Tag Archives: frugal

Mojito sugar scrub (a cooling body scrub)

I have to admit that although spending the better part of last week at the cottage in the sun and the water was great, it may have been a little hard on my skin. I’ve got some peely bits on my nose and arms that are not so attractive (I know, I should wear sunscreen, but it was so hot and we were in and out of the water so much, it really wouldn’t have stayed on anyway).

I used up the rest of my sugar scrub before we left for the cottage, so I’ve made up a new batch. Since my sister-in-law thought that the lemon olive oil scrub was more than edible, let’s see if she pours spiced rum on this one and tries to make a drink out of it. This batch has the extra bonus of the cooling properties of mint, so it’s a nice scrub to use on summer-time skin.

You can store it in the fridge to keep it fresh, or just use it up quickly. This doesn’t make a whole lot, so if you are using it a couple of times a week in the shower, it’ll be gone before it sours on you. Just be careful – the olive oil does tend to make the shower floor a little slippery.

Mojito Sugar Scrub

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • juice (2 tbsp) and zest of one lime
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Put mint leaves and sugar in food processor and whir them until the mint is well blended in – or, you could finely chop the mint and muddle it into the sugar afterwards, whichever you find easier. Mix everything together in a jar and store in the fridge to keep it fresh (it does have real juice in it). Use it anywhere on your body that needs a little scrub, moisturizer or general healthy glow.

Linked to A Pinch of Joy , Like a Mustard Seed, Frugally Sustainable, Homestead Simple

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grocery cart content changes

Last weekend my husband and I were out grocery shopping together (romantic, eh?) and I commented on how the contents of our grocery cart have changed over the last year and a half. A year ago we started making a lot of foods ourselves (not all, we’re not fanatic about it).

Before, our cart would have included cookies, frozen pizza for quickie dinners, breaded chicken or fish, fries, snack packs of things that could go in the kid’s lunches, boxed cereals and minute rice, juice, etc. Since then, we have begun to make most of these ourselves. We now stick to the outer produce and dairy sections with brief forays into the middle of the grocery store, but mostly just to restock ingredients. We’ve also bought less vegetables this year thanks to the garden we put in last year.

It turns out that making most things from scratch isn’t much more of a time committment than the ready made alternatives. We enjoy being in the kitchen. And homemade just tastes so much better, never mind how much better it is for us.

A few things that we don’t buy anymore because we make it ourselves:

  1. Pizza – we have a great recipe for quick pizza crust that we top with cheese, pizza sauce, leftover cooked meat that we keep chopped in the freezer and chopped veggies from the garden that we keep in the freezer (or fresh, when the garden is going full-force). We make two large pizzas in order to give us a couple of days worth of leftovers for school lunches.
  2. Cookies – The Dad makes cookies on an almost weekly basis (perhaps the reason my behind is quickly expanding to an axe handle width).
  3. Minute rice – I bought a rice cooker. It makes rice quickly and I can make enough to put some in the freezer for quick lunches. I prefer long grain white rice to brown rice, which I just plain old don’t like and it doesn’t like me back.
  4. Frozen meals – I used to buy these for work. Now, when I don’t have leftovers to take to work, I quickly cook up some couscous, add in chopped spinach, a few veggies and some leftover meat from the freezer, pour some kind of dressing over it and I’ve got a filling five minute lunch salad with protein. Couscous takes only 5 minutes to cook in a container with a lid on it and I can get everything else chopped and ready in that time. Very easy.
  5. Snack packs – my kids are just as happy with little containers of granola (chocolate), seeds, dried cranberries and the occasional Cheerio (some things you can’t just leave behind).
  6. Cereal – aside from Cheerios, I make granola now. We all like it. It’s cheaper than store bought too. It also might be contributing to my wider hind end.
  7. Meat – we don’t buy anything pre-packaged or battered anymore. We just do it ourselves. We’ve often bought local meat in the past and will continue to do so when possible.
  8. Cleaning supplies – I’m making more of them myself, but truthfully, I didn’t buy many of them to begin with. Dish soap is a pretty good all-purpose cleaner and I use a steam mop on my floors (my mom gave me one she never used – I use it all of the time and love it).
  9. Bread – we don’t make it all of the time, but we certainly buy less of it than we used to. It’s pretty easy to make yourself, but we also don’t beat ourselves up for buying it. We’re busy. Bread making takes time.
  10. Juice – we drink mostly milk, water, coffee, tea or iced tea.
  11. Napkins/paper towels – we don’t use them. We use cloth napkins at the table and rags for cleaning.
  12. Chicken/beef stock – easy enough to make whenever there are leftover bones – I just keep it in jars in the freezer.
  13. Tomato sauce – I made up gallons of this sauce last year (we had 32 tomato plants!).
  14. Frozen peas/beans–we froze as much of these from our garden as we could. We’ve mostly run out now, but will plant more this year to get us through next winter, plus we’re going to try out some corn this time around.
  15. Zucchini/rhubarb–I still have shredded zucchini for breads, muffins and sauces in the freezer and same with the chopped up rhubarb, though I have plans for some of it this weekend.
  16. Canned tomatoes – I froze whole tomatoes in freezer bags and am still using them up – they work great in any recipe that calls for canned tomatoes.
  17. Pizza sauce – I make my own – its really easy to doctor up some tomato sauce with some extra herbs and spice and olive oil.

Added to this is the life saver of having some meals and meal starters already in the freezer. It saves a lot of money and time on rushed kidsport nights. Especially on the nights when you’d be tempted otherwise to just stop and buy take-out. This blog gave me the inspiration to do some cooking for future meals – it has a lot of ideas for easy freezer meals and got me started.

Next up, the dad wants to make cheese. We have the rennet, now we just need to take the time to try it. And I might try making yogurt soon. I eat it most days at work anyway, might as well start making that too.

I’m glad I wrote all of that down. I’m awfully impressed with myself now. Feel free to leave me more suggestions – I’d love to hear any you might have.

Linking to Cozy Home Scenes, Frugally Sustainable, Like a Mustard Seed, Your Green Resource, Cheerios and Lattes, An Original Belle, Growing Home

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cooking shortcuts

image credit :realtarotrealpeople.wordpress.comThis is less than exciting, but it’s how I keep myself from saying a lot of bad words out loud at the end of the day. We have a few easy shortcuts to getting dinner on the table. It’s not just a way to speed up getting dinner on the table – it’s also one way we reduce food waste and manage to keep our grocery bills low. We can keep eating from our garden all winter long. It’s also great if you find onions and peppers on sale – buy enough to keep you going for a while. We keep the veggies chopped in baggies in the freezer. I chop them individually and combined in mixes. Mirepoix mix is one we rely on a lot.

Mirepoix is the impressive sounding french word for chopped carrots, celery and onions in a ratio of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery. I assemble all the necessary components, run them seperately through my food processor and mix it all together in a big bowl in the approximate proportions.  I usually freeze 1 or 1 1/2 cups in each freezer bag, label the mix and the amount, lay them flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they are frozen, then stack them away in a little corner of the freezer until they’re needed. It saves time in chopping and washing up. And I really do say less bad words in my head. Mostly.

The same basic idea can be used for freezing individual veggies – I freeze chopped green, red and jalapeno peppers, onions, and just about anything else. If the stuff in the veggie drawer is starting to look a little dicey, I chop it up and throw it in the freezer for later use. I usually freeze them on a cookie sheet for a few hours and then scrape them into a freezer bag for storage afterwards – it helps keep them from all sticking together in a clump. I’ve even done it with fresh spinach that I knew I wouldn’t get around to using. I can always hide it in a sauce or pasta dish later on. The peppers, onion and spinach are great to sprinkle on pizza before cooking.

Don’t forget that you can freeze whole tomatoes too – keep them in freezer bags and run them under hot water for a few seconds until the skin slides off, then use them in any cooked dish that calls for canned, stewed or diced tomatoes.

Linking to Cups by Kim, A Pinch of Joy, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, Frugally Sustainable, Sorta Crunchy, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl

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