Q. I'm a M.M. who takes "snack" to church to have with "coffee" for about 100 people at least 40 are children under 10 yrs. I'm looking for recipes that are cost effective, relatively good for you not to mention good tasting. Would be great if could be made on Tuesday or Wednesday and still be good on Sunday. Any input would really be appreciated. Thank you
Q. I was wondering if you have any recipes for freezing potatoes? We have a surplus here and I'd hate to see them go to waste simply because my family is not that crazy about them. Thanks for any help you can give me.
You can also make a laundry detergent. A recipe can be found at Crystal's Country Store . It is a low-suds detergent and works great!
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A. Here is a muffin recipe that seems simple and can feed 100. I think you could make it ahead and store in an airtight container.
* 16-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
A. Here ya' go! .......
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and slimmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove pan from heat and cover until cool.
A. That is a great question! I, too, have had good and bad luck freezing my surplus potatoes. Knowing how to do it well will help all of us when those little spuds go on sale!
Below is some information about freezing potatoes:
Raw potatoes or potatoes in combination dishes such as soups and stews do not freeze well. Upon thawing and
To freeze baked stuffed potatoes or mashed potato patties, prepare them according to your favorite recipe, cool
To freeze homemade French fries, prepare the fries and cook as you normally do (oven or grease fry), but remove just as they begin to turn golden. Do not fully cook.
Cool quickly in refrigerator. Place prepared strips in moisture-vapor-proof containers or bags. Seal, label, date and freeze. Store no more than two months.
To serve, return frozen potatoes to baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, turning
~Provided by the Michigan State University Extension
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A. Great question! Since many of the pesticides are sprayed on with waxy substances, removing them is tough. You may not get it all off, but you can reduce it with one of the following ideas:
SCRUB: Dampen the produce. Shake baking soda on it and rub all surfaces with your hands. Rinse well.
SOAK: Mix a 50/50 solution of water and white distilled vinegar. Let the produce soak for 5-10 minutes. Rinse well. (Never soak mushrooms since they absorb water).
SPRAY: Mix 1 T. lemon juice, 1 cup water and 2 T. baking soda in a spray bottle. Shake well, spray on produce and let sit a few minutes. Rinse well.
WASH: Consumer Reports suggests scrubbing the produce with a drop of Palmolive Dish Detergent and then rinsing well.
TIP: Don't wash produce before storing them. This accelerates rot. Wash before eating/cooking.
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A. Cooking from scratch is going to be the best answer for your situation. If you can't afford the convenience of pre-made food, and you don't trust the ingredients, then you need to make your own. To get you started, I would look into some sugar-free cookbooks. Some use natural sugars which won't help you, but some use NutraSweet, Splenda, or stevia (an herb).
I personally think NutraSweet is not good for us, so I would explore the other sweeteners. But many people have gotten used to the taste or prefer working with it. For cooking ideas that use NutraSweet, visit their website at www.equal.com
Next, let's look at Splenda. It is actually sucralose and is made from sugar, but has no calories, and only a trace of carbohydrates. It is approved for diabetics. It has no after taste, nor does it get bitter when you heat it, as NutraSweet does. It is used to Sweeten Diet Rite soda, and some other products now. Some people have claimed they had health related problems from it. For recipe ideas using Splenda, visit their website at www.splenda.com.
And last, but never least, let's look at stevia. It is a very sweet herb but has no effect on blood sugar or tooth decay. It comes in herb flakes, powdered as well as liquid form. One manufacturer has trademarked their product of stevia as Stevita. It is 100% natural . Stevia can be purchased at most health food stores. Some people claim they taste an aftertaste with it.
There are websites that help with cooking with stevia. Here is one to try: http://www.cookingwithstevia.com/. You can also contact the American Diabetic Association for a list of cookbooks that meet their criteria.
A. Bread machines are more of a luxury than a frugal tool. They use a lot of electricity for one loaf, and we tend to make inexpensive bread that we could buy for $0.79. But if it’s a great deal, it’s fun to have. I bought mine at the thrift shop for $15 so I enjoy warm bread now and again. Blessings!
A. Great question! Yes you can freeze both of those. But you might have to transfer them to another container that allows room for the liquid to expand when it freezes. The cartons that the milk comes in will not expand enough and may break.
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A. Great question! Pretty much any floor cleaner recipe you would use with a mop will work. Mix some vinegar and water, or some Pine Sol, or some Murphy's Oil and water for hardwood floors.
A. There are a few ways to clean tough areas without the chemicals. I use a citrus solvent cleaner that cuts grease very well. You can buy these in most supermarkets now, in the cleansers area, and they are in hardware stores. One brand I like is Citra-Solv.
Another cleanser recipe is to combine 1 tsp. EACH of liquid soap, borax, lemon juice and vinegar with 1 quart warm water. Let this sit on the grease for 30 minutes, then scrub.
To avoid the hard work of cleaning baked-on grease, wipe the oven after each splattery bake. Cover foods with lids or foil to avoid the messes. Also try low-temperature baking with greasy foods and roasts, which causes less splattering of grease than high-temperature baking.
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A. Many of the nutritional drinks are just a base drink (milkshake, fruit shake, etc.) mixed with protein powder. So there are a few ways to tackle this replacement more frugally than those bottled drinks.
If milk is tolerable, you could purchase any instant protein drink mix sold in bulk that has instant milk in it. This might include Carnation Instant Breakfast powder, HerbaLife Protein Drink Mix, Slim Fast mix, or many of the mixes sold in health food stores. Those, added to milk, would make a good replacement.
But there is an even more frugal way to go. You can make these drinks yourself with ice cream, milk, fruit (or chocolate mix) and protein powder sold in bulk at health food stores. If milk is not tolerable, you can use soy-based protein drink mixes, also sold at health food stores, and make drinks yourself using soy milk instead of cow’s milk.
I recommend adding some supplements to the drink since he is not getting any nutrients from plants or grains. I would add Omega-3 oil for brain and nerve function (very important for him), wheat germ, and vitamin powder at minimum. There are other supplements that are important as well. If he continues on this for much longer, please see a nutritionist for other supplements that he is missing and needs such as vitamin E, C and B’s.
You might also ask you doctor for a prescription so you are paying less, or even ask for free samples that he receives from the drug manufacturers.
Hope that helps! ~Jonni
Protein Fruit Shake
Protein Fruit Drink (milk-free)
Note from Reader:
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A. Thanks for your email. This is a great question! Incorporating healthy cooking into our budget can cost us more, but there are ways around it.
When I first embarked on my frugal lifestyle, I heard critics say that they would never want to live frugally since it meant having to eat “frugal food.” Many people believe they cannot serve healthy food to their family while on a tight budget. I am here to prove that “frugal” and “healthy” can be one and the same.
At the beginning of our frugal adventure, we lived on $40 per week for groceries. Since we were living on half of our usual income, we had to cut the grocery bill down this low to pay other bills. Despite this tight budget, we ate plenty of produce, adequate protein, and were even able to cook around my son’s restrictive food allergies.
The first key to cooking healthy frugal meals is to look at how you shop and cook. Cooking healthy has the same guidelines as any other type of shopping that I describe in detail in my book, Miserly Moms: plan menus around sales, don’t shop at just one store, buy in bulk, and cook in bulk. If you expect to be able to buy ready-made health food, then you will overspend. Furthermore, if you don’t shop sales and pay premium prices for your supplies, then meals won’t be frugal. So the key isn’t what you are cooking but how you are shopping for it, and who prepared it.
The other way to save grocery money is to modify the menu. After all, how can we save money if we have steak several times per week? We need new recipes that call for simple ingredients, but still provide an appealing and healthy meal to the family. That’s why I decided to write my cookbook, Miserly Meals. Each recipe in my book costs less than 75 cents per serving, has a nutritional breakdown to show that it is healthy, and is easy to prepare.
I hope that this helps, and that your frugal and healthy cooking will be an enhancement to your family’s budget, not a frustration.
A. Funny you should ask. That’s an object lesson I use in my workshops. It is important not to waste our time on things of little financial return. If it's close to the cost of making versus buying, go ahead and buy it. Your time is worth something.
I made marshmallows once and it took 4 hours -- and they weren’t as fluffy as store-bought. And store-bought are usually $1. It’s not worth our time! These you should buy and not make.
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A. This inexpensive ingredient kills bacteria and mold and can be used as a disinfectant, but without the risk associated with ammonia. Use the distilled type for a less offensive odor and it leaves no stains. This also can be used to remove soap scum, or wash windows, and added to dishwater to make glass sparkle. It can be used as a stain remover. It has many first aid uses such as bee stings, hives, sunburn, gargle for sore throats, and upset stomachs. The chemical name for vinegar is acetic acid.
According to Care2.com, Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—such as you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can't claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show 48 Hours had a special last December with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this.
Just like antibiotics, common disinfectants found in sponges and household sprays may contribute to drug resistant bacteria, according to researchers of drug resistance at Tufts New England Medical Center . Furthermore, research at the Government Accounting Office shows that many commercial disinfectants are ineffective to begin with, just like antibiotics.
Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board, and in your bathroom, and use them for cleaning. You can spray the vinegar on your cutting board before going to bed at night, and don't even rinse, but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours. Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.
A. Holidays can be festive without being expensive. There are some simple things that can be done to liven up a room or table. Consider these suggestions:
A. We have had great luck with a natural product called Citra-Solv. It is made with concentrated citrus rinds. We have found it at hardware stores and sometimes even at the grocery store. If you cannot locate it at a store, it
A. Gardening is the No. 1 hobby in America. But it doesn't have to cost you a fortune. I know friends who purchase ready-to-plant flowers and shrubs every spring. This costs them $200-300 per year. It is convenient to have an instant garden, but it can be done for less.
Growing your own plants from seeds can save you a tremendous amount of money. A packet of seeds that costs $1 can yield up to 50 plants. That's 2 cents per plant, as compared to $2-$5 per plant for full grown.
I plant my seedlings indoors several months before planting season. If you live in a warmer climate, you can start the seeds directly outdoors when the danger of frost is over. If you need to start indoors, place the seedlings in a sunny area. I use inexpensive pots or seed starter trays. Another option is to use egg cartons. Place one half of an empty egg shell in the bottom of each egg holder for added fertilizer. I place the pots on an old cookie sheet to catch any water spills.
I try to make my gardening investment provide some sort of "return." Therefore, I plant more vegetables than flowers. It helps cut back on my grocery expenses. Some plants are more costly to maintain than others. Many require lots of water, special fertilizer and costly pesticides. Roses are a good example of a high maintenance plant. Make sure that you know what your plants will require before deciding what to plant.
Fertilizing and mulching a garden can run up quite a bill, so here are some cost saving tips:
Manure can be gotten for free from horse stables and chicken farms. Often manure comes with weeds or seed, but composting it before use will heat up the seeds and kill them.
Mulch is free in some cities if they have a recycling program or a local public farm. Also ask tree services what they do with the mulch they create after trimming trees.
Making your own compost pile will save you from buying expensive soil for your garden. There are books at the library that tell you how to start one cheaply and easily.
Seeds go on sale in March and again mid-summer for as low as 5 cents per packet. You can also save the seeds from your own plants and store them for next season (don't let them get too hot or cold). I purchase my seeds from seed catalogs. It has proven to be cheaper and the seeds are a better quality.
Join a garden club in your area. Members will invite you over to look at their gardens, and they will probably send you home with tons of plants. If there is no garden club near you, just stop by and ring the door bell where lovely flowers are blooming. They take it as a compliment.
I get free stones and rocks to line my beds and mulched areas from a local cemetery. They have an enormous pile from when they dig up graves and most are free for the taking (ask first, please).
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A. Health insurance is so costly. But, since we all differ in the needs we have, I cannot recommend just one company. There are so many providers of insurance that could meet all your needs at a better price than what you are paying. The best place to do some comparison shopping is on the Internet. There are several websites that offer price comparisons between providers. Here are just a few to get you started. Please look for others as well:
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A. A successful wedding does not have to be an expensive wedding. Success should be determined by whether the bride, groom and the guests enjoyed themselves. Having a wedding on a tight budget does not mean having to give up style or the fond memories. It just takes some planning and shopping around.We can accomplish that best by the use of many resources and being organized. There are many resourceful and creative people who have pulled off weddings with 100 guests, a sit-down dinner, cake, music, rentals, pictures and flowers for under $1000. Some have even done it for $450.
The first thing that needs to be done is to make a budget. Know how you will pay for this day after the honeymoon is over. There’s nothing more stressful to a new couple than the sticker shock of their wedding expenses. Do you want to be paying for that special day for 10 or more years? Begin the budgeting process by deciding what you want, then compare it to what you can afford. Start trimming back until you get to where you can afford it.
There are many ways to keep that special day memorable without spending a bundle. At the moment, let’s just look at the reception location and food.
First of all, consider having your wedding on a day other than Saturday. Sundays, and Fridays are good alternatives. Many reception locations will offer a discount for an “off” day. If they don’t offer it, ask for it.
Additional savings may be realized by having your wedding in the months of November through April. These months are less busy for most wedding related services and locations. Again, ask for a discount for being off-season.
The time of day can also impact your bill. Having a luncheon costs less than a dinner, having a brunch costs less than a luncheon, and a teatime reception will cost the least of them all. An English tea reception is a fashionable type of reception that costs significantly less than a lunch or dinner approach. Since a meal is not served, it can be the cheapest type of reception with costs ranging from $15-45 per person. Scale this up or down as you have the budget. The teas are usually between the hours of 2 and 4pm, which might allow for a discount on the location rental.
At a tea reception, the food usually consists of a few types of sandwiches (cheese, cucumber, egg salad, ham and tomato), scones, jams, fruits, and pound cake. This is served buffet style, with a tea pourer or two in attendance. This reduces your server expenses. There are usually a few types of tea served, and maybe a fruit punch offered as an option for non-tea lovers. Tea and punch are much less expensive than an open bar.
The location could be a garden, or a hall with an old world look. Avoid a ballroom, as the atmosphere isn’t tea-like. Look for less expensive sites like university buildings, publicly owned buildings or parks, community centers, art galleries, a restaurant’s garden, or a women’s center. Decorations can be simple white linen tablecloths, white china (floral china or silver can be used as the budget can allow), and candles. Add more in the way of flowers and centerpieces as budget allows. Add music and dancing if you can afford it. A harpist, a flute, dulcimer or piano is nice, but if you can’t afford it, play some CDs with the same style music. Having delicate background music and no dancing is fitting for this type of reception.
I don’t think that trying to cater the wedding your self is a good idea. There is little time to visit with the guests or enjoy the day with the bride and groom. If I had to choose between doing it myself and scaling back the party, I would scale back the party. Provide what you can afford, and don’t worry about what others will think. They were invited to celebrate with your family, not review the depth of your pockets.
For more wedding tips, click here.
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Turn your water heater temperature down a few degrees.
A. We love our pizza, too! My husband was always wanting to order pizza, but our budget couldn't handle it. So I learned to make our own. Here is a recipe that we use in our house:
In a bowl, mix the water, yeast and sugar. Mix well and let rest for 5 minutes. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Turn onto a floured surface and knead the dough. Add more flour as needed so that the dough is not sticky. Don't add too much flour or the dough will be hard and dry. Cover with a cloth and let rise. How long you let it rise will change the type of dough that you have. A short rise (30 minutes) will make a thinner crust, where as a longer rise (1-2 hours) will make a thicker and more bread-like crust.
Punch down the dough and roll out on a baking surface.
Combine these and spread over the pizza. If the sauce is too thick, add one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce slowly until you get the consistency that you like.
Bake the pizza at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, or until done.
A. You sure can! Cottage cheese curds are best made from skim milk, but you can make it with whole milk as well. One gallon of skim milk makes about 1 pound of cottage cheese. You need some rennet (many stores will carry it), a stainless steel or glass pot (not aluminum), a candy thermometer, and a colander. These help separate the curd from the whey. For complete instructions, visit PageWise. If your store does not carry rennet, you can order it from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.
Happy cheese making!
A. Teether cookies (or Zweiback) are basically a hard cookie, much like biscotti. Here's the recipe. Enjoy!
Warm butter, milk, salt and 2 T. of the sugar over low heat. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. In a
Slowly add 3 cups of the flour. Mix dough well, then add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time to make a soft
Place in greased bowl, rolling dough so it is covered with grease. Cover bowl and let dough rise until double in
Place balls on a greased baking sheet 2 inches apart.
Let the dough rise until double in size. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes
A. I have heard of many ways that people are saving on Christmas wrap. Some people save undamaged
Homemade Baby Wipes
Cut the roll of towels in half so there are 2 small rolls. Use a very sharp knife. With a pair of pliers, grab hold of
1) Clothing/Shoes: My girls are good about sharing and shopping together but they still love their clothes! They aren't so much into brand names (i.e. Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, etc.) as just being in style. Shopping second hand and consignment stores are DEFINITELY out with them and Wal-Mart doesn't offer a whole lot where we live.
2) Car insurance for teens. My oldest daughter got a good student discount but her insurance premium is $242.00 every 3 months and my youngest daughter pays $292.00 every three months minus the discount. This is through the same company we have our other two vehicles with and also our house, tractor, camper and contractors insurance. The girls are responsible for paying their own insurance premiums.
3) Food: Snacks in particular, As you can imagine my son is a pit and they are all PICKY PICKY PICKY. I spend on average $120-$140 a week on groceries and that doesn't include pop, chips and snack cakes, cookies, etc. It's milk, meat and bread, lunch meat and cheese for school lunches. ~Pam Price
As for the car insurance, it appears that you have investigated the discounts that are available to you (good student, multi-policy, etc.) Make sure you are getting other discounts on your own coverage to reduce the overall cost (non-smoker, middle age, anti-theft devices, low mileage, etc.)
And you have enforced that they are responsible for their own insurance. These are great rules to have. The only suggestions that I can offer is to shop around at different insurance carriers to see if there is a cheaper one. Here are some sites to visit:
You mentioned having contractor's insurance. To investigate if you qualify for the self-employed group coverage, check out www.nase.org/
Your last area was food. Snacks are what eat up a family's budget, whether it's because of teens or not. Snacks are handy and usually taste better than "staple" food. So we need to be careful in this area. We need to decide what they "need" and what they "want." If the family had a choice, they would make snacks their meals. At our house, we budget a certain amount of snacks into the budget, and if they eat them all in one day, that's their loss. The snacks don't get replenished until the next week's shopping. But they won't starve, because we have other types of food on hand. Aside from the healthier staples that they might prefer to avoid, we try and make as many snacks as we can from scratch. We have a supply of banana bread, cookies, muffins, popcorn, etc. on hand. For the pop, we ask that they drink water. Pop is a treat at our house. Their bodies don't need it anyway.
You will have to remember who's in charge of the budget...them or you :)
A. Those machines can get temperamental if we use the wrong stuff....so the key is to use no stuff. In other words, just use water. My husband used to clean carpets and they found that the best tool was steam or VERY hot water. Soaps and detergents leave a residue on carpets. If you want to deodorize, you can add 1/4 cup of white vinegar or oxy clean to the water, but mainly you just want hot water.
A. My kids love chocolate drink mix as well. I have often replaced the mix with this recipe - adjust it to your family's taste by adding more or less chocolate and milk powder:
Chocolate Drink Mix
A. Anything pre-made will cost you more than doing it yourself. But sometimes the cost is so slight that it's really not worth it to make it from scratch. Baking mixes, like Bisquik, cost 6 times more than making it yourself. But sometimes the store brand version is on sale and makes it very affordable. The mixes at the sale prices that you
A. We had a lot of food issues with my son while he was growing up. We found two things that helped the most. First, we had to rely on our own cooking in order to save money. The premade items for specialty diets are so expensive. So I would recommend getting some good cookbooks that will guide you through this. Here are a few to start with, but also ask your local librarian to help you research titles more extensively:
Second, when buying items that are premade, use the same shopping techniques as you would a regular grocery store. Plan your meals around what sale items they are featuring that fit into your diet. Also, buy in bulk and save. If there is a coop in your area, I would join them and buy items at a discount.
I hope these will help you get started. I also have a chapter in Miserly Moms on specialty diets. Please check the book out from your library and see if the added tips might help.