The Frugal Goddess Goes LIVE with a Workshop on Food Waste!

Careful Planning is the Key!

The Frugal Goddess will give her first live workshop—Stop Food Waste Now with the fugal Goddess, in Santa Rosa CA on October 15, 2012.

The workshop will cover how we make bad choices that lead to food waste, how to plan a week’s meals that will really be eaten without waste, how to store what you buy so it lasts, and how to handle special problems with the flow of food through your household and your life.

If you regularly dump your money into the waste bin through wasted food, if you have great intentions on shopping day that lead to nothing but expensive compost, if you have “science experiments in you vegetable bin instead of edible veggies, this might be for you!

The first Frugal Goddess book on the same subject is in the works. There will be an announcement on this blog when it comes out.

If you live in the bay area please go to this link for tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/258266 and here is a link to the original post that started the whole project: http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/03/10/food-waste-why-we-do-it-and-how-we-can-stop/

Advertisements

Get More Flavor for Less Money—Grow These Five Herbs Indoors

Fresh herbs add great flavor to home cooking, but buying them at the market is prohibitive. The herbs come in bunches much larger than usually called for, and only stay good for a few days. But if you have a sunny windowsill you can grow your own herbs for the cost of a pack of seeds. Then you can trim just a few leaves off as needed without hurting the plant. This is clearly the frugal solution.

You will need a bag of rich potting soil, a bag of something called perlite which is added to the soil, and some powdered limestone. You will also need some nice small ceramic pots with saucers, and a few seeds for each herb that you are planning to grow. If you know a seed saver you may be able to get them to give you a few, otherwise you may have to buy a whole pack of seeds for each variety.

Take the potting soil and mix it two to one with the perlite. Add a teaspoon of the limestone to each 5 inch pot and mix well. The pots should be filled to one inch below the rim.Then poke a two hole with your fingers and plant one seed in each hole. Water the pot gently and put in the windowsill. Keep just moist and in a few days you should see your little seedlings popping up through the soil. To get started I recommend you grow these five easy to grow herbs: Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Chives, and Mint. They all like full sun, and to be kept moist but not overwatered.

Try growing these five and see how much money you save and how good they make your food taste. Then perhaps you will branch out and create a whole indoor garden.

What’s for Dinner—The Relentless Question

What's for Dinner?

There are few questions that we HAVE to answer every day. None is more relentless than the question of dinner. It doesn’t matter whether you live completely alone or in a commune. It doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a carnivore. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. Every single day someone in the household must answer the question and then get the meal on the table. If you live alone, at least the only opinion you must consider is your own. The rest of us have a regular chorus of opinions and requests pouring in.

If you are very poor, the answer to this question is easier—though certainly not happier. The answer is probably Ramen, or maybe a 99cent burger at a fast food place. Not healthy or inspiring. But, for most of us it is more complicated. We have choices to make. Eat out again, even though it will blow the food budget and is less healthy? Not if you are a frugalista. Take out? Same problem. Expensive and packed with unwanted calories and salt.

That leaves cooking at home, as I recommend strongly in all my posts about food. The reason we are attracted to take-out or going out isn’t the superior quality in most cases, but rather the convenience factor. Making a big pot of something and serving it everyday would solve that problem, but would also generate cries of discontent from our audience—maybe even mutiny. This is true even if you live alone. So, what to do? Try these tips to break the dinner code:

  1. Find out what your crew REALLY thinks about the menu. Making what they like ensures clean plates and less hassle. If they are partial to things that take a boatload of work, parcel those evenings out, and make them clean up!
  2. Shop once a week, and take advantage of specials. Try to get absolutely everything you need. In order to know what you need you must make a menu.
  3. When you do your planning on shopping day, think about all the activities that will be coming up that week. Where will you and your crew be when hunger strikes? If you know you have an activity planned for right before or at dinner-time you have to figure out ahead of time how you are going to handle it. You could bring something along, in which case you need a portable dish. You could wait and eat at home, in which case you need something fast, like pasta. Or you could just grab something if you must. Just have a plan.
  4. Buy a stock of cheater foods—pasta, cheese and crackers, cans of things you like.
  5. Have a plan A, but also a plan B in case something comes up. For example, if you were planning on BBQ, but get invited to happy hour or a surprise kid’s soccer game, you might shift to a quickie pasta dinner for that night.
  6. Now that you know what they like and you have a plan, go ahead and make a few large batches of things. Just don’t serve it day after day. Have the stew or casserole or whatever it is the night you make it. Then put enough for one more meal in the fridge, and serve it three nights later. The rest freeze in meal-sized portions. If you do this a few times you will start to have a stash of quick, easy, and not over-served dinners.
  7. While you are at it, make and freeze some meal-builders such as homemade tomato sauce. This is one of the smartest, most frugal things you can do.

Now when the daily question comes up, you won’t even have to think about it. Work the plan and smile.

Here are some helpful links:

ttp://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2012/01/09/if-you-want-to-be-rich-and-healthy-learn-to-cook/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/05/19/frugal-cooking-use-planned-leftovers-for-easy-delicious-meals/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/03/10/food-waste-why-we-do-it-and-how-we-can-stop/

 

Get More Flavor for Less Money—Grow These Five Herbs Indoors

Beautiful Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs add great flavor to home cooking, but buying them at the market is prohibitive. The herbs come in bunches much larger than usually called for, and only stay good for a few days. But if you have a sunny windowsill you can grow your own herbs for the cost of a pack of seeds. Then you can trim just a few leaves off as needed without hurting the plant. This is clearly the frugal solution.

You will need a bag of rich potting soil, a bag of something called perlite which is added to the soil, and some powdered limestone. You will also need some nice small ceramic pots with saucers, and a few seeds for each herb that you are planning to grow. If you know a seed saver you may be able to get them to give you a few, otherwise you may have to buy a whole pack of seeds for each variety.

Take the potting soil and mix it two to one with the perlite. Add a teaspoon of the limestone to each 5 inch pot and mix well. The pots should be filled to one inch below the rim.Then poke a two hole with your fingers and plant one seed in each hole. Water the pot gently and put in the windowsill. Keep just moist and in a few days you should see your little seedlings popping up through the soil. To get started I recommend you grow these five easy to grow herbs: Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Chives, and Mint. They all like full sun, and to be kept moist but not overwatered.

Try growing these five and see how much money you save and how good they make your food taste. Then perhaps you will branch out and create a whole indoor garden.

Looking for a Great Winter Breakfast? Try a Big Bowl of REAL Homemade Hot Cereal!

Hot Cereal is Easy and Tasty Comfort Food

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and in winter this will often mean hot cereal. But far too often it actually means a cheap imitation of hot cereal in the form of “instant” oatmeal. The kind that I am talking about comes in a little pouch, loaded with chemicals, expensive considering what it is, and lacking both taste and nutrients. It is so bad that lots of people won’t even bother, and so end up either skipping breakfast entirely or grabbing a tastier if equally useless pastry.

This is sad, especially since REAL hot cereal is so easy and fast, and so inexpensive. And—it is not limited to oatmeal. There are mixes of cracked grain ranging from three grain to ten grain. Some are in packages, such as Bob’s Red Mill, and others are bulk section products. What they all have in common is how easy they are to cook. Just put in a pan—one part cereal to three parts water for the cracked grain mix or one part rolled oats to two parts water for homemade oatmeal. Bring to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring often. That’s it. Add milk, dairy or not. Add the sweetener of your choice. I prefer whole milk and brown sugar, but there are lots of ways to go with this. There is even a microwave version on the Bob’s Red Mill package that only takes five minutes, no longer than the cheap imitation.

This breakfast will work for almost anyone. If you are gluten intolerant look for gluten free mixes of grain. Everyone except those with celiac disease should be able to enjoy this ten minute hardy winter breakfast. So give yourself a great start and eat your whole grain at the same time with a piping hot bowl of wholesome hot cereal.

Never Buy Store Bought Salad Dressing Again-3 Great Dressings You can Whip Up in Minutes!

Simple Ingredients

Making salad dressing at home is one of the easiest things you can do in a kitchen and in many cases it is also less expensive as well. But even when the cost is the same in actual dollars, the homemade dressing is still better. When judging the frugal choice it is important to factor in quality and not just price. When I decide what to cook I either want a real cost savings or I want a much better product at the same price. Once in a while it is possible to get both.

Simple vinaigrettes generally cost less for a higher quality. Fancier creamy dressings may cost as much as the store bought kind when you add in the high cost of certain ingredients, but if you are a serious frugalista you likely already have a windowsill herb garden if not an entire kitchen garden.

Here are three simple salad dressings to try:

Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup good olive oil
  •  1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 gloves garlic peeled and minced
  •  1 tsp prepared mustard
  •  a pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Place an immersion blender on the lowest setting with the whisk attachment. Whisk till the mixture emulsifies. It will look almost creamy. This will take less than a minute. Put in a pint jar and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using. This dressing will keep for several weeks.

Ranch Dressing

  •  3 scallions
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil 1 garlic clove minced ½ cup mayonnaise ½ cup plain yogurt
  •  ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 pinch salt
  •  freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients and whisk by hand or with an immersion blender till thoroughly blended.

Russian Dressing (sweet)

  •  ½ cup ketchup
  •  ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T prepared horseradish
  • 1 T minced onion
  •  1 tsp  Worcestershire sauce a splash of vinegar

Mix together and use on salads or as a spread for a corned beef or Reuben sandwich.

There are hundreds of other simple inexpensive salad dressings you can whip up fresh in just a few minutes. So, if you have been relying on over-priced, over-preserved store bought dressings just stop– and find out how great a completely fresh salad can be!

If You Want to Be Rich and Healthy Learn to Cook

A Trip to the Market can be the Key to Happiness

As prices rise food is the second biggest expense most people face after housing. And the cost of eating out, both the money angle and the health angle, have never been greater. Just think about it. Unless you are considering a fast food dollar menu diet, which will cause you to starve nutritionally while making you obese, eating out three times a day will cost at least twenty-five dollars. Multiply that by thirty and it means a food tab of $750. This figure is for very basic fare, and will likely be missing many elements of a balanced diet. This figure is also for ONE person. If you are in a family, you must multiply by the number of mouths to be fed.

On the other hand, if you just cook half the time you will improve your health, and cut the tab substantially, as follows: a single adult can eat well enough for about $210 a month, which is $7 a day. It may be necessary to shop carefully to stick with this figure, but it can be done. Half of $750 (the spendthrift food tab) is $375. Half of $210 (the home-cooking tab) is $105. If we add the two, it comes out to $480, an improvement of 46%.

Of course the best plan is to eat in almost 100% of the time, and to make going out a special event, but the Frugal Goddess knows how hard this can be given our frantic pace. That is why I will be writing more about portable food and easy home food fixes over the coming months. Bon Apetit!

%d bloggers like this: