  Tastes better, too.

Enjoy!  😀 Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under breakfast, budget, budget meals, cooking, eggs, family, food, frugal, frugal living, frugality, gluten-free, homemaking, kitchen ideas, meal planning, meals, recipe, recipes, sandwiches, saving money, simple living, tortillas

Debi’s Carrot Cake Squares


This recipe really does have a “secret” ingredient that makes it the moistest, tastiest carrot cake you’ll ever serve. 🙂

What’s the secret? Well, this recipe calls for jars of baby food carrots instead of grated carrots. Seriously! But don’t tell. Your guests will never know. You can just tell them it’s an ancient family secret that you learned from a friend. 😉 Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under cake, cakes, carrots, cooking, dessert, family, food, frugal, frugal living, homemaking, kitchen ideas, party food, recipe, recipes, snacks

Super Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (12-ounce) frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries

Instructions:

Heat apple juice in a medium saucepan until boiling (don’t add water, just use the frozen juice straight from the can).  Sort out any bad cranberries, then add the entire bag to the boiling apple juice.  Stir.  Reduce heat to Medium.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries “pop” and their innards burst out into the juice.  Turn off heat.  Press any unpopped cranberries against side of saucepan to squeeze out their insides.  Stir thoroughly.  Place in refrigerator for several hours.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  It’s best to make this the day before to make sure it has plenty of time to cool and thicken.

Easy peasy.  And so yummy!  (And healthy, too!)

2 Comments

Filed under autumn, budget, budget meals, Christmas, cooking, cranberry, dinner, food, frugal, frugal living, frugality, holidays, homemaking, meals, saving money, turkey

Make-Ahead Pumpkin Puree

Whenever canned pumpkin is called for in a recipe, just substitute this homemade puree that you’ve frozen ahead.  It’s almost like having fresh pumpkin anytime of year!  And who says you can’t have pumpkin pie in February?  🙂

Make-Ahead Pumpkin Puree

  • 2  3-pound pie pumpkins

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut pumpkin in to 5-inch square pieces.  Remove seeds and stringy pulp.  Arrange pieces of pumkin in a single layer (skin side up) on a foil-lined baking pan or cookie sheet.

2)  Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender.  Allow to cool.

3) Scrape pumpkin “meat” from rind and place in a large bowl or the food processor.  Using a hand mixer or the food processor, beat to a smooth pulp.

4) Transfer to freezer bags.  Label and freeze.  Thaw in refrigerator to use.

Makes 5 cups pumpkin puree.

Leave a comment

Filed under autumn, budget, dessert, family, food, freezer, freezer cooking, frugal, frugal living, frugality, homemaking, kitchen ideas, make-ahead, OAMC, once a month cooking, pumpkin, recipe

Praline Pumpkin Dessert

I stumbled upon this recipe online yesterday at the Betty Crocker site and realized I had all the ingredients in my pantry … no trip to the grocery store needed.  So I made it last night … and everybody loved it!

Click here: Praline Pumpkin Dessert

It’s almost too easy.  I had to read the instructions several times to make sure I wasn’t skipping a step or something.  It’s also one of those things that you can buy the various ingredients when they’re on sale to keep on your pantry shelf for a spur-of-the-moment, relatively inexpensive dessert.

It’s not a pie … but the bottom layer is essentially pumpkin pie filling.  It’s definitely not a cake … but it uses a box of cake mix.  It has a crust on top that’s almost like a cobbler crust with nuts added … but it’s not a cobbler either.  No wonder they simply call it a “dessert” … it defies description.  😉

~Debi

4 Comments

Filed under cooking, dessert, food, frugal, frugal living, holidays, homemaking, recipe, recipes, simple living, Thanksgiving

Beating the Breakfast Rush Hour

Wow.  It’s September again.  School’s starting up and life’s getting back into it’s normal — but incredibly busy — routine.
.
For many families, morning is a hectic and hurried time. Frequently parents feel fortunate just to get everyone out the door fully dressed each day. Serve a hot cooked breakfast every morning? Not a chance.
.
Breakfast (if it’s served at all) often consists of grabbing a toaster pastry and a quick glass of juice as the family runs out the door racing headlong to work and school.
.
I’ve discovered that taking an hour or two on an occasional weekend to prepare breakfast items for the freezer, takes much of the insanity out of the weekday morning rush.
.
Waffles, Pancakes, French Toast
.
To prepare waffles, pancakes and French toast for freezing, cook until lightly browned. Don’t overcook. Then freeze individually in a single layer on a cookie sheet or flat pan.
.
When frozen solid, stack together in a freezer bag. By freezing these items separately, they won’t stick together. You can remove only the amount needed for today’s meal whether it’s one waffle or a dozen.
.
To reheat, just pop them (still frozen) into the toaster on the pastry setting (low) just like you would do with the boxed frozen waffles from the store. Heating in a toaster keeps them firm, rather than limp and soggy which often happens when these breakfast items are reheated in the microwave.
.
Muffins and Quickbreads
.
Make muffins and quickbreads ahead of time to serve for easy breakfasts. Just bake your favorite recipes as usual, cool completely, wrap in foil, label, and freeze.
.
You can also wrap individual muffins in plastic wrap and then place the wrapped muffins into large zip-top freezer bags. Muffins can be easily reheated in the microwave. Serve with fresh fruit and juice for a delicious and easy breakfast.
.
Recipe: Debi’s Breakfast Burritos
.
To get you started on the road toward simple breakfasts, here’s a recipe for easy Breakfast Burritos … definitely one my family’s all-time favorite make-ahead meals. Recipe reprinted with permission from my book, Frozen Assets:  Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month.
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound bulk sausage, cooked (or crumbled links)
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa (your choice of heat)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 24 small flour tortillas (you can also use whole wheat)
 
Scramble eggs in large skillet until done; stir in cooked sausage and salsa. Warm tortillas in microwave 20 – 30 seconds or until warm and flexible. Place 1/3 cup egg mixture into tortilla; roll burrito-style.
.
Freeze burritos in single layer on lightly greased cookie sheet. When fully frozen, wrap burritos individually; place wrapped burritos in large zip-top freezer bags; freeze.
.
To serve, unwrap burritos from foil or plastic wrap that you used for freezing. Wrap in a paper towel. Cook in microwave until heated through (about 2 minutes). Or thaw burritos (remove plastic wrap if used in freezing), wrap burritos in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.
.
Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 6 potatoes, shredded and fried until cooked through (or use hashbrowns)
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced with tops

 This recipe makes about 24 breakfast burritos but it will depend on how generous you want to be with each burrito’s filling — I tend to add lots of the “extras” listed at the end of the article so that’s probably how I usually get the full two dozen … so your mileage may vary.

I’ve even taken these frozen burritos with us when we’ve gone camping. I just place the bag of frozen burritos into the ice chest, and by the time we’re ready for breakfast the first morning, the burritos are fully thawed. Then I simply reheat them in a large skillet over the campstove or fire grate.

~Debi

Leave a comment

Filed under breakfast, budget, budget meals, children, cooking, eggs, family, food, freezer, freezer cooking, freezer meals, frugal, frugal living, frugality, homemaking, kitchen ideas, make-ahead, meal planning, meals, OAMC, once a month cooking, recipe, recipes, saving money, simple living, tortillas

Autumn Veggie Chili

It’s that time of year when I start thinking about yummy autumn-inspired soups (I’ll be posting a recipe soon!), but this vegetarian chili recipe is a great way to use up the current crop of harvest-time veggies and still have sort of a summertime feel to the meal.  Enjoy!

Autumn Veggie Chili

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (15 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1) In large saucepan (5 quart) heat olive oil until hot.  Add carrots, parsnips and onion.  Cook until veggies are tender and beginning to brown (about 6 to 8 minutes).  Stir occassionally.

2) On large plate, mash 1 cup of the drained beans with the back of a fork or a potato masher.  The mashed beans help to thicken the sauce so it seems more “meatlike.”

3)  Stir chili powder into veggies.  Add tomatoes and their juice, all beans (whole and mashed), and 2 cups of water.  Heat to boiling, breaking up tomatoes with stirring spoon as its heating.  Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occassionally.  Stir in cilantro leaves just before serving.

Makes four servings.

Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for more people or for freezing ahead.  Feel free to experiment with other fresh and in-season veggies:  Zucchini, green pepper, potatoes, yams.  Yum!

Leave a comment

Filed under family, food, frugal, homemaking, kitchen ideas, meals, recipe, recipes, saving money, Vegetarian

Make-Ahead Apple Pie Filling

A friend of mine shared this recipe for make-ahead apple pie filling that I plan on using when the apples ripen later this year. You might want to keep it in your recipe files until apple season, too!

Make-Ahead Apple Pie Filling

  • 18 cups peeled apple slices

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 10 cups water

In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; set aside. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch. cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add water; bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until the apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Ladle into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature no longer than 1-1/2 hours. Seal and freeze; store up to 12 months. Yield: 5 1/2 qts. (enough for about five 9-inch pies).

~Debi

1 Comment

Filed under apples, cooking, dessert, frugal, frugal living, frugality, recipe, recipes, saving money, simple living