Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Month: April 2014

Crockpot Broth

I promised last post that I would share my recipe for making broth in your crockpot, so here it is! 

Homemade broth is great – you can make it taste however you want, and it allows you to use your turkey carcass for something meaningful.

(P.S. We’re still eating our leftover turkey meat 9 days later –  I love it! I’ve used it in a stir-fry, in enchiladas, for sandwiches, with rice, and leftover with mashed potatoes. So versatile! )

Here’s my step-by-step guide to using your turkey (or chicken) bones to make a lovely homemade broth.

1. Put bones and giblets in the crockpot. I normally just pick the meat off the bones and leave everything else in there, including onions and any leftover bits of meat.

2. Add onions, water, and seasonings (and anything else you want in there). Some people add celery, garlic, or other veggies. I usually add the peels from my potatoes that I’ve made that day and some onions. My favourite seasonings are garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Sometimes salt and pepper. Fill up the crockpot with water, leaving about 2-3 inches from the top free just in case.Photo 2014-04-16, 10 34 08 PM

3. Set on low for 8-10 hours. I usually leave it on overnight and then do the rest of the steps in the morning.

4. After 8-10 hours, check on your broth. It should look something like this:

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5. Using a ladle and a strainer, ladle your broth into a bowl, separating the bones and other goodies from the liquid. 

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I use another bowl/container to collect all my meat scraps and then compost them.

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6. Ladle or pour your broth into jars or plastic containers. (I use a bowl with a pour spout – makes it so easy)

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7. Leave jars out to cool, then put in the fridge for a day. The fat will rise to the top, making it easy to separate from the other liquid. Photo 2014-04-20, 10 35 14 PM

8. Once you can clearly see the layer of fat at the top, use a spoon to scoop it off and throw away. (At this point, your broth may be a bit jelly-like in consistency. This is totally normal, and allows you to scoop the fat with more ease)

Photo 2014-04-20, 10 40 49 PM

9. Use (or freeze) and enjoy! I like to use to make sauces, soups, for cooking rice or for making pot pie broth. Really, the possibilities are endless!

Now it’s your turn! What do you use broth for? Leave a comment below! 

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Year-Round Turkey

Photo 2014-04-16, 9 54 59 AMI love turkey. It’s a delicious meat, and it’s a shame that we only eat it a few times a year.

The thing I love most about turkey is how versatile it is, and how affordable it can be! Today I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about stretching our meat budget by investing in this tasty bird.

I find turkey when it’s on sale and then cook it in my crockpot. This allows all the meat to be cooked through, and then you can use the bones to make homemade broth. Today we’ll stick with just the meat, and I’ll share more about making broth in my next post!

1. Buy a turkey that will fit in a crockpot.

(I try to find them when they are on sale, between $10-$12. You have to pick your timing, otherwise you’ll pay a lot more than you want. Around holidays is good because so many people are buying turkeys that they are generally on sale.)

2. Defrost your turkey (most come frozen). I kept mine in the fridge for 2 days and it was ready to  go.Photo 2014-04-16, 10 02 12 AM

3. Take out the giblets and neck. I set mine aside to use later when I make broth.

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4. Wash off your bird in the sink and pat dry with paper towels. 

 

 

5. Put the turkey in your crockpot, rub with butter, stuff with onions, put on seasonings, and add a bit of water to the bottom of the crockpot. I usually use Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper, but the sky’s the limit! You can also add lemons or garlic if you’d like.

Photo 2014-04-16, 10 03 41 AM

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6. If the lid doesn’t fit, cover with tin foil. Put on low for 8-9 hours or high for 5-6 hours (this is for my crockpot, you’ll have to figure out what works for you).

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Halfway through the cooking process, you’ll need to flip your turkey to make sure both sides get cooked through. I usually add more seasoning the other side and add a bit more water at this point.

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7. You can tell the turkey is ready when the legs start to fall off (this means the meat is cooked all the way through).

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8. Your turkey is now ready to eat! I usually make mashed potatoes and gravy to go along with this meal. Delicious!

9. Pick off the meat and store it for later. I was able to get 3 containers full of turkey pieces and 2 (large) legs.

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I use these little meat pieces to add protein to my meals. Here are some of my favourite ways:

  • Stir-fry
  • Potpie
  • Sprinkled on a salad
  • On top of pasta
  • With mashed potatoes
  • Enchiladas
  • Sandwiches

Usually the meat from one turkey will last for several weeks. I freeze the leftovers and pull it out when I need a little something to add to my meals.

Next time I’ll share with you how to use every part of the turkey by using the bones to make your own broth. Stay tuned!

Also, I wanted to share with you that I’ve added a subscribe form to my website so you can sign up for my e-newsletter. That way you’ll never miss a post! Click here to sign up or check out the sidebar on this page. 

Now it’s your turn! How do you use leftover turkey? I’d love some new ideas – leave me a comment below. 

Chickpeas Are The New Chicken

I hate the rising cost of meat. 

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As I alluded to in my last blog post, we’re trying out some new ways to incorporate more affordable types of protein into our diets. I love chicken, but I always end up paying more than I want to. Today I am going to share one of my favourite meatless options with you: chickpeas!

Chickpeas, otherwise known as garbanzo beans, are a great source of protein and they are quite inexpensive. Like many other things I make in the kitchen, I found a way to prepare them in my crockpot – this allows me to have them when I need them without having to pay the price for pre-cooked, canned beans.

I bought a large bag of chickpeas and cooked about 1/3 of the bag. This bag cost me $5.50, and it made 5 jars of chickpeas. Normally, each can of pre-cooked chickpeas costs $0.87-$1.00 per can. If I can make 15 cans of beans for $5.50, this means I’m paying only 1/3 of the price for something that has less preservatives and that I can make myself. That’s a win in my book!

Here’s my simple step by step guide to cooking chickpeas in the crockpot – feel free to use it in your own kitchen!

1. Pick out the shriveled/broken chickpeas.

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Place good beans in the crockpot. (I use about 2 cups)

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2. Pour water over chickpeas – about 2 inches above the beans. 

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3. Put crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. 

4. Beans are ready when they mush with a spoon or in your mouth (I always taste them to check). They will be doubled or tripled in size. 

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5. Put beans in plastic or glass jars or Tupperware containers. I freeze them and then pull them out when I need them. Usually half of a jar is enough for one meal for us, so one batch lasts me a few months.

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So there you have it –  a simple way to make your own meat substitute in a few easy steps!

I use chickpeas in stir-frys and curries instead of chicken (they just soak up the flavour of the sauce, which is great). You can use them in soups, make your own hummus, or put them on salads.

Now it’s your turn – what meat substitutes do you use? I’d love some new ideas – leave me a comment below!

Bulking Up On Beef

I love doing what I can to save money on groceries.

I don’t know about you, but I find that especially here in the Great White North, food is really expensive – meat and cheese especially! I like to do what I can to save money and still get enough protein in our diets.

Today I want to share with you a trick that I learned from my mom about ground beef. Fred and I are not foodies but any stretch of the imagination – we cook really simply, so ground beef is a staple at our house. We put it in soups, in spaghetti sauce, lasagna, on nachos, and in burritos. It takes a while to cook, so I buy it in bulk and freeze it in smaller portions. This saves me time and money!Photo 2014-03-18, 7 33 38 PM

Here’s a step-by-step guide with pictures. Ready?

1. Buy a big batch of beef. Lean ground beef is usually a bit more expensive, so I usually go with regular ground beef and rinse it after it’s cooked to get the extra fat off.

2. Get out the biggest pan you have. I use a non-stick frying pan. You could do two batches at once (2 pans) to save time.

3. Scoop out a bunch of the beef into the pan. I usually keep the stove on 6 or 7 (medium-high) while cooking. If you crank it up to high, the grease will splatter.

4. Flip beef over when the bottom is cooked. Make sure both sides get cooked. You might have to flip the beef over a few times to make sure it gets cooked through the middle.

5. Beef is done when you can’t see any more pink. Make sure that it’s cooked all the way to avoid any raw meet in your food later on!

Photo 2014-03-18, 7 40 07 PM Photo 2014-03-18, 7 59 56 PM

 

 

 

 

 

6. Pour into colander with a tin can underneath. This drains all the lovely fat off your beef and makes it more tasty. Wait until the grease hardens and the can is full, then throw away. Photo 2014-03-18, 8 29 00 PM

(Sorry about the shadow in this picture!)

7. Cool, then put in individual bags/containers. I usually separate them into the portion size I will use later. My mom taught me that 2.5 cups is one pound, which is helpful for future cooking endeavours. Put beef in the freezer so it’s there when you need it.

So there you have it! A simple way to stretch your meat budget and make it easier to throw together a meal later. The possibilities for ground beef are endless – it’s a must-have for your freezer!

What do you use ground beef for? Leave me some ideas below!

We’re Going Gazelle

It’s official – we’re moving. 

We have been working towards paying off our debt (officially) for about 2 years, but we’ve felt that we don’t have enough traction, and that our expected debt pay-off would be 4 or so more years.

That wasn’t good enough for us. We want to be out of debt NOW. 

So, we decided that we’ll move to another city 20 minutes away, which is closer to Fred’s work and offers us a place that is $400 less in rent. This option also allows us to sell a car and save on car insurance and gas every month, moving up our projected debt pay-off to approximately two years. 

We’ve had moments of uncertainty and disappointment in leaving a city and a basement suite that we love. We’ll be further from friends and will be moving to a city that we’re not sure we love yet, but our desire to get out of debt is greater. We’re clinging on to each other and jumping into a new life that will be scary yet satisfying.

We’re doing what Dave Ramsey calls “going gazelle.” We’re running as fast as we can from our remaining $56,000 of debt so that we can stop being under the burden of our large monthly payments. Being in debt has stopped us from having financial security, from starting a family, and from being as generous as we want to be. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

So, in less than a month we’ll be in our new home. We’ll have sold some stuff, downsized from 2 bedrooms to 1, and will be further away from our community. We know that these sacrifices will be hard, but worth it. We’d appreciate your support as we make this move and get our debt-free life started as soon as possible.

I made these papers that show us how much we have left to pay off on our debts about 2 months ago. This inspired us to get thinking about what kinds of crazy things we could do to pay off our loans faster. This silly little thermometer on a piece of paper keeps us motivated to pay more and more each month until the debt is gone and our life without debt can begin. (*We’re still missing our largest $30,00 loan – I wanted to take it one or two steps at a time!*) 

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On your mark, get set, RUN! 

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done to save money or to pay off debt? I’d love to hear your stories! Leave a comment below. 

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