Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homemade Chicken Broth

*UPDATE now tht I've made this broth several times I wanted to add a few things first of all I add a big pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of whole peppercorns. You can also add whole garlic cloves and fresh herbs if you like. I prefer to make mine fairly plain so I can use it in any recipe and add additional herbs depending on the dish. Also, I no longer use glass jars because I have had several break in the freezer. I have put jars in the freezer before but with no problems. I think the problem was not that they were overfilled but that they did not cool completely before I put them in the freezer. So I recommend that whether you use plastic or glass that you put the jars in the refrigerator so they are completely cooled before freezing. One last thing if you like your broth to be completely clear, you'll want to strain it through some cheesecloth.
I cannot tell you how long it's been since I started telling myself that I needed to use the chicken bones from the rotisserie chickens I regularly buy from Sam's or Costco to make chicken broth. Honestly I kept thinking that I couldn't commit myself to staying home for several hours while it cooked when in fact I'm always home for several hours. Anyway, I finally looked at the cock pot sitting in front of me, and I realized that I could make it in the crock pot. So, I did it! Such a cinch that I can't believe I didn't do it before. There's really no right or wrong way to do it, you can search for different recipes online, but I wanted mine to be as simple as possible so that I could use it in anything from soups to taco meat (yes, my recipe calls for a little chicken broth!) I just put all the bones with all the bits of meat from a rotisserie chicken I had used along with some coarsely chopped carrots, celery and onion in the crock pot and filled it about 2/3 full with water (just so the carcass was covered. I cooked it on high until it got hot and then put it on low and left it overnight. I strained it and let it cool and then put it in some plastic freezer containers and 1 jar(expansion MAY break the jar, but I wasn't super worried about it just be sure to leave plenty of head space). I will now do this regularly, it was SO easy and I'm super excited about homemade chicken broth as opposed to the can stuff!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Making Sense of Food Storage

Let's talk food storage! I've been trying to get a handle on my food storage since.....forever! One of my favorite speakers I've ever heard talk about food storage is Wendy Dewitt. She has practical food storage suggestions that anyone can do based on what your family likes to eat. I don't know about you, but food storage has always seemed so overwhelming to me. So I would end up just buying stuff from the cannery with no idea what I would ever do with it, but knowing that I could say, I have something in my food storage. When I heard Wendy speak it was like a light bulb finally turned on and I realized that you had to have a plan and you had to store foods that you could make into meals and that your family would actually eat, I know common sense right? Anyway, I am including a link to some you tubes of classes she's done, now be warned they are just someone videoing a class they are not professionally video taped. And I also included a link to her blog post where she talks about her system. I hope it helps make food storage seem more attainable and logical.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taco Meat

I have been trying to eliminate a lot of the prepackaged mixes etc. I'm doing good in some areas, still lots of work to go in others. Several years ago I decided to make my own taco meat from scratch, it's SO easy and tastes much better than the little seasoning pack + you know exactly what you're family is eating no weird stuff! If you buy a lot of beef on sale and want to cook up several meals worth, you can just portion out the cooked meat and put it in zip top bags and put it in the freezer.

Here's the recipe I use:

2 t Oil ( Whatever you have on hand is fine)
1 Small onion minced
3 medium Garlic cloves minced
2 T Chili Powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4t cayenne pepper
1lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (you can also use beef)
1 t brown sugar
2 t cider vinegar
Black Pepper

Heat oil over medium heat add onion, cook until softened, add garlic and spices cook about 1 minute, add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar and vinegar bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old Navy Gift Card Deal

I was just loading coupons onto my Smiths Card and I found one of my favorites. $5 off $25 Old Navy gift card. If you like to give gift cards for Christmas or birthdays, this is a great deal for the obvious reason, but the reason I love this deal is because I buy them for future use. If you like to shop at Old Navy, you just got an instant 20% off, it's a gift card so there's no rush to use it, AND you can combine it with a coupon or discount because when you use it, obviously, it's just a regular gift card!! I bought some at Christmas when Vons had a similar deal, and I just used one the other day for Uniforms for my kids and I'll probably use the other one at Christmas. I'm not sure if you can buy more than 1 per transaction because it doesn't say on the coupon. I'll try and find out and let you know.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A couple of DIY Projects

 I am definitely a DIY person, I actually enjoy doing home improvement projects and you can save a lot of money while still sprucing up your house. Now having said that, I also know my limitations and I definitely will not take on a project that I know is out of my league because it usually turns into a DIY disaster and ends up costing more than hiring a professional in the first place. So I found 2 DIY projects on Pinterest that I wanted to try 1 was very successful and the other...not so much. So I thought I'd share my experience.

The first project was painting those shiny brass doorknobs and hinges. I've hated those things since we moved into this house 12 years ago. So, I found a couple of DIY bloggers who had spray painted the hinges and doorknobs, so I thought I'd give it a try. I bought the spray paint and got started. Well the spray paint is not cheap around $8/can if I remember correctly which sounds cheap, but then there's the nightmare of taking doorknobs and hinges off, painting waiting for them to dry etc. I only took one hinge off at a time which was good as far as not having to take the door all the way down but bad because doors don't shut properly with one door. That wouldn't have been a problem if we didn't have a 1 year old which requires us to keep doors shut. It started out okay and then it just turned into a headache. The 2nd nozzle on the 2nd can of spray paint broke after about 1/2 way through so now I'm 3 cans in which is $24 and I wasn't even done. After a week, I finally gave up and bought door knobs. I did finish the hinges, but in the end I bought doorknobs from Lowes for $8-$10 each (locks cost more) and it was worth every dime of the extra cash. The 1 door that Idid not replace is now chipping off after about 5 months. So, I personally did not find it to be cost effective. If you're going to do it, my advice is paint the hinges buy the knobs.

You can see the chipping on this door knob.

This is the store bought knob.

 So much better than that brass stuff even with the cheapie doors!

Now for the success story. I was so tired of those honey oak cabinets I could hardly stand it plus I got hair tint on the bathroom cabinet so I had to do something! I found this tutorial and followed it to the T and my cabinets look AWESOME! If I was staying in this house I would have done the kitchen, but I did the 2 bathrooms and it has held up great! It has been almost a year and lots of abuse from the kids and they still look great. Like any good DIY project it took time, but was really simple really the majority of time was just waiting for each coat of stain to dry. I highly recommend this project and be sure to follow the instructions.
  This is the before color of the cabinets

This is the after. Sorry for the horrible photography. Not my strong suit! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bread Pan

I posted a long time ago about the fact that I make my own bread and for those who haven't read that post, rest assured that I am not spending hours in the kitchen making bread that is just not the way I roll...I wish it was! Here's a link to my previous post and my favorite recipe. I just had this one serious dilemma, actually I have two serious dilemmas now, but I only have the answer to one, but I digress. The dilemma was that when I used traditional bread pans, and made sandwiches for my kids lunch the slices were too big. They were awkward for little kids and they didn't fit in the sandwich containers. So I found these bread pans at Amazon, and I love, love, love them okay I only have 1 because I can only make 1 loaf of bread in my bread machine which leads me to the 2nd dilemma and that is that I have to make bread every 2 days because that's how much bread we use during the school year. Anyway, I bought 1 to try it out and I would highly recommend it. The bread now fits perfectly inside the container and doesn't fall apart at the top(except when I forget that it's rising and it's 2 ft tall by the time I put it in the oven!)

I have the 10 inch which is the perfect size for the loaf that I get from my bread maker, but it also comes in 12 inch which would be great for a bigger loaf.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Peaches, Pears and Honey

For those of you in Las Vegas, if you are interested in ordering Peaches, Pears or Honey, please let me know. There is a lady who does bulk orders and she's awesome. She's very careful about ordering really good quality at the best price she can find. She orders directly from the farmers so everything is always very fresh. I've ordered peaches several times and honey and everything has been Great. So, if you're interested send me an email and I will forward the detailed information to you. (my email address is over there on the right or if we're friends on facebook you can send me a message there)

Bartlett pears are $24 for approx 22-24lbs
Honey (raw, light or dark) $34/gallon bucket

Delivery date for pears is August 31 and possibly honey on that date too

If you're interested let me know asap so you can get your order in. She's still waiting for a price on the peaches and they will deliver mid-Septemeber.
Thanks Creative LDS Quotes

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Now that summer is winding down, let's talk watermelon...I know we should have done this months ago, but Winco still has watermelon for around $ .30/lb I can't remember exactly! Anyway, in my mission to keep my kids from pigging out on chips and pretzels all summer, I tried to keep lots of fresh fruit and veggies on hand. We love watermelon, but there is nothing more frustrating than lugging a 16 lb watermelon home and cutting into it only to find that it's yucky! So, I did my homework at the beginning of summer and here's what I found. These are my top 3 tips for choosing a good watermelon:

1. Find one that is uniform in shape that means there were not starts and stops in the growing season

2. Look for a nice yellow mark. This is where the watermelon rested on the ground. If the mark is nice and   creamy yellow or orangish that means it was nice and ripe when it was picked. If the mark is whitish or non-existent that means it was picked too soon. (For some reason this one turned a little greenish yellow while it was sitting on my counter for 2 days)

3. Pick up a couple of good looking melons that are approximately the same size and weigh them the heavier the better, that means it's nice a juicy, not dried out.

This is how I have picked my watermelons all summer and we haven't had a bad one yet!

Now how to cut that melon also a huge frustration until I found some help online. So here's how you cut a watermelon.

First cut the ends off

 Then stand the melon up on one end and start cutting the rind off from top to bottom

 Next start slicing and cubing

Watermelon is 95% water so it's a great snack especially on those hot summer days and an easy way to help stay hydrated!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Free Cheetos at Smiths

Download a coupon to your Smiths card for Free 8.75-9.25oz bag of Cheetos Today only!

Gilcrease Orchard

So all of you locals know about Gilcrease Orchard, but just a reminder that it's a great place to go and pick your own fresh produce. We love to go and pick pumpkins for Halloween, but the rest of the growing season it's great to take your kids and pick some yummy fresh fruits and veggies and the fresh apple cider is out of this world (not cheap but delicious)! They're only open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7am-Noon. I recommend that you sign-up for their newsletter and then you'll know what they have available each week and what produce is ready to be picked. Get there early so you don't roast! Here's what's available this week:

Pick -n- Pay

Available this week
  • Pears $1 per lb.
  • Onions $0.50 per lb.
  • Zucchini $1 per lb.
  • Summer Squash $1 per lb.
  • Peaches $1 per lb. 
  • Cucumbers $1 per lb.
  • Eggplant $1 per lb. 
  • Cantaloupe $.50 lb 
  • Watermelon $.25 per lb (very limited)

Peanut/Almond Butters 
  • Nitty Gritty $5.00
  • Sweet and Gritty $5.50
  • Dark and Gritty $5.50
  • Almond Butter $8.00
  • Dark and Almond $8.00

Apple Cider
  •  $4- per 1/2 gallon
  •  $2- per pint
Coming Soon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Apple Cider Donuts

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Let's Start Blogging again!

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and how I really want to revive it however, I've been thinking that I want to take a little bit of a different approach. While I love to coupon, it is certainly time consuming and sometimes a huge headache. I have over the last year or so been trying to find balance with couponing without obsessing if I miss a deal, finding great deals without coupons, eating healthy on a budget, and having food storage on hand. I've failed miserably at gardening but have not given up; it's on my agenda to start again hopefully next year. I started canning about 2 years ago and love the process. Anyway, my hopes for this blog are to share what I learn along the way as I try to find balance especially when it comes to a tight budget and let me tell you there are few budgets that are tighter than mine, in fact that's also on the list-tighten the budget. So with that said, lets see where this goes. In other words no strict plan just stick to the title Be Provident....getting our financial house in order (the rest of my house could use a little order too!)

Let's get started with my top 10 Grocery Budget tips

1. Write a budget...this is so important, and most of us really hate this one. I know I really hated the thought of a budget until I heard someone in a talk at church say that a budget is like the commandments, while some people might see them as restrictive we who believe no that it is the commandments that keep us safe and give us freedom. A budget is exactly the same, it keeps us financially safe and keeps us from the dangers of debt. Light bulb moment for me. Before you write your budget keep track of how much you currently spend in groceries, otherwise you may get discouraged. So be realistic and adjust along the way. You may have to start a little higher and then as you get better and finding deals and are more aware of your budget, you may be able to reduce your budget.

2. Become a cash buyer. I love Dave Ramsey's envelope system the idea is simple, you just prepare your budget, put the amount you have budgeted for each category in a separate envelope and when it's gone...it's gone! I feel so much more in control of my money when I can physically see what I have and I feel completely out of control when I use my debit card! Make sure to include food storage in your budget even if it's just a little bit or maybe a monthly food storage budget as opposed to a weekly one.

3. If you are going to shop Walmart, take your ads. I love Walmart, but if you think that shopping exclusively at Walmart is giving you the most bang for the buck, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you it's not. However, if you take your ads to Walmart and price match then you're doing well. Two things to be aware of when you price match there is a specific price match policy here be sure to read it so you understand what they will and will not price match. Also it can be a bit of a headache at the register. Just be sure you tell the clerk before he/she scans each item that you want to price match. I have never had a problem with the 2 or 3 Walmarts I have shopped at in Las Vegas but some people have a terrible time price matching. Although they have never asked me for the ad, I always make sure I have them in my purse.

4. Shop the Grocery Store ads. I don't believe in having lists and lists of products with prices comparisons etc. That is so overwhelming! But I do always have in mind the top 5-10 items I buy all of the time. While I love to try new recipes, the bottom line is that there are certain things my family will eat and many things that they will not eat, so usually our meals have the same basic components. For example we use a lot of tomato sauce, beans (refried, black etc) chicken stock, and so on. These are items that I buy all the time so I know what price is a "stock up" price so when I see that price I....stock up! Same goes with meat and cheese which can be frozen.

5. Eat Produce in Season. Fruits and vegetable in season are at their best price. This is where canning and freezing come into play. If you see a really great deal on say peaches, if you go at the beginning of the sale and ask the produce manager for a case, I've never had them say no, but they usually want to order it for you so they don't run out of stock. Then, you can can or freeze for the winter. Also, look for co-ops or groups that order, and then there's the best option...a garden!

6. Cut back on Meat. I'm not saying you need to eat a vegan or even a vegetarian diet, but most of us probably eat way too much meat. I have tried to cook a couple of meatless meals each week two of our favorites are lasagna roll-ups and sweet potato flautas (I'll post the recipes later). Make meat the side rather than the main course for example in your spaghetti sauce cut the amount of meat in half or in your casseroles load up on the non-meat ingredients and cut down on the meat. Just know that meat is expensive and can eat up your grocery budget in a heartbeat. Also, if you're saving on meat you won't feel guilty spending a little extra on things like healthy fish or even higher quality meats or organic produce. Whatever works for you!

7. Shop the Drugstores. If you need to run to the store for cold medicine or aspirin or milk, I would never say go to the Drugstore because it's probably you're most expensive last minute option. But if you watch the ads you can get some awesome deals at the drugstore. I often get eggs, cereal, diapers (Walgreens are my favorite even better than huggies and pampers in my opinion!) and lots of other things. Again, it takes just a minute or two to browse through the ads (their online if you don't take the paper), and put them in your purse if you're going to Walmart. You can also get great deals on toiletries and medicine, but that takes a little work with rewards and cards and points which if you're interested are awesome, but if you don't want the hassle there are lots of other goodies at the drugstores.

8. Cook. Seems fairly obvious, right? Eating out can kill you're weekly grocery budget in one meal! That's not to say that we never eat fast food or eat out (okay we almost never eat at a real restaurant), but we're busy and there are many days when it's 5:00 and you (I) have no idea what to do for dinner. A couple of good solutions: freezer meals more on this later, I always have frozen ravioli and jarred pasta sauce on hand for a quick meal, instead of running to fast food, run to the store and pick-up some hamburger or turkey burger, buns and chips (I also always have fresh fruit and veggies on hand) check your ads really quick and see where the cheapest buy is I promise you that even at regular price it will be cheaper than fast food, we also run to Sams or Costco and grab a cooked chicken and rolls and salad my kids love this for a meal. Anyway, cooking almost anything is cheaper than eating out.

9.Make your own cleaning supplies. It's quick, it's easy it's non-toxic, and you might be amazed at what you can clean with a few simple ingredients like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar. More on this to come. I promise you that home-made fabric stain remover is so much more effective than the store bought version.

10. Food Storage. This one is so much about peace of mind. There is something so comforting about knowing that you have food in your cupboard. Don't run out and buy food storage. I have a great method that I learned from someone else that I'll share in another post, but buy what your family will eat. Don't buy food storage just to have it sit in your pantry for 30 years. Buy a little bit at a time when you see a good price, stock up, use it and rotate it. Learn to make bread from your wheat...it's a cinch. Save that extra grocery money for things like a wheat grinder or water barrels. Lot's more to come on this topic!

Well that's a pretty good start!