Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Substituting Squash

This time of year, I love cooking and baking with pumpkin. However, the price of pumpkins is often inflated due to the fact that so many people use them as decorations. So, instead, I cook and bake with another winter fruit whenever possible: acorn squash.

Muffins and quick breads made with acorn squash have a similar flavor to those made with pumpkin, although the color is yellower and the texture is springier. Acorn squash seeds taste almost identical to pumpkin seeds when toasted with a little olive oil and lightly salted. Plus acorn squash can be mixed with pureed pumpkin for use in just about any recipe, so if you have some leftover pumpkin that you need to "stretch" inexpensively, why not pick up an acorn squash?

I haven't yet tried to make an acorn squash pie, though. If I need a cheaper alternative to pumpkin pie, I think I'll just stick with sweet potatoes!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful!

This is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the brisk, cool air; the excitement of Sunday football games (go, Eagles!); home-baked cookies and hot chocolate to chase away the cold; and, of course, snuggling up under a cozy blanket with my wonderful husband!

In years past, this time of year meant something else in the Gregg household: high heating bills. Fortunately, over the past two years, we’ve really reduced our energy consumption and still managed to stay warm. Some of the ways we do this include:

  • Turning the heat off when we’re out of the house (and at night).

  • Making our bed with fleecy sheets and heavy comforters.

  • Snuggling up with a few blankets while we watch TV.

  • Eating warming dinners like beef stew, roast chicken, and spicy nachos.

  • Chasing away the chills with tea and hot chocolate.

  • Exercising (although I admit I should do this more often!)

  • Wearing warm and cozy clothes, even around the house.

How do you stay warm this time of year—without cranking up the heat?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cheap is Chic!

Did you know that cheap is the new chic?

According to this New York Times article, the rest of the world is finally catching up with us frugal folks. Pinching pennies and practicing moderation are once again being seen as virtues. It's about time!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dining IN: Pasta with Two Sauces

Pasta with Two Sauces is one my favorite frugal fabulous recipes. It's simple and inexpensive to prepare, but tastes absolutely decadent!

In a large casserole dish, mix together:

One pound of hot cooked pasta
One jar of tomato sauce (I use homemade)
A handful of grated mozzarella cheese
A few ounces of cooked meat, cut into bite-sized pieces (I use pan-fried London broil)

Set aside.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together:

1/2 cup of milk (skim is fine)
8 ounces of cream cheese

Pour the cream cheese sauce over the pasta mixture. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve with your favorite homemade bread and a steamed green veggie. Absolutely delicious!

What's your favorite five-star frugal meal?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pinch Pennies...Without Feeling Pinched

I don't like feeling deprived, even in the name of frugality. Please don't get me wrong: living within my means, saving for the future, and avoiding debt are all important to me. However, that doesn't change the fact that I enjoy good food, nice clothes, and many of life's other luxuries.

Fortunately, being frugal doesn't mean I have to give these indulgences up. There are plenty of ways to live well, without spending a fortune. One of my favorite tricks is to cut corners in some areas, in order to free up more of my income for the things I really want. For instance, clipping coupons and getting my toiletries for free means I have extra money to spend on those designer handbags I love so much. :)

If you want to enjoy the good life on a dime, why not try some of my favorite strategies for living well and spending less?

  • Buy jewelry, handbags, and other accessories from crafters on etsy, rather than spending big bucks at a boutique.

  • Reduce or eliminate meat from hearty main dishes like chili, lasagna, or nachos.

  • Take films out of the library, or get them free from Redbox, rather than renting DVDs or going to the movies.

  • Purchase clothes and shoes off-season. You'll save even more if you shop at factory outlets or consignment stores.

  • Use coupons and gift certificates to eat cheaply at your favorite restaurants.

  • Invest in a cappuccino/espresso maker rather than spending dollars a day at Starbucks.

  • Free up more of your income for fun things by coupon-shopping, meal-planning, and CVSing.

  • Check your city's chamber of commerce website for free or inexpensive activities and attractions in your area.

What are your favorite ways to live well and spend less?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - week of 11/10

Bacon, eggs, and potatoes (weekend)
Tea, milk

Rice and bean burritos
Apples, oranges, carrot sticks

Nachos topped with rice, refried beans, chicken, cheese, sour cream, and salsa; carrot sticks
Beef stew with carrots and potatoes, cheese muffins
Homemade chili over rice, green beans, cornbread
Pasta topped with steak, red sauce, and white sauce; green beans
Pork chops, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, gravy, green beans
Chicken quesadillas topped with salsa and sour cream; carrot sticks

For more great meu plans, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Help P&G Help Those in Need!

Procter and Gamble is once again helping you bless those in need. Every time you redeem a coupon from the November 2 P&G Brandsaver insert, Procter and Gamble will donate a meal to Feeding America. This is a great way to save some money on your grocery bill, while also helping those in this country who suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

Please take advantage of this great opportunity by redeeming P&G Brandsaver coupons whenever you are able. For more information, or to make a donation, click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welcome to Frugal Fabulous

I have received many kind and concerned emails from readers over the past few weeks, asking, "What happened to Frugal Fabulous?"

To be completely honest, during the month of October, Donnie's and my life was neither frugal nor fabulous. In fact, it got so bad—regular takeout meals, thoughtless spending, total disorganization in the home, and a general feeling of exhaustion—that I said more than once, "This is no way to live." Nevertheless, I couldn't summon even the slightest bit of cheerful frugality, as we continued to grapple with a long commute, a cluttered house, and the feeling that things were not going to get better any time soon.

Thankfully, this week I have been blessed with an exciting new career opportunity that offers a shorter commute, greater financial stability, more regular hours, and plenty of opportunity for advancement. The more predictable paychecks will allow us to create a true budget, and the less chaotic commute and hours will help us maintain more order in our lives.

I am looking forward to this new adventure, and am excited about my renewed commitment to living a simple, stable, sustainable life. I fully intend to hold myself accountable for budgeting, meal planning, creative cost-cutting, and overall financial discipline on this blog. I hope you care to join me on this new journey!