Thursday, June 26, 2008

Frugal Food of the Day - Oatmeal - Rolled Oats

I love a good, steaming bowl of homemade oatmeal. And I'm not talking about those silly (and pricey!) little packets of oats that have been stripped of much of their natural nutrional value. No, I love old fashioned oatmeal - with some milk, drippings of honey, sprinles of cinnamon and raisins - it tastes like dessert for breakfast!

Oatmeal is a fantastic staple food to keep always on hand in your Frugal Pantry. Here are just a few ways to use it:

1. As a hot cereal. Delicious, nutritious.
2. As a replacement for bread crumbs in recipes like meatloaf. I far prefer uncooked oats in my meatloaf.
3. Ground up and added as a delicious, nutty-tasting flour for muffins, quick breads, pancakes, etc.
4. As a foundation for homemade granola, which is basically just oats, a bit of oil, honey, cinnamon (or other spices) dried fruit, and nuts. SO much healthier and cheaper to make it yourself than buy it pre-made!

Do you have other favorite uses for this fabulous, frugal food? Please post your ideas!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Grocery Budgeting - Paying with Cash

When you're sticking to a grocery budget, paying with cash REALLY helps. Why? When you hand over your hard earned physical money, it just feels more painful! (LOL It really does, though!) It makes you more aware of what you're really spending, as opposed to just grabbing one of many debit or credit cards.

Every week, take out your allotted grocery money in cash, and put it in a grocery money jar just for that use. Put receipts in as your money is depleted, and keep careful track of where the money is going. Once the cash is gone, you need to get creative to use the groceries you already have in new, fun ways!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Have a Great Summer Vacation on a Short Budget - Guest Post by Heather P. Johnson

Have a Great Summer Vacation on a Short Budget

If you're always worried that you'll return from a summer vacation with the whole family penniless then you're not alone. It's getting increasingly more difficult to take a trip with the family these days. Maybe you just spent a fortune fixing up the house or the bills seem never ending, don't let these complaints keep you from having a great getaway this summer. Here are a few tips to follow to have a great trip this summer:

- Cut the trip shorter than usual. If you're used to going away for a full week then it may sound blasphemous to shorten your traditional summer trip. But if you're serious about enjoying your getaway and not counting pennies the whole time then you should go for a long weekend. A lot of hotels and resorts will have cheaper rates if you stay longer but you still save money for a four day weekend.

- Make an itinerary on a budget. Everyone in the family will have their different ideas as to what they want to do and see on a particular trip, but you have to realize that getting them all done costs serious money. Reach a family compromise and select just a few of the long list of things on your to-do lists. What you don't do this summer can be on next year's list!

- Make it a true family trip. As much as you want to stay in the nicest resort you have to be honest with your pocketbook. Go visit friends or family and stay with them. You'll have to be sure you don't go to the same ones each summer as you don't want to wear out your welcome but this is a great way to connect with out-of-state relatives and you'll save a few bucks in the process.

- Go in the off-season. Everyone goes away for the Fourth of July so try another weekend earlier in the summer or later in August when rates aren't as crazy. Chances are you'll find a more peaceful vacation spot this way as you can avoid the droves of city slickers during the prime time. Many hotels offer deals to attract visitors during the less crowded times of the season.

- Take a train. Keep the car at home and don't spend a ton on airfare. Take a train and travel the way we used to back in the day. It will be a great experience for the whole family and probably more comfortable than a cramped mini-van or riding coach on a packed airplane.


Heather P. Johnson is a freelance writer, as well as a contributor for Credit Card Lowdown, a site for finding credit card reviews. Heather invites your comments and freelancing job opportunities at her email address: