We’re fast becoming a disposable nation. Using something once and then tossing can definitely make our life easier at times, but if we’re in the habit of using disposables all the time, we’ll also be going through our money faster. I made a list of ways that I try to use less disposable items in my kitchen. I do this mostly to try to cut back on the cost, but it also has the added benefit that it’s earth friendly in that I end up using less paper products and less gets added to the landfills.

  • Aluminum Foil – Aluminum foil can be reused. I haven’t always done this, it’s a more recent thing for me. I just  flatten out the used foil and wipe it down then let it air dry and then fold it up and put it in my kitchen drawer until I need it again. I don’t reuse all my aluminum foil, if it’s a really small piece, or gets torn or just has lots of gunk on it that’s really hard to get off without tearing the foil I’ll just toss it. And even though I’m a big generic brand fan, I’m thinking next time I might try the name brand aluminum foil to see if it’s tougher and maybe I’ll be able to reuse more of it before it gets torn. And as a side note, I read somewhere that a ball of wadded up aluminum foil is good for cleaning off your grill. We’ve started doing that and it works great!

Wash and Reuse Aluminum Foil

  • Ziploc Bags- I’ve always reused ziploc bags, because my Mom always did.  Just clean them out while doing dishes (if they just had something like carrot sticks in them, they probably just need a rinse) then let them air dry. They’ll dry faster if you open them up and put them on a big spoon or something. Even though I reuse my bags, I will throw them out if they had raw meat or chicken in them, if they’re really greasy or if they’ve just been reused so many times that they’re starting to develop holes.
  • Saran wrap – I have never tried reusing saran wrap. I’ve actually developed a hatred for it, it sticks to nothing, but it’s self. It won’t stick to the bowl I’m trying to cover it with, it only clings to it’s self and turns into a wade of clear plastic that’s useless! It makes me so mad! So I very rarely use it, I’ll use plastic containers or aluminum foil instead. Although I do want to buy some of those shower cap looking things to try. I’ve heard good things about them and they can be washed and reused!
  • Wax paper -This is another item I don’t use very often, but if you do use it, cereal boxes and cereal bags can be used in place of wax paper in a lot of times. My mom always used the shiny side of cereal boxes (or other similar boxes) and the cereal bags found in cereal boxes for cooling no-bake cookies on.
  • Paper Towels – I actually did a blog post about using less paper towels, but I’ll tell you again! One way to use less paper towels is to use rags for cleaning and cloth towels for drying your hands. I’ve found that keeping the paper towels under the sink, rather than hanging above it keeps us from using as many. Out of sight out of mind! I do like paper towels for cleaning up milk spills and things, but I try to just use an old kitchen towel for cleaning up water spills. And instead of using paper towels for cleaning windows, try using old newspapers, they work great!

Use Rags Instead of Paper Towels

  • Napkins – You can use cloth napkins or really any dish towel can be a napkin if you’re too not concerned with being fancy. Better yet, make your own cloth napkins out of old cloths that still have good material on them (idea from The Frugal Girl’s new e-book).
  • Paper plates, plastic silverware and paper cups – Simply don’t use these! We very rarely use disposable dishes. They don’t hold up very well. Unless you buy the more expensive plates, they tend to bend with too much weight on them. And then the fork tongs snap off and the knives only work if you’re cutting something as soft as jello! So we stick to only buying them for special occasions (like Gracia’s birthday party). A lot of sturdier silverware and cups can be washed and reused.
  • Paper Bags – If you’re in this business of being frugal (which you probably are if you read my blog) then I imagine you pack yourself (0r kids, or special someone) a lunch. I highly recommend buying a lunchbox instead of using brown paper bags for 2 reasons. First of all paper bags have no insulation, so they won’t keep your food cool and secondly buying a lunchbox can save you money. It may cost more up front to buy a lunch box than paper bags, but you’ll have to keep buying those bags (unless you’re very careful to keep and reuse them). And there’s a lot of really inexpensive lunch boxes out there if you’re not picky. Since I’ve started keeping my tomatoes in a brown paper bag, I plan on keeping the bag and reusing it the next time I buy tomatoes. It’s not like it gets dirty or anything.

This post is shared at Tammy’s Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

Fun Fact: "Six Flags" is named after the six countries that have governed Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America, and the United States.

As you know by my last post, I took Cameron to Six Flags for a late birthday present! We had lots of fun! Six flags isn’t a cheap place to go, but there’s lots of ways to make it as affordable as you can. These tips are for Six Flags, but I’m sure many of them can be used at other places too.

Tickets

Never, ever, ever just show up as Six Flags and pay full price for  tickets!! Look online before going so you can find any coupons or promotions. We purchased our tickets online, instead of at the gate. That saved us not only time, but also money. Plus Cameron googled Six Flags coupons and was able to find a coupon for the day we were going to be there, saving us a litttle more. We ended up paying $27 each, instead of the $57 price we would have paid if we just showed up and payed there with no planning ahead. So that saved us a total of $60 (saved $30 each ticket)! That was WAY worth the few minutes of searching the internet and planning ahead!

If you plan on going to Six Flags more than once that year you may want to look into a season pass.

Food and Drinks

First of all if you’re planning a Six Flags trip you’re gonna need to stay hydrated. Especially if it’s in the middle of summer. You can purchase a Six Flags bottle for $13 and get unlimited refills the rest of the day. If you’re not a germaphobe you can share the cup with your friends or family that you’re there with.

Another option for the drinks is to take a Six Flags cup you already own (we borrowed one from family) and you can get if filled up for 99 cents. We figured we wouldn’t need to get it filled more than 13 times that day, so it was a better deal for us than buying a new cup. We ended up only getting it filled a couple of times and would just fill it with water at the water fountains instead.

As far as food….well it’s expensive. We planned on going out to our car and eating some food we had packed and then going back into the park for more rides (make sure to get stamped out or you’ll have to purchase another ticket to get back in). But we didn’t end up doing that, we ended up getting a brisket burger, fries and poweraid and just split it. And that cost us about $15! We can usually feed our whole little family of 3 eating out for that much! So if you want to save on food, keep a cooler with lunch in it out in your car.

Miscellaneous

The best way to save on souvenirs is to just not buy them. I’ve never been a big fan of little trinkets that just sit around and collect dust, so those giant stuffed bananas or cheesy snow globes don’t really tempt me. But I have heard of people buying Disney things before a Disney World trip, since you can get that kind of stuff other places. Then when the kids see all the cool Mickey Mouse stuff that’s way over priced at Disney World, their parents can give them the things they bought previously for a much better cost.

 If you can, only take what you don’t mind carrying, or else you’ll end up renting a locker. Of course if you’re going with a bunch of little kids or babies that may be harder to do. We only took what would fit in Cameron’s pockets (thank goodness he wears cargo shorts with those big pockets).The only thing we carried was the water bottle. Speaking of carrying things in your pockets, Cameron put cash and his cell phone in a Ziploc to make sure they wouldn’t get wet if we went on one of the splash down rides. Also plan ahead so you don’t end up renting a stroller or buying sunglasses because you forgot them.

So there’s some Six Flags savings tips, I’m working on a post about saving on trips in general, so be watching for that!

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.

Happy 4th of July everyone!!

For the month of June I’ve been trying to keep my food groceries under $250. Here’s my results along with my non-food grocery results and eating out results for the month of June.

Food groceries:

  • goal $250
  • actually spent $253.10

Non-food groceries (shampoo, diapers for Gracia to sleep in, toilet paper, etc…)

  • goal $40
  • actually spent $36.79

Eating out (this counts any food bought at restaurants, convenient stores or gas stations)

  • goal $100
  • actually spent $119.87

I think I’m going to keep trying to keep our grocery bill around $250, which is exciting to me as I look back at my 2009 and 2010 records and see when we were spending $300-$360 on groceries! I think part of the change has been moving to a bigger town with more options for grocery stores. The town we were in before had pretty high grocery prices. And part of the change has also been the various strategies I’ve been trying to use to tackle our grocery budget.

I was actually under in the non-food groceries! :)

The eating out is the area I’m the least pleased with, because we went the most over in it and it’s an unnecessary thing. But when I look back at how much we’ve spent in months past in eating out it’s a lot less, so at least it’s an improvement! :)

Anybody else out there working on decreasing their grocery budget? How are you doing at it?

I mentioned that I’ve been wanting to make and use my own postcards, and now I’ve FINALLY done it!

Making your own postcards can save you money in 2 ways:

  1. They’re a cheap alternative to a card. Even if you already make  your own cards, postcards use half the amount of paper, and no envelopes necessary.
  2. They’re cheaper to mail. It costs $.44 to mail a regular letter, and only $.29 to mail a postcard, saving you $.15. That’s not a lot of difference, but if you mail out a lot of letters it can add up.

When I made my postcards I just used a regular postcard I already had to see how big to cut mine. I used card stock  paper, so it would be thick enough. And of course leave the back blank for writing your note and the address. And if you’re more creative and patient than me, your postcards can look way cuter than mine!

If you want to save even more, Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette recommends cutting the front picture part off of old cards you’ve received and using that as a post card.

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?

This Frugal Friday Photo I have a picture of Gracia playing with a really cool Arthur book. It has little figures from Arthur and throughout the book there’s slots you can put them. I got it for Gracia at a thrift store along with a coloring book that had stickers in it. Both books were in great condition. The coloring book hadn’t been used at all and I got them both for $1! Another frugal thing in this picture is the outfit Gracia’s wearing. A lady from our neighborhood gave me a bunch of girl clothes last year. Most of them were too big for Gracia then, but she’s starting to grow into them now. The only problem with them is that they smelled really strongly of cigarettes. But I washed them a few times with vinegar and that fixed the problem!

Exercise is a part of being healthy, but so is eating right. I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t afford healthy food. I won’t deny that some healthy foods are expensive, but there’s actually a lot of very affordable healthy foods out there. You may even find that you eat cheaper when you eat healthy.

Here’s a list of a few cheap and healthy foods (this is by no means all of them):

  • Oatmeal – Has iron and fiber. Costs $2.24  for a big thing of it that makes 30 servings! Or if you don’t like eating hot oatmeal you can make granola out of it.
  • Potatoes – Keep the skins on, that’s where most of the nutrients are and nothings wasted.
  • Beans – High in fiber and protein. And they’re not only way cheaper than meat, but also a lot lower in fat!
  • Lentils – These are not only cheap, but easy to cook. Unlike beans they don’t need to be soaked overnight.
  • Raisins – I love dried fruits, but most are expensive and some have added sugar. But raisins don’t have extra sugar and they are the cheapest dried fruit I can find.
  • Fruit and veggies – Buy in season, locally grown and on sale to get the most for your money. I find that things like carrots, bananas and apples seem to pretty much always be cheap.
  • Whole wheat bread – It usually doesn’t cost much, if any more, than white bread, or you can make your own.
  • Brown rice – it only costs a little more than white rice, but it goes a long way.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta – I’ve only cooked with this a few times, but you can get it pretty affordably.

Here’s some other tips:

  • A lot of regular grocery stores are carrying health food items, and it’s probably cheaper there than at a health food store, but compare prices to make sure.
  • You may be able to get some healthy foods cheaper at warehouse stores. The cheapest unit price I’ve found on honey is at Sam’s Club.
  • Eat the right sizes, if you eat too much it not only isn’t healthy, it also makes your grocery bill higher.
  • Skip the unnecessary and completely empty calories like soda and candy. There’s nothing healthy in it and the cost really adds up. Save that money to buy healthy food instead.
  • Cook from scratch. You have more control over what goes in, and don’t have to worry about all the preservatives that are in prepared foods. Plus it’s usually cheaper.

Cereal is a perfect breakfast because it’s so easy and fast in the mornings. But if you look at the ingredients usually sugar is one of the first 2 ingredients. So here’s an alternative. This granola recipe only uses honey, instead of sugar, and it’s chock full of fiber. Just make up a batch every now and then and you have granola ready to go for many breakfasts to come! You can also use in it making peanut butter power pucks, or a yummy parfait.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • vanilla, maple flavoring, almond extract, cinnamon, or any flavoring you would like
  • Add-ins: raisins, craisins, chopped dates, sunflower seeds, coconut, chopped nuts or whatever else sounds good to you.

Melt the butter. Then mix all the ingredients, except the add-ins. Bake in a glass 9 by 13 pan at 350 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Bake until granola is light brown. Let cool then add dried fruit and nuts. Keep in an airtight container.

Finger Paint

Need a fun activity for your kids this summer? Just whip up some frugal finger paint. All you need is water, cornstarch, and food coloring. Here’s the site I got the recipe from. Today was the second time I’ve done this with Gracia and she really likes it, especially since she gets to pick out what colors we make. You can even have your kids help make it. Gracia poured the cornstarch in the cold water, got the bowls out and of course picked out the colors. It’s a great idea for decorating a Father’s Day card too!

© 2015 Purposely Frugal Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha
Performance Optimization WordPress Plugins by W3 EDGE