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Archive for the ‘Household Tip of the Day’ Category

SuperMom Tip of the Day – Pick Your Own Fruit

Posted by supermom on June 19, 2009

In a bid to beat the heat of the day, we got up early this morning and headed out for our local blueberry u-pick farm.   An hour and a half later, we were back home with 3 gallons of sweet tasting organic blueberries.

After washing and sorting, we saved out a good sized bowl for desserts and snacks for the next couple of days.Bowl of Blueberries

Then we filled and canned 8 pints. (That’s how many pints will fit in my canner at one time.)

The rest were spread in single layers on baking sheets and placed in the freezer to flash-freeze.

Now for a quick cost analysis:

We paid $7 per gallon at the u-pick farm… so a total of $21.

The berries we saved out for eating now would be approximately equal to 3 of the plastic pint containers.  Around here those run anywhere from $3.00 to $4.00 per pint for organic blueberries.  So even taking the lower price: 3 X $3.00 = $9.00

As mentioned above, we canned 8 pints of berries.  At the grocery store, 14 oz cans of organic blueberries run approximately $2.50 per can:  8 X $2.50 = $20

As you can see… we’ve already saved $8 and that doesn’t even include the berries we have in the freezer waiting to be divided into bags.

Now there are those who will argue that I haven’t added in the time it took to pick the berries or the energy and water costs to can and freeze.

I don’t consider the time picking the berries to be a cost.  In fact… I consider it a blessing.  Dave and I and our son spent some wonderfully peaceful quality time together picking berries.  Our son is 17 and the last of our children living at home.  He’s going into his last year of high school this fall.   There aren’t going to be too many more opportunities like today to spend that kind of time with him building memories.

The energy and water costs are minimal when compared to the peace of mind I have in knowing exactly where our food was grown and exactly what has gone into preserving it.

And then when you take into consideration that hand-picked, fresh berries that have travelled less than five miles to get from farm to table taste so much better and are of higher nutritional quality than anything you can buy at the supermarket and I know we’ve come out way ahead.

This post has been submitted as part of Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom.

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

SuperMom Tip of the Day – Get Creative With Leftovers

Posted by supermom on April 29, 2009

Last night we had egg rolls for supper.   When I was at the store, I only picked up one package of egg roll wrappers since it was just our son and I eating.  But I’m so used to making a double batch now that when I was chopping up veggies, I chopped up the usual amount.  And that meant that we had a bowl of filling leftover.

I didn't think to take a picture before I started using the leftover filling, so this is half of what was leftover.

I didn't think to take a picture before I started using the leftover filling, so this is half of what was leftover.

Now with a teenage boy in the house, what to do with these kinds of leftovers isn’t a question that comes up often in this house, as most times they become an after school snack the next day.  But this leftover bowl of filling looked like it would be too much for a snack.

While I didn’t have anymore egg roll wrappers, what I did have was a ball of pie dough in the freezer that was leftover from making pies at Easter.  So last night, I moved it from the freezer to the fridge.

Then today, I rolled out the dough and cut out rounds using a Tupperware lid as a template.cut-out-rounds

On each round I place a generous spoon full of the filling.place-spoon-full-of-filling-on-round

Then I ran a bead of water around half the circle of dough and carefully folded the dough over and crimped the edges.fold-over

I found it easiest to crimp the edges just a bit at first so that it would hold together and then I picked up the filled half-round and finished crimping by holding it in one hand and pinching with the fingers of my other hand like I do when making perogies.crimps-edges-well

I continued making turnovers until I ran out of dough.  Before popping them in the oven, I poked each turnover with a fork to allow steam to escape.poke-holes-for-steam-vents

Then I baked them at 375 F for about 25 minutes until the dough was a light golden brown.

Here they are… piping hot from the oven.golden-brown-and-piping-hot

And this one… I just had to sample.  You know, just to make sure they tasted good.  It was delicious!deliciously-yummy

How do you get creative with leftovers?   Share your ideas in the comments.

This post was included as an entry for Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom.

Be sure to check out the many other money saving ideas linked to.

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day, Recipes | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Super Mom Tip of the Day – How to Make a Garbage Can Compost Bin

Posted by supermom on March 31, 2009

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For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

Super Mom Tip of the Day – How to Make a Garbage Can Compost Bin

 

 

 

Posted in Budget Savers, Gardening, Household Tip of the Day | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

SuperMom Tip of the Day – Using Coupons to Build Your Food Stockpile

Posted by supermom on March 3, 2009

Recently I’ve been following the blog, Total Ready.   Several weeks ago, she started a weekly post in which she lists one type of food to buy each week with the intention that over the course of a year you will create a stockpile of a three month supply of food.

I grew up in rural Alberta and so I’m more than familiar with having a supply of food stored away in case of emergency.  It was something I continued to do throughout our years of moving from posting to posting in the Canadian Army.

Then, of course, when we bought our acreage, we planted a huge garden including about 175 hills of potatoes each year.  I canned and froze a wide variety of vegetables.  Root vegetables were stored in our cold room in the cellar.  In the late summer, I bought fruit by the case and canned it.  A few roads over from our acreage there were saskatoons growing wild.  We picked those to freeze and can.

From 1999, a picture of half of our garden with greenhouse that Dave build in the background

From 1999, a picture of half of our garden with greenhouse that Dave built in the background

We kept chickens that gave me close to a dozen eggs per day.  In the spring, we bought chicks to raise for meat.  In the fall Dave hunted so we had venison.  We bought our lamb, pork and beef from the farmers in the family.

While living that life, I could safely know that if something out of the ordinary happened, we had a supply of food that would last for several months.

Then even when we were given the opportunity to move to Maui, where fresh food is plentiful year round, I continued to keep a stockpile of canned and frozen foods, as well as flour,  sugar and spices,  just in case.

As we moved on to Florida and now Georgia, I again continued to keep on hand a good supply of the foods that we use on a regular basis.  When something we use goes on sale, I stock up.

But since moving to the States, I’ve never really sat down and figured out how long the food I have on hand would meet our dietary needs.  Thanks to those weekly postings over on Totally Ready, I’m starting to get a pretty good idea.

For instance this week, the assignment is to buy vegetables; 10 cans per person in your family, as well as a supply of frozen veggies.   To my delight, after checking my cupboards and our freezers, I discovered that I have this more than covered.

A couple of weeks ago, though, it was a different story.  That assignment was to purchase 4 cans of soups per family member.

I don’t usually keep a large supply of soup on hand, because most often I make ours from scratch.  It’s more nutritious, more delicious and I can adjust the recipe depending on what ingredients I have on hand.  But I do understand that during an emergency I may not have the time or ability to make soup from scratch, so buy soup I did.

To make it more affordable, I checked the weekly sale ads and discovered that Krogers had Progresso soups on sale for $1.65 per can.  ($1.49 for Progresso Light.)   Also that week, there were internet coupons available for $1.10/1 off any kind of Progresso soup.  I could have gone with the Progresso Light and got each can for 39 cents, but decided that during an emergency the extra calories in regular Progresso might be a better, more filling choice.   I have access to two computers so I was able to print off four coupons; enough for one person.

During that week’s trip to Krogers, I picked up four cans for $2.60.  That’s about the cost of one can when not on sale.

A quick check of my cupboards, had revealed that I had four cans of “cream of” soup… tomato (1), mushroom (2), chicken (1).   Last week, I was able to print off coupons for $1 off two cans of Campbell’s cooking soups.  I’ll be watching for those to come on sale to fill out my supply of soup.

By shopping sales combined with coupons, I’m going to be able to stock up in the food items that I’m lacking for much less than if I had to buy each of the assigned foods at full price.  And as Martha says, “That’s a good thing.”

This post was submitted as part of Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

As well as, over on BeingFrugal.net:

tightwadtuesday-thumb

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

SuperMom Tip of the Day – Have Breakfast at Suppertime

Posted by supermom on February 24, 2009

stack-of-pancakes

Today being Pancake (aka Shrove) Tuesday, we’ll be having pancakes and breakfast sausages for supper.    It’s a tradition that we celebrated when I was living at home with my parents and something that I have continued with my family.

For those who may not be familiar with this tradition, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday which begins the lenten period for Christians.  Lent is a time of reflection and of abstinence; of giving up certain indulgences and foods in the weeks leading up to Easter.  The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday therefore became the day to use up those foods that you would be required to forego during lent.  Pancakes were a way to use up things like butter and eggs which were forbidden during lent.

Whether your family will be observing Lent or not, serving what traditionally would be considered breakfast (or lunch items) at supper doesn’t need to be just a one day or religious observance.   It is also a great way to stretch your food budget.

Some breakfast/lunch foods that I’ve served for supper include:

Quiche – I always try to keep a few pie shells in the freezer that I make up with any pie dough leftover from making turkey or pumpkin pies.  Then when I want a quick, inexpensive meal, I pull out one or two of the pie shells (depending how many people I’m feeding).

No two quiche will be exactly the same because I use whatever I have on hand.  Sometimes it’s just onions, celery and grated cheese over which I pour an egg/milk mixture seasoned with salt and pepper.  If I have chopped spinach in the freezer I may thaw and drain that and add it to the quiche.  Or if I’ve got a bit of chopped ham in the freezer, that might get added.  Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, until egg mixture is set.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (or mushroom soup or whatever soup I have on hand)

Sausages and biscuits with gravy – Since moving to the South, we’ve added this to our menu, but I don’t think I’ve ever served it for breakfast.  It’s just become one of those quick, easy suppers on nights when I really don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking.

A batch of biscuits takes maybe five minutes to mix together and another 10 to 12 minutes to bake.  Fry up some sausage patties and top with pan or canned gravy, add a side of veggies and you’ve got supper on the table in under 20 minutes.

And of course, pancakes.  As I mentioned earlier, we’re having them with sausages tonight, but I’ve also served them topped with poached or fried eggs.  Or sometimes I just set everyone’s favourite toppings on the table along with the plate stacked with  pancakes and let everyone decide for themselves what they want.

So the next time you’re stuck for supper ideas, think breakfast!

This post has been added as part of Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

And also over at BeingFrugal.net for:tightwadtuesday-thumb

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day, Recipes | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

SuperMom Tip of the Day – What to do with Broken Cooked Pasta

Posted by supermom on February 10, 2009

Last Sunday, when I was making Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells, some of the cooked shells had broken or split while cooking and couldn’t be used for the dish.  Plus I ran out of filling before I ran out of shells, so I had some whole ones left, as well.

Rather than throw out that pasta, I sliced it up into strips.cut-up-leftover-pasta

Then I put those into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer to be used the next time I make soup.place-in-bag-and-freeze

I also do this with lasagna or manicotti shells that break while cooking.

This post has been added to Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

And over at BeingFrugal.net…tightwadtuesday-thumb

Posted in Household Tip of the Day | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

SuperMom Tip of the Day – Cook Extra to Freeze

Posted by supermom on January 27, 2009

Out there in blogland, you wouldn’t have to search far to find posts about cooking meals ahead and freezing them.  In fact, many posts you find talk about setting aside one day a week or every few weeks to cook and freeze meals.  There are even sites that will show you how to make enough meals for a whole month.

I do occasionally have all day meal prep sessions.   Perogy making days are actually two day events.  The evening before to cook and prep the filling and extra potatoes for the dough and the second day for actually making the perogies.   Our last perogy day yielded almost 400 perogies.    As well, Kalua Pork needs to have a day set aside for it in order to prep the four to five roasts and then after the cooking  to shred the roasts and bag them for freezing.

But those kind of marathon cooking sessions aren’t something that I have any desire to do very often.  Many years ago I discovered a cook and freeze ahead meal solution that works best for our family that I can and do practice on a regular basis.

If you don’t have the time or desire to set aside an entire day to prepare, cook and then freeze meals, you can achieve the same result simply by cooking extra a few nights per week.  Sometimes will I freeze an entire meal that then just needs to be popped into the microwave or oven to be reheated.   But because I really do like to cook supper every night, most often I freeze items separately so that I have the option of using them to make meal prep faster.

For example, on Sunday I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker which I then served for supper with rice and veggies.   Now there’s no way the three of us could eat a whole 5 ½  lb chicken at one meal, but I cooked a whole chicken with the intention that I would have lots leftover to shred and freeze for use in future meals such as enchilladas, chicken stir fries or fried rice.

And rather than cook only the amount of rice we’d eat that meal, I made an extra large batch of rice so that I’d have enough to freeze.  It doesn’t take that much longer to cook 12 cups of rice than it does to cook 3 cups.   When I cook ahead like this, not only am I saving in future prep time, I’m saving the extra energy it would take to cook 4 separate batches of rice because from 12 cups, I had enough for Sunday supper and for three packages of rice with approximately 3 c per bag.bags-of-rice1

Those bags of rice are now ready and waiting in the freezer to be used in soup, chili, fried rice or simply as a stand alone side dish, perhaps dressed up with a few spices or some veggies.

This can be done with all sorts of meals.   Stews, soups and chili are easy meals to double or triple for freezing.   Or even something as simple as when you’re making tacos.  Instead of browning 1 lb of meat, brown 2 or 3 and then freeze the extra to use next time you make tacos or burritos or when making a quick lunch of taco salad.

In addition to saving time and energy, an added bonus of cooking and freezing ahead is that when you know you have entire meals or the individual components needed to throw together a quick and nutritious meal, you’ll be less tempted to order take out or go the fast food route, which depending how often you resist that urge, could be a huge money saver.

Want more money saving ideas?   Be sure to check out:tightwadtuesday-thumb

And for more kitchen tips, be sure to check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

This post has also been added to all the other great ideas that you’ll find over at Frual Friday as it fits right in with Crystal’s post on menu planning.  I don’t use a formal plan.  I’m the type of person who needs lots of flexibility and my informal plan involves having a stock-pile of ingredients on hand in the cupboard and the freezer so that I can make whatever meal I feel like making that particular day.

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Super Mom’s Household Tip of the Day #3

Posted by supermom on November 13, 2008

When making bread, the cooler the temperature of the room, the longer it takes for the bread dough to rise.  Rather than turn up thermostat, turn on the oven light in your oven and place the bowl of dough inside and close the door.  The oven light provides just that little bit extra warmth needed for the dough rise.

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Super Mom’s Household Tip of the Day #2

Posted by supermom on April 30, 2008

My tip for today is:

Invest in a hot water bottle.

It can be used for more than just soothing aches and pains. We’ve had a cold front come through and the temperature has dropped accordingly. By the time bedtime rolled around last night, the house was getting quite cool but rather than turn the heat back on, I filled the hot water bottle with really hot water, wrapped it up in a pillowcase and slipped it under the covers; placing it the middle of the bed. By the time I’d finished brushing my teeth, etc. that part of the bed was nice and warm when I crawled in, so I moved the water bottle down to the foot of the bed and let it warm my feet.

This is also great thing to do during the depths of winter. There’s nothing better on a cold winter night than to crawl into an already warm bed. I recommend that you have one hot water bottle for each member of the family. A basic one costs about $10 and will last for years.

Posted in Household Tip of the Day | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Super Mom’s Household Tip of the Day #1

Posted by supermom on March 24, 2008

I thought it would be fun to do a Super Mom’s Household Tip of the Day post whenever I think of some household tip or trick that I’ve learned along the way to cook better, clean easier or something that just generally makes life run a bit more smoothly.

To get this started, here’s today’s Household Tip of the Day:

If the recipe calls for whipped egg white, you’ll get more volume if the whites are at room temperature.

However, it’s easier to separate eggs that are cold, so separate your eggs while cold making sure that no yolk gets into the whites. Cover and refrigerate the bowl with the yolks to use in other recipes. Cover the bowl with the whites and allow them to come to room temperature.

And since this is tip #1, I’ll add a bonus tip. Even the tiniest amount of grease on the bowl or beaters will stop the whites from whipping to the desired consistency. So wash all bowls and utensils thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse and dry well before using.

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