Thursday, August 3, 2017

Free Food - Accept What People Give You!

Every once in a while, someone offers us free food.  Of course I take it and then try to figure out what to do with it.  We made pie filling earlier this week with free cherries from our neighbor.  We also made jelly.  Our other neighbor offered some beets and red cabbage.  I like beets, but have no clue how to use the red cabbage...but I will figure out something.  I personally do not like beet greens very well, but on a limited budget, you make the most of what you get.  So, I cut, sorted and cooked the beet greens and gladly offered to share them with my husband.  Sometimes all that people offer is zucchini, but there are lots of great recipes to use zucchini or you can freeze it and use it for later.  I do that when we have too much zucchini of our own.  Accept what people give and be grateful for it.  Find a way to use it.  Every little bit helps.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Year of Living on SNAP

I am not poor, but there are many people that are in this world.  They live with challenges that the average person has no concept of.  Several years ago, I read an article talking about how people cannot eat on the amount of money they receive from the government for food through the SNAP program.  I tried a challenge to feed our family of four for $50 per week.  I was amazed at how well I could feed us and learned a lot of skills throughout those two years to help me feed my family very inexpensively.  All of our kids are out of the house now, but this time I am going to document what I do throughout the year as I do the SNAP challenge again, but this time for just two people, my husband and I.  The challenge should be much easier since there are only two of us this time.  

Plant a Garden

Planting a garden is a great way to save money on food, especially if you are living on SNAP benefits or if you live on a tight budget.  Some of you are probably wondering how you can do that if you live in an apartment.  In the place where we live, they offer some public plots of land for people to plant a garden.  You can also plant things in pots.  If you don't have pots, use plastic containers for the time being until you can find a better alternative.  Some things grow just fine indoors.  It is amazing how much food you can produce and how much money you can save from planting a garden.

Our raspberry plants, garlic and oregano plants came from extras that someone else had and didn't want.  In turn, we have shared with others as well.  Raspberries send out shoots each year and you can give those to people you know who would like them.  A typical raspberry plant costs from 8-15 dollars where we live.  Getting them for free is much better!  We grow enough raspberries and other garden produce to last until Christmas time and even longer.  Gardening is such a great help in reducing our food bill and helping us to eat better on the money we have for food since we don't have to buy as much produce.  And, it is organic.  We couldn't afford to buy organic raspberries to eat throughout the year at the price they are at the store.

Our neighbors also gave us these sour cherries.  We can make cherry jelly, dry the cherries, or make cherry pie filling to freeze for the holidays.

Have you tried gardening?  Share your experiences with us in the comments section.  If you have questions, leave a comment and we will try to find an answer for you.  

Money Saving Hints: Dress the Salad BEFORE Serving

Salad dressing can be used up very quickly if you have a large family or if you eat salads frequently.  There are people in our family who use lots and lots of dressing on their salad.  What do you do to save money on salad dressing?  One easy way is to toss the salad with the dressing right before serving.  If the dressing is already on the salad, most people won't ask for more dressing.

If you have family members who like to use an enormous amount of dressing, buy salad dressing when it is on a great sale and stock up.  Another thing you can do is to buy the store brand of dressing, but it usually doesn't taste as good.  If it doesn't taste as good, then they may use less dressing!  Last, use coupons with a sale to get the dressing for less.  I personally hate to use coupons, but some people really enjoy the savings and don't mind spending time finding, cutting and using coupons.

In our area, there is a restaurant that sells single servings of salad dressing for 25 cents each.  They are about 3-4 ounces per container.  The dressings are made fresh each day and I can get a variety for the week.  Two people can easily share the dressing for a side salad for a meal.  Compare that to a 16 ounce bottle of dressing and you are spending $1.00 to $1.25 per size bottle you find in the store.  That is an acceptable price for me!

Another thing I have done is to make salad dressing.  Thousand Island dressing is easy to make.  So is French and Catalina.  Italian and Ranch are a bit trickier with all of the spices, but may be worth a try.  You can also use vinegar and oil or lemon juice and oil.  Add the necessary sugar and salt or spices before putting on the salad.

Spices tend to be pricey, so one way to save money on spices is to only buy the amount you need from the bulk section of the store if they sell spices in bulk.

Here are a few links to some homemade salad dressings:

Pioneer Woman:  Aunt Trish's Salad Dressing

Mel's Kitchen Cafe:  Various Salad Dressings

Todd Wilbur's clone recipe for Kraft Thousand Island Dressing

Simple French Dressing

I have tried the Thousand Island recipe from Todd Wilbur and my husband likes it a lot.  I am looking forward to trying some others now!