A Better Choice

I love telling others about products I love, so today I am sharing about our new water filtration system.

When it comes to making healthier choices for our family, sometimes the very BEST choice that could be made is cost prohibitive. In those cases, I try to research if there is a BETTER choice. Such is the case for our water filtration at home.

Ideally, I would like to get a top of the line Berkey system with as many ceramic filters as will fit….. but I can’t justify paying that kind of money for the system or replacement filters down the road.

So to date, we have used pitcher systems, and for many years a filter hooked up to our faucet directly. I felt like it did OK, I could taste a difference in the water, but it was SO ugly, and took up space in sink area.

Recently I was on a Facebook page where tea brewing was being discussed and a woman mentioned that her tea had never been clearer or tasted better since she got a ZeroWater filter.  Now previously I have learned that the temp you brew your tea at greatly effects the clearness of the brew, but it also made sense that the better the filter on your water, the clearer the brew would be as well.

I had never heard of ZeroWater, so I quickly Googled and saw that they had impressive reviews and claimed to produce water that had 0.00 TDS (total dissolved solids) in their filtered water. They even provide a water tester with each unit you purchase so you can see the results for yourself, and monitor your filter until it needs changing. I also learned that they have 5 stage filters, versus typical pitcher/sink filters which are 2 stage.

While on Amazon, I saw that they had plastic pitchers, and larger plastic units for your fridge. While I was intrigued,  I really didn’t want to take a step backward and start using plastic again. But then, I saw a glass and stainless steel counter top unit. It’s price wasn’t too bad, and it was an attractive unit.

So I did more searching and read more reviews. It seemed like this would be a BETTER choice for our water needs.

This is a BETTER choice for us because of all the things it is removing from our water, including 99% of fluoride, but there is still some plastic exposure due to the filter being plastic and not ceramic. It is however one of the safer types of plastic.

Beyond that, so far I am thrilled. I did test our tap, and sink filtered water, and finally the ZeroWater filtered water.

Our tap water read 200, exactly what the map that was sent with the filter projected for my state.  For the sink filtered water, I got a 148. Now in it’s defense, the filter is due to be changed, but that’s not much of an improvement. Finally I tested the water filtered with the new ZeroWater dispenser:

I was definitely impressed! So I tasted it, and I could ABSOLUTELY taste a difference, and it was so CLEAR.

I have not had to change the filter yet, but I was happy to see that Bed Bath and Beyond carries them, so I am able to use coupons to save some money on them.

All in all, I am so pleased with our filter system. We saved a substantial amount of money over a Berkey system, and I think the glass portion of the Zero Water system is more attractive than a full stainless steel one.

And of course the next thing I did was brew a pitcher of tea. How is that for a beautiful glass of iced tea?  😀  The pitcher of tea stayed crystal clear even through the next day, when I finished it .

Note: Though I wish it was, this is NOT a sponsored post, 🙂 Also, I replaced the plastic spigot that came with the unit, with a stainless steel version to further reduce our exposure to plastic.

Chili Cheese Cornbread Casserole

Recently my husband and I had a potluck to attend, and knowing that main dishes as usually few and far between, I set out to find a main dish that was easy to prepare, transport, and wouldn’t break the bank.

I found the perfect recipe at From Valerie’s Kitchen. With the cold weather we have been having, I knew the chili would hit the spot, and a casserole would be easier to transport than a pot of chili.

On the night I made it, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I made a few modifications to mine. I used ground beef, subbed Rotel and an extra can of green chiles for the tomato sauce, and did not add the celery. I also used 2 cans of chili beans.

I try to use dried beans in my kitchen more these days, but the canned ones really came thru in a pinch.

The chili mixture was nice and thick as it simmered on the stove, it didn’t take long at all. By the time I had the cornbread mixture ready, I was able to top it with the chili and pop it right into the oven.

I was thankful this was such a quick meal to pull together. Our potluck last week actually got cancelled due to the terrible cold, so I was able to pull this recipe out earlier this week when I needed a quick dinner. My hubby loves chili and cornbread, and his standard response to what would you like for dinner is “Something hot, meaty, and cheesy.”  This met all the requirements and was very filling on a cold winters night.

Here is the printable for my version of Chili Cheese Cornbread Casserole. Leftovers are even better the next day, and they freeze very well.


Chili Cheese Cornbread Casserole

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 2 colves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
  • 1 15 ounce can Rotel
  • 1 4 ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 2 16 ounce can chili beans in sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans or small white beans, drained
  • 2 8.5 ounce packages Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • Milk and eggs see corn muffin mix for amounts
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheese blend
  • Sour cream optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until beef is no longer pink. Add chili powder, black pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper, Rotel and green chiles. Add beans and mix well while simmering. While continuing to simmer, prepare corn bread according to package directions.
  2. Spread cornbread into a greased 9x13 pan. Spoon chili mixture over the top of unbaked cornbread.

  3. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes. Edges of cornbread should be nicely browned and center should appear to be set. Top casserole with cheese and return to oven and bake 5-10 minutes more, until cheese is melted.

  4. When serving you can add sour cream, chopped cilantro, even diced jalapenos on the side.

This post is part of the Weekend Potluck. Check out many more delicious recipes HERE






DIY Coffee Drinks #1

Our family loves coffee- good coffee. We love finding little coffee shops and small batch roasters. We even enjoy roasting our own beans at home on occasion.

But coffee shops can be a bit spendy, and we like making our own coffee drinks at home in our PJs too. 🙂

Over the last couple of years, I have been gifted with some great coffee tools that help make our weekend coffee drinks just as wonderful as those that come from a coffee shop. I would love to share with you some of the different methods and drinks that we might make any given weekend.

First up is a lazy iced coffee. 🙂 No special tools or gadgets required.

We love cold brew, and in another post, I will show you our method for cold brewing at home. But this morning, I used a frugal and easy method for my iced coffee drink- leftover coffee. Yes, in our house, on occasion we have leftover coffee. 🙂  When that rarity happens, I let it cool to room temperature, and then pour it in these ice cube trays. The trays have a cover, which I love, so the coffee cubes don’t pick up any weird odors from the freezer.

In a day or two, (or when I need more room in my freezer), I dump the cubes into a freezer bag and seal it well. The first time I did this, I was worried that the coffee hahd stained the ice cube tray, but it washed up really well with no leftover stain or coffee smell.

When I am ready for a coffee treat, I dump 5 or 6 of the cubes (they are cute little squares) into a glass, and add 2 pumps of vanilla or classic syrup. We love to shop at World Market or Home Goods for our coffee syrups.

Next, I fill the glass with whole milk, and give it a quick stir.

The coffee cubes start melting almost immediately, so the coffee flavor comes out right away.

So easy and yummy, and  l love that we are saving money by not visiting a coffee shop, and using something that might have been discarded, for this lazy iced coffee 🙂


Re-growing Vegetables: the Sequel

Several years ago on the blog, I shared how I had used the leftover scraps from my celery to re-grow some on my windowsill. You can read that post HERE

While I haven’t kept up with my celery, I did have a friend that reported to me that her family did, and they were able to plant it in their garden that spring. Kind of cool, right? 🙂

In my blog post I mentioned that I was going to try green onions, and for me that was easier and a huge success. It’s something I still do 6 years later 🙂

It’s really as simple as can be, and easy to maintain. When I get onions from the store, I put them in a glass with a inch or two of filtered water. I change that water every couple of days and rinse off the bottom of the onions at the same time.  Be careful not to go too long without changing the water, the onions will get slimy and gross, 🙂 I also keep the roots trimmed down, but if your goal is to plant the onions in a pot or your garden,  you would want to let those grow out.

The growth happens very quickly as you can see from this photo taken just 5 days later

I love using green onions in salads and in our omelets we make on weekends, and there is generally enough growth to use frequently.

I have not been successful keeping them going really long term, but even using them 5 or 6 times is more frugal than using them once and tossing. 🙂

Next up for me:  to try basil and cilantro. I haven’t had tremendous luck with growing herbs in my kitchen. I’m hoping to add  a small shelf in my kitchen window that would help immensely. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, and are looking for more frugal tips, I invite you to join The Frugal Pantry Facebook group. My friend Darcy from The Purposeful  Pantry and I will be sharing different tips that will help you in your homemaking journey. We would love it if you would join us!


This post is part of the Wise Woman Link Up at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home. Click the link above for more great homemaking posts from around the web.