Frugal healthy lunch ideas: works for me Wednesday

frugal healthy lunch

Frugal healthy lunch ideas from Midge

Hi all! It’s Molly’s cousin Midge here. Molly knows I’ve been working hard to find new ways to be frugal and for this new year – I’ve set some personal goals for my health as well.

Fortunately for me, my Molly Green magazine membership will allow me to have exclusive access to the Dine on a Dime menu planner from Build a Menu (coming soon) AND I get a big discount on a full membership to BAM which includes the fabulous Trim Healthy Mama recipes to help me even more.

Now, I know you may be thinking “lucky Midge – being related to Molly and all”  but, this is not just a family deal - YOU get the same benefits with a Molly Membership – see,  you can join the Molly Family too!

So now, about those frugal healthy lunches . . .

I’ve been making my very own kind of “Lean Cuisine” meals for the week.  When I do my batch cooking  or prepare evening meals – I set aside food to build the lunches with the tips as follows:

  1. Measure 1 cup of extra brown rice to add to broth. Freeze in baggies for quick access.
  2. Place portions of rice in freezer containers and add chopped veggies for a frugal, healthy homemade lean cuisine.
  3. Use broccoli stems to chop small pieces to add to rice for lunch stir-fry or to salads.
  4. Use the tops of tomatoes and bottom portion and chop for a fresh pico de gallo - to add to beans, salad, or chicken,  a Mexican rice dish or fish – for an instant burst of flavor that will light up your taste buds!  pico de gallo
  5.  Use tops and bottoms of white onions and peppers you might normally toss out for the same purpose. Chop ‘em small and throw them into sauce or soup too.
  6. Freeze washed berries and grapes individually on a tray and then divide them into portion sizes for your smoothies and health drinks.
  7. Chop bite size pieces of leftover meats – chicken, fish, steak – and freeze in portion sizes to go into your rice or healthy pasta for a protein boost at lunch.
  8. Once cooled, freeze lunch size portions of your homemade chick broth  in Mason jars or other freezer containers – add leftover rice, chicken, and veggies for a hearty hot lunch.
  9. Use frozen broth to make a homemade Egg Drop Soupfrugal healthy lunch: egg drop soup
  10. Freeze stuffed bell peppers  for a flavorful lunch – use leftover ingredients of rice and lean ground beef, turkey, or venison to fill them with.

Frugal healthy lunches can be yours with just a little bit of prep and planning ahead of time.

Don’t wait to get your Molly Membership so you can take advantage of the big discount for Build a Menu and have the Trim Healthy Mama recipes at your finger tips – or just use the Molly Membership to enjoy the ever frugal Dine on a Dime menu planner!

Go here to get your first month for only $1 and only $7.95 ever after. 

linking with Works for Me Wed

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Frugal living: ways to save money this year

frugal living

You may have heard the news – the all new Molly Green magazine has turned over a new leaf. We are spreading our wings to include homesteading, self-sufficient living, back yard farming, and all things home industry.

But, we are nothing if not a frugal bunch! And, in that spirit, I wanted to start our New Year off with a super frugal post to help you find ways to save money in 2014.

10 Ways to Save Money in the New Year:

  1. Fix it yourself – use the internet to watch video’s and read tutorials on how to fix various household items. Learn to stitch up clothing and make repairs to the things you use regularly.

2. Cut the Entertainment budget by finding frugal ways to play together.

3. Cook at Home & Take Advantage of Specials.

4.  Ask for a Discount! 

bowling for free

5.  Get a Discount on Children’s Activities

  • Volunteer your services to the organization for a discount on children’s sports when possible – certainly, you want to give of your time for free to help out, but you may be able to offer other services such as – photography, computer work, accounting, or other skilled work to save on sports and more for your family. Look for services they might normally have to pay for & fill in the gap where you are qualified. 
  • Set up a co-op or trade with other parents for sports and extracurricular clothing items. 
  • Take advantage of free programs like Kids Bowl Free

6.  Barter for Services. 

  • As with the above info on getting a discount on children’s extra-curricular activities – consider trading for other services as well. Think outside the box and look for needs that you can meet and then offer up your solutions to the problem in exchange for a repair or other service you cannot do yourself. Small businesses are great for this, but don’t count out the larger companies either. Big companies need endorsements, or reviews from consumers and are sometimes willing to trade for free products. Bloggers do this regularly. 

7. Grow Your Own. 

8.  Up-cycle 

9. Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners.

  • Simple ingredients can go a long way and can be used safely and inexpensively –  Baking Soda, Borax, Vinegar, Alcohol, Mild Dish Detergent, & Washing Soda are a few simple ingredients that can be used to clean almost anything. 
  • Get recipes from The Family Homestead here

10. Educate Yourself. 

Link up your own Frugal  ideas  and we will share them!

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5 a day: household chore planner

free printable chore chart The beginning of a new year is often the perfect time to reflect, plan, and set goals, to organize the household.  While that may sound like a terrific plan, the truth is, it can be a bit overwhelming.

One of the best tips I’ve ever received on the subject is to break things down into smaller pieces – to schedule the  daily routine into chunks of time.  When you look at the big picture, it can feel as though it is too difficult to conquer. But, when you break it down, suddenly, the unattainable becomes much more feasible.

In order to conquer my own clutter and get my household in good order for 2014 – I designed a little printable sheet to help me keep my chores and household schedule organized. I am determined to make the most of my time each day and to make the changes in my home that are needed. Download your own Free Printable here. 

daily planner chore chart

To use your free printable, download and print. Follow the sample, and choose a suggested daily chore (or add your own), then run through your daily list of smaller chores.

There is a space to do some meal planning and food prep – which will not only help you be more organized at meal time, but will also save money.

Choose from the list of suggested 15 minute jobs each day, and also schedule a quick run-through the house to freshen and pick up. Some like to schedule several 15 minute fresheners – you can just write in various times in that 15 minute slot if you need more.

Most of all, use it as a guide, and make it work for your family.

I’m learning a lot by visiting the Fly Lady. She has organizing and cleaning down to a science. I love the way she breaks down the home into weekly zones. You can follow her on her website, and learn a great deal from the brand new Fly Lady column in the all new Molly Green Magazine

Do you have any big cleaning and organizing goals this year? 

Linking with Works for Me Wednesday 

New Molly Green: Sneak Peek Monday

all new molly green

All New Molly Green Magazine

Launching in January with all new benefits

Just in case you haven’t heard, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the all new Molly Green Magazine!  The blog will be getting a makeover and members will gain all new benefits as well as a new focus for the magazine.

You’ll enjoy the same frugal advice and information you’ve come to trust, with a deeper focus on the art of homesteading,  back yard farming,  and all things home industry.

Benefits include a video sharing platform to share how-to’s on canning, recipes, gardening and all related topics. Members will have the opportunity to network and sell their homemade & handmade/small business items in their very own cottage stores at no additional cost.

New columns from our friends at Build a Menu with exclusive access to their Dine on a Dime planner, and monthly column by The Fly Lady and more!

Right now, you can lock in the special rate – $1 for the first month, and $3.85 monthly thereafter.  This special introductory rate won’t last. The membership price will increase with the new launch and platform coming in January.

If you are considering a membership to the all new Molly Green, now is the time to get this valuable resource to help you save money, become more self sufficient, and to learn about all things home industry.

Join us here to get your membership and lock in your discounted rate today!

Need a recipe to use up leftover Christmas ham? Go here

Check back tomorrow for a delicious recipe & more – to help you ring in the new year!

Sneak Peek Monday~$1 Subscription Special

special sneak peek

 

 

NOW is the time to subscribe to Molly Green Magazine

Why? 

We have BIG BIG plans for Molly Green Magazine coming up in the new year and we want you to be a part of it. Not only will you get the same value in each new digital issue of Molly, along with access to all the past issues (2009 – 2012) and ALL of 2013, ALL Molly Products, Christmas issues full of wonderful resources, recipes, homemade gift ideas

AND access to my 5 E-Books:

The November/ December Molly Green Magazine  is out!  

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Get your copy here 

Of course, if you go ahead and get in on our $1 Special . . . . you will receive access to ALL the Molly issues including the brand new issue. Get the details below:

$1 1st Month

Have you heard the exciting news about the changes coming up around here? 

Molly Green Magazine is getting a “new do”!

Our new attitude will include a focus on nature, homesteading, and inspiration for living a more simple, frugal lifestyle.  I’ll be making an announcement soon enough (if I don’t just burst from excitement first) that will just blow your socks off . . . . .

our new editions beginning in January – will include some fabulous NEW resources to make your life easier & save you even MORE money! Lock in the special price today – and after your $1 first month special – you’ll enjoy all the New Molly benefits for only $3.85 and be able to continue at that low rate!

If you are interested in:

 

Don’t wait! Get the details here

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Feast or Famine ~ Five Tips to Staying Frugal While Learning How to Cook!

Midge copyGuest Blog by: Midge

*Learning how to cook on a small budget.*

I have always been a bit inept in the kitchen and some may even say I am ultimately just clumsy in most cooking situations. Let’s just get it out there: “I am a clumsy cook.” Coming home to raise my little girl was a big step for me. My husband and I needed to be able to survive on one income, which meant I had to learn to cook more at home. Wait, let me rephrase that, I just needed to learn how to cook!

Last year, I spent the year cooking my way through various vegetables and slicing, dicing, and de-seeding odd fruits as a way to teach myself some basic kitchen skills. This year, I am trying to tackle the scary category of “MEAT” with some “Year of the Carnivore” blog posts. But, I have discovered that the meat section can hold some TERRIBLY HIGH PRICES!!!  Did you see my photo on the MOLLY’S FACEBOOK PAGE  a few weeks ago? I found king crab legs, imported from Russia, for about 60 dollars – Yup, 6 -8 legs for $60 AND you still had to cook them! Sorry guys, the price for those crab legs is waaaayyyy out of my budget.  :)

So, how can you shop frugally and still try new dishes like lobster and Duck a l’Orange?

I call my shopping theory ~ feast or famine or rather don’t feast then create a famine! Okay, I know this is not a new creative phrase which you have never heard before but it totally applies to me! Here are my five tips to staying frugal while still taking an adventure into “chef-ing”.

  1. Shop the sales. When thinking of my first “year of the carnivore” dish, I bought lobster tails because they were on sale over the New Year’s holiday. If you watch sale prices, coupons, and weekly fliers, they may just inspire you to try and cook up something a little bit different.
  2. Save a little bit of your grocery budget for a “splurge” kind of expense. Vegetables and fruit are easy to just throw into your cart on a whim but meat can get costly if you don’t watch the prices (example: the king crab legs!). If you are careful with your budget, you may find yourself with a little bit of extra money in which to try something new.
  3. Plan carefully. Make a wish list of the top ten food items that you have always desired to make. THINK BIG!!!  Duck a l’Orange has always been on the dream list because my parents kept bringing it up as their worst meal ever. I have now conquered this meal (well, sort of) but it took me many years to get to the stage that I felt brave enough to even try!
  4. Watch out for the extra ingredients. My main strategy of saving money on these fancier recipes is to pick my recipe carefully. I try to always select a recipe I can find online with most of the ingredients (besides the meat) already in my pantry or refrigerator.
  5. Feast or Famine ~ Realize that you are going to make mistakes. I am definitely not perfect. My husband and I reviewed our grocery budget this month and realized I had stretched our food budget a little too far. The duck cost us $18 and I had assumed it would last us a few meals. This was not the case (see the blog for the reason why!)  So while, it is wonderful to make one fancy meal occasionally, it shouldn’t be a special feast one evening followed by a month of famine. Stretching the grocery money throughout the month is our number one priority.

Above all, I am finding that trying out new recipes in my kitchen is quite exhilarating! And learning to cook, even on a tight budget, is possible. Do you love to try fun new recipes too? We should call ourselves Kitchen Adventurers ~ conquering our Recipe Wish List, one meal at a time!

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What is on your Recipe Wish list? If you had all the money in the world, what dish would you want to create in your kitchen? Do you have any frugal tips to share with those that would like to attempt more difficult dishes yet stay within an economical budget?

Keeping it Simple

Back to Basics

At the beginning of each new year there seems to be a lot of discussion about healthy eating, dieting, and exercise methods. We’re hearing the words “gluten-free” more and more these days. Do you know where gluten is found? Gluten is a protein composite in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Gluten is what helps hold together bakery items such as breads, rolls, and buns. Many of the food items we consume every day may contain some form of wheat flour such as in: bread, crackers, cereal, and pizza. Many frozen, prepared, and processed foods contain flour binders. Do you read food labels or look for foods that are gluten free?

I’ve also been hearing things about the Paleo diet. Paleo is short for Paleolithic and is sometimes referred to as the “caveman, Stone Age, or hunter-gatherer diet.” This diet is known as a modern, nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet (of wild plants and animals that may have been consumed) during the Paleolithic era. Those that follow the “Paleo” diet seem to mainly eat fish, grass-fed meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, various forms of plant roots, and nuts.

I’ve seen many testimonies that those who follow a gluten-free or Paleo diet feel better and have more energy. Have any of you experienced this?

All-in-all, keeping your ingredients simple is not only a healthier choice but more cost effective as well. As always, to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying weekly groceries try, to buy fresh produce in season and in bulk (if the unit price proves to be the best deal). It’s a good idea to stay along the perimeter walls of the grocery store. You’re most likely to find your food “staples” there such as produce, meat, dairy, and breads.

How do your feed your family healthy foods on a budget?

Chinese New Year 2013

I love Chinese food! Next to Italian food, it’s my favorite food to enjoy.

Next Sunday, February 10th, is the Chinese New Year. Let’s join in the celebration this year. We’ll learn a little bit about the history behind it, customs, and share a few delicious recipes in the process.

Just FYI, did you know that Christianity is the fastest growing religion in China right now? That’s definitely worth celebrating!

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of all the traditional Chinese holidays. People in China and Taiwan may also refer to it as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.

Chinese months are calculated around a lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth day, when the moon is brightest. In China, New Year preparations are similar to Christmas in America. Many people may take vacation from work or school to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

The Chinese buy presents, decorate with red paper decorations, and cook large feast for the event. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck.

On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Foods will include pork, duck, chicken, and sticky rice cakes. The family will end the night with fireworks.

Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year. Parents and family members give the children money wrapped in red paper envelopes. (As a side note, Chinese families also give money wrapped in red paper to a bride and groom at a Chinese wedding and at the birth a baby)

Chinese New Year Foods

Certain foods hold symbolism to Chinese people.”Lucky” foods are served throughout the two week Chinese New Year celebration. A whole chicken symbolizes family togetherness. Long noodles represent long life. It’s actually considered bad luck to cut the noodles.

Spring Rolls and clams symbolize wealth. Spring Rolls are shaped to look like gold bars. Lettuce wraps are served to remind the people of the hope of rising fortunes. Oranges, tangerines, and pomelos are passed out freely as symbols of luck, wealth, and abundance.

These symbols of abundance,wealth, prosperity, and family unity are very important to the Chinese. One of those symbols, fish, plays a large role in the festivities. The Chinese word for fish is “yu,” and it sounds like the Chinese words for wish or abundance. So, it is not uncommon to see a whole fish being served at the end of the evening meal. A whole fish, with head and tail still attached, symbolizes a good beginning to a new year and the ending of the old.

Finally, sweet sticky rice cakes are served for dessert to symbolize a rich sweet life. The layers on the rice cake also symbolize rising abundance in the new year, and the round shape of the rice cake symbolizes family togetherness.

Chinese New Year Menu

Here’s an easy way to enjoy Chinese New Year without speading hours in the kitchen. Pick up some of the Chinese food dishes from the local grocer/deli or local Chinese restaurant and combine with a few home cooked dishes and desserts

  • Roasted Chicken (buy a roasted chicken from the local grocer or deli)
  • Spring Rolls, Egg Rolls, lo mein long noodles, and sweet & sour sauce can all be bought from a local Chinese restaurant.
  • Lettuce wraps are easy to make.
  • Steamed fish and clams can be bought from the grocery seafood department (some stores will steam these for free).
  • Set a fruit bowl out loaded with tangerines, oranges, and grapefruits (similar to pomelos)
  • Rice Cake or New Year’s Cake is not so easy to make. Consider picking it up at a Chinese bakery, or make a family favorite instead. Chinese desserts are not as sweet as traditional American desserts.

More Recipes and Ideas

Throughout this next week, on our Facebook page, I’ll be sharing with you all kinds of wonderful Chinese Food recipes and decorating ideas. Come join in the conversation and the fun. Also check out my Molly Pinterest Boards. I have one dedicated to Chinese Recipes!

How Will You celebrate Chinese New Year?

Will you be joining in the fun this week? Will you make a few Chinese Food recipes? Will you decorate or play games? Share with us how you will make this fun at your house. My family really enjoys Chinese Food, but at the average price of $10 a plate in a restaurant, we’ve learned to cook many of our favorite dishes at home. Have you done the same?

 

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Members Only Monday

hWell, it’s February. We’re full swing into the new year, and I’m busy organizing, planning, and scheduling everything!

As a busy mom, I don many hats: wife, mom, teacher, accountant, maid, chef, chaperone, and bus driver. The fun never stops around here! However, in order for everything to run on schedule and smoothly, everything must be well organized and planned out.

Tax Time and Budgeting For The Year

I’ve just sent in my income tax statement and I know I should get a refund check in about 5 weeks, around the middle of March. This year’s refund is about the same as last year’s. Being a big family, we depend greatly on that refund to help supplement our income for the year.

Last year, we took an out of state trip and fitted one child for contacts. The total of those expenses took about $1000 from our yearly budget and savings. Although that may not seem like much, that extra $1000 expenditure made things very tight for us during the last few months. I will be glad to see that IRS refund this year and plan to use it, or “not use it” wisely. I don’t want to be in a tight bind, financially, this time next year.

Plan It All Out
In order to do this we must budget well. This year, I have a child who will not only be starting dual credit at the community college, but also gets her driver’s license and will be spending a week this summer at our local university for String (Violin) Camp. Whew! This will all be figured into the yearly budget. To budget accordingly, we have to plan the whole year out. We’ll sit down with our calendar and make a list of events and expenditures we already know about this year. Those amounts will be figured into our yearly budget so that there will be no surprises or short comings when the need arises.

Molly The Debt Free Frugalista

In this month’s issue of The Molly Green Magazine, I share with you strategies for saving money, living on a budget, getting out of debt, and being debt free.

Also, we talk about being content, enjoying what you have, living within your means and learning to minimize, recycle, and reuse. It’s not always easy being a frugalista. Sometimes it means just doing without. However, sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring how to get the things my family needs in creative ways.

All our needs are provided for and we live well within our means. That gives me a sense of accomplishment and a desire to share what I’ve learned with all of you.

I hope you will enjoy this month’s magazine. Take a little time each day to read over all the articles. Bake up a batch of pancakes with your DIY Baking mix. Sew a comfy new bed for the family cat and spend some time asking yourself, ” Are you content?” and ” How can I enjoy my life and family more?” Make the most of every moment and share with others your experiences and what you’ve learned.
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Share a Copy
“Do you know someone that is struggling to make ends meet? Do they need help learning to budget, becoming debt free or finding affordable health insurance and medical care options?

Show them this magazine and let them know we’re here to help. As always, they can get their own copy for just $4.95 a month or become Molly Members for a yearly price of just $3.85 a month. Becoming a Molly Member will gain them access to all of the wonderful money saving, debt busting, economy- busting resources Molly has shared with you. Pass it On!

Poached Pretzels and a 5K

Guest Blog by:  Midge

This blog today was supposed to be about my grand attempt to get motivated out of my couch potato life and start moving. I have a 5K plan…I have goals…then, I was distracted by a fantastic looking pretzel recipe. Sigh…

So, I got myself off the couch and headed towards the kitchen. Internet recipe print out in hand, I put my ingredients in order. Then, because baking and I often disagree, I walked slowly through each agonizing step which was very time consuming.

Ever hear about the car mechanic, who gets done fixing your car and has parts left over? This pretzel recipe was like a train wreck.  There was at least one ingredient in the ingredient list that did not translate into the numbered instructions. For those of us who are baking challenged ~ can I hear a collective “AAAAUUUUGGGHHH!”.

After twenty minutes I found out I was wrong and all of the ingredients were accounted for. The ingredient in question was baking soda and I was supposed to use it to “poach” the pretzel before baking it. Poaching a pretzel is probably the oddest instruction I have been given in a very long time. I am not sure that I have ever “poached” anything before. My husband was sure I was talking about poaching animals but I assured him I was not going to go elephant hunting any time soon!

I boiled the water added the baking soda and poached. Did I do it right? I have no idea! But, I followed those directions like I was a third chair flute on parade day.

When my husband and I finally ate them, they actually tasted okay. But, they were not the light, fluffy soft pretzels you buy at a basketball game. They turned out thick, heavy, and tasting slightly of baking soda. By now, I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the recipe, just my interpretation of it.

Maybe I should have stuck to my original plan- get moving!  There is a 5K (3.1 miles) race every year where I live and I told my husband that my goal is to actually run the entire race. By the way, not counting PE class where you are forced to run, I am not nor have I ever been a runner. I just need to get inspired and start moving.

I have until June and I already got off the couch. Now, I just need to get out of the kitchen!

 

Do you have any recommendations for how to turn my interpretation of this recipe from thick and heavy to light and fluffy? What are your goals for this New Year? Do you want to join the Midge team (party of one) with my 5K challenge?

Here are a couple of websites to share:

*My friend was the first one to inspire me when she mentioned she was going to do a COUCH TO 5K program…I think I might look into this!

*Want to try the same pretzel recipe and give me a few pointers?

 

 

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