Friday, July 30, 2010

The Perfect Bread Recipe

My name is Penny the Bread Killer. I've flopped so many loaves of bread over the course of my life and broken a bread knife in the process. I'd given up on making homemade bread for a while, sick of all the wasted food, when I finally got the hang of making delicious bread. But it was still lacking something and wasn't perfect.

In a last ditch attempt to find a great recipe that not only would taste good fresh from the oven, but would  also be fluffy and suitable for sandwiches, I asked the great ladies of for help and ended up with the perfect recipe, that once tweaking, was absolutely divine, dirt cheap, chemical free and just totally terriffic. Calling for no specialty ingredients, this bread doesn't crumble and is fluffy and soft and is even able to bend without breaking, making it the perfect texture for sandwiches. It can also be soaked for those following a traditional foods diet who want to rid grains of phytic acid.
I usually pre-slice the bread and keep it in the freezer, pulling out pieces when necessary.

Perfect Bread

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Frugal Attitudes

In my culture there is a saying regarding self improvement. It claims that to change even one personality trait is a lifelong task. Even so, I present you with a list of attitudes and traits that definitely help you in living a frugal life. If these aren't ones that you currently possess, it does behoove you to try to learn to be a bit more like this, as these changes can only make your life easier and more enjoyable and allow you to be as frugal as you need to be without making yourself miserable in the process.

Being Frugal

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Internet Helps Save Money

Many are dumbfounded when they learn that someone like myself who cuts every corner to pinch some pennies and goes to extreme measures to save a few bucks would choose to keep an obvious a luxury as internet in my home.
Why don't I just get rid of my internet and kiss that bill goodbye as I'm willing to do with almost everything else? Internet can't be a need, after all, as it is such a new invention and people have survived millennia without it.
Why do I insist on having internet when it is absolutely unnecessary for life?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


One of the biggest issues I have that cause me to be less frugal than I would otherwise is that I'm a very big klutz. I get distracted easily, have a bit of ADD, and am not always as careful with things as I should be. Heres a list of reasons why being careful (aka not klutzy) can save you money.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Money Tips for Busy People- Saving Money on Food

Working moms, single moms, moms of many or moms of littles. There are so many situations in which we moms find ourselves that make us pressed for time. When mom is busy and tired, the food budget often skyrockets and you often feel helpless to do anything about it. Don't despair- even with the clock ticking and your pillow calling you, there are other ways to save money in the food department that don't take too much of your time.

Save Money on Food- For Busy People

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Perfect Homemade Italian Dressing

Wish Bone Salad Dressing, Robusto Italian, 16-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6)
Don't buy this stuff.
My pics are MIA.
Welcome to, the site where I teach you to live well on a minimum budget. A big part of that is I teach you to make everything you use yourself, for much cheaper than the store bought variety, and much healthier too. I can teach you to make foods from scratch, including all the condiments and sauces you'd ever need, homemade candies, homemade breads and crackers, as well as non food items such as homemade toys. So you don't miss out on all these money saving tips, subscribe to my blog via email!

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I make everything from scratch because not only is it cheaper and healthier, it also tastes better!
And it really is not a lot of work to make your own homemade dressing! I never buy bottled dressing, especially not Italian, which is so easy to make at home, and can be stored in the fridge for a long, long time.

Here's how I make the most perfect zesty Italian dressing. This is delicious on salads, but is also delicious as a sauce on chicken, on pasta salad, or mixed with egg for breading different foods recipes, such as shnitzel.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vegan Cheese Sauce- Delicious!

While we are a family of omnivores, we do eat many vegetarian and vegan meals as they tend to be much cheaper than meat based meals, or as Premeditated Leftovers would say- "economic vegetarians". 

Gluten free vegan eggplant parmesan with vegan cheese sauce
I found this delicious fake cheese sauce that uses zero chemicals and can be used whenever you need a dairy free meal, whether for people sensitive to dairy, vegans, or simply when you've run out of milk in the house. Depending on the prices in your area, it may also end up being cheaper than real cheese sauce. 

This is such a tasty recipe that I can never get enough of it. I especially love it on chicken, breaded eggplant, and noodles and I've even heard of it being used in place of cheese on pizza.
Best of all, its both chemical free and easy as pie to make it.
(Recipe is adapted from this original one.)

Vegan "Cheese" Sauce

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Money Tips for Busy People- Cheaper Things

"Penny," you say, "I like your blog and think that what you do is great. But lets be realistic now. What you suggest just takes too much time, and I'm a busy woman."
Not to worry, readers. Even if you don't have time to do everything from scratch like I do, if you want to save money and take control of your finances, there is definitely a way.

This is the first post in a series- Money Tips for Busy People.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Education- Want or Need?

With all the buzz going on in the comments section the past few days about college education or the lack-thereof,  I decided to tackle the topic of education, with a focus on advanced education.
So, without further ado: Education. Want or Need?

Learning vis a vis Educating

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reducing Food Waste

I had a whole different post today, about homeschooling and all, but I decided that I felt like putting that on hold and posting this instead, probably to assuage a guilty conscience. For someone so anti waste as I am, someone who tries to cut corners in so many ways and even eats scraps of food that others would throw out, the amount of food that has gotten tossed in the rubbish been here lately, frankly, is quite embarrassing.
I'm writing this list to help myself as well, as a reminder of different techniques I know, so that I'm not throwing food (and money) into the garbage.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Homeschooling- the Poverty Fix (Part 1)

Photo Credit- Impact Lab
This is Part 4 in my Poverty Cycle series.

When talking about getting out of the poverty cycle, I casually wrote that I believe homeschooling to be a big part of coming out of the poverty cycle, at least for my family. Some might scoff at that and think it a bit absurd, but if you follow my reasoning, you might begin to understand and probably even agree that in our family's case, homeschooling should give our children the boost they need to improve their financial lot in life.

Homeschooling As A Poverty Fix

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reducing Toilet Water Waste

Have you ever given thought to how much water you literally flush down the drain every day in your toilet? If you're the average American, thats over thousands of gallons over the course of a year simply to help carry away your waste products.
While I'm not about to give up on my flush toilet any time soon and switch over to an outhouse (though a composting toilet sounds like a pretty nifty idea ... one day), it does pay to do a few simple things to reduce the amount of water you waste when flushing the toilet.

Reducing Toilet Water Wastage

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chickpea Milk- Homemade

Chickpea milk- voilĂ !
I used to buy soy milk when I needed a non dairy alternative to milk, but it was quite expensive. I learned how to make my own soy milk, and for a while, made that instead. I've since learned about many health issues related to soy, and now try to avoid it as much as possible. According to, while there are other non dairy alternatives to soy milk out there, they're usually expensive to buy or even make. I heard about the concept of chickpea milk as a soy milk alternative but couldn't find instructions, so I just figured it out on my own.
The taste is quite good, and remarkably similar to soy milk.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Breaking the Poverty Cycle

This is the third post in the Poverty Cycle series.

As much as we feel blessed with the life that we have, and as much as we don't feel lacking of anything at all, having a combined annual income of under $15,000, it is hard to describe our family's financial situation as anything but poverty.

Do I want my kids to need to think creatively to stretch every dollar to their fullest? I'd like my children to use their heads and not be wasteful of limited resources, but I'd like my children to have that choice and not have it foisted upon them. Like all parents, my husband and I wish that our kids have an easier financial time than we are having now. Most people living a life of poverty have children that perpetuate the cycle of poverty; their children and their grandchildren inherit their family's troubled financial situation.

My husband and I are determined to break the poverty cycle, starting with us, so that our children can have an even better future. In short, we hope to get ourselves and our kids off the hamster wheel of financial hardship via example, our goals for the future, and our educational plans for our children.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Common Mistakes of the Poor

This is the second post in my Poverty Cycle series.

I live in a neighborhood in which most of the residents are struggling financially. Many factors play into the widespread local poverty, most of which are beyond the scope of this blog, but a big aspect of  it is that poor people start off behind in life, but their poor choices and attitudes often contribute to their getting mired in the quicksand of poverty and debt.
If this post seems overly critical of people, that is not the intention. The purpose of this post is to simply point out mistakes people might be making in the hopes that they'll be able to fix those mistakes and ease their financial situation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Little Pennies Add Up

I've gotten comments from readers and friends alike saying "Come on, Penny. Why do you bother? How much cheaper is it really to make everything, like mayonnaise, from scratch? After paying for electricity and water, how much do you think you're really saving by cloth diapering? How much are you saving by doing all that you're doing? Seriously, Penny, wouldn't you rather have a life than have only 3 or 4 extra dollars at the end of the month?"

Face it. You've probably wondered why I spend time doing all these extreme frugal things when the savings don't really add up.
Because obviously they can't. Right?

Wrong. Those pennies certainly do add up.
Watch as I show you how.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poverty Cycle- Part 1

A few days ago, I read Frugal Babe's post called "The Luxury of Frugal Thinking" that really got the gears in my head churning. She posits that most frugal people today are frugal by choice, and poor people don't have the option or ability to be frugal like the rest.
I dunno.
Poor people are sometimes the least frugal of them all. Why, just thinking about it makes me quite sad.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Free Food

As an extremely frugal foodie, there's nothing I like better than free food. (Except perhaps a delicious meal made from that food.)
What better source of free food than nature's own bounty?
As food waste truly bothers me, I especially like getting free food that would otherwise go uneaten and rot.
Best of  all is when this free food is a delicacy or simply something expensive to buy in a store.

Foraging- collecting free food right from from the source.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ask and Ye Shall Be Rewarded

Too many times shyness can get in the way of our saving money, or even simply achieving what we desire. Putting aside our inhibitions and speaking up will often allow you to get great things that you never before would have thought possible.

I recently got contacted by a representative from the CSN stores. They're a company with an array of websites, among them ones that sell lights and other home decor equipment, children's products, kitchen tools, and lots more, all reasonably priced and with free shipping!
They wanted me to do a review on one of their products and gave me a choice of anything from any of their websites, up to a set cost to review for my readers.

My eyes immediately set upon their pasta maker, something that seems especially appealing to me because I like homemade noodles, but rolling them out and cutting them can get tedious. Then I discovered a really cheap grain grinder, something I've wanted for more than a year, seeing as flour, especially specialty flours can be a fortune. Unfortunately, most grinders cost upward of 150 dollars, usually more than 200 dollars, and I have a hard time justifying spending that much money on something that seems a bit of a luxury.

I was torn between these two items, which to request for a review. Both were under the price limit I was offered, but together, they cost 5 dollars more than the alloted amount for a review. I took a chance and asked them if there was a possibility to get both to review... and they said YES! I'm so excited- now two great pieces of kitchen equipment are on their way to me to review, and I can't wait to use them!

Anyhow, the point is- it never hurts to ask. But seriously, what's the worst that can happen? They'll say no, and you move on.

I collect glass jars for many reasons- to store grains, make pickles, make alcohol, among many other reasons, but I rarely get them because I usually make everything from scratch. I randomly sent out an email on our community's list serve saying that I was looking for glass jars and was bombarded by the amount of responses. I just arrived home with so many more pasta sauce jars and now I don't need to go out and pay for them. Free is good.

Lastly, on Thursday I also got my guts together and asked a neighbor permission for something, and was rewarded handsomely. (More on that tomorrow.)

So yes, it can be embarrassing to say "Hey, can I have your cast offs?" I mean, you don't want to be known as a moocher or anything, or the person who takes people's garbage and puts it to use... but you also want to be able to save money where ever you can.
It pays to ask.
Ask and ye shall be rewarded.
Or told no.
But that's life.
You get prepared to be told no, expect it to happen at some point or another, but for the rest of all the "Yes"es,  it pays to ask.

Have you ever been afraid to ask someone for something, then plucked up the courage and been rewarded? Tell us about it. What was the reward for asking? 
Have you ever not asked for something and then regretted it afterward? What was it, and why?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Lost Art of Homemaking

A Sad True Tale

Once upon a time, not so long ago, relatives of mine lived in a country cursed with abject poverty. Blessed to have a greater income than most of their compatriots, the Williams* were fortunate enough to be have many household workers to do their every bidding, as labor wages were extremely low.

As often happens in places with extreme differences in financial demographics, people begrudged my relatives' wealth and took revenge against this perceived injustice. The head of the household was kidnapped and held in exchange for a hefty ransom.
Once dad came home safe and sound, fearful for their safety, my relatives decided to flee. They moved to another country, one not steeped in poverty as was their native country.

In this new place, my relatives could not function. No longer could they afford to have multiple servants to do everything for them. The Williamsons had become accustomed to opulence and simply could not function in a society where they were unable to have separate maids for every family member, where they actually had to do physical labor of any kind. Having always had an abundance of servants, my relatives had no knowledge of the most basic skills. Even boiling water was beyond their capabilities, let alone any housework or cooking.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Electricity- Need or Want?

I was all revved up to write a post for this week's Needs vs Wants when my computer shut off. Everything simply stopped and there was an eerie silence in my home. We had a blackout, not because of a storm or anything of that sort, but simply because of overuse. At 86 degrees at the moment where I live, and hotter still in other places nearby, nearly everyone in the region is running their air conditioning at full blast (aside for people like myself who try to even minimize fan usage). This maxes out the capabilities of the power stations, causing a system overload which results in a region wide blackout because of electricity overuse.

Electricity. Want? Or need?

Electricity is one of those tricky subjects to tackle, because it is kind of in a limbo state, not really a need but not quite a want.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tips for Recovering Spendthrifts

I'll let you in on a little secret.
I like spending money. I've even gone recreational shopping more than once.
While I may never have spent enough in one go to have earned the title of true blue spendthrift, there definitely were times where we were bringing in ample cash, but still hard a hard time making it through the month because of our unwise spending habits.
I like spending money, but I like having money to buy basic necessities more.
Because of that, my husband and I figured out tricks to curb our spending habit, tips that can help everyone waste less money, but are especially suited to people who need to work hard to resist the urge to splurge.

Tips for the Recovering Spendthrift

Monday, July 5, 2010

Eating Food Scraps

-or "Things You Never Knew You Could Eat"

I actively try to reduce the amount of trash my family produces. Environmental reasons is a plus, but the main reason I try to minimize my family's garbage output is simply because once something goes into the trash, you've decided that that item has no more benefit to give to your family, and more often than not, that something you're tossing is something you've paid for.
Things in the trash is money in the trash, and I try to waste as little as possible, quite simply because I don't have excess money to be tossing in the trash, and if you're reading this blog, I assume you don't have either.

Here's a list of some food scraps you might not have thought to use, but can help provide tasty, nutritious, and wholesome goodness for your family. Food that you never knew you could eat, saved from the trash and feeding your family.

Eating Food Scraps

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Menu for July 4-10

Having done my bi-weekly grocery shopping last week, I've already used up a decent chunk of our quicker spoiling produce, leaving me with the longer lasting veggies on which to base this week's menu. Hope you enjoy our delicious yet different menu.
Happy Independence day to all my US readers, and I hope you're remembering to keep your barbecues frugal!

Breakfast- Grilled cheese sandwiches and cucumber slices
Lunch-Peppers with sheep cheese, fresh bread
Supper- Seitan chickpea sausage, sauerkraut, and homemade pickles on homemade buns

Breakfast- Yogurt with oats and toppings
Lunch- Seitan chickpea sausage, sauerkraut, and homemade pickles on homemade buns
Supper- Chicken pot pie, made with homemade chickpea milk (recipe coming soon) and chicken gizzards, plus veggies and potatoes.

Breakfast- Pancakes, milk, and fruit
Lunch- Chicken pot pie
Supper- Bucatini with stuffed seitan pockets in mustard sauce, beet salad

Breakfast- Cream of wheat with toppings
Lunch- Bucatini with stuffed seitan pockets in mustard sauce, beet salad
Supper- Peas and rice, chickpea patties, gezpacho

Breakfast- Shakes
Lunch- Peas and rice, chickpea patties, gezpacho
Supper- Rice and West African baked beans, veggie salad

Breakfast- Oat "cereal"
Lunch- Rice and baked beans, sauerkraut
Supper- Homemade French bread, cucumber yogurt soup, Asian cabbage salad, "beer" batter fried fish (made with homemade ginger alcohol) and onion rings (fried on coconut oil), buttered corn on the cob, watermelon rind curry sauce for the fish.

Breakfast- Granola and Yogurt
Lunch- Homemade French bread, cucumber yogurt soup, Asian cabbage salad, "beer" batter fried fish (made with homemade alcohol) and  onion rings (fried on coconut oil), buttered corn on the cob, watermelon rind curry sauce for the fish.
Supper- Sauerkraut, bread and stretched tuna salad

What are you eating this week?

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Keeping Laptops Cool

Our laptop repeatedly was overheating, especially in the summer. We thought the fan had died.
We had no money to pay a repair person to replace our fan.
We tried to find an alternative to keep our laptop cool.
We blew a fan on it constantly during summer months.
Our electric bill went up.

Now we keep our fan cool a different way. A way that costs no money.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ask Penny

I've officially broken my anonymity. Sort of.
Yes, that's me, in the flesh. (Or pixels, anyhow.)

I've decided to add a new feature by request of some of the readers. An "Ask Penny" tab at the top of the page.
Anything you were wondering about, whether a financial, cooking, or family related question, intellectual, philosophical or anything under the sun, really.

My Friday posts are my fun posts, my recipe posts, my time to answer your randomest questions that might not be connected to anything else.
Like- what color is my toothbrush?
(Blue, with white and pink bristles, by the way.)
What is your favorite type of music?
(Alternative rock, probably, but I don't have much of a chance to listen to my music, in between all the Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonalds going on here.)
Why do you plan on homeschooling your kids?
(Now that answer is too long to answer in these parenthesis. But you learned something new, didn't you? Did you know that I was planning on homeschooling my boys?)

So, here it is.

Now tell me, do I look anything like what you expected? What were you expecting me to look like?
How old do I look in my picture?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cooking Seitan

Seitan, gluten, wheat meat. These are all different names for the most versatile meat alternative, a protein made from the gluten part of the wheat grain. Though not easily digestible for a decent chunk of people, gluten is a great and delicious vegan and budget friendly dish for the rest of us.

Seitan can be made in a multitude of ways, each resulting in a different texture of mock meat. Ground meat, cutlets, roasts, lunch meats and sausages are just some of the possible ways to make seitan.

Making Perfect Seitan