Frugal plans, ideas and thoughts:
1.) Plant more cabbages than I did last year, which I think was four. They could've stood hanging out in the garden a little longer without any damage done to them and could've then been stored in the garage or porch entryway. Also could grate more and freeze it as freezer coleslaw, though would like to grate it by hand rather than use the processor since it grated too fine.
2.) Must plant some sort of squash. So far, butternut and spaghetti have grown well. As well as zucchini, of course. Again, these remain hardy long after being harvested and stored in a cool place, though I don't believe the zucchini would store as long. They also can be cubed and frozen.
3.) Grow green beans. While we are not big fans of green beans, I have found a recipe that I was able to successfully convert to somewhat low-carb that most of us agreed makes green beans... good?!? The recipe I loosely followed was here. Frozen garden beans turned out great, Splenda substituted fantastically, and there was no need to pre-stir anything together. Toss the following in crock for about 2hrs : about a pound of frozen green beans, 1/2lb chopped and fried bacon, 1T butter, 1/3c Splenda brown sugar, 3tsp soy sauce, 1 scant tsp garlic powder. So a half row of green beans will get eaten after all!
5.) Try to convert more recipes to use Stevia In The Raw as opposed to Xylitol. While I like Xylitol, it is hugely expensive. I also need to order it online as it's not locally available. Stevia In The Raw's cheaper and sold at our small-town grocer.
6.) Avoid stopping at the local grocer. We spend too much there. If I need an item or two for a recipe, I will make something else rather than spend the gas/time/money to run into town. It's not even worth stopping on my way home from work as it usually leads to spending more on other items that I hadn't intended to purchase at that time.
7.) Preserved foods are meant to be eaten! Stop saving them for "some day" and start using them. I have actually started to do this. But I need to make a more conscious effort to do so regularly. Some of these preserved foods I will need to look up more recipe options for, such as the dehydrated spinach and canned garden carrots. But point being, why buy a bag of frozen diced carrots when I have home-canned ones already?!?
8.) Preserve more of the apples from our two trees. We did a couple gallon bags of dried apple rings and plenty of canned and frozen sauce. But I would like for none of it to go to waste out there! Canning may be the better option for next year so that there'll be more freezer space.
9.) Clean the closet across from the bathroom. This is where canned goods are stored... all over the shelf, amidst bedding, cereal, wrapping supplies... You get the picture. If I neaten it up I will be able to see what all I have in there for canned homegrown foods.
10.) Keep a large bag in the freezer for meat scraps. I do keep the carcass from turkeys and chickens that were roasted whole (most of the time), but need to do it at ALL times and with other meats. Steak fat and bones, pork fat and bones...Ham bone, don't give it away. Simmer that puppy down to a delicious, gelatinous broth.
11.) Keep a large bag for clean vegetable trimmings. I compost. So that is where it all usually goes. But I would like to make vegetable broth that can be used right away for soups or stored in the freezer.
12.) Learn to use the free texting app that I downloaded to my Kindle Fire (text+). I've tried for a couple of days to figure it out. But still don't know how to use it well. My original intent when I downloaded it was so that I could use it in conjunction with Redbox since I have heard that people with cells can text and get free rental codes now and then.
13.) Dried beans - use 'em. Yes, I know they are not low-carb. But I do use beans now and then. I make soup and taco salads and other people in my family do eat them. Admittedly, I eat a few each time I make something that includes them. But I do mean a "few". I am experimenting right now as I type this. I have a pot of pinto beans on their second boil on the stovetop. When they are done I will drain and rinse, then bag and freeze.
14.) Use the crockpot, electric fry skillet and toaster oven more often in the winter. Right now, propane has doubled since we filled just a few short weeks ago. There's supposed to be a propane shortage due to our extreme cold temps this January to explain that outrageous cost. Extreme cold that has cancelled school a handful of times and runs -35 to -50 with wind chill. Our last fill was $760! Keeping my fingers crossed it makes it through spring. (We heat our home, cook with a gas range, run a hot water heater... all with propane.) We did recently purchase an electric infra-red small room heater that we run in the living room when everyone's home. Small appliances, small appliances, small appliances!
15.) Keep thermostat between 60 and 65 as needed. Which means, turning it up nearing mealtimes and bathing times and keeping it lower all other times. My old slippers finally fell apart and I've been anxiously awaiting the clearance pair that I bought online from Kohl's using a 30% off and free shipping code. It's already been about two weeks, so I expect them any time. But, boy, are my feet freezing right now!
16.) Exercise. I've been struggling with doing regular exercise. I've been using my Leslie Sansone walking dvd's again and have been slowly trying to build back up to at least a 3 mile walk each morning before work. But have only been rotating the 1 & 2 mile walks. I need to step it up. Something's been missing with this lower-carb way of eating. Oh, yeah. Weightloss! I haven't lost anymore since nearly three years ago. I am hoping to build up strength and stamina, as well as using it to play a mind-trick on myself - I tend to eat better when I include regular physical activity.
17.) Walking to reduce gas (in the car, silly) and sneak in more exercise. This thought is actually something I intend to do this spring. I would like to park at our grocery store's lot and walk from there to work, then back again at the end of the day. I know about how long it takes to go one way and guess it to be around a mile or so. That'd be an easy couple of miles per work day. (We do not live in town, so walking to work's not feasible.)
That's all I can think of for now. But, as always, I am constantly thinking of how else to cut costs without feeling too deprived of anything. You know. Like HEAT. What types of things are you doing to either "buck down" or to self-improve?