Daily Dozen: Dressing up ramen,ways to use beets,applesauce,beans,taters…and more.

12 recipes that almost all have a number in the title. I didn’t aim for that. I aimed for low cost recipes here or things I know are typically found at food pantries.

  1. 6 Ways to Upgrade Instant Ramen – Budget Bytes – these are simple and great ideas for dressing up instant ramen. My husband could write an instant ramen cookbook. He’s done some great things w/ random canned veggies we get from the food pantry.

  2. 10 New and Exciting Uses for Canned Beets – oh,these are all so good. I love beets,though.

  3. Dirt Cheap Easy Sweet and Sour Meatball Stir Fry – Budget101.com – I actually made this awhile ago using all food pantry stuff and didn’t have my act together enough to do a Pantry Anarchy post and now I don’t remember what I did but I know it involved a can of crushed pineapple & the juice in the sauce.

  4. Don’t Toss the Pickle Brine! (And 7 Byproducts as Good as Their Products) -good food recycling

  5. 6 Sweet & Savory Ways to Use Applesauce – we have applesauce in abundance here from the Backpack Program. Can’t wait to try some of these ideas, especially for the boys’ snacks.

  6. Blessed Little Homestead: 30 Days, 30 Meals -a basic meal plan using simple, mostly low cost meals

  7. Native Cooking: Bring Them to the Table With Corn Chowder– my winter days are not done here yet. Can’t wait to make this on a really cold day with some nice bread

  8. warm lentil and potato salad | smitten kitchen – I make a lot of meals with lentils and they are honestly not my kids’ fave but they ate them this way

  9.  14 Recipes that Celebrate the Humble Spud – I need not say more here

  10. 23 Recipes That Celebrate the Humble Bean– Because when beans are poor people food, you have to have as many way to cook them as you can so no one gets sick and tired of eating beans

  11. 10 Must-Make Macaroni Salad Recipes– I honestly don’t see a lot of revolutionary differences between these recipes but I can’t wait for summer and macaroni salad reminds me of summer

  12. 9 Reasons Not to Pour Your Leftover Coffee Down the Drain – more recycling. I always feel weird tossing out leftover coffee, so this is good for me.
    Photo by James Ransom

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We’re having a Seed Party

The first thing my little one does when he wakes up in the morning is go to our “Seed Shelf”, a plastic yellow shelf my husband rescued from the garbage at a supermarket. It was an end-of-aisle display shelf for bug repellant. It’s been sitting  in a corner of the boys’ room, displaying lego creations and holding stacks of Pokemon cards. Now it’s been cleared off to store the random small containers and toilet paper tube pots we’ve gathered together from raiding recycle bins to start seeds in. The lack of a backing makes it a perfect seed starting shelf, placed in front of of one the few windows that actually lets light in our house.seed cups

This morning, my littlest peeked over the edge of a shelf , looking at the containers he helped me fill with soil and pushed seeds into with his tiny fingers . I could tell by the look on his face he was expecting to see more than just dirt. Disappointed,he said, “There’s nothing growing there. I think we need to have a seed party to make them pop up!”

Seed Parties, as it turns out, involve lots of water, spraying of water, and staring at DSC_0613the seed pots impatiently waiting for the magic to happen.

Time is hard for a three year old. Eventually, he gets tired of staring at dirt and goes off to play but he’ll come back later to check and make sure something exciting didn’t happen while he wasn’t standing watch. He doesn’t remember much of last year’s gardening experiences – it’s all new again this year. To me, that’s just so cool to see him experiencing things all over again, just like it’s new. There’s some things retained from last Spring. He remembers eating so many cucumbers and tomatoes off the vine ,straight from the garden but the seed starting business is fairly fuzzy in his memory.

This year he’ll be old enough to pick up new curse words if he hears me ranting at the woodchuck, the deer ,and the slugs who think my garden is an outdoor diner, so I’ll have to learn some new curse-worthy sentence enhancers to yell. Like maybe, “BY ST. BOOGAR AND ALL THE SAINTS AT THE BACKSIDE DOOR OF PURGATORY!”

The Seed Shelf. I was standing straight. It looks crooked because the floors in our house are sloped. No kidding.
The Seed Shelf. I was standing straight. It looks crooked because the floors in our house are sloped. No kidding.

Crockpot Yogurt




originally posted on my other blog crazy dumbsaint of the mind on January 11th,2011.

I love our crockpot so much I thought we could use another one. We already had a 6-Qt one, perfect for making large portion main dishes for our tribe. I figured a smaller one would be great for side dishes and such. Totally unrelated to thrifty matters, I’ve never understood why people tend to use their crock pot in the winter and not in the summer. I use mine in the summer so I don’t have to have the oven on during hot summer days. In the winter, having the oven on makes the house nice and toasty. I also use the crock pot for making soup stocks,cooking dried beans,sauces and a bunch of other stuff.

So,anyway ….I found this at a local consignment  shop. It was in it’s original box and the price sticker said it was, “ALMOST NEW.USED ONCE. WORKS FINE!”.  It was only $4. I was sold.

This particular model is probably about 25 years old, so technically it’s vintage.

BUT does it work? Was the previous owner a rotten liar, just trying to get their greedy hands on my whopping four bucks?

Well, the other day, someone I follow on Twitter mentioned (Tweeted) that they were making homemade yogurt. I said I was kicking myself for Freecycling my yogurt maker and then she filled me in that it was CROCK POT Yogurt. I had to try it.

Since I already had plans to put a roast in the big crock pot, it fell to the little one to show me what it’s got.

The verdict is….

…it successfully made yogurt!  Even my one daughter who isn’t really all that fond of yogurt loved this and had it every morning for breakfast. Well, until it ran out on Wednesday morning. We made sure to save 1/2 cup to use as a starter for a new batch and we’ll probably make more this weekend.


Ingredients you need are:
-8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk–pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized. (Debbie recommends starting with whole milk until you get the hang of yogurt-making)

–1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)

–frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring

–thick bath towel

–slow cooker

Since there are pictures and everything of the steps on exactly how to make it, I’ll let you read them here:  CrockPot Yogurt

(by the way, Year of Slow Cooking is one of my favorite food blogs and much thanks to Stephanie for pointing me in the direction of Punk Domestics )

An added secondhand bonus: The glass desert cup in the photo is ,of course, second hand. I’m not sure where it came from….possibly my Mom. The tablecloth is a vintage score, something I picked up at a yard sale.

My one criticism of the crock pot itself – the stoneware crock is NOT removable. I can see if you made something really messy and gloppy in it, it would be a pain in the ass to clean. I’ll just have to keep that in mind for future uses.


ICYMI: Meals w/protein but no meat, thrifty kitchen tools,basic sourdough, staying clean without showering daily (or shampoo), and oodles more.


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The Foodie Stuff

21 Meals With Tons Of Protein And No Meat – Just what it says: tons of protein,no meat

Freezer Meals – Spinach Lasagna Rolls – This was one of my standard freezer meals back when I did once a month cooking regularly. They freeze well and filling is easily changed up for variety.

Soup of the Day: Fasolka – I’m loving Persephone Magazine ‘s Soup of the Day recipes. This one has good protein and easy-peasy to make.

Quinoa Mushroom Soup – I made this with some “rescued” quinoa…the grocery store was going to throw it out because there was a slit n the bag. #freegan

10 Kitchen Tools Thrifty People Own – Snail Pace Transformations    Oh, you have no idea how much I love some of these things.
Popcorn is a whole food group to me and my 2 crockpots are my bestest buds. The only think on this list I don’t like is bread machines. I dunno. I just like doing it the other way.
*My “thrifty tip”* : You can find everything on this list at yard sales & thrift stores or freecycle/craigslist.

Recipe: Basic Sourdough Starter -For the Want-to-Be-Bread-Bakers. Once you start baking sourdough, it can become a little bit of a cultivated obsession.

Roasted Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers with Smoked Paprika Chipotle Sauce – I cooked too many black beans one day, so I used them up to make these burgers. So good.


If you’re craving something, it’s probably because your body needs something else. Well, unless it’s a comfort food but that’s another story.
Another tip about chia seeds: They do this weird expanding thing and help you feel fuller longer. Weight loss people recommend them for this reason but I recommend them for reducing some hunger pangs.

It’s a problem.

Thrifty Living Things 

Growing Onions Vertically On The Windows – Pretty easy to do and doesn’t require much space.

Renewed Frugality – 21 Frugal Tips To Try This Year -Have to be honest…. the Frugal Tips in the blogosphere are getting old for me BUT I like this one! I do most of these myself …
and I have to throw out there for #10 – if you have a good library system, use it for family movie night to save even more money.

Washing My Hair With Baking Soda | My Healthy Green Family -This is my hair care regimen,too.
( not only is it “green”, you can’t buy shampoo with SNAP but you can buy baking soda & apple cider vinegar)

Garden Crops: Cold Storage Ideas & Root Cellar Tips        Helpful for those of you who are getting a bounty of root crops from their CSA. 

How to Stay Clean Without Showering Every Day– All sorts of reasons people can’t shower every day, so here’s some ideas on how to not be the smelly kid & still be clean without showering daily.

DIY Homemade Cling Wrap – Nourishing Joy -Saves money, helps eliminate (or reduce at least ) plastic.





ICYMI-Recipe & Thrifty/DIY Tips Round-Up: Understanding Seed Catalogs, Kitchen Grease Soap, making the most of produce and more….

Recipes,food,budgeting,thrifty tips…stuff you might have missed this past week.

Save Cash and Eat Better With These 8 Tricks for Your Fruits and Veggies–   useful tips to make produce last longer

Making Soap from Kitchen Grease « Little House in the Suburbs- I know it sounds gross but it’s the reason my Grandma saved all her grease in a can by the stove. Ultimate recycling.

What To Buy In The Month Of January – How I Pinch A Penny- maybe this helps,maybe it doesn’t. Poor is poor and a lot of times that means there is no money to buy anything, even if it’s cheap but… if you have some extra jingle and need some things, these things are cheaper in January.

How to De-Gas Beans – Whole New Mom– It doesn’t say it but…the longer How to De-Gas Beans. This REALLY works! Find out how to take the gas out of beans and make sure you don't end up "gassing" everyone else out after eating a bean-filled meal!you soak the beans, the less gassier they will be. Hey, when you eat a lot of beans, every tip helps.

Meal Planning and Keeping a Stocked Pantry-Doing this instead of meal planning works best for some people. It can be hard for those with low income/SNAP budgets to have a well stocked pantry sometimes,though. I do a bit of both. I have to do a lot of shopping at once because we don’t have a car and if someone is offering a ride, that’s the time to get groceries…ALL the groceries …but in that context,I would only buy the fresh produce we could use in that week and make sure the rest was either frozen (or freezable) or canned/dry goods.

Parsnip Fritters – I’m betting CSA members have parsnips they need to figure out what t do with…

So many NY apples, but not enough storage -My state, so probably not applicable everywhere but right now in NY, apples are cheaper because of piss-poor planning. Overproduction, lack of storage. Shameful the lack of waste associated with this.

To Peel or Not to Peel?– Literally just what it says. Which veggies are worth taking the time to peel or not.

How-to: Shopping in a Wheelchair – not budgety or anything but helpful for anyone new to shopping while in a wheelchair.
How to Choose the Best Seeds for your Garden: Understanding Seed Catalogs-The one thing (the only thing) I love about January is the arrival of seed catalogs in mailbox.
This video is really,really good if you’re a newbie to gardening and trying to figure out what kind of seeds to buy or swap for. I like the tips on organizing your seed stash,too. I’m a terrible seed hoarder. I need to get better at organizing them.

Eat All Your Vegetables: How to Use Stems and Roots- use ALL your veggies.


Thrift Score: Belated Back-to-School Clothes

We didn’t have any extra cash to do back to school clothes shopping last month, and my three girls really needed some new stuff.

How cute is their sign? SO cute.
How cute is their sign? SO cute.

Hooray for the annual Presbyterian Mission rummage sale!

Or if we lived across the pond…a church jumble!

I look forward to this sale every year. So much great stuff for next to nothing.
The first day of the sale, my 12 year old said she wanted-needed sweaters. She scored 3 gorgeous sweaters (she will not model them. I asked) , and I found various other things…a dress, a skirt, some t-shirts,kids’ clothes…. for the bargain price of $13.

I could not buy the yarn to knit one of the sweaters for $13.

The ladies at check out were all kinds of wonderful. They would consider the brand label when tossing out a price at me. “Oh, this is a Gap shirt. $2, maybe? Or is that too much?”
There was the tiniest pinprick of a snag on something (I seriously don’t even notice it), and the lady checking out deemed it to be only worth 50¢. I think that first day of the sale, the most I paid for any one item was $3 and that was the dress I got.

Saturday was the best day, though. Saturday was “Fill a Bag for $3” day.
My teenagers and I filled 3 bags. We went home with this:


I’m not  someone who cares about brand names and stuff but there were some really good ones in there. My teenagers  don’t care,either (hallelujah!). When they’re picking out clothes secondhand (honestly, the only way we shop at all for clothing),they’re looking for something that reflects their personal style, not a label.

So, I spent $22 total at this one rummage sale on clothes for one tween, two teenagers, myself, my two boys ,AND also managed to grab some things to donate to my local teen mamas. It was a pretty excellent score.