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Monday, March 23, 2015


Hello dear friends!  Hope you are enjoying a lovely Spring wherever you are!  Even though it's still cold here, the snow is slowly ebbing away and the earth is waking from it's slumber.  We started our seeds this week.  Hard to believe that in eight weeks we'll be planting our garden.  Someone asked us if gardening pays.  Well, for around thirty dollars (we save most of our seeds, but have too short of a growing season to collect some) we canned over five hundred jars of food, stored several hundred pounds of potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins.  Ate for several months from the garden, starting in April with asparagus and ending in October.  We also dehydrated bushels of tomatoes, beans,  peppers, garlic,herbs, onions, etc.  So does gardening pay?  You bet! What can you buy for thirty dollars?

Every time I wash up one of my canning jars, I think to myself, "Well that's a dollar I didn't have to spend.".  Preserving the harvest, is one of the basic principles of thrift that people throughout history have lived by.  Only in the last one-hundred years have people had the luxury to go to a grocery store and buy whatever strikes their fancy.  Notice I said "luxury" because that is what it is. And luxuries are always expensive.  Always on a quest to learn new frugal skills, I read many blogs and watch many YouTube videos on frugality.  Something that strikes me as odd, is that many of the most popular thrift blogs talk about going to the store and buying things.  Which leads me to the very first principle of the pantry mindset:


Recently I was reading a blog where the woman was bragging about the great price she got on cocoa mix.  The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking to myself, "Well she could have made it better and healthier (no preservatives) from basic items every pantry should have, after all cocoa is just sugar, cocoa, and milk."  As I walk about the grocery store, I notice all the convenience  foods such as; cheese cut into cracker-sized squares,  hamburger helper,  packages of some seasoned breadcrumbs and a few tablespoonfuls of cheese called meal starters,  an entire aisle of frozen pre-packaged  dinners.  Why would anyone buy these things?  They are often loaded with sodium and preservatives and in truth how convenient are they?  How long does it take to cut your own cheese, or to season some breadcrumbs with your own herbs?   You still have to boil the noodles and fry the hamburger for hamburger helper, so what are you really saving in time to buy it pre-packaged?

This past week, we made our own English muffins, yogurt, granola (cereal), bread, noodles, mini-pizzas for the freezer, cookies, hand soap, pie crusts and chicken bullion. Did it take time? Sure.  But I didn't have to spend any time in the grocery store hunting for great bargains either.  I didn't spend any time clipping coupons and driving around to get the best deal.  Thrift is my hobby vocation and I would rather spend my time  doing for myself than other things I could be doing  such as watching TV, talking on the phone, texting, reading novels, etc.  Besides, while I'm waiting for the bread to bake, I can knit or sew and listen to podcasts about subjects I like, such as eschatology, history, and economics. BTW, when you study those three things, you will understand the importance of thrift and preparing for the worst case scenarios.  Just saying!


Because we buy fewer things, we can focus on buying better quality, like non-GMO cornmeal, organic cane sugar, non-bromiated  unbleached flour, fresh organic vegetables.

The other day, I was in the grocery store buying a twenty pound bag of flour.  We buy a locally milled, unbleached non-bromiated flour.  The cashier asked me what did I do with it!  At first, I was confused, "What do I do with flour?"!  But then I realized she didn't recognize flour as flour unless it had the Gold Medal or King Arthur logo on the package.  So I started to say well, I bake bread  and cookies and yesterday I made noodles.  Which lead to me explaining how to make noodles.  "Are they cheaper?" she asked.  About twenty-five cents for as many as you get in this two dollar bag, so you tell me!  This is becoming a common thing with me, evangelizing the virtues of thrift.  I always wanted to be of some service to God, and maybe this is the way He is using me.


We had been searching for peanut butter without hydrogenated oil in it.  After reading many labels we found some at a good price, at Big Lots no less!  So we bought enough to last us an entire year.  Now we do not have to shop for peanut butter anymore this year.  BTW, when it comes to peanut butter, read the labels carefully, a lot of "natural" ones still contain hydrogenated oil.

This past year we have purchased twenty pounds bags of orgainic cane sugar at a very low price, which saw us through half of the year.  Making jam takes a lot of sugar!

I even buy my hearing aid batteries in bulk from Amazon.


Living out of the pantry, does take time and forethought.  While I'm working on my meals for the day, I'm thinking about the meal for the next day.  Do I need to defrost something?  What's in the fridge that I need to use up?  What can I substitute for an ingredient that I don't have?

Our meals are based upon what we have on hand, not what we desire to eat.  You know the old saying, "Eat to live not live to eat".  We have TV networks and blogs devoted to food, it seems  our country is obsessed with food.  Really a pot of homemade soup can be just as nutritional (maybe more so) than some expensive gourmet extravaganza.


I often cringe when I see someone toss a half eaten apple that their child took a bite out of and then decided not to eat.  Or a bowl of soup that they ate a spoonful of soup of before rejecting it.  I so want to tell them to refrigerate that apple and then they can grate it into some meatballs or dice it and bake it with some cinnamon and sugar.  That they can throw the soup back into the pot.  When you reheat it, it will kill the germs anyway.  Make it a goal to reduce your food waste.  Don't buy things and then don't use them.


I know many economists insist that making a menu and sticking with it is the best way to save money, but I beg to differ.  What if you get the grocery store and find an unadvertised special?  What if the soup you made lasts for two days instead of one?  Menus are fine as a general rule, but you need to be flexible.  Improvising is one of the foundations of thrift.


Made our own English muffins (really easy)

Made peanut butter granola

Bought six woolen garments for my quilt for the thrift store for $1.50 (95% off)

Knitted a sweater for my grandson for a present from yarn I unraveled from a 50 cent thrifted  sweater

Made a large batch of pie crusts and froze them for future use

Heated our house with wood since the temperatures have reached above freezing

Started our seeds from saved seeds (peppers, tomatoes, onions and perennial flowers) we don't       buy plants

Learned how to make a heat exchange system for our guest house from a YouTube video

Canned 12 lbs. of corned beef  which was purchased after St. Pat's Day for $2.50/lb.

Made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies from some chocolates that I bought at the after Christmas sale at 75% off (about $1/lb.). Froze half for future snacking.

Made chicken boullion

Made homemade Greek-style yogurt.  Here's how:

Greek-Style Yogurt  (1 quart)

1 quart  milk (we use 2%)
1/2 C. non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. plain yogurt

1.  Combine milk and non-fat dry milk in pot.  Heat slowly to 180 degrees.

2.  Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees.

3.  Add yogurt.  Pour into pint containers.

4.  Store yogurt at 110 degrees for 5 hours.  Our dehydrator has a setting for this.  When we were younger and poorer we used to wrap the yogurt in pile of woolen blankets and set it near a heat source (such as a radiator).  There's also yogurt makers available if you are interested.

5. Refrigerate.


  1. Hi! You had a busy week. You are certainly not lazy! (Like me....i'm sluggish!) A large family garden must be cheap, because my parents always had one (actually 2) and my neighbors had even larger ones. EVERYONE had one on my street growing up, and everyone was poor.

    I was in a grocery store earlier this week, and a lady was remarking how expensive hamburger helper was to her friend. I felt like saying how easy that is to make your own from scratch! (Plus the kit doesn't supply the main ingredients even).

    I'd rather whip up my own food in the kitchen rather then get in a car and go to the grocery store. You are right, it is very time-consuming running here and there (plus wastes gas). Much more relaxing to be in the kitchen.

    And you could be a good "teacher" to a generation that only knows how to buy boxed and to stop in at restaurants! A new frontier (for them) sort of!

    I really hate food waste. Even little things like not "scraping the plate clean".
    Well I sure hope it warms up this week!

    1. I'm sluggish today too, Andrea. I've been fighting a cold and I think it won. Ha!

      Where I grew up it wasn't uncommon to have large families with ten or more children and everyone had a garden. Lots of spaghetti sauce made back then. Of course that was before we heard of the horrors of carbs. Funny thing, everyone was a lot thinner back then! I think our generation stopped having gardens because we were the ones weeding our parents and know how much work they are. It always amuses me to see our children's generation talk about gardening and thrift as if they were the ones to discover it. Oh well! If it makes them happy to think so, just as long as they do it.

      Plus the less time spent in the grocery store the less likelihood that you'll overspend.

      I know you wrote about this ... What's wrong with just serving your little ones a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once in a while? Why does everything have to be so elaborate? I watch my DIL fuss over my grandson's meals and most of the time he takes one or two bites. At least with PBJ, you can stick it in the fridge and they can have it later.

      Hope you get a warm sunny day. Nothing like that to energize you!


    2. Hi! When I moved to Delaware 35 years ago as a new mom, we had a lot of stay-at-home moms around and we all met at church initially. We'd have a pray/play group once a week and took turns at each other's homes. Our kids would eat pb&j sandwiches, raisons, apples, and juice for their snack/lunch. We were all too busy/low on money to concoct anything else for lunches! (Although I also liked to have pasta/spaghetti sauce for lunch). Some kids were allowed (by their moms) to be picky/wasteful. I would just wait and then eat my kids' leftovers for my meal..ha.. Finally my husband said I was treating myself as a garbage can so I learned to just give them a little at a time and watched my waistline better! I think growing up with less; that is why I hated waste.

    3. I guess what your husband said makes sense, Andrea. But it is so hard when you were raised to not waste. I was pretty fortunate that the boys usually ate all their meals. Gosh I wish I was as skinny as I was back then!


  2. are back!!! and filled with great ideas and wise tidbits for all of us. Thank you dear lady for sharing.

    I am looking forward to going back to making everything from scratch again....


    1. Hello dear Mari! I'm so glad you wrote. I've been on quite a hiatus but it was good for the soul! I hope that soon you'll be able to do what your heart desires.

      God Bless

  3. Your posts are so wise and filled with common sense, Jane. I agree... all the food channels/blog and even magazines have made cooking/baking seem so hard and elaborate (the same thing happens with home decorating and crafts too!). We both like simple, down-to-earth meals around here as that's how we were raised. My husband was one of 5 children and no food was ever wasted and even though there was only my brother and myself, the same things applied in my childhood.

    I really enjoy your posts and like to read how you spent your week. You've been one busy lady but what great things you got done around your house. There are many things we can make rather than buy if we really put our minds to it...this is advice I need to remember! :)

    1. Hi Sandra! I remember we used to watch Julia Child and try to make her recipes. They never tasted as good as the plain old meals that we ate every day. I wonder why we have become such a wasteful society? Maybe we just got too comfortable. Well, hope it's warming up over the bridge!


  4. Just stumbled across your blog! Such great basic down to earth information! Looking forward to spending more time reading & gleaning!

    In this post you mentioned homemade peanut butter granola and I wondered if that was a recipe you would mind sharing?

    Hope your Tuesday!~Dona

    1. Welcome Dona! I hope you will join us, I post every Monday, God willing and the creek don't rise! Here's the recipe for the peanut butter granola:

      Peanut Butter Granola

      3 1/2 C. oatmeal (we use old fashioned)
      3/4 C. flour
      1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. salt
      3/4 C. peanut butter
      1/4 C, cooking oil (we use coconut)
      2/3 C. syrup (maple, cane, brown rice, honey) any one or a combination of two or more
      2 tsp. vanilla ( i used maple extract in this batch)
      1/4 C. milk

      1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
      2. Combine oats,baking powder, flour and salt in a large bowl.
      3. Combine peanut butter, oil, syrup, vanilla, and milk together . Pour over oats mixture. Stir to combine well.
      4. Pour granola onto a large parchment lined jelly roll pan. (I use the bottom of my broiler pan)
      5. Bake for 15 minutes. Give the mixture a good stir. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until the granola starts to turn golden brown. Allow to cool for a couple of hours to allow the granola to become crunchy.

      This is great on yogurt, or my husband likes to eat it as a snack out of hand.

      Hope to hear from you again!


    2. Oh! And I forgot to add that I sometime add 1/2 C. of coconut, graham cracker crumbs (the broken one from the package), or peanuts. Be creative. Whatever you want to add.

    3. Thank you so much! I had a feeling this was going to be a good one!!! And it 'reads' delicious!

      Will make a batch for my son to munch on while on an upcoming looong flight!

      Very much planning on reading more of your blog! You just make sense!

      Thank you again! And to finish my above 'shorthand'...Have a great Tuesday!!~Dona

    4. Your very welcome, Dona! You can never go wrong with peanut butter!

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Jane, I was looking for information on your wool quilts. I saw you mention it on Prudent Homemaker but I searched a bit on your blog and could not find them. My Grandma used to make wool patchwork throws and I was just wondering about yours. Someone else on PH asked too. Case you feel like answering we're interested.

    1. Sorry I didn't answer your questions on PH Athanasia. Been sick with bronchitis. I was planning to write about the quilts on this post but didn't get it finished in time. Will definitely write about it in my next post. You've given me the incentive to finish it. I post on Mondays, so be sure to check back in the afternoon (takes me a bit of time to type them all up).


    2. Hope you get over quickly. People around here are seeming to be sick longer than usual. I think it's due to our too mild of a winter this year ...not enough below O°F days.

    3. I wish I lived where you did, Athanasia! I don't think the entire month of February the mercury rose above zero here. We're having a blizzard today or as it is called around here, "lake effect snows". My brother-in-law and nephews have been called back to get their ships ready for sailing, so Spring must be on its way. I'd hate to be out on the lake on a day like today. Bless the sailors!


    4. Jane, we're not actually that far difference from you, but we're farther north. We had a cold February, but March has been too warm. We had some spans of 40-50 F weather but now we are back down to 18F this am. I know all about lake effect father's family lives all up and down the WI side of Lake Michigan. I know fog too.

    5. I used to live in WI, too. It's living directly on the lake that makes it so cold. We're stuck out here at the tip of the thumb with the Great Lakes surrounding us on all three sides. We get the brunt of wind off the frozen lakes. I think the highest temps. we have had was mid 20s, but maybe it was warmer the weekend we went to Kenosha. I know it got to the 70s in Chicago. Where do you live?

    6. Jane, I think we're actually farther north than you pretty much right in the middle of WI. So we are a distance from Superior and Michigan. We start snowing in November and mostly negative temps in January and February. But we had a couple weeks of too warm 40-50F weather beginning of March. We're back in the 20s now. We used to go to a beach in Kenosha when we were younger and visiting relatives.

    7. We're probably close to parallel with Green Bay. It's been a strange year weather-wise. My mom , who lives about two hundred miles farther north than us, says that their grass is already turning green. We got a lot of the tail end of what was happening out east. We even experienced Hurricane Sandy here.

      My son went to UW-Stout. It's pretty country up through the center of WI. We always would stop at the Norske Nook on the way up. Are you familiar with it? The sweetest ladies run it. Fond memories.


    8. We know the Norske Nook, yes, and the Stout area. Husband's family lives on the west side of the state. Only ate at the NN once, though, last year. Met some friends there for breakfast, they were travelling back from vacation to home in Minnesota. Breakfast was good, they went on their way and we spent the rest of the day visiting relatives.

  6. dear jane,
    wow what a busy week. you have made so many good things. homemade noodles and chicken bouillon sounds very good. english muffins (with yeast?) this week i have made cannelloni,french bread and maple cake.
    i wish you a wonderful rest of week,
    hugs regina

    1. Hello dear Regina! Yes the English muffins are made with yeast. They are actually very easy, you just let them rise in rings the second rising then instead of baking them in the oven, you bake them in a griddle on top of the stove.

      Yum, maple cake sounds wonderful. I bet it was beautiful, as everything you bake looks like it came out of fancy bakery. Hope you post on your blog soon!