DIY Washing Machine Repair

I’m going to be completely honest here and tell you that my washing machine needed this part replaced a while back, but since it was still functioning I didn’t worry about it too much.

It all started with the washer still running when I lifted the lid, and then it progressed to the washer just stopping mid cycle.  It was pretty easy to figure out that it needed a new lid switch.  The lid switch makes the washer start and stop when the lid is lowered or raised.  After my research, I found out it can make the machine just stop running too.

ordering

I ordered my part from Appliance Parts Pros by searching by model number and the name of the part I needed.  The lid switch and shipping came in at under $25, after using a code I found on retailmenot that saved me 5%.

lid switch

The part arrived in just a few short days and I was ready to get that baby put in.  Any Momma knows that being without a washing machine for just a few days can lead to disaster in the laundry department!

DIY Washer Lid Switch Repair

I watched the video on Appliance Parts Pros explaining how to replace the lid switch. I was able to get this project done in less than 10 minutes and with 2 tools (screwdriver and pliers).  This was probably the easiest replacement I have done.  Not that any of them are hard when you have so much information available at your fingertips.

If you would like to see my process for figuring out what is wrong with an appliance, check out this post on DIY Dryer Repair and this one on how I Called The Appliance Repairman.  

We always try to fix these appliances ourselves so that we can not only save as much money as we can, but prolong the life of our appliances.  Many repair jobs performed by a professional could cost so much that one might consider getting a new appliance, or even worse, go into credit card debt to get a new appliance.

I hope that this post may encourage you to try to do some DIY repairs to help save your family money.

Have you ever performed a DIY appliance repair?  Tell us how it worked for you.  What resources did you use?

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Sewing School 101

{this moment}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment}.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

helping hands

grandpa

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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Freezer Recipe: Coconut Lime Chicken

coconut lime chicken

Lately I have been trying to fit in a little experimenting with some freezer recipes in all that spare time I have.  That was quite funny wasn’t it?  Well, we are all in the same boat at times.  Short on time and long on a list to do, but we can always prepare a freezer meal or two at a time.  I find it much easier and just as rewarding to get a meal or two in the freezer while I am already cooking something else.  Freezer meals make life easier and keep us out of the drive thru line.

For me it is helpful to have any recipe ready to go whether it is a freezer to slow cooker recipe, freezer to oven recipe or a freezer to grill recipe.  After publishing the post on Meal Ideas For Busy People, I decided it was time to try this recipe.  I kept looking at it thinking it was going to be easy to get in freezer and quick to cook.  It also goes along well with our family’s quest to overcome rising grocery prices.  I mean, I can buy chicken at rock bottom prices and have this prepared and ready to go in the freezer. Many times I find chicken breast or thighs near the sell by date for a big discount.

This delicious Coconut Lime Chicken recipe is a tasty freezer to grill recipe that deserves your attention, and was great paired with lime rice and a vegetable.

I used boneless chicken breasts, but you can also use boneless thigh meat.  Thigh meat is dark meat, but will usually be a bit moister after grilling.

This recipe was adapted from the original recipe at Living Well Spending Less.

coconut lime chicken ingredients

 

Coconut Lime Chicken (Coconut Lime Chicken Printable PDF)

Ingredients:

Juice from 4 Limes
¼ cup olive oil
1 Can Coconut Milk
4 Cloves Garlic, pressed
¼ tsp Ginger
2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
4 – 4 1/2 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs
2 Gallon Size Freezer Bags, labeled with recipe name, cooking instructions and date

Trim chicken and divide equally between 2 freezer bags.  In bowl, wisk together lime juice, olive oil, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, seasoned salt and pepper.

Divide the liquid mixture between the two freezer bags of chicken.  Flatten to get as much air out as possible without leaking out mixture, and then seal bags.  Store in freezer until ready to use.

Thaw in refrigerator overnight and then grill about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your meat.

HINT:  If my chicken breasts are thick, I will often butterfly them (cut thickness in half) before freezing. 

freezer coconut lime chicken

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as we did.  My kids are already requesting that I make it again.  Since it was so easy, it will make the list of go to recipes.

What are your thoughts on freezer recipes?  Do you have a favorite you would like to share?     

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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September Groceries: The Final Total

My computer has been acting up like crazy here, and our TDS DSL mimics that of the old dial up service we used to have, so blogging has been tough lately.  You guys know I love adding pictures, and that process has been making blog posts considerably slow. I am working on a fix/replacement for this, so please just bear with me!

My first shopping trip was a huge success, which resulted in no extra trips to the store for something that was forgotten! That was a complete blessing, as we are so busy this time of the year that I hate to spend the little extra time I have in the store.

I did have one revelation during the first two weeks, and that was to make my grocery shopping trips twice a month instead of every two weeks.  Like I said earlier, we are pretty busy, things come up and shopping doesn’t always happen every two weeks or necessarily even need to be every two weeks, so I think twice a month will be best for us.

Menu planning and deciding how much of everything I need did take a bit longer with the first trip, but I knew how much I needed of most things we buy by the time the second trip came around, so it was much easier.

Right now we are going to stick with the $600 a month grocery budget and see how that goes. Our budget includes food, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food, toiletries, over the counter medicine, and some car maintenance items.

The budget feeds 4 of us, which includes an 11 year old the size of most adults and we also often buy or prepare items for our oldest daughter who is away at college.

Sams Trip

I let K help take inventory of the items we had in the pantry and freezer before we went shopping.  This was our extra homeschool lesson for the day, and she really enjoyed helping out and learning all at the same time.  She also helped make our menu plan and list of all items needed.  It was fun teaching her how to plan a menu based on what you have and what is on sale.

We spent $88.08 at Sam”s on the items pictured above.  I was able to get about 6-8 months’ worth of allergy medicine for $29.87!  This probably kicked my grocery totals over for the month, but I won’t have to buy it for several months!

I really love getting my butter at Sams.  I just throw what I don’t need right now into the freezer, and we never run out.  The 4 pack was $11.48, which is better than the store brand at most stores I shop at.  Butter is one of those grocery items that are rapidly rising in cost these days.

Kroger Trip

The 50 lb bag of dog food I bought didn’t quite make it in the picture, but other than that, this is everything we got at Kroger for a total of $83.29 after using $11.96 in coupons.

I was able to get the Bagels for free from a Kroger home mailer coupon given to me by my dear step-mom, and I also got the pot pie for free after loading it onto my Kroger card the previous Friday.  If you didn’t already know, Kroger offers a freebie every Friday; you just log into your Kroger account and add the digital coupon to your card. It’s just that simple…..and free.

walmart1

Walmart was my last stop of the day.  Sorry the color is funky in some of the pictures.  It was getting pretty late by the time I got the shopping done, unloaded, lined up for pictures and then put away.

I’m hoping 5 gallons of milk is going to make it until the next shopping trip.  I’m not sure I can fit much more in the refrigerator, and I don’t really like freezing milk.

walmart2

The Kellogg’s cereal was being loaded in the buggy to be pushed up front when we got to Walmart.  They were selling it for $1 a box, and of course I had $1 off 3 coupons, making it just .67 cents each after coupons.

I have been getting quite a few of those Go Go Squeeze applesauce packs lately, and I figured that many of you might be wondering about this new trend.  They are on sale for $1.98 at Walmart now and I have been using many (as many as I can get a hold of) $1 off coupons to get them for $.98 each.  My kids love these for ballpark snacks and they are awesome for our homeschool group field trips.  Sometimes convenience items just have to make an appearance, but I always like it when they are healthier versions.

walmart3

walmart4

We used $12.80 worth of coupons, and price matched the soup, grapes, Libby’s vegetables and the orange juice.  I also received a whopping $.17 back from submitting my receipt to the Walmart savings catcher.

Our final total for Walmart was $257.11.  This was a bit more than I had hoped for, but considering all the extras I bought this week (oil, oil filter, medicine), it’s not too bad.

The week prior to this I had made a run into Sam’s while we were in the area and spent $11.53 on a big jar of pickled okra, 9 pack of raisin english muffins and a 10# bag of sugar.

In the end, the total for the final trip(s) of September was $440.01, making the grand total for September $672.86.  While I did go over budget by $72.86, I had that money in my grocery account from during the summer months when we were away from home a lot.

If I continue to go over budget, I will either plan cheaper meals or think about increasing the budget some.  In the end it will all depend on the family budget, food waste and what kinds of food we are eating.

What is your budget and family size?  If you don’t mind sharing.  

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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September Groceries & Menu: First Trip

I have a love hate relationship with the grocery store.  I love to save money on food and other things my family needs, but I really hate taking the time to go get it done.  So early last week I decided that I would start planning my menu and grocery list for two weeks. That’s right, I will buy two weeks worth of groceries and make it last.  During the week I do not have a regular grocery trip, I will supplement with a quick produce, milk and bread trip if any of that is needed.

Let me tell you, this has been great for my sanity.  You see things have been pretty crazy around here between end of summer trips, school starting, planning our homeschool year, bills, budgets, college costs, and the list can go on.  Not to mention I was missing my thyroid medicine too much and began feeling really tired and groggy.  I am now making sure I get my medicine every day, and I will get my levels checked next week.  We have our first month of school planned, and I feel much better.

So, last week I planned the menu, made the list and set out for our first trip of 2 weeks worth of groceries.  I budget $150 per week, and will continue putting that much into my grocery account each week, which will give me my $300 for every two weeks.  I will adjust the budget along the way as needed for the recent steadily rising food prices. Meat is really going to be a big budget problem this year.  So I will be really trying hard to stock up when there are sales of the meat we use a lot.

September Groceries 1

September Groceries 2

September Groceries 3Those cans of chicken, tuna and beans are for hubby’s lunch and dinner.  He’s trying to eat less.

September Groceries 4

September Groceries 5

September Groceries 6

I did all my shopping at Walmart for the week using price matching and $10.00 in coupons to make my final total for this trip $232.85.  Under budget so far for the month of September.  That’s a good thing!

I feel like I didn’t have to spend too much more time planning for 2 weeks of meals and a two week list.  I was even able to add a couple meals to the freezer, which will be an upcoming blog post, but we gotta taste them first.

So onto the menu for the two weeks:

Breakfasts don’t change much around here, so you may always see some of the same items.

french toast
cereal
oatmeal
eggs and toast
muffins
fruit and yogurt

Lunches

Cheese Quesadillas
Sandwiches
Cheese, crackers and fruit
Smoothies
Noodles
Leftovers

Suppers

Sloppy Joe’s, chips and pickles
Scalloped Potatoes with ham
Coconut Lime Chicken
Lemon Chicken in slow cooker with rice and a veggie
Meatballs, hashbrowns and corn
Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Mashed potatoes and corn
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
Chicken, Broccoli Rice Casserole

Leftovers
Meals out of our house X 3

Extras

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Pudding
Banana bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Phew, I made it and so far we haven’t had to add anything, but never fear that if we do, I will keep you updated so we can keep the budget totals correct.

How often do you grocery shop?  How do you prepare for your trips?

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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Meal Ideas For Busy People

By now most schools have gotten started, and along with all that comes the activities, appointments and after school commitments.  So what do you do to keep your family out of the drive thru or from hitting that convenience store for a quick lunch?

Drive Thruphoto credit

You read these great tips I have found for freezer meals and amazing and healthy lunch ideas!

You guessed it, I’m in the same boat as you.  Things get pretty busy around here when school gets started (we are starting Monday), and I don’t have time to be in the kitchen all the time worrying over meals, while I need to be helping the girls with school ….. or washing and folding the never ending laundry.

I found several great articles on lunch ideas, freezer meals and slow cooker freezer meals.  I will be trying some of these over the next couple of months as well as using some of my favorite recipes to help my family stay out of the drive thru.

I will be sharing my experiences, opinions and recipes with you guys, as well as pictures of my work, good or bad.

I will also return to sharing my grocery shopping trips and amounts with you guys again!  I didn’t know everyone liked them so much, but I have gotten so many emails asking for me to start doing this again and I am happy to oblige.

Lunch Ideas photo credit

Rock The Lunchbox has great ideas in pictures to help you get started on packing those lunches.  You can check the boxes towards the top to see ideas for different dietary needs.  There is also a place to print some coupons for healthy lunch additions.

Think Outside The Sandwich is a video over at 100 Days of Real Food.  You will find some great ideas in this video as well as a recipe index for many real food recipes.  You might also find 10 Recipes to Freeze For School Lunches and 10 Ways To Switch Up Your Kids Lunch very useful as well.

The Humbled Homemaker has 5 Easy Real Food School Lunches Ready In 30 Minutes For Less Than $5.

20 Non-Sandwich School Ideas For Kids featured allergy free and gluten free ideas and pictures for getting those lunches packed.

Don’t Waste The Crumbs has a great read on Making Your Own Healthy Homemade Lunchables.

freezer slow cooker freezer meals

New Leaf Wellness shows you how to prepare Five Freezer Slow Cooker Meals in an Hour, as well as Seven Slow Cooker Recipes In an Hour and also How To Stock Your Freezer In Four Hours or Less.  

There is also a list of 25 Freezer Meals That Don’t Require any Cooking Ahead of Time, complete with links to the recipes.  I also found this article on Freezer To Crockpot 101 very helpful.  

Ruth at Living Well Spending Less also has 10 awesome Freezer Meals In an Hour and 7 Easy Tips For Freezer Cooking Like a Pro.

Midget Momma can help you Prep 16 Meals With Fresh Ingredients In About an Hour.

The final link I have for you today has many great recipes, tips and photos in it from Stockpiling Moms.  I think you will really enjoy reading through the whole Freezer Cooking Series.

I hope these ideas can help make meal prep easier for all of you.  I know I got some great ideas from all these amazing bloggers, and I can’t wait to get started and share everything with you.

If you have some recipes, tips or ideas to share, I would love to hear from you either in the comments or by sending me a quick email.  Guest posts are always welcome at Practicing Frugal as long as they meet the needs of the site.

Are you ready to get some meals in the freezer?  Which ones got your attention?

 making a habit out of living frugal…..

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How Our Family Is Responding To Rising Grocery Prices – Freezing Produce

The USDA Economic Research Service recently published their 2014-2015 Food Price Outlook, and it basically says what we all have probably already noticed at the grocery store, and that is that food prices are rising.

While the USDA ERS states that food prices were relatively flat in 2013, we are noticing the crunch this year as the prices are increasing at a historical norm (about 2.8% per year since 1990), but meat prices will continue to rise due to the Texas/Oklahoma drought and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (pork).

So I have been trying to be a bit more diligent about preparing for the price increase.  While I may have to increase our grocery budget this year, but I am going to do all I can to try not to have to increase it too much.

This summer we focused on getting fresh produce in the freezer, whether it was homegrown, purchased from a farm, or on sale at the grocery store.

It is important for me to let you know that this has been a very busy summer for us, but I have managed to put up a record number of items in the freezer, and I even canned some jelly and peaches.  I must say though, that the pictures of these events went away in a very unfortunate wet cell phone death (not so frugal, but never fail I made do with a free used phone).

rising grocery prices

The first thing I have been putting in the freezer is tomatoes.  Yes, I do freeze them whole until I have enough tomatoes and/or time to process them.  I will be cooking these down for tomato sauce that I will freeze in freezer bags.

rising grocery prices

We then made a trip to a fairly local fruit farm and were able to pick 25 lbs blueberries, 46 lbs peaches and 2 lbs blackberries.  After eating blueberries fresh, adding them to yogurt and making muffins and pancakes, I froze the rest in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. I froze them on a cookie sheet before putting them in a bag, which allows me to use less than the entire package, as the berries do not stick together in the bag.

We also ate fresh peaches before canning peach halves and freezing peaches in 2 cup portions in a light simple sugar syrup.

The enormous blackberries were a blessing after spending several days picking tiny small berries in the wild around our house.  My arms looked like I got in a cat fight after picking the wild berries, but they were very good in blackberry cobbler.  I also used some of the big blackberries for a cobbler and then froze the rest the same way I froze the blueberries.

All in all this was a great family fun trip.  We scored the berries for $1.70 a pound and the peaches for $ .99 a pound.

rising grocery pricesOur garden has produced an amazing amount of tomatoes, okra, and grape tomatoes this year.  My lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini did not fare so well.

I did manage to blanch the okra and freeze it in bags for future use.  I had heard that you can freeze the okra without blanching it (makes it easier to cut without it falling apart), but I have not tried it.  Has anyone done this?  Do you have any okra suggestions for me?   I am pretty new to okra, but have found it easy to grow.

rising grocery prices

Our next project was to deal with 145 ears of corn.  What was I thinking when I asked hubby to order 1 bag of corn, and he insisted we get 2!  Crazy I know.  After my back recovered from shucking, blanching, cutting the corn off cobs and packaging for the freezer, I am really glad we purchased all that corn.  This cost us $40 for the 2 big bags.

rising grocery pricesNow our freezer is looking much more prepared for the months to come.  I’m not done yet, I have a few other things up my sleeve to get this freezer stocked, and I plan to share those with you guys as they come around.

What are you doing in response to the rising grocery prices?  Have any ideas you want to share?

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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