Last week wasn't really a big week of savings for me.
I had the usual savings from making all the lunches, the fishing day picnic etc
And I used a free $5 voucher at Spotlight.
So my Vicky Challenge total I make at around $155.
That is my worst week of the year!
But, as we all know, there are big weeks and small ones and they all add up over the year.
I did more "home building". I cleaned, organised, painted out of the way spots and so on.
I hope your week was good and with lots of savings!
This weeks extra savings tips are from Teri. Every way you can build your pantry is a good thing. I have had several letters just recently to tell me how a well stocked pantry has made a whole world of difference in challenging times.
For this to be the case we have to work hard on them while we can and take every opportunity.
Over to Teri... I hope you are inspired!
PANTRY BUILDING—Rotating, making do and re-stocking.
As we are all regularly working on your pantries and supplies, and doing a great job, we all need to keep a steady pace with filling our shelves. Things in the world are more uncertain than ever and many of us have/are experiencing less income to use for pantry building and weekly grocery shopping. Where we live, we are seeing daily price increases of food/non-food items as well as utilities, water, housing and gasoline. So, I wanted to share some ways that I have been saving to fill our pantry. (I have gleaned many ideas from Annabel, Patsy, Brandy; and other comments on all of their blogs; thank you so much).
So today, I would like to share some ways I rotate and refill my pantry. Hopefully, you will find a way or two to use your food/supplies and continue filling your pantry shelves, even if it is just one or two items! Being creative is important, as well as substituting ingredients, and making your own mixes and other convenient foods. I don’t like to feel “trapped” by all the advertising (“buy this or that- it’s new, improved etc.”) plus getting into my car to get one or two items just isn’t an option. Spending a bit of time re-packaging bulk items, making our own freezer meals/or components for meals, canning/freezing/drying extra food to waste less, or filling clean jars with our own mixes for easy meal times, are all ways I save money and have healthier options. Read Annabel’s recent post on using scraps to stretch our food! Scraps!
One way I save a lot is using my powdered milk. I wrote a post last year that will give you some ideas. (See here )This rotates my supply and saves trips to the supermarket for milk. I bake with it, use it to make rice and other puddings, and custards, I make “white rice” for breakfast using left over rice and a bit of cinnamon and sugar, I make my own granola and use reconstituted milk for that and I stir it into my coffee daily. I prefer non- instant powdered milk, although instant dissolves quicker. Just use it on a regular basis! A couple of weeks ago, I needed to use up some frozen chicken broth, so a made a double batch of homemade cream of chicken soup. I measured the amount of powdered milk I would need and stirred it into 2 cups of the cold chicken broth, whisking it until dissolved. (normally I dissolve it in warm water for this recipe but using the broth gave my cream soup a much richer flavor). I also used my dried herbs and it tastes so much better, too! I use this for gravy, casseroles and any recipe calling for a can of cream soup. (Add mushrooms, sautéed veggies, chunks of chicken, etc., if you desire).
A couple months ago, I ran out of celery salt in my cupboard shaker and the pantry jar was just about empty. So, I made up a new batch adding my dried lettuce and spinach to the celery and celery leaves and just grabbing salt from the pantry. This made enough for my shaker and two jars in the pantry. I recently made a thank you basket of homemade jams, salsa and added a shaker of celery salt to give to a co- worker, who gave us a wonderful gift of 14 boxes of canning jars!!! This was a wonderful blessing, and opening each box was so fun!!
Along with making my own celery salt, I use all my powdered herbs and veggies to make spaghetti sauce, chili, meatloaf/meatballs, and soups. It is so nice to have these in my pantry. Often the veggies and herbs I dry are because we have more than we can use at once, and this saves a lot of waste plus fills our jars!
Two weeks ago, our son came up for dinner. He brought a red velvet cake he had baked the night before, and had asked if I would make some fluffy frosting for it. I was just adding the vanilla extract (which I make) to the finished frosting when he asked me to add a little almond extract too. I went to the pantry to get the almond extract and my little bottle was almost gone. (We used what was left and the frosting was yummy). This is something I don’t use often and so hadn’t noticed that I needed to replace it. So, we looked up how to make our own extract and I now have a pint jar “brewing” in the food storage room!! (I used almonds gifted to us). I’m also making my own peppermint extract with our dried mint and I plan to make lemon and orange extracts when I can get good deals on citrus fruits. (I just read how to do the citrus extracts on Jes'’ blog). And after straining my last batch of vanilla extract, I dried the vanilla beans and have been using them to flavor my coffee! I just break off a small piece and add it to the coffee filter. Delicious!!
Having your pantry stocked with daily meal items, baking supplies and even non-food items not only saves money but it helps build the skills you have, and you learn new skills! When our kids were little, I wanted to learn all I could about being prudent and using our resources wisely. I was intimidated by baking my own bread but knew I wanted to learn that skill. I loved to bake homemade goodies but wanted to learn more. So, I tried and tried until it was easy. (I made several loaves a week, and then made quick breads, cornbread, muffins, etc. to supplement and give variety). Then, I wanted to learn more about wheat, and grinding my own and from there, researched (in books, not the internet LOL) how to store food for longer than a few months.
After that, I wanted to learn how to pressure can, make my jellies clear and make my own mixes. Each time I learned something new, I was not only adding to my “skills” but I was excited about it and wanted to share my knowledge! I’m still learning with so much more to accomplish but it’s a way of life and I enjoy making more and more from scratch.
Last week, my husband brought home a fresh turkey (which had been marked down to 59 cents/pound), so we went to the pantry for herbs, seasonings and several jars of homemade BBQ sauce and brined it for two days. We baked it over the weekend, using some for dinner and dividing the rest for meals during the week. We put the bones in our slow cooker, which made delicious broth and used that for soup the next day. This is one way we save a lot by stretching one turkey into multiple meals, extra for the freezer and keeping costs way down. It’s nice to just have a well-stocked pantry to make yummy meals with. (Plus, I’ve learned to substitute many ingredients, saving more time and money).
One way I learned early on was to use half the amount of meat called for in a recipe. (Even using one piece of chicken to feed our family)! Using extra veggies, beans and pasta helped to stretch a pot of soup, chili, casserole, etc. Also, having my SOS mix made up and handy, helped to cross off several items from my grocery list. (Recife can be found here)
Shopping from my food storage room to replace the items used in my pantry by the kitchen, there is always a meal to fix on a hectic day or when the meal plan doesn’t get used that day. Meal planning is so helpful. I use mine as a guide as we sometimes mix it up because of how the day goes. Either way, there’s always a meal at dinner time, with leftovers used for lunch the next day.
Coupons don’t get used very often, since most are for products we don’t buy, and buying in bulk (such as sugar, flours, baking items, vinegar, etc.) from a warehouse store, coupons aren’t generally offered on those products. When I do shop at our Kroger store, I use electronic coupons if it is something I already buy and works for the store brand.
Another area I’m working on is increasing our water storage supply. I fill my empty vinegar bottles and 2 liter bottles with water. When thinking about washing clothes in a bucket or sink (if I’m unable to use my washing machine), I decided to buy a couple 99cent bottles of liquid detergent since dissolving my own powdered detergent might be hard to do in cold water. I would be able to boil water but would rather not worry about that if I’m also trying to cook and do dishes with limited resources. (I’ve made my own liquid detergent in the past, which worked great, but decided to buy it this time). Trying to store water for cooking, drinking and washing dishes/clothes has required us to be creative with our storage options.
We recently re-organized and made more space for water. We are also working on putting some type of protection on all our shelves, (to keep jars from falling off), and (from a commenter on Brandy’s blog) I’m going to start collecting apple/fruit boxes, cutting them down to size and use to store filled jars. This will help to keep from stacking my jars and I will label these boxes with the contents.
We are all working hard to fill our pantries. Whether it’s planning and preparing meals, making gifts or sharing with others, this all helps our budgets, and I also feel good about what I am doing. During some stressful times recently, we have been using our food storage/supplies and only replaced things we needed or meat that was marked down. We have been gifted food, also, and this has been a true blessing. We haven’t really done anything different, since this is our way of life, but
have just been more careful. It’s surprising how many things can be left on the store shelf and never be missed!
Annabel has been mentioning job losses, downsizing and companies closing shop. This is heartbreaking, as it is happening here in the US as well. When this happens, or other things come up, we are all able to use our pantries/supplies and not worry about feeding our families. Stay strong ladies!! I was really touched by a blog I recently read (sorry the name slips my mind). She didn’t have much money for groceries but she still had a great week adding to her pantry. She was canning apples, making jam, and using the food on hand to add to her pantry shelves! I recently did something similar. I had a handful of strawberries that needed to be used. So, I added those to some blueberries and a partial bag of strawberries/bananas (both from the freezer) and made a batch of berry jam. Berries that would have otherwise been tossed, and made a bit of space in my freezer!! Yum!!
I make my own “spray and wash” (as many of you do). Recently, our local grocery store had a special on ammonia for 59 cents/bottle! You had to purchase 5 to get that price but that was ok, as the extras went to the storage room!
Books are another way of finding ideas. I don’t spend a great deal of time on the internet but I do enjoy finding alternative ways for food prep, cleaning, laundry, etc., keeping me out of the stores. I use my older canning books, old cookbooks, and our local extension center also has lots of great information. Some years ago, their handouts were free or maybe a nickel but well worth it! I read and re-read my books, looking for ways to save/reduce waste. The library is another great resource. And, of course, all you wonderful ladies! Experience is the best way to learn.
Thank you Teri!
I can't encourage you to build up your pantry strongly enough. If you are newer to the blog see the Pantries and Preparedness section in the index. There are so many ways to add to your pantry and many are free or very inexpensive. Just keeping at it is the key and making the most of every opportunity!
Have a really good new week! I hope I have better savings to report next Monday!
How did you save and get ahead? Every little bit helps! xxx