Friday, April 29, 2011

Plant a Garden to Save Money

Start saving on your grocery expenses by planting a garden near your kitchen. Gas prices continue to rise. This, of course, causes food transportation costs to rise. Have you been paying close attention to your recent grocery bills? Just the groceries I put in the front part of my grocery cart can easily amount to $30.00. That's usually food from the produce section. It didn't take me long to decide it's time to start a garden. My husband built me a frame for my raised bed garden, and I've planted my first row of seeds. It's easy to prepare a raised bed garden if you don't mind digging a bit. Good exercise, too. I am eager to see how my seed planting turns out. Personally, I like to purchase small plants to start my gardens with. The reason? I've had some experiences with planting seeds and no results. That was desert gardening, though, with lots of wind and heat. Unless you just like to plant with seeds, planting seedlings that already sprouted saves you growing time. 
One thing I learned from my paternal grandmother was to be resourceful. She made her own "icebox" in the ground in the early 1900's before refrigerators became popular. Fresh milk, buttermilk, and any perishable foods stayed cool. I've found a few ways to be resourceful with gardening. One way is by planting the raised bed garden in an area that gets six or more hours of sun daily. Another way is by using mulch in my flower gardens, and this keeps the ground from drying out so much plus I don't have to water as often. My favorite resourceful idea came from my husband. Our little cottage cabin has a drain from the kitchen that pours water out into a sunny area of soil. Last year a tomato plant yielded tons of the best tomatoes in that little area. We didn't plant it. Maybe a bird dropped a seed there. Wherever the source came from, it worked. Two things made that tomato plant a success: sun and water from the kitchen drain. Therefore, last weekend I planted a little salad garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, a few Marigolds to keep critters out and strawberry pants in the clay strawberry pot. My husband and I inherited a trellis with our cabin, and he attached it to the side of the house between the kitchen window and door. Now the tomato and cucumber vines can grow up the trellis.
About three years ago I planted a garden and had the best success with yellow summer squash and peppers. I am not a seasoned gardener, but I have gardened enough to know you need water, sun, dirt, fertilizer, and compost. Fencing definitely helps to keep out rabbits, deer, and even pets. You don't have to have gardening experience to begin a garden. Anyone can learn how to garden. If you need to save money on groceries, start now by planting a garden in your own back yard.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tips on Raised Bed Gardening

How do you prepare a raised bed for a garden? Not long ago, that was my question. After a little research, a visit to my local nursery, a lot of digging and help from my husband, I can give you some tips.
  • Choose a sunny place in your yard that gets at least six hours of sun
  • Measure a 4'x4' area in that sunny place
  • Dig about 17" deep with a spade
  • If the dirt is too hard to dig, water the area each day for about a week.
  • Visit your local nursery and ask for compost, chicken fertilizer (sheep or rabbit is even better), worm castings
  • Mix the fertilizer, compost, and worm castings in with the dirt and water the area.
  • Purchase two 8'-long 2"x6" pieces of wood from Lowe's, and ask them to cut them in half.
  • Place brackets inside each corner wood stakes outside the corners. 
  • Place the connected four pieces of wood over the 4'x4' area you've prepared. You'll probably need to move the frame and pile the soil in the middle. When you place the frame back, then you can use a shovel to smooth the soil so that it settles just right inside the frame.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fried Egg Sandwiches

Love eggs? You always hear of eggs for breakfast, but eggs make good lunches, too. Scrambled egg sandwiches taste delicious and make a filling lunch. Fried egg sandwiches with sliced cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of black pepper makes a very tasty meal, too. Limit the oil, choose high fiber bread, and spread mayo lightly on the bread. You won't feel hungry for hours...especially when you add pork sausage to the meal...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Turkey Chili

What can you do with leftover ground turkey? Make chili. It's easy, tasty, and you can eat it with crackers or tortilla chips.

Turkey Chili
Leftover ground turkey (at least 1-2 lbs)
Chili Seasoning (1 pkg.)
Diced Tomatoes (1 can)
Tomato Sauce (1 can)
Tomato Paste (1 can)
Cheddar Cheese
Heat all ingredients together. Serve with grated cheese on top. It makes the best burritos, too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Frugal Menus

What are your favorite frugal menus? At some point most home cooks have experienced a tight grocery budget for a week. During those lean times, diets become a lower priority on the grocery list. Items like Ramen Noodle Soup, eggs, beans, rice, and potatoes become high priority. Some of my best recipes evolved out of frugal menu creativity when the cupboards were bare.

If you only had eggs, beans, rice, Ramen Noodle Soup, a bag of frozen vegetables, one type of meat like ground hamburger or pork links, what would you make? 

If you had $25 to spend on groceries, what would be the priorities on your list? $35? $50? What special recipes would you create with these budgets?

This week I plan to make a recipe I've not tried before. I'm practicing frugal cooking this week and am excited about creating recipes. The recipe title  of the recipe I am creating is called Orange Pork Sausage and Vegetables. My planned recipe goes something like this:
1 box pork links
1 pkg. frozen California vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and more)
Orange sauce
fried rice in rice vinegar
I will take pictures so you can see how it turns out. Check back throughout the week to find out the results. Thank you for your visit to my blog today.
I'm linking up to Reasons to Skip the Housework.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fresh Orange Juice

Now that spring has arrived, fresh fruit is becoming more available. Last week my husband was given several oranges by a man who has orange trees. The orange grower said he always gives many oranges away. 

Today my husband came home with a lot more oranges. They are juicy and sweet. Over the weekend my husband made fresh orange juice. We finished that and later I made orange juice I had purchased from the grocery store. I was amazed at the difference. The fresh juice was much sweeter naturally without any sugar added. 
Pick up fresh fruit you see at roadside fruit stands. Make the juice, and freeze it. Try making juice smoothies or Popsicles from oranges, strawberries, watermelons, lemons or other fresh organic fruit.
My favorite fruit smoothies are strawberry and orange. I've always loved Orange Julius, and I've made one or two similar types. Try these various recipes:

6-8 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup 2% milk
approx. 1/2 cup ice or 4-5 ice cubes
2-3 packets Splenda (optional)
I've included "optional" on these because fresh orange juice may be sweet enough without the sugar or Splenda.

6-8 oz fresh squeezed orange juice 
1/2 cup French Vanilla ice cream
4-5 ice cubes
No extra sugar is needed for this one. This one is simple and easy to add other ingredients to also such as a few fresh strawberries. Yum!