Friday, September 29, 2006

Food list

Yesterday I went through the shelves, the freezer and refrigerator and wrote down what food we have. Since money has been really tight lately, we haven't been able to restock like we normally would.

So I printed out the food list and made menus for the next week, till we get paid again. I don't know if other people who are trying to be frugal do the same thing (the food list, not the menus). It's rather interesting to see what you have that hasn't been used in a while and what moves quickly.

I'm making bread today, but using up an old box of bread machine bread mix, which I'm making the regular way. I'll do my recipe in a couple of days.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Finally great bread!

I've been making bread for a while now (although not much during the summer due to heat). Anyway, my loaves haven't been as light as I'd like and the crust was rock hard. I did a little asking around and research online and made some modifications today to my recipe. It worked great. One, I ended up with 2 loaves instead of one. The crust is softer, more like store bread. And it tastes great!

I increased the honey and olive oil, increased the vital wheat gluten a little and increased the Kitchen Aid mixing time up to 8-10 minutes. I also changed the temperature and time spent baking. I'll try this recipe again next time and if it still works, I'll post it here.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Corn day

Yesterday I was busy cooking. I cooked up some brown rice in the good ole Nesco Roaster, I made homemade polenta and corn muffins.

For dinner, my partner had leftover chili with the corn muffins, which is from a recipe from Jennifer at the Vegan Lunch Box. Moist, sweet and it doesn't crumble. They tasted great.

For my dinner, I sliced up some polenta and broiled it. Didn't make it real crispy. My partner had some for dessert with butter and syrup (it's a southern thing). I had it with pasta sauce and Trader Joes Meatless Meatballs.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pizza Picture!

I made the homemade pizza again last night. First time I had ever used frozen dough. It came out great again. So I decided to take a picture. Tasted yummy!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Yarn Finds

I've been trying to learn how to knit, mostly to save money. I did find out that many kinds of yarn are outrageously expensive. One sweater pattern I saw, were I to buy the yarn suggested, would have cost $150 in yarn alone, not to mention the labor involved.

So I was looking through my 'Learn to Knit' book and I needed different kinds of yarn and colors and weights to practice little projects on. I want to make my partner a heavy sweater/jacket for spring and fall, ultimately.

So, I went to a nearby Goodwill store. SCORE! I spent $2 on a bunch of random yarns. I have to untangle and wind some of it but still. I even came across a crochet hook (which can be of use in knitting, surprisingly) tucked in one large skein.

Even better, I found four new skeins of the exact yarn needed for the sweater I want to make for $4 total. Normally it goes for $5 each. So I snapped that up then went to Joann's to get two more skeins of the same color (where the yarn was on sale and I had a 10% off coupon. So now I am set! I'm very happy about my finds.

Being frugal can be fun!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

VwaV Pizza report

I made pizza today from Vegan with a Vengeance. I made the sauce just as she has it, and it came out great. I did puree it, since my partner doesn't like tomato chunks in her sauces.

I followed the crust recipe except for subbing one cup of ww bread flour and a dash of gluten flour for a cup of white flour. I put half in the freezer for another day. It came out great. It stretched out well and baked well.

I've never made pizza completely from scratch before. I also marinated chicken breast in olive oil, Braggs and some Mccormick all purpose seasoning and then grilled them. I like chicken on my pizza. We also had mushrooms and black olives on it. Took only 11 minutes at 475 degrees.

All in all, another great recipe from VwaV. I plan on making the chickpea-broccoli casserole from it tomorrow. It's started getting overcast and drizzly here, so that sounds really tasty right now.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Frugal Chicken

Fred Meyer had a sale on family packs of split chicken breasts. Now normally, I buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. But with the dearth of money lately, I've been looking for a cheaper alternative. So I bought 6 pounds of chicken breast for .99 a pound. I took the breast meat off, got a bunch for grilling later. Also ended up with some breast tenderloin pieces, which I used in a stirfry for dinner last night. And I put all the skin and fat and bones into my big stockpot along with 75 cents worth of veggies and made chicken soup/stock. I'm going to keep looking for these kind of deals and get a lot more food for a lot less money.

I also found the local Franz bakery thrift store. I'll have to stop by there and see what kind of deals they have. There is also a produce store that always shows good prices on their signs outside. I will check that place out also.

I can't wait for apples to get cheap again. They are so expensive right now. I like to give one to my partner for her lunch, but they have been so pricey, she's been getting canned pineapple chunks instead.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I've found some good deals at Fred Meyer's or Freddies, as most people here call them. I think we'll have enough money left after paying the utilities to be able to buy some of the things they have on sale this week. It will help if gas keeps going down in price.

Thank goodness for the great Multnomah County Library. It helps keep me well supplied with books and videos.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Ah Fall!

I love fall, autumn, whatever you call it. It's my favorite season and my favorite time of year. Since moving to Portland 4 years ago, spring has moved up into second place. Spring is beautiful here, all the trees and roses and flowers blooming. But I don't know, maybe it's because I always loved going back to school, but this is my favorite time.

Money has been really tight here for a while and will continue to be so for a while yet. I've had no luck finding a job. I'm either overqualified (for office work) or under-certified (for computer work). So, I'm doing my best to just make what money we have stretch farther.

Our utilities are mostly as low as they can go. Phone is basic, no long distance (we use a phone card) or caller id or any of that. Cable is basic, and costs $13.50 a month. We do have cable internet, but we've talked about it and we are not willing to a. give up internet or b. go back to dialup. Electric varies month to month. Summer is about $55 per month, up to $100 in the winter (electric heat). My partner and I did have a talk about heat this winter and what temperatures to use to save.

It's funny, I was a kid in the 70s and my father brought home from General Electric (where he worked) switchplates that said something about turning off the lights when you leave a room. I got into the habit of being very conservative about leaving lights on and I still am. I know that helps a little. I'd love to buy those compact florescent bulbs to save energy, but they are so expensive, we can't afford them.

Our rent has gone up $50 in the last year. Still, our rent is pretty low and we have a free storage unit. Car payment has about a year left and our insurance (with Geico) is pretty low. I check around every six months and haven't found anything cheaper. The only problem is to get low rates we have a high deductible, so we hope nothing happens, basically.

The problem is, after rent, car, insurance and utilities, we have about 50 bucks for every two weeks. Gas costs us about 20 bucks every two weeks. We can get bus tickets for 16.50 for 10, but we haven't had the money for that since our last batch ran out. So I mainly try to be frugal with the grocery money, such as it is.

I've been buying frozen veggies from Fred Meyers, that way I don't have the problem of varying produce prices and the problem of us not using stuff up before it gets nasty. I buy eggs 5 dozen at a time, which I get for 7 cents an egg. We buy whole wheat muffins and bread. I buy couscous, brown rice, oats, barley, tvp, and beans in bulk.

I do bake bread sometimes, but I have a problem. My crust always comes out really hard and neither of us really likes that. I don't know how to get it to be at least a little softer.

When we eat meat, it's more of a condiment than a main course. We've started to run into the problem of running out of staples, like mustard or pickles and having a hard time buying more. It's really quite a juggling act.

No real point to this post, except I'd be happy to hear any suggestions you have for stretching money further than we already are.