Friday Frugal Challenge: Pick a Recipe–and Here’s How

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Today’s Friday Frugal Challenge: Make a new recipe using your loss-leader savings.

You save money by cooking at home, but you can definitely get into a rut. For awhile there when my son was young we alternated between about three ground-beef dishes in any given week. My son still won’t eat pot roast after overdosing on it during his youth. But my sad fate need not be yours! You can find great recipes to try at home, and your Friday Frugal Challenge is to do just that.

How do you know if a recipe will work for you? The plain truth is, some just won’t.  Here’s how you know:

Read the ingredient list. You hate garlic. You love the dark meat of the chicken, not the white. You don’t eat red meat. Tomatoes don’t agree with you. Does the ingredient list appeal to you? Be honest, but leave a little room for flexibility. I didn’t like spinach till I tried it in a chicken Florentine recipe—everything else that went into the recipe sounded great and the result was excellent.

Level of difficulty. There is no shame in not knowing the intricate ins and outs of cooking. If you can make a tasty, nutritious meal, you’re in a pretty good place. I’m willing to try some new techniques, maybe once or twice a month, but in general my life right now is too crazy to spend hours pioneering something I’ve never tried before with no guarantee of success. Choose a recipe that looks like something quite do-able for you.

Can you tinker with it? These days, with only two of us at home, I just don’t cook anything with more than four servings. I usually divide the recipe so that it makes two or three helpings. This hack saves us money because we’re not crazy about leftovers. Can you tinker with the recipe to make it work even better for you? Play with the spices and seasonings, maybe, or experiment with cooking it in the slow cooker instead of on the stove? I’m enjoying adapting recipes to use with my pressure cooker.

Develop trust. I absolutely love, love, love RecipeTinEats.com. The recipes are right at my level, they include a nice blend of new recipes for old favorites of mine and innovative ideas. Maybe you are intrigued by SeriousEats.com or delish.com. There are so many recipes to choose from that if you find a good source for tasty stuff that you enjoy making you should freely experiment from that source.

So this week I found chicken breast on sale for a delectable $1.49 per pound and a fine pork butt roast for just under a dollar a pound. This week looks like carnitas and schnitzel (found a great recipe for it on my go-to site!) with some barbecued pulled pork sandwiches and stuffed chicken breast. Looking forward to trying something new (the carnitas) and using a tried-and-true recipe (the stuffed chicken.)

Bon appetit!

 

 

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Friday Frugal Challenge: The You-Tube Edition

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We saved $90 in car repairs today. It took a grand total of 25 minutes: 10 minutes of scanning You-Tube videos and 15 minutes of actual under-the-hood repair time.

While the repair was minor in our case, the parts cost $35 and the labor for the repair (replacing an ignition coil on our Toyota) was $90 the last time we paid for the repair. The You-Tube video was free. Keeping our Toyota, a daily driver, running smoothly was priceless.

You can use You-Tube to learn just about anything. Want to learn to sew? Cook a frozen chicken in your Instant Pot? Pronounce a word in French so you don’t sound like such a rube when you order at the restaurant? You Tube’s got you covered. Want to train your dog to fetch a beer from the fridge? Learn how to French braid your daughter’s hair? Want to learn to pack a suitcase for maximum efficiency? You-Tube’s your go-to.

This week, find a way to save money by watching a video on You Tube. Try a new recipe for whatever loss-leader meat is on sale this week. Learn to sew buttons on and repair hems. Learn how to fix something that regularly goes wrong on your car (this is the third ignition coil out of 4 to go bad on the Toyota…)

Happy learning!

Friday Frugal Challenge: Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

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This week, take the Two Out of Three Challenge.

Each day for lunch, instead of hitting the fast food or grabbing some Fritos out of the vending machine, eat a soup, salad, and/or sandwich. Here’s how you do this week’s Challenge.

Take a little time to stock up with soup (love that homemade, and with my new pressure cooker I may just make some tomorrow when I’m off), salad fixings, and sandwich supplies. Each day you’ll pack a lunch consisting of two of these three delicious items.

Tonight, for example, I’m taking a salad and a sandwich to work. Tomorrow I’ll play with my new pressure cooker and make some homemade potato soup on my day off. Then on Sunday when I work again I’ll take some homemade potato soup, a leftover corn muffin from tomorrow’s rib cookout, and either a salad or a sandwich.

Because there are only two of us, I make a big salad using a head of lettuce, cukes, peppers, and onions. We also use the pre-made salad during the week with dinner. Because I’ve taken ten minutes to make it in bulk, I save money all week long and save time on my lunch prep. Grab and go makes for a happy morning!

I’m looking forward to simplifying my lunch routine, which tends toward the “Oh good grief, what in the world will I eat?” I’m also looking forward to eating nutritious home-cooked food, customizing my salads, and saving some money.

Bon appetit! Let me know how your Two Out of Three Challenge treats you this week!

Friday Frugal Challenge: Turn It Off and Pull the Plug!

This week’s challenge is quick and easy. If it becomes a habit, it can save you some money on your electric bill.

Turn off the lights and unplug the plugs.

When you leave a room, turn off the lights, fans, and other electric devices. Unplug the items you aren’t using or recharging (I found my kitchen to be a fertile field for unplugging what with the toaster, the blender, the electric pencil sharpener we keep handy on the counter, etc.) Appliances use some energy when they’re plugged in, even if you aren’t using them.

 

 

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Friday Frugal Challenge: The Laundry Edition

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Unless you’re padding around the house naked (and make a daily practice of doing so) you probably need to do a load of laundry. Today’s Friday Frugal Challenge: Save money on laundry.

Here are some options:

*Wash your clothes in cold water this week. Using hot water costs more—plus the colors in your clothes won’t run with cold water.

*Make your own laundry detergent. Check out the tutorial at  Houselogic.

*Ditch the dryer. For this week, hang your clothes up to dry rather than using the dryer.

What options work for you? We’ll be washing in cold water and I may experiment with homemade laundry detergent if I’m feeling ambitious. How about you?

 

Friday Frugal Challenge Update: Last week’s challenge was to either resell something you own or to buy something gently used. We sold two used books and made $7.83 with minimal effort. Did you buy or sell something?

Friday Frugal Challenge: The Wonderful World of Resale!

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If you’ve never experienced the joys of resale, you’re missing out. Your Friday Frugal Challenge: to explore the wonderful world of resale.

There are two sides to the resale coin: buying gently used items and selling your own items. This Friday, I challenge you to either purchase something used or to sell something of your own. When you buy used, you save money and save landfill space. When you sell something, you put cash into your pocket and you cut clutter.

This week, I’m looking for a food processor to buy used. I’m scanning Goodwill, garage sales, and I’ll check out Craigslist. In addition, I’m going to sell some nice work clothes that I just don’t wear any more and some DVDs we’ve had forever and never watch.

What will you buy—or sell—this week?

Follow-up on Friday Frugal Challenge–Grow Your Own

So a few weeks ago I posted this–an invitation to grow your food, in whatever amount you can manage in whatever way works for you. Today I’d like to update that post by sharing a recipe that uses the food I’m growing. Plus it’s delicious–who doesn’t like fried green tomatoes?? (Wait, what? You’ve never had fried green tomatoes? Time you tried it, my friend.)

I picked three green tomatoes from the plants in our garden. We grow Roma tomatoes, which are designed to be used for sauce, but they worked just fine in this recipe.

Recipe:

Three green tomatoes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

8 Ritz crackers (sure, you can substitute saltines)

2 eggs (thanks, Maisie and Maggie–our hard-working hens)

2 TBS butter

2 TBS olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

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Green tomatoes from the garden!

On a paper plate or cooking parchment paper, mix together the flour, salt and pepper.

Crush the Ritz crackers. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Set the flour mix and the crackers up with the egg in between, like so:

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Beat the egg. Slice the green tomatoes.

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In a non-stick pan, melt the butter and heat the olive oil on medium heat.

Dip the first tomato slice in the egg, then coat it with flour. Dip it back into the egg mixture–get it nice and wet, even if flour comes off into the egg–and then dip it into the crushed crackers. When it’s nicely coated, put it into the preheated butter/oil mixture. Repeat until the pan is full.

Cook each tomato 2-3 minutes per side, flipping when the crust is nicely browned. I put the finished fried green tomatoes on a plate, covered with a paper towel for drainage, which went into the oven preheated to 170 degrees to stay warm while I cooked the rest of the tomatoes.

Enjoy with a remoulade sauce and some sweet tea. Welcome to the south, honey!