Monthly Archives: August 2011

Getting Hurricane ready on a budget


Yep, in case you were wondering why I hadn’t posted in a while it’s because I was getting ready for Ms. Irene to blow up to my door step.  This is my first hurricane, but I used my snow storm (Colorado and Michigan) savvy to get ready.   The principals are basically the same, be ready to live without utilities for an extended period of time.  At least it won’t be 10 degrees outside!  It really stinks to not have power for a week when it’s that cold!  (I am only including food stuffs/shopping interests and will not cover safety preparation).

Filled up my car (got up at 6 am to beat the crowds),No power, no pumps.

Emptied the ice from the ice maker into a separate container, so as to maximize my iceage before the power goes out.  I’ll need it for the cooler, and stores won’t be open for at least a few days, and I turned my fridge ALL THE WAY UP!

Hard boiled all of my eggs (3.5 doz), froze or cooked my meat depending on it’s sell by date, made lots of patties (veggie patties, tuna patties, etc) they are easy to store, because they are flat, and don’t need to be kept as cold as say, cheese sticks.

filled every container in the house with water, stuck a few in the freezer. (frozen meat and water can keep the cooler cooler for longer)

made AND bought bread, Bought: charcol, lighter fluid, paper plates, candles (no batteries as we have a crank powered flashlight), stocked up on carrots tin-foil, and potatoes, dry milk, and of COURSE water.  Oh, and I splurged and bought candy so that during the peak of the storm the boys can seek the candy I will hide.  Hopefully, it will keep their little minds busy.

I pulled out some cash, since DEBIT cards will be useless.

I also filled the tub with water and set some containers out to catch rain.  We learned during our first extended outage that not being able to flush the toilet for a week is ungodly, and flushing requires 5 gallons… so… I need me some water for flushing.  We have rules too… flush after #2’s is mandatory, but DO NOT flush after #1’s.  Gross, but necessary.  All our previous extended power outages were in the winter… so I can imagine how much worse the stench would be in Virginia in August!

I spent only about 30 dollars more than I had budget for groceries, so it wasn’t too bad. We already had a first aid kit, so that is a help. Because I live on a military installation I can refill my water after the Hurricane, which saves me a ton of money.  My total is a little deceiving, because I was able to only buy enough water for 3 days knowing I could refill after that if I needed too.  They say you need one gallon of water a person a day, it’s really more like two.  You have to account for bathing and dishes too (I don’t do plastic silverware, just paper products), plus any thing extra like making milk for your cereal (dry milk), or making coffee.

So now is the fun part.  It is supposed to hit us tomorrow.  So until next time… whenever that may be…


Yummy Chicken


This recipe isn’t new or inventive, but I love it just the same…  Italian Chicken.  It costs roughly 5 dollars to feed 4.  My soldier not only gave it a 9 out of 10, but ate more than half of it (enough for 2 adults).






1c Your Favorite Italian Dressing (1.50)   (I used Newman’s Own… Of course I shop at a commissary where organic products are inexpensive)

1# boneless skinless chicken breasts (3.13)

1/2 a red pepper (.99)

1/2 cup green beans (fresh are cheaper than canned) (.65)

1 1/2 cups of rice (.50)

GRAND TOTAL of   $6.77

Cut your chicken to about 1 inch cubes.  I absolutely despise cutting chicken, so trust me, this dish is worth it.

pour dressing into skillet and allow it to warm up over medium heat.  While it is warming up cut your red pepper into strips.

Add chicken, red pepper, and green beans to the dressing.  When chicken is cooked  thoroughly, and the red peppers are limp it is ready to serve.  Also, the dressing will cook down during this time.  Actually, it is really just absorbed by the ingredients…

While your chicken mixture is cooking start your rice.  I use whole grain brown rice so it can take 30 min to cook.

You will need to be near the stove as this dish is cooking so as to stir both the rice and the chicken.


$2.00 for two, and filling!


Black Bean Soup.  I ❤ it!  My soldier gives this recipe a 10 out of 10 and it is EASY!!!

This recipe will feed two, but is incredibly easy to double.  Note, I am not a spicy food person, you can easily add some red pepper ( a dash or two) if you want your soup to have a little pep.

1 can black beans (.89)

2-3 green onions chopped (.25)

Chicken stalk, enough to barely cover beans (.50)

(grand total $1.64)

  1. Drain about half the liquid off the beans.  Saving a little will make your soup thicker.
  2. I put the black beans in a sauce pan and then add the chicken stalk, I add enough to cause beans to rise.  Sorta like put milk in cereal.  If I had to guess I’d say it’s about 1/4 a cup?
  3. Then I add the scallions and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Once it boils I simmer it for about 20 min.
  5. add a dollop of sour cream and VIOLA!  you’re a chef.  Okay, not really, but you can pretend.
  6. Serve
  7. You can add an apple, some carrots, Snack people, or a biscuit as a side (.25-.75).  Today we are having some of my homemade bread with butter and jam as our side.

“homemade” pizza


This recipe gets a 10 out of 10 from my Soldier, and my sons!  It is a family favorite, a must have for our weekly family movie nights, and very easy to make.  It costs roughly 7.50,  for 2 larges, BEFORE coupons, and is somewhat healthy.  It would be much less if I made the dough myself, but I am pragmatic and opt for Pillsbury Pizza Crust for which there are ALWAYS coupons.

2 rolls of pillsbury pizza crust (1.79 each before coupon which you can get here)

1/2 a can of spaghetti sauce (.69 cents for the can)

1/2 a package of turkey pepperoni (.79 cents for the package)

a few leaves of fresh Basil  (which I grow myself) chopped**this is the secret ingredient**

2 8oz (or 1 16 oz depending on pricing) package of mozzarella cheese (3.15 for both)

on a standard cookie sheet spread out the pizza dough, then spread the spaghetti sauce evenly.  sprinkle some garlic powder and the basil evenly then cover with the cheese and pepperoni.

Bake on 425 for 15 minutes.

The assembly of the pizza is the worst part, but enlist the kids or some friends to help!  As for the fresh herbs that I grow, I kill EVERYTHING but I manage to keep these herbs alive.  Adding the spices to my cooking is what keeps us from feeling like we are “skimping” on our grocery budget, because they make everything taste GREAT!  This is a GREAT meal for a weekend family movie night!

Why am I so cheap?


I want to keep this blog focused on how to help other’s hang on to their own money.  One thing that is incredibly important in this mission is purpose.  If you have no goal you are shooting for, then there is no purpose to saving your money.  Why scrap?  The idea that you are fattening the pocket of the wealthy may not be a good enough reason for the day-to-day “sacrifices” it takes to live a frugal lifestyle.

First, I must admit that material things have never been important to me, and I was lucky enough to grow up without them, so a frugal lifestyle doesn’t require much sacrifice on my part.  When I had kids I felt compelled not to confine them to a frugal life, after-all mass-media and marketing bombard us with images that “having not” equates to being a low life.   That is totally not true by the way.

“What you own owns you”, “Time is money”, have become cliches to most, but not for me. “Time is money” is an easy one, you can’t have both.  If you want to be a stay-at-home-parent you aren’t going to have money to blow.   “What you own owns you” is less pleasant for us to digest.  The more stuff you buy the more money you owe, the more money you owe the less money you have to spend on the things you truly want.  Timeshares are a great example.  Many people (not all)that  pay a monthly payment on a timeshare NEVER use it.  They could be putting that money towards something they actually want, but that would require a change.  Change requires motivation, and motivation requires a goal.  Basic human behavior, if we don’t have relevant REASONS to change our behavior we won’t.

When we found ourselves under a pile of debt, due to a series of unfortunate events (such as job loss and relocations) and bad choices (paying for car repair and home-improvements with a credit card), I was eager to pay off whatever I could…AT FIRST.  I got my tax check and put the entire thing down on bills, that was easy for me.  It was much harder the following month when I had to take it of our pay and put only a few hundred down on debt.  Making my kids sacrifice seemed like bad parenting.  I felt like I was in the middle of the Atlantic in a paddleless dingy.  That’s when motivation became key.  Since having money, getting rich, and material acquisitions weren’t EVER going to motivate me, remember I could careless if I have a savings account, or new clothes, I had to validate my new behavior.  Prada whats that?  Seriously, what is it?

By this point in our marriage, my husband and I had wanted to adopt or foster parent for over 7 years.  While we had plenty of love and a great skill set, but we knew we were in no financial position to care for another child.  It was a divine moment of clarity for me when I realized I could control my financial position.  I had the power to choose where my money went, therefore I had the power to choose to make my family’s dreams come true.  That was all it took.  Making my family’s dreams come true, now that speaks to me!  Every time I made a counter-cultural money-saving decision I felt stupendous.  Each penny I saved, was a penny my family could share with a child.  What better reason to save money, than to change a life!?

By the way, my kids never had to sacrifice.  Funny thing about kids, they really only want your attention and involvement.  Last time I checked that’s free!  They don’t have many toys, or cable, but we spend a lot of time doing family things like hiking, and watching movies.

We all have our reasons and motivations. Feel free to share yours.

Beef stew without the stew


So this is another cheap recipe, and a one dish meal.  I love one dish meals, less clean up! ($4.50 w/0 biscuits, $6.00 w/store-bought biscuits)

+/- 1 lb of stew meat.  (you can almost always find this on Manager’s special!)

2-3 potatoes chopped into “chunks”

2-3 carrots peeled and chopped

1/2 an onion chopped

seasoning (I add fresh basil and rosemary that I keep potted in the house.  Rosemary is especially hard to kill.  In fact, the Rosemary plant I have currently sitting on my dining room table is the only survivor of this summer’s “plant graveyard”, my eldest son’s name for my garden.)

In a Casserole dish, Layer the veggies on bottom.  You can add whatever types of stew veggies you’d like.  Don’t limit yourself to what’s listed here! Now, layer the meat on top.

Sprinkle the seasonings on top of the meat.


bake on 350* for 20-30 min.


As a side you can add store-bought biscuits, to save time, or fresh  bread, to save money.  There is enough food here to feed all 4 of us TWICE, so you won’t need many side dishes.

This one gets a 7 out 10 from my Soldier, and a 5 out of 10 from my boys (it has veggies so go figure!)