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What a Frugal Weekend!

Everybody looks forward to the weekend, and Mr. Picky Pincher and I are no different. Since we both have 9-to-5 jobs, many of our fun, frugal activities are reserved for the weekend. They can be pretty time consuming, but our hobbies save a lot of money and are a great use of our free time.

Here’s a snapshot of the frugal activities we did this weekend.

I baked a ciabatta loaf for SIL Picky Pincher’s bake sale.

I have an obsession with both bread and dairy. I love making and eating them, and you can see evidence of that on my thighs. My sister-in-law’s work is having a bake sale this week, and I wanted to contribute a loaf of homemade ciabatta.

look at that sexy ciabatta biga
Look at that sexy ciabatta sponge! This is the portion of the dough that rises overnight. Mmmm.

I have to say that ciabatta is the most difficult bread in my baking repertoire. It’s extremely finicky, sticky, and difficult to work with. It also takes a lot of time, since a portion of the dough has to rise overnight. But it’s absolutely delicious, flaky, and airy when it’s done. I’m still trying to work on getting better air holes in the dough, and I have a lot more to learn.

kneading the ciabatta dough
Kneading the dough. Mr. Picky Pincher made me some dough cutters out of an old plastic detergent container. Classy.

Practice makes perfect! And it’s for a good cause, too!

the completed ciabatta dough
Welp, I hope it’s tasty.

Mr. Picky Pincher made two types of stock.

In the past we’ve made vegetable Stock, chicken stock, and beef stock.

This weekend we made veggie and chicken stock. Our veggie scrap pile in the freezer had expanded to two large Ziploc bags, and it was time to make use of them. Every week we buy one or two whole chickens at the store, which Mr. Picky Pincher butchers. We get the tenders, white meat, and dark meat to use in other dishes, too. It’s much cheaper to buy these whole chickens and break them down yourself instead of buying a pack of pre-sliced tenders.

We also adjusted our shopping time to early Saturday mornings, when HEB is trying to get rid of their meat and offers 25% off on chickens. The result is cheap, versatile meat that lasts us a week or two for several dinners. Woohoo!

For the veggie stock, we pour our scrap pile into a large pot with water and boil on low heat for four hours. Afterwards, Mr. Picky Pincher cans these in our pressure cooker so they’re shelf stable.

The chicken stock takes a little more time. We’ve started adding veggies from the scrap pile to add some complexity to the chicken stock. This stock will cook for 24 hours on low in our crock pot (our crock pot shuts off after 12 hours, so we have to restart it at least once). The reason we let the stock go so long here is because it will gelatinize. I personally think it looks absolutely disgusting, but the globby, jiggly liquid makes for kickass soups. It also means less liquid that we have to store, since storage space is limited in our itty bitty kitchen.

Mr. Picky Pincher cooked a batch of soup.

We’re going house hunting this week, which means we probably won’t have any time to cook dinners. We decided to make a few dinners ahead of time and freeze them. Soup freezes quite well, and chicken tortilla soup has always been a favorite of ours. It’s also a great way to use the chicken stock that we just made!

I made yogurt.

Mr. Picky Pincher has gotten into eating yogurt now for a high protein breakfast (he used to despise yogurt!). This means that we now have two yogurt eaters in the house! I started boiling the milk Saturday night and by Sunday morning I had creamy, luscious yogurt. While yogurt takes some time to make, it should last us at least another two weeks.

Straining the yogurt to make it thicker. I took the whey I strained and froze it for later use. It's great for smoothies and baking bread.
Straining the yogurt to make it thicker. I took the whey I strained and froze it for later use. It’s great for smoothies and baking bread.

Mr. Picky Pincher sewed mesh produce bags.

This is something we’ve been wanting to do for ages. As eco-conscious shoppers, we always felt guilty about putting our produce in thin plastic bags at the store and immediately throwing them away when we got home. We wanted a reusable option that was still lightweight, sturdy, and better for the environment. We shopped around at a few stores and couldn’t find anything, so we decided to make the bags ourselves.

We bought heavy duty mesh fabric from Joann’s (with a coupon, of course) and even got a quality pair of fabric scissors, which were 40% off. Score!

Mr. Picky Pincher, in his typical mad scientist fashion, created sewing patterns and set to work. So far he’s made five different bags. I estimate that we’ll need at least ten in varying sizes, since we buy a lot of produce. It was a little tricky learning how to work with a mesh fabric and plastic thread on the sewing machine, but Mr. Picky Pincher has turned into a regular little seamstress!

… Or, seams-ter? Not sure what the male equivalent is there.

our reusable produce bags that we made
Our super nifty reusable produce bags!

I started sewing a work shirt for myself.

I made a bit of an impulse buy at Joann’s, but I promise it was in the name of self-sufficiency and frugality.

I stocked up on a lot of fabric from Goodwill a few weeks ago, and I’ve been wanting to make use of it. I’ve also been wanting to learn how to sew more of my own clothes. I grabbed two $3 patterns at Joann’s, one for a peplum shirt and one for an A-line business dress. I plan on using my Goodwill fabric for these pieces. Since the fabric was so cheap and I’m still learning how to sew, I won’t feel too bad if I completely destroy this project!

I decided to make a work shirt out of this blue plaid fabric. I’m not really into the plaid, but this first project is mostly for practice. I also have a pink Houndstooth fabric from Goodwill that I plan on using for the dress after I get some practice, since I really like that pattern.

my attempt at sewing a shirt from a pattern.
Here goes nothin’.

I made pancakes and homemade syrup.

During the weekend I like to pre-cook breakfasts and freeze them. I cherish my mornings on the weekdays and really don’t like cooking from scratch then, since it’s time-consuming. It’s much easier to pop a few frozen pancakes in the microwave than to cook them fresh every day.

So I made a double batch of fluffy pancakes to freeze and eat over the next few weeks–although I’m sure I could eat these puppies in one day if I felt like it.

fluffy pancakes for breakfast

I also picked up a pint of blueberries at the store and turned them into some nifty blueberry syrup. While I’ll eat maple syrup, I’ve always been a fan of fruit syrups on pancakes.

making blueberry syrup

I combined the pint of blueberries with one cup of sugar and one cup of water, let it boil for a few minutes, and mashed the blueberries to release their flavor. After straining out the fruit’s pulp, I add a few dashes of lemon juice and boil the mixture for a few minutes to thicken it slightly. I store it in the refrigerator, where it’s good to eat for the next two weeks. I had it for breakfast today, and it was divine!

pancakes with blueberry syrup
Om nom nom.

I cooked a batch of breakfast potatoes and froze them.

In addition to the pancakes, I also made what I call a “breakfast bake.” It’s my version of Jimmy Dean’s Breakfast Bowls, which I loved growing up. It’s a simple meal of seasoned potatoes, bacon, and scrambled eggs.

First I peel and cube four russet potatoes. Then I season them with salt, Hot Shot, paprika, chili powder, and garlic salt. I cook these in a skillet until they’re tender, then I toss in some crumbled bacon that I already had cooked. I stir all of this together and bake the mixture in the oven until the potatoes are crispy. I’ve found that I have to really get them crunchy so they won’t be soggy when reheated later. After they cool, I put them into individually portioned Ziplocs and store in the freezer.

When I want to eat these for breakfast, I microwave the potatoes for one minute and top them with salsa and scrambled eggs. I’ve always wanted to cook the eggs ahead of time and freeze them, but I’ve found that the texture gets super weird when you do that.

I made Ina Garten’s cranberry harvest muffins.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think Ina Garten has sold her soul to the Devil for her baking prowess. I love everything this woman makes, even if her voice somehow lulls me to sleep.

Since we know this week is going to be hectic with the house hunt, we knew we needed snacks and breakfasts already made. These cranberry muffins can be both snacks and quick breakfasts. They weren’t too sweet and had more of a cinnamon-y taste, so Mr. Picky Pincher was a fan of them. The recipe made a lot of muffins, so I froze extra muffins in loaves to eat later.

As a frugal bonus, the bulk cranberries and almonds at HEB were on sale this week, so these muffins were super cheap to make!

cranberry almond muffins
I know the muffin man.

The Bottom Line

If you want to live frugally, some of these activities are necessary. Cooking for yourself is definitely needed if you want to lead a healthy life and save money in the process. Sewing is helpful and fun, but it’s not really necessary for living frugally. We’ve just found it to be a very helpful skill that’s helped us avoid a few purchases.

These activities are very time-consuming. We wouldn’t be doing them if we didn’t like it. I think it would have been very challenging to live more frugally if we weren’t so interested in these activities, though. While they do take up a considerable amount of time, we’ve never been happier or more satisfied.

We want to know: How did you spend your weekend?

The post What a Frugal Weekend! appeared first on Picky Pinchers.

This post first appeared on Picky Pinchers | A FRUGALITY AND LIFESTYLE, please read the originial post: here

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What a Frugal Weekend!


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