Fabulously Frugal: Do-It-Yourself Copy Cat Dole Salad Kit

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I love LOVE Dole cabbage based salad kits; BUT, they are small and the last time I checked at our local Wal-Mart they were $3.83 per package. Yikes! If you like these things as much as I do you could end up spending around $11.49 per week. Of course, you could just purchase it as an occasional treat and it would be no big deal. But why limit yourself when you could have it as often as you’d like? All you have to do is make it yourself!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 head of cabbage

Fresh Cilantro

3-4 baby carrots or 1 carrot (we always have carrots in the house so I just use whatever I have on hand)

1 bunch of green onions

2 stalks of celery

  • Wash all produce
  • Chop your head of cabbage…you can make your pieces as big or as little as you would like. After chopping you can place it in a salad spinner or, if you’re like me and don’t have a salad spinner place the cabbage in a colander and allow it to drain.0609161103a
  • Chop your cilantro, green onions and celery. Shred your carrots. Add each ingredient to your cabbage

 

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  • And now spin! Or, shake that colander! And mix up those ingredients.

At this point you have a nice salad base. You can place the mixture in a container after it has dried to your liking and you have a great salad mix to play with all week long, and, since it is cabbage it will not get as wilty or soggy as lettuce.0609161125

You can do whatever you want with this salad base to keep it interesting. You can add black beans, corn, cheese, nuts, mandarin oranges, strawberries…whatever you want!

I purchased a few crunchy toppings to add just to make it seem a little more like the Dole Salad kit. 0609161109

Feel free to play with this and do what you want. I have found pretty much everything tastes great with the salad base.

Enjoy!0609161112

How To Make Orange Cupcakes On The Cheap

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Friday night I received a text inviting us to a last-minute potluck dinner with family. We accepted the invitation and we were assigned: Dessert. One thing you don’t really know about me is that I LOVE to bake; cookies, pies, cupcakes….I love doing it all! I like to make everything from scratch so dessert can be somewhat time consuming, time I didn’t have Friday night but, everyone would still be expecting something a little more exciting than chocolate chip cookies or snicker-doodles. So I decided: “I will make orange cupcakes!” I keep mixes on-hand for occasions such as this, you never know when there will be a baking emergency, right?

What you will need:

  • White or Yellow cake mix (if time is on your side go ahead and whip up a homemade batter)
  • Cream Cheese (softened)
  • Cool Whip
  • Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Pound of Butter (softened)
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Orange Extract (or Lemon, Raspberry, Strawberry…you get the picture
  • Cupcake Liners

Mix together your box mix according to package directions, or make your own batter…add 1 tsp of orange extract. Spoon your batter into the cupcake liners and bake!

While the cupcakes are baking:

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Mix the pound of butter, 4 cups of powdered sugar and 2 tsp of vanilla extract. Mix on low for  minute and then mix on high for 5 minutes, this will make the frosting nice and smooth.

Take 1/2 cup of frosting and place it in a separate mixing bowl…this will be for the filling.

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Add 2 tsp of orange extract to your frosting and mix well.

Return to the mixing bowl with your 1/2 cup of frosting. Add 1/2 package of cream cheese. Mix the frosting and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in 1/2-3/4 tub of the cool whip.

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After the cupcakes have cooled inject your cupcakes with the filling. I used a no. 230 Wilton tip. Squeeze the filling until you see the cupcake expand. If you do not have an injector tip you can always cut a small cone shaped hole in the top of the cake and then spoon in the filling.

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Finally, frost the cupcakes…I used a no. 1M Wilton tip, but, you can always just use a butter knife :). They taste like those orange popsicles with vanilla ice cream inside. YUMMY! Bonus: Everyone will think you made them something super fancy!

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You may be thinking to yourself: “This recipe doesn’t sound very cheap.” Well, it can be. I purchase items on sale for use later when I might need them. Most of the ingredients I purchased last month during “big bake” sales.

  • Cool Whip- purchased for .77 cents
  • Cake mix- purchased for .89 cents
  • Powdered Sugar- purchased for .99 cents
  • Cream Cheese-purchased for .97 cents
  • Butter -purchased for 1.89 per pound

The best way to make baking an inexpensive activity is purchase as much of your baking material on sale as you possibly can.

Happy baking!

 

 

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Last week I managed to do a decent amount of baking.

I made apple crisp using apples I purchased for .68 cents per pound.

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I made pumpkin cookies, with Ruby’s help. The recipe calls for chocolate chips which I omitted, the cookies are much less expensive to make without the chocolate. All the ingredients were  items I had on hand. The pumpkin was canned pumpkin I had purchased last year at Aldi, I try to purchase several cans every fall. This recipe does not call for eggs making it even less expensive! As a side note: we made these early in the morning, Ruby is still in her night gown which was handed down to us from her cousin.

 

 

pumpkin cookies

I made two loaves of bread, one loaf of wheat bread one loaf of french bread.

I made taco soup, which fed us for one dinner and 3 lunches. This recipe is very yummy, super simple and very inexpensive.

We used a coupon for a free pound of bananas my littles obtained while trick-or-treating at our grocery store on Halloween.

We did some cleaning around the house using baking soda and vinegar.

My husband and I purchased a few Christmas gifts for our girls at the Disney Store Outlet, we used a 10% off coupon for the items we purchased. The remainder of their Christmas presents will most likely be purchased at garage sales or thrift stores…maybe I will brave Black Friday…we’ll see.

We spent quite a bit of time at the park and the Nature Center last week, we wanted to get a lot of time outdoors with the frigid temperatures on the way for this week.

girls at the park

What did you do to save money last week?

 

Fabulously Frugal: Homemade Citrus Hand Scrub

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I have always LOVED the hand/body scrubs from Bath and Body Works. However it is a non-essential item and from my current vantage point it is also a complete waste of money (pay-off debt/save money or purchase overpriced body scrub? I’ll take the former).

Honestly the thought of body scrubs had not even crossed my mind in a very long time, until that is, my husband began working in the construction industry. He would come home with dirty beat up hands and no amount of washing would totally clean out all of the tiny creases; and, as many of you know, the more beat up and rough your skin becomes, the harder it is…the dryer skin just sort of becomes stained.

I was watching my husband wash his hands after work and I was reminded of my Dad.  My father was a carpenter who regularly worked on his own vehicles and often worked on vehicles with his friends (a fun “guy time” activity?).  We had commercial hand scrubs around our house that were made for “the industry”, from what I remember they worked…they also made the drying and cracking worse…so one problem was solved and another problem was either created or exacerbated. And then, I thought of my once loved Bath and Body Works scrub and I realized, I had items in the house to make something similar. I didn’t look for any recipes online I just grabbed the first items that came mind.

Hand Scrub

 

Sea Salt, Coconut oil and a lime, if you want something a little less harsh you could use sugar instead.

 

 

 

 

Grab a container, ( I used a half pint mason jar)…spoon in your coconut oil and add your salt/sugar. The great part about this is you can make this as thick and scrubby or smooth and silky as you would like!

 

 

 

Squeeze your lime and stir…Done!  I imagine you could use pretty much any citrus fruit or none at all! If you would like a different scent you could add essential oils if you happen to have those lying around.

 

 

 

When you use this: scoop out a dollop and rub into dry hands for about 30 seconds and then rinse with warm water. For REALLY dirty hands, wash first and then use the scrub.

You don’t have to be a guy in manly trade to use this…you could use it as a gardener’s scrub or you could just want soft silky hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments: 07/21/2013-07/27/2013

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Today is the beginning of a new week and time to acknowledge our accomplishments from the week that just ended. If you had a bad money week it is okay, today is the first day of a brand new week and you are allowed a do-over every single day.

~We only ran the A/C for two partial days last week. Granted the weather here has been totally amazing for a few days now so it hasn’t been much a challenge but it still counts as a win.

~There was no eating out or ordering in! We sort of fell off the wagon the week prior but we are back on track.

~I made granola to eat on the yogurt I made the week before. If you have never made your own granola I seriously recommend you try to do so, it tastes waaaaay better than most store bought and you can control the ingredients.

~I cut Ruby’s hair (Ruby is my 2 year-old). This was my first time cutting hair (excluding the hack job I did to my youngest sister when she was in kindergarten), I think it turned out fairly well. I watched a couple youtube videos on how to cut children’s hair before I started whacking away.

~I took my 2 year-old and 3 year-old on a bike ride around our neighborhood. Yay for free funness!

~I continued water recycling and composting.

~We used cloth diapers on our 4 month-old 50% of the time last week.

~I signed up to receive a free sample of Juicy Couture, my favorite perfume brand that I am obviously not purchasing any time soon.

~I added some water to our two nearly empty bottles of body lotion. I am trying to stretch that lotion just as long as possible, I currently have no coupons for lotion and I do NOT want to pay full price.

~I combined coupons and gift cards earned through our grocery store’s baby bucks program to purchase 2 packages of Pull-Ups for $.062! On that same note I will be working on potty training our 2 year-old this week. Last night she let me know she was ready by going into the bathroom, taking off her Pull-Up and sitting on the toilet, then about an hour later she took off her Pull-Up pooped on her bedroom floor and immediately started shouting, “Mommy I pooped on my floor, you need to wipe me!” Yes, I am sure she’s ready.

 

I would also like to brag on my do-it-yourselfer cousin. Tara crocheted an adorable little dress for her new baby. If you have sewing skills…or other skills involving yarn or thread  you can really save quite a bit of money as well as experiencing the pride you feel by doing something on your own. Way to go Tara!

Feel free to brag on your own accomplishments from last week!

 

 

Fabulously Frugal: Homemade Yogurt Is Super Easy…And Cheap!

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As I mentioned earlier this week I have tried several different yogurt recipes and methods…I have found this to be the easiest method and the best recipe.

I make my yogurt in the crockpot with regular milk…not raw…not organic…nothing fancy. I prefer to use 2% but you can use any variety, just be aware that the less fat in the milk, the thinner your end result will be. I use the crockpot because I don’t have to worry about the milk burning, it takes longer but I can just dump in my milk turn it on and only come back after a couple of hours to check the temperature.

You will need:

-crockpot

-milk (I usually make it by the gallon…1/2 gallon bare minimum)

-candy thermometer (you can also just do the finger test, but I like using a thermometer)

-starter yogurt…plain yogurt, you can use pretty much any brand. All the yogurt I have made has turned out differently using different starters you may need to try a few different kinds before you find one you like.

-jars or other storage containers

-flavor (if you desire) I like to use honey, but you can use sugar, vanilla or even jam.

To start just dump your milk into the crockpot and turn it on high. You are trying to get the milk to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the yogurt recipes you find online will instruct you to heat the milk to 185 degrees and then cool back down to 110 degrees…I have found this to be a pointless step, it doesn’t seem to change the yogurt…but if you want, you can add that additional step.

 

While your milk is heating your starter yogurt should be sitting out warming to room temperature. If you have a single-serving cup of yogurt just use the whole thing…you need at least a half cup and as stated earlier you can use pretty much anything but for best results pick a yogurt that contains several different types of bacteria examples: Dannon, Activia, Chobani..etc.  I have tried several and have found my favorite to be noosa yoghurt (if you use noosa the honey flavor is the plain yogurt). Noosa can be found in health food stores or in the “healthy”section of your grocery store.

When your milk has reached the desired temperature add a ladle of  the hot milk into the yogurt starter and stir…DON’T WHISK…just gently stir then introduce the starter yogurt to the rest of the milk in the crockpot again, gently stir…this doesn’t have to be perfectly combined.

Now you will want to set aside about a 1/2 cup of your milk/starter mixture to use as the yogurt starter the next time you make a batch.

If you want to flavor your yogurt do it now. I use about 3/4 cup of honey for a full gallon of milk but you can flavor it as you desire.

Turn on your oven and preheat to 200 degrees.

Now ladle your mixture into jars…you can use any size, you just want it in glass jars (of course make sure they are clean…this should go unsaid but, you never know).

After your jars are filled turn off the oven and place the jars inside. Turn on the oven light and let the jars incubate for 12-18 hours.

If you like regular yogurt you are finished after the incubation period is complete. Place the jars in your refrigerator to cool. If you prefer greek style yogurt: grab a bowl, a colander and a cheese cloth (or a thin kitchen towel or linen napkin will work as well).

Set the colander on top of the bowl place your cloth inside the colander and dump your yogurt (it will be very runny …totally normal).

Let the yogurt drain. The thicker you like your yogurt the longer it will need to sit, but the really nice part about this is you have complete control over how thick or thin you want your yogurt to be. I like really thick yogurt so I let mine drain for about an hour for a gallon mixture.

You may want to stir the yogurt a few times through the process. It makes draining the whey go much much faster.

The volume of the yogurt will drop drastically.

After the whey has drained away from the yogurt simply spoon the yogurt into a storage container (I put in back into the incubating jars). Let it cool and enjoy! I like mine with homemade granola…yum!

You will have ALOT of whey but don’t throw it out…we are going to do something with it after we have about a gallon. Just place it in a container (a bowl with a lid or you can put it in the empty jug if you kept it). And keep it in the refrigerator for later.

 

Happy eating on this fabulously frugal Friday!

*We JUST got plain Noosa in our grocery store…all this time I thought the closest I could get was honey.*

**Just a thought…but if you happen to receive WIC you can make your yogurt for even less which then may free some money in your budget!**

 

 

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments: 07/14/2013-07/20/2013

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I know this is late, I usually post this on Sunday! I got a little behind and side tracked…my husband came up with, what I believe to be, a brilliant idea that we will begin in August. We have been talking over the logistics the last few days…the only hint I am giving at this point is…we are creating a challenge and I hope some of you will join in with us! I will give the full announcement will all the details Monday July 29th.

Last week was a bit of a frugal fail. I didn’t allow myself enough time to sleep and as a result I was a little lazy. I ran the A/C waaaaaaaay to much, we ordered take-out one night, I slacked on water recycling and using my bike…the list goes on. I did manage to accomplish a few things:

~I made yogurt. This was my final attempt at making my own yogurt. I had tried a few times in the last couple of months and never liked the end result…this time it worked! I found a method and a starter yogurt that works well. I have been told it is all about the starter…I will give detailed  instructions on making this awesome yogurt this Friday.

 

 

~I made some jelly, hot pepper and spicy raspberry. I had the ingredients to make  4 batches. Two of my batches set and two did not. I was ready throw out the jelly that did not set and call it a fail. Then my mom thought it would be good as a sauce…and it is! The (now hot pepper sauce) tastes like sweet and sour with a spicy kick. I used a jar to make sweet and sour pork over rice.

~We changed our own oil for the first time ever! I was actually planning to do this on my own. I watched a how-to video on youtube, we gathered the needed materials and I was going to change our oil. My husband felt it would be ridiculous for me to change our oil while he still sat clueless on the subject. He wound up doing it while I watched…but now we both know how! As an added bonus, we were able to purchase most of what we needed with leftover stipend money from my restaurant job. Changing our own oil will save us at least $15 each time we do it…more if I have a coupon for oil. (There are some Valvoline coupons available at coupons.com)

~I was able to use the food furnished by my restaurant visits to supply one dinner for my family and two of my husbands lunches through the week. My husband brought his lunch from home the other 3 days of the week.

~I fashioned a sprouting lid out of an old pair of tights. I started some sprouts which are completely finished as of today (one week later), I will be using them as part of a vegetable stir fry.

~I made some laundry detergent. I use Dove Unscented soap because two of my children have very sensitive skin. I purchase it in a pack of 8 at Wal-Mart. The 8 pack costs $7.97 regular price and I was able to use a $2 coupon making each bar of soap only $0.75. I already had the other ingredients on hand.

~I started saving any left over coffee to add to our dark loads of laundry in order to help the color remain dark for longer.

~I am trying to reduce my dependence on my dryer. Last week I hung half of the loads I washed out to dry.

I had many more frugal goals for the week that went unmet…I am hoping I will do better this week.  My main goals are: using the clothes line, using our cloth diapers and use the A/C only when very very hot.

Feel free to brag on your own accomplishments from last week!

 

 

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments 07/07/13-07/13/13

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Last week was still an adjustment for me. I am an incredibly disorganized person (working on this) so it is hard for me to get back on track after being derailed…even if the derailing was due to something positive like extra income. That being said, last week was better than the week before.

~We turned off the A/C 5 of 7 nights and left the A/C off completely 2 of 7 days. The days we did use the A/C it was not turned on until the afternoon, that is when our house really starts to roast…we then turned it back off after sundown.

~I drove twice last week. Once for work and once for grocery shopping (hoping to get back on the bike for errands this week). I visited the group of restaurants furthest from my home; an exhausting 14 hour day of mostly driving.

~I made our bread this week. Since it was fairly cool I also baked a few batches of cookies (I did this at my mom’s house while helping do inventory for her store, I paid her in cookies for letting me use her oven :) ) I left some cookies out for eating and I froze the rest so that the littles will still get treats during the weeks it is too hot to use the oven.

~We continued composting.

~I recycled water; example I would catch water while the shower was warming or I would save the water used for things like softening green peppers; I would then use this water in our tomato and pepper plants or I would use it to pre-rinse dishes. Saving money and practicing conservation!

~I was able to stock-up a little on meat this week. Our store had a sale on ground turkey. I was able to get 10 pounds for just over $16. I was also able to get 10 bags of frozen veggies initially sale priced at $9…I had 4 coupons for $0.75 off 2 bags bringing my total for 10 bags of veggies to $6. BONUS: both of these sale items were also fuel saver items soooo this purchase will also give us $.0.20 off per gallon on our next fill-up!

~I continued bathing the children together…or in the sink in the baby’s case.

~Naturally there was no eating out this week but my restaurant visits did supply my husbands lunch twice through the week.

~We were able to use all of my husband’s tip money (part-time job) made through the week for debt reduction!!

This week I am hoping to hang laundry to dry and transition baby into cloth diapers. We won’t have to buy the cloth, we will just reuse the cloth we had for our second child.

We have decided to take part in a year-long challenge running 8/01/2013-07/31/2014. The challenge pertains to reaching whatever financial goals you are presently working toward…in our case paying-off debt. The rules are to create 3 goals: 1. easy (99% sure you can reach it) 2. Stretch (you can probably do it but it will take some work) 3. Moon (so difficult it could require divine intervention).

Our goals are: 1. $10,000 (husband’s part-time job should be able to do this easily)

2. $20,000 (if we use every penny from the part-time job and find more money elsewhere)

3. $49,000 (this is more than we make even when including the extra part-time income, the full-time income and my part-time income: divine intervention required!)

Feel free to brag on your accomplishments from last week or your goals for this week.

Everyone, have a fantastically frugal week!

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments 6/30/2013-7/06/2013

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Last week was a crazy week around my house! It was the first week my husband worked his full-time job and his part-time job for a full week. I have become accustomed to my husband being here either in the morning, through the day, or in the evening. Now our schedule looks like this: full-time job 7a.m.-3:30p.m. Monday-Friday, part-time job 4 days a week 5p.m.-10p.m. and Sunday 11a.m.-about3p.m. Now that he is working both jobs our schedule at home has had to totally change…this caused some chaos to ensue here at home and as a result I got behind on many of the tasks I normally accomplish everyday, also, my list of Frugal Accomplishments is somewhat short this week:

  • I am not normally a very crafty person but, I did manage to turn an old garage sale picture into a colorful menu board and I didn’t have to buy anything to do it!

 

  • I made bread once last week. The loaf did not get completely eaten so it was going a little stale, instead of throwing it out I made French Toast on Saturday instead of the pancakes I was planning.

 

  • I used coupons to maximize savings, gain Swagbucks points, earn baby bucks, and earn fuel rewards. I saved a total of $61.95 using coupons. The best deals I hunted down were 50 cent boxes of cereal, BOGO baby formula, and I managed to get a free package of diapers.  I also turned in my baby bucks for a $20 gift card.

 

  • I signed up for a free photography class at Creativelive. (Which I desperately need!)

  • 4th of July my husband had to work in the evening so we went out in the afternoon and had some free fun at one of the parks in town. We splurged and spent $10 on some carry-out pizza and I made a red white and blue cake, for which I had to buy no ingredients.

 

Yes, this list is somewhat short….it doesn’t even include many things I typically do every week. I think I have our new schedule down now so (hopefully) the routine around the house will work out.

I am planning to post at least twice this week (excluding this post) so check back for those!

Please share any of your accomplishments from last week…frugal and otherwise!

Have a fantastic week!

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments: 6/23/2013-6/29/2013

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  • We made a compost bin out of an empty cat litter container. We are hoping to plant an actual garden next year (currently we just have two plants growing in containers) and we are hoping to use the compost we create this year to help fertilize our garden next year.
  • I used coupons to maximize my grocery store savings as well as earning: additional swagbucks by using the coupons I printed through the swagbucks website, baby bucks (one of our grocery stores will give you a $10 gift card after you have accumulated $150 worth of baby item purchases), and earning fuel rewards on some of the items I purchased.
  • I biked to the grocery store and hauled home the groceries in our little bike trailer.
  • I made lots of cold meals or meals that required minimal cooking in order to keep the house cooler and not have to use the A/C as much (this week is supposed to be somewhat cool, yay!).
  • I bought a few bulk items at Sam’s Club: bread flour, dry milk, a few seasonings, 2 boxes or 4 bottles of vinegar (I make many of the cleaning products we use) and chocolate chips. I share a membership with my mom (lower membership expense) and we make a Sam’s trip together about once a month.
  • I bathed my 2 year-old and my 3 year-old at the same time, every time, last week. I also found the foam infant bath mat I used with my second child (I had completely forgotten I kept it!), this enabled me to bath my baby in the sink rather than the bathtub.
  • I made a small amount of applesauce with some apples that were starting to go mealy.
  • I drove the van 3x this week: 1. Sam’s trip, 2. took the children to visit my mom (just a few miles away) 3. visited 11 of the 44 restaurants I have to visit each month for my (very) part-time job. The company actually provides me a gas stipend of $400 every 4 weeks. Last period we were able to use only the stipend for all of our gas needs (I have to drive to different areas of the state so most of the stipend does get sucked up doing the restaurant runs) and we had money leftover, I doubt this will happen again this period because the van needs an oil change.
  • My husband rode to the work site each day with a co-worker in a company truck. The company’s office is actually sort of across the street from our house so he doesn’t even have to drive to meet up with the other guys taking the truck.
  • I really needed a new frying pan. The one I had was a cheap non-stick pan, the Teflon was scratched and the center was bubbled up a little causing all oil and/or food to run to the very outsides of the pan. I found a nice heavy stainless steel pan with a thick flat base at Goodwill for $2! I picked this up while out visiting my restaurants so no special trip.

This was a decent week for me, I saved money by being conservative and when I spent money I tried to do it in the best way possible.

Please share your own accomplishments! You can give others ideas or inspiration and seeing some of the things you did to better your situation is a nice way to see some progress in your own behavior.

Have a fantastic week!!