9 Things That You Can Make At Home To Reduce Your Grocery Spending

I am married with six children. I don't know about you, but one of my biggest monthly expenses is always groceries. Groceries for eight people is a HUGE expense, believe me. But, if you are smart and budget well, you can keep this cost down to a more comfortable level. One way to reduce your grocery bill is by knowing what you can make from scratch to save, well... some scratch!

There are tons of things that you can make at home from scratch to reduce your grocery spending. The key is to figure out how much something costs per unit. Then find out how much that same thing would cost per unit after all ingredients you would be using if you make it yourself. This will tell you how much money you can save per individual unit.

For example, say you want to have some delicious pancakes. Where I live it's about $2.50 for a box of pancakes. These are the cheapest you will find them around here and they are not even full sized pancakes. They are the miniature sized pancakes. They come three to a package, and there are eight packages inside one box. That's 24 miniature pancakes for $2.50. 

Now, let's do some pancake math! The recipe I use is quite basic. It calls for about two cups of flour, some butter, one egg, a little baking powder. Nothing fancy, but the pancakes always come out great. What I am going to do is figure out exactly how much it costs me to make one batch of this recipe.

For the sake of this not turning in to an all out lesson on basic division, I did the math before hand, and I will just post the results .

2 cups of flour     = $ .32
1 Egg                  = $ .16
1 cup of milk       = $ .19
1 tsp. B. Powder = Less than a penny!

This puts our total at about $ .88. One thing that I should point out, is that I make pancakes about three to four times the size of the miniature pancakes that we're talking about here, and my recipe makes twice as many as what comes in the box of miniatures. So it would take about two boxes, coming out to $5.00 to make the same amount as I make at home for less than $1.00. Unbelievable.

Now that we know how to calculate if something is worth putting in the little extra work to make, let's take a look at 9 things that you can make at home to reduce your grocery spending.

1. Pancakes

We will get this one out of the way first as we have already talked about pancakes enough for one post. Pancakes are easy and quick to make, and like everything else on this list, it can be frozen to save it for when you need it. It doesn't have to be consumed right away. We like to spend about a few hours every week just making stuff like this and filling our deep freezer so that we always have a month or so of food stockpiled.

2. Waffles

Waffles are about the same price range as pancakes both in the store, and ingredient wise. So, yes, it is very worth it to make your own waffles and throw them in to your freezer for whenever you need them. Besides the savings, homemade just tastes better. Even after they have been frozen for a few months they still taste astronomically better than store bought waffles.

3. French Toast

French toast is very easy to make, and it's probably one of the cheaper things on this list to make at home, but one of the more expensive to buy at the store. A carton of eggs is about $1.89 where I live, and this one carton will make probably close to two whole loaves of bread worth of french toast. Just as the others, this can also be preserved in the freezer for a few months.

4. Bread

Bread is a big one. The price of bread where I live seems like it's going up just about every day of the week. I used to be able to get it for right around a dollar at the local walmart and now it seems like I can't touch it for less than two dollars. That's why now, I fire up the bread machine and I can make a loaf of bread for right around 50 cents. It's fresher, it's softer, and it tastes way better. Bread can also be frozen, and homemade bread seems to thaw out and keep it's composure a lot better than store bread does. Oh, and don't forget to throw an extra loaf in to make french toast with for even bigger savings.

If you don't have a bread machine, you should definitely get one. This is the one that I use, and I absolutely love it.

5. Anything with a potato

I know that sounds vague, but really, anything that you buy that is made from potatoes can easily be duplicated at home for drastically cheaper. Buy a french fry cutter and cut your own potatoes. Shred your own hash browns. Make potato skins from fresh potatoes and throw them in the freezer for later. The list is really limitless. The ultimate savings in this is if you grow your own potatoes.

A nice french fry slicer makes life so much more delicious.

6. Pasta Galore

If you don't have a pasta machine, you should definitely get one. My pasta machine has dies for just about every kind of noodle you could ever need. It also makes bread sticks and pretzels. The cost to make the noodles is roughly the same, but you get much more for the same amount of money, and you're not ingesting a ton of preservatives, which makes it worth it all by it's self. Pasta can be frozen for about 4 months as well. One more thing, pasta can be made by hand, but the machine kinda autopilots the process for the most part. It's a time saver more than anything.

7. Jellies and Jams

Nothing beats fresh jelly and jam. Nothing. This one does require a little extra start up if you don't already have the materials and supplies for canning. You will need ball jars and a few other things. Again, with these the real savings comes in to play if you grow your own fruit. No need to freeze these either as the canning will preserve the jellies for a very long time.

8.  Sauces

Again, these sauces are best kept with canning. These though, can be frozen if you want to do this but don't have the necessary equipment for canning them. Any sauce you can think of, you can make at home. The internet is a window that looks in to the entire world all at once, and it is full of recipes for anything you could possibly ever need to make. Once more, growing your own tomatoes and such maximizes your savings potential.

9. The Almighty Tortilla

Making tortillas is not hard at all. There is a little bit of an additional start up cost, as you will need a tortilla press to make things easier. I don't know about you, but we eat a lot of Mexican food, so tortillas can get quite expensive. 

This concludes our list of things that you can make at home to reduce your grocery spending, but I do have a few more tips for you before you go.

When it comes to freezing these items, it's a safe bet to find a chart that shows how long they will all keep after being frozen. I will be publishing one shortly.

Also, if you do any of the canning ideas on here, make sure you find a good recipe and stick to it. It also never hurts to have a little help from someone who is experienced doing this if it's your first time. Canning can be a little dangerous if you don't know what your doing, and the food won't keep if you don't have a good, accurate recipe and stick to it closely.

That's all for now. Until next time, have a good one and be safe.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Posted by Matt

Homemade Solar Panels DIY Tutorial, Complete Build

We live in a world where energy costs are rising as our resources to create that energy are declining. Luckily, and just in time, there are now several cost effective and eco friendly alternatives to these energies. In this video you will be walked through how to put together your own solar panel cheap and effectively.

Whether you are trying to go completely off the grid at affordable prices, or just cut back on your energy use, this is the way to go. There are several reasons to consider this as an option.

Cost Effective

Solar panels have come a long way, and the prices are continuing to decline. This makes off the shelf solar panels a lot more affordable, but even at these reduced prices, they can still be quite expensive. For the true bargain hunter and DIY enthusiast, there is still a cheaper, more wallet friendly approach. This approach is in homemade solar panels.

By buying the cells individually, or in bulk, through sites like ebay, you can save a ton of money on these. You still then have the challenge of encasing the cells, but with a little bargain hunting and ingenuity you can find the materials to do this on the cheap side as well. If your really a thrifty person like myself, you can scavenge some materials to do this as well. It never hurts to pay attention to what people on your street are throwing away. There are many things that can be re-purposed or adapted to fit your needs. Just pay attention to the things around you and you are sure to score some materials that can be used to enclose these solar cells.

Money Saver

One huge benefit of converting to solar energy is the savings. You can build your solar panels at your own pace and add them as they are finished. The more solar panels you add, the less electricity you use. The less electricity you use, the more money you save. Eventually, if you have enough solar panels, and a large enough battery bank, you completely come off the grid, and stop paying for electricity all together. That should be the ultimate goal.

Renewable Energy

Saving the world with renewable energy.Last, but certainly not least, you can give your self the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing the planet and everyone on it a huge service by converting to a sustainable energy source. This is much more eco friendly and all around better for everyone. This will reduce emissions and waste that are created during the process of creating noon-sustainable energy sources. Every one person that does this is a baby step in creating a world not dependent on damaging industries. 

How to Make a Homemade 5 Gallon Bucket Air Conditioner

If there is one thing that always troubles me about the summer, it's how to cool down my house without killing the electric bill. Manufactured air conditioners and central air can be extremely costly, both up front and in the long run. Well, have no fear, The 5 gallon bucket air conditioner is here.

At a glance your probably thinking, why would I ever do this. There are tons of reasons to do this.

Cheaper than Buying an Air Conditioner

Air conditioners can be quite expensive. The cheapest I've seen an air conditioner lately is around $150. And now, think. How many of those window units would you require to cool your entire home? Yep, and that's before you even see what it can do to your electric bill. Central air is even worse. It works a lot better than window units, but still has a huge impact on monthly expenses.

The cost to make one of these units, on average is about $15-$25. That's a huge difference from $150 wall units. And best of all, if you connect this to a small solar panel as this gentleman did, NO MONTHLY EXPENSE.

No Toxic Chemicals

It's no secret that air conditioners contain chemicals like Freon to cool the air. These chemicals can be very hazardous. You won't find anything like that with the 5 gallon bucket air conditioner, as it is purely run on ice. That alone is an awesome reason to consider this idea.


By far one of my favorite things about the 5 gallon bucket air conditioner is that it is completely renewable. It's renewable in the sense that, to recharge this you simply add more ice. As you will see in the video, this gentleman used a 1 gallon jug that he filled with water and froze. It's easy as keeping a handful of these jugs frozen and alternating them as the 5 gallon bucket air conditioner begins to lose cooling power.

Well, that's that. I hope everyone enjoys this video as much as I did. I will definitely be building a couple of these in the coming months as summer approaches. I have a few of my own designs that I've been working on. As I build them I will post the designs, pictures, explanations, etc.

Farewell, for now.

How to Eliminate your Cable Bill

A while back I devised a little scheme that allowed me to live without cable. It's slightly more technical. It doesn't require you to have a profound knowledge of electronics and computers, but a basic knowledge of these things does help during the setup process.

Before we get started, I want to note a few things. I can't speak for everyone, because I know that cable rates vary from region to region. In my area, cable runs about $40 plus, on a monthly basis. It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but when you tack that in on top of hundreds of dollars worth of other expenses, it starts to add up. There is a lot that you can do with an extra $40 dollars a month. Or, even better, $480 a year! Definitely a step in the right direction to live free!

Now, with that said, let's get started!

What you will need:

A computer that supports either SVideo or HDMI outputs.
A Television that supports either SVideo or HDMI inputs.
HDMI or SVideo cable
An internet connection running to the PC.

Note: optionally, you could always purchase a newer tv that comes equipped with internet capabilities. This really depends on the level you intend to take this too. You'll understand what I mean here in a few minutes.

All you need to do is pick whether you want to run your connection through HDMI, or SVideo. If your using an older computer that you just have lying around, like I did, you'll most likely end up running SVideo. If your running a newer PC, you'll most likely end up with HDMI. In my opinion, if it's in your power to do this using an HDMI hook up, then go for it. The quality will be a million times better this way.

Connect your PC to your TV using your preferred method.

Make sure you have a reliable internet connection running to the PC.

Believe it or not, as far as setup, you're done.

Now that you have everything setup, you need to decide what kind of functionality you want it to have. There are tons of websites where you can watch movies for free. Youtube is another option. If you want to spend just a little bit of money every month, you can go for netflix, which will allow you to watch a lot of the same stuff that you can on cable for a fraction of the cost. There are literally hundreds of options.

Another thing that I did was downloaded video game emulators. This allowed me to play some of the older video games that you can't really find anymore. There are literally tons of things that you can do with this system now to enhance your experience.

Also, you might consider a few different types of software to change your experience. My personal favorite is XBMC. It was originally designed as a media player for Xbox game consoles, but was soon ported to PC. You can easily integrate all of your video and music files for use in XBMC. It also has an option to stream shows and movies from online broadcasts. It really is a total package and it's 100% FREE. Check it out here: XBMC

That's it for cable bills. I hope at least a handful of people will be intrigued by this and at least try it out. If you do try it out, please come back to this page and let us know about your experience. Live Free!
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Posted by Matt

DIY Green Energy

Anyone who is familiar with green energy, and the go green movement, knows that right at the forefront of this epic battle against high cost energy and the damage that we are doing to the planet, is alternative energy solutions like Solar energy and Wind Energy.

The real problem with these alternative energy solutions is that they can be quite expensive to put together and deploy. In some cases, a full on solar energy set up that would take you off of the standard electrical grid, could cost you $20,000 plus. In the long run, these systems take 18 plus years to pay for themselves. When you break it down, it just isn't worth the money. That's no way to live free.

But finally, someone has released a very reliable method that teaches you how to make your own solar panels. It's not as daunting as it sounds. It's really quite easy if you follow the instructions of this book. With this method you can fully run your home on solar energy for a fraction of what it would cost to have all this done professionally.

This book will show you how to build and deploy your own solar panels. It will also teach you the ins and outs of constructing your battery banks. It really goes in depth and walks you through the whole process, front to back. I believe now, they are offering up video tutorials that come with the book as well, for those of you who are like me, and learn better from watching someone do it, then reading and staring at pictures.

If you want to completely eliminate your monthly utility bills, and live free, this is where you need to be. By creating a solar energy system large enough to power your whole house, you can remove yourself from your electrical suppliers grid. What are you waiting for? Click Here to get this book and take the next step on your quest to live free!

Save up to 50% on your Monthly Utility Bills

When I first dreamed up this blog, I had a few mission objectives in mind. These were objectives that I knew I had to accomplish in order for this blog to be what I wanted it to be.

1. I wanted to teach people the art of saving money by going green.
2. I needed to show people that there was a better way of doing things then what society and big business will have us know.
3. I wanted to give people an outlet that they can rely on time and time again to deliver them priceless information that could really help them change their own lives as well as the people around them, and possibly with enough participation, the world.
4. I needed to teach people how to live free.

With that said, I want to introduce to you, my loyal readers, a very valuable book that I found recently. I'm not going to sit here and try to pitch the book to you like some kind of a salesman. Instead, I will just give you a run down of what the book is about, and then you can decide for yourself it is worth your time and energy.

This is an excerpt from the books website:

Here's What You'll Learn...

  • Dispel the myths about alternative energy sources - save money by spending the least and getting the biggest energy savings.
  • Learn the right choices for your particular home and budget.
  • The Energy Audit - find out if you really need one.
  • Insulation Secrets - even if you think you know a lot about insulation, you're in for a real surprise.
  • Heating & Cooling are usually the biggest energy costs in your home. Slash your costs without replacing your furnace and air conditioner.
  • Hot water for cheap - learn what really works to save up to 70% on hot water costs.
  • If you have Energy Star appliances, that is a good start, but I'll show you how to save even more.
  • Everyone is switching to CLF's (compact fluorescent lights) to save money on lighting. Learn what lighting technologies use even less power.
  • And DOZENS more tips and recommendations, including little known secrets that will help you keep more money in your pocket.
  • PLUS - I'll show you how to pay for all your home improvements without touching a single penny of your primary income!
Hows that sound? The reason I decided to share this book with you, well, besides the fact that it really does help you save up to 50% on your monthly utility bills, is that it really shares the same general theme as this website. This book isn't geared to give you more useless information. It's designed to give you top notch information, and it's going to show you ways to pay for the methods it describes, without dipping in to your wallet. Now, who wants to truly begin to live free?
If you are interested in this great book, Click Here!

12 Easy Ways to Go Green

In this day and age, we all live a very fast paced life. Therefor, we have become accustomed to paying more for convenience. Everything comes in plastic manufactured and designed to store and preserve the freshness of the things we buy. Foods are sprayed with preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, and many other dangerous things, in an effort to offer a shelf life longevity that keeps things readily available for the mindless consumer that today's society not only created, but encourages.

We are seemingly eager to ingest things that are terrible not only for our bodies but for the earth it's self. We fill our houses with products that are draining the earth of it's resources at an alarming rate, and then in return putting further strain on it by being tossed into landfills, burned, and other nefarious disposal methods. This is no way to live free.

If you are like me, time is a commodity. Juggling work and family, and a ton of other things, it's easy to get roped into the frenzy of microwavable meals, and everything being wrapped in plastics, for your convenience. But, I assure you, if your goal is to truly live free, then this is the exact opposite of the way you want to live.

Now, when I first decided that it was my personal responsibility to be cautious of the things that I do and the impact my actions had, whether positive or negative, it all seemed a little overwhelming. There are literally millions of ways to go green. It's easy to get overwhelmed and want to back out to the comfort of the familiar.

The best thing you could possibly do to go green, is START SMALL. Make little easy changes, that aren't complicated, and are easily adaptable into your daily routine.

The ideas in this go green video are great for getting started on your path to live free. I highly recommend that you try at least a few of them. It really is a good jump point on your quest to live free.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Posted by Matt

Save Major $$$ Growing Your Own Produce

A while back I found myself pacing around the produce section at my local grocery store. I found it very hard to believe how much they were asking for fruits and vegetables. I remember not so long ago, when produce was the cheap part of grocery shopping. Now, it seems as though you could go broke just buying enough fruit to last your family through the week.

So, I set out on a journey cut this expense down as much as possible. My final conclusion was to grow some of this stuff myself. I mean, what better way is there, really? Now, not only do I spend a whole lot less at the grocery store, but I know what I'm getting. I can guarantee that there are no pesticides or anything like that, because I don't use them.

I bought a small greenhouse. One of the ones with the peat moss pellets and a clear plastic dome. Simple, but effective! These things are amazing for getting your garden off to a strong start. I also bought a grow light from Walmart, as I intend on keeping this herb garden right in the kitchen on a big piece of open counter space that never gets used. Anyways, I decided to start with herbs. We do a lot of cooking around my house, and we love our herbs and spices. So I picked a handful of the stuff that we use the most, which included oregano, parsley, cilantro, basil, etc. Then I got to work.

I planted a handful of each type of plant. Within just a few days we started to see a lot of the pellets sprouting. After a while I ended up buying a bunch of Styrofoam cups to transplant them over. This is just to give them a little more room to root and such. This is where I'm at right now with these. In a few days I'm going to transplant them all into a long wide tray type planter. At that point, I will update this post with pictures of what I've got going on.

After a while of watching how well these herbs were growing, I decided to move on to something else. I went and grabbed some tomato, habanero pepper, and California wonder pepper seeds. I bought a replacement pack for the greenhouse, which is pretty much just the peat moss pellets. You just take them out of the box and place them in the little slots in the greenhouse base. I planted about 12 of each plant. Within a few days, they began to sprout too. So now, I'm going to be looking into trying to transplant those within the next day or two so they have plenty of room to grow.

After I get those transplanted, I am going to move on to something else. Probably lettuce, cucumbers, etc. I might even order a little baby apple tree online and toss that somewhere out in the backyard. With the little bit of work that I've already done, I'm already looking at saving about $20 a week. Once I expand, and begin to grow more herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables, i'll be looking at saving a lot more. Heck, maybe in the long run I'll end up selling some of this stuff at the local farmers market, because I tend to go over board and I'm sure I'll end up growing way more than we can use.

Long story short, if you're like me, and you can't see spending $50 a week for something that grows from the dirt and you can do for yourself, then growing a small garden is definitely in your best interest. Not only will you save money, but you know what your getting, and to top it all off, it's a very rewarding experience.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Posted by Matt

Bill Gates to Invest in Green Technology

Not a very long video, but Bill Gates goes in depth about his plan to invest in green technology. He also raises a lot of valid points about the world's current energy situation. Definitely an interesting watch for anybody who is interested in green technology.

10 Energy Saving Tips for Winter

 Here are 10 energy saving tips for you to use during the winter months on your quest to live free. A lot of these you have probably seen else where. I'm sure these aren't closely guarded secrets or anything, but for those who might not have seen them already, here you go.

1.) Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees. In the winter, set the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and to 58 degrees at night or when away from home for several hours. If you have a heat pump, make sure to slowly increase the temperature to avoid running the emergency heat. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.

2.) Seal air leaks. Seal all holes from pipes and wires that enter/exit the living space. This includes entrances, pull-downs and attic stair openings, light fixtures, pipes and wires. Attic entryways should be weather stripped and insulated.

3.) Seal off fireplaces. Never use a fireplace as a heat source for your home. Even as a supplemental heat source, the cold air introduced to a warm home through an open flue isn't as efficient as sealing off a fireplace and using the primary source of heat. For natural gas fireplaces, turn off the pilot light when not in use. Seal off the fireplace area or the flue area to prevent cold air from leaking in. (Note: Building codes in some areas require that the damper in your chimney to be permanently blocked open if you install gas logs. Please check the building code for your area for the appropriate procedure.)

4.) Seal duct work. This is the number one way to conserve energy. Make sure that all ductwork is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Otherwise, supply ductwork can leak heated air into the attic or crawl space, and outside air can be drawn into the return ductwork, increasing costs and reducing comfort dramatically. Ducts can be sealed using foil-backed tape or silicon caulking.

5.) Lower water heater to 120-125 degrees. Many water heaters are automatically set at 140 degrees. Lowering the temperature on your water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees will reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat the water.

6.) Change furnace filters every month. This is the number one reason for furnace breakdowns. Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Have a professional check and clean furnaces once a year.

7.) Weatherstrip doors and windows. Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window needs sealing. Air leaks can be sealed with caulking or weather-stripping.

8.) Insulate water pipes coming from the water heater. Insulate the first 3- to 6-feet of cold and hot water pipes near the water heater. Insulating all hot water pipes is not necessary where pipes are located in a crawlspace or attic.

9.) Add an insulation blanket to water heater. Wrapping the water heater with an insulation blanket can save heating money by slowing the drop in temperature from the hot water tank as it sits unused. Inexpensive insulation kits are available at most home improvement stores.

10.) Add insulation to attic. When adding insulation, start at the top and work down only after eliminating air infiltration.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Posted by Matt

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