Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

Frugal Café Philosophy
Save more.
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Piece of Cake: Cake Baking Tips & Fabulous 1930 Layered Chocolate Cake with Fruit Filling Recipe

Chefs' Culinary Secrets & Cooking Philosophies | Tom Colicchio, Jamie Oliver, & Rachael Ray

The Beautiful Burrito: Make Your Own and Save Money

Frugal Café's Kitchen & Shopping Tricks to Save You Money & Time: Oiling the Pasta Pot, Slicing Eggplant, Frying Ground Beef, Cleaning Leeks, Preventing Tomato Stains, & More

Don't Call a Professional: 5 Easy Fixes in the Home – Wobbly Table Leg, Squeaky Wooden Floor Board, Stuck Window, Loose Countertop, Electrical Outlet Safety

Second Time Around: Smart, Frugal Ways to Reuse & Recycle Things around the House

Beauty DIY: Homemade Body Scrubs

Beat the Stink... Cheap, Homemade Odor Beaters

Spice It up with Cinnamon, It's Not Just for Desserts: Budget Recipes & the Miraculous Spice for Meats, Fruits, & Vegetables... and for Health

Frugal Celebrity Recipes: Martha Stewart's Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Frugal Celebrity Recipes: Paul Newman's Sautéed Beet Greens

Winging It: Three Hot Wings Sauce Recipes: Supreme Hot Wings, Hooters' Copy-Cat Hot Wings, & Honey Hot Wings

Frugal Duchess: Kate Recycles Her Wardrobe, Rejects ‘Only-One-Wear’ Policy with Her Clothes to Chagrin of Critics, Delight of Others (video)

Descoware: Cast Iron That Warms Up Your Kitchen... Descoware Collecting and Cleaning Tips

Dollar to the Max – Slash Your Grocery Budget at Those 99-Cent & Dollar Stores
















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Some Like It Hot… Awesome Collection of Comforting, Thrifty Recipes for Soups & Stews to Conquer the Winter Chill

By Vicki McClure Davidson


"There is a charm in making a stew, to the unaccustomed cook, from the excitement of wondering what the result will be, and whether any flavour save that of onions will survive the competition in the mixture."

~ Annie Besant, British writer, philosopher, women's rights activist



Whip up something tasty, warming, and cheap this next week -- with temperatures at bone-chilling record lows this week across America, including my desert region of Arizona, homemade soups and stews are easy on the wallet and are satisfying and filling for even the hungriest of family members. Rich in nutrients and bursting with fabulous flavors, soups and stews, served with a side of homemade biscuits, warmed tortillas, pita, crackers, or fragrant herbed toast, hit the bull's eye for wintry, inexpensive, comfort-food meals.

And, if you or those you cook for overindulged a bit too much with rich, fattening goodies during the holidays, these recipes are terrific to help get back on track. For more soup and stew recipes, check out this compilation from a few months back.

When they're available, recipes and recipe links will accompany select "Fab Food Friday Fotos," with a guarantee that at least one frugal-minded recipe will always be included.


Homemade Cream of Celery Soup | Photo credit: transcendancing, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Homemade Cream of Celery Soup | Photo credit: transcendancing, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photographer/cook transcendancing used this Food 52 celery soup recipe by Jane Grigson — summary:

Rather than dumping in extra cream and salt at the end of making a soup, commit to adding more butter at the beginning, and the butter will carry and magnify its flavors. Note: This is a thin soup, which might surprise you if you're not prepared. If you're in need of thick comfort, just add more potato or don't strain it.


A bit of history about cioppino, via Wikipedia:

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.


Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa meaning "to chop" or "chopped," which describes the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day's catch. Ciuppin is also the name of a classic soup from the region, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

For more easy, inexpensive recipes for soups and stews, click here >>




DIY Dog Fashions on a Bare Bones Budget: Save Money Recycling Old Sweaters & Shirts to Make Cheap, Attractive Dog Winter Clothes & Raincoats

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Back view of doggie hoodie jacket using old hoodie sweatshirt | Photo credit: garann, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved


DIY dog fashions, using recycled clothes

Man's best friend can be quite tolerant of inclement weather, but sometimes, in those regions that have bitterly cold days and nights, it's preferred to keep your dog warm when taking him or her out for a walk or on a trip with an extra layer of insulation from a wrap, sweater, or coat.

Even in warmer regions, like my state of Arizona, a doggie shirt or sweater may be needed several months out of the year when the temps drop. When there's a light shower outside, a water-repellent raincoat will keep your dog drier, warmer, and more comfortable than he or she would be otherwise.

The cost of protective apparel for dogs is surprisingly pricey, considering the scant amount of fabric or yarn that is used in a small sweater or shirt. Bigger dogs' clothes obviously cost more. Many dog clothing items can run as high as $40 (ouch!), some even higher depending on the pet store in which it's bought, which can really ding a tight budget. However, pet owners who are financially strapped need not despair nor break their budgets — frugal DIY to the rescue!

Save money and recycle — you can easily and cheaply make your four-legged best friend snuggly, warm winter clothes from old sweaters, T-shirts, or sweatshirts that are languishing in your drawers or closets. If you don't have any that you're willing to part with, gently used winter wear can usually be bought for no more than a buck or two at garage sales or flea markets (especially during the summer months) or at local thrift stores. Pick fabrics that can be home laundered and are somewhat durable. Other than that, you can easily transform all sorts of used articles of human clothing into attractive and protective cover-ups for Max or Princess.

Continue reading more about making recycled dog fashions >>




Beautiful Beans Bonanza: Yummy, Filling, Money-Saving Recipes for Beans... Soups, Stews, Salads

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Believe it or not, there are thousands of varieties of inexpensive beans from which to choose to make frugal meals - loaded with nutrients and fiber, beans can dramatically lower your grocery bill | Image: Carlos Porto /
Believe it or not, there are thousands of varieties of inexpensive beans from which to choose to make frugal meals - loaded with nutrients and fiber, beans can dramatically lower your grocery bill | Image: Carlos Porto /


Food prices continue to skyrocket, and for many families, grocery shopping has become a horrific financial nightmare. As of 2013, more families in America were receiving government-issued, taxpayer-funded food stamps than had ever received them in all the nation's history.

Ground beef has gone up 24 percent since January 2009, and bacon has gone up 22 percent in the same period. Ice cream has jumped 19 percent, and the list goes on and on. With no end in sight to rising gasoline costs, food costs will continue to climb because of the rising costs to harvest, transport, and process fruit and vegetable crops, meats, dairy products, and other food items.

You can't dial back the clock to the more affordable, pre-2008 food prices. However, there are ways for you to battle the food jungle, saving money while maintaining nutritional health. There are so many bargain foods out there that will slash your family's dinner bills. Frugal food shopping is key during these horrible economic times.

I'm talkin' about BEANS. Yes, beans.

Click here for money-saving bean recipes and nutritional info >>




Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-hand Bargains

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Second-hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are booming during this economic recession, as more people discover the bargains that are available at thrift stores
Second-hand stores like Goodwill are booming during this economic recession, as more people discover the bargains that are available at thrift stores


My 21-year-old daughter and I hit the used thrift stores and garage sales in our area with enthusiasm at least one weekend a month. I raised my children as I was raised: second-hand shopping always comes before retail shopping. Buying used whenever possible is the smart path to take to give yourself more money at the end of the month for other bills or to put into savings, without having to get a raise or win the lottery.

When money's tight and prices soar in the retail stores, there's no need for despair or foolishly overspending. Second-hand stores always have inexpensive alternatives, fabulous buried treasures.

Granted, you can't always find what you're looking for at a used store, but you'd be surprised at what you often do find. And the hunt makes the conquest just that much sweeter. My daughter nearly shuns the malls these days, preferring instead to "go on the hunt" at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. Her friends are always stunned at the fabulously funky clothes she wears, many of which cost her only a dollar or two. She is quite petite and has unconventional tastes, and always scores a few amazingly cheap fashion finds when we go out. She never has been faced with not finding something she loves. When necessary, she makes a few alterations to make a shirt fit better or to update the look, but that's not too often. I have found Descoware, Revere Ware, a Pfaltzgraff serving platter in mint condition, and other kitchenware pieces stunningly under-priced. Instead of spending $7 to $10 on a new paring knife, I found an excellent one at Goodwill this summer for 99 cents, which I bought for 50 cents on half-off Saturday. I do about 60 to 70 percent of my Christmas shopping at the second-hand venues.

Being frugal doesn't mean going without or dressing frumpy. It means being wise with the cash you have and stretching it as far as it can be stretched. Why buy a pair of pants or a blouse or a large sauce pan at the mall for $50 when you can find often something of equal (sometimes even greater) value at the Salvation Army or a garage sale for less than five bucks? And you don't have to sacrifice style for savings.

Click here to read more about saving money at thrift stores >>




DIY T-Shirt Transformations: Save Big Bucks with Adorable Fashion Makeovers Using Old T-Shirts

By Vicki McClure Davidson


DIY T-shirt fashion transformations... spend little, look amazing with upcycled T-shirts
DIY T-shirt fashion transformations... spend little, look amazing with upcycled T-shirts


Specialty and fashion T-shirts are often horrifically expensive... you can easily make your own cute and casual fashion statements at a fraction of the cost by using old T-shirts. Why spend $30 to $50 (or more) on a cool spring or summer shirt or dress or shoulder bag when you can T-shirt DIY for next to nothing?

Dig through your drawers for old T-shirts, or take a trip to the second-hand store or hit some neighborhood garage sales. Clearance racks at clothing stores or T-shirt swaps with friends are other good sources for collecting inexpensive T-shirts.

Fashion trends may come and go, but T-shirts are always in style at school, the pool, the park, or any casual gathering or outing. Some of these T-shirt makeovers are more upscale, making them suitable attire for clubbing or parties.

These how-to videos are easy to follow (some require no sewing) and barely scratch the surface of what you can create for less than a few dollars... and still look fabulous.

Frugality and recycling rock, so embrace your inner DIY!


Click here to check out 16 awesome how-to DIY T-shirt transformation videos >>




DIY: Homemade Seasoned Dried Bread Crumbs, Plus Italian-Style Bread Crumb Recipe

By Vicki McClure Davidson


DIY: Save money by making your own inexpensive, seasoned bread crumbs
DIY: Save money by making your own inexpensive, seasoned bread crumbs

Making your own seasoned bread crumbs isn't rocket science.

It's super simple and much more economical than anything you buy from the grocery store pre-made (often with a few mystery ingredients thrown in). Making a big batch of your own bread crumbs is so easy, it's surprising that anyone actually buys pre-made bread crumbs — the price markup is staggering. Homemade is cheaper, fresher, healthier, and usually tastes far better.

Even some of the most thrift-minded of people these days don't make their own bread crumbs because, frankly, they probably never thought about it. Perhaps their own mothers or grandmothers didn't make them. But for centuries, homemakers did not have pre-made bread crumbs available at the corner general store or open market place. They made their own, as they made so many other things for family meals and for the home.

Bread crumbs are an imperative to have on hand in your pantry when coating chicken pieces or fish or pork for a "shake 'n bake" entrée, for sprinkling over homebaked macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, and other casserole toppings, mixed into meat loaves or meatballs, ground turkey patties, economical bread puddings, and many other dishes.

Dried out bread for homemade bread crumbs is OK to use, although fresh bread is usually better. Using very old stale bread, however, will taste stale, so don't use stale bread that has an "off" or icky foul odor. Stale bread could ruin the flavor of anything in which you use the crumbs.

I recently checked out the General Mills website. The price for a 2-pack of Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs (24.00 oz.), at the time of this writing, was $6.74 USD for the 2-pack (or $3.37 USD each). For bread crumbs, for crikey sake. Sodium content per serving is estimated at a whopping 470 mg (20% of daily value) and the product contains a number of mysterious ingredients, including calcium propionate and potassium sorbate as preservatives. A 12-pack of Old London Seasoned Bread Crumbs (the 10-ounce size) currently costs $29.19 USD at Walmart, which is about $2.50 for one container. That breaks down to about 25 cents per ounce of bread crumbs in a 10-ounce package, or $4.00 a pound — more than the price per pound for chicken, many cuts of pork, grains, fruits, vegetables, and a number of fishes.

For bread crumbs.

Click here for more information and for the bread crumb recipe >>