Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 26, 2023 · 34 comments

I know it’s only been a day since my last “Five Frugal Things” blog post, but yesterday leaned heavily into impressively frugal which warrants a bonus blog post!

  1. I took two wrinkly apples and an assortment of bruised windfall apples from a neighbor’s tree and assembled an impromptu oatmeal apple crisp. I topped it with Haagen Dazs ice cream, ($1.97 from Safeway) and served a delicious weeknight dessert for my family.

  2. Dinner was black bean burgers, which I served on the brioche hamburger buns I picked up at the Franz Bakery Outlet a couple weeks ago. I was out of onions, but these kinds of recipes lend themselves well to a bit of experimentation, and we all agreed that they were actually better this way.

    I included:
    • Chopped yellow peppers from the freezer. I picked these up from Fred Meyer’s clearance shelf awhile back when they were $1 per bag of four.
    • Frozen corn.
    • The last of a bunch of cilantro that my friend and I shared since it was so ginormous.
    • Bread crumbs, garlic powder, seasoned salt, paprika, pepper flakes and an egg.

    Topped with sliced pickles, (Dollar Tree, baby!) cheese and barbecue sauce, the burgers were a hit!

  3. I recently recommended the British TV show The Detectorists to someone and discovered there was an additional “movie” that came out in 2022. I couldn’t find a free version through any of my streaming services, so I checked out my library’s website to see if there was a DVD I could put on hold. Instead I found a link to a free Hoopla version that my husband and I were able to immediately watch on our TV!

    Libraries for the win!

  4. • I went to cancel our Paramount+ streaming subscription and was offered an additional two months for free. I then added a reminder (with an alert) to “cancel Paramount+” into our calendar.
    • I shopped the loss leaders at Safeway and scored two gallons of milk, a pint of ice cream, five yogurts, four 8-ounce packets of parmesan, 18 eggs, six sausages and six bananas for $17.48. I’ll freeze half the milk.
    • I found a dime and a penny on the floor at Safeway.

  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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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Louise September 26, 2023 at 10:44 am

It’s amazing how good apple-oatmeal crisp tastes, and uses up sub-par ingredients, yet I never think to make it with good apples!
I think the last time I made anything like that was when a friend gave us two jars of some odd berry jam his in-laws had made. We weren’t going to eat it, so I baked it with an oatmeal crust and jam on top. Wonderful.


Ruby September 26, 2023 at 10:55 am

I can see how onions would overwhelm the flavor of black beans. Great substituting!

Today I made the trip out to Aldi to stock up on bread and a few pantry items, then did my regular grocery store stop and snagged some discounted ground pork and pork chops. Apples and yogurt were on sale and the carrots looked far better than what Aldi had. Used a store coupon to stock up on eggs. Then hopped up the street to the pharmacy and got a free package of $5 paper towels with reward bucks. We use them for pet messes.

I am about as stocked up for winter as possible at the moment. Our little freezer is stuffed, as is the pantry and cupboard.


Christine September 26, 2023 at 11:36 am

Nice haul from Safeway!
1. Just came back from a walk around the neighborhood with DH. We walked by a yard that had three tables full of free stuff. Most of it was Christmas decor which I have plenty of and indeed have been unloading on the Salvation Army the last few years, but there were two in-package round Christmas themed tablecloths. I have a round table for one of them and will give DD the other one for her round table.
2. I have found 3 pennies over the last couple of weeks which I automatically put in the found change jar.
That’s about it for now.


Valee September 26, 2023 at 12:39 pm

I love that you posted 2 days in a row!
Thank you.
The Dollar Tree pickles are good. We don’t eat a lot of pickles so the smaller jar works out for us.


Katy September 26, 2023 at 2:17 pm

They’re so much ore expensive in a traditional grocery store. We don’t eat a lot of pickles either, so these lasted maybe six months.


Valee September 26, 2023 at 2:24 pm

Yes, even though I can find a bigger jar at Aldi’s for a decent price, the Dollar Tree is more suitable for us since it’s just me and my hubby and we don’t eat lots of pickles. And the Dollar Tree ones don’t take up as much shelf space in the fridge too. Pickles aren’t something I want to spend big bucks on.


A. Marie September 26, 2023 at 2:31 pm

FFT, Fall Home Energy Edition:

Well, Katy, you may be feeling post-COVID fatigue, but you’ve certainly got the rest of us hustling to keep up the pace on the FFTs!

(1) When I called National Grid to put the home account in my name instead of DH’s, NG ended up giving me a whole new account–which meant that our old monthly budget plan went out the window. So the monthly bill now reflects what I’m actually spending each month on electric and gas (plus NG’s supply charges, of course). Last month’s bill came to $56 and change, and this month’s to $61 and change (I was running the AC quite a bit during our beastly hot Labor Day weekend). IMHO, this is pretty darn good for a 3-bedroom house. Thank you once again, DH, for insisting we install those solar panels back in 2010.

Of course, things won’t be so hunky-dory during a Central NY winter. But I actually like being billed for the real amount I’m spending for energy, since I regard it as an incentive to save more where I can.

(2) I spent some time this afternoon moving firewood from a shed in the back yard to our old attached garage. Future me will thank present me for doing this, so that I don’t have to wade out to the shed in February snow and ice. And, besides, it’s a great upper-body workout–just as hauling the firewood from the attached garage up to the wood-burner in the living room will be later. I don’t think I need no stinkin’ gym membership.

(3) I took a rare trip to Lowe’s this morning to buy new furnace filters, since I don’t get all my winter heat from the wood-burner. Change those filters every 3 months, folks.

(4) A personal fall energy-saver for me is not doing any special holiday decorating.(I was reminded of this at Lowe’s when I saw Christmas decorations up a month before Halloween.) I do nothing whatever for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and the most I do at Christmas is hang my annual curb-picked bough of spruce branches with its recycled ribbon trim on my flagpole bracket. (I realize that most folks with children and grandchildren can’t get away with this minimalist approach, but it works for me.)

(5) And I haven’t bought a Lear Jet or any other form of conspicuous-consumption transportation. My plan is to drive my 2010 Honda Element until it has to be rolled over a cliff. (Possibly with me in it.)


Christine September 27, 2023 at 3:53 pm

A. Marie, like you I like to see what I’m being billed for energy as an incentive to try to get our consumption down even further. I continue to do this with my electric bill which in the summer months stays between the high $60s and low $90s depending on our air conditioner usage. My whole house does not have A/C, but our bedroom does as this girl finds it almost impossible to sleep in the hot weather without it. For the heating oil I stay on a budget plan because I don’t like getting smacked with a $500 or more bill every time they deliver oil. At $188 monthly, it’s still manageable.


Mati October 1, 2023 at 12:27 pm

I am a pretty minimalist holiday decorator. Fall is heirloom winter squash purchased at a farm that sells them as decorations for less per pound than the grocery store, but they’re untreated and perfectly good to eat. So they stay outside until it’s too cold, then decorate inside for Thanksgiving while I slowly convert them into soup. I’ll add a spider and some spooky cheesecloth for Halloween if I feel up to it.

Christmas is the extra branches from the bottom of the tree and perhaps some lights and candles. I’m a stickler for a real tree, and preferably a Fraser fir, but they’re smaller now, because empty nest.


Katy October 1, 2023 at 1:26 pm

The whole buy things to “decorate for fall” trend is excessive consumerism in a nutshell.


Marie-Josée September 26, 2023 at 3:00 pm

Chiming in to say that I really loved the Detectorists. Such a lovely slow paced show, but I must admit I love watching anything British or European to take a peak into their homes and decor.


BettafrmdaVille September 26, 2023 at 4:53 pm

1. Dinner last night was mac n’ cheese with milk & cheese (free from mystery shop), macaroni (on sale for $.69 lb), butter (frozen from last Aldi sale $2.49 lb). Side of broccoli for .99 lb.
2. Having dinner at a friend’s house. I’m bringing the dinner: pork banh mi burgers with ground pork and brioche rolls (free from mystery shop), basil, green onions, and cucumber from our garden. All other ingredients are about $2.00 Side of broccoli (on sale) and one sweet potato. Free mystery shop ice cream for dessert.
3. I was offered from credit card a $10 membership from BJ’s. I realized that there is a BJ gas 1 mile from my VERY long weekly commute (200 miles one way). I’m kicking myself as I think I will save $265 per year by buying my gas here – 14 years later!


Jan September 27, 2023 at 5:08 am

What is this mystery shop? Sounds like fun!


Mary Ann September 26, 2023 at 5:14 pm

1. It’s melon week. We rent out ground to a melon farmer who then lets us pick a couple of boxes. Nothing better than ripe melon. We picked a few but it is still early. The trick is to then go again AFTER they have harvested ( we are talking huge harvestors here. There are always a few melons that have been spit out or missed. We have to arrive precisely before they disk everything up. Great exercise, beautiful weather and my hubby’s company. It counts as a date afternoon.

2. I have recommitted to my club. I know that $132 a month is pricey but it is a beautiful facility, indoor out door pools, spa with a cold plunge, racquet courts. It has everything. I wasn’t using it much. I prefer outdoors in the mountains when I can get there. Hubby however is regularly making the 5:30 am class. Anything that gets him exercising is totally worth it and $132 is a bargain for that kind of medicine. I have just committed to do a one day hike in Desolation wilderness. I am prepping for it. I do the hike machine, I swim, then I hit the cold plunge and jacuzzi. Life is not too bad.

3. I found a pound of past expiration date coconut oil. I am going to make bath bombs. I have never done it but I am totally excited.

4. I saved awesome bows from a house warming gift I received.

5. I went over to see a friend’s renovation. She is considering changing all her living room window dressings. They would be a perfect muted green for the century. I told her first dibs on buying them. wow, that would save me a bunch of time.


Kara September 26, 2023 at 5:32 pm

1. I decided to wash the 30 or so tablecloths from our daughter’s wedding in my own machine in batches, rather than going to laundromat. Though the cost of the laundromat was a factor, I will admit it was probably laziness that made me do it-I’d much rather stay home than sit at laundromat. I had intended to line dry them but we are hoping to resell them and they were so wrinkled that I decided to machine dry them (making my number of load in the dryer for the YEAR come to 10).
2. In the same vein of laziness, I didn’t go food shopping today, but rather ate pinto beans, cheese and a large sliced tomato, wrapped in corn tortillas.
3. I was sorely tempted to wash the dress I wore to the wedding in the washing machine too. I have had good success machine or hand washing many ‘dry clean only’ garments. However, this dress fits nicely and I would re-wear it, so I will go the safe route and take it to the cleaners. Cost per wear is now down to $12.50. Not bad for a mother-of-the-bride dress!
4. I read a library book.
5. We have a hourly fee-only financial planner. We meet with him tomorrow so we spent some time writing down our questions. I plan to make the most of the hour that I’m paying for!

Maybe some of my above aren’t lazy? I did just get back from 8 days away, putting on a wedding and driving 8 hours. On a budget.


mary in maryland September 27, 2023 at 5:48 am

When my husband (who loves to schmooze) and I are going to see someone we pay by the hour, I make him swear to a non-digression pact before we enter the office. Once I was seeing a neurosurgeon and he and the Mister had a long talk about railway nodes in the Northeast.


Katy September 27, 2023 at 11:41 am

You’re a good wife!


Marilyn September 26, 2023 at 7:22 pm

I enjoyed The Detectorists also. I watched it on DVD which I checked out of the library as I did not know about Hoopla which is available from my library (Vancouver, WA) also. Now that I have browsed through the offerings on Hoopla, I think I am all set for entertainment for the next decade or so. Thanks for mentioning this, Katy –just another reason to love my library.


Katy September 26, 2023 at 8:44 pm

I need to scroll through Hoopla as well then!


Jill A September 27, 2023 at 4:18 am

Those black bean burgers sound delicious. I think I need to make some too. I have some beans in the freezer that need to be used up.
1. I combined errands which included stopping at Costco for cheaper gas and free air for my tires.
2. I stopped into Trader Joe’s and bought only what I needed. A tomato and an onion.
3. I purchased dog food for pick up with a 25% coupon code.
4. I made a large batch of pesto using the basil I harvested before I pulled out my plants for the year.
5. I cut open my lotion bottle and used a small spatula to get the extra few days of product out of it.


Katy September 27, 2023 at 11:42 am

Getting the last bits from personal care packaging is so satisfying! And yes, the bean burgers are delicious!


K D September 27, 2023 at 4:28 am

1. I stopped at the new Grocery Outlet store because I had an about to expire coupon to save $5 on a fresh meat purchase of $10+. I bought just over $10 of BL SL chicken breasts at $1.99/#. It was not crowded so I went up and down most of the aisles. I found RxBars $12.99/12 and $5.99/5. Yes they have expiration dates in the near future (all 2023) but we eat quite a few of them and I know they will be edible beyond the expiration dates so I bought a few boxes. I also bought a 5# bag of GF flour blend for $12.99, and some pears and potatoes, all at a good price. Some of the prices are good and some are not, you have to know your deals and check expiration dates.

2. I made a large batch of GF pancakes for dinner. Those we didn’t eat went in the freezer for future meals.

3. Melon season seems to be over so I bought a large pineapple when I was at Costco. You get a lot of fruit for less than $3. While at Costco we stuck to the list and the total spent was reasonable.

4. We have had four dreary days, gray and wet, but I have managed to walk outside everyday. I think it is good for both my physical and mental health.

5. I stopped at Sam’s Club to buy gas, as I was driving by, and filled my gas tank. It is the cheapest gas in town and at least $.30/gallon less than the station nearest our house.


Katy September 27, 2023 at 11:43 am

I used to stop at the Grocery Outlet when kids were in high school as there was one close to their school. We no longer needs snacks in the house so it’s been awhile.


Michele September 27, 2023 at 6:30 am

Cruise Edition
My sister and I are going on a “sister cruise” for her 55th. Just the two of us. I put down the deposit, but then my Mom payed the rest. (We won the parent lotto). Not frugal, but all the little things I do every day enable me to do stuff I want to do!
Packed breakfast, lunches, and snacks all week for work. Trying to use up everything perishable in fridge. Has led to some pretty mundane meals, but I’m glad I won’t have to toss anything.
Bought one pair of pants for cruise. ($5.00 on clearance) and sunscreen.
My sister and I have decided we will be perfectly happy with whatever is “included” as far as food and entertainment go. We will buy drinks 🙂
Driving there together and splitting tips and tolls.


Katy September 27, 2023 at 11:40 am

That will be so much fun, may the seas be calm and your buffets filled with the bestest choices!


MW September 27, 2023 at 7:46 am

1) I trusted my son to TRY ON the jeans we selected from the thrift store before we bought them and snipped off the tags. I don’t know what he was doing in the fitting room, but thus far three pairs don’t actually fit him. Fortunately two of them do fit me. So, I’m finally trying out the mens/ boys jeans that I’ve wanted to try for a few years and I don’t have to buy jeans for myself this year. Is this a win? How about a Hail Mary?
2) I swapped out my wardrobe for the fall/winter. It’s good to see my old friends back again and there is no purchasing necessary.
3) A spate of bad luck and old vehicles has us facing large repairs on our cars. I’m working the insurance system to help with the costs for some of it and I’m grateful that public transit/ walking/ biking is a solid option for us while things are being repaired.
4) We were able to paint the house over the summer with multiple coats of paint for half the estimated amount, with enough left to coat the shed as well. I’m not sure if the estimator was broken, or if we are super-skilled with rollers and brushes, but I’m grateful in light of point #3.
5) As usual, I’m packing coffee and lunch for work, taking the bus to work, rocking the second hand wardrobe and generally living that frugal life. Boring, but consistent money savers.


Katy September 27, 2023 at 11:39 am

“Boring but consistent” should be my tagline!

Sorry about your vehicles.


Mati October 1, 2023 at 12:36 pm

My son is an adult now, but we still thrift together. I finally told him not to say yes right away unless it’s PERFECT. If it’s close, let me take a look and we’ll talk about whether to alter or keep looking. Even at thrift prices, if it’s not great, it’s not a savings.


Sue September 27, 2023 at 9:39 am

We also love the The Detectorists 🙂 We are very lucky and actually live in Suffolk (UK) where much of it was filmed. We also saw them filming one bit of the film, that was exciting. I love the opening theme music and the whole show is soooo relaxing!

My claim to fame. My cousin’s, partner’s best friend made the wooden box the hoard was found in LOL


Katy September 27, 2023 at 11:34 am

That is a claim to fame! The opening theme music is so beautiful, I assumed it was a historic song until I asked my phone to identify it — so pretty!


Bee September 28, 2023 at 3:29 am

The Detectorists is quirky and heartwarming. Just hearing the theme song makes me happy. I do love it!


Mati October 1, 2023 at 12:45 pm

It’s been a mix. I spent $50 to buy a small antique sink that will be used in our understairs half-bath project, after seeing the same model in the thrift store for $8 and again at the ReStore for $25 a few years ago and being over-frugal/not wanting to store it. Wrong decision, regretted it for years, and was willing to pay more because it’s the right one and still a bargain compared to new. I still negotiated with the seller, because I can’t not, a wonderful garden designer, wise woman, and conversationalist.

I stopped to pick a vintage iron patio chair from the curb, and the neighbor it belonged to offered me another in better condition, and put it out in his yard. I wasn’t able to pick it up right away and someone stole it, either for scrap or because it turns out to be a valuable MCM style. I wanted it because they’re supremely comfortable and sturdy. Oh, well.

Eating mostly from the freezer and pantry to make space for this year’s venison. Almost everything we’re eating was purchased on last chance clearance, still absolutely fresh and good – no “green meat” or sad veggies, lots of good seafood, steaks, roasts, portobellos and shiitakes, eggplants and rosemary. Also, picked up from the food bank for a neighbor, and the volunteers insisted I take whatever I could use because they are shutting down briefly for repairs and everything would otherwise be compost. Scored my favorite GF bread and muffins, some perfect salad, and a bunch of acai packets and spendy vegan cheese for another neighbor, who offered me fresh thyme and veggies.

Fail: I made a large pot of split pea soup with fresh rosemary and parmesan rinds along with good bacon and minced ham that turned out succulently delicious, but didn’t have time to cool and finish eating it before heading out for a drink with friends. I thought it would be fine on “keep warm” in the Instant Pot, but forgot to cover it and the conversation ran long. When I got home, I wolfed down a bowl, then realized that the entire pot was not at a safe temperature – the top was tepid. I know some would have reheated and eaten it, but I had a truly awful episode once after eating yellow split peas that had been improperly stored, and I just won’t. Fortunately, the total cost, with all of my careful shopping and food swapping, was perhaps $3, and my husband had two full bowls. It could be worse! Some fresh full-price broccoli also went bad because I thought it was something else (opaque produce bag) and left it on the counter.

I found a wonderful, comfortable dress to wear around the house at a free swap (brought more than I took, but didn’t intend to take anything!) and am now considering buying a few new, as I’ve never seen them second-hand before now. I’ve reached the point where spending more for something that is precisely what I want seems frugal. They’re not that expensive overall, free size, and hold almost two-thirds of their value on eBay – does it get better for new clothing?


Katy October 1, 2023 at 1:25 pm

Sorry about your food waste, but I agree with your decision to chuck the tepid soup. I know better than the traditional advice that gauge that decision on smell. I took microbiology as part of nursing school and that information stayed with me!


Cindy Brick October 3, 2023 at 3:29 am

I LOVE The Detectorists! Found the series on DVD — and it was cheap — so I bought it for myself. Husband is patient about it, but I suspect he thinks it’s a little silly. Then once you mentioned the movie, I pranced over to our library — and lo and behold, there it was on Hoopla. So glad you mentioned it!
The colors are changing a bit early here on the Colorado flatlands. (The mountains have been in color for weeks now.) After nearly 5 years of living in a fifth-wheel, we’re getting ready to move into the mountains near Fort Garland — still Colorado, but close to the NM border. And a million things to do before we go…


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