Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 15, 2024 · 101 comments

    1. I followed through on my plan to score enough free potting soil to fill my half-barrel planters through Fred Meyer’s Fuchsia Saturday event. You have to purchase plants for your containers, so I picked up a six-pack of lettuce starts. This may seem mercenary to spend as little as possible, but I hid nothing and was certainly not the only person in line with laughably big containers for small plants. The employees were perfectly lovely and didn’t bat an eye.

      By the way, I did not schlep my heavy oak barrel planters to the store, instead bringing six big empty pots for my six tiny lettuce starts. I did need to add a fair amount of random fill, (broken bricks, concrete chunks and wintered over maple leaves) to the bottom of the barrels, which did the trick. I know it’ll shrink as the soil settles and the leaves decompose, but such is life.

    2. I bought a single $3.99 pot of basil at Trader Joe’s to fill the second barrel planter, which is an amazing bargain. I do this every year, as there end up being at least twenty or so plants crowded in the pot. I’m deliberate with how I trim the basil as it grows, which encourages them to get nice and bushy. They’re droopy and thin at the moment, but time is on my side. I know I could plant them by seed, but this hack is too cheap and easy to bypass.

    3. I friend of mine was mourning the loss of her uncle, so I cut some tulips, candytuft and blue bells from the garden and brought them to her in a thrifted vase. It didn’t cost me anything, (I already had the vase) but it gives her something beautiful to look at and a reminder that she has the love and support of her friends.

    4. • I finished listening to Happy Place by Emily Henry through the library’s free Libby app. Such a good book!
      • The “six-pack” of lettuce plants actually contained at least a dozen individual lettuce starts.
      • I dug up a volunteer oregano plant from my driveway and planted it in a terra cotta pot for the back deck. Oregano sneaks over the property line from my neighbor’s garden, which makes this a lazy frugal hack.
      • I only bought what was on my list at Trader Joe’s, (toilet paper, bananas, eggs and the afore mentioned basil plant) as I’m trying to support the company as little as possible. The company is union busting at the federal level, arguing that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional. Billionaires such as Theo Albrecht Jr., (net worth 13 billion) arguing against living wages and worker rights are on my shit list! I used to shop there once a week or so, but I’ve taken it down to around once a month.

      I should straight up boycott Trader Joe’s, but they’re the only place that sells 100% recycled content toilet paper at an affordable price. Why is it my responsibility to agonize over this ethical dilemma while a German business owner happily devotes his riches to decimating American rights? It’s so infuriating!

    5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

Lesley April 15, 2024 at 5:43 am

Love it when you include informative links. I’m disappointed in the TJ information and wonder if the Aldi heirs are any different!

Love the pix of the pots full of soil … such a hopeful spring scene.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 8:57 pm

Thanks, I’m excited to level my garden up a tiny bit each year.


Karen A. April 15, 2024 at 5:51 am

Thank you for helping me not miss Trader Joe’s. I used to shop there on the regular, until I realized I was mostly getting snacks and treats, and once Kroger started carrying coconut oil, gluten free stuff, and good teas at a decent price, I couldn’t justify my fun shopping trips anymore.

1. Library books, now and forever. Both paper and electronic.

2. I biked over to the other Little Free Library in our neighborhood (mine is currently stocked with my de-cluttered books) and scored a Laura Lippman, Antonia Fraser, and The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton, which I’ve never read. Trying to branch out a bit.

3. Making fried rice tonight to use up some brown rice I found languishing in the freezer, as well as odds and ends of frozen and fresh veggies. The boys here will eat nearly any vegetable if it’s in fried rice!

4. DH and I biked to the grocery store on Saturday; it’s a nice date, we get good exercise (6 miles total round trip), save gas, and it’s fun to see how much we can fit in our backpacks.

5. DH went over to his mother’s house to help her with her lawn (she lives two hours away) and she had let the battery on her electric mower die by bringing it in the house for whatever reason. He found a gas-powered mower she’d forgotten about and which she thought didn’t work anyway, but he made it work. Frugal because she won’t feel the need to buy another one. He’d cleared a lot of weeds the last time he was there and it turned out under all those weeds are some nice flowers that were trying to grow, so no need to buy flowers there!


Alexandra April 15, 2024 at 4:06 pm

Love your biking to the grocery and buying what can fit. Well done!


Ecoteri April 15, 2024 at 5:16 pm

Oh, I remember decades ago biking to the grocery store and FORGETTING That I didn’t have the car. Oops. It was entertaining to see how many grocery bags I hung from the (racing bike!!) handlebars, once my backpack was full. I made it home, and have never made that mistake again. I think it was the toilet paper on sale that got me – bulky and whammo, no more room for the food I also bought… I can laugh now, at the time it was the other shoppers who were laughing (and offering to help)…


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:00 pm

I’ve been on a fried rice kick lately, I buy frozen chopped mixed veggies, which makes it really easy.


mary in maryland April 15, 2024 at 6:09 am

1. Buy Nothing—insoles out (I have orthotics) and sage given to three persons, and lemon extract and a small cake in. I toasted the cake and served it with strawberries I froze last October.
2. A friend called for help after she got stuck trying to make a pillow cover out of decorative hankies. I pulled that pillow out of the fire. She gave me a meal’s worth of split pea soup and a baguette in thanks.
3. I had onions that were getting soft and sprouting. After chopping I left them to slow cook in the Instant Pot for an afternoon. Have since made soup three times without needing to sauté the onions. I also made curry powder and bouillon powder using spices on hand.
4. I’ve worked out the grams needed for corn tortillas, drop biscuits, and brownies, which makes it much easier to whip up a batch without dirtying multiple measuring cups. Also much easier to make a half or a third batch. The Mister’s love language is biscuits.
5. I continued to watch Craigslist and FB Marketplace for a Breville toaster oven. Last week I found that fits my kitchen for $50 ($300 new) two miles from home. I bought it. The oven is missing the crumb tray, but the tray from my old oven is a close fit. A replacement is $18 with $26 shipping—not for me. Now I’m watching CL and FB for the same model in terrible condition. I’ve seen a couple for only 5 or 10 bucks that aren’t close enough, but I’m sure eventually I’ll see one within my area that I can use to get the crumb tray and the pizza pan.


Lesley April 15, 2024 at 9:10 am

I’m amazed at your patience and perseverance regarding the toaster oven. Kudos to you!


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:03 pm

Project crumb tray!


Marybeth from NY April 15, 2024 at 6:18 am

I love free dirt. I will be hitting up our free compost soon from the county.
1. My friend is cleaning out her parents house getting ready to list if for sale. She texted me several pictures of big items if my kids wanted any. My son was happy to take the Ikea sleeper couch. He had our old futon. We took Hubby’s truck and all went. She ended up offering some other stuff. All I took was new cloth napkins and tablecloths. I gave her another jar of brandy cherries that we make. After we dropped everything off, I listed my son’s futon on craigslist for free. This morning he said it was gone. I took the slip cover and cushion covers home to wash as he doesn’t have a machine in his apartment.
2. My son then borrowed the truck to go pick up some free yard furniture from a different friend.
3. Our neighbors are cutting down 3 huge trees. One is near my garden so I should get better sunlight now. Hubby took our garden wagon(garbage picked and replaced wheels) to get some of the wood. He used a hand me down chain saw. We have lots of wood for next summers firepit.
4. I watch my cousin’s 3 boys for her Thursdays after school. She is a single mom If there is no school I have them all day. The middle one is on the spectrum and only eats specific foods. Kraft mac n cheese was on sale 10 for $7 so I got 2 offers. I gave her 10 boxes and I kept 10. I have them next week all day because of Passover break.
5. I planted 242 plant cells. I only needed to buy dirt. I ran out of dirt and need to get more. Then I will plant more. The dirt cost under $5. If I bought all of these plants then they would have cost me at least $500. I collect my own seeds, trade with friends and get some new varieties from the seed library .
6. My sister dropped her dog off Sunday morning. I made French toast with strawberries and applesauce that we canned in the fall. She is going to Italy for 2 weeks, 1 week work, 1 week fun. She dropped off an open pack of bacon, open pack of carrots, a lemon, open pack of blue cheese, milk buns, mango cookies (for Hubby) and Tate’s cookies for me. She also brought several kinds of dog treats.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:05 pm

I love that your son was able to make use of the couch.


Hawaii Planner April 15, 2024 at 6:21 am

1) Sold a few things on eBay: a fleece, sandals, sunglasses & a pair of flats that don’t fit quite right. Also gave away a bunch on Buy Nothing. Frugal for others & helps me declutter.
2) We pivoted our spring break trip to Lake Tahoe skiing, vs a road trip. It will be quite a bit cheaper than our original plan.
3) Stopped at Costco for gas on the drive, and bought the teens lunch for under $4.
4) Packed snacks for the hotel room, so the teens can fill up without needing to buy junk at the hotel gift shop.
5) Used a Starbucks gift card (purchased to generate grocery store rewards, and one received as a gift) to order coffee in the morning at the hotel. I can easily skip breakfast, but can’t skip coffee!


Mary Ann April 15, 2024 at 6:38 am

Hawaii Planner – Do you live in Hawaii and are traveling to tahoe? that is quite a journey!! I have a cabin in Tahoe and it is such a wonderful area.


Hawaii Planner April 17, 2024 at 6:36 am

@Mary Ann –
No, my blog name is a carry over from when we lived in Seattle & traveled to Hawaii for vacations. I originally named my blog that, because we thought of retiring in Hawaii. (At this point, unlikely to do that).

We actually live in the bay area now, so Tahoe is a drive for us.

Very envious of your cabin there – sounds fabulous!


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:05 pm

$1.50 hotdogs for the win!


Farhana April 15, 2024 at 6:47 am

Katy, thank you so much for the TJ information and the link. I wonder what would be a decent alternative for TJ in California. We have a lot of ethnic shops here, mostly Indian stores and comparatively cheaper but I’m boycotting those b/o their Prime Minister Modi’s systemic discrimination/ ethnic cleansing of lower caste (ugghh) Hindus, Punjabis, and Muslims.


A. Marie April 15, 2024 at 7:18 am

Sigh…now I’m rethinking not only shopping at TJ’s and Aldi, but shopping at my local Indian grocery. But thank you, Farhana, for the food for thought.


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 1:50 pm

I guess I’d want to know if my local Indian market owner was still a citizen of India, and voting there. Not sure how realistic it is to exclude entire countries’ products based on what their head of state does, particularly for such a large country. Am willing to hear and learn more.

My local food shopping choices are Aldi, WalMart, and a regional chain owned by a global conglomerate. No pure choices left, unfortunately. 🙁 Nearest cooperatives are over an hour away – two in winter weather.


Bee April 16, 2024 at 12:22 pm

I have noticed major changes as of late in the grocery industry. The large Southern grocer Winn-Dixie was recently purchased by Aldi. Kroger rather than adding brick and mortar locations in our area offers grocery delivery only. Even Publix – a Florida company who has prided itself on service for nearly a century – has added self-checkout.
I suspect there will be more consolidations and changes in the grocery store industry if the business environment continues to be difficult to navigate.
The margins for most traditional grocery stores is narrow coming in at 3% or less. Stores are fighting to maintain that margin and remain profitable. However, over the last few years, grocers have experienced increased labor, energy and product costs. The stores are also dealing with inventory shrinkage in many locations as the result of theft, and maintaining low spoilage rates has always been challenging. Meanwhile consumers and government officials are applying pressure to grocery stores to keep prices down even though costs have increased all along the supply chain.
I’m hopeful that these challenges will bring changes. I am just thankful that I have the skills to manage my food costs. Many lower income households are now spending 30% of their income on food. Sigh…


Farhana April 16, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Hello Vicky, sadly, a captain- a head of state in this case, is as good as his teammates. You can read up about Google’s caste bias problem here in the U.S-
India recently murdered a prominent sikh leader in Canada- The least I could do for these people is to shop elsewhere. I keep reminding myself that if Diane Fossey can do it so can I.


Vickey April 18, 2024 at 6:59 am

Thank you for the links, Farhana. It’s clear this is an issue you care very deeply about, and that is moving.
The Google caste issue is news to me, tho’ sadly not surprising. I’ll check it out. And the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar apparently by state actors was as appalling as Jamal Kashoggi’s murder. Or any!
But I’m unwilling to assume either of these instances means that every owner or manager of a small, local Indian foods store here in the U.S. participates in such a discriminatory system. Some people bring all of their home country’s customs and practices with them when they emigrate, but many do not. Is it possible some are actually members of a discriminated-against caste who moved here hoping to build a better life and leave the class system behind?
If there was an Indian foods market near me, perhaps I’d have the opportunity to get to know more about the owner’s or manager’s history, perspective, and practices and could make more informed choices about shopping there. But there is not such a store within an hour’s drive, so that’s unlikely to happen.

Farhana April 16, 2024 at 4:48 pm

Thank you, A. Marie, for considering rethinking.


Fru-gal Lisa April 15, 2024 at 8:23 am

I understand that India’s prime minister wants to oust/persecute any non-Hindu. He is supposed to be really discriminating against Christians, even jailing them. I imagine that would also apply to Jews, Muslims and people of other non-Hindu faiths as well. But I don’t know whether people from India who are living here in America have anything to do with this or not. IMO it would be unfair of us to boycott their small businesses if they have nothing to do with the persecution over there. In such a case, it’s not their fault any more than whether an unpopular action by the President or Congress would be our fault.


Tina S. April 15, 2024 at 8:39 am

Lisa, that was my thinking too. For me, I want to support small businesses in my neighborhood. I don’t see how Indian people living abroad are going to have any influence on Modi’s policies. So I don’t understand the logic on boycotting such small businesses. (If I am missing something, I am open to hearing a different view of the situation).
For more context, I am American and lived in a large European city for over a decade in the 1990s and 2000s. I spoke the local language, was employed, paid taxes, and lived as a local citizen. I cannot tell you how many times that, as an American, I was shamed/blamed for all the ills that American foreign policy perpetrated in the world. This was not my fault, and I did not agree with these policies, which I always explained when given the opportunity. But people often assumed that, just because I was American, I supported them.


Lindsey April 15, 2024 at 10:53 am

This happened to us when we lived in Scotland. It was maddening.


Katy April 15, 2024 at 9:02 am

I hope that others wouldn’t blame me for decisions made by my government and believe that we shouldn’t blame immigrants for the decisions made by their home countries.


Heidi Louise April 15, 2024 at 9:19 am

This thread reminded me of the experiences of one of my students, who I think of around election season. She had traveled with a group on an educational spring break trip to Greece. On a bus out into the countryside, a Greek woman started questioning her about how she had voted in the recent U.S. elections. Being honest, and probably just 19 or 20, she said she hadn’t voted.
The woman viciously scolded her for quite some time. Didn’t she realize that the votes of all Americans influence the lives of people all around the world? That she had a responsibility to vote, because of people like this woman who would be affected by U.S. policies? I doubt the student ever missed an election again.


Mary Ann April 15, 2024 at 6:53 am

Big Week in Frugal Decisions:

1. I decided to sell a Gucci Angry Forest Necklace that I had planned to flip later in my second career as a gemologist/appraiser. I earned my diamond certification two summers ago. I was planning on starting colored stones certification this summer. In the interim, the jewelry business has imploded because of lab gems. I wouldn’t touch appraisals with a ten foot pole now with all the turmoil and graft happening. I plan to off load a few natural diamonds I had acquired at a pretty good price and even the few gold pieces I had purchased from pawn shops. I am only keeping pieces I wear, love, or have sentimental value. This will help off set the cost of the original certification. Sigh. On to the next great adventure. I sold the necklace below my cost of Poshmark.

2. I spent an afternoon creating a standard baby card I will now give when I go to showers. It has pictures of my six month old son laughing at his favorite board books Look Baby!. I have this printed inside the card:

I have learned as a teacher that introducing a child to reading is a powerful act of love . One child will love reading instantly; another slowly with hesitation or struggle; still another child will not pick up a book again until the moment his or her own baby crawls into the lap with curiosity. I think the last child, now adult, is a special kind of hero. This adult is courageous enough to give a newborn a glimpse past the known world and into the horizons.
These books we have gifted you were my son’s first favorite titles. (Note his smile on the front of the card.) Some of the books are new reprints and some are vintage out of print. I hope all will be cherished.

I will now be able to pick up the Look Baby series second hand. The title are actually collectors items now. Also, I will always have a card and gifts without having to emergency shop.

3. I helped my 90 year old aunt with her taxes and she bought lunch.

4. I asked the principal if I could keep a few items from school ( red foldable wagon, chromatic bell chimes for music lessons, and an art easel) even though they were originally paid for through school funds. My reasoning was that in my second life I would most likely be teaching art and music to little ones and would need these things. He happily agreed. (Also I have paid thousands and thousands of my own money over 35 years.) Good to check out the ethics with someone else though.

5. I have used up half of my smoothy supplies in a a month. One more month and I can start buying milk again to have my beloved yogurt for breakfast.


Lindsey April 15, 2024 at 11:04 am

Maybe it is because of where we live, but in my entire life I have never been invited to a baby or bridal shower. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has attended one. I must hang around with folks who don’t celebrate much because a few years ago I realized I had never attended a graduation, nor did my family come to my undergrad or graduate degree ceremonies–and neither did I. Ditto for my husband’s undergrad and graduate degrees, we never thought to invite anyone and we didn’t go ourselves. Think of all the money we have saved over the years!


Ecoteri April 15, 2024 at 5:27 pm

I haven’t been to a baby shower in decades, and now that I am going to be a GRANNY!!!! I am excited to have been invited to one at my own Daughter-outlaw’s and #1 Son’s place. I laughed to myself that they are holding their own baby shower, but times are sure changing. I laughed harder when I saw their invite included a QR code to their baby registry – and my mom looked rather confused when she saw it. I hope my Daughter shows her how to use the QR code, but mom likely will provide much needed $ rather than a physical gift. The good news is that the ‘kids’ are very enthusiastic about getting used rather than new (of course in good shape) so maybe the frugal gene exists in my son!


Ruby April 16, 2024 at 1:53 pm

The last two baby events I have been invited to included a QR code. The current one included an extensive wish list and diaper fund on Amazon. I gave to the fund and made up a gift bag of useful items from Big Lots and Dollar Tree to take to the shower.


Bee April 15, 2024 at 1:31 pm

I have been to several baby showers recently where you provide a book in lieu of card. I love this idea. Reading yo your children inspires a lifetime of learning.


Christine April 15, 2024 at 5:12 pm

I went to a baby shower at which if you brought a book for the new baby and a book for the new mom, you would be entered into a drawing. The honored new mom picked out a book from each basket (one basket for baby, another for her) with her eyes closed. She picked each of the two books I had brought for them! What a coincidence, since there was a lot of people at this shower. I won a gift card but told her to give the second one to someone else.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:15 pm

I love that you’re streamlining your gift giving — so cute and so smart!


Autumn April 15, 2024 at 6:55 am

Thanks for the heads up on Trader Joe’s… I love their products, but I’m a firm union supporter, especially for grocery stores. I worked in a grocery store as a side hustle for 9.5 years, and was definitely taken advantage of!

My five frugal things…
#1 – I have been wanting some new candles, but I found some in the back of my linen closet that have yet to be burned. I had completely forgotten them! I feel like I saved some money just by discovering something I had forgotten.
#2 – I participated in a survey at work and received a $20 gift card and a free lunch. Now I have a backup for lunch in case I forget to pack.
#3 – All of my groceries and household necessities came in at $2 under budget. I love ordering online, it saves me so much time and energy and prevents me from impulse shopping.
#4 – I’m getting my use out of my gifted Stanley cup. It is glued to my side… and I’m getting all of my water every day. That will make my doctor happy! I’m also not tempted to buy a bottle of water at work or feel like I need a soda.
#5 – Using free workout videos on Youtube! I have a cheap, semi-local gym available to me, but I’m resisting spending money on what I can do for free at home.


Alexandra April 15, 2024 at 4:36 pm

We love YouTube exercise videos too. Our favorites of late are the “improved health” sessions. There is no talking. We love her! Beginner to intermediate


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:18 pm

I feel like we’ve all saved money by rediscovering stuff we already owned!


GK April 15, 2024 at 6:58 am

5 Frugal things:

* Read numerous library books again. Recent favourite: We begin at the end (Chris Whitaker). I have already requested one of his other books (Tall Oaks) through the local library, hopefully it will be just as good.
* I sold a watch armband and re-used a padded envelope to send it off.
* Gave away photography lights that a former colleague gifted my teenagers, they ended up not using them however and they were really cluttering up my teen’s room.
* I’m continuing to use kefir grains that a friend gave me about 4 years ago. Fresh kefir every 2 days! Sometimes it gets too much (especially in summer, kefir likes warm temperatures and in summer fresh kefir is ready every day), in that case I put it in the fridge and it can be left dormant there for about 2 weeks.
* The salt in our salt cellar has gone damp. Tried the rice method but that did not work. It’s no longer fit for use on the table but I am still using it to season soups and stews etc

Frugal fail:

Both myself and my husband had to go gluten free for health reasons, this has had a huge impact on our grocery spending.


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 7:16 am

Thanks for the TJ predatory capitalist update. A friend of mine goes occasionally (the closest one is an hour away) and offers to pick things up for me, but I’m relieved to be able to pass up any potential savings with a clear conscience now.

More than 5 FT below, but I don’t post mine frequently.
1. I made an arch of veggie-rich Pasta Puttanesca in the Instant Pot, but over-estimated how long the new-to-us brand of legume pasta would take to cook. The pasta dissolved into utter mush, so I renamed the mistake “Tofu Mush-take” and told the boys to think of it as a savory spoon pudding. It was actually quite tasty.
2. Made 4 pints of peanut butter in the food processor using bulk-purchased peanuts. This saves us about a dollar a jar, and only takes about 20 minutes including clean-up.
3. Made up a batch of house blend tea using bulk-purchased loose teas. Green, white, and black teas combined, for maximum flavor and health benefits. We brew our tea with the leaves “loose” (rather than in a ball or cage) then strain it, for maximum extraction.
4. Practiced being nimble and flexible w/eclipse day foods, for less stress and subsequent therapeutic indulgences. Numerous guests cancelled due to weather or health issues, so I kept simplifying the menu, and wound up taking just hummus, homemade guacamole, and all the round or crescent-cut vegetables I could “round up”, along w/various colorful sliced citrus, to MIL’s house at the lake. We had the chickpea frittatas for brunch, and the “Space Soup” for dinner that night, both here at home.
5. Cut up another half dozen very large, starting to soften onions from the bushel purchased from a local farm last fall, and made caramelized onions in the Instant Pot. Super easy, and so good to top all the savory things!
6. Cut the budding flower stalks from the bolting over-wintered collards and steamed them to have with dinner. They looked and tasted like broccolini or broccoli rabe. (They’re all in the same family.) Not sure if I should call them Brocollini-ish or Collards-ini.
7. While DS was here for a multi-day visit, he drilled a small, discreet hole at the back of one of the open kitchen shelves for running cables through so I can charge devices there if needed (phone for podcasts, tablet for recipes, etc.) He lined the hole with rubber tips previously salvaged from an old curtain rod, to protect the cables. Zero cost hack, and happy mum to not have to see those darned cables dangling along the underside of the shelf.
8. Purchased replacement mop head covers for our >20 y.o. mop. Did not buy an expensive specialty bucket to wring out the mop.
9. DH soldered our ancient tankless water heater’s leaking heat exchanger and saved us hundreds of dollars in a repair call or replacement.
10. DH went to the dentist for a broken tooth, and the new dentist wants to pull 4 wisdom teeth, at least 2 of which are still intact. We’re getting a second opinion before spending thousands of dollars out of pocket on potentially unnecessary extractions.
11. Started flats of seedlings: kale, collards, chard, tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet & hot peppers, basil, cosmos, marigolds, and snapdragons.


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 7:28 am

Argh! This cheapo keyboard’s “auto-correct” is driving me wild! That was a *batch* of Pasta Puttanesca.


Mary Ann April 15, 2024 at 9:14 am

Vicki could you link the instapot recipe?


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 4:10 pm

Happy to! This is the original recipe:

I add lots more veggies, for flavor and nutrition: sliced onions, carrots, and celery, along with either cubed tempeh or tofu. And usually use a can or jar of tomatoes + herbs & spices, to save $ over prepared pasta sauce.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 9:20 pm

Can you dehydrate salt in an oven?


Vickey April 18, 2024 at 7:06 am

Wait, what? I’m puzzled by this question – what’s the context for it? (Goes to see if the keyboard typos issues has caused her to unintentionally sound like she knows something about dehydrating salt. None found. Puzzlement continues…)


Vickey April 18, 2024 at 7:43 am

Ohhhh. smh. I see on the big screen that the salt question was in response to GK’s post. Sorry, that wasn’t displaying when I was reading and responding on my tablet. Feel free to delete this comment and my previous one. Decluttering!


Christine April 15, 2024 at 7:45 am

Good call on Trader Joe’s. I don’t have one near me and I’m glad.
1. I saw a disturbing story on Sunday Morning yesterday. Apparently, the plastics we think we have been recycling are not being recycled. According to this, only 6 to 7% are actually being put back in the stream. Disheartening to say the least. One more (big) reason to step up my determination to use as little plastic as possible.
2. I bought two loaves of Italian bread at Walmart yesterday for $1 each. I was planning on making bread yesterday but when I saw this, I bought them. I try to avoid Walmart for some of the same reasons Katy is avoiding Trader Joe’s, but the price of their coffee draws me back.
3. While picking up the book being held for me at the library, I noticed the Spice of the Month Club was offering Turmeric, so I took some home.
4. I worked at my church’s thrift store on Saturday. I really enjoy seeing the shoppers coming in to pick up needed and wanted items. Always great to see things being rehomed for a decent price. I shop between customers too…always fun to get some bargains. I bought a pair of denim capris in excellent shape, a pair of beautiful earrings and a pack of thank you cards, all for $6.50.
5. Eating a big batch of American Chop Suey (homemade sauce and on-sale ground turkey) I made on Friday each day this weekend. It’s one of DH’s favorites so he doesn’t mind. Today is the last day we’ll eat it. I can say although I don’t dislike it, four suppers in a row is about my limit for American Chop Suey.
Best to everyone!


Bee April 15, 2024 at 1:35 pm

I was aware of the plastics issue. I so agree that avoiding the use of plastic all together is on of the best thing that we can do for our environment. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to do. Everything is packaged in excess.


Christine April 15, 2024 at 5:21 pm

Agreed. It really is a shame to see such needless plastic packaging. I know it has its place in the food industry, medical and dental industries and others but for goodness sakes, why are there so many one time use plastics floating around our planet? Water bottles, bags, excess packaging that “showcases” the product, take-home food containers…it’s all too much for Earth to handle. I’ll continue to do my bit and hope it makes a tiny dent.


A. Marie April 15, 2024 at 7:52 am

FFT, An Eventful Weekend Edition:

(1) As those who have followed my story here and at The Frugal Girl may recall, I donated my DH’s body to the local medical school upon his death last June. (His first choice was to be an organ donor, but since that wasn’t possible, anatomical donation seemed like the next best thing.) On Saturday, the school held its annual service honoring anatomical donors and their loved ones, and the Bestest Neighbors and I attended. (Dr. BN used to teach at the school, and both BNs have walked every step of the long Alzheimer’s way with DH and me.) It was a simple and lovely service, including musical performances and poetry readings by medical students with talents in those areas, plus other worthy speeches. If you’re wondering about the frugal angles here, there are two: (a) a profound sense of closure on DH’s behalf, and (b) no cost whatever.

(2) I had brought DH’s “I Am a Force for Science” t-shirt with me, intending to stand and hold it up if there was a formal roll call of donors, but there wasn’t. (I was both pleased and astonished to see how many there were; the list of names occupied three double-column pages in the program. But it would have taken a lot of time to read them all.) However, I had a burst of inspiration at the reception following the service: I approached a group of medical students who seemed to fit the Gentle Giant size requirements, held up the shirt, and asked, “Who wears [DH’s size] and would like this shirt that my late husband wore?” One student immediately and enthusiastically claimed it, and I was able to point DH out to him on the photo board of donors on display. I felt really good about this.

(3) And for those of you who don’t have religious or other personal objections to the idea, I recommend going the anatomical-donation route. You’ll be doing good for others and (again, the frugal angle) saving considerable money over the more conventional post-death options. I’m going to pull the necessary paperwork from the medical school on my own behalf this week.

(4) Now, two more mundane FTs. First, the young lady who runs a secondhand-housewares shop in a nearby suburb paid me a house call Sunday morning and bought about two-thirds of the stuff I’d piled in the dining room for her consideration: decorative bookends, baskets, planters/plant pots, an old Pyrex bowl, a couple of old half-gallon Mason jars with zinc lids, some hardcover cookbooks and gardening books (she likes to have these both as props and for sale), etc., etc. Of course, I wanted a bit more for all of it than she was prepared to offer me, but after a bit of polite haggling, we settled on $240. Not a bad 90 minutes’ work for me.

(5) And now that it’s finally stopped raining (which it’s been doing every day since JASNA BFF left for home last Wednesday), I am going to get out in my gardens and start raking off/cutting back things like a maniac!


Fru-gal Lisa April 15, 2024 at 8:34 am

A. Marie,
I once read a book about anatomy written by a doctor but was designed for the general public to read. He told about his med school experience working with a human cadaver. He felt that, in a way, it was a religious experience because he was awestruck as to how intricate and wonderfully put together the human body is and it made him feel really close to God. He talked about his “patient” as if the cadaver was a good friend, and he was respectfully working on it. He is going to donate his body, too, when the time comes, and urges others to follow suit.


A. Marie April 15, 2024 at 2:52 pm

Fru-gal Lisa, Dr. Bestest Neighbor has described his experience of working with his cadaver (over 60 years ago now) to me, and he spoke of it in similar terms.


Heidi Louise April 15, 2024 at 9:07 am

Thank you for this moving description of the service, A Marie!


Lindsey April 15, 2024 at 11:12 am

What a wonderful service/celebration of donors and their families! Until your reports, I had never known how body donations are made and hope that reading your experiences spurs some people into becoming donors.


Christine April 15, 2024 at 5:35 pm

I’m so impressed by your description of the service honoring the donors and their family members. What a lovely and thoughtful way to acknowledge this last generous act.
Happy the rain finally stopped where you are. Same here in Mass. NOW I can actually get some outdoor work done. Last year, I raked too early and uncovered a salamander under some old leaves. I quickly covered him back up, but it stuck with me. Now seems perfect.


Ecoteri April 15, 2024 at 5:53 pm

@A. Marie, how lovely to have this ‘closure’ on your DH’s final FINAL journey. It sounds as if they gave all of the donors and families a respectful event to celebrate their final contribution.
We investigated the body-donor options here, when I was doing the Advanced Care Planning training and having conversations with my family. My middle child was really wanting this to be an option for himself (hopefully a long time in the future) but at this time we are too far away from the medical school – a ferry ride plus several hours of travel on each side – so only organ donation is an option for us.
My father was a family doctor, and he shared with us how he and his fellow students felt about their cadavers. it was, for him as well, Fru-gal Lisa, a spiritual experience and one that taught him enormous respect for the wonder of the human body (and for the generosity of his donor-cadaver).


Katy April 19, 2024 at 5:10 pm

Thank you so much for sharing about the medical school service and the reminder of anatomical donation. My college of nursing at the University of New Mexico used cadavers for the anatomy and physiology labs and it was so important.

I love that you gifted his T-shirt and what a lucky medical student to receive such a gift!


Cindy in the South April 15, 2024 at 7:57 am

I have noticed that Aldi seems to run their cashiers ragged making them deal with both the checkout and the self checkout when there is an issue. I think both stores need a union.
1. I walked in neighborhood.
2. I cooked everything at home.
3. I had yet another pipe failure, basement flooded again, and my son is trying to fix it. I hope so because plumbers and parts are $$$$$$$
4. I cut my hair myself.
5. I am keeping both the heat and the air off.


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 3:52 pm

I second the unionization of both chains! And raising the federal minimum wage to a living wage!


Jean C April 17, 2024 at 8:34 pm

I can confirm, based on a family member’s work experience, that Aldi was a dysfunctional sweat shop for its employees. The same individual had a much better work experience at Trader Joes.

In Florida, my experience with Publix is that they treat their employees better than most and as a result their customers benefit.


Jill A April 15, 2024 at 8:41 am

Yay for free potting soil. Basil and lettuce are on my list for this year also.
1. My Mom’s city is having their yearly bulk trash pick up and I trolled some of the neighborhoods and found several planters and a garden cart. I want to plant more veggies and herbs this year and plan to put them next to house where hopefully the deer won’t help themselves. Free planters is a good start on the project.
2. My two youngest daughters and I decided against driving to Cleveland to enjoy their 100% totality for the eclipse. We had 96% and enjoyed it at home in the backyard. If we could have spent more time in Cleveland with DD#1 then it would have been worthwhile but she had to work the next day.
3. I’ve been taking advantage of our early warm weather to get a jump start on the enormous amount of weeding that comes with this property. My goal is to make this easier with replacing plants with ground cover etc. because I’m not getting any younger and it’s getting harder and harder to crawl around on the ground.
4. DD#3 and I helped my Mom move some heavy items. She fed us dinner afterwards. I also helped arrange a surprise meeting at a restaurant with my niece (who hasn’t visited in a while) and my Mom. My niece and her boyfriend bought dinner for us which was unexpected. I hope to return the favor soon.
5. I have been waiting for a book which is third in a series for the last year or so and was very tempted to buy it when it came out. Instead I stalked the digital library website until it appeared a week or so after it’s debut. I was number 8 on the list and should be able to read it in a couple weeks.

I finished watching Alone for free on Roku’s history channel app. I think I was a little surprised by who won. It was very entertaining and I enjoyed seeing their different strategies.


Fru-gal Lisa April 15, 2024 at 8:59 am

Wow, A.Marie, I wish I could get $240 for my clutter! The best I’ve managed to do lately is to get a 20% off coupon for donating stuff to Goodwill.
1. Made arrangements with a new coworker, also a single gal, to eat out this evening. Grabbed a two-for-one coupon from the break room, and we are going to half the price of the one meal that has to be paid for. Excited to get to know a new friend better. She shares my interest in being frugal/saving money/coping with inflation and I gifted her with a surplus copy of Complete Tightwad Gazette. (I have another.)
2. Checking my compost pile, I found a volunteer tomato plant coming up! I believe it was from a past-its-prime Sinfully Sweet Tomato I tossed in there. Sure hope to get some “sinfully sweet” tomatoes from it, but no blooms yet.
3. Waited until the big eclipse was over before filling up with gas. The prices went up to $3 a gallon over the weekend when the tourists were in town, but dropped back down to $2.99 by Tuesday and $2.95 by Thursday. So I waited until Thursday. By then, I was down to a quarter of a tank, but I saved a nickel a gallon. Every little bit helps!
4. Shopped Aldi and got some calzone sandwiches for my sack lunches. If I’m running late in the morning, I can simply drop a calzone into my lunch bag instead of making a sandwich and still have a good mid-day meal. Also made a great big salad in the big mixing bowl and put it in the fridge. I consider it my DIY salad bar so I will be eating more veggies, a little bowl at a time. Usually I’m to tired to chop up a salad and I’ll opt for something that needs no prep….usually crackers and dip or other marginally-healthy fare. Cooking for one is the pits.
5. The local used book store is quitting business, and I used my credits to get some large print novels for summer reading. Free! Much easier to read and less eye strain! Will trade them elsewhere when done.


Blue Gate Farmgirl April 15, 2024 at 9:23 am

I filled 8 hanging baskets at the Freddie’s sale. I bought geranium starts and 3 fuchsias. Decided to drive to Newberg (40 miles away) to deliver 4 bird houses, pick up supplies at farm store, have lunch with favorite cousin and we filled our hanging baskets at the plant sale.
Divided my perennials to share with my Auntie who is moving to Central Oregon. The home she bought does not have landscaping, so I am working with a friend who lives a community away to curate the flower garden.
*I hired my nephew to be on retainer for the summer (gave him a $500 retainer fee) He detailed my farm truck, gave my atv (used daily) a tune up, replaced the accessory plug in, installed 5 security lights and a new driveway gate with opener. He is worth his weight in gold! The retainer fee is my golden ticket that he will answer my call and take care of the problem in a timely manner. He has stellar plumbing and electrical skills as his dad is a plumber and electrician. He is learning farming stuff and is so enjoyable to be around.
*Framily gave me bird netting for the garden, I gave her a bucket of lettuce, broccoli, scallions, chard and carrots.
Repotted my tomato starts into gallon pots, using my own 3 year cured compost mix.
Took 2 bushel boxes full of read books for the library book sale later this month.
Delivered 4 tubs of clothes for the community free closet in town.
Picked up 8 more pallets, have an order for front porch planter benches.
Not frugal, my beloved artichoke plant did not survive the winter, bah!


MJ April 15, 2024 at 9:25 am

Katy, I so so appreciate that you highlight the big picture justice aspects of being frugal. I have.left other website when they refused to consider the ripple effects of their recommendations–e.g. ignoring corporate labor, wage, race and gender practices. Thanks you! You make me feel less crazy!


Katy April 17, 2024 at 3:00 pm

“Less crazy” is always a good goal. Mwah!


JEG April 15, 2024 at 9:48 am

I attended a program planned by the intern at the Sr. Center, who is working on her MSW deg. It included healthy made muffins, banana bread, fruit, water, coffee if one wanted it, lunch and a gift bag plus information. She put on a great program, calling on the help of her friends.
I listened to Island Beneath the Sea from Hoopla. (Happy I listened. The reader had a beautiful voice and beautiful pronunciations of the French and Creole words)
While listening, I have been working on knitted coasters, using stash yarns, for our stitching group coaster exchange for next week.
I got 10 eggs for caring for the grand dogs.
I am saving 2 hydrangeas and a lilac bush that the dogs have attacked. They are plucky little bushes that are showing buds.
I didn’t go into a store or buy a coffee out this week.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 3:00 pm

A whole week not going into a store? I love that!


MB in MN April 15, 2024 at 10:42 am

1. Received a generous rebate check from our electric company for when we installed a new HVAC system in December.

2. Had a fourth service call in the ongoing saga of our HVAC wiring being chewed by a ground squirrel (that apparently continued to live inside our foundation after we closed off the exterior hole). The first three service calls were free; this last time they only charged us for one hour of labor for replacing the wiring and placing it inside a metal conduit.

3. Received cream, spice jars and a book bag from my Buy Nothing Group. I was debating whether the book bag would be worth the trip, so before I indicated my interest, I looked up the person’s address and noticed she lived only a couple blocks from me. Definitely worth the walk over with my dog.

4. Renewed seasonal membership at our community center, which has a walking track that I use often. This renewal period will get me close to my 65th birthday when my membership will be free through my health insurance.

5. Made a note in my calendar to use a coupon before the expiration date.


mary in maryland April 15, 2024 at 12:21 pm

I usually google the donor before I ask or anything on Buy Nothing. So much easier if they are close to my house.


MB in MN April 15, 2024 at 1:55 pm

In my Buy Nothing group, people will often indicate “Pick up near _____” in their post. So helpful.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:59 pm

Such a rude squirrel situation, so sorry this is an issue for you!


Kuni April 15, 2024 at 10:43 am

I’m German. As far as I know Aldi pays relatively ok wages in Germany considering that they’re discounters, but don’t hire people full time. They much prefer part time workers because that is cheaper (tax, health insurance, etc)


Kara April 15, 2024 at 10:49 am

Yay for free compost! Our city does free compost events where we can collect a cubic yard of compost. Usually we shovel it onto a tarp in the back of our Subaru, but last week a friend wanted to go as well and so he drove his truck. We collected our cubic yard and didn’t even have to pay for the gas to drive to the event (15 minutes away). There’s another one next month, and we’ll be there. We have fruit trees, grapes, raised beds of veggies and berries, etc, so we can use all the compost we get.
1. We found free rock to put in our newly dug drainage ditch.
2. I made the cheapest burritos using free can of lentils seasoned with taco seasoning, free creamed corn, free sweet potatoes. The parts that cost me were the rice (bought in bulk), a bit of cheese, and some shredded cabbage (whole cabbage $1.69 at Trader Joes).
3. I planted zucchini, cucumber and butternut squash seeds, even though I really didn’t feel like it. My future self will thank me when this free produce comes in. I say free because the seeds and the compost were free. The cost is the water, which I’m very stingy about and they still seem to do fine. Heavy mulch does help.
4. Planned meals around the 3 dozen eggs we were gifted from friends backyard flocks.
5. We buy 1/2 gallon of milk at a time when it’s on sale and freeze half of that (my husband’s job). I realized he had SO many random 1/4 gallons of frozen milk scattered throughout the kitchen freezer and the chest freezer. I gathered all of these into a re-usable bag that I dropped into the chest freezer so when he looks for milk he can see ALL of the together and know when we do and don’t need to buy more. It will be a while before we need more!


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:58 pm

I do a lot of favors for my future self. She’s a lucky girl.


Ava April 15, 2024 at 12:14 pm

1. My husband and I both went to the beauty academy to get haircuts. We didn’t realize it was half off day. We paid $6 each plus tip. The students take longer but they did an excellent job.
2. I asked my husband to look for pea seeds when he went in $ Tree. I told him to get several packs. because I honestly expected about 3 seeds in each pack. There were bunches of seeds per pack. I planted 1 1/2 packs and put the rest in the freezer for next year.
3. I had a Frugal Girl lunch of sauteed onion, kale from the garden, leftover butternut squash and an egg. It was delicious.
4. I planted marigold seeds saved from last year.
5. I added 2 books to the little free library.


A. Marie April 15, 2024 at 1:42 pm

Ava, your #2 is a good reminder that extras of most garden seeds can be saved in the freezer, as long as they’re kept as dry as possible (I tuck silica gel packets in with mine). How long they’ll remain viable depends on the type of seed, but my all-time record is 15 years for some lettuce seeds.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:57 pm

Hooray for half-price haircuts!


Kathy April 15, 2024 at 2:12 pm

We’re on our long awaited Columbia Cruise. All inclusive.
1. Friday we met friends in Portland for dinner before we sailed where I came down with food poisoning.
2. So I’ve missed all the great food, wine and activities


Jill A April 16, 2024 at 2:25 am

I’m so sorry you are ill. Feel better and enjoy your cruise.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:57 pm

I’m so sorry. Truly.


Ruby April 15, 2024 at 2:29 pm

That is dismaying about Trader Joe’s. I just started shopping there when on that side of the big city.

On to the frugal things:

Bought a replacement tethered gas cap on eBay for my car and consulted YouTube to learn how to install the tether in the mounting clip. Super easy and saved me a bunch of money.

Cut my husband’s hair and trimmed his eyebrows. Rack dried two loads of laundry. Made a couple of use-it-up suppers that turned out quite good.

Had a frugal fail (my husband lost the part I ordered to repair the vacuum cleaner) and I had to buy the whole component instead. However, the price on the component had gone down $5 since first checking into it. It was still pricey, but the vacuum now works great.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:56 pm

I love when people can figure out buying a used item that most people would just buy new. It saves money and gives a second life to a perfectly good item. Yay!


Ecoteri April 15, 2024 at 5:43 pm

I’m glad you remembered to get your dirt, Katy – however, isn’t this the event when you get your fuchsia plants, or am I confused? The basil looks great – too cold here north of you by a few hundred kilometres – I am sure it was freezing last night. soon, garden, soon!!
1. DD gave me an almost full bottle of multivitamins. They are upsetting her tummy. I had run out and have been avoiding rejoining Costco until I absolutely MUST do a big run for the staples I tend to stock up on… now I can avoid for a bit longer.
2. I have collected a couple of lovely Marketplace hauls for grand-baby-to-be. I found one thing I was looking for at a really great price, and then checked out what else the seller had on Marketplace – turns out a LOT! So I drove quite a distance to pick up a couple of things. She is moving, so was running around handing me extra boxes, giving me more of the FREE things, and giving me things that she had been trying to sell.
I got a bassinet that she said she had never ended up using – essentially brand new, for 1/4 or less the retail price. If my Daughter Outlaw doesn’t want it I will keep for when am on grand-baby duty.
I then contacted another seller, and when I went to get THAT one thing, I again came away with another vehicle full (first vehicle still had stuff in it – they are moving sheds, right now). I have spent just over $115 and have about $7-800 of baby gear for either my house or my son’s. Marketplace is great when you are in a small town, as sellers have a much smaller pool of potential buyers so prices are lower (and they give you stuff if you go get two things….)
3. DD’s condo project continues. We got the door knobs reinstalled after reinstalling the cleaned-in-the-crockpot hinges, and rehanging the doors. DD and one of her friends and I each did a door, and the feeling of accomplishment is HUGE. We replaced the doorknobs with nice new ones and DD is very happy. Now, we are cutting baseboards. The things I am doing for this kid! We are HAND cutting the baseboards. I am practicing getting up and down from the floor, over and over. The hallway has a lot of jigs and jags. I was hoping this would be finished, painted and installed on Saturday, so we could take a pause for a bit – however see below for what we did instead.
4. Wonder James rototilled again and spread some straw for me, and also dug 70 or so potato holes, which I used to plant 70 or so potatoes, cover a bit and spread some waste hay from the sheep over the holes. Body couldn’t take spreading straw today, but I can get to that in the next few days. I also planted some onion starts, and admired my barely-up brassicas (broccoli, kale, cabbage) which will be transplanted out of their ‘blocks’ once they get some true leaves…The garden is feeling so organized and is looking great.
5. When I was heading to DD’s place she asked me to meet her to see if we could pick up a free shelf. That turned out to not fit in my car, but as I headed to her house after the attempt, I drove by a little free library that had a perambulator beside it with a FREE sign. It was kind of tucked behind a parked car, so I pulled a quick turn around and drove back. Bugaboo brand, with both the bassinet and sit up components, plus the manual and all kinds of extra bits. WHOOT. I couldn’t figure out how to collapse it but a friendly passer by helped get it in the car – along with a folding travel playpen (I had already bought one on Friday for all of $20 so this is extra bonus!).
Feeling thrilled, I headed to Daughter’s house. We ended up back on the road in a failed attempt to get her shelf using a friend’s van – so on the way home we wandered some side streets in a joyous “free pile” adventure. I got a kiddie pool (for my chickens) and she got a box of stemless wine glasses, a long swath of sheer curtain material (probably from a wedding) a StarWars poster mounted on canvas, and a sweet oval plant pot ‘surround’.
We were heading home when she said ‘hey, there’s another stroller’ – so I did more reversal of direction and we picked up a sturdy umbrella stroller (slightly dirty but that’s what scrub brushes are for). Somehow I figured out how to collapse THAT as we were getting short of space, what with the kiddie pool and barely collapsed big stroller/perambulator. I am sure glad I had emptied the car before I went down to see my daughter, as it had been full of one of my Friday baby hauls.
6. Frugal fail – (although the wins of #5 mean it doesn’t feel that way at all )– we were pretty tired after our adventures, so we went out for Korean Fried Chicken (her choice) rather than going back to her place to cook the chicken I had already bought.
The meal wasn’t expensive, and considering the free pile deals we have come out WAY ahead, but one of my DOH moments is that I neglected to collect the fresh chicken – that I had purchased on sale and put in her fridge – before I headed home. I’ll have to get her to freeze it as she isn’t good with tearing cooked chicken off bones, so no sense having her cook it. I won’t be down for a number of days. Oh well….
7. I got over 70 hills of potatoes planted, many using last years madly sprouting abandoned potatoes. This also means I have two fewer tubs/boxes in my kitchen, as every potato was either planted or assigned to the compost pile. (dusts her hands off with glee)


Vickey April 16, 2024 at 5:49 am

*Very* impressive free things round-up!


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:51 pm

Wow, you are now rich with strollers! Such an impressive list!


Elizabeth April 15, 2024 at 6:20 pm

1. Husband found a $250 desk riser to make his desk a stand up desk for $13 at Goodwill. He works remotely from home and wanted a way to get a bit more health into his sitting down all day. He’s been standing all day now!
2. Got two free movies tickets to “the Idea of You” from Amazon Prime Premieres for May 1. Didn’t even know this was a thing but I saw something online about it!
3. Drove 6 hours to and from my parent’s house for the eclipse (they were in the path of totality). Packed a lunch both ways so I only had to pay for gas and tolls. While there, my parents treated me to some meals out and I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in over 30 years for breakfast and she insisted on buying my breakfast since I had driven in.
4. Used Libby from the library for both audiobook and ebook versions of my book club books, as well as audiobooks for my drive (listened to “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell which was so interesting and I learned a lot of new information).
5. Haven’t really done any grocery shopping since I’ve been back. Cooking with what we have. Made buffalo chicken stuffed zucchini one night and a yellow rice, black bean and veggie bake the next night. Used up the cotija cheese I bought for one specific recipe for the rice and bean dish and discovered I actually don’t like cotija cheese. It had a strong flavor that didn’t quite work with the rice and beans strangely. Decided that when I eat the leftovers I’ll put some of the avocado lime crema (from a bottle I bought for something and haven’t used yet) on it to try to mask the cotija. And last night was cereal for dinner (the joy of which we are just discovering this year as we are empty nesters for the first time with no kids asking what’s for dinner!)


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:49 pm

You’re makeshift meals sound absolutely delicious!


Jessica April 16, 2024 at 3:58 am

Aldi in the UK pay some of the highest rates in retail and to the best of my knowledge it’s not possible to ban union membership here but I may be wrong. I know there is ongoing strife with Amazon over working practices though another reason I never buy from them.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:47 pm

Amazon is the worst when it comes to union busting!


Roberta April 16, 2024 at 9:38 am

I’m really undecided on the Trader Joe’s issue. I want to support the workers, but I feel like they’ll need me to stop shopping (and me more noticeable) if I boycott if/when they have an organized strike. In the meantime, I’m cutting back, but I still feel ambivalent about all my choices.

1. Brought lunch to babysit my twin baby nieces, instead of having to go out. Last time I babysat, everything in their refrigerator was something I couldn’t eat.
2. Walked to the park, instead of paying to park inside. If I’m going there to get exercise, I can take the extra exercise to walk into the park.
3. Found a table saw on Craigslist, to replace the broken one my husband has. It is EXACTLY the same as the one he has, but in better condition. I’m just waiting for the slowest texter in history to tell me what time.
4. In the meantime, I picked up a last-minute sub job. I showed up 10 minutes late because I needed to change into adult clothes, but it will cover the cost of the new table saw.
5. Borrowed a truck from my niece to pick up the table saw, and dropped off eggs.

I’m really excited about the table saw because I want to make some updates to the house (since we won’t be able to move until my daughter is done receiving financial aid from her school).


Bee April 16, 2024 at 1:25 pm

Since Trader Joe’s is one of the stores in my rotation, I was somewhat surprised by this article. I decided to do some research of my own. I have gotten to the point where I rarely accept the reporting of a single media source especially when they are interpreting a document or an event for me. I have now read the 168 page transcript which was the basis for the Huffington Post Article. I read an 2022 article published in Forbes that contains an interview with one of the organizers of Trader Joe’s United (Who incidentally seemed to really like his job). I considered the laws in each of the four states that had unionized stores and search for additional reports of attempts to bust the independent unions. I looked up beginning wages at Trader Joe’s stores in my state which incidentally are 24% higher than average for the industry. I also considered what I knew about the company. A friend of mine worked for TJ’s in a non-management position for sometime and had nothing but praise for the workplace environment.
So when I considered everything together, I do not feel uncomfortable purchasing items from Trader Joe’s. The management at the store in Massachusetts where not quite 60% of the workers first voted to unionize certainly did not consider the well-being of its employees during the Covid epidemic. This was the impetus for the unionization process to begin with. However, I think that this was difficult time for many.
A polarizing situation for certain, but each should do what they think is best.


Q April 16, 2024 at 6:28 pm

Thank you, Bee, for sharing your deep dive.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:44 pm

My main issue is their efforts at the federal level to dismantle the National Labor Relations Board, which would be catastrophic for American workers.


Vickey April 18, 2024 at 6:29 am

An effort in which they are joined by Amazon, SpaceX, and Starbucks. Figures.


Selena April 18, 2024 at 7:12 pm

Do some research on where Ibotta has received funding – Wal-Mart and via one of Koch Industries many “subsidiaries”. Two huge anti-union companies. Ibotta just went public FYI.


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:47 pm

Sending fast texter vibes your way!


Vickey April 18, 2024 at 6:28 am

There’s a movement afoot to sign a customer pledge saying you’ll support TJ workers by boycotting their stores if the workers attempting to unionize call for a “customer strike”. Look for


Amanda April 16, 2024 at 11:30 am

You might want to check out They are a B Corp and their recycled toilet paper is for $50 for 48 rolls


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:46 pm

I’m aware of them, but >$1 per roll is too much for me. Plus the environmental impact of mailing cases of toilet paper to each household has to be considered as well.


Bethany M April 16, 2024 at 5:29 pm

Someone brought in 3 onions to the teachers’ lounge to giveaway. I knew nobody would take them, so at the end of the day I scooped them up. I’ll add them to my beef roast for tomorrow and eggs with sautéed onions and peppers are coming to my diet for sure!

A science teacher with seniority asked for my 8th grade science class next year. I was a bit bummed, because I put so much work into it. But they gave me a health class and I will be teaching multiple sections of it. It’s an elective and the pressure isn’t nearly as intense as a core subject. Nice to continue to have the same class load so my paycheck doesn’t suffer!

Took my 6th grade to the county compost site. They sure did love it! Free!!!

Speaking of school I agreed to substitute during my off hours for a high school teacher. An extra $60 will hit my bank account.

I had a rare moment of being away from home, hungry, and without a snack. I figured I’d go to Wendy’s and get a chicken sandwich. Opened the app to see if there was a $1 off coupon, but instead I found a 6 pc chicken nugget free with any purchase. Ordered a small fry along with the nuggets, and when they scanned my QR code, it brought me to a zero balance. Free meal!


Katy April 17, 2024 at 2:42 pm

Woo hoo for free food, nuggets, onions and fries!


Peg April 17, 2024 at 5:28 am

I recently read a VERY unflattering article about Trader Joe’s and its purported use of entrepreneurs’ private recipes, and it bothered me. I like Trader Joe’s a lot, but the nearest location is 50 miles away and in a city we no longer go to very often.


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