Photo Diary

How Low Can You Go? Moorish-Style Chickpea And Spinach Stew

In April and May, National Public Radio featured a series on inexpensive gourmet dishes entitled “How Low Can You Go?” Although many of the dishes looked quite tasty, most of the dishes weren’t actually all that inexpensive, often narrowly getting below $10 to feed a family of four, and many involved arduous cooking processes. I …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Photo Diary

Tuna Noodle Casserole: Easily, Quickly, and Cheaply

One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was my mother’s tuna noodle casserole. Here’s her recipe for it: 1 medium sized bag of egg noodles 1 large or 2-3 small cans tuna 2 cans cream of mushroom soup 1 can peas 8 slices American cheese 1 handful potato chips Cook the noodles, then drain. …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Photo Diary

How to Brew Beer (and What it Costs)

I’ve mentioned many times on The Simple Dollar that I figured out how to brew beer at home, and just as many times, readers have requested a walkthrough of this process along with some cost analyses. Recently, I made a batch of porter and took some photographs along the way to illustrate the process. Let’s …

Categories: Photo Diary

The Light Bulb Showdown: LEDs vs. CFLs vs. Incandescent Bulbs – What’s the Best Deal Now … And In The Future?

Recently, I made a purchase that’s right on the fine line between my desire to investigate frugality and my enjoyment of new technology. I purchased three very expensive 60 watt light bulbs, not much different than any other light bulb. The catch? These bulbs were LED bulbs, among the first LED bulbs designed to replace …

Making Your Own Homemade Oatmeal Packets: A Visual Guide and Cost Analysis

I love oatmeal. I eat it for breakfast probably five days a week. It’s a very healthy fuel to get your motor running for the day, plus it can be very tasty if it’s made well. Whenever I find myself using something almost every day, I begin to wonder if I can’t reduce the cost …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Photo Diary

Homemade Bread: Cheap, Delicious, Healthy, and Easier Than You Think

Over the last year, I’ve gradually moved more and more towards making my own food at home. There are several reasons for this: it tastes better, it reduces preservative intake, it’s more nutritious, and it’s often substantially cheaper than what you find in the store. It does take time, but once you get used to …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Photo Diary

Is The Value Menu Really A Value? Comparing The Homemade Double Cheeseburger To The McDonald’s $1 Version

About two weeks ago, I made a brief comparison between a McDonald’s Value Menu double cheeseburger and a homemade cheeseburger, concluding that the homemade one was price competitive. This brought out a ton of commentary from people standing up for the double cheeseburger (as well as fast food critics) questioning the conclusion. After reading through …

Categories: Food, Frugality, Photo Diary

Photo Diary #2: Hunting Fungi for Fun and Profit

A technical note: morels are technically considered to be a cup fungi, a relative of the mushroom but biologically distinct. In this essay, I’m using anecdotal and folk terminology rather than strict biological and taxonomical accuracy. In the past, I made a reference to a friend who hunted for mushrooms in the forest as a …

Categories: Frugality, Photo Diary

Photo Diary #1: A Trip To The Grocery Store

This morning, I went grocery shopping with my son and took my digital camera along to record the experience of grocery shopping with a penny-pincher. Let’s see how it went – maybe we’ll both learn something. Welcome to Hy Vee! I went shopping at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Ankeny, Iowa, a northern suburb of …