Five Frugal Things — Food Prep, Library Movies & Teenage Drivers

by Katy on February 20, 2014 · 22 comments

1) I have to drive a mini-van full of boys down to Grants Pass and back for a soccer game this weekend. Because it’s 4-1/2 hours each way, I loaded up on DVD’s of movies and TV shows from the library. (My mini-van has a built-in DVD player that we use so rarely that I thought it didn’t work anymore.)

2) I spent all day Tuesday in the kitchen prepping meals and filling the fridge and freezer with frugal and easily accessible food. Because I cook almost completely from scratch it can take awhile to get dinner on the table, which is a problem for busy evenings or when inspiration fails me. The sad thing is that I accomplished all this when I normally would have been watching evening TV.

Here’s what I cooked and prepped:

  • One batch of kale pesto.
  • Chopped a huge amount of garlic in the Cuisinart.
  • Three casserole dishes of restuffed potatoes.
  • Sautéed a pan of diced potatoes for breakfast burritos.
  • A batch of oatmeal cookie dough. (I bake cookies a dozen at a time so they can be added to school lunches or for treats. This way they don’t get snarfed down immediately.)
  • Roasted a chicken which had been defrosting in the fridge for a few days.
  • Cooked up a batch of chicken soup using the leftover clingy bits from a rotisserie chicken.
  • Washed and chopped a couple heads of broccoli.

3) I didn’t have anything good to bring for my work lunch, so I just threw some bulk quick cooking oatmeal and brown sugar in a bag. (I also threw in an apple and a yogurt I got for free.) The meal was filling and healthy enough to keep me from having to buy food in the hospital cafeteria.

4) I took my kids to see The Lego Movie on Monday with some free passes that I’d been holding onto for a looong time. I made sure to feed them a nice filling meal before we left the house so they wouldn’t beg for snacks.

5)  My 15-year-old younger son just got his driving learner’s permit yesterday. My plan is to have to drive on this permit a good long time before becoming a licensed driver. No reason to hike up our insurance premiums prematurely. (In case you were wondering, my 18-year-old son has zero interest in learning to drive so far.)

Now your turn. What frugal activities have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Atsquared February 20, 2014 at 11:09 am

Took the family to visit my SIL in Ottawa for our February long weekend. We spent the day at Winterlude, which was free! Ice sculptures, ice/snow slides, free bus rides to the kiddie park, free samples of yoghurt and tea, picnic lunch, skating on the Rideau Canal. The only thing we paid for was a special treat after skating… Beaver tails! We cooked at home all weekend, went snowshoeing, played board games, watched a movie. Enjoyable family time. 🙂


Tina February 20, 2014 at 11:44 am

My daughter will be turning 15 this summer and I am dreading the driving/learning to drive expense

Took my son to see the Lego movie on $5 Tuesday ~ not free but much better than full price ($10 vs. $22)

We had leftover popcorn last night so both my son and I have some in our lunches


Lindsey February 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I’m with your 18 year old son—I didn’t learn to drive until I was 27 and still don’t really enjoy it.


Megyn February 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for letting your younger son get his permit despite your older son not being interested. My parents made me wait until my sister got her license…which took forever (especially when you’re a social 16 year old).

As for me, I’ve been doing the following things:
-Had a friend’s daughter over for a play date which will be reciprocated at her house next week. This is why I have yet to pay for a sitter in almost 6 years of parenting!
-Madeking lots of from scratch meals with food remnants, such as a quiche (which my hubby stole 75% of to take to work UGH!), lasagna, bread, etc.
-Visited a local charter school which will allow our boys to get a better education AND is in a cheaper cost of living area of town (homes that go to the good public schools in Austin START at $300k!!!)
-Spent money getting my new pro. organizing business official. It cost about $500 up front for licensing, bonding, and insuring, but will likely pay off as clients look for businesses with those things


tracey February 20, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I have been doing well with my de-cluttering goals, part of which is to buy much less stuff. I am a big fan of the library but I hate it when a book or 2 is missing in a series I am reading. I have a list of 5 books I need to find. Today I took a box of books to a pretty good used bookstore to try and sell. They took enough and with a previous credit I didn’t spend a dime! My son got 2 books, I found one of the books on my list, I got a book of bread machine recipes and we got a copy of “Ghostbusters” for family movie night tomorrow night. I did not buy a single thing that was not on my look for list!

As for the other 5 books on my list 2 I have decided to skip, 2 I am going to get on my son’s kindle and the last I can actually get as an e-book from the library. I haven’t actually read a book on the kindle but I suppose it is time to try.

And lastly I recently discovered the show “How I Met your Mother”. I have been trying to watch the first season on-line for free. It usually works but mostly it is really slow loading and generally a pain. Season 2 is on in re-runs on one of the channels and I have been DVRing them but we are getting ready to switch providers and I will never have time to watch them all so quickly. I looked for used ones at the bookstore, no dice but I did find them used on Amazon (one from Goodwill) so I got them pretty cheap. And when I am done I can sell them to the used bookstore or donate to library or Goodwill. (I checked the library first and they didn’t have it.)

So I am feeling pretty good about being frugal, not acquiring things I don’t really want and yet making myself happy! it is all about the balance in life.


Tonya Jenkins February 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm

–I am getting ready to do a session of freezer cooking tomorrow during my day off of work.

–I downloaded a free audiobook that I’ll listen to while I chop and assemble meals.

-Looking for a tux rental coupon. My cousin is getting married and my hubby needs a tux since it’s black tie. My dress is taken care of as my thrift store obsessed daughter (where’d she get that from, I wonder) had just the thing in her closet and she’s willing to loan it to me. 🙂


Maggie February 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

We are finishing up a dish of cheese enchiladas that I made, which used up some whole wheat tortillas we didn’t like, a little bit of leftover tomato soup, two half jars of salsa, and a block of cheese. No food waste in this bunch!
We set up a babysitting exchange with one of my friends who is also pregnant. She’ll watch Little Man during my appointments, and I’ll watch her daughter during hers. Little Man and her daughter get along really well, and we don’t have to pay for sitters!
We’re getting ready for a local Cloth Diaper Garage Sale this weekend. We signed up to sell a bunch of diapers we no longer use, plus a few carriers I rescued from the curb. I’m hoping to make some good money!
We haven’t gone out at all this week, so we’re not using any gas and haven’t spent money on meals out.


Cheri S February 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm

I finished off a squirt bottle of Biokleen Household Cleaner, rinsed the bottle and squirt attachment really well and mixed up my own cleaner for the first time! I used 50/50 distilled vinegar and water plus 10 drops of lemon essential oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil that I’ve had sitting around forever. Then I spent an hour giving the bathroom the deep cleaning treatment. The stuff really works and doesn’t smell too vinegary either. One less thing I need to clutter my cupboard up with now and a big $ saver.
We’re gathering a old milk crate full of books we are done with which we will take to the second hand bookstore for credit on our cheap date tomorrow. After picking up new books for free, we’ll cruise over to a local bread shop we have a gift card for and get coffee drinks. Because it’s February, they are doing a special promotion. If you sing a line from the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” you get a free pastry (which we will split to save calories). Last stop on our loop will be dropping off all our recycling at the local center, then home for crockpot soup from all the leftover veggie ends and meat scraps I’ve been stashing in the freezer this month. I am totally a cheap date!!


NMPatricia February 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

In one of your future posts or so, would you talk about how you store the garlic that you chopped, I presume, for future meals?


lacey February 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I was wondering the same thing. I hate having to peel and chop garlic everytime I need it which is pretty often. plus I hate smelling like garlic.


lacey February 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I was wondering the same thing. I hate having to peel and chop garlic everytime I need it which is pretty often. plus I hate smelling like garlic.


lacey February 20, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I was wondering the same thing. I hate having to peel and chop garlic every time I need it which is pretty often. plus I hate smelling like garlic.


lacey February 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I agree. I would love to know how you store the garlic and how long it lasts. peeling and chopping garlic has to be one of the worst jobs in the kitchen.


Bauunny February 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

The library! We had a valentine’s dinner party last weekend where all the guests brought something. We cleaned out some pantry items to help make a truly delicious meal enjoyed by everyone. Also the best of all worlds….a cleaner than usual house (amazing how company motivates you to get things accomplished) and some great leftovers.


B'om February 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I believe that driving is necessary except in major urban centers. I watched a relative have to turn down a job he really wanted because he couldn’t drive. You make sure your kids eat healthy and have all their shots. You must also make sure they know how to drive safely before they leave home. (This doesn’t mean they have to have a license, but they must have the knowledge.)


Katy February 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm

I agree 100% with you. My older son will be a licensed driver before he leaves this house!



Krystal February 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

How nice you live in an area where you don’t have to drive to get around (if you’re an 18 year old boy, or in several other instances!) I loved not owning a car in San Francisco (my husband and I now share one in public-transport-challenged-for-size-of-city-Seattle). As you know the cost of car ownership is silly! Great that he’ll learn soon, but so nice that there are other ways to get around. Portland really has transportation down.


K D February 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

I went to Safeway today and really stacked the coupons with sales. I paid $37 dolars for three big (reuseable) bags of stuff.

I then stopped at Staples and “bought” a ream of paper that will be free after rebate (I printed a coupon from their website to use as well). I used a Staples giftcard that I received for redeeming Discover Card points ($20 worth of points for a $25 gift card).

I will make chicken potpie for dinner, using items we have in the house.

My daughter is 18 and has had her license for over a year and she has no interest in driving.


Rebecca February 21, 2014 at 11:51 am

My 19yr old, college student, daughter has no interest in driving either. Her permit’s expired a couple of times with no plans of getting a license in sight. While it can be inconvenient, it’s nice to know that she realizes just how much of her hard-earned dollars would have to go into just owning a car.


Mariana February 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Hi Katy,

I really enjoy your blog. Just wanted to mention that the vintage ceramic garlic holder strikes me as quite racist (not saying at all that’s how you intended it to come across by featuring it, but that certainly at the time it was made it was playing on racist stereotypes and intended to be derogatory).

It actually brings up an interesting point because while we should reuse and repurpose as much as possible items like these may be best trashed or recycled — unless they are being used for educational or historical purposes (there actually is a museum of racist memorabilia affiliated with a university in Michigan).

Thanks for listening, and for all that you post here!



Katy February 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

I guess I didn’t pick up on that. I took a second look at the garlic holder and I still don’t see it. What race is being characterized?



Katy February 23, 2014 at 9:27 am


I post this photo on The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group for additional feedback, here’s a link:



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