Five Frugal for Friday


By Liz

I enjoy writing my Five Frugal for Friday articles.  They feel like small little financial victories to me and it has been awhile since I have posted a Five Frugal for Friday article, so now is as good a time as any.

So what kind of things did I save money on this time around?


1. Ham steaks.  This one was actually a find by my husband. Our local Walmart had marked down some great looking chunks of smoked honey ham, that my hubby then brought home, got out his deli slicer (yes….he has one of these) sliced up, packaged and froze some great looking ham steaks.  These will be used for breakfasts with some eggs, diced up for soups and casseroles as well as the all to popular and quick “I’ve had a busy day and I don’t feel like cooking” meals.


2. Open faced apple pie.  I seemed to have an abundance of small lunchbox sized apples that no one was eating and I also found a pre-made refrigerated pie crust in my fridge,( I think left over from the holidays) so I sliced up my apples, combined it with a handful of dried cranberries and chopped pecans, along with some sugar and spices and baked it. The end result was this delicious, however, not so pretty to look at, open faced apple pie that was eaten up in a matter of 3 days.


3. I took a temp job.  So in a previous post, I had mentioned that I had attempted to re-enter the work force, not because I had a huge desire to, but because that was what I thought I had to do. I left that job about 3 months ago on good terms and had made a friend in my then boss.  A few weeks ago, she reached out to me because she was swamped at work and wanted to know if I would be interested in working as a temp for a few weeks.  This opportunity came at the perfect time, because my sister and I are planning on to taking a trip to New England this upcoming fall and I wanted to raise the money for it myself and not have to sink into my husband’s and my savings account.


4. Croutons. An all time favorite money saver. I had about 1/3 of a loaf of sourdough bread that maybe had another day left in it, but instead, I cut it into cubes, tossed it with some olive oil spray and some seasonings, toasted them up and now I have croutons for the remainder of this week that will go in salad or soup, or my favorite….used for dipping in some flavored olive oil as an appetizer along with a tray of sliced cheeses and garlic stuffed olives, not to mention a glass of wine to wash it down ( I love Friday night wine and cheese night!!!).


5. Close the curtains! This one is a no brainer.  It goes without saying that even here in Texas, we have our share of winter weather.  Although no snow to speak of, it still gets cold, damp and chilly during the winters here.  When the sun is about to set, we close the window blinds and pull the curtains shut to help prevent any drafts. This small action does make a difference and makes the house not feel as chilly, saving us from having to turn the heat up a notch or two. (It goes without saying this is also done in the heat of the summer months to keep us from turning up the A/C as the heat of the sun bears down on our windows).

There are my 5 frugal for this Friday.  Do you have any you would like to share?

Why Oatmeal is a Breakfast Staple in our House and should be in yours as Well

By Liz


Oatmeal has been popular since its introduction to the masses in the late 1800’s. In the early 1900’s the first oatmeal cookie debuted, but at that time it was known as an Oat Cake. In 1922 quick oats hit the market which was a blessing for those who found that standing over a pot of traditional oats on the stove to be a bit time consuming. In the mid 1960’s instant oatmeal in their individual packets was introduced, but it wasn’t until 1970 that breakfast rituals hit an all time high with the appearance of flavored instant oatmeal.  The quick, flavored breakfast staple was a success and remains just as popular today.

Like many people my age, I was introduced to regular oatmeal, although instant and flavored oatmeal was in its infancy in the marketplace, my parents stuck with what they knew. They would make us kids regular, stove top, cooked oatmeal.  I remember many mornings sitting and playing with my breakfast until it was cold and inedible.  For me, the taste and the consistency bared a striking resemblance to wall paper paste and as you can imagine, not one of my favorites.  It wasn’t until I was about four that my mind would be changed on this breakfast food forever.


It was a cold bitter morning in Middle Village, New York and my mom and I had just returned from walking my brother to school which was located approximately four or so blocks away. I hadn’t eaten breakfast before the trip that morning and was whining about how hungry I was the whole walk home.  Once we got home, my mom put on the tea kettle to boil some water while I struggled to get my layers of winter garb off. She called me to the kitchen and waiting for me on the table was my least favorite breakfast….a bowl of oatmeal, however, as I sat there, I instantly noticed that this did not look or smell like the same bowl of paste like breakfast I was used to eating.  I was enticed by a wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon, and this bowl of hot oatmeal looked so creamy not lumpy and unappealing. Immediately my mouth started to water.  I picked up my spoon and dove in! Since that morning, I have been hooked on flavored oatmeal. Now that’s not to say that I have eaten oatmeal for the majority of my breakfasts since then, but it has remained in my breakfast rotation for many, many years.

What is great about oatmeal, aside from the fact that it has its health benefits, is that is one of those “stick to your ribs” meals, so you don’t need to eat a lot of it to be satiated. It is also inexpensive, easy to make, versatile and has a pretty long shelf life.  Now being a thrifty person, I have done the cost analysis and breakdown of store bought instant oatmeal vs. homemade instant oatmeal.  The truth is the cost of most store brand boxed instant oatmeal per ounce is only really a penny or so more expensive than making it homemade, but let me re-emphasize that it is only if you are buying the cheapest store brand.


Personally, I like making my own mix for instant oatmeal at home and having several mix-INS on hand to change up the flavor, so that I potentially have enough variety to have a different flavor for every morning of the week. I am fortunate enough to live within a 7 mile radius of a Whole Foods, Sprouts and Winco all of which have bulk food departments, Winco being the least expensive of the three.  When I package up my servings I measure out ½ cup of my instant oatmeal mix into snack sized bags, this is slightly more than the 1/3 cup portion that you receive from the store bought boxed packages.

Currently the items I have on hand for mix-ins are as follows:

Dried blueberries

Dried cranberries


Peanut butter powder

Chopped pecans and chopped walnuts

Dried apricots

Dried apples

Honey and bananas

Jam or jelly

While currently I am enjoying a mix of dried blueberries and chopped pecans in my instant oatmeal, I have to admit, that to this day my all time favorite has been and will always be, apple and cinnamon, bringing me back to that flavor epiphany I had as a child.

Here is the bulk recipe I use for instant oatmeal I hope that you and your family enjoy it just as much as my family and I have.

Bulk Instant Oatmeal
Serves 13
Delicious instant oatmeal packets you can make at home
Write a review
174 calories
34 g
1 g
2 g
6 g
0 g
47 g
29 g
14 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174
Calories from Fat 19
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 1mg
Sodium 29mg
Total Carbohydrates 34g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 14g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 5 cups quick cooking oats
  2. 1/2 cup powdered milk
  3. 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and either pour into a large container to store or package into snack size bags in 1/2 cup servings.
  2. Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal mixture with hot water.
  3. Enjoy as is or stir in any mix-INS of your choice.
Oatmeal Mix-INS suggestions
  1. Dried fruit
  2. Fresh fruit
  3. Powdered or regular peanut butter
  4. Honey
  5. Chopped nuts
  6. dried apple and cinnamon
  7. Raisins
  8. Chocolate chips
  9. Bananas
  10. Jam or jelly
The Fort Worth Homemaker

Free Will and my Life Lessons

by Liz Lara


Every day is filled with life lessons and it is time to share one of my many not-so-perfect life lessons. It is no mystery, I have not posted to my blog in quite some time.  And as you might guess, there is good reason for that.  The latter half of last year, I and my family experienced quite a lot of changes.

As I mentioned before, our kids are older than most other family blogs you read about.  The oldest of the five is 24, and the youngest is 16. As of summer last year, the three eldest boys lived with us, my daughter who is 19, decided she wanted to live with her father in New England for a while, and my 16 year old step-son lives with his mother about 350 miles away in Amarillo, Texas.

Upon returning from our summer vacation, my oldest step-son, who was 20, decided that he too, was going to withdraw from community college here in Fort Worth, move out and return to his hometown of Amarillo.  I’d like to say we were perplexed at this, but we know that our 20 year old son was making some questionable life choices, and even though we tried to advise him of the road he was going down, ultimately he is an adult and we could not stop him.

By mid -August of last year, it was now just I, my husband and my two eldest boys living in our large house.  I personally was starting to feel lost and did not know what to do with myself on a daily basis.  I could have blogged about my life on a regular basis, but because of what I call our “sudden exodus into empty nest syndrome”, I actually felt like a failure and I certainly did not feel like bragging about that.


I have always had tumultuous feelings about being a homemaker, (I feel this word describes me best. When I think about stay-at-home-moms, I think of those moms in their 20’s, who wear their daily uniform of tight yoga pants and tacky graphic tee shirts with what I can only assume are supposed to be words of wisdom while lugging their kids around to the store, the library or to the park all while having very loud conversations on their smart phones). 

So now I found myself at a crossroads of sort. While I thoroughly enjoy being a homemaker, I felt like the outside world was telling me that I needed to re-enter the working world. After all, what right did I have to not work outside the home when my wonderful, patient, bread – winner, supportive husband has carried the load when I had left corporate and its lucrative paycheck a few years back? Since leaving the work place, my husband will be the first to tell you that I beat myself up with this very subject several times a year, to the point where it stresses both of us out and drives a wedge between us.  The conclusion has always been the same for the past few years; I am happiest at home, taking care of my home and family, no matter how large or small.

However, along came a job offer that seemed to good to pass up.  The money was good, really good, the benefits including two weeks of vacation plus eleven company holidays per year, and the commute was only a mere twenty minutes a day on a piece of highway that rarely saw traffic.  As I scheduled my first interview for the position, I did actually make a list of pros and cons of going back to work, even though my cons outweighed my pros, I decided to move forward and go through the interview process anyway. The job was going to be with a religious, non-profit organization and the thought of working for and with likeminded Christians appealed to me. 

During the first week in September was when I had the first interview and it went well.  After a few days, I got a call back for a second interview, but due to the manager’s vacation, it was not going to be until the following week. 

I spent the next week imagining myself being back to work in a corporate, albeit, nonprofit environment.  I finally had the second interview, and that went really well too, all that was lacking was the CEO’s blessing on filling the open position.  Then began what felt like a long waiting period. What it looked like on their side: was a corporate retreat (three days long), a professional conference (one week long), and a CEO for whom filling the position was not a priority (another two weeks of him pushing it to the back burner). What it looked like on my end:  me going over my pros and cons list almost every day, lying in bed every night debating with myself should I or shouldn’t I go back to work, pacing the house everyday waiting for my phone to ring like a needy single woman waiting for last night’s date to call her to see if he was just as enamored by her as she was with him. I was starting to feel dejected and that I was no longer “hirable.”

On a daily basis, several times a day, I would pray on the conflict that I was undergoing.  About three weeks into this waiting period and watching me go through what can only be described as my “manic-feeling of I need to work” phase, my loving husband had this to say: “You are waiting for God to give you a sign or an answer to your dilemma, however, you have applied to a job, that literally is an institution for God and you have not been offered the position….honey, don’t you think God himself is trying to tell you something?” Those words stuck with me and I had just about resolved the fact that it was not to be, but a few days later, I received an email with an offer letter attached and I thought: “Glory, alleluia, here is my sign!  I got the job.” It only took a month, but I got the job!

So I started my new job, I would be doing payroll for this non-profit, religious organization. I may have not mentioned it before, but I am really not thrilled about my profession as it pertains to working outside the home although I am quite good at it and have my professional certification in it, it really is not my passion.  My work colleagues all seemed very nice, as they do with any job that anyone starts for the first week and for the most part that aspect of the job continued, but you know how it goes, there is always a few bad apples, no matter where you work or what kind of job you are doing.


I was once again trying to get on a work routine of getting up at 5:30 a.m., out the door by 7:00 and in my work chair by 7:30.  Like most jobs, there was an hour for lunch and my workday ended at 4:30 p.m. I was back at home by 5:00 p.m. each evening at which time I would switch into my panicked “get as much done before I go to bed” mode.  This included a 30 minute power walk (before the sun completely set), get a home cooked dinner on the table, fold a batch or two of laundry while dinner was cooking, package any leftovers, pack my breakfast and lunch for the following work day, clean and scrub the dinner dishes and depending on what I was going to make the following day for dinner, possibly start doing some prep work such as chopping veggies or setting up my slow cooker.  I would finally get to sit and relax each night around 8:30 p.m. and usually start to nod off while watching T.V. with my husband around 9:00, and definitely in bed snoring away by 9:30 p.m. every night.

Like most working couples, weekends of course, were just as busy, trying to check off those items on our to-do-list that could not get done during the week, such as grocery shopping, the house cleaning, taking a dog or two to the groomers, home improvement projects, errands, finding time to be social with friends and family and the most important, trying to find time alone together.

About a month back in the working world, I was exhausted and otherwise quite miserable.  Now that I was starting to become “seasoned” in my new position at work, more responsibility was starting to come my way and even though I was working for a Christian based organization, this atmosphere was not void of corporate politics and the back stabbing loathing that exists everywhere, apparently; and all of this was really disconcerting to me.  I was starting to remember why I had left my previous job a few years back even though I was at the height of my career. I was becoming just as miserable now, as I was years ago and just like back then; I would bring all that misery and unhappiness home when I walked through the door every day.  I was becoming unapproachable at home, as well as starting to feel resentful and anxious all of which was starting to drive a wedge between myself and my husband, and I was barely having any conversations with the kids anymore.


After discussing it with my husband, who in the most loving way, gave me the “I told you so” speech, I sat down with my boss and told her that even though I felt like I was the right fit for this job; the job was not the right fit for me I proceeded to tell her that I thought it would be unfair to waste of both of our time to try to stick it out for months to see if we couldn’t make it work and maybe I might have a change of heart.  You can imagine my surprise when she told me that she was waiting for me to bring this up because, apparently, I wore my stress and unhappiness almost every day. I agreed to stay at the position until they found a replacement, which I did not mind, since I felt like I was leaving my boss in the lurch.

A few weeks later, right before the Thanksgiving holiday, they had found a replacement for me and I, once again returned home.  Once again, I had some conflicting feelings.  Although, deep within me, I felt like this was the right decision, and at home is where I belong and where I felt the most useful and content, I still suffered some contemplation:  “Did I give myself enough time to adjust to this job and schedule?”  “Was I just a quitter?” “Why couldn’t I just suck it up and stick it out like so many other people do?” 

Then during the holiday season, our family underwent some issues.  My eldest step-son who had decided to quit college and move back to Amarillo only a few short months ago, decided he and his now live-in-girlfriend were moving back to our area of Texas for better job opportunities, even though he had only found a part time job and his girlfriend was not working at all and they were living paycheck to paycheck, against our advice about moving in together and that they should put this plan on the back burner until they were both financially stable, they insisted that they could handle whatever life threw their way (young love is so ignorant…isn’t it?). So during this journey they resided with us for about three weeks (needless to say this was stressful for everyone in the house).  In addition to this, my eldest son had proclaimed that in the upcoming new year, he wanted to move out (finally) but buy his first house as opposed to renting somewhere, he also expressed that he was going to be looking to change jobs in the new year as well and try to go from a retail store associate (that is paid tremendously well) to finding a job in an office environment all while still trying to break into his real passion…voice over acting. 

My second eldest, was just finishing his trade school education of graphic design and he too would be seeking out a new career in the New Year.  This may seem uneventful to most, but my middle child, although extremely creative and talented, is a sensitive introvert with a slight learning disability. So to help him move into a career that showcases his passion, he will need a little hand holding.

Last but not least, my wonderful husband.  In addition to his long time career as a security network operations engineer, he has decided to continue his education and study for his master’s degree in his field, thereby, leaving him less time to be able to help manage our household, which I am not complaining about.  My husband and I support each other completely on our goals, parenting, and education and for the most part any other things we each set our minds to.

Even with all of this that happened to me re-entering the work force and all the issues that continue to unfold under our roof, I still could not help but reflect in prayer with my inner conflict of “should I work…shouldn’t I work?”  Then something happened that changed my way of thinking.

I met up with a very good friend of mine for lunch one day.  I hadn’t seen her since right before I had started working again, and I proceeded to tell her all of what had happened during that time frame, both at work and at home.  I explained to her my reflection and prayer during this time and what my husband had pointed out that during my “waiting process” hearing about the job offer.  Then my very dear friend put it into perspective for me.  She pointed out that even though, I was waiting for signs from God to put me on the path that I thought HE wanted for me, she reminded me that HE has given us his greatest gift of all…”free will”.  So even though HE was showing me signs and reasons I should have not taken the job offer in the first place, I went ahead and utilized my free will and ignored what God was telling me.  Needless to say, even though I had chosen the wrong path initially, the one that God did not want me to go down…I wound up on the right path that HE wanted me on anyway, via a short detour.cross

So now, here we are in the New Year.  I am back to being a full time HOMEMAKER, which I am slowly learning should not have negative connotations, because even though I am approaching middle age and the majority of our kids are young adults and are, for the most part self-sufficient, I am still very much needed and appreciated at home taking care of my house, my husband and family…revolving door and all. This life lesson has taught me, that I am following my true passion and the path that God wants me to be on, at least for now.

Super Simple 4 Ingredient Berry Cobbler

I have to admit, I am not one for sweets.  I really prefer salty snacks over baked sweets or ice cream treats , but the other day I found myself rummaging through my kitchen freezer and came across half a bag of frozen blueberries, half a bag of frozen strawberries and half a container of vanilla frozen yogurt.

I knew these ingredients had potential for some deliciousness, but upon doing a little research, I came across one of the most simplest, most appealing recipes to use them up and the result was the easiest and most delicious desserts I have ever made.

And as you might have guessed it…my brood ate it up with no complaints.



3 cups berries (fresh or frozen) ex: blueberries;strawberries;medley, etc.

1/2 cup sugar

1 box yellow cake mix (lemon is great too for a nice switch up!)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Mix together the berries & sugar. Spread the berry/sugar mixture into the bottom of your baking dish. Whisk together the cake mix & melted butter; sprinkle over the berries.

3. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

4. Serve warm or room temperature with or without ice cream or whipped topping.

Try it yourself and tell me what you think.

4 Ingredient Berry Cobbler
Serves 8
Ridiculously simple berry cobbler the whole family will love.
Write a review
453 calories
68 g
32 g
19 g
3 g
8 g
154 g
433 g
16 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 453
Calories from Fat 170
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g
Saturated Fat 8g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 32mg
Sodium 433mg
Total Carbohydrates 68g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 16g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 3 cups berries (fresh or frozen) ex: blueberries;strawberries;medley, etc.
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 box yellow cake mix (lemon is great too for a nice switch up!)
  4. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Mix together the berries & sugar. Spread the berry/sugar mixture into the bottom of your baking dish. Whisk together the cake mix & melted butter; sprinkle over the berries.
  3. 3.Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
  1. Great served warm with your favorite ice cream.
The Fort Worth Homemaker

How to Save on Groceries Without Using Coupons


By Liz

The best ways to save money at the grocery store are probably some of the tried and true nuggets of wisdom you have already heard before, and maybe a few you haven’t.

I have a large family, seven of us to be exact, and that does not include our four rescue dogs. The average American family’s food budget is one of the largest expenditures we have, right behind shelter and my family is no exception to this statistic. My husband works hard at his job and is the current “bread winner” for our large brood, so I look at saving money on our second, highest expense as an important part of my job and my financial contribution to our family.

I will be upfront by telling you, that there are no coupons involved here.  Some others will tell you that shopping with coupons, rebates and money saving apps for your Smartphone are the way to go.  I, too, bought into these methods and at one time or another, had done all of these or used all these money saving methods in the past, but what I found, was that I was purchasing food that was overpriced and unhealthy for me and my family and I found myself buying items that I didn’t use on a regular basis, and/or I was just buying them because I had a coupon for them, thereby, using up my money, time, energy and precious storage space in my home.

I want to share with you some of my money saving strategies when it comes to grocery shopping.


1. Make it and take it…a list that is. At our house on our refrigerator is a magnetic, lined note pad that we use as a running list of items that we need or we are running low on. For instance, if someone in the family has just opened the last gallon of milk and grocery shopping day is still another two days away, then milk gets added to the list because at that time, we will be out.

2. Re-create your list to match the layout of the store. If you keep a running tally of grocery items needed and you know the general layout of the store(s) you will be shopping, take a few minutes to re write your list.

I do this important step the morning I will be doing my shopping.  While having my morning coffee, I glance over my running list and see if I need to add or subtract from it.  I then take a clean piece of paper and re write my list according to the store layout. I list all of my produce together, bulk items, staples, cleaning products, meat, dairy and then frozen goods. As I shop the items on my list, I cross them out, thereby eliminating any back tracking in the store for any item(s) I have overlooked and making my shopping trip as short as possible.

3. I can’t stress the other half of this tip enough…take your list. If you forget your list you are more apt to wander around the store, walking up and down every aisle trying hard to remember what you came to get and you will have a tendency to pick up items that weren’t even on your list.  Grocery stores have this down to a science; studies have shown that for every 40 minutes you spend in their store, you are more likely to spend at least 50% more of your budget on items you never intended to buy.


And, unless you are a wiz when it comes to toggling the apps on your Smartphone,(I am certainly not) I highly recommend old fashioned paper and pencil for this task, this way as you accumulate the items on your list, you can cross them out one by one, ensuring you got what you came for and you won’t have to back track through the store for forgotten items.

4. If possible, shop only once a week, for the really adventurous, you could try once every two weeks or once a month if you are really confident in your strategy.


5. Never shop on an empty stomach. You have heard this one many, many times and it is true. Nowadays, with in store deli’s, sandwich and soup stations, bakeries,  and rotisseries, merchants are doing all that they can to get you to spend more of your hard earned money in their shops by appealing to your sense of smell.

6. Take an inventory of what you already have. You will be surprised with how much you already have on hand. Go through your pantry, cabinets, fridge and freezer and make an inventory. Many times I have picked up an item such as sugar, only to come home, put it away and find 2 unopened bags already sitting on my shelf.


7. Keep your food storage spaces organized. I can’t stress this one enough. Periodically, straighten and organize your pantry space and freezer. Make sure you rotate and use the first in, first out method. This keeps your food inventory freshest for consumption.

8. Make a price book. This does not have to be a gigantic 3 ring binder that you tote around with you from store to store as you peruse every item on every shelf. This can be as small as a pocket journal. I also recommend that you start off by listing staple items or the things you find yourself buying often. Things like pasta, rice, bread, coffee, milk, eggs, cheese. Dedicate one page per item and jot down each store you visited and each store’s price. Do make sure you are comparing apples to apples here.  For instance, make sure that if you are pricing a 1 pound bag of store brand rice at one store, that you are pricing the same 1 pound bag of store brand rice at another store.

9. Make sure you are using the price per ounce information. A lot of stores have now taken to putting the price of the item on a shelf sticker right in front of the item, sometimes the store has done the math for you and the sticker will show the price per ounce. But sometimes, that information is left up to you, the consumer to figure out.  Most of us shop with our Smartphone, so why not use your calculator app to find out what the best price is? If you do not have a Smartphone, I suggest bringing a small, simple to use calculator.  If you don’t know how to calculate the price per ounce, it is very easy.  Simply enter the price of the item, divided by the size of the item.


Store A, is selling a bag of their 12 ounce, spaghetti for 85 cents.; .85 cents divided by 12 ounces= .07 per ounce.

Store B, is selling a bag of their 24 ounce, spaghetti for 99 cents.; .99 cents divided by 24 ounces= .04 per ounce

If this is an item you use on a regular basis, then it is a no brainer, which store brand spaghetti you should buy. 


10. Shop loss leaders. If you look at your local store(s) weekly ad, you will generally find some amazing deals right on the front page and at a glance it appears as if the store is practically giving away these items. These are the store’s loss leaders. The store is banking on you coming in to scoop up these great buys, but they are also certain that once in the store you will be picking up a lot of overpriced items as well. Stores have spent a ton of money researching shopping habits of their consumers.  They know that the longer you are in the store, the more money you will most likely spend, therefore, don’t expect to find these loss leading items on a huge display shelf the minute you walk through the door, you will be doing some “hunting” for these deals.

Also, stores have become great at marketing to our busy schedules and count on the fact that we love convenience. They know if they display the loss leader cans of tomato sauce, right next to some overpriced spaghetti and just so happen to have a rack of freshly baked Italian bread very close to the vicinity of this display, then 8 times out of 10, they will have sold you a complete meal, even though you only came in for a can of sauce.


11. Shop discounts. Have you ever really gotten a good look at your store’s discounted sections? Were you even aware that such a thing existed? There are some consumers that would never dream of buying discounted breads, meats, or produce, for them it is out of their comfort zone, however, you can cash in on their squeamishness. Some more prestigious, expensive chains don’t offer this as an option, but if you are reading this, you probably aren’t shopping at these chains anyhow.

Many stores offer discounted items, these are items that have been marked down due to any number of reasons; they might be nearing their “sell by date”; the store won’t be carrying that item any longer; the label design might be changing; the store ordered too much of the item; the store is updating the plan-o-gram of any particular item, etc.

If your store(s) offers these discounts, try to make friends with the department managers to find out when you can get the best selections. I have found that stores that offer discounted items tend to place these in the store’s perimeters.  My local, big box store offers discounted deli items, baked goods, meat and produce all at 1/3 to 1/2 off the original price. Make sure you check for freshness on these items; never buy any meat or produce that is discolored or baked goods that are rock hard.


12. Carry cash only. If you were to ask any person of a certain age, they will probably regale you with financial, penny pinching stories of yesteryear and even though you might find yourselves rolling your eyes at these tales, this is something that the older generation got right. Believe it or not, there was a time when people did not have a variety of credit cards spilling out of their wallets and debit cards with access straight to savings and checking accounts did not exist. That generation paid with cold, hard cash and if they did not have enough, they simply did not buy it.

You can very easily do this as well.  Make yourself a grocery budget; let’s say it is $100 for one week. Either withdraw or put aside the cash until grocery day. When you go grocery shopping, take the cash only, do not bring any of your debit or credit cards with you and once you have spent the $100, you are done, no more shopping.

This may take a little practice. Stick to your list and don’t stray from it, you will have to be mindful of what you are putting into your cart. Don’t be afraid to use your calculator to make sure you aren’t going over your budget as you put items into your cart. If you are worried that when you go to checkout you will be over your budget, make sure you have earmarked the items in your cart that you can live without and ask the cashier to take them off of your order. If this happens to you, don’t feel embarrassed, it has happened to all of us, at least once, or twice, or even more.


13. Shop one or more stores if necessary. There is not one store that has all the best prices and if you have a variety of stores within your area, I suggest you check out the weekly sales at each store for their weekly loss leader, sale items and discount items. I know that many grocers will match prices of their competitors, but sometimes that comes with restrictions on store brand merchandise or buy 1 get 1 type of items.

On a similar note, I don’t know if they still do it, but one of the larger discount box stores used to have a program in which you logged onto their site, put in the required codes and dates from your receipt, and within a certain amount of time, (something like a week) they would credit you if any of the items you bought went on sale at one of the other stores in your local area. I know for a fact that items I had bought items within the box store’s specified time frame and met these qualifications, I was never credited any amounts.

Shopping at more than one location also gives you the opportunity to speak face to face with any department or store managers you meet so you can get the “inside” information you might need for any upcoming sales, mark downs or discounts.

14. Bread outlets and overstock stores. Most larger cities have a bread store outlet within the city and outer limits, even if you have to travel a distance, it really maybe worth your while as most baked products can be frozen.  You might be surprised to learn that outlet stores such as Family Dollar, 99 cent Only Stores, Dollar Tree and Big Lots, just to name a few, all carry bread and bread products.  Items such as bread, rolls, bagels, tortillas, English muffins, Danish and cakes freeze really well (donuts…not so much). If you have room in your freezer, I highly suggest stocking up, at least long enough to tide you over until the next time you can make it to your local bread outlet or overstock store.


There you have it, my list of strategies to help save you money while food shopping without having to clip a single coupon. Try out these tips, maybe just a few at first, then incorporate more here and there. I think you will be pleasantly surprised on all the savings you will accumulate.

Let me know if you have a favorite strategy for saving money at the grocery store.

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches


by Liz

I have received a few emails regarding my breakfast sandwiches, so I thought I would share with you my ingredient list and process for this super easy, money saver.

Just by comparing a couple of lower priced store alternatives, compared to making these breakfast sandwiches at home, you can save quite a bit of money and make yourself a hearty, healthy start to any day.

Aldi breakfast sandwich, 4 ct. for $2.99 = 75 cents a sandwich.

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwich 8 ct for $10.79 =1.35 a sandwich (Wal-Mart)

Homemade sandwich = 39 cents a sandwich

(All prices below are from Aldi)

Eggs .70/12= .06

Bagels $1.00/6= .17

Cheese $2.49/24= .10

Ham $2.99/50= .06



1 package of 6 bagels (your choice of flavor)

½ dozen large eggs

Salt and pepper

12 thinly sliced pieces of deli ham

6 processed cheese slices (such as Kraft, Borden or store brand)



1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, open and spread out bagels to ensure even toasting. 

2. Toast bagels in oven 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. (You don’t want a dark toast on these, just a very light toast) Set aside and let cool.


3. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, you want to cook your eggs. Lightly salt and pepper your eggs while in the pan and cook to desired consistency. Set aside and let cool.

4. Add 1 slice of deli ham to each piece of bagel until each piece is covered.

5. Add 1 slice of cheese to one ½ of each sandwich and then add 1 egg to other half.


6. Close sandwich, wrap individually and store in fridge up to a week or freezer for up to 3 months.

7. Reheat in microwave 20 to 30 seconds.


Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
Yields 6
Make yourself a hearty and healthy breakfast for on the go at a fraction of the price.
Write a review
643 calories
60 g
449 g
26 g
40 g
11 g
294 g
1639 g
1 g
0 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 643
Calories from Fat 229
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 26g
Saturated Fat 11g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 449mg
Sodium 1639mg
Total Carbohydrates 60g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 1g
Protein 40g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 package of 6 bagels (your choice of flavor)
  2. ½ dozen large eggs
  3. Salt and pepper
  4. 12 thinly sliced pieces of deli ham
  5. 6 processed cheese slices (such as Kraft, Borden or store brand)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, open and spread out bagels to ensure even toasting.
  2. Toast bagels in oven 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. (You don’t want a dark toast on these, just a very light toast) Set aside and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, you want to cook your eggs. Lightly salt and pepper your eggs while in the pan and cook to desired consistency. Set aside and let cool.
  4. Add 1 slice of deli ham to each piece of bagel until each piece is covered.
  5. Add 1 slice of cheese to one ½ of each sandwich and then add 1 egg to other half.
  6. Close sandwich, wrap individually and store in fridge up to a week or freezer for up to 3 months.
  7. Reheat in microwave 20 to 30 seconds.
Lower calorie option
  1. Swap out regular bagels for thinly sliced bagels or low calorie English muffins.
  2. Use egg whites (make sure you save your yolks in fridge or freezer for future use).
  3. Use only ½ a processed cheese slice per sandwich.
The Fort Worth Homemaker
** A few notes:

 As for the bread component for these sandwiches, you can use whatever you like, bagels, English muffins, rolls, sandwich buns, Texas toast, etc… I don’t recommend thinly sliced sandwich bread as it tends to break easily and just makes a mess.

This goes for your meat option as well, ham slices are the cheapest, however, you can easily swap it out for bacon or sausage.

When it comes to cooking the eggs; personally, when eating fried eggs, I enjoy a runny yolk, but that really tends to get messy when eating this sandwich so I recommend breaking your yolks during the cooking process or cooking them to over hard. 

When choosing cheese slices for your sandwiches; I would not generally recommend processed cheese slices for many recipes, unlike real cheese, but the processed stuff seems to melt the best giving you a nice creamy flavor and texture.

Finally, if you choose to freeze your breakfast sandwiches, I highly recommend that a night or two before eating, you thaw what you need in the fridge. I have tried to reheat these sandwiches straight from the freezer and it takes almost 2 minutes, thereby; re-cooking some of the components and it makes the flavor and texture of the sandwich less than desirable.


If you are watching your calories, like me, simply swap out regular bagels for thinly sliced bagels or low calorie English muffins.

Use egg whites (make sure you save your yolks in fridge or freezer for future use).

Use only ½ a processed cheese slice per sandwich.

Summer Vacation and our Contest Winner


by Liz

Summer is just about over, many schools are back in and the weather isn’t quite as hot…well, I assume that is the case in the majority of the country.  Here in Texas, the weather will continue to be summer-like until Halloween.


The majority of us have taken their summer vacations, I know we finally did and MAN was it great! Although we tried our best to schedule and plan appropriately, unfortunately, due to work schedules, the entire family did not get to come. We spent a week at Pensacola Beach, Florida.  I would love to be able to write a post about all the ways we saved money on the trip, but we hadn’t taken a vacation in over 2 years and we budgeted and saved for the last 2 years for some extravagances, like enjoying many meals out that included “grown-up” drinks. And we enjoyed renting a pontoon boat for the entire day to enjoy over at Crab Island, Florida and of course the souvenirs, let’s not forget those. 


We did manage to save some money; it wasn’t a total “open wallet” experience.  For instance, we drove from Fort Worth to Pensacola with a fully stocked cooler of sandwiches, snacks and drinks.  We rented a condo on the beach that included amenities that allowed us to cook and prepare some of our meals; (we ate all of our breakfasts and at least 3 dinners here) and the ability to do laundry (what a God send!). We went to the Naval Aviation Museum that does not charge admission hoping to catch the Blue Angels practicing, but alas, they were not practicing that day; and of course we spent lots of time in the ocean, playing like kids, jumping waves and getting sandy and many long walks along the seashore collecting seashells.


Now that our Pensacola vacation is behind us, we will start saving for our next vacation, not sure where that will be yet, but nonetheless, we will start our savings.  In addition to that, it is time to get back to work, and as promised, we have chosen a winner of our first ever Fort Worth Homemaker give-a-way.

Congratulations to Sergio N. of Austin, Texas.  He is the winner of the August, Fort Worth Homemaker give-away!

We reached out to Sergio N. to ask him which of the items he would like to receive for his prize, either our elegant coffee cup or our decorative journal to help organize his days.  Sergio N. responded in kind:

“I love my coffee, especially on early morning weekends when I get time to sketch, draw or research for future artworks. With that being said and the colors of the beautifully styled Fort Worth Homemaker coffee cup noted, I’m more than sure it will make people do a double-take when they see me sipping my coffee from it, or sitting on my drawing table next to my current work in progress art.”


Thanks so much for the compliment Sergio N. of Austin, your coffee mug is on its way! (Sorry Sergio, breakfast scones, not included).

Be sure to check out my blog page, and feel free to share with your family and friends as we will continue to bring you money saving tips, easy and delicious recipes and words of wisdom from this experienced homemaker!

It’s Almost Give-A-Way Time


Don’t worry…there is still time left for the first The Fort Worth Homemaker give-a-way! Summer may almost be over, and you may have spent your time this season taking care of your home and family, but now it’s time for a little “you” time and reward yourself for all that hard work you put in this summer.

Since recently launching my site, I thought I would invite you to come and visit. And so, to say thanks, on August 18th, 2017 I will be giving away some of my custom merchandise.


How can you be a part of this?  All you have to do is subscribe to my FREE mailing list to be entered.  Don’t worry, The Fort Worth Homemaker will never use your email information for spam, nor will we share your information with any third party companies.  One winner will be chosen at random on August 18th, 2017 and announced on both my website and Facebook page , on or about August 18th, 2017.


If you have not checked out my site as of yet, feel free to browse around, there are tips, recipes, money saving advice and my real life experiences when it comes to managing a family of 7.  Don’t forget to check out some of my archived posts as well, I think you will find them informative as well as entertaining.


So if you haven’t already done so…subscribe for FREE to the Fort Worth Homemaker to be eligible to win one of my Fort Worth Homemaker pieces of merchandise, either a cool coffee mug to enjoy your favorite beverage or a blank, 80 page, lined journal to help with all your organizational needs. Please feel free to share with all of your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well and GOOD LUCK!!!

Five Frugal for Friday

piggy-bankBy Liz

It has been a long and hectic summer and it has been awhile since I have posted some of our small frugal victories, so here are 5 money savers that I accomplished this week alone.


1. Magazines and movies.  We are about to embark on a long overdue, summer vacation to the beach and what does one need when going to the beach… plenty of reading material.  I stopped in at my nearest Half Price Books store and scored magazines for everyone for a dollar each or less, and then, just because it was there, picked up the classic 80’s movie “Wall Street” for a whopping $2.00! I spent a total of $10.83 for all this; not bad considering just one of the cheapest of these magazines would have run me $4.99.

2. Cheap chicken.  Unfortunately, I did not take any pics of the chicken or the receipt showing my victory, but my local Aldi’s was having an unadvertised sale on their family packs of chicken drumsticks for $1.00 a package! (yup the whole package…not by the pound). Each package contained about 12 drumsticks. Unfortunately or fortunately, I only had room in my freezer for about 3 packages; otherwise I would have bought about 10 packages in total.


3. I baked a loaf of bread.  I love the smell of fresh baked bread in the house. Is there a candle fragrance of this yet?  Sunday dinner was a down home, “meat and potatoes” meal of meatloaf and my rosemary potatoes with a side of lemon green beans, so this “blue plate” classic was just screaming for a loaf of fresh baked bread to accompany the meal.


4. Cold and flu season. While everyone else is cashing in on those great back to school stock up items at rock bottom prices (yes…picked up a couple of things myself) the really great bargains I found was some discounted, over the counter cold and flu remedies.  Like everyone else, the common cold and flu hit us out of nowhere, and the last thing I want to do when I feel and look miserable, is to run out to the store to pick up some relief. So I try to be proactive, by at least having a handful of basic, over the counter help.


5. Quiche and quick bread.  Here in Fort Worth, it was hot this week.  How hot?…over 100 degrees hot and for several days.  I was trying to clean out my fridge of leftovers and realized I had all the key ingredients to whip up a fast quiche.  I chose to do this early Tuesday morning before it became “oven hot” in the house for the day and since I was going to be using my oven anyway, I decided to institute double duty and baked an apple, cinnamon quick bread while the quiche was cooking.

So there are my 5 frugal for this Friday.  Do you have any you would like to share?


Discounted Grocery Store Shopping


By Liz

So recently, I finally got the opportunity to check out the local grocery salvage store. This has been on my to-do-list for a couple of years now, and I found some time and finally went. If you are unaware of these kinds of stores, let me enlighten you a bit.

Many large cities and some smaller ones too, usually have a salvage store within its radius. maintains a directory of salvage and discount grocery stores in the United States. 

A grocery salvage store also known as outlet or discount grocery store, are stores that specialize in selling items that traditional grocery stores can’t or won’t sell.  Most buy their merchandise from grocery reclamation centers, and it includes such things as:

Food that is near or past its expiration.

Items in dented or torn packaging.

Items in seasonal or otherwise-dated packaging.

Store closeouts.

Manufacturer overstock.

Salvage from truck wrecks.

Unlike a traditional grocery store, which stocks the same items each week, salvage grocery stores stock different items each week, depending on what they get in.

Before going to my nearest grocery salvage store, I had done some homework, looked for pictures, sought out reviews, took into consideration the distance from my home and the hours that the store was open.  The reviews were really what got me excited about going as many reviewers gave this particular store, 5 out of a 5 star rating, claiming that this particular store had the best selection and the lowest prices around and that the “educated shopper  can eat gourmet on a welfare budget”.

I have read many an article and opinion on grocery salvage store shopping and the majority of the consensus gave this kind of shopping a thumbs up, however, this frugal homemaker, was not particularly impressed.


Upon entering this store that resembled an old butcher shop/warehouse, the first things I noticed was the cleanliness of the store, the demographic of the customers and the utilization of space. 

While the areas with shelves were clean; the floors, bins, and refrigerated areas were in desperate need of sweeping, dusting and mopping. 

The demographic of this stores customer was all over the place, and this is a good thing, because it told me that people from diversified ages and backgrounds were all here trying to accomplish the same thing…making their grocery dollars stretch farther.

The utilization of space was slightly less than average. While there were the appropriate amount of products filling their shelves, at every end cap and every corner of the store, there were anywhere from 1 to 3 shopping carriages full of extra discounted goods.  These carts were overflowing and made it hard to browse through them without making a huge mess.

So what did this homemaker think of the goods for sale?  Again, I was unimpressed.  While there were more than its fair share of gluten free, organic and vegan products available, there were also plenty of traditional items as well.  Upon entering the store, the first section was devoted to overstocks of candy and chocolate, most of these were for sale as bulk items like you might see at Sam’s Club or Costco with almost Sam’s Club and Costco prices attached to them.


I then proceeded into their refrigerated area where on this particular day, they had an over abundance of yogurt and yogurt smoothies that were 2 days past their expiration date and carriages full of fresh radishes, yup…you read that correctly…radishes, because there is always a HUGE demand for the stuff. Coincidentally, this area is where they keep their fresh produce, however this particular grocery salvage store only gets fresh produce on Saturdays. Some reviewers showed pictures of lines out the door to show what the store’s Saturday’s look like.  I don’t know about you, but my time is valuable to me and I don’t need discounted produce ALL that badly just to save a couple of bucks.


My next stop in the store was the freezer sections of the store.  The store contains several wall sized freezer cases that houses mostly convenience boxed food, things like microwaveable meals, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, easy lunches, etc…  In the middle of this area, was several half sized rows of open freezers that contained frozen meats or in this case, freezer burned meats.  I was really expecting to find some incredibly low prices on the items in the wall sized freezers, and dirt cheap prices on the cuts of meats, but sadly, compared to my local Winco, Walmart and Aldi, the prices averaged to about the same if not more expensive and that isn’t with coupons or sales.  As far as the freezer burned meats, I can’t stress enough…NEVER, EVER waste your money on such an item at ANY grocery store, while most freezer burned items are safe to eat, (but who wants to take that chance?), both the taste and texture become compromised and your hard earned money should not be thrown away on such an important part of the meal.


The rest of the store was shelves with dry goods and cleaning products, not to mention all those overflowing, cumbersome, randomly placed extra discounted shopping carriages. I did peruse each and every aisle and compared prices to where I usually shop and I really thought for sure, that this time and in these sections I would have much better luck finding some really great bargains that the reviewers were raving that they had only spent mere pennies on the dollar for their groceries.  One more time, I was disappointed. 

I was seeing prices such as:

$. 79 for canned peas (14 ounce)

$1.25 for spaghetti (12 ounce package)

$3.99 for Life cereal (18 ounce box)

$1.99 for Cheeze-Its (15 ounce box)

$1.79 for yellow cake mix (16.5 ounce box)

These are just a few examples of what I thought to be prices that were way too high for a grocery salvage store. However, there were a few deals that I thought were worth the effort.  

After almost a year of saving and planning, we are about to take our summer vacation, Hallelujah!!! So I had picked up a variety of snacks for the long road trip as well as for the vacation rental stay.  Most of the items pictured were obtained after rummaging through those overflowing discounted carts that I mentioned and that wound up yielding me half off of what the product was marked.


 So my Cheeze-Its only cost me $.99 each.

Sunflower seeds (pepper /garlic & cinnamon toast?) were 4/$1.00

Restaurant Fritos  $1.00

Canned pumpkin 2/$1.00 (14 ounce cans)

Little Debbie snack cakes 3/$2.00

Keebler cookies $.99 each.

Terra chips 2/$1.00 (large bags)

Snack size cookies 5/$1.00

Life cereal $1.30 (18 ounce and the one and only discounted box I could find).


There were a couple of other things, and I wound up spending $22.50 that day, however, it took me almost 2 hours to comb through the store to find these deals and items that met my standards.

My overall opinion of this store is that it was a HUGE disappointment and I will not be returning to this particular establishment. As previously mentioned in several of my posts, if you shop smart and find the right locations close to your home, you can get fresh, quality, non-salvaged groceries at your local stores at similar if not in most cases, better prices, thereby saving you time and money.