Extreme Frugality — Food

by Katy on October 27, 2023 · 31 comments

I continue to glean fallen apples from my neighbor’s apple tree. In order to get this much for a small apple crisp:

I have to cut away approximately 75% of the bruised, split, buggy and generally rotten areas. However, there are good parts on each apple, so it’s worth the extra minutes of effort. Especially since they’re FREE!

Portland is forecasted for a heavy frost tonight, so I harvested the last few scrawny tomatoes from my single plant. I’ll let them ripen on the countertop and make sure they get eaten. My mother’s gardening buddy gave her a couple tomato starts at the beginning of the summer, which is how I ended up with this mystery variety.

Home grown tomatoes are in a category all their own.

I saw a video where someone was growing their own sprouts and I decided to join in as I always have red lentils on hand. I started them last night with a good soak and then gave them a quick rinse this morning. You can see that they’ve already split.  I’m keeping them covered with a bandana and will rinse them daily.

I’ve grown my own sprouts in the past, but it’s been a few years. Kind of a fun, quick and easy project.  I’ll keep you posted.

I also started up some no knead artisan bread last night, which couldn’t be simpler or cheaper. It really is just flour, water, yeast and salt — stirred for a minute or so. It has a long rise time, (8-24 hours) which makes it very versatile. The recipe calls to cover the dough with saran wrap, but I use either a damp linen dish towel or a plate. No need for wasteful plastic.

Fresh baked bread is the perfect way to warm both your kitchen and your soul.

I hate wasting both food and money, but there are endless ways to get creative to when it comes to food. My opportunity for free scrappy apples (or parking lot peppers) is going to be different from your opportunities, but that’s great as we can all learn from each other. I love that there’s always new ideas and fresh inspiration in this world.

Do you have an extreme frugality food tip? Please share in the comments section below!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Louise October 27, 2023 at 1:14 pm

So inspiring to read such lists!
I managed one handful of carrots grown on my deck. I had planted very old carrot seeds in the large, deep pot last spring, but that was when the racoons or squirrels were still playing in my yard, and they dug up all the soil, so I put in morning glories. (Rodents eventually driven away by combinations of strong spices and black plastic forks stuck tines up in the dirt).
A very few carrots survived the attack and will be combined with a piece of leftover pork and a few more vegetables in a stir fry.


Katy October 27, 2023 at 1:19 pm

Carrots are hard to grow as I think they need very sandy soil. (I’m probably wrong.) They’re so cheap, so I’ve only tried once to grow them. I love roasted carrots as the sweetness and texture are so yummy! Plus . . . cheap!


Selena October 27, 2023 at 7:11 pm

Loose soil is the key to carrots that aren’t “deformed”. Also need a good amount of sun but some shade is okay. And yes, cheap so the garden space might be better used by a more costly veggie.


Roberta October 27, 2023 at 1:26 pm

Heidi, I will be using the strong spices method. We sometimes get open bottles of spices at the food bank (donations), and that is beyond my ick-factor to use for food. I will use them against rodents!

I am not having a frugal week. I am fighting the good fight, though. I am fighting to get my airline travel added to my new card. With both kids going far away to school, and not being able to open an airline credit card due to security issues (my identity has been compromised), having airline loyalty is better than nothing.
I am fighting with the termite company. They have been unable to come out and treat termites with pesticide-free methods for about three months. I want a refund. The manager is not calling me back, and I am not eager to take a day off work to have them fail (again) to provide service.
I was ON MY WAY to see what price the dealership would offer for my car, when I was rear-ended. I am grateful that I am not at fault, but I am REALLY disappointed that I have to get the car fixed, and probably not before the license has to be renewed. I was literally trying to turn into the parking lot. My insurance is great, but I’m grumpy about the time that will be required.

On the plus side, my daughter (who was in the car with me, both of us were uninjured) volunteered to make dinner when we got home. We didn’t go out for comfort food. She is a gift to me.


Heidi Louise October 27, 2023 at 2:57 pm

Roberta: Hope it works for you! I had spices from clearing out my Dad’s house, as well as some ancient ones from our cupboards. I sprinkled them thickly all around the outside of the house and deck and the racoons chose to go elsewhere.


Anne October 27, 2023 at 1:56 pm

I discovered recently that I can make tea similar to green tea from fig leaves, either fresh or dried. It has (studied) health benefits like green tea, and grows in our garden. It has a pleasant coconutty flavour, and I drink it mixed with my Earl Grey tea, as I used to do with green tea as I don’t love it so much by itself No more buying expensive green leaf tea for me.


Ruby October 27, 2023 at 2:25 pm

I am the happy omnivore in a family of picky eaters and do leftover sweeps through the fridge to create heat and eat freezer meals for myself.

While not extreme, I do sensible substitutions while cooking. The other night I was making some packaged tuna into homemade tuna burgers and did not have any lemon juice. Added a teaspoon of red wine vinegar to the mix to give the fish a nice tang, and it was delicious.


JC October 27, 2023 at 3:37 pm

During my “pear extravaganza” last month(?) I used some peels and cores and experimented with making pear vinegar…It worked!!!!
I filtered and bottled it earlier this week, saved the vinegar mother in a bit of the filterings and today added pineapple peels and cores from cleaning the pineapple I bought on sale on Tuesday.
I then used the coffee filters used in filtering and cleaned some copper cookware.

I plan on aging the fruit vinegars in marinades and salad dressings. Saving and reusing the bottles from olive oil used to make the comfrey salve I made over the late summer.


JC October 27, 2023 at 3:38 pm

That should read….. aging the vinegars and then using in marinades and salad dressings.


Mand01 October 27, 2023 at 4:17 pm

They look like Green Zebra tomatoes


Katy October 27, 2023 at 5:52 pm



Christine October 27, 2023 at 7:35 pm

Nothing Earth shattering but I don’t buy canned legumes anymore. Although I have always soaked navy beans overnight to make Boston Baked Beans, for some reason I always bought cans of black beans and kidney beans for recipes that called for them. No more. I buy dried beans of all kinds, soak them, slow cook them and freeze them in portioned out amounts in ziplock bags. Oh yeah…then I wash out and reuse the bags.


Katy October 27, 2023 at 8:06 pm

I do buy canned garbanzo beans, but only because we eat them so infrequently. ANd you gotta wash out and reuse freezer bags!


Bee October 28, 2023 at 1:43 am

I love the idea of growing your own sprouts. I did this many years ago, and I think I’ll give it another try.
I’m afraid I do not have any extremely frugal tips. I do grow some of my own herbs, and I have a lemon tree. I’m allergic to wheat do I don’t bake bread. I live in coastal Florida, so growing veggies is difficult.
My husband and son fish. However, I’m not sure that saves money. There are many restrictions, rightfully so, on the size and number of fish you can take. The accompanied with high gas prices makes fish a more expensive alternative.


Kathy Sell October 28, 2023 at 4:49 am

Fishing may not save money, yet gets people away from the screens that bind us and into fresh air. Also away from arcades and casinos. Just another point of view!


Bee October 29, 2023 at 4:52 am

This is so true. My sons have never spent much time indoors except when working. Also, IMHO, there are few things that taste as good as fresh fish.


Katy October 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

Glad to read that I’ll have a sprout buddy all the way over in Florida!


Bee October 29, 2023 at 4:55 am

I will let you know how it goes. I remember my parents growing sprouts. If I remember correctly, they had a special little tray that they used. It’s been a long time!


Katy October 29, 2023 at 8:38 am

Online direction always call for a jar, but I’m using a Pyrex bowl with a wider base so they can spread out more and hopefully not mold.


Q October 28, 2023 at 3:59 am

Love the apple crisp story!
1. I grind old spices in repurposed min coffee grinder to freshen them up a little (eg: older rosemary or thyme, etc.)
2. I substituted ketchup with soy sauce and white vinegar for Worcestshire sauce. I am not going to buy (and have to store) Worcestshire sauce anymore, freeing up space and inventory. This will help project to cycle garage refrigerator out of rotation, saving on electric bill.
3. Used Katy’s sub for brown sugar, and reader’s tip to add white sugar in with dry, and the molasses in with wet, ingredients.
4. Yesterday I scored six small loaf pans (as opposed to some minis which I had) at a yard sale held by the niece for a late friend’s estate. I will think of friend when baking in them. The small loaf size makes for a nice gift for someone living alone, or for us here, as we can freeze some and also eat some. That helps us pace our sugar uptake.
5. I try to package leftovers into lunch or dinner size servings so they are easier to grab and go, and also makes for more servings if my hungry self serves from a larger container of leftovers. I do a lot of batch cooking to preserve energy (both electric and human!).
When I need an unusual ingredient, eg: kombu, my niece picks it up at her Hmart, and brings it with her when she comes to visit, saving time and gas money. It sometimes means delaying a new recipe, but it is so worth it!


Ava October 28, 2023 at 6:31 am

Those apple remains look like the ones from the apples my friend gave me. We had two delicious pies and have four more pies and three jars of applesauce in the freezer. I put the peels and cores in the front yard for the deer. I believe they were enjoyed. They disappeared fast.


Katy October 28, 2023 at 8:17 am

Thanks for the brown sugar substitute reminder to add the molasses to the wet and the sugar to the dry when cooking!


mary in maryland October 28, 2023 at 7:02 am

I have found that all the leaves and the big core of a cauliflower disappear into my Instant Pot General Tso’s soy curls. Finely chopped, of course.


Blue Gate Farmgirl October 28, 2023 at 9:25 am

We dodged a frost again! I harvested 2 bushels of gala & honeycrisp apples and picked more parsley to freeze like the pesto. I harvested the cilantro seeds to plant next spring.
I love the idea of pear vinegar, I will do that next year! Pears are so sweet, it may become my favorite vinegar for salad dressing.
A childhood friend is coming to the farm tomorrow to learn how to make apple cider vinegar. I will pick those apples today.
I planted the garlic and about 200 tulip bulbs. Today is wood splitting day and stacking in the barn day. I feel a pot of soup is in order for dinner aaaand a loaf of crusty bread (thanks for the inspiration, Katy!)


Katy October 28, 2023 at 9:51 pm

I planted some garlic for the first time ever. I’m hoping it’s as easy as it seems.


texasilver October 28, 2023 at 10:05 am

I originally cooked some dried navy beans with juice left over from baking a ham. I froze the leftover beans. I took the beans out to thaw & drain them. I also had a concoction of cannellini beans that my BF who is Italian cooked. I picked the out the white beans & will add them to navy beans for a baked bean recipe. There were some greens cooked with the cannellini beans. I think I will puree this with the drained bean juice from the navy beans. I can use the puree in soup. This is for a potluck dinner. I have the other ingredients in my pantry. I also have some apples I found. I may make a “dump cake” with a boxed cake mix I have on hand.


Katy October 28, 2023 at 9:50 pm

This sounds super yummy!


Bettypants October 28, 2023 at 1:42 pm

1. A thrift store near me has a clothing sale one day each month. 50% off clothing they have priced with a tag, $1 for all clothing without a tag. The annoying part is the manager who mans the checkout has been saying “Oh, this should have had a tag. This would be $8, not $1.” I mean, come on. If you don’t want to sell clothing for a $1, run a different sale!

2. My office had a bunch of beer leftover from a party and were allowing employees to take some home. I’m not a beer drinker, but I took a couple cans to make beer bread, which turned out great.

3. My friend is moving from a house to a condo and said I could come over and dig up perennials. I picked a nice big hydrangea and two hellebores.

4. I was hoping my local animal shelter would have a rummage sale and even offered to help run it. But I think it’s getting too late in the season, so I will post my stuff on freecycle. Cleaned out my garage today and have a lot of stuff to go.

5. My office ordered Qdoba catering and I added my rewards number to the receipt. It was a pretty big dollar amount, and I think it gave us three free entrees.


Katy October 28, 2023 at 9:47 pm

Nice! I used a punch card when I went out to lunch with the Today Show crew back in 2008. They thought I was trying to pay, so I explained I just wanted the punches which they thought was hilarious!


Sandra October 28, 2023 at 1:53 pm

I find that 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken will measure out to 4 cups of diced chicken, at least that is the case with the ones from Costco. I usually cut them in half and enjoy the first half as roasted chicken with vegetables and gravy. The other half goes into the freezer for later. All bones and skin are saved in a bag in the freezer. In a seperate bag I save carrot tops and tips, celery tops and tips, onion tops and tips, and the remains from my garlic press. That combo along with any saved bones is used for broth. I usually use two or more bags of bones and vegetable scraps to make three quarts of broth. The broth goes into the freezer and is quickly defrosted in the microwave anytime I need it. Those are a few of my go to money savers. Of course, the plastic bags are washed, dried and reused many times.


Katy October 28, 2023 at 9:44 pm

I made a huge pot of chicken soup this evening, as well as three containers of chicken stock. Of course this was after eating the wings and cutting off all the white meat for a further recipe.


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