Thrifty Tip: Use What You’ve Got

Posted on October 30th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

use what you've got

At the start of every gardening season, my husband asks me what I’d like to have in the garden for that season. Because I discovered a new love for cabbage last season, I asked for more cabbage this season. The only problem was that, for whatever reason, it was difficult to find the cabbage seeds we were looking for at the time we were actually planting seeds. Instead, my husband picked up bok choy seeds. So, we got bok choy. Lots of it!

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Get the picture? The bok choy is what has taken over in the middle of the garden. It’s kinda crazy. I never planned on making a lot of Asian food. But we didn’t want to see all that food go to waste. So…

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Almost every day, I pick at least one of the bok choy plants.

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I prepare it for chopping. (They’re pretty, aren’t they?)

If you look at the chopped leaves (not the stems), what does it remind you of?

chopped

Spinach, right? What’s funny is that we discovered that when you don’t include the stems, it tastes a lot like spinach, too. So…

spaghetti 1

That’s not spinach in that spaghetti sauce; it’s bok choy! :)

spaghetti 2

And there’s our Italian meal, using bok choy!

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Since we like to include whatever green vegetable growing in our garden in our meals, we threw some into our tacos too! Here’s a closer look in case you can’t see that lovely green below the chicken and black beans.

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Since it is Asian cabbage, it wouldn’t be right not to use it in Asian food. So, here’s a curry dish using the bok choy (probably as it is more normally used). ;)

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Don’t let marketers and magazines tell you what you must include in your favorite recipes. Just use what you’ve got!

What fun, thrifty substitutions do you make in your meals?


Getting Rid of Stains on Jeans

Posted on October 30th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

denim stain removal

Clothing care is one of the best ways to save money. Jeans particularly take quite a beating when in use. Sewing buttons back on and patching a hole are good ways to prolong the life of an article of clothing. Nothing, however, prolongs the life of your jeans like being able to remove stains from them.

Ink

Try to get as much of the stain out as you can with a wet paper towel. Don’t wipe the stain because you could smear the ink. Dab the stain instead. Next put something under the stain (like a piece of cardboard) that you don’t mind getting dirty. Next spray some hairspray liberally directly onto the stain and let it sit and saturate for about five minutes. Blot the area with a clean wet cloth. Repeat the process until the stain has been removed. This may not work if the stain has been exposed to heat, for example if a pen exploded in a hot dryer.

Grass

Using hot water, scrub the stain with a regular bar of body soap. Next pour hydrogen peroxide into the effected area. Apply a stain stick to the area and then spread some petroleum jelly. Throw the jeans in the wash and wash them as you normally would.

Blood

When trying to get a blood stain out of jeans what you use depends on how old the stain is. If the blood on your jeans is fresh use cold water to soak your jeans. Use your knuckles to scrub the blood out of the fabric. Rinse the jeans and wash them as you normally would.

For a dried blood stain, try using a solution of one tablespoon of liquid dish soap and two cups of cold water. Apply the solution to your jeans by soaking a clean cloth in it and pressing the cloth to the stain for fifteen minutes. Next use a toothbrush to gently scrub the stained area of the jeans. Blot the stain with a clean cloth and repeat the process until the stain is gone.

What stain removal methods have you found to work best?


Financing a Big, Frugal Christmas

Posted on October 29th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

big frugal christmas

Tis the season to start thinking about the season that usually costs the most. That would be the holiday season. Just because you are a frugal genius doesn’t mean you need to skimp on the festivities.

Plan

Know what you want for your Christmas libations. What type of decorations do you want? What gifts are you hoping to make or buy? How much time do you need to create your decorations or save for a certain gift? Can you make your own gift wrap or should you buy it instead? Have a plan and figure out how you will fit it into your budget. This may mean saving over time. This may mean making a schedule to make a gift. Have a plan. Stick to it.

Cookies

For those people in your life you want to get gifts for, but just don’t know what to give them, don’t give gift cards. Instead make a plate of baked goods or a homemade tree decoration. This way you won’t be spending a fortune on casual gifts.

Create

There are plenty of decorations that can be crafted for very little. You can make a crochet chain out of white, green, and red yarn. One skein would be more than enough to make a crochet Christmas tree garland. You could also make construction paper chains, popcorn chains, and cranberry chains. While it may take more time for larger gift project, such as a scarf or blanket, small decorations can be made quickly and easily.

Buy Before Thanksgiving

Decorations for Christmas can get expensive. Fake trees fly off the store shelves fast, leaving only their more expensive counterparts. Buying a tree before November gives you the opportunity to buy a nice fake tree for twenty dollars. You might be able to get a good deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You won’t have to fight hundreds of other people to get the deal you’re aiming for.

Gift Cards and Cyber Monday

If you are one of those individuals that collect Swagbucks, Zoombucks, and every other type of buck that can be used in exchange for a gift card, work your websites and save up your gift cards. Spend them online on Cyber Monday when deals abound anyway. It will help you get more for your gift card surplus. Try to look for deals that include free shipping for the best savings.


The Frugal Prepper Part Three : Medical Preparedness

Posted on October 29th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

frugal prepper part 3 medical preparedness

When an emergency is happening the most useful preparedness education you have could be your medical education. Do you have children that take medication? Do you have a well stocked home pharmacy? Do you have basic knowledge of herbal therapy? Here are a few tips to prepare your home for a medical emergency.

First Aid Classes

First aid classes are a must when it comes to being prepared for emergencies and natural disasters. The Red Cross is the  a great resource when it come to first aid education. They have more than CPR and Medical Assistant training. They also have classes on bloodborne pathogens, and first aid for pets. If you would like to have more hands on experience sign up to be a volunteer. You could help more than your family in a time of emergency.

The First Aid Kit

If  you are going to spend money on anything in your prepping stock, spend it on your first aid kit. You need more than just bandages. You need to make sure you have the proper material for splints, a CPR mouth cover as well as a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and thermometer. Also be sure to have scissors, medical tape, and clamps. Keep burn cream in stock as well as astringent to clean out wounds.

Herbal Care

If you don’t have a working knowledge of herbs you should keep a book on hand to tell you how to make herbal remedies as well as what each herb does and in what form the herbal remedy takes. This can include tinctures, teas, poultices, and aromatherapy. Keep herbs in storage. Keep them in the form of plants, cooking herbs, or roots such as ginger or garlic bulbs. Make sure the book has the proper dosage amounts for children as well as adults. It is possible to overdose on a herbal product. It is also important to be knowledgeable about your local plants and what medicinal value they have.

A Surplus of Medicine

It’s important to have a three month supply of medication if your insurance allows it. You can also ask your doctor to write the prescription specifically to be dispensed three months at a time. There are some medications where it is not possible to have a three month supply. Know what they are and what alternative you have. It is also important to keep a stock of over the counter medications that your family uses on a regular basis. This includes anything from pain killers to stomach acid relief.

It may be an investment up front, but it’s always “cheaper” to be prepared than to suffer the consequences on not being prepared.


Shop For Christmas During Halloween

Posted on October 28th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

Halloween Christmas shopping

We are days away from Halloween. If you don’t have a costume for yourself or your little one, chances are you can get a pretty good deal on one right now. (As a matter of fact, Walgreens has some costumes on clearance and a $5 coupon on page 11 of their coupon book. So, you could actually score a free costume if the price is right on the clearance costume of your choice.) If your favorite store doesn’t have costumes on clearance yet, just head over there on Saturday morning!

Have you considered shopping for Christmas during these Halloween clearance sales? You should! Think about it. How much do your children love to play dress up? Right now, my daughter dresses up whenever we are home. She even asks if it’s okay to wear her princess dresses when we go out! Boys love it, too. In my daughter’s class yesterday, one boy’s “show and tell” talk involved a Ninja Turtle costume he put on. He even showed us a few of his Ninja moves. ;) Costumes are not just for Halloween.

It’s not just costumes, though, that could make good holiday gifts. How about accessories? Capes, swords, tiaras, and costume jewelry all make fantastic gifts and stocking stuffers. Candy might also be a possibility if you don’t mind the Halloween colors or characters. That may simply depend on how old your children are. Older ones may care; I guarantee that the younger ones won’t. ;)

So, when you pass by that Halloween clearance aisle this week or scan the online deals at a popular website, take a second look with your Christmas shopper eyes. That dress, that cape, and that sword could put a huge smile on your little one’s face on December 25. All you need to do is hide it for two months! ;)

Have you started shopping for Christmas yet?


Eating a Balanced and Healthy Diet on a Budget

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

balance

When you are tired and on a budget it seams like the only food available to you and your family is unhealthy, but that just isn’t true. Even on a budget there are ways to eat a balanced and healthy diet.

Buying Fresh Produce

Fruit with a heavy skin or a thick rind is a good buy when you are trying to have fresh fruit on a budget. Items like oranges or pomegranates will last a bit longer than grapes or berries. The same applies to vegetables like zucchini  and squash. The second best way to get fresher produce into your diet is to use frozen produce. It’s better to lean more on vegetables when using frozen produce. Frozen fruit has a tendency to be more expensive.

Learn To Make Your Own Bread

In fact, learn to make all the baked goods you can. Recipes are free online and many of them have become fast and easy. There are easy recipes for machine made bread as well as oven cooked bread. Buy wheat flour instead of bleached flour. This will make your bread heavier and more filling. It will also make it healthier for your family to eat. You can also use wheat flour in pancakes, cookies, and pizza crust. Also look for easy vegan recipes. They usually require fewer ingredients.

Block Cheese

Buy cheese blocks instead of cheese slices. A block of cheese is less expensive than grated cheese and grate into more product than buying a pre-shredded cheese would yield.  It will also last longer than pre-sliced cheese because it’s not immediately available without work. It’s easier to keep a variety of cheese on hand and to create your own cheese blends. Just keep your unused cheese  in a sealed plastic sandwich bag to keep it from going bad.

Milk

Buy lactose free milk or almond milk or soy milk. Lactose free milk can come in skim or 2% milk. Soy and almond can come in flavors or unsweetened. Not only do these 3 milk options last significantly longer until expiration than regular milk, for those that don’t really use that much milk, buy half gallons to ensure you can finish the smaller amount.

Protein

Eliminate animals from your diet. In our home we are eliminating pigs and cows. Poultry and fish are our main meat staples. This reduces the amount of money we spend on meat as well as reduces the amount of red meat we eat. It’s healthier for our kids and us. We also like to use canned meat packed in water. Often it is precooked, so we don’t need to worry too much about cook times or various bacteria being a part of our meal. It also limits the amount of meat we eat because we stick to one can. We also buy chunky stews and soups as well as chili. All of these items are pretty inexpensive and keep our meat bill low.

It is also good to buy lentils, peas, and beans by the bag. While it’s true that they need to be soaked before cooking, it takes little time to dump them in a bowl with some water and let them saturate at room temperature. When you get home dump them and some water in a pot and mix them occasionally while they simmer. You’ll have homemade refried beans or split pea soup in no time.

 


Saving Money With Kids Without Feeling Mean

Posted on October 24th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

saving money with kids without feeling mean

We all want to be able to give our children some of the things that they want, but often it seems we find ourselves saying no instead. Here are a few ways to say yes that won’t break the bank.

Limit Media

Children that watch a lot of television end up watching a lot of commercials. They watch commercials for cereal, toys, theme parks, and movies. For the most part children don’t know they are being manipulated to bug mom and dad to buy these items for them. They only know that the toys, theme parks, and movies entertain them. They want the sugary goodness that comes with that brand name marshmallow cereal.

The funny thing is without the advertisements the product loses its power over your children. You could take them down the cereal section of the grocery store and buy generic healthy cereal and your children won’t even blink. Get a Netflix account. It costs less than ten dollars a month. You also determine what television programs your children watch. Which shows have more merchandise on store shelves? Which are educational programs?  What franchises are you willing to invest in? These things are in your control. The more you take that control the less you will have to say no to your children about purchases without giving in to something that is overly expensive or inappropriate.

Make it at Home

There a many craft supplies and toys that can be made at home. For example, I have found recipes online for silly putty, sculpting clay, finger paint, and play dough. Keep a file of these recipes and when your child asks for one of those products tell them yes. Let them know that you are able to make the item at home and will do so. Make sure you follow through with your commitment to your child. Without following through you child will learn it’s just easier to buy the item than wait for it to be made as promised. Invite your child to help make the item. This saves money for you and teaches your child not to buy something they can make themselves at a lower cost.

Delayed Gratification and Choice

Teaching a child delayed gratification works especially well with a choice attached to it. For example, let’s say the family may be planning an outing. Choose a definite day that this outing will be happening in the future and let the family decide together on where you will be going. Treat delayed gratification as something to look forward to rather than something to wait for.

 

 


Avoid Losing Money Online

Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by Discount Debbie

avoid losing money online

There are many ways to lose money and with modern technology now there are more than ever before. Here are a few money sinkholes and how to combat them.

Internet Hypochondria

No joke. Don’t go on the internet when you are ill. You will end up going to your doctor over nothing. What makes us go running to our doctor when we try to diagnose ourselves based on website information? It’s the fact that there are a thousand things that share the same symptoms. The most popular symptom sharers right now are the flu and ebola. One means two days in bed and plenty of fluids. The other means medical isolation. While your internet hypochondria may not be so severe, there are many diseases that share the same symptoms and our minds naturally gravitate towards the worse case scenario.

Instead:

Keep your family doctor’s number or your ask a nurse number handy. They can tell you what sickness is running through your community, if you need to go to a doctor, and what steps you can take at home when a doctor isn’t needed. They can also tell you a time frame that the symptoms you are experiencing should subside and what to do if they don’t.

Social Games

Goodness knows how much money has been wasted on social games. There is a sense of obligation to play when your friends are playing. Then there is the desire to build up your city, farm, or cafe. Next you are running out of time for a certain quest, a quest item won’t drop for you, or you have to have that new bunny. And every last one costs money. So you spend money on your non existent establishment.

Instead:

Limit your time playing social games. Just limiting your time can reduce the chances of you spending money and getting caught up in keeping up with the Jones’ imaginary farm. That being said, social games can become a time wasting addiction. It’s because it’s social interaction that is passive and on everyone’s schedule eventually. Be more socially aggressive. Make a phone call. Write a Facebook comment. Have a party. You’ll feel more socially fulfilled. I promise.

Trying To Make Money

We have all seen the get rich quick schemes that the internet has to offer. They start out with the word free and end with a credit card number request. Some of us have tried them. There are web hosting sites that turn out to be useless to us. There are sites that promise to help us make money, but end up only being a platform to sell us other people’s merchandise. Some of these sites gum up your computer in the process of trying to use them.

Instead:

Check each site, product, or company with the Better Business Bureau. If the BBB won’t approve it, don’t use its services. Check to see how long your company or service has been in business. Usually the longer a service or business has been around the better the chances are that it’s legitimate. Last, ask around. Ask friends or look for reviews of the company or service on the web. If a service is shady people are more than happy to let the world know.

 


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