Archive for the ‘
Ways to Save ’ Category
Saturday, May 11th, 2013
Make your own Foaming Hand Soap from regular soap.
Why I recommend it:
It is an incredibly easy way to save money plus it literally takes a couple of minutes.
You might wonder, why use foaming soap instead of regular soap in the first place? I like it for a number of reasons. It lasts longer, so it saves money, I prefer the way it feels and washes and I have little kids. If you have kids you know that even when they try not too, they tend to use way too much soap. With foaming soap even if they get too much, it’s at least wasting less soap than if they were using regular hand soap.
How much will it save me?:
One small bottle of hand soap will usually make me 4 to 5 bottles of foaming hand soap. A small bottle of hand soap often costs around $1 for the generic brand. If you use one small bottle of hand soap a month, you’ll save at least $9 a year! That’s enough to get almost 3 gallons of gas, 3 small lattes, 2 1/2 gallons of milk….well, you get the picture. Obviously if you use more soap or use a more expensive brand of soap you’ll be saving even more money!
Making your own hand soap is so simple your child could probably do it. Here are the steps:
1. Pour 3/4 to 1 inch of hand soap into a foaming hand soap dispenser.
2. Slowly fill almost to the top with warm water. Filling it slowly is important so that you don’t get a bunch of suds.
3. Put on the soap dispenser top.
4. Gently shake from side to side until soap is mixed into water.
5. Use and enjoy saving money every time you wash your hands!
* Wondering where to get a foaming hand soap dispenser? I just bought some Foaming Hand Soap at the store and used that dispenser when it was empty. You easily remove the label on many of them to leave you with just a plain bottle. You can also buy fancier looking dispensers at places like Walmart or Target.
* Almost every kind of hand soap that I have used has worked for this, although I have discovered that some seem to mix up better than others. I typically use the Softsoap brand but have also used Melaluca, Mrs. Meyers and Bath and Body Works. The Melaluca and Mrs. Myers worked the best but I don’t usually feel like spending the extra money for that kind of soap.
I’ve linked up this post to Mostly Homemade Mom’s Show and Share Wednesday post.
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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
I’m probably strange, but every time I throw food out, I see money being wasted. Dollar signs kind of float in front of my eyes and I sometimes feel a bit guilty. It is true though. Throwing out food is basically throwing out money. After all, it is estimated that the average household throws out $590 worth of food a year!
So I was intrigued when I heard a lady that spoke at the mom’s group I attend talk about this idea of creating a soup bucket. To eliminate the whole leftover dilemma, she simply keeps an ice cream bucket in the corner of her freezer and whenever she has leftovers that she knows won’t get used, she just throws them into the bucket. When the bucket gets full, she dumps the contents into a pot and makes a soup/stew out of it, adding other ingredients to improve the taste if necessary. Now maybe that just grosses you out, I don’t know. To me it sounded interesting and like a fun challenge. I was curious to see if I could make something delicious out of all those random leftovers!
I’ll admit that I didn’t implement this idea right away, mainly because I figured we do a good enough job using up our leftovers that I thought it would be a waste of my time to try it. But during the next month I was amazed at how many times I threw stuff out that would have easily been “soup” material. Finally I bit the bullet, got my container and started my own soup bucket.
Soup from my last soup bucket- the gourmet tasting one.
We had “Soup Bucket Soup” three times over the last year and believe it or not, each one was pretty tasty! No, none of them looked like gourmet soups but one of them did taste like it! (I share my secret to that gourmet taste below.)
I’ve learned a few things over this last year about using soup buckets, one of the key things being that leftover sauces and seasonings from dishes such as Ham Loaf (I like to scrape the juice left in the pan into my soup bucket) and Herb Roasted Chicken (any of the leftover butter/seasoning mixture gets scraped into my soup bucket) give an incredible flavor. We had our last Soup Bucket Soup two weeks ago and it was seriously so good that we were wishing I had a recipe to make it again. I had scraped various leftover sauces into the Soup Bucket and it created a rich flavor that was simply delicious!
When I go to make a meal with my soup bucket I just add extra things as needed. One time my bucket was mostly liquids and a few vegetables. So I added some cooked ground beef and cut up a bunch of potatoes and threw them in. And if the bucket doesn’t have a lot of sauces or seasonings in it already I like to play around with adding things like Italian Seasoning, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder and even Chili Powder.
Still a little hesitant to try a soup bucket? Here’s some tips for you.
Leftovers that Work Well in a Soup Bucket:
* potatoes, cut up
* tomato products
* cooked beans
* cooked rice
* cooked pasta
* sauces from meats
* herb sauces like I mentioned above
Things to Add to Help the Flavor/Consistency:
* any of the things from the above list
* tomato juice
* tomato chunks
* chicken broth/stock
* seasonings like I mentioned above
- Italian Seasoning, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder
* whisk a little (maybe a Tablespoon) flour with some milk (maybe a cup or two), add to the soup to make it creamier and to thicken it slightly
* cottage cheese
- I had some of this that was going to spoil and I added it to my last soup bucket. It just added a nice creaminess.
* cream cheese
Do you ever make soup from leftovers? What are your tips?
For other recipe ideas, check out Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday, Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Semi-Homemade Mom’s Show and Share Wednesday, and 33 Shades of Green’s Tasty Tuesday.
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Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
Laundry. We all have to do it, right? So why not save a little money while doing this necessary evil? Follow the tips below and you’ll do just that!
1. Wash only full loads
Doing this not only saves electricity, it also saves water and laundry detergent. After all, we use pretty much the same amount of all of those things whether we do half a load or a full load, right?
2. Look at those labels
This might sound obvious, but think about it. When was the last time you read the instructions on the clothes that you are wearing right now? If the item says “Wash in cold water” you might get by with using warm water but typically hot water is disastrous. And if you dry “line dry only” items in the dryer, chances are that you’ll be greeted with a smaller version when you retrieve it thanks to the heat shrinking it.
Occasionally you can get by with ignoring the laundry labels, but it’s always good to check and make sure you at least know what is recommended. I don’t personally follow every label to a “T” but I do recommend at least observing the two things I noted above: not washing “cold water only” items in hot water and not drying (at least not fully) “line dry only” items in the dryer.
3. Wash in cold water
While some clothes require hot water to get them sanitized (think towels or gym clothes), most clothes get clean just fine using cold water. At the very least, instead of using hot, use warm.
Curious how much you’ll save? Check out how much energy is used depending on the temperature selected:
4. Only launder when needed
Some of you might cringe at this one, but I honestly don’t think it is necessary to wash every item of clothing every time you wear it- especially things like sweaters that are worn over other pieces of clothing. Often we wear a piece of clothing for just a couple of hours and immediately call it dirty. But is it really?
Wondering why it’s such a big deal to not over-launder? Every time you wash a piece of clothing it wears it out, especially so if you use a dryer to dry it. By not washing it as often, you can extend the life of your clothing a bit longer.
5. Treat stains as soon as possible
The longer a stain sits on fabric, the more it soaks deeper into the fibers and then it becomes harder to get the stain out. And if the stain dries it becomes even more difficult. One trick that I use with baby clothes that are soiled by dirty diapers that leak is to at least keep them wet until I am able to treat the stain. It helps me out in the long run!
While I’m talking about stains I thought I’d mention that two of my favorite stain fighters are Oxi-clean and FelsNaptha soap. I love Oxi-Clean for stains that have set or just won’t come out with anything else. It’s worked great at whitening old baby clothes too. FelsNaptha soap is my go-to choice for a great an inexpensive stain remover. I simply rub a bit of the soap on the stained area. wet it a bit and scrub a bit. And most of the time the stain is gone! I’ve used this on many things including grass stains.
6. Cut back on the amount of laundry detergent
Did you know that you don’t have to use the full amount of most laundry detergents to get your clothes clean? I’ve found that I can cut back sometimes as much as half the amount and not notice any difference. Experiment a bit. Hardness of water and the kind of laundry detergent makes it vary, but I can almost guarantee that you don’t need the full amount. Oh and this tip goes for liquid fabric softener too!
7. Use a Mesh Laundry Bag for Small or “Fragile” Items
This is one of my favorite laundry tips ever. Everyone knows that mesh lingerie bags work great for laundering intimate articles of clothing. But did you ever think of using them beyond those lacy pieces of clothing?
When my son was a baby I got so tired of trying to find his itty-bitty socks in the laundry. They’d get stuck inside pant legs or just somehow mysteriously disappear. So I started putting them in one of my mesh lingerie bags when I did the laundry. It works like a charm. No more lost socks around here!
I also use mesh lingerie bags for things like sweaters or my daughter’s delicate dresses that have lace or tulle on them. Anything that seems like it might easily get caught on another piece of clothing gets tossed into one of my bags. It has definitely helped keep my clothes looking newer much longer!
8. Turn clothes inside out
While I love using my mesh lingerie bags I can’t use them for everything. Some things are just too big. Dresses, sweaters and other items that might snag or pull get turned inside out reducing the chances of any damage happening to the outside. Again, a simple thing, but one that has helped me keep my clothing look nicer for longer.
9. Avoid using your dryer
Did you know that most households can save $25 a month by not using a dryer? Not only do dryers hog electricity, they also are hard on your clothes. (Where do you think all that lint comes from?) Use a clothes line or a drying rack as much as possible. And if you must use a dryer, don’t use it any longer than necessary. Over-drying clothes quickly weakens the fibers reducing the life of your clothing.
We live in the city and don’t have much space but we found a retractable clothesline that we use outside that works really well. I love being able to hang laundry out! Between that and our drying rack we use our dryer very little. When I do use it, it’s often just to “fluff” our clothes. I’ve learned that by drying our clothes for about 15 minutes in the dryer before we hang them, I rarely have to iron anything- it fluffs them just enough to get the wrinkles out.
Just a quick personal story. My husband and one of his friends were talking about their electric costs and discovered that his friend’s electric bill was consistently at least $30 more a month than ours. After discussing it a bit they figured out that the only big thing we do differently is use our dryer very little. That was an interesting discovery to me. I knew not using our dryer much saved us money but I didn’t realize it was that much!
10. Keep dryer lint cleaned out
Again, a no-brainer, but something that is so easy to forget to do! But by keeping your dryer vents cleaned out you can save up to 30% of your dryer’s typical electricity usage because your dryer doesn’t have to work as hard.
Have you done any of these things and noticed a difference? What do you do to save money on laundry?
Image Credit: Shutterstock- Clothes hanging to dry on a clothesline
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Thursday, March 14th, 2013
Reader Abby recently asked:
When is the right time to invest in a chest freezer? I’m assuming you must have one just based on your purchases and how much you say you’re freezing.
I *finally* got a great deal on 80/20 ground beef at $1.99/lb, so I stocked up and bought almost 20 lbs. I also found cheese at Gordon Food Service. Mozzarella was $2/lb and cheddar was just a little more, so I stocked up there too. Now my teeny fridge freezer is completely full. I probably would have bought even more beef if I’d had more room, since it was the best deal I’ve seen in the 6 months that I’ve been watching.
A. Yes, we do have a chest freezer. Two of them actually!
If you are finding that your fridge’s freezer is constantly overflowing and you can afford it, I highly recommend getting one. We’ve found that ours take very little electricity (less than $10/mo. from what we can tell and they are both OLD) but they have saved us a bundle. We got both of ours used and have had good success with them.
Two things to note: chest freezers are more energy efficient than upright freezers. Full freezers take less energy than empty so try to get a size that you think you will meet your needs but not be too big.
Here are 4 ways that our freezers have saved us money.
1. Helps us eat healthier
I buy large quantities of fruits and veggies in season when they are generally at their cheapest price and then I freeze them. This allows us to enjoy the delicious, nutritious benefits of these foods throughout the rest of the year. (Frozen produce has been shown to have pretty much the same nutritional value as fresh.)
I also freeze lots of homemade things like bread, cookies and chicken stock too.
2. Allows me to stock up during sales
One of my biggest ways to save is by stockpiling. When an item that we use regularly is at rock bottom price I’ll buy a bunch of it. If it is something that can be frozen I simply throw it in my chest freezer and use it as needed. Obviously if you eat lots of freezer dinners or frozen pizzas this would save you money as well, although I don’t recommend eating that way!
Some of the things that I have stockpiled and frozen:
Flour, butter, ice-cream (yes, it’s my weakness), shredded cheese, bacon, chicken, sausage, ground beef, ham and orange juice.
Tip: Most things can be frozen for months without any freezer burn. I’ve discovered that pork products, especially chopped ham, don’t fare quite as well. You can freeze them but I would try to use chopped pork or open packages within a couple of month’s time.
3. Keeps us from eating out as often
Because we always have our freezer stocked with lots of meat, fruits and vegetables and a variety of other foods, the temptation to eat out happens less often. I always have something in the freezer that we can eat even if it is just the occasional frozen pizza.
4. Allows me to cook in bulk and save time
I often make a double recipe of a dish and freeze half it. This gives me an easy dinner at a later date (and helps with not eating out as mentioned above!). This is especially helpful when you are preparing for a new baby.
When I make bread, I make 6 loaves at one time and freeze all but one to eat later. It’s not uncommon for me to make up some homemade burritos, wrap them individually, and toss them in the freezer to have for an easy lunch on busy days. When I make cookies, muffins, rolls, or cake I keep out what I think we’ll eat in several days time and freeze the rest. This keeps us from eating more than we need and keeps our food fresh.
I frequently buy 10 lbs. of chicken (buying in large quantities often gets you bigger savings) and cook it up, separate it into smaller 2-4 c. portions and then freeze it. If I make a soup, casserole or wrap that calls for chicken, I can skip the step of cooking it which saves me time and helps my meal prep go that much faster. You can do the same thing with hamburger or sausage.
Do you think purchasing a freezer is worth it? Why or why not?
Have a question that you’d like to see featured here? Leave me a comment or email me. (Email link is found on the right hand side of my blog under “Follow Lydia Beiler”.)
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Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Several days ago I asked on Facebook if you all would enjoy weekly tip post. The response was overwhelmingly yes. I’m excited about starting this and plan to post all sorts of tips- anything from ways to entertain your children to organizing your home to saving time and of course money saving ideas too. If you have any suggestions or topics you’d like to see let me know via email or by commenting.
Soak and cook your own dry beans instead of buying cans of beans.
Why I recommend it:
It is easy to do, doesn’t take much time and is cheaper too!
How much will it save me?:
This amount varies a lot because prices obviously vary. But on average you are going to save at least 40% by soaking and cooking your own beans. For instance, Walmart sells dry Black Beans for $1.08/lb.* One pound of beans will make around 6 cups of cooked beans or the equivalent of 3 cans which makes your cost just $0.36/can! Aldi sells cans of black beans for $0.59 and at many other stores they are at least $0.75/can.
* Actually, I think they raised their price a bit. This is just the price I have written on my price list, so please don’t hold me to it!
There are lots of different ways to soak and cook your beans. And if the following way doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t work for whatever reason, I highly recommend checking out Central Bean Company’s website for lot of other ways to cook and soak your beans.
Here’s how I do my beans.
1. First, rinse the beans to get off any dirt. Look for any pebbles or odd shaped beans and remove them.
2. Put the beans in a pot; for every 2 cups of beans add 10 cups of water. Cook the beans until they boil for 2-3 min. then remove them from the heat, cover them and let stand for at least 4 hours. This is called the Hot Soak method.
3. After 4 hours drain the water off the beans and add fresh cold water to the beans. Cook them however you choose. (I cook them in my pressure cooker following the directions in my Pressure Cooker Instruction booklet. I used to just cook the beans in a pot until they were done but several years ago switched to using my pressure cooker since it cut the cooking time down significantly. If you decided to use your own pressure cooker to cook beans, be sure to follow your cooking manuals instructions as each pressure cooker requires different amount of liquids and cooking times.)
4. Once cooked, drain the water off the beans and use them as you wish. If you aren’t going to use them right away, place in freezer safer containers and freeze.
* I’ve found that for some reason my beans always get too soft and smooshy if I follow recommended cooking times. If this happens to you, just cut back the cooking time by 1 min. until you get the bean texture that you like.
* One 15 oz. can of beans is equal to approximately 2 cups of beans.
* The longer you soak the bean, the more digestible it will be. In other words, the longer you soak it, the less gassy the bean should make you!
* If you freeze beans, Central Bean Company recommends slightly undercooking them since freezing them will make them a bit more soft.
* 1 cup of dry beans equals approximately 3 cups cooked beans.
Do you cook your own beans? What tips do you have?
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