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Monday, February 20, 2017

THE $20 EXPERIMENT: THE GRAND FINALE

Hello dear friends! TA-DA!  We've reached day seven of the big $20 experiment.  Honestly, it hasn't been too painful, although I will be glad to go back to having a bit of salad dressing on my salad.  BTW, since I had  about a tablespoon  of barbecue sauce left over, I stirred it into some mayo and thinned it with some buttermilk to make a dressing for tomorrow.  I did taste it, so shame on me if this is cheating, and it tasted pretty good.  I'd say this little bottle:
of barbecue sauce has been the hero of the week for this challenge.  Without it, food would have been pretty bland.  As I come to the end of this challenge I still have the oatmeal to carry over into next week, if I were to continue.  So, I'd say we did pretty well.  Ran and Jamie sure were  good sports for going along with me on this, they even said that everything tasted good, except for the oatmeal. :)

Another key to making it work was using everything up, from the fat skimmed off of the broth, to grinding the oatmeal for flour, to adding water to the barbecue sauce bottle and shaking it up, to get the last bit of flavoring from the bottle.  Every time I emptied a dish which stored the beans or vegetables, I would slosh some warm water around the container and add it to the soup broth.  I also used all the water from boiling the potatoes and carrots.  Cate, just a few minutes ago, left a comment, suggesting that I could have zested the orange rinds and froze them for flavoring muffins.  Good idea, Cate!  Probably would have helped the oatmeal, some.

What We Had For Lunch

I made a soup of the leftover bean and rice, the last carrot and kale. Thanks to Rhonda's hint about squeezing the air out of the package the kale lasted the entire week without going bad.
I will not try to convince you that this was tasty!  We ate pretty lightly of it and have about two more bowlfuls left.  That would be another meal to carry over into next week.  I wanted to toss it, now that the experiment is over, but Ran who is as thrifty or more so than I, suggested we keep it and tomorrow we could add more seasonings to it, along with more vegetables and make it into  something better tasting.   I might freeze it for a while and revisit it later.

What We Had For Dinner

For dinner we had a baked potato with cheese and the rest of the beans on top and the remaining lettuce.
at the beginning of the week, I picked out the three largest potatoes and set them aside for this meal.  Have to admit that these two meals today were not the most thrilling meals I have ever eaten, but if we had to live on $20 a week for three people, I suppose I would have to expect some meals would be just to get you filled up. I know I would be looking forward to the next day, and getting a new batch of ingredients to work with.

Thoughts On The Week

Beans, carrots, potatoes, all things everyone knows are cheap and filling are really going to be your staples.  People that insist on eating meat at least once a day are going to have to do so at the expense of getting vegetables into their bodies.  Mrs. Shoes,  commented that with all those beans, she probably wouldn't be able to sleep in the same room as her husband.  Ha! Mrs. Shoes is a card!  Surprisingly, we didn't find ourselves to be overly  eh, er, gassy.  To eliminate some of that problem,  we  soaked our beans overnight, changed the water  then prepared them (in a pressure cooker) then rinsed the beans again.  I saved the bean broth separately and refrigerate it overnight.  All the little gas bubbles expell, then I used the broth as needed to heat the beans or in soup.

The other thing is that you need to be a planner.  You have to plan that in three days I'm going to need a cup of those beans,  save the carrot water for the soup, don't throw out the potato peels, etc.

What I'd Buy For Next Week

I won't be doing this experiment next week, it is cheaper for us to eat from our pantry than the $20 challenge.  Usually I spend about $15 on groceries when eating from my pantry,  but then I have a very well-stocked pantry. I've already bought my groceries for next week; two heads of Romaine lettuce @ 99 cents each,  a quart of Brussels sprouts @ $2.99 and 3 pounds of bacon ends and pieces for $7.99 (actually it's about 3 1/2 pounds, I weighed the packages to get the most for the money) The bacon ends and pieces are not for any meals, but just to stock up for baked beans and soups.  So that's how I spent $13 this week.  Here's what I'd buy if the experiment were to continue:
 I'd use about 5 pound of those 29 cent chicken quarters for $1.50
 Carrots were 2lbs/ $1.50 in the store
 Another package of tortillas $1.50
 A bottle of salsa from the dollar store $1
A 1 pound box of brown sugar (for the oatmeal) $1.50
8 oz. of Cheddar cheese $2
5 lbs. potatoes $3
that box of Jiffy muffins that I paid 15 cents for
Another bunch of reduced for quick sale 33 cent bananas $1
a head of Romaine lettuce 99 cents
a bag of plain rice from the dollar store $1
a container of cinnamon from the dollar store $1
another bag of those reduced for quick sale oranges $1.50
a dozen eggs,I've seen prices range from 50 cents-$1 so I'll just say $1
That amounts to $18.64.  I'd use the remaining  $1.36 for whatever I could find on the reduced vegetable bin, maybe peppers)
Plus I'd use the free mayo I got from the thrift store last week.

So that concludes the $20 challenge. I'll now resume  my regular program. Ha! Hope to see you next Sunday!

Hugs
Jane




























66 comments:

  1. Wow!! so neat how you did this! I would NEVER HAVE BEEN able to do this as well as y'all did! I do challenges similar to this...eating only from the pantry etc. ....but never to this level. You did great! Glad you shared it with us! I learn so much from your posts.

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    1. Thanks Debbi! It was fun. I'd say a family of three can eat well for 6 days on $20 plus one day of pretty crummy eating. It was fun, but I'll be glad to get back to my usual blogging schedule so I can start reading what other people wrote, like your blog!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  2. This challenge has been fun to follow, Jane. I really enjoyed reading the installments each day, and as always, your thriftiness is top rate.
    Have a great week!
    Toni

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    1. Thanks Toni! Ut was a fun challenge, maybe I'll do another one some day.
      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. Thanks for the tip about saving and refrigerating the bean broth, to cut down on gassiness. That might be helpful here :o). I'm really going to miss your daily posts. It's been fun and interesting to see how you navigated the challenge. Have a great week!

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    1. Another tip that our old Native American friend told us is to boil the beans with a tablespoon of barley, Laurie. Hope that helps!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. My Mom taught me to sprinkle baking soda in with the beans when you first start to cook them. Once they have broken their shells, then take the beans out, rise them thoroughly to remove the baking soda, then resume cooking. This is supposed to reduce or eliminate any gassy effects.

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  4. Jane, You did so good. Your great planning made everything work. Great job!

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    1. Yep, one of the keys is to plan well, Vickie. It was fun, but now I'll be glad to have some variety.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. Thank you so much for tracking how you did all this. It is amazing how creative you can be even with being so limited in your choices of ingredients. Be blessed!

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    1. It's kind of like Taco Bell, Debbie. It's amazing how many items they have on the menu with just beans, taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tortillas and tomatoes! Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. This is the first challenge I have read where there was no pantry to raid. I don't know if I could have been strong enough to do what you did with out a sugar,eggs or a spicy spice. I tip my hat to you. You made this work, no one it sounds got ornery and no one passed out. You're pretty awesome Jane.
    Hugs,
    Jen

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    1. Thanks Jen! I'll be ready for some spicy spice tomorrow, that's for sure! But I guess I'll continue on with the no sugar, which is surprising to me, because I promised myself at the beginning of challenge, I'd have cake when it ended. You know what I missed? Crackers! I missed eating crackers with my cheese. Who would have thunk it? BTW, I cut out the squares from the green wool you donated. Thank you so much again! If there's anything I can do to return the favor, just let me know!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. It's awesome that you managed to finish out the week and stay on budget!

    I do freeze and/or dry grated orange peels. They add a bit of zing to sweet breads, are good steeped with tea, and when I make the occasional cheesecake I add some. I hadn't thought about putting them in oatmeal, but that is an excellent idea.

    I'm impressed that you managed this without dipping into your pantry. I am so used to cooking from pantry items that I would be lost without it.

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  8. Got to admit it was pretty tempting to use some of the brown sugar or grab some spices from the spice cupboard, but I wanted to see what it would really be like, so I held firm. Not to say that tomorrow I won't have a big pig-out. Ha! It's been good for me, I finally broke through a diet plateau that I've had for the last three weeks. Maybe I should do this more often!

    Hugs
    Jane

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  10. This has been an eye opening series of posts this week. I have enjoyed reading about your skills in proving this experiment could be done. You did so well and certainly encouraged me.

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    1. Thanks Mary Ann! Hope you found something useful in it!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. You have so well, especially not raiding your store cupboard. Very inspiring and love how you listed what you'd have if you were carrying it on. Pleased you broke thru, your diet plateau. Have a great week with a bit of spice, haha.

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    1. I have to go to the dentist tomorrow, Sharon, and I'm really hoping my mouth won't be numb so I'll have to eat that dratted soup again! I think it was cutting out the sugar that did it for the diet. Now, only have to do this a gazillion more times and I'll reach my goal!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  12. I think you get the gold star! I wouldn't have taken it as seriously as you did. I eat pretty bland (blandly?) normally, but my patience would have gone right out the window from the get-go with no brown sugar for oatmeal. Bless your heart for sticking with it.

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    1. Well, the oatmeal did go right out the window, Debbie! Other than that and today's meals, it wasn't much of a hardship. I actually ended up eating more than I usually do because I usually skip dinner.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  13. Well done Jane, good on you.
    I bow to you; you got mad skillz Girl (as the kids would say, or maybe they don't say that anymore? Showing my age...)

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    1. Not sure if they say that anymore, Mrs. Shoes. I'm going to the dentist tomorrow, where I'll be stuck for an hour in the waiting room reading People magazine. I'll get all caught up on my pop culture and let you know!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  14. You did it! Well done! Thank you for listing what you would have bought for next week if you had been continuing the challenge. It's doing it week after week (as one would have to if on a very limited budget) that can wear one down. But you have shown that it can be done and quite well, too. :) Hope the dental appointment goes well and you recover quickly.

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    1. Thank you Bless! It must be wearisome to be on a strict budget, I guess if I were, I'd just have to find joy in something other than food, that's for sure! At the end of the day, food is just food, and I think we Americans get too hung up on it, with all these cooking shows and blogs. I bet people in third world countries wouldn't have been impressed with my challenge at all. Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  15. Joan of Crystalview CottageFebruary 21, 2017 at 2:16 AM

    Hi Jane!! What an inspiring series!! It has prompted me to become more vigilant with planning and shopping for our meals. Thank you! Some thoughts for the dentist chair...I saw my first robin on our walk yesterday and the Daffodils are poking up. Early Spring??

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    1. Morning, Joan! Ran said he saw a flock of robins the other day, too. Well, one more week until March, so we are heading toward Spring, whether it's early or not! Just got to get through this mud season, first. Did it get into the 70s over your way this weekend? Ran went down to the Chelsea area to help our son and he said it was that warm there. Didn't get that warm here, but still could hang the laundry on the line. Unbelievable!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  16. It's been very thought provoking to read a series of posts about a thrifty challenge in which you DIDN'T use your storecupboards at all to supplement the food that you bought; and for me it's been a much needed reminder that a healthy diet need not cost a fortune either.
    I gave up sugar 15 months ago and now find most processed foods far too sweet. Although to be honest I don't tend to buy processed foods much so that's not really an issue :-)
    I'm working to eliminate cheeses, crisps (think you call them chips?) and salted nuts but am finding them far harder to resist so have simply stopped buying them.
    Thank you for making me reconsider our diet again, it's very easy to become complacent. I'm going to audit our fridge contents now and to make a big pan of vegetable soup and a salad from what we already have.
    Best wishes
    Lesley

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    1. Hi Lesley! I'm turning into my mother with things being too sweet! I remember she would always annoy me with "That's too sweet for me" and now I do the same thing! How does that happen? Ha!

      One of the advantages of living in a tiny village is that everyone knows your business. It helps with the crisps (we call them chips) addiction is that I don't want the store clerks to tell everyone that I'm always coming in and buying them. Ha! Nothing like a lot of gossipy old ladies to keep you on the straight and narrow!

      Hope you enjoy your vegetable soup and salad!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  17. You did great Jane. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

    Have a wonderful week ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Thanks Rainey! Hope you have a wonderful week, too!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  18. Hi Jane,
    You have a will of iron, my dear! Well done. A lot of it is attitude - to do the best with what you have and no whining. Also, you need to know how to cook. I once chatted with a lady at a charity who said her clients wouldn't take a whole frozen chicken because, as it turned out, they didn't know how to cook it. Stunning, isn't it?
    Have a good day. Hope the dentist visit is o.k.
    Sheila

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    1. That's crazy Sheila! And there really is nothing to making a chicken, anyhow. I remember a charity here was getting food together for children's lunches and would only take lunchables and juice boxes, because it was too much work to make sandwiches or pour juice into a glass. This is what I mean when I say, if you think you're too good to stoop to help yourself up, you don't deserve my charity. Needless to say, I didn't contribute to that fundraiser.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  19. Thanks Jane! You've done plenty to return the favor. I'm a little less lost with your posts. And you feed the kitties!
    Hugs, Jen

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    1. Oh my word, Jen, those kittens! Talk about spoiled! We bought some cheap cat food and they won't eat it. Only like Kibbles and Bits and preferably the grillers variety. And they refuse to do their business outside. When we let them in, they shoot right over to the litter box as if they've been holding it all day. Those are three spoiled stray cats! BTW, I cut out the squares from your wool yesterday and hopefully will finish the quilt this week. Thanks again!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  20. I've enjoyed following along on your very thrifty week. Kudos to you!
    Here's my tip for getting your money's worth out of kale: rinse it, dry it, and freeze on a baking sheet. When it's frozen I break it into smaller pieces, fill a ziploc bag and return to the freezer. No blanching necessary. It lasts for many weeks (months even) and is handy for smoothies, soups etc. I don't buy it in bags but bagged kale would be fine too.
    Oh, don't get me started on Lunchables! :D

    Mimi

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    1. Thanks for the tip Mimi! We grow our own kale and usually dry it, takes up very little space that way, but this is a great idea too. Hearing you on the Lunchables! Never priced them but I'm pretty sure they are not cost effective!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  21. Dear Jane,
    I am just getting caught up on your posts for the challenge. You did really well! I think I would have caved by day 4, especially with no sugar. I thought of you this weekend when I was busy cooking up and freezing the meat off 59 cent/lb chicken leg quarters that I bought on sale. I bought 5 big packages so they've kept me busy. I also got 2 lb of frozen blueberries for $2 which is pretty good for around here.
    Anyway, I bet you are glad to have more food choices now. Thanks for the free entertainment this week! ;)
    Dana

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    1. It's a lot of work to get all the meat off the bones of those legs, but it sure saves the money doesn't it Dana? Glad to know I wasn't the only one getting that deal! That really is a great deal on blueberries. They are one of those superfoods, so all the better to get them at a good price too! Well, I'm glad you were entertained!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  22. Hi Jane! I enjoyed reading your quest to eat on a tiny budget. If anyone can have the skill to figure out how to do it and give guidance it's you. Thanks for all your efforts. It was interesting. So many internet attempts just aren't genuine of what reality would really be. You're right, they tend to add from other sources. I also noticed one of the biggest challenges would be to accept what you have to eat if that's all you have. It would also not be easy for the cook to give variety, even if there were a few more pantry ingredients/staples available. I think I take for granted my regular rotation of meals are easy to please and I can usually substitute ingredients with success or just add the right ones to my shopping list. I noticed in your week that only using what you have would definitely be a cook's uphill battle to use them in an appetizing way to satisfy a family.

    I once knew someone who was a dietician and said while in college did her internship for a county health dept. where she instructed food stamp and WIC individuals how to cook on a low income. She said the most successful were scratch cook immigrants regularly cooking the food from their country of origin. Lots of beans, rice and vegetables with meat only as a condiment (and not expensive cuts of meat) were normal, not a hardship, and meals were nutritious. On the other hand, for those American born and raised who were used to boxed and fast food and minimal cooking it was a real challenge to teach to eat well on the amount of money they had.

    I hope you have a great rest of your week and you cook whatever it was you craved last week (haha) -Sharon

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    1. That's the key right there, Sharon. You have to think like the immigrants do that have lived on beans, rice and a bit of veggies all their lives. I call it peasant-fare. I love to take a little of something and make something using herbs and spices, which was the biggest challenge for me. Overall, there's a lot worst things than eating a bland diet.

      I remember when the boys brought their friends home for dinner, they always said the food tasted bland, until I figured it out and realized that everything they ate was processed food or came from a box and what they were missing was all the salt.

      Believe it or not, the thing I missed most was crackers. And I thought it would have been some sort of sweets!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  23. Very thorough and your food sounded good to me!! I'm flying home from Florida right now. I'm happy I was able to follow your challenge on our phone!! Hugs andrea

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    1. I thought that was where you were at, when I hadn't seen any posts from you recently, Andrea. Did you go to visit your new granddaughter? Have a safe trip!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Hi! yes I was away! I just got home. No, we visited our 2 granddaughters a couple weeks ago in WV...this was a different son and his wife who moved there recently. I'm happy to get home...although a bit disorientated right now! Hugs, Andrea

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    3. Man! You're kids are spread out all over the country too! Hope you soaked up enough sun to see you through to Spring!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  24. Thank you for these posts! I enjoyed them very much - they were the first thing I turned to in the morning (I live in Europe), something like a reality thriller :-) 'What did she do?'

    I am definitely going to re-read these posts for further inspiration. Thank you so much!

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    1. Ha! Thanks Miriam! I hope that now that you've found my blog, you won't be a stranger. I've enjoyed reading your comments!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. This is off topic, but I have forgotten to ase earlier. As I read your older posts, you were experimenting baking with yeast from beer making. It occured to me that I have somewhere a recipe for potato yeast written down (never tried it) and I was thinking if you (or someone else) have heard/tried/used something like that? According to the recipe you needed yeast for the first batch of potato yeast, but then continued with potatoes and water only.

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    3. That sounds something like an Amish starter that I made years ago, Miriam. Personally, I've never had any luck with any of these sourdough or Amish starters, but I've read from others that have. I'm not the best bread baker in the world. My husband does all the baking here that requires yeast. I do like the idea of a self-propitiating yeast, seems like a very thrifty thing to do. When I lived in another city, my neighbor had a sourdough starter that came from the original Yukon 1848 gold miners. Oh my goodness! Was that ever good! So yes, if you find the right recipe, it can be done!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    4. I have no problem with sourdough starter without yeast. I have a hand-crank grinder. Freshly ground flour has so much more rising power than older flour. My mother of blessed memory was an incredible bread maker - she never washed her wooden dough pail so her starter was decades old if not older. She taught me how to make good bread from an early age.

      I was thinking of that 'potato yeast' if it could be used for something sweet (something you usually do with regular yeast) like cinnamon buns. :-)

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    5. That's very interesting, Miriam. Thank you for the tips. I think my problem with sourdough is I don't have the patience to wait until it starts to develop that real sourdough flavor. Right now I'm experimenting with a dough that uses lemon-lime soda in it. Supposedly, it give the sour flavor right off the bat. Will let you know.

      I have this recipe for refrigerator potato dough: http://hopeandthrift.blogspot.com/2015/09/indian-summer.html
      Which makes a very nice dough sand is convenient as it can be refrigerated for several days and be portioned out as needed.

      Let me know if you figure out what it is you're looking for. I'd be interested. Have a lovely weekend!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  25. While I really admire you I am afraid I couldn't do it. That soup didn't look too good to me and although I am not that fussy about food as I am always dieting I have to have food that I really like.. but well done you!

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    1. Ha! Well it wasn't the greatest thing I ever ate, either, Chris! I guess one lesson to be had is that we should be thankful that we don't have to live on such a budget.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  26. Jane, A new reader here, but I loved these posts!! Thank you!!

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    1. Glad you could join us, Sally! Hope you visit often!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  27. Jane, I am new to your blog and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about the challenge. Well done you!

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    1. Thanks Linda! It was fun and I got to meet a lot of new people. The last day was worth it! Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  28. Bravo! Job well done. You gave me a lot of ideas as my husband and I are striving toward being totally debt-free by the end of the year and getting into a home. We are temporarily in an apartment after selling our home a little over a year ago and having no other place to live. This place won't even allow you to container garden! Can't wait to grow my own garden again and can my veggies!!! I totally enjoy your blog, Jane, and have read ALL your back issues. Thanks for taking the time to allow us to peek into your life.

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    1. I have confidence that you can do it, Cate! Debt-free living is so freeing. You might have to give up little things, but it more than makes up for it in the self-assurance of knowing that whatever comes your way, you'll have a roof over your head. Thank you for the tip on beans. Now that you wrote that, I recall hearing that before. Have a lovely week. Can you believe how quickly it's going by?

      Hugs
      Jane

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  29. dear jane,
    great challenge...I enjoyed them very much.Potatoes are very cheap here in germany,last week i buyed 10 kilo for 2,99€ and this week gives oranges on sale,
    2kilo for 1,49€...I will buy some kilo.
    I wish you a wonderful week,
    hugs regina

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    1. If you keep the potatoes in a cool dark place, they will last a very long time, Regina, so stock up while they are cheap. I always liken stocking a pantry to trading commodities, buy low and eat cheap!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  30. Great job! Thank you for taking us along on the challenge. You surely did better than I would have on $20, and your guys were good sports too.
    Meant to tell you that I made the korean street sandwiches, and they were good! Thanks for the recipe.

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    1. Thanks Kathy! Those sandwiches are good. Isn't it amazing what you can do with a few inexpensive ingredients? I forgot all about them. Thanks for reminding me! I have a head of cabbages in the fridge, so maybe they'll be on the menu this week.

      HUgs
      Jane

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  31. Today is a dreary and rainy day so it was the perfect day to make those Jiffy corn muffins to eat with chili and a salad. They were better than I expected; however, I thought they were pretty sweet. I have a sweet tooth and it's unusual for me to think something is overly sweet. Well, I pulled the box out of the trash to look at the ingredients and sugar was the third ingredient listed and one muffin has 7 grams of sugar. Guess it's just an example that using mixes and processed foods is not the healthiest eating.

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    1. I read somewhere a while back that people in the southern states don't like their cornbread sweet and we in the north do. I know that I've tried some cornbread recipes that some of my southern friends rave about and thought they could use some sugar. Ha! On the other hand, up here we don't care for the sugar in tea like the sweet tea in the south. My MIL is from the south and when I tasted her tea for the first time, I just about died from sugar shock.Ha! It's funny how those things are regional. But it's true, Shirley, from-scratch is usually the healthiest. Guess it's back to the drawing board.

      Hugs
      Jane

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