This shepherd’s pie is similar to my crock pot shepherd’s pie, but this version uses lentils along with the meat, and uses no canned cream of mushroom soup, which skipping that was easier than I thought. I didn’t even make up my own cream of mushroom from scratch or anything, all I did was substitute cheddar cheese for it!

If you’re looking for a cheap meal…well potatoes, a little meat, and lentils is super frugal.

If you’re looking for a tasty meal that’s also filling….yup, one 9 X 13 pan of this lasts our family currently of 4, for 2 full meals.

If you’re looking for a healthy meal…well there’s veggies, protein (both meat and lentils), and lots of fiber!

Ingredients:

~Mashed potatoes – I made about 6 potatoes worth.
~1 lb. ground hamburger or turkey meat
~1 cup of dry lentils, red or brown (cook according to package directions before using)
~1 bell pepper
~1/2 onion
~1 celery stalk with leaves
~1 can of corn (or use frozen corn)
~2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
~Worcestershire sauce to taste (I like lots!)
~Salt
~Pepper
~Garlic powder

Chop the veggies. Brown the meat and cook the veggies with it. Once the meat and veggies are cooked, add the cooked lentils, put them in the bottom of a glass 9 X 13 pan. Next sprinkle the cheese, then layer the mashed potatoes on top. Bake at 325 F for about 25 minutes or until hot all the way through and bubbly.

Keeping it ultra frugal?

~Use leftover mashed potatoes.

~Instead of pealing your potatoes scrub them and keep the peals on, that’s not only less wasteful it’s also where most of the nutrition and fiber is.

~You can even save the potato water from cooking the potatoes for making bread!

~After chopping up your veggies, save the onion skin and pepper core and seeds for  making veggie broth.

Amy

…well that’s the plan at least.

At the end of December Cameron and I cleaned out our fridge and sadly had to toss a lot of food. This week I threw out:

  • Part of a loaf of french bread that was moldy. And I should mention I picked off some crust of some other bread that was starting to mold, and just threw out the moldy parts, the rest is still good.
  • Some leftover pizza pasta.
  • And some mushrooms that were a little slimy, but I don’t feel bad about those, as they were donated as already old produce.
  • One slice of cornbread.

That’s all I can remember from this week. Yesterday we had leftovers at lunch. Just having a meal of leftovers is probably the best way to get those leftovers eaten, and I love not having to cook a whole meal! :)

How’d you do for your first week of 2014?

 

FoodWasteFriday

Maybe that’s too long of a name for muffins, but it describes this recipe perfectly!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (If you prefer sweeter muffins then you might want to increase this)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/4 cup fruit (I used fresh whole blueberries, chopped strawberries and a chopped pear. I bet apples would work great in this recipe too)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry and wet ingredients separate, then combine. Fold in the fruit. Bake in greased muffin tins for 15ish minutes or until done.

 

Linked at A Blossoming Life.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I didn’t waste any food this week!!! Well I did throw out a few tortilla chips that Gracia never finished, but that was a really small amount. How did I go a week with almost no food waste?

  1. Last week I went through the fridge and tossed a lot of things, so I was able to start with a clean slate this week.
  2. We ate lots of leftovers for suppers and lunches.
  3. I made banana bread. This helped me use up yogurt and milk that were both past their expiration date. The recipe didn’t actually call for milk, but I didn’t have quite enough yogurt so I added the milk too. I used frozen bananas for the bread. Whenever bananas start getting old I freeze them, so I had a lot of frozen bananas and it was nice to finally use some of them. I also threw a handful of pecans in the bread  that have been sitting in my pantry since Thanksgiving.

I’m hoping that I do this good next week, but I’ll have to use up some cooked pasta, bean soup, bacon pinto beans and cabbage or else I’ll be reporting them as waste next Friday.

Since we’re on the topic of waste, if you didn’t see it yesterday, check out my post on wasting less make-up (and read the comments too, some people added some really good tips!).

This post is inspired by and shared at The Frugal Girl for Food Waste Friday.

I have a diaper box that’s overflowing with yarn leftover from projects. A lot of the yarn I’ve had for a few years, yet whenever I go to start a new project I almost always go out and buy new yarn, and then if there’s any yarn leftover from that project it gets stuffed into the box. I decided I needed to start using up some of that yarn, so I thought I’d share with you some of my ideas in case any of you crocheters or knitters have the same problem.

  1. Make a swiffer cover. This is a money saver and environmentally good, because you won’t have to use those disposable ones. See the picture of my swiffer cover? Yes it is rather gaudy with all the random colors of yarn, but I figure it’s a mop, who cares what it looks like!
  2. Make a dishcloth. I like making dishcloths because they’re always handy to have on hand.
  3. Make coasters. Coasters are great for using up yarn, because they’re small and you can even use these as gifts.
  4. Make face scrubbies. These are a great replacement for those disposable make-up removers.
  5. Make a hat, scarf or mittens. Since baby and kid’s things are so much smaller they’re great ideas for smaller amounts of yarn.
  6. Make something for the kid’s toys. You could make a rug or blanket for a doll house. A Barbie scarf would be great for a really small amount of yarn. If you’re making a hat and scarf for a little girl and have some yarn leleftover, she’d love it if you made a matching hat and scarf for her favorite doll!
  7. If the yarn you have is the fine kind, you could make a little doily.
  8. Make a blanket. I decided to use 4 different kinds of yarn I had to make a blanket. It’s not the colors that I would have chosen to put together, but it’s better than the yarn just sitting year after year in my box. Now I’m just hoping it’s enough to finish the blanket!
  9. I doesn’t take much yarn to make one of those towels with a crocheted top to hang on a handle.
  10. If you have wool yarn you can make wool dryer balls, they help your clothes dry faster, so you use less electricity. (Thanks for the tip Jodi!)
  11. A non-crocheting idea is to use the yarn in place of ribbon on presents.
  12. Use the yarn in kid crafts. Let them thread noodles on it for noodle necklaces. Glue yarn onto paper to make pictures, put yarn on a sock puppet as hair…you get the idea.
  13. Another option is to make your various projects out of the same yarn if you can. For example I made a baby blanket a while back, but didn’t quite use up all the yarn, so I’m thinking the next baby blanket I do, I might use the same yarn. I’ll still have to buy new yarn for their to be enough, but I can also use the leftover yarn on it.

Of course this is just a smidgen of ideas, theirs so many things you could do. Do any of you have a favorite way to use up little bits of yarn?

Use a reusable swiffer cover

Why are so many people not frugal? I think one of the biggest reasons is because they don’t want to spend the time to save money. It’s so much easier grabbing a loaf of bread while at the store than making your own. Or hiring a plumber, rather than taking the time to read about plumbing and they try to fix it yourself. Why spend so much time making a gift, when you could just buy one next time you’re at the store? Well I’m here to try to encourage those of you who “don’t have time to be frugal.” Yes, I know the things I just mentioned are time-consuming, but there are plenty of other frugal things that don’t take any extra time, and some that could even save you time!

It doesn’t take extra time to:

  • Hit the light switch while leaving the room.
  • Grab the generic brand juice instead of the name brand.
  • Use just a little less soap when washing your hands and a little less laundry detergent (just try it and see if you can notice a difference).
  • Use a reusable swiffer cover, not counting the initial time of making or buying one. Once you have it though, it doesn’t really take extra

    Cut hair at home

    time, because you can just throw it in with a regular load of laundry.

  • Cook up oatmeal from a big canister rather than a little packet. I cook a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal in the microwave for just 1 minute, that’s it!

It takes LESS time to:

  • Cut your family’s hair. It takes me 15 minutes, max, to cut Cameron’s hair. If he went to a barber, he’d have to drive there, possibly wait his turn, get it cut, then drive home.
  • Excercise at home rather than at the gym. Just like the hair cutting, you have to commute back and forth, if you just do an exercise video or run around your neighborhood, there’s no commute, no gas used and no gym membership.
  • Menu plan and make a grocery list. This may seem like it takes more time, because you have to sit down and plan it out and all, but in the long run it will save you time. You won’t have to be running to the store all the time to get the ingredients for a meal.
  • Eating leftovers. I love leftover nights, because it means no cooking for me! I like eating leftovers for my lunches too. It takes less time to reheat something in the microwave than make a sandwich.
  • Do a very simple sewing job on clothes. Even without a sewing machine it only takes minutes to sew a button back on or stitch up a little loose seam. It would take you more time to go to the store and try on outfits until you find one you like.

Do you have any other ideas that save not just money, but time too?

HEB groceries $97.67

Here’s my groceries for the first 2 weeks of July. I went to HEB, Sam’s Club and Albertsons.

How I saved at HEB:

  • Saved $11.41 by buying generic brand
  • Saved $1.36 by buying on sale items
  • Saved $3.75 by using coupons (in store Tabasco coupon,  in store, buy one get one half off make-up brushes, in store, buy Tostitos chips get HEB chips free, and a printed out Newman’s Own coupon)

My total at HEB was $97.67.

My Albertson’s trip I spent $38.20 and saved $31.38!!!! It was all done by buying on sale items. The 2 roasts were buy one get one free (perfect since Cameron requested a roast as his b-day meal). The chicken breasts, whole chicken, grapes, apples and corn were all on sale too.

It seems like HEB’s everyday prices are generally cheaper, but Albertsons has some great sales, especially in meat. So I’m trying to mostly shop at HEB and stop in at Albertsons for any great sales.

Sam's Club and Albertsons Groceries. Saved $31.38 at Albertsons!

And I spent $43.44 at Sam’s club.

My total in food groceries is: $143.50, leaving me with $106.50 for the rest of the month, which I think is do able, especially since I have 1 roast and 1 whole chicken in the freezer that I’m not even planning on using yet, so I can use them later in the month.

My total in non-food items is: $35.81, leaving me $4.19. I bought toilet paper, toothpaste, aluminum foil, laundry detergent and make-up brushes, I don’t think I’ll have to buy much more in this category this month.

Here’s what’s on the menu plan for the next 2 weeks:

Breakfasts: Granola, oatmeal, peanut butter power pucks, toast, smoothies, eggs

Lunches: Leftovers, sandwiches, burritos

Suppers:

  • Roast with carrots, potatoes, gravy and rolls (my mother-in-law brought the rolls). And whole wheat honey carrot cake for dessert. This was Cameron’s birthday meal.
  • Stew or pot pie made from leftover roast and rolls
  • Black bean quesadillas, fresh salsa and chips, grapes
  • Salad with hard boiled or deviled eggs, some sort of fruit
  • Chicken and brown rice made with homemade chicken broth and steamed broccoli
  • Stuffed peppers made with leftover brown rice and black beans, apples and cream cheese dip from Tammy’s Recipes
  • Chicken strips, corn on the cob, millet
  • Ramen noodle stir fry (if there’s any leftover millet, I’ll throw that in too)
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (with slices of tomato in them if there’s any left), veggies and dip, mangoes
  • Chicken burger sandwiches, homemade oven fries, salad
  • Chicken quesadillas (with any leftover chicken), fresh salsa and chips, apples and dip
  • Leftovers

I’m realizing that planning my meals for 2 weeks, I don’t have to come up with 14 different main meals, between leftovers and eating out I don’t usually end up making every meal I plan.

Today instead of a Frugal Photo Friday, I have an UNfrugal photo, actually two. They’re both of some wasted food.

Sour Cream that was left out of the fridge way to long, veggie soup that I got tired of eating as a leftover so I just kept ignoring it, and some leftover oatmeal of Gracia’s that I put in the fridge thinking I could give it to her later and forgot.

And these apples are also Gracia’s. I thought if I put them in a bag in the fridge I could cut off any spots she bit into and use the rest in apple muffins or something…but as you can see they’re not yummy apple muffins, they’re still just half eaten brown apples.

The Frugal Girl every Friday posts pictures of food she’s wasted. Her reason is to help her not waste as much. I’ve thought about doing that, but been putting it off, mostly because I’m scared I’ll be too ashamed of all my wasted food, but then again maybe that shame will encourage me to not waste so much!! So I’m going to try really hard not to waste much this month and to share my results you all (not necessarily on Fridays though). I have to remind myself that wasting food isn’t just plain wasteful, it’s also like throwing money in the trash. After all the food I throw away was bought with money, and I claim to be frugal. I guess I should take my own advice on how to not have so much wasted food.

We have a problem at our house, we eat a lot of corn tortilla chips. But the problem isn’t the ones we eat, its the ones we DON’T eat. It always seems like  a quarter of the chips get left behind in the bottom of the bag as crumbs. I like to use the crumbs as a topping on chili or chicken tortilla soup. The only problem is with all this over 100 degree weather, we haven’t been eating chili or soup. So I had this container of chip crumbs:

And I finally did something about them! First I ground them up in my food processor:

Then I used 3/4 cup in making meatloaf. I usually use bread crumbs made from leftover stale bread and crackers, but the tortilla chip crumbs worked just fine too! I put the rest of the crumbs in a bag in the freezer for the next time I need them. Sometime I want to try using them to bread chicken fingers with. Here’s an article I found with 10 ways to use up tortilla chip crumbs.

Linked at Kitchen Tip Tuesday’s at Tammy’s Recipes. Check out her site for more great kitchen tips. And check out her recipes too! I’ve tried several of them, so far I think my favorite has been her White Chili. Too bad it’s kinda hot weather for it. =(

Do you have any creative ways of using up chip crumbs?

If you were to ask people if they were wanting to save money, most would say, “yes.” But if you were to look into their bank accounts and see how much they’ve actually saved in the last month or two, it may not reflect that. I think the problem is we WANT to save, but we don’t decide HOW we’ll save. So several months ago I can up with some personal strategies that I wanted to try to save money. They were all either things I wasn’t doing, or wasn’t doing as faithfully as I wanted. Most of them are really small ways of saving, but every little bit counts! I thought I’d share them with you and also update you on how I’ve actually been doing on them.

  • Make a price book- I have it started, but haven’t finished it. The information I’ve already gathered has proved to be very helpful though!

    My jeans and belt and Gracia's jacket were all Goodwill purchases.

  • Shop more at thrift shops – I have been doing this more! And I’ve gotten some good, but cheap purchases!
  • Cook more with cheap ingredients – The only way I can think of that I’ve increased the amount of cheap ingredients we use, is that we eat oatmeal a lot for breakfast (and when I say “we” I really mean my husband and daughter. I only eat it about once a week, I prefer toast or a smoothie). A big container of oatmeal makes for some really frugal breakfasts, but since Cameron and Gracia are the ones that eat it the most, I guess they should get the credit! =)
  • Use up 99% of leftovers – Yeah, I think this is the area that I’ve failed the most in. Just yesterday I threw out a bunch of bad smelling beans from the fridge. =(
  • Learn how to not waste food “scraps”- This sounds similar to the last one, but what I mean by it is trying to come up with ways to use up things like veggie peelings and things that I normally toss without any thought. I keep the skins on potatoes for most recipes and the other day I cooked a whole chicken and made broth from it, and the only veggies I used were “scrap” pieces! I may post about it. I also made

    Cook with cheap ingredients

    some stir fry a couple days ago and decided to just scrub the carrots instead of peeling them.

  • Make and use postcards – Post cards can be fairly cheap to buy and are cheap to mail. I read in the Tightwad Gazette that you can even make your own using the front side of old cards. I’ve been really scared they wouldn’t let me mail a homemade postcard, but I finally asked the lady at the post office and she said I can. Just need to make sure it’s the right size and the picture can only be on one side….but I haven’t done it yet…
  • Make more gifts and buy less – I feel like I’ve done pretty good in this area. I still buy most of the gifts I give, but I have made several. I made 3 hats as Christmas gifts last year and recently made a baby blanket for my cousin’s new baby. Making gifts isn’t always cheaper, you have to be careful. But, for example, I’ve found a kind of yarn that is inexpensive, but still soft and comes in pretty colors for baby blankets, so I can make a baby blanket as a gift for about $6. It does take a lot of time, but I don’t mind that since I enjoy crocheting.
  • Save butter wrappers to grease baking pans- I’ve been doing this! When I use up a stick of butter I just fold the wrapper up and stick

    Homemade Salad Dressing

    it in the butter drawer until I need it! Works great!

  • Do more from scratch  (like: salad dressing, yogurt, dip, Bisquick, Worcestershire sauce) – I have made salad dressing, but have bought some too. I’ve only made yogurt once and that was quite a while ago. I’ve started making my own veggie dip with sour cream and it’s super easy, I need to share the recipe. I’ve made a Bisquick mix, but I haven’t attempted Worcestershire sauce and don’t know if I will. And me and hubby made some energy bars this weekend.
  • Buy no gift wrapping materials – I feel very successful in this area. The other day I was trying to remember when I last bought wrapping paper or gift bags, and I can’t remember. It’s probably been about a year. I reuse gift bags and tissue paper (or if I don’t have any tissue paper I just skip it).  And I still have wrapping paper from the last time I bought it. I’ve also used an old flight map to wrap a present.
  • Reuse aluminum foil – I’ve always reused ziploc bags, but only recently started reusing aluminum foil. If it’s a piece that’s small, torn or really hard to clean I toss it, but other than that I wipe it down, fold it up, and tuck it away for next time.
  • Rent less from Redbox – I’m a big fan of Redbox, it’s way cheaper than movie rental stores, but I figure we have plenty of other ways to entertain ourselves right now(netflix, games, hulu.com, etc…) . We used to go about 2-3 times a month, now it’s more like once.

NEW STRATEGIES (I thought I’d add to my money saving strategies)

  • Start trying to let Gracia take her naps without a diaper – Gracia wears 2 diapers a day (unless we’re traveling or something). She wears one at nap time and one at night. I’m gonna try to see if she can make it through nap time without one, she’s done it a few times and so far so good. This will cut our diaper use in half and at about 25 cents per diaper we could save $7.50 a month.
  • See how low I can get our grocery bill – This has it’s own strategies in and of it’s self. You can check out this post for them. And follow along on my grocery journey.
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