Cornmeal Biscuits

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I’m always looking for new, cheap recipes, and I stumbled across this book at my library:

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The “More with Less” cookbook was originally written in the 1970’s, and has since been updated. It had lots of useful recipes, and ideas for using up leftovers, which I’m clearly a fan of. I also keep an eye out for allergen-free recipes, since my kiddo is allergic to most things that taste good. This recipe for cornmeal biscuits immediately caught my eye, because I accidentally bought too much cornmeal, and now two giant, hulking sacks are taking over my whole pantry.

Cornmeal Biscuits

Combine in a bowl:
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Add:
2 tbsp fat (bacon drippings are good)
1/2 cup milk
Grease a large, heavy skillet with bacon drippings, Drop batter from a tablespoon, shaping into 4 biscuits, Brown on both sides. Serve hot with butter or margarine.

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Some variations: I used olive oil, rather than bacon grease, and you can mix some herbs in for different flavors. I’ve also mixed cheese into them before, and those were pretty tasty. I had an extra bag of fish fry sitting around, so I substituted some of that for half the cornmeal, and they were very flavorful.

I formed some of the biscuits into fish shapes, to copy the fish biscuits from the Octonauts cartoon. My kid absolutely loved them. They are a bit crumbly though. I’m planning to try adding some flax meal as an egg substitute, to see if they hold together better, but feel free to try an egg if you aren’t dealing with that particular allergy.

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Overall, they are tasty, and crispy. They go great with butter, and even jam or honey. They are a bit crumbly, but I hope to fix that in future variations. This would also be a good batter to use as a casserole topping for those with food allergies. Or if your kid is obsessed with Octonauts, they were very easy to form into fish shapes. Have fun with it!

February 17, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking, Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

DIY Fingerless Gloves


I freaking hate winter. It’s the worst. In summer you can go to the beach, the pool, play in the sprinkler, or just lay around to cool off. There is (thankfully) no snow where I live, so there’s just nothing to do. We’re all just trapped inside, stumbling over each other, fighting over the best blanket in the house. On top of that, one of my FAVORITE pairs of Halloween socks got holes in the heels. If you know one thing about me, it’s probably that I’m a cheapskate. If you know two things, you probably know that I love Halloween more than all the other holidays put together. That’s right, even more than Washington’s birthday! I mean, look at these awesome socks:

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When these socks became unwearable, I stuffed them in my scrap bag, awaiting an epiphany. I couldn’t just throw them away! Well, here we are, epiphany-had!

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I didn’t even have to cut a thumb hole! I did hem it, however.

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First, I cut off just the tip of the sock, just under that annoying seam that always pokes my pinkie toe no matter how I rearrange it.

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Then, I put it on inside-out, and folded the top down until it was the length I wanted. I then pinned it in place, took the sock off, and hand sewed the seam in place. Because these socks have stripes, it also made it easier to ensure I was folding it straight.

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And we’re done! The whole thing probably took an hour or so, but it’s hard to tell because toddlers and dogs kept distracting me. But now I’m ready to kill some zombies in comfort! And I can keep my amazing skeleton socks! Honestly, I’m so happy with these I’m almost jealous of myself for having them.

January 18, 2017. Tags: , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Eco Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Silly Faces for Lunch

I think all of us are could benefit from getting more veggies in our diets. Yes, even you, T-Rexes. Lots of people have to find ways to “trick” their kids into eating vegetables, which I’m totally on board with. Trick your kids as long as you can get away with it! Personally, I end up having to trick myself into eating more veggies, not because I don’t like them, but because I just kind of forget there are foods other than coffee and cheese.

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The other day, we were all hungry, I had too much produce in the house, and the 3 year old needed an activity. I stood him on a chair in the kitchen to help me make silly faces for lunch. I saw this in one of his Elmo books, so it’s clearly a good idea.

I cut up cheese for teeth, cucumbers and tomatoes for eyes, and used cucumber and carrot peels for hair. You can use whatever you have in the house. And let the kid be creative! Don’t get hung up on it being a face, necessarily. I’m here to tell you, LOTS of those pictures on pinterest are plain old lies. No, random blogger, I don’t believe your 18 month old perfectly decorated that Christmas tree craft you’re guilting me into doing. So here’s what my 3 year old made:

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See? Perfect three year old artwork. And he ate ALL OF IT, which was the important part. I made this one for myself, and it’s far more terrifying:

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I’m not sure why it came out like a nightmare clown, but whatever, it still tasted good.

Some ingredient ideas:
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Snap peas
Rinsed, canned beans
Carrots
Cherry tomatoes
Cheese cubes
Radishes
Cucumbers
Olives
Hard-boiled eggs
Peas
Avocado
Spinach or salad for hair
Cottage cheese
Whatever needs to get used up in the fridge

This was a fun way to “cook” with my kiddo, let him do something creative, and get all of us fed at the same time. So clean out the produce drawer and have at it!

January 11, 2017. Tags: , , , , , . Cooking, Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Save the Celery!

We’ve all had that moment were we open the produce drawer only to be confronted by a wilted, accusatory vegetable.

“You wanted me! You drove all the way to the store, wandered the aisles for an hour, and selected me to come home with you. Then you just forgot me?!?!!”

“Look, I’m sorry, Celery. I just got busy-”

“Oh, please. You managed to cook the squash and the broccoli! You cook all the time!”

“I know, you’re right. Look, let me make it up to you.”

“I’m listening….”

“I’ll write a blog post all about how to use up celery in your condition, so that no celery ever gets wasted again.”

“And?”

“….And, I’ll give you a bunch of dialog, so you can yell at me all you want.”

“Deal!”

So here we are. As I said, I bought too much celery, only to find it limp and unappealing. What to do?

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If the celery is not too bad, just on the cusp of “Oh crap, I better use this up right now”, cut it up for snacks! I’m very fortunate in that I can hand almost any food item to Hubby, say “I made you a snack!” and he’ll eat it up. Much like Joey on Friends when their fridge broke. You can always count on me for current pop-culture references!

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When the celery is just a little wilty, cut some of the bottom off, then place it in a glass of water. It’s still a plant, and it will suck up water like a 3rd grader’s science experiment. If any of the leaves are gross, just throw them away, and clean the celery off. You can use the same trick with green onions.

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Chop it up and freeze it. You can either cut it up by itself, or with carrots and onions, as I’ve done here. The next time you’re making soup you can just throw your pre-chopped veggies in there, and pat yourself on the back for your frugalness! Go you!

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The only way to save money is not to spend it. One way to do that is to eat the food you already have, rather than buying new.

December 29, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 5 comments.

DIY Reusable Counter Wipes

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I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!

You will need:

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Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.

And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.

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I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.

Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!

 

September 30, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Eco Stuff, House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Everything Messy Play

My previous post made me realize just how much I know about messy play for toddlers. It’s really time consuming to stop random people on the street and share my wisdom, only to find out that they don’t even have kids, and I should “Go home and put on pants”. Whatever, I’ll just share my knowledge with you lovely minions who appreciate my pearls of wisdom.

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Messy play is one of my favorite things for so many reasons:

  1. It absorbs my toddler, Nacho, in a way few things can. That sentence makes it sounds like the Blob is ingesting him, but you get what I mean.
  2. Messy play is even entertaining for young babies. I know when Nacho was small, I was definitely at a loss for things to do with him. You can only coo at a wiggling burrito so much!
  3. It’s CHEAP. Having a kid is expensive, especially when yours eats like a linebacker after the big championship game (the Wonderbowl? The Supershow? You know, that sports thing that happens too often for some reason).  The most basic form of messy play is a mud pit, which is free! The other recipes I use are generally pretty cheap, which is always great.

There are lots of variations of messy play, and honestly, just a quick browse on pinterest will overwhelm you with options. Well, I have sorted through tons of those links, and picked out my favorites. I look for recipes that are cheap, easy to clean up, and allergen free (no wheat for my poor guy). Several of these are also taste safe for younger ones.

  1. Slime – You will need a fiber supplement with Psyllium as the active ingredient, food coloring, water, and a microwave safe bowl. I love this recipe because you only use 1 tablespoon of the fiber stuff and 1 cup of water. Whisk this together with a little food coloring, then microwave for 5 minutes. Here is the link to the original post I used that has lots of Q&A if you need more details.
  2. Oobleck – Mix 1 cup water, 2 cups cornstarch, and some food coloring. I like to make one big white batch, then separate it into small containers to add color. I usually don’t measure anything, and just kind of mix it around until I get a good consistency. Oobleck can be reused if you spread it thin, and let it dry thoroughly. Just add water again and remix it. I usually reuse it within a couple days, and just once. There are tons of variations on this basic recipe all over the magical internets, but I stick to the basic one.

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    Dried out oobleck

  3. Tub Paint – You can use shaving cream mixed with a tiny bit of food coloring, or this recipe (this is a tiny batch): 1 tbsp constarch, a couple squirts dish soap, and a tiny bit of food coloring. As with the oobleck, I make a big batch of white, then separate it to add colors. With the soap one, the tub turns into a Giganto-bubble bath after, which entertains Nacho for another good stretch of time.
  4.  Finger paint – When my son was younger, I made his from scratch so they would be taste safe. I used this recipe, and it worked great! We still have Nacho’s original artwork, and it looks great, 2 years later. Now, I tend to buy the store-bought ones when they’re on sale. I should probably get back to making them, though…
  5. Play dough – Since Nacho is allergic to wheat, and playtime shouldn’t lead to him covered in hives, I used rice flour instead of regular flour. That’s not as cheap as most recipes though, so I would use regular flour if you can. I have totally lost the original recipe I used, but there are infinite variations online. If you don’t have time to cook it, you can use cornstarch and hair conditioner, mixed with a bit of food coloring.
  6. Play foam – this is a huge hit in our house, and one we usually keep in the tub. I use a couple squirts of dish soap, a small drop of food coloring, and about 1/4 cup of water. You do need a mixer of some kind for this. I use my hand mixer with whisk attachment and it whips the mixture up into foam in no time. I actually keep my hand mixer in the bathroom now.
  7. Foam dough – This is cornstarch mixed with shaving cream. When I made it, it was somewhat brittle, but some kids will probably enjoy it. I’ll probably try it again with Nacho in the future.
  8. Mud – regular old mud is one of Nacho’s favorite things. I just make sure to hose him off outside before we head in for his bath.
  9. Play sand – Sand is really cheap at Home Depot, and stores like that. It is just insanely heavy. Again, a huge hit! We bought one bag last year, for I think $5, and his sand table (which I got for free!) is still pretty full. If you store it outside, put a cover over it when it’s not being used. We just store our play pool upside down on top as a giant lid!
  10. Jello – Yes, just regular old Jell-o. I buy the store brand, so it’s less than $0.50 per batch. Just follow the package instructions! Easy peasy. I usually make it after he goes to bed, so it’s ready the next day for play time.
  11. Play snow – This is literally baking soda mixed with water, and that’s all. I kind of just mix amounts until I have a consistency I like. (Man, this is a professional blog, will you look at this? Don’t get too jelly of my amazing, super-helpful writing.) One thing about play snow, you will see recipes all over that call for conditioner or other random ingredients, but seriously, all you need is baking soda and water. You can also play with this in the tub and dump vinegar on it to make crazy amounts of foam!
  12. Bean tray – Beans are so much fun for kids to play with, but man, they can get everywhere. I use pinto beans because they’re the cheapest of all the beans, and they’re large enough to be easy to find. No lentils for this activity! I have a big, cheap catering pan I store the beans in with a few scoops, so it’s all ready to go when I need a distraction.
  13. Water – I’m including this because you HAVE to take precautions with water. Not just safety, but holy potato can kids make a mess with it. We played mixing colored water in the tub, and I’m so glad I didn’t try it elsewhere. I also stop up the sink and fill it a little so Nacho can play Pond. Give him a few animals (or toys that desperately need a bath!), and he’s entertained for 20 minutes. Long enough for me to shower (in eyesight of him), or put laundry away.
  14. Bubbles – Nacho is obsessed with bubbles, whether in the bath or blown, so when I bring them out, we go through a million of them. If we use them indoors, I put towels down to prevent the floor getting slippery. We made bubble snakes outside, which was great until the dog began eating them. Okay, that was funny too, but then he got an upset stomach, so don’t let your dog eat bubbles. It’s not pretty. I used one of Nacho’s socks on the bubble maker instead of the wash cloth in the tutorial, and it worked great.
  15. Colored ice cubes – Just make colored water, and dump it into ice cube trays. You can use yogurt cups, or other containers to get weird shapes, but make sure the container is freezer safe. There’s a blue stain in my freezer for totally unrelated reasons. Totally. I usually let these warm up a little before handing them off to Nacho so I don’t have to worry about them sticking to his skin or tongue. I have a Batman ice cube tray (YOU CAN’T HAVE IT), and he loves to fit the bats back into the tray.

I wrote about how to reduce the clean up work the other day, so here’s the link if you missed it.

General Tips:

  1. I buy my food coloring on Amazon, and it’s far cheaper than the grocery store. If I find something even cheaper than that, I will update you all.
  2. To extend a kiddo’s interest in a particular mess, add fun things to it gradually. For example, if Nacho has play dough, he’ll start to lose interest after 20 or 30 minutes. I just hand him something additional to go with it, like dry pasta, and that adds a new level of interest. Googly eyes make an appearance later, then cookie cutters, etc.
  3. Save and wash yogurt cups for scooping, or to hold multiple colors of paints/slime/various goops.
  4. Look around at what you have available, and utilize your resources. Kids will find a way to play with almost anything. Do you have dozens of wine corks around for no particular reason? Not because you’re a parent, surely. Well let the kiddo play with them, and now you’re being resourceful!
  5. Don’t have a plan for HOW the kid will play with stuff. I mean, other than “Don’t throw it at the cat”. Just let them do whatever comes to mind rather than demonstrating how they “should” play with whatever it is. If they seem a little lost or hesitant, by all means get down there and play around, but otherwise let them at it.
  6. With my toddler, I don’t ask if he wants to play with something. That’s get a guaranteed “NO”. I just set stuff up and show it to him, then he digs in.
  7. Start buying industrial shipments of cornstarch. Why does it only come in tiny boxes at the store???
  8. I save random plastic containers and lids to use with all of these. Coffee can lids make great pretend plates, little segmented trays are great for paints or pouring activities. Ice cube trays are wonderfully versatile. Of course, if your kid is young enough to worry about choking on things, be very careful what you hand them.
  9. Random items to extend play: straws or chop sticks (for a more eco-friendly version), googly eyes, dried pasta, various plastic containers and trays, milk tops, large beads or buttons, toy dinosaurs, army men, bugs, animals, other figures that are washable, balls, cars (that are easy to clean), Mardi Gras beads, nature materials like pine cones, shells, sticks, acorns, etc, cutlery, like butter knives or spoons, baking pans, like muffin tins or bundt cake pans, cookie cutters, random craft supplies like gems or feathers, and weird kitchen tools, like a garlic press, potato masher, rolling pin, those odd gadgets that accumulate and you forget what they do.
  10. Above all, have fun! There’s a ton of info here, so just pick and choose a couple things to test out if this is new ground. If you’ve been doing messy play with the kiddos for awhile, hopefully there are some useful tips in here, and maybe you have some of your own! I would love to learn something new, so drop me a comment with your sage advice.

Wow, that is a lot of text. My brain feels so light and empty now! I mean, it usually feels that way until I have some coffee. And then also after I have coffee. And most of the time. You can see why I prefer play things that are simple to set up and clean up!

June 3, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

Take the Mess out of Messy Play

My toddler and I love messy play, but I want to minimize clean up as much as possible. The less time I spend mopping (yes, let’s all pretend I mop), the more time we can play!

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We love playing with slime, play dough, oobleck, play snow, paints, and plain old mud.

  1. Keep it contained.Put the kiddo in a bathtub indoors, or a kiddie pool outside. Or just be outside where a mess won’t matter.

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  2. Use washable container for the mess. I use random plastic containers that are dishwasher safe, like my deviled egg carrier I have never once used. I empty out our play material as much as possible, then toss it into the dishwasher. Tupperware lids, cookie sheets, and large reusable containers are all helpful. Even catering dishes.

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  3. Put something on the floor to catch the mess, preferably something machine washable. I use really old sheets, or cheap shower curtain liners to catch the mess. For something like oobleck, I let it dry on the sheet, then shake it out into the trash before throwing it in the wash. Shower curtain liners are machine washable too! I use one for finger painting, then throw it in the wash on gentle with 2-3 towels. This is a great way to reuse a shower curtain liner that isn’t gross, but you’re replacing for aesthetic reasons, or because those stupid little holes at the top keep tearing for no reason and now it won’t stay up!

    A few other tips for messy play:
    1. If you have pets, try to use materials that are safe for them to eat. I doubt it’s a great idea for a dog to have a cornstarch feast, but at least you don’t have to worry if they snack on a bit.
    2. If I ask my toddler if he wants to play with slime or something, he invariably says no, because that’s a toddler’s favorite word. I’ve had way more success laying out an activity, then just letting him dig in.
    3. To extend play, bring out additional play items as the kiddo’s interest fades. For example, if you’ve got plain old play dough out, and your kid starts to wander off, lay some plastic straws or chopsticks down with it. After another 20 minutes or so, some zoo animals make an appearance, etc. Nacho and I played with play dough for 2 hours yesterday, using this method.
    4. Some messy items can be reused! If you let oobleck dry out, you can just add water again next time you need to use it (let it dry thoroughly to avoid mold). I make homemade play dough and store it in the fridge for months at a time. Homemade gak can last a couple days in the fridge as well. Mud is eternal, and there’s an endless supply right off my back porch.

    Messy play is so entertaining for kids, and my son has been a fan since we introduced it. There are so many variations, and recipes available, you can be creative and use what you have available. This is also some of the cheapest entertainment available, so you know that makes me happy!

June 1, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Lakeline Mall Play Area

Like most parents, I’m constantly looking for ways to entertain my kiddo, especially ways that don’t cost anything. To that end I follow a blog called Free Fun in Austin, which alerted me to the existence of a free play area inside Lakeline Mall. It’s air conditioned, free, and has wifi and comfy seats. What more could an adult need?

Little Nacho is about 1 1/2, and he liked the play area well enough, but he’s a bit too young to get the most out of it. Mostly he wanted to point to all the shapes and letters on the carpet and name them. The place is neat, and pretty clean, and kids older than mine had a blast. I’d say it’s probably better for ages 3-7. We also saw a kiddie train going through the mall, but I didn’t find the starting point or where to pay for it. I know, you guys come here to get all the wonderful details, and once again, I delivered. That wasn’t vague at all!

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To sum up, it’s clean, free, and air conditioned. It’s not so amazing that it’s worth a special trip over there, but if you’re at the mall anyway, it’s a good place for kids to burn off energy.

July 13, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

The Price Book

A friend of mine was recently asking how people save money on groceries. Me being the frugal guru I am, I of course had plenty of advice for her. As I’ve mentioned before, a price book can be a huge help with this. Here’s a link to mine, so people with access to HEB grocery stores can probably use this, but everyone else can use it as a template. A price book might seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I generally add a couple items to it each time I go shopping. I didn’t run around the store with paper and pen writing down the unit prices of everything they stock. That would be madness!

  1. I don’t have to remember prices on everything.
  2. I can compare different items. For example, brown rice is waaaaay cheaper per pound than quinoa, so can I substitute that in some recipes?
  3. I can compare within items. How much cheaper are dried beans than canned? Is it worth the extra time required to cook them myself? (Hint: Yes)
  4. Is that sale item really a deal?
  5. Is the coupon worth it?

As you can see, I only shop at HEB and Costco. If I happen to find myself in a Target or Sprouts, I’ll glance around, but generally I’ve found that these are the two cheapest places, and they BOTH offer fantastic quality. Don’t forget to always look at the unit price when shopping. Often, the larger package is NOT more cost-effective. I noticed that with frozen corn this week.

If a price book seems too nit-picky to you, or while you’re in the midst of building one, you can use a few guidelines while shopping to reduce your costs:

  1. Produce for $1 a pound or less.
  2. Meats for $2 a pound or less (keep in mind if it has bones, you’re getting less meat).
  3. Only X number of snack items, or they can only cost X per ounce.
  4. If that thing you use all the time is on sale (For REAL on sale, not like a nickel cheaper) STOCK UP.
  5. Feel free to make your own rules. Only 1 item that’s not on the grocery list, or only 1 item under $5, or only items with <10 grams of sugar per serving, whatever you’d like.
  6. Keep an eye out for clearance or sale items you would normally buy anyway, or that will be a cheaper substitute for something you’d normally buy. If goat cheese is on sale for only $8, but you normally would have bought feta and only spent $4, you didn’t save money. You spent twice as much as you could have. However, if it’s on sale for $3, stock up!

Of course, dietary restrictions, personal preferences, and number of family members will all impact your spending. I’m shopping for 2 adults, 1 enormous baby, 3 ungrateful cats, and 1 spoiled corgi, so our bills are not as cheap as I’d like.

Other ways to save money on food:

  1. Use up what you have. Have a “clean out the fridge” buffet every 2 weeks or so. Maybe you’re eating cucumber slices, strawberry jell-o, and stir fry, but at least it’s getting eaten. Not every meal has to be beautifully plated or instagram-worthy. The important part is that it is getting eaten.
  2. Shoplift! Nothing’s better than free food! (I’m totally kidding, please don’t get caught shoplift).
  3. Use recipes that utilize cheaper ingredients, or substitute them yourself. Raisins are generally cheaper than dried cranberries or blueberries, so can you use them instead?
  4. Make from scratch when it’s more cost effective. A bag of dried beans is generally cheaper than canned beans, and it only takes water to make them. Look at some of your regular purchases, and consider reverse-engineering them.

Food can be pretty pricey, and it seems to take a lot of work to eat cheaply and healthily. Here’s a free, online cookbook for more ideas, and of course, my blog is chock-full of wonders and amazement. Can’t you just feel it radiating out of your monitor?? Good luck, Happy New Year, and stay frugal!

January 8, 2015. Tags: , , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

Altering Baby Clothes

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Kids have an annoying tendency to grow out of things before they wear them out. My sweet baby Nacho is no different. He had these two adorable pirate onesies:

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And of course he outgrew them. But they’re so cute! So we’re going to alter one of these into a t-shirt! I opted to use the longer one for this, so there’s enough fabric to roll up and hem.

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Cut the onesie as low as you can, as shown above. Retain the pieces for an upcoming mystery project! Now roll the extra fabric up as little as possible so you can hem it. You want to leave as much fabric as possible for the t-shirt, but you need to cover up that raw edge so it doesn’t unravel.

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Once you have everything pinned in place, just sew the hem down. I did it by hand since my sewing machine has forsaken me, and it didn’t take much time at all.

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And now your little rugrat can look awesome for another few weeks, until his next growth spurt!

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October 3, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Baby Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 3 comments.

DIY Baby Food

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Making your own baby food is super cheap and easy. Before my son started eating solids, I started squirreling away food for him in the freezer. Basically you take a food, run it through a blender or food processor until it’s smooth, then store it until you feed it to a baby. It’s seriously that easy. I do have a few hints and tricks to make it even easier. I mean, of course I do. I couldn’t call myself That Clever Chick if I didn’t, could I? Well, not without shame.

Cooking:

To start off, you want to keep each food completely separate from everything else, meaning no apple banana blends until you make sure the kiddo doesn’t have a food sensitivity. I’m sure you’ve read all about this in your baby books, so I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail. So the first ingredients in your baby food will be just the food and probably some water.

I never peeled anything, like apples or pears, that I would normally eat the peel on. I did cook these things, rather than just blending them up raw, at least at first. Bananas don’t need to be cooked, but I think everything else should be. You can steam, boil, or bake your foods. For apples and pears, I cut them up into chunks and put them in a glass baking dish with some water. I put this in the oven at 350 until they were mushy. Wait until it cools to run it through the blender.

For first foods, whatever you’re making for the baby, you basically cook it until it’s mushy and will blend easily. So instead of steaming broccoli until it’s still crisp, let it keep going until it falls apart when you push on it. Once the baby gets a little older and is ready for more textured food, you can cook it a little less. Eventually you can just mash up what you’re having for dinner, and skip the blender altogether.

Tips:

Make extra of whatever you’re eating. Are you making broccoli for yourself? Make extra (without any spices or seasoning) for the baby.

Once you have the blender or food processor out, make several things at once. You can microwave a sweet potato, or just blend up some raw bananas if you don’t have anything else prepared for your little munchkin.

Rinse the container out in between batches until you’ve established what foods your baby is not allergic to. After that, run them through starting with safe foods, and ending with new foods. So you know your baby can have bananas just fine, but haven’t tried peas yet? Blend the bananas first, store them, and rinse the blender. Now when you run the peas through, if there’s a tiny bit of banana residue left behind, it’s no big deal.

Something too runny? Add a little baby cereal to thicken it up.

Too chunky? Try adding water, then blending it some more. Still not working? Run it through the microwave a bit to cook those stubborn bits.

Need ideas? Check out the baby foods at the store. They have quinoa and stuff in them! You bet I made some quinoa for my kiddo. I mix it in with fruit or veggies to add protein, and he loves it.

Storing:

I used normal ice cube trays to freeze the baby food into small, ~1 ounce portions. Once these were frozen, I popped them out and stored them in freezer bags. The food cubes fit into baby food jars, so you can just grab one, pop it into a jar, and then store it in the fridge or put it on the counter to thaw. They’re so small, they thaw pretty quickly. I got baby food jars from a friend who bought her baby food, but you could also buy your first few jars. You can also use Tupperware. Nothing says you have to feed your baby out of those classic glass jars.

Note: If you’re going to make baby prunes, soak them until they’re soft first. I destroyed my old food processor trying to blend them up too enthusiastically. Also, they DO NOT pop out of ice cube trays, so when making prunes, freeze them in small, individual containers. They stay sticky and never freeze solid. I haven’t tried other dried fruits, but I would take the same precautions with them.

 

I hope you’ll try this. It seems like there’s some special process Gerber goes through to make their baby food, but there really isn’t. Making your own is surprisingly easy, and cost effective. By my rough estimation, homemade costs half as much as store bought, if not less. Think of all the toys you can buy with the savings! Or something boring, like college savings.

September 29, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

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