Five Frugal Things — Free Chocolate, Cheap Groceries & A Soggy Scarf

by Katy on November 3, 2013 · 45 comments

It’s time again for Five Frugal Things!

  1. My sons’ morning soccer game was only a mile or so from the house. My husband, (the coach) needed to drive, as he had all the equipment, but I took my time showering, drinking tea, etc. and then walked the distance. Normally soccer games are waaay across town, and I almost drove the short distance out of habit. Because I made the choice to walk, I found a lovely rain soaked plaid wool scarf on the sidewalk of a busy street. I wrung it out, and will add it to our stash of winter wear after a good washing. Who knows, I might even end up giving it as a holiday gift.
  2. I did drive across town to help my mother finish getting one of her rental cottages ready for a new tenant. The last tenant left it an absolute sty, and I hadn’t been able to help as I was working at the hospital. I gave her an hour of my undivided attention which made a huge difference, as she’s awaiting knee replacement surgery and is unable to crouch on her hands and knees. (There was much ground-in food everywhere!) I did not charge my mother for this short use of my time, but I did bring home a half bag of leftover groceries, and she’ll include me in a restaurant lunch with the woman who did help her the day before.
  3. I stopped at Goodwill on my way home and brought home nothing. I did snap a few Instagram photographs to include in a future Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will post. I also popped into Grand Central Bakery, as my husband had made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and I was tasked with picking up a baguette for garlic bread. I checked their Twitter feed to see if it was a Tweet for Treats day and indeed it was! Sadly, they were all out of that day’s particular treat, but that meant I was able to choose something else. The mini pumpkin bundt cake was too adorable to leave behind, so I brought it home for the boys to split. And there were no complaints.
  4. I’ve picked up four free Lindt chocolate bars this week through printing out the $2-off-one coupons. I think the one is depleted, but you can still like Lindt on Facebook to get two. Both Walgreens and Rite-Aid have the bars on sale this week, so make sure you take full advantage of this tasty offer! I will use the chocolate as holiday gifts, except for the one we had to taste test. You know, for safety reasons . . .
  5. I did a big deliberate Safeway grocery shopping trip, making sure to load their Just4U coupons onto my club card. I also used one of their $10-off-$50 coupons from the newspaper.

Here’s what I bought:

  • Two boxes of store brand Cheerios.
  • Two boxes of penne pasta.*
  • One can of clams.
  • One bag of tortilla chips.
  • One gallon of fat-free milk.
  • One half-gallon of whole milk.
  • Two containers of frozen apple juice.
  • One bag of whole wheat hamburger buns.
  • One two-pound loaf of Tillamook cheddar cheese.
  • Two packages of frozen Swai fish fillets.
  • One pomegranate.*
  • 2.69 pounds of bananas.
  • 4.99 pounds of oranges.
  • One head of kale.
  • One head of garlic.

Total price: $39.39/ 40% savings

*Manufacturer’s coupon used.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon November 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

I just learned something: pomegranates have manufacturers. I love learning new things! 😀

And WTG on the wool scarf and the chocolates. Luxury appears in the strangest places, doesn’t it? I got a deal on Isis chocolate at Tuesday Morning which was a thrill for me, not only because of the discount, but because I had just seen Isis as one of the few brands recommended as being non-slavery cocoa. I hadn’t thought of using it for gifting, but that’s a great idea.

Our great frugal deal for today is enjoying a paper copy of the New York Times. Late summer is the time for the local art fair, and a couple of national newspapers had set up booths offering specials. We already subscribed to the online version of the Times, and this deal gave us both online AND the Sunday paper version for less than we had been paying for online only.

We adore a long, slow day drinking coffee and reading the papers. Glorious.


Katy November 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

I guess pomegranates come from factories these days. 😉

And the day you described does sound glorious. The Sunday NY Times is such a treat!



jill November 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

Thanks for the coupons Katy!

Today I:
Got an item cleaned and ready to sell on Craigslist.
Went through my “gift” closet to see what items I have for Christmas gifts already.
Used zucchini and mushrooms I already had (had to buy a pepper!) to make shish kebabs for dinner on the grill.
Was able to ready my neighbors newspaper and save the coupons I didn’t want for my sister by watching over their house while they’re on vacation.
Got 2 more bags of books ready to take to the used bookstore for store credit to use for Christmas gifts.
Printed out my Lindt coupons from Katie for stocking stuffers for my family.
A very successful frugal weekend!


jill November 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Sorry on the spelling – Katy not Katie !


Susan November 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

This is the pefect weekend for me to get to comment
On this post! Friday I had to cancel a dinner out
Due to a sick baby. Cancelled babysitter and had
Friends over for a homemade pizza and salad
Dinner all made from ingredients on hand. I scavenged
The backyard for the last of the lettuce and kale
For salad and used the mysteriously flimsy chocolate
Chip cookies I made for dessert to top some ice cream
Which was given to my kids as a Halloween treat from a neighbor.
I also cut fresh herbs from the garden to use as flowers for the
Table. Yesterday I used the left over wine from dinner that friends
Brought the night before to make some chili with chorizo I snagged
From the reduced rack. I also threw a piece of leftover steak and
Some mushy tomatoes in with it. Today I packed tomorrow ‘s lunches
For my husband and son and painted my own nails. I’m
Also nursing a baby which counts as free food, I think. Thanks
For the forum Katy! No one else I know finds this stuff as
Thrilling as I do!!


Sharon November 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Yup. We get it. 😉


A. Marie November 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm

The apple season here in upstate NY has been glorious–so much so that even neglected old trees that their owners had long since given up on are bearing a bumper crop. My neighbors have such a tree: a remnant of the apple orchard that used to cover our area over 100 years ago. I sampled the fruit a week or so ago and found it absolutely delicious. My neighbor Nancy has since made a batch of applesauce and given me a pint, and I’m baking a pie even as I write. Smells mighty good!


Katy November 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I can smell it all the way here in Oregon!



Suzanne P. November 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I accidentally broke my glass lid to a 10 inch pot that I use all of the time. I found a replacement lid on Home Depot’s website for as low as $13 but I thought I could do better. When I went to the St. Vincent De Paul I found a glass lid that measured 10 inches for $1.59 that was 25% off. I bought the lid and it works just fine!


Jenzer November 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I disassembled our TV remote, with help from a YouTube video. Some of the buttons weren’t working well, so I thought a good interior cleaning would make them fully functional again. It helped a little bit, but not as much as I’d hoped. I had no idea just how dirty and gross the inside of a remote can get.


LazyretirementgirlJackie November 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I made a photo collage for my mother’s Christmas gift, using a coupon code that made it free except for postage. I am drying herbs from my backyard herb patch to make herbal salt mixes for Christmas gifts. Thanks for the info about the chocolate coupons. I will track them down.


Belleln November 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Weather has cooled down so our prime growing season is coming into full production:
harvested purple tat soi, mizuna, butterhead lettuce, katuk, green onion, arugula, beet greens, radishes & tops, cranberry hibiscus and bok choi for our salads for the next 3 days.
Husband cut and cemented in the replacement mailbox post for the neighbors that dropped him off (twice as he missed the bus) and picked him up from a bus/train trip, which cost 1/2 of a plane ticket and no long term parking fee,so he could go to VA to see his brother for his 80th birthday – I don’t drive so the other choice would be a taxi
Cleaned out the pot & pan cupboard and found 2 Revere Ware saucepans with lids, a cuisinart saucepan without lid, a Martha Stewart 12″ skillet and a 10″ cuisinart skillet to put on Craigs list this week
Took out shoulder pads from a cute brown plaid jacket that I bought for a $1 so it will not look like it comes from the 80s
Read the newpaper on line – it costs $3.40/month as opposed to $15.60/month in paper form. Down side is I don’t get sale flyers and coupons but since we buy so little that have coupons I can get those few on line


Mauren November 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Dinner last night consisted of pot roast inexpensively made; it only cost $1.99 a lb — and yes we did stock up. Then I made red cabbage with a cabbage from a friend’s garden (whole house smelled like cabbage though!) But I was yummy.

Dinner plans for tonight was spaghetti with sauce and 1/2 loaf of Italian bread out of the freezer.

Tomorrow night I will be using leftover sauerkraut with my pork chops for dinner and potatoes that don’t have much more life to them. The next night will be stuffed peppers with the collection of peppers I have in the freezer. Always think we need peppers and we most certainly don’t, but I can’t leave them in the store when they are so inexpensive. I should probably chop the remaining and put them in the freezer.

I made some birthday gift banana breads with very ripe bananas.

Bought a can of paint over the weekend (yes full price) and as I was painting I kept thinking, “Gosh I wish I could hire a painter as I hate all this work.” But I know that in the end, I will be very proud of my accomplishments when my house is painted. And all my overtime money will be put in the bank!


Mauren November 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Oh and I forgot — my husband changed the oil in his car and my car in the past week. Each of our cars use synthetic oil and at $50. per car at the shop to change the oil, its too much. We were able to buy the oil and filters for $50. total — half price.


megyn November 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I’m pretty bummed that our Walgreens didn’t let me use both coupons because the balance would be zero. I was able to use one which made the bar $0.42. I’m hiding it in my hubby’s car, so he finds it on his way to his stressful week of testing (a whole week of testing that means keep your job or get fired!!). Hopefully, it will help him relax and do better on his tests 🙂

We also watched Extreme Cheapskate on Netflix and got some new ideas. I really liked Jeff Yeager’s decision to find a comfortable level and stay at it. It prompted the hubby and I to have a talk about what’s really important to us and what we want to do about moving, renting v. owning, the school situation for our boys, etc. If we didn’t have kids, it would be so much easier, but we’ve found that getting our boys into good public schools mean a giant mortgage/rent or having to drive them quite a distance. Neither of which really help us on the path towards financial freedom 🙁


Reese November 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm

The good news is your kiddos will eventually be out of school. So your number one priority sounds like their education. And bravo! An education can’t be foreclosed on… can’t be taken away… can’t do anything but to serve them well in the future… It means sacrifice on your side… but you’re doing the best you can in the mean time. AND are keeping communication lines open. Definitely something that we all can look up to you for 😀


Tonya November 4, 2013 at 6:23 am

Yes, and good public schools are worth it!


Kathy November 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I made roll out gingerbread men for the mission shoe box packing party we had today a church. I’m single so I don’t get to do stuff like this often.

We packed shoe boxes with some bargains that another gal and I found when we went shopping: little girl dresses we got for $1, toddler boy outfits for $1, great deals on kids underwear and handkerchiefs. This gal and I offered to shop for those who were unable to get out but wanted to contribute or those who could only give a modest amount. I had a nice afternoon doing something good and meaningful with another person I whom I like and spent other folk’s money while doing it. It doesn’t get much better than that. I can’t wait to show the lady who could only give $2 two of the NICE dresses we bought, she thought $2 couldn’t make a difference, she’ll be tickled pink to be wrong.

Someone bought me a 12 pack of Coke because I was a much needed listening ear for an hour or so.

I wanted a bread machine and someone lent me hers. She only used it a couple of times. She doesn’t feel she can give it away because it was a gift from her husband so when she wants to use it she will come and borrow it back. Her next sentence was she doesn’t expect she’ll ever come and borrow it back. She also said to use it and make sure the shine doesn’t rub off on this idea for me like it did for her.

I’m going to sleep tonight after watching Downton Abbey, taking warm shower, on clean sheets under a quilt that was made for me, with my shelter cat purring at my back.

And I’ve got more clean underwear in my drawer than most poor kids in the world will have in their life time. My life is good.


Angela in Denver November 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Great post and great thoughts! Especially the $2 feedback you will give to the lady, and your last paragraph!
Loved it! 🙂


AFS November 3, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I planned a Saturday morning trip to Value Village, The credit union & grocery store. All three share an intersection so minimal driving involved. It was a blustery day but I didn’t expect to find all three places closed due to a power outage. I deposited my checks in the night deposit and slipped out the back way avoiding the traffic jams caused by traffic lights being dark.


AFS November 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Though I intended on buying used at VV if I came across anything interesting and only buying loss leaders at the grocery store I ended up spending NO money which is the frugalist thing of all.


Diane November 4, 2013 at 5:02 am

I went to a huge city wide garage sale that gives proceeds to a children’s shelter, walked through every packed aisle and found a bag of fabric from the 70’s with some of the exact fabric I had used back then to make children’s clothing! This vintage fabric will make its way into my baby quilts. Total cost: $2.50. I passed everything else by as I need nothing and my wants are diminishing greatly the longer I stay away from stores.


Carla November 4, 2013 at 6:03 am

I’m kinda bummed out that you didn’t leave the scarf for the hapless owner to come back and find it. In Ottawa, Canada, we depend on our gear so much that the general ethos is that if you find a scarf, mitten, etc on the road, you pick it up and place it at eye level somewhere near where it fell, like a fire hydrant snow post or a fence, etc. We have many a time been able to find our kids hats, my gloves, even our kids shoes! because people left the item in a visible place. It is very frugal to go back and pick up your lost item. 🙂


Katy November 4, 2013 at 8:11 am

The scarf just looked so very abandoned, with its completely water soaked self. A busy street with many passers by, I decided to rescue it.



Linda M November 4, 2013 at 8:30 am

Just because you could have left it there for the owner to reclaim….doesn’t mean that the actual owner was the one to claim it….it could be anyone as you would just make it more visible. I think you just need to follow your gut on this. If you “lose something”… do you know where it is to go back and get it??? Just saying:)


Adrienne November 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm

My scarf story….when I was working as a waitress (yes, we called ourselves that back in the day) at 19, I found a scarf in the Lost and Found at the restaurant. No one claimed it, so I did. I am now 59 (turning 60 next month). Guess what? I still use that scarf…it has lasted longer than friends, lovers, cars, and almost everything else in my life. 🙂


Mel November 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I’m from Calgary and I do this as well. It could be a children’s jacket, a lost scarf, mittens, etc. I always put them in a visible place as well. It is quite common to go for a walk and see something placed for the owner to reclaim.


Carla November 5, 2013 at 6:33 am

Maybe it’s a cultural thing in places where it’s cold? Not sure. But in Ottawa and other parts of Canada we do always see lots of things waiting for their owners. In other places I’ve lived in (for example Guatemala, Tanzania), you don’t see things waiting for their owners. In Ottawa, we have taught our kids to also pick things up and place them up high to wait for their companion. Personally, this has saved me a lot of money and heartache. I’ve been able to retrieve a new expensive baby item 3 days after I dropped it halfway through a 40 minute walk (fell out of stroller and wasn’t able to do that walk again for those 3 days), heavy duty biking gloves – several times, kids jacket, a set of fairly new kids shoes (also fell out of stroller), daughter’s favourite and much cried-over hat, even a ring!
I’ve also heard a funny story about a guy who picked up a shirt that seemed abandoned only to wear it and find out months later that it belonged to his neighbour, who being polite, didn’t tell him right away. He was definitely blushing then!


Katy November 5, 2013 at 7:52 am

It wasn’t in front of a house, looked like it had been sitting there for a few days, (soaking wet even though it wasn’t raining) and was on a busy street.



amyw November 5, 2013 at 8:36 am

You deleted my comments which were neither mean-spirited nor polarizing. Having a different opinion on something than you do does not make it polarizing. I think your column could be great if you would open yourself up to true dialogue– consumerism can be a compelling topic and it is a shame to leave it rather, well, bland… topics of interest could include things like are you a true non-consumer if you eat red meat and pork… some folks believe that you can’t because of the havoc it wreaks on the land and how this affects farm subsidies etc. Just my initial thoughts.

K D November 4, 2013 at 6:22 am

1. My daughter wanted me to take her and a friend out for lunch on Saturday. I did not make it home in time so they ate leftovers for lunch. Then we planned to do dinner out but we were all tired and no one could identify what they wanted to go out for so I made them tortelloni for dinner. Several packages were a few days from expiring in the fresh pasta case at Safeway last week so they were 50% off, I bought them all and froze them. They enjoyed the dinner and it only cost a couple of dollars.

2. I printed coupons from the Wounded Warrior Project website. They will help me stock up on stuff over the coming weeks.

3. I managed to print two Carmex coupons via Swagbucks before they ran out. On Tuesday (Senior Day, I’m rocking being 55) I will go to Walgreens and use them to get four tubes for about $.40. I will donate them to a Seafarers Christmas Box project.

4. My husband dug out a new puzzle that was purchased for $.50 that the whole family worked on last night.

5. I watched Miss Potter which I borrowed from the library.


Monica November 4, 2013 at 6:23 am

1) Got free tickets to a Beatles cover band concert Saturday night! A $60 value, and what a fun time! Never turn down free tickets to anything! As my husband said, we’ll never get to see the real Beatles play, so this’ll be the closest thing to it. The band was awesome!
2) Grandma and Grandpa were free babysitters for our daughter that night!
3) Leftovers served as dinner last night
4) Brought my own lunch to work today
5) We’re attempting to re-fi our mortgage and should know if we’re approved in a few days. It’ll cost us only $400 in fees and save us that much EACH month with the new rate!


Linda M November 4, 2013 at 8:33 am

Hemming four pairs of pants for my mom as she is no longer able to do this and sure didn’t want her to pay to have them altered. Using thread I already had on hand….hard telling how old it is but it matches them all.
Crocheting a scarf as a Christmas present for a friend.
Heating up leftovers for lunch for my hubby and me….dibble dabbles of various things.
Using some of the last veggies from the garden to round out supper tonight.
Clipping coupons to use on my grocery stop in a larger town tomorrow.


SusieQ November 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

I planned on deep cleaning the kitchen when I realised I was out of bleach so I improvised. I used a generic cleaner mixed with Dettol and hot water and then sterilised the surfaces with the steam cleaner (which I got on sale a while ago and which has paid for itself over and over.) I had some “stone cleaner” which is probably posh pumice stone ground finely which is meant for baths and other ceramic surfaces. Well my radiator was in dire need of a scrub so I used the posh stuff (which honestly hadn’t seen much use before) so that finally earned it’s cost back. The sun was shining so I put a load of washing out. It’s not quite dry but it’s hanging on the airer to finish off. After that I batched some errands in the next village – collected prescriptions, picked up some DIY stuff for the other half and had a quick look in the charity shop. I’m about to be managing with one arm shortly (shoulder replacement. Ouch) and had been looking for an adjustable table on wheels to make things easier. The cheapest I had found on Ebay was £19 (about $24 US?). I just happened to pop into the charity shop and they had one for £5!! Not my most frugal day ever but not bad all things considered!


Jenny November 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

1)went to a free orchestra concert including local youth. Did decide to donate to keep the program going as I think it’s very I portent to introduce kids to music.
2) had a potluck dinner with my marimba group and watched a DVD of a performance on of our teachers wrote and directed. For the cost of a fruit salad (which included some mandarins and pears needing to be used up) and a batch of mini pumpkin muffins we had a fabulous dinner (lentil pate and smoked salmon with crackers, Thai squash soup, red cabbage and mango salad, wine and beer, plus my dessert). I ADR potluck dinners!
3) took a 2.25 mile walk on the ski trails across the street with my husband and dog. Walking has to be the most frugal exercise and it makes us all happy and healthier.
4) paid my credit card bill early and online.
5) found free knitting patterns on the Internet for baby gifts I want to knit, and they will work with yarn I already own.


Amanda November 4, 2013 at 11:13 am

I just finished a bunch of mending, repairing my husband’s tow strap (he fixed the metal part, together this means we don’t have to spend $20 on a new set of tow straps), replacing the elastic in my diaper pail liners (not only do I cloth diaper, I do it on the cheap), and making a new tie back to replace the lost one from one of our bedroom windows (I make all our curtains out of ridiculously underpriced fabric).

I planned out my errands for the week so I can batch them.

I ordered my new glasses from Warby-Parker. I found them through Design Sponge. Not only do they sell dope glasses, but I can get them there cheaper than through my vision plan or Costco.

Our weekend renters left a ton of food in the fridge, so I am happily putting off the grocery store one more day and not cooking at all today. It makes my frugal heart go pitter pat to have a whole veggie tray to incorporate into soups and such.


Suesan November 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I actually have to disagree with you about taking the scarf you found. I have dropped gloves when out running from my pocket and then spent the next day on the path searching for them. I would have simply folded the scarf and left it where it was dropped. This isn’t like found money where you can’t identify the owner. The owner could easily identify it and claim it.

If it hadn’t been claimed in a couple of days, maybe it could be claimed. But I just don’t think that you can take a personal item without trying to find an owner.


Katy November 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

This seems to be a polarizing subject, and I think I’ll turn it over to blog readers for a future post.

Thanks for your feedback!



Diane November 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I’m adding a PS. I called Time Warner today to tell then I am thinking of switching to ATT UVerse because they are giving out deals right now and the consumer relations person gave me the same monthly price as ATT! It pays to negotiate.


Angela in Denver November 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I was excited to get home today and share my frugal finds! My tenants moved out of my rental property last week and they left a bunch of good stuff (that they said they were going to THROW AWAY!):
4 new boxes of rice krispies (which I have already used one box for 2 pans of rice krispie treats and one box for morning cereal this week)
3 cans of vegetarian navy beans (which I am making chili with tonight)
2 cans of Del Monte Pears in juice
1 bag of dry non fat milk
1 large can of chili
They also left two pieces of lovely furniture: a solid wood, over 6 ft tall bookcase, that is two tone black and cherry finish with open shelving and doors on the bottom two shelves, which we will use in our sons’ room.
The other is a mint condition white wood microwave stand/cabinet with doors and shelves that is perfect for storing my bread machine and for extra counter space in my li’l kitchen.
I did give them half off their last month’s rent to help them out with the home they were purchasing nearby – so it was a nice return on something I felt good about doing. 🙂
P.S. I love to read all the posts/comments that everyone else submits on Frugal Finds Day! Thanks again Katie for your blog.


Angela in Denver November 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Oops again – KATY! not Katie (my niece is Katie)


kris November 5, 2013 at 7:11 am

Five Frugal Things are my favorite posts! I learn so much 🙂


Heather November 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I’m from Alaska, definitely a cold weather place, and there was a definitely an informal Finders Keepers policy there. If you left your cold weather gear in public, it was almost always gone the next day. You learned to keep track of your stuff or to deal with the cold. I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking the scarf.


Madeline November 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I found a GLASS lid replacement for my still-working crock pot, at the Lutheran thrift Store, for $1.00. The crock pot works fine, the cheapo plastic l
id cracked and broke apart.I may get another 10-20 years out of it now that I have a glass lid!!!


Katy November 5, 2013 at 10:07 am


I deleted your message because it did come across as mean spirited. Why do you read this blog if you don’t like it?



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