Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Frugal Grocery Shopping

Strategies for frugal grocery shopping requires taking the time to plan meals, examining store advertisements for sales, clipping coupons and avoiding pre-packaged foods when possible. This may mean changing the way your family eats, such as reducing meat consumption and incorporating more fresh vegetables than canned vegetables. However, with the thousands of different recipes from which to choose, you will no doubt find that eating healthier is tastier and cheaper.

Although buying in bulk appears to cost you more when checking out, when you divide the items by the cost, you will always find that you are saving money than if you were purchasing the items separately. In addition, bulk purchasing means you do not have to make as many trips to the store,

Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips

Most store brands contain the same ingredients as name-brand items. The only thing missing is the famous name and packaging. While you may taste a noticeable difference between some name and store brands, most are insignificant. Trying several store brands every time you go shopping will quickly familiarize you with the best-tasting store brands and allow you to forgo forever those expensive name brands.

Meats

We can all do with less meat in our diets because of the unhealthy fats contained in many meat cuts. Although we obtain much of our protein from meat, protein is a component many other foods, so reducing meat consumption should not affect your health. Frugal grocery shopping means discovering cheaper substitutes for meat that provides protein, such as:
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole grains
  • Mushrooms 
Instead of serving meat every night, plan a meatless meal every other night. Grilled cheese sandwich, tomato soup and a special dessert make for a warm and filling supper.

Try this affordable dessert: Apple Rings


 

Ideas for Frugal Grocery Shopping

Frugal grocery shopping comes down to planning, shopping wisely and using all, wasting none.
  • Purchase ingredients to make cookies or cakes at home rather than buying them pre-made.
  • Use fresh vegetables. Cutting them up and freezing them will save you a lot of money 
  • Shop at farmers’ markets when certain foods are in season  
  • Drink water instead of soda pop. It saves money and is better for you.
  • Cook most of your food in bulk if possible and freeze for future use (when you have limited time, for example, to fix something) 
  • Freeze dark bananas to make banana bread Plan meals around what is on sale at your grocery store 
  • Make Saturday your leftover meal day by using whatever is leftover in your refrigerator. 
Another frugal grocery shopping tip is to avoid running to the store just because you think you "need" one item. This is why planning meals ahead of time is a great time-saver as well as a money saver. Unbelievably, research indicates that going to the store to buy one item inevitably leads to purchasing more items, usually things that you do not really need. Grocery stores realize this and take advantage of this urge to impulse shop by trying to cram as many small "gee, I might need that" items in the checkout lane as possible.

$5 Meal Cookbook

Frugal Living Tips

  1. Clip coupons on items you would normally buy.

  2. Avoid prepared foods. The next time you go shopping and pick up a box or bag of an already prepared item, ask yourself if you can make that at home for less. If you can, then put that item back in favor of less expensive staples.

  3. Buy in bulk. Consider the food items that you use most often. Cereals, meats, vegetables, condiments, juices, and paper products can be bought in bulk usually at a lower price at food warehouses like Costco, BJ’s, and Wal-Mart. If you have a coupon, you’ll save even more money.

  4. Don’t shop when you are hungry. You are more likely to give into those impulse buys on an empty stomach.

  5. Take a grocery list with you. Remember, the goal is to stick to the list as much as possible.

  6. Shop grocery ads and specials. When the grocery store fliers come out plan your meals to match what is on sale.

  7. Plan a menu before you go. Not only does this keep you from wandering around the store figuring out what is for dinner, it will save you money knowing exactly what you need.

  8. It's okay to use store brands.

  9. Buy fruits and vegetables in season.

  10. Buy dried beans, not canned. It will be an extra effort but costs much less and will be healthier for you.

Frugal Living Resources

Leftover recipes
Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips
Tips on Frugal Living 
$5 Meal Cookbook

Frugal Family Fun series:
Part 1 -Pizza Time
Part 2 -Breakfast Chefs
Part 3- Bouncy Balls
Part 4- Cookie Marathon
Part 5- Smoothies 











Join our Family Deals, Giveaways and Ways to Save Emails and we'll send you our Frugal Family Fun Ebook.



frugal family fun
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Healthy grains to add to your diet

One of the mainstays of a nutritional diet is whole grains. Unlike processed flour, whole grains contain all parts of the seed for greater nutrition. We are used to eating whole wheat, cracked wheat and even oatmeal. But there are three grains that you may not be all that familiar with that provide incredible nutrition: bulgur wheat, barley and quinoa.

Bulgur Wheat

It has many spellings but it is all the same wheat. Bulgur is commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is most often used as a cereal food. Bulgur is harvested from a variety of wheat but mostly durum.

It is different from other grains in that it is parboiled before it is packaged and sold. This makes it convenient for cooking. In prepared dishes, it only has to be reconstituted with water to be included. You can add it to uncooked dishes that require minimum cooking.

For those who are weary of grains and their flavors, bulgur has a nutty flavor. Soaking it in flavorful broth instead of water enhances its taste. If you haven’t cooked with bulgur before, you may recognize it as the main ingredient in tabbouleh salad. It is also added to muffins, soups and stuffing.




Quinoa

Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wa.” This small round grain was first discovered in South America. It is grown for its seeds which we eat. Processing removed the outer unpalatable coating to reveals a nutty tasting seed.

Quinoa can be used in dishes that call for rice and even couscous. It has fewer calories and more nutrients. Besides it is a gluten-free grain that is perfect for vegetarian dishes and for people on a gluten-free diet or allergic to it.

Quinoa is full of protein making it an excellent breakfast food. It is not a cereal grain per se but it can be eaten that way. Mix cooked quinoa with some nuts and honey to make a great hot cereal. To cook it, boil the seeds just like rice.
More help on how to cook quinoa

Barley

You may have heard of this grain but didn’t know what to do with it. Well, barley is a special grain. It comes in pearl form, flakes, grit form and as flour. Barley is high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble.

Cooked, barley lends its nutty flavor to soups, casseroles, salad and cereal. To get the most nutrition out of it, cook it yourself at home instead of choosing commercially prepared products. Barley makes a good ingredient or muffins and pancakes to add a little extra fiber and taste to your breakfast.

All three of these grains have health benefits. Their high fiber content makes them great for fighting heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Because they are grains, they release their energy slowly to fuel the body all day.

Beef Barley Soup Recipe


See more tips on how to cook whole grains. 

~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kids Party Food

Kids party food should be simple to prepare and easy to eat. Your budget, the location of the party and the age of the children will be a huge factor in determining which foods you will serve. In most cases, you will also find that because there is so much to do the day of the party, any food that can be prepared the day before and refrigerated overnight you should certainly bump to the top of the list.

Children like colorful foods and if you are able to, cutting the snacks into unique shapes is even better. Also, take into consideration the age of the guests. Since most kids can turn any food into finger food, go with the flow. Don’t forget to have plenty of napkins and wet wipes.

The Cake

The cake and ice cream are must haves when it comes to kids party food especially for birthday celebrations. The cake can be a standard two or three layer round, or single-layer rectangular sheet cake, which has plenty of room for decorations.

Also, a theme cake baked in the shape of a cartoon character or that is thematically decorated will be photo-worthy. While you want the cake to be special, you don’t have to decorate it as elaborately as a wedding cake. Children will admire it more with their taste buds than their eyes.




The Menu

Sandwiches are often a staple kids party food. Let your creativity shine and cut the bread into shapes with cookie cutters before building the sandwich. For an easily prepared yet creative finger-food, try making sandwich wheels. After removing the crust from whole wheat bread, roll out the slices with a rolling pin. Spread on cream cheese and insert a piece of celery before rolling it up.

Jell-O boats are another colorful and easy to make party food. Halve a few oranges and scoop out the flesh. Mix several flavors of Jell-O and pour into the empty oranges. When the Jell-O has set, cut the halves into fourths and arrange them on a serving tray. In the same sentiment, rainbow cups are also a big hit with kids. Get small clear plastic cups, and one color at a time, pour different colors of Jell-O into them. Be sure to let each layer gel before adding the next layer.

Kids party food can also be healthy.
  • Prepare zucchini cheesecake the day before the party and warm it in a microwave before serving.
  • Make an easy fruit boat by scooping the flesh out of the ends of a watermelon with a melon baller and then using the ends as shells into which you can put the watermelon balls, cantaloupe, strawberries and grapes. If you have a little talent and a template, cut the melon to resemble the open mouth of a shark.
  • Frozen bananas are easy. Make by inserting popsicle sticks into bananas and then rolling them in honey before coating them with coconut. Put them in the freezer overnight and they will be ready for the next day’s party.
  • Fruit kabobs are always fun and kids love eating off a stick.
fruit kabobs

 

Quick Treats

If you’re short on time and need quick party food ideas, don’t forget to consider these traditional snacks:
Mini pizzas vegetable platter
Popcorn
Hot dogs or homemade corn dogs
Cocktail sausages in barbecue sauce
Strawberries dipped in chocolate
Cheese tray
Deli meat platters
Deviled eggs
Hot dog rollups
Mini corndogs
Vegetable platters
Fruit platters

Tips

At birthday parties, kids are hit-and-run eaters. Older kids might sit down to eat, but the younger kids will be playing food-in-hand. Don’t forget to ask parents about any food allergies or lactose intolerance issues. Plan and prepare the kids party food as much as possible the day before the party. Also, keep the birthday cake out of sight until you are ready to serve it. Birthdays are a time to gratify the sweet tooth but it is best not to turn it into sugar-fest. If you are having cake and ice cream try not to include cookies in the menu as well.

~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Frugal Kitchen Staples

Frugal kitchen staples are versatile foods or cleaning supplies that you integrate with other items to make more of that item at a cheaper price. Keeping a good supply of staples on hand also reduces the amount of trips you make to the grocery store.

Stocking your Kitchen

The items that we have on hand are what determine how far our food will go. Filling your cabinets or pantry with a few useful staples can be the difference between a trip to the grocery store each and every week versus once or twice a month. Stocking just a few choice items is all you need to create wonderful meals.

Here are the most useful staples you should keep well stocked in your kitchen pantry:

Flour is used to make many foods, as well as being included in many recipes. Meat coatings, cake pan dusting, gravies, noodle making as well as breads and cakes, all, use flour. All-purpose flour keeps well in a dry and cool place when stored in airtight containers. To keep flour for an extra long time, place the flour in plastic containers and store in a freezer.


Rice is probably the most flexible of all frugal kitchen staples. It is a vegetable used in creating many frugal dishes, stretching meats to last for two or three recipes. Served plain, seasoned or mixed with other vegetables, rice is also filling, nutritious and available for purchase in bulk sizes. Put rice in soups, puddings, or make rice pancakes by adding beaten eggs to cooked rice and mixing until is has a pancake batter consistency.


Pasta, like rice, pasta makes great filler for meat and vegetable dishes. Homemade macaroni and cheese makes a side dish everyone likes, along with pasta salads and vegetable and pasta dishes. Making homemade pasta is easy with a noodle-making machine, with only three ingredients needed: salt, flour and eggs. Boxes of pre-made pasta have "best if used" dates on them, which generally run for one or two years depending on packaging.

Potatoes are a versatile vegetable and are part of frugal kitchen staples. Mashed, fried, baked, twice-baked, boiled or roasted, potatoes are usually a part of every meal in one form or another. Potatoes are even used in making vodka and wine. If properly stored, potatoes last about two months or slightly longer. Place them somewhere that is well ventilated and dark if possible, because too much light causes them to sprout eyes.


Beans, with over 100 varieties available, are the staple of frugal recipes. Full of protein and often used as a meat substitute, beans are in soups, chili, rice dishes, salads, vegetable and chip dip. Beans will keep in a freezer for six months.

Spices, in addition to salt and pepper, enhance food that is inherently bland such as rice and potatoes, providing differently distinct flavors to these foods so you don't get tired of eating it. Spices are also better for you nutritionally than salt, so if you are accustomed to sprinkling salt on frugal kitchen staples, try adding some spice to your meals.

These items will stretch not only your meals but your wallet as well.

Stocking up on Meats

Owning a freezer is almost a necessity if you want to have a properly stocked pantry, especially when it comes to keeping meats on hand. When meat is on sale at your grocery store, you should stock up so you won't have to purchase them at full price.

Chicken is a staple and can be mixed with about any soup, vegetable or pasta to make a filling and plentiful meal. Turkey is generally cheaper than red meat, especially around Thanksgiving, so stocking on a few turkeys around this time will save your money as well.

Other staples to stock are:

Peanut butter
Pretzels
Canned meats
Bouillon cubes
Corn flakes
Sugar
Plain oatmeal
Popcorn
Saltines

Learning how to can foods also maintains a good supply of frugal kitchen staples since canning allows food to keep for years. Growing a small vegetable garden outside and an herb garden inside is another way to add economically to your pantry.

Check out what else to stock your kitchen with?

Frugal Living Resources

Leftover recipes
Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips
Tips on Frugal Living 
$5 Meal Cookbook

Frugal Family Fun series:
Part 1 -Pizza Time
Part 2 -Breakfast Chefs
Part 3- Bouncy Balls
Part 4- Cookie Marathon
Part 5- Smoothies 











Join our Family Deals, Giveaways and Ways to Save Emails and we'll send you our Frugal Family Fun Ebook.



frugal family fun
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Friday, March 8, 2013

Annabel Karmel Interview

I was first introduced to Annabel Karmel's cookbooks with Mom and Me and then First Meals. I loved them because they were so bright, colorful and fun.

They are a delight for every kid to look through and choose a new recipe to try. Not to mention Mrs. Karmel's cookbooks are full of healthy nutritious food to feed your family.
Mrs. Karmel was gracious enough to answer some questions in a recent interview. Hope you enjoy reading about her as much as I did.


I think I love your Baby First Meals book the best and wish I had it when my kids were babies. You have over a dozen cookbooks out, do you have a favorite cookbook?

I have written 20 books. Of the book published in the US my favourites are First Meals for Babies and Toddlers, Favorite Family Meals for older children and families and Cook It Together for Teaching Kids How to Cook with fun and delicious
recipes


Most fans of your cookbooks, probably don't know you are a musician as well.
That was like another life, I was a musician and I used to play the harp. I lost my first child a little girl called Natasha when she was only 13 weeks old as she caught a viral infection that then developed into encephalitis. My world was turned upside down and after her death I wanted to do something to help other children to make some
sense of her short life so I wrote my first book the Healthy Baby Meal Planner. This book was published by Simon and Schuster in 1991 and has sold over 3 million copies worldwide and what started off as one book almost as a therapy to get over Natasha's death and to help me feed my very fussy second child ended up being a new career. I love what I do and am really passionate about creating healthy but delicious recipes for children.


Which came first your passion for food or music?
I love music and was a professional musician for over 8 years however I always loved cooking and it was my hobby. I consider myself very lucky to be doing something
that I love. Creating recipes and working with children is my dream. I have three new books out this year Top 100 Finger Foods in February, You Can Cook a Complete Kids Cookbook and First Foods in the summer.


What process do you go through when creating a new recipe?
I usually make a list of the recipes and the ingredients that I will use the day before and do the shopping. I then work out in my head the sort of recipe I want and then just experiment in the kitchen until I am happy with the result. Provided I am happy with it, I then test the recipe on babies or children to see if they like it. Its no good making a healthy recipe that children don't want to eat. In the UK I have the best
selling range of children's meals in supermarkets which is based on recipes from my books. I have also just launched a co branded food range with Disney in the UK - so I'm working with Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse which is a lot of fun.


Do your kids have an all time favorite recipe you've created?
Yes there is a salad dressing in Favorite Family Meals that they absolutely love.
Also from this book they like my Sesame Beef Stir Fry, Fruity Curried Chicken, Salmon Teriyaki and my Iced Berries with Hot white Chocolate Sauce.


Have you always loved to cook?
Yes. My mother was a good cook and she inspired my love of cooking. I always enjoyed inviting friends over to cook for them. For my children I would organise 'Cooking Birthday Parties' where they would cook things like mini pizzas, cupcakes and animal cookies and bake their own Birthday Tea. I am always thinking about food and love eating!


Do check out Annabel Karmel's books they are a treat for your kid chefs and whole family. She also has an excellent website where you can find recipes and cooking videos, http://www.annabelkarmel.com.


~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tips on Frugal Living

These tips on frugal living will help you save money and feed your family well. Whether you are trying to cut costs or just want to save some extra money, making your own sauces and using up your leftovers will help you do this.

Living a frugal lifestyle doesn't have to be a necessity, some people, such as me, enjoy making things from scratch and finding ways to use up what we have. I find not only is it healthier for you and the budget, frugal living can be enjoyable.


Living Frugally Ideas

Following tips on frugal living does not mean depriving yourself or your family by purchasing only the bare necessities and living like a Buddhist monk. Instead, frugal living means asking yourself prior to purchasing a non-food, non-hygiene item: "Do I really and truly need that"?

Wanting something because it is the latest fad or because purchasing it satisfies an emotional craving are not good reasons to spend money that has been integrated into a budget intended to reduce household expenses.

With so many ways to save money, everyone should be able to incorporate some kind of money-saving ideas into their lifestyle. Tips on frugal living encompass everything from shopping for groceries to saving money on landscaping your yard.


Homemade Is Cheaper

Although being frugal may take more time, it pays in the end and saves you time as well. When making certain items at home, you will often find that recipes for homemade items are "bulk" recipes, which means you have enough to last for a long time.


Making Dryer Sheets

Take several old wash clothes and dip them in your favorite liquid fabric softener and several drops of purification essential oil (optional). Ring them out and let the clothes air-dry. The next time you need to dry a load of laundry, toss one of the cloths into the load. These homemade dryer "sheets" are reusable several times before they need dipped into softener again.


Spot Carpet Cleaner

Suggesting white vinegar as an excellent, all-around household cleaner is on most lists of tips on frugal living. To make a carpet cleaner, mix baking soda and white vinegar together until they form a paste. Using an old toothbrush, scrub the paste into the stained area. Allow the paste to dry before vacuuming the residue. The stain and odor associated with the mess should be gone.


Diaper Wipes

These homemade diaper wipes costs around 60 cents to make and last longer than store-bought brands.

1 roll of paper towels
2 tablespoons of baby oil
2 tablespoons of baby bath
2 cups boiled water, then cooled
Old diaper wipe containers
10-14 drops lavender essential oil
After tearing off paper towel sheets and folding them into a wipe container, mix ingredients into a measuring cup and pour this mixture over the towels in the container. Towels will readily absorb the liquid and using an airtight container will keep towels moist for weeks.

Find more homemade natural cleaning recipes here:
homemade natural cleaning recipes

Tips on Frugal Living --Entertainment

Eating out or seeing a movie is definitely a budget-breaker, especially if it involves a family of four or more. Did you know you could borrow many DVDs free from your local library? Check out your library's website and discover what films they have. If someone is borrowing the film you happen to want, you have the ability to reserve the film, meaning that when someone brings it back, it automatically goes to you.

If you want to eat out at a restaurant, check that restaurant's website for coupons or specials. Call your local restaurants to see what sort of specials they are advertising.

Plan a vacation at least a year in advance. Look for discounts, coupons, hotel packages and other ways in which you can save on your destination. Get an old jar and put five dollars in it every week. In one year, you will have vacation gas money.



Ditch the Credit Cards

Tips on frugal living always include the highly recommended suggestion of eliminating all credit cards except for one major card, such as VISA or MasterCard. Get rid of all department and gas store cards because those carry the highest interest amounts and you really do not need them.

Having just one card will greatly reduce the money you spend on interest and teach you to resist impulse buying. This type of buying is where department store credit cards make most of their profit.



10 Tips on Being Frugal

  1. Buy non processed food. Not only is it much healthier but those convenient box packages are more expensive than if you made it yourself.
  2. Make your own bread If you don't have a large family, slice the whole loaf and freeze. Take out slices as you need them.
  3. Buy cheap cuts of meat and cook them on low and in a crock pot. You won't know the difference once it has cooked for 6-8 hours.
  4. Make your own sauces and mixes.
  5. Bake your own goodies. It tastes better, is better for you and cheaper.
  6. Use the freezer to stock up on meals and ingredients.
  7. Save your bread that is stale for croutons.
  8. Save chicken bones, vegetable ends and stems for making broth.
  9. Don't buy shredded cheese. Buy the chunk and shred it yourself at home. If you don't think you can use all of it divide it into portions and freeze.
  10. Learn how to use spices and herbs.
  11. A great way to save on your groceries is to grow your own! 
  12. Make your own homemade cleaners recipes.

Frugal Living Resources

Leftover recipes
Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips
Tips on Frugal Living 
$5 Meal Cookbook

Frugal Family Fun series:
Part 1 -Pizza Time
Part 2 -Breakfast Chefs
Part 3- Bouncy Balls
Part 4- Cookie Marathon
Part 5- Smoothies 











Join our Family Deals, Giveaways and Ways to Save Emails and we'll send you our Frugal Family Fun Ebook.



frugal family fun
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~