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Recently, due to health concerns, I have become vegan. With this, comes the fun of trying to keep fresh veggies and fruit in the house inexpensively.
I love sprouts, but they are very expensive to purchase, so I've decided to try growing my own.
Apparently, it's super easy!
You need some containers to grow them in, I'm currently using 2L pop bottles with the tops cut off.
Put about 1/2 cup of beans or seeds in the container with four cups of water. You may need to rinse them before you start the process.
Let them soak overnight, and then drain.
Leave the sprouts in the sun for 5-6 days, until they sprout. Rinse them daily. Leave them in the sun in the mornings and in the fridge in the afternoons.
The sprouts are edible in 5-6 days!
What beans or seeds can you use?
Lentils, adzuki beans, soy beans, quinoa, canola, radish, mustard, and so on!

$100/week to feed a family of four

6 weeks into the "project"  -- successful 4 out of 6 weeks.

So I went over my weekly "target" budget (that is target with a small "t", as in goal...not Target with a capital "T", as in store in which I spend WAY too much money even if I just run in for one item).  My goal has been to keep our grocery bill to $100 or less a week....this week we were at $122.  Before coupons and in-store savings, it was $165, so that is considerable savings....but still over $100

However in my constant need to justify everything I think "well, I bought a case of beer which is about $17 of that extra money, and since soda was on sale I bought 4 cases for $11 (plus deposit) because I am a good wife who loves her husband" so there is my extra money right there.  If you factor out the beverages, yes, we were under $100 for the week. 

I have become a little obsessed with the Frugal way of living, however not in a "we will now use our tea bags 7 times" and a "bring home your sandwich baggie so I can rise it and reuse it" kind of way. No offense to those who do that successfully, but I think that is just a little too far over the edge of reality for us.  I told D that my goal is to pinch every penny we can, without compromising our way of life to a noticible degree.  So far we've been pretty successful.  A few of my strategies have been:
  • I've been checking out the store circulars on Friday evenings, and then trying to spend some time menu planning that night/Saturday morning in advance of my grocery runs. 
  • I am starting to learn the sale rotation schedule at my store, so I know when to triple-stock up on essentials like chicken nuggets (normally $4 a package, but on sale can be between $2 and $2.50), mayo, snacks, etc.   I have a large bookcase in the basement that serves as our pantry so I can store the extra twelve boxes of pasta and containers of oatmeal.
  • I steal my mom's coupons (we don't get the paper delivered) and then rotate them in with the sale rotation, so last week I bought 6 boxes in the triscuit/ritz family and between the sales and the coupons only paid $3 total for all 6 boxes. 
  • I stopped buying the single serve packages of anything, and instead spend time on Sunday night dividing the kids snacks into snack size baggies, putting big containers of yogurt into smaller ones, etc (D laughs at me for this one)
  • Spending far too much time at the store trying to concentrate on the "price per unit" price rather than the total price.  I have practically memorized the amounts for the foods we eat most often, and am able to decipher what is really a deal vs what is a packaging ploy
  • I still need to get my family to eat more veggies than we have been, but I've given up on too many fresh vegetables until they are better eaters. I tend to buy one "type" of veggie for the week (whatever is on sale) in addition to whatever I will be using in a recipe (onion, mushrooms, whatever).  I will cook that up to have over a few days, but otherwise we are using bags of frozen vegetables because it pains me to throw out wasted produce at the end of the week.
Anyone else have any grand ideas? I can use all the help I can get.  Cost o' living is a bitch, yo.

Make it New Again

You know those things that you liked, but now they're ripped/faded/out-of-style? It would be so easy to just toss them and replace them, they don't even cost much money. But what if we didn't live in a society that was so trash friendly? What if like our grandparents, we had to make things last? Well that's exactly what I try to do.

Today I was talking to a friend on the phone and she mentioned that the plastic pieces of her laundry sorter had broken. There's no fixing that. But I asked her if she were to buy a new one, if I could have one of the old laundry bags from the broken one. I told her that one of mine had been ripped a few times and that I just kept sewing it back up. She laughed at the idea of me sewing up a mesh bag, and then shared with me that you can buy those bags at the dollar store for a buck.

At first I felt silly and a little sheepish. They only cost a dollar. But then I began doing my laundry and looked over the bag. I counted eight rips that I had mended over the last year. Now a dollar might not seem like anything really, but you can buy an apple for a dollar, or a can of soup - when you look at it that way, you can get a meal for the price of five minutes worth of sewing. And I had mended that bag on at least five different occasions. What can five dollars buy you? That's half of what I paid for the entire laundry sorter itself.

My point is this: instead of tossing something out and replacing it, why not turn it into a project one evening while you're watching T.V? Sew up that rip in the drapes. You know that ugly vase that your mother-in-law gave you? Why not repaint it and make it your style, isn't that better than throwing it out?

We could save so much money if we were just a little less willing to give up on things.

The Times We Live In

How have you been affected by the current economic situation?
Have any of you managed to feel unaffected thus far?

Catching Up

Sorry I've been MIA, but our scrimping and saving finally got my family to where we had always wanted to go, and we were lost in the awe of it for a while. My husband and I bought our first home in November and moved in last month. For those of you who remember, we are a family of four living off of a single $10 an hour income. We bought our home all on our own, without the need of a co-signor, and at a very low and reasonable interest rate of 5.35%. I'm so happy I could sing!

But of course with the turn the economy is taking, and the costs associated with a new home, we need to save money at every turn now more than ever. I'm looking forward to re-connecting with this community and sharing more tips with each other to help us stretch our cash as far as it can go.

Do It Yourself

Now more than ever, it pays to try and do things yourself before turning to someone else to do it for you. We threw a "Reno party" and had our friends and family come out for a weekend to help us with painting and putting down new flooring in our new home. We fed everyone good food and had beer available for those that wanted it. Sure, it cost money, but no where near what it would have cost to pay painters or flooring installers.

What are some other things that you can do yourself to save money?

A twist on a great idea

Many thanks to coopers_mom for her tip on making your own frozen burritos. This morning we tried out breakfast burritos and froze them. They were yummy, and cheap, and now my husband has something to grab when he is rushing out the door in the morning - no more stopping at Tim Horton's on the way to work. ;)

We scrambled 7 eggs with a 1/2 cup of milk. Cubed a ham steak and fried it. Then we made the burritos with a couple spoonfuls of the eggs, a spoonful or two of the ham, sprinkled some shredded cheese, and topped it off with a spoonful of salsa. Then we wrapped them and placed them seam-side down on a cookie sheet. We baked them at 250F for 5 mins (to set the tortilla and melt the cheese). They were a very tasty, and fun for the kiddo breakfast. (Lily was like, "Tacos for breakfast!?!) :) Then we froze the extras (this recipe made 9). We wrapped each one in plastic wrap and them put them in a ziplock bag - nice and easy! :)

Never buy frozen burritos again

Seriously, these are super yummy, super easy, and more importantly more cost effective.

I bought a family pack  (3 lbs) of ground beef on sale, sauteed up with onion, homemade taco seasoning, and at the end while simmering, I added avocado.  That night, we had tacos (I buy the shells when they are on super sale of $1 box, and stock up).

The next day, I took a package of whole wheat tortillas (10 for $1.99), a can of refried beans ($.89) and some shredded cheese and in assembly line fashion made up the burritos (1/3 cup meat, 1/3 cup beans, cheese), rolled them up and wrapped each in foil, then flash froze on baking sheet. Once frozen to form, put them in a zip loc baggie, and we reheat them as needed.  They are so much better than the store bought burritos and easy to have on hand.  Not to mention, I know exactly what went in to them, with not a chemical, additive or preservative in sight.  Next time I will do it with homemade beans.

Same package of meat (and can of beans) also gave us one more nights worth of quesadellias, so three meals from the one pack of beef.

Bulk up

Most people know that buying in bulk is cheaper, but not everyone has the space to store mass quantities, nor the money to afford the initial cost. So here's my tip for the day, get together with a couple of friends and bulk up! If you can find one or two other people to split the cost with, you can get fantastic deals without having to build a second pantry to hold all the stuff. :)

Check out the prices in the bulk section of your local supermarket - it's well worth it!

Sep. 17th, 2008

I just stumbled across this comm and love it! I hope more people join and post often. We are a family of 4 climbing our way out of debt by making some severe scarifices (living with parents) I work part-time and my husband works full-time.

No tips for now.

Homemade Baby Food

Super Baby Food – by Ruth Yaron

I LOVE THIS BOOK. It’s a fabulous step-by-step guide that not only tells you what food to introduce to your child each month, but also why this progression is important to your child’s development. It has 350 recipes, from starting solid foods to recipes for preschoolers. Full of money saving tips (for food, household cleaning, and activities to keep you little ones busy) and useful information, I just can’t say enough good things about this book.

Making your own baby food is a great way to save money. Super Baby Food is definitely worth the money, but for those who can't afford it yet - I'll share one of the best tips:

Food Cube Method

First you cook up a big batch of which ever food you need. Let’s say it’s sweet potatoes.
Then you puree the food.
Get out a couple of ice cube trays, and then you spoon the food into the cubes (one food cube is about 2 tablespoons, the perfect size for a baby portion).
Pat flat with wet fingers, and freeze over night.
In the morning, pop the frozen cubes out into a Ziplock freezer bag. (If you have trouble getting them out, just let them sit at room temperature for a minute or two and they will slide right out.)
Then label as follows:
What?: Sweet Potatoes
Frozen: May/13/06
Exp: July/13/06

Different foods will keep in the freezer for different lengths of time, but as a rule most will keep for at least 2 months.
Then you just take out a food cube each meal and after 30-60 seconds in the microwave your baby’s meal is ready to go.
I love how easy it is when we’re sleepy in the morning. My daughter is getting used to how food cooked in our kitchen tastes, and we're saving loads of money not having to buy jars of baby food. This morning I made 2 trays of baby food (48 food cubes = 24-48 baby meals depending on how much your baby eats) out of $1.57 of sweet potatoes. :)