Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 9, 2023 · 63 comments

  1. My husband and I bought a used propane barbecue grill in “excellent condition” from a friend for only $50. The problem is that it was not excellent in any way, shape or form. Of course, we didn’t realize this until we schlepped it home in the back of our minivan. It required all new interior replacement parts, plus my husband had to grind off the inside rust and repaint it with high heat spray paint. In all, I think we spent $50, plus hours of work to bring it back to life.

    We’ve decided to believe that my husband’s friend was unaware of the condition issues. Not worth losing a friendship.

    Then . . . my husband went to a baseball picnic a few days later and was gifted a free propane griddle in actual excellent condition. Sure it needed a good scrubbing and the purchase of a $27 cover, but we’ve already used it a couple of times!

    Odd coincidence, but we feel like it all balanced out.

  2. My one wish before I left Nebraska last week was to get my tuchus into an Aldi and see if it lived up to the hype. We do have Trader Joe’s here in Portland, (same owner) but Aldi has yet to expand into the Pacific Northwest. My goal was to grab travel snacks for the day and Aldi did not disappoint. In all I spent $21.56 with tax, which included chocolate bars to gift and a 99¢ reusable grocery bag to keep as a practical souvenir.

    I wandered the aisles to satisfy my curiosity and saw a number of items I would’ve been happy to purchase, had I been actual “grocery shopping.” I was impressed with 59¢ avocados and $1.89 pineapples, but was surprised that very few items (if any?) were branded with the “Aldi” name. I guess I assumed that it would be like Trader Joe’s where almost everything is their own brand.

    Certainly a unique shopping experience, I appreciated the low prices and no frills vibe, but the merchandise seemed pretty random. I’d be curious to get your opinion on how you incorporate Aldi into your shopping.

  3. I noticed that we had a free week of Starz TV through our Comcast streaming box, which comes with our internet service. I looked through to see if there was anything of interest. I came across the reboot of Party Down and motored through the six new episodes. (So good!) I’m also going to try to get my husband to watch The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent with me before this free week deal evaporates.

  4. • My daughter brought me a dented can of Annie’s split pea soup, a bag of new potatoes, an avocado and a dented can of fancy cat food from her work.
    • I found two quarters (one from an Aldi cart!) and a penny while traveling to Nebraska.
    • I sold a curb picked Kitchenaid mixer for $120.
    • I sold a thrifted fiber art wall hanging for $225.
    • My fabric suitcase got nasty level filthy in the airplane’s baggage hold and I took the opportunity to scrub it down in the bathtub. I imagine someone else would’ve used it as an opportunity to buy a new suitcase. Mind you, I pulled it from a literal Goodwill dumpster, so I have to see if I can make it last forever.
    • My husband has been excited to use his new outdoor griddle, but doesn’t possess any my frugal grocery skillz. This means that I commandeered and returned a $9.50 bottle of tamari sauce before he got a chance to open it. Especially as we already had two unopened bottles of $4.50 gluten-free soy sauce!
    • I came home from Nebraska with a wicked cold and used a free Covid test to make sure it wasn’t more serious.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey Goodwin June 9, 2023 at 2:12 pm

I have also used travels outside of our home in Northern California to test out Aldi! I’ve found it similar to Grocery Outlet, with a bit more quirk-factor. I do shop our local GO regularly, and find I save the most (vs Costco, TJ’s, and Safeway) by going there first.


Juhli June 9, 2023 at 2:28 pm

We haven’t been in an Aldi but after moving two months ago find that Grocery Outlet is a bit random but really worth a stop before our main shopping at Trader Joe’s where we can be fairly sure to find what we want. Occasional forays to Target, Safeway or Amazon fill in the few things we can’t find at our main two stores. Where we live now has significantly higher grocery prices than our previous location so it took a bit of trial and error to cut down on the costs. I’ve also accepted food through Buy Nothing if someone seemingly needier doesn’t ask for it. The Farmers markets near us are fun but not for steady frugal shopping. Still to try are the local organic food store and restaurant plus a recommended Asian food store and a small neighborhood Italian market.


Kathy G June 9, 2023 at 2:32 pm

I shopped almost exclusively at Aldi when I was feeding three teenage boys. Shortly after the last one flew the next our diet changed to ‘vegan-ish’ (no meat, heavy on plant-based ingredients), and Aldi became more of an afterthought. I still do stock-up shopping there, though.


mary in maryland June 9, 2023 at 2:34 pm

We use Aldi’s mainly for nuts. I haven’t been impressed with their produce. Their house brands are not named “Aldi” because they share it with Lidl. Tuscan Garden, L’Oven Fresh, etc
1. For 18 years I’ve had complex plans for making the windows on the hot sides of the house reflective—rigid frames, mylar, etc. Last week I scored ten of those metallic insulated grocery bags on Buy Nothing. I started to make a full covering for the first window. Lost interest after the first one and just plunked the bags in the other windows and held them in place with the curtains—and the upper level is noticeably cooler. Getting started on a project is magic.
2. Bought service for 12 of everyday dishes in 1979 (present Mary is grateful that young Mary passed on china and crystal). The bowls have seen daily use—only eight left. The twelve dinner plates are nearly brand new. What was I thinking? I hate big parties. And I always serve soup, sandwiches, and apple crisp to guests. (Nobody complains.)
3. I thought of selling the plates, six cups and saucers, and the two serving platters to a replacement place. Turns out they pay almost nothing. Probably not enough to cover my shipping costs. If I donate them, I’ll have a whole box less to move when the time comes.
4. We have sriracha, sambal olek, and Thai chili paste in the fridge. Decided to treat myself to harissa a couple of years ago. I never use it. Last night I scooped the rest of it into the sambal olek jar. It will be the only hot sauce I use until it’s gone.
5. Scored twenty of those covers for washing machine outflow via Buy Nothing. They have gotten shockingly expensive.
6. I’ve moved 538 items out of my house since 5/30. It’s getting harder to find things, but I’m still looking for things we don’t use. My wedding dress—cobalt blue and drenched in sequins for only $40—is going back to Value Village after fifteen years and four uses.


Anne June 10, 2023 at 7:36 am

No. 6, I did understand what you meant, but I had a hilarious moment when I visualized you wearing the beautiful dress each time you got married.


mary in maryland June 10, 2023 at 10:03 am

Second wedding only. 2008. The one I wore in 1979 depressed me every time I opened the closet door. (Just a trigger–the ex was the actual depressant.) I took it to a consignment shop. It didn’t sell in 90 days, but I was so much happier with it out of the house that I let them have it.


Ecoteri June 10, 2023 at 9:52 pm

@mary in maryland, I have tried and tried to imagine but cannot figure out what ‘washing machine outflow covers’ are, and therefor why anyone would need 20. and why they are expensive (since I don’t know what they are). Care to wisen me up? Thanks!


mary in maryland June 11, 2023 at 12:17 pm

My washing machine has a hose of 2 inches in diameter that discharges used machine water into my utility sink. This discharge has lint (and the occasional shredded kleenex) that would quickly clog the utility sink drain. The cover is a metal mesh sock that fits over the end of the hose and is secured with a zip tie. The little sock traps most of the lint that comes out of the washing machine thus sparing us frequent sink clogs. I have no idea why they now cost $2 apiece.


Mati June 11, 2023 at 11:56 pm

We used knotted sections of stocking or layered onion bags for that, but nobody wears stockings now!


Karen B June 9, 2023 at 3:17 pm

Adding to Mary’s comment above about Aldi brands, they have a gluten-free line called LiveGFree. I’ve liked almost everything I’ve tried from it. I’m not fond of the bread (it doesn’t hold together and sticks to my fingers unless toasted) or the key lime cake mix that I think was a seasonal offering and I haven’t seen since, but everything else in the LiveGFree line that I’ve tried I’ve liked.

The last couple weeks have not been very frugal for me. I’m recovering from a medical issue that greatly decreased my time on my feet and led to take out a couple times. However, I’m finally on the mend after 3 appointments and switching medicine, so I’ve again been able to do 2 of my favorite things, walk our dogs through a lovely nearby park and do a bit of gardening at home.


kathy June 9, 2023 at 3:19 pm

1. I’m not impressed with Aldis. Limited selections
2. Sold 4 items online plus some things at consignment store. $62.50 in my pocket
3. Regifted and mailed a birthday gift
4. Worked my PT job which gives me free beverages and snacks.
5. Utilized pantry, fridge, and freezer for meals this week. Only bought bananas, milk and 1/2 n 1/2


Katy June 9, 2023 at 3:32 pm

Gotta love free food!


Coral Clarke June 9, 2023 at 6:46 pm

Brisbane Australia , I find Aldi 25-30% cheaper than Coles and Woolworths, our 2 other major supermarkets. , mostly own brands.They win a lot of awards, particularly for their cheeses. Don’t stock everything, but I can ( usually) think of a substitute, or change my plan. My only non negotiable buys are Head’n’Shoulders Sensitive, and Heinz Big Red Tomato Soup, I stock up on those when I see them on sale elsewhere.since my main meal plans tend to be protein+ carb+ veg my choices are value based, within that sub set, so I am a flexible shopper!


Anne June 10, 2023 at 7:40 am

I too, find Aldi’s to be too limited. We have a Winco and that is full sized and I do most of my shopping there.


The Prairie Madwoman June 9, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Just spent $304 at Aldi last night! Central Illinois… been shopping at Aldi my whole life! I happen to love their produce and their staples – pasta, cereal, canned fruit. Their meat can be meh at times, but I will pick it up if I don’t want to stop elsewhere. I’m feeding three young adult sons plus hubby and myself, so basically like 32 adults every stinking day (it’s grocery math, people). I wouldn’t be able to afford groceries otherwise. I do use my nearby mom-n-pop for most meat purchases, as they have a butcher. We have a Midwestern chain called Hy-Vee (actually two of them in our town), but they’re significantly higher on staples than Aldi, and much bigger which gives me a headache. I also am not a fan of stopping in a place for “deals of the day” which is Hy-Vee’s schtick. So yeah, Aldi for the win!


Katy June 9, 2023 at 3:32 pm

My husband and I just shopped at a Hy-Vee in Nebraska a few days ago, although it was to pick up beer and wine for a family dinner.


Joanie Ruppel June 9, 2023 at 3:35 pm

Hi Katie, I enjoy your newsletter and have picked up many tips, so thank you. I shop at Aldi regularly and enjoy most of their products with the exception of off-brand name canned goods (which I hardly buy regularly anyway), boxed items like coucous, and standard frozen goods. The prices are definitely cheaper than other grocery stores. My son lives in Germany so on the last visit, I made them take me to Aldi. It was a two-story version! I saw many of the same products I see right here in the DFW area of Texas.


Kate June 9, 2023 at 4:30 pm

I do almost all my shopping at Aldi except for some meats and a few other random items. They have great prices and are consistently cheaper than the grocery stores in my area. I do remember the first time I went in that I wasn’t sure. The store brands are great and they have a Twice is Nice guarantee on a lot of things. I much prefer Aldi over Trader Joe’s.


Claudia June 17, 2023 at 10:14 am

Hi, Katy—How did you find out about Comcast’s free week of Starz? There’s a series I’d love to watch.
Comcast is going to stop carrying the PeacockPlus network as of June 23 unless you subscribe, but “gig speed” internet customers get an extra 2 years free. I’m currently enjoying “Swedish Death Cleaning.”


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:33 am

We have a Comcast streaming box for our upstairs TV and it always shows what’s “Free” that week. it’s usually some obscure channel that wouldn’t hold my interest.


Christine June 9, 2023 at 4:37 pm

I live in New England which is home to many Aldis but my house is about 15 miles either way from the nearest two. I only go there if I’m passing by one. Good prices but not worth a special trip. Market Basket ( a Massachusetts and nearby states gem) has excellent prices and is only six miles away.
1. I found two pennies.
2. I needed 3 greeting cards and bought them at the dollar store (now $1.25 store) where they are still 2/$1.
3. I planted some free wildflower seeds in my garden. It will be interesting to see if they come up and what they’ll be.
4. I wore a thrifted .99 dress to a high school graduation. No compliments or criticisms. It made me realize the only one who cares about what I’m wearing is me and I shouldn’t stress over how I look.
5. A friend recently returned home after a hospital stay and is still not feeling %100. I was going to take her a meal and after first thinking I would bring her a restaurant pizza decided I would make her a pot of Boston Baked Beans and Keilbasa (instead of Hotdogs). She told me again and again how much she loved it. It should stretch for a few meals for her.


Katy June 9, 2023 at 4:44 pm

Your #4 is a very freeing realization that some people never get to. I realized this a few years ago when I was stressing over what to wear to a family wedding. I realized that no one cares what the bride’s mother’s random cousin is wearing! As I said, very freeing!


Coral Clarke June 9, 2023 at 6:51 pm

Confirming the “ no-one notices”, I used to work in a 7 person office, and asked the three lunching what the missing three were wearing that day!On their return we discovered that they would have had to come to work naked to make an impression! It was Avery freeing revelation!


Katy June 9, 2023 at 6:57 pm

I love this!


JMyers June 9, 2023 at 4:44 pm

Longtime reader, first time commenter! Also a longtime Aldi shopper! They have the same basics all the time & then just random stuff each week. There is a hilarious fb page called “aisle of shame” which is what regulars call the 2 random aisles, and they rate stuff. “Grab the ramen bowl this week.” One small tip, if there is a “free” quarter, you don’t take it. People specifically leave them for other shoppers who forget or don’t have a quarter. Its a very pay it forward system that restores my faith in humanity. Keep up the good work, you’ve made me buy more secondhand & made me a better human!


Katy June 9, 2023 at 5:00 pm

I tried to give my quarter to a shopper, but there was no one in the parking lot. I guess I should have left it in the cart. Live and learn . . .


Jmyers June 9, 2023 at 5:06 pm

Gotcha! I’m sorry. I thought you meant you found an extra quarter someone left in the connected carts.


Katy June 9, 2023 at 6:59 pm

No, a man gave me his cart when we were about to put a quarter in for our own cart. Then there was no one there to pay it forward to when we were done shopping. I suppose I could have just left the cart.


Vickey June 17, 2023 at 3:52 pm

It was seeing a young mother struggle with holding a young child and keeping her toddler nearby all while fishing in her bag for a quarter that prompted me to start leaving my returned carts unconnected. And I do love the small joys people share in passing carts along and declining to take a quarter for it. (Have been on both the giving and receiving end of this.)


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:32 am

That 25¢ was the best gift to that struggling mother!


Selena June 9, 2023 at 6:48 pm

We have Aldi in our area (have for a long, long time now that I think about it). That being said, we hardly ever shop there, I best describe their wares it as eclectic. Besides milk, half-n-half, and orange juice, better half rarely shops at Walmart either. While the store may consistently carry brands (besides “great” value – what a misnomer) , size and/or flavor choices are usually limited.


Sabine June 9, 2023 at 10:31 pm

We live in Germany where Aldi started many years ago.

Here almost all the products are Aldi own brands, but it never actually write Aldi on the packaging. They basically invented brands for the different categories, e.g. Choceur for chocolates, Milsani for milk products and Cucina Nobile for pasta.

They also have an organic version of almost everything and claim to be the largest organic shop in Germany now.

We do 90% of our shopping at Aldi. It is super efficient as I know what stock they carry and where to find it. On my way home a stop at a normal supermarket, where I buy the few things I don’t get at Aldi.

I can’t tell how much money it saves us, but I assume it is quite a lot.


Vickey July 5, 2023 at 4:27 pm

Your Aldis sound lovely! Our local Aldi has increasingly few selections in the way of organics.


Jill A June 10, 2023 at 3:17 am

I shop at Aldi all the time. I buy most of my staple items there and occasionally make a trip to Meijer and Costco to pick up specific items that I can’t find or prefer to buy there. Their produce can be hit or miss. Their marinated cilantro lime chicken in the fresh meat area is wonderful. The frozen chicken patties in the red bag are really good too.
1. I’m painting the trim on my house myself. I won’t be able to paint all of it so I will probably need to hire the rest done but doing the lower level windows and doors myself should be a money saver.
2. I found a full quart of outdoor paint that matches my garage service doors that are looking very shabby now that the trim is looking fresh and new. The paint is 20 years old but when I mixed it up it was perfect so that is a savings of $30.
3. I left some wildflowers/weeds that seeded themselves in my landscaping to grow. I’m also allowing the ornamental grasses to spread where ever they want. Free plants and they will hopefully decrease the amount of weeding I have to do.
4. I pre-purchased my propane for the year. This gives me a discount and since propane was much more expensive last year and I only used about half of what I had purchased I had a large credit left over.
5. I’m reading library books on my kindle. I just finished Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano. It was excellent.


Joyce Forbush June 13, 2023 at 4:54 am

Try their frozen meatless meat balls and the pkgs of dirty rice. I’ve made the dirty rice without meat and it is fine. My Cajun husband likes it! Oh, and the ice cream cones with the rose shaped tops!
I always plan a stock up for Aldi, except for peanut butter…we only by the peanuts and salt type.
The dog biscuits are well priced and the canned dog food is liked as well as the chicken cat food. Kitty litter is cheap., but I hate the plastic container.
Baking items are a bargain.
I’m an Aldi fan!


Vickey July 5, 2023 at 4:24 pm

Thanks for the heads-up re the meatless meat balls. We’ll check them out for the next time we have family visiting.
Otherwise, it’s mostly bulk-purchased batch-cooked dry-beans in the Instant Pot, or also bulk-purchased tofu or tempeh in the air-fryer here. Good for the budget, bodies, animals, and planet. 😀


Jeanine June 10, 2023 at 3:24 am

The announcement came Thursday we are getting an Aldi in the town I work in, and I cannot possibly be more excited.


rebecca June 10, 2023 at 5:44 am

I like Aldi for some things like their cheese, chocolate, organic zucchini, salad greens and spinach and L’Oven products.
1. I had 20% off at valvoline .
2. I had a potluck for a former supervisor at work. I made a quiche and a cake all from ingredients on hand. Nice to have some leftovers from others too.
3. I had to buy somethings at CVS and got 50% off with coupons ect.
4. My peonies were gorgeous. I cut some for the potluck and cut some for my mom and some neighbors.
5. I shared leftover cake with my neighbor.


jannine June 10, 2023 at 6:22 am

Aldi – shop there occasionally -sometimes good bargains, other times competitive prices. Stores are usually of a compact size so easy to make a quick run for a few items.
1. Son treated us to dinner out. Dad has helped him in dealing with contractors for home repairs and with the purchase of a new car.
2. Found a sale on cold cuts. Asked to contribute a cold meat and cheese platter to a picnic fundraiser for a local charity.
3. Cleaned out my office area and found a $20 bill behind the desk.
4. Taking stock of wardrobe – bought new shoe polish to shine up last year’s sandals etc.
5. No expensive trips on this month’s schedule. We live in aa beautiful state and hope to take advantage of local parks and activities. Attending a free concert in a nearby park next week.


JC June 10, 2023 at 8:19 am

I love our Aldi’s ! I buy most everything there except: Stone fruits, pork and beans and we don’t care for their cottage cheese.
I think a lot depends on what you buy/eat on the regular.
1. made buttermilk biscuits because some times you just need a fresh biscuit! I bake them in the toaster oven and refrigerate the leftovers. Works great.
2. line drying all laundry, no rain and low humidity , they dry fast!
3. made meat sauce for taco salad, heating as needed in the microware.
4. groomed and bathed my elderly dog, so much cheaper and he doesn’t like to travel so he was only upset about the bath, not the journey also.
5. all meals from home, one of the best was marked down Italian sausage links with a pepper and onion from the markdown rack along with a jar of spaghetti sauce from the pantry. All tossed into the crockpot and serve yourself!


Ashley Bananas June 10, 2023 at 8:26 am

Dear Katy, I find that the brands that are Aldi house brands dont necessarily say Aldi on them but have other names like Burman’s condiments, Chococeur chocolate – I’ve never found elsewhere and believe it’s Aldi brand, try their peanut butter cups next time you’re there, I’m a convert from Reese’s lol. Anyway, I think their house brands are subtle in marketing without the store name on them. And yes, they don’t have everything you would find at a regular grocery store but they have a lot of things. Weird pay it forward or be nice thing some people do is leave the quarter in the cart as a gift for the next person. I totally love Aldi, especially when they mark down meat, dairy, and sometimes produce. Their deals are amazing when you find them.

1. My son and I went to Costco and he suggested I not buy too many things in bulk before we go on a vacation in a week or so. Yes, my child has become my voice of reason. I must have done something right. 😉
2. Thanks to my side gig Door Dash, I was able to pay an extra $500 off of a credit card bill that I have been bringing down slow and steady every week. It may go back up again due to our upcoming trip, but I am thankful I was able to bring it down a significant amount due to this extra income.
3. My oldest cat BooBoo has gone over three weeks without having a thoracentesis. I brought him in on Friday for a vet visit and the vet said his lungs did not sound like they had a great amount of liquid, to keep him on the diuretic medication, and bring him in if anything changed. I have a feeling he had an undetected injury causing the liquid on his lungs. Thank God I didn’t put this baby down! However, the doctor still believes he has suspicious marks on his lungs that indicate he likely does have lung cancer.
4. We continue to eat in and pack lunches. It has gotten a bit tedious, but food is easy to bring down costs when you shop smart and prepare food at home. Last night I made pancakes and we did breakfast for supper. My son had pancakes, bacon, and peaches. I also bought a Costco chicken and we will be eating chicken for quite a while. Less mess in the kitchen as well.
5. My son and I took some time before dark one night to work on the yard together. He mowed and I swept and edged the driveway, as well as weed whacked and edged a few other areas. We save a lot of money on lawn care and also get a sense of accomplishment doing this together. The yard always looks better and it feels nice.
6. I participated in an online auction group this past week and was able to sell several clothing items I have been wanting to get rid of including items new with or without tags. One item in particular were bras….new bras, name brand, super expensive. I made about $90 dollars total from the sale of the items. These were all things I had tried to sell at second hand stores that weren’t interested in them. Total win for me. I am two lbs away from having lost 100 lbs total in the last year. I never thought clothing management would be such a task, but I am happy to take it on.

Have a great week!!!


Katy June 10, 2023 at 4:15 pm

I love the creativity of your frugal five!


Christine June 10, 2023 at 5:46 pm

Congratulations on your impressive weight loss!


Vickey July 5, 2023 at 4:30 pm

What Christine said. 🙂


Karen B June 10, 2023 at 12:07 pm

I already commented above, but I’ve got to brag on my hubby’s fix-it skills. 🙂 A few years ago he bought a used snowblower/riding mower combo. He picked a model that he had worked on the engine before and would already have a head start on knowing how to fix when something went wrong. The clutch went bad. The replacement part was $400 (not even including any labor), but he was able to replace a small portion of it to repair it, for only $13!


Katy June 10, 2023 at 4:13 pm

Your husband is this week’s frugal winner!


Rachel June 10, 2023 at 12:11 pm

Aldi and Trader Joes’s are not now nor have they ever been related. Aldi is German and Trader Joes’s started on the west coast of the US.


Katy June 10, 2023 at 3:39 pm

Here’s what it says on the web page:

“Trader Joe’s is owned by families that also own part of Aldi Nord. Trader Joe’s and Aldi Nord operate independently.”

But it also says:

“Trader Joe’s has no business or ownership relationship with Aldi Sud (including Aldi U.S.)”

So . . . yes and no?!


mary in maryland June 11, 2023 at 12:19 pm

In the book–The Secret Life of Groceries–Trader Joe’s family sold their business to Aldi’s.


Alison E June 12, 2023 at 6:31 pm

Here are the deets:

“Distant cousins” is the right comparison.

I adore Aldi but it had to grow on me over time because it is a little odd. I buy most things there now except for (1) Unique TJs things (2) special vegan things I can only find elsewhere and (3) farmers market produce in the summer. Aldi had many brands unique to them but they are never called Aldi. You get to know them as you go more. Clancy’s makes the best cheap snacks that taste way better than the comparable name brand.


Ava June 10, 2023 at 3:09 pm

We like Aldi for cheap cage free eggs, dairy, including great cheeses we have not found anywhere else, honey, agave syrup, detergents, dog treats, bagged salads and some produce. I will buy hard fruits and vegetables like carrots, peppers, cabbage, apples. Things like cucumbers, onions, and berries are likely to go bad before we finish them. My husband says the Aldi trucks pull up to other grocery stores and the driver shouts “Bring out your dead!”


Katy June 10, 2023 at 4:12 pm

I like your husband’s sense of humor!


Jennifer June 10, 2023 at 4:33 pm

I’m sorry to hear about your uncle Katy!

1. We completely redid a small flower bed around the mailbox, digging everything out, adding weed barrier I had in the garage, filling with $2 a bag top soil and adding the cheapest flowers I could find at Lowes. For $18 and 3 hours of hard work, I have a completely new, adorable flower bed.

2. dh was out of town grading AP papers. They pay all travel expenses including what you ate on your travel days. They reimburse mileage, parking, and 1 dinner out, while providing all other food. Everyday they had free snacks sitting out – of which he grabbed his share and brought home – as the 3 meals a day are very large and he was never hungry there for a snack.

3. Bonus to above I did not have to feed him all week lol. It was my birthday week so I got taken out to dinner by my kids, I scrounged in the fridge for random dinners and I cooked once and ate leftovers 2 other nights.

4. I realized we were about out of jam so I hit up Costco for cheap fruit. I made strawberry vanilla jam and mango raspberry jam – yum! We now have our years supply for under $20 and about 3 hours.

5. I used my birthday reward at Starbucks so I enjoyed a free treat after my hike alone, in which I reflected on the past 50 years.

6. Bonus – it was a very cool week so no AC for us yet.


Lindsey June 10, 2023 at 5:43 pm

1. Someone gave me a rose bush as a gift. Unfortunately, it is red roses and my severely colorblind husband cannot see the flowers, and I am not a big fan of red roses. My neighbor saw the bush and asked me where I got it because she was going to buy some roses for her garden and loved the look of this bush. I gave it to her, since she would love it more. The next day she brought me a yellow rose bush that she bought to replace mine. It is gorgeous. I do wish we didn’t have to keep roses in a planter and drag them indoors for the winter…
2. Found more hedgehog supplies, leftover from our now deceased hedgehog. Sold them for more than I spent on them!
3. Did 3 mystery shops that netted $270 total.
4. We are eating from the freezer, in preparation for our Last Hurrah trip. Bought only milk this week.
5. Made lentil soup from a bag that somehow ended up in our cupboard. I detest lentils and beans but I made it anyway thinking that perhaps my tastes had changed. Turns out I still hate them, so husband had lentil soup for five dinners this week. I made a cheese quiche for myself and ate that for five dinners and one lunch. After day 2, I reminded myself that I would be spending the money I saved eating the same thing every day on restaurants in England and Germany during our Last Hurrah trip.


Katy June 10, 2023 at 6:50 pm

Eating the same thing five nights in a row is a real accomplishment!


RJ June 11, 2023 at 9:15 pm

It was sort of an unspoken thing among Aldi shoppers in the Midwest that we’d leave quarters in carts sometimes to help other shoppers. If you didn’t need the quarter, you could leave it for someone else, or hand it to someone walking in. Just a cheap and cheerful way to be nice.


Ruby June 12, 2023 at 5:19 am

Aldi is the only place i can reliably find frozen whole duck for our Christmas meal, and it’s half the price charged by the other store where it shows up once in a blue moon. The canned tomato products, breads, nuts, oatmeal, baking ingredients, cheese, dairy, and eggs are all delicious and not expensive. Produce can be hit or miss — you need to be ready to consume or freeze it right away. I would shop there a lot more than we do, except that my husband is a picky eater and what he currently likes is not sold there.

My frugal five this week can be summed up as a lot of sewing to alter thrifted clothes, cooking to use up some languishing items (homemade bread into croutons and too ripe blueberries into a double batch of muffins), using up some cleaning supplies that date back original Covid, saving a couple of dollars with store coupons on groceries, and the very minor savings of gassing up my car when the price dropped two cents.


Janelle June 12, 2023 at 4:05 pm

Only here to sing the praises of Aldi!! I am the primary grocery shopper and cook for my family of 8, plus I work full time, and the simplicity of Aldi, the efficiency of shopping there, and the inexpensive prices are crucial for my sanity! At one point, I had my weekly shopping trip (at Aldi only) down to less than 20 minutes in store!


Mary June 12, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Big fan of Aldi! We did most of our grocery shopping at Aldi until we moved to and found WinCo. We buy bulk items (beans, chocolate chips, rice, steel cut oats, pasta,…) at WinCo but prefer other groceries at Aldi. I can’t think of grocery items we can’t get at Aldi, but we do some shopping at Costco (tortilla chips, shelf stable almond milk, certain produce, protein powder,…). If you get something bad at Aldi, they’ll give you your money back and give you a replacement. Aldi’s produce has greatly improved over the years.

As for Aldi brands, I don’t see the “brand” names in other stores. I’d put their pecan sandies up against any… other than ones I make.

Trader Joe’s – I rarely buy anything there. Lots of stuff I don’t need and it’s expensive. Used to buy stocking stuffer food items but that stuff isn’t what I normally buy.


NatalieMBC June 15, 2023 at 5:30 am

I live in northwest Iowa and the closest cheap grocery stores are in Sioux Falls, SD. Aldi is my favorite store to shop at. Love their chocolate’s, cheese, fresh produce, condiments, wine/alcohol selection, meat. The only item I don’t like is their banana peppers.


NatalieMBC June 18, 2023 at 4:05 am

I think the freshness of their produce, meat and dairy items depends on the area in which you live. I have seen others complain about produce and dairy but I have not had any problems from any of the multiple Aldi locations in our area. I can drink milk 2 weeks past the experation date and it’s fine.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:37 am

That’s a fairly obscure item, so I consider this to be a rave review!

P.S. Now I’m craving chocolate.


Claudia June 17, 2023 at 10:10 am

Hi, Katy—How did you find out about Comcast’s free week of Starz? There’s a series I’d love to watch.
Comcast is going to stop carrying the PeacockPlus network as of June 23 unless you subscribe, but “gig speed” internet customers get an extra 2 years free. I’m currently enjoying “Swedish Death Cleaning.”


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