Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shopping For Food Frugally

I am shopping for potatoes today!

Frugal shopping takes planning, as I told in my previous post, Making A Plan For Frugal Shopping. Walking into my local grocery store, Mainesource in Binghamton, NY, with my well planned list should result in a good supply of food for my family. Now if you shop in the discount grocery stores, you will get bargains. Bargain food in those stores though, is usually not quality grade food. It is good and safe, but most times the meat is greasy and the produce has seen better days. Not so at Mainesource, which is where I do most of my shopping.

Plenty of choices for potatoes or onions here!

Upon entering the store, the first thing we encounter is the fresh produce. My plan included potatoes and onions, as we eat a lot of them and are always running out. Have you ever bought those five and ten pound bags of potatoes and get them home to find they are spongy, full of sprouted eyes and some are really dirty? Many times the other stores put them on sale to move them out of the store. At Mainesource, the potatoes are always fresh, clean and almost perfect.

Top quality food for restaurants is good for consumers too!

After paying more money for those small bags of potatoes, I was pleased to see the prices on these bags. We bought one 50 pound bag of potatoes for $13.49. Potatoes is a good food to serve your family as it helps you to fill up those with big appetites. There are so many ways to serve them and usually everyone likes them. I like to find recipes for old favorites and add some variety to our menu.

Good sized, fresh potatoes!

The next time you go to the store you make your big purchases for something else. After all, you shouldn't need more potatoes. If you find you do, because you used them all up, then you should buy two bags instead of one. By knowing your family's eating habits you will know whether they will go through something quickly. Sometimes it maybe that having something new in bulk makes them eat more of it. After a period that may wear off. Then they'll be saying they are tired of it, unless you fix it in different ways.

Home fries in the making!

I like serving potatoes for breakfast as home fries or hash browns with eggs and toast. Makes your family members starting the day out with a full stomach. There are many recipes for potatoes online, you can make so many dishes with them. Here is one from my friend, Paula, Fanned Potatoes. That is a recipe I will be making soon, as I know Paula is a fantastic cook! Here are some of my own:

   Steamed Potatoes

Wash clean a dozen well-grown new potatoes, steam
until a fork will pierce, dry in heat five minutes, then peel, and throw
into a skillet, with a heaping tablespoonful of butter, well-rolled in
flour, half a pint of rich milk, ten drops onion juice, salt and pepper
to taste, and a teaspoonful of chopped parsley. The sauce must be
bubbling when the potatoes are put in. Toss them in it for five minutes,
put in deep dish and pour the gravy over. Serve very hot.

Easy Shepherds Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Cream of Mushroom Soup, or whatever you have
1 tbsp. ketchup
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
Mashed potatoes to cover the top.

Cook beef and onion in 10" skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring to break up meat. Pour off fat. Stir soup, ketchup, black pepper and peas and carrots into skillet. Spoon beef mixture in 9" pie plate. Spoon potatoes over beef mixture. Bake at 400°F. for 15 min. or until potatoes are lightly browned.

Parmesan Corn Chowder

2 cups water
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
1 cup sliced or diced peeled carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
1 can (14 3/4 oz.) cream style corn
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine the first five ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender (do not drain).

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir into the vegetable mixture. Add corn and Parmesan cheese. Cook 10 minutes longer or until heated through. Yield: 7 servings

Parmesan Potato Casserole

2 cups mashed potatoes
8 ounces cream cheese
2 eggs
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine mashed potatoes, cream cheese, eggs, onion, and flour. Beat with a mixer on low speed until blended. Beat at high speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add salt and pepper. Pour potato mixture into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with bread crumb/Parmesan cheese mixture. Bake for 35 minutes

Potato Deutsch's

7 potatoes
6 slices dry bread
2 cups milk
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Grate potatoes, rinse in cold water, press dry. Soak 6 bread slices in milk, then beat in 2 eggs, salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir in the potatoes. Pour into a greased dish, top with sour cream, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Potato pancakes are really tasty!

2 cups grated peeled raw potatoes, well drained (about 2 large)
1 beaten egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 - 4 Tbsp. flour (just enough to make a thick batter)

Drop by spoonfuls (spread with spoon to 3/8" thick) on a well greased griddle or heavy frying pan containing hot oil. Brown on each side. Drain on paper towels and newspaper before serving. Great with applesauce!

A pleasant buying experience at Mainesource!

I am trying to buy most of our food in bulk these days. The reason is that you get more food for less money. Once you get started doing this, you will really see the savings over time. You will be paying less money per pound. So for me it is worth the drive 32 miles away to buy the food. Buying not only potatoes, but other produce, meat, dairy products, canned goods, condiments and pasta this way, will really stretch that food budget in these tough times.

$13.49 for 50 lbs.

By the way, According to the FTC Blogging Disclosure, I have to let you know that Mainesource did contact me about writing a post about how to save money by shopping in bulk. That was after I had posted about their store in several past posts, since it is my regular store. In no way did they influence me on what I wrote!

If you already shop in bulk, put a comment in telling your tips for buying, storing and using your bulk food. I'd love to hear from you and may use it in a future post on this blog.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, January 27, 2012

Home Processing Your Food, Your Way

Empty jars build up if you don't do more canning!

Canning jars are building up. I mean empty jars, not full ones. I know this is a sign that I am behind on refilling them. As you use your canned foods, keep a box or cupboard for the empty jars. Make sure you have a separate area for each type of jar. Then when you are in hurry to can, you know where the jars are that you need.

Canning Equipment

It is a like a circle, can the food, eat the food, then refill the empty jars by canning more foods. Instead of filling your pantry or cupboard with store bought canned foods, they are your home canned foods. Make your own dry mixes of food you normally buy in the store. Such as pudding mixes, baking mixes, cake mixes, cream soup mix and hot coco mix. They are easy to mix up and store in your pantry until you need them. Cheaper and you can adjust them to fit your taste. Not some manufacturer.

Can your own pumpkin for pie!

For example, a can of blueberry pie filling at Walmart, their brand, which is the cheapest, is over $3.00 and does not fill the pie crust. Now if you either grow your own blueberries or go to a pick your own place and make your own blueberry pie filling when they are in season, you will have plenty of really tasty pie filling. You may also buy fresh or frozen berries in the stores or at farmer's markets, but that will cost more. At least they will taste better though! Same with apple or pumpkin pie filling or any kind you like.

Lynn at Viggies Veggies is my friend on Facebook, and she has been canning up a storm this year. Be sure to check out her blog, and see why I think she is a shining example for a homesteading woman. Not only is she single, but she is an "urban homesteader". This shows what can be done once you make the move to get serious. Proves my notion that you can do it anywhere!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making A Plan For Frugal Shopping

Nowadays you can't just walk into a grocery store without a plan and a shopping list. When people ask me how to shop frugally and bring home some decent food for their family, that is the number one answer I give them. "Make a plan and a list!"

Making the grocery list without your plan will work, but it will not be the most effective use of your grocery budget. When making a plan, you must know what meals and snacks your family will be eating for the week or month. Keeping a list of the foods your family eats on a regular basis is the first step.

The next step is to have a permanent list of the ingredients you use. That way if you need to change the way you make something, you can just delete the ingredient to add the new one. This is a post I wrote about making my list for our low carb food plan in 2010, Planning Your Meals Around Special Diets. You just write it around the type of diet your family eats.

Do not neglect adding new recipes,which you should, to add some variety and pizzazz to your table. There are many online sources of recipes such as All Recipes. You can locate recipes of all descriptions and ingredients to build a repertoire of recipes to fit every size budget.

If your list is for one week, plan what you will serve for each day. How much does your family eat? A family with teenage boys may need more than a family with little children or no children. Plan to have enough food that is nutritious and enough so they won't leave the table hungry.

Always include the sale flyers from the stores you are shopping at, if possible. Sometimes you may find a good deal on a meat or other ingredient you weren't planning on serving this week. Make your list flexible enough to change the plan for the week to include it. In 2008, I had wrote a post called My Frugal Grocery Shopping Plan that is just a quick overview of how to do it.

If you have children, of whatever age, include them in the making of the food plan for the week. That way, they will understand the process, and as they grow up, they will have an understanding of how to do it themselves. While they are younger though, it teaches them why they are eating certain meals this week, and not others. Ask them for their ideas for meals, and it can be an activity of teaching math and frugal shopping.

In future posts, I will be going into detail on how you can best shop frugal and stay well within your budget. If you have any suggestions yourself, please feel free to post them in my comment section. I love to interact with my readers, and may use some of your ideas in my future posts!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hobo On Wordless Wednesday

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No Sun Means Less Power

Gray days don't charge solar panels!

Days without sun are limiting our power since our wind turbine is not completed yet. Had to wait till spring to finish it. I guess if you just buy a turbine or pole to put it on you can get it finished faster. My husband though is building a special pole that he has finished, but there is more to it then just setting the turbine on the top. It bends over so he can work on it in case there is a problem with the turbine. Of course, depending on how big your system, you may be able to get through the time with low sun. Our system is very small.

Solar Panels in summer charge really good!

I am not complaining as usually January is much worse than this. It appears though that we are having our January thaw. Our wood stoves are banked back and I am not wearing long sleeves. Not bad for January. It worries me though, what is in store for February? That is usually our worse month by far.

Callie Cat spends the winter sleeping!

Since I am off my computer most of the day for now, I will be writing a quick post today. This morning I had a sale on eBay so I had to package that up and check my other auctions. Now I will get off after I take my photos out of my camera and put on the computer. I will spend most of my day working around the house. Organizing and cleaning mostly.

Missing the sunshine!

Hope everyone has a great day, and if you have sunshine........enjoy it!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, January 23, 2012

Firewood Harvest

I love the forest!

When you heat with wood it is a big plus if you have your own supply of firewood. Instead of buying wood, then you are cutting it. By taking down all the dead wood, it gives more room and light to the new trees just coming in. Too many trees, too close together, limits the sunlight coming in down below, to the ones just trying to get started. I have replanted a few pine trees myself, putting them in my front yard along the road. Presently, we have room for a few more.

Woods behind our house

Many trees die and stand for years until a wind knocks them over. On our land, we had a tornado take down over 300 trees, which we used for firewood for many years. Often a tree doesn't even appear to be dead, grows leaves and like the apple trees, even fruit. Then all of a sudden the tree falls over and you find it is all rotted inside.

Their wild instinct is to eat wood!

Hardwood is a good choice for burning in your wood stove. Hardwood according to Wikipedia: "Hardwoods have a more complex structure than softwoods. The dominant feature separating "hardwoods" from softwoods is the presence of pores, or vessels.The vessels may show considerable variation in size, shape of perforation plates (simple, scalariform, reticulate, foraminate), and structure of cell wall, such as spiral thickenings."

Cherry, elm, pine and oak

The hardwood we have in our forest and surrounding area here in upstate NY are Maple, Oak, Elm, Cherry and Poplar (or Aspen, as it is referred to). Elm had some years ago been victims of Dutch Elm disease and were history. Now though, our forest and surrounding area is rich with elms. They are everywhere and our forest is full of them. When we first moved here, Cherry, was plentiful. And I so love a fire made of cherry. Oh, the smell is so comforting! The forest changes over time though, now the cherry is not as plentiful as it once was. More Oak is coming up. The seeds will lay dormant for many years and all of a sudden, trees come up that you hadn't seen before. Nature's surprise!

Trees surround us!

Some people say not to use pine, a softwood,  for wood stoves. We do though. It gives you a hot fire and will build up creosote in the chimney, but my husband cleans our chimney a lot, monthly. So its not much of a problem for us. If I need a hot fire for cooking something that requires a high temp, I will always make a fire with some pine. Pine is plentiful here and I'd hate to waste it. Mixing a softwood with a hardwood is something we do. It extends the softwood's burning time.

Ah........split firewood!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Does Simple Living Mean To You?

What does simple living mean to you? I have been reading a variety of websites and books that proclaim the "simple living" philosophy. The nuts and bolts of most of these books and sites is to get rid of everything you own, except only the things you need to live. So I am asking my readers here, is that what you think it is?

As for myself, I do not own a lot of things. Having moved more than a few things and going through divorce makes you lose things you had. So you end up with less. Then moving into a smaller house that did not have electricity at the time, made me get rid of things I used to have, and then had no use for.

Much of my things are of either necessity or sentimental value. What about you? My next question is how do you rid yourself of the sentimental items? Or do you? And do you have to? Some of mine, I have decided to keep and some, I will get rid of. The only reason I am getting rid of them is that is the only way I can be sure they are going to a home that wants them. If I sell them on eBay, then someone paid money for them so they must want and value them. Right? Not so, when they are inherited by family members who do not.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Favorite Photos From Past Posts

Sites along the way near my home

Forest Path back to the house

Patches, my big baby!

A hay field nearby

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, January 20, 2012

Self-reliance means to rely on yourself as much as possible. If you are buying most of your food and supplies from the store right now, that is fine. Implementing some changes in the way you do things now, is the way you can get on the road to true self-reliance or self-sufficiency. I have decided to make some changes that will really pull my homestead together.

For me, preparedness is essential. I have been doing research this morning on some of the ideas I am working on. Our garden is the center of that self-reliance preparations. My recent posts have been about planning our garden for this year. I am making a change by planting more green beans in any extra spot I can find. This will be my "extra crop" for this year. Next year, it will be something else. Eventually I may add some beds that will for these crops every year.

New crops that I plan to add this year will be:

  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Concord Grapes
  • Raspberries
There will probably be more as I work it out. Do a little bit at a time, so it is not so over whelming. Be sure to do something though. Don't put it on the back burner for too long or it may be too late.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Learning New Ideas

Our off-the-grid homestead in summer

I have been reading a new book, Surviving Off Off-Grid, that I should have read long ago, like last year when it was first published. But I did not, even though I reminded myself several times to buy it. One of my friends had told me about it last year and I guess I had forgotten about it. Well one day this week it was on Amazon's Kindle store for free and I grabbed it. Am I glad I did!

I am not even done with it and I had to share it here. Michael Bunker got some flack in the review department due to the religious tones of his book, but if you read it with an open mind you can pick up a lot of good information. The trouble is if you put anything religious in a book, someone is going to put it down. So I don't pay any attention to those reviews.

Our garden

What I found interesting in his book are some things I plan on concentrating on this year on our homestead. One is learning to use other methods of food preservation. Up until now, I have used mainly canning or the root cellar. Now I am going to learn about using salting and  lacto-fermentation methods of preserving foods. He also gave me other great ideas I intend to use in the garden this year too. I will write more about it once I figure it all out and how it applies to us.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter - Wordless Wednesday

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Protecting Home Canned Foods From Freezing

Packing Boxes For Our Move To FL In 1994!

There is no question about it, our homesteading life can be hard. It is much harder if you do not organize your house as well as your time. Many jobs around the homestead can be eliminated if you have organized your home. I know from experience. I was far from organized the last few years. Boy, would I get stressed! Where to start? What can I do? Then I found Flylady!

Did I change overnight? No! Have I always been this way? Heavens no! I was once the most organized person in the world. I kid you not. What happened? Life happened. Moving to and then back again from Florida in 1995 was the beginning of my disorganization. Actually, it was when I move there in 1994, that did it. The house was way too small and had barely any closets or cupboards to put anything in. It seems after that, every house I moved into did not have enough room for my stuff.

Home Canned Foods

I was so overwhelmed by the job of storing my home canned foods once my husband started work on our battery room. It meant the cellar would be open and would now get too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer to store jars of food. It also made it accessible to critters during the night. So I put them in my pantry. Then the mice came in and got the jars all dirty on top. I would cover them with plastic to protect them. It was a nightmare!

Empty jars are on the bottom now.

Soon I started buying plastic (And you know HOW MUCH I hate plastic!) containers, like the Rubbermaid ones. Now I keep my jars of food and almost everything else inside them. There was still one problem. In the winter now, my pantry gets really cold. So the containers that had home canned food in them could freeze if they were sitting on the floor. Which they were.  Now they are off the floor and sitting on containers of empty jars. Easy to get to when I am in the middle of canning and need jars. Plus, they were stored upstairs taking up valuable space. Now that was a good solution to that problem.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole