When I start a challenge, for whatever reason, it actually helps me blog about it, share my thoughts and get your feedback. I’ll be honest here, I’ve lost track about what my contemporaries in the United States think or do.
Do other people my age cook every meal, everyday I like do? I don’t know.
Are others in my culture dedicated to frugality?
Is frugality even a need?
Do others hate to waste food, like I do? Read more »
margarine for baking
1 bag of mandarins
Little by little I’m working through my fridge, freezer and pantry ingredients,trying to use them all up and at the same time, dedicate that grocery money for other needed/wanted goals.
Today I used the last bit of corn tortillas (5), opened another (my last) package (of 25), and made rolled tacos using:
- meat from the chicken back & bones from the chicken I bought & cooked last week (I still have 4 jars of broth from this for soup)
- green chiles (canned) from the pantry
- 1 scallion from my garden
- 1 tomato from my garden
Ground it all up in the food processor, fried them and grated cheddar cheese & Greek yogurt on top. I also took out re-fried beans from the freezer to serve with the rolled tacos.
The salad is all from my garden: lettuce, arugula & tomatoes. I’ll dress it with olive oil & vinegar.
I still have about 20 corn tortillas in the fridge and my plan is to use some for the crust for a breakfast quiche, tacos and ???
Lots of great ideas and I realize just how many options and resources I have here.
My next marketing day will be Tuesday July 5th and so far I have nothing written on my list that I need. In any case, 10 more euros goes into my change purse for next weeks spen
ding if necessary.
I started with 10 euros last Tuesday, vowing to not go over. I actually had plenty in the house, but we had house-guests and that always requires a few extra items. I’m reducing my spending in order to use what I have & save for specific goals that I have.
Here’s what I bought & spent: Read more »
Well, this month marks the 1 year countdown to the conference we have to attend in Germany. The reality of travel & funds has set in, so being the planner I am, Read more »
Yesterday I bought at LIDL:
2 kilos of red apples-2,19
1 loaf of bread-0,69
1 loaf of bread-30% off-0,48
Total spent: 3,36
Here’s what I have left: 20,30 euros- you can click on the photos for a larger view Read more »
I spent today: 11,50€
1 dozen eggs- 1,50€ (village food cost more and I forgot to bring my eggs!)
2.5 kilos of pork- 10,00€
Total spent for the past 17days: 70,35€
Average per day: 4,13€
NOT great if we are eating all of that food but these are meats that I have canned. Today I canned 39 jars of meat; both ground beef in 3 flavors; taco, southwest and fajita, and pork in taco flavor.
The idea may interest you from the standpoint that if you have canned meats on your shelves, then you have the makings for many “instant” meals. For instance, Seasoned Ground Beef can become:
- Sloppy Joes
- Spaghetti Sauce, when added to your home-canned sauce
- Pizza topping
- Instant Soups, when combined with your home-canned vegetables
- the list can go on and on, just use your imagination.
Won’t it be nice to have canned meat for quick meals right there on your shelf and less time to cooking when guests come or you’re just busy with other things?
Here are the photos:
Today I spent $0 on food! Five days in a row!! Hallelujah! I was gone working at the church until 4pm and John ate leftovers. For supper I took out some pizza from the freezer & made a salad.
We are gathering up the fragments here and trying not to waste anything.
Total spent since October 20th: $0!!
Wow, we had such a great time with our kids, Jerusha & Nathanial. Now it’s time to save any extra money I can for the Thanksgiving dinner I want to have in November with 17 of our closest friends (Spaniards & 2 Brazilians).
So… here’s the deal… I see how little I can spend each day! Fun, eh?
Today the 20th of October, we ate leftovers… soup (several kinds that were leftover), pizza and rice and canard (duck in french… got it while visiting the kids, Anita & Neil last summer)
So this is what I spent today: $0!!
Not one single cent!!
So far so good!
Suppose harder times hit us. Would we be prepared? Could we eat nutritionally if we only had $10 a week (or 10€)? Just to make this easy, lets pretend that the USD and the EURO are at parity. I’ll be using $ in this exercise. I’d love to hear how YOU would do it & hear your ideas. Please click on the little number at the top of this posting and tell me what you would buy if you only had $10. I’d really like to learn from you.
John & I are NOT picky eaters, so here are some of my ideas:
Here is what I would buy (approximate costs):
oatmeal- $1 a box
eggs-$1 a dozen
1 pk of the bread mix I buy for bread-$1.39 this can last John and me for 1 full week, as it makes 2 loaves.
1 kilo of beans- $1
1 kilo of rice- $1.40
1 liter of milk- $0.60
1 bag of apples- $1.80
canned tuna- $1.50
1 head of lettuce- $0.40
oatmeal & milk
egg & toast
cooked rice & milk w/ an apple diced in it.
Lunches or suppers:
beans & rice + salad
rice w/tuna casserole
bean & rice burgers (use on raw egg as a binder) + bread & lettuce
tuna sandwiches w/ lettuce
fried egg salad sandwiches w/ lettuce
creamed eggs over toast
* it would be helpful if there were a wee bit of mayo and oil in the house… but you could live without it and even loose a few lbs.
What would you buy??
In these interesting and challenging days, I guess we are all looking for ways to save. Here are 10 of my “moves” to reduce spending.
1.) I have 1 or 2 baking days a week. I make the bread for that week; muffins or nut breads for breakfasts; I even make up and cook a couple batches of pancakes. While the oven’s on, I roast potatoes, stick in a casserole like macaroni and cheese or pop in some oven fried chicken. This saves electricity/money by baking everything at once, and I have meals for most of the week. Since we eat our “big” meal at 2pm, for supper we might have pancakes and eggs or leftovers. It also saves me a lot of time and heats the house (I leave the oven door open after the baking is done to take advantage of the heat, if there are no little ones visiting)
2.) We turn off our hot water heater every night and only turn it on to shower and on baking days. Because we have to call the diesel truck to come and fill our gas tank, we watch the levels very carefully. We also only turn on our heat in the house when we have family or friends over. John and I don’t mind wearing sweaters or sitting on the sofa with a blanket. Our dishwasher and washing machine have water heaters built in to the appliances.
3.) We monitor our expenses in a notebook. I keep a notebook with a page for each of the following: Diesel fuel, electricity bill, phone bill and water bill. I know exactly what I spend each month and why the costs have gone either up or down and we make adjustments accordingly.
4.) We always travel with food. Every time we go to the village, I pack a meal. It can be as little as a sandwich, or a Tupperware of pasta salad, or even a meal with chicken, potatoes and a salad. If we’re out running errands, there is usually some small snack in the car so we won’t need to buy something while out. Longer trips which take several days (like going to conference in Germany this March) include our picnic hamper that our kids Jesseka and Greg gave us many years ago and a single hot plate that we take with us to cook food in a hotel room. I keep a sauce pan and a small skillet in the hamper with a jar of olive oil, salt and utensils. We can have an egg or fry up a hamburger or even open a can of beans or stew. We eat better, and cheaper. Those of you who have traveled with us on trips, know that we eat well.
5.) I buy on sale and stock up. When any vegetable, meat, or fruit is on sale, I stock up, can, freeze or make jams & chutneys. We always seem to have variety on hand.
6.) We do all of our errands in one day, organizing the route. This saves us gas and time. We always try to be home for lunch at 2pm. We only use the car 2 or 3 times a week.
7.) I make our own prayer cards, labels and stationary using vistaprint.com and pay only for postage.
8.) I keep a notebook with all the categories needed to run the household (different than tip#3). For example, there is a page for car insurance, one for Christmas fund, birthday fund, computer fund, etc. Not all the categories can be funded each month, because there simply may not be enough to go around, but it helps us by adding a dollar or two from each paycheck to cover our expenses. I also have a detailed accounting of all “deposits and expenditures”. I use an ING checking account for this. All the funds are together, but I know the value in each category because of the pages for each in my notebook.
9.) I’m selling unwanted or seldom used items around the house. A grandson has helped me sell some things I have taken back to the USA (over a year ago) by using Craigslist. I’ve tried here but Europeans are not accustomed to buying like this. I want to continue to work on this area.
10.) I pray for inspiration, wisdom and help from the Lord. This is actually my greatest and most effective way to save money. I actually feel encouraged by partnering with the Lord in this challenge. When I’m most in need of help, a treat comes in the mail, or a good idea crosses my mind. Last week, neighbors came over with a box of candy (the expensive kind that we would never buy) and a bottle of wine (not the cheap stuff) wrapped in stacked Christmas motif boxes. These gifts were given to me because I teach their 2 children English once or twice a week and I certainly haven’t expected any gifts! The wrapping will be saved for re-wrapping gifts, the wine will be served to friends and family on a special occasion and the candies saved to share with our children at Christmas time.
More of our photos: the photo at the top was last weeks muffins and bread.
Canned jams and pickles, a 5 kilo sack of garbanzo bean flour I got on sale for only 4,99 € and industry sized canned tomatoes. Once opened, I’ll divided and freeze for future use.
*for a better look at the photos, just “click” on them
I wanted to tell you that my garden is growing very well. So far, we are eating radishes (well, I am, John doesn’t care for them) and all of our salads are coming from the lettuce I grow. I snip off just enough each day to make our salad. Did you know that radish greens are eatable? It’s been raining so I’m saving on water too! One of the simple pleasures I have is returning from a week of work in the village to see how much my little garden has grown.
Canning: I have done much this year already and and plenty of jam. The olives are done and I’m looking forward to getting some apples on sale to make apple sauce and pie filling.
Bargains: I bought a ready made pizza on sale at the Lidl (German store) for only 1,40€ after the 30% mark-down. I put on some mozzarella cheese, and parmesan to it’s skimpy presentation and John and I had a fairly decent supper for a good price.
Blessings: We have received some really great blessings from friends. I honestly believe that the Lord is providing for us in this special way. Here are some of the recent blessings from Joye, Debora and Sue:
Jerky, TP, toothpaste, candy, bath soap, pretty smelling bath things, dried cherries, deodorant, 8 cans of albacore tuna, spices, office supplies, lip gloss, tea and more!
I am excited to think of all the recipes I can use that albacore in! I am so thankful for these gals and the wonderful surprise of packages in the mail! It’s a real treat!
Tom and Jeanne sent me the money for my ticket to France!!! Wasn’t that the nicest blessing? I hadn’t seen these grands, or ANY grandkids since they came for Christmas last year. They are so cute and it was the loveliest of treats to be with them. The flight is only 1 hr and 20 mins from Madrid.
Ways I save:
- I have purchased dried beans; pinto, red beans, white and black beans. I then pressure cooked them separately, divide them in baggies and froze them. I thought at my .49¢ (euro cents) a jar was a good price for the cooked beans, but I can get 6 portions of beans for the price of 2 if I buy them dry, cook and freeze them.
- Today I once again used my pressure cooker to cook 1 lb (about 500grs) of stew beef. This small amount will stretch to make 3 meals: ♥Shredded beef tacos for today+re-fried beans and salad.♥Nachos (with fried tortilla chips I make, lettuce, salsa, beans & cheese) for Sunday and ♥rolled tacos+ Mexican rice+salad for Monday♥Plus, the added bonus of about 3 cups of really nice beef broth to make a soup.
- I saved the juice of the pickles I canned last summer and added 3 hard-boiled eggs to it. In 3 or 4 days, these I will have delicious “pickled eggs”.
- I snip off the tops of my onions from the garden to make “scallions”. I use what I need and dry the rest for future use.
My trip to France: I had a fun trip to France to see Anita and 2 grands, Elijah and Ana. It was relaxing but the weather was rainy the whole time. We got out of the house a couple of times but then, I went to see them, not have fantastic weather.
Please leave you comments! I love to hear from you.
My blessings for this week: I am so humbled by the Lords goodness and generosity in my life!
Between the high cost of European living, the bad exchange rate, the expenses of our ministry, and upcoming commitments I am looking for ways to make every cent count. I depend on the Lord to inspire me and teach me.
I would challenge anyone to write down and take note of what comes in their lives. It’s a blessed exercise.
- Our kids Anita and Neil, sent us a bag of goodies with a friend of ours who visited them in France. We especially liked the kids drawings.
- Our friend Joye, sent a a fun box of really useful items. I immediately, changed my toothbrush to the new one, took the soaps she sent and the hand-soap (it’s really neat stuff that comes out foamy! Wild eh?) with us to the village. She included office goodies and things I have to buy but hate spending cash on! These items will save a bundle and extend my grocery funds. Love it!
- We were walking in the village yesterday and an old guy was kind enough to give us a bottle of wine for cooking that he made. It’s quite cloudy but I will find a use for it!
- Ana gave me a canister of diet malt and 2 “diet/health teas” which she just couldn’t stomach. I thought I could drink the diet malt/substitute but it tasted SO BAD that I had to chase it with a handful of peanuts to take the taste out of my mouth!! HAHAHA. She did warn me. The teas taste”ok”. We have this guy in our church (Swiss) who sold this stuff to them (it is a German product). We had Ana and Angel for pizza last week and we had plenty of good laughs over this! That’s a blessing!
- A friend of ours who wrote a book sent it to us! I’ll have to write my review of it when I’m finished.
- Our friends Inigo and Elena, brought us cookies and a sachet from France!
- our neighbor Juan, in San Martin brought us a bucket of figs.
I was able to make 5 jars of fig conserve (with nuts).
My menus for this week:
* this week will be interesting as I don’t intend to spend anything! I am out of all fresh vegetables except for lettuce. I also am using the lettuce from the pots I planted here in the village. I have 4 small potatoes in the fridge for the soup. I will market on Monday the 29th. I will spend up to 15 euros…less if I can!
Monday-1st plate: lentil soup & bread, 2nd plate: pork chops with mushroom gravy, rice, salad
Tuesday-1st plate: potato-cheese soup & bread, 2nd plate: tacos with ground beef, Mexican rice, salad
Wednesday-1st plate: lentil soup & bread, 2nd plate: hamburger patties, pasta with tomato sauce, peas
Thursday-1st plate: cream of tomato soup (homemade from last summers tomatoes) & bread, 2nd plate: chicken legs, polenta, canned peas (i just found in the cupboard)
Friday-1st plate: potato-cheese soup & bread, 2nd plate: German sausages, leftover Mexican rice, salad
Saturday- We leave the village today and head back to Madrid. I’ll pack a lunch as usual: grilled cheese sandwiches, is on the menu to hold us over until we get home. We rarely eat out and we just want to get back, unpack and settle in again.
Sunday-We’ll be in Madrid today so after church I will serve the roasted whole (30% off) that was baking while at church. 1st plate: leftover tomato soup, reinvented with some Thai curry spice, 2nd plate: Roasted chicken, macaroni and cheese, brussel sprouts (in the freezer).
For breakfasts, John eats leftovers or I make a couple of batches of pancakes that he eats for several days. Last week I made two batches, one regular and one with nuts. These are good with my homemade jams. I have been eating a Special K bar each morning that our Jesseka sent to me. They “hold me over” and are easy since I am not a big breakfast eater.
For suppers, we eat a sandwich, or an egg with toast, or a salad.
How does my garden grow?
Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herbgardens planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom during World War I & World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labour and rewarded by the produce grown. Making victory gardens became a part of daily life on the home front.
I’m away from my little garden (MY VICTORY GARDEN) I planted in Madrid, but I did set the water timer to water every 8 hours for 3 mins. I’m enjoying watching them grow. I planted some cilantro seeds that my folks sent to me and the lettuce is in too. I am trying for plant a few lettuce seeds every week so I will not have to buy any more at the market. I figure I need 1 head of lettuce every 4 days. At the average price of $1.24 USD (.89 euro cents) that comes to (if my figures are correct) $112.14 USD per year savings! Just on lettuce! While here in the village, I have started some more broccoli plants in some egg cartons as well as a pot of lettuce.