Banana muffins

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As you might have guessed by now, I’ve come across quite a load of bananas – 50 something bananas actually, I peeled most of them and tossed them in the freezer. I’ve been baking with them and making banana ice cream. You can see the recipe for that in my previous post.
One thing though, has become a new favorite.

I got this banana muffins recipe from my mother in law, you just gotta try it!

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Makes app. 12 muffins
½ Cup butter (you can also use vegetable oil, use a little less than ½ a cup)
1 Cup sugar – white or brown
1 Cup yoghurt (plain or with fruit or vanilla, Greek, ordinary dairy or vegan)
1½ Cup flour (wheat or whole wheat)
1 Cup bran flakes, crushed (or a different cereal you prefer or have available)
2 Teaspoons baking powder
½ Teaspoon baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
3-4 Mashed bananas
1 Teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)
½ Cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds (optional)
½ Cup chopped chocolate or raisins (optional)

Beat butter and sugar, add the rest of the wet ingredients (mashed bananas included), mix well. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add to the wet mix. Add bran and your choice of optional ingredients. Mix well. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 350 f. in a preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

What I really like about this recipe is that there are so many variations, and you can adjust it to what you already have in your cupboards.
These muffins are delicious warm but even better the next day, so don’t eat them all at once 😉 I wouldn’t give them any sort of frosting, as I think they are perfect just the way they are. When they are cooled down, store them in a freezer bag on your kitchen counter or freeze some for later.

Banana ice cream

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If we have bananas that are getting a little too ripe, and we know we won’t be able to eat them before it is too late, we freeze them! Peel them, put them in a bag and throw them into the freezer.

You can take a couple of bananas out of the freezer in the evening and they are ready to be mixed into a breakfast smoothie. They will get soggy when thawed again, but that is no big deal when we are going to blend them anyway.

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You can also turn them into delicious (and very low fat) ice cream. I use 2-3 bananas per person. Take them out 30 minutes before you begin to prepare your ice cream so they can thaw just a bit. That way there is less of a chance that you ruin your blender. When the bananas begin to feel a little soft (but still very cold), you can blend them. You don’t need to add anything else, the bananas are yummy on their own, but you CAN add a bit of peanut butter, or some honey, or even chocolate or chopped nuts if you have either available.
Scoop ice cream into bowls, decorate if you feel like it.. We got the chocolate sauce for free with a coupon in December. Serve immediately. I have yet to experiment with making a bigger batch to keep in the freezer, but I tend to think that it will be too hard to scoop out when completely frozen. So I only make as much as I need.

Peanut butter

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The other morning we made homemade peanut butter. This is one of the easiest things you can make. Peanut butter is pretty expensive here. But at a local discount store, we can get an entire kg. of peanuts for 30 sek.
(2.8 gbp/4.6 usd).

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All you need is some (roasted and salted) peanuts (we make 250 g. batches), a bowl and a blender. I prefer a hand blender. Blend the peanuts till they turn into a smooth buttery substance, and there you have it. Homemade peanut butter! Easy as pie, right? We keep ours in a sealed container in the fridge. I don’t know exactly how long this will stay good, as we usually go through ours pretty quickly. I think the longest we’ve kept a batch is about a week and it was still fine. Make smaller portions if you are not sure how fast you will eat it.

Just a little heads up, do NOT wash the peanuts before you blend them! They will not stick together when blending, if you wash them. If you already washed them, don’t worry. The peanuts are not completely wasted. Let the peanuts dry off and then freeze them. Add them to cookies and cakes later.

Make a food plan

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By making a food plan you make it easier for yourself to put together a good shopping list and you can use leftovers cleverly. A simple food plan for 2 weeks time could look like this.

Monday            Falafel with rice and veggies
Tuesday           Pita with leftover falafel and veggies
Wednesday      Pasta w. tomato sauce
Thursday         Lasagna from the leftover pasta and sauce, add veggies, bake
Friday              Wok w. rice
Saturday          Spring rolls with rice and veggies mixed together
Sunday            Soup made from anything you might need to use before it goes bad

Monday           Nori rolls
Tuesday          Pasta salad with leftover veggies from Nori rolls
Wednesday      Baked roots and onions
Thursday         Potato pizza
Friday              Mashed potatoes
Saturday          Veggie paddies with leftover mash
Sunday            Soup made from anything you might need to use before it goes bad

We hardly EVER throw away food. Some people might think, that the things we do to save food,  is just really taking it too far. But I don’t like to waste anything. Butt ends of bread taste just fine if you toast it or make croutons to add to your homemade soups (will add recipe later). Vegetable cuttings that are often thrown away, like carrot tips and ends, cabbage cores, broccoli stems and the part of an onion that isn’t the dry peel but simply too tough or unappealing to eat, all make a very good vegetable broth. I will add a recipe when I have enough veggie scraps to make broth. Till then I suggest that you designate a freezer bag for vegetables you wanna use in your broth. Be smart and don’t use anything that has gone bad!

Another thing that is important to mention is: Plan for leftovers! Make sure you have enough food to have leftovers. I think it is great to not have to begin from scratch every time I cook a meal. This way you make it very easy on yourself every other day. An easy way to plan ahead is to know how much one person actually eats (rice or spaghetti etc.). I use these guidelines pr. person:

80 grams/1 dl. uncooked rice
200 – 250 grams potatoes
80 – 100 grams dry pasta/spaghetti
200 – 250 grams fresh pasta

Leftover paddies

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So this is yesterdays leftovers:

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After meeting the blender that is.

We had a bit of leftover baked roots last night and instead of just re-heating them, my boyfriend did this: (again, no specific amounts, use whatever you have, mix stuff till it seems like a somewhat “solid” paddie.)

Blend leftover roots, a bit of peanuts (just because we had some and they are yummy) and a bit of pickled jalapeños. This gets kinda soggy so you add a bit of potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes) and some bread crumbs to hold it all together. After mixing that (not blending) we also mixed in a couple spoonfuls of canned corn and garlic greens from the window. Shape this “dough” into little paddies, dip in bread crumbs and fry in a bit of oil on pretty high heat. This made 15 paddies and I was full after 4. Eat them as is or with your favorite condiments. Simple, fast, nothing is going to waste and you are not eating the same thing two days in a row 🙂

Baked roots

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Here is a very simple, cheap and yummy dish to make.

I call this baked roots, because you can use pretty much any root vegetable there is. I haven’t found anything yet that wont work, at least. I’ve made this with beets, carrots, whole cloves of garlic, celery root and many other veggies. Since this is a “tidy up dish” I will not put specific amounts in this recipe. Use what ever you have. For this one I used:

Potatoes
Zucchini
Green bell pepper
Onions
Cooking oil
Basil
Salt & pepper
Something called “Tapas spice” with chili, that cost me next to nothing a few months ago. Again, just a leftover thing, I was almost out of it, so I just used the last bit.
-My very favorite thing to add to this dish is rosemary or thyme. But I didn’t have any today. If you have either, you should try it.

Cut the potatoes into bite size.
Boil them for 3 minutes. Boiling them prevents them from drying up when you bake them. I always do this and I think it makes a big difference.
Cut everything else into bite size. Cover the bottom with onion chunks.
When the potatoes have boiled for 3 minutes, drain the water from the potatoes and put them in a mixing bowl with the other vegetables. Drizzle a bit of cooking oil and toss everything around in the mixing bowl. Add all the spices and toss again.

*Put into baking tray and bake at 225 C for around 40 minutes. Keep an eye on it after 30 minutes. The dish is done when the potatoes are completely cooked.

Here is what mine looked like tonight, before and after cooking:

before

after

Hope you enjoy 🙂

*I don’t preheat the oven in this case, since I think it is a waste of electricity and it doesn’t ruin the dish, to get it cooking before the oven is hot.
I never do this with bread or cake though.

Make a budget

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Making a budget can save you a lot of money in the long run. It really gives you an idea of how much you actually spend. At first you might think “oh, well there’s rent and a bit of food, I’ll manage even if I lose my job.” But no, there is so much more that we don’t think about right away.

You don’t even need a fancy budget program or anything to get your budget started. I am a pc user and I use Excel to set up my budget. Excel is a simple calculator that lets you see what is going on. That’s the easiest way to put it.

My budget contains first my income, then the expenses that are the same every month, like rent, electricity (this one is roughly the same every month), insurance, bank fees and internet. Then adjustable posts, like food, hygiene, transportation, pets and other posts that are not the same every month. At the end I have the total of income minus expenses. Each month has a column and everything adjusts automatically when I change the amount in any post. At the end of each row I can see how much each post costs me per year. It is easy to view your budget this way.

All my adjustable posts are 0 at the beginning of the month, as I adjust them when I buy something. That way I get to look at my budget several times in a month. I have an idea of how much I am willing to spend every month and my goal is of course to spend as little as possible.

Clothes doesn’t have a post in my budget, it is covered in “other”. I don’t shop for clothes very often and when I do, I go to thrift stores to keep the expenses at a minimum. And because I like how nothing is ever the same in a thrift store.

If you need help to set up a simple budget in Excel, feel free to contact me and I will gladly make a template for you adjusted to your needs.

One thing that I took out of my budget was my contact lenses, like I mentioned previously. When I saw my budget I realized that my subscription was costing me about 300 dollars per year! I am not that vain! Since my sight is only a -1.25 and I don’t need any sort of special glasses I can wear cheap reading glasses. I found that it was difficult to find reading glasses that were minus anything, but my optician happened to have a frame that cost me around 15 dollars and since I was already a customer, they didn’t charge me for the glass. So check with opticians and see what they have to offer you. I use Specsavers, which seem to be in most of Scandinavia, England and Spain. I found that in Denmark Specsavers is called Louis Nielsen, so perhaps the company has a different name in other places of the world too.

Another thing I use my budget for is to write down things that I want to save up for – and how much those things cost. I also add how much I put into savings. That gives me an idea of how much I can expect to save up for a specific period of time.

Have you set up a budget? Do you do anything differently?

Just what I needed..

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When you’ve had an extra long day at work and you gotta get up at 4am the next day. What is the most exciting way to spend the one hour you have before you gotta sleep? I’ll tell you. Cleaning up your freezer that decided to begin melting for some strange reason. I don’t know if there has been a power out or anything, but you could tell that it has started to melt and then freeze again. Oh well, fortunately the only thing I had to get rid of was a bag of ice cubes. Not a big loss.

I was going to write a post today on making a budget. But I am nearly an hour past my bedtime and I’m having trouble falling asleep as is. I will have to postpone it for tomorrow. I hope you are all doing well. Get good rest everyone.

10 ways to save money

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Wow, two comments and two followers already! And my blog hasn’t been online for 24 hours! This is very encouraging, thank you guys! I will get started right away. Here is 10 ways that I use to save money. I plan on writing more on each topic later on, but I figured I’d throw some ideas at you now, just to get started.

Make a budget

No, the act itself of making a budget is not going to save you money, but it will shine a light on where all your money is going. I for instance found that I can save 2.000 Danish kroner (That’s 360 usd or 220 gbp!) every year, just by wearing glasses and cancelling my contact lenses subscription. It takes a little getting used to, but I’ve learned to love my glasses. Maybe there’s other things that you can save a bunch of money on? It is scary how much some people spend on cigarettes or candy for instance.

Stocking up

Stocking up when the things you use often are affordable can be a great way to save money AND time. It allows you to plan ahead and it saves you from having to go to the store as often. The less you go to the store, the less stuff you will buy impulsively. I stock up when ever I can. It can even be little things like a few extra cans of tomatoes or and extra bag of rice here and there.

Sell stuff you don’t need anymore

Perhaps you are like me and get a little too optimistic when you buy clothes? I have quite a bit of clothes that I thought for sure I could fit into, or thought that it would look great on me. Sadly, I was wrong. The same goes for shoes. I have so many pairs of shoes, yet I always wear the same old boots winter after winter and the same two pairs of shoes and sandals in the summer. I even bought stilettos, knowing full well that I can’t stand – quite literally – wearing stilettos! So it is all gonna get posted for sale online. Anything I may make on selling things, will go straight into my savings account.

Forage

Learn about some of the wild edibles growing where you live. Go for a walk and bring home free, local and healthy goodies to munch on. I obviously can’t tell you what to look for, that changes with your location and climate. But here you can find wild apples and cherries, raspberries, blackberries and edible chestnuts amongst other things. One of my favorite wild eats is stinging nettles, so delicious! Be smart and don’t eat anything that you aren’t sure of!

Cut your hair yourself

Or have a friend do it for you. It is really not very difficult and it will save you quite a bit of money. I’ve had my hair cut once by a professional, last year at the age of 28 I paid my very first visit to a hair dresser, with great regret. It was somewhat cheap (180 sek /25 usd /16gbp, that is cheap for over here) so I thought why not. I ended up wearing a bandana for 3 days and then finally cutting it myself.

Save coupons

Coupons are not as big here in Sweden as they seem to be in America. But all through December last year, my boyfriend and I won a lot of coupons in a Christmas game that was put up by store brand company. There are apps available where you can get coupons on your smart phone and try different products different products for cheaper – sometimes even for free. Just in December we got probably 1.000 sek (150 usd /90 gbp) worth of food for free, using coupons. Of course there is always more stuff in December – with stores being in an all christmassy giving gifts mood – but if you look for them, you will find some here and there. Remember getting something for free is also a way of saving money. Don’t forget to spend your coupons before they expire!

Make food from scratch

That includes baking your own bread. The cost of homemade bread is just a fraction of the price you pay at a bakery. Making your own food from scratch is also a lot cheaper – and healthier – than readymade meals and most take-away foods. And when it comes down to it, it is really not that difficult or time consuming as you may think. When I remember to bring my camera into the kitchen with me, I will post recipes for some absurdly cheap meals.

One for the ladies (or a friendly suggestion for your lady friend)

Do you know how much money you spend on female hygiene products every year? Yeah, you probably do. A “menstrual cup” is a great little invention, it is a small investment, but considering how much money you spend every year on sanitary pads, tampons and panty liners, it is surely worth it. It also minimizes how much waste you create. Good for the environment, your conscience and your health as it doesn’t contain bleach or other toxins. And last but not least, good for your wallet 🙂

Grow your own food

Or if you live in a small apartment like I do, just grow some of it. Some things will grow for a long time as long as you keep using them. For instance garlic and onions, if you just cut the green parts it will grow back again very quickly and it tastes great to add fresh onion greens to your food. Other things I’ve grown in my home is spinach, tomatoes and even physalis. All of my windows are facing North West in this apartment, so I probably can’t grow tomatoes and physalis here. But I will grow some spinach soon.

Make a food plan

And stick to it. Having a plan on what to cook during the week also gives you an idea of what to buy. You don’t have to go to the store every day, trying to come up with an idea for dinner while at the supermarket. Make sure to plan it wisely and make use of all leftovers.

Okay, those are my 10 ideas for today. Like I said, I will work on writing more in depth about each topic, maybe as one blog post at a time. I will be back with many, many more ideas and if you can think of something I should write about, let me know 🙂

a bit more about me

How does all this work anyway? As I am just figuring out how to use WordPress, I thought I’d tell you a little more about myself.

I am a first time blogger so I am not sure where to begin. I decided to write a blog, about the things I care for a lot. Many of these topics, seem to be uninteresting to the people around me. My colleagues – who are the people I spend the most time with, besides my boyfriend – are all rather indifferent about my frugal lifestyle. They shake their heads at me when I talk about prepping and couldn’t even imagine, living one week without their television, or not having a slab of meat on their dinner plate. On the other hand, it sure seems like there are many people around the globe, with the same ideas and interests as myself.

That is also why I chose to write this blog in English. English is not my first language. I’m Danish and I live in Sweden, but I feel that it would be limiting, to write in a Scandinavian language. With that said, I hope you will all look past any grammatical mistakes I may make. Grammatical errors can make me twitch too, but not as much as people pointing them out, if they have nothing else to say 😉

For years I’ve wanted to put together a small “zine”, you know little ideas, sayings, cool pictures, DIY stuff and small collages glued onto folded paper and photocopied. I never got around to it and I guess we are in a different age now, so taking the project online seemed right.

Even though I live a frugal life, I allow myself to go to concerts and to buy a bottle of liquor from time to time. I’ve been to some cool shows over the years. Rather than going out to the bar, I prefer to make drinks at home. I work a part time job in a bar and I know just as well as you do, that when you’ve bought about 3 drinks you could have brought home a nice bottle for the same amount of money.

So the topics I hope to touch on are how to save money, getting your expenses under control, planning ahead, recipes for both food and drinks, and probably a fair amount of rambling. I hope that you will all find it interesting 🙂