What have you done this week to save money in your household?

veggrljoSeptember 19, 2010

There has not been a post like this to the thread for a while so I thought I would put one up. The question is; What have you done this week to save money in your household? Little things count! I would love to hear what you are doing! There have been similar posts in the past but time passes and people learn new ways to save money and sometimes it is good to hear some of the great ideas that have been around for a while.

To start off this week we have line dried laundry, composted scraps, hubby ordered work out gear online with a coupon and we cooked pasta sauce to use on a couple of meals. Nothing major just daily occurrences that help us keep going.

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I plan meals by what's on sale, and try to be very flexible. I got a fresh whole Foster Farms chicken at the store for 89 a pound. I would have had something else for dinner if chicken had not been on sale.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:58AM
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Great idea veggrljo...

-I have been taking advantage of free-for-the-picking apples and pears. It's a shame how much fruit goes to waste in people's back yards. I dehydrate most of it and put it in storage in vacuum-sealed (FoodSaver) quart jars. I'll be dehydrating apples daily for the next couple months.

Dehydrated apples are a favorite out-of-hand snack, but I also use them for making applesauce, pies/cobblers, and adding to quick breads and homemade granola.

I'll also take any free tomatoes people are trying to giving away. It's amazing how many dehydrated tomatoes you can store in a quart jar!

-I have clothes lines in the basement (6-lines with a ceiling fan overhead to aid drying), as well as outdoors, so I never have to use the dryer due to bad weather. The indoor lines are so handy I rarely hang clothes outdoors these days. By using indoor lines our clothes seem to last a LOT longer. Sun and wind really take a toll on fabrics. I still like to hang whites outdoors occasionally for a free bleaching.

-I'm working on my indoor garden for the winter. When "fresh produce" really ISN'T fresh and definitely has little nutrition after being transported and stored, I depend on what I can grow indoors to supplement our diet. This means lots of bean and seed sprouts, wheatgrass and herbs - which all grow easily indoors; and also supply great nutrition. I also put a cold-frame in the garden. I can usually grow cool season greens (leaf lettuce, spinach, turnip tops) until January. In a mild winter I can grow them all winter long.

-I sliced an 80-cent bar of ZOTE into 8 small bars to use in the shower. It's the least expensive bar soap I've found. If you have sensitive or dry skin, I wouldn't suggest using it.

-White beans are "cooking" in a Stanley Thermos. All the utilities it takes for this process is the hot water you place in the thermos bottle to pre-heat it (which goes back into the electric kettle), and the boiling hot water added along with the beans to "cook" them. I'm going to use the beans for White Chicken Chili. I "cook" a lot of whole grains and beans in a Thermos. A Thermal Cooker and Solar Ovens are also used to save on utilities. I purchased an Induction Hot Plate this summer and I use instead of my regular stove-top. It heats foods much faster, so it also saves on utilities.

-A batch of homemade kefir is incubating in a quart jar on the kitchen counter. I make mine with reconstituted powdered milk (which I purchase in bulk for more savings over store-bought milk) and REAL kefir grains. The kefir grains are used over and over so I have a never-ending supply of kefir. Kefir is made at room temperature, so no electricity needed.

We add kefir to our breakfast smoothie, use it as a substitute for buttermilk, the curd is drained and used as a substitute for plain yogurt/sour cream/cream cheese. Kefir is SOOOO much easier to make than yogurt, and MUCH better for you.

-We are water-savers. You know, that cold water that runs down the drain while waiting for the hot when you take a shower? We save it in 3-gallon jugs and use "saved water" for washing dishes and for drinking water we run either through our Berkey Filter or our water distiller.

Another use for "saved" water... We use a small plastic tub for washing dishes that don't go in the dishwasher and after-meal clean-up, and use about 1-gallon of water TOTAL for the process. We heat 5-cups of water in our electric kettle and add about 5 more cups of cold "saved" water. The remainder of the cold water in the gallon is used for rinse water.

-I shop for groceries at home and plan meals around what is in rotation because we have a large (1-year plus) amount of food in storage. Groceries ($150/month for 2 adults) are purchased at the lowest possible price and placed in storage. I've been adding a lot of wheat to storage the last couple months. Next month will be grass-fed beef for the freezer. About 80% of our food dollars go into storage foods.

Hope to learn some new savings tips...


    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:23PM
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I do simple things like using vinegar for fabric softener. I also have a front loading washing machine with built in heater that helps keep the water usage down and doesn't change the water temp.

I also buy things in bulk. I never use name brand toilet paper. Some people have luck getting it nearly free with coupons, but that just isn't something that works for us. We have 4 kids and 2 adults in our house and we use less than 15$ in toilet paper a month. Since most of us are girls it does make a difference.

I recently got a dishwasher with water saver feature and built in heater. I love it. I always turn the heated dry off and open the door to let the dishes dry.

We use light sensor night lights for the kids night time bathroom trips. When my step daughter isn't here, we always make sure everything is unplugged. We make sure nothing is left plugged in that doesn't have to be.

We also buy a lot of our remodeling stuff for our home at auctions and on clearance at the local home centers. It only works if you are flexible and know what you are getting into. You have to know what to works and what doesn't.

I also have a garden and do a lot of canning. I have kept my eyes open all year long for jars, flats, and rings. I also try to save up on coupons and other special offers that help me get the stuff I need to make my homemade spaghetti sauce. I have canned everything from applesauce to greenbeans and anything you can make from tomatoes.

I like to take the onions that we grow in the garden, chop them up in the processor and freeze them in 1/2 cup baggies. It makes cooking fast and easy. They thaw in the pot when you are cooking with no need to defrost.

DH is a handy DIY'er. He can fix most of what breaks around here and if I want something built, he does that too. He has made most of my kitchen cabinets and repurposed a bunch of them from an old farmhouse to work for our house. He also does a lot of the work on our vehicles. Gotta love a handy man.

I buy most of my kids clothes at yardsales. It only makes sense. If they are nice enough for me to pay for then the kids will hardly know the difference. I have also bought a lot of my furniture second hand.

We also butcher every year. Last year we did 1/2 a hog and 1/4 beef, but this year we will have to increase. The family got bigger.

I also get some things on freecycle. This doesn't work out everytime, but I managed to get a trombone in good condition for my son to use in band this year. It just needed checked out and polished. This has worked out to get rid of a lot of clutter as well.

I hope to hear of some new things too.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:03PM
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Grainlady, I don't think you can learn too much from this forum. YOU have the answers! I'm intrigued by your $150 food budget. What items do you buy fresh? How about posting a couple of days sample menus if it's not too personal a question?

My husband retired last year and we are on a fixed income and not too large a one at that! The only place I can see that we can cut down is at the grocery store. I live in TN, so we have that dreaded 9.75% tax on food. We also live in smaller town, so coupons are basically non- existent. When we lived in FL, I had access to many buy one, get one. No more. There is also not a place that I have found in our area that I can order bulk (oatmeal, wheat, milk, etc.

I have put up a ton of stuff from our garden. Nearly 200 qts of green beans, several jams, some pears, okra and tomatoes, tomatoes. Also in the freezer: blackeyed peas, lima beans, okra (for frying, soups, and more okra and tomatoes- great over rice), and lots of peppers and green onions for seasoning. So at least we can eat veggies! :)

I'm really thinking about getting the zojirushi to use up some of the wheat I have in storage. We use a lot of bread.

I can't think of a whole lot of other things to do. I would love to come to Kansas and follow you around for a couple of weeks, but, like Dorothy, I'm too far away!

Thanks, Carol

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:54AM
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"I would love to come to Kansas and follow you around for a couple of weeks, but, like Dorothy, I'm too far away!" Me, too!

I've used homemade laundry soap and hung the clothes out to dry. I've went to the local thrift stores for clothes. I've planned meals around what I have on hand (I have about 6 months worth of food stored), and what's on sale that I have coupons for. I've turnd off the AC, and we have some window fans going. I've also been conscience about turning off lights when we leave a room. (I've gottne bad about that!). We have a big garden, so we canned and made jams. We have an Excalibur dehydrator, so we dehydrate the excess from the garden for later use. We also have a Country Living grain mill, and I've used it last weekend to grind wheat for homemade bread. (I'm not sure just how cost effective that one is. By the time I buy the wheat, and use the oven, I think I might be better off in the long run to buy a $1 loaf. However, this bread is much better than what I can buy, and I make enough for a couple of weeks.) We went to Sams and a local restaurant supply store (that we have access to) and got some really great deals (14 large bell peppers for $4--dehydrated 'em). I trimmed and colored my hair. I don't like to cut my hair, but the genius that I go to is expensive, and I just can't go when I'd like to. (He really is the best I've ever seen!) and my favorite--I've traded an hour of tutoring for 2 bottles of a local wine. (I haven't the extra to buy the wine, so my neighbor and I worked this out. :) Gotta love it!

Great thread!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 5:18PM
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Refinishing kitchen and bath cabinets instead of buying new: Cost to refinish: about $150
Cost to replace: about $15,000

I'm going to rest on my laurels for a while.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:19AM
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Ilovetn it may not be possible in your portion of TN but Hubby has friends that plan a ever so often buying trip to a larger town. They set aside money to do this. They have done this for a couple of years. One thing that I would suggest is watch the food cycles for bargains and if the stores you might shop at have web pages watch them for sales items. August and September are generally months that dried pasta's are for sale. Canned veggies should be on sale now but are not. Posible shortage. I know you can but is nice to have several cans of beans on hand.

Not having a large enough garden to can I purchase veggies that are on sale fresh, frozen, or canned.

Watch for meat in larger packages. A roast can be cut into all kinds of portions as can chickens. Sometimes however the cut up portions are cheaper than whole.

What ever you do put your grain products and rice and beans in sealed containers if posible put in freezer for a month to kill any bugs that might be there. Before I started doing this I had a major problem with grain bugs.

Eggs are good on a budget and are now considered healthful.

Read some of Grain Lady's previous posts for other suggestions. Living in a small town is nice but sometimes the cost of living is higher after figuring the sometimes inflated small town prices. You can order many food things to be shipped to you now over the web.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 5:48PM
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Wow, Lazygardens, you should change your name! You are NOT lazy at all. That's quite an accomplishment.

Yes, Maifleur, a trip to a larger town is possible. We really don't live in the smallest town but you cannot buy a piece of fabric at a reasonable price. For that, we go to Johnson City or Knoxville. A friend of mine just made a grocery buying trip to Asheville because they have no tax on food. She tries to buy about 3 months worth of staples and freezer items. But I really think I do just as well closely watching the sales.

I did do a search of grainlady's posts and found some interesting info. I used to post some, mostly lurk, about 18 months ago. Then we moved into our unfinished dream home and we had only dial-up internet. I just didn't have the patience with everything else that needed to be done. Thank the Lord we finally got DSL, so here I am again!

Grainlady has posted much info that I have found helpful in the past. I know when I asked about homemade wheat bread, she took the time to post some lenghthy and helpful suggestions. I admire all her knowledge.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 3:17PM
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I haven't checked this thread lately and didn't realize all the new posts!!!

ilovetn -

It sounds like you've had a really busy and fruitful summer with all that canning and freezing. I mostly dehydrate and freeze food these days. With the high cost of utilities, it seems to be the most cost effective preservation method for us. Odd thing to say for a person who teaches home canning classes... Our tax on everything (not just food) is 8.2%, so that does take a bite out of the food dollars.

A couple years ago I spent about 18-months building 3 levels of food storage and I did that on $50/week for groceries. When it was complete, I lowered the amount to $150/month and am considering lowering it to $125/month.

-72-hour Emergency Food: foods that don't require heating or refrigeration. Most are in 1 or 2 serving sizes and from all the food groups. This is the food we used during an ice storm when we were without utilities.

-Pantry: A 6-12 month supply of foods we use on a daily basis.

-Long-term: This is mostly large amounts of grains, beans, seeds, #10 cans of freeze dried meat, veggies and fruit. I have more than one year's supply of the "Seven Survival Foods" - grains, legumes, sprouting seeds, sweetener, salt, oil and powdered milk. I use powdered milk and whey-based milk products I purchase in #10 cans for long-term storage. When I can split a 50# bag with someone, I'll buy in bulk to save money.

Now that we have long-term foods in storage, we use more of them in order to rotate them. I've cut down on general canned goods because freeze-dried fruit/vegetables have more nutrition. I wish I would have used freeze-dried foods years ago - LOVE 'EM!

-I try to keep meat purchases to $2 a pound or less and/or no more than $10/week. Be sure to check those cans of tuna because when you figure the price per pound, you just as well purchase steak (LOL). (A can of tuna that costs $1.79 = $5.73/pound. A can of tuna that costs .59 = $1.89/pound, and a serving is 2-3 ounces.)

-Around 75-80% of my food dollars goes back into food storage and the remaining goes for fresh food.

-I rarely spend the entire amount and focus on bargains. I don't use all that many coupons because they tend to be for "junk" food and highly-processed foods. As unspent money accumulates I will purchase large amounts of grain, a year's supply of powdered milk, and this month I'll purchase grass-fed beef from a friend. It's a splurge because it's much more than $2/pound.

-Only food is purchased with food dollars, no magazines, health and beauty aids, TP....

-I'm a stickler for portion sizes of food and follow the old Basic 4, rather than the New Food Pyramid:

Bread & Cereal - 4 servings
Fruits & Vegetables - 4 servings
Meat or Meat Alternative - 2 servings
Milk/Dairy - 2 servings

Snacks are generally nuts, dehydrated apples, homemade baked tortilla chips, popcorn...

-I focus on whole foods and avoid highly processed food. I never purchase budget-breaking cereal (there is approximately 17-cents of grain in a box of cereal). I make my own Cream of Wheat/Rice from whole grain, mill my own oats either into flakes or a coarse grind similar to steel-cut oats. I make a high-protein "cereal" from gluten. I also make a recipe similar to Grape Nuts using whole wheat flour.

I make a lot of food from wheat: cereals, sprouts, wheatgrass, bulgar and cracked wheat, flour, flakes....

-I mill my own flour and make all our baked goods. I think you would LOVE a Zojirushi. I never bake in it, but it's one of the best things there is for kneading dough. I can actually bake two loaves of bread for less money in my Sharp Microwave/Convection Oven than in a Zo. Plus, I make 2+ pounds of dough at a time and I can make more than one thing from that amount of dough. We use one 1# loaf of bread per week, so I can make 2 loaves, or one loaf and an 8-inch pan of dinner rolls, 6 hamburger or hot dog buns, 6 pecan cinnamon rolls, etc... All these items are kept in the freezer.

-My "convenience" foods consist of homemade mixes, such as a wholegrain version of Bisquick, multi-grain pancake mix, pudding mix.... I also mix up a batch of "Magic Mix" (developed by the Utah State Extension Service) and use it for all kinds of things - pudding, gravy, fudgsicles, Cream of ________ Soup, Alfredo Sauce.

-I stick to whole foods - better value in the nutrition and fiber division, as well as lower-price than highly-processed foods. Whole foods are also Nature's original fast-food. Wash, peel (if necessary) slice and serve. Fruit is generally served for dessert.

-This is what I use to plan meals.

*Monday - Big Meal
This includes a large cut of meat that will be used for other meals (baked chicken/turkey, roast beef/pork, meatloaf, etc.), lunches, base for soup, and hopefully a portion for the freezer.

*Tuesday - Leftovers
May or may not take on a different look than what was served on Monday.

*Wednesday - Stir-fry

*Thursday - International
Generally something made with pasta (Italian), or homemade tortillas or taco shells (Mexican). A good day to use less meat, more meat alternatives and loads of veggies.

*Friday - Vegetarian

*Saturday - Soup and/or Sandwich

*Sunday - Homemade Pizza or a Dinner Salad

BTW, I've been to TN twice this summer. It's a 12-hour drive for us to see our daughter and family.

maddie-in-ky -

I can make a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread for around 50-cents - even with all the odd-ball ingredients I add to it. Milling your own flour and making your own bread is the only way you can get all the valuable nutrition from wheat.

I cut my own hair and pay myself $25/month. I put that money in our "Emergency/Christmas Fund" so I can say it was REALLY saved. I also save $1 bills. We've saved as much as $1,000 a year using this method, but never less than $500.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:56PM
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Just an FYI as you become older you need to add additional milk/dairy to your diet even if you are taking calcium suppliments or so I have been told by my doctor. His reasoning is that older bodies can not ingest the amount of calcium needed as easily as younger bodies.

A question I do have for those that use powdered milk. Is powdered milk enriched with Vitamen D like regular milk?

Although I have had bone scans and they have always shown up in the mid range he tested me for Vita B & D last time and I showed up low in B and very low in D. Along with taking shots of B he has me taking D but would like me to switch to whole milk products because the fat in them apparently helps the absorbtion of D. Most powdered milk is low fat or at least what we have here.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:14AM
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Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food....and make it cheap!

We start the day with a smoothie that contains homemade kefir made with real kefir grains. In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Particularly calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, B2 and B12, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin D. Egg yolks, butter, oily fish and cod liver oil are also good sources for vitamin D in our diet. At least 10-15 minutes in the sun is also a part of my day to assure I get natural vitamin D.

Non-fat dry powdered milk is often added to regular milk to fortify it with extra calcium. NIDO brand (made by Nestle) is a whole milk version. I get it at Wal-Mart (in the Hispanic section of the store) and use it for making yogurt and kefir.

Add a tablespoon of molasses to your milk for even more calcium.

People neglect the value of seeds and nuts in their diets. Little powerhouses of nutrition. They contain all kinds nutrients, essential fatty acids and most are rich in calcium. Some I use on a regular basis are: chia, sesame, sunflower and flax.

I soak/sprout all the nuts we consume and then dehydrate them until they are crispy. This makes the nuts easier to digest and increases the available nutrients.

Sprouting your own seeds/nuts is not only a good way to save money, but increases the nutrients. "Some vitamins increase during sprouting by 500%! In wheat, vitamin B-12 quadruples, other B vitamins increases 3 to 12 times, vitamin E content triples." Sprouts are the ultimate fresh food source for us when the garden is no longer producing.

I also grow microgreens. While they go for $3 to $5 per OUNCE at the store, they are REALLY cheap eats when you grow your own, and they are so easy to grow. These little seedlings are full of nutrients.

Instead of supplementing your diet with pills and drugs, use FOOD! Real LIVE food you can make at home for pennies.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:02AM
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Do you think that using vinegar during the laundry rinse cycle counteracts any of the soap residue issues with homemade laundry detergent? I would appreciate your opinion. I like making the detergent (I kind of get a kick out of the idea), but I do spend a fair bit of money on my clothes, and they always last me a long time. If I cause premature wearing out of clothing with the homemade detergent, I fear this would truly be "penny wise and pound foolish."

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:42PM
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O.K. I've been researching the kefir business. I don't know how I've lived this long and never heard much about this! I'm ready to order kefir grains. Do you have a good source?

Also been checking the zojirushi. Amazon has one that makes a 2 lb loaf for 209.99. Black and stainless. I haven't seen them much cheaper, but maybe you have a source for that too?


    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 2:22PM
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Check local thrift stores for bread machines, dehydrators, etc.

I keep seeing them, usually unused.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 2:52PM
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I used to use homemade laundry soap before I started using Charlie's Soap. Be sure to add up ALL the add-ins you require for doing laundry to see if you really are saving money. I was adding Cascade Dish Washer Detergent for the phosphates and enzymes, and Oxy Clean to boost the homemade soap. I also had to use an extra rinse as well as fabric softener so my costs were increasing.

Now I use 1 T. of Charlie's Soap and only add vinegar to the kitchen towel load, and the bath towel load. I probably don't need to add it at all. NO fabric softener - my clothes are soft...even line-dried.

I did a lot of subsequent research and found this information that may be helpful.

Because your homemade mixture is a soap, rather than a detergent, it will typically cause soap residue build-up that may require more than just vinegar in the rinse, especially if you have hard water and if you use cold water.

Neither soap nor detergents clean effectively in cold water below 65 degrees F. Detergent manufacturers and care labels define "cold water" as 80-85 degrees F.

When using homemade laundry soap, it works better if you can use the hottest water for the type of fabrics you are washing (at least 120 degrees F). Hot water is the most effective water temperature at removing soil - with nearly any kind of laundry soap/detergent. Even Martha Stewart suggests this in her laundry hints.

Hard water contains mineral deposits that often require more soap or detergent than a normal amount. Hard water affects laundering in several ways. Incomplete soil removal, white fabrics may become grayed and dingy, and as unremoved soil deposits accumulate, it makes fabric feel harsh and stiff. I've read information that suggests, "soap causes the fabric to deteriorate". If you line dry your clothes and they are stiff, that is a sure sign of soap scum build-up, which is like having sandpaper in your fabrics.

Detergents contain corrosion inhibitors, soap doesn't, which will help prevent fabric deterioration. Soap-based products may reduce the life of your clothing AND your washing machine. If I've noticed anything from switching to Charlie's Soap 3-years ago, our clothes last MUCH longer because there is NO build-up, and research information at their web site proves that, as well as my own experience with the product.

You can add packaged water softener products to your laundry if you have hard water, which will do more than vinegar for soap scum residue. You will need to add it to both the wash AND rinse/s. "The conditioner's chemicals tie up the hardness minerals, and allow the detergent to do a good cleaning job."

If your whites are getting dingy, you may need to add more homemade soap and add an additional rinse, as well as a water conditioner.

To get clothes white again:
-Wash the clothes again in HOT water.
-Add enough water softener to make the water feel slippery (about 1-cup).
-If the water becomes sudsy, the clothes were not rinsed enough (soap scum build-up). Wash them again adding only water softener.
-If the clothes do not whiten, add soap or detergent and rewash.
(source: Getting Clothes Clean - Guide C-503 - Susan Wright, Extension Specialist - Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico State University)

Hope that gives you the information you are looking for.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 5:33PM
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The best way to get B-12 is to eat. But I gave up eating raw liver when CWD and CJD became more prevalent. Sorry but apparently I have had a life long problem but was not aware of it. I only knew I had to eat the stuff when I was a child.

I have read several places that exposing your stomach to the sun will increase the amount absorbed. In Minnesota they were building sun rooms for patients in hospitals and nursing homes.

A question I have about the water softener for washing things is why not common salt? Most water softeners around here are just Sodium Cloride puffed up. The process does work very well but was wondering if anyone had tried regular salt?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 7:07PM
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ilovetn -

I think the reason you haven't heard of kefir (the "red-headed step-child" in the world of curds and whey) is because it needs to be made with REAL kefir grains and you get them from someone else who has them - a shared product, unlike manufactured bacteria/culture used in yogurt. Yogurt was easy to manufacture.

I went on-line and found a source in Kansas - The Dolphin Song - http://www.thedolphinsong.com/ - who sent them to me for a nominal charge plus shipping. If you have a friendly health food store or natural food co-op, see if there is someone locally who will share their kefir grains with you. Sometimes you can find them on "Free-Cycle" on-line, or post that you are looking for some.

There are powdered kefir starters, but they have little in common with real kefir grains, other than the name "kefir". It's like the difference between instant mashed potatoes and mashed potatoes made with whole potatoes.

I first started using Yogourmet Freeze-dried Kefir Starter, and you may want to give it a try to see if you really like it. Because of the expense, I would use 1/2 cup from the first batch to culture one or two more batches in order to save money. After the third batch the culture would be weak and you wouldn't get as thick a curd. It also proved it's not a "live" culture like real kefir grains. Like "they" say, "Kefir grains are "immortal." "Yogurt cultures are merely like "humans," they have a birth, a childhood and youth stage, an adult stage, and sinking-towards-death stage (until they finally die)." That's why you must refresh your yogurt culture periodically. You can use yogurt from a previous batch for several batches, but it gets weak and eventually dies, so you purchase some store-bought yogurt to use as a new starter.

I've used my kefir grains for at least 8-years and have sent them to friends in Delaware, Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma.

I'd also suggest the book, "KEFIR Rediscovered!" by Klaus Kaufmann and the link below to Dom's Kefir In-Site.

My sister found her Zo at a thrift store, and after buying at least 10 other brands at thrift stores, she is now a Zo fan. She says it's the best bread machine she's owned.

The Zo at Amazon.com sounds like a real bargain - especially if you get free shipping.

King Arthur Flour occasionally has a free shipping special.

Pleasant Hill Grain (http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/zojirushi_bread_machine_bread_makers.aspx) has them for $239.95 - FREE shipping.

I mill my own flour and make 100% whole wheat bread in the Zo. Most other brands just aren't up to that task and suggest you NOT make 100% whole wheat bread, or suggest you NOT use home-milled flour in them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Dom's Kefir Insite

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Thanks, Grainlady. I've never heard of Charlie's soap; I'm going to look into it!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 7:32PM
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Thanks Grainlady. I'll certainly check the thrift stores. I "yard sale" a lot and I've been checking them but all I've seen are the cheapies. One day...

I've already been on Dom's Kefir Insite. Lots of info there. Thanks for the suggestions on Kefir grains. I'm sure I'll like it. I love buttermilk, yogurt, and all such things.

Have a great week!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 8:23PM
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I make my own Cream of Wheat/Rice from whole grain, mill my own oats either into flakes or a coarse grind similar to steel-cut oats. I make a high-protein "cereal" from gluten. I also make a recipe similar to Grape Nuts using whole wheat flour.

Hey, Grainlady! I always enjoy reading your posts.

I've made your Grape Nuts cereal, and we love it! We call the homemade version Crumb Nuts ha-ha!

Could you please post instructions for how you make Cream of Rice/Wheat, mill oats, steel-cut oats?

We do have a grain mill, I'd love to use it more.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 9:35AM
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crypandrus -

I have a bevy of mills I use for making these items. It's a matter of how coarse or fine you mill grains.

The Marga Flaker Mill will mill a coarse flour, chopped grain (similar to multi-grain cereal blends - 5-grain, 7-grain, etc.), as well as flatten grain into flakes. The Corona Corn Mill is also useful for coarse milling.

I use the Nutrimill on the coarse setting for some things, and you could use it for farina. When I make pasta I mill durum wheat (the type of wheat for the best pasta/noodles) on the coarse setting for a grind similar to semolina flour. I'll also use it for a fine-grind of cornmeal when I want more cake-like corn bread. For coarse or medium cornmeal I'll use the Corona Corn Mill.

The important thing to remember, sift out the flour from your coarse-ground wheat or rice (or other grains) in order to get a farina-like texture (aka Cream of Wheat or Rice). If you don't sift out the flour, your cooked cereal will resemble glue. You'll find a number of how-to instructions by doing a search on "homemade cream of wheat".

You need to sift out the flour if you make cracked wheat, which can be made in a blender. I also make my own bulgur. For bulgur you have to cook wheat, then dry completely and crack the dried wheat in a mill, grinder or blender. Once again, sift out the flour.

Do you use your grain mill for milling beans and peas? I consider bean flour a "convenience" food. I can whisk black bean or pinto bean flour into water and in 6-8 minutes have refried beans. Split pea flour for "instant" split pea soup, and other creamy soup mixtures that make up in 3-minutes using bean flour. I found this information and recipes in "Country Beans" by Rita Bingham.

You can increase fiber and protein in baked goods by adding bean flour. Be sure to choose small white beans for bean flour in baked goods. They have the least amount of "beany" flavor.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:08PM
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Checked all the thrift stores in town this morning. Some bread machines, but no Zo. I'll keep checking.

Yesterday, blanched some collards and put them in the freezer. Picked a big colander full of peppers. I may dry them or just put them in the freezer.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 3:23PM
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Grainlady, Wow, you did choose a great online user name for yourself. ;-)

Thanks for the tip on sifting out flour when milling into larger pieces, I can see that would be key to avoiding gluey-ness.

Have you ever made quinoa flour? It's so expensive to buy in those little bags from Bob's.

Do you rinse the quinoa first, and dry it? How, exactly? (To get rid of saponins before grinding it.)

Thanks again!

ps Here's my "what-have-I-done-this-week-to-save-money" tip: when shopping at the supermarket, always take a good look at the bottom shelf... many of the best buys are stocked there. Kind of hidden in plain sight.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 8:53AM
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I put a new pump on my washing machine myself, no repair man needed!
I researched online possible causes for the leak from the front bottom of my washer. Following the instructions from a DIY website online, I took the cabinet off the washer, confirmed the leak, and replaced the pump myself for $60.00 instead of $180.00 cost of a service call, part and labor. I could have gotten the part cheaper online, but bought it locally instead.
It was pretty easy too!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 10:45AM
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Washed only large loads and hung them outside to dry. Dried some herbs from the garden, collected seeds from those plants going to seed for next years garden and just the usual savings things I don't stop and even think about.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 12:31PM
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cryptandrus -

Use imported quinoa, which has had most of the saponin removed. If you use domestic quinoa, it MUST be washed and dried before milling.

How to wash (source: The Splendid Grain): Put the quinoa in a deep bowl and cover with cold water. Gently rub it between your palms for about 6 seconds or so to wash off the saponin. Drain the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Repeat. If using domestic quinoa, wash a third time. Place the strainer under cold running water and rinse the quinoa until the water runs almost clear.

FYI: If there is any saponin remaining on the grain, the water will show evidence of foaming. Saponin is soapy.

To dry: Place the grain on a jelly roll pan and place in an oven with ONLY the light on - no extra heat necessary. Stir occasionally. For just a small amount you can dry-roast it in a frying pan. Dry-roasted grain also has a really nice flavor. Cool completely before milling.

Grind 2/3 c. of quinoa to make 1 c. flour. Store it in the freezer and use within 4 months.

Quinoa is so soft you can mill it into flour using a coffee/spice mill, or even a blender.

I can't toss out even one heel or one piece of bread - especially when I spend time making such great loaves of homemade bread with all kinds of great healthy ingredients (100% whole wheat, multi-grain cereal, flaxmeal, chia seeds, high-maize resistant starch...) - so, this morning I took the "collection" of bread/heels out of the freezer and made a portion of them into dry bread crumbs, and some into fresh bread crumbs. I have a small collection of recipes that uses bread crumbs in cookies, pie crust, pancakes/waffles, bar cookies, muffins, and brownies in order to utilize them in baking.

Chocolate Crumb Brownies

1/3 c. margarine or butter
6 T. cocoa powder
1-3/4 c. medium-fine SOFT bread crumbs*
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. chopped nuts, optional
1 egg
2 T. water
1 c. brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt margarine and cocoa powder together over low heat, stirring occasionally. If using a microwave, cook on LOW power for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until margarine is melted; stir to combine. Cool.

In medium mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, baking powder and nuts. In separate bowl, beat egg and water together. Stir in cocoa mixture and brown sugar; beat until combined. Combine cocoa mixture with bread mixture until all ingredients are moistened.

Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until done. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes 16 brownies.

*Do not use commercial DRY bread crumbs. Bread that is at least 3 days old works best. Using a food processor, blender, or by hand, shred bread into medium-fine crumbs.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 12:54PM
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I went to a estate sale and bought the following items;
- am/fm radio - 3 dollars (use in the garage/lawn work)
- wood (oak) desk chair - 40 dollars - talked down seller from 100 dollars. Been looking for 1 year to replace old chair.
- work light - 1 dollar

Sometimes I find things worth buying, sometimes not. It is best to just buy what you know you can use and not "store" up too much "good buys". At least that is what I do.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 8:44PM
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Wow! This thread has gotten busy! Thanks everyone for all of the great ideas! I have been so busy working I have not had time to check and see what was going on. I have enjoyed everyones answers.
So now to add my what have I done for the week. Not a lot with all the hours I have put in but I can say I have worked in my garden and picked yard long beans,hung laundry to dry (this is every week), bucket in the shower to save money on flushes and conserve water, made cherry jam from the trees in our yard and shopped loss leaders for meat and milk.
Grainlady thanks for all of the information!
Best to all!!!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 9:54PM
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Yesterday I purchased some inexpensive braid at a fabric shop and sewed it over the fraying, ripped edging on an otherwise quite presentable sweater. It gave the sweater new life and saved me the cost of a new sweater for the two dollar purchase. I now have to another sweater awaiting attention and another shirt.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 5:27PM
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Grainlady, No Zo at the TS but I did manage to score a Breadman Plus TR700C for the amazing price of $6.59. I figured it would give me something to play with until the Zo fits into the budget and it looked very gently used. Needless to say, I made bread yesterday. The first loaf, using the machine's recipe, a thief could have used instead of a brick to smash windows. Next was "Old Fashioned 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread" from "The Bread Bible". The sponge rose so fast that I never did get it into the bread machine. I finished it up with my kitchenaid. It was edible. Next were rolls using just the dough cycle. They were great, but they were not whole wheat. Just a recipe my family loves.

Finally, I tried your recipe. At least I think it is the one you posted, Mildred's 100% whole wheat bread. It was definitely the best. I baked it in a larger pan (9 x 5) and made a couple of large sandwich rolls.

My question is this: The sponge on your bread did not rise very much at all. I thought "This is never gonna work", but I went ahead and dumped it in the bread machine with the rest of the ingredients and turned on the dough cycle. To my surprise, when it was finished, the dough was crowned over the top of the pan.

I thought it was odd that there was no sugar in your sponge that the yeast could feed on, while the other sponge rose really well, but the bread did not. Why is this? I will say I did add the ascorbic acid to both breads. Notice, I am assuming you will know the answer to my question. :)

Thanks, Carol

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:57PM
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Carol -

Great score on a Breadman!!! I hope you get many years of service out of it. The price was certainly great.

Carbohydrates feed yeast and there is more than enough carbohydrates in flour for yeast to feed on - no additional sugar is necessary in the sponge. Since it's an enriched dough, the sweetener is added in with the remaining ingredients to the sponge.

A good example where sugar isn't used is in lean doughs (French/Italian Bread), which are traditionally made from four ingredients: yeast, water, flour and salt. No sugar or fat - and they raise without the addition of sugar. Yeast will bloom quite successfully in warm water without a sweetener.

How long did you let the sponge sit in the Bread Bible recipe? Perhaps you should let it rise AND fall before you add your remaining ingredients? I'm not familiar with the recipe (I don't have the "Bread Bible" in my collection - although I have many other books by Hensperger). Hensperger's recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread in "The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook" it is a straight dough method, not a sponge. There isn't a 100% Whole Wheat recipe using the bread machine in her book, "The Pleasure of Whole-grain Breads."

I mix the ingredients for the sponge in my bread machine on the quick dough cycle and let it knead for several minutes (until well-mixed), then stop the machine and allow the sponge to sit in the bread machine. It's best if it sits at least 2-1/2 hours, and up to 12-hours (or anywhere in between). "Experts" say your bread will improve with as little as a 30-minute sponge, but 2-1/2-hours is optimum. Whole wheat flour improves with a longer sponge. It softens the bran and hydrates the gluten. The sharp edges of bran can actually cut the gluten strands, causing those short, compact, loaves of whole wheat bread people commonly get. The trick to high-rising 100% whole wheat bread is the long, slow, method for making dough.

I remove the dough as soon as it has finished kneading. I never allow dough to rise in the bread machine because it is a timed rise. Dough rises according to the strength of the yeast, hydration of the dough, the moisture in the air and the ambient temperature. NOT a timer or clock. I put dough in a dough-rising bucket so I can watch the rise. Because whole wheat flour doesn't have the extensibility white flour does, I only allow the dough to rise to just UNDER double. Anything over double is over-proofing the dough.

The yeast may have been "spent" (used all it's "power", "umph"), in a sponge that rose so much. What type of yeast did you use - instant or active dry yeast - and what type was suggested in the Bread Bible recipe? My recipe is an overnight sponge and perhaps your other recipe is just a 30-minute sponge. Recipes vary in the length how long a sponge should sit.

If the recipe called for active dry yeast and you used an equal amount of fast-rising yeast, it works too fast. You should reduce the amount of fast-rising yeast by 25% when substituting it for active dry yeast.

If you are using a 9x5-inch pan, you will need at least 2-pounds of dough for it. If you put 1.5-pounds of dough in a 9x5-inch pan, which is the amount for an 8-1/2x4-1/2, you risk over-proofing it. Pans that are 9x5 are actually designed for quick breads. Over-proofing the incorrect amount of dough in a pan will often cause "bricks".

I always suggest using some ascorbic acid (or an acid ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar - which you will find in some recipes) when there is whole wheat flour or wheat germ in a bread recipe. The acid aids in counteracting the negative effects of Glutathione found in the wheat germ. Ascorbic acid aids in preventing the gluten bonds from breaking down (which causes short, squatty loaves), and helps sustain the leavening of bread loaves during baking. It also promotes yeast growth causing the yeast to work longer and faster. Yeast grows best in a slightly acidic atmosphere. Do NOT add an acid to a naturally-leavened (sourdough) bread because the starter is already acidic.

Hope that makes some sense (LOL). Happy bread baking!


    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 8:20PM
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As usual, thanks for all the info. I'll keep trying. I have a lot of wheat! I used the instant yeast from Sam's.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 9:16PM
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Carol -

Mildred's was the first 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe I was happy with, after trying recipe after recipe. It was the only one that produced high-rising loaves that were nearly as light as white bread.

I have hundreds of pounds of wheat (as well as other grains) in storage, and I look for all kinds of ways to use it all the time. I'm growing wheat in 5-inch containers and am juicing it daily. I make a lot of wheat sprouts as well. You can also use whole wheat flour for making gluten, which you can use as a high-protein meat substitute. I use gluten to make a crispy high-protein cereal (similar to Grape Nuts). You can add it to your favorite granola recipe. I also mix the gluten with ground meat (sausage, hamburger, etc.) so I can stretch it with a high-protein meat substitute and still get the same texture.

Wheat may be at a record high price, but it's still CHEAP food on my low food budget.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 5:28AM
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Is "Mildred's" the recipe you use now? If not, do you have a link for your current recipe?

Thanks, Carol

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 7:10AM
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Carol -

Here's the short and long version of the recipe. I have it taped to my bread machine on a 3x5 card. It's our everyday bread, and I also use it for dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, burger buns and hot dog buns. I've also included the long version of the recipe which includes instructions for making it in the bread machine, as well as by hand.

I lovingly call the recipe "Mildred Bread". It was based on a recipe my friend, Mildred, got from Pleasant Hill Grain and some input from me.

3/4 c. warm buttermilk (I use kefir)
3/4 c. warm water
2-1/2 c. milled whole wheat flour
1/4 t. ascorbic acid
2 t. instant yeast

Mix on quick dough cycle for a few minutes. Stop machine and rest the sponge at least 2-1/2-hours.

Stir in these ingredients:
1/3-1/2 c. chia seed goop (optional)
2 T. coconut oil (butter or vegetable oil can also be used)
2 T. agave nectar (or honey)
1 egg

Add to the top:
2-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. salt (on top)

Process on the quick dough cycle. Remove as soon as the kneading has stopped.

Note: I sometimes add 1/3-1/2 c. multi-grain cereal at the add-in beep, and also add 2 T. flaxmeal.
The long version:

100% Whole Wheat Bread
Bread Machine (changes for by hand in italic)

3/4 c. lukewarm buttermilk (I use homemade kefir.)
3/4 c. lukewarm water
2-1/2 c. freshly-milled whole wheat flour (Prairie Gold from Wheat Montana is my favorite wheat)
1/4 t. ascorbic acid*
2 t. SAF-Instant Yeast

Mix these ingredients in the bread machine pan and set the machine to QUICK DOUGH. As soon as the mixture is well mixed, unplug the machine and allow to sit (with the lid closed) at least 2-1/2 hours or up to 12 hours, or something in between. If you use a red variety of wheat, it will be less acidic-tasting if you use a 12-hour sponge.

After the sponge has set, mix these ingredients into the sponge:

2 T. melted coconut oil (or butter or veg. oil)
2 T. agave nectar (or honey)
1 egg
(I also add 1/3-1/2 c. chia seed gel. **)

Add to the top of the sponge mixture in the pan:
2-1/4 c. freshly-milled whole wheat flour
2 t. salt (on top the flour)

Set the bread machine on regular DOUGH cycle and process. Check the dough to make sure it's formed into a nice soft ball and adjust the hydration as needed.

My changes: I process the dough in the bread machine until the dough is mixed and kneaded. I don't let it rise in the machine. I place the dough in a dough rising bucket, place the lid on the top and allow the dough to ALMOST rise to double. Whole wheat dough does NOT have the extensibility that white bread dough does, so try not to let it go more than double. Using a dough rising bucket helps you to accurately judge when dough has doubled. Place the dough into a dough rising bucket. It should come up to the 1-quart line. It's doubled when it reaches the 2-quart line. You can get plastic food storage containers (with a tight-fitting lid and graduated measures on the side) at restaurant supply stores (or through King Arthur Flour - aka dough doubler). For this recipe a 2-quart container works perfectly.)

After the bread machine finishes the dough cycle (or has doubled in the dough rising bucket), dump the dough onto a Silpat and with oiled/greased hands deflate the dough by pushing it in the middle with your fist then drawing all edges of the outside dough into the middle (turning the dough inside-out so to speak). Divide the dough into portions (I scale the dough for accuracy.) Round each portion (make it into a smooth ball) so that all the gluten strands are going into the same direction. Cover and allow to rest 10-15 minutes so the gluten relaxes. Form dough, pan, cover with plastic wrap for the final proofing - etc....

I make this bread into 3 small loaves (7-1/2x3-1/2-inch pans - 350°F for 20-25 minutes), OR one 1# Pullman Loaf and use the other 1# of dough for 6 pecan rolls OR an 8-inch pan of dinner rolls - sometimes I use a portion of the recipe for hamburger or hot dog buns. A very versatile dough.
* ascorbic acid powder is available at most health food stores. It's a very important ingredient ANY time you make bread that includes wheat germ (which is in whole wheat flour). There is a substance in wheat germ called Glutathione. This substance breaks down the gluten and can result in a short loaf. The bran in whole wheat bread can also cut the gluten strands which results in a short squatty loaf. The sponge helps to soften the bran. The addition of 1/8 t. ascorbic acid per loaf of bread will counteract the negative effects of Glutathione. It will help prevent the gluten bonds from breaking down and will also help repair gluten bonds that have been broken. The ascorbic acid also helps sustain the leavening of bread loaves during baking. Yeast grows longer and faster when there is also ascorbic acid. Do not add it to sourdough recipes because they are naturally an acidic atmosphere.

** Chia seed gel is a mixture of chia seeds and water (1 part chia seeds to 9 parts water). This mixture thickens as the seeds absorb the water and adds hydration to the crumb of the loaf. It looks like poppy seeds in the bread after it's baked. Excellent nutritional boost and additional fiber.

By hand, place sponge ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl and mix the sponge ingredients together with a Danish dough whisk or a wooden spoon and beat the ingredients about 100 strokes. Cover, and allow to sit at room temperature at least 2-1/2 hours.

After the sponge is done: add the flour gradually to the sponge mixture using a Danish dough whisk (or wooden spoon) and carefully beat in each addition of flour before adding more. You may end up beating the dough 500-800 strokes, but do as much mixing as you have the strength to do. If you need to stop and rest, that's fine. The rest will allow the dough to hydrate. Towards the end of mixing, add the salt (DON'T FORGET!!!). The gluten will tighten up and make mixing harder after adding salt. The better job you do of mixing the dough and developing the gluten while it's in the bowl, the less time you'll need to knead it. When you knead the dough, avoid adding a lot of bench flour. If you have a problem adding too much flour during kneading, grease/oil your hands during kneading instead - especially during the last 2-3 minutes of kneading.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 8:52AM
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