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?

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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!

 

 

 

Friday Frugal Challenge: Attitude of Gratitude

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Your Friday Frugal Challenge: cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

This week, focus on all the unexpected gifts you get. Your coworker brings you fresh blueberries from her garden.  Your boss takes you to lunch. Your sister passes on a great book to you. Purposely watch for the unexpected bonuses in life this week.

How does this help you save and make money?

Gifts affect your bottom line in two ways. For one thing, a gift means you don’t have to spend money in one area. Making blueberry pancakes means you save the oatmeal for another day, going to lunch with the boss means you saved your lunch money, and the free book means you’re not hitting up Amazon to the tune of ten or fifteen bucks. It may just be a few cents, it may be much more, but you’ve saved money in one area of your life.

Gifts also impact you in a deeper, more meaningful way. Feeling gratitude and appreciation changes you, makes you more open to receiving more gifts when they come your way. Even more importantly, gratitude for gifts you’ve gotten makes you more giving. When I’m delighted and surprised at the good gifts that each day brings me, I find that I want to give to others and share that gratitude. Giving feels good and improves your quality of life.

What good gifts have you been given today? What good gifts have you given others?

Friday Frugal Challenge: Shameless Copycat Edition

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Your challenge this week: Become a shameless copycat!

I love the Cheddar Bay Biscuits at Red Lobster. (Who doesn’t? And if you don’t, I don’t want to hear about it because I just don’t need that negativity in my life!)

You can find hundreds of copycat recipes on the internet for your restaurant favorites. You adore the Alice Springs chicken quesadilla from the Outback? There’s a recipe for that at food.com . You want to surprise Mom in bed with an enormous Cinnabon fresh from the oven? Check out this page at Top Secret Recipes.

As for me, I’ll be following this recipe from Food.com.

This week, your challenge is to try a copycat recipe of a meal you like to eat out. Let me know how it turned out for you!

Friday Frugal Challenge: Grow Your Own

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Your Friday Frugal Challenge: save a little bit on your grocery bill by growing your own food.

Growing your own food doesn’t mean you need to spend the whole weekend digging up a section of your lawn, fencing it to keep the critters out, renting a rototiller, and painstakingly laying out carefully-measured lines of seedlings. I’ve done it that way, and it was a pain in the butt. You can grow some food for your family without devoting your blood, sweat, and tears to the effort. If you have a big family and/or you enjoy the whole giant garden plot experience, by all means be my guest.

Maybe my bias is showing here, because I have a black thumb. I just have no patience for a long-term relationship with a garden. Here are some suggestions on getting started growing your own food.

Herbs. My sister grows herbs in a wide-mouthed terracotta jar in a sunny spot right next to her front door. When she cooks, she snips off a little of whatever she needs. Everything she makes benefits from the taste of fresh herb; she has one or two all-purpose favorites and alternates her choices when she feels like a change.

Salad garden. My family isn’t big on vegetables, but we’ve done a salad garden before—lettuce and bell peppers, in our case. We aren’t big tomato eaters, but we do have a big red parrot who likes them. I love snipping off some lettuce leaves when we want a salad and I’m the first to admit that fresh peppers and cucumbers beat out the store-bought variety any day.

Fruit trees. If you have fruit trees, enjoy what Mother Nature gives you. Here in Florida you can actually eat tasty little finger-sized bananas right from the tree, squeeze fresh OJ in the winter and grow your own key limes down south. What grows in your backyard?

Chickens. Right now, we’re enjoying Maisie and Maggie, two affectionate and sociable barred rock hens. We live in suburbia but our county permits very limited chicken-keeping: no roosters, no more than three chickens, a chicken-keeping class followed by a special permit. If your area allows backyard chickens, you can enjoy fresh eggs daily. I know we enjoy ours!

Do you grow some of your own food? Share your tips and tell us how you save money and eat well.

 

 

 

 

Friday Frugal Challenge: Earn $10 Gift Card

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So often the Friday Frugal Challenge involves reducing: cutting your spending, trying a tweak to lower your bills, substituting low-cost fun for premium expensive entertainment. This week, your challenge is to add something—a little cash.

Find a way this week to make some extra money. Here are a few suggestions:

*Cash in your coins. Find your local Coinstar machine at Coinstar , find that pile of coins in a cup on your dresser where you toss your loose change. Check the little cubbies in your car where you stash your coins from the drive-through. Comb the cushions. Empty your wallet. Take all your coins to the Coinstar and walk out with cash. Note: Coinstar takes a fairly hefty cut, but you will walk out with cash. (We actually get giftcards for our favorite stores or restaurants because Coinstar does not take out a fee for these giftcards.)

*Sell something. Got books? Need a loving home for them? It’s fairly easy and straightforward to sell them on Amazon. Here’s how.  (Go to the bottom of the page for information on selling just a few items.)  Alternately, find something to sell on Craigslist. You could always consign gently used clothing.

*Work a little harder. Put in some overtime at the 9 to 5, or earn a little extra cash. Check out Amazon Mechanical Turk for micro-projects to earn a little cash.

*Return for refund. The dress made your hips look like Mount Shasta. The shoes you bought your kid for Easter didn’t fit. You bought it but you never opened the box. Return it for a refund or a store credit.

And here’s the best idea of all:

*Earn a $10 Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts (your choice!) gift card by presenting the best idea for earning a little cash this week. Winner will be announced next Thursday, April 27.