Category Archives: Saving Money

Saving Money–Week of February 7, 2016

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This past week, I was able to spend a great deal of time on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday sorting, cleaning out, and even packing a few boxes that will go into storage.

I took some time out from sorting to cook.  The last thing I want to have to do is start spending extra money on take-out food because I am too tired to cook, or didn’t plan well.  I had Lovana make up some pizza crust mixes for the camper.  I also made up a bag into pizza that I had made a while ago.

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I plan to make home-made gluten-free biscuit mix in the near future.  Making mixes saves me both time and money.  I also use them to stock the camper to make camping more relaxing.

We did not spend the $50 that we budgeted for groceries this week.  We used our stockpile, canning, and freezers instead.  The only thing we bought from the grocery store was matches. We’ve been building a lot of bonfires while cleaning out, as well as our daily wood stove fire, and don’t want to run out of those!  I’m noticing that Ziplocks and Parmesan cheese are getting low, so I probably will take that money to Costco and get those items with it.  I’m thinking that lettuce/produce will take some of this week’s allotment.  We eat a lot of salad.

I’m noticing that, because I’m willing to dip into the stockpile and use up “special” grocery items, we are eating like kings and queens around here.

Both Rob and I sold several things on e-bay.  He’s finding a few things in the shop that he’s listing to see what happens, and so far, a couple sold.

We are putting all scrap metal that we find while cleaning onto a trailer and Rob will take it to the scrap metal yard soon.

As I pack and sort, I am making a big pile of items to put into the camper as soon as we get it back from the shop, where it is getting some warranty work done.  It is likely that we will need to stay in the camper for a couple of weeks after this place sells, and before we close on the new place, so I’m organizing myself for that.  If, for any reason, that doesn’t happen, we still plan to camp as usual, so it needs to be done.  I try to rotate the food supply in the camper each spring so things stay fresh.  This time, I’ve also picked out a couple of extra bins of food from the garage to pack under the benches of the dinette table.  I chose items like mac and cheese, canned soups, mixes (both home-made and purchased), etc.  I don’t use those items much on a daily basis, but do use them when camping.  If we do end up staying a couple of weeks in there, I want this extra food on hand to make things go more smoothly and to save money.  After all, I already own it!  I also am able to pick and choose out the convenience items before someone eats them.  I did a post on how I stock the camper pantry on a budget on Rob’s outdoor blog.

I have sorted out boxes and boxes of books and hope to make it to the home-school used book store this week.  They won’t take them all, but will buy a bunch of it.  Then, I’ll deal with the rest.  We took a huge load of miscellaneous items to a charity thrift store.  I know they will put the money to a good cause.

 

 

February Use-It-Up Project a.k.a “Yikes, I used up my fridge!”

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Now that we are starting to sort and clean so that we can put the house on the market, I’m even more determined to use up items, especially food items. I have a very large stockpile and only want to move the freshest food.  However, I do not want to wipe out my food storage entirely, so I am seeking balance in this project.   After a successful Use-It-Up project in January, I am encouraged to work even harder at it in February.

This past week, I targeted what I call “freezer #3.”  Unfortunately, sometime in the not-so-distant past, one of the kids got something out of this freezer and didn’t get it closed correctly.  Sadly, this happens more often than I’d like around here, so I have a habit of going past those freezers and pushing on every one daily, sometimes several times a day, to make sure the doors are shut.  Thankfully, because of this habit, I caught the problem in time to save everything, but ice had formed on many items as well as the shelves.  I’m trying to empty it all the way out and defrost it, then re-fill it with stuff from another freezer, clean that one, and so on until some are empty and all are clean.

Sadly, the refrigerator in the kitchen developed some problems as well this week.  When Rob was working on correcting that problem, he put a heater inside to thaw some ice that had formed and was about to stop the fan from working.   It melted the ice all right…..and part of the fridge!!!! It now looks like something from a science fiction movie inside and some of the plastic shelves on the door are either gone, or will never be the same.  Also, I am wondering if it is sealing properly anymore.  We put several hundred dollars into the fridge last summer for the same exact problem, and he thought he’d fix it himself this time.  It still works!  Whew!  The fan isn’t stopped by ice anymore!  That’s a bonus, but I really didn’t exactly mean to use up the refrigerator when I started this project:)  So, we used up the fridge, but will make out with it until after we move and will not take it with us.  If it becomes inoperable, we will just bring the one from the garage in and make do.    It’s been trouble for us anyway, but now it’s really a troubled fridge. But it works for now.  I guess I’d better get some more items up on e-bay.  My “fix-up-the-new-house fund” needs more money in it!

I dug out some frozen lemon loaf and I served it with dinner.  I used a small amount of corn fetuccini noodles and a small amount of spaghetti noodles, also corn.  I used them both on spaghetti night.  I used a bit of frozen basil in the spaghetti and a carton of frozen peas that were 2-3 years old.  I found some salad shrimp that I thawed, but they were so old that I gave them to the cats.  I took some old glass jars of lemonade and juice and let the kids have them.  On Lovana’s cooking night, she used cabbage from last summer’s garden (kept in garage fridge since then), frozen fish, and potatoes.  Rob used carrots, also still lingering from last summer.  I also got refried beans out twice from #3.  I also moved 2 hams out of there into other freezers, opening up more room.  Now, there is a lot of room in there and I’ll be aggressive about getting more out this week.

I thawed and served a large bowl of ham and bean soup for lunch yesterday when a friend came to visit for a few hours.  She lives 2 hours from my house and I don’t get to visit with her very often and it was nice to have a prepared meal so I didn’t have to stop visiting for one minute.

I thawed some old bread and will feed it to the pigs.  The kids continue to eat frozen berries and banana in their smoothies.  I keep serving canned fruit and using canned and frozen vegetables.

Lovana made pizza one day and successfully used up some pepperoni and Canadian bacon that were about 3 years old.  (I’ll frankly say she didn’t want to use them, I actually tasted them first, could tell they were fine, and forced her to use them.  She was assuming that because they were so old, they would be yucky, but they weren’t.)  She also used up a large amount of chocolate chips when I was not paying attention, making cookies that were extremely chocolaty.  I explained for the umpteenth time (she says she doesn’t remember hearing this) that we double the dough part with the same amount of chips so the chips stretch farther.  I’ve been trying to not micro-manage her cooking choices, but at this rate, we will not have any chocolate chips left for me to manage. I’ll have to say, though, the cookies were really good to eat.  I didn’t have to worry about forcing anyone to use them up!

I’ve been loving it when I just thaw something to eat when I’m busy sorting.  We are making progress, but it’s a huge job.  We got a huge bonfire going today, and burned a lot of trash.  Rob took a huge pile to a Kiwanas Thrift shop.  I sorted out  a lot of books that I hope to sell on E-bay.  I have some set aside for a homeschool used book store as well.

I had to buy matches this week, but that was all.  I need to figure out what else I may need, and get it.Otherwise, it’s wonderful to have that $50 sittiing there for another week when I may have additional needs beyond my lowered budget.  I’m excited to see how it goes.

 

Saving Money–Week Ending January 31

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This week, I took a loaf of gluten-free bread from the freezer that was starting to get ice on it and turned it into gluten-free bread crumbs.  I thawed the loaf.  It was a little too wet from the thawed ice, at which point I decided to make it into crumbs instead of eating it.  I laid it out on the top of a cookie cooling rack and left the slices there for 2 days to dry.  Then, I broke the pieces into chunks and whirled them around in the food processor until they were crumbs.  I left mine quite large, like Panko crumbs.  They were still a little more moist than I wanted, so I cooked them at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.

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The entire loaf of crumbs easily fit into a quart-sized zip-topped bag.  I then froze the crumbs so they would last for a really long time.  I know they could be left out, but I prefer to keep mine frozen so they don’t get rancid, or have a chance of molding if they weren’t quite dry enough.

I continued my project of using up food. Since we are definitely putting the house on the market soon, I am now VERY committed to clearing some of it out.

We bought some plastic bins to start putting some of our things in.  We will fill them with non-essential items, packed well and put them in storage.  My brother-in-law has an empty semi-truck trailer he has offered to let us use for free.  There are 2 reasons for this.  1) To empty the house a bit so it looks nicer and is easier to keep clean while it is for sale. 2) Rob does not have a job, so we are not going to qualify for a loan.  So, we will have to sell this house, get the money, and THEN buy a new house.  This will leave us in the camper for a couple of weeks at least.  It will save us a lot of money if we can pack things into that trailer for free, even with buying a lot of bins so mice can’t get into our more fragile things.  Rob got a lot of boxes from the grocery store and I am packing empty canning jars in them.  Moisture and critters won’t bother glass jars.

We have made a hard decision to sell this place, but in the end, we should be able to buy a house free and clear, which will save us a lot of money.  That is the bright spot in this situation for me.  It will be much smaller, and probably won’t come with property, but we won’t know exactly what we will have to work with until we sell this one, so I’m trying not to think the worst.

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Rob got these flowers for free from Fred Meyers.  I trimmed off the “problems” that caused them to be free in the first place, and arranged them in my vase I got years ago from a glass blower.

I spent $51 at the grocery store this past week.  I was able to get 5 bricks of cheese (2 lbs), soda to take to the family dinner, salad ingredients, some milk, and some other things.  I was pleased with the amount of food I cooked from my storage.   I’m also pleased with the fact that my food is nowhere near gone.   We had guests on Friday, and ended up with 24 people at the family dinner Sunday.  (I did not bring all of the food, but did bring a bunch of it).  I love being able to entertain without worrying about a big grocery bill.

Rob went to an accountant this year, although he’s been doing the taxes himself the last few years.  This is because we sold some timber and want to make sure the taxes are handled correctly. We don’t want a costly mistake coming back to haunt us later.   The accountant told him we would probably need to hire a study done to determine the value of the timber when we bought the place.  It would be between $800-$1,000 for the study.  Then they would take the amount we sold it for, minus the amount it was worth when we bought it and the replanting fees, etc. and we would only have to pay taxes on the gain.  At the last minute, she mentioned that if he could come up with the original listing where the timber was valued for the sale, she could legally use that.  Amazingly enough, he had it in his files, and we were saved all that money!

We checked out library movies and books.  We’ve been watching t.v. shows on Amazon Prime.  I cleaned out the cereal cupboard.  It was full of crackers and cereal, some of which were just bits in bags.  People have already been eating those items up, since I put them right in front of their little fingers and eyeballs:)  We took a small walk along the Willamette river on Thursday while we were waiting for the girls.

 

My January Use-It-Up Project Update-Jan. 29

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This week, I continued my project of deliberately using up items in my freezers, pantry and basement that needed to be used.  Some items are getting old, so I am specifically targeting them, and using other food storage to the max!

We had popcorn. I buy it by the 25 pound bag.  Mine is a few months old, so is in no danger of going bad, but it’s sure nice to have that crunchy, buttery treat on occasion.  I have a large plastic food-grade bucket I keep it in, then transfer a reasonable amount into a Tupperware container to keep in the kitchen cupboard.

I dug way back into one of the freezers.  I found 2 packages of steak from last year’s beef. One was t-bone and one was another kind–rib steak, I think.  I am thawing them in the refrigerator for our family Sunday dinner at my sister’s. We may add some marinade today and then Rob will BBQ them Sunday at her house, along with a couple of packages from her freezer. I like to use all old meat before the new to prevent freezer burn, but obviously missed these 2 packages. They came to light after I removed some other items from that freezer.  From that same freezer, I found an older loaf of gluten-free bread which I will make into crumbs today.  I also found a few more packages of peaches from 2014.  I thought they were gone.  So– you guessed it–Ja’Ana made another peach crisp. She just loves peach crisp and was very excited when I found those old peaches.   Yum!  These peaches were a little browned, getting kind of old, and really needed to be used, so we just added a little extra cinnamon and it turned out great.  We ate most of it for dinner last night–so no waste!

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I made soup from some broth that didn’t seal when I canned it last week.  I also used some of the meat bits from when I made that broth.  In that soup, I also used some canned carrots, onions from my garden, home-canned tomatoes, the last of a celery stalk that was pretty wilted in the refrigerator drawer, and some potatoes that were getting pretty shriveled.  It came out great and we had it both Wednesday and Thursday nights.  There is still a little left.

We used green beans and frozen broccoli for our vegetables this week, along with the vegetable soup.  We also had salads several times.  At the beginning of January, we got a lot of lettuce.  We are just finishing it up now.  It was very reasonable at Costco and Cash and Carry, when we bought a 3-pack of head lettuce, or a 5-pack of Romaine.  I figure that we ate about 8-10 heads of assorted lettuce this month so far.  Those 2 kinds of lettuce keep a long time for me.

I was able to use up a head of cabbage from our garden that has been stored in the fridge for 4-5 months now.  I simply put the heads in plastic grocery store bags, and refrigerated them.  I have great success with using cold-storage with carrots and cabbage, and still have both.  However, they are getting to the point of needing to be used.

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The big girls cooked twice.  Tuesday was Rob’s birthday and they made Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, beans and birthday cake.  They got out the sparkling cider I had in the garage (also needing to be used) and made it into a celebration. On Thursday, we had leftover soup and Lovana made muffins and salad, and we had J’s peach crisp.

I am making progress with my project.  There are a few empty spaces on the pantry shelves and one of the freezers is starting to have quite a bit of empty space.  I promptly filled that space with some bread we were given, though!  (6-8 loaves)  I targeted that extra bread by making French toast one morning.  I made a lot and have been just having the kids warm it up each morning.  I am going to make another batch soon.  That space will empty quickly, because bread is so bulky,  and then I can see what is in the back and corners better so I can get it out of there.  The freezer that has the chickens and beef is starting to show some space.  Frozen bananas keep getting turned into smoothies (we’ve used at least a gallon in the last 2-3 weeks).

I will continue this project in February.  Now that we’ve decided to sell the house for sure, I have even more urgency to clear some of these items out so that we have an easier time moving.  I also want to be wise, though, and have plenty to use at our new place–so, as always–balance is the key.  In fact, we have pigs that will be pork in another month-6 weeks and will need room for that in one of the freezers.

I’ve decided to join in with Erika at The Make-Do Homemaker and try to keep the grocery shopping at $50/week.  I anticipate that there may be weeks when I can keep it even lower than that, as it is not uncommon for me to go a couple of weeks without shopping.  This week, for instance, we stocked up on cheese (5 -2lb bricks) because it was a good deal.  We also got some milk and a couple of other items.  The only 3 things on my list so far for the coming week are celery, Parmesan cheese and ground ginger.  I may need to add salad stuff, as we may run out.  Any extra $ will be saved for re-building the stockpile after we move.

Saving Money–Week Ending January 24, 2016

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This week, Rob brought me this beautiful bouquet.  He is the kind of guy who often brings me little surprises, but we have been on a tighter budget lately than sometimes, and I was kind of surprised when I saw such a lovely arrangement.  Later, he shared with me that there were quite a few flowers on the end of the check stand and the check-out clerk asked him if he wanted some flowers.  He answered that he wasn’t planning to buy some right then, but they were very pretty, and thanked her.  She said that they were giving them away because they thought they were getting too old to sell.  He gratefully accepted a bouquet and brought it home to me.  What a blessing!  As far as we can tell, there is one slightly droopy flower–hardly noticeable.

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Ja’Ana attended a formal dinner in this beautiful dress she and Rob found for her at Goodwill for $12.95.  It still had tags on it and fitted her perfectly.  She used a sweater shrug she had already and other accessories she borrowed or already owned.  The dress is floor length, and looks very nice on her.  She had a great time.

I kept on with my project of using up things that needed to be used.  We had scalloped potatoes, peach cobbler, and I canned beef broth from some bones that have been piling up in the freezer.

We had a work party here on Saturday.  5 men and young adults came over to help clean out the barn.  There were a lot of heavy things that needed to be moved, so they came to help Rob do it.  I worked on burning piles, but didn’t get very far.  The younger guys had a blast burning up lots of debris and worked on the slash piles for a while as well.  Then I went in to finish up the lunch I had mostly pre-made on Friday.  I made split pea potato soup, green salad, quinoa salad, chips with home-canned salsa, home-canned pears, and blueberry crisp.  We were very thankful for their help.  Feeding them lunch was the least I could do, and I was able to use items I had on hand.   If we had needed to hire people to do what they did, I shudder to think how much it would have cost.

I sorted out some home-school curriculum that I am finished with.  I put some for sale on E-bay with Rob’s help and put some in a box to take to a used homeschool book store.

We finally found Tillamook cheddar cheese for sale for $5.49 for 2 pounds.  It’s a little higher than it has been before, but still the best price I’ve seen for quite a while.  In fact, we just used our last brick from last time it was on sale.  I got 3 today and will get a few later in the week.  Milk is also on sale for 99 cents for 1/2 gallon.  We will get a few groceries this week, but don’t need very many.  I will stock up on cheese with any extra money I decide to spend.  It keeps a long, long time in the fridge.  I’m delighted to get my cheese supply back up.  I think I have mice for children sometimes–they eat a lot of cheese!

My January Use-It-Up Project–Update Jan.23

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This week , I was able to use many food items that have been lurking around for way too long.  I feel that I am making progress on my project to use things up, but it’s like cleaning–the more you do it, the more you see a need.  I will definitely continue this project in February as well.

Having such a nice stockpile has served me well this past week.  We are having a group of people over today, Saturday, to help with some barn and outside clean up.  I will be serving lunch to them.  I also am taking a bunch of food for the family Sunday dinner.  I love to cook, so have enjoyed getting these foods ready.  We have been able to stay away from fast food, as well.

Ja’Ana has been loving peach crisp lately and made another one.  We ate that one up. She has used all of the frozen peaches, that we can find, that were older than from this past summer.  She used some canned peaches to supplement, and I will now rotate the newer peaches into the house from the shop freezer. I made a blueberry crisp from some home-canned blueberries that were several years old for the work party today.  I  think I originally canned them to make blueberry sauce for pancakes, but  used frozen ones and forgot about these.  There are a few jars still down there, so I think I will try to make cornstarch-thickened sauce soon.

I made split pea-potato soup from stored split peas (not old at all) and some potatoes that need to be used.  I’ve had them a while and they are starting to sprout, etc. I put home-canned carrots in it.  There again, in a year of abundance when the garden produced a huge crop, I canned carrots and haven’t used them because I prefer fresh ones.  I also made scalloped potatoes with those potatoes.  There are only a few in the bottom of the bag now, and I’ll deal with those this morning in another batch of scalloped potatoes or some potato salad to take tomorrow.IMG_2072

I made some bar cookies with some outdated sweetened, condensed milk.  I used to buy a few cans and keep it on hand, but haven’t used a can for a few years.  The cookies are addictive, and I may make them again since I have a couple more cans on the shelf, also outdated.

I canned a lot of beef broth (7 quarts and 15 pints), using up soup bones that had been building up for the last 2-3 years.  This will make the broth handy, and I will use it more frequently in this form.

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I used up 1 home-canned jar of soup from 2011, and one cardboard carton of soup from the shelf that also needed to be used.

I cooked another Sweetmeat squash from last summer’s garden.  A couple have recently rotted, but there are still more than I think we are going to be able to eat, storing nicely in my cool, dry front room.  I froze some of the puree and used some in cooking.

Overall, I’m very pleased.  I can see a few gaps on the pantry shelf now.  I can tell that one of the freezers has a lot more space in it.  I have brought many full jars up from the basement, and taken many empty ones back down.  This week, I hope to re-organize a few areas and see what else I can find hiding in the stockpile.  I am looking forward to a day when I can completely empty one of the freezers.  I’d like to shut one off to save electricity when it’s not needed.

 

Saving Money–Week Ending January 17

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This week I got some help from the girls in my quest for frugality.  Lovana cooked dinner on Thursday for the family.  This kept us from having to get fast food.  She made white bean-sausage soup.  This is pretty close to what she did.

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken broth

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cans white beans

1 package turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced

1 teaspoon thyme

1 bay leaf (remove before eating soup)

salt and pepper to taste

Salute the onion, carrots and garlic in a little bit of oil.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Cook until carrots and potatoes are soft, and the flavors are blended, 30 minutes minimum.  This soup can be simmered for much longer than that and the flavor gets better.

We ate this soup for dinner that night, and different family members had a bowl for  leftovers several times.

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She also made a chocolate-banana cake with some of the bananas we received. She also made home-made Caesar salad, including the dressing.

Last week, we were given a 40-lb box of bananas, plus a plastic grocery bag full.  The box was in really good condition, and the bag needed to be used immediately.  Although this was given to us last Friday, we spent a great deal of time dealing with it this week as something needed to be done to preserve all of the bananas that were in the box.

We ended up making chocolate-covered bananas, frozen bananas (over 5 gallons), dried bananas–both plain and with spices and brown sugar sprinkled on them, and ate a ton of bananas.  We joke that we are going to turn yellow!

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I did Ja’Ana’s hair.  I saved quite a bit of money doing it myself.  I’m not sure exactly how much I saved, but I know some people who pay between $65 and $100 to get their African-American children’s hair braided. I made sure to use extra conditioner, and to get her scalp  well-oiled.   This time of year, her scalp can get itchy and uncomfortable and the hair lotions help a lot.

Ja’Ana helped with the banana project.

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This sounds really strange, but Rob was able to return one of the baby pigs and get another one in exchange.  One of them turned out to  not be properly fixed and the lady that we bought it from traded it for a new one.  A non-fixed male pig does not grow up to be good pork, and we have no plans to breed pigs, so it would have been useless to us.  The new pig is much smaller, so we did lose some money on that, but we are still really happy that she exchanged this one.  Rob had a friend come over to help catch the one that was going back, and they had no trouble catching it with a lot of scraps I had saved for that purpose.

Ja’Ana was able to go on a retreat.  She had earned about 1/2 of the money needed, selling pies as a fund-raiser.

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The chickens started to lay again, after taking a mid-winter break!

I helped my niece figure out how to shorten a skirt she wanted to make more stylish.  She has a plan now, after consultation with 2 aunties and a cousin at our family lunch today, and she will bring it back next Sunday if she has any problems.

My husband and I were able to have a date last evening.  We were able to use Foster Parent’s Night Out for babysitting.  We used a gift card, and although it did not cover the entire cost of the meal, it helped tremendously.

 

 

 

 

My January Use-It-Up Project–Update on January 17

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This week, I was really busy, but I still managed to use up a few items that needed to be used.  I got some help from the girls.

I used some cauliflower that I preserved in the fall.  I used some green beans from 2014.  I always have a carry-over and use the oldest jars first.  When all of the ’14’s are used, we will start on the ’15’s.  My husband thawed some lunchmeat of undetermined age and we ate it.  I used some home-canned grape juice from 2009.  It was great.  I found a few more jars down there in the basement, where I keep my canning, that will be used soon.

One daughter used 2 containers of gluten-free pizza crust I had bought quite a while ago at Grocery Outlet.  They were expired, but were still fine.  We used the rest of the personal-sized pizza bread rounds that had been purchased as a school fund-raiser, as well as the rest of the little packets of sauce, pepperoni and cheese that came with that kit.  There were some really, really old packages of sliced salami buried in the freezer–like 3 years old or older.  I wasn’t sure if they would be eatable, but they were.

My older daughter used the croutons I had made a couple of weeks ago in a salad.  She made Caesar Salad with homemade dressing.  She also used some bananas in a chocolate-banana cake and used a 1/2 package of milk chocolate chips as well as some of that huge box of bananas we were given.  She also made a white-bean, sausage soup that used some canned white beans we’ve had for ages.  Some of the garden carrots from last summer were used in that soup as well.  She informed me that the remaining carrots are not in good shape, which makes sense–they’ve been in there for months, so I’d better put them on the list to sort this week.

I have a very large amount of food storage.  I save a lot of money and we eat very well.  I have a basement full of home-canned items.  I have a garage with shelves of food, and several freezers.   Right now, those freezers are stuffed with home-grown turkey, turkey burger, and chickens, as well as fruits and vegetables from the summer.  Each year, we buy 1/2 beef, and we have most of that right now.  I also store loaves of bread and other baked goods in the freezer.  That way, I can cook from scratch when I have time, and use it up on days when I’m busy.

I buy in bulk and when things are on sale.  It is not uncommon for us to buy 25 pound bags of things like beans, sugar, or rice.  I have many plastic ice cream buckets I have saved over the years that I fill with these bulk items.  I also use old tins, Tupperwares, and plastic zip-top bags, and anything else I can find.    I also buy cases of things like canned mushrooms or mandarin oranges if I find an excellent deal.

We grow a huge garden.  Right now, I still have carrots and cabbage in the fridge in cold storage from that garden.  I still have squash and onions that are keeping fine at room temperature in the garage, shop and front room.  The rest of the garden I preserve or eat fresh.  It is normal for me to can 100 quarts or more of green beans alone.  That is only 2 jars per week and we regularly eat that amount.  Canned peaches, pears and applesauce are a regular part of our meals around here.

So, as you can imagine, it is easy for something to “get lost” in that amount of food storage. I work pretty hard at not letting that happen, but sometimes a few things get away from me.   I am very happy with the amount of things we are using up this month, and can’t wait to see what else I can clear out during the rest of the month.  Since I preserve so much, it is a natural thing to have an overabundance in the fall, and makes sense for me to bring that amount down to a smaller amount during the winter.  After all, that’s what it’s for!

 

 

Eggs Again

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I am delighted that the chickens have decided to lay again!  They took a little break during the darkest time of the year, which is normal, but recently have been cranking out a few eggs a day.

Every day when Rob brings in the eggs,they are placed on the counter in a bowl.  When I get ready to wash the eggs, I place the bowl in the sink and run tepid water on them so they can soak.  Many sources say to not wash your eggs because they keep better unwashed.  Mine have chicken droppings on them, so I choose to wash them off.  Some sources say that if you are going to wash them, use lukewarm water so that the pores are not opened with hot water, impurities don’t enter, and the cold water doesn’t close the pores, trapping in the impurities.  I have no idea if that’s true, but it sounds sensible, so I use lukewarm water.

I have an old toothbrush that I use for egg washing, only.  I just gently scrub each soaked egg while holding it under a small stream of tepid water. Sometimes stains remain.  I’m fine with that.  I air-dry them on a towel and then put into cartons in the garage fridge, or into the egg keeper in the refrigerator in the kitchen.

We had to buy one 5-dozen package of eggs from Costco this winter when the chickens were not laying.  I didn’t even get them finished before they started up again, so I probably  could have survived without buying any, but we had no way of telling when they would start again.  They are very light sensitive, the days are getting longer again, and this batch of hens is less than 1 year old, so we knew they would lay some more, we just didn’t know when exactly.

Since we have been paying for feed all along, I am delighted to be entering that time of year when I have all the eggs I want.  I also give them away when I have an overabundance, so my sister is happy, too.

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Bananas Everywhere!

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I was delighted when we were given 40 pounds of bananas.  It was a whole box, and there were a lot of bananas in it.  They were in excellent condition.  They were even organic!  What a blessing.  There were also a few bunches in a bag that were not quite as nice, but could still be used.  So, I think I had about 50 or more pounds to work with.  Here’s what I did with them.

  1.  We have been eating bananas at every opportunity.
  2. I took some bunches to share with my family.
  3. I had the 4H dry some and they will use them at the next meeting.IMG_2022
  4. I tried another recipe that was suggested on The Prudent Homemaker blog.  I cut strips and sprinkled them with brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger and they are drying now.FullSizeRender.jpg
  5. Ja’Ana dipped some in chocolate and froze them for yummy snacks.FullSizeRender
  6. I froze quite a few gallon-sized bags.  I cut the bananas, put them in the bags, then squirted a squirt of lemon juice in the bag and worked it around with my hands to prevent browning.  We use those frozen chunks for smoothies, and they can also be used for baking, if desired.  They just need to be defrosted and smashed.FullSizeRender
  7. Last, but not least, I made banana pudding.  This was also a suggestion from The Prudent Homemaker Blog. I made a simple cornstarch vanilla pudding and added bananas.  We ate some, but I put too many bananas in it and it broke down and became runny.  So, I froze the rest for smoothies or milkshakes.FullSizeRender
  8. We still have 4-5 bunches left over for eating and further creativity. It took most of the day yesterday, but I’m delighted to say I’m fully stocked up on bananas right now.  What a blessing!