Jul 1, 2009

Budgeting

by Ellen Wilson

Sometimes it's okay to cut corners.

We'd all like to get a little more for our money and put some aside for a rainy day. The key to successful budgeting is to make your goals realistic and simple. Don't expect your budget to be immediately effective. It will take planning and time to get into the habit of keeping track of where every penny goes.

Spend a few weeks gathering information on your spending habits. Save receipts and write down every time you swipe your card or write a check. From these, look at your actual expenses and divide them into categories. Once you have your money divided into categories such as rent, food, clothing, fun, school, etc., look at your spending patterns. Are you spending an exorbitant amount of money on food because of small daily snacks or meals? Fast food may seem cheap but eating it daily adds up quickly. For your food budget, try withdrawing the amount of money you'd like to spend per month in cash and only have that much in your wallet. If you just really have a hard time resisting your food cravings, an easy way to budget is the EZ Dining Meal Plan because you have a set amount of money each month. Also, you can save money on many of your food purchases across campus.

If you are spending too much on clothing or fun, take some time to think about what brings you the most satisfaction. If you feel like you'd die from not shopping, then don't leave shopping out of your budget. Just set a small amount aside for some bargain shopping because if you completely constrict yourself, you'll probably explode and go hog-wild on one huge shopping spree. A budget serves to promote good spending habits, so remember to make it realistic to your needs.

Once you have assessed your actual expenses, make a budget sheet that lists how much you'd like to spend in each category. You will need to limit your spending in a few areas because in addition to your other categories, there needs to be one for saving. Even if it's just a few dollars a month, get in the habit of saving.

If all this seems like a lot of work to you, there are some good online tools that use your online banking information to categorize your spending for you. Check out Mint or Quicken Online.
For more personalized advice, think of a few people you know who you admire for their diligence with regards to finance. Talk to them and ask for how they plan their finances and what to expect in the future.

Now, it wouldn't be fair to tell you to cut back your spending without giving you some easy money saving tips.  Just remember to take into account your goals every time you make a purchase and be aware of the worth of your spending.

Easy Money Saving Tips
  • Save on your electricity bill by unplugging your cell phone charger. Also unplug DVD players and TVS (or else plug them into a power strip you can switch off). Unplug or turn off your computer when it's not in use. Or switch to the power-saving sleep mode. All of these appliances suck up energy even when they are not in use.

  • Save on the water bill by turning off the water when you brush your teeth. Also, make sure you run full loads in the dishwasher. You can also save energy by selecting "air-drying" on your dishwasher.

  • When doing laundry, do several loads at once so you can capture the residual heat in the dryer.

  • Go to the library to check out books and movies & TV shows instead of purchasing or renting them. Or even better, borrow from friends. Just make sure you return them promptly.

  • Utilize bargain stores like DI or the dollar store for apartment purchases. You can find great plates, glasses or other cooking and decorating supplies for much lower prices.

  • Search online for coupons. There are plenty of sites that offer coupons for groceries or clothing. Because coupons sometimes justify needless purchases (because they are cheaper), try to only get coupons for the things you need.

  • Workout at home instead of paying for the gym or utilize BYU's gym, if able.

  • Cut down on the driving. Spend less on gas by walking to campus or to work. If you have a bicycle, use it.



Culinary Support Center (CSC)

by Nick Jordan

Dining Services' new central location for food preparation.
Opening in Fall 2009, BYU's Culinary Support Center (CSC) will become the heart of food preparation for Dining Services. From just one central location, the CSC will offer the freshest food possible to locations throughout campus. Before, dining locations would receive food from just a few kitchens located in various places around campus. The consolidation of buildings and machinery that the CSC will bring will help to achieve better efficiency within Dining Services. As efficiency will be the core of the new CSC, employees will focus on achieving zero waste within the facility. Everything from extra produce to cardboard boxes will be broken down into compost to ensure zero waste.




Located at the front doors to the CSC will be a Creamery Outlet Store, approximately the same size as the prior Creamery store. Anyone may come purchase many of the CSC's products, including produce and bakery items.  For those who are concerned about the world-famous Creamery ice cream, you will be comforted to know that production will begin once again with the opening of the CSC and will be sold in the same locations.

The staffing for the CSC will come from both full-time staff and part-time students being relocated from other areas on campus to the CSC. Despite the major changes the CSC will bring about, no job losses will occur.


Endless Summer

by Ellen Wilson

Save and store your fresh herbs for the winter months.

Keep the taste of summer. Before fresh herbs become a thing of the past, purchase some bundles from a booth at the farmer's market or gather the last of your garden for drying. Drying herbs can be done in a few different ways depending on which herbs you are drying. If drying isn't an option, freezing is another simple way to add flavor to the winter months.





Air Drying
Works best with oregano, thyme, sage and similar herbs.
  • Remove any dirt or withered leaves. If you need to rinse the leaves, be sure to dry them completely because wet leaves will mold.
  • Divide into small bunches and secure with string or a rubber band.
  • Hang upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated space with no sunlight. You may want to cover the bunches with a paper bag (punch a few holes in the bag). Just be sure to leave enough room in the bag for air to circulate.
  • Dry until the leaves crumble, between 1-4 weeks. You can then store in an airtight container for up to a year. For most herbs, it's a good idea to store them whole and crush just before using.
Oven Drying
Works best with oregano, thyme, sage and similar herbs.
  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (metal can affect the flavor so this step is crucial) and spread herbs in one layer across the sheet.
  • Place in oven with door slightly ajar.
  • Remove when crumbly, between 1-4 hours. Check frequently. These may also be stored for up to one year in an airtight container.
Freezing
Works best with leafy herbs, such as basil, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon.
  • For herb cubes: Chop herbs and then pack them tightly into an ice cube tray. Add a little water or broth for freezing. The ratio should be around 50/50 for herbs and liquid. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • For paste: Blend herbs and a little oil or water into a paste. Freeze in airtight bags or containers for up to 3 months.

Hiking

by Ellen Wilson

Summer is the best time for dating. The key is to find something fun to do outside that you both enjoy. Yep, it's really that simple. Outdoor activities include kayaking or tubing down the Provo River, spending the afternoon at a driving range, playing a game of Frisbee Golf at Bicentennial Park, or, our favorite, taking a hike on one of Utah Valley's many trails. Bring along materials for plant and animal identification. Make it a scavenger hunt to see who can find the most animal tracks, mountain flowers, or different types of trees.
If you're having your date during the day, incorporate an afternoon dessert into the festivities by making ice cream sculptures. For this activity, you'll need a carton of ice cream, preferably square with easy-to-rip cardboard. Remove the ice cream from the box and place it on a plate or platter. Use spoons, forks, and other utensils to shape a sculpture of your choosing. Some ideas include turtles, Mount Rushmore, a pirate ship, or Raggedy Anne.
For an evening date, have a mock camp-out. Set up a tent by the fire and tell ghost stories involving dark and stormy nights. Cook s'mores, pigs in a blanket, hot dogs, Starbursts, and pretty much anything you like over the flames. When the stories die down, make sure you have your astronomy and Greek mythology books on hand; see who can find Andromeda and other constellations and share how they got their names.

SKOY Cleaning Cloth


By Ellen Wilson

SKOY Cleaning Cloth
This edition's kitchen gadget is the SKOY cleaning cloth.  Made of biodegradable and natural fibers, this multi-use cloth can be used in place of your sponge, washcloth or paper towels. Just a thin, 6.75-inch by 7.75-cloth, it can absorb up to fifteen times its own weight. Put them through the dishwasher (or washer and dryer) to clean them. The durable fabric will last for months, through multiple washings. One SKOY cloth is equivalent to using about fifteen rolls of paper towels in an average home. With the low cost of a couple dollars per cloth, this reusable cloth is a money-saver that's good for the environment.

The SKOY cloth is available in online shops, such as Simple Family Living , in multiple colors.

Buffalo Wings

  Where: Orville & Wilbur's

What: Buffalo Wings

Price: $2.99 (6 pieces), $4.79 (10 pieces), $9.99 (24 pieces),
$6.67 (Wing Meal)

Includes:
Buffalo wings with option of side and drink

World famous Orville & Wilbur's, located in the Games Center on the first floor of the Wilkinson Student Center, is home to a little known campus secret. Smothered in a semi-spicy sauce, Orville & Wilbur's buffalo wings are a must have for everyone. Whether you are having a picnic, going skiing for the afternoon, or just grabbing a quick snack on your way to school, these buffalo wings will not only satisfy, they will keep you coming back for more. Choose from a variety of amounts of wings or just ask for the wing meal, which includes six wings, any side, and a drink, which you will need as these wings are fairly hot for the average person.

*PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Party Planning

By Ellen Wilson

It's summer and everyone's schedule has relaxed a little. Now that you have some free evenings, it's time to invite over those friends you haven't seen all semester. Here are some helpful hints on how to prepare for, set-up, and execute a dinner party.

Look through coupons for foods that are on sale. Try to base your dishes on what you can buy inexpensively. Buy your groceries two days ahead and then check the day before to confirm you have everything you need. Plan the order of cooking dishes so you don't get halfway through the casserole and realize that the cake can't go in the oven at that temperature.

Be sure to run the dishwasher the morning of, unless you want to be doing dishes quickly beforehand. If you don't have matching plates-who cares? Set up an odd of assortment of flowered dishes with the big yellow one-match glasses with plates or do napkins/nametags that match. If the emphasis of your party planning is easy clean up, get some paper plates and either decorate the edges with markers or have markers on hand for your guests to create their own artwork.

Incorporate the theme of your party into your centerpiece. If there is no theme, keep it simple and inexpensive with flowers, photos, or candles. If you'd like to do a centerpiece that can double as your guests' dessert or take-home gift, arrange a group of large suckers or other types of candy. You can also use the centerpiece as a drink bucket, with a colorful assortment of sodas.

Give yourself some buffer time when preparing your meal. Don't start so early that you'll be struggling to keep your food warm but you want to be done before your guests start to arrive. Since it's summer, it's a good idea to do some cool dishes that don't require a lot of cooking. If you are using the stove and oven, be sure to open windows so that your dining area is cool and not sweltering. When planning, plan a dessert you can make ahead of time (tarts, cakes, cookies) or one that doesn't take any cooking (sundaes, pudding). Be sure to have smaller plates and extra forks or spoons set aside for dessert.

Try to clean as you go but if you can't, don't let your dishes sit around after your last guest leaves. Rinse and put dishes into the dishwasher, or crank up some music and just get down to cleaning. The faster you get it done, the faster you can relax and relish the success of your party!

Spicy Melon Salad with Fresh Basil and Citrus

Spicy Melon Salad with Fresh Basil and Citrus
6 Servings
3 cups honey dew melon, balled or cubed
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
4 basil leaves, minced
1 teaspoon jalapeño, minced

Segment melons, place in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine orange juice, honey, orange zest, basil and jalapeño. Mix well. Drizzle over melon. Serve.

MInted Tabouli

Minted Tabouli
6 Servings
1 cup bulgar wheat        
3 small Roma tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaf, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tea
spoons black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Combine bulgar wheat with 1 quart of cold water and allow to stand for 1 hour. After the hour, drain water completely. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Allow Tabouli to marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.