Thursday, January 26

12 Quart Stock Pot

With thoughts of frugality foremost in my mind, because I'd never let laziness enter the picture, I bought a huge stock pot today. Did I mention this thing is huge? I figure I can cook up large batches of chili or stew and simply freeze whatever portion I won't eat within several days. This will work well since I stocked up on those individual portion size plastic containers recently.

Anyway, tonight I was making my new favorite chili like concoction. Ingredients are approxmimately one pound of ground beef, some tex mex seasoning, a bit of cayenne pepper, some garlic salt and a bit of pepper. You could add some ketchup or other seasonings to taste. Once the meat is cooked I threw in two cans of garlic and basil diced tomatoes, two cans of kidney beans and two cans of romano beans. Finally, once this mixture had warmed up in went one and a half cups of plain rice.

While this is a fairly good cheap meal in and of itself I'm really paving the way for things to come. For example, instead of buying canned beans I can now buy, soak and cook large quantities of dry beans at a fraction of the price. By changing the order of my cooking, I can simply drain the beans if needed, toss in a quantity of cooked meat, some tomatoes and as much rice as I want.

The only thing that troubles me is that even though I was careful not to use a very high heat, I managed to scald some of the ingredients. Luckily I was stirring and so forth often enough that I could tell it was happening. I think I need to purchase a little tool that keeps pots and pans from sitting directly on the burner, which I remember my grandmother having. Something is required, since I don't have any lower settings to use. Hmm.

Anyway, my first batch of chili is done. I can't wait until it has sat in the fridge overnight, becuause then I can butter some toast and spread spoonfuls of "leftover" chili on top of it. I haven't done this in ages, but I remember doing that when I was growing up. I guess it was before microwaves were common, so it was faster than heating up the chili and I didn't have to use and wash a bowl. Hey, that's a tip for bachelors, why use a plate when there is toast!

Sunday, January 22

Doing the Laundry

If you don't have your own washer and dryer, and many that are forced to live a frugal existence don't, then you will find yourself throwing money away every time you wash a load of clothing. While that does suck, and I'm not about to tell you to avoid washing your clothes to save money, there are some things you can do to avoid throwing extra money down the drain.

For example, the convenient machine, which I can use any time I want, as long as I have two and a half hours to steward a load through the process, costs $1.75 per load, plus $1.75 per drying cycle. Unfortunately, the dryer is crappy, so it takes two cycles to do the job. Damn, that's $5.25 a load before considering the cost of detergent and drying sheets.

On the other hand, the local laundromat charges $1.25 per washer and the dryers run about 7 minutes per quarter. So, for about $2.00 per load total, before consumables, I can save over 50% of my laundry costs. However, watch out for those consumables! At $1.00 a piece for soap and $0.25 per dryer sheet, they can start to add up fairly quickly.

So, for me, it makes clear sense to haul my dirty shorts to the laundromat, especially if I bring my own supplies.

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Friday, January 20

Cheap Domain Names and Internet Hosting

Okay, I guess I can't just write about food. Up until recently I was pretty happy with a Internet services company called Pair Networks, but lately I've been using GoDaddy.com for my Internet services instead. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked because that gives me an excuse to tell you about it.

First, for only 8.95 per year I can grab a domain name. Well, yes, it can be pretty hard to find a good domain name nowadays. Anyway, I'll grab one from time to time when I think of something cool. You can make your registration private, so that you ownership details don't allow people to grab your personal information from the whois databases.

Second, and even better, for only 3.95 per month I can host a website on that domain. This is next to nothing! You get some email boxes, some MySQL databases and PHP. Of course, if you wish, you can use plain HTML and simply upload simple files. Anyway, you can also get a free web site with your domain name, but they will run advertising on it if you do that.

The only thing I don't like about GoDaddy is how much additional crap they try to sell you when you sign up for something. You have to go through multiple pages of options, indicating that you don't want to buy all these impressive sounding services and options. Unless of course you want those options, but for purposes of frugality there is no way I'm paying big bucks for those services.

Finally, I do believe there are some places that will give you the ability to buy a domain name at a cheaper price. However, I don't think they are as geared towards helping a regular user manage their own domain names and web sites. To go much cheaper you are probably looking at a minimal services situation used by people buying and selling domain names. That's my guess anyway. Give GoDaddy a try. The link above is a referral link, but you can just type it in by hand if that troubles you.

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Monday, January 9

Three Meals for Five Dollars

If you've been reading along you know that I've taken a liking to canned tomatoes with garlic and basil. It's pretty cheap, low fat, low calorie and high fiber. Not bad for a cheap and convenient food. While a bit watery out of the can you can simmer it for a while to develop more of a stew consistency.

Anyway, as I'm single, a serving equates to a meal. With that out of the way, here was the evening meal for tonight:

  • 1 can of garlic and basil diced tomatoes, large
  • 1 can of kidney beans, large
  • 1 can of romano beans, large
  • 2 chicken breasts, or other meat
Throw the tomatoes in a pot and start simmering. Drain the beans, lentils, or whatever else you choose to add to your stew-like base. Add it all together and stir it from time to time on low heat. If you are a bachelor and don't know how to cook, be sure to keep the heat low or you may burn your dinner at the bottom of the pan.

In a no-stick pan, simply fry up the chicken. I put some pepper on mine, but it doesn't matter much, season to taste if you like. Once the chicken is cooked, chop it into strips and dump it into the simmering tomato and bean stew. Simmer until you have a consistency you like and serve.

If you aren't too much of a pig you should be able to package up a couple of extra servings for the freezer. Personally, I have those cheap plastic dishes that are freezer and microwave safe, so if I don't plan ahead well enough to thaw this out, I can just nuke it until it is hot enough to eat. How convenient and cheap is that?

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