Posts

Smart Saving Tastes Like Chicken

With the price of beef skyrocketing, now more than ever, chicken is becoming the backbone of the frugal kitchen. And why not? Chicken is much less expensive than beef or pork and useful down to and including the bones. 

whole roasted chicken on wooden kitchen table

Don’t pay full-price

Chicken is always on sale somewhere. If you don’t want to store-hop, you can always find some cut of meat, fish, and poultry on sale in your favorite market. Eat what’s on sale and if it’s a loss-leader (that means priced dirt-cheap to entice people through the door), stock up for the coming weeks.

Buy whole chickens

The most frugal way to use chickens is to buy them whole and cut them up yourself. You’ll not only save money, but chicken tastes much better when cooked with the skin and bones. A whole, organic bird usually costs less per pound than precut, skinned, and boned parts—and it tastes so much better. It is not difficult to cut up a chicken once you understand the simple steps. Here is a video tutorial or if you prefer written instructions with pictures.  Read more

Your Best Thanksgiving Feast Ever, Healthy, Delicious, and Cheap!

If there’s one thing we should be thankful for this Thanksgiving, it’s this: Turkey is cheap! And the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner can be, too.

Turkey feast

The secret to enjoying a traditional feast without overspending is to know a few tricks. I sat down with two highly respected professionals—a butcher and a personal chef. What I learned from John Smith, professional butcher and personal chef, Liz Tarditi, pretty much blew a hole in everything I thought I knew about buying, thawing and preparing a turkey.

Get the best turkey

Choosing the best turkey is easier said than done unless you fully understand the difference between a store brand and a name brand bird. Just because a turkey is more expensive does not make it any better, says John. All that means is that it has a lot of advertising built into its price.

What customers don’t know is that one turkey processor will slap many different labels on his crop of birds. The turkeys are all the same, only the labels are different. This is a rule you can count on, according to John the Butcher: “Always go with the cheapest turkey and you’ll never go wrong. I’ve sold tens of thousands of store brand turkeys to very happy customers.”

EC: Fresh or frozen?

JS: First, let me define a “fresh” turkey. According to the people who make the laws, turkeys can be called “fresh” even though the moisture in the bird is frozen! If you press very firmly on the bird the meat is not frozen. The turkey processors have it down to a science. They bring the temperature of the “fresh” birds down to the very legal limit before sending them off to the store two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Frozen turkeys, on the other hand, are quick-frozen immediately upon butchering. So the freshest turkey is really a frozen turkey. The freezing process has no noticeable effect on the quality of the bird.

Read more

Make Your Own Spreadable Butter

You’ve seen the little tubs of “spreadable butter” in the dairy case of your supermarket. In fact, you may purchase them because they’re just so convenient. And if you watch your prices you know the typical spreadable could almost be considered a luxury item. 

Homemade spreadable butter on homemade breat

Most “spreadables” are part real butter, part canola oil. Others have olive oil or some kind of an oil blend. What all of these spreadables have in common is that they remain perfectly soft, even while refrigerated. 

Today I want to tell you how you can make your own spreadable butter for half the price. 

One 8-ounce tub is the equivalent of two sticks of butter. Depending on the brand, spreadable butter runs from about $.30 for store brands to $.50 for name brands, per ounce. Curiously, butter costs just about the same per ounce ($.30 to $.50) unless you buy it in bulk at Sam’s or Costco, while canola oil comes in as low as $.05 an ounce. Read more

Ask Me Anything: Best Chromebook, Granite Stains, Estate Planning, and More

 

What’s inside? Here are the questions I’m answering from my bulging reader mailbag. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. Or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!

Contents

1. Best Inexpensive Chromebook Computer 

2. White, filmy, hard water stains on granite

3. Help me overcome impulse buying, please?!

4. Is there any way to remove a Super Glue spill?!

5. Which is the best iron for quilters? 

6. Downloadable software for Estate Planning

7. Homemade Almond Extract, please!

 

Q1: Our son, in his first year of college, has asked for a Chromebook computer for Christmas. Can you point me to the Best Inexpensive option? I don’t know a lot about this and trust your recommendation. Thanks! Barb

Smart kid you have there! Chromebook continues to be a mind-blowing option when it comes to laptop computers. My choice as of today (things change so quickly in the world of computers) is the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA, which comes with an Intel Core Processor with 64GB flash storage and 4GB RAM, and up to 10 hours of battery life. All of that means it’s fast and efficient.

Read more

A Crash Course in How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Could you use an extra $300? You might want to take a look in your garbage. A survey conducted by Glad, the food storage people, revealed that the average household throws away 150 pounds of rotten produce each year! Mind-boggling, right?

Here’s a fun, crash course in the how, where, and, why of fresh fruits and vegetables. Start following these insanely simple tips and you’ll be amazed to see far fewer of your food dollars (hopefully, none) end up in the garbage in the form of stinky, rotten produce.

Collage of beautiful homegrown vegetables

Yes, that’s is Mary’s garden!

Read more

25 Ways to Save $1,000 on Monthly Expenses

A number of years ago I met Kathryn and Galen. They’d won a contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine. The prize? A money makeover and financial coaching with … me! From our first meeting, we became fast friends.

Not only were they drowning in debt, Galen was dealing with a protracted season of unemployment. Their financial situation was grim.

 

Young couple worried about how to cut expenses and get out of debt

Kathryn and Galen were totally committed to working with me as I created a plan that, if followed diligently, would get them out of debt and on their way to financial freedom.

The problem was that even with their new scaled-back lifestyle, my students were $1,000 short every month—an amount they would have to find somewhere, some how, if this plan were to work.

Never have I seen a couple so committed to getting out of debt. They didn’t complain or seek pity. They didn’t whine or make excuses. Instead, they adopted a “scorched earth” attitude as they became committed to doing anything and everything possible to reach their goal.

Here’s Kathryn’s list of the 25 things they did to cut expenses and find find the $1,000 they needed every month in order to stay on track with getting out of debt:

Read more

How to Use Home Chef Meal Kits to Cut Food Costs

Faithful readers will recall that my husband and I tested and now continue to enjoy the most popular meal kit delivery service.

 

 

Since first writing about that (Dinner-in-a-Box is Not at All What I Thought) I’ve gotten the most interesting feedback. But first, a quick review:

From the meal kit delivery services available at that time, I selected Home Chef because 1) our zip code is in its delivery area—nearly 98% of the country is, 2) it is the cheapest and 3) I predicted it would be the most family-friendly. Turns out I nailed it.

Home Chef meals are absolutely delicious and use normal, fresh food—not exotic fare or ingredients we’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce.

A Home Chef meal kit includes all of the fresh ingredients and instructions needed to cook restaurant-quality meals for 2, 4 or 6 people in the comfort of your own kitchen, eliminating recipe searches and food shopping by sending everything required for that meal—perfectly portioned and ready to go.

Seriously, Home Chef is like having your own personal shopper and sous chef. Read more

How to Live Your Life Above Your Circumstances

Her letter was long. Page after page she went on about every aspect of her miserable life.

In between the accounts of her husband’s unemployment and her high blood pressure, this woman managed to weave each and every detail of their broken down cars, leaking roof, busted faucets, ungrateful children, delinquent taxes, nosy neighbors, empty retirement account and unpaid bills.

I’m telling you, by the time I reached the word that for me spelled relief (Sincerely), I was nearly worn out.

Couple-Jumping with Joy above their circumstances

My immediate reaction was a sympathetic, “Oh, you poor thing!” I mean really, the way she carried on I was nearly convinced she was enduring troubles and pressures way beyond the legal limit. Her situation as she described it did appear to be without solution.

Read more