Camping on the Cheap

Here are some more ideas for an inexpensive camping trip.

  1. If you don’t own your own camping gear, ask around to see if any friends or relatives have tents, sleeping bags, etc. that you could borrow or rent.
  2. Consider camping mid-week or off season. Many campgrounds have cheaper rates at these times.
  3. Find a place that’s not too far away, as gas prices can make your expenses go up in a hurry.
  4. Choose a location that is near a water source or hiking trails. Find a place with ‘free’ activities nearby. Throwing rocks into a river occupied The Boy for nearly 2 hours on our most recent trip.
  5. Consider just going away for one night. It seems like the work involved with getting organized for a camping trip is too much for just one night away, but you’d be surprised. You don’t need to plan as many meals. You could just throw some left-overs (and s’more fixings of course) into the ice chest.
  6. Make your own block ice. Block ice lasts longer than cubes or crushed. Start a few days ahead of time freezing your own blocks of ice in tupperware.
  7. Ask around to see if any friends or local businesses have free or inexpensive firewood. If you plan to have a campfire, try to find wood before you go. Buying wood from a campground host can be mighty pricey.
  8. Cut down on your laundry work when you get home. Store all the dirty clothes separately from your clean clothes.
  9. Take along rags to use instead of paper towels. (I must say that I never follow this one. I love a big roll of paper towels and pack of wet wipes to use when camping.)
  10. Get together with friends for a camping trip. Share the costs of the campground space, food, firewood and other gear (stove, ice chest, etc.).
  11. If you do own all your own camping gear, consider keeping it stored all together. This will make your unpacking much easier when you get back home. We have several camping tubs that live in our garage. It is so easy to pack and unpack for a camping trip this way. Our camping list notes the things that live permanently in the tub and the things that need to be added each time.

Magazine Subscriptions as Gifts

They are not always super cheap, but sometimes you can find a great deal on a magazine gift subscription. Often, for $20 or less, you can purchase a gift subscription for someone you love. This might be a great family gift at Christmas time or birthday gift for a child. It is the gift that keeps on giving all year long.

The National Wildlife Federation has some great magazines for kids. Our personal favorite for toddlers is Wild Animal Baby, which comes in a board book-type cover. Highlights also has some great kids magazines available. Amazon is a great place to find out about magazines and sometimes has special deals or offers. Be sure, however, that you follow through on your gift and check with the recipient to make sure they have received their first copy.

My Favorite Cookbook

About a year ago we started subscribing to a local farm. As CSA members, we receive a box of veggies and fruit every week. This has been great for our diets. We’ve begun to get a feel for what is in season and how good things taste when they are not shipped from another continent!

At first, though, I was at a loss as to how to cook all these vegetables. (The fruit is easy. The Boy eats fruit with almost every meal.) I shopped around and finally settled on From Asparagus to Zucchini; A Guide To Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce. This cookbook is amazing! It is organized by vegetable, with at least 4 recipes for each. Most of the recipes require other ingredients that are also currently in season. In addition to the recipes (we have yet to find one we really don’t like), each section has a brief history of that vegetable and cooking and storage tips.

Really, who knew there were so many delicious ways to prepare beets or how delicious a carrot almond cake could be? Pasta Pie with Fresh Greens anyone? How about Garlic Parsley Pesto or Penne alla Zucca (Roman Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce)?

f you are thinking of trying to cook more with seasonal produce or if you have a plethora of squash and need some ideas of how to use it, this is the book for you. If you want to introduce more vegetables (and not just the mainstream veggies you find at the supermarket) into your diet, this is the book for you. If you like to shop at Farmers’ Markets, but just don’t know how to fix that kohlrabi, this is the book for you. Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Waste Not, Want Not. Fruits and Veggies That is.

One big part of living on less is to make sure you use up everything you have. Everything that you buy and don’t use is wasting money. Keeping fruits and veggies in an edible state is always a hard one. Which fruits can go together and which ones make other ones spoil faster? Apple and banana? Grapes and carrots?

Luckily, there is a webpage that can help, imagine that? Here you can learn about how to keep fruits and vegetables fresh and prevent spoilage. It lists a bunch of common fruits and vegetables and where you can store them and for how long. For example, celery can go in the fridge but garlic should always be stored on the counter. A great resource for keeping your food fresh and not having to throw it in the compost pile.