Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 22, 2024 · 89 comments

  1. I noticed that my husband’s wool cap had sprouted a small hole. This is the same hat he’s been wearing since high school and needs to be protected at all costs, so I pulled out my darning supplies and did my best.

    There, that’s better. Not perfect, but better. Better is good.

  2. My son and I drove across an almost not icy Portland to pick up the free IKEA Leksvik coffee table for his new apartment. Facebook Marketplace is my current best friend.

    Tomorrow I drive to the suburbs to pick up the $50 desk I paid for last week. I’ll also hit a Goodwill or two while I’m out there.

  3.  I held off on going to the grocery store on Sunday as I knew it would be mobbed and instead cobbled together a series of hodge-podge meals. Top Ramen with sesame oil, crunchy chili oil, frozen corn and soft boiled eggs and then sautéed carrots and cauliflower with a bit of leftover grilled chicken and oyster sauce on top.

    I have three rolls of toilet paper until my plan to avoid the grocery store becomes a problem.

  4. • I decided that the ratty Trader Joe’s foaming soap dispenser I’ve been reusing for years needed a more permanent solution, so I did some research and saw that the OXO one had good reviews. Not an easy item to buy used, but I was able to find one on Amazon. Not my favorite place to shop, but eBay was bizarrely more expensive, so I enriched Schmeff Schmezos a little bit.
    • I watched the movie I Want You Back through my sister’s Prime Video account.
    • Last week I shoveled one neighbor’s walk and today a different neighbor helped shovel mine.

  5. I didn’t thrift any Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

Q January 22, 2024 at 6:17 am

Katy, nice work on the hat! I like that “Better is good.” That is a phrase that gets things done! And that table looks super.

1. I bought DH a no iron dress shirt in a plaid he loves for $3, and paid $14 for a like new, very thick and beautiful pair of Brooks Brothers corduroy pants in his exact size. He loves them. (They were on sale half price: this particular thrift shop is pricey, but benefits a good cause.) Then, I asked about a mirror which was by the dumpster in the back, and they said I could have it for free. The frame needs painting, but I want a particular colored frame anyways, so it will be no trouble to paint.
2. This morning, I boiled a large pot of water for tea, and am keeping it warm in a metal thermos, so as not to waste electricity by reheating it. (An idea from this column’s readers.) I used a random packet of loose tea, as I am working on using up loose odds and ends as I organize my kitchen. I’m going for a low spend month. For breakfast, I chopped up a wrinkly apple to accompany my oatmeal, and am using leftover soup for lunch, etc.
3. I am reorganizing (re-vitalizing?) my kitchen by de-cluttering a massive amount, which is hard to believe since I did the same last year. I did not purchase more stuff, but I am learning to live with less, which saves time and energy. I am glad to be giving the extra crockpot, French press, drinking glasses, to people who can use them. I am going to install two shelves I found, to organize spices, etc. The goal is to freshen the space without spending any money, and it is working!
4. I continue to cook most meals from scratch: this is good weather to stay inside and make soup! I am going through the pantry and using up the oldest foods. Some things are odd, which is why they weren’t eaten in the first place, but I like a challenge. A friend requested a homemade carrot cake for her birthday, which was fun to make, and to eat!
5. The drugstore usually has a good sale on deodorant, etc, this time of year, but it is not a very good sale right now, so I held off. I decided to finally to try to make the homemade deodorant recipe I have seen on the internet, using coconut oil and common ingredients. It would be healthier, and involve less packaging, etc. I probably won’t get to it until I start running a little lower on the product, as I do have a couple sticks left.
6. A bonus that I almost forgot: last week I found a very nice lamp curbside, and it will go great in a guest room. There is a small splotch of white paint on the black shade, but I will magic marker it black and turn that bit to the wall.
Stay warm everyone.


Katy January 22, 2024 at 8:37 am

Good for you for asking about the mirror, a lot of people would be too embarrassed to ask.


mary in maryland January 22, 2024 at 1:46 pm

And some people are so unembarrasable that they would take something by the trash without asking. (Points finger at self.)


Katy January 22, 2024 at 8:41 am

And hooray for curb finds!


MB in MN January 22, 2024 at 12:55 pm

Q, your whole list is great!


Q January 23, 2024 at 4:12 am

Thank you!


Christine January 22, 2024 at 7:31 am

I agree with Q…the hat you mended for your husband looks great and now he’ll feel no cold wind coming through it. It must be special to him having had it since high school.
1. I worked at my church’s thrift shop last Saturday where I shop between customers and work. I was so thrilled to find an LL Bean Gortex raincoat in my size, in perfect condition and it also happened to be in my favorite color periwinkle for $8. I have needed a raincoat since forgetting my old one at an event somewhere (?) and have held off purchasing one until I found what I was looking for. Patience definitely paid off.
2. While there, I also bought an antique serving platter (my weakness), a stainless steel Revere Ware food storage container and a dish towel totaling $6.
3. Youngest stepson gave us a turkey a couple of months ago so I roasted that yesterday and made a mini Thanksgiving dinner for DH and myself with mashed potatoes, butternut squash, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Tonight we’ll have leftovers and I see more leftovers plus a turkey soup in our near future.
4. My friend won a gift basket before Christmas containing four jigsaw puzzles. She doesn’t care for puzzles so she gave me all four. I will be starting another one this week, after finishing the one my granddaughter gave me for Christmas. Funny, I have no interest in jigsaw puzzles in the warmer months and prefer to spend my down time reading library books out on the deck but in the winter it’s a different story. Put me in front of a puzzle and that will keep me entertained for a couple of hours.
5. DH repaired a bathroom fan he thought had gone kaput so the new one we bought to install can be returned back to the store.


Katy January 22, 2024 at 8:36 am

I have a Land’s End rain/winter coat that I picked up at the Goodwill bins last year and it’s my favorite coat I’ve ever owned! Great score, and yes . . . patience is key.

And kudos to your husband and his fix-it skills!


Mary Ann January 22, 2024 at 7:44 am

1. I bought a 1lb bag of chopped kale for $3.00. That is a lot of kale. I used our tree’s tangerines, our co-ops free nuts, and a dressing from the dozen bottles of flavored balsamic and olive oil I have to start using up. I will warm up rice and have kale bowls all week for lunch for almost nothing. The beauty of kale is it lasts the work week with dressing on it and in my opinion gets better.

2. It took almost a day but I taught myself how to create an interior design Mood Book. I took pano pictures of all the rooms of the river house. I finished the den page. I researched designing for a wood paneled room for hours. I don’t want to reproduce a 70s vibe. This room is an add on to the century home so I want to use what we have and colors I love that warm up the paneling. Here it is

3. I spent exactly zero money and ate on plan yesterday because I was obsessed with the lookbook project. Win-win.

4. I bought 5 tiffany style lampshades on ebay for the river house.

5. Hubby and I went to the gym which has a hot tub, cold plunge and sauna. Date night for free. Again, a win win.


Katy January 22, 2024 at 8:32 am

You know you need a disco ball for the wood paneled room.


mary in maryland January 22, 2024 at 1:50 pm

When I first moved to Baltimore from the frozen north, I met kale at the local market. Thirty-five cents a pound, 3 # for a dollar. I got three pounds and was stunned at the volume. I invited several classmates to a brunch that starred poached eggs on a bed of kale.


Kathy January 22, 2024 at 8:46 am

1. Opted to make a lemon pound loaf for $3 vs buying ice cream at $6 per pint for dessert on Saturday night family dinner
2. Worked 4 hrs on Sunday. Manager ordered pizza for staff..what a treat
3. Designing on a dime. Reorganized some decor
4. Sold another item online. Reusing packaging materials
5. Ice storm today in central Oklahoma so I called off work. Making chicken tortellini soup in crockpot


Katy January 23, 2024 at 12:04 pm

Even pound loaves aren’t cheap anymore as butter is hardly a bargain. Sounds yummy though.


MB in MN January 22, 2024 at 8:59 am

Nice save on your husband’s cap!

1. Finished using a generous restaurant gift card from our Realtor – it covered five meals and two appetizers.

2. Cut up blank sides of Christmas cards to use as scratch paper.

3. Used $34 of Target Circle earnings when buying items on my niece’s baby registry.

4. Friend gave me a beautiful plant that the florist had wrapped in colorful tissue paper. I smoothed out the paper and will repurpose in gift bags.

5. Purchased a $13 item at our food co-op and paid just $5, after applying our monthly discount, annual dividend, and loyalty credit.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 12:03 pm

Wow, that was a generous gift card!


Michele January 22, 2024 at 9:03 am

1. Meal planned after looking through my recipe binder and at everything we have. Ditched “this looks good” recipes for “we have these ingredients” recipes.
2. Packed breakfasts and lunches for work in my Pyrex. . Boiled eggs and dished up yogurt so I can “grab and go” in AM.
3. Bought oil so handy husband could change my oil. He changed oil in my car, his truck, and tractor this weekend.
4. Planning a not frugal Eclipse trip with our friends. Splitting rental car and staying at college friend’s house, but it will still be pricey, as we will take advantage of things to do in the town.
5. Covering up with blankets in cold central Fl (to us).


A. Marie January 22, 2024 at 11:20 am

Michele, re: your #1, I’ve just done a radical cull of my cookbook collection on a similar principle. Frankly, I do a lot of my cooking these days by typing my available ingredients into Google and seeing what I come up with–so I really don’t need all these cookbooks!


maryann January 22, 2024 at 4:03 pm

A. Marie,

I have reorganized my recipe box as well. I have organized it by appliance: Instapot, Vitamix, Airfyer, dutch oven, microwave and then salads/ desserts. People who say they don’t have the time to cook healthy and frugal at home need to seriously look at these revolutionary machines. The sheapest ingredients come out beautifully.


Nancy January 23, 2024 at 6:29 am

I have never heard of this system of organizing your recipes. I’ve always looked at what ingredients I have on hand and then looked for suitable recipes. Do you first choose which appliance you want to use and then look for a suitable recipe? How do you choose which appliance, based on how much time you have available?


Michele January 23, 2024 at 4:34 am

I kept my checkered Betty Crocker, “Applehood and Mother Pie” book that has my favorite apple crisp in it, and my Bisquick one. Everything else I put in see through plastic in a sturdy binder.


Cathy January 24, 2024 at 11:44 am

Have you seen the cookbook Perfectly Good Food by sisters Irene and Margaret Li? The entire cookbook is an ode to not wasting food and has amazing recipes that help you use up the random ingredients in your fridge/freezer/pantry. Sometimes it’s sad-looking veg or fruit, sometimes it’s the half a bunch of herbs you didn’t need for whatever the recipe was, sometimes it’s leftovers or something canned or frozen. They also have a blog. It’s along the lines of doing an internet search to find out what you can make with whatever ingredients you type in, but probably considers more ingredients than you normally would. I (not surprisingly) found the cookbook at the library.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 12:03 pm

If only I could get my husband to understand the value of a “we have these ingredients” dinner.


Blue Gate Farmgirl January 23, 2024 at 8:23 pm

I love random ingredient dinners. We make it a contest in a family group chat. That also means we get excellent ideas from 3 cousins who are pro chefs. So fun!
We have organized our large chest freezer with bins and the largest bin has
random bits and bobs, when starting a meal I pick one package from the veg bin, one from the protein and blindly grab something random. Sometimes it’s awesome…ha!


Jill A January 24, 2024 at 6:03 am

What a great way to organize a chest freezer. It’s always a struggle to find things.


MB in MN January 24, 2024 at 9:31 am

Blue Gate Farmgirl, you had me at “organized” and “bins.” Love your system for making meals from your freezer!


Bee January 24, 2024 at 12:17 pm

My DH is also challenged that way. He tries, but he is frugally challenged.


Roberta January 22, 2024 at 9:08 am

We just got back from dropping off my daughter at college in central Massachusetts. We are from Southern California. It was beautiful there, and cold, but not so cold we couldn’t cope, which says a lot about infrastructure.

We also spent all the money to change our flight, last minute. Instead of a direct flight, Alaska Airlines changed our flight to a five hour layover in Seattle, both ways. We lost two days of our trip that way. We will be having words with Alaska about their customer service. They didn’t even notify us of the change.

1. In setting up our daughter’s dorm room, we visited three thrift shops, one of them more than once, and got almost everything she needed (except for a rug, which we bought new at Target. And a power strip). A big comforter, two lamps, art, a jewelry box, two baskets for holding stuff, a scarf to cover the scarred bookcase/nightstand, an alarm clock, a pencil holder, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember. I also found a pair of shoes for myself, a bunch of chunky flannels for my husband, and a brand new Lakeshore portable train set for a gift for one of my nieces (we paid $8, they run $60 new).

2. We borrowed one suitcase to transport her stuff, and used two other suitcases we brought back from taking our son to school in the fall. Each kid now has one large suitcase under their bed, we have one in storage, and we will return one.

3. My daughter will be receiving a Burberry puffer from my mother. Someone gave it to her. Just, GAVE it to her.

4. We rented an AirB&B, so most of our meals were eaten in. We also bought pre-made salads for the flight home, from Trader Joes. We brought home the extra butter and non-dairy milk in our checked luggage. It was plenty cold on the flight.

5. I took a job today, despite the rain. I won’t be home alone with the dogs, but I couldn’t do laundry in the rain anyway.


Christine January 22, 2024 at 2:21 pm

Great score on the Burberry puffer! That will help keep her warm in the cold Massachusetts winter.
My church has a great thrift store with clothing, household goods and some furniture that is VERY inexpensive. We keep it that way for the community and we often get students from the nearby colleges. It’s in central Mass. :
Emanuels Closet (at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Worcester, MA) Open Saturdays from 9 to 2. Tell her to come on down!


Roberta January 23, 2024 at 12:01 pm

Thank you! I’ll pass that on!


Bee January 23, 2024 at 5:30 am

I have found that airlines are actually responsive when you contact them via email. My daughter had two significant delays in a row with a major airline getting her to her destination a day or two late and several dollars short. On her behalf, I documented everything and asked for the cost of the ticket back plus compensation for a day lost at work. The airline refunded I her fully.


Roberta January 23, 2024 at 12:02 pm

Thanks, Bee. I’d even be happy for airfare credits for the future — we’re going to need a ton of it.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 12:02 pm

RE #3 — Ooh . . . fancy gift!

It sounds like your daughter has a cute and unique dorm room, I love the scarf to cover the scarred bookshelf.


Ruby January 22, 2024 at 9:45 am

I had to buy an item designed for folks with hand arthritis from the internet’s richest billionaire after checking the price of the same item on eBay and being shocked.

On the one day the weather was good, I took stuff to Goodwill and did not go into the store except to hand over my items. Still have no water to our kitchen due to the freeze, so our cooking continues be very simple. Did make two loaves of bread in the bread machine and measured out the herbs, salt and grated Parmesan for the next loaf ahead of time and popped it in the fridge. My son’s girlfriend gave him a t-shirt with cute art on the front, but the shirt is too small, so I bought a correctly sized shirt of the matching color and will cut out the art panel and sew it on the right size shirt.


Heidi Louise January 23, 2024 at 8:34 am

I like your t-shirt slipcover! It might be even more interesting than the original, as it will be a bit more 3-D as a giant patch.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 12:00 pm

And getting richer every day.

We have drive through donation for most of our Goodwill, which (occasionally) keeps me out of the stores.


Marybeth from NY January 22, 2024 at 10:13 am

You are getting some great furniture for your son’s apartment.
1. I went to the dentist for my 6 month cleaning. It is fully covered by insurance. I was given a goody bag of samples. I will use them when we travel.
2. My daughter, her husband and 2 dogs came for a few days. We finally celebrated Christmas with them. They like having local bagels and pizza when they visit. I did a 2 good 2 go order for both. We got 16 various bagels for $5.12. I got cream cheese at Aldi. We got a white slice, a buffalo chicken slice, a sausage slice, 1/2 an eggplant parm hero, a pepperoni roll and a rice ball for $6. 42. They were happy and I didn’t break the bank. I sent them home with the rest of the bagels and cream cheese.
3. We went wedding dress shopping for my youngest and she found her dress. She looks amazing. Her friend had won a $500 GC to the shop and gave it to my daughter when she got engaged. I am thinking of getting the friend a $50 Starbucks gift card as a thank you. She goes everyday. Is that good?
4. I had picked some thyme before the first snow. It has been on the counter ever since drying. I pulled it off and added it to my jar.
5. Other then dress shopping and eating , we played lots of games while my daughter was here. As always we were sad to see them leave. We sent her with food for the road.


Christine January 22, 2024 at 2:26 pm

I think the $50 gift card to Starbucks is a really nice thing to do for your daughter’s friend. What a kind and generous friend your daughter has! I bet your daughter is a sweetheart too…probably why they’re friends. Best of luck with the wedding plans. Such an exciting time!


rebecca January 23, 2024 at 8:34 am

I think the gift card to starbucks is lovely.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:58 am

A Starbucks gift card sounds like the perfect thank you gift for your daughter’s friend. And I need to remember to keep Too Good To Go on my radar.


Cathy January 24, 2024 at 11:47 am

So nice of you to think of giving your daughter’s friend a gift card for something she can use! If you don’t like the idea of supporting a big corporation, maybe there’s a local coffee shop (near the Starbucks?) that has gift cards.


Dicey January 22, 2024 at 11:18 am

I have that soap dispenser – I got it as a gift. The pump sticks in the down position, so you have to pull it up after every downward pump. Kind of frustrating, especially now that I know how much it costs. Be sure to proportion the soap and water correctly. Too much soap and it doesn’t pump well (and still sticks in the down position). I’ve had as much or more luck buying the Method or Dial foaming soaps and reusing their containers for-evah.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 12:06 pm

I’ve been reusing a Trader Joe’s one forever and it has the sticky adhesive from a long gone label on the front — so ugly. Hopefully my experience will be better than yours.


kathleen January 31, 2024 at 5:21 am

Re: sticky adhesive = ugly container. I’ve reused lots and lots of stuff over the years. I use GooGone to remove the adhesive. $1.25 at the Dollar Tree for a small bottle that lasts a Loonnngggg time. I use it on a lot of stuff! I’d quess that small bottle lasts me most of a year.


Vickey February 12, 2024 at 4:39 pm

You can also rub vegetable oil on to dissolve the adhesive. (Less toxic.) And can use dry washing soda as a scrubbing powder to dissolve adhesives. (wear gloves). The latter might cloud the plastic, but hey – it was going to be replaced anyway. Or maybe cover it with something decorative?


Lindsey January 22, 2024 at 11:26 am

Well, I know this will be a no-spend day because it is minus 41 right now, and that is straight temperature not wind chill; thankfully there is no wind today. There is nothing I want badly enough to take the vehicle out of the garage to shop. One of the worst things about this temperature is that Pound Hound has to be literally pushed out the door to go to the bathroom. I even threw beef jerky out the door, thinking he would leap after it. He did not. Meanwhile:
1. I sold two books and packaged them up to be mailed next time I leave the house.
2. Husband is still gone so my eating is feral, putting together whatever looks edible in the cupboard or fridge.
3. Found an old corduroy shirt with arms too ripped to use. Cut out the back and used it to make another dog toy, stuffing it with the innards I collected and put in a bag as Pound Hound eviscerated various stuffies.
4. Binge watched a program so I could cancel a streaming service before I was charged for a second month.
5. I have a friend who makes the most elaborate cards. I love receiving them and hate the thought of throwing them away so I usually manage to pry off the fronts and put them on new card stock and send them on to someone else. I had four of her cards in a file, waiting to be repurposed, and I need several birthday cards so I finally sat down and spent two hours producing new cards. Handmade cards like hers sell for as much as $10 in stores, so this saves a considerable sum and increases the number of people who enjoy her creations. I used to make cards but I was not very good at it.


MB in MN January 22, 2024 at 11:57 am

Lindsey, whenever I find myself kvetching about the cold, I think of you and stop my whining.


A. Marie January 22, 2024 at 12:02 pm

Me too! And give my love to Pound Hound. Poor darling, I wouldn’t want to do my business outside in -41 cold either.


Ruby January 23, 2024 at 12:07 pm

My girl dogs act like their bottoms will freeze to the ground when we get below double digits. I can’t blame poor Pound Hound.


Selena January 22, 2024 at 7:25 pm

Does Pound Hound have a coat? Kiddo has a small dog (was dogs) and had coats for both. Being a cat person, I think there is at least a chance of psyching out Pound Hound?


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:56 am

That’s so smart to reuse the pretty parts of her cards.


Rachel S. January 24, 2024 at 11:37 am

Your post reminded me of an important task- I found a specialty paper punch at goodwill years ago that punches out tag shaped pieces, so I pulled out the Christmas cards I received this year and punched out gift tags for next year to reuse my cards


Cathy January 24, 2024 at 12:01 pm

Feral eating. Love it!


Jill A January 22, 2024 at 11:37 am

I like that your husband still has his hat from high school.
1. I’ve had people over for dinner two nights in a row saving us all from the cost of eating out. I made simple inexpensive meals. It was nice to visit in a quieter environment too.
2. Tonight I will have two friends and my two youngest daughters for dinner. It’s more a potluck this time. Again it will be a simple meal. We had planned to meet at a restaurant but one friend just recently lost her job, so again it saves us all the cost of eating out.
3. I used my new air fryer for the last two dinners. It uses less electricity than my full oven and it’s very fast.
4. I picked up a few items at Meijer and used some 50% off coupons that they sent me in the mail for cottage cheese and sliced cheese which were both on my grocery list.
5. I’m reading library books on my kindle. I just finished Tom Lake which was very good. I hadn’t expected to like it so much.


Jill A January 22, 2024 at 11:39 am

6. Also my oldest daughter gave me some Bath & Body Works hand soap that she didn’t like. I’ve used it all up but noticed it’s a foam dispenser so I refilled it with a bit of soap and water and it works great.


Bee January 23, 2024 at 5:38 am

I loved Tom Lake. Ann Patchett is one of my favorites. Meryl Streep reads the audio version. I understand it’s wonderful.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:55 am

My husband figured out that he’s had the hat for about 44 years at this point. And a potluck at the house sounds better than a restaurant as you can take your time and linger as much as you want.


A. Marie January 22, 2024 at 11:42 am

FFT, Coming Out of the Deep Freeze Edition:

(1) Today is the first day in eons that the temperature’s gone above freezing here. I celebrated by taking my first shower in four days. I’ve really been rocking the Lake Wobegon Norwegian bachelor farmer thing. But, hey, it saves on hot water, soap, shampoo, and conditioner, right? (And at least I’ve never lost water during this siege. I feel for Ruby and the rest of you who have.)

(2) I should probably also mention that my current shampoo and conditioner were trashpicked (still in their warehouse club shrink wrap), and that my current deodorant soap was first used a year or so ago as deer repellent.

(3) I’m still bumming over missing my JASNA luncheon on Saturday. But it snowed a lot more in the luncheon city than it did here, so I think I made the right call. (Nine other folks had to cancel as well.) And I’m trying to console myself further by thinking of the savings in gas and Thruway tolls. Finally, I’m going to propose to the rest of the executive committee that we start celebrating Jane’s and Cassandra’s birthdays in June, a la Trooping the Colour!

(4) I occupied myself usefully Saturday and Sunday by repotting more houseplants and continuing to declutter. I’ve got nice piles now for the antiques/collectibles charity auction and the secondhand-housewares shop.

(5) And I’ve added a jar of unsalted shelled peanuts (which I’ve decided taste like Kleenex) to my bird food supplies. My Ollie’s finally ran out of the unsalted peanuts in the shell I was using, so the shelled ones should keep the blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers happy for a while.


Christine January 22, 2024 at 2:35 pm

Your #3…Good call on the suggestion to celebrate their birthdays in June. Chances are good there will be no weather events in NY state that time of year to ruin the fun.
And your #5…the unsalted shelled peanuts taste like Kleenex…lol, lol and lol again!!!


Ruby January 22, 2024 at 3:02 pm

We finally had water return to our kitchen just a while ago. Today was the day that went above freezing fairly early in the day and did the trick. I am so happy!


Anne January 22, 2024 at 9:22 pm

I really like No. 2, as now there is little chance that Bambi, or any of his family, will follow you home.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:53 am

Once you’ve identified a food tasting weird there’s no going back. And trash picked shampoo and conditioner? You win “Most Frugal!”


Ashley Bananas January 22, 2024 at 1:06 pm

The update to the hat gives it more unique character. I really like it. The free coffee table is actually very cute. I imagine Meatball sleeping in there and playing inside the different parts.
1. Much like you I spent Sunday cleaning out the fridge. I took one for the team by eating left over cauliflower crust pizza, and a random mug of chili. I am trying very hard not to have food waste.
2. This past week a half used cheese platter from a party was up for grabs at work. I brought it home and used the cheese in frittatas I made, and also cut it up and used it to top off beans. There is a little more cheese left. I know it’s not a big deal, but it we use it as a garnish and this lets me extend the time between purchases.
3. A co-worker continues to bring in homemade peanut butter balls and I continue to eat them, much to my waist lines chagrin.
4. The free table at work had a large grocery bag full of assorted candy in recent past. I brought this home and my son finished it off in short order. As I didn’t buy much candy this year for the holidays, we really appreciated this.
5. On Saturday I cooked some frozen chicken we had, and as sides I used a mixed rice we had. Although we didnt like it, we used it and got it out of the cupboard. We had another bag of the rice, I contributed it to the free table at work.


Marybeth from NY January 22, 2024 at 1:51 pm

Great job on eating the leftovers. I did the same thing and had some mac n cheese and cranberry sauce. Weird combo but no food in the garbage.


MB in MN January 22, 2024 at 3:19 pm

Ashley, re: #s 2-4. One of the things I miss about work is all the free food. No one else in my department of 20+ people wanted leftovers from parties, meetings, etc. – even things that were unused or unopened. I tried to limit ingesting some of the unhealthier stuff, but I was able to get a lot of great food to eat at work or bring home.


Ashley Bananas January 22, 2024 at 4:39 pm

We have an up for grabs table in the lunch room. People are very generous with leaving things there. I really appreciate it. We also encourage people to take home a plate or a few things after parties so items dont expire in the lunchroom. It’s really really nice.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:49 am

Yes, Meatball has explored the cubbies and I joke that we need five more of her.


K D January 22, 2024 at 1:15 pm

1. Friday was a snow day and we didn’t go anywhere. We ate leftovers for lunch and I made GF chicken noodle soup for dinner. I only had vermicelli rice pasta but we made it work and now it is used up. There was a lot of shoveling helping in the neighborhood. That’s something I enjoy doing. DH did use the snow blower on the driveway and we both appreciated how quickly it cleared it. He has talked of getting rid of it and I keep saying no. We don’t have big snows often but when we do we need something like that.

2. On Saturday we did venture to Sam’s Club and bought some produce and a few other items on the list. We helped a friend that lives in the neighborhood shovel out her driveway.

3. DH is working on fixing up a child’s art easel that a neighbor put out for bulk trash pick up months ago. I believe it required a purchase but it is a cheap and useful hobby. We will give it away when it is finished.

4. CVS keeps sending me free Extra Bucks. Since I drive past one of their stores several times a week I have been using them. Last week I got two bags of organic popcorn and a small bag of shortbread cookies (on sale and on clearance) for about $.50 out of pocket. Today I got three boxes of shortbread cookies (75% off the holiday version) for $.10 out of pocket.

5. I just made a pot of curried red lentil and sweet potato stew. It used up a languishing can of coconut milk and two sweet potatoes that needed to be used. It is in jars in individual serving sizes to be eaten for lunch this week.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:46 am

Okay, that soup sounds amazing! I might need to add sweet potatoes to my grocery list.


K D January 24, 2024 at 12:36 pm
Ashley Bananas January 23, 2024 at 1:31 pm

I do the Carepass at CVS where they take $5 out of your bank account then give you $10 back to spend through their reward program. This month I got 2 for $5 Cheez-it boxes, then 2 for $5 nail polishes, got $4 back in ECB for the nail polish. Turned around and bought a half gallon of milk with the $4 ECB, plus a 10% off coupon. Spent .17 total on all five items (add the initial $5). Small wins.


Susan in TN January 22, 2024 at 2:09 pm

1. It continued to be very cold and the roads stayed icy for a week, so I stayed home the entire time. This forced us to eat those random soups that had been pushed to the back of the cabinet. We kept the heat turned down and used our living room gas fireplace and hung out around it, and I pretty much lived with my robe over my clothes. lol We are not used to below 0 temps here that often and our heating units don’t do an efficient job when it’s that cold. In addition, one day we were asked to conserve in order to keep everyone supplied with electricity. I’ve been making sure to do a load of laundry each day so I can use my drying rack and help add humidity back to the house.

2. Because of the weather, we had to cancel a planned overnight trip to the big city. Although I am sorry we couldn’t go to the planned event, it saved us probably $350 total including hotel, event tickets, gasoline, and dining. I always choose the hotel rate that allows us to cancel up to 24 hours ahead for a full refund since we have family members with health issues that sometimes keeps us from plans we’ve made.

3. I’ll be getting 40¢ per gallon off gasoline when I fill up today at Kroger. We’ve run it down to the last 20 or so miles left in the car.

4. Made sure to pay a hospital bill in full and in person. They are currently giving a 25% discount for that.

5. Sold a couple more things on eBay.


Selena January 22, 2024 at 7:34 pm

Use this cold-4-you experience to plan for the future ones. Climate change is here to stay – be it cold/snow/heat/rain. Our cold snap, while not as bad as we’ve experienced in the past, was not a shocker. Yeah, the cook missed his weekly break. When we ventured out (after two weeks of cold/snow/”wintry mix”), it was a whatever the cook wanted from the menu. Of course leftovers which with a few other added leftovers, made tonight’s meal.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:45 am

Your #4 tip is good to know, thanks for sharing it!


Bettypants January 22, 2024 at 4:06 pm

1. My son has been complaining that his bedroom wasn’t getting heat, and I thought he was likely blocking the vent with his dirty laundry. He persisted, and our investigation found a duct damper had been closed. No idea how that happened as I didn’t even know they existed. But we fixed it and his bedroom is noticeably warmer.

2. My office had lunch brought in, and I took home a container of hummus (that never gets eaten as leftovers in the office). Made myself a batch of naan and it’s been a great snack at home.

3. Stopped at Goodwill and found two pair of Carhartt pants, and a Peter Millar merino wool pullover.

4. I’ve never paid for an Amazon subscription, but we have a free trial right now. My son ordered a chocolate bar for $10 that was described as 5 bars. It’s actually one bar of chocolate with 5 wrapped sections that Aldi sells for $2. I contacted customer service as I felt the description was intentionally misleading. It took a bit of time, but we got a refund.

5. A local non-profit dog shelter posted their paypal link and I sent them the $80 that was sitting in my paypal account. They bring their adoptable dogs to the local pet store every Sunday and they seem like genuine people who do a lot of good.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:44 am

Yeah, that’s just chocolate fraud!


auntiali January 22, 2024 at 5:29 pm

My frugal five:

1. Sunday was such a bummer of a day for me. It was cold and I couldn’t think of anything to do so I took a long nap and then was up all night. I should have invited my friend over who didn’t have heat at her house. Dh could have made us dinner.

2. Friday afternoon I had had it with our furnace. We just had a tune up on January 2 and it was working right. I had to turn the thermostat up to 78 to get any heat. Well called the company and because of our service plan they sent someone over. He fixed the problem. No charge and we have heat especially during the cold weekend…when I should have had my friend over.

3. We’ve been eating out of the freezer and pantry so no money spent.

4. I rolled up the change in the change can last night. Ended up with $82.

5. Got two good deals at Walgreens today. Two Gillette shave creams for $5.xx and I paid like .32 and got a $5 register reward. Got my friend’s granddaughter diapers that were on sale, had a coupon and gave back a $4 register reward. Diapers ended up being $7/pack. Bought 2 packs.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:42 am

Yeah, I can’t sleep well if I nap so I rarely do. Even though naps are the best!


Jennifer January 22, 2024 at 5:36 pm

You really are scoring the furniture deals!

1. I stuck to my low spend month grocery budget this week except for a bag of chocolate for myself. My hormones are going crazy since my hysterectomy and I was having an emotional weekend. I don’t regret the chocolate.

2. I had grand plans to make pizza pockets. The dough wouldn’t stretch at all, so I scrapped it and made rolls. I still had filling though. The next day I remembered I had crescent rolls left from the holidays and made rolls ups with those. They were a huge mess but it used all the filling (I probably overfilled) and in the end they all got eaten and there was no waste.

3. I tried a new recipe in the kitchen – chicken enchiladas. The only weird ingredient from what I normally buy was a can of chili. Generic cost $1.09 so I figured it was worth it to try. Always fun to try something new and it turned out well – much better than my pizza pockets lol

4. We watched the Bills playoff game and I did nothing special. Frequently when the boys are home they want fun football snacks. Oh well, too much work and too much cost. No one complained.

5. Now that I am back to work, I had the dh reset the thermostat to a lower temp during the day when we are all at work


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:41 am

You never need to rationalize a chocolatey treat, it’s there for good times and bad.


Jill January 22, 2024 at 6:59 pm

I love your great relationship with your neighbors. We are in a new neighborhood but so far so good.
1. I ordered a Christmas ornament for my sister from Etsy that she never received. I gave it a good month but then requested and was granted a refund.
2. My husband found out that he can join the local rec center for the incredible senior rate of $12 per year. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am not eligible yet. But I can buy a coupon book for a resident discount rate to sign up for classes and use the delightful indoor pool.
3. We’ve used our zoo membership every month.
4. – We used our Kroger card to save $1 per gallon on gas.
– As always. the library is my favorite place. Checked out the current season of Brokenwood Mysteries. Am reading Murder in an Italian Village. And still enjoying Storytime every week with my grandson.
5. Spent the entire weekend in. Cleaned, read, organized a few things and was generally, boring. But productive.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:40 am

We’ve been in our house longer than anyone on our side of the block, which gave me the opportunity to set up a share/borrow culture as the norm.


Gina in NY January 22, 2024 at 7:18 pm

Both the table and the hat are super cute. The repair just adds charm.

1. Scored 100 vintage canning jars off of FB Marketplace for a very good price. I will clean and sort through them, keeping some for my garden canning endeavors and some of the old collectable ones will go to the Brimfield flea market in May (my partner sells there).
2. Speaking of canning, I made and canned 7 pints of Indian-inspired butter chicken starter sauce this weekend (I use it to make vegan BC with soy curls or chickpeas). I used jars of my garden tomatoes I canned months ago as the base. I also canned 8 pints of applesauce today to use up the softening NY state apples I still had lying around.
3. Using up leftovers and sort of meal planning. I never stick to an actual meal plan, but I have been making a weekly list of what needs to be used up and then base meals around the ingredients or produce. We are eating pretty well from the food stores. I did stop into the grocery this week and mostly stuck to my list. I made an exception for two bags of stir fry veggies and two bags of slaw kits that were freshly marked down to $1.67 each. These will star in some meals this week.
4. Some time ago I thrifted an air corn popper and I have been using it to make a healthy snack in the evenings. I’ve also been making pretzel and everything bread rolls.
5. I accidentally made a delicious pine-infused vinegar. I was making a second batch of the pine needle soda and grabbed the jug of white vinegar instead of the filter water. How I didn’t smell it is beyond me. Anyway, I tried a little swig and was a bit surprised. I had no idea how it turned into vinegar so quickly…until I noticed the bottle. Ugh! Anyway, I let it continue aging and will find a way to use it. I also started a ginger bug to make ginger ale soon.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:38 am

I love that you simply rebranded a nasty drink into a cleaning product!


texasilver January 22, 2024 at 10:29 pm

1. I found a 5 dollar off a purchase coupon in the Walgreens’ parking lot. I used it to get dishwasher tabs.
2. I will take the stray cat my husband brought home to the low cost vax clinic. Teachers can get a free rabies shot for their pets. The vet will not see a pet that has not been vaccinated. The cat looks healthy, but you never know.
3. Our water was off one week due to a frozen pipe. My husband fixed part of it & a plumber finished the job. You take running water for granted until you do not have it.
4, Hard to cook w/o water. I made dried beans in the crockpot & we have eaten convenience food from the freezer.
5. I started my PT teaching gig on Saturday. The money will come in handy.
6. I wore my long black wool coat in the cold weather. I have had it for 40 years. It is a favorite like the hat Mr. Non-consumer has worn since HS.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:37 am

How smart of you to not bypass the coupon!


Bee January 23, 2024 at 5:49 am

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I imagine it is difficult to find this particular soap dispenser from a secondhand source. Sometimes one just needs to purchase an item new and sometimes Amazon is the only option. Like you and so many of your readers I try to buy as much as possible used, however I give myself permission to purchase retail when I must.
1. I bought a new-to-me ottoman that matched the furniture in my recently improved family room. Unfortunately It did not have casters and DH thinks these are a must. I removed the casters from the old ottoman and mounted them to the feet of the new one. I’m not sure what to do with the old ottoman. I have a few ideas, but we will see.
2. DH and I headed to Central Florida for the Renningers Antique Extravaganza. We packed a backpack with water, sandwiches and apples. Although it was rather chilly, the sun was out. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed looking at the acres of antiques and tat. (Sadly there was a lot of tat.) I made one small purchase — a silver spoon for my little collection of coffee spoons. They are not a necessity, but not spendy. I never pay more than scrap value so these spoons could be converted to cash quickly. They also bring me joy and I use them everyday.
3. I sold a piece of Weller Pottery on eBay which I had almost given up on. I think it had been listed for more than two years. I used recycled materials to pack it for shipment. My neighbor subscribes to a meal plan service. The ingredients come insulated bubble wrap bags which are excellent for packing breakables.
4. Today I batched errands – post office, the library, the thrift store and two grocery stores. I used a gift card that I received using my Fetch App to buy two bags of fresh vegetables and a box of Chamomile tea for $1.67 at Whole Foods. I also stopped at Trader Joe’s for $0.19 bananas and my favorite peanut butter.
5. January days seem long. I’ve been doing all the usual things – brewing my morning coffee, cooking simple meals from scratch at home, drinking primarily water, reading library books and listening to books via the library apps, Libby and Hoopla. I am currently listening to The Paris Agent, a piece of historical fiction. I finished “Good Night, Irene” also a piece of WWII fiction. I’m looking for a new book. I cut the bottom off the tube of shampoo to get the last little bit. I made chicken broth in the IP with the carcass of a Costco chicken.
On a side note, I ran across an article from The New Yorker on how to responsibly dispose of anything. (Audio available). Many of the sources are familiar to the non-consumer and are in and around New York. However, there were a few interesting, new options. For example, there is an organization promoting literacy that collects books for prisons. Here’s the link if anyone is in declutter mode:

Wishing everyone peace, good health and prosperity.
**sorry this is so long


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:36 am

Never apologize for a long comment, I love them!

I agree about January days being long, which is the opposite of what they should be as we’ve only just now got sunset to come after 5 P.M. And thanks for the book recommendation, I’ve put “The Paris Agent” audiobook on hold at the library.


rebecca January 23, 2024 at 8:56 am

Nice job on the hat, Katy.
1. I am going to make your red lentil soup today. It is delicious.
2. Having more game nights with friends. So much fun and very little $ spent for refreshments.
3. I stayed home on some really cold days. I did put the heat up a bit because what I used in oil is a lot cheaper than potentially frozen pipes. Saved some gas, too.
4. I am starting a dog sitting business in my home. I have 2 potential customers.
5. The usual-coffee and water from home, cold water laundry washes, and groceries from loss leader items as much as I can.


Katy January 23, 2024 at 11:32 am

Thanks, I thrifted a bag of random wool floss many years ago and it’ll keep me going for the foreseeable future. Almost every color I need. And a dog sitting business? That sounds like fun.


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