Archive for the ‘frugal living’ Category

I was thinking recently that if it came down to it, we could survive on one meal a day for one year – if we HAD to.

So…I sat down with a legal pad and my recipe file and made a list of 30 meals that could be eaten each month, then calculated the the amount of ingredients needed.

Please keep in mind this is ONLY a general idea – it could be supplemented with fresh garden produce, eggs from your chickens, fresh meat, etc.   It also assumes you keep regular supplies in your pantry (such as sugar, flour, spices, baking powder/soda, etc).

This is just a starting point.  I hope it will give you some ideas!

(Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist – I am a mom. The following list is a STARTING POINT and would need to be supplemented with food from a garden and also hunting. This is only given as an example and is not intended to be anything stated or implied other than a springboard for ideas. Nutrition information was not calculated. This was an example for a family of three.)

Food for one year – one meal per day

1)  Chicken Alfredo 12 jars alfredo sauce

12 pkgs fettucine noodles

12 cans chicken

2)  Breakfast (biscuits:  flour, sugar, baking powder, shortening, salt, milk) 12 pkgs bacon
3)  Tacos (lettuce, cheese, taco sauce) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 pkgs taco seasoning

12 pkgs taco shells

4)  Chicken Enchiladas (sour cream, cheese, milk) 12 cans cream of chicken soup

12 jars enchilada sauce
12 cans chicken
12 pkgs flour tortillas

5)  Chicken & Dumplings (biscuit mix or homemade) 12 cans chicken

24 cans chicken broth (or ckn base)

6)  SPAM / Mac & Cheese / Veggies 12 cans SPAM

12 pkgs mac & cheese

12 cans green beans (or other veggies)

7)  Beef Stew (rice) 12 cans carrots

12 cans potatoes

12 cans beef

8)  Bean Burritos (cheese or cheese sauce) 12 pkgs flour tortillas

12 cans refried beans

9)  Spaghetti (hamb optional /Parmesan cheese) 12 jars spaghetti sauce

12 pkgs spaghetti noodles

10)  Canned Ham / Rice / Veggies 12 cans ham

12 cans corn (or other)

11)  Red Beans & Rice (rice, dried beans, seasoning, cornbread mix/milk/eggs) 12 pkgs kielbasa

24 pkgs cornbread mix

12)  Meatballs w/Mushroom Gravy / Mashed Potatoes (flakes) / Lima Beans (dried) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 cans cream of mushroom soup

13)  Hamburgers / Nachos (chips, pickles, homemade bread) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 cans cheese sauce

12 cans rotel

14)  Chicken Spaghetti 12 cans chicken

12 pkgs spaghetti noodles

12 cans cream of chicken soup

12 cans cream of mushroom soup

12 cans cheese sauce

12 cans chicken broth

15)  Chili Macaroni (spices, dried beans) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 pkgs macaroni pasta

12 cans tomatoes or sauce

16)  Chili Dogs (homemade bread) 12 pkgs hot dogs

12 cans chili

17)  Potato Soup (potato flakes, bullion cubes/ckn base/OR broth, cheese, powdered milk) 12 cans cheese sauce

24 cans chicken broth (?)

18)  SPAM, Mac & cheese, Veggies 12 cans SPAM

12 pkgs macaroni & cheese

12 cans green beans (or dried beans)

19)  Putanesca (parmesan cheese) 12 cans Putanesca

12 pkgs spaghetti noodles

20)  Gnocchi (potato flakes, powdered milk, eggs) 12 jars sauce (spaghetti/alfredo)
21)  Fried Rice (rice, soy sauce, spices veggies) 12 cans/jars meat (chicken, SPAM, etc)
22)  Pancakes & Sausage (syrup, flour, eggs, baking powder) 12 sausage chubs
23)  Chili (spices, rice, dried beans) 24 pkgs hamb meat

24 cans diced tomatoes OR sauce

24)  Chicken Pot Pie (biscuit mix or homemade, ckn broth or base, powdered milk, spices) 12 cans chicken

12 large cans mixed veggies

25)  PB&J  Sandwiches, hummus (dried chickpeas / homemade bread) Peanut butter


26)  Hearty Beef & Beans (dried pinto beans, biscuits) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 cans tomato sauce

12 cans vegetables

27)  Homemade Soup (dried beans, asst canned veggies, cornbread) 24 pkgs cornbread mix (or meal)

12 cans tomato juice

12 pkgs hamb meat (optional)

28)  Oatmeal
29)  Grits
30)  SOS (homemade bread, powdered milk) 12 pkgs hamb meat

Shopping/pantry list:

60 – Chicken breast
24 – Cream of chicken soup
24 – Cream of mushroom soup
at least 36 (or equivalent) – Cheese sauce
24 to 36 – SPAM
48 – Tomato sauce
88 to 100 – Hamburger meat
12 – Tomato juice
48 pkgs – Cornbread mix (or make from scratch)
6 – Peanut Butter
6 – Jelly
12 – Large cans mixed vegetables
12 – Sausage chubs
24 – Spaghetti sauce
36 – Spaghetti noodles
12 – Alfredo sauce
12 – canned beef
12 – kielbasa or beef smoked sausage
12 – Fettucine noodles
12 jars – Putanesca
12 to 24 – Rotel
24 (minimum) cans – Green beans
24 (minimum) cans – Corn
60 cans – Chicken broth (OR use bullion OR chicken base)
12 – Hot dogs
12 – Canned chili
12 – Canned ham
12 – Refried beans
24 – Flour tortillas (or make homemade)
12 – Bacon
18 – Enchilada sauce
12 – Taco seasoning
12 – Taco shells (or make homemade flour tortillas)
12 – Parmesan Cheese
12 – Macaroni noodles
24 – Macaroni & cheese (packaged)
12 to 24 – carrots (canned)
12 to 24 – potatoes (canned)

Basics onhand:

Spices (basil, oregano, chili powder, paprika, cumin, Cavender’s, etc)
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Powdered Milk
Dried beans
Potato Flakes


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Just thinking about chicken & dumplings takes me back to my mother’s kitchen.  This is comfort food at its finest, and is extremely cheap to make.

Now this Southern girl doesn’t like NOODLES with her chicken when it’s supposed to be dumplings.  They are totally different critters.

True Southern dumplings are like puffy pillows of biscuit goodness draped in a piping hot broth with bits of chicken.

Is your mouth watering yet?

There is an art to making good dumplings – you will get better at it the more you make them.  The broth should not be at a roiling boil or your dumplings will fall apart.

On the same token, if your broth is not hot enough, your dumplings will fall apart.

I like to use chicken breast that I have pressure canned (you ARE canning chicken when it’s on sale, right?).  The broth is flavorful and the chicken is tender.  Open a can, make your dumplings, and you’re ready for supper!

Variations instead of chicken:  squirrel or rabbit – any mild flavored meat.

For this recipe, you will need approximately 3 quarts of chicken broth.  (I use 1 quart jar of canned chicken breast/broth plus 2 additional quarts of water with about a tablespoon of chicken base.)

Put this in a large stock pot (5 or 6 quart will do) and bring to a slow boil.

This dumpling recipe can easily be halved or doubled depending on how many you need.  The below amount feeds three of us with enough left over for lunch for two.

To make your dumplings, mix the following together:

3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Cut in 6 tablespoons butter with a fork or pastry blender.

Add 1 1/2 cups milk – you may need a little more/less depending on humidity. GENTLY stir together. Be careful not to overwork the dough – it will make your dumplings tough.

The dough should not be a sticky mess. You should be able to handle it without having gobs of it stick to your fingers.  If it’s too sticky, add a little bit of flour.

Put a piece of waxed paper on your counter – it makes clean up easier. Pat the dumpling dough out into a rough rectangle. Cut into small rectangles with a butter knife dipped in flour (they should be about 1 1/2″ long). Let the dough rest while the broth comes to a slow boil.

Drop several pieces of dough (7 or 8 ) into the broth at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. The dumplings will expand as they cook. Cover the pot partially with a lid.

Check dumplings after 3 or 4 minutes, and gently turn them over with a slotted spoon. Cover with lid again.

Check dumplings after another 3 or 4 minutes and test for doneness. (Scoop one out into a bowl and cut it in half. If it’s still doughy, it isn’t done! Put it back into the broth and cook for a couple more minutes.)

Have a large bowl or dish ready to hold the dumplings as they are cooked. You have to do them in batches, and it will take a little while to do.

When serving, scoop out some of the chicken with a few dumplings and pour some broth over the top.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Ummmmm, ummmmm, GOOD!  😀

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Er…in my case, rice, rice everywhere and none to cook with!

I learned a valuable food storage lesson recently.  I normally keep a quart jar of long grain white rice in my pantry so there’s not a huge bag open at one time.  I had already put most of the 50 pound bags we’d purchased into mylar and buckets.

Hence, the problem.

When I ran out of rice in the pantry, I quickly realized I had two options:  open a brand new 5o pound bag of rice or break into my long term food storage buckets.

Needless to say, I opened a 50 pound bag and spent the next half hour breaking it down into bags to vacuum seal.  This time, I did smaller bags of 4 to 5 pounds per bag.  Major “duh” moment on my part for not thinking of this sooner.  Since we are using/rotating most of our food storage, it just makes sense to have smaller amounts more accessible.

Lesson learned!

Don’t put all of your food storage into mylar and buckets!  There is such a thing as “long term” food storage, and then food that will be rotated more quickly.   I knew this already, but putting it into practice is another thing entirely.  🙂

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If you’re like me, you cringe spending $5 on a bottle of cleaner when you can make something yourself that will work just as well, if not better.

Over the years, I’ve found several things that have saved us some cash, plus kept our house sparkling clean.


A friend found this in an old cookbook, and we couldn’t believe how well it worked!

Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 quart of water (I normally use a bowl for this).  Stir well. Use a rag to wash whatever you’re cleaning, then a dry cloth to buff dry.  You will be amazed!


To disinfect and still be able to prounce the ingredients in the cleaner, plain ol’ white vinegar works great.  I keep a spray bottle mixed up at all times with half vinegar/half water.   Works on countertops, mirrors (I prefer the cornstarch method for mirrors, but vinegar will work if you’re in a hurry), stovetops, dining room tables, etc.

I use vinegar and water in a sprayer when mopping my kitchen floors.  I have one of those Swiffer wet jet thingys, but I’m too cheap to buy replacement pads/cleaner for it.  So – I bought some inexpensive jersey material at Wally World and sewed my own pads (which are washable) to mop floors with.  Just spray the floors with the vinegar mixture, then mop clean.  Throw the pad in the wash.  Voila!

Vinegar also works well to take hairspray residue off of lavatory sinks.  Ask me how I know.  😛


My equally frugal mother supplied this tip.

Fill a bowl with water (old whipped topping container works great for this), add some Dawn dishwashing liquid and a healthy splash or two of vinegar.  Stir well.  Soak a rag and wash shower door with mixture, then rinse clean.  I have not found any commercial cleaner that does as well as this!


We bought a power washer a few years ago which has been awesome for cleaning the outside of the house, lawn furniture, and our wooden decks.  However, over time, anything wooden will need something a little extra to power off the crud that has built up on it.  Bleach in a sprayer works great – just spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then power wash off.  It leaves the wood looking so much cleaner.  After it dries thoroughly, I normally put another yearly coat of water sealer on the deck.

Hope these tips will save you some money and a trip to the store!  🙂

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Well, I finally ran out of the enchilada sauce I canned in October, and after paying $1.79 for one teeny tiny can at the store, I decided it was time for another batch.

I made spaghetti sauce yesterday and canned it today.  While I have the canner out,  it was now or never on the enchilada sauce.

I did adjust my basic recipe for the whole batch – cut back on the cumin and water.  After simmering for a couple of hours, it worked out perfectly divided between 9 pint jars.

Process at 10 pounds pressure for 15 minutes.  Voila!  😀

Here’s the mondo batch recipe:

1 – 106 oz can tomato sauce (Contadina is my favorite – Sam’s carries it)
2 to 3 onions (or one LARGE onion), chopped, sauteed in olive oil, and pureed in the blender
6 1/2 teaspoons oregano
9 Tablespoons chili powder
6 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
6 or 7 teaspoons ground cumin
several tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 tomato sauce can (#10) of water
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

You could also add cayenne pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking.


We use this on chicken enchiladas, bean burritos, tacos, etc.

For easy bean burritos: take 1 pkg large flour tortillas, divide 1 can of refried beans between them – spread a hefty tablespoon (at least) down the center of each tortilla, then spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce on each, and lastly top with cheddar cheese. Roll up into burritos, place in a 9×13 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes until they’re hot.

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This makes a bunch and can be frozen.  Very versatile – use whatever you have in your pantry!

2 pounds ground hamburger meat, browned and drained
1 large onion, chopped and sauteed with the meat
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 envelope dry Ranch Dressing mix
2 cans tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can sliced mushrooms
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans shoe peg corn
1 can yellow hominy

Combine and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes to an hour (or longer in the crockpot). Serve over chips (Fritos are good) topped with cheese.

VARIATIONS: I have omitted the mushrooms, pinto beans, and the shoe peg corn, then added a can of Ranch style beans (undrained), can of black beans (drained), one small can of V8 juice, can of beef broth, and sliced olives. I’ve also added a pound of Velveeta to the whole mix. You can do basically anything with this – be creative! 😀

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I have been doing this for years, and started our tweenager on part of this regime too because of pimples/breakouts (raging hormones will do it every time!).  These are effective yet inexpensive ways that might help to treat acne on your own.  Sometimes you do have to see a dermatologist, so keep that in mind.  If you don’t see noticeable results within a week and the acne is severe, I would definitely consult a dermatologist for further treatment.  Just a disclaimer – try this at your own risk.  I’ve used the items listed below for years with no problem, but every person is different.  If you have problems with ANY product, stop using it immediately.

First – it is very important to keep the face clean.  Keep your fingers/hands OFF of your face.  Your fingers have natural oils on them which further clog pores in the face and will make breakouts worse.  Also, keep your hair clean, and for boys, keep the hair short enough that it is not hanging on the forehead – oils from the hair will also make breakouts worse.

Plain ol’ soap is good enough to wash the face, unless you are a soap snob like me and are compelled to make your own.   😀  We use a facial soap I made with French Green Clay in it which is wonderful for drawing out excess oils from the skin and helps to remove impurities.  However, ANY soap is better than nothing.  Wash the face twice a day – preferably morning and evening.  Do not scrub excessively – it will only irritate the skin.  The goal is to gently remove excess oils – not scrub your face off.

Special note for women/girls wearing makeup – good ol’ Vaseline and an old washcloth will take off eye makeup/mascara better than anything I’ve ever found.  I’ve heard people say your eyelashes will fall out from using it.  That’s hooey – I’ve been using Vaseline to remove mascara since I was 13.  Several decades have passed since then, and I still have my eyelashes.  Remove eye makeup before washing the face with soap.  I keep a stack of old washcloths in the linen closet specifically for this purpose.

Now this is the clincher – it is the single most important thing you can do to prevent breakouts in my humble opinion.  Get a bottle of apple cider vinegar at the grocery store (you’ll find it around the regular clear vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is amber colored).   Pour some into a smaller bottle and keep it in your bathroom.  At LEAST in the evenings after you wash your face, take a cotton ball with some of the apple cider vinegar on it, and gently but firmly scrub your face with it.  Until you get used to it, it might take your breath away and your eyes might water (avoid the eye area, btw – it stings horribly).  Be sure to get in the creases around your nose very well.  Breathe through your mouth if you have to if the smell is too strong.  Allow the vinegar to sit for 30 seconds or so, then rinse your face with plain water.  The smell DOES go away after a few minutes and you won’t smell like a salad.

The apple cider vinegar helps to annihilate nasties on your skin that contribute to pimples/breakouts.  It is cheap to use, and it does work for most people.  I can tell within a day or so if tweenager isn’t using it – it makes that much difference.

We are also using a product called Clean & Clear Advantage – Acne Spot Treatment.  It has a purple cap and is in a small silver tube.  The stuff is clear, and it only takes a dab of it.  I think it cost around $7 at Walmart (which I thought was expensive), but it has done a pretty good job also.  We had tried different acne creams and they bleached out several shirts when kiddo would sweat after P.E., so we switched to this instead.

Lastly, if you have any foods that you know make you prone to breakouts, avoid them or at least eat sparingly.  Some people say chocolate is a trigger for them, although many doctors would disagree.  When I was younger, chocolate did seem to make my face worse.  That is one good thing about getting older … pimples are fewer and far between.  😀

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