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

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.

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.

Feeding my Family on $80 for a Month Part III


By Liz

If you are just tuning in, feel free to check out Part I and Part II of this series.

So how did I do this week with only $32.10 of my $80 for my Penny Pinching June?

We are really getting down to the wire here and although my dry pantry staples and freezer are still in good shape, it is really things like my perishables I am having issue with. 

We are starting to miss a lot of dairy, items such as cheese, margarine, yogurt, sour cream and now that summer is here, ice cream.  I have been substituting real butter for the margarine, and while agree it tastes better and is better for us, real butter is expensive and does not stretch as far as margarine in certain recipes so I had to break down and get a tub.

Again I went to Aldi, I think I have been doing this to avoid Winco, there are just too many options at Winco, and I feel like I would be overly tempted to purchase more and blow through my cash budget.

Here is a snapshot and list of what I purchased this week:


1 tub margarine

1 package cream cheese

1 package tortillas

2 dozen eggs

2 rolls of ground turkey

4 avocados

4 peaches

80-dollars-prt-3-02  80-dollars-prt-3-03

I spent a total of $14.63 at Aldi.  Shortly after I got home, I realized I forgot to pick up milk, thankfully one of the boys was already out for the day, so I texted him and asked him to pick up 2 gallons, but he only brought home 1 (kids…insert big sigh here). I repaid him the 97 cents for the milk at dinner time. So my grand total spent for the day was $ 15.60, leaving me $16.50 for my final week of this challenge.

So what did we eat for this week?

Monday: Chili Dog Enchilada Casserole/ homemade potato wedges.

Tuesday: Pork Chili

Wednesday: Hamburgers/macaroni salad.

Thursday: Pizza (prior to the month I had found some rather large take and bake pizza’s that were discounted at Walmart so I picked up a couple and had them in stored in my freezer).

Friday:  Lemon Chicken Penne/garlic bread/salad.

Saturday: Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce (I had a spaghetti squash in my fridge for quite some time, so I made this for me instead of the pasta to cut back on the carbs.

Sunday: In honor of Father’s day and in an attempt to spoil my husband who is also a fabulous dad…I made steaks on the grill (that I butchered from a roast)/garlic smashed potatoes/green beans with lemon/sourdough rolls/dark chocolate cake with fresh raspberries.

One more week and it is going to be a huge challenge since our micro garden is now exploding and I need to put those ingredients to use, personally, I am starting to have cheese withdrawal and its summer so my kids want to know…WHERE IS THE ICE CREAM???



Five Frugal Friday


By Liz

Summer is here, the days are getting hotter and longer and our revolving door is in full swing with work, education, cookouts, vacations and family time.  Looking at that list you would think that it might be tough to save some cash, but here are some things I did this week that saved us some green.


1. Spared some jalapenos.  Our jalapeno plants are taking off this year, so much so that there is only so much I can serve my family.  I harvested this batch for the day and flash froze them for future in salsas, food bowls, and my open faced jalapeno bombs.


2. Used a fresh harvest for dinner. Keeping with our micro gardening theme, two days after I flash froze all those jalapenos, we had a few more that were ready to be used, along with a bell pepper and a handful of pitiful shaped Roma tomatoes. I peeled and pureed the tomatoes, diced up all the peppers and used them in my pork chili that evening.


3. Detailed the inside of my car. This one was really all my hubby’s doing. My car has been used this spring to haul bags of dirt, compost, free fire wood, and hairy dogs. To say that the inside of my car needed a good cleaning would be an understatement.  My hubby spent hours going through every little nook and cranny.  My car looks and smells new again and we didn’t have to pay to have it professionally serviced.


4. I colored my hair. Probably much to the dismay of my hair stylist (sorry Leslie), I color my own hair approximately every 4 to 6 weeks. I know that the day will come when I will need to seek professional services for this bit of vanity, but for right now, I can get away with a box of hair color that is less than $10, and believe it or not, I always seem to get compliments on my hair, so I know that I have a chosen a color that suits me and doesn’t make me look like I have clown colored hair.


5. I am spending my Saturday’s this summer keeping up my certification. OK, depending on how you look at this one, it might not really be considered frugal. Every 5 years I have to re-certify as a CPP (Certified Payroll Professional) making sure I am up to date on the latest rules and laws as it governs the payroll industry. Even though I am unsure if I will ever go back to this profession, education is never a waste of one’s time or money. (and it never hurts to have a Plan B in your back pocket).

So there you have it, some ways I was able to save some dough this week. What kinds of things did you do to save some moola?


Feeding my Family on $80 for a Month Part II


By Liz

If you are just tuning in, feel free to check out Part I of this series.

So how did I do this week with only $53.79 of my $80 for my Penny Pinching June?

Well, not too bad. Earlier in the week I was prepping for dinner shortly after lunch, since my cutting board and knife were already out, when I discovered I was missing a key ingredient for dinner.  So with a lot of hemming and hawing, I broke down and went to the store for the one ingredient I needed.


I needed Parmesan cheese for the lasagna rolls I was making that evening, and even though I could have probably omitted it from the recipe, I use a lot of Parmesan in many of my recipes, (comes with being Italian, I guess).  While in the store, my two options were the large container for $4.84 or the smaller container for $3.98, even though I knew I was on a strict budget, buying the larger container was still the better price per ounce, so I hesitantly ponied up the $4.84 for the larger container.  On a side note here, later that afternoon I had emptied the dryer to fold clothes and found $2.36. We have a standing rule in the house that it is “finders; keepers” in regards to money found in the dryer, so I added the $2.36 to my cash budget for food, thereby only costing me $2.48 for the Parmesan.


I went to Aldi again this week because I knew the kinds of fresh produce I needed for the upcoming week was going to be comparable in price versus Winco, the store I alternate with Aldi, however Aldi is slightly closer to my house, so I went there again.

Here is a snapshot of everything I purchased that day.


2 gallons of milk

2 packages of strawberries

3 pounds of apples

1 block mozzarella cheese

1 block Swiss cheese

4 peaches

2 cucumbers

3 pounds of bananas

1 package of green onions

2 pounds of white onions

1 quart of half and half

2 dozen eggs


My total came up to $19.21, and with the extra $2.36 from my dryer score, I still have $32.10 for the next 2 weeks.

As mentioned before, we are not living on rice, beans, peanut butter and jelly or breakfast for dinner (you will rarely ever hear me mention that as an option, as my husband despises breakfast for dinner).

So what did we eat for the week? Here was our menu:

Monday: Lasagna rolls; mozzarella/tomato/pesto Paninis.

Tuesday: Steaks on the grill; au gratin potatoes; grilled corn on the cob; fresh baked bread.

Wednesday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup (ok…I phoned this one in on this particular evening, but most everyone was out for the evening, so it was just me and one of my sons).

Thursday: Rustic Pork Ragu over spaghetti; pita/garlic bread; Caprese salad (basil and tomatoes from our micro garden were used in the salad).

Friday:  Dijon/garlic and lemon salmon; green onion and garlic quinoa; lemon cauliflower.

Saturday: Spinach and Feta cheese sausage and fresh veggies (bell pepper, tomatoes & zucchini from our micro garden) served over brown rice.

Sunday: A quick and easy one pot jambalaya.

So that is how I measured up this week, to be honest, when I was at Walmart for the Parmesan cheese, I felt slightly disheartened seeing many good discounts in their bakery and meat departments, knowing I had to pass them up because all I had on me was my small cash budget that I have to make stretch, BUT that is the purpose of this exercise…right? Well, that and saving $500 cold hard cash.

Stay tuned to see how I do next week.



Feeding my Family on $80 for a Month Part I


By Liz

Last week I announced that I was instituting a Penny Pinching June here at the house since I have felt like we had been “bleeding” money for the last couple of months. I wanted to reign in some of our spending while building our savings account back up to my “I can sleep at night” comfort level.


I had taken an inventory of our current stock of foods from the pantry, freezer and fridge, did a small amount of stocking up in May on those staple items we seem to plow through and have decided that I would buy nothing else for the month of June and we would be living off of what we already had on hand.

My regular food budget for our family of 7, is approximately $600/month; however my challenge and goal for the month of June is to spend only $80 for the month on the perishables that I know have a much smaller window when it comes to expiration dates, items such as milk, eggs and fresh produce.

You might be wondering how I came up with the amount of $80. To be honest, it was what I had left in my wallet after my last grocery shopping trip in May.  I did however sit down and ran the numbers really quick on the perishable items listed above to see if this was a realistic amount, turns out; it is if I want to reach my goal of saving $500 this month.

As you may have deduced, $80 for the month, equals roughly $20 for the week. That sounds crazy…right?  C’mon…$20 per week for a family of 7 + 3 dogs?  Impossible you might say, well I guess we will find out together.

Thursday’s are my “running day”, the day when I do the majority of my shopping, errands and appointments and this past Thursday was my first attempt at shopping on this small budget. I had a very short shopping list with me that included only my absolute necessary perishables and my $80 in cash. I left all other means to pay (credit and debit cards/checkbook) at home. This day, I had a lot of errands to take care of, so I decided to shop at my local Aldi, which I would be passing on my route home. The entire time I was in the store adding items to my cart, I was doing the math and making a conscience effort not to go over $20. Currently, the price of eggs and milk are pretty low here in Texas, so I am taking full advantage of these particular 2 items that I can never seem to keep on hand with my brood and the rest were purchases that I needed, but looked for the best deal in the store and if it wasn’t within my price range or keeping within my budget…I put it back down.


Here is a snapshot of everything I purchased that day:

2 packs of chicken thighs

1 gallon of milk

2 packages of mozzarella block cheese

1 container of cream cheese

1 container of ricotta cheese

1 (1) pound package of black forest ham


3 dozen eggs

2 containers of strawberries

1 head of cauliflower

3 pounds of onions

My total came up a little higher than I wanted, it was $26.21, leaving me $53.79 for the next 3 weeks, but I am confident I will be able to pull it off.


In my previous Penny Pinching June article, I said that we would have a monthly menu that included variety, and not just a diet of beans and rice or PB & J sandwiches. Here is what was we ate so far since June 1st until this posting.

Thursday:  Slow cooker corned beef and veggies.

Friday: Loaded Nachos, with beans, cheese, jalapenos, salsa and sour cream

Saturday: We were visiting my sister and brother-in-law, so we were invited to have dinner at their house.

Sunday: Grilled chicken thighs, potato salad and garden salad.

You might be wondering about breakfast and lunch. In our house, we all have different schedules as our kids are mostly teens and young adults, these two eating periods are an “every man for himself” situation. We always have a variety of breakfast and lunch items on hand; plenty of bread and bread like options (bagels, tortillas, English muffins), oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, cheese, eggs, sandwich meat, pre-cooked and frozen meats and pastas (made previously, bagged into portion sizes and then frozen), or the inevitable leftovers from the night before.

As a parent, and provider I have always felt this drive to ensure that my family is well fed and nourished, after all it’s one of our a basic necessities, because of that, we always have a decent size stock pile and selection in our freezer and pantry. And just as I have a certain discomfort level when our bank account drops below a certain amount, I have the same apprehension when it comes to the inventory of food in our home. I have to admit, that as I start this month, I feel as though we are in good shape and I am confident, at this point, I will make my goal, however, it will be interesting to see how I feel towards the end of the month, when my pantry and freezer starts to really look bare and I run out of cash. So I invite you to stay tuned to see how this experiment winds up, won’t you?