Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brew your own iced tea for just $0.15

[post by Jon]

I feel kind of silly even typing this out. This recipe is so simple any explanation will just be meandering so I'll just get right to it.

  1. Combine boiling water with 3 teabags in a large cup (8-10oz)
  2. Let this cup sit overnight.
  3. In the morning pour this super strong tea into a 2L pitcher.
  4. Fill with cold filtered water.
  5. Stir and remove teabags.
  6. Optional - squeeze half a lemon into the tea.
  7. Add a few teaspoons of simple syrup to each glass you pour.

There are a few things great about this recipe.
  • You can use any kind of tea. Your favorite green, herbal, black etc.
  • Inexpensive. Tea is very cheap especially when bought in large boxes. 3 teabags makes it cost only $0.15 per jug.
  • If you regularly drink hot tea as we do in the morning or after dinner, the tea bags can go in the iced tea pitcher instead of straight to the garbage. Add water each time you do.
  • Make it a sweet as you like. Holly likes her tea way sweeter than I do, the simple syrup allows us to make each glass just how we like and there are no granules.
I don't like to add the lemon to the jug because it gets more bitter after a few days in the fridge and can't refill the jug as consistently.

Simple Syrup recipe

[post by Holly]
Simple syrup is exactly the same sugary stuff that coffee shops use to sweeten their iced tea and coffees. If you want to buy a bottle of Starbucks Classic Syrup, it will cost you about $11, maybe more and it probably has some sort of preservative added.

This is just sugar and water, super easy to make and sooooo cheap! Use it in anything you don't want sugar crystals floating around in, I use it in iced tea, iced coffee and smoothies. You can use it for alcoholic mixed drinks as well.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thin crust pizza

[post by Holly]
Now it's time to make your pizzas using your homemade dough (see previous post).

The crust
Start heating your oven to 400 degrees.
Take your freshly prepared or thawed dough and plop it down on a lightly floured table. Get a bit of flour on both sides, you basically want to get rid of any spots that are gooey and will stick to your fingers or the table. I have no idea how to properly spread out pizza dough so I just gently pull and pat as I spread the dough and pinch together any holes that happen to form when it gets too thin in areas.
When I have each piece nearly as big as I want them I transfer them to the pans I'm using and start pulling the edges until I've filled the whole pan and left a little ridge for the crust. The crust should be pretty thin, I can usually see the pan through mine.

I don't pre-bake my crust, I just add all toppings and bake.

On one of my pizzas I used half a can of pizza sauce, some ranch dressing, leftover chicken breast, red onion, fresh basil from my window, some chopped tomato that went mushy and would otherwise be thrown away and mozzarella. I pretty much just use leftovers on my pizza.

The other pizza had half a can of pizza sauce, hot genoa salami, red onion, a little bit of green pepper left from stirfry, cheddar and mozzarella.You can put almost anything you want on them.

Oven time
Pop them in the preheated oven at 400* for about 15 minutes, a bit longer if you like your toppings crispy or if you've put wet toppings like tomato or pineapple on.
Slice into 8.
We usually eat 6 pieces each (too much!) and have an extra 4 for lunch another day. [btw, leftover pizza is 325* for 7 minutes]

The pictures below should fill in the blanks. If there is anything you're unsure of please leave a comment.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cheap and easy pizza dough

[post by Holly]
I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was to make my own pizza dough. This stuff is really easy to work with and freezes perfectly. My recipe makes 4 thin crust pizzas. You can also use it to make panzerottis or bread sticks. We made a giant pizza roll with it the other day to use up some deli meat that we had.

If you don't have a stand mixer you're going to have to do this with a wooden/plastic spoon and a big bowl and then knead by hand but it's not too difficult to work with, it's not as thick as bread dough.

How to declutter and make money from your closet

[posted by Holly]
I bet you have a closet full of stuff that you haven't worn in quite a while (or at all!) but you're still holding onto "just because". Maybe it's something nicer than the usual things you wear but you picked it up because it was awesome or on sale and you were determined to find an opportunity to wear it. Maybe it still has the tags on it or maybe you did get a chance to wear it... once... 3 years ago. "But I might still wear it again!"

Be realistic. If it still has tags on it after 6 months then it needs to go. If you bought it specifically for one event and can't think of when you might need it next then it needs to go. Same goes for stuff that doesn't fit, if it's more than one size too big or small then you should get rid of it, trendy seasonal items, shoes that look awesome but pinch (that means they don't fit!), costume jewelry, anything worn out, ripped or stained.

After having a baby I did a massive closet crackdown. Most of my shoes were now too small and I had things I was hanging onto hoping for a chance to wear or I would miraculously shrink into from BEFORE I even got pregnant! I had tiny purses (haha, no way I can fit anything in those!), sparkly scarves and necklaces (babies like to pull on things, ack! choke!) and high heels and mini dresses (I won't be pushing a stroller wearing those!)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

12 ways you're probably wasting money

There are literally hundreds of ways you're wasting money every day. A lot of things you don't realize until it's pointed out to you.

1) Buying drinks - How many times a week are you buying a bottle of water or soda because you get thirsty while you're out? Something as simple as bringing a reusable bottle of cold water with you can save you a ton of money each year.
2) Shopping hungry - You are much more likely to deviate from your grocery list when you're hungry. Junk food just seems to jump into your cart off the shelf.
3) Driving more than necessary - Walk or use public transit when possible. Most major cities have excellent and fast public transit systems. We walk to the grocery store and going downtown on the skytrain is way better than looking for and paying for parking.
4) Single serving anything - If you buy microwave dinners or those little snack bags of chips just knock it off. The markup on those is insane and there are always better options.
5) No preparation - Before you go shopping, make a list and stick to it. Before work, pack a lunch. Bring snacks if you know you'll be out all day. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

The 30 day challenge - The Rules

The 30 day challenge is something we've thought up to get us back on track financially, or at least to get our asses in gear to do something.

The rules:
  • $200 grocery budget (currently spending close to $400 for 2 people)
  • no pop, slurpees or juice (full of sugar and we can do without)
  • no junk food - chocolate bars, chips, candy etc
  • no icecream
  • no takeout or restaurant meals (we usually do a takeout dinner at least once a month)
  • no Starbucks
  • Get up earlier
  • Get to bed earlier
  • Exercise everyday (at least a walk)
  • Document the progress
That might not seem like a crazy challenge to you, but this is a huge change for us. Trying to stick to a schedule with a tiny saboteur with us will not be easy.
The goal is to get an extra $200 we can put toward credit card debt at the end of the month.
If we fail, we do this again in July. If we succeed and didn't hate it we do it again in July.

Why June? A) the sooner the better B) there are no special events like birthdays to interfere with the cashflow.

But wait there's more!
In addition to saving money by spending less, we're going to try to make some money back by selling some of our extra things. Some large baby gear has been outgrown but nothing needs to be replaced immediately. Jon will also be working on expanding his business.

Introduction - Who we are and what this is about

Hello and welcome to Scrimpulous! Yes all the good names were taken. This blog is sharing our ideas and challenges living well on a limited income.
To kick it off we're challenging ourselves to stick to an aggressive budget for the month of June. Details of that will be in an upcoming post.

Who we are:
The blog is written by Jon and Holly. Jon is a freelance audio engineer mostly working from home, Holly is currently at home with maternity benefits taking care of our 7 month old daughter Alice. We are currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What is this about:
In September Holly's maternity benefits will end and our available funds will take a big hit. In addition, we have a fair amount of credit card debit incurred from our move last year to pay off before then.
We're looking for ways to cut costs, reduce waste, clear clutter, freecycle, and of course ways to make money. We'd like to share our ideas because we know this is a common situation.

We'd like to encourage you to share your tips as well, and if you see where we might be doing the wrong thing please let us know. If we're start to get lazy and slack in our budget, give us hell!

Thanks for reading, this should be fun.