“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, April 30, 2010

It's A Wrap

Can you believe April has come and gone.  So much education in regards to sound economics has taken place this month at The Thrifty Garden/Home.  I have already figured out the household budget for May and have committed it to a spreadsheet.  Having such  .. an on target .. to the penny success with the April budget, I'm going to change grocery shopping gears to be even more thought out.  I can not lower the $ amount of $350 for the month ... but I have made plans to shop only once for May.  This will take a considerable will power on the entire family's part.  Since we got our paycheck a day early and I had the budget done ... I took the opportunity to do the actual shopping yesterday when I had no kids to watch. The pantry shelves, refrigerator .. and freezers are stocked.  I have taken a Sharpie marker and written on many of the items, that have to be rationed (when they can get used) and stored the excess in my basement's storage room (out of sight;)  ... Everyone got a 'warning' that if they used up any of the rations beforehand ... they will be SO SORRY!;)  I'm confident that everyone is on board with the plan.  It was almost comical towards the end of April when we were running out of food items (flour/butter .. etc.) .. and I had to get very creative with meal plans ... but everyone survived without having to chew a foot off;)   I did set aside $50 to supply extra fruit & produce .. sparingly when needed in May.  This has been a GREAT learning process ... and makes me understand why my (Great Depression era) MIL would often re-use teabags ... and my FIL would just put another scoop of coffee grounds in the coffee maker, on top of the morning's used grounds, for a noon time pot of coffee ...  we haven't gone that far YET:)  What's the thriftiest thing your family practices at home?

Monday, April 26, 2010

End Of The Month Round Up

Yes, $350 +$20 from fire fighter son has been a tight squeeze for food funds.  We have four days to go until PAYDAY ...  You can bet I already have my shopping list ready and waiting!  Hubby was looking for   crackers today ... sorry ... you have to WAIT until shopping day (I haven't bought crackers for months because most are filled with JUNK).  I offered him some carrot sticks and a chunk of cheese ... saying dinner is in 45 minutes ;)  (He survived)  Our freezer food is being used up ... and fast.  If my planning is good, we have just enough frozen berries, freezer jam, and hopefully beef to last until summer when I restock for the year.  Tonight I made venison meatloaf (no one asked about the 'mystery' meat), steamed carrots, and potato salad.  The ten pounds of organic carrots earlier this month was a good buy.  They come in handy for snacks ... and as a side dish. The hardest part of making all of our food is not running out of bread.  I have to stay on top of this .. which is not always easy; one day soon I'll stock the freezer with a few extra loaves.  I have $2 and some spare change from this month's budget, Yippee!  Proposed meals from what we have on hand this week:

Dinners
  • dinner omelets with biscuits and jam
  • turkey noodle soup with a green salad
  • buffalo stew
  • tacos with refried beans
Lunches
  • egg salad sandwiches
  • veggie sticks with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • leftover soup with veggie sticks
  • taco salad (from leftover dinner tacos)
Breakfasts 
  • buttermilk pancakes
  • oatmeal
  • blueberry muffins with smoothies
  • eggs & toast

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Day Countdown

This week I entered our budget on my computer program's spreadsheet (Microsoft Works Monthly Home Budget).  This has proven a much better option to pen and paper as I can do a little fudging with the numbers much easier than erasing and correcting the paper version.  Also, at the beginning of the month I can enter a minimum (fixed) salary amount ... and in the next column enter the actual salary after payday.  This is very helpful for people that have fluctuation in their monthly pay.  I set the budget on the minimum fixed amount so I know the least amount of money to budget.  It's a blessing when I can go back later and enter the actual salary and fatten up some of the categories if we get more income.

We're in the final stretch of April.  I have exactly $50 grocery money to last to the end of the month.  I think this is doable!  This means our family of four (often 5 & 6 from son and grandson) survived on $370 worth of whole food groceries ... a family record!  Do you keep track of spendingIt's amazing how much more aware you become when you have a budget worksheet to keep you on track.

picture image from here

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just Say No

I've had to practice saying the word NO ... not today ... not in the budget this month to my family.  Being the keeper of the purse strings is a big responsibility that can not be taken lightly.  With daily practice ... it is becoming much easier to just say NO.  I find it utterly pathetic how our society has been hoodwinked into believing we needed so much stuff.  Stuffitis is definitely a mental disorder!   I'm going to into the garden for some therapy!  Spring weather and gardening and reacquainting myself with God's word are the best cure-all.  Enjoy your day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pinching Pennies ... Frugal Advice From The Ultimate Cheapskate


Yahoo news has an article today featuring author Jeff Yeager.  He has written a book titled, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Roadmap to True Riches.  He says, "We shouldn't be asking ourselves "How can we afford it?" We should instead be asking, "Do we really need it?"  Here is the article in full for your Saturday read.  Mr. MacFrugal and I have been sticking with Dave Ramsey's program, The Total Money Makeover, paying off debt at the speed of a gazelle!  Once you get on board with the debt elimination process, it becomes somewhat of a game trying to be frugal.  You know, living off beans and rice, rationing, doing without, etc.  

Today my daughter Ann asked if we had any organic sugar for her morning coffee ... I said all I have is plain old brown sugar sweetie ... it's out of the budget this monthDo you really need sugar in your coffee ... try it with or without the brown stuff.  She's catching on and becoming a convert to all things frugal.  Tomorrow night we are inviting the family out to dinner at a restaurant.  A rarity around here living on a shoe string.  But, we've saved up enough money and want to get together ... here's the stipulation.  Dad is handing each adult child a set amount of money.  Individually or as a couple, they have to order and pay for their own meal(s).  If they go over, the cost difference is on them.  You won't believe how much money a family night dinner would cost when dad was paying for everyone without any limits.  I'm sure they will all be ordering water as their beverage of choice if they have to be creative with funds.  Our latest money idea is to eliminate buying everybody individual Christmas gifts .. instead opting for drawing names from a hat.  Maybe tomorrow night will be a good time to draw names.  Then we can take our time figuring out what would be a nice gift to purchase ... and maybe even find it on sale this summer.  I can just imagine how much less stress this will cause come Christmas.

What about you ... are you in a frugal mode?  Do you have any frugal ideas that are working with your family? What's the biggest savings plan you've come up with?

Some more worthy reads:
Dave Ramsey on How To Cut The Food Budget
Dave Ramsey on Spring Gardening On A Budget

PhotoFreeFoto.com

Friday, April 16, 2010

Time In The Garden

Weather wise ... yesterday and today have been perfect.  Potatoes and onion sets were planted.  The last of my veggie garden was double dug and tilled.  This is a fairly new garden.  Last year I planted lasagna style (layered).  With all of the composted manure hubby hauled in it was time to prepare a proper garden.  Our back property is slightly sloped and I have devised using peeled logs from our woods to make semi raised beds by terracing some areas.  Today I will get out my 'wall-o-water' (mini water filled devices) set out where the tomatoes and peppers will eventually be planted.  This will help warm up the soil ahead of planting and provide protection from frost.  You know I'm crazy about old time gardening tips ... so today I'll leave you with two places to visit.  One is at Tipnuts .. they are showcasing Sunset magazine gardening tips from the 1930's.  And two ... over to Larry's weed free vegetable garden.  He's been gardening since 1947 and has a wealth of information to share.  Enjoy your day ... get out and garden!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Knew ...

being so frugal was catching on.  Nearly 800,000 people cut their cable subscriptions in the U.S. for various reasons including:  Trash coming  out of Hollywood, price, advertisements, more reading time, renting or downloading Netflix movies (a favorite in our home) ... While not an overwhelming number of cable subscribers ... it is a trend and will only increase.  How about you ... are you still tethered to your TV connection?

Read more here

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Bare Bones Pantry

I'm finding more and more products I use occasionally, triggering hives, that will not be replaced with commercially produced items.  After ripping my pantry and fridge apart looking for the culprits, I've noticed the words 'natural flavorings' on just about every thing getting tossed out.  It's even in plain old yellow mustard.  How can that be?  Why does our society insist ... or put up with being fed ... laboratory flavors in almost every product?  My trash list today includes:  organic ketchup, basic prepared yellow mustard, season salts, canned tuna, and mayo.  Natural or not ... if it's not found in the product in a natural God given state ... so long.  Today's hives were triggered by Johnny's Seasoning Salt ... it has quite a few triggers such as soy, malto-dextrin, and cellulose gel (I actually knew better but slipped by using this product).  My word ... I should have been wearing my bi-focals years ago!

Natural Flavorings

Mustard Recipes

Monday, April 12, 2010

Basic Sourdough Starter

I made sourdough starter a few months ago with nothing but equal parts of whole wheat flour and water mixed together in a mason jar ... topped off with a paper coffee filter and a rubber band.  Left to capture natural air born yeast spores from my kitchen.  It worked and a week later ... a bubbly fermented starter was born.  If you are a bread baker .. then you can bet your kitchen  has plenty of yeast spores to make your own starter ... or you could try the following:

Mix one cup of water mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 cup flour, and 4 tablespoons commercial or home cultured buttermilk.  Mix all of this together and place in a glass 1 quart mason jar.  Top with a paper coffee filter and a rubber band.  Allow to stand in a warm place for a few days .. or until it begins to ferment and smell wonderfully sour (somewhat like beer).  My method above (without the sugar and buttermilk) took seven days to ferment.  Every few days I add a few tablespoons of flour and water and stir with a plastic spoon.  When you have about 3 or 4 cups of fermented starter you can use some of it in the following recipe.  The starter should be the consistency of pancake batter.  When not in use, store in the refrigerator.  If you use about 1/2 of your starter each week, replace with equal amounts of flour and water, stir, leave at room temperature for a day and store back in the fridge.  Remember ... if the starter is on the counter .. use a paper filter.  If it goes in the fridge ... put on a metal lid.  Never use aluminum utensils when mixing.


PROOFED SOURDOUGH BATTER

This must be made the night before use whether making bread or pancakes .. or anything with sourdough.

Remove the starter from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  Take 1-1/2 cups of starter and place in a large bowl.  Add 1-1/2 cups tepid water, and 1-1/2 cups flour.  Mix well and let sit covered overnight on the counter.  The natural yeast will make the batter bubbly and smell of a strong sourdough odor.  After taking out the required amount of proofed starter for a recipe, you can add any leftover back to the mason jar and add up to 1-1/2 cups of water AND 1-1/2 cups flour ... mixing well with a plastic spoon.  Let sit out on the counter covered with a coffee filter for a day ... then store in the fridge until ready for the next use (should be used and replenished once every 10 days).

SOURDOUGH PANCAKES
(serves 4-5)

2 cups proofed Sourdough Batter
1-1/2 cups flour (I use organic white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup melted butter

Prepare the proofed sourdough batter the night before.  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the milk and eggs to the 2 cups proofed sourdough batter in a large bowl.  Mix in the dry ingredients and let rest for 15 minutes.  Gently stir in the melted butter.  Using a 1/2 cup ladle, pour batter onto a med-high heat .. well seasoned and oiled griddle.  Turn over once when edges appear a bit dry and bubbly.  Serve with maple syrup.  (Left over pancakes can be frozen on a wax paper lined cookie sheet .. single layer ... once frozen place in a ziplock bag and keep frozen.)

Recipes adapted from:  Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American

Sunday, April 11, 2010

From Garden to Table ... the Tomato

Last year's garden produced an abundance of tomatoes.  However, I failed to make enough canned salsa to sustain my family ... even with heavy rationing.  I used a considerable amount of the tomatoes making ketchup ... and then watching it sit on the shelf month after month wishing it had been made into salsa.  We have a ketchup fiend in our home.  A small boy that was not expected to survive infancy.  He was not even expected to eat by mouth .. according to his GI doctor.  But this mom decided to take the (MAJOR) effort to get food consumed the optimal way .. by mouth .. and finally off tube feedings.  At age four the transition finally took place.  In order to help things along, salsa was used to waken up his taste buds ... and ketchup was used to dip finger foods into to make them more kid appealing.  This plan worked and today I have to chuckle as I often tell him NO MORE FOOD until the next meal.  We have been trying to ween him from Heinz ketchup ... and then on to an organic variety ... and now on to mom's homemade product.  Today was the day.  We were out of Heinz ... and organic ketchup (on purpose).  I sprang the homemade sauce on him this morning and told him it was BBQ sauce ... and that's all we  have to dip his home fried potatoes in.  I think a convert was made this morning ... and I can kiss the store bought version goodbye for good.  Let's hope my eight pints of ketchup aka BBQ sauce will last until this summer when I can once again labor over a hot stove to make the little fellow a healthier treat to the big ag alternative.  BTW .. just what exactly are 'natural flavorings' in store bought organic ketchup ... I fear it may be some MSG type additive as it makes me break out in hives.

Here is a good website regarding the production of organic farm tomatoes.  Although this is for large scale production, there is some good information you could apply to a home garden.

Picture ... Nathan .. my ketchup fiend! ... and possessor of an extra chromosome:)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dressed Eggs

When my daughters were growing up we enjoyed cooking from the American Girl cookbooks.  They each had their own dolls with stories about pioneer and colonial American life.  The colonial cookbook has a recipe we adopted and renamed Felicity Eggs ... after the doll by that name.  Still a favorite today, these eggs are often requested.  Here is our version:

Ingredients:

2-6 eggs (depends on how many servings you want to make)
butter
salt & pepper to taste
nutmeg
a well seasoned cast iron skillet appropriately sized for the quantity of eggs you are cooking.

Directions:

Carefully crack your eggs (one by one) into a well buttered heated skillet trying not to break the yokes.
Season the eggs with salt and pepper .. then add a small amount of water (1 teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon depending on the quantity of your eggs).  Cover the pan and cook over low heat for approx. five  minutes until the whites are set but not hard.  Uncover and place about 1/2 teaspoon of butter on top of each egg and place under the stove broiler for about one minute (check after 30 seconds) ... until the yolks are set.  Sprinkle the tops with a little pinch of nutmeg.  Don't be weirded out by the nutmeg ... it's really good!  Enjoy

copyright free pic from here

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Old Barter System

... aka meet your neighbor at the back fence to swap goods:)  This was a common practice in days of yore.  Imagine being a new settler and having very few provisions ... or a young couple starting off ... You have some seeds or plant starts or too much sourdough starter.  Your nearest neighbor has too many onions to plant or too much lye soap, etc.  Our pioneer great grandparents would have surely traded or sold goods to their neighbors.  Most people had a very limited income.  Health insurance was unheard of.  The area's doctor made frequent house calls and often took eggs in exchange for his medical expertise.  School teachers were paid a small stipend and took up room and board with a student's family.  And to think ... big government was not around to intervene and dole out social services.  People relied on one another ... their families ... neighbors ... friends ... churches ... guilds ... to help meet needs.  In light of the mess of the current generation ... and a government that is trying to spend it's way out of debt ... we may need to return to the creative ideas of our ancestors to help make ends meet.  To rely on mankind instead of a wasteful government system.  Food for thought.

copyright free image from here

Thursday, April 08, 2010

April Grocery Roundup

Week Two:  I can not believe how much EASIER it is to shop with limited funds:)  Today was our second trip to town this month for a weeks worth of supplies.  Mr. MacFrugal is 100% behind the budget process.  He almost has a giddy attitude .. as if he has gold fever ... in reverse.  Gold fever in the fact the he's keeping more of his own gold;)  Today's grocery bags included:
  • Two gallons of whole milk (we make buttermilk, yogurt & now kefir)
  • 3 lbs of bananas
  • 10 lbs of organic carrots
  • 1 tub of cashews (I deferred buying vanilla at Costco til next month to get this for hubby;)
  • 1 head organic romaine lettuce
  • 5 lbs organic white whole wheat flour
  • 1 small baggy of bulk dried organic thyme
  • 2 bags of natural potato chips (such a deal .. some nice person left two $1 coupons behind;)
  • 1 package of local specialty bacon
  • 1 package of local specialty German sausage links
  • 1/2 lb local specialty roasted turkey breasts for sandwiches
  • 2 dozen local eggs
Grand Total:  $63

Local Stores:  Tim's Custom meats ($17), Pilgrims Health Food Store ($9),
National Chains:  Costco ($29), Walmart ($4)
local eggs ($4)

With or without economic hard times, are you on a living budget?  If so, how do you keep on track?

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Breaking (from store bought) Bread

Whoever said store bought food is a convenience?  You have to go to the store to buy it.  You have to worry about what harmful ingredients are in it.  You have to pay more for an inferior product.  Baking bread at home becomes second nature after a few months of diligent practice.  After you develop the skill .. then you can fine tune your production to, perhaps, include freshly ground wheat.  You can also use up a lot of leftovers as a portion of the ingredients.  You are in charge of quality and quantity control.  At the Thrifty Garden/Home we bake approximately two loaves of bread a week.  This is plenty for our family of four.  Enough for sandwiches to pack in lunch boxes.  Plenty to have as a special treat with dinner.  Leftover bread is first turned into croutons then French toast.  My family has bread preferences.  Adding a small boiled/drained/mashed potato gives a good moisture balance.  A small amount of leftover cooked oatmeal or yogurt will add moisture as well.  Today's loaf I added leftover whey for the liquid and 1/2 cup of sourdough starter.  This won't be a true sourdough bread as I added a package of yeast.  My sourdough starter needed to be replenished to keep it going.  By adding the 1/2 cup I added much flavor to my bread and will have a good fresh batch of starter for use tomorrow.  By practicing baking bread you can stop relying on recipes and you will be able to improvise your loaf with leftovers.  Once you  become familiar how the dough should feel ... recipes can be put away for your standard loaves.  Now and again I will bring out a baking book when it's time to master a new bread making skill.  For our sandwich loaves I often add a few teaspoons of dehydrated onion flakes, some caraway seeds and dried dill weed.  Are you a bread baker?  What is your preferred loaf of bread?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Closing In On $10K A Year In Savings

... oh yea baby!  Stepping back in time ... examining how our great grandparents lived ... has been a good exercise in frugality.  Looking at pictures ... seeing their simple lives ... cutting out waste from our own family income ... has taken us one step closer to kissing debt goodbye.  Our latest cost saving find is examining our auto/home/life insurance premiums.  By making yearly payments instead of monthly/quarterly/semi-annually we have discovered a minimum of $200 savings per year; or $2,000 in ten years ... sure adds up!  If you are driving an older car .. try dropping comprehension and just carry liability insurance for a bigger savings as well.  Tomorrow I'll have a precise figure once we also bump our auto and  home insurance policies from a $500 deductible to $1,000.  Keeping more of our hard earned money out of the pockets of big insurance companies ...  now that's a good thing.  Having a reserve/emergency fund should a crisis arise ... priceless.  For more cost saving ideas ... check out the side bar of this blog to see what we've axed from our budget to get our mortgage paid off early by simply changing spending habits.  What have you cut back on or changed in your way of spending money in this tight economy?  Leave a comment if you have a great idea ... Mr. MacFrugal is always asking me for more ideas.

Update:  switching homeowner's insurance deductible to $1,000 netted an extra $66 bucks a year and $24 savings on our automobile policy.

image from FreeFoto.com

Monday, April 05, 2010

Uses For Stale Bread

Being a thrifty homemaker means making use of food items that many folks would stash in the trash.  Stale bread is often thrown out ... I know because I used to throw away my fair share or feed it to the birds ;(  There's the obvious thrift of making French toast or bread pudding.  How about bread stuffing?  Baking three loaves of bread a week can often leave leftovers ... at a minimum ... stale heels.

THE true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean fragments, of time, as well as materials. Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it ... The Frugal Housewife, 1830

How about a recipe called Harvest Pear Bread Pudding ... or Tuscan Bread Soup.  Italians make a Bread Salad.  Birds Nest Toast ... we call at our home Egg In A Hole.  I leave you with a few websites to check out.


How do you use up your leftover bread? 

copyright free image found  here

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Sunrise

.... service was awesome!  It's a beautiful sunny morning in the North Woods of Idaho.  The MacFrugal family will be having our Easter dinner on Monday when we can partake in the celebration as a entire family.  Yesterday's weather was dismal with snow, hail, rain, sleet.  Perhaps today, we will have an egg hunt outside.  Enjoy the day.

Day After Easter Dinner Menu

smoked ham with a brown sugar mustard glaze
cheesy potatoes au gratin
angel eggs
ambrosia
asparagus
homemade dinner rolls

fresh banana cake and coffee for dessert

Banana Cake Recipe

In a bowl, whisk together:
2-1/4 cups cake flour (I'll use half ww pastry & unbleached white flour)
1/2 tsp. double acting baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Cream in a large bowl
1/2 cup butter
Add gradually and cream until light:
1-1/2 cups sifted sugar
Beat in one at a time:
2 eggs
Prepare:
1 cup lightly mashed ripe banans
Add:
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk or yogurt
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the banana mixture.  Stir the batter after each addition until smooth.  Bake in greased round cake pans about 1/2 hour.  When cool, place between the layers:
2 sliced ripe bananas
Spread the cake with:
a white icing
If served at once, this cake is good without icing ... just sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped cream.  

Recipe adapted from:  The Joy of Cooking Cookbook

copyright free image from here

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Cultured Buttermilk & Ranch Dressing

On keeping and making cultured buttermilk:  This is one of those good for you additions to food that is very effortless to 'keep going' with an endless supply for very little cost.  At least once a week I start a batch to use as the base for ranch dressing or as an addition to homemade bread or smoothies.  No cooking is involved.

To make cultured buttermilk you need some buttermilk or a powder starter to make your first batch of starter at home (see here for source).  You basically take one part of (live) cultured buttermilk and add three parts fresh pasteurized milk  (1/4 cup buttermilk to 3/4 cup milk), place in a mason jar and mix with a plastic spoon. Fasten a paper coffee filter over the top with a rubber band.  Let this mixture culture at room temperature for 12-18 hours edit: up to 24 hours is OK the longer it sits out the tangier the flavor (70-77 F) in the warmest spot in your house (probably the kitchen).  I set my jar in the barely warm oven on my 'proof' setting.  You could set yours in the oven with the pilot light or oven light on (away from the bulb).  Keep away from drafts. Once the buttermilk is set (not runny) replace the filter with a regular lid and put in the fridge for six hours before use.  Stir before using.  Make sure to save at least 1/4 cup to start your next batch.

To make another batch, you repeat the above directions. This should be done once a week (no longer than seven days).  For larger quantities, just remember the ratio of 1 part buttermilk to 3 parts milk. After doing this a few times, it really becomes second nature and effortless.  It is recommended to not use metal when making cultures.  Plastic or wooden spoons are fine.

Buttermilk (Ranch) Dressing

1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or dried herbs (I use either parsley or thyme .. just a few pinches to taste)
1 small or medium clove of garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Whisk the above ingredients together well in a bowl.  Adjust seasonings.  Store in a lidded mason jar for up to one week.  Mix before serving.

If you don't have lemon zest or juice, you may substitute a little bit of lemon pepper seasoning to taste.

This recipe is easily doubled.  Just use the 1:1 ratio of buttermilk to mayo ... and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Read about buttermilk's benefits here

Copyright Free Image found here

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tunnel Vision At The Market

Today is budgeting and market day.  Alone!  I'm taking a gamble and withdrawing an entire month's worth of grocery money today.  Cash is harder to part with than swiping a debit card.  $350 is the budgeted amount ... a bit tight ... especially with Easter dinner.  Shopping at Sprawlmart was horrible.  A sea of people.  Stacks upon stacks ... row upon row of needless junk and packaged goods calling out from every isle and corner.  People milling around throwing junk in their carts without a second thought.  I took a peek down the candy isle and was shocked to see the crowds of people AND the nearly 1,000 items of Easter 'goodies' to choose from.  This place truly is one big fat FAKE food warehouse!  And people wonder why there is an obesity problem in the USA.  Today's purchase was small ... for the size of the store; all whole food items .. and a bottle of hot sauce.  A quick stop at Costco and a local specialty butcher shop ... then home.  If it wasn't for my tight budget ... I'd have skipped Sprawlmart altogether.  How do you maneuver the 'shark infested waters' of the market?

copyright free image from here