Lazy Budget Chef: 2020

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Best Pico de Gallo Recipe for a Cookout, Party, Tailgate, or Just Because

Pico de Gallo is one of my favorite types of salsa because it is chunky and not as soupy as traditional salsa (which nine times out of ten means you can always tell I ate some salsa because I’m wearing it.) Not to mention, Pico de Gallo is a quick and easy recipe that uses up a summer garden bursting with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers.


best taco bar recipe for party food
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Pico de Gallo is also an easy mix and match recipe to make for a party that allows your guest to tailor it to their own tastes:

Friday, April 17, 2020

10 Ways to Reuse Plastic Takeout Containers

One of the ways my husband and I save money and reduce household waste is to try to get an extra reuse out of everything within reason before it goes into the trash or recycling bin. 

Lately, we've been doing Quarantine Takeout Date Night as a replacement for our regular weekly date night and to help keep our local restaurants in business especially those that are now doing takeout to survive. Some of the food containers we can compost in our compost bin. Others are the hard plastic type we cannot compost or put in our city recycling bin because they are made from number 5 plastic.

Lucky for us, plastic takeout food containers are extremely easy to repurpose which makes them very, very useful.


how to recycle plastic takeout containers
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If you’re looking for ways to recycle those food takeout containers into something useful, we have you covered!

10 New and Easy Ways to Repurpose Empty Plastic Containers


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

How to Make Instant Pot Yogurt with Powdered Milk

I keep a small box of powdered milk in our pantry for bread machine recipes and for my husband to use in his coffee on those rare, pre pandemic occasions when we are out of milk.

Which is coming in handy now that we are out of milk.

I planned ahead when I placed our latest Instacart grocery order (you can learn about Instacart here) but Ohio’s latest quarantine order limits the number of people allowed inside a store at one time. I’m pretty sure that is going to  make our hard working grocery delivery hero’s job harder and we’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the delivery. It’s understandable. I’ll pivot. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)


Can You Make Yogurt From Dry Powdered Milk?


how to make yogurt from dry powdered milk recipe
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Monday, April 6, 2020

5 Easy Bread Machine Recipes You Have to Try Right Now!

I absolutely love the taste of home baked bread. Unfortunately I also have some horrible affliction where I cannot correctly proof bread dough to save my life. Fortunately there is a remedy for that - a bread machine.

I got my first bread machine as a wedding present and love that I can make all sorts of fancy pants bread recipes for a fraction of the cost of a loaf in the bakery or grocery store. I used my bread maker so much I wore it out. Bread maker Number Two is happily chugging along and providing us with yummy bread. Which to be honest, we’ve been eating more of paired with soups and stews to stretch out the time that we have to order groceries using Instacart (learn more about it here). (affiliate link for your convenience.)


5 Easy Bread Maker Recipes You Have to Try Right Now
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But mostly, like everyone else who has gone on a bread baking kick during quarantine, we just like the comforting smell of warm bread baking in the kitchen. In fact I have a load of bread started in my bread maker right now as I type that is destined to accompany a big batch of my husband’s  chili for dinner tonight – yay!

The Best Bread Maker Recipes for Beginners

Sunday, March 29, 2020

16 Ways to Save Money That Don’t Cost Any Money at All

I find that the cheapest way to save money is with new habits because habits are FREE!

I like free.

Free is good. 

Free habits are also the easiest way to unintentionally spend more money if you break them. Or in my case, I tell myself the ol’ Oh not doing that frugal thing this one time won’t hurt – which sometimes gets me out of my good habit until I double check a utility bill. Oops!

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This is a list of ideas, not money saving absolutes. Some you might already do. Others may not apply to you. You might do something that is even better than what I have here and if you do, please share it with us in the comments below!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Quick and Easy Instant Mashed Potato Pancake Recipe

When my husband and I eat fresh potatoes (which is always), we cook them in a Microwave Potato Bag similar to this one for four minutes and then pop them in the toaster oven to crisp the skin while the rest of dinner cooks on the stove because we generally don’t have the time to bake potatoes old school in the oven.  Mashed potatoes are pretty much off the table due to my severe dairy intolerance because let’s face it loads of butter and cream is what makes mashed potatoes taste like heaven. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience)

Which is why my husband was baffled first time he found a box of instant mashed potatoes in the kitchen. Why do we have this when we have real potatoes?

waffle maker instant mashed potato pancakes a comfort food recipe
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Monday, March 16, 2020

How Much Emergency Food Storage to Buy and How Make It Last

When I was trying to get the hang of paying attention to seasonal sale cycles to help my family save money on groceries, I typically bought the household staples we used all of the time, for example like toothpaste, every time I saw it on sale. That way I’d have a sale priced backup on hand when we run out. In theory that should work just fine. In practice I seemed to always have too many of one thing on hand (like  toothpaste) and not any of another when I need it most like my DIY laundry detergent. This grocery buying strategy didn’t help me one bit when it came to having an extra two weeks of food in my pantry for emergencies because I had weird amounts of stuff that didn’t always go together to make a meal.

Reading advice from food storage moms about how many extra pantry items to have on hand in case of emergency (we have storm related blackouts here) didn’t help much either because the amounts they suggest are for families much larger than mine or for food we don’t typically eat, like Jell-O and desserts. The first thing preparedness folks tell you is to store the type of food you typically eat.


That’s great advice but the food some of them suggest are not the things we typically or are interested in eating. For example keeping giant sacks of wheat berries and grinding my own flour is not practical during a blackout when I have an all electric kitchen but having enough oatmeal on hand to keep making our morning oatmeal for hopefully less than a week using the overnight oats method (soaking the oats overnight in milk or water) instead of a the stove is much more practical for us. (As always your mileage and desires my vary.)


how much food do I need to buy in an emergency
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Determine the what to keep on hand is easier than the how much. How do you determine when you have too much of something and it spoils vs not having enough?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Quick, Easy, and Cheap! Instant Pot Ham with Duck Sauce Glaze Recipe

While poking around in the refrigerator,  I moved a little pile of Chinese takeout duck sauce containers aside on a shelf for the eleventy billionth time as  I was looking for dinner recipe ideas to make with what I already had in the pantry and refrigerator. 

Generally we think of duck sauce as a dipping sauce but as a sweet and sour sauce, it also makes fantastic glaze for chicken or pork. Just pour it out the packet and there ya go – instant ham glaze! You can’t get much lazier than that.

I had carrots and potatoes I needed to use and by chucking some ham from the freezer into the pot, I made a hearty and inexpensive 15 minute meal. What’s more to to love about that?

duck sauce glazed ham recipe

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Instant Pot Ham with Potatoes and Carrots Recipe

Monday, February 17, 2020

17 Things I Will NOT DIY to Save Money

When searching for tips on how to save money, reduce debt, and/or reduce your household waste, often the first suggestion is to stop buying things and start making them yourself.  I’ve tried many of them myself either in a pinch because either I ran out of my store bought option, to try it see what would happen, or in an attempt to save money, reduce waste or get a customized thing for a DIY price.

Many of these DIY things I’ve kept simply because I like them or they are more convenient.

While I’m willing to give almost anything the good ol’ DIY try (which is how the recipes on Lazy Budget Chef came to be) there are a list of things I will not make myself and always buy. As always, your mileage may vary. Tell us your list in the comments below!

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17 Things I Will Always Buy


1. Home improvements that involve a permit – I’ve remodeled rooms in my house, switched out light fixtures, toilets, faucets and a whole host of DIY projects but if it is something that involves a permit or something I’m not 100% comfortable of learning as I go such as anything involving natural gas lines I’m leaving it to the pros. That’s why they are pros!

Many of the things on this list are part of our High Low Household Budget. For example, we splashed out the cash on this floor tile for our bathroom (the High) because I did the labor of installing it (the Low.)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Icing Recipe

There are days when you just gotta have a cupcake. Since I have a severe dairy intolerance, that usually means a cupcake that I have to bake.

I rifled around the kitchen for cupcake ingredient inspiration when my eyes landed on a jar of peanut butter. Peanut butter cupcakes?!

Oh yes please.

And since I was going to the trouble of making cupcakes, I figured I should do something a little snazzier with the icing. I made icing with the real deal so local you can visit the guy who taps the maple trees he uses to make it maple syrup for a taste combo that won raves from the friends I asked to eat the rest of my batch of cupcakes because I was only in the mood for one.


peanut butter cupcake real maple syrup icing recipes
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Peanut Butter Cupcake Recipe

(Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience)

Monday, February 3, 2020

How to Clean Burnt Food from Pots and Pans the Easy Way!

Every once and awhile, I cook something and for various reasons food ends up sticking to the bottom of the pan (especially when I cook rice in the Instant Pot – whhhy?!) or lightly scorching my bake ware.

Or in this case, find the drip tray of my indoor smokeless grill (learn more about my winter grilling BFF here) looking like this - when I have little time and inclination to scrub it  like my life depends on it  to clean it. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)


how to clean greasy pots pans bakeware the easy way
Yuck!

Of course merely filling the pot with water and dish detergent and letting it soak will not do any to budge it unlike every dish washing detergent ad in the history of ever wants us to believe.

Fortunately, there is a super easy, cheap, AND nontoxic way to clean those greasy, burnt pots and pans that also deodorizes your kitchen drain – really.

The Easiest Cookware Cleaning Hack You Need to Know Right Now!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

17 Ways to Reuse Leftover Pieces of Bar Soap

When you use a bar of soap, it eventually wears itself down to a little scrap that is generally too small to use for hand or body washing even though there is still a nice chunk of soap left. Normally I’d wet the soap sliver and the new bar of soap it will replace and press them together to make one glorious Megazord of soap in an effort to not waste it.

Unless for some reason the soap sliver won’t stay stuck to the new bar of soap.
Which seems to happen more often if one of the bars has a slight curve or is apparently in the wrong airspace for optimal soap sticking togetherness.

In that case, I like to find a creative reuse or recycle for soap scraps and slivers rather than throw them away and risk being haunted by dead relatives tsk tsking me from the great beyond for wasting things. Tsk! Tsk!

17 Bar Soap Hacks You Need to Try Right Now!


17 bar soap hacks you need to try right now

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Coconut Shrimp with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe

I did some poking around the internet and found a recipe for coconut shrimp. My husband is a big fan of all things coconut. However I’m not a fan of the mess involved with hand breading and frying things. Also I think I have some sort of breading food deficiency because I cannot for the life of me get any type of breading to stick to any type of food ingredient – ever. 

So this is one of the few cases where I cheat and buy frozen coconut shrimp (you can find a variety of types and brands here.  My severe dairy intolerance means I usually buy plain frozen shrimp because it makes shopping easier. Coconut shrimp is the rare exception. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)

To prove I’m not completely useless in the kitchen, I whip up a Thai peanut dipping sauce for the coconut shrimp while it bakes in the oven. 

The Best Thai Peanut Satay Sauce Recipe in the World!

(According to my husband)

Quick and easy Thai peanut satay sauce recipe

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

22 New Ways to Save $1000 a Month (That Don’t Include Ditching Cable TV)

Sometimes when I read an article on how to save money I get frustrated because I see the same frugal hacks and ideas that I’m either already doing or don’t apply to us.

Then there are those tips on budget items they say you should to cut to save money that we use and want to keep like the gym membership my husband uses almost daily or cable TV – which is the only way some of you can watch television or might be a cheaper alternative to subscribing to a ton of streaming services to watch everything you like.

I get it I really do. I’m also probably guilty of writing blog posts that offer the same old same old frugal hacks myself.

Trying to find some new and different money saving ideas to share with you, I kept a running list of the big and little frugal things I did for a month and found I saved $1000 easy!


22 new ways to save $1000 a month
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Some these things may be seasonal. Some you may already do. Some may not apply. This is a list of budget living tips and ideas to jump start your brain to find solutions that work for you. It is a list of options, not absolutes.