Money Saving Tips, Installment #3

money saving

 

This week’s installment is regarding your utilities.   If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that just over a year ago we moved to a newer, larger home with a pool…..our forever home!   We love it here and it is a home that my honey and I can grow old in together 🙂    One of the big shocks when we moved here was  that our electricity bills were so much higher than our family that we are buying the home from.   Anyhow, our first full month here, we didn’t have to run the a/c and our bill was $282.  And the next couple of months went up from there!   We did find a few ways to cut back on the useage a little bit but nothing significant.   We just resigned ourselves to high electric bills.    Fast forward to either September or October, and the electric company put a smart meter on our house.  I had been very resistant to having it because of the controversy surrounding them regarding super high bills, electrical magnetic fields, etc, etc.   Let me tell you, this past 3 months, (once the smart meter went completely accessible online with our account with our electric company) being able to see our hourly useage day to day, I have gotten our electrical bills down in the $160s!   2 months in a row now have been in the $160s.

Here’s what I have noticed…..

1.  Yes, we have the compact florescent bulbs in every light fixture in the house that isn’t florescent tubes.  But our lights use a LOT of electricity!   Turning off the lights when we leave a room, not turning them on at night until it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY (this time of year we aren’t turning them on until 7:45-8:15, later if we are watching a movie or sporting event on tv), this has saved a significant amount of money!   And I am able to tell you on a day to day basis when there are lights on in my house based on the daily useage on the electric companies website.   BIG SAVINGS

2.  Our desk top computer (even though it is an energy star rated computer) still uses a LOT of electricity. I can also tell you when the computer is on by looking at the hourly useage.   This and the lights are our biggest changes, and it has saved us an average of $70 per month!!!!!

3.  Unplug anything that isn’t currently running.   I walked around the house, went room by room, and found no less than 15 outlets that were being used by something that rarely gets turned on!

4.  our oven is electric, and again, it uses a lot of electricity, even though it is really new (less than 5 years old….I’m thinking 3ish years old)……we have two gas grills (“inherited” one, and had one)….we have been reading a lot on how to make one of them into an outdoor oven….we are going to line the bottom and sides of one of them with firesafe and food safe brick and use it as an oven for the summer months when I a) don’t want the heat inside the house anyhow and b) want to offset the cost of running the a/c as much as possible.     Eventually, I will get a solar oven as well, but at this point in time, we just don’t have the resources for that, we are going to use what we have 🙂

5.  Use alternatives as much as possible.   If your stove is electric, and you have a gas grill, use it for cooking as much as possible (even the bottled propane is cheaper ….at least where I live…. than the cost of electricity for the amount of cooking that I do).    If you have a lot of outdoor lighting in your yard, consider switching as much of that as possible over to solar lights.   We have both our front and back yards lit  (not bright lighting, but path lighting) with solar lights, and once you are out in it, they do offer nice ambiance lighting…..eventually we would love to add some stringlights that are solar powered to a couple of the trees.

6.  For water savings, use timers for showers.   Turn the faucet off when you are lathering your hands or brushing your teeth.   Don’t run the water constantly while washing dishes.   Fill your sink, and don’t turn the water back on until it is time to rinse out the sink.

7.  Check with your gas, electric, water, sewer, phone, cable, etc companies and see where they can offer you savings.  Oftentimes there are discount plans or tiered plans or cheaper plans that can save you a bundle.   I recently called our satellite tv company because our initial introductory period was up, and our bill had gone up by $35 a month…..I was able to get them to discount it by another $15 for another year.   So by making a simple 15 minute phone call I saved us $240 this year!   Same thing with our internet, our introductory period ended, and the bill was going to go up another 8.01 per month.  I called to see if there was a lesser rate, they extended the introductory price, so I saved us another $192.24 over the course of the next two years with a simple 5 minute phone call.   We have gone to wireless home phone service, and only pay $25 a month, if we were to have the exact same services provided by the phone company (or even bundled with our internet or satellite) it would cost us a minimum of $49 plus taxes per month.   So we are saving $300 a year by using the wireless home phone service (it is offered through Sprint….I’m sure other wireless providers offer it as well, we just found out about it when we were looking at a new cell phone for me last year).

I hope that some of these tips have spurred some ideas of your own…and if they have, please share them! 🙂

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A Moment in God’s Word today….5/22/13

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This morning I was reading in Psalm 108, again a passage that I have read dozens of times, but this morning I saw it just a little bit differently.

Psalm 108:1-6

My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!  Awake, O harp and lyre!  I will awake the dawn!  I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me!

My heart IS steadfast, not once in the lifetime that I have known of God (I’ve known of God from a very young age).   I have seen and dealt with great tragedy in my lifetime, and many trials, and not once in that lifetime have I doubted God….my heart is steadfast!

I will sing and make melody with all of my being….well, here’s where I have to be honest and say, No, I haven’t given my ALL , I can (and do) give all circumstances, but as far as me, myself, I keep giving Him my ALL, and then turning right around and taking it right back…..it being many different things during different times in my life.    RIght now, in our current circumstances, I would say that “it” is the worries that I have over our futures relating to the government.  Our future rights to homeschool our children (I AM thankful that we are 7 years from being done in this respect, because if homeschooling is outlawed in the US …. if you don’t know what I’m talking about look up the Romeike case, and what Attorney General Eric Holder said about homeschooling…..we will be done or almost done by the time this comes down the pike.   Also, how ObamaCare is going to continue to effect our family’s health care costs, and even the availability of medications for our oldest daughter if my husband’s employer gives up the private insurance that we currently have and goes with the government program…..from the reading that I have done, I do not believe that all of her meds will be covered (they are QUITE expensive, and we are BLESSED to have insurance that covers it now).  Also, how Christians are being targeted in our country….in the past several years, we’ve been labeled by HomeLand Security as potential domestic terrorist threats, we’ve been ostracized by every level of government as being narrow-minded, hypocritical, prejudice, and bigots…..and the list goes on.  These are all things that are COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY out of my control, and God has these things, but I continue to worry on them, and literally have sleepless nights about them.   This is how I do not give my ALL to God.

Awake O harp and lyre! –Lord awaken in me the spirit of contentment….not necessarily in our current status as a family, church, etc, because in those things I am content, but in the future events….the things that I have absolutely no control over, and REALLY?  Have  no business worrying over!   Awaken in me, the contentment of a child, Lord allow me to follow after You and in life with a child’s faith.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  –Lord renew in me a spirit of thankfulness!  I do not struggle in this as I used to, but it is something that I sometimes “forget”.   Lord help me to be a voice for you among all of the people that I come into contact with!

For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!  That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me! –Lord I thank you and I praise you and give you glory for ALWAYS being my Abba, my Redeemer, my I AM, my Healer, my Messiah, my Kinsman-Redeemer, my All in All, my everything!   You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, never changing, ever faithful.   I do not deserve to be called a child of yours, but you love me more than my shortcomings and my wickedness.  THANK YOU LORD!

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Homemade Salsa (two recipes–salsa verde and roasted tomato salsa)

 

 

 

 

 

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Remember when I posted this a few days ago?   Well, I didn’t ever post the end results of this particular part of that yummy meal.   I just had a friend on Facebook ask for homemade salsa recipes, so I’m going to share my recipes.    Both of my recipes are VERY versatile  and can be used with roasted veggies, raw veggies, even canned tomatoes and canned tomatillos.

These are my original recipes, my own creation, so PLEASE keep my name with it if you share the recipe.  I work very hard to get my recipes just right, and would like to keep my name associated with them as the recipe creator.   Thank you 🙂

 

Roasted Salsa Verde

by Lori4squaremom (https://lori4squaremom.wordpress.com)

Makes approx 3 cups of salsa

  • 12 tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
  • 1-2 jalapenos (if you don’t want it spicy, you can remove part of the seeds and membranes or all)
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 onion, large diced
  • 2 cloves garlic,
  • 1/2 head cilantro rough chop
  • juice of 1-2 limes (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Wash and dry tomatillos, jalapenos and poblano peppers (do not cut either type of peppers).  Lightly drizzle with oil (I use olive oil), and season with salt and pepper.   Put on HOT grill (or on a sheet pan in a HOT (400 degrees) oven) and roast until the skin on the tomatillos and chiles are well blistered and dark in color (yes, you want them to have a good amount of black on them), turning midway through the process so that the whole fruits get the color.   Remove from grill and let cool.

Once cooled, remove stem and seeds from poblano, and seeds from jalapeno if desired.  Place all ingredients  in food processor or blender and pulse until everything is finely chopped.   Adjust seasoning as necessary.   Refrigerate for several hours before serving (at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better).

 

Roasted Tomato Salsa

by Lori4squaremom (https://lori4squaremom.wordpress.com)

Makes approx 3 cups of salsa

  • 9 tomatoes
  • 1-2 jalapenos (if you don’t want it spicy, you can remove part of the seeds and membranes or all)
  • 1 onion, large diced
  • 2 cloves garlic,
  • 1/2 head cilantro rough chop
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt to taste

Wash and dry tomatoes and jalapenos.  Lightly drizzle with oil (I use olive oil), and season with salt and pepper.   Put on HOT grill (or on a sheet pan in a HOT (400 degrees) oven) and roast until the skin on the tomatoes and chiles are well blistered and dark in color (yes, you want them to have a good amount of black on them), turning midway through the process so that the whole fruits get the color.   Remove from grill and let cool.

Once cooled, remove stem (and seeds if desired) from jalapeno.  Place all ingredients  in food processor or blender and pulse until everything is finely chopped.   Adjust seasoning as necessary.   Refrigerate for several hours before serving (at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better).

 

I mentioned above that you can leave the veggies all raw, you may need to adjust the seasoning with lime juice and salt if you do this.   Also, if you use canned tomatillos or canned diced tomatoes, you will want to drain the cans  and you will use a little more lime and may need to adjust the salt a little more.   I find that after 6-8 hours you can no longer tell that the salsas made from canned tomatoes/tomatillos  taste canned.   The flavors all blend together, and you can no longer tell that they were processed.     You can also use canned or pickled jalapenos if that is what you have on hand.

 

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A Moment in God’s Word today…..5/21/13

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Something that I have struggled with kind of all of my life, but most especially the past 12 years is being afraid of being abandoned by those who are never supposed to abandon me.   You see, I have been abandoned by 2 parents, one through his direct (extremely abusive) actions that led to a very nasty divorce and my mom taking my brother and I and moving to another state and not letting anyone know where we had moved (this was done out of fear).  And then many many years later my mom simply walked out of my, my husbands and my childrens’ lives without a word.   Still don’t know what caused it,  but the Lord has wonderfully and beautifully healed me.  BUT I still sometimes struggle with the fear of being abandoned by my family.    It is those times that I cling to God’s promises that He will NEVER leave me nor forsake me.   I have known for years about this promise in the New Testament, but was blessed beyond measure to find it in the old testament this morning!

Isaiah 49:13-16  Sing for joy, O heavens!  Rejoice, O earth!  Burst into song, O mountains!  For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.  Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?  But even if that were possible, I would no forget you!  See I have written your name on the palms of My hands. Always  in My mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

I was blessed to find this gem this morning…..I have read Isaiah dozens of times before, but never really noticed this passage before.  God is so faithful to show me these things just when I need them!   THANK YOU LORD!

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Turkey and Bean Chili

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Tonight we are having Turkey and Black Bean chili for dinner over brown rice.   HOWEVER, the black beans that I had cooked a few days ago that were in the fridge were past their prime, and I only had one can of black beans, so we are having turkey, black bean, and garbanzo bean chili 🙂    Here’s the recipe.   This is my basic recipe, you can use whatever meats and beans that you prefer.   I like this  chili with 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound italian sausage or even breakfast sausage, I also use ground pork sometimes.   it is a very versatile recipe, and you can add the optional veggies if you would like.   I did, but you don’t have to.   This is an adaptation of a dear friend’s recipe that she got from another friend.   The original recipe is here

Here’s the variation that I made today…..

Turkey and Bean Chili

  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and membranes removed and FINELY diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 zucchini, diced (optional)
  • 1 ear of corn, cut from cob (or 1/2 cup frozen corn) (optional)
  • 2 cans of beans (drained and rinsed…today I used 1 can black beans and 1 can garbanzo beans)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 bottle beer (can use chicken broth, beef broth, or even water)
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

In dutch oven saute onions and jalapenos until softened.   Add ground meat and brown over high heat until meat is cooked through.  Add tomato paste and cook until tomato paste is slightly browned….the color will get richer and deeper.   Add remaining ingredients, stir and simmer over medium low heat for 30-90 minutes.   The longer it cooks the better it will taste.   (OR you can put it in the crockpot and cook on low for several hours).     If it is too thick, or gets too thick add water or chicken broth until desired thickness.

 

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Broccoli Slaw

Last week my honey and I had our annual wellness appointments and my blood pressure is up a little bit and while my overall cholesterol is down from last year, a couple of the numbers are up a little from last year.   So it is time to get serious (and stay serious) about my diet and exercise.   Now when I use the word diet, I don’t mean diet as in trying to lose weight (although, that couldn’t hurt), I mean diet as in what I eat.   I have read A LOT about the DASH Diet eating plan over the past several years, and I have read the science behind it, and I know that I can definitely benefit from this plan.   Actually my whole family can 🙂    We eat healthfully compared to many other families, but there is a LOT of room for improvement.   SO, effective today, I am working my way into the DASH plan.   So far today, I have exercised, and gotten all of my fruit servings, all of my dairy servings, only 1 of my 6 grain servings (will get 2 more with dinner), and will get the rest of my veggie servings and meat servings  with dinner.   I have been SUPER FULL all day long, and haven’t even been eating all of the grain servings that I need!    Here’s how I’ll be getting 1-2 of my veggie servings for dinner tonight….AND it’s rich with superfoods! 🙂

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Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 head broccoli (cut the florets small and either julienne or grate or finely chop the stalk)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped almonds (or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (plain)
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. agave (or sugar or honey)

In a small bowl whisk together yogurt, vinegar and agave, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine all other ingredients and toss to combine.   Pour dressing over and mix well until all of the veggies are lightly coated with dressing.   Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (can go as long as overnight) before serving.

 

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Fruit Dip and impromptu parties

This past weekend (on Friday at 3 pm, to be exact :)) the kids came in and asked if they could have a party the next afternoon.   I told them that they would have to wait until Daddy got home from work and see how he felt about it.   So 2 hours later, when Daddy got home, we asked, and he was fine with it.   So the kids got started on Facebook and texting their friends to invite them to a “party” the next afternoon to swim and hangout.    The conditions of this party was that the kids had to get the house clean (to my standards), and Dad would do his part in the yard, and I would provide a couple of snacks.   Our budget didn’t include extras like an impromptu party, so I needed to come up with snacks using things that we already had and that I didn’t need for meals.    SO, I made a green chile cheese dip to go with some homemade salsa and tortilla chips.   And I made some brownies.   But the BIG HIT of the party was the fruit dip that I made to go with all of the cut up fruit.

fruit dip

 

This really couldn’t be ANY easier, and probably uses things that you already have in your kitchen.    It fancied up the strawberries, watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe and apple slices that I had for the kids.

Easy and DELICIOUS Fruit Dip

  • 8 oz cream cheese (I had the reduced fat on hand), softened
  • 6 oz strawberry flavored yogurt (mine was Brown Cow full fat)
  • a tablespoon or two of brown sugar (TO TASTE)

In an electric stand mixer or a bowl and electric hand mixer beat cream cheese for several minutes until it is light and fluffy (scraping sides of bowl once or twice to make sure you get the “unfluffed” cream cheese in to be “fluffed”).   Add yogurt and mix on medium high speed for 30-60 seconds until it is completely incorporated.  TASTE.  If it needs a little more sweetness, add a tablespoon of brown sugar (or honey, whatever your sweetener of choice is) and mix well until it is all incorporated.   TASTE.  If you still need a little more sweetness, you can add a a little more sweetener.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and serve with cut up fruit, and cinnamon crisp chips (made from baked flour tortillas).   DELICIOUS and VERY popular with kids!

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Money Saving Tips Installment #2

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Today’s money saving tip is inspired by all of the years that we had babies in the house.   The funny thing is that this is something that I had always said I would NEVER do!   Only took me 8 weeks into motherhood before I realized that the only way that we could afford to still eat and pay the bills, and have me stay home with our daughter.

Tip #4 (I posted 3 the other day, remember?)  Breastfeed if at all possible…..not only is it the best thing for baby to help build immunity, but it is also free!   Back when our oldest was a baby, it was reported that formula for a baby from birth to 1 year old could cost up to $1000, I can’t even imagine what it would cost today!   Even if you work fulltime, you can still successfully breast feed….I have babysat for several families that have not had to use any formula at all.  The mom’s pump their breast milk and freeze it for me to use during the day while they are working.  If for some reason you are physically unable to breastfeed, look for the best price possible for that formula, use coupons, and take advantage of free samples available from the formula companies.

Tip #5–once you have found your favorite brands of diapers, wipes, baby food (if you are using it), baby products, etc call the companies to get signed up for their coupon mailers.   I don’t know of any company that provides baby products that doesn’t have a coupon mailer or incentive program of some sort.

Tip #6–take full advantage of yard sales, borrowing from friends and family, consignment stores and sales, thrift stores, etc.   When D and I were young parents we had several different baby items (specifically strollers and infant swings) that we got second hand that were broken when we got them.   I was able to call the 1-800 numbers for the companies, and in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE they replaced the broken part or parts for the items completely free of charge.

Tip #7–talk to your friends and family that have young children.  Find out what they found to be most important, and least important in terms of clothing items, equipment, etc.    For instance, all of the baby books and pregnancy books suggested dressing gowns for infants….I HATED them!  They got all tangled around baby, and just made baby miserable.   Another thing that was suggested was changing tables….we NEVER used it!   The floor was always there and convenient, I just kept diapers, wipes and baby ointment in a basket in the corner of the living room where 95% of the diaper changes occurred.   We also kept a smaller basket in our bedroom and the kids bedroom for the same purpose.

Tip #8 Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more money on trustworthy brands of things like maternity clothes and infant clothes…things that can be worn in multiple pregnancies and by multiple babies.   Keep the basics gender neutral.  I know that it is tempting to buy all blue or all pink and frilly when you get those early u/s results, but please remember that if this is your first baby, it probably won’t be your last.   Also, ultrasounds are not 100% accurate in gender revelation, so keep that in mind when purchasing the basics.   And along those same lines, keep most everything in their original packaging and with tags and save your receipts just in case you need to return things after baby is born.  I know that it is tempting when you are “nesting” to wash everything in the expensive baby detergents and fold them up and put them away or hang them on the cute little baby hangers in baby’s closet.  But you may find that you don’t need everything you have, or that you want to take things back to get larger sizes, smaller sizes, different gender, etc.

Tip #9–use cloth diapers and washable “wipes” (I used baby wash clothes, they were small, thin, and came in packs of multiples inexpensively).   WE saved THOUSANDS of dollars over the course of 4 babies by using cloth diapers.  With an initial investment of $30 for 2 dozen diapers, a set of pins and plastic pants, and an additional 3-4 dozen diapers over the course of the next 10 years we were able to diaper 4 children for under $100.   I did try the fancy wraps and things, but never liked any of them as much as I did the plastic pants.   Again, it is a bit of an initial investment, but will pay off in no time!

 

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A Moment In God’s Word Today……5/14/13

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Let me start by saying that I love our pastor!  I love his teaching style, he takes the Bible verse by verse and just teaches straight from God’s word.  RARELY does he do topical sermons, he’s been teaching out of the book of Luke for something like 7 years (when we came to the church in October, 2010 he was in Luke 12, yesterday he was teaching from Luke 23:7-12.    And God’s timing is so amazing!  For a while now I’ve been struggling with something, and yesterday, God addressed this for me through Pastor Ron and His Word.

The verses that God used to address this are Luke 23: 9-11.

He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.  The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.  Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.  Dressing him in an elegent robe, the sent him back to Pilate.

The context of these verses…..this is the 5th (of 6) trial that Jesus went through in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.  This trial was before Herod.  During John the Baptists and Jesus’ ministries and through this trial Herod showed that he went from having some conscience, to a guilty conscience to no conscience.  Here’s what Pastor Ron pointed out yesterday….this was the WORST of man, man was accusing, trying and eventually executing an innocent man.  A man that had done NOTHING, and even though Pilate found him innocent of any actual crime TWICE and Herod found him innocent once, Pilate still ordered his execution.   While this few hours shows the WORST of man, it shows us the BEST of God!

Here’s where this sermon helped me yesterday….where I’ve been struggling with what is to me the worst of man(kind) (not by the world’s standards, but to me it’s been the worst), God has shown His BEST!   He is always faithful to prompt one of my family members or friends to call or text or just show up in the kitchen/bedroom/laundy room/backyard…wherever to encourage me when I’m at my low points through this struggle.   While the struggle is not going to go away this side of Glory, God is showing me HIS best through it!   And I am so thankful!

Do you have a similar testimony?   Has God been able to show His Best through the worst of man in your lives?  I’d love to hear your stories……

 

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Money Saving Tips Installment #1

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I realize that the above pictures may not make much sense alone, but by the time I finish this post, it should all come together 🙂   First, I’d like to share the reason for this post, and what my plans are for this series.

This morning a very dear friend of mine told me about something her son had said in reference to me.  Now this is one of the ladies that when I was a young wife and young mommy she was one of several ladies in our church that came along side of me and prayed for me, encouraged me, hugged me when I was having bad days, helped with the kids when I needed help, gave me advice, etc.   She is one of my friends that had kids that were just a few years older than mine, but she was enough in the trenches of parenting that she was able to help me and encourage me.   We also sang together in choir and a small group ensemble and she also encouraged me in my singing.     Anyhow, this friend told me that her son (one of 3 sons, and this one and his wife just had a baby a few weeks ago….first baby, first grandchild) had told her recently while they were discussing the challenges of young families today, that he wished I lived closer (we moved away 9 years ago) so that I could help them learn.   Well, while I am not able to walk through this with them in person, I realized that so many young moms and dads that I talk to today are in the exact position that D and I were in 20 years ago.  And we lived on a shoestring budget that fluctuated from time to time (from low to lower), so we learned to make due!    Tonight’s dinner is one of those things that I learned all those years ago…..as well as in my mom’s kitchen.

Tip #1, if your recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, DON’T USE THEM! 🙂   They are expensive, they don’t have a whole lot of flavor, and did I mention, they are expensive? 🙂    I bought a large package of chicken thighs (bone in, skin on) for .99/# earlier this week.   We ate dinner one night of just roasted thighs.   Today I wanted to make chicken tacos, and I knew that those thighs needed to be dealt with today or they were going to go bad.   SO, with 20 chicken thighs, we will get 4 meals….here’s how!

I deboned the chicken (very fast and easy) and marinated it in a mixture of chipotle chili powder, salt, paprika, regular chili powder, cumin, and a little oil to make it into a thin paste, I marinated it for several hours in the fridge.  Then this evening my hubby grilled the chicken and we ate half of it in our chicken tacos, the other half I will use on Monday to make some chicken and veggie enchiladas.   That is 2 meals.   Here’s where the other two meals come into play….those bones that I removed?  They went into the crockpot with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, an onion that I cut up, a carrot that I cut up, the root end and the leaf end of a celery head/bunch? , a few cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper and will simmer away for 24 hours.  Tomorrow I will have a beautiful rich chicken stock that I will strain and cool and package up for 2 more meals of soup.

Tip #2 I have a helpful tip, and now wish that I had taken a picture while I was doing it…..but if you use fresh ginger for anything, I know how easy it is to purchase a big root, use just a tiny bit and then have the rest of it become a science experiment in the veggie drawer of the fridge. I learned this tip several years ago, and LOVE IT! once or twice a year I buy a good sized ginger root, and peel it with a spoon….yes, a spoon. You scrape a spoon across the skin and it peels it right off and goes easily in and out of all of the ridges and crevices. Then wrap the peeled root in a dry paper towel, put it into a ziplock bag and stick it in the freezer (I keep it in the door so that it’s easier to find). When you need fresh ginger, simply get out your microplane grater (if you don’t have one, get one!…..just kidding, you can easily use a cheese grater and then chop it up finer if you need to) and grate it frozen…..grates VERY VERY easily while frozen, then you stick the rest of it right back into it’s paper towel and plastic bag and back into the freezer. When I get down to the last inch sized nob or so, I buy a new root. I never run out of fresh ginger this way, and ginger is SO GOOD FOR YOU! And it tastes great!

Tip #3  Those easy convenient cans of beans in your pantry?  They are easily 4-6 times the cost of if you were to buy the same dry beans and cook them up yourself.   I have many posts that talk about cooking dried beans.

Later this week I will post another installment of this series…I think I’m going to make this a Thursday thing. 🙂

And Happy Mother’s Day to all of my mommy friends!

 

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