Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Inexpensive Vegetable Bean Crockpot Stew 6 Quarts

 Easy vegetable stew in:

  • One 32 oz box of any stock. I used chicken.
  •  One large can of diced tomatoes
  •  One or two cups of beans
  •  Frozen or chopped onions
  •  A TB of diced garlic
  • Three bags of frozen vegetables. I used zucchini, peas and carrots, and spinach
  •  Any leftover vegetables. I used leeks, spring onions, and bok choi
  • Bag of mini potatoes
  • Seasonings to taste: pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic salt, onion powder, cilantro, hot sauce, and low sodium soy sauce.

 Cook for three hours on high or until your beans are soft. Serve over rice. Add more seasonings, if needed.

Sometimes I add leftover meat, such as taco meat or ground turkey; however, the beans count as protein.

This lasts all week for three people.

Free Beginner's Financial Literacy Classes


Please see this link at Khan Academy 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Spicy Caribbean Pineapple Crockpot Chicken and Spinach Rice Recipe

 This is a freestyle recipe, not an exact detailed recipe. It is recommended that you season to your own taste.

 Spicy Caribbean Pineapple Chicken


5 Frozen chicken breasts

Goya Sazon

Can of Rotel diced tomatoes and chilis

Large can of diced pineapple, drain some of the liquid off, and save for another meal. Should cover 2/3rds of chicken.

A splash of dark rum

A bit of oregano, cumin, onion powder, turmeric, dried cilantro, truffle parmesan & black pepper seasoning

Spoon or two minced garlic from a jar

One lime


Cook on high until chicken is defrosted and cooked through. Turn down to low until tender and then shred it into small chunks. Time? A few hours. I tend to check every hour. 

Taste test. You may need to re-season for taste.

When done, pour out into a serving bowl with a cover, and then use the crockpot for rice. Refrigerate for the next day or evening. If you have a rice cooker or another crockpot, great! 

Tips: To reduce the liquid when everything is cooked through, I put the crockpot on high, vent the top a tiny bit, and put a towel over the top. This is not recommended at the beginning for food safety. The reduction should take about a half-hour to 45 minutes. Do this at your own risk. I am not a crockpot expert.

Crockpot spinach rice:


2 cups rice and cover with chicken stock. I use about 3 cups and a little to get good coverage.

Sprinkle with frozen spinach.

A splash of oil

A spoonful of diced garlic from a jar

Seasoning salt and any herbs you prefer. 


Cook on high until the rice looks puffy, then reduce to low and check for doneness every half hour. Liquid should be gone when done.

A rice cooker gets the rice perfectly cooked, but a crockpot works too. It takes some experimenting over time to learn how to make it the way you like it.

Serve chicken over rice.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Simple Peruvian Crockpot Chicken Stew

 I cooked this chicken in a crockpot with spices, garlic, onion, and soy sauce. It may surprise some, but Peruvian food has some Chinese influences. After that, I shred the chicken and add it to the chicken stock with beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, aji, and lime. Simple, but tasty.  

Three chicken breasts
Two chopped onions
Two chopped garlic cloves 
Sprinkles of soy sauce
Sazon Goya 1/2 packet
Tiny sprinkle of ground cloves
Sprinkles of paprika 
Sprinkles of onion powder

Cook chicken, soy sauce, spices, onion, and garlic on high for a few hours in a crockpot with some oil under tender.

Shred chicken with a fork, add back to crockpot, and add a large container of chicken broth, peas, two cans of red kidney beans, aji amarillo to taste, a large can of diced tomatoes, one lime, and a few diced potatoes. Cook on low overnight. 

Four of us can eat this for two nights of dinner.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Inexpensive Healthy Meal Ideas

1. Vegetable Stir-Fry with Rice:

   - Ingredients: Mixed vegetables (such as bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and snap peas), tofu or chicken, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vegetable oil, cooked rice.

   - Instructions: Heat vegetable oil in a pan, add minced garlic and ginger. Stir in the vegetables and cook until tender-crisp. Add tofu or chicken if desired, and cook until cooked through. Season with soy sauce. Serve over cooked rice.

2. Lentil Soup:

   - Ingredients: Red or green lentils, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, spices (such as cumin, coriander, paprika), salt, pepper.

   - Instructions: Sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a pot until softened. Add lentils, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and spices. Simmer until lentils are tender and flavors are well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Chickpea Salad:

   - Ingredients: Canned chickpeas, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, fresh parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper.

   - Instructions: Rinse and drain chickpeas. Chop cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and parsley. In a bowl, combine chickpeas, vegetables, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve chilled.

4. Baked Sweet Potato with Black Bean Salsa:

   - Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, canned black beans, corn, bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper.

   - Instructions: Preheat oven and bake sweet potatoes until tender. In a bowl, mix black beans, corn, diced bell pepper, diced red onion, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Serve the salsa over the baked sweet potatoes.

5. Veggie Omelette:

   - Ingredients: Eggs, mixed vegetables (such as spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions), cheese (optional), salt, pepper.

   - Instructions: Whisk eggs with salt and pepper. Sauté mixed vegetables in a pan until tender. Pour beaten eggs over the vegetables and cook until set. Add cheese if desired. Fold the omelette and cook until cheese is melted.

6. Rice and beans: 

This classic combination is not only cheap but also nutritious. You can cook a big batch of rice and beans and customize it with spices, vegetables, or even some leftover meat.

7.  Pasta with tomato sauce: 

Pasta is an affordable staple, and you can make a simple and delicious tomato sauce with canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. Add some grated cheese on top for extra flavor.

8. Potato hash: 

Dice potatoes and cook them with onions, garlic, and any other vegetables you have on hand. You can also add some sausage or bacon if you like. This dish is versatile and filling.

9. Omelets: 

Eggs are a low-cost source of protein, and omelets are a versatile way to use them. You can add vegetables, cheese, or leftover meat to create a satisfying meal. Serve it with a side of toast or salad.

10.  Baked potatoes: 

Potatoes are inexpensive and filling. Baking them in the oven and topping them with ingredients like cheese, sour cream, and chives can make for a satisfying and budget-friendly meal.

11.Veggie quesadillas: 

Quesadillas are quick and easy to make. Fill tortillas with cheese and your choice of sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and zucchini. Cook them on a griddle or in a skillet until the cheese melts and the tortillas are crispy.

12. Chickpea curry: 

Canned chickpeas can be transformed into a flavorful curry with the addition of spices, coconut milk, and vegetables. Serve it over rice.

13. Oatmeal: 

Oatmeal is a nutritious and inexpensive breakfast option. It can be made by cooking oats with water or milk and can be topped with fruits, nuts, or sweeteners like honey or brown sugar. Oatmeal provides energy and keeps you full for longer.

14. Bread and soup: 

A humble meal of bread and soup can be made by pairing a slice of bread with a simple vegetable or bean soup. The soup can be made using inexpensive ingredients like canned vegetables or beans.

15. Potato and cabbage stew:

Saute cabbage, onion, and potatoes. Cook in both with seasoning and herbs. Use bouillon cube or canned chicken or beef broth. Water it down to cut salt. Add some tomato paste, if desired.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Frugal Living Tips - 100 ways to Save Money and a Few Money Making Ideas

I last updated my list of ways we save money a few years ago. It's essential to take inventory of cost-cutting measures and re-access them every few years or even yearly if there are frequent changes in our lives. 

So here is a brain dump of everything we do to save money and make a little:

  1. Limit household lighting to overhead lighting or small task lights.
  2. Use a microwave or crockpot instead of a stove or oven.
  3. Handwash dishes in dishpans.
  4. Use cheap paper plates. It's probably not super frugal, but it saves time and water.
  5. Eat simple whole foods.
  6. Limit snacks to whole foods.
  7. Grow vegetables and plant fruit trees and berry bushes.
  8. Live petless. This was a difficult decision after we lost our kitty to old age.
  9. Painted floors and polished concrete for ease of maintenance and long-term savings.
  10. Paint the walls a dark color to hide stains and marks.
  11. Use simple washable cleaning items that don't require expensive replacements.
  12. Turn off shower while lathering and scrubbing the body.
  13. Use thin beach towels instead of bath towels. They dry faster and last longer.
  14. Wash in cold water and use half the recommended amount of detergent.
  15. Drink tap water.
  16. Make your own coffee.
  17. Bag lunches.
  18. Buy food in bulk and freeze portions.
  19. Use a floor freezer to store bulk foods.
  20. When using power strips, turn them off when not in use, or find ones without the standby light.
  21. Periodically check your water bill to avoid missing leaks.
  22. Visit the thrift stores, flea markets, and yard/church sales for clothing and other needs. Do this often to build up a wardrobe and stockpile of necessities.
  23. Keep up with home maintenance to avoid costly repairs and energy inefficiencies.
  24. Ditch the dryer and hang clothes on racks to dry.
  25. Learn to repair and DIY.
  26. Avoid subscriptions.
  27. Use the Facebook Events button to find free events.
  28. Use the library for books and media.
  29. Use YouTube and free social media for entertainment.
  30. Save gas and mileage on vehicles with tipless grocery delivery services.
  31. Rent a car when traveling long distances to save mileage on your vehicle.
  32. Travel off-season.
  33. Make use of savings portals when shopping for cash back.
  34. If you're responsible and pay off your balance every month, take advantage of cash-back credit cards.
  35. Exercise at home with free YouTube videos.
  36. Save money by taking CLEP for freshman-level college classes.
  37. Go to a junior college and then transfer to a four-year university if you plan to earn an undergraduate degree.
  38. Work remote jobs to save on transportation and vehicle costs.
  39. Learn to cut your own hair.
  40. Get regular checkups and be your own advocate. Use Google and ask pointed questions of your physician.
  41. Find a teaching college for medical needs like dental or massage.
  42. Donate plasma for cash.
  43. Enroll in paid medical studies.
  44. Take vacations to destinations with free attractions and inexpensive transportation and /or walkable.
  45. Sell stuff online.
  46. Craft and upcycle items and sell them.
  47. Take a free personal finance course online.
  48. Auto-invest with index funds with low fees.
  49. Find high-yield savings accounts online.
  50. Consider treasury bills that have high returns atm.
  51. Take advantage of free courses offered online at places like Coursera.
  52. Teach English online.
  53. Drought-proof your lawn and garden with native perennials.
  54. Controversial, but I do use Temu for dollar store-type items because they are less expensive and offer free shipping.
  55. Podcasts for frugal living, finance, and personal wealth. Clark Howard is a good one.
  56. Check your medical billing for illegal out-of-network "Surprise medical bills."
  57. Use discount online prescription eyeglasses sites for frames and lenses.
  58. Watch for free items offered at fast food stores. Taco Bell just had an offer of free tacos with no purchase necessary.
  59. Buy loss leaders at grocery stores.
  60. Give up alcohol and soda.
  61. Buy a bullet blender for healthy smoothie snacks.
  62. We have yet to do this, but...downsize and move somewhere that has a lower cost of living.
  63. Look for employment closer to home to save on your commute.
  64. Look to lower your taxes by adding to retirement funds and HSA. Take advantage of tax-free college funds.
  65. Stick to simple Google Chrome books and Android phones.
  66. Consider an extended family home/multi-generational where everyone pitches in and shares living expenses.
  67. Avoid going out to eat, and consider just dessert or an appetizer when you do.
  68. Cook from scratch.
  69. Buy vehicles that will last a long time, like Hondas.
  70. Use a budget app like YNAB
  71. Buy T-bills for the extra interest.
  72. High-yield savings account.
  73. Shop around for lower home and auto rates every few years.
  74. Eat smaller portions.
  75. Use receipt apps for free gift cards.
  76. Use half the recommended detergent and cleaning products.
  77. Go camping instead of renting a hotel.
  78. 50/30/20 rule - needs/wants/savings
  79. Buy store brands
  80. Simplify and minimize your wardrobe with mix-and-match basics in darker colors(hide stains).
  81. Clean your drains regularly so you don't have to call a plumber.
  82. Drive more slowly for better gas mileage and less wear on the brakes.
  83. Clean your own car
  84. Plan your route for errands to save on gas.
  85. Walk to the grocery store.
  86. Find employment closer to home.
  87. Look for free classes online to boost your skills
  88. Use an HSA for health expenses.
  89. Avoid debt.
  90. Dividend stock investing.
  91. Use Hoopla and Kanopy for free movies and shows with your library card.
  92. Use discounts where you can, such as senior, military, veteran, student, etc.
  93. Price check vegetables at ethnic markets. Sometimes, they have better deals than the supermarket. 
  94. Ask for old vegetables free at local health stores. Sometimes, they are still good for soup. I use them for compost if they are too old. 
  95. Check out Reddit frugal living and recipe ideas. Search Google with Reddit and topic for better results
  96. Try Poe app for AI help on a variety of topics.
  97. Work somewhere that allows free meals.
  98. Look for re-training for in-demand jobs via your city or state/federally funded programs. Some are free or greatly reduced. They also help with job placement. Young people can try Job Corp age 16-24.
  99. Volunteer with a food pantry in exchange for food.
  100. Buy even tickets directly from the event to avoid commission fees.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Free Tacos

Use code 04TACOTUESDAY on Taco Bell app for free taco on 9/5/23. No purchase necessary. 

Thursday, August 31, 2023


My youngest was recently graduated from homeschool. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a cancerous bone tumor in May of this year. It has been an arduous journey for all of us through intense cancer treatments. She's been doing well physically and mentally. We as parents have not. I feel like I've aged ten years in the last few months, but I keep a positive demeanor around my daughter for her sake.

The oldest was graduated from college in June of this year with a B.S. degree in Psychology and minor in math. Now he wades through hundreds of job listings in search of a temporary filler job and a professional position. So far, no luck. Although the news is positive about the employment market, it is very difficult for entry level folks without STEM or business degrees. I have always encouraged son to learn programming. So far he prefers accounting, so he's taking some courses online. He still has some speech issues and was officially diagnosed with mild autism last year. We always suspected autism, but worked with it and around it with our homeschooling methods and curriculum. This affects his soft skills which is another challenge when searching for employment. Despite the speech issues he enjoyed Toastmasters until the pandemic squashed meetings and killed off groups in our area. Recently, a few groups reactivated and he is looking to return.

I am thinking about adding more content to this blog, or maybe just updates about our life.

I hope this blog continues to help people attempting to save money and/or homeschool. Life has only gotten harder for everyone across the globe in the post pandemic era. Maybe I can share which steps we have taken to get by.

Check back soon!

Hey Google! I'm attempting to add Google Adsense to this blog, but got rejected for some reason. I resubmitted for review, and hope they accept my blog! We could use the revenues for medical bills. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Saving Money: Cost Cutting Endeavors

Mid-year cost saving ideas:

- Review all your billing statements for mistakes or reoccurring payments that should have been canceled.

- Think about cutting back on subscriptions. Look for free or less expensive options.

- Go through closets and home for things to sell online.

- Consider replacing, consolidating, or going without kitchen appliances to save electricity.

- Warmer weather in the Northern hemisphere means line drying is quick in the sun.

- Shop online through discounters to take advantage of savings. Ex: Ebates. For instance, Dollar General often has online coupons and clicking through discount sites can earn you money back.

- Consider small A/C units instead of central air. Zone cool only where needed behind closed doors.

- With careful control of water, hand washing dishes can be less expensive.

- Consider turning down the water heater and taking luke warm showers in warmer weather. Turn it up an hour before you plan to use it for washing dishes or clothing.

- Reduce your daily calories and eat simple nutritious meals. Three meals(small amount of protein, a carb, and veggies)and three 150 calories or fewer snacks per day. Good ideas here, but research online.

- Yard sales are in full swing - look for clothing and other basic necessities. Think ahead and stock up.

- Use Groupons and Airbnb for family vacations and travel off-season. We got discounted attraction tickets for our vacation destination using Groupons. There is a student discount currently running for a limited time. Consider renting a car through an online discounter to save wear and tear on your vehicle and airfare. Sometimes rates are less expensive from the airport agencies.

- For students, spend the summer CLEPing classes, most are Freshman level tests. Many free online study resources and the test is only $85. If you want to avoid a transfer fee later, add the college where you want the scores sent. We were able to do this even though the student was enrolled as a part-time student with one class. Check with the college first, though.

- Plant edibles in your yard or window. Sprouts are the easiest to grow. I keep adding fruit trees and berry bushes every year to my backyard. Cucumbers are fairly easy in a big planter or sunny bed section of the yard. Pumpkin grows every year where I discard the Halloween pumpkins. A lot of stuff grows where I kitchen compost freely among the garden beds. Easy surprise gardening.

-  I've thought about this, but I grow too attached to my fish. You could grow your own edible fish in stock tanks with an aquaponics garden.

- Remembering to buy and use discounted gift cards.

- Buy school books at Ebay.

- Do you own nails and hair. YouTube lessons. I use Sally's Beauty for supplies for my hair. Some of the  longest lasting nail polish, oddly enough is $1.00 Wet N Wild. I've gone back to this and now the polish lasts a week, or two weeks with some minor touch-ups and a top clear coat.

Image source.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Low Tech Planted Fresh Water Fish Tanks

I started two low tech planted fish tanks three years ago, and they are still doing very well. The key is adequate lighting and a light fish load. If you want a heavily planted tank, you won't get much growth without a strong light source. If you happen to have a sunny window, direct sunlight for at least 6 hours a day is a good substitute. Most people will need a secondary or primary light source.

I started with a 75-gallon tank, and a LED light bar made for aquarium plants, full-color spectrum, Edge and Marineland, but this one is less expensive. Marineland light bar prices have increased over the years. There are timers on some light bars and programmable light levels, including a blue moonlight one for the evening.

A planted tank is simple to maintain as the plants give off oxygen for the fish, so a bubbler may not be needed. A filtration system is not necessary because the fish waste is used by the plants. Partial water changes are needed every other week for optimal water quality, although it may be okay with less. I've read that established tanks can go for as long as two months between changes. I killed off some fish this way, so I'll never wait that long again to change out the water. For both my tanks, I drain and fill a five-gallon bucket.

The first thing I did was research the Walstad Method.

I purchased ordinary garden soil, the heavier, the better. I used simple top soil. If you buy soil that has a lot of peat moss or mulch, it will float to the surface. Adding 100% red clay(crafters clay) is helpful for holding down the soil, and the plants use the high iron content. I topped my soil off with some sand for aesthetics and to hold down the soil.

Inexpensive plants can be found online on Facebook groups or eBay.

A few easy low light plant choices from the Walstad link:

I didn't like the floating plants because they multiplied and blocked out light, limiting the undergrowth.

After you plant, wait for a month, testing the water quality before adding any fish.

Add fish that don't make a lot of waste. I would avoid any type of goldfish. The system is self-filtering to a point. The plants are not a high power filtration system, it's a balance that you find slowly. At first, you may have smaller plants and some algae issues. Wait for plant growth which will crowd out the algae. A heavily planted tank will outcompete algae for nutrients. Once the plants grow in heavily, you get a nice balance and adequate oxygen for fish.

Fish to avoid:

  • Plecos that grow large and dig. These are sold small, but some get over 11 inches.
  • Goldfish because of heavy waste and limited swimming area.
  • Any fish that like wide open spaces
  • Silver dollar fish which eat plants like salad
  • Any large fish

Shrimp do very well in planted tanks because of the many places to hide.

Fish and others that have done well in my tanks:

  • Golden, tiger, and cherry barbs
  • Angelfish
  • Cory catfish
  • Ghost, cherry, and bamboo shrimp
  • Apple snails
  • Clams

Mistake fish:

I added a pleco that has grown to 11 inches. It has dug up my tank a few times, and I had to add a filter with a circulation pump hose to the 75-gallon tank because of excessive waste. I am committed to keeping him/her until she passes, so adjustments were made. They like water movement, so the circulation hose keeps it happy.

I added an algae eater to my 50-gallon tank, and it got rather large as well. I didn't need it when the tank established itself, but I'm committed to keeping this fish as well.

If you want to add a little movement to keep a bio-scum(organic decay) from forming on top, add an underwater circulation fan. I added one to the smaller tank when the bamboo shrimp were alive. They liked to sit on a piece of wood and grasp the food flowing through the pump.

To aid in the growth of plants, add a little Flourish Excel.

If you get a case of the snails, add a little aquarium salt. Snails love planted tanks and tend to multiply quickly.

Excuse the mess. Both tanks need "weeding" and the glass cleaned. My pleco made a mess in the larger tank, tunneling under the soil in the back.

The first tank was purchased on sale years ago and the larger tank was found for $10.00 at a yard sale.

An instructional to a very basic planted tank on the cheap.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Homemade Gingerbread House Recipe

We are using this recipe without a stand mixer. We used our hands and plastic gloves to mix the dough.

Here is a gingerbread house template to download. We are not going to place an entryway front porch on the house.

I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and will roll it in same. This prevents the need for flouring a surface and the roller. Here is an example of this method.

 Tomorrow we roll it out, cut, and bake. I'll update soon!

Rolled out the dough, baked, and put together tonight.

A few issues: not rolling the dough out evenly and getting the house to stay together while the icing dried.

Next time we'll add toothpicks to the edges. It was tough to get the pieces to stay together while the royal icing dried.

Don't laugh, a little kid put this together, and the icing bag broke, and some candy had to be removed because the roof was sliding off. In the end, it had to be eaten, so there was no waiting for more icing or decorations. Most importantly, it tasted very good!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

DIY Ribbon Mesh Wreath Tutorial

I saw these at a Christmas bazaar today for $50.00! It's probably a $10 project if you can use items from a dollar store, or recycle your Christmas balls and ornaments.

See here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Free Documentaries Online

I've been enjoying some of the free movies here.

I just watched two documentaries on North Korea and now one on President Nixon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How to Get Rid of Flies in Compost

We've got a bad case of the flies this year in our compost.  Here's a few things that are working for us:

- Turn more brown into the compost
- Add diatomaceous earth to top layer
- Boiling water over the top
- Top with leaves