Penny Pinchers

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Lunch on the Cheap

By Julie Norman
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some days leftovers just won't cut it, right? You scrounge around but there's just nothing there! Even if there is, maybe this is one of those mornings when you just don't have time to make a lunch before rushing off to work. So, sometimes eating lunch "out" is just inevitable, but that doesn't mean it has to be expensive. 

While this isn't the best pic, this quesadilla from Taqueria Guadalajara (7th and Pitkin) is a great, cheap lunch.  If you just get the cheese one it's only $3.75.  Today I got that and a small horchata (awesome cinnamon and rice drink) and spent maybe $7 with tax and a small tip. It IS possible, to find great cheap lunch options without resorting to the Taco Bell!


Is it Better to Rent or Buy?

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When you're just out of high school or college, renting is what makes sense.  You most likely don't have money saved for a down payment on a house, and you haven't had time to build up any sort of credit from owning cars, renting or having credit cards.  But as you get older, having a place of your own, whether it's a flat, a duplex, a giant house or a tiny house, makes all the difference.

This is the backyard at our little house.  We've had it for 2 years now and I wouldn't trade it for the world!  Before that we did own a condo, and that was great too for a time.  In both situations we have/had the freedom to make changes to paint colors, add built-in shelving, loft space and more.

This diagram and accompanying article from the New York Times provides a lot of insight on how to decide if renting or buying is right for you!


Chicken and Free Stuff to Do

By Julie Norman
Monday, July 21, 2014

Saturday was a full day of activity for me.  First my friend and I headed up to the Mesa for some cool temperatures and wildflower viewing while biking.  The Mesa is a great place to head to for free activities in the summer: you can hike, kayak in the lakes and reservoirs, fish, camp, etc.  It's beautiful up there and if you haven't been yet this season, what are you waiting for?  All it costs is gas money!

We also hiked in town at Lunch Loop on Sunday.  Again, all it costs is gas money and it's a great way to get out and about on the weekends.

BUT back to Saturday...after our return to town I went to the grocery store to get the week's shopping done.  I was excited to see the fish/seafood clearance cooler stocked full of stuff! I got 2 large (about 1lb each) packages of salmon for 50% off! THEN I got even luckier and found an Open Nature 6 lb chicken for 50% off.  Basically I got it for .99/lb! I immediately texted my friend that she should come for dinner Sunday night and started making plans for roasting this chicken.

Click the image to go to the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Roast Chicken.  It's my go-to recipe for at least remembering what temp to cook the chicken.  A whole chicken is an expensive way to have a great, elegant meal.  You can use the leftovers for so many things: making broth, chicken pie, sandwiches, etc.  If you've never tried it, go for it!

photo by


No Waste Obsession?

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This morning I had homemade bread, toasted, with leftover pulled pork on it.  The pulled pork HAS to get eaten by the end of today or else it's going to get wasted.  Since I am on a kick to waste NOTHING food wise, what did I do? I ate some for breakfast.  Really to avoid this I should have split the leftover pulled pork that I froze into 2 bags.  Then I wouldn't have this problem.  But I didn't.  I put all the leftovers (over 1 lb) in one bag and then thawed the whole bag on Saturday for quesadillas.  Which left me with quite a bit of pork to use up this week.  I've had 2 friends take me to lunch for my birthday, so there's been only one of us at home eating leftovers for lunch.  SO to alleviate some of my guilt about food waste, I devised that new plan of eating leftovers for breakfast.  It was REALLY good, but not my usual breakfast fare.  Tonight's dinner won't leave leftovers, which means we've only got 2 more sets of them to get through: a partial tuna steak and mushroom cous cous, and some leftover vegetarian tikka masala.  I don't think either of those will freeze well.  I COULD possibly use the tuna tonight, but I really plan to eat it for lunch tomorrow, so that should work out fine.  The tikka masala will get eaten on Friday, I hope :)

In other news, I came across this article yesterday (and was reminded of it because of my tikka masala, which has tofu in it):

It's about the rise in popularity of tofu.  I don't agree with using the silken kind in her recipe; use the extra firm tofu and press it between paper towels to drain it first.  Tofu is a great, low-cost alternative and in stir-fry dishes meat eaters won't even notice it.


5 steps young workers should take

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I found this article on the WSJ site today and thought I'd share it.  It's good advice if you're young and just started a full-time job, or if you have kids who've just recently entered the workforce.  Click the image to see the rest of the article.

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