Why I Make Homemade Tortillas

One of Money Saving Mom’s most popular posts is titled “Why I Don’t Make My Homemade Tortillas.” Since she posted it almost two years ago (um, that’s like half a century in blogging-time, right?), I’ve thought about this article many times, because I make my own tortillas

In her post, Crystal shares a compelling reason why she doesn’t make her own homemade tortillas:

  • Time is valuable. If you do an activity just to save money, you need to be certain it’s really saving enough money to be worthwhile.

Your time is valuable. We’ve only got one life to live. We only have 24 hours in a day. We can scurry from one money-saving activity to the next and wear ourselves out in an effort to save 50¢ here and 7¢ there.

In some rare instances, it really is necessary to squeeze every last penny just to make ends-meet. For most of us though, we get to choose our sacrifices so we can choose our splurges. I line-dry many of our clothes, but keep our house a tad cooler than absolutely necessary. I gladly drive an old, paid-for van, but love my high-speed internet.

Life is made up of choices, and when it comes to the kitchen, it’s no different.

For example, one of the many ways that Crystal keeps her grocery budget low is by couponing. I have tried couponing. And failed. After repeated efforts (and many, many hours of frustration) I found that I could usually get the desired item cheaper at Aldi or from a local, convenient farmer’s market than I could matching a coupon and sale.

Shopping with three small children isn’t fast. I’d much rather grocery shop once a month (plus fill in from the market) than go to even two stores a week to catch the few sales that were really worth it in my area.

Not couponing frees up time to make even more of our foods from scratch (like tortillas or sandwich bread.)

Still, it would hardly be worthwhile to make my tortillas from scratch just to save 50¢ a package, if I was making them just to save money. They take about 5-10 minutes to make and my time is worth more than $3-6 an hour!

But, I don’t make tortillas just to save money.

  • I make homemade tortillas because they’re healthier.
  • I make homemade tortillas because my kids love them.
  • I make homemade tortillas because I love them.
  • I make homemade tortillas because I think they’re fun to make
  • ….and my children think they’re fun to make with me.

As an added benefit, making your own saves a few dollars a month.

Feeding a growing family healthy foods on a budget is a balancing act. I can’t pursue every last penny-pinching idea, but making my own tortillas is one of the many ways I shave a few dollars off our grocery budget, while enjoying time with my children and creating a more healthy end-product.

So that’s why I make my own. Want to give homemade tortillas a try? Here’s the whole wheat tortilla recipe that I use.

What about you? Do you do some money-saving activities mainly just because you like to? Have you ever made your own tortillas? 

Linked up at Titus 2sdays,Teach Me Tuesdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Consider the Lillies, Encourage One AnotherHomemaking LinkupWomen Living Well & Works for Me

Eat From the Pantry Challenge (Thrifty Thursday)

It’s been nearly two weeks since I went shopping and we’re still eating food leftover from our sisters’ visit last week. Talk about way over planning! Though we’re running low on a few things and I’m tempted to go shopping, I thought it would be fun to join Penniless Parenting’s Eat from the Pantry Challenge.

I plan to buy milk from a friend who runs a farmer’s market, but that’s all until next weekend when birthday season starts at our house.

Our garden is just starting to produce vegetables and we have odds and ends left in the fridge to ensure that we won’t be skipping vegetables. I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut lately and the challenge has already started to spark my creativity.

Plus, we’re saving to replace my husband’s car (yay!) and every little bit helps, right?

So, here’s my menu plan for the next eight days.

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Thursday— Tacos (with homemade tortilla shells–yum!)

Friday— Grilled chicken with Pope’s Bean and Rice Salad (a new recipe I can’t wait to try)

Saturday–Homemade pizza topped with leftover grilled chicken and vegetables

Sunday— Homemade Beef and Vegetable Lasagna (from the freezer)

Monday— Bbq chicken with sweet potato fries

Tuesday— Baked Potatoes Stuffed with Leftover Bbq chicken, broccoli, sprouts, cheese, etc.

Wednesday— Spinach, Bacon & Sprouts Quiche

Thursday-– Spaghetti Pie (from the freezer) with fresh green beans from the garden

Friday— Chicken fajitas (once again with homemade tortillas)

Um, that hardly feels like a challenge. I didn’t realize quite how much food I still had in the fridge. I’m so glad I didn’t go shopping because otherwise I’m sure I would have let some of this food go to waste.

If it weren’t for a birthday girl’s special request, we could probably go longer.

What about you? Do you like to challenge yourself to eat from the pantry (and fridge/freezer?)

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and I would love to have you join us for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Savvy Shopper’s Guidelines (Thrifty Thursday)

We’re having lots of fun with our sisters here… and of course staying up way too late. 🙂 The time has flown by so quickly, but we’ve fit a lot in… including a fun trip to the thrift store in which we all found something we loved. Yay!

 Like many a thrifty mama, yard sales and thrift stores are among my favorite places to shop. I like casting my money vote for the thrifty choice. Even more than that, I like to help minimize consumer waste by reusing perfectly good items.

However, when you’re bombarded with good deals on every side, it’s all the more important to follow good shopping guidelines. Otherwise it’s easy to succumb to the “Look! I’m not exactly sure what this is for, but it’s only 10¢!” pitfall.

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  1. Know what you already have before shopping. By sorting through the clothes, shoes, and other items you already own before shopping, you avoid adding ten new shirts to an already large collection or passing by a pair of cute shoes because you forgot that you needed them.
  2. Make a list of needs. I am a minimalist at heart, so my children’s and my wardrobes are simple. (Honestly, does any kid actually wear 20 church outfits in one season anyway?) I made a barebones clothing list which makes it easy to see what items we really need.
  3. Make a list of wants. Know the difference between the lists!
  4. Remember upcoming birthdays. Sometimes, you just might find a brand-new gift for a fraction of the retail price.
  5. Stick to a budget. Even dollars and quarters add up.
  6. Have a target price per purchase. Ideally, I’d like to pay no more than 50¢ per item of kid’s clothes or $2 per pair of shoes.
  7. Just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t mean you should by it. Even if an item is only 25¢, if it’s just going to clutter your home, it’s a wasted 25¢. Leave it for someone else who could really use it!

What about you? What are your shopping guidelines? 

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and I would love to have you join us for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Redefining Date Nights

In the past week, I have heard the importance of regular date nights stressed multiple times.

Relationships take time and, if married, marriage is the most important earthly relationship. We should spend time on our marriage! Dates are one way to do that.

However, if you have small children and live far from family, getting a babysitter can quickly make dates into an expensive event.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend watched the kiddos while Joshua and I went on a date. On our way home, we realized that it was our first “real” date in over six months. We laughed. Despite the lack of dates, we certainly didn’t feel like we’d lacked quality time together.

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I think the definition of a “date” should be expanded from “going out together” to “spending meaningful, quality time together.” Spending meaningful time together doesn’t require a restaurant tab.

Someday, when our children grow and stay up past 8:00, dinner dates will be more important. For now, these are a few of my favorite “date nights.”

  • Make dinner (or dessert) together: About once a week, Joshua grills while I make side dishes. Personally, I think making dinner together is as fun as eating it together, especially if it’s as yummy as this Grilled Tilapia! [Did you know Aldi sells wild-caught tilapia for about $3 a pound?!]
  • Read a book together. Whether it’s poetry, comics, fiction, instructional, or memoirs, reading together is not only fun, but opens up so much to talk about.
  • Star-gaze or go on a midnight walk: There’s something about enjoying the beauty of God’s incredible creation that is so romantic! Of course, midnight walks require a babysitter, but it’s one of my favorite things to do when we’re visiting family.
  • Pop popcorn and watch a movie together: It’s way easier to cuddle (or get up during scary parts) when you’re sitting on the couch together instead of in a crowded movie theater. Plus, the popcorn is way better!
  • Work on a project together: working toward a common goal, whether it’s planting a garden or painting a room, is a wonderful way to spend time together!
  • Just talk. Good conversations can happen anywhere: in the car, while bouncing a baby to sleep, or snuggled up close. A nice cold (or hot) drink doesn’t hurt.

What about you? Do you go on regular dates? What’s your favorite thing to do together? 

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and I would love to have you join us for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Linked up at  Encourage One AnotherHomemaking LinkupWomen Living WellHearts 4 Home ThursdaysProverbs 31 Thursday, Consider the Lilies and Finer Things Friday

Think Like Great-Grandma

Yesterday morning, when I went to “fluff up” a few line-dried clothes, the dryer made a weird whining sound and refused to turn on.

We bought our dryer used almost six years ago and we’ve had it on our covered back porch for nearly four. It wasn’t terribly shocking that it decided to give us troubles. Immediately I began to wonder if we could make it until our move to purchase a replacement.

I like hanging out clothes and generally hang out the big stuff anyway. I’m sure we could manage, I thought, besides, there’s a laundromat right down the road if we really need a dryer. 

Then I laughed. Here I was mentally trying to calculate if we could survive a few months without a dryer, when my great-grandma didn’t even own one.


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Modern conveniences, from indoor ovens to boxed pasta, are wonderful. They free up thousands of hours each year and make our task as homemakers way simpler.

Some modern inventions (like refrigerators) are practically a necessity. Sometimes though, we come to view a convenience as a necessity. 

Though I have no desire or intention of giving up my oven or washing machine, part of learning to live frugally is learning to “think like great-grandma would” when the need arises.

Maybe we’ll find that we can live without a microwave or dryer after all. Or we might discover that we like homemade nursing pads much better than disposable.

Have you lived without a normal modern convenience? How did you do it? Do you prefer “grandma’s way” over the modern? 

 

Feminine Adventures

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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

 Linked up at Homemaking Link Up, Handful of Heart and Motivation Monday

Three Ways to Window-Shop

Window-shopping used to require exercise and a walk down Main Street. Thanks to online stores, we can window-shop from the comfort of our couches. And then, there’s Pinterest—and the 50 outfit pins that are just too cute (and I don’t have!)

There’s nothing wrong with browsing through cute pictures with no intent to buy, but window-shopping can lead to problems with contentment.

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Three ways to window-shop

Window-shopping can be used to ignite creativity. The boards on Pinterest can teach us to creative new outfits using the clothes in our closets. They can inspire us to repurpose what we have to beautify our homes.

Window-shopping can also help us wisely plan future purchases. Before actually adding items to our cart, window-shopping can help us think through our purchases and make sure that what we’re purchasing is the best decision.

Or, window-shopping can foster discontentment. The cute new chairs in Sears’ ad or the adorable outfit on Pinterest can trip us up. Window-shopping for things we can’t afford (and probably don’t need) can lead to jealousy if we’re not careful to guard our hearts.

While window-shopping can be a good thing, sometimes we simply ought to not window-shopping for certain things. For example, when I first joined Pinterest, I was tempted to start a “dream house” board. There are oodles of absolutely amazing house ideas. Maybe, a bit of browsing would help me think of good ways to beautify my own home, but I was afraid it would just lead to discontentment.

We’re not moving quite yet and we’re not ready to buy my dream house. I’d rather pass up on a few cute ideas than struggle with being content right where I’m at.

Maybe house pictures don’t tempt you. Maybe it’s clothes or books or cars, but avoid window-shopping for things that lead to discontentment. Choose to use it instead to encourage creativity and wise purchases.

What about you? Do you like to window-shop? How do you avoid discontentment. 

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Linked up at Proverbs 31 Thursday

Keep Rebate Info and Receipts

Getting rid of unnecessary paper clutter makes me happy. However, over the years I’ve learned there are a couple paper items that you should keep: rebates and big-ticket receipts. (And important documents, of course!)

Keep track of your rebates:

I submitted a rebate for a phone in January and by the end of March still hadn’t received it. After a quick phone call they told me they had already sent it. It hadn’t arrived. I asked if they could check and see if it had been used (perhaps it got stolen??) and was told that “we have no way of tracking rebates.” [That’s odd!] I called to request another one and finally received my rebate.

About a month later, after submitting another rebate, I received a letter saying we didn’t qualify for the rebate (even though we did). A 2-minute phone call later and the rebate was in the mail. The exact same thing happened to a good friend.

So even though it is a hassle, it’s definitely worth keeping track of rebates. A five minute call is worth $100 to me.

Hang on to big-ticket receipts:

…for all those times when your word simply isn’t enough. When switching internet services, I made sure to cancel our original provider before the next billing cycle began-which included a last minute trip to return the “box”. I hate hanging on to extra pieces of paper, and since I wouldn’t need to return anything, why bother? But, I did keep it.

A few weeks later a bill arrived from the old company for the new month. The customer service rep said, “well, it looks like you didn’t cancel until the 13th and the new cycle started on the 4th.”

“But I checked to see when the cycle began and specifically canceled before it.”

“Well, the computer says you didn’t cancel.”

“I did cancel and we certainly didn’t use your internet service after the 4th. Is there nothing you can do?”

“No, but you can pay the bill before it’s late,” she answered rather rudely.

…and then I remembered the receipt (which I’d reluctantly filed). What a difference it made.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” she said in a conciliatory tone, “I’ll take care of that right away. There must have been a mistake in the recording. Please disregard the bill. So sorry for the trouble.”

republished from my former blog

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Feminine Adventures

 

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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

9 Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips

Do you ever have “duh” moments in the kitchen? I do.

My latest involved a should-be-obvious kitchen tip: Keep the lid on while your food is cooking.

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Earth-shattering, huh? For over a decade, I’ve happily cooked away while letting all that steam escape into the kitchen.

Now I’m scratching my head wondering why it took so long to grasp this simple time & money-saving tip! [Especially since Joshua has several times asked, “Don’t you want the lid on that, babe?”]

No wonder my kitchen got so hot before!

Summer is right around the corner. Avoiding unnecessary heat in the kitchen is a big money (and comfort) saver. Here are a few other ideas:

  1. Fill the grill. Grill dinner, but also grill the meats you’ll need for the coming week. (See Amy’s example here!)
  2. Maximize the oven heat. If the oven has to be on, don’t just bake one item. Slip potatoes in while your bread is baking. Slide a couple loaves of quick bread for the freezer next to dinner, etc.
  3. Leave the oven door shut until you need to open it. Once you’ve made a recipe and know how long it takes to cook in your oven, jot down exactly how many minutes it takes. That way next time you don’t have to check it multiple times (and spill hot air into the kitchen!)
  4. Turn off the oven and let things finish baking while the oven cools. (Easy way to cook granola. Another brilliant idea from Amy! It must be hot in Texas, or something.)
  5. Do the same thing with the stove.
  6. Use the crockpot. If you can safely plug it in on the porch or in the garage, all the better!
  7. Use the freezer: fry up a big batch of hamburger, double/triple dinner, etc. Freeze the extras
  8. Plan ahead. Frozen food heats up much faster when it’s thawed…. especially if you don’t have a microwave.
  9. ….and don’t forget to put the lid on when you’re cooking!

What about you? How do you keep your kitchen a little less hot during the summer? 

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Linked up at Homemaker by Choice, Consider the Lilies & Delight Thyself

Giving and God’s Plenty (Thrifty Thursday)

Good Friday is almost here. The role money plays in God’s kingdom has been on my mind. Thriftiness is only one part of being a good steward. Generosity is another.

All we have comes from God. We should hold it in open hands (though that’s much easier said than done!) Sometimes, God’s purposes with money offered to Him are beyond human understanding…

Many years ago, a “missionary” came to the small church my family attended. He shared a heart-wrenching story of Christians in his homeland. Many in the congregation were moved. Adults gave. Even children offered the money they’d saved from birthdays, Christmas and random odd jobs.

That money was going to support the work of God in a vital and needy area.

Or so we thought.

A couple years later, we found out that the supposed missionary was not even a Christian. In fact, he was actively raising money from Christians to work against his local church! The stories he told were completely made up.

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Needless to say, we had been betrayed. [Verifying a ministry before supporting is important, but not today’s topic!]

I questioned God, “Why didn’t you protect the money offered to You? Even little kids gave You money!” 

That incident has come to mind multiple times. With the memory comes a whirlwind of thoughts about giving. But looking at Scripture a few things are clear: God does not need our gifts, even though He commands generosity. God cares about the giver’s heart, even when the gift is used in ways we don’t understand.

God does not need our gifts, even though He commands generosity.

“Every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills,” God says in Psalm 50:10. He is the Creator of the universe. He holds this earth in the palm of His hand.

“God does not need either man’s work or His own gifts” realized Milton when he complained about his blindness. Jesus fed 5,000 men with a few loaves and fish. He does not need “our” money.

Despite His infinite wealth, God commands His people to give. Why? Not because He is limited to what you and I share.

  • Because all we have comes from Him, and giving acknowledges His sovereignty.
  • Because often He chooses to limit Himself by working through His people.
  • Because He cares about our hearts.

While Jesus walked the earth, people offered Him money. Remember who carried the donation bag? Judas.

Judas is not the man I would have picked! Jesus knew all things. Jesus knew that Judas coveted money, stole and would betray Him for 30 pieces of silver.

Judas still carried the bag. Judas’ end is a dire warning for others that want to follow in his steps, but the fact remains, Jesus let Judas carry the donation bag.

I don’t understand why, but it’s oddly comforting. Money can entwine itself around our hearts in so many ways. Just like we can get attached to stuff, we can also slip into thinking that Jesus somehow needs our money. Maybe this is one way He reminds us that He’s not limited to us. At all!

His ways are far higher than ours. We don’t always see the full picture. God does.

I once heard a story of two (real) missionary families. They lived on very little. The first missionary family received a substantial gift and generously shared it with the other family. A few weeks later the first missionary was horrified to find out that the second had used part of the money to buy name-brand shoes for their child.

What a horrible waste! They regretted sharing the money. Only later did they find out that that child who received the new shoes was really struggling spiritually. Those extravagant shoes showed that child just how much God loved him.

Right before Proverbs says to “Honor the LORD with your wealth” it says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

God does not need our money, but commands us to be generous because all we have comes from Him. Sometimes His ways are mysterious. But even when we don’t understand, He is working His purposes!

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Feminine Adventures

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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Linked up at Hearts 4 Home Thursdays,Proverbs 31 Thursday, & Consider the Lillies

Waste Not, Want Not

Waste comes in many forms, but today we’re going to talk about one kind of waste: food waste.

According to a recent study, food waste has gone up by 50% since 1974. Thrifty-minded homemakers probably throw away much less than the national average, but still, waste is something that plagues most American households.

Even if you “purchase” an item for free, wasting it is still bad for the food budget. You will have to purchase something else to replace the tossed item.


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5 Ways to Avoid Food Waste

Completely empty the bottle before opening another. Whether it’s dressing or sauce, make sure you finish out the bottle first. Once a new one is opened, it’s too much of a hassle to “rescue” the last few drops in the old one.

Freeze ripe pieces of fruit before they go bad. Bananas, pineapple, strawberries and even apples and oranges can be used in smoothies. Start a freezer container for extra fruit and save it for smoothie time.

Properly store produce: Bananas and tomatoes don’t store well in the fridge. Potatoes and onions can keep for weeks/months in a cool dry place. Regularly sort through the collection, weed out any products that are beginning to go bad and…

Prioritize what’s eaten: If you have a dozen apples in the fridge, look for any that have spots or dings and use them first. Perfect apples will keep much longer than dinged ones.

Eat leftovers: Do you ever pull out molding containers of spoiled food when clearing out the refrigerator? I have. It’s an awful feeling. Now two days a week “leftovers” are on the lunch menu. I have a leftover shelf and on leftover days we pull out leftovers and eat or freeze them. It’s cut down dramatically on waste!

These tips only barely scratch the surface! How do you help reduce waste in your kitchen?

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Feminine Adventures

(Grab code for the button from the sidebar)

And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

We’d be very grateful if you’d share only thrifty-themed posts. (Read full guidelines here)

Linked up at Hearts 4 Home Thursdays,Proverbs 31 Thursday, Our Simple Life, & Consider the Lillies