Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I love a frugal challenge!

I recently discovered this blog frugalwoods.com. The author is starting her very first frugal challenge that she is calling Uber Frugal Month

I've participated in frugal challenges in the past: no spend days and months and the January Money Diet to name a couple. I have a very frugal mindset and don't really need instruction, but I do love the support that comes with a frugal challenge!

It's fun to open the daily emails with encouraging words. It makes me happy and I feel supported and validated.

So, I look forward to frugal challenges to motivate me and so I know that I'm not a crazy person! We have more house debt than we should, and I aim to eliminate that! Bring it on, Uber Frugal Month! I am ready!

Friday, December 23, 2016

slow cooking- why I skip the microwave

I am on my second year without using a microwave. Why? Who knows, really? I just woke up one day and told hubby that I didn't want to use the microwave any longer.  

I have a scientist friend, that likes to explain the dangers of microwave use and the dangers of eating microwaved food. Maybe she got to me. *grin*  

I do know that I really love slow food prep. I like that I have to plan ahead. I enjoy the time it takes to prepare meals and reheat them. I like that I no longer purchase convenience foods from the grocery store. (too pricey anyway!)

 I have a coworker that commented on the fact that I reheat my soup on the stove or meals in the toaster oven. She appreciated the fact that I took time to warm my meal. That made me smile.

I'm not 100% certain why I stopped, but I do know that I'm glad that I did!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Adventures in Vegan cooking-tempeh

I first tatsted a vegan "BLT" in a local restaurant. While not a vegetarian joint, they do focus on fresh healthy "in season" ingredients. Therefore, their menu changes seasonally. We like to eat there, since vegans and meat eaters alike can dine together in harmony! (although it is a splurge, and one we don't do often!)

Enter...the "TLT" sandwich:

The tempheh-lettuce-tomato sandwich! Paired with my free sparkling water, from my recent grocery trip, it made a fabulous lunch!

The restaurant that I first discovered this sandwich in, made it a bit differently, but mine still tastes amazing. (I also added vegan cheese and pickles with my standard vegan pesto spread!)

It all starts with Lightlife "Fakin Bacon" smoked tempeh. While I absolutely do not like fake meats, this is one exception. It is very versatile and makes a great sandwich. I find that fake meats are not frugal friendly, nor do they make sense to me. Why eat fake meat? weird.

It is on the pricey side, around $4-$5 per package, I only pick it up when on sale. I can get about 5 servings out of each package. It is also great as a side to tofu scramble or as a protein source when paired with roasted potatoes and fruit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Yesterdays grocery savings

To keep motivated, I always track my coupon savings. It's fun to try to beat last year's totals. (It's a little game I play)

Yesterday, I headed to the grocery store, for a weeks supply as well as food for Christmas Day cooking and baking. It was 1 PM, I figured everyone would be at work and I could whip on in and out. I figured incorrectly! Although it was crowded, and patience was a must, most folks were actually in good spirits. That was a bonus. Grouchy people stress me out!

My savings yesterday totaled an even $55. Of that, $32.65 were store loyalty card savings and $22.35 were coupon savings. not too bad.

And these were my freebies:

I'm not sure what I'll do with the cake mix, maybe give it to a coworker or friend? 
I'll definitely enjoy the peanuts and sparkling water!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My monthly bill pay checklist (borrowed)

I have been reading blogger Erin for years. I started reading her blog back in the day, when she was writing for About.com. (I actually subscribed to many of their now defunct newsletters!)

She also writes for her own personal blog, and this is where I borrowed my monthly "Bill Pay Checklist". I love the simplicity of the chart and the fact that I can customize it year to year. I know at a glance if I've paid a certain bill this month, plus its fun to fill in the little circles. (like a grade school flashback!)

I just finished updating, in my desktop Word program, and printed out 2017's chart. I am set and ready.

myfrugalhome.com's checklist

Monday, December 19, 2016

Adventures in Vegan cooking- paninis!

Photo credit: Lakeside.com

I found this panini maker online. Holy cow! Best $9 I've spent in a very long time!

Tonight, I made a sandwich with 2 slices of bread, sprayed lightly with olive oil. Inside, I spread a little pesto, added a slice of vegan provolone cheese and some cooked and sliced mushrooms. It was amazingly delicious and so quick and inexpensive to prepare.

I can see many paninis in my future. I can just add whatever cooked veggies I have on hand.

This is the vegan pesto sauce that I frequently use. I add it to sandwiches, use it to make pizza, use it as a veggie dip, as a salad dressing etc. It has so many yummy uses!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Adventures in Vegan cooking- stuffed portobellos

When I find portobello mushrooms on sale, I go crazy! You can grill them, marinate them in a balsamic glaze and cook, slice and cook to use in a salad or stuff them.
Here, we stuff them.

First, I sauteed some onion and red pepper with some leftover cooked white mushroom pieces.

Then I stirred in some vegan pesto sauce and vegan shredded cheese. I stuffed the caps and then poured a balsamic glaze over the top.

Then I baked them at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the mushroom was cooked and the cheese all melty.

My phone's camera just doesn't show this deliciousness as well as I'd like. Plus the steam kept fogging up my camera lens! haha

 Trust me. Even my non vegetarian family members love it!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Paying extra on my mortgage principal balance...

Goal: Pay off mortgage within 3-5 years.

I am so very tired of having companies that I owe money to, I'd like to be debt free!

We do use a Visa credit card. We use the card for all of our monthly purchases and most bills. We pay the balance off monthly and receive free grocery checks. (yes, credit card companies refer to people like us as dead beats..haha) It's a fabulous program. Once per quarter, an envelope arrives with checks to the local grocery store, where we signed up for the card, and we use them to purchase groceries! The highest amount so far was $75...OF...FREE...GROCERIES! This makes me very happy.

We also have payments for my hubby's car. This stresses me out. When I purchased my car, I paid it off in 2 years. (instead of 5 years) Prior to that, I purchased a 1 year old vehicle in 1999 and paid it off in 3 years. My hubby wants to just make regular payments. UGH! My OCD kicks in for this one!

Back to the mortgage...This year brought a ton of unexpected financial "surprises". Things we hadn't planned on paying. So, I didn't get as much paid extra on the principal as I intended. We were able to pay an extra $3,186.53 and I will call that a success. Although I had planned to pay an extra $12,000 towards the principal this year. Bummer, but we still paid some extra, so...yay!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ways I saved money this week...Christmas edition

Christmas shopping!

We save $50 per month, in a Christmas savings account. It is an automatic transfer, I don't even have to think about it. When we opened our checking account, the offer was if you have money transferred, to savings monthly, then checking was free. It was a no brainer.

So, I ventured out this week, looking for bargains, shopping list in hand. I found: 1)the local grocery store had a deal, if you bought $50 in Yankee Candle gift cards you save $10. I had candles on my list, so off I went with $50 in gift cards that I spent $40 for.

2) Bath and Body Works mailed me 2 coupons. One for a free $13 product, no purchase necessary. (I hadn't been in since last Christmas. I think they want me back) And another for buy one $10 product, get a free $13 product. I had a family member request lotions, so off I went.

3) I have a family member that loves Keurig coffee pods. The box of $8.99 pods were on sale for $4.99, and I had 3 $1 off coupons. She will be thrilled, and I saved $15! Same amount of product, I just spent less.

Off to find more bargains today!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Adventures in frugal Vegan cooking -meal prep

The trick I've learned, since becoming a full Vegan, is food prep. If there isn't anything readily available, you will waste money. It's not like there are a ton of vegan choices, in the fast food world, but you will stop somewhere and buy something!
Enter meal prep. I've already discussed how much I like beans for breakfast, fast and cheap, now to lunch and snacks.
I try to chop up the veggies, as soon as I get home. It's easier to grab a bowl of cut up veggies than to stop and peel and slice etc. I also like to have salads and cooked tofu at the ready.(teriyaki tofu not pictured...oops) Lunch prep is a breeze. I have a Bento Box, that I fill with pre-prepped foods, and then I am ready for work.
Pictured are: a pea-cucumber-celery-tomato-coconut bacon salad with pesto dressing, cucumbers and tomatoes in a vinaigrette dressing, mandarins and bananas. Enough ingredients for three days' worth of lunches.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ways I saved money this week

I do not pay for a gym membership! I have hand weights, a resistance band, a kettle bell, a set of stairs, hiking boots, a bike and snow shoes. All except for the set of stairs, were gifts or purchased second hand.

I stay in decent shape and I have neither an annual nor a monthly fee for excercise!

I see people drive up to the local gym, circle the lot to find the closest parking spot, then go inside. Mind boggling, indeed.

Go for a hike, friends! Trust me on this one.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Adventures in frugal, vegan cooking-beans for breakfast

I'm still frugal, still vegan, still trying to spend as little as possible on groceries. Cooking from scratch is one sure way to stay on track.

I buy dry beans in bulk, soak a pound overnight, then cook them in the crockpot all day. I come home from work to a delicious smelling home, and dinner is half prepared! (I cook my beans with garlic cloves and bay leaves) I just add a few more ingredients and my meal is ready. (tacos, burritos, bean spaghetti to name a few)

   One way I like to use beans for breakfast is that I like beans on toast. I add beans and non-dairy cheese to a piece or two of toast, toast a few minutes in the toaster oven then add hot sauce, tomatoes or avocado. (whatever I have on hand) Add a piece of fruit and a cup of tea and I'm good to go. This meal keeps me full until lunchtime. And...Yum!