Category Archives: Frugal Tips

There are many ways to save money on your grocery budget. You can keep track of sales and purchase items at a discount. You can buy in bulk and you can grow your own food. Another way to save money is to make your own mixes. Not only are these mixes easier on your wallet but they can also be much better for you. Many seasoning packets and mixes are full of MSG and other additives, things our bodies just don’t need. Here are a few recipes for you to adapt in your kitchen.

Homemade Rice Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

¾ cup chicken bouillon granules
½ cup dried parsley
1 tbsp. basil
1 tbsp dill weed
2 tbsp, dried onion flakes
1 tsp seasoning salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)

Mix together and store in an airtight container. When preparing rice, combine 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, and three tablespoons of the seasoning. Bring your water to a boil and add rice & seasoning. Reduce to simmer and cook for eighteen minutes.

Homemade Baking Mix (AKA Bisquick)

Ingredients

5 ½ cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp baking powder
1 cup shortening

Mix all ingredients well until crumbly. Store in an air tight container.

Homemade Shake & Bake

Ingredients

4 cups flour
4 cups ground inexpensive crackers
4 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3 tbsp paprika
¼ cup vegetable oil

Mix well and store indefinitely in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Before moving to Vermont I used to make our own homemade pancake syrup. It was much tastier than the products I could find in the store and we rather enjoyed it. It’s no where near as good as real maple syrup but not a bad replacement.

Homemade Pancake Syrup

Ingredients

3 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups water
3 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter flavoring
1 tsp maple extract

Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off burner, but leave pot on burner until the bubbling stops.

 

First of all I want to wish all my faithful readers a very Happy New Year! I enjoy the first of a new year, a time to reflect on what happened in the previous year and a resolve to do  things better for the upcoming year. I like to look over our budget and see where we can save more money. As I examine at our annual budget there are many areas in which the budget is fixed and we can’t really do anything to change it. However one area, which you can change, is your grocery budget. One thing that has really helped me over the years is to make a weekly menu plan.

calendar, planning meals, menu calendar

A view of my menu calendar.

By planning ahead what we are going to eat I don’t have to think about what we’re going to have for dinner. Even if I don’t follow my menu plan exactly I know that I have shopped for these meals and have what I need on hand to make them. After I have planned my weekly menu I write a grocery list. When I go to the store I stick to the list. Using my list I know I will have the ingredients on hand to make the meals I have planned for.

Buying in bulk is another way you can save money on your grocery bill. You can buy in bulk through a food warehouse or a local co-op or just be aware of when certain items go on sale. It is important that you know your prices. If you can’t keep them all in your head make a price book. This is a little notebook where you keep track of the prices of items you purchase all the time.

Try to stay away from processed foods. Whole food is much better for you and often processed foods and convenience packaged foods are more expensive.

Eat one vegetarian meal a week. There are many options for meatless meals. This is also a great way to make sure your family is getting in those extra vegetables. One of my Christmas gifts was a wonderful cookbook called Eating Well In Season, it’s full of vegetarian recipes all of which look delicious!

cookbooks, vegetarian, vegetables, prudent living

A Christmas gift!

Plan on eating leftovers for dinner once a week. Have fun and combine leftovers to make a nutritious dinner. Some of my best soups were made from leftovers!

Learn to bake! Making your own bread, cookies, granola is so much healthier for you and will save you money! A favorite in our house is homemade pizza, when you make everything from scratch this is a very frugal meal which everyone enjoys.

Make your own cleaners and laundry detergent. It is so easy and the products you can make yourself work just as well as store bought products. Check out my blogs about making household cleaners and laundry soap. You’ll be amazed at what you can make at home!

Make it a New Year’s resolution to try some of these ideas at home and save money on your grocery bill!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas weekend. I feel like I’m still on vacation, after all our boys are home from college and they are enjoying time off. It also feels like a Monday when it really is Tuesday. It’s a lazy morning here, the boys are still asleep as I write and the dogs are crashed in front of the wood stove.

dog, woodstove, Boston Terrier

Riley crashed on the other side of the wood stove.

dog, pug, woodstove

Purtie crashed in front of the wood stove.

However for me it’s back to work. With our boys home we go through food much quicker, the bread and milk seem to disappear overnight! I make my own bread and no one prefers store bought so when we’re out of bread it’s time to make more! A friend of mine shared a fabulous no fail bread recipe with me years ago.

recipes, bread, well loved

My well worn original recipe!

I’ve made a few changes but basically haven’t changed it much. I grind my own hard white wheat berries and usually add a little King Arthur bread flour.

wheat grinder, wondermill, prudent living

My WonderMill wheat grinder.

I also use my Kitchen Aid to mix the dough.

homemade bread, mixer, bread dough

Mix dough until it pulls together.

homemade bread, bread dough

Using a mixer to mix the bread dough.

This morning we were out of bread so before the boys get up I’ve got a batch of bread dough made and rising. Should be ready in time for lunch.

bread, bread dough

Let dough rise about an hour before forming into loaves.

Here is the recipe that was shared with me; I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

Nancy’s No Knead Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour*
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
¾ cup water
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 egg

In a large bowl blend 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In saucepan, heat water, milk and butter until very warm (120-130 degrees F). Butter does not need to melt. Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture. Beat 4 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size. It usually takes 45-60 minutes.

Stir down dough. On a floured surface, form dough into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size.

homemade bread, loaves

Dough formed into loaves, ready to rise again.

making bread, bread dough

I roll out the dough before forming loaves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brow. Can brush with melted butter. Serve warm or cool. Makes one large loaf or two smaller loaves. Freezes well.

bread, whole wheat, homemade

We usually keep one loaf to eat and freeze the other two.

*I usually double this recipe to make three large loaves. I use 4 cups of freshly ground flour and 4 cups of King Arthur Bread Flour.

 

Are you still looking for a simple gift idea? Perhaps you plan to be entertaining and want your house to smell wonderful. Here is a simple recipe for a delightful smelling potpourri. In preparation for this recipe I have been drying orange peels for the last week, our counter has a rather large pile of dried orange peels waiting to be put to use! With our wood stove going they dry out in just a matter of days. I think my husband will be glad that I’m finally going to put them to good use!

oranges, peels. potpourri

Dried orange peels.

In a large bowl mix about 1 cup of dried orange peels, 6-8 cinnamon sticks, 2 Tbsp whole cloves and 2 Tbsp whole allspice. Store the ingredients in an airtight container or if you are planning on giving it away, place it in a colorful holiday plastic bag.

cloves, spices, pantry, potpourri

Dried cloves.

cinnamon sticks, potpourri

Buy your cinnamon sticks in bulk.

whole allspice, spices, potpourri

Whole allspice.

spices, potpourri, gifts

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Be sure to include a tag with instructions: Simmer one tablespoon potpourri plus 1/2 cup water in a small pot or potpourri warmer. I found a very small crock pot at a yard sale that is perfect for simmering the ingredients. As the water heats your house will be filled with the smell of the holidays.

gift bag, home made, gift, potpourri

Enclose the potpourri in a pretty gift bag.

potpourri, home made, gifts

Be sure to include a tag with the directions!

Funny the things you grow up with and the things you don’t. In my house growing up I don’t ever remember my mother making any sort of Chex Mix at Christmas, she made other things such as delicious Christmas cookies which we loved to decorate. In the collection of recipes my mother-in-law gave me when I was to be married was a recipe for “Snax Mix” which I think I have made every year since I received it! It is so much a tradition in our family that my daughter says it isn’t Christmas without the Snax Mix! I usually make several batches and give them away to friends and neighbors.

One of the containers I use to package up this Snax Mix is coffee cans. I collect them over the year and even have my mom saving them for me. I wrap a piece of wrapping paper around the can, put a bow on the top and it’s an instant Christmassy package. Very easy and very inexpensive!

coffee cans, inexpensive gift container

Coffee cans transformed!

coffee cans, gift wrap, prudent living

Wrapping paper can transform an ordinary coffee can.

Here is the recipe for Snax Mix. I’ve changed it ever so slightly to add more cereal, I figure adding more cereal without increasing the butter mix means it’s less fattening!

dried cereal, snack mix, munchies

Cereals are placed in a large roasting pan.

 

pretzels, dried cereal, snack mix

All ingredients combined.

Snax Mix

½ lb butter (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp garlic salt
4 cups popped corn (1/2 cup un-popped popcorn)
2 cups unsalted nuts
4 cups cheerios
3 cups rice chex
3 cups corn chex
2 cups wheat chex
2 cups bite size-shredded wheat
Pretzel sticks
Mini bagel chips (optional)

Melt butter over low heat and add Worcestershire, celery salt, onion salt and garlic salt. Stir until combined. Place the popcorn, nuts, cereals, pretzels and mini bagel chips in a large roasting pan and pour the butter mix over; stir to make sure everything is coated. Bake 2 hours at 250 degrees, stirring every so often. Let cool and keep in an airtight container. I insert a plastic bag in the cleaned coffee can and then fill with the snax mix.

coffee can wrapped, gift idea

Snax mix in coffee can ready for gifting.

snack mix, gift ideas

The finished product, ready for snacking!

 

Linked to: HomegrownOnTheHill

nuts, homemade candied pecans, recipes, prudent living, frugal tips

Ingredients for candied pecans.

Candied nuts make a great DIY gift, are a delicious, portable snack and are wonderful on salads! Here are a few recipes for a no-fail method for a crunchy, toothsome treat but secretly cost you only minutes in the kitchen! If you have a membership to a food club like Costco or BJ’s I would suggest stocking up on a large bag of nuts. My favorites are peanuts or pecans. Almonds and cashews also work well. You can make spiced nuts or sweetened nuts depending on whether you are using cinnamon and sugar or other spices such as cayenne pepper and garlic salt. Try a few this holiday season, make them to enjoy as a family or give away as gifts! Friday I will be giving you another recipe using candied nuts, a delicious pear and blue cheese salad!

Candied Pecans

1 egg white
1 Tbsp. water
1 pound of pecans or walnut halves or pieces
⅓ – ½ cup sweetened (I used ⅓ cup maple syrup)
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat egg white together with water until it becomes stiff and fluffy. Fold in sweetener, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Add pecans and toss to coat. Spread out on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, rotating every 15 minutes.

Spicy Cashews

4 cups roasted cashews
¼ cup butter
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ Tbsp. cayenne pepper
½ Tbsp. garlic salt
½ Tbsp. red pepper (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Set nuts aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the remaining ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the nuts and butter mixture. Toss until the nuts are thoroughly coated. Spread the nuts onto the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Serve warm or let cool and store in an airtight container.

Honey-Roasted Peanuts

4 cups peanuts
2 Tbsp. butter
⅓ cup honey
½ tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. salt
⅓ cup superfine or baking sugar

Preheat an oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the honey, vanilla and 1 tsp. salt and stir until combined. In a large bowl, combine the nuts and honey-butter mixture. Toss thoroughly to coat the nuts. Spread the nuts onto the baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes or until browned, stirring every 5 minutes.

Remove the nuts from the oven and stir and sprinkle generously and evenly with the sugar and remaining salt, shaking pan as you go to coat the nuts completely. Let cool, then stir once more, breaking up any large chunks. Store in an airtight container.

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