Monthly Archives: April 2015

Rotisserie Chicken: It’s What’s for Dinner!

Tomorrow night’s dinner is my favorite money-saving meal.  Yes….I know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow night.  Every Saturday I sit down and create a menu for the upcoming week.  I use that prepared menu to make my grocery shopping list for my weekly Sunday trip to the store.  Shopping from that list keeps me on point and helps me avoid a lot of impulse purchases and random buying of things I think I might need but it turns out I don’t.  But that’s not what this week’s tip is about.  This week’s tip is about tomorrow night’s dinner.  Rotisserie chicken!

Rotisserie chicken

My local warehouse club sells a three pound rotisserie chicken for $4.99.  This chicken is the best rotisserie bird I’ve ever found anywhere.  For the same price as I would pay for an unprepared chicken of the same size at my local supermarket.  And it’s already cooked!  Add some potatoes, gravy, and a vegetable, and we’ve got a feast for next to nothing.  But the true magic of the rotisserie chicken comes in the days that follow the original feast.

After rotisserie chicken dinner, I tear the carcass apart.  All of the meat goes in one zip top bag.  All of the skin and bones and wing tips and such go into a different zip top bag.  The meat becomes another meal for a later time.  Maybe a chicken tetrazzini casserole.  Maybe chicken divan.  Maybe chicken tacos or chicken enchiladas.  Perhaps chicken salad for my lunches.  The possibilities are endless.  No matter how you slice it (or carve it, as the case may be) a three pound chicken is enough meat for two people to eat at least two meals.  All for $5!

The bag of bones and skin is a whole different project.  This is future chicken stock.  Chicken stock and/or broth are staples in a lot of recipes.  And while containers of stock are readily available on the grocery store shelves, why not make it yourself?  All it takes is to throw some things in a pot of water and walk away while it simmers.  You can find a simple recipe here.  When the stock is complete, we like to freeze it in ice cube trays.  This gives us perfect one ounce measures of the homemade stock which will last for months in the freezer (though we always seem to use it MUCH faster than that).

So…tomorrow I go to the warehouse club and buy a chicken.  From that I get a wonderful roast chicken dinner, a future dinner made from the leftover chicken meat, and lots of homemade chicken stock for cooking.  In my opinion, that’s $5 very well spent!


How to Give to Charity Without any Money

I wish that I could give more to charity.  While I make donations to various causes from time to time, I always seem to wish I had more to give.  And sometimes it seems like there just isn’t any extra money to give. So how does someone without financial resources give back?  Volunteering!

For every charitable organization that exists, there is at least one way to volunteer your time.  It could be something small, like when I provided a bit of entertainment with my guitar at this year’s PILF auction.  Or it could be a much larger commitment, like a regularly scheduled shift working at the local food bank.  Or anything in between.  Yesterday I ran a three mile race that benefited Special Olympics.  And I noticed that everywhere I looked I saw someone in a yellow “volunteer” shirt.  And the event, with 4,000 runners, simply wouldn’t have worked had the volunteers not been there.  They gave a little bit of time on one day, and made a huge difference.  Every major event or ongoing cause needs volunteer assistance.  Opportunities abound, and provide a very rewarding experience.

Wish you could give more to charity.  Try giving your time.  Volunteer.  It makes a difference.

Achieving Goals: Eye on the Finish Line….Keep Moving Forward!

Many of my regular readers have been following my progress as I moved from Couch to 5K and toward my first real 5K race.  That race (the PILF Race Judicata) happened yesterday.  And I finished.  I’ve been working and working and working toward the goal of running this race, and I have actually achieved my goal.  Was it perfect?  Certainly not.  Several times I slowed from a jog to a walk to regain some stamina.  But I never stopped.  And I jogged much more than I walked.  And I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack.  I have every reason to feel proud of what I have accomplished.  And I was so excited by my success that I already signed up to do another race next weekend.

Putting in hard work to achieve a goal is something that you will do over and over throughout life.  Many of these goals will be financial.  Save up a down payment for a house.  Pay off your car loan.  Pay off your credit card debt.  Pay off your student loans.  Save enough money for retirement.  These are all fairly long term goals.  They will require you to slowly and consistently work toward them.  It’s not always easy.  Sometimes you want to run toward the finish line, but the reality is that you have to walk for a little while.  But the important thing is that you keep moving forward.  You keep putting at least something in savings.  You keep making at least the minimum payments. You keep your eye on the finish line.  And eventually you achieve the goal.

When I started my first 5K race yesterday, I kept telling myself that I was already doing better than most people because I was there.  I had put in the work and set the goal, and I was ready to try.  And I kept moving forward.

Set your financial goal.  Put in the work.  And keep moving forward at whatever pace you can.  You don’t need to finish first.  You do, however, need to show up and keep moving forward until you reach the goal.

Software and Apps…All for Free!

I remember a time long ago when every new piece of software required an outlay of cash.  It’s been a very long time since that was the case.  Certain software and smartphone or tablet apps still require purchase.  But it never ceases to amaze me what wonderful things you can get for free!


When the hard drive on my home PC died recently, I had to start over from scratch.  All of my files were backed up to an external hard drive (thank goodness!) so after I got a new copy of the operating system (which I actually DID have to purchase) installed on the new hard drive, the rest was pretty easy.  All of the software that I had been using at home was free.  While I use MS Office at work, at home LibreOffice works just fine for my needs.  At work I use MS Publisher, but my home needs are met nicely by Scribus.  Music management is handled nicely by MusicBee (because I really don’t like the way iTunes is a giant resource hog).

And the world of free apps is even more amazing than free computer software.  My gaming fix is handled nicely by the free versions of Words with Friends and Trivia Crack.  Sure…I have to put up with some ads.  But free apps are worth some ads.

My productivity needs are nicely met by a calculator, a timer, a list manager called Color Note, and my true favorite, Evernote.  Evernote is particularly helpful to me because it syncs my notes with an online service, so I can access all of my notes from any device…my phone, my tablet, or any internet connected computer.  So I can add to a note from one device and see those changes on any other device.  And I can also organize my notes into various notebooks to make them easier to find.  It’s a very useful place to store lists, recipes, articles I want to read at a later time, random thoughts I don’t want to forget, or just anything.  There is a fancier paid version of this app, but the free one serves my needs quite nicely.

Lately I’ve been running quite a bit.  I used a free Couch to 5K app to get started.  And recently I’ve been trying out a bunch of different free running apps to track my distance and speed.  I’ve tested Map My Run and Runkeeper, but I think my favorite is Nike+ Running.  All of these have fancier paid versions as well.  And so far I don’t feel the need for that. (Though I am still tempted to shell out the $4 to try Zombies Run.  There’s no free way to run from zombies that I’ve found.)

Whenever I think “I wish my phone could…” I make a quick trip to the app store to find out if such a thing exists.  Most of the time there’s a free app that meets my needs.  Sometimes there are several options, so I have to spend some time reading reviews to find out which suits my needs best.  But the availability of free software will never stop being amazing to me.