Category Archives: Frugal

Mulching the Garden for Free

Bermuda grass in my flower beds is relentless.  I hate to admit it but the last few years it was so out of control I was embarrassed for anyone to see my flower beds.  This year I was determined to get rid of it or at least get it under control.  I prefer not to use the commonly used spray to eradicate Bermuda grass for reasons I won’t go into here but it was the only way I was going to stand a chance.

First, I used garden scissors to cut huge amounts of the offensive grass out of the beds so I could at least see the ground that it was covering.  Second, I sprayed the base of the grass as close to the ground as I could get it.  The final and very important step was to cover the ground with thick layers of mulch.

Here is were the frugal part comes in.  I had a load of wood chips delivered for free from a tree trimming company that was looking for a dump site.  I also acquired several bags of pine needles from a friend.  (Best part about that was I didn’t even have to rake and bag them myself.)  Additionally I picked up all the pine cones I could find and obtained a few pieces of used brick that was going to the dump from a construction site.

The pine needles and pine cones were used in one section of the flower bed.  The wood chips were used in another.  I partially buried sections of brick amongst the wood chips for a decorative effect and while the Bermuda grass might manage to come up through all that mulch,  I dare it to come up through that brick.

I have to admit there is still some grass in my flower beds but for the first time in several years I can enjoy my flower beds instead of feeling disgust at how bad they looked.  As an added benefit the mulch also helps hold in moisture which results in a less frequent need to water.

Thanks for reading.  Have a frugal day.

 

 

Foraging for Dinner

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I love being able to go outside and “pick supper”.  Selection varies from night to night and season to season but it sure beats going to the  grocery store.  You can’t get much fresher than “just picked”.  Last night we had fresh picked asparagus sautéed in butter with mushrooms and carrots along with a salad filled with freshly picked lettuce.  No pictures of that though we ate it all up before I thought about it.

Tonight we had crappie caught by my Dad out of our pond, wild onions which were great in the hushpuppies and an infusion of peppermint tea. All organic, chemical free and loaded with nutrients.  Wild onions are full of minerals and peppermint has many known health benefits including improving digestion.

I spent the afternoon digging up garlic and onion chives as well as peppermint to plant in containers so that I can have fresh herbs indoors next winter.  The chives are fabulous  in salads and on baked potatoes.  The peppermint tea is useful for helping fight off  winter colds.  My tomatoes, bell cayenne, jalopeno, and habanero peppers are ready to plant as soon as the weather cooperates.  I couldn’t resist planting a few cucumber seeds but I brought them inside to germinate.  A few days head start will allow me to have fresh cucumbers just a little bit earlier.

Hopefully I have inspired you to start growing your own food if you aren’t already doing so.  Let me know how it goes.

 

 

Sugar free Chocolate Kefir Smoothie

DSC_2341_1707.JPGI usually just use fruit in my milk kefir smoothies but on the weekend it is nice to do something out of the ordinary and have a special treat.  A while back I adapted a chocolate smoothie recipe and made it with milk kefir.  It was okay but nothing special.  Today a friend was asking for smoothie recipes that her kids would be more willing to drink so I drug out the recipe and tweaked it.  So here is the new and improved recipe and it is pretty tasty if I do say so myself.  This recipe is for two servings.

  • 1 C milk kefir
  • 1 banana
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 t cocoa

Place all ingredients in a glass jar and blend with a stick blender and blend until smooth.  Serve in your favorite glass and enjoy.  It can also be blended in a food processer, Magic Bullet, Ninja, etc.  For a Mexican twist add 1/4 t cinnamon.  I like to add almond slivers and eat it with a spoon.

 

 

Easy Peasy Ranchero Soup

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Ranchero Soup is a cross between chili and vegetable soup and one of my favorite soups. It is a great choice for the frugally minded.   You can add a lot of left overs that will otherwise end up being thrown out.  When I made this one I used left over corn, home canned chili beans, lentils and left over broth in addition to the ground beef and a bag of mixed vegetables.  The end result was it cost next to nothing and tasted great.

Now about that left over broth. Whenever I cook vegetables I freeze the left over broth.  I also add that handful of vegetables that is too small to do anything else with.   I keep quart containers in the freezer and just keep adding left over broth and vegetables until it is full.  No need to worry about what type of vegetable broth it is. Just mix them all together.    I do the same with left over beef and chicken broth, however, I do keep them separate from each other.

This is the basic recipe but anyone that knows me knows that for me recipes are guidelines and I tend to deviate from the basic recipe a little every time I fix something.

Ranchero Soup

Brown 1 # ground beef, season with cumin, onion powder and chili powder Sautee ½ C diced onions with meat after browning is complete.

Add meat and onions to

  • 2 cans Ranch Style or Chili Beans
  • 1 package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 6 C chicken or beef broth
  • ¼ c chopped celery
  • 1 to 1 ½ t cumin
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 ½ t chili powder 

Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes

 

Easy Peasy Healthier Pancakes and Syrup

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I love pancakes.  Actually, I love pancakes with my syrup.  As much as I love pancakes, I used to avoid making them because I use so much syrup.  Then being the experimenter that I am, I came up with a solution to make the syrup and pancakes healthier but still tasty.

Easy Peasy Healthier Pancakes

  • 1/2  C white flour (or 1/4 C white flour and 1/4 C whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 C quick oats
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1 C milk
  • ¼ t salt
  •  2 T oil
  • For a special Fall treat add 1/2 t cinnamon and 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice

In a medium bowl mix egg, milk, and oil. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour dough onto hot, oiled griddle. Turn when bubbles appear and batter is set. Makes 4-5 8” pancakes.

Easy Peasy Healthier Syrup  (Don’t worry. Your kids will love it)

In a small sauce pan mix 1/2 C syrup with 1/2 C juice and warm it up. That’s all there is too it.  You can use just about any juice (except orange and grapefruit)  but personally I like grape, apple, blackberry, and strawberry.

Easy Peasy Sports Drink Alternative Recipe

 

It is hot outside and it doesn’t take long to get dehydrated.  Instead of reaching for that commercial sports drink try this homemade frugal alternative.

SPORTS DRINK  RECIPE

  •          1 Package lemon lime Kool-ade drink mix
  •          1 C sugar
  •           1/8 t salt
  •           1/4 C lime or lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a 2 qt container. Serve cold. This recipe has less potassium than traditional sports drinks. To increase the potassium add an additional ¾ C of lemon or lime juice.

Easy Peasy Almost Free Stain Remover

I have to treat all of my husband’s work clothes every time I wash them. I didn’t give a thought to how much soap I was adding to each load in doing so until I noticed the clothes were getting dingy and a little gummy. Now I fill the bottle as instructed below, spray the clothes and add whatever is left in the bottle to the wash load (don’t add any additional soap). That is it.  Almost free effective stain remover.

Fill a 16 oz spray bottle 3/4 full with water.  Measure out the amount of soap you would normally place in a load of clothes and add it to the spray bottle.  Spray stains and add the rest of the spray to the washer.  For heavy stains allow clothes to set an hour or two before placing in the washer.  Since you are using the soap you would have placed in the washer anyway the only added cost is your time and a little bit of water.