Category Archives: Frugality

Frugal Jackpot

Yesterday was a day filled with errands- mostly clothes shopping. Autumn has arrived here in the Mojave, bringing our daytime temperatures into the 70s and our nighttime temperatures into the high 40s. I’m scrambling to find warmer clothes in the right sizes for everyone.
I went into a Deseret Industries thrift store hoping to find a jacket for Samantha (#3), but didn’t have any luck. She’ll have to keep wearing lighter jackets until something turns up. I am absolutely not willing to spend $30 on a jacket she’ll only wear for one season!
My hunt for jackets was a bust, but the trip to the store wasn’t! I found leather dress shoes for $2 for one of the boys, and this gem for myself:

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It’s an ankle-length wool skirt in dark gray. It’s Eddie Bauer brand, and was only $5! I’m a happy girl. I also found a long-sleeved pink top to go with the skirt.

Next was a trip to the $0.99 store. There, I found socks for one of the girls (3 pairs/ $1), sunglasses, deodorant, and a lidded water cup to replace a cracked one at home.

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A good haul, if I do say so myself. And my grand total for both stores was only $17 – less than the price of JUST the shoes if they were new.

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How to Mix Your Own Chicken Feed! (Feed Calculator file included)

I like to avoid soy in our family’s diet, so it makes sense that I would want to avoid soy when feeding my chickens as well. Most commercial chicken feeds use soybeans as the main protein source. There are soy-free blends out there, but they are MUCH more expensive and I like knowing exactly what’s going into the chickens’ food.

So I make my own. With ingredients from the grocery store!

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My regular feed consists of old-fashioned oats, split peas, cracked wheat, and flax seeds. And that’s all.

I also ferment the feed before giving it to the chickens. You can read about all the benefits of fermenting feed here.

This is what the feed looks like after fermenting and draining:

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There are SO many benefits to fermenting animal feeds. I highly recommend that you check it out!

Now, back to the feed composition…

This is my homemade feed calculator. It allows me to figure out what the protein content is with different combinations of ingredients.

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This spreadsheet is fully customizable – all you have to do is add rows to add other ingredients. You can find crude protein percentages for feed ingredients here. You could also do a Google search of “crude protein percentage (ingredient name)”

The total protein percentage is found by multiplying each ingredient’s protein content by the number of pounds being used in a 100 pound batch of feed. These totals are added up, and the total pounds of protein per 100 pounds is equal to the crude protein content in  your feed.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a complete layer/grower/starter feed.

Oyster shell is required for calcium (for hard egg shells).

My chickens also get a lot of greens in the form of weeds from the garden, extra fruits and veggies, and wheatgrass, which I grow hydroponically as fodder. The chickens get plenty of vitamins and minerals from all of our kitchen scraps as well.

This is a vegetarian formula, but I also give the chickens meal worms and calf liver for animal protein. When The Mister and I start raising catfish or Tilapia, we may use fishmeal as a protein source.

Here’s a link to a downloadable version of my feed calculator.

Happy feeding!

Uses for kitty litter buckets

We have no cats – I’ve sworn them off after a few bad experiences. I’m open to the possibility of a barn cat in the future, but no more indoor cats, thankyouverymuch.
My parents have cats, though, and they save empty litter buckets for me since they’re so darn useful! I use them to store feed ingredients and homemade laundry soap, as small trash cans, and now as a chicken waterer! I bought some poultry nipples on ebay, had The Mister drill some holes, and screwed the nipples in. The waterer is upside down here — the red nipples are the bottom and the chickens drink from those. 

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There’s been a fairly large fire in my region of the desert this past week, which is a big part of why I haven’t been posting. We haven’t been evacuated, but it’s a possibility. A news article I read says that the fire now covers 6000-8000 acres and still isn’t contained at all. I can see the flames from my back door, especially at night. I’m not gonna lie – I’m worried. Today has been extremely windy.. the fire is still almost 40 miles away, but it’s just a stretch of flat, dry desert with extremely flammable brush. Thoughts/prayers are very much appreciated.

In other news, we brought home some ducklings a few days ago. There are six 5-day-olds and two 8-week-olds. They are mallards and are just beautiful. More pictures to come when I’m not posting from my phone!

Kitchen Hacks: Quick-thaw ground beef!

I love buying my food in bulk. It saves me effort, time, and money. My mother-in-law has 9 kids and knows a thing or two about bulk food purchases. She taught me this nifty trick for bulk ground beef!

Last weekend, I found a pretty good deal on ground beef:

4 pounds for $9? I’ll take it! I obviously can’t use that much at once, so I divvied it up into 1-pound portions and froze it. Here’s a quick overview on how to freeze ground beef in an accessible, easy-to-thaw manner!

Label a gallon-sized bag for each pound of beef.

Stick a lump of meat into each bag, squeeze all the air out, and seal it.

Next, leaving the bag sealed, use the heel of your hand to flatten the beef.

Keep working it until you have a uniformly thin layer that goes all the way to the edges of the bag.

1 pound makes for a very thin layer.

Once all your lumps of meat are flattened, stack ’em up and freeze.

The super-thin layers  freeze and thaw VERY quickly. You can even toss the frozen sheet of meat directly into your pan when you’re ready to cook!

Ta-daa, enjoy your pre-portioned beef!

Frugal Summer Fun: Cloud Dough

It’s already too hot for the kids to be outside during the majority of the day. We’ve hit 113 degrees a few times in the past few weeks. If we want to go outside, we have to do it in the mornings and evenings when it’s cooler. During the day, we play inside, watch movies, draw, and read.

Today, I have been working on a major paper for one of my summer classes, so I needed something the kids would be able to do with minimal supervision.

So, we made cloud dough! After making one batch, the kids seemed to need more, so I made a second batch. I guess it all depends on the size of the container you put it in.

Start with a bowl and 8 cups of flour. I’d suggest white flour over wheat flour because whole wheat flour goes rancid faster.

Add a cup of oil. I also added a citrus blend of essential oil to make it smell nice.

Stir and stir and stir until the lumps become small:

Done! This stuff provides an amazing sensory experience. It’s soft and powdery, yet moldable at the same time.

Silicone cupcake molds, measuring cups, and spoons are all fun with this.

I’d definitely recommend giving this a try! It’s very fun and very cheap – the dough is shelf stable until the oil starts to smell bad. I’ve heard that it will stay fresh in a sealed bag for up to 6 months!

Repurposing Containers

One of my major goals is reducing my dependency on commercial products. This means making things myself when I can, reducing packaging waste when I can, and reusing items as much as possible. Many different containers are useful and can be re-purposed. I save containers from lunch meat, sauce jars, and the containers from coffee creamer. Oatmeal canisters can also be useful:

An oatmeal canister is the perfect size for an 11-cup batch of muffin mix!

You can also use a small container to store bulk ingredients in more manageable amounts – I refill a small bottle of oil from a gallon jug.

I use cat litter buckets for EVERYTHING. They’re 5-gallon buckets and can be used in the garden, as a mop bucket, as improvised chicken nest boxes, to hold homemade laundry detergent, and many other uses I can’t remember at the moment. Large, sturdy containers are wonderful!

Saving money by Sewing

Sewing is a wonderful and fulfilling hobby. There are few things that make me happier than seeing a happy little girl twirling in a dress I made for her.

Dress and hat made with love by mama.
Dress and hat made with love by mama.

Sometimes sewing is an extremely expensive hobby. The materials for the front of a quilt (not including the middle layers and the backing) can easily cost $50 or more. Making clothes from new fabric is often extremely expensive.

Refashioning thrift store finds is a great way to put a sewing machine to good use. I have picked up so many cute girls’ dresses for $1, then repaired or altered them to make them wearable.

Sewing is extremely frugal when you consider the cost of dress clothes, though! Here’s a nursing dress that I made for my brother-in-law’s wedding two years ago.

excuse the silly face, we were anxious and in a hurry!

Nursing dresses are usually extremely expensive and somewhat hard to find. They’re usually between $100 and $200. The materials and pattern for this dress only cost me about $50!

You can also save a lot of money by sewing if you’re looking for a specific style or design. This dress, made by Shabby Apple, retails for $102.

Alternately, this Vogue pattern can be found on sale for $3.50.

Quite similar, no? Using a coupon or buying fabrics while they are on sale could make this a very cheap dress to create. It could be even cheaper if you find something at a thrift store to refashion.

While I wouldn’t advise sewing your own everyday clothes, I definitely think it’s worth considering when it comes to formalwear.

Food for thought! Now I’m pulling out my sewing machine to repair a few cloth diapers. That’s where money is really saved — extending the lives of existing pieces of clothing.