Archive | August 2014

Cold-Brewed Coffee, No Equipment Needed

I love coffee. I usually have only one cup a day, two at the outside, but it’s my absolute favorite time of day. I am drinking it right now during the after-lunch viewing of Sesame Street that has replaced naptime at our house. Yet despite my extreme affection for this nectar of the gods, I’ve never used a coffee pot, and we’ve never owned one.*

Instead, we cold brew. If you haven’t heard of this method, it’s just what it sounds like–you mix together water and coffee grounds and let them sit at room temperature for a long time, then strain. The result is ideal for iced coffee, of course, but is also good heated. Much less acid than other methods, and it keeps in the fridge for two weeks! That way, you can have the exact amount you want, no wasting half a pot that you didn’t want. It is also very strong, more like coffee concentrate. We dilute it 50/50 with milk or water. (I am particularly partial to unsweetened vanilla almond milk with a spoonful of Ovaltine. Please don’t judge me.)

Now, you can buy a special machine, like the Toddy, to make your cold brewed coffee in, but we manage without. Besides the initial expense, the Toddy requires special filters and stoppers that wear out and have to be replaced. Our equipment involves an old round pitcher, a small colander that fits snugly in the top, and a coffee filter. Another advantage is that we can use regular ground coffee from the grocery store; the Toddy requires a coarse grind, meaning you probably need to own a coffee grinder, too!

Our coffee brewing equipment--all items that we've owned for years.

Our coffee brewing equipment–all items that we’ve owned for years.

Here’s our simple routine: Mix two cups ground coffee with eight cups water. (We use the liner of an ice bucket for this step.) Let sit 16-18 hours. (I generally mix it up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and strain the next morning.) Strain it through the coffee-filter-lined colander.  Refrigerate! Now, the straining is the step that’s a bit of a pain because you have to wait for it to filter through and change the filter a few times, but I just do it in between steps of my morning routine.

I love the minimalist aspect of our routine. We don’t have to make coffee every day, don’t own any special equipment, and don’t have to devote counter space to a coffee-making machine. You probably have something in your house that would work. If not, try Goodwill. Last time I was in ours, I saw several of these round pitchers. So if you’ve had your eye on a Toddy, take it off your list!

What’s your favorite frugal way to make coffee?

*Except for a year or so when we owned one for my mother’s convenience when she visited.

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August Goals

This is my last post for a couple of weeks–the boys and I are headed off on a family vacation.

I’m not a very consistent blogger. The last time I posted goals, it was for April. (I met them, too, so yay me.)

But it’s time to make some again, I think. We’ve been busy exploring Denver, getting settled into our new city, and getting used to shopping for and cooking all our own food now that we no longer live on a boarding school campus with dining hall access; now that we’ve been here two months, I think we can be a little more systematic.

So here’s what I have in mind for August:

Income: Earn $250 more than I will be paying for part-time daycare, or $670 total. That’s a low month for me, but I’ll be on vacation for almost two weeks.

Spending: Make the Costco food and the tank of gas last the whole month. I miscalculated some of our staples and wound up at Costco twice in July and the result was a whopping $730 grocery bill for the month! (But also a freezer full of cheese, beef, etc., so August’s food bill should be very low indeed.)

Budgeting: Continue to track our spending with the goal of developing a realistic budget for our new life in Denver.

Lifestyle Adjustments: Potty-train Little Brother. This will save on the disposable diapers he wears to daycare and the electricity to run the washer and dryer. (90 minutes every other day! Yikes!)

Other: Read four books, arrange for a volunteer position at the public library, and sell our spare baby gate and monitor for spare cash.

What are you up to this last month of summer?