By Julie Norman
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
On Saturday after coming home from the grocery store I started to panic a little bit...See, I'd forgotten we had dinner plans on Sunday and so, of course, I'd bought things for a meal for that night. I had SO much produce! Immediately I started thinking, "what if I end up having to throw something out because it goes bad?" This, in my penny pinching mind, is the ultimate failure. Waste. I HATE WASTING FOOD. Sure, I realize the starving children in other parts of the country or world aren't going to eat my leftovers, but that doesn't mean I should just not care when I'm basically throwing money into the trash.
So instead of panicking, I tried to find solutions. On Monday since we didn't have any leftovers, I packed fruit and a big salad for myself. I was able to use up some of the produce that way. Today I made sure to eat cereal to use up some of my blueberries (they had the organic ones on SALE for super cheap!). We had giant salads for dinner last night which went a long way towards using up peas from the garden and delicate lettuce.
Tonight and tomorrow night we're having fajitas (with mushrooms, bell peppers and onion) and mushroom/black bean burgers which will, I think, finish off the giant bag of mushrooms I brought home and will finally get the produce back to a normal level.
I can't help it...I get in the produce aisle and just go crazy! Fortunately my menu for the week has helped me to take care of most of this excess.
In the end though, there's a fine line between being frugal and getting obsessed. If something gets thrown out (as some blueberries did the other day), it's ok. Maybe it's not ideal, but we can't beat ourselves up over things like that. We have to just accept it and move on. Be frugal when you can, but accept that sometimes things just don't work out like you wanted.
By Julie Norman
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
If there's a way to pinch pennies at the airport, it is certainly not by following my example last week...
For instance, this beer was $7. It's also not the only one I had.
In my defense, I was stuck at the airport in Atlanta from 2pm to 7:45 pm waiting on my very delayed flight. I knew I was going to end up spending the night in Dallas and so, yes, I spent willy-nilly on beer and over-priced tourist products for people in Colorado.
Airports are horrible places for Penny Pinchers. They're full of tasty treats like Red Mango frozen yogurt, fast food that suddenly seems appealing, and trinkets to shop for when you're bored. However, there are some ways to be frugal at the airport and here are a few ways I did that:
1. I had a Starbucks giftcard from Valentine's that I used for a Chai when I arrived at the Atlanta airport and needed a pick-me up before heading to Athens.
2. I packed an REI water bottle (empty) in my backpack. This way, once I was through security, I could fill up my bottle (Dallas even has a cool hands-free water bottle filler) and not spend money on bottled water or sodas.
3. I did take a few snacks with me and these came in handy Wednesday morning on my flight from Dallas to GJ. I didn't have to spend more money on a breakfast sandwich or anything like that.
4. I took my iPad. Before I left I downloaded a few magazines that I subscribe to and made sure I had several books downloaded to my device through the Kindle App. I also have a great free app called Magic Puzzles. This way I had plenty of entertainment and didn't need to buy any magazines or books in the airport either.
I could have done better by packing more snacks or not buying beer (obviously), but hey, at least I did some things right. Traveling is expensive enough. Throwing a water bottle and some snacks in your purse is an easy way to save a few bucks.
By Julie Norman
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
I'm heading out of town in a few days, back to Georgia and the land of humidity and bugs. As I started to pack I thought, "I have no travel clothes..." I have work clothes. I have gardening/cleaning/lounging clothes. I have sports gear clothes. I even have the "good" jeans for going out to dinner...but clothes for actually visiting another place? I do not have those.
To some of you that might sound ridiculous, but I don't want to spend the next 5 days ironing or trying to find the right outfit for the right event at the right time of day. So I hopped in the car on my lunch break and headed to Target. Why Target? Well I also needed a desk organizer and a MicroSD card and Target has those and cute clothes!
I ended up with 2 of these skirts and some solid colored tank/short sleeved tops. The skirts were only $20 a piece and I'll be able to wear them for work, dinners, vacations...they can be dressed up or dressed down! I consider them the perfect skirt (at the moment). They'll also be cool enough for Georgia and suitable for both lounging at home and visiting old friends.
photo from Target.com
SO I think I did a good job. I got clothes, the SD card and the desk organizer stuff and spent less than $100. For a Target trip, that's pretty good!
By Julie Norman
Monday, May 11, 2015
As I was updating the HBA's Pinterest page today I came across this post: Start a Vegetable Garden for $25.
Her post actually includes building a raised bed, which you may or may not need. In any case, it's an interesting read and a great way to get started gardening for not a lot of money. People always ask me, "What do you do with all that food?" We freeze it. Freezing is a great and EASY way to preserve all that garden goodness. Keep track of what you've got and by the time May rolls around your freezer will look like mine: bare :(
Last night I used my last bag of peaches from last year (no, I didn't grow those). I made a peach upside down cake and it was delicious! It's great to be eating yummy local peaches knowing that soon we'll be buying fresh ones again.
Get out there and plant some seeds!
By Julie Norman
Monday, April 27, 2015
I know I blog about food waste often, but let's face it: FOOD is something we all buy. It's something we all use and something we all waste. You know how it is...you have good intentions of using up that kale, but then it just doesn't happen. So here are some things that I did this weekend and 5 tips for avoiding food waste.
This weekend I needed to use up some peanut butter cookies. We'd been eating on them for almost 2 weeks (friends were supposed to come to town but cancelled, so that's how we ended up with excess cookies). What do you do with old cookies? I was determined not to throw them out. Instead, I pulled the ice cream maker out of the cabinet (thank you Cuisinart for awesome little electric ice cream makers!) and mixed up a batch of maple vanilla ice cream. When it was ready I beat up the cookies into bits and stirred them in. It's SO GOOD! The ice cream recipe is included at the bottom of this post.
Also this weekend I found a great way to use up some freezer burned old hot dog buns that I found in the freezer: croutons! I chopped them into pieces, added olive oil and garlic powder, and baked them for 10 minutes at 450. Perfect salad toppings!
Here are 5 other ways you can avoid food waste.
1. Freeze it. I've frozen raw bell pepper, leftover red beans and rice, sauerkraut, all sorts of sauces, ginger root (peel it and then grate it from frozen when you need it). You can freeze lots of things.
2. Take the leftovers for lunch. Leftovers are our lunches 75% of the time. Unless we've had really smelly fish, we create lunches from our leftovers. Sometimes we end up with odd lunches like a bunless brat and a side of strawberries, but we don't end up with wasted food.
3. Repurpose it. If I've got leftover rice from a Mexican night I make an Asian fried rice dish. If I've got extra grilled veggies I might make a frittata or a vegetarian fajita. You can throw all sorts of vegetables into soups and in fact I have one friend whose mom will take bits of leftovers - green beans, okra, corn - and freeze them just to use in soups!
4. Take it to work. If you know you aren't going to finish that cake or those cookies, take them to work. People will eat them, I promise!
5. Keep an eye on what's in your fridge at all times and make a list. Right now I have a list that says, "Things to use next week: bacon, Thai red curry paste (which actually I can freeze), and there's something else on this list..."
Can you, right now, name 5 items in your fridge that need to get used up? Here goes: 2 leftover grilled brats, 1 serving baked beans, some anchovies in olive oil, sauerkraut, and cauliflower. The cauliflower is a dinner side dish tonight.
Here's the ice cream recipe:
3 cups milk
1 cup white sugar or 1/2 cup maple syrup
1-2 tsp vanilla
Whisk until the suger or syrup is combined well with the milk - 3 minutes or so. Then pour into your running ice cream maker. Wait 15 minutes. Enjoy! Oh, stir in cookies if you want!