Raising Bottle Bucket Calves: Family Homestead link up

raising bottle bucket calves



Raising bottle bucket calves is a great way to get started on a family farm or homestead. A “bucket calf” or a “bottle calf” is any calf that must be hand fed, by bottle or bucket. Some even just call them “bottle bucket calves” . . . We call them ADORABLE!

Where to Find Them

Dairy farms are a great place to purchase these baby cows. Once they have stopped producing colostrum, the mother cow goes back to work doing her job producing milk for the farm. Often times, a busy dairy farm does not have the time and dedication it takes to care for all of these babies. The calves may then be purchased at an affordable discount. This makes them an extremely frugal choice for a family cow.

Check with your local chapter of 4-H to discover local resources. Track them down through the national 4-H site here. 

Types of Cows

Jersey, Guernsey or Milking Shorthorn may be more affordable choices for a family milk cow than the larger Holsteins. They don’t produce as much milk as the Holsteins, but for the family homestead, 10 or more gallons a day is simply not needed.
types milk calves for family homesteading

The Jersey heifers are known for their creamy milk production, and sweet disposition. They are tan or brown in color are smaller in size, and can usually be found at a much lower cost than the larger breeds.  Guernsey cows are similar, but larger, light reddish brown with white spots. They also make a terrific family cow. The Milking Shorthorn is known as a forage­-efficient, healthy, long­-lived and productive breed of dairy cow. Learn more about various Heritage breeds of cattle here.

Feeding Calves

Much like a human baby, once the mother’s milk is no longer available, there is formula to be had. Mixing the powdered formula with warm water is an important part of feeding the youngest of calves. Although there is some cost involved, overall, feeding your calf is not an overwhelming cost. Of course, if you happen to have a family milking goat . . . you won’t need the formula!

feeding calvesGoat milk is another terrific option and can help avoid any instances of digestive problems. You will have fewer cases of scours and the calves grow quickly.

It is a good idea to begin with a rubber nipple. A healthy calf will always act about half starved! They are vigorous feeders. If you notice any change in this behavior, your calf could be in serious trouble. Pay close attention to any major changes in behavior: unclear eyes or a dirty bottom may be signs of scours. The sooner you get help, the better chance they will have.

Whenever possible, buy your calf from a local dairy farm, where you can observe a feeding, can know that they have at least had several days of colostrum, and have not experienced the stress of travel or shipping. If this is not possible, find out what you can about it. Let it suckle from your finger to simulate a feeding as the healthy ones should be very interested in any attempt at feeding.

Once your calf is home and has been feeding by bottle well for several weeks and is healthy and strong, you can switch to bucket feeding to save time and effort. Hand-fed by bottle or by bucket, the trouble and effort you go through for a small calf is well worth it and can be the perfect way to get an affordable milk cow for your family homestead.

Get more detailed information for raising, feeding and housing your calf from Jackie Clay here

Detailed feeding and care instructions can be downloaded from SavaCaf.com here.

Frugal HOME Friday

Link up your own frugal tips for home and homestead,

recipes, DIY, or crafts and share ideas to inspire others:

linking up: Fabulously FrugalOrganized 31,Fabulously Frugal Thurs,Sunday Showcase

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Five Telecommuting Opportunities You Might Not Know About

Guest Post by Jill Hart


Work At Home Mom

Because I run a website dedicated to work-at-home moms, I get a considerable amount of email filled with questions about working from home. Without a doubt the question that I get asked most often is, “Do you know of any companies that I can work for from home?” The exciting thing is that yes, I do. In part because of the hard economic times that we find ourselves in, more and more companies looking for qualified professionals to represent their businesses from their own homes. Here is just a sampling of companies currently hiring at-home workers:

1. VIPdesk (http://vipdesk.com) – This company hires home-based workers for customer service positions. They represent numerous high-profile brands such as Eddie Bauer and BlueFly. From their website: “A proven premium service provider with 20 years of experience, VIPdesk specializes in delivering Concierge and Virtual Call Center Services for national brand leaders in several industries that include travel, auto, financial services and retail, by providing high-touch, high-tech branded service platforms that deliver real results and real return on investment.”

2. wiseGEEK (http://www.wisegeek.com) – This is just one of the many websites that pay freelance writers. These sites generally pay per article written. From their website: “wiseGEEK writers get to choose the topics to write on out of a pool of hundreds of titles. You can opt to write on categories that you are familiar with, or venture out a little to explore new frontiers.”

3. Convergys (http://careers.convergysworkathome.com/WorkFromHome.aspx) – At-home agents are nothing new for Convergys, a company who also supplies customer care services to well-known companies. From their website: “As a Convergys Home Agent, you’ll interact with customers of well-known and respected top companies. You may answer questions, determine product opportunities that best meet your callers’ needs, place orders on their behalf, provide technical support, or enroll callers in health, entertainment or other plans.”

4. American Express (http://amex.co/13Vm6q1) – American Express is, of course, primarily known for their credit card, but in some cases they also hire home-based travel agents. From their website: ” …American Express operates 2,200 travel offices and many call centers around the world. Some Travel Counselors work on-site at our clients’ businesses, while others may even work at home.”

5. West at Home (http://westathome.com) – Another customer service related employer, West at Home has been employing home-based workers for over twenty years. From their website: “Greater staffing flexibility, better educated, highly motivated and more productive agents – it all contributes to what makes West at Home the leading provider of home-based agent solutions.”

There are many home-based positions available today. It does take time to sift through them all to find the “diamonds in the rough” yet in the end the flexibility and comfort offered by a work-at-home position can be well worth the effort. So, polish up your resume – make it as professional and current as possible as you’ll be competing with hundreds if not thousands of other job candidates – and get to work.

Jill Hart is a writer, speaker and coach, showing others how to follow their calling and build successful businesses. She teaches her clients how to overcome the fear of getting started and helps them discover ways to make money from home. Ready to discover how you can work from home? Check out Jill’s short and sweet ebook, 70 Creative Ways to Make Money from Home Quickly (http://bit.ly/70creativeways).

Midge and the Giant Buffalo

Midge copyGuest blog by: Midge

Year of the Carnivore Blog Series

Buffalo meat . . . does the thought of cooking up a bison steak scare you a little bit? I was amazed when I discovered there are areas of our country with bison ranches and habitats. On my first trip to Montana, I was able to go on a driving tour in northwest Montana and see buffalo up close and personal. I am originally a “city” kind of gal so being this close to a live animal that was not behind a fence was a bit unnerving. It sort of felt a bit “Jurassic Park-ish”. But, besides the terror of driving really close to these large beasts and their sweet looking calves, I was amazed and, sort of, honored. It was like driving through a piece of American history.


At our first stop after visiting the buffalo area, we stopped at a restaurant serving buffalo burgers. Where I grew up, if you were ordering a buffalo burger it would be a spectacularly spicy burger which may leave a bit of flames escaping from your mouth after the third bite. But, when I found out it was actually buffalo meat I was super astounded. Then, I learned all about buffalo herd management and buffalo ranches. I also discovered the benefits of using buffalo meat in comparison to beef cattle. You can read more about this here:  BISON BASICS

When cooking buffalo burgers, you want to make sure that you don’t overcook them. They have a tendency to dry out. It is recommended, if you are comfortable with cooking your burgers to medium or medium well done, to grill them leaving just a touch of pink or more in the center. I lean heavily on the side of cooking all burgers to well done after a recent conversation with a butcher regarding the reasons why hamburgers need to be cooked thoroughly. Buffalo burgers which are just barely well done (no pink, but still a bit juicy) are just as good as ones with a bit of pink . . . although that is just my opinion.


Buffalo meat can be used to replace hamburger meat in just about any hamburger recipe you can imagine. I do have a bit of a confession to make though. When I cooked the buffalo burgers for this Year of the Carnivore blog series today, it wasn’t my first time!  I made a bunch of buffalo burgers a few years ago for an event I had planned. But, when I thought about all off the wall meats for this series, buffalo meat definitely came to mind! So, even though it isn’t my first time, I still highly recommend it for you to get out of your own cooking comfort zone and give this meat a try!

I topped mine with a variety of regular hamburger toppings and even added a bit of actually spicy buffalo sauce. So, mine was a buffalo burger — buffalo style. Super delish!!!

What do you think? Would you try a buffalo burger? What is your favorite hamburger recipe? 

If you try it, email molly@econobusters.com, attn: Midge and the Giant Buffalo. I would love to hear your story! And, I would like to share your story with our readers. So, send a couple of pictures too!

Midge and the Giant Buffalo


Here are some buffalo quotes I found while searching the internet for this blog:

“The Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and other Indians ‘firmly believed that the buffalo were produced in countless numbers in a country under the ground; that every spring the surplus swarmed, like bees from a hive, out of great cave-like openings to this country.’ It is easy to see how a belief of this nature would not encourage conservation or management of a declining resource under conditions like those obtaining increasingly on the nineteenth century Plains. If buffaloes returned each year from the earth because they were of the earth, how could they possibly go extinct?” Shepard Krech III, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), pp. 147-9.

“In 1880, [Montana] was practically uninhabited. One could travel for miles without seeing so much as a traveler’s bivouac. Thousands of buffalo darkened the rolling plains. There were deer, elk, wolves, and coyotes on every hill and in every ravine and thicket. In the fall of 1883, there was not a buffalo remaining on the range and the antelope, elk, and deer were indeed scarce. [T]here were 600,000 head of cattle on the range. The cowboy had become an institution.” Granville Stuart, quoted in Donald Worster, Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). These two quotes came from this site: BUFFALO QUOTES

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Sneak Peek Monday~ HALF OFF SALE!

What kind of vacation can you look forward to on a frugal budget? You’d be surprised!

Rest, relaxation, and adventure don’t have to cost a bundle! Explore summer fun and vacation ideas plus innovative ways to save, in this edition of . . . Molly’s Money-Saving Magazine -Frugal Family Vacations.

Do your plans for the coming months include some time for rest and relaxation? Even in these days of uncertainty and change, it’s possible for nearly every family to enjoy a vacation, “stay-cation,” or “day-cation.” Discover great vacation ideas –even for those that can’t afford a vacation right now!

This issue is loaded with ideas, tips, recipes, checklists, and more to help you plan for those special family outings –all within your budget! Here’s a little more of what’s inside:

  • Keeping it All together –Budget Your Vacation: There are oodles of economical vacation ideas plus money-saving tips on: transportation, lodging, entertainment, food, and souvenirs. And don’t miss this! Two special forms –Budgeting for Your Vacation and the Vacation Checklist!
  • Feather Your Nest –Frugally –A Painting Makeover Project: An old curb side chair from someone’s trash transforms into a beautiful treasure! The cost? $0.00. Check out the photos!
  • Pull Up a Chair –Reasons to Celebrate in June and July: You’ll have plenty of reasons to pull out the picnic basket and fire up the backyard barbecue grill! Try these favorite wrap ideas and recipes for Caesar, Mexican, Chicken Salad, and Hummus and Veggie fillings. Plus more!
  • Parenting That Pays –Honoring Our Fathers and/or Husbands: Wonderful, heart-felt tributes to some special dads are shared by many, highlighting something learned from their fathers –there’s much you’ll admire and appreciate from every one of these responses!
  • Something Old, Something New –An Old Baking Table Turned Beverage Station: Fixing a cup of coffee or cocoa is a snap in Eleanor’s kitchen now –with her all-in-one station spot for hot beverage preparation and serving. See the photos!
  • Goal-Getter Spotlight: Elizabeth shared a life-long dream of her husband’s, but farmland without a house takes some creativity! You’ll want to read her story.
  • Readers Write In: How did one reader’s family spend their “stay-cation”? What do you pack for a 3,000+ mile trip with kids? You’ll want to pack and take along this travel tote bag! Monica tells you how and shares some terrific must-read tips!

With over 40 pages, there are so many ways to save and a lot to learn. . . a small price to pay compared to the great benefits you’ll receive and the money you’ll be saving once you dig into this magazine! Buy this E-Magazine today for ONLY $2.50!

Molly members already have this magazine in your member page! Simply click the “Molly Members” tab above, log in, and search out June 2009.

If you’re not a Molly member, check out everything you receive and sign up now on our SUBSCRIPTION PAGE!

Guest Post — Don’t Lose Your Head On Summer Vacation!


Yup, it’s that time of year again – school’s out and the kiddos are home 24/7! Are we having fun yet? Some of you may even be fortunate enough to be planning some time away. But did you know that you can go on vacation AND use the time to provide an educational boost as well? Here are some tips to make sure they don’t “lose their heads” – or at least their brains – while out of school.

  • Prepare ahead of time by doing research. Check the internet or write to the Chamber of Commerce and find interesting and educational places to visit at your destination.  See if any of them correlate to your children’s interests, and you’ll be getting off to a great start!
  • Use your vacation to study a specific them or topic. One year a friend of ours planned their summer travels around historic and notable places around the state. After their kids had already spent the year learning about these locals in books, they were super excited to get some hands-on and real-life experiences, as these historic sites became real to them!
  • Always include a journal or diary assignment of some sort. Even non-writers can dictate a few thoughts for you to write down, and anyone can illustrate or add pictures from flyers or postcards. Starting a collection along the way gives them opportunities to arrange them or prepare a display when they get home. This not only helps to strengthen vacation memories but reinforces the educational aspect of the time away.
  • If you need some ideas of how to get started, take a look at what I have used with my own family on more than one occasion –> http://bit.ly/L5lcdG

Need a break but can’t “get out of Dodge”? No worries! “Staycations” are becoming more and more popular in this economy. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of a memorable vacation in your own backyard:

  • Take a break from technology – turn off the cell-phones, ipods, computer…and just focus on enjoying each other and your time together
  • Be unavailable to others – remember, you’re on vacation, so act like it!
  • Resolve to stay out of the kitchen! Eat out (as much as your budget allows), grill out or cook over an open fire (just be aware of any applicable local ordinances)
  • Plan activities you wouldn’t normally do, whether they happen in your backyard, your own town, or a nearby city, park or museum.
  • Pull out a local map and come up with new places to visit that are within a “doable” distance (take into account spending time getting there and getting back home!)

If you’re like me and enjoy a good book, try out some of these for some more ideas:

Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking by Jim Arnosky 

The Great American Staycation by Matt Wixon

Backyard Vacations: Outdoor fun in your own neighborhood by Carolyn Haas, et al. 

To paraphrase an oft-used saying: “the family that learns together, stays together”! Whether you travel far and wide this summer or stay home-sweet-home, may you have fun times and many happy family moments…together!

Pat FennerPat Fenner has been homeschooling her 5 children for 17 years, and writes on education and family topics on her website, Help 4 Your Homeschool. She reviews books as part of the Christian Women Affiliate’s “Review Crew”, writes guest-posts on related blogs and periodically contributes to Econobusters. You can read her piece entitled “From Fear to Flight” in an anthology published by the Gulf Coast Writers’ Association, due out this summer. She can be reached via email at Pat@Help-4-Your-Homeschool.com




Memorial Day Activities From Food to Fun

Midge copyGuest Blog by: Midge

Hiya! I have been searching high and low throughout the world wide web in order to compile this pretty cool list of Memorial Day Activities for you and your family! We will travel all the way from food to fun in this roundup of links! So, pour yourself a cup of joe (or a diet beverage of your choice ~ my favorite) and start planning your weekend!!!


Dinner and Dessert Ideas

For the Salad: STRAWBERRY BBQ CHICKEN SPINACH AND QUINOA SALAD WITH BACON, AVOCADO, AND GOAT CHEESE I would probably substitute the goat cheese with a bit of Gouda but ~ man oh man~ if the title of this salad doesn’t just strike me as delectable! 

For Dinner: COFFEE INFUSED BABY BACK RIBS ~ Seriously, WHAT? Wow, this sounds interesting and delicious! Now, you can have your coffee and eat it too.

For a Side Dish: JACK’S POTATO SALAD  Everyone has their own “secret” recipe for potato salad (at least most of the grandmas I know have one!). But, this one is distinctly from “Jack”, I suppose, and it looks OH so yummy . . .

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE PANCAKE LAYER CAKE One look at this dessert and you may just fall out of your chair . . . and its gluten- free. It is a bit of red, white, and blue with a whole lot of scrumptious. Who’s up for trying something new?

Fun for Kids 

Gardening: PLANT A SURPRISE GARDEN This blog post warmed my heart. Memorial Day weekend is a great weekend for planting a few small container pots with your children.

CraftsPreschool: FUN AND MESSY AMERICAN FLAG! Oh yes, I love it when my little one plays with glue and glitter. Well, okay, not really . . .  glitter is my least favorite crafty item! BUT, this flag looks so fun to make I may just have to let my sweet one glitter away!

For School Aged Kids: FREE E-BOOK WITH TEACHING IDEAS FOR KIDS AND WORKSHEETS! This is a very complete study guide regarding ideas for helping your children learn about Memorial Day and celebrate it with style!

Fun and Crafts for Moms
PATRIOTIC SAND CANDLES Super simple craft with colored sand and candles!

DRIFTWOOD FLAG What’s trending?  Driftwood and painted driftwood . . .  need I say anymore? Click on the link to check it out!

RECYCLED PALLET MADE INTO A PORCH SWING There is something always “hip” about taking a pallet and turning it in to a useful and rustic looking “something else”. This porch swing takes the cake!


What are your plans for Memorial Day? Are you planning a weekend full of activities or a weekend full of napping?  Hope your Memorial Day weekend is wonderful no matter what you decide to do! ;)

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Sneak Peek Monday~ Budget Your Vacation

Tis the season for vacation planning. . . take a sneak peek into my FRUGAL FAMILY VACATIONS magazine today!

Keeping it All Together: Budget Your Vacation

This magazine’s theme is frugal family vacations, and we’ll be looking at a lot of different ways to save money and still enjoy relaxing time together as a family. This column will help to organize your vacation budget and finances (be sure to check the forms at the end of the magazine)!

Vacations do not have to be expensive, especially if you plan ahead. The most important step is to consider where you will need to spend your money—transportation, food, lodging, etc. I have included a worksheet at the end of this Digest for you to print out and use to help you plan the financial aspect of your vacation. First, you need to set a budget based on the cash you have on hand and whatever you will be willing to put on your credit card. If you are going to pay for part of your vacation with credit, be sure that you have a plan in place to pay off that balance as soon as possible.

One of the best ways to save money is to look for vacation packages that include lodging and entertainment in one price. Usually you have to book a room for a certain number of nights, but you’ll save money on tickets to theme parks and other local attractions. Often it is worth it to use a local travel agent, as they have access to deals that you cannot get on your own. You might want to call a couple of local agents to see if they have any specials available. You can also save money by staying at a campground.

Before you get in the car or plane to travel to your vacation destination, plan activities that will keep the kids busy. If they are busy, you might not hear, “Are we there yet?” as often! Head to the local dollar store, and buy some items for a travel “goody bag” like coloring books and crayons, search-a-words, handheld games, stickers and paper, Mad Libs™, etc. Wrap each item and have a schedule set so that the kids know when they can open up a new “present.” This could include times when you cross state lines, stop for a gas refill, see a certain roadside sign, etc. Make it a fun travel “treasure hunt.” Don’t forget to include some snacks and times to eat them. Hungry children do not make for a good trip!

If you are able to afford to travel this year, here are some more tips for saving money when planning for your vacation. At the end of this magazine, you will also find a vacation checklist to remind you of all of the steps to take to plan the perfect vacation.

For more of this article on planning a frugal vacation, CLICK HERE to purchase Frugal Family Vacations as a single issue.

Molly members already have this magazine in your member page! Simply click the “Molly Members” tab above, log in, and search out June 2009.

If you’re not a Molly member, check out everything you receive and sign up now on our SUBSCRIPTION PAGE! 


Molly Green Magazine: Watch Out! Molly’s on the Move . . .

Watch Out! Molly’s on the Move . . .

Join her for the ride!




Spring is in the air and Molly is on the move! She’s donned her “mover” hat and is ready to provide tips and ideas for anyone “on the move”. With the end of the school year nearly here, vacations are on the minds of many families. Let Molly help you make those vacation plans. Are you planning a road trip? Maybe you’re planning to save some money and stick closer to home? Or maybe you’d like to try out couchsurfing? There are many different types of vacations and Molly has you covered for each of them! Or maybe you are making a move to a new home. We’ve got you covered there as well with tips and tricks to make that move as smooth as possible.

Look for these topics as well as many more-

  • Alayna Cann helps you find ways to celebrate each day of May in a special way.
  • In Packing It In! Molly Green, shares tips to make your vacation away from home more enjoyable by learning to pack for comfort, but keep it simple!
  • If you’re flexible and open minded, let Lisa Strader show you what volunteer vacations are and how to get involved.
  •  Learn how to eat on the go without losing your grip on the budget with Molly the Frugal Foodie: Frugal Travel Treats
  •  Is it time to de-clutter? Let Molly help you discover one of the best defenses against the unpleasant task of moving.
  •  Have you heard of Couchsurfiing?  Lisa Strader will show you how to avoid paying for a roof over your head when you travel. Read on to see the benefits of couchsurfing and how to get started.
  •  Sharon White shares another use for an old t-shirt. How about turning it into a water bottle holder?!
  •  Frugal Family Fun: How to Vacation in Your Own Hometown – By Connie
  • Robertson helps when the budget just doesn’t allow for a road trip vacation. Learn how a staycation vacation can be just the ticket for a frugal, yet fun vacation!
  •  We’ve all experienced tangled jewelry when packing it away for either a trip or a move. Let Molly show you how to keep your baubles and bangles untangled and damage free the next time you’re on the move.
  •  Are you looking for a frugal way to help the miles speed by on your next trip? Molly’s Road Trip Binder is the just the ticket!
  •  Maybe you’d like to take your Molly magazines and E-Books on your trip with you, but you’re not sure how to get those items onto your mobile device. If that’s the case, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on transferring them to your mobile device in this month’s issue.
  •  Inger Koppenhaver shares her Do’s and Don’ts of Frugal Family Vacations. Read along as she shares her tips to help you keep on track with your budget, while still being flexible and open to new adventures.

See why homemakers love Molly Green Magazine – see what’s inside!



Click here to view a sample.

 Molly makes it fun and easier to be frugal! Think about it – with so much to learn and save, if you apply just one money-saving idea, you’ll recoup the cost of this E-Book right away!

Join Molly daily and follow her

adventures in fiscally responsible homemaking at


Project Manager: Dena Wood, Becky Gustafson.
Contributing Writers: Alayna Cann, Patricia Hunter, Becky Gustafson, Rhonda Barfield, Dena Wood, Inger Koppenhaver, Sharon White
Publication: 2013
Pages: 68
File Size: 12.6 MB

Need to economize? Subscribe to a Molly Membership!

For only $3.85 a month (cancel any time!) you receive not only the monthly Molly Green Magazine, but also much more!

Purchase NOW!

Every month, Molly has a wealth of information and support to share in one easy-to-read, handy resource! Discover for yourself all of the exciting and imaginative ideas Molly has to offer—ideas that could save you big money and needless headaches!

You’ll glean some of the best inexpensive ideas and projects for everyday living that you can find and be inspired to be self-confident, creative, and resourceful too.

For just $4.95, download this Molly Green Magazine now!

Or become a monthly Molly Member and subscribe for only $3.85 per month!

Large Family Vacation Ideas


Planning a vacation or a Spring Break getaway? That can sometimes be difficult for a large family, let’s explore some frugal travel options.

Family Vacation

Plan ahead, anyone traveling with children must plan ahead. Even if it’s a simple family-friendly vacation to visit the relatives, you might like to start planning two to three months in advance. For a big family vacation, plan a year or more in advance. Many resorts and cruise lines have deals for early bookings, allowing families to save money.

Family Vacation Time in the Low Season

Taking a family vacation during the “off” season is another option to help to save money. When everyone else returns to work or school, vacation cities and resort towns look for ways to fill empty hotels and vacation homes. Large family vacations may be cheaper if planned in early fall or right after Christmas.

Vacation Accommodations for Large Families

Staying in a hotel can be the biggest expense for a large family. Since most chains limit how many people can stay in a room, this usually means that two or more rooms will be needed. Places like Comfort Inn or hotels ending in the word suite, (Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites), are family-friendly and usually have hotel rooms for big families at reasonable rates.

Look at alternatives to staying in expensive hotels. Many large families go camping or own an RV. Consider buying a large family tent, pop up camper, or RV. Good deals on camping equipment can usually be found right after Christmas and after hunting season.

If camping won’t work for your family, consider renting a vacation home. Many resort locations offer the rental of a nice vacation home for around a $100 to $150 a night. However, renting a vacation home usually requires a minimum of a five-night stay.

Theme Parks 

For many families with children, a family vacation destination is often a theme park like Six Flags, Sea World, or Disney World. With a little planning, it is possible to enjoy a day at a theme park with a large family. As vacation season approaches, start looking for special deals, discounts, and group rates to the parks of your choice. Many national grocery store chains offer season passes to local amusement parks for just a little more than a one day pass!

State Parks and National Parks

Vacation destinations are sometimes planned around the locations of state parks and national parks. Every state has several parks to choose from. These parks offer camping and RV sites. A few offer the use of covered shelters and air conditioned cabins. This is a cheap alternative to an expensive hotel. Campground fees vary, but it would be rare to spend more than $80 a night even for the best accommodations. There are many fun, family activities to do while staying at a state park. Most state parks offer swimming, fishing, and hiking.


Molly Goes Camping & Molly Saves on the Go!

Need a few more ideas? Check out my e-books Molly Goes Camping and Molly Saves on the Go. Both of these are full of resources for family travel and recreation on a budget.

Do you have a family trip planned this year? Where are you going and what frugal tips have you planned to the save while traveling?

Cajun Recipes: Beans & Rice and Everything Nice

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word Cajun as a noun meaning a person from any of the communities in southern Louisiana formed by descendants of French Canadians, speaking an archaic form of French. It can also be used as an adjective when describing the Cajun culture and food.

Cajun Cook’n

I love the sweet & spicy combinations that make up some of the best Cajun recipes like: Red Beans & Rice, Gumbo, and Jambalaya. In my opinion, these are some of the most economical and easy dishes to make. Even with the seafood recipes, so little seafood is used that it’s still an economical treat!

Louisiana Red Beans & Rice ($ .77  per serving)h

Total Cost $7.73  Serves 10

Ingredients & cost:

  • 1 pound dried kidney, pinto, or red beans $1.36
  • 1 medium yellow onion $.83
  • 3 stalks celery $.29
  • 1 large green bell pepper $.68
  • 1 pound smoked sausage $3.28
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil $.04 (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic $.09
  • 2 whole bay leaves $.05
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme $.05
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano $.05
  • 3 cups chicken broth (from 3 bouillon cubes) $.36
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning $.05
  • 2 cups rice $.60


  1. The night before cooking, place your beans in a large bowl and cover with double the amount of water. Let soak at room temperature overnight. If you forget to do this (like I did), use the quick soak method (place the beans in a pot with double the amount of cold water. Bring the pot to a boil with a lid and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove the beans from the heat after two minutes and let sit, tightly covered, for one hour.)
  2. Slice the sausage. You can slice into quarters lengthwise, then slice to yield small triangular bits, into half moons, or into medallions. Saute the sausage in a large pot over medium-high heat until they are cooked through and nicely browned. Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon (leave the grease) and refrigerate until later.
  3. Clean and dice the onion, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic. Add these to the large pot containing the sausage grease and add  vegetable oil, if needed. Saute the vegetables until they are soft and transparent (about 10 minutes).
  4. Drain the soaking water off of the beans, rinse them, and add  to the pot. Also add 7 cups of water, broth, bay leaves, thyme, and oregano. Stir it all together well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly (medium) and boil until the beans are soft (without a lid, about one hour). If the mixture gets dry, add more water (mine had plenty but keep an eye on it).
  5. Once the beans are soft, use the back of a large spoon to smash about half of the beans against the side of the pot. This will give the beans a nice thick “creamy” texture. Add the sausage back into the pot and continue to boil the mixture until it is to your desired thickness (without a lid, mine took one more hour). Add Tony Chachere’s or other Cajun Seasoning to your liking. The seasoning contains salt so you will probably not need to add that separately.
  6. During the last hour of cooking, prepare the rice. In another large pot, combine two cups of dry rice with 3.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil with a lid then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until all of the water has absorbed (about 30 minutes).
  7. Serve the beans in a bowl (about 1 cup of beans & sausage) with a pile of rice on top (.5-.75 cups of rice). Top the bowl with some freshly sliced green onions.

Sausage Gumbo ($1.29 cost per serving)


Total Cost $10.31   Serves 8

Ingredients & Cost:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb smoked sausage $3.28
  • 1/4 cup flour $.04
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed $.05
  • 1 medium onion, minced $.83
  • 3 stalks celery, minced $.29
  • 1 cup green pepper, minced $.68
  • 3 cans stewed tomatoes/corn/okra mixture ($1 each at Dollar General) $3.00
  • 2 cups chicken broth (made with 2 bouillon cubes) $.24
  • 2 teaspoons salt  $.08
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper $.01
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper  $.01
  • 6 cups rice $1.80


  1. Place sausage and water in large skillet or Dutch Oven. Cover, simmer 5 min. Drain off water. Continue to cook sausage about 10 min, turning to brown. Remove sausage to absorbent paper, cool, and slice. Pour off sausage fat and return 3 tablespoons to skillet. Stir in flour, and cook until deep brown.
  2. Add in garlic, onions, celery, and green peppers. Cook until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add in stewed tomatoes/corn/okra, broth, seasonings, and reserved sausage.
  4. Simmer, covered, 25 to 30 min. Serve over beds of fluffy rice (prepared as stated above).


Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya ($.91 cost per serving)h

Total Cost $7.24   Serves 8

Ingredients & Cost

  • 1 pound chicken leg quarters $.39 (I buy 15 pound bags for $5.85)
  • 1 pound smoked sausage $3.28
  • 4 cloves garlic $.09
  • 12 oz frozen package diced onions, celery, and peppers $1.29
  • 2 cups rice $.60
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper $.01
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste $.19
  • 3-1/2 cups water
  • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes $1.26
  • 2 whole bay leaves $.05
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme $.05
  • salt & pepper to taste $.05


  1. Boil chicken, skin, de-bone, and shred. Set aside.
  2. Slice sausage and cook in a large pot over medium heat until thoroughly cooked (about 5 minutes). Don’t worry if the drippings begin to stick and coat the bottom of the pan, it will be de-glazed later. Remove the cooked meat (leaving the fat/drippings in the pan) and set aside for later.
  3. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot with the meat drippings and cook until soft (about 3-5 minutes). The moisture from the vegetables should loosen anything stuck to the bottom of the pan from the meat
  4. Once the vegetables have softened, add the dry rice, cayenne pepper, and tomato paste. Stir together and cook for approximately 1 minute more. This will allow the tomato paste to caramelize and the rice to toast just slightly.
  5. Stir in water, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme,salt, and pepper. Add sausage and chicken to the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Allow the pot to simmer on low until all of the moisture has been absorbed by the rice (about 30 minutes).


What’s your favorite Cajun recipe?