Category Archives: money savers

Goodwill Gleaning

Our women’s group at church kicked off the fall with a Goodwill fashion show and lunch last week.  A few of the young women modeled their thrifty and fashionable finds from Goodwill. Since 2/3 of our family’s wardrobe comes from Goodwill and other thrift store, this was a function I felt I must attend.  Since Mark was working, the girls came along wearing a couple of their cute dresses from Goodwill.

Our numbers for the event were small, but everyone enjoyed sharing info about their finds . . .  As I talked about which Goodwill stores I shop in and mentioned other thrift stores in St Louis that I like to frequent, I realized what a blessing it is to live in a country where the cast offs of some are perfectly usable and worth hunting down.  It is great to glean from the waste of others.  I can’t pretend that I don’t also send my own cast-offs to Goodwill and other charity shops.  I am also blessed to have somewhere to take things we can no longer use that still have some wear in them so they can be passed on to others.  It was also good for my girls to see that other women in the church whom they respect shop at second-hand stores.  They were able to see that we are not the only family that chooses to buy gently used clothes and household items whenever it is feasible.  I hope that as they mature, they will remember this and conclude that buying from second hand stores is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something that makes us better stewards of all that we have been given.

(P.S.  Did you know you can shop at Goodwill on-line?  I have never tried it, but I like the concept.  They also have a merchant site on Amazon for books.)

Obsessed with Soup? Perhaps!

It has been chilly in St Louis.  Today is gray again, too.  All this cold fall weather has soup on my brain . . .

So I was thinking about the recipe I posted last week, and I realized that some friends, like Abby, are not big into the canned soup as a base for a more substantial soup.  So I thought I would share a couple of homemade creamed soup recipes.

This recipe is very similar to one I used to keep on hand.  Now that I am thinking of it again, I think I’ll mix up a batch soon.  This is a good way to save some money, and it is very handy to be able to use this as a base for soup or when a casserole recipe calls for a can of creamed soup.  (I got this one from, but there’s also a good one in the Once a Month Cooking cookbook.)


2 c. nonfat milk powder
3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. low sodium chicken bouillon granules
2 tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1 tsp. whole thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container. Makes 3 cups.To substitute for 1 can cream soup, combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cups water. Heat to boiling. Cook and stir until thickened. Equivalent to 9 cans soup.

If you’re looking for an even more homemade taste, click here for another you might want to try.

Horne Gruel

Last night, I made spaghetti for dinner.  I decided I wanted to “take it up a notch,” so I added some things to my normal boring spaghetti.  The result was pretty yummy.  Mark liked it so much he requested that I make it in large batches to keep on hand as “Horne Gruel.”  This made me think about how cheap it was to make, and now I am sharing it with you.


½ pound thin spaghetti

2 yellow squash (chopped in large chunks)

1 small yellow onion

2 – 4 T olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1 26 oz. jar spaghetti sauce

Ground parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Put aside.

Sautee onions in olive oil.  As they start to become a little transparent, add chopped squash.  Sautee until squash begins to soften.  Add ground turkey.  I push the veggies to the outer sides of the pan and brown the turkey in the center of the pan until it is fully cooked.  When the meat is cooked, mix the meat and veggies together.  Do not drain.  (There ‘s not much excess oil from the turkey, and by now, the olive oil has been absorbed by the squash.)  Add the jar of spaghetti sauce, and simmer for a few minutes.

Add cooked spaghetti to the sauce.  Mix to cover.  Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.  Mix in.

With buying all my ingredients at Aldi, the total cost for 8 servings was: $4.50 — less than 60 cents per serving!

My friend Lori is what I dubbed a “snooty cook.”  She is a terrific cook, and has great recipes that everyone should try.  However,  I am not that at all.  I am a “plain cook” who likes good flavors.  So I appreciate all the work that goes into snooty cooking, but I want the same sorts of flavor without all the work.  I think this recipe does just that.

One last thing, if you haven’t shopped at Aldi for groceries, you should.  I first shopped there when we first came to St Louis in 1995 for Mark to go to seminary.  Limited funds were a big issue to the family of a student, and I would often say we wouldn’t have made it through seminary without Aldi.

I think the prices now are a bit higher, but they are still lower than the big grocery chains.  All their store brand foods are of great quality.  Plus, they have double back guarantee if you buy something that doesn’t meet your standard.  I am not a spokesperson for Aldi, but I am a fan.  I found this blog entry that lists  some of their standard prices.  The prices may have gone up since the time of this entry, but these are certainly in the right ballpark.


Library Elf

I came across the library elf on our local library’s website.  This is a great service if you are a parent who takes your kids to the library with any regularity.  It is a free service that links to libraries across the country and tracks individuals accounts to help you keep track of all those books, videos,  etc., that the whole family has checked out.  It sends you e-mails or text messages to remind you when items are due.  You can choose how far ahead of the due date you want the reminder.  You can also choose to get one reminder or daily reminders until the items are returned.  What makes this better than tracking accounts on the library’s website is that it lists the entire household’s checked out items.  Just go to your library elf account and it’s all there on one page.  This is going to save us time and money!  Woo-hoo!

Now, if only I could finda free laundry-elf, cooking elf, driving elf, cleaning-elf,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .