If you’ve been a reader for any length of time then you know that I don’t throw links and plugs out there without knowing what I am talking about. I’ve been living a frugal lifestyle for a lot of years and my reputation online has been built by only referring people to things that I have tried myself and those that I believe in.
There are a lot of web sites that claim to pay you to do this or that, often being little more than a way to grab your email and mailing address and harass you ad nauseum. The web site CashCrate is not one of those sites. The banner below the cut is a real time counter that shows the amount of money I have earned through the site by submitting free offers and surveys. I have never paid a single cent for anything on CashCrate and I have received checks from them twice so I know that this is a very real way to earn some extra pocket money.
Making homemade broth at home is easier than you might think.
One of the key ingredients in many recipes is stock. I know many of my frugal brothers and sisters tend to substitute reconstituted bouillon in their recipes and on occasion I’ll do the same, but in keeping with my desire for taste, lower sodium and most of all for using everything I buy whenever possible I make my own when I can – and so can you regardless of how much experience you have in the kitchen.
The first (and arguably most important) step for me is to save what others throw away. The next time you are cutting up fresh veggies for a soup or stew, save the peels and the ends! This applies best to carrots, celery, onions & garlic, but you’re mileage may vary. You can store them in a large freezer bag or empty coffee can. You can save the drained liquid from canned veggies in the same manner (just add everything to the freezer container).
The next time you cook meat, save the carcass and/or bones. Don’t you dare toss them, the still have important nutrient and flavor-filled goodness to impart! Put them in a large stockpot over low-to-medium heat along with your freezer savings and add water as needed. Add a bay leaf (my granny taught me that), some seasonings (garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper…your choice) and simmer for a few hours. Don’t let them boil, just simmer slowly. This gets the most out of the bones – more minerals and gelatin means more health and more flavor!
I allow the pot to cool and strain into freezer containers, usually in 2 or 4 cup increments. The next time I need 2 cups of ______ stock for a recipe I pull it out of the freezer and pop it right into the pot!
When all is said and done, a little extra time will yield a fresher and more flavorful stock for mere pennies. You’ll remember it the next time you go shopping and pay $.50 – $1.00 for a few ounces! More important, you control every ingredient that goes into your homemade concoction and the vast majority of it was FREE!
I love to use homemade stock instead of water when I am making rice. You don’t have to season it at all!
For more delicious recipes and budget-friendly food ideas, be sure to visit our sister site, budgetmealguy.com.
With Summer officially here, I wanted to give you one of my favorite frugal produce tips so that you aren’t wasting even the tiniest bits of those delicious vegetables! This is one of my most popular homemade soups, and no one knows (until now) just how simple and inexpensive it is to make.
To start with, you will need a seal-able freezer container. Most often I use a large freezer bag and that seems to work just fine for me. Every time I use fresh produce, I chop up the extra bits and add them to my bag. This works well for produce that is about to go bad, too.
Depending on what I have available at any given time, my mix may include any or all of the following:
Corn (whole kernel)
Tomatoes (sliced, diced, chopped, pureed)
Celery (chop the leafy parts and add them too!)
Herbs (I use rosemary, basil & oregano)
Once my container is nearly full, I dump the lot into my crock pot with a few cups of my homemade stock (look for tips on making stock tomorrow) and water. I set the crock on low heat and leave it to work its magic for a few hours.
This is a delicious soup as-is, or if you have leftover meat you can add that as well. Break up hamburgers or chop chicken, beef or ham. You can also add a cup or two of small pasta (I use shells, macaroni or egg noodles) to the mix.
At the very most, this soup costs me about two dollars to make and it fills my large crock pot full. I freeze leftovers in individual containers for a quick meal anytime.
Since I was a kid I have known about the virtues of vinegar and what seems to be an endless string of ways it can be used to make life easier and yet it seems like every time I look up I hear of yet another way to use the stuff.
Here are five of my favorite time and money saving frugal kitchen tips that use vinegar.
1. Metal Cleaner
Dissolve a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of distilled vinegar for a quick and easy cleaner that works on brass, copper and even pewter.
2. Emergency Buttermilk
Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and wait 5-10 minutes for it to thicken and you have instant buttermilk that can be used in any recipe.
3. Fluffier Rice
Want to make your rice light and fluffy? Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water when it boils and continue cooking as per directions.
A tablespoon of vinegar added to boiling water will help poached eggs keep their shape and it will help keep boiled eggs together.
5. Meat Tenderizer
Marinating meat in vinegar overnight before cooking can help make even the toughest cuts of meat fork tender and flavorful.
Donâ€™t miss your chance to get a free razor from Gillette. This time it is a ProGlide, which is a brand new razor not even on the market yet. To get yours, click here and follow the directions as a new user. As someone with very sensitive skin I am looking forward to giving this free Gillette razor a try!
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My coupon binder is legendary. There are cashiers at the store who refer to me as â€œthe coupon guyâ€ an alternatively cringe or look on in awe when I hand over a stack of coupons that will inevitably result in a savings of no less than 40% on my bill.
That coupon binder gets a lot of attention from fellow shoppers as well and I get lots of questions about it. Nearly every time I talk to someone about clipping and using coupons I get some form of the same response.
â€œOh, Iâ€™d do it but it just takes too much time to save a few pennies.â€
Thatâ€™s about the time when I laugh so loud that I snort, recover, and give them my quick Coupon 101 lesson. I pull my most recent receipt for the store Iâ€™m in out of the binder and show them how many pennies I saved and usually further my coupon karma by handing them a few coupons for whatever items I see in their shopping cart.
People are so used to being told how hard it is to save money they donâ€™t bother trying for themselves to use coupons to lower their grocery bill. With just a little leg work you can consistently save a huge wad of cash at the grocery store and it is easy!
Case in point.: In the mail today came this great surprise:
A coupon for free Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon from Kraft Foods First Taste, plus an extra coupon for $1.50 off one package of Turkey Bacon. This offer wasnâ€™t a fluke and it isnâ€™t something that you have to know the right people to get. I got this for signing up with Kraft First Taste and you can sign up as well â€“ in minutes â€“ and start getting coupons and free offers for yourself.
I also get free coupons for things I use because I use my customer loyalty card for the stores in which I shop. Last week without even asking, I received these in the mail (along with other coupons worth more than $20):
I realize that my coupon binder is a bit over the top for most people but it works for me. Having page after page of sleeves full of organized coupons helps me to spot unadvertised sales and couple them with my coupon money to get items for next to nothing, and that happens on every trip I make to the store. Just clipping a couple of coupons each week can save you a lot of money over the long haul!
Refried beans are a staple food in my house. I use them all the time when I make homemade tacos and burritos and it surprised me when I learned that I could make a simple recipe that was better than refried beans in my slow cooker.
Not only am I saving money but I also know every ingredient that goes into the pot so I am protecting my family’s health as well!
This recipe quickly became one of my favorites and it is one of the first I teach to anyone who tells me that they want to learn to cook. It is so easy to make that the prep takes just minutes and because you are using the crock pot, all the hard work is done for you!
1/2 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (or a few jarred slices)
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Do The Night Before: Rinse and sort dried beans and add to crock pot. Cover with 6 cups of water and allow to soak until morning.
1. Drain soak water and add 6-8 cups of water to the crock pot along with beans and remaining ingredients.
2. Cover and set your slow cooker on low heat. Cook for 5-7 hours on low, or until beans are fork tender.
3. Drain beans over a large bowl or pot to keep the cooking liquid.
4. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the beans until they are the desired consistency. For me that means a coarse mash that’s about 50/50 creamy and chunky. Add reserve liquid as needed and freeze the remaining liquid for adding to soups or stews later.
NOTES: You can use this recipe as a guideline for just making a really good pot of pinto beans if you don’t want to mash them. There are some who think that adding the salt before the beans are cooked will not allow the dried beans to cook thoroughly but I assure you this recipe works exactly as stated.
The folks at Kelloggâ€™s are giving away a reusable shopping bag featuring one of their beloved characters with the purchase of two Kelloggâ€™s cereals (plus $1.75 shipping). To download the form and get a bag with your choice of Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam or Digâ€™Em, click the image below.
Received an email this morning from Upromise that I just had to share. If you arenâ€™t familiar with the site already, Restaurant.com offers incredible deals on gift certificates and gift cards for thousands of restaurants across the United States, but with todayâ€™s deal it is even sweeter! Now let me break this deal down for you by showing you my two transactions (thereâ€™s even a hidden deal that is incredible!):
Here is a screen capture of my first Paypal transaction. I bought six (6) $10 gift certificates for $1.60 each for a total out of pocket expense of $9.60.
Here is a screen capture of my second Paypal transaction. I bought one (1) $50 gift card for $10.00 for a total out of pocket expense of $10.00.
Remember that each transaction will add 15% to my Upromise account but thatâ€™s not where the surprises end today! Shortly following each transaction I received an email that informed me of a special gift form Restaurant.com â€“ two (2) $10.00 gift certificates added to my account!
Doing the math I got a total of $130.00 worth of restaurant gift certificates/gift cards for $19.60.