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A friend and I just signed up for gleaning this growing season. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleaning

What a great way to get fresh, free fruits and vegetables! Where I live there is a program that will pick you up by bus and take you to the different farms, once there you pick as much as you can carry - all absolutely free. I think it's worth a call to find out if any of the farms in your area offer gleaning. There's nothing to lose and so much produce to gain!:)

Free Site to Save you Money

Thanks to the Health Unit Rep who is helping with our Community Kitchen (we had our first cooking session yesterday, and it was fantastic!!), I have found an AWESOME Website!


This may in some way relate to my new obsession, TLC's Extreme Couponing. :)

If you click on the "Save Money" tab, and then click on "This week's Specials" it will show you all of the sales at your local stores - compared by item, so that you can see which store has the lowest price on each item!!! This is awesome. The site has a lot of other features that I haven't explored yet, and there seems to be a paid "plus" option that offers even more options, but the Sale Comparison feature alone will save me tons of time a week, as I usually write down the sales for things I need and then cross reference them with the other flyers to find the best sale.

Sorry.... I'm a little excited about this.

****Cross-Posted to my journal

Family Fun on a Budget

Summer's here!!!! I love summer, there are so many great things to do that don't cost money. It's nice to remember that we can have great days without the need to spend a dime.

Some of our family's favorites are:
Family movie night (we make popcorn and all get in our PJs and watch a kid's movie before bed, we do this once a week)
Having a picnic at the park (my daughters' favorite pass time)
Swimming at the beach (we have a nice little beach in my town)
Going to the nearby Free Zoo
BBQ in our back yard
Going for a family bike ride
Have friends over for fun in the sprinkler
Going for a walk in the park

What does your family do for fun that doesn't cost a lot of money?

Happy Surprises

So I've got a room mate who talks about something called a cheeseburger pie. A family recipe handed down from her grandmother to her mother. Sadly, that's where the tradition ends since my roomie is only now learning her way around the kitchen. Yesterday I tried my hand at it and the result wasn't half bad.

Instead of a pre-made pie shell, I made a crust from a 1.79 package of pizza crust mix that I picked up at Target. I'd never seen one like it before, and figured I'd be able to make something yummy. After following its instructions I pressed it into the bottom of a glass pie dish, then filled it with browned ground beef that had been seasoned with onions and Lawry's Seasoned Salt. I tossed in sour cream and plenty of cheddar cheese.

It's the best heart attack on a dish ever. I might not have it more than once a month, but.. seriously. Yummy.
My husband makes the most fabulous Boiled Dinner. It is really simple, makes a huge batch (dutch oven full), goes a long way, and is nutritious to boot. Can be frozen, but ours never makes it to the freezer because I keep eating it all week (I love it).

We don't use corned beef because neither of us care for it (corned beef is usually used in Boiled Dinner). We use ham instead, and with this being Easter time, ham is on sale all over the place.

Start with a dutch oven or stock pot on the stove. Fill dutch oven about 3/4 full with water and bring to boil.

Core and slice whole head of cabbage into quarters, and place the quarters pointed side-down in the water. Lower the burner temperature to about medium.

Cut up about 4 or 5 medium red potatoes (with the peels on). Pieces should be in about 1" by 1" inch chunks. Put potatoes in the pot. You can use parsnips or rutabagas in place of potatoes if you wish.

Peel and slice 6 - 8 whole raw carrots into about 1" slices. Place into pot.

Slice 1/2 medium onion into the pot. Large slices are fine -- they will cook down.

Take about 2 lbs of ham (or fully-cooked processed ham) and cut into about 1" by 1" chunks. Toss them in. If you are like us and you love ham, you can add more.

Sprinkle in about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of pepper.

Cover and simmer on low for an hour or 2, stirring occasionally.

I warn you, your kitchen will smell a bit "gassy," but the taste is amazing. This meal comes out like a really thick soup or thin stew and tastes fabulous. Enjoy.

x posted to frugal living and dave ramsey.

PiggyBacking on the Last Post

I've been watching the Great Depression Cooking Episodes and found this one.


It's an interesting recipe for using up stale bread, I think I might try it with the contents of my breadbox instead of making croutons this week.

What this lady has to share on YouTube could help you stretch your food dollar significantly during this tough economic time.

Clara is 91 years old and is sharing with people via YouTube how to cook as her family did during the Great Depression. How wonderful of her to help people this way.

Her family was so poor at that time that she had to quit school because she could not afford stockings. The younger generations of this country have no idea what people really went through. But they made it and survived and kept their pride. And now she is reaching out to help us in this tough time we are going through.

Yay, Clara!


This week's groceries totalled $89.12   -  precoupons and "store loyalty card" it was $126.  Had I not needed two packages of batteries, I could have kept it to under $75 (dayum, batteries are expensive these days!  even on sale).

There were a lot of fresh fruit sales this week, which made me happy.  Even happier was that immediately upon unpacking the bags, Coop wanted to try the cantelope (which he loved).

I made two loaves of yummer honey whole wheat bread, and am feeling more confident in my bread making skills.  Also, as with all of my "fresh cooking" it is so nice to know exactly what is going in our food.

I found the local health food store that sells things in bulk - grains and flours and spices, oh my! I didn't really buy much, but I'm so glad to know there is that option.  It is something I have missed greatly since moving to the burbs.

I rotated our  two freezer stashes to insure we are eating older foods before newer - while I like to only have about 2 freezer meals a week, it is safe to say we could exist with NO fresh-cooked dinners for about 3 weeks if we had to.  We are also down to a nearly zero pre-packaged foods in the freezer stash as well - the only things that were not made at home are:  Fresh Fruit popsicles, frozen veggies, Trader Joe chicken nuggets (1 package), a few english muffins, and a box of pierogies.  Everything else has been homemade and frozen with love.

Next project is rotating the pantry, working really hard to use the existing prepackaged stuff I have there (ie the bottle of store bought marinade? why did I ever buy this - full of high fructose corn syrup).  I am stocked with about 10 different grains (brown rice, wild rice, white rice, quinoa, couscous, israeli couscous, etc) and pastas (whole wheat, regular, lasagne noodles, egg noodles).....

and then of course, trying to figure out how to feed us all for Passover this year.  Of all the holidays, THIS is not an easy one to feed a picky family during.  Especially with the overlap of Easter with all of its appealing (junky) treats!!

Garbage Soup

I found this in a crock-pot cooking community I'm part of. - http://community.livejournal.com/what_a_crock

" A lot of my crockpot recipes call for broth of some kind. Well, you can buy it of course, but it's not always cheap and seems to be loaded up with salt and stuff. And most of the time I seem to use only part of the can and then end up tossing the rest because I put it in the fridge and then forget about it. So I make what I call "garbage soup" and use that instead.

Okay, whenever I'm using veggies, I wash them before peeling, chopping, etc. and then save all the stuff that you would normally toss down the garbage disposal - onion skins, potato peelings, carrot peels and tops, limp celery, parsley that's not too happy, you get the idea. I keep a 1 or 2 gallon zip-top bag in the freezer and just add to it. If you don't want vegetarian broth, you can also toss in chicken bones as well. When the bag is full, I dump it into a pot, cover with water, add a bit of salt, some pepper, whatever herbs I might have handy and cook for an hour or so. Sometimes I do this in the crockpot, actually, but most of the time it's easier to do it on the stove. When it's done, I strain it and then pour it into ice cube trays and small containers and freeze. Then when I'm making a crock pot recipe that calls for broth, in this goes instead. Actually, I often use this when the recipe calls for water - it gives an added bit of flavor to the dish."

I thought it was an excellent idea and started this afternoon with the undesirable bits from the veggies I used to make Belly Button Soup.

I'll let you all know how it turns out in a couple of weeks when I make it into homemade stock. :) mmmmm
I just found out that in my area we can use a regular garbage bin or wooden bushel basket for our yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, green waste) instead of having to buy those paper yard waste bags. The bags aren't that expensive, I usually find them for around $2.99 - $3.99 for a pkg of 4-6 bags. But I started thinking about it, and I probably end up buying three packs or more a year. I've got three of them sitting out at the road right now, just from raking up the front yard of our new house, and the backyard is still looming. It seems like I might have a lot of savings to look forward to if I get myself a designated bin for our yard waste.

It got me to thinking, what other things could I save money on by simply using the re-usable counterpart of the more popular toss away products? We already use cloth diapers.

Does anyone have any ideas?