Making a Grocery List

I am on a rather tight food budget…$50.00 a week for four adults. I stopped purchasing soft drinks in 2007. Eating out, except for birthdays, was cut from the budget in 2008. Eating out for birthdays was cut in 2009. I do not buy prepackaged food and make many items from scratch.

These are the steps I use when making my grocery list:

1) What do I have on hand?

2) What can a make with the items on hand?

3) What is on sale this week?

4) What can I make with the sale items?

5) What activities are going on this week, i.e potluck?

6) What are seven menus for breakfast and dinner?

7) What items are needed for sandwiches and salads for lunch?

8) What items are needed to make the food for this weeks menus?

9) What are the prices of the items on my list that are not on sale?

10) If over budget, what items can wait until next week?

11) Which menu do I want on each day?

12) Which day will be to eat the leftovers?

I use up leftovers in two ways: 1) Eat at lunch the next day or 2) Have a leftover night. I get out the food and make up plates. Then each person can pick a plate and reheat it. I keep basic soup on hand for an alternative menu.

You don’t have to have an elaborate spreadsheet to make a food inventory; just use notebook paper. I also have a price list. I write down the price of the items I bought this week that were not on sale. It is a good guide to tell if sale items are really reduced or if it is the regular price.

When items are drastically reduced I try to buy two of them. I also try not to completely run out of anything because if you have to pick it up at the gas station it will be much more expensive.

I don’t spend time looking for coupons. If I run across one on an item that I regularly use, I will keep it. I prefer to use store brand items. My family also lets me know if there is a generic brand that does not meet our standards. I won’t purchase that brand no matter how drastic the sale.

Some weeks I drop a menu. If I have enough leftovers for a second night I will save the menu for the next week.

This Appliance Keeps on Giving

During the “After Christmas Sales” I bought a meat/cheese slicer.  I use it to slice meat, cheese, and my homemade bread.

I originally bought it because I did not like paying $7.00 a pound for shaved roast beef. I buy a rump roast when it is on sale, roast it until the internal temperature is 180 degrees, and then shave it. I am getting a pound of roast beef for half of what the store charges. Another benefit is I can season the roast to my liking and I do not add preservatives.

I love using it on my homemade wheat bread. I bake the bread in my Bread maker in the summer to save on cooling costs. This appliance will pay for itself this year.


©2009-2012 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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Better Than Biz on Pit Stains

My husband and son spend as much time outdoors as possible. They love to play sports and they mow lawns as a side business. Sometimes it looks like they mowed the lawns in their stocking feet.

As most mothers of athletes know, when you play sports you sweat. I don’t mean tiny little circles under the arms; I am talking about shirts that are saturated! Over time the white tee shirts can develop ugly, yellow stains.

Through the years I tried many things to remove the stains from the white tee shirts and the socks. I found the best stain remover is one I mix up myself. I believe I got the original recipe from Debt Proof Living, but they have changed the formula in liquid Clorox2 and I had to tweak it.

I start with one-fourth a cup of liquid Clorox2. (The powder Clorox2 does not dissolve as well and sometimes I ended up with blue stains from the floating particles.)


I pour it in to a five gallon bucket and fill it halfway with hot water.

I measure one cup of dry dishwasher detergent.

I add it to the bucket as it is filling the rest of the way with hot water.

Stir until all of the dry dishwasher powder is dissolved.

Place dirty, stained whites in bucket and let them soak overnight.

Since I have a high-efficiency washer I run the contents of the bucket through the rinse and spin cycle to remove the dirty water.  You can just spin them out in a regular washer.

I wash them with the rest of my whites on hot water.  Below is the four pair of socks that I soaked in the bucket. Can you tell which one was the one pictured in the bucket? I can’t.


I was grateful to find that this recipe works better than Biz on pit stains. And it is not as much work as treating each armpit individually with Biz.

Note: Never mix non-chlorine bleach with chlorine bleach.

Visual Space on Refrigerator

When you look at glossy magazine pictures of kitchens you rarely see anything on the front of the refrigerator. They keep it clear to add visual space to the room.

Of course, there are many things you may want to put on the refrigerator, like a calendar, so everyone can see it. I compromised by placing everything on the side of my refrigerator. The information is visible, but I still have visual space by leaving the front clear.


Too Hot for Lasagna?

Whenever cottage cheese is on sale I make Lasagna; but in the summer, when I don’t want to use the oven, I make Ripe Olive Casserole.

  1. Brown 1 pound ground beef and cook a package of pasta.

2. Slice up 1 cup of ripe olives and add. I use an egg slicer to do three at a time.

3. Add a 24 ounce carton of cottage cheese and a pint of sour cream to the mixture.

4. I mix it up in the morning and later heat just one serving at a time in the microwave.

Honey, you are looking at tonight’s dinner…in case you are wondering!

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

No Longer Fruit and Vegetable Bins

I used to separate my produce between fruit and vegetables. Then I read an article on Ethylene Gas. There is produce that emits Ethylene Gas and produce that is damaged by it. I printed off the two lists and taped them to my produce bins. I have to admit, they are lasting longer now.

Ethylene Gas Producing Produce: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruits (except grapefruit), cranberries, figs, guavas, grapes, green onions, honeydew, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, okra, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapple, plantains, plums, prunes, quinces, tomatoes and watermelon.

Produce Damaged by Ethylene Gas: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, cut flowers, eggplant, endive, escarole, florist greens, green beans, kale, unripe kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, potatoes, potted plants, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.

I do not store all of these items in the refrigerator, but now I understand why putting an apple in my potato bin keeps them from sprouting. It’s the presence of Ethylene gas!


“Turn the World on With a Smile” Breakfast

In an interview several years ago, Mary Tyler Moore said she fell in love with her husband, Dr. Robert Levine, because of two things:

  1. The way he cared for her mother as she was dying, and
  2. A breakfast he cooked for her once.

She then went on to explain how he made…

“Rocky Mountain Toast”

  1. Butter both sides of a piece of bread.
  2. Cut a hole in the middle with a biscuit cutter or tin can.
  3. Place bread on hot griddle.
  4. Break and egg inside the hole.
  5. Cook for a minute and a half.
  6. Turn and cook second side for a minute and a half.
  7. Toast both sides of the bread centers on the griddle.

It is an easy, inexpensive breakfast and it works great when you are camping.

Sentimental Gifts Make the Best Presents

Today is my husband’s birthday…and it is a big one! I decided to make him a sentimental gift. This is the not the first year I have done this.

A couple of years ago, I put his letters, pins and a picture of his school football team in a shadow box. (I was going to post a picture, but you could read the name of the high school and I read that is something you never want to put online. Someone could use it to steal your identity because it is usually one of the security questions.) He liked it so well, that I made one for my son when he graduated.

This year I took a gift he made me and painted it. He used a wood burner to write our last name on a piece of wood. He made a fancy edge, but was not happy with the results. He gave it to me, but it languished in the storage room. I got it out and painted it with the exterior paint we used on our shutters. I painted the letters white with a dry brush and that showed the texture he burned into each letter. (Maybe for my birthday, he will find the time to mount it on the wall outside.)

No Room for a Side Table? Use a Shelf

The decorating shows tell you to have a place to put a drink by each seat. They show all of these unusual tables and furniture they use for side tables. They don’t live in a small house. I don’t have room for two side tables and (due to an accident when he was a child) my husband will not let me get a coffee table. (Personally, I think he just likes the center of the room open for wrestling with kids.)

Last fall, I finally came up with a solution. Since there was no room next to the wall for a table we hung a shelf. There is enough room for a lamp and a drink.  I have even had a plant on the shelf behind the lamp. (My plants spend the summer outside in the back yard so it is not pictured here.)

Frugalfish Failure…Do Not Try This At Home!

I was inspired last week by a blog from He bravely posted a picture of a mistake he made. I have to admit I try some things and they don’t always work!

Here is my most recent failure. I was disgusted with the wrinkled pocket flaps on my husband shorts.  It was the only part of the shorts that needed ironing and I don’t particularly enjoy ironing.











So I got out some facing that is used to make fabric stiff on shirt collars.










I cut out pieces to fit under the flap.










I ironed them to the flap.










And thought I would never iron those flaps again.










I was wrong. After one washing the flaps were not only just as wrinkled, but it looked like he had dryer sheets stuck in his pockets. Luckily, I was able to rip them off before he went out the door.

Like I said, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!!