The Five Dollar Saving Plan

Five-Dollar-Saving-Plan

I love this idea because it is easy to do and gives me a real sense of accomplishment. It’s called the Five Dollar Savings Plan. Every time I have a five dollar bill in my wallet, I set it aside and save it instead of spending it. It’s much better than saving coins or dollars, because it adds up so much faster. But it is also a small enough bill that I don’t mind setting it aside instead of spending it. I can save up for a vacation or a high dollar item pretty quickly!

Hot and Ready Rotisserie Chicken: $6.99 Well Spent

rotisserie-chicken-for-webWe were at Sprouts Farmers Market this week buying fruits and veggies to start my adventures in juicing. It was late and I was getting tired. So when my husband suggested getting a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the deli for dinner, I was all for it.

At home I quickly stir fried some sweet peas, green onions and carrots, and microwaved some black beans with feta cheese for side dishes. Adding a breast and thigh from the chicken, the entire dinner took less than 15 minutes to prepare.

The next day we decided a tasty and quick lunch after our workout would be to reheat the chicken and add packaged rice or noodles and veggies. Two more meals with a 6 minute total prep time.

With both breasts and thighs gone, I decided to use the rest of the chicken for soup. I boiled it to create a broth, strained, cooled and de-boned the rest of the chicken, adding it back to the broth, some extra water, parsley, carrots, celery, onion and elbow macaroni. The whole process took a total of 30 minutes of active work in the kitchen. I had a cup of soup for lunch and prepped 8 additional servings for the refrigerator and freezer for later.

Thirteen meals made in under and hour of combined prep time. All made with a single $6.99 rotisserie chicken combined with sides made from items I had on hand at home that cost under 5 dollars. Each meal averages under a dollar a piece. Now that is $6.99 well spent.

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Themify Offers Free iOS7 Inspired Icons

This morning Themify released a set of 320 iOS 7 inspired web icons free for personal or commercial use. I wanted to share this resource with my readers. Here is a small sample of some of the icons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 8.21.30 AM

Themify Icons is a complete set of icons for use in web design and apps, consisting of 320+ pixel-perfect, hand-crafted icons that draw inspiration from Apple iOS 7 – available to the public, 100% FREE! You may use or distribute it for any purpose, whether personal or commercial. This icon set is a must have tool for web designers and developers.

DOWNLOAD THE CSS FILE HERE

HOW TO USE IT:
1) Upload the ‘themify-icons.css’ file and ‘fonts’ folder to your server

2) Add the CSS file into the <head> section of your site:
<link href=“http://yoursite.com/themify-icons.css” rel=”stylesheet”>

3) Add the icon markup in your page:
<span class=”ti-download”></span>

All icons can be viewed at: http://themify.me/themify-icons

Make Your Own Spreadable Butter. Does This Food Hack Really Work?

When I heard that I could make spreadable butter out of my regular butter I was cautiously optimistic. I loved the idea, but was skeptical that it might not work. I decided to test it out in my own kitchen and report my results.

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Why Make Spreadable Butter?

The only reason I buy margarine is for the convenience of spread-ability. I much prefer the taste of real butter. I also like butter because it is a less-processed food with far fewer ingredients. I went to my refrigerator and compared the ingredients in margarine versus butter. Here is what I found.

Margarine:

Vegetable Oil Blend (Liquid Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil), Water, Whey (Milk) Salt, Vegetable Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, (Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Disodium EDTA) Used to Protect Quality, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A (Palmitate), Beta Carotene (Color).

Butter:
Pasteurized Organic Sweet Cream, Salt

There is a rumor online that margarine is only one molecule away from being plastic. While that rumor is false I had to research online as to what all of those ingredients in margarine actually are. Butter emerged the clear winner; great taste but without all the unpronounceable and processed ingredients.

Is it Worth Making Your Own at Home? Let’s Find Out.

I decided to try making my own spreadable butter using the 2:1 ratio (2 parts butter to 1 part oil) I had read about online. All in all it was a fast and easy process. All that is needed to make DIY spreadable butter is butter, canola oil, a bowl and mixer, and a container to keep it in.

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Here’s How To Do it
Soften butter to room temperature. Do not do this in your microwave. If you turn the butter into liquid this process will not work.

Add two parts butter to one part canola oil in a bowl or stand mixer (I assume this would work in a food processor too but I did not try it because clean up seemed like it might be difficult.)

Blend for 2 minutes on high. I had 12 ounces of butter on hand, so I added 6 ounces of oil and blended. The result was a very creamy, soft and spreadable product. Warning, there will be a few drops of oil and butter flung out of the bowl when your mixer blades contact the butter chunks. Be prepared for some clean up.

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Final Thoughts

But I was still not convinced. Of course softened butter is soft. But what would happen to it when I put it back into the refrigerator? I used a spatula to put my spreadable butter into two 9.5 ounce food storage containers and put them in the refrigerator for several hours.

When I went back to check on it, I found that the butter was still spreadable! It is not perfectly soft but it looks and performs similar to margarine.

Of course, the final concern was taste. Would it still taste just like butter, or would it taste weird because of the added oil? So I grabbed a cracker and did a taste test. And it passed – it tasted just like butter. Awesomeness confirmed!

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Make a Paper Garland to Track Your Payment Progress

Debt-Repayment-Garland_001
How Do You Track Your Debt?
Some people use budget binders, others may use graphs and charts, and many more just try to keep all of their debt loosely sorted in their heads.

Debt-Repayment-Garland_002Here’s a tip for all of the visual people out there. Make a pretty paper garland that represents your debt. Each circle represents a set amount of money (whatever you decide). As you make a payment you remove a circle. As your garland disappears, so does your debt until the day you remove the last circle and the debt is paid! This is a great visual motivator.

Debt-Repayment-Garland_003

Thank you to at acutivatednest.com for inspiring this post!

My Monthly Grocery Shopping List

MonthlyShoppingList_003This week I shared my experience in frugal living with a post on how to save money by grocery shopping once a month. That post had a link to the meal planner form that I use each month. To follow up on the planning I do, I thought it might be helpful to link to the grocery list that I use in conjunction with the meal planner.

I save a lot of money by buying once a month and the key is buying in bulk. I also cook in large batches (spaghetti sauce, chili, burritos) and I freezing many items each month. This grocery list allows me to plan an accurate budget by pricing out each item and extending the cost for multiples of each item. Because it is a digital form that can be filled out on my computer or tablet, I can re-work my numbers over and over until I get to the desired monthly total I want.

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