Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Last week I gave you the recipe for the “Cheap Cheese Sauce”. I use that sauce for my…

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

2 C. cut up Chicken

2 C. raw Broccoli, chopped

2 C. cooked Rice

Cheap Cheese Sauce

Dash of Minced Onion

Dash of Salt & Pepper

Cook cheese sauce. Put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, stir. Pour cheese sauce over and stir until everything is coated; microwave for 7 minutes.

The broccoli has the crispness of stir fried broccoli. In the summer, I mix it all up and refrigerate. I place a serving on a plate and the broccoli cooks as I warm it up.

Homemade Cleaners Better for Sensitive Skin

Once again, Mary Hunt, of Debt Proof Living, put recipes for homemade cleaners in her monthly magazine. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that she put them in a couple of years ago. I have extremely sensitive skin and I found I can use the homemade cleaners without gloves. I know they disinfect and I am thrilled that I can make them for pennies.

My skin was perpetually broken out, until I switched to the homemade laundry soap.  It is low sudsing and works great in my high-efficiency washer. An added bonus…you can reduce or eliminate fabric softener. I put vinegar in a Downy Ball and it removes all traces of detergent!

We spend a lot of money to improve our health. It is nice to spend less money and still reap the benefits.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas!

Yep, I’m thinking of Christmas in the middle of May! I am not thinking of gifts to buy, food to make, cards to send, or decorations; I’m thinking of what I will buy the day after Christmas.

Many people purchase decorations and gifts at the “After Christmas Sales”; but I purchase appliances, too. Last year we bought a meat/cheese slicer and replaced our food processor.  You can get them for half off or more.

This year, I will need to replace our blender and possibly, our Stir Crazy popcorn popper.  (They are only available in our area during the holiday season.) I’m thinking I will buy a coffee grinder and start grinding my own beans. I need to be thinking about it in May, because I need to set aside money for them now.

It’s a good idea to dream about Christmas on the 25th of every month. If you plan on making gifts, or decorations, the earlier you start, the better!

Cheap Cheese Sauce

I remember, and loved, my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese. She would use a package of longhorn cheese, some milk and some butter. She estimated the amounts. I changed her recipe to an 8 ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese. Then when I found myself unemployed and unable to work in 2008, I switched to an even cheaper sauce.

Cheap Cheese Sauce

4 T. butter

4 T. Flour

Dash of Salt and Pepper

2 C. Milk

6 ounces Shredded Cheddar cheese

Melt butter in pan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper; and cook until bubbling.

Whisk in milk and cook over low heat…

…until thickened.

Add cheese…

Stir over low heat until blended.

You can also make this in the microwave. Melt butter, 30 seconds on high. Stir in flour and cook 30 seconds. Stir in milk and cook 1 minute. Stir and cook 1 minute at a time until thickened.  Stir in cheese and use whisk to blend together.


Another Way to Cut the Cheese

1. Cut a 24 ounce chunk of cheddar into four sections. Divide one section into 1 ounce sticks.

2. Shred each of the remaining sections in a food processor.

3. You end up with 3 – 6 ounce packages of shredded cheese and 6 – 1 ounce sticks. I cut once stick into chunks and put it on my salad. I paid 6.25 for the chunk of cheese. It would cost me $12.00 if I bought the cheese already shredded and a package of crumbles.

The first way I posted to cut cheese was…


  1. Cut it yourself. My husband likes a slice of cheese on his sandwich at lunch. I am a salad girl and I like chunks of cheese or cheese crumbles on my salad. We prefer real cheese over cheese food. We no longer purchase packages of sliced, individually wrapped cheese. We now buy a pound of cheese. I cut the end off to make the chunk the size of a piece of bread. David slices it up for his sandwiches. I cut the end piece into cubes and  have enough for five or six cubes of cheese on my salad all week-long. Another trick is to slice the end and use two narrow pieces of cheese per sandwich. It goes a lot further.” 

Co-signing a Loan Hurts Both Parties

My first source for financial instruction is the #1 best-seller, world-wide, and has been as long as records have been kept. It is a masterful piece of literature and was the only school book the early Americans had to use. If you learn from the history lessons in it, you will save yourself a lot of trouble and heartache.  The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, wrote three of the 66 books it contains. It’s called, “The Holy Bible”.

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 6:1, 3, “My son, if you have become security for your neighbor…go…and humble yourself, and beg your neighbor [to pay his debt and thereby release you]. “ Amplified Bible

In the Amplified Bible Notes it says, “The Bible consistently teaches that one is not to forsake a friend, and this passage is not to be otherwise construed. But it is one thing to lend a friend money, and quite another thing to promise to pay his debts for him, if he fails to do so himself. God’s Word is very plain on the subject of not underwriting another person’s debts. (See Proverbs 11:15; 17:18; and 22:26).

We each are to rely on God as our source of everything. We are responsible to live within our means. If we do not qualify for a loan on a vehicle, we probably would not be able to keep up with the insurance, repairs and gas to run it.

When a friend co-signs a loan so we can buy the vehicle, they are not really helping us if we cannot afford to pay for everything the vehicle needs. They may be offended when they see the vehicle parked because we cannot afford a repair…after all they “helped” us get it. They may be unable to get credit for their needs because our loan is listed on their credit report as a liability.

When we co-sign a loan for a friend, we are enabling them to purchase something that is not God’s best for them.  We have all had the experience of purchasing a much-needed item and then seeing it go on sale the next day or finding a similar one for half price. Vehicles, and houses, have their prices reduced at some point and similar ones go on the market all of the time.

We have to be patient. If we cannot afford this one, we have to wait until the price is reduced, or we find a less expensive model that we can afford and maintain.

Frugal people give money, or lend money to help a friend, but they never co-sign on a loan.


No Ants in My Pants!

It has been unseasonably warm this spring in Iowa. There was actually no snow the entire month of April. (I remember a blizzard on April 12th one year!)

My tulips, lilacs, and irises all bloomed early. The flowers are not the only things coming out early…the bugs are coming out, too!

Bugs are more than a nuisance; they damage wood and ruin food. The bugs I battle are “Sweet Ants”, “Box Elder Bugs”, and “Brown Ladybugs”.

The last two varieties used a west, basement window as access to our home. I found if I leaned a piece of plywood against the window in the fall they left it alone. They seek warm windows on the south and the west. When the plywood shaded the window it was cool and they flew right on by. Once they get in, they lay eggs and the eggs hatch during the spring. I also caulked the cracks around the house to keep them out.

The ants took a little more work. I filled all of the holes in and painted over them two years ago; but I still saw one or two. I put the ant poison near those areas every year. If one happens to chew through again I want it to fill up on poison and take it back to the nest to feed the rest!

There is nothing more frugal than being proactive.

Grandma, Unplugged

My granddaughter just turned a year old and I decided I needed to have some toys here for her. I went online and printed off “age appropriate”, “developmental”, and “educational” toys.

As my home is small, I limited my purchases to items that would fit in this one basket. I decided to buy old-fashioned toys that do not make sounds. (That makes me an unplugged Grandma.) They are harder to find than you think!

I found wooden blocks in a wagon. She can stack the blocks and push or pull the wagon. I found stacking cups that nested and could be stored inside a shape sorter. The top comes off of the sorter leaving a bucket.











There are board books that she can look at and I pulled out my favorite books from when my kids were babies. I put them up and only get them down to read to her.

I got out stuffed animals and instruments from my sons room. I store those between the couch and wall along with my husband’s teddy bear from his aunt Marie. (The bear is 50 and cannot handle rough play.)

I learned a cool tip for a 1-year-old …tape the paper down that she will be coloring or drawing on, otherwise she will get frustrated when it moves. They even have “Crayons” for 12 month old children – they are markers that you hold in your palm.

But her favorite toy is….

…mine, too!

Three Cavities, Two Pink Eyes and One Bottle of Liquid Gold

I got to leave my house last week to attend two concerts at my son’s college. (I have severe allergies and I have to stay in a highly protective environment 97% of the time.) I took the required dose of Prednisone and plotted where I would go the first day. I planned on going to the library, shoe store, etc. The day didn’t go exactly as planned.

My first stop was for the dentist to check my teeth; I had them cleaned the last time I went out, but he was unavailable. He found three cavities.

Knowing my health situation, he had cleared a large block of time…just in case. I was able to get them all taken care of and I still stopped at the library and shoe store, but with my face half asleep. I didn’t say much.

When I got home I checked my son’s eyes. He came home in the middle of the night because they were watery, irritated, red and swollen. I suspected pink eye and called the doctor…the only opening was with the pediatrician! We must have been a sight sitting in the babies examining room: me with my numb face and my 6’4” baby!

I was so relieved that it was not pink eye…until I got to the pharmacy. The allergy eye drops are no longer on our insurance companies preferred list, so we did not have the regular co-pay. We paid a lot more. This particular eye drop is so effective that I call it “Liquid Gold”.

I don’t have dental insurance, so how did I pay for all of these…

I wrote a check.

Mary Hunt, Debt Proof Living, teaches you to have a freedom account. You save for yearly expenses, like the dentist, in your freedom account.  It is easier to set aside a set amount each month than to try to come up with a lump sum on the spot.

If you are lucky enough to have a “Flex Plan” or “Health Savings Account” through work, you should fully fund it.

If not, open a savings account for medical expenses, like I did, and only use the money for medical expenses. As I had money set aside to replace my glasses, but I passed the eye exam, I used some of those funds to pay the dentist. There were enough funds in the doctor and prescription category to cover those bills.

Take it from me…ignoring your cavities will not make them go away! Make a plan to cover those expenses.

Mom Was Right, Green Bags Work

Easter Sunday I cut up a stalk of celery. I put some in the potato salad and set some out with dip. I saved the pieces with the leaves attached to make broth later. After dinner, I put the leftover cut up celery in a green bag; but the tops I put in a ziplock bag thinking I would make the broth the next day.

Well, you can probably guess what happened! I never got around to making that broth. I sliced up the celery and added it to my salad for lunch.  It is still crunchy. Yesterday, I went through my vegetable drawer and at the bottom, I found the celery tops. They didn’t look so good!

I learned three things:

  1. The “Green Bags” work.
  2. My Mother is always right.
  3. Use fresh food up right away.

Most of the things you see advertised on TV are expensive and some just do not work. I didn’t try the “Green Bags” until my mother recommended them. They do help your produce last longer.

There are two other options to prolong the life of celery; wrap it in foil or slice it and freeze it. I got the first tip from Debt-Proof Living, and the second tip from my mother!

I did make meals out of some of the leftovers from Easter Dinner. I had a lot of baked beans and I added ham to them before I froze them. I added the fresh tomato salsa to the Italian Casserole I made the night before and froze it.

Last week I wasn’t feeling well and I didn’t update my food inventory. I only put the items that were on sale on my grocery list and I am making meals from them.  Later today, I will update my food inventory before I make this week’s grocery list.  I think there is a carcass of a roasted chicken in the freezer I was going to use to make soup.