Frugally Food

Winter Brights


This week’s frugally fun is redecorating for next to nothing.  Earlier this year I decided to do some things to make the bedroom more cheerful and bright during the dark days of winter.

So I pulled out a lovely coral pink bedspread that I had in storage.  Cost: zero.

And I found a cute brightly coloured teacup and a large peony flower at the dollar store for on the side table.  Cost $3.

I brightened up a dark green chair by repurposing a white bedsheet into a slipcover and adding a beautiful floral pillow.  Cost $2.

And I spray painted an old lamp I had turning the base from a dark, sombre brown into a lovely bright Caribbean blue.  Cost $2.

So for $7 I completely changed the look in my bedroom.  Now it’s sunny and bright and cheerful.  And I’m dreaming of tropical vacations much more often.

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Shopping for Free


Stress is a major contributor to a lot of health problems and one of the biggest stressors these days is worrying about money.  So this website will be showing you ways to have fun without spending a lot (or any) money.

So today we are going shopping.  But we’re not going to the mall.  We are going to the closet.  That’s right you are going to shop through the clothes you already have.

Obviously you loved all your clothes at one point in time.  I’m sure you were beside yourself with joy that you were able to get A,B or C on sale for next to nothing.  So rekindle that love.

Spend ten minutes creating new outfits using the clothes and shoes you already own.  Lots of fun.  Zero money.


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Strengthen your Core


Core exercises are not something that usually happen a lot during a regular day especially if you lead a sedentary life going from sitting on a bus to sitting in your cubicle to sitting in front of the tv.

So it’s good to have some core exercises included in your workout routine.

Here’s a ten minute core workout I found on youtube:

This workout is for beginners so it is great for me.  I really like the way she does the sit ups,  I’ve never seen that before and it works really well.

(As usual I am not endorsing any products associated with this video and I am not getting anything from anyone by pointing it out to you.  It just looked like it might be useful for me and possibly for you too.)

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Frugally Fun: Film Festival


Well it looks like winter is settling in again for another year.  Heavy sigh.

This calls for another episode of Frugally Fun.  And nothing is better for a miserable, snowstorm filled weekend than a film festival.

These days libraries come well equipped with many different DVDs.  How about a Godfather weekend?  You could couple it with lots of Italian food all weekend.  Or a Star Wars weekend (although I don’t know what kind of food to eat with those movies).  No!  An Indianapolis Jones weekend!

Or you could combine a book and movie weekend.  Read a classic book then watch a movie version of it and see if they even came close.  There are so many versions of Jane Eyre around that would be a good one to try.  Mia Wasikowska does an amazing job as Jane Eyre in the 2011 version and with Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester, how can you go wrong?  I’m partial to the 1997 version starring Ciaran Hinds as Mr. Rochester (but then again I’ve liked everything that Ciaran Hinds has ever done).

Although I’ve noticed with all the different versions of Jane Eyre that none of them manage to capture the wonderful ending of the novel.  If you’ve never read the book, I highly recommend it, especially the part from when Jane returns to Mr. Rochester.  It is most wonderful and I’ve never seen it captured on film.

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Redo Fast Food Part 2


So after reading my last post you got to thinking that an extra $275 per year would be pretty darn nice.  Just by rethinking two lunches.  Pretty easy right?

Well how about if you could save $400 per year with the same two lunches?  Even nicer right?

All you have to do is the next time you go to the grocery store, you get a package of uncooked chicken.  I can get five drumsticks (or five thighs) for $5.  Bring them home, rinse them off, put in a baking dish, sprinkle with herbs and put in a 400F oven for an hour.  That is less than ten minutes of effort to make chicken for five meals.  One dollar of chicken per meal.

Then while you are at the grocery store, get a package of prewashed lettuce.  Just plain lettuce.  I can get a container of baby greens: lettuce, arugula, beet greens – very tasty and very good for a person – for $2.97.  And there are enough salad greens in the container for three meals.

So when you go to work bring the container of greens, a bottle of salad dressing from you fridge (you know you have several in there) and some of the roasted chicken.

Voila!  Lunch for $2.  Four dollars for two lunches means you save eight dollars per week.  Which adds up to $400 per year!

See how easy it is to save money!

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Redo Fast Food


How many times a week do you go out for fast food at lunch time?  Twice a week?  More?  Let’s say it’s twice a week.

In the big city where I am a fast food lunch of sub and soda would go for around $6.  So for two meals that is $12.  And let’s face it sub and soda are not the healthiest foods on the planet.

But you’re busy!  I know.  I hear you.

So how about I show you how to get two much healthier lunches that won’t take any time at all ( and will cost less).

The next time you go grocery shopping, go to the deli section and look for pre-cooked chicken.  The big grocery store near me sells precooked BBQ chicken that has been cut up into pieces.  I can get two legs with thighs attached for around $3.50.  Or two chicken breasts for slightly more.  So pick up one package that will be enough for two lunches.

Then head for the produce section and get yourself a bag of prewashed lettuce.  Having just come back from the grocery store, I am happy to report that there are available ceasar kits that come with the prewashed lettuce, the dressing, some parmesan and croutons…enough for two lunches for the price of ….wait for it….$2.97!  So get one of those and you’re all set.  Two lunches of chicken and ceasar salad for $6.50.

And your lunch is already packed and ready to go.  Just leave it in the grocery bag and put it in the fridge when you get home.  Then when you arrive at work, just put the grocery bag in the fridge at work.  Easy peasy.  And it took no more time than your regular grocery shopping.

Now instead of standing in line at the fast food place for your lunch you can go for a walk.  Or take care of other errands that need looking after.

And you save $5.50 per week.  If you save that every week, you’ll have $275 by the end of the year!  And that’s not nothing!

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The fall is the time of the year to practise the fine art of gleaning, otherwise known as harvesting wild foods from public land or from the yards of willing neighbours.

Usually in any neighbourhood there are more than enough crabapples to keep all the gleaners and any resident deer happy.  There are so many varieties of crabapple around that it is impossible to know from one tree to the next which will be the best.  A little trial and error is in order and definitely worth it.  Some of the best applesauce I’ve ever had came from lovely pink fleshed, thin skinned crabapples.

Saskatoons are another great gleaning find but much more rare since the location of any saskatoon bushes are usually a closely guarded family secret.  You of course need to know what you are doing.  Don’t eat anything unless you are 100% sure of what it is.

Nowadays the age old art of gleaning has gone high tech and there are organizations in a lot of cities that connect people who want free produce with people who have fruit bearing trees on their property with no intention of using the fruit.  A little labour on the part of the gleaner and voila everyone is happy.   I’ve just finished a breakfast of oatmeal and gleaned fruit from a pear tree and boy did it taste good.

And not much is better in the middle of a snowstorm than opening the freezer and heating up some homemade applesauce.  Makes you feel like summer is not too far away.


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Consequences of Meat


While reading “Forks over Knives” by Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn I was reminded about the environmental consequences of eating meat.

Raising animals for food consumes a huge amount of the earth’s freshwater resources.  According to this book 80% of US freshwater resources are used for agriculture.  To further illustrate this it says that one pound of processed beef requires 2500 gallons of water while one pound of soy requires 250 gallons and one pound of wheat requires 25 gallons.

Another thing to consider is the huge quantities of grain that farm animals consume would be put to better use if it was just used to feed people directly.  Worldwide farm animals consume 756 million tons of grain.  That amount of grain could provide 3 pounds of grain per day to 1.4 billion people.

Now I’ve never eaten a lot of meat largely because meat is one of the most expensive items on the food budget but reading this book has made me cut back even more.  To give you food for thought, if everyone in the US ate a plant based diet for just one day the following resources could be conserved:

  • 100 billion gallons of drinking water
  • 1.5 billion pounds of crops
  • 70 million gallons of gasoline
  • 33 tons of antibiotics! (yikes that’s scary!)

So in case you want to get started right away, here is a tasty and easy to make recipe from the book to try:

The Quickest Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans rinsed well and drained
1 large tomato

1 package frozen corn

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juice and zest

3 Tbsps balsamic vinegar

Add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly.  This recipe serves 4.  Enjoy!

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Small Changes Add Up


One of the best ways to improve your life is to take tasks that have to be done anyway and make them a source of fun and learning.  This can work in many aspects of your life (with the possible exception of cleaning – nothing can make cleaning fun).

No what I am talking about is cooking.  Everyone needs to eat.  Heck we do it three times a day.  So it is a major task.  And if you look at it like a task, it will become an odious chore.  But if you look at it as a way to try new recipes, experiment with new flavours, stimulate all your taste buds, it becomes a wonderful source of fun and learning.

Most people get into the rut of eating the same five meals over and over again until it just becomes too tedious.  But small incremental changes will make huge improvements in the quality of life.

For instance, people eat fried eggs.  All well and good. Very functional.  But with just a little more effort you could make scrambled eggs.  A tiny step above that and you could add some salsa to the plate with your scrambled eggs.  A little more effort and you could be enjoying a lovely cheese omelette.  Next thing you know you could be cooking up a veggie and cheese omelette with some basil on top.  Oh my can croissant be far behind?

Small incremental improvements such as this can be applied to all aspects of your daily meals.  Suddenly eating is a lot more flavourful and a lot more fun.  And the good news is that all of this can be accomplished for a lot less money than eating out.  Not only are you saving money on food, you’re saving money on gas driving to and through restaurants.

So give it a try and see what small changes you can make.

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Simply Better


Every time a discussion of simplicity or minimalism comes up  there always seems to be a segment of society that is shocked and appalled that someone would voluntarily choose to live with less stuff.  Simplicity and minimalism means different things to different people but a theme common to all is the wish to create the best life they can with the least amount of drain on the earth’s resources.

For me I was sick of the relentless neverending societal “encouragement” to acquire stuff and whenever I did get this stuff that was supposed to make me happy – big surprise – it never did.  Adopting a more minimalist lifestyle and living simply however does make me happier and has improved my life in so many ways:

Now I have a lot more TIME.  I don’t need to go to the mall because I have all the clothes I need to be warm and fashionable.  Since they are good quality and I take care of them they probably won’t be wearing out anytime soon so I can spend my time on things that are more important.

Now I have a lot more ENERGY.  Before I always had a million things on my to do list running the gamut from acquiring stuff to maintaining stuff to getting other people to maintain my stuff.  Now I have less stuff and I take care of it myself.

Now I have a lot less STRESS.  Before I was always anxious and worried because the stuff I had wasn’t as new or as flashy as the stuff that other people had.  Now I just have the things I need to make my life work efficiently and I don’t care if it’s five years old or twenty years old.  These days often the older it is, the better quality it is.

So now because of simplicity and minimalism I can concentrate on the things that really matter like eating healthy and exercising and achieving my goals and artistic pursuits.  You know LIFE.  Real life.

There are many other people embracing simplicity and minimalism.  One of them is Courtney Carver over at the blog Be More with Less.  I asked her the number one way that simplicity has improved her life.  She said, “Simplicity has provided so many benefits, but the most important is that it has
allowed me to eliminate so much stress in my life. Without debt and clutter, I
am much healthier and happier. ”

If you want to learn more about simplicity Courtney’s blog Be More with Less is full of inspirational articles and practical advice on how to get started down the road to being simply better.

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