Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 14, 2013 · 39 comments

  • I made black bean chili for dinner last night from dried beans that I cooked in the crock pot. I also included some frozen pinto beans and some leftover refried beans. I bought a third of a pound of bulk sausage meat from New Seasons, as I’ve found that it’s flavorful enough to get away with using just a small amount. The chili was topped with the very last of a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese and saved up tortilla chip crumbs (from three different bags!) which I freshened up on a cookie sheet in the oven for a few minutes.
  • I walked to the grocery store last night for a few miscellaneous items, including celery as I am making The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie recipe for Pi Day. (Today is March 14th, which translates to 3.14 = Pi.) I only needed a small amount of celery, so I got an employee to cut a few ribs from a bunch of celery. I know my family would never eat leftover celery, so this both avoided food waste and saved me money as it’s sold by the pound.
  • I’ve been poring through the Little Green Notebook archives and putting recommended design books on hold at the library. I got an e-mail just this morning that I have four books ready to pick up. Hooray for the guilt-free library!
  • I stopped into Goodwill yesterday as it was close to some errands I was running. I noticed that there were still a few glass sugar packet containers available, and since the color tag was blue, they were half- off! So, for the low, low price of only 49¢, I got one more medicine cabinet organizer for the house. And I also found a dime on the ground. 😀
  • My family is driving up to Seattle this weekend, and although we have to pay for a hotel room, we’ll work to keep it cheap. (I sure do miss my sister for many reasons, but it was awfully nice to always have a free place to stay in Seattle!) We’re sharing the ride with family friends, and the only entertainment I need begins with “Good” and ends with “Will.” My husband and younger son will be cheering on the Portland Timbers soccer team against the arch rival Seattle Sounders, but since that’s about as appealing to me as barefoot day at the dog park, my older son and I will give that part a miss. Plus, I am already registered with Seattle Goodwills as an Oregonian which means I avoid paying sales tax. So yippee!

How about you, what frugal activities have been filling your days? Please share your things in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Marsh March 14, 2013 at 9:11 am

You never cease to amaze me Katy!


Katy March 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

Nothing amazing, just a focus on the creativity of frugality.



alexandra March 14, 2013 at 9:27 am

Good job Katy!
I hit good will yesterday and found 4 heavy duty high quality pint glasses for .39 each! Score!
Then I hit the other goodwill in town (we have 3) and got 4 cut glass (MAYBE lead crystal) martini glasses. $1.49 each SCORE!!!!! Really really nice beautifyl glasses. I am pleased as punch.
I walked to a pilates studio today (45 min walk in sunshine) and got a contact name to suggest a barter for pilates classes. Fingers crossed. My belly needs pilates for bathing suit season.
Got my exercize, saved gas and maybe made a deal.
I feel frugal today.


Mauren March 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

Not sure how frugal it is throwing a St. Pat’s Party for 40 people, but that’s about the size of the family. And in true Irish fashion, it is in rememberance of the dearly departed — my Dad. After a long cold winter it’s the first of family gatherings in a few months (we usually don’t get together for the holdiays).

But bright and early this morning, I did some errands. I went to Kohl’s where I had a $10. gift card, $10. off coupon over $30. and a 20% off coupon. My total came to $35.59, but with the coupons & discount I paid $13.47. Of course all items were sale items because my total savings according to the receipt was $65.53.

Then off to the cable store and returned my DVR box and remote. I am now CABLE FREE!!!!!!!!! Except for the internt, but my company pays for that because I work from home.

I wish I was going shopping with you Katy because come Sunday afternoon, I’ll be the walking dead.


Katie March 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Have fun at your party! Wish I lived close enough to go to my Irish family’s St. Patty’s party on Saturday!


Katie March 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm

…and my condolences on the loss of your dad.


dusty March 15, 2013 at 4:21 am

Thanks for making me remember my dad today. He was born in Ireland, came to the US at 9 years of age, my grandmother stuck him up under her dress at Ellis Island so he wouldn’t have to get any shots!! He used to make St Patty’s Day very special for me every year. He would give me a card and green carnations. My condolences on the loss of your father as well. Have a great party in his memory. HAPPY ST PATTY’S DAY!!


Linda in Indiana March 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

1. Made a Shepherd’s Pie last night using leftover turkey from the night before, gravy made from the broth, veggies leftover from another meal and the mashed potato topping from two nights ago. There is enough leftover for tonight….so I guess we are also celebrating Pi day…although unplanned.
2. Hung up a load of laundry ….save electricity and add humidity to the dry house.
3 Had “from scratch” oatmeal for breakfast. None of those packets for me. I think they are too sweet and no texture.
4 Crocheting scarves while the weather is inclement so I will have gifts made up for special occasions. They will go in my gift drawer so I am ready.
5 Catching up with some friends via email rather than spending the money on a stamp….not lots to say, so will work as well as a letter.


Jan March 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

I’m keeping a diary/list of “What I wanted but didn’t buy” to keep track of my impulses, how I controlled them and how much money I save. It’s a little pat on the back for myself.


Michelle March 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

Which goodwill? I live in seattle, I will meet you there! South lake union is my fave on westlake ave. also can’t beat the gw outlets.


Katy March 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I usually like the main Goodwill, although I think I’ve been to the South Lake one before as well.

Not sure what my schedule will be like though.



Jill March 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm

The Ballard Goodwill is one of the best in Seattle! I highly recommend it.


Katy March 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I have been there, thanks for the reminder!



Sharon March 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

Most excellent, Miss Katy.

I scored at the local Mission thrift shop the other day. However, I discovered why the lovely deep red tablecloth was donated — the dye bleeds. A few scoops of dollar store oxygen bleach in the second wash with my son’s basketball uniform got out the pink tint. heh heh. He was very grateful.

Today, it’s Silver Appreciation Day at my house. All the candlesticks and platters and napkin rings are getting a bath in hot water with baking soda and aluminum foil.

It’s a good day.


Jenny March 14, 2013 at 10:35 am

Instead of chicken pot pie tonight, I’m just making chicken gravy with veggies and a little chicken meat and then baking biscuits to go with it. Then we just take the biscuits and pour the gravy over the top. Like a pie, but less work, and no worry about the crust getting soggy if there’s leftovers.

If you do end up with extra celery that nobody will eat, throw it in the freezer along with the leaves and ends and add it to your next batch of chicken broth. I also do this with carrot ends (not the green tops) and onion skins.

If you don’t make your own chicken broth, you should really give it a try. It is a great frugal activity, turning something that would otherwise be trash (or compost) into something tasty and healthy.


Calico ginger March 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

Oh celery! How often did I throw limp wilted bunches out…

But now I chop it up nice and freeze a soup or shepherd pie’s worth in ziploc bags.

The first time I did it I thought it looked a bit strange (it goes sort of transparent when it’s frozen) but the end result was indistinguishable from using fresh.

So no more celery guilt for me!


Diane March 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

My DH likes celery in his lunches and I frequently found it getting wilty too soon. Discovered that trimming about 1/2″ off the bottom and plunging the whole bunch in ice cold cold water often saves it. If you can find a tall container to fit the celery into and stick the whole thing in the fridge, it stay crisp for a few more days.


ellie March 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

This Pi day is my youngest grandson’s 21st birthday so grandpa and I are celebrating with apple pie made with last falls frozen apple pie mix. Frugal and fun!


Erica March 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I balanced my budget and finally opened a joint checking and savings account for my husband and myself (we’ve been married just a tad over a year now). The account came with $125 once we set up direct deposit and have it open for 6 months!

My a/c is off right now, despite being 95 degrees today. There is a very large fig tree outside shading us so I think that’ll keep the temp down inside. Other than my laptop and fridge, all other electronics are off. I had a cold lunch and will be warming up leftovers for dinner. I have an off-peak plan, so when it’s hot like today I try to be extra careful about using the ac.

I am starting a walk-plan, where anything under a mile and a half to my apartment must be walked to instead of driven to. We have gotten into the habit of using the car way too much, and I am hoping it’ll force us to be more mindful of spending as well.

I am also taking picture of things to sell on Craigslist today. I have a lot of nice, name brand work clothes I don’t need anymore, and some gorgeous vintage items from my petite grandmother. Yay money!


Laura March 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Another celery freezer here. I buy in bulk, cut and freeze. It works wonderful in broths, soups and casseroles.


Linda in Mass March 15, 2013 at 10:28 am

I never realized you could freeze celery! I freeze carrots, onions and peppers but never celery. Thanks so much.


A. Marie March 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Within the last fortnight (look that one up in Jane Austen):

(1) Took three boxes of books to favorite local secondhand-book shop. Shop accepted one box and gave me enough credit for four really good books.

(2) Took remaining two boxes of books plus assorted closet and household cleanout to local Rescue Mission.

(3) Scored big-time at local Salvation Army: Nearly new pair of Merrell light hiking boots in my size, plus seven more books (you can tell I’m the Gutenberg Kid).

(4) Scored big-time at local synagogue’s winter rummage sale: Three pairs of new or nearly new men’s shoes in DH’s size.

(5) Stayed in today because it’s still winter in upstate NY. Hung laundry on indoor racks; did a partial-barter deal with neighbors (four nifty secondhand garments plus some cash for a bale of plant-starter mix); divided some houseplants for future barter purposes.


Bridget March 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I whipped up some chicken salad today with chicken I had in the freezer, left over celery, apples, craisins and mayo. Easy Thursday night meal with croissants.

I also shopped at Aldi today. I always manage to make it out there paying around $40. And I buy snacks, cheese, waffles, and I even snagged some Easter stuff for the kids Easter basket.


Katie March 14, 2013 at 3:16 pm

You get double Pi Day credit for making the PIoneer Woman’s Pot PIe recipe.


Nicole March 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I brought lunch from home all week this week. Yay! Last night I stopped into Goodwill and scored 2 gorgeous tops for $3.98 each. I wore one to work today and got a ton of compliments. Came home this evening and out family put together a mix mash of leftovers for dinner. Oh, I also slugged into work thus morning. Saved me $7 bucks! I’m definitely feeling frugal.


Lilypad March 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Another one of your Seattle area friends chiming in here to say: if a strange woman runs up and hugs you, that’s me :-). I’d recognize you in a heartbeat! I wish I had extra room to host you and your family but we’re saving up to buy a house and thus currently renting a 2 bedroom place without an inch to spare. In fact, I thought I was doing really well this month and could perhaps put an extra $500 or so in the bank, then our elderly cat (the most expensive kitty we’ve ever had) got sick again to the tune of $422.11. Sigh. She’s over the $2000 mark now in the 23 months we’ve had her. Some would say it’s not frugal, but there’s not price to be put on a warm kitty snuggle on a cold day and for the way she greets us at the door when we come home—I can almost see her tapping a watch and saying “where have you BEEN?!
I hope you enjoy your trip, sorry the weather won’t be nice, and good luck to the Timbers (since I’m not a Sounders fan, tee-hee).


Katy March 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I’ll keep that in mind and try not to get too freaked out. Sorry about your cat.



Amanda @ The Scacchi House March 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Why have I never thought to buy just the celery I need? That seems to be what always goes bad. The freezer seems like a good idea too. I’m always learning something new from you!


Katy March 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

And I’m always learning new stuff as well!



Diane March 15, 2013 at 4:15 am

Never even got in the car yesterday….saved on gas and not a cent was spent in stores. Instead…a long phone conversation with a dear friend in a far away city, 2 long walks on the nature preserve trail, 2 projects completed on the porch overlooking the nature preserve and a nice chat with my young professional granddaughter about her life and future plans.

Today I’ll brave the youngsters here for SXSW and walk down S. Congress Ave to listen to all the bands playing are various places…all free! Last year one of the venues was St. Vinny’s parking lot where all the used chairs and couches for sale were lined up as seating in front of the stage for the audience…quite clever.


Tonya March 15, 2013 at 6:35 am

Ooh, it’s warming up here in Denver and so we walked to dinner. It was 2 miles round trip, and we had a nice pizza dinner in between walking, so as not to become too exhausted from said walking. 😉

Returned a few items to the library (on our way to dinner) to avoid late fees. We are the luckiest people on earth, as our library is literally on the corner of our neighborhood, or .4 miles from my house. We go there at least 2 or 3 times weekly.

I packed leftovers for the kids lunches.

I made my own automatic dishwasher detergent using castile soap. It’s lavender scented, and cleans great. I am excited about making something at home with inexpensive ingredients that is also more healthful for the planet.

Helped my daughter make a cherry pie for Pi day. Got cherry goo all over the bottom of my oven (why do I always forget to put the pie on a baking sheet???).


Susan March 15, 2013 at 8:10 am

Some of my recent frugal activities:
I bought ground beef in bulk that was marked down at the grocery store, then separated and froze it in approx 1/2 lb quantities (which is usually the amount we use for a given dinner).
I have been updating my price book, and recently found oatmeal in 42 oz tubs for $0.99 each. With the price book’s help, I knew it was the best price I’d seen in a long time, so I stocked up on 24 of them (might last us a year between granola in the summer and hot oatmeal in the winter for breakfasts). The costs for 1 cup of uncooked oats is about 2 cents, so that’s a really cheap breakfast for us.
I planted several yogurt tubs with basil seeds. When they get big, I will sell these for 50 cents each to friends and neighbors to offset the cost of potting soil and seeds for my own veggie garden this year. The tubs are free (I collected them all winter long), and the amount of potting soil and seeds (both bought in bulk) I am using might have set me back a dollar or so, but I will net $10-20 (depending on if it all sells). I will do this with tomatoes and a few other plants soon, too, to hopefully make about $40-50 in the end, which will cover most of my potting soil and seed costs for the year! A virtually free veggie garden (except for my time, the water, and the electricity for the indoor grow light stand when its still cold outside.)


Katy March 15, 2013 at 9:15 am

That is an awesome price for oatmeal!!!!

I would suggest that you stick them in the freezer for a few days before storing them though. Would be a shame to lose them to bugs.



Taylor-Made Ranch March 15, 2013 at 8:13 am

I made 1/2 gallon of yogurt this week, I pulled together a quick quesadilla dinner at home when I had nothing planned (using unsweetened homemade yogurt as low fat sour cream substitute), planted last year’s heirloom seeds in my “indoor greenhouse” for future veggie garden transplanting. <3 it!

~Taylor-Made Ranch~
Wolfe City, TX


Kim Stewart March 15, 2013 at 8:15 am

Made more firestarters for the woodstove. All repurposed materials- dryer lint, egg cartons and a dented pillar candle that came with the Pottery Barn candle holder I got at the GW for $4. This was my third big batch of starters from this same candle which I discovered cost $28 at PB! Chopped it up, put in old canning jar and melted in my candlewarmer.
Also yesterday “hitched” a ride with my husband when he had to do an install for work at a location over 45 miles away. He was going to be driving by where my absolute favorite thrift store is, which is 32 miles away. He dropped me off, went on his way, I shopped totally content and then when he was finished came back and met me. Plus it was 25% off day and I remembered to take my own bags so I saved 15 cents. You got to love thrifts in wealthy DC suburbs…got a pair of Italian leather loafers for $4 which I found online for 110 Euros! Also 2 great books for my teenage boys for their Easter basket. It was a good day!


Katy March 15, 2013 at 9:13 am

Sounds like my kind of day!


emmer March 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm

here are two ways to extend the life of celery.
#1. wrap the whole thing in a wet kitchen towel or cotton cleaning cloth. place in veg drawer in frig. keep that towel dampened. the celery will last a lot longer.
#2. place your cut stalks of celery upright in a tall drinking glass. then fill the glass about 1/3 full of water. keep in frig.

you can do these saves with several kinds of produce. in the case of herbs like thyme or oregano, you can put the glass in a cool, north-facing window. you may be pleasantly surprised when some of the stems take root and you have a new plant. pot up and gradually move to about 1/2 day sun–inside or out. bring in when winter threatens serious frost to continue using snips of the herbs, or allow to die back and welcome your free plant again in spring.


Heidi March 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

1. Most (maybe all??) of my HS Junior daughter’s peers parents have paid $800 and up (seriously) for their kids to take SAT prep courses (Kaplan, for example). I know that is not necessary. I paid about $50 for a few SAT review books from amazon for my daughter (it was actually more like $25 because I had some swagbucks money banked), and she is doing just fine on her own. She’s taken two full length practice tests at home, we timed them, and we’re happy with her scores, they will get her into a good school. I’m betting that her scores will be better than the kids whose parents shelled out big bucks, because she is motivated to work hard on her own.
2. Yesterday I had a full day of errands including two mystery shops, a bank and a grocery store on my route, which earned me $65. I spent about $30 in the grocery store, so I came home with a profit. I was really beat and was tempted to squander some of my profit on a nice starbucks latte, but instead…
3. I came home and made a fabulous sandwich with a club roll (day-old bakery, manager special, a bag of 6 rolls was 84 cents), leftover pork ($0.79/lb, try pork shoulder in the crockpot if you’ve never done it before), and I fished some lettuce and tomato out of last night’s salad. Deeelicious.
4. Land O Lakes butter is on sale for $1.99 at my grocery store this week. I have several $1 coupons. A dollar for a pound of butter, can’t beat that. They freeze well.
5. It’s been a while since I added any frugal changes to my household, I feel like I’ve done ’em all, but I’m nearly out of sponges, which are not cheap. My grandmother always did her dishes with a dishrag, so I’ll start doing that now. It will be cleaner, since I can throw them in with the laundry, greener, since I won’t be throwing out sponges, and cheaper, since I don’t need to buy new sponges.


JaneUlness March 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I get micro fiber rags at Costco in the automotive section. They are supposed to kill germs just but their friction. LOL I still use disinfectant. They come in bulk. But you could share with friends or family!


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