Sunday, December 28, 2008

Less waste = savings...

Storing produce correctly and keeping it fresh will help save money. After all, nothing is a bargain if it ends up in the trash. According to Sparkpeople, a recent study at the University of Arizona showed that the average family throws away 470 pounds of food a year! Yikes!

Your first good practice with fresh fruits and vegetables starts at the grocery store. Tossing them into your cart, allowing a store clerk to throw them in to a grocery bag, or dumping them in the trunk allowing them to roll around during the drive home will have them bruised before you even get them through the door. Fruits and veggies should be handled carefully and gently!

Once you manage to get them home in one piece, a good rule of thumb is to store fruits and vegetables in different drawers. While there are exceptions to every rule, generally, fruit produces higher levels of ethylene, (an odorless, harmless gas which can cause some produce items to ripen or spoil quicker), and vegetables are more likely to be damaged by that gas, so storing them in separate drawers goes a long way to preserving your produce!

Also, removing produce from bags can help it last longer, or at least poke some holes in the bags to let the air circulate better.

Other things you can do to extend the life of some of your fresh produce:

Fresh Herbs: Cut off the end of the stems and place upright in a cup of water in your refrigerator. Cover loosely with a perforated bag.

Bananas: Break the bunch apart to store. They spoil in bunches. Also, store away from other fruits and veggies.

Tomatoes: These last longer stored on the counter stem side down! In the refrigerator they loose texture AND flavor.

Apples: Store in a bowl on the counter away from heat and sunlight.

Lettuce and other leafy greens: Either remove from bags and place in the veggie drawer, or perforate bags to keep it fresher. (Tip: If your lettuce seems a little wilted, soak in iced water to revive it... however, this probably won't work if it is completely dead ;))

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open Enrollment...

Once a year you get the opportunity to evaluate your benefit options offered through you or your spouses employment and make any changes. It is called open-enrollment and it usually occurs at the end of each calendar year.

Don't miss out on your opportunity to look over your benefits as well as your spouses and review the options. Perhaps they added new health insurance plans... perhaps his monthly premiums went down while yours went up and it is more cost effective to switch to his plan... perhaps deductibles have changed or out of pocket limits. This is your one chance during the year to make changes without losing any benefits!

Other things to review are your 401k, your flexible spending accounts, life insurance options, dental and vision benefits. Be sure to attend any meetings your company offers that explains your benefits in detail and read every brochure they hand out so you are armed with the latest information. Don't hesitate to talk with your human resource department if you have questions. Looking over all the benefit selections you have for the year and comparing pricing can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings in the long run. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cutting back...

Here are a few tips to cut your Christmas costs a little:
  • Don't buy expensive paper, bows or ribbons. Opt for the cheaper stuff... it all looks just as cute on a gift! Plus, it is just going to get ripped off quickly anyway
  • Scratch buying expensive gift tags and get creative by making your own
  • Don't spend a lot on new decorations for this year. Be patient and wait till after Christmas to get new things for 50-90% off for next year
  • Fill Christmas bowls with real pine cones or acorns that you gather yourself
  • Thread string with popcorn and cranberries for festive, inexpensive garland
  • Put all your Christmas lights on a timer and set it to go on just after dark and off before you go to bed

Look for free or very inexpensive things to do with the family. Ideas include:

  • Rent a movie from Redbox for just $1, (just be sure to return it the next day)
  • Go to a sing-a-long, (Copper Hills High School is doing the Messiah sing-a-long this Saturday, Dec 20th)
  • Get out board games you haven't played in forever
  • Drive around to see the lights in the neighborhood or at the temple, (there is a neighborhood that does "The Night Before Christmas" in Taylorsville, around 5400 South and 3200 West. If you haven't seen it, your kids will LOVE it... it is easy to find, it is COMPLETELY lit up!)
  • Bake inexpensive treats and take them to your neighbors to spread the joy
  • Camp out in the living room with sleeping bags together
  • Have dinner on a blanket by your lit Christmas tree

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday...

Who can resist going out shopping the day after Thanksgiving? It is the shopping day of the year with outrageous sales on just about anything you could need for your home! Wanna get a sneak peak at what the deals are going to be so you can decide where to take your business on Friday? Find the ads already posted here:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who needs to buy cookbooks when there are lots of great free recipe sites out there. Today I am spotlighting

If you have never visited this website, you should! Signing up for an account here is ABSOLUTELY FREE!!! With your free account you can opt into their email newsletters which I always love, but you can also check a box to get a FREE magazine that comes through snail mail about five times a year. This is honestly one of my favorite magazines! I have found some of the fastest, yummiest, really awesome recipes and ideas in it, none of which are complicated or overly expensive. Obviously the recipes spotlight Kraft products, but you can substitute whatever brand is cheapest no problem. If you click on "food and family archive" you can look at previous magazines and see for yourself what a little treasure this is. Though the recipes and magazines are all available online, it is nice to have the hard copy come to your home for excellent bathroom or car reading. :)

Another reason you want to sign up for this website is that it creates a recipe box for you so you can save recipes that you come across that you want to try. (It's always hard to try and find them later!)

Don't forget to click on the "Dinner" tab while you are there. Here you will find a link to "Budget recipes" as well as "Meals in Minutes". Additionally, there is a neat little feature where you can type up to three ingredients that you have on hand and it will find you a recipe.

All in all, it is a well put together website. I highly you recommend you check it out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recommended by readers...

Here are a couple of cool money-saving websites that have been recommended by readers. Check them out!
recommended by Kristen in Florida
recommended by Ruthanne in Utah & Claudia in California

Thanks for sharing ladies! If you have a website or tip that you would like to share, just send an email to frugalityville[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ground Beef...

Ground beef can be an inexpensive meat... (you can get it on sale for less than $2/pound), but what can you do with it besides spaghetti & hamburgers???

My son is a VERY picky eater, but he has labeled this recipe "his favorite" which surprises me because it is a mish mash of ingredients... I have to admit though, the flavor is to die for!

If you need a new, CHEAP recipe for ground beef (made with ingredients that often come on sale), try my VERY fast and easy version of Shepherds pie, an old English favorite. This makes quite a lot... you will definitely have leftovers if you are feeding a family of 4. (And my family includes two hungry teenagers!)

(Reminder: I never measure or write recipes down... so you may have to adjust seasonings to taste.)

1 1/2 - 2 pounds of ground beef
2 TBSP Onion powder
1 TBSP Italian seasoning
2 cups frozen peas
6 TBSP brown gravy powder mix (or 2 small pkgs)
1 1/2 - 2 cups hot water
*1 box of Betty Crocker Sour Cream & Chive mashed potatoes
8-12 oz shredded cheese

Spray a 13x9 glass pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef till cooked well. Drain off excess fat. (If I have bought ground beef with a higher percentage fat, I like to run the ground beef under hot water in a strainer after cooking to remove as much fat as I can, then return the meat to the pan and cook for a minute or two to cook off any additional water.)

Stir in the onion powder, Italian seasoning and peas. Let simmer on med-high while you move on to the next step.

In a small bowl, whisk together the hot water and gravy powder till there are no lumps. Slowly pour the mixture into your ground beef while stirring. This mixture will thicken quickly, so keep stirring. (If the sauce seems a little thick, add a little more hot water and stir.)

Pour ground beef mixture into the prepared pan, sprinkle with 1/2 of the shredded cheese and set aside.

The box of potatoes has two packages in it. Prepare both of them according to the directions on the box. Spread the cooked potatoes over the ground beef and layer of cheese, top with remaining cheese, and bake at 425 for about 20 mins.

Serve with salad and rolls on the side. :)

*If you want to go the extra mile on this recipe, you can make homemade mashed potatoes from scratch.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This weeks good buys...

Another great week for meat if you missed out last week. For me though, the item I will stock up on is the Kroger Cheese at Smiths. It ends up $3/pound. VERY good deal.

These are a few items listed in this weeks Ad's for the West Jordan, Utah area that (in my opinion) are a pretty good deal even without coupons. (If you have coupons, you could save even more!) You do need a preferred savings/fresh value card for Albertsons and Smiths to get these prices.

As far as I know prices are good until Tuesday Nov 18th, 2008. Please check with your local store to confirm prices and availability.


  • Red Seedless Grapes $0.98/pound
  • Shoppers Value Whole Milk (gallon) $2.29
  • Shoppers Value Milk 2%, 1%, skim (gallon) $2.00
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef (85% lean) $1.99/pound
  • Boneless Pork Top Loin Roasts $1.99/pound
  • Hot Pockets 6/$10 (Must buy six to get this price.)
  • 10/$10 sale (mix or match), (See Albertsons AD for further details.)
  • Save $10 on your next shopping trip (coupon) when you purchase $20 or more in participating producst in a single transaction. (200 items to choose from) See ad for details.


  • Rump or Cross Rib Roast $1.99/pound
  • Tyson boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins $1.99/pound
  • Loin or Rib Pork Chops, center cut, bone-in or moist and tender slab pork spareribs (super value packs) $1.79/pound
  • Mountain Dairy 2%, 1%, Skim or Skim Royale Milk 3/$6
  • Kroger Cheese 16oz bars or shredded all varieties 2/$6 (Tip: Always buy extra sharp cheddar and you don't have to use as much in your recipes!)
  • Dole Salad 1lb bag $1.29 (selected variety)
  • Large Eggs (dozen) $1.25
  • Grandma Sycamore's bread 3/$5
  • Nature Made, Nature's bounty, flex-a-min or Disney Vitamins BUY ONE GET ONE FREE
  • $5 off 10 participating item sale (look for double yellow tags through out the store, or see your ad for details.)

(*Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any misprints by the grocery store chains OR by me. Check your mailers to confirm prices, or go online here for Smiths or here for Albertsons to look at the AD's for yourself.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Copy Cat Recipes...

Eating out is fun, but expensive. One thing our family enjoys doing when we are looking to cut costs is to choose copy cat restaurant recipes to make at home! You will be surprised at what you can find. When I first started I would just google particular dishes that I like. For example, type the following in google, and see what comes up:

"outback coconut shrimp copy cat recipe"

(When you do a search, always use all lower case letters to get the most results.)

There are quite a few copy cat websites out there, however, I have found one site that I kind of lean towards... it is It has an alphabetical listing that you can just browse if you want some inspiration. (My guess is you all have some favorites in mind though.)

One of the dishes we used to make quite frequently was TGI's Sizzling Chicken & Cheese with Garlic Mashed Potatoes. My kids also loved Olive Garden Night when we would make a big pan of Fettuccine Alfredo with sliced grilled chicken over the top. (Mmmmm.) Now-a-days one of our favorite things to make is our own version of Cafe Rio. (If you don't have Cafe Rio where you live, then this is one way you can enjoy it!)

Whatever your preferences, I am confident you can find SOMETHING that your family will enjoy on the good old World Wide Web. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Introducing Frugalityville...

As I have listened to the news over the past few months and pondered the state of our economy, I have wondered what I can do personally to lend a helping hand to those who are finding themselves in need.

With a husband in school full time (only 6 more weeks!), I don't have a lot to give, but one thing I CAN pass on is the information I have learned over the past 15 years. At the age of 26 I was asked to do several presentations in quite a few different wards on how to be a bit more frugal. It was a way of life I had learned to live faithfully in order to be able to be a stay-at-home mom to my two children, ages 5 & 2. Now ten years later, and back on one salary while hubby finishes school (did I mention it was only 6 more weeks?), this is what I want to share with you. It's nothing spectacular, (I am not an expert), just practical, real tips that can hopefully help you stretch your dollars a little further.

There are people who don't care that they spend more for things than they have to. They "don't have time" to save money or feel they are "doing just fine" living the way they are. This blog is not for them. This blog is meant to help people who are looking for ways to cut spending and to encourage people who are looking to get a bit more for a bit less. My future hope for this blog is that eventually it will become more of a community for friends... where we can all share what we know, learn from each other and celebrate our frugal successes. I encourage you to comment and share your tips for being a little more frugal, here in Frugalityville.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New To Frugalityville?

WELCOME!!!! I hope you enjoy your time here. Frugalityville is a not-for-profit blog designed to help people like you find little ways to save money.

To make your visit more profitable, please be sure to check out some of the previous posts. A few that I suggest to get you started are: Introducing Frugalityville, Getting The Family Involved, Beginning Grocery Basics, Coupons, About Fruits & Veggies, and Thoughts On Buying Meat.

After you have read through these you can browse the archives and find the posts that can help you in the areas you need it the most.

Please come back and visit often and feel free to link to this website so that as many people as possible can benefit from this information.

Also, if you have tips that you would like to share, please feel free to comment or send me an email at frugalityville[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks and hope to see you often! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blog Disclaimer, Comments & Email Policy

Blog Disclaimer:
This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly. I will not be held responsible for the validity or accuracy of the information posted here.

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