Archive | December, 2011

Mom’s Oatmeal Meatloaf

15 Dec

Growing up meatloaf was probably my favorite meal to help make, it was probably due to the fact that I got to use my hands to mix all the ingredients. Here is the meatloaf that I grew up on, of course mom never measured so these are estimates.

I have reduced this to feed 2, just multiply to feed more.

3/4lb ground beef
3/8 c. rolled oats (plain oatmeal)
1/4 c. ketchup
1 egg
1/2 t. worcestershire sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1/4t. salt
dash of pepper

Just add all in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand. You can also toss in diced onions and green peppers for some added flavor. I cook mine in muffin mans for perfectly sized portions, this makes about 6 meatloaf muffins.

Mix a quick BBQ sauce or use bottled BBQ sauce or plain ketchup and coat the top every 5-10 minutes while cooking

Cook mini meatloafs at 350 for 35 minutes, full size loafs will take 60-70 minutes.

You can top with mashed potatoes to make the muffins into cup cakes or serve as is.

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Cardinal Rules of Frugality

14 Dec

Frugality, what is it really? To me being frugal means saving every penny possible, yet living the highest quality life possible on our income.  We are working very hard to save as much money as possible yet still enjoy the small luxury items in life.

Rule 1: Always Plan Ahead

Weather it be shopping clearance racks at the end of the season, packing a snack so you don’t hit the vending machine or mapping out gas station fill ups for your next road trip, planning ahead can save you a good amount of money.

Earlier this week the trivia question on the radio station was “The average person spends $7000 a life time on this.. ” the answer was vending machines, yes $7000! That is a lot of money. On average vending machine prices are about 4x the price of picking up the item in bulk at Wal-Mart, even without using coupons.  Here is a hint: If you are a vending machine junkie stash a few cans of soda or bottled water and snack items in your desk or in the car.

Are you wanting to upgrade Christmas decorations? Don’t do it now, wait until the day after Christmas to hit up Target or Wal-Mart for sales. Everything will be 50% off the day after and continue to go down until its all gone. Another thing to look for on sale is the gift packs, yes they make great gifts but some of them are very practical. Check out the Gillette Razor pack, witch includes a razor, shaving cream, body wash and a couple other things for just $10, after Christmas they will be $5 (The razor alone is about $9.) This goes for all holiday and seasonal merchandise. Plan ahead and never pay full price again.

Rule 2: Reuse, Recycle & Reinvent

At the risk of sounding like my grandma, there are just some things I will never throw away because I know there are alternative uses for them. Here are some ideas just to get you started, but really the possibilities are endless.

Coolwhip or butter containers– I think all my Grandma’s “tupperware” containers consist of these- now I am not that extreme, but they do work really well when I want to take food somewhere and don’t want to worry about keeping up with the nice (aka pricey) containers that we got as a wedding gift. They are also really great to store small pieces (screws, craft items, crayons, etc.)
Baby wipe containers – If you are a mom of little ones you surely have an excess of these, they are great for bigger craft items and if you get really frugal try making your own wipes and storing them in there.
Zip Lock Baggies- As a child I remember my grandma washing these out and keeping them (she still does!) I don’t go to that extreme but I do keep re-use some Ziplock bags but I toss the really dirty ones.
Old Bath Towels or T-shirts- These can be used for a variety of things from crafts to cleaning. Cut them up and throw them in a spare drawer for those big messes or send them to the garage for hubbies messes (no more ruining your dish towels with greasy hands.) Watch out for my upcoming post for a craft to use these in!
Pringle Containers– These are the perfect size to store paint brushes and colored pencils in. You can wrap them in decorative paper or leave them as they are.
Grocery Bags– Everyone knows that these are the perfect size for bathroom trash bags, but really how many bathroom trash bags do you need? Grocery bags also have other uses, one of my favorite is packing material-instead of newspaper or packing peanuts, I use plastic bags.  Are you crafty? Try crocheting a reusable shopping bag with “plarn” string made from recycled bags-its a DIY project that is completely free! Can’t beat that.
Old accessories/furniture: Are you updating your house? Changing color scheme or style? A can of spray paint can bring a whole new look to old outdated furniture. Before you send it to the junk yard think about what it would look like in a different color – trust me its worth the $1 can of spray paint! I had 2 very old and dated brass glass top tables, a $1 can of black spray paint later and they were back in style and I got so many compliments off of them. Fast, easy and cheap!

You get where I am going with this, there is another use for just about everything. Next time you walk to the trash can take a good look at the item you are throwing out and think about what else it could be used for-could it save you money from purchasing something else to do that task?

Rule 3: Don’t Buy just to save money

Just because something is on sale does not mean you need it. If you wont use it, even if it is a really good deal, leave it on the shelf and keep the money in your pocket.  A good deal is only a good deal if it was something that you would have bought (or would have liked to buy) anyways.  No since in buying 10 packs of diapers if you don’t have kids or 30 pounds of cat food if you don’t have a cat – of course you can always donate, keep that in mind.

Rule 4: Take what is given to you

Weather it be hand me down cloths or extra produce when you can get your hand’s on something for free always jump on the opportunity. If a friend offers you their old clothes instead of turning them down take them, sort through what you want and sell or donate the rest. If a neighbor has a garden and offers you some extra produce, even if its something you don’t normally eat take it and try it, who knows you might love it. Also check out your area’s freecycle or the free section on Craig’s list, remember one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.. what do you have to loose, it’s free!

Rule 5: Never Pay Full Price

I follow this rule on 95% of my daily purchases. You can find coupons or shop sales for nearly everything in your life. Yes we all know about grocery and household coupons but did you know there are restaurant coupons and on restaurant.com you can get $25 gift certificates for as low as $1.  What about car service-yup most shops offer coupons on their website or facebook now, just today I god $10 off of my car alignment just by doing a little research before making the appointment. Going to the movies? Look for your local $1 or second run theater or check out your regular theater for coupons – mine offers a free large popcorn for joining their emailing list and sends me a coupon on my birthday and other random coupons.   For clothing shop sales and discount stores such as TjMaxx and Ross Dress for name brand items, if you are planning on a trip to the mall check out their website for a list of available coupons and visit individual stores websites and facebook pages for additional discounts. I also frequent the dollar tree and Big Lots for certain purchases and I always check out the clearence section whenever I am in a store, you never know what you will find.  The one thing that I have had trouble saving on is gas- yes I price shop but that is about as good as it gets for me on this. Any suggestions?

There you have it, my top 5 rules of frugality, what are yours?

Copuoning Tip: How to determine what to stock pile and what to not

8 Dec

When shopping its hard to pass up a great deal, but what if you wont use the item? If its just sitting on a shelf collecting dust the money is better left in your pocket, its ok to pass on some deals.

When I first started couponing I found myself buying stuff just because it was  a good deal and I realized I was spending more money than had I passed on the items all together and paid full price for one item that I was actually going to use.

To prevent yourself from buying deals just to “save money” make a list of the top items that you use almost every day, make a food items list and a non-food item lists and stockpile from that list.

To get you started here are my most used items list:

Food

1. Frozen Meat (Chicken, beef & pork)
2. Canned Broth (Chicken & Beef)
3. Pasta
4. Spaghetti Sauce
5. Sugar
6. Oil
7.Flour
8.Canned Veggies
9.Poptarts or other easy Breakfast grab and go items
10. Cereal
11. cream of something soup
12.Frozen lunch (Hot Pockets, Pizza rolls)

 

Non-Food

1.Tooth Paste
2.Shampoo & Conditioner
3.Body Wash/Bar Soap
4.Toilet Paper
5.Paper Towels
6.Laundry Detergent
7.Dryer Sheets
8.Lotion
9.Hair Spray
10.Dawn Dish Soap
11.Dishwasher Tabs
12.Lysol Wipes
13.Razors
14.Shaving Cream
15.Tape

 

After you make your list, shop the deals to stock up on the list, I always have at least one extra of the items on the list (most of them I have at least a 6 month supply) so I don’t find myself running to the store and paying full price for an item when I run out. Don’t get in a hurry when stocking up, wait for a sale to come around, it may take a few months but in the long run it will drastically decrease your shopping bill.