Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 7, 2014 · 27 comments

  1. I deliberately planned all the activities for my son’s birthday day of adventures to be in the same neighborhood. Previous years have found us driving back and forth across town to get to everywhere we needed to be. No reasons to waste money on gasoline. Plus, we got to walk around the neighborhoods with no time pressures.
  2. I needed to pick up milks and a loaf of French bread at New Season’s last night. That was all I needed, but I had a coupon for a free half-gallon of milk if I spent $10. I didn’t want to overspend on stuff I didn’t need in order to save money, so I bought green beans to go with tonight’s dinner. This brought the price over $10, which then made the milk free. I had been tempted to pick out some treat to bring the trip over $10, but this worked out better, both for the wallet and my waistline. (I know the true savings would have been to make the bread myself, but I’d had a busy day and wasn’t home long enough to put together a batch of bread dough.)
  3. I am buying my son a good pair of left handed scissors for his birthday, but am choosing to support a local business. However, I see that they honor competitor’s coupons, so I’ll print out a Joann Fabric 30%-off coupon to bring the price down.
  4. We are preparing a special birthday meal at home for my son instead of going to a restaurant. It won’t be impressively frugal as I’m preparing steaks, but steak at home for six people vs. steak in a restaurant for six people makes this a very budgetary meal. (BTW, I’ve only prepared steak a few times in my life, so any and all tips are extremely welcome! I’m planning on doing the cast iron pan method using this method.)
  5. I took my behind the scenes tour of Goodwill yesterday, yet didn’t buy a single thing. Which I think deserves some special kind of medal. (A used one of course!)

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to lately?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer N October 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

1. We’ve been snacking on homemade greek yogurt the past two weeks since I discovered the wonderful “no-fuss” crockpot method. The savings won’t make us rich or anything, but it is considerably cheaper and likely healthier than the store bought stuff.
2. I put together a quick and easy print for my cousin and his wife who were married this past Saturday. I purchased a printable from Etsy, customized it with their names and anniversary date, and framed it with a frame I had on hand. Total cost was less than $5.
3. My son has started his 6th week of Kindergarten (that was fast!) and I’ve managed to pack his lunch every morning. It is SO tempting for me to just hand him $2 and be done with it, but I have persevered.
4. Thinking of dragging the hubby to the Farmer’s Market this weekend to pick up some apples to make applesauce to last a few months. I’m also debating borrowing my mom’s cool peeler/slicer/corer or just using my kitchen knife.
5. The Frugal Girl’s daughter’s post makes me want to make my own graham crackers. DS2 LOVES graham crackers, so I’m not sure I could keep up with the demand, but it doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally give him homemade!


amanda b. October 7, 2014 at 11:41 am

We are brand new to homeschooling AND are moving soon…
1. Bought used workbooks and dry erase worksheets for homeschooling.
2. Chose a free, online curriculum to follow.
3. Hubs brought home boxes from work and borrowed a heavy duty tape dispenser.
4. Repurposing a clothes armoire for a pantry in the new house. There are only 5 cabinets in the kitchen! The armoire will likely sit in the living room but it is pretty so I’m glad we get to keep it.
5. Paring down craft supplies, clothes, etc for the new (smaller) place means unexpected gifts for friends and family. Our nephew had a TV shatter during a recent move. We needed to get rid of one. Voila!


Lesley October 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

Steak tip: let the steaks come to room temp before doing anything with them!


Sadye October 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

My boyfriend’s boss has a garden at their office and always puts out produce, so I’m still eating fresh and local despite my CSA wrapping up!


Tina B. October 7, 2014 at 12:02 pm

That’s totally how I cook my steaks. The only thing I would add is that a) kosher salt is the bomb if you have it (you get these magic delicious little “points” of salt instead of just a generally salty all-over thing — I don’t bake with it but I always finish dishes with it) and b) smash the salt and pepper into each side of the steak w/ the heel of your hand. If you do that bit first and let the steaks come to room temperature while the salt reacts with the meat, that’s even better.

Now I want a steak. We don’t eat them often but that’s a birthday dinner at our house too.


Tina B. October 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

oh, I see now that the site you linked totally *says* to use kosher or sea salt. So… yeah. Do that if you can.


Amy W October 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm

The only time I’ve ever had a steak come out right cooking it at home is when I finally started using the “reverse sear” method. If you have a digital thermometer it is the easiest way for perfectly done steaks at home. I don’t have a grill, so I use the oven to initially cook them, and then cast iron pan to sear them. As Lesley said, be sure to let the steaks come to room temperature before you start any cooking.
What I do is after the steaks have set out on the counter for 30-45 minutes I season them, insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of one of them, and set the alert to 120 degrees F. (People who like their steaks more rare to medium rare set it at 90 – 100 degrees F.) Bake on a baking sheet in a 275 deg. oven until the signal sounds. This takes longer than you might think it will. Take them out of the oven and without letting the meat rest sear them in a preheated (very hot!) cast iron pan or grill pan for about 2 minutes per side. Cover with foil and let rest for a few minutes before cutting into them.


Katy October 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Interesting. I’m going to do the sear first and then high temp oven. But I’ll keep this method in mind in case I want to try a different trick for next time.


patti October 7, 2014 at 1:18 pm

On your steak, use a meat thermometer and cook to 145 degrees F. This is the best temperature for beef and pork (not ground meat). The number one thing with steak (or any meat) is over cooking.


patti October 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

My frugal accomplishments for last week were to plan my meals for our vacation so that we did not have the costs of eating out. Unfortunately, our plans did not work out due to rain (we were camping), but I did get to bring most of the food home so I am not grocery shopping until we eat it all up.

And…. drumroll please…. I got a new-to-me sewing machine (Janome DC3050) for $195.00 which is a fabulous deal and the machine I have been wanting for a long time. My 20 plus year old machine has served me well, but I knew it was only a matter of time until I needed to replace it as I make all my clothes and many household items and gifts and also teach sewing.

I started looking and was appalled at the prices for new machines and scared of what to buy since so many of them are really “fancy” and EXPENSiVE. (starting at $500 and going to $30,000). This machine was my “temporary” choice because it met my needs until I could decipher what I really need and want in a machine… but when I test drove it at the dealer, I just couldn’t take the plunge. Then… lo and behold, there was one for sale in the paper only the price was too much for a “used” machine. I thought and thought about it and tried to convince my sewing students to buy it but none of us would make that move. Well, the guy dropped the price by half and I dove on it. Turns out it was a lady’s machine who went into assisted living and died shortly thereafter. The machine is in great condition and feels brand new. I am so glad I researched, decided my needs and preferences, and kept my cool until it became a price I was comfortable with. If I do decide I need “more” machine, this will be a good trade in one day.


Anne October 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

This is frugal, but mostly amusing. I don’t sew nearly as much as you, a tiny bit here and there, but in the distant past I made a lot of my clothes and even some things for my sons.

Here it is…….. I’m still using my mother’s WHITE machine that she bought in 1964. Needless to say there is nothing fancy on it. Even to do a buttonhole you have to manually change out the feet. Hmm, I just realized it’s a half century old this year.

Here’s to ya, old gal.


Katy October 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Yikes, I just spent $75 to buy six rib eye steaks at Costco. The pressure is now on to not screw them up!


A. Marie October 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Can I just put in another plug for buying our 1/2 cow from our friend who raises the animals? We got the whole thing (which encompasses everything from soup bones to hamburger to various steaks and roasts) for $2.30/lb, including processing costs. No jazz, folks. Your results may vary, depending on where you live and how friendly you are with the farmer–but it’s well worth considering.


A. Marie October 7, 2014 at 2:11 pm

P.S. In the interests of complete disclosure, I must add that this was our 2013 cost. Don’t know yet how much this will go up in 2014.


Katy October 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Yup, that sounds better.


Kristen October 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

So true! Our last cow quarter came with some veddy fancy steaks, which I’d never cooked before. But I did manage not to mess them up and they were super delicious.


Katy October 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I think I need to look into this!


Pam T October 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

How did the steaks come out?
I like my steak grilled over a chunk wood barbecue.
For a very fancy meal, I add some flavored butter when they come off the grill. Blue cheese butter, herb butter, etc

Lesley October 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Shoot! Did you check the price of the slab? Might have been worth it to buy the slab, slice 6 of your own steaks, and freeze the rest for the next important meal.


Katy October 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I’ve never even heard of a “slab.”


Barb@livingrichlyinretirement October 8, 2014 at 6:56 am

I would only add, let the steaks come to temp, and that we eat them very rare and it takes three minutes per side for rare in this household. Oh, and for future reference (know this is a birthday thing) keep your eye out. We can get rib eyes for 5.;99 a poound about every four months and when we do we freeze them.

This is one of those things compound butters were made for.


Lynn D. October 7, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I just discovered a great tenderizing tip. Mash up a kiwi fruit, mix it with a little olive oil and rub it over your steak, then season it. Leave for an hour or so while it comes up to room temperature. You can use a much cheaper cut of meat (which actually has more flavor) but it will be tender. The kiwi flavor is not at all noticeable. Don’t bother taking the kiwi off, it just looks like pepper.


Elizabeth October 8, 2014 at 12:32 am

You have to be careful with the kiwi because it really does tenderize the meat, and so much so, that it will be mush if left on too long. I may or may not know this from thinking longer would be better and ending up with baby food steak!


Joe McBee October 8, 2014 at 8:56 am

Personally, I think the key to a great steak is a marinade. You can make one with olive oil, red-wine vinegar, a little lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Marinade the steaks overnight in the fridge.


Maureen October 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm

We’ve been following the food/grocery bill challenge this month very closely. So far I’ve spent $100. for 2, but that includes personal products and pet products.
We ate leftover Shepherd’s Pie last night. We’ve actually been eating at home a lot these days.
Hubby is going away this weekend, so I’m going to make a pot of pea soup. He doesn’t like it and whatever leftovers there are will be frozen and eaten by me for lunches. I’ll be using up a piece of ham that’s been in the freezer too.
I made refrigerator ice tea that came out pretty good. I’m getting better at it.
And basically not shopping and staying home!


Amanda October 13, 2014 at 9:16 am

1. Was feeling lazy today and tempted to pick up lunch, but my super hero husband swooped in with grilled cheeses.
2. Lots of books to buy for grad school this semester. Luckily I was able to get a couple at the local library (I wouldn’t get them from the school library as that doesn’t seem fair to my colleagues) and download a couple as audiobooks (saves me more time than money, but I’ll take what I can get these days).
3. The new day care my youngest will go to soon will use out cloth diapers! We just need a doctor’s note, which should be easily procured.
4. Planning to get flu shots for the whole family this week. They are free and will hopefully keep us from getting sick.
5. I’m a year into cloth diapering our second child and my pail liners are getting worn out, which means they leak. Instead of buying bags, I bought more waterproof fabric. It will take very little time to sew up a couple of bags.


Katy October 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

The steaks
turned out perfectly!


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