Continuing with Frugal Groceries

I feel that this mission will be a mission that carries out for a long time, as I am writing about it as I go. This weekend thanks to my pantry starting to obtain some bulk, I was able to throw some things together that I hadn't planned on when I went grocery shopping. The first thing we threw together - I say we, because my husband actually made it - was the recipe that I posted on Friday, it was something simple and we had all the ingredients for it. Saturday I made two batches of chocolate chip cookie dough - in the quest on making the ultimate chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich - the end result: 2 10 inch chocolate cookies that were scrapped and eaten - one turning out too thin, the other I cooked to long, they were delicious but I like soft baked, and 2 perfect 10 inch chocolate chip cookies that were filled with a half gallon of ice cream. Last night we had a San Francisco treat that was not bought in a box. The rice mix was delicious, cheap very easy to prepare and you can find it on my make ahead mixes page
I am posting my pantry must haves in hopes that it may help someone else with their grocery mission. Obviously you must make this your own, only buy items that pertain to you and your family. My list is not 100% organic, but I do try as often as possible to buy organic items. There are also a few items on my list that I am in the process of "researching" and may end up being on the pantry veto list at a later date. Again if there are items that you are not comfortable with in your home, then do not stock it.
Click here for the list for my pantry must haves.
Many Blessings

February 25, 2011

I haven't added any new posts or pages for a few days and I feel as though I am neglecting you all. I promise you I am not neglecting you - I am tending to an injury on my shoulder that took place some months ago. I have a very difficult time laying low and not doing anything, however I am at a point where I am beginning to realize I need to lay low in order to heal completely, that and the dirty looks I get from my husband because he argues with me to rest my arm when I insist on doing laundry, or dishes or some other chore has made me realize I need to lay low to keep peace in the
I am honestly so grateful to have a family that is willing to pitch in a little extra in order for me to rest. 
Tonight my dear husband tried out a new recipe that my daughter picked out earlier and it was delicious and easy and cheap! It was beef and rice taco casserole (we modified it some to fit our pantry) because we have a large family I had him double the recipe, but if your family is not as large you can easily divide the recipe in half. 
2 lb. ground beef
2 cans condensed tomato soup
2 cups salsa (we used 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis)
1 cup instant rice
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
Brown ground beef and drain fat, add soup, rice and salsa (or tomatoes) pour into a casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, remove from oven and add crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar, place back in oven and heat until cheese is melted. 
Garnish with sour cream and green onions if desired. 

Have a fantastic weekend, enjoy your families, and don't forget to make time to pray!
Many Blessings,

Making bread

A very special thank you goes out to Beckie for submitting to us our very first tutorial. I have always struggled with making bread and after reading her tutorial I am excited to give it a try ASAP!

How to make a perfect bread loaf by Beckie:

1.  Flour:  What do you use for flour?  Name brand?  Store brand?  Me, I always use name brand flour, preferably a bread flour specifically.  Of course we all know King Arthur IS king of the flour world and has a price to match!  But store brand flour just makes a gummy, gooey, sticky dough that falls flat.  So for frugality's sake I use Pillsbury Best or Gold Medal unbleached bread flour.  I keep it stored tightly in a sealed container to reduce the effects of humidity on the flour.  (Yes humidity will effect the way it works.  Silly, but true!)

2.  Yeast:  I buy Red Star active dry yeast at the health food store and store it in the freezer.  Never ever on a shelf.  Not even those sealed packets should be stored on the shelf in the store.  If you can't get your yeast from the refrigerated coolers, DON'T BUY IT!!  It is alive and needs the cool temps to properly maintain it's activity when you make your bread. 

Your water should never be too hot or too cold.  I don't use a specific temp for knowing when it's right.  I just run the tap water until it is warm but not hot.  Hot kills the yeast.  And dead yeast means flat heavy bread that won't rise.

Yeast has a sweet tooth!  When you add it to your water to activate it, you need to feed your yeast.  A little, like a tablespoon or so, sugar or honey will help your yeast "proof" correctly.  Proofing is the first most important step in making yeast risen breads.  Yeast is properly proofed when it looks all foamy and smells yeasty. 

To read more click HERE

New Page in Progress

I have made a page for make ahead mixes, I will continue to add to that page periodically as it will take some time to add all the content. If you have any make ahead mixes that you would like to share please send me an email at and I will add them to the page. Today I am going to attempt to make my own bisquick style mix, I will keep you all updated on whether it was successful or a big fail. One thing I have always struggled with is breads of any sort! Say a prayer for me!! (and Beckie  - would love some bread tutorials - if you ever feel so inclined to write some up for us OR even do some vlogs?) Enjoy your day everyone - the sun is brightly shining here on the East Coast this morning, going to enjoy it and seize the day!
Many Blessings

Frugal Groceries

In continuation with the grocery mission here are some keys to success:
Changing the way of thinking is a HUGE part of this, when making a recipe that you can double and freeze half you begin to save time and money. 
Make as many homemade items as possible. I understand that homemade doesn't always fit in a schedule, or what about the prepackaged foods that we have all grown so fond of? (mac & cheese, rice-a-roni, brownie mixes etc. etc.) Make your own mixes! Making your own mixes will save you money AND gives you back the control of what is going on your table. The internet is a HUGE resource when it comes to trying out recipes, I have come across a few make ahead mixes that once I have the opportunity to test them out I will share them with you. Until then try and see what you can come up with, what you come across might really impress you! Barry Farm is an organic farm that has opened an online store, I have not had the opportunity to try them out myself, but I have read some great reviews for the cheese powder (to make your own mac & cheese - similar to kraft). Do you have a favorite brownie recipe? Mix up the dry ingredients in advance, bag them(or jar them) attach recipe along with what needs to be added and stick it in the pantry - just as convenient as boxed brownie mix but ALOT cheaper! Making biscuits? Double your batch roll and cut - cook half, the other half place on cookie sheet and stick in the freezer until frozen, then take out and throw in a bag. Cook them as needed at 425 for about 18 minutes. Or if you prefer cook them ahead of time and freeze them after so they just need a quick heat up when you take them out.
Last night I made sloppy joes - A HUGE HIT, and it wasn't premade in a can here is a link to this fantastic Rachel Ray recipe:  
For the steak seasoning - I ground my own using peppercorn, dried minced onion, dried chopped garlic and coarse salt, much cheaper than buying commercially prepared! Enjoy all the blessings of the day!
Many Blessings

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday! I pray everyone had a great weekend. My weekend was a very productive weekend in my pantry mission. In order to successfully do once a month pantry shopping, organization is definitely going to be key. Organization can sometimes be my downfall!!! So this weekend I made lists of what I bought this past week for the pantry along with the date purchased so I can get an idea of roughly how long certain items will last me, and a list of items still needed for a fully stocked pantry - it really seems like alot - BUT I need to listen to myself and say one step at a time, and baby ones at that! In addition to list making I also worked on a storage and label system. I am proud to say I am making progress! 
I had a huge highlight to my weekend when I went shopping for some more cast iron pans, I have all the skillets and griddles I need, a dutch oven and a small sauce pot but I wanted more sauce pots and I would like to get a loaf pan. If you are in Maine Reny's is the place to go for cast iron - best prices I have seen so far. So I went to Reny's with my husband to purchase a few more items for the cast iron collection, I decided upon a 6 cup sauce pot priced at $16.99 and a muffin pan priced at $9.99. At the register the sauce pot rings up at (you are not going to believe this) $4.25!!!! What?? So I ask the cashier were they on sale she checks and says yes they are marked down but it was not advertised, I instantly looked at my husband and said QUICK- GO GET ANOTHER ONE!  SOOO I got 2 sauce pots for less than half of what I was expecting to pay for the one! Those were the only 2 left of "last years" shipment so they were marked down! If you are looking for some more cast iron for your collection I highly recommend checking at Reny's, and while you are there it wouldn't hurt to ask them if any of the cast iron is marked down. You just might be surprised!
If you havent checked out my Facebook Page yet you should - I have been posting some really great deal alerts and will be posting some real neat tips on occasion.
Many Blessings,

Grocery Mission: Mission Impossible?

My grocery mission has been ongoing for several years, and I think (thanks to google and other helpful blogs) I finally broke through this week with an actual plan of action that makes sense to me. I have tried the "menu planning" prior to grocery shopping - which has left me with a few problems: 
A) I DREAD SHOPPING because it has become such a time consuming task. I have to sit down plan out a menu, THEN I can make my list - THEN I can run to the grocery store. I know it doesn't sound like a time consuming task but when you have a day that you literally have 5 minutes to stop and think and plan - it is. 
B) I spend more money. I know you hear all the time go to the store with a list, plan a menu it is more affordable. If I go in there with a specific menu list I am missing out on a lot of sale opportunities - and there usually isn't any room for play with my budget and list so I cannot just throw something unplanned in my cart no matter how good a deal it is. 
C) If something happens and I cannot make it to the grocery store on my "scheduled" grocery day - I am in trouble because I have nothing to throw together to make a complete meal. 
So I have toyed with the idea for some time now of once a month shopping - now I know I will have to go more frequently to grab fresh produce and dairy, but I want to do the majority in one foul swoop. I must admit though the thought of once a month shopping is quite an overwhelming thought for me, I am left with where do I begin? Menu Planning for once a month shopping is a daunting task. I have toyed with the idea of not only once a month shopping but once a month cooking - again OVERWHELMING! I do have a Facebook friend who sent me an email and broke things down for me, thank you Paulette! You are an angel! I have steered back away (kinda) from once a month cooking, but thanks to some tips from Paulette I can and will most likely make "multiple" meals at a time when the opportunity arises. 
I am sure you are wondering what my breakthrough is then.... it is pantry shopping. I have run through the pantry and made a list of all my "must haves" googled (see told you I am an addict) what other peoples "must haves" are and read other peoples blogs about their "must haves" and I think I am on to something. I think that  if I am shopping to keep a well stocked pantry - at any given time I should be able to open the pantry and throw something together, whether it be a meal that I need to add extra to for an unexpected guest, or possibly a dessert I want to surprise the family with, or to take with us somewhere we have been invited to or just because the girls and I feel like getting our baking groove on. 
Again with this mission and any other mission baby steps is key, so going to the store and stocking up the pantry for a month is probably not going to happen, I have read to spend an additional 10% of your grocery budget to put towards adding bulk to your pantry, maybe that means an extra bag of flour, or a bigger box of spaghetti than what you would normally buy. Eventually it will be stocked and you can start saving some money. AND speaking of saving money, be careful when shopping at stores promising to save you a lot. Sometimes you would be surprised at how little if any you are actually saving. I am also currently working on price list for some of my pantry "must haves" and doing side by side comparisons, so far my findings are surprising even myself. Once my list is complete I will share that with you all too. 
Have a great weekend and remember to be thankful for the little things, the little things are usually full of the biggest blessings!
Many Blessings!

February 17, 2011

So after several months of reading blogs, googling (yes I have a google addiction - anyone who knows me would tell you its true) I have decided to start my own blog.
So let me fill you in on the mission - my mission which has been ongoing for several years now, is to live life as naturally and frugally as possible. As most of you are aware this is not an easy mission.
I have done away with all chemical cleaners in the house - and that did turn out to be a much cheaper alternative to chemical cleaners. I will post a blog about this transition and the products I use so you have all the details to take on this mission yourselves if you choose! 
I have ousted all the teflon and non stick coated pans from the house - goodbye, good riddens - adios! I use mainly cast iron now (which ladies let me tell you - clean up with cast iron is a breeze!) I occasionally use stainless steel pots and pans. For baking I have stoneware, and glass. Again I will blog about my reasoning behind this transition at a later date. 
My family was ready to oust me when I ousted our microwave this past fall.... and every once in awhile I still catch a little flack for this. Just gonna say - sometimes quicker and convenience is not always a good thing!
Years ago I ousted all paraffin candles from the house - oh I am sure you are all quite aware of the nastiness of paraffin and if not stick around kiddo - I will show you the ropes! I make my own soy and beeswax melts, along with lotion and other natural bath and body products. My website is we do not have online ordering in place as of yet - BUT we are working on it. 
So now I think I have you somewhat caught up, and my current mission is cutting down grocery costs AND eat healthier.... What do you think? Mission impossible? Well I feel that EVERYTHING is possible, this mission is just a little trickier and much more overwhelming than any mission tackled as of yet. One thing I cannot emphasize enough: with any mission you decide to take on - the key to success will always be baby steps! I hope that you enjoy the future posts, and maybe even take on some of the missions yourself, and possibly share your missions and secrets of success with me as well! Tomorrow I will post about some of my recent findings in the grocery mission, until then enjoy all the blessings God has brought into your life and savor the natural beauty of today! 
Many Blessings,