Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 3, 2014 · 36 comments

roasted pumpkin

  1. My husband and I spent at least four hours yesterday spreading our enormous pile of free wood chip mulch around the yard. We assumed that we’d have to Craigslist a good portion of our bounty, but both of our next-door-neighbors were happy to accept mulch for their yards. Not only does our whole block now look better, but one neighbor gave my husband a brand new Pendleton Wool men’s shirt that didn’t fit him. My husband gets itchy from wool, so we’ll be able to use it for a family member’s Christmas gift.
  2. I’ve been putting a focused effort into lowering my family’s grocery bills, and one category which stumped me was the deli meat for my husband’s work lunches. And since the sliced meat was setting us back $11 per pound, it was only for him. “Did you eat up all that sliced meat? Don’t you know that’s just for dad?!” Anyway, now that I’m buying huge sliceable chunks of already roasted pork loin for $3.99/lb at The Grocery Outlet, other members of the family are finally allowed to make themselves a sandwich or two. (And since I use $3-off-$25 coupons, it’s even cheaper!)
  3. I took both of my sons’ Halloween jack-o-lanterns and roasted them up for pumpkin puree. I’ll freeze it in two-cup portions, and I’m guessing there’s a least twenty cups of pumpkiny-goodness from something most people just throw away.  My family will be enjoying pumpkin pies, pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin egg salad salad, pumpkin bread . . .
  4. Even though I went to the opening of the shiniest new Portland Goodwill Outlet, I didn’t buy anything. I already have most everything I need, and nothing there caught my eye either for gift giving or resale. The best bargain is the thing not purchased.
  5. I went to my sister’s 31st birthday party last night which was being held at her friend’s house. (A house which features an backyard cob pizza oven!) I was asked to bring a few pizza toppings, and was able to use what I had on hand and brought a bag of nice frozen salami slices I had in the freezer and a can of pineapple chunks from the cupboard.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Vega November 3, 2014 at 11:45 am

I love this series… Little actions add up quickly!

As for myself… Does going on a job interview count as a frugal thing? Because I did that today.

I went shopping for a whole new interview suit, and came back with only a blouse and a handbag, both on sale. And I felt awesome at the interview!

We also took advantage of a local store’s offer of “buy a ham, get a free turkey,” so our family of two is set for protein for quite a long time!

And I packed my husband an irresistible lunch today, to keep him out of the burrito place 😉

Husband is selling his car, and he chose to wax it himself so it looks nice for prospective buyers, instead of paying a car wash $60 or more.


WilliamB November 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

1. Overcoming fear of rejection, I asked a local church if I could have their leftover hay bales. Looks like I may not need to buy mulch this year.

2. Noticed that butter dropped from $4.50/lb last month to $3.50/lb this month. Still didn’t buy – hoping prices will be lower as the holidays approach, and that coupons will be available.

3. Bought 4 jars Tabasco for $.15 per 4 oz jar. Have 9 more such coupons. Some spice-loving food bank recipients are going to be happy this year.

4. Yay: took subway and brown-bagged lunch for museum trip over the weekend. Boo: had to sneak my food into the food court to do so – official (but apparently unenforced) policy is not outside food. Even More Boo: only choice at that food court is McDonalds.


Elaine in Ark November 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I went to Goodwill today, and I thought of you the whole time I was there, Katie. I was looking for some sweats and didn’t find any, but I did find a pair of red Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and a blue blouse, both of which I need.

Then I wandered around a bit and found 2 replacement candle holders for my iron wall sconces (one had a big chip out of it). I like the sconces, but I was thinking about getting rid of them. Now, I’m keeping them.

I also bought a Calphalon glass lid that I hoped would fit my 8″ frying pan. It was $1.00, and it didn’t fit, so it’s going into the donate box. It was worth risking a buck.

At the grocery store, I had a bunch of good coupons and only bought what I need.

My brother-in-law is coming over later this afternoon to help me caulk my drafty windows, so for just a couple of dollars I’ll be saving much more this winter AND be comfortable in my living room. (All this time I was trying to weatherstrip the windows, to no avail. The windows aren’t the problem, the second-rate installation is.)

All in all, a pretty frugal day for me.


Megan November 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I love this: “the best bargain is the thing not purchased”. Practicing that today I chose to buy just enough groceries for this week (normally I find myself grabbing a couple of extra jars of this or that…just in case). Trying to cut down on grocery stockpiling!


PL November 3, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Searched the closeout bin at the grocery store again this week, as I do every week. Over the past year I have collected enough free or big bargain items at various stores to fill 35 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse) at church. Because friends and family also give me items all year long, it is a very small “hit” to the budget for such a good feeling I get from doing it. I sort all the items into categories (toys, school supplies, hygiene items, etc.) and set them out on tables. The kids in Sunday School come through and “purchase” the items with ‘points’ they have earned for attendance at Sunday School, memorizing verses, etc. They then write a letter and pack the boxes. It helps them learn about giving and so many children overseas may get the first gift they have ever received. It’s heartwarming to watch the kids pack the boxes. (Even more frugal….my husband and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts – these are OUR Christmas gifts to each other!)


A. Marie November 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

(1) Am in the boiling-down-the-bones-for-stock stage of another chicken cycle. (See my previous FFT comment.)

(2) Am taking advantage of the return to Standard Time for one last blast of early morning bottlepicking around the neighborhood before Upstate NY’s infamous snows engulf the enterprise.

(3) Am looking over stockpiled gifts in guest room closet and feeling pretty good about the fact that nonconsumer Xmas shopping is almost complete. (Please don’t hate me.)

(4) Went onto favorite charity websites last week and made donations for further nonconsumer Xmas shopping. (And here’s my annual shout-out to my eldest sister for getting my family of origin on board with this concept.)

(5) More barter with the neighbor who swapped me the mushrooms for the Halloween candy: This week, I gave her a Clue game (new in shrink wrap, $5 at local Salvation Army) for her stepkids who are into board games, and she’s cutting me in on an order of bay leaves from Penzey’s. Seriously, folks, cultivate a “mutual mooching” relationship (as Amy Dacyczyn used to call it) with a neighbor. Katy already seems to have embraced the concept with the mulch-for-Pendleton-shirt deal.


Vickie November 3, 2014 at 1:50 pm

1) I didn’t go anywhere yesterday. Read one of my new-to-me books, Living More with Less by Doris Longacre. An oldie but a goody!

2) Used the hamburger I had in the freezer and the $1 bottle of Taco Seasoning I’d gotten awhile back at Dollar Tree to make Soft Tacos for dinner.

3) Transferred my stuff to my newly repaired black purse that I love. Using a favorite, instead of buying new.

4) Went through kids books a friend gave us in a box of donations (she told us to take what we wanted first) and found two to give my great nephew for Christmas a several others my granddaughters will like.

5) Using lotion on my dry/chapped hands that we got in the hotel while on vacation. It smells wonderful. I always take home what’s in the room. I use the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner to shave my legs with.


Linda November 3, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I don’t mean to be one-uping you by this comment just want to share my experience. I used to stock up in the packets of Taco Seasoning when they went on sale 3/$ or 4/$. Then I found this recipe: for each pound of burger 1Tbl.Chili powder, 1-1/2 tea. salt, 1/4 tea. garlic powder,1/4 tea. ground red pepper. The dollar store usually has the best prices on the spices. $3 worth of spices make a LOT of taco seasoning.


Christine November 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

To that basic recipe try adding 1 T dried oregano and 1 T cumin and a bit of cinnamon.


Cyndi November 4, 2014 at 7:10 am

Oh I love that book! Even though I don’t share her religious perspective, I’ve learned so much from reading and re-reading. I think it should be on the shelf next to the Thightwad Gazette. And have you seen the cookbooks that followed? So simple and yummy!!!


Anne November 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Yes, loved the Doris Longacre books. It seriously made me want to become a Mennonite.


Tonya November 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I love 5 Frugal Things!

1) I packed my lunch (again, for the millionth time).
2) I used my crockpot three times this weekend. Score for frugal cooking.
3) I baked pumpkin bread from scratch. Served one loaf for dessert when friends came over and froze the other loaf.
4) I got lots of clearance yogurt this weekend during my grocery shop. We’ll be eating lots of cheap and healthy yogurt this week.
5) I downloaded the Target Cartwheel app and used it for discounts on cat litter and mouthwash (things I buy anyway at Target). It was super easy to use, and I’ll use it again!


Stephanie November 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

I planned lunch and dinner- the leftovers are gone!
I am looking for snowpants on ebay after striking out at the thrift store and Craigslist before I shop retail.
My holiday gift shopping is done because I shop year round.
I traded some outgrown kids clothes for clothes 1-2 sizes in the future
I have four medical appointments this week and by planning ahead we will be eating our own food instead of buying hospital food for seven meals. $10 for a mediocre dinner gets old fast.


Linda November 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm

1. roasted a 99cent/lb. chicken
2. boiled the carcass
3.used the stock and left over chicken and vegetables to make Chicken Ala King
4. (not quite as good as Katy) but I only spent 79 cents at St.Vincent de Paul.
5. Stayed home and read the 79cent book


Robin November 3, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Making beef bone broth from veg scraps and grass fed beef bones I buy from the ranch.

Made our wheat sandwich bread.

Reading free books on my iPad.

Downloaded free games for my son’s ipad – and they’re fun ones!

Making most of our meals this week using what we already have.


Trish November 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Katy – I remember when you first posted about the pork loin, and using your meat slicer to slice it – was interested in what kind of meat slicer you have. My husband wont eat deli meat ( I don’t know!), so I often buy hams to cook and send that meat on sandwiches for lunch. would love to have a meat slicer to cut up meat for sandwiches more efficiently. Anyone have any comments about affordable meat slicers? The only ones I can envision are the commercial types, at delis, and they can’t be cheap!!


Katy November 3, 2014 at 6:39 pm

My husband bought ours at Costco years ago, and I begged him to return it as it was not cheap and uses up a tremendous amount of storage space. I don’t remember how much he paid.


Trish November 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Well, to make you feel better, I will tell you the story of our air compressor. When we first moved to our old farmhouse, the previous owners (the famers) had left their seriously old air compressor. It worked ok. The family that now farm the ground around our house would use it from time to time, when they needed it for their very expensive, money making farm equipment. The air compressor eventually died, and my husband felt that our property was not complete without one. So he bought one at the local farm supply store. It is huge, and was expensive. We have used it to blow up air mattresses when guests come to stay. and other things that could not possibly be blown up without the aid of an air compressor, like bike tires, and wheel barrow tires. But!!!! I have learnt just tonite that I may be able to resuscitate an old aerosol can using our air compressor. yay!!!


halle November 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm

My first time posting five frugal things
1. Packed lunch vs buying
2. ate yummy leftovers from meal out yesterday
3. bought organic chicken legs and organic giant carrots yesterday at Grocery Outler
4. Making chicken soup in the crockpot right now with 3.
5. Picked up some lip balm stocking stuffers (on sale) Buy stuff all year…

Was not frugal with my smiles or good mood on this rainy day.


Katy November 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Thanks for sharing!


Christine November 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I used up the last of the sour cream in tonight’s mashed potatoes. And the wilted green onions were looking pretty rigid again after sitting in the fridge in a bowl of water – nice and crunchy, too!


Lauren November 3, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Ooh I have 6 this week 🙂

1. Bought some kids stocking stuffers on sale (almost finished the stockings)!
2. Shopped at 2 supermarkets over the weekend in order to take advantage of sales.
3. Was shouted a movie and tea from my parents as a celebration for finishing up my first year of uni.
4. Was given some strawberries, eggs and silver beet from mum.
5. The kids and I went for cheap Tuesday hair cuts (our hairdresser also does free fringe trims between cuts which is a bonus)!
6. Free lunch at work- a yummy ham and salad roll.


Katy November 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

Congratulations on finishing your first year of University! One done, three to go!


Kathleen November 4, 2014 at 4:39 am

A few frugal things and one not…

1. We had a birthday party for my daughter this weekend. I made all the food including the cake. My husband scored free balloons at work leftover from an event.

2. I am taking the bus to a new grocery store tomorrow. It is much cheaper than our usual grocery store.

3. I am going to try making traditional baked beans to see if my younger daughter can digest them. She’s allergic to dairy, eggs, and has a hard time with soy. Right now we eat much more meat than I would like. If she can handle slow cooked beans, we can eat a few vegan meals a week, which would be so much cheaper.

And the one non-frugal thing…. My older daughter started preschool this week. Preschool is not cheap here. So we will be looking for a few more frugal practices to help offset this non-frugal expense,


Katy November 4, 2014 at 9:26 am

Good luck with the homemade baked beans for your daughter!


Diane November 4, 2014 at 5:08 am

Basically staying out of stores except for my weekly grocery shopping. Also, eating mostly a plant based diet now, so my bill is lower.


Jennifer Davis November 4, 2014 at 5:17 am

For anyone that lives in the Baltimore/DC area, there is a great place called “The Book Thing” in Baltimore. Free books!!!! And they take donations. The only rule is that you can’t resell the books. I usually go up with 3 or 4 boxes of books to donate, and come back with 1/2 box. They have lots of fiction and non-fiction, and they do have some magazines and books in other languages. You don’t have to donate to take books. If you go now, though, wear your coat. LOL. The location is not heated.


JD November 4, 2014 at 7:43 am

1. We went to grocery stores after an eye appt. yesterday — it was getting close to supper time, but instead of eating out or buying high-priced snacks while shopping, we picked up one container of veggie rolls with Thai sauce from the deli for $3.99, ate most of it, and I packed the rest in my lunch for a snack today. We ate a few leftovers when we got home as the rest of our meal.
2. While I was getting my eyes checked, my slowly-learning-to-be-frugal husband wandered to the Goodwill next door and scored a like new glider chair, no damage, excellent upholstery, to put in that blank spot in our living room. He loves gliders and rockers, and paid $35 for this one. We’ve seen similar chairs for $500.00 in a local furniture store.
3. I bought a year’s worth of contacts, making me eligible to get the $35.00 back refund on top of the volume discount. I’ve done this before, and they send a gift card usable anywhere. I also got free shipping direct to my home for buying a year at a time (important, since picking them up requires an hour’s drive to the doctor’s office or one pays an $8.00 shipping charge to one’s house).
4. Used my husband’s veteran’s discount at the grocery store. Ten per cent off.
5. It was 30 degrees yesterday morning and 33 the morning before, but we are playing a game of toughing it out, since the weather here in North Florida warms up pretty well on a sunny day, even in winter, usually. It ended up reaching 70 outside yesterday, so our furnace has been and still is OFF. We’ll break down eventually and turn it on, but for now, we wear warm clothes inside and keep active. It’s actually not that bad. This is a big change from last year, when my husband used to wear a single layer of lightweight clothes in the winter and complain about being cold.
6. Bonus; we had looked for a new part for a special hose end sprayer at a garden store while in town recently. We asked an employee if they sold just the parts to the sprayer, and she told us the sprayers had a lifetime guarantee. We brought our broken one in yesterday, and they handed us a brand new one, no questions or paperwork. Another employee was giving away hot peppers she grew, one being a hot pepper my husband was dying to get, but the seeds are rare and quite expensive. She gave him two dried peppers, which will give us several seeds to start with. You can be sure he will give seeds away as well, when he harvests them from the plants he will grow.


Katy November 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

Hooray for husbands who see the light!


Paige November 4, 2014 at 7:43 am

A few frugal things
1. Saturday I put a deposit down on a small building to rent to go back to teaching private dance, music, and pageant lessons. It will also be used for jam sessions for me and my fellow musicians that can’t do regular gigs anymore due to job and family obligations. We can still play and jam together and they will be donating to rent and utility bills to keep it available.
2. I also went junkin with my best friend and we found some curb side treasures! Older furniture pieces we cleaned up and painted that I can use in the studio! We also scored several sturdy pallets. She’s cutting up the pallet wood to use for crafts and for items to sell in the shop she’s opening. She’s going back into small business and I’m excited to help keep it frugal Baby!!!
3. The night shift dispatchers cooked last night and brought taco soup and cornbread to work for themselves and their officers. They had a lot left over so they left it for us on dayshift today. FREE LUNCH SCORE!!!!


Katy November 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

I love your list!!!!


Paige November 5, 2014 at 10:06 am

Just wanted to give this update cause I’m pretty excited about it.
The lunch that was left for us on day shift yesterday by the midnight dispatchers…well I was cleaning the containers for them today and realized that the cornbread was still good and there was 3/4 of a container left. So I put it in a container to take home! PLUS….the container the taco soup was in is a disposable container that the girl who brought it said could be thrown away…so I emptied that container, washed it and put the cornbread in it!!!
We LOVE cornbread at will either snack on this for the next couple days or include it in a meal. FRUGAL TREAT!!!!


K D November 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

1. This morning I made black bean soup for my lunches this week. I soaked the beans so they were cheap (and not laden with salt and preservatives.).

2. My husband will be spending a couple of nights in a DC area hotel, for work, this week. He only gets so much per day for meals so he packed his breakfast, snacks, and some water bottles. Both cheaper and healthier.

3. This afternoon the family will attend an original play at a local university, there is no admission fee.

4. I am collecting for a group baby gift. We will give an American Express gift card. There will be no activation fee because I will order it through the Scrip program at a local school (they’ll earn a small rebate and I’ll pay face value).

5. There have been great clearance prices at a store near our home. I have scored items for Christmas gifts for pennies on the dollar.


Betsey November 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Love this post. It reminds me that there are more people like me out there.
1. My mom is in adult underpants now for incontinence. I paid $40 for her first month’s supply at the grocery store. I thought there had to be something cheaper, so I went to the dollar store and found a month’s supply for $20. I get a coupon there for $5 off my next purchase, so now I am at $15.
2. I quit a Bible study I was not enjoying that was a 10 mile round trip.
3. I think that the most important frugal thing that you can do is teach yourself new skills. I signed up for a free class in pressure cooking/canning and one in gardening at our local county extension office.
4. I put 3 books on the reserve list at the library.
5. I found that my supplemental insurance pays for a health club membership, so I signed up for aqua aerobics. I cannot wait. I just need to find a frugal swimming suit.


Kale November 5, 2014 at 8:31 am

1. Switched my chequing account to one that is one dollar less in fees and learned more about constitutes a charge. Kicking myself for not doing it sooner.
2. Scored a free lunch at work yesterday, so my homemade lunch got leapfrogged to today.
3. We’ve been doing really making dinner from what we have at home already
4. I purchase a litre at a time of homemade yogurt from my neighbour across the hall. I probably could find cheaper yogurt in the grocery store but I love that his is homemade with all the probiotics still in tact AND I’m supporting my neighbour.
5. I’ve made a list of items I need but am strictly sticking to thrift stores to find them, I’m about half way through.


local Joe November 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm

you forgot to say here that you didn’t buy a Lear Jet! ha ha


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