For Smart Couples…Forget the Recession! Learn how to pay 1960's Prices for everything from salad dressing to dressing up for a night out!

In my house, there has to be something quick and easy in the freezer at all times that can be microwaved for lunch or a snack. If there’s not, spur-of-the-moment hunger pangs at unusual times of the day can lead to unhealthy and expensive trips through the drive-thru. I used to keep a stash of chicken patties, hot pockets or frozen burritos on hand, but I’ve been trying to eliminate all convenience food from our diets, so for a while I was at a loss at what to do. Then I devised these hot pocket knock-offs. They’ve been a godsend–they are the perfect vehicle to use up little bits of leftover meat, veggies or sauce, they freeze beautifully, and they heat up in 60-90 seconds!

Using homemade dough, leftover meat and sale-priced cheese, I can make a batch (about 14) of these for around $3.50. That’s less than 30 cents per pocket! And trust me, these are super easy to bake up.

Dough Recipe:

You can either use a bread machine to mix this or knead it out by hand. Either way, let the dough rest for around 10 minutes when you’re through mixing/kneading.

4 cups flour

3 TBS oil

1 TBS sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup of room temperature water

scant 1/4 cup of milk

2 teaspoons yeast

  • Lightly mix flour, sugar and salt and mound on a floured countertop (I sometimes do my initial mixing in a large bowl). Add water, milk, oil and yeast in the center.
  • Gently mix till a dough starts to form.
  • Knead for around 7 minutes until dough ball is smooth and easily workable.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 14 balls for 14 hot pockets
  • Roll out into a rectangle and fill with cheese and meat of your choice
  • Fold long sides over, then tops. Gently press or pinch to seal.
  • Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet seam-side down and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (tops should be slightly golden brown)
  • You can eat them immediately, or freeze for later. To reheat, microwave for 60-90 seconds.

I fill these with leftover meatballs, sauce and cheese (after we’ve had a spaghetti dinner), leftover sliced or cubed ham with some cheddar cheese, or leftover shredded chicken with a bit of buffalo sauce and mozzarella. These would also be great with scrambled eggs, cheese and bulk sausage for quick breakfasts! To freeze, I put 1 or 2 into zippered freezer bags so they can be taken to work for lunch quickly.

Anybody else have any homemade frozen convenience food ideas that keep them away from fast food joints? Please share in the comment section!

The beauty of this soup is in it’s versatility; you can use most vegetables and any number of meat products that are available to you, and it will still taste delicious. Personally, I use up any leftovers I have from a beef roast,  and I incorporate whatever veggies I have on hand that are looking sad in the fridge or need to be used up from the garden. You can also go simple and use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables from your freezer. This soup is thick and hearty enough for a meal if you include a loaf of homemade bread or a salad. Followed exactly, this recipe will feed at least 6 people. You can also adapt this recipe for the slow-cooker. From my estimates, this recipe cost me around $2 in total to make. Please note, I did go a little easy on the meat because I didn’t have much left this time. This dish has a great tomato flavor and a bit of a spicy kick; if you don’t care for heat in your food, decrease or omit the red pepper flakes.

  • 1/2-1 lb. of leftover pot roast (or cooked ground beef or sausage)
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I use my homemade stock because it’s free, but you can also use veggie or beef stock, or water with bouillon)
  • 2 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1.5 cups of chopped veggies (either raw or frozen–use whatever you have on hand that you need to use up)
  • 1/4 box of ditalini or macaroni noodles
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire
  • 2 tsps. red pepper flakes
  • salt, pepper and onion powder to taste
  1. Bring the stock to a boil; add celery, potatoes and any raw veggies to the stock and boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato soup and any frozen pasta noodles. Bring back to a boil and continue simmering for 10 minutes.
  3. Add any frozen veggies, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, and seasonings. Continue to simmer 10 minutes more or until pasta and veggies are tender.
  4. Add beef or ground meat and heat through. Don’t worry if your leftover beef has gravy on it; this will add flavor to the soup.
  5. Serve with sprinkled parmesan or Romano cheese on top.

This leftover soup is a big hit in my house; my fiancé is super-picky and he still loves it. This is one of those recipes that has endless variations, so don’t be afraid to play around with it in order to use up any leftovers you have sitting in the fridge. It’s great for using up some of that end-of-summer zucchini surplus as well if you have a garden.

What about you? Any no-fail recipes that you use to get rid of veggie or meat leftovers?

The opportunities to make money at home are really endless, and I thought I’d create a short list to demonstrate the variety of sites that are out there that allow people to work from home. You can use these websites to make some extra money after your day job, work just enough to pay for your groceries each week (and, if you’re like me, this only takes $20!) or you can dive right in and make a hodge-podge, unique, slipper-footed freelance career out of it like I did. Anyway, here are some sites to get you started:

Note: Before you go crazy cutting back your hours at Olive Garden, or giving your boss the finger and running out of your cubicle laughing manically, make sure you have a stable computer, a decent internet connection, and a PayPal account (this is how you’ll get paid for online work).

  1. Taskmitigator: Are you a whiz at editing? Great at graphic design? A social networking pro? Can you draw awesome caricatures of dogs from photograph? Whatever your talent is, there’s a place to sell your work or ideas on this “microjob” site. You can price your work at anywhere from $7 to $100. Plus earn extra money when you refer your friends and family to the site…just have them mention your name after you’ve set up an account.
  2. Zilok: If your anything like me, you probably have power tools in the shed that get used only once a year, an extra DVD player gathering dust in the closet, and a guitar lounging around that would get more use as a wall decoration. At this site, you can set a price to rent those little-used or extra items out to people in your area. Legal contracts are provided on the site.
  3. Istockphoto: If you love taking photographs, you can submit them to this site for people to purchase as stock photos for their websites, blogs or magazines. You don’t need a camera that costs more than the mortgage, either, a decent digital camera from the local electronics store can take some great shots that will add up to some serious moolah.
  4. Ebay: When it comes time to pare down the contents of your wardrobe, book collection or entertainment center, Ebay is still a great place to quickly sell unwanted items. Simply take a decent photo, and list the item at a set price or as an auction lasting anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days, depending on how quickly you need the cash.
  5. Etsy: If you’re a crafty, or are an artisan of any sort, Etsy is a great place to sell your wares and get you a lot more word-of-mouth than the local craft show. Sell anything from beaded jewelery creations to knit Pittsburgh Steelers scarves to hand-carved wooden mirrors, as long as it was made by you.

And remember, be patient! It takes time to build an online audience/presence and make some real cash…whatever site or method you choose. I’ll be back later to add to the list…

Since I quit working a “traditional” job in the big, bad world outside of my home, people are always asking me: “HOW can you make enough money at home to survive?”

Keep reading, because in this series of posts I’m going to outline some of the better companies I’ve come across that will allow you to stay in your pajamas and work from home! Whether you just want to make some extra cash, or you’re dying to flee your day job forever, there are some great companies/websites out there to help you do just that!

I know if you’ve spent years out there in the trenches, it’s hard to believe that it’s possible to have the luxury of sitting on the couch with your laptop on the coffee table and your dog by your feet, but the truth is there are a lot of great websites out there that can really help you “bring home the bacon”.

Working from home is an especially tempting idea if you have kids. Spend a few minutes with a calculator and add up what you spend on childcare, gas money/transportation fees, parking costs, professional clothing, lunches out and your daily $4 coffee from Starbucks, and THEN see what your real “wage” is after you’ve deducted all these expenses. Working from home allows you to completely cut out most of these money-drainers, and gives you more time spend with your kids, your dog or your pajamas and slippers.

I use a variety of methods/websites to make money at home. My primary focus is on content writing and editing for various websites and clients, but trust me when I say that no matter what your talents are, there is a place for you to make money on the internet!

Taskmitigator

This is a great site I started working with recently, and I’d like to start with them because no matter what your profession or talent, you can find a way to make money from it on this site!

Ever hear of the “microjob” site Fiverr, where people post “gigs” they are willing to do via the internet for only $5? Taskmitigator is sort of like that, except (and HUGE bonus!) you can set a price for your work yourself and charge anywhere from $7 to $100! Here are some more details:

  • With categories like Advertising, Writing, Translating, Music, and Graphics and Design, this is a great place for anyone to find work (example: I offer to write content articles for people’s websites). I’ve even heard of people making money reading Tarot cards, giving tips and hints for video gaming, etc. Endless possibilities here…
  • It’s quick and easy to register…simply create an account, upload a photo, and describe and price your “gig”.
  • Payment is made securely via PayPal (if you don’t have a PayPal account yet, and plan on working from home, sign up for one pronto…it’s very simple!)
  • The customer service/support team on this site is EXTREMELY helpful and friendly.
  • Taskmitigator also pays you to refer your friends and family to this site…now that’s easy money.

Click here to learn more about them or to sign up for an account…it only took me 24 hours to get some jobs from this site!

Has anyone else had success working with this company? Leave a comment below!

And look for my next post in the “Make Money from Home” series, coming soon…

 

As you can clearly see, Joey was super-excited about the new Purina coupon…

Rush on over to coupons.com to print out these high-value coupons that will make for some cheapies/freebies:

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!

 

Sigh…it’s that time of year again. Time to slip off the flip flops and don the boots. Time to pack away the easy, breezy sleeveless shirts. Time to shell out big money for fall and winter wardrobe additions.

Or is it? Now’s the time to shop summer clearance sales for the colder months! With a little creative layering, there are plenty of super-cheap wardrobe options out there just waiting for a creative mind to snap up. A tight, long-sleeved shirt underneath a tee, a cardigan over top of a short-sleeved dress with some colored tights underneath, or some knee-high boots covering capri jeans, and you’re all set to brave the elements!

Only $6.30 at Target…available in multiple colors…tights, boots and a cardigan and you’re done!

Mossimo Scoopneck Keyhole Dress

This cardigan will go over any summer tee to give you the extra warmth you need…

Mossimo open-front cardigan only $6.98 at Target

Great Boho feel…75% off!…wear them with stacked or platform heels…

a.n.a Trouser Jeans, in a flattering dark wash. Retro and the price is right…only $10 at JCP!!

At Old Navy in a variety of colors and striped patterns…

Slub-Knit Henley shirt only $5 at Old Navy…plus get 15% off shipping when you order online!

These are just a few of the wardrobe options I’m looking into…I could add all of them to my cool-weather wardrobe for around $26!! Not bad!! More to come…

Some meat/cheese products not pictured…

Whew! What a night at the stores (with Mike wanting to strangle me the whole time…I finally sent him to Home Depot to buy himself a wrench, or a clamp…or something…).

Haven’t quite figured out the exact details yet, but I spent around $30-$35 for what I’m estimating to be around $150 worth of product (retail). This is after sales, promotions, Catalinas, register coupons, and Rite Aid rewards that I received back were factored in. I also got some Saving Star money back, but haven’t figured that into the total yet, which would make it a buck or two cheaper.

Rite Aid

  • 3 Pledge Multi-Purpose cleaners
  • 2 Lysol disinfectant wipes

K-Mart

  • 16 rolls of Sparkle paper towels
  • 2 Brut deodorant
  • 2 Sure deodorant
  • 2 Rite Guard body washes
  • 1 bag of dog treats (free with coupon in K Mart’s monthly ad)
  • 3 bottles of Purex detergent
  • 2 Soft Scrub cleaners
  • 1 Glade plug-in

(I’m new to the whole K-Mart coupon game (it is kind of confusing/infuriating!), but once I master the ins and outs I will be posting the best deals here on the blog, because with their doubling of $1 coupons, in-store register coupon deals, freebie coupons, and $5 gift cards, you can score some MAJOR free/cheap goodies here! But my total there should have been less if I’d done the deals correctly. I’ll figure it out and get back to you.)

Giant Eagle

  • 6 boxes of Totino’s pizza rolls
  • 2 Green Giant Seasoned Steamers Veggies
  • 1 box of Super Pretzels
  • 6 cans of Red Pack tomatoes (assorted varieties…yeah homemade sauce!)
  • Package of 14 chicken patties (Mike looooves these when he wants to munch late night…)
  • 4 Suave Shampoos

Shop n Save (forgot I made a quick stop there!)

  • 2 bags of Fresh Express salad mix
  • 3 boxes of Hamburger Helper (They still have selected varieties available for $1 if you still have some 75 cents/3 coupons laying around…I did!)
  • 3 bags of shredded cheese
  • Case of Mountain Dew cans (grrrr…no sale, no coupons…but Mike doesn’t drink coffee and he needs something to wake himself up in the morning…)
  • 2 packages of Chips Ahoy! cookies (there was a Facebook $1/1 coupon, making these 88 cents each, but it’s gone now, I checked for you guys) :(
  • 2 lb Pork Sirloin roast (my freezer is already bursting at the seams with cheap chicken/ground meat, but we love pulled pork from the Crock Pot, and it was only $1.79/lb)

I think I got it all!! Anybody else have any great coupon halls this week? Tell us about it in the comment section below…

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