Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Month: March 2014

Keep it Simple(Tax)

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This month, I was begging my husband to do our taxes because for the last few years, we’ve gotten significant returns due to our carry forward credits from our large private university tuition payments. Last year, we discovered a great tool for doing our taxes and I want to share it with you today!

SimpleTax is a Canadian tax program (sorry, American friends and family) that is honestly so fast and easy! After using the paper forms for years, this was so refreshing and simple.

When you sign up with SimpleTax (click here to get started), you create an account that saves your information, so when you use it multiple years in a row, it remembers your information and helps make the subsequent years of filing taxes even easier!

Here are my favourite aspects of this software:

1. It’s free (love this!)

2. It creates a profile that remembers information for future filings

3. It calculates your return on the side as you’re filling out your information, so it keeps you motivated

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4. It allows you to fill out direct deposit information so your return gets deposited right into your account instead of waiting weeks to get a cheque back

5. It’s funny – there are little jokes throughout the instructions, which is great

6. It’s honestly so simple – it took us about 30 minutes to do our taxes

So, for those of you who are Canadian and need a way to do your taxes – I recommend SimpleTax!

Happy filing!

Do any of you have other tax programs you have discovered? Share your findings with me by leaving a comment below!

*This company did not compensate or pay me in any way – I’m just recommending a product that I use and believe in*

Also, feel free to connect with me on Twitter! (@classyfrugality

Waste Not, Want Not

I hate throwing things away.

It’s not hard for me to give things away, or to throw away useless things, but I have trouble throwing away boxes, ribbons, and food (specifically). I have seen mold in many different colours because I keep things in the fridge until I’m forced to by the fungus growing on them. (This grosses my husband out, but what can you do?)

This is sometimes helpful in being frugal, and has allowed me to save money by being creative with my leftovers. I would love to share some of my ideas with you to help you as you make the most of your groceries. (I’ll post about saving other things later, but today I’ll be focusing on food.)

Here are some little things that I never throw away and use to make something new:

1. Meat carcasses: Yep, I’m one of those crazy people that makes their own broth with turkey/chicken/beef bones. Click here for a guide/recipe if you’ve never done this before. It makes great broth and ensures all those bones don’t go to waste!

2. Cinnamon-sugar coating: This may sound random, but I think it’s helpful. When I make snickerdoodles, there is always leftover cinnamon-sugar mix and instead of throwing it away I save it for future baking or put it on my toast (which is really yummy).

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3. Icing: I learned this trick from my mom – when you have leftover icing that isn’t enough to ice another batch of cupcakes, you can spread it on graham crackers for a tasty snack!

You can also add some extra milk and use it to glaze scones, cinnamon buns etc. I made some yummy cranberry scones this weekend with leftover lemon icing – see picture to right of how they turned out!

 4. Rice: Sometimes we have leftover rice, and if it doesn’t get used for a few days, it gets hard and unappetizing. I like to use leftover rice for two things: fried rice and breakfast rice.

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Fried rice is easy – scramble an egg with a little oil in a pan/wok, add some onion, leftover rice and veggies. Throw in some soy sauce and some leftover meat (I like to use turkey) and you have yourself a little meal. (See picture to left – I made fried rice with leftover pineapple, veggies and turkey. Really good!)

Breakfast rice is something mom made when she had leftover rice. You can add milk, cinnamon sugar and some fruit, and microwave for 30-60 seconds and you have a delicious little breakfast dish.

5. Bread: Unless bread goes moldy, I never throw it away. I save crusts or heels of bread to make homemade bread crumbs (throw them in a blender and use in place of store bought bread crumbs).

I also use bread heels for sandwiches – one of my mom friends once told me that if you turn the heel part inside, your kids will never know the difference! This is way better than throwing them away simply because they’re the part of the bread that kids (or adults!) normally don’t like.

6. Egg yolks/whites: If I have a recipe that calls for egg whites or yolks only, I save them in a little dish and make an omelette later in the week. I usually add another egg or two to balance out the yolks/whites.

These are a few ways that I stretch my limited grocery budget by using everything, sometimes in a “creative” way. Although this doesn’t save me thousands of dollars, it keeps me content with what I have and helps me to move away from a consumerism mentality. I try to never buy anything that I won’t eat or use – this keeps me content, creative, and frugal!

What are some things you never throw away in your kitchen and reuse in another way? Leave a comment below to share some ideas with me!

Breakfast on the Go (+ Granola Recipe)

This week, I lived a classic substitute teacher life. I was in my bed and got called out of a deep sleep to sub in 50 minutes – this happened two days in a row. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but the school that I am on the list for is 30 minutes away, so I only had 10 minutes to get dressed and grab my breakfast and lunch for the day.

Since I live this kind of life where I sometimes need pre-made/easy to grab food in a hurry, and refuse to buy packaged items, I need to keep homemade items on hand that I can grab and go with. This week I used some muffins I had put in the freezer for times like this, and some scones that I made one afternoon, but my favourite breakfast on the go, and the one I want to share with you today, is my mom’s granola recipe.

I asked my mom if I could share this recipe with you all and she agreed (thanks mom!). She got it from a co-worker in the 70’s. It is delicious, healthy, affordable, and has tons of variations.

I’ve taken some pictures so you can follow along as you make your own granola and make sure you’re on track. Ready? Here we go.

Kathy’s Granola 

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 cups rolled oatsPhoto 3-12-2014, 6 04 41 PM
  • 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds or chopped nuts
  • 1 cup dry milk
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 T. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins (or craisins) – optional

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. In a very large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, coconut, sesame seeds, nuts or sunflower seeds and dry milk.

2. In a separate bowl (or measuring cup), stir together honey, oil, water, and vanilla.

3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir to coat ingredients well.

4. Pour into 2 large, shallow baking pans sprayed lightly with cooking spray (or you can use a large turkey roasting pan).

5. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes (shallow baking pans) or 40 minutes for turkey pan. Stir twice during heating. Watch carefully – browns on bottom and burns easily.

6. Stir occasionally while while coo ling and crumble into pieces. If desired, add raisins/craisins at this point. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

Step-by-step instruction guide (with pictures!) 

Combine dry ingredients (minus the raisans/craisans) in a large bowl and combine the wet ingredients in another bowl .

I use a 2 cup measuring cup with a pour spout on it for the wet ingredients and find it works well.

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*Notes: Wheat germ is found in the cereal/oatmeal aisle and is a great source of fibre. I usually add a little bit of extra brown sugar and oat bran for a bit more fibre. I also use coconut oil instead of canola oil, which tastes great!*

Stir dry ingredients together until it is evenly mixed. 

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Pour mixed wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well to coat.

The entire mix should now be wet (if you see dry spots, keep stirring!

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Pour into prepared (lightly sprayed) pans. 

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Bake in oven and stir at least twice (I stir every 10 minutes). Granola is done when it is a bit brown and looks toasted. 

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Add craisins/raisins after it is out of the oven. Stir every few minutes to prevent clumps. 

Put in sealed container and enjoy!

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I love this recipe because it is delicious and allows me a healthy breakfast option that is quick and filling (I eat it with yogurt, but it is also good with milk or applesauce).

This allows me to still have a complete breakfast that will keep me full, even when I don’t have a lot of time in my day. You can tweak this recipe any way you want – adding your favourite ingredients and finding what works best for you!

What are some of your breakfast on the go ideas? Leave a comment to share with us!

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