Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 5, 2015 · 35 comments

Medicine jar vases

  1. Last night’s dinner was an amalgamation of leftover meals, and like the rare snowflake, no two were the same. My younger son enjoyed a large bowl of black bean chili with shredded cheddar cheese, while my older son chowed down on a kale pesto-broccoli scramble with brie cheese. My husband ate a black bean and rice burrito and I finished off the last of some kale pesto and navy bean ziti. Now, my refrigerator is no longer littered with single serving leftovers edging towards the compost bin, and I get the satisfaction of freeing up five Pyrex containers!
  2. I got rid of my only pair of sneakers, as I had used shoe-goo on then in a way that made the right one uncomfortable. (Don’t worry, I took them to a Nike store to be ground up for playground surfaces.) However, even non-sporty me is in need of sneakers every now and then. Luckily, my younger son wears the same size shoes as I do, and plans a career in shoe design, so the selection is massive. I would’t dare to borrow ones he bought new, but he’s perfectly fine with me wearing one of his Goodwill pairs. Which is good, because everyone knows that Goodwill is my thang.
  3. As much as I enjoy filling vases with large flower arrangements, oftentimes the only flowers in my yard are teeny tiny. However, I have a few glass Lidocaine jars from work that I use for miniature vases. Certainly frugal and absolutely adorable. At least the eight-year-old girl inside of me seems to think so!
  4. I’ll be cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages today to A) help my mother out, and B) make some extra money. Also, my mother’s going to take me out for lunch as a thank you. I can’t remember the last time we went to a restaurant!
  5. I’ve been continuing my declutter my house, and it’s amazing how much better it looks with less stuff. (Not that I was any kind of hoarder to begin with.) But instead of improving my home by shopping for new stuff, I’m improving my home by providing space and air around the nice things I choose to keep. Sometimes less really is more!

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret March 5, 2015 at 11:18 am

I love the way your phrase that an “amalgamation” of leftovers…making something small seems so important and yet isn’t it? Also do actually remember when you last ate out at a restaurant…Wasn’t it when you were the birthday girl! the events that unfolded!


Katy March 5, 2015 at 11:20 am

True, but I guess I had blocked that! Plus, we paid for that meal, so I guess it didn’t deserve being included in a frugal blog post. 🙂


Pam E-P March 5, 2015 at 11:29 am

We call amalgamation “Survivor Night.” We do it once a week, on Thursdays. We started it back when Survivor was still on that night, thus the name.


Susan Marsh March 5, 2015 at 11:36 am

I love that idea!


Anne March 5, 2015 at 11:44 am

We call that kind of food “musgos”. It means you look in the refrigerator and say “this must go” and “that must go.” 😀


Kate March 5, 2015 at 11:50 am

It’s Finders Keepers at our house.


Jill March 5, 2015 at 11:58 am

We call it Leftover Boo-fay and my aunt calls it Re-runs.


Susan Marsh March 5, 2015 at 12:05 pm

How about Survivor Re-runs?


anna chan March 6, 2015 at 5:14 am

We call it Menu Night, because you can have anything you want as long as it’s on the “menu”.

Isabelle March 6, 2015 at 6:36 am

In my house it’s a “touski”meal.
I’m french. “Tout ce qui” means “all that is”, so it’s an “all that remains” meal!


Isabelle March 6, 2015 at 6:52 am

Hmm… it means “all that is” actually.


Isabelle March 6, 2015 at 6:53 am

Oops, sorry for the duplicate!!

WilliamB March 6, 2015 at 8:17 am

In my household, that was always “this n that” or smorgasbord. And I agree about the joy in freed-up containers.


Claudia March 6, 2015 at 8:46 am

It’s called “Fend for Yourself” around here.


Hayley March 8, 2015 at 5:06 pm

My MIL calls it Scottigo because It’s Got to Go.


Amy March 5, 2015 at 11:32 am

I worked on cleaning up my storage closet in the basement. It contains my sewing and sewing items, rarely used kitchen items and a lot of other things I am not yet ready to part with. I managed to pack up a bag for the trash bin (why am I keeping trash?), a bag of clothes for the donation box and a package of disposable insulated cups for hot beverages to give to a local high school athletic department office. Not to mention I managed to clean off my work table!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary March 5, 2015 at 11:37 am

I love ‘clean out the fridge’ night. But I like the name ‘Survivor Night’ and may have to adopt it. 🙂

Hubs and I have been sick for the last week, so meals are starting to get rather scarce. We had pasta with homemade red sauce and/or from the freezer last night — just that. No meat, no vegetable, nothing put pasta and sauce. Today I put a chicken in the crockpot just so that we’ll get some protein… hopefully we’ll be on the mend soon.

But what I really wanted to agree with, Katy, is the decluttering. I am not anywhere near a hoarder, and I would have a loooooooong way to go to be a minimalist (which is not a personal goal for me). But still, I find that the more I declutter, the more simple and airy a space feels, the better I like it. There is a component that is about ‘how much do I really want to own’ and ‘not letting my stuff control me’ but more than that is just that I’ve finally realized that my personal aesthetic is that I prefer open, airy, and uncluttered spaces. I’m getting there…


Nathalie March 5, 2015 at 11:44 am

I love Leftovers Night because… no cooking and no waste! I also love your Lidocaine vases. Simple but pretty. A big plus for using flowers from your garden (as much as I love tulips too).

My 5 frugal things as of now…

1) I’m dehydrating 2.5 quarts of strawberries that I got at Aldi for $0.99 a quart yesterday (hubby loves them in cereal but he won’t eat fresh strawberries!) and it’s making the house smell so sweet, which is always a plus.

2) I thought I had a frugal failure with the new toilet seat that I bought at the thrift store yesterday because it didn’t come with the screws and nuts and the one from the old seat didn’t fit in the holes. Since it’s plastic, I used my screwdriver to enlarge the holes (the difference in size was tiny). Then one of the nuts wouldn’t fit on the screw properly. I turned it around, which is NOT the way it’s supposed to go, but it worked. Phew! So 15 min later and $3… I have a brand new toilet seat in my bathroom (the old one was kind of embarrassing).

3) I had leftovers for lunch: Chinese Cabbage Salad made with a cabbage head and green onions that I grew and Beef & Bean Taco Casserole from last night. I made the salad at the beginning of last week but have been keeping the cabbage mix, the crunchy toppings and the dressing all in separate containers so it’s lasted fine all this time. It made a lot and I’m pretty much the only one eating it. I still have enough leftovers to have the exact same lunch tomorrow.

4) I finally got my butt in gear to finish painting a room that I had started painting last June. I hate painting. I hate the prepping, the painting, the cleaning up the mess that I made… but it’s a frugal way to renovate a room! Anyhoo, I reused the paint roller and paintbrush that I had bought last year, as well as the plastic roller tray liner because for once i hadn’t been lazy and had washed everything carefully. I still have to do some touch-ups but I promised myself it will all be done by the end of the month if not sooner.

5) I’m about to go make pickled ginger with ginger root that I grew. I had planted some ginger root that I had bought at Save A Lot for dirt cheap (as in maybe $0.10 at the most), last year. It grew into 2 plants that never flowered, to my dismay, and just died in last month’s freeze. I was able to collect quite a bit of ginger root. I found the recipe on AllRecipes this morning. It sounds very easy to make and I love pickled ginger.


erin @ dfmi designs March 5, 2015 at 11:44 am

Love the tiny flowers in the tiny jars. Super adorable!


Sabrina | Frugal Italian Family March 5, 2015 at 12:01 pm

We completely cleaned out our refrigerator last month, there is no leftover meal left, it is a good solution to have leftovers in the refrigerator when we are too busy to cook!


chris March 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Shoo goo has saved many pairs of shoes at our house – it’s the best!


Christine March 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

We were on vacation last week… while we did it somewhat frugally (flying on points, minimizing checked luggage, having in-laws who winter in a sunny locale and have a spare room….) there was still a lot of food and drink indulgence. Trying to reign it in $-wise and calorie-wise this week.

1)Making as many recipes as possible from the remains of the produce drawer, freezer and pantry. I may have found a way to use up one or two canned items that were quite far past their “best before” stamp. Shh.
2)Thrift-shopped a couple of great dresses. I’m not always a dress person, but they are working for me now as I try to lose some baby weight… less muffin top, and I can cinch them in if I lose weight.
3)Made a decision to ramp up my side business and start bringing in some extra income again. Set up some ways to do this this month at little or no cost to me.
4)Entertained friends at my place for lunch. I fed all of us for less than the cost of my lunch at a restaurant. I’m having a different group over next week, so I’ll just make the same recipe again – haha.
5)Mended my younger brother’s jeans. They wore through in a very short time period (he bought them with a gift card after Christmas, from a high-end store). I made him take a photo beforehand so he can go in and ask for a replacement or some sort of compensation…. but in the meantime at least he can wear them. (He’s a denim serial monogamist, so they are his only pair and he’s been rocking sweat pants and khakis). To his credit, he tried to do it himself first, but the sewing machine he had borrowed was stuck in reverse.


K D March 5, 2015 at 12:52 pm

1. A snow day so we didn’t go anywhere today. I snuck out for a short walk before the snow became heavy but I didn’t think it would be frugal to break or sprain something so as it got slick I returned home. My husband is doing from work from home, and doing a bit of Netflix streaming on the side. He definitely gets good value from the $7.99/month spent.

2. I had an old package of cranberries still in my produce door. They looked like they were at the end of their useful life so I sued them to make muffins. The muffins will be part of my husband’s lunches int the next few weeks.

3. I am playing with a knit scarf pattern to find a faster way to knit it. I am currently using double yarn and bigger knitting needles. It looks like it will be a success. Even if that method uses a bit more yarn the time savings will be very significant, giving me time for other things.

4. I read The Messy Baker, which I borrowed from the library. I was interested in two recipes and found them both on-line. One I printed and the other I pinned.

5. I’m hoping our endless winter ends soon. I have a bunch of stuff I want to list on freecycle but with precipitation coming every day or two that doesn’t work well for porch pick-up (on an uncovered porch).


rosarugosa March 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Little bottles are my favorite kind of vases. Love your sweet bouquets!


meg March 5, 2015 at 8:32 pm

1. Resisted the temptation to have the teenager with the entrepreneural spirit shovel my driveway/sidewalk and cars when he offered his services.

2. Canceled my membership to specilized fitness classes now that my younger son is old enough to go to the day care at the gym. The membershi at the gym is significantly less per month and I enjoy it much more anyway.

3. Started teaching my older son (he’s 3) about decluttering. He has made his first pile of “donate” items. I think he’ll have a pretty thrifty mindset. He already calls Goodwill and Value Village Thrift “the toy stores”. 🙌

4. Birthdays are almost always restaurant meals for us, but for Saturday’s birthday meal for my MIL, I have a decent coupon, at least. My son and I will share an entrée, so we won’t need a kids meal for him and I will eat less too.

5. Made homemade hummus today. Much cheaper (we eat A LOT of it) and I can make my own flavors. It will be a good way to use up all the cucumbers and carrots I got on sale this week, too.


Kim from Philadelphia March 6, 2015 at 4:36 am

Totally recognized the lido bottles; creative reuse!!


Kim from Philadelphia March 6, 2015 at 4:44 am

Oh….and we shoveled our own driveway and sidewalk yesterday when it snowed. You’d be amazed how much of our neighborhood pay to have companies come and do this for them; pretty shocking! These are not elderly people; some have teenagers in the house! So in that way we routinely save money by clearing our own snow and leaves.


Amanda March 6, 2015 at 6:02 am

1. I gave my email address to a kid’s consignment shop and got a $5 coupon. I will use it toward a pair of new-to-us kicks in my oldest son’s next size.
2. I’m pregnant again, and it makes me happy to know that we will go into parenthood for the third time without having to buy almost anything. Unless it’s a girl . . .
3. As a grad student I buy bazillions of books off Amazon. I took the turbo tax option to redeem part of my tax refund as an Amazon gift card, which earned me an extra $50. That’s like three books!
4. Supper last night was a bacon lentil soup. It was cheap, easy, delicious and only involved pantry ingredients.
5. The ice storm is keeping my cleaning lady away. Her not coming will mean I have to take time away from school work to clean, but spring break is next week, so I am not working on deadline, and I think I can get away with a less than 100% job. Her not coming also saves me $60.


Linda in Mass March 6, 2015 at 6:13 am

1. We had another 12 inches of snow. Boston only got 1 inch but further south, near Cape Cod, got about 12 inches. We have had such a hard winter that it’s not hard to save money because I am not going out much. But, yesterday, I picked my daughter up at school for an appointment. After I got my free workout shoveling snow, I thought I “deserved” a $.99 hot chocolate/salted caramel latte mix at a local Cumberland Farms store. But, I thought, why get that when I really just want hot chocolate and can make that at home. So I put it in a to do cup and went on my merry way. Then stopped at my bank and picked up a free hot chocolate.

2. I received a pair of Duck waterproof shoes from my sister about 15 years ago. She bought them from Home Shopping and forgot to send them back because they are hard to put on. She gave them to me and I have been using them every since. This year, I have not been wearing them as much because they have a tear and are not waterproof anymore. I used some super glue on the seam and presto…they were waterproof again! Love not having to buy another pair.


Elise March 6, 2015 at 6:26 am

First off, I love your blog, what an awesome inspiration! Love it!

We’ve also been working on getting rid of things. I recently just purged about 75% of my clothes. Its amazing how refreshing it is to go to my closet and know that everything in there fits and that I like it!


JD March 6, 2015 at 7:27 am

I love the tiny bottles of flowers. They are so inviting.
1. We sometimes have what we call smorgasbord night, but most often, much of my leftovers that don’t get eaten in lunches go into what we call junk soup. I grew up hearing how the old country folks always kept a pot simmering on the back of the stove, putting leftovers from each meal in it and serving it the next day as part of a meal. I don’t do that exactly, but I like to make soup from leftovers.
2. I’m proud to say that the screen hole repair I made last summer made it through the crazy weather this year and is still holding up. That’s a window screen we won’t have to replace yet.
3. I’ve got too many projects going at once, which means I’m finishing none of them. Part of my de-cluttering effort will be to de-clutter projects. They will be prioritized, and time will be blocked out to work on them one at a time.
4. I bought 3 nice knit pullover shirts on a fantastic clearance from a nationally known clothing store, and all three developed several small holes just below the waist. They are solid dark colors, so I have carefully darned them with matching thread so the holes are almost invisible now and I can wear them again. But I’m still ticked that they got holes in the first place.
5. I’m wearing warm socks today that I bought for my kids when they were in middle school. The youngest has been out of college six years now. They were good socks, it seems. Just because they have faded and are a little worn, doesn’t mean they aren’t still very wearable.


emmer March 6, 2015 at 8:03 am

nathalie, I have also grown ginger from grocery store roots. they naturally die back seasonally. if left in the pot, they will regrow when they are ready. turmeric works the same way. I can harvest the biggest roots and leave the others for my next “crop”. I grate and dehydrate mine.
we do leftover nite here and call it the “friday feast of leftovers”. often invite friends to bring their’s as well–get a better mix of foods that way.


Nathalie March 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

Thanks for letting me know… I kind of came to the same conclusion last night after posting my comment here because looking back through my pictures, I realized that I had actually planted that ginger root 2 years ago, not last year. When the plants that grew the first year died last year (like it did this year but I had forgotten all about it!), I had dug out the roots but seeing that they seemed healthy, I had re-covered them with soil and left them in the pots. The new plants are the ones that died a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it was because we’d have some frost. Now that I’ve pickled all of my 5 oz of roots, I’ll probably get some more at the store and replant it!


Gigi March 6, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Katy, I love your flowers! Do you happen to know what they’re called?


Katy March 6, 2015 at 7:37 pm

Sorry, I don’t.


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