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Time Saving Tips:

What I’ve learned:

  • when possible don’t bother to measure too carefully. It saves time and dishes. Plus granola bars are very forgiving.
  • Also, use what you have on hand, and don’t be afraid to try a recipe you don’t have all the ingredients for. Just substitute because like I said the recipes seem forgiving.

This is my version of this recipe that I didn’t have all the ingredients for:

Recipe

1 ripe banana, 1/4 cup of syrup, 2 tbs of coconut oil (melted), 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Mix into a liquid in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix 1.5 cup of oats, 1 cup of dates, 2 scoops of muscle milk, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, 4 tbs of ground flax seeds (or regular), a few pinches of cinnamon, one tsp of vanilla extract.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, place in square 8×8 pan layered in Saran and leave in the freezer for an hour. Slice into 12 bars, or however many you want, and store in the fridge.

An easy, easy switch for our health and wallet…another trend I’m seeing in this frugal living lifestyle, health and wealth.

Amanda.

Click here for the beginning of my crazy, but fun experiment in frugal living!

Welcome to another day of my frugal living experiment. Click HERE if you’d like to start from the beginning. Also, today I’m linking up with the Vanilla Tulip:

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Packaged bread isn’t always very expensive in the stores, but when you want the nice quality bakery-style bread you can sometimes pay a pretty penny. Often, I’ve settled with the canned Pillsbury style french bread to go with some soup or stew. It’s pretty cheap, very easy and convenient, and tastes pretty good…until I tried this french bread recipe.

I’ve made homemade french bread before, but often avoid it because of the amount of time it can sometimes take, but with this recipe I found on pinterest it only takes an hour to rise, plus another 15 after the initial rise (a lot of recipes call for an hour, then another 45 min or so). You also get more for your money, because unlike the skinny little rolls you get from Pillsbury, you will finish this recipe with 2 solid rolls.

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Boom.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups warm water (I warm mine by heating in the microwave for 1min 15sec)
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs. salt
2 tbs. oil (I used olive oil and it came out great). Note: I did NOT use extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs yeast (or 1 pkg of dry active yeast)
6 cups flour (bread or all purpose will do)

Directions:

  1. Add water, sugar, salt, oil, and yeast to a stand mixer, or bowl and mix with the dough- hook attachment (I have a Kitchen Aid, so improvise as you need to if you don’t have one).
  2. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. If it’s too dry add one tablespoon of water at a time, and if its too wet, add one tablespoon of dough in at a time.
  3. Knead in your mixer for 5 min. Form into ball.
  4. Let rise for an hour (I heat my oven at 175 degrees for 5 minutes, turn off, and place dough in a greased bowl covered by a damp cloth. It creates a perfect warm environment for the dough to rise. Or I place it in the microwave after heating it with nothing in it for a couple of minutes).
  5. Lightly dust counter with flour.
  6. Punch dough down, knead for a few minutes, and seperate into two equal balls. Roll each ball by end into two seperate logs.
  7. Sprinkle corn meal on jelly roll pan. (I skipped on the cornmeal and used a stoneware cookie sheet)
  8. place loaves on pan.
  9. Let rise 15 min, covered in a damp cloth
  10. Brush about 2 tbs of butter on top, and slice 4 small slits on top of each loaf with a pear knife. Bake at 400 for 15-20 min.

(you can also brush egg white on top before you bake it…it makes it shiny….I skipped that step)

Enjoy!

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We had this bread with some carrot ginger soup, and made the whole meal rather filling. It didn’t taste stale the next day or dry out (like I’ve experienced with a lot of homemade bread).

Amanda.

Hey! Just in case this is your first day to this series, you can click HERE for the beginning.

I’ve really never liked the word “frugal.” I think its how it’s pronounced, but also because it sounds kind of mousey, but overlooking those points, and since practicing it, I love it! I don’t care how mousey it sounds, or even how uncool it sounds. I’ve been discovering the joy and abundance that handmade and frugal living brings…

Part of my motivation behind this series has been to keep up with rising taxes and inflation, but it has also come from a heart that wants to be a better steward of the money God has given us. I truly believe everything we have in this life (money, gifts, talents, house, possessions, children, ect..) doesn’t belong to us but to God;  it’s been given to us to watch over and take care of.

It’s funny how blessing has been pouring out since being much more intentional, and determined with being a good steward of the money we’ve been given. Grace. It’s definitely from His grace.  I had dabbled in frugality in the past, but this month has been different. I’ve been diving in head first. I’ve been experiencing joy in making more recipes at home to save money, financial peace by paying for most of our things in cash, and even discovered the joy of thrift shopping again. It’s so fun finding gems in the rough!

All of a sudden I feel like I’m “making” a lot more things by hand, and actually feel like a “homemaker.” Let’s face it, we live in a time when we really don’t have to make everything from scratch, or do things our self, but the more and more I’ve been doing it, the more I’ve been realizing how much better homemade is. Homemade cookies are better, homemade pizza is better, homemade granola bars are better…better for you, and you get more for your dollar. And it’s not like I never made things from scratch in the past, because I totally did, but now it seems like almost everything I’m making is (dressings, breads, doughs, snacks).

I use to feel kind of guilty when other people bragged about making everything from scratch. I mean really, the whole thing sounded exhausting, so I feel like I need to say this: don’t feel guilty if you don’t, because I still don’t and that’s most certainly not my intent, I’m simply coming from an honest perspective of how awesome homemade can be…and honestly, it hasn’t been as difficult as it appeared from the outside looking in.

I really believe the Lord is blessing us with abundance because we’ve chosen to honor him with this commodity, and homemade cooking means you get more for your dollar…so it truly is abundant living.  I’m not sure how else we’ve been able to eat as well as we have (and even better) despite living on less.

My underlining goal that pushes me on in frugal living comes from a goal I wrote down at the beginning of this year: “I will take one pay check at a time in frugal living.” It encourages me to take it piece by piece, not letting my past mistakes of stewardship discourage me today (and I’ve made a lot them), but living today with my best effort and taking one paycheck at a time. I hope it might encourage you as well.

Keeping to the spirit of Make it Easy Monday, here are some no-kidding EASY changes I’ve made that I can’t believe I hadn’t tried sooner! Tired/busy-momma- proof, plus they taste better, are better for you and save lots of money.

Top three easy changes in minutes

My loves

 Easy Changes

I used the same recipe in the link below, but used instant oats, so I didnt have to bother with the roast, and grinding process. Also, I find I still need to add a tsp of sugar, but after that it tastes just like the box! I even add the water in like the box version.

I used the same recipe in the link below, but used instant oats, so I didnt have to bother with the roast, and grinding process. Also, I find I still need to add a tsp of sugar, but after that it tastes just like the box! I even add the water in like the box version.

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Put abour 2tbs of kernels in a small bowl, and mix with a couple teaspoons each of oil, sugar, and salt. Heat on high, in a lunch bag (put on a plate), and pop from 1.15 min to 4 minutes. Keep your eye on it, and make sure it doesnt pop longer than 4 seconds in between.

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I’ve been making this every sunday. Don’t let the small squares decieve you, they are hearty. I love this recipe! So versatile! You can switch it up every week if you wanted just by changing the add-ins.

   The links:

  • DIY Instant oatmeal …I made mine easier by using quick oats!
  • Bagged popcorn… I tried this a couple of times, and for some reason I’ve always had to leave it in the microwave for around 4 minutes, even though the instructions said 1.15min…so I guess it depends on your microwave.

Amanda.

Welcome to Day 1 of my new series  A Month Of Frugal Living: An Experiment and Honest Report of Living Well on Less, or the abbreviated version: Living Well on Less. Click HERE for the beginning.

Today was grocery shopping for me, and I am happy to say I had great success at saving lots of money, and was by far my smallest bill in almost 2 years! We’re talking around 60 dollars. Mind you, it helped that I had all the meat I needed from last week.

Anyways, I’m excited about the savings because for a while its been really difficult to spend under a hundred for the last year. For the next three days or so, I’d like to share with you what I did to cut down my bill considerably. For today, I thought I’d start with the menu by sharing the tips I used to cut-down our overall grocery bill.

I didn’t want to sacrifice the health of my family, so I still came up with healthy, well-balanced meals. The goal is to still live well, not to live as cheaply as possible.  At the end of the post will be our menu.

The top 3 frugal principles I followed in making my menu were:

  1. Aim to have around three vegetarian meals a week. This should be interesting for us, seeing as my husband is a meat-lover, but by simply halving a traditional ground beef recipe with beans we can considerably lessen the overall bill. Meat is probably the most expensive thing you could purchase.
  2. Make one of your meals “an egg dinner.” A carton of eggs is super cheap, and you can think beyond the standard fried eggs and toast. Some of my favorite are huevos rancheros, Quiche, skillet strata with cheddar and thyme, and ham hash.
  3. Plan your recipes around the ingredients you already have in your pantry, freezer and fridge.

Our Frugal Menu

Black Bean Soft Tacos (source: Allrecipes.com)

Black Bean Soft Tacos Recipe

Lentil Shepard’s Pie. This recipe is from Aimee over at Simple Bites in her post Eat Well, Spend Less: My Top 5 Frugal Meals. It’s a great article that I’d highly recommend checking out!

Pork Vindaloo, served with rice. I’ll be honest, the recipe I used was from The Best 30-Minute Recipe book, by America’s Test Kitchen. I found one online that looked very tasty.

Source: Kitchen Flavours blogspot

Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili

Easy Vegetarian: Super Bean Vegetarian Chili

Source: BHG

Ham Hash and toast…this is how I’ve been making use of my frozen ham I have from Christmas. I sometimes throw in several cups of spinach to add some extra nutrients. You really can’t tell its there, so why not?

Bacon, Ham and Egg Hash

Source: Midwest Living

Homemade Pizza (I use this recipe), Spinach Salad and Garlic-Herb Vinaigrette dressing. I Simply preheat my oven to 350 F, and bake it for about 21 minutes. I like to top it off with what I have in the fridge, as long as it goes.

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Indian Style Lentil Soup. The recipe I used was also from The Best 30-Minute Recipe book, by America’s Test Kitchen. But this one I linked to is shockingly similar! Looks yummy.

Source: Cooking for the week blogspot

I know with each week our grocery expenses will ebb and flow, and that this week was certainly on the low-end, however I do believe using these frugal principles helped in lowering our overall bill. In the next Part II I’ll share the other ways I was able to cut it down.

Thanks for reading,

Amanda.

Do you have bread, eggs, milk, butter, cheese and common household spices (salt, pepper, thyme)? Then you can make this. I love how this recipe makes use of  everyday ingredients but still  tastes great, is super delicious, and makes a nice breakfast the next day.

Note: this is a modified version of the skillet strata from The Best 30-Minute Recipe book, from cook’s illustrated. I use multigrain bread instead of white bread, and use regular 1 or 2% milk instead of whole milk. I know, just slight changes that I made mainly because we don’t buy white bread or whole milk.

Kitchen equipment: 10 inch oven safe skillet, spatula. Having a ten inch skillet is key to making this meal thick and fluffy.

Ingredients:

4 tbs of butter, 1 onion chopped, salt and pepper, 6 large eggs, 1 and half cups of milk, 1/4 tsp of dried thyme (1 tsp of fresh), 1 large handful of shredded cheddar ( Using you hand to measure is quicker and still pretty accurate..or 1 cup),  5 slices of sandwich bread, cut into 1 inch pieces.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Here’s my step-by-step guide:

Preheat oven to 425 F. Melt 4 tbs of butter in 10-inch skillet. Meanwhile,  chop one onion (you can use any onion, I happened to use an almost whole red onion).

Melt over med-high heat, and swirl to coat pan. Meanwhile chop onion.

Heat until the onions slightly brown.

Whisk 6 large eggs, 1 and a half cups of milk, 1/4 tsp of dried thyme or 1 tsp of fresh thyme, 1/4 tsp of pepper and a large handful of cheddar cheese (1 cup).

Doesn’t exactly look yummy, but bear with me.

FAST TIP: spray grating block with cooking spray before you use to ensure easy clean up.

Stack 5 pieces of bread on top of each other, and cut in a checkered pattern to save time.

Toast the bread with the onion (about 3 min). Move the bread around with the spatula to ensure even toasting.

Off heat: add egg mixture, but really make sure you pat the egg mixture into the bread to ensure it soaks in fairly good for even cooking.

Finish in oven! Bake for 12-17 minutes, but make sure edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled slightly from pan. Fast tip: clean your dishes while it cooks = minimal clean up after dinner!

WARNING! Remember to use an oven mitt…no brainer, yes, but I have absentmindedly forgotten before and burned my hand *shifts eyes side to side* not this time obviously…dont be that person. Place your hand under cool water, not cold, if you do.

Serves 6-8…I’d recommend having it with your favorite green salad.

Rinsed spinach from a bag with raspberry vinigrette…its suppose to be easy, don’t judge.

Happy Cooking!

Amanda.