admin / August 2, 2013

Preserving Food Saves Money and it’s not all about canning

71SBVhh8VRL__SL1000_One thing I love about summer is going to the store and picking up bargains that I can preserve for later use when prices go up (as we all know they will). While I do lots of canning there are other ways I put these items to good use-

One way is my drying it and yes, I’ll give a little shameless promotion here. I co-authored a book called The Essential Dehydrator and while some of its focus is on how to dry foods, it contains lots of gourmet recipes using dried foods.

Just this week I dried six pounds of onions and the thing I like best is I can walk away and leave the foods to dry. I can dry them overnight using the timer. And best of all, those six pounds became two jars of food so it’s great for storing extra food if finding space is an issue for you.

One other way you can put summer produce to use for later enjoyment is to make soups and stews. I’ve already made a couple of soups that I’ve put in the freezer and hope to do more as time permits. Something else I’ve been freezing is fruit based desserts like peach cobbler, strawberry crisps etc.

And the CSA box has been full of herbs. For the last two weeks I’ve opened up a paper bag to find it filled with basil. I’m growing my own too which I’ll dry so thought I’d use these bags for pesto which also freezes well. There’s one I made the other day that I’ll tell you about in an upcoming Meatless Monday meal.

Buying foods now can also save you money when the holidays roll around. Not just food gifts like jams but foods you can serve at buffets. This weekend I’m planning on making a peach and mint salsa…peaches were on sale and I’m growing mint in my herb garden. And with the zucchini and eggplant from the CSA box I’m also planning on making caponata. I’ve never made it before but thought it might make an interesting addition to the holiday table.

Another good thing about making all these goodies besides the money saving factor, is the time saving one too. Yes, you’ve have to put in some hours up front but it’s great to pull something out the pantry or freezer when you don’t have time in the fall or during the hectic holiday season.

(I’ll be holding a giveaway for a few copies of The Essential Dehydrator very soon!)

admin / January 4, 2012

New Year Resolutions for the Budget Minded

A happy New Year to everyone. I you all enjoyed the holiday season. Now it’s back to normal and being that it’s a brand new year articles about resolutions are everywhere. Most of them focus on losing weight and exercising but it’s the perfect time to think about money and savings ones too.

I’ve made a few, like throwing zero food away. I’m pretty good about it now but there’s still room for improvement.

I’ll also be making my own gourmet breads instead of paying almost $5 for a loaf I can make for a few dollars, even less…I’ve almost got the cheese bread down to an art!

I’ve attempted this one for the last few years but never got it into full swing…planting and starting a vegetable garden. One of my neighbors told me she’s going to plant one so maybe that will be the incentive I need.

I’m also going to look for more ways I can save, even if it’s a penny here and there as I always say it all adds up.

Here are some of my tips for sticking with money resolutions-

Don’t Start Just Yet

I’ve found if I try something out on January 1st I’m doomed to fail. You need time to adjust to the New Year and also get back into a normal way of life after the holidays. It’s better to put your plan into motion in say mid January or even February.

Start Small

Going on a money diet is a lot like a food diet, tell yourself you have to lose 30 pounds and when it doesn’t happen you give up. Instead of saying I’ll save $100 a month, try $20 or even $10. Once you’ve gained confidence and know you can do it, aim higher.

Don’t Go Too Cold Turkey

Once again it’s a lot like dieting, deprieve yourself too much and you’re soon back to eating fries and candy. Life, even when you’re on a budget is supposed to be fun, so don’t cut out everything that brings you joy.

Make It a Game

I’ve got into the habit of making coupon clipping and finding corresponding sale items a game I play every week for an hour or so. If it’s less of a task and more of a  fun couple of hours, you’re more likely to stick with it, not only for the first few months of the year, but always.

Get a Buddy

Most people are in the same situation now. Everyone is watching their money like never before so why not find someone to be your budget buddy. Maybe you can clip coupons together, carpool to a grocery store you’ve never been before, even cook budget meals together and swap recipes.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Setbacks and failure are inevitable but that doesn’t mean you’ll never achieve your goal. Start over and figure out where you went wrong and how you can change things the next time around.

My budget releated article finds of the week-

If you’re looking to make some extra cash this year-

http://shine.yahoo.com/financially-fit/7-things-home-more-valuable-think-215800882.html

Put some of these on your to do list-

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-113826-11732-1-10-things-you-should-stop-paying-for-in-2012?ywaad=ad0035&nc

And if you have an extra $100 this article has some ideas for you-

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/smart-things-you-can-do-with–100-in-2012.html

admin / May 16, 2011

The Blog-The Psychology of Selling

There’s no doubt supermarkets are trying to get us to shop exclusively at their stores. Last week I needed some of my favorite English brand tea and headed to the one supermarket in town that sells it. I shop there maybe once every couple of months. I usually take my own bags for the groceries but it was raining hard and yes, I was feeling too lazy to take them along. When I got to the checkout and started to pack my groceries I realized that the store had new bags and that they were half the size of the previous ones. I could only fit about four or five items in each one and soon the cart was filling up…yes, really a problem when the rain’s pelting down and you’re loading the trunk of your car with lots of bags.

When I got home and started to put the groceries away I had a ‘duh’ moment. They weren’t trying to save money on smaller bags, after all, shoppers have to use twice as many but it’s a marketing ploy for them. Like me, most shoppers will have spent their usual amount of money on food but yet have a trunk filled with grocery bags. Ah, you say, I’ll shop there again because I get more for my money. No, actually, you get the same amount of groceries but just lots more bags to throw away. It made me wonder what other tricks stores are dreaming up.

This week on Budget Smart Girl-we all love to pamper ourselves with facials and bubble baths so I’m looking for places to buy inexpensive products for pampering and sites where you can buy supplies to make your own goodies. Plus, more foods have been added to the superfood list. Good news is they’re all budget friendly.

Articles I found on the Internet-

Saving at the grocery store

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-112713-9610-1-10-insider-grocery-savings-secrets?ywaad=ad0035&nc

Try saving $100 a week-

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-112655-9531-1-save-100-a-week?ywaad=ad0035

And be sure to check out All You magazine because they have their Grocery Challenge again. www.allyou.com, click on the link to sign up.

Have a good week.

admin / April 15, 2011

Places to Sell Unwanted Items

I”m gearing up for a late spring/early summer garage sale. Yes, they’re a good way to get rid of unwanted stuff while making some extra money but there are online options too. Some places you can sell things like clothes and shoes, while other sites are strictly for swapping things like books and CDs. Either way you get money or stuff you really need while clearing out your closets.

Here are some sites I found that you might want to check out. I’ve not used all of them and as usual a word of caution, check out the rules, the terms and conditions before you do business on any site. I’ve been lucky so far. The only thing I’ve lost were points I traded in for some books that I never received.

Newsletter

I’ve been subscribing to this newsletter for a couple of years and if you’re going the selling route it has lots of helpful articles-

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu

Auction Site

You’ve heard of eBay, this is also a bidding site-

http://www.ioffer.com/

 More Sites to Check Out-

Here are other sites I found and some don’t charge you for using them-

https://www.listia.com/

http://www.wigix.com/index.php/wigix/index/0/2

http://www.webstore.com/promo,code,ab,ad,index

http://www.prestostore.com/

Unwanted Clothes, Shoes, Purses…

Here’s a site for fashions. I’ve listed items here and so far sold one. Once again no charge for buying or selling.

http://www.smashion.com/

The Next Best Thing To a Garage Sale

I stumbled upon this site a few week’s ago and I haven’t used it yet but seriously thinking about listing some items there. Seems you utilize Facebook and Twitter to attract viewers-

http://yardsellr.com/

Children’s Clothes and Toys

I don’t know a mom out there who doesn’t want to get rid of your children’s clothing at some point and this site helps you do just that-

http://www.thredup.com/

Books and More

Once upon a time I let previously read books sit on the shelves. Not the smartest of things for an avid reader because you quickly run out of space. For the last three or more years I’ve been swapping and trading them on various sites. Here are some to check out-

http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php

http://titletrader.com/

http://www.bookins.com/

Auction Tools

I’ve found the most time consuming thing is taking photos and then listing all the items but some sites have auction tools to speed up the process, here’s one I found-

http://www.auctiva.com/

You Don’t Have to Be A Seller

These sites are also a good way to pick a bargain or two. Just like new items it pays to do some reasearch. If I find something I’m interested in I’ll do a search online to see if other sites or buyers are offering it and check out the going price. Another thing, check out the seller’s feedback before you do business with them.

admin / February 14, 2011

The Blog-Sometimes Bargain Items Are Awful

Last week I learned a valuable lesson that not everything that’s a budget price is that great. Last month I bought a pack of eight rolls of toilet paper that were on special at the supermarket. It wasn’t until last week we started to use them and my husband was the first to complain. I quickly agreed that it was the worst toilet paper I’d ever seen. It looked fine on the roll but proved to be just one ply and so thin if you held it up to the light you could see through it. You’d have to use twice as much paper as other brands and hence save no money. Lesson learned, stick with old favorites because sometimes bargain specials are neither. And there’s more to the story. I e-mailed the company and told them how unhappy I was with the purchase and have to say they responded quickly and are sending me coupons for their other brands.

Remember the soap nuts I mentioned in this month’s newsletter? I purchased the sample package and also the sample size of the all purpose cleaner. Quick service and they send you a coupon for 12% off not only your next purchase but all future ones too. The package arrived after I’d finished doing the laundry but I’ll let you know what I thought about them in next Monday’s blog. I have tried the all purpose cleaner and it does an excellent job. I like the fact it’s in concentrate, looks like you can use it on just about any surface and it’s a good price too.

The articles about saving money keeping rolling-

My late father would have loved this one-

http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/111978/6-costs-you-should-always-negotiate?mod=bb-budgeting

When it pays to buy used-

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/First-Person-5-Things-I-ac-3815880417.html?x=0

Yes, we’ve been warned-

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Higher-food-prices-ahead-apf-2876382522.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=8&asset=&ccode=

Another food focused week on Budget Smart Girl, first of all how you can add flavors to every day foods. Then the first of a series of articles on cooking with beans and legumes. This week it’s black beans and a recipe for smoky black bean nachos.

Have a good week.

admin / January 24, 2011

The Blog-Check Those Bills

My late father taught me lots of things about watching your money. One was checking every bill you receive. These days we’re all busy and it’s easy just to write a check and put it in the mail. However, that can cost you money. Just this week we had two bills that had errors on them. First one was from the dentist. We’d paid the bill two weeks ago and got sent a second notice just ten days later. Second one was the cable company who charged us for a call out visit when a technican needed to stop by to update some outside wiring because of some upgrades the company had done. If we’d paid these two bills without checking the amount would have been close to $700.  It might not happen on every bill and probably not for that much money but it’s budget smart to look over every item before you write that check.

I hadn’t realized that January is National Soup Month but with the cold weather everyone’s experiencing what could be better than a bowl of homemade soup. I’m a big fan of soup, not only because it tastes good but it’s great for your budget too. So this week that’s my focus. Soups that are easy to make and also how you can give canned soups some gourmet pizzazz.

Articles of interest this week-

Thinking about saying goodbye to cable TV?-

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/First-Person-How-We-Cut-Cord-ac-4204109190.html?x=0

Maybe you don’t really need to throw that out-

http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshoppingarticles/505/77-surprising-expiration-dates/

Financial experts say many of us will now outlive our money but see how this 107 year old didn’t let that happen to him-

http://finance.yahoo.com/focus-retirement/article/111841/view-of-retirement-at-107?mod=fidelity-livingretirement&cat=fidelity_2010_living_in_retirement

Have a good week.

admin / January 20, 2011

Stop Wasting Food

We all do it…buy food, forget to eat it and the garbage bin becomes the recipient of our wasted dollars.

Vegetables always seem to be my Achilles’ Heel. Sometimes I’m cleaning out the produce bin and find an item that I can no longer identitfy. So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to make sure that doesn’t happen…or at least less often in 2011.

Whatever your Achilles’ Heel, here are some things I’ve found helps keep me on track.

Plan Ahead

I know this take extra time and most of us don’t have a lot of it right now. However, when you’re putting together your shopping list think about items you can use for more than one meal. For example, a whole chicken can be dinner one night and leftovers can be turned into chili or burritos. Canned foods like tomato sauce or evaporated milk are great to use in soups and stews.

Leftovers Day

I’ve set aside one day a week (Sunday in my house) as Leftovers Day. I take out everything we haven’t eaten the rest of the week and set it on the counter as a buffet style meal. Sometimes it’s veggies left from one meal, potatoes from another. It also gets the fridge cleaned out for the following week and nothing goes to waste.

Freeze It

If I don’t use leftovers like gravies and sauces I freeze them. Same goes for waffles, bread rolls and muffins.

Make Stock

Another one of my resolutions is to make more homemade stock. I have a container in the freezer to which I add veggie peelings. Once I’ve made the stock I plan on freezing that too.

Soup

One of my favorite restaurants always features a vegetable and bean soup every day. It took me awhile to figure out why and it wasn’t because it was a customer favorite. The restaurant is using leftover veggies and beans and putting them to good use…soup they can sell every day. I now do the same thing. If I have leftover vegetables, pasta, beans etc. I make soup with it. It’s great because you never have the same combination so it’s always new. Some of my favorite soups have been created this way.

Lemons, Tomato Paste…

 

I don’t know why but in the winter I always seem to have half a lemon sitting in my fridge. I could never find a use for it other than slicing it up and using it in water. Now I use lemon juice which you find in those plastic lemons in the produce department. I know it’s not pure lemon juice…it has some preservatives but it’s easy to store, I always have some on hand and nothing goes to waste.

The same goes for tomato paste. I’d use half a can and the rest would sit in the fridge unsued. Now I buy it in tubes. Same goes for anchovy paste. I don’t use anchovies that often so it’s the perfect solution.

Salsa, dressings etc.

And my final way of using everything. If you have a couple of tablespoons of salsa, use it on scambled eggs. Dressing I use as a sandwish spread. Things like pickles get chopped up and put into homemade Thousand Island dressing.

admin / January 28, 2010

The Saving Money Plan

I can’t remember how I found out about Saving Money Plan www.savingmoneyplan.com but I’m really glad I signed up to receive the daily newsletters because I’ve saved money with coupons I’ve seen in the newsletter, found out about free stuff (you know I love both of those things!) and learned more about how to find and use coupons. I thought it was about time I shared this valuable site with you and decided to go straight to its founder, Claire Williams for all the inside information.

Budget Smart Girl (BSG)-For the readers who don’t know about the site can you tell them what Saving Money Plan is all about?
Claire Williams (CW)-Saving Money Plan encourages you to live better with practical money-saving strategies and daily deals.

BSG-When did it launch?
CW-I launched it in 2008 but I wish I had started sooner.

BSG-How did it come about?
CW-I had been reading so many deal blogs online and realized that I not only loved reading them, but I also wanted to write one! The fact that I had always been known among friends and family as being the one who knew how to save a buck was clearly an added plus!

BSG-How do you find all the great deals?
CW-I’m on lots of newsletters, I have great bloggy friends with whom I share deals, and I read – read – read!

BSG- Is this a full time job for you?
CW-It’s a hobby for me – a part-time job you could say.

BSG-You send out an e-mail newsletter every day for anyone who signs up, what can readers expect to find in their e-mail box every day?
CW-Great deals, lots of coupons, and the specific advice you need to actually use the deals to get tons of free items every week – especially from your local drugstores. The thing readers really like about Saving Money Plan is the free coupon class – as it teaches you to get hundreds of dollars in free items every month. A few years ago I never thought you could really do this, but you definitely can and I do!

BSG-Any money saving tips you’d like to share with us?
CW-Learn the drugstore game! It is one of the best ways to save $3,000 of your household budget this year! And it’s fun! I teach a free coupon class to learn it, but many others write blogs about it as well!

BSG-Can you tell us about some good deals you’ve found in the last week or so?
CW-The holidays are a great time to score deals. This past month I picked up over $90 in free items one week from Rite Aid – that was great. It was totally free.

BSG-Any sites you’d recommend we check out for more good deals.
CW-I love Censtable Momma www.centsablemomma.com and Money Saving Methods www.moneysavingmethods.com I would really recommend those two!

BSG-Anything else you’d like to share?
CW-If you want to learn to coupon at Saving Money Plan, try it here: http://savingmoneyplan.com/introduction-10-step-couponing-course/

admin / January 7, 2010

Budget Resolutions (or goals)…and sites to get you organized

I usually have my New Year resolutions all worked out by the time Christmas rolls around. This holiday, I didn’t. So this week when I’ve had a spare minute or two I’ve been making notes about what I want to achieve this year. Lots of things are on my list and most are about saving money on just about everything, but my top priority is the food budget. Here are some of my goals, they might be yours too.

Make More Ready Made Meals
This was on my list last year. I did make some meals now and then but this year I want to be more consistent. Which leads me straight into goal number two.

Spend One Saturday a Month Making Ready Made Meals
A couple of years ago I bought a cookbook devoted to the subject but never got done to actually putting it into action. I’m determined this year will be different. I’ll spend the first Saturday of each month making meals I can put into the freezer and just pull out when time isn’t my best friend.

Make More Homemade Staples
Yes, I have to admit I buy ready-made pizza crusts and salad dressings. But I have so many great recipes to try; this goal might be doable in 2010.

Make A Recipe Folder with Desperation Dinner Favorites
I have a box and some index cards and I’m determined to add all my favorite quick recipes to it. When time’s short or I don’t feel like spending more than 30 minutes in the kitchen, these will be the recipes I pull out.

Use More Coupons
As each year passes, I’ve been using more coupons and searching for bargains. This year I want to do even better. I’ve set a goal of searching online for deals and coupons before each shopping trip.

Grow More of My Own Food
You already know I bought an Aerogarden and I’m planning to plant a vegetable garden in spring. Just the other day I received a gardening catalog selling miniature fruit trees that can be planted in patio pots during warm weather and brought inside in the winter. I might give one a try this year.

Sticking with Your Goals
A couple of things I’ve found help you stick with your resolutions and goals are one, to write them down, two, revisit them on a regular basis, and three, tell others about them and ask them to check on your progress.

Some Sites of Note
Here are some Web sites I’ve found that offer free grocery lists, to do lists, just about everything to get more organized and gain more time this year.

www.evernote.com
www.ourfamilyplace.com/organize.html
www.ineedmoretime.com/
www.listorganizer.com/taketostore1.htm
www.allfreeprintables.com/checklists/shopping-list.shtml
www.moms-diner.com/printables/lists/choregrocery.htm

Another goal I forgot to mention is not wasting food, look out for my article on that topic tomorrow…

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