Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on November 15, 2023 · 37 comments

Oops . . . it’s ricotta cheese!

  1. I picked up a discarded Winco receipt outside the store and later scanned it into my Fetch app. * I don’t earn impressive points as I rarely buy big corporate brands, but have scanned abandoned receipts here and there, which always do better than my own.

  2. I finally gathered the supplies to try out this two ingredient mozzarella cheese recipe and set to work. Unfortunately I missed that this recipe only works with non-homogenized milk.  Instead I accidentally created homemade ricotta cheese, which is always welcome in my house. I also have two jars of byproduct whey, which I’ll use in bread baking and for my morning oatmeal.

    I’m not done experimenting with cheese making and will pick up some citric acid next time I’m at Winco. It’s sold in the bulk section, which is another reason why Winco is the A+ #1 grocery store for me.

  3. I’m planning out which Thanksgiving sale items to pick up at which grocery stores this week. Safeway has $2.49 Tillamook butter and five-pound bags of potatoes for 79¢. Fred Meyer doesn’t seem to have impressive prices on any staples, so I’m crossing my fingers that Winco will round things out. I have a turkey in the deep freeze from that I for for free last year, so I’m good for the main course.

    I try really hard to not stress out about hosting Thanksgiving dinner every year, so using frugal ingenuity and doing as much as possible ahead of time is my way of doing everything I can to not spin out of control. I truly  cannot wait until the day after Thanksgiving and have all this behind me. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

  4. • I got coupons for $5-off-$30 at an expensive grocery store, so I slipped it into my neighbor’s mailbox as I don’t shop there.
    • I scheduled a Facetime video call with an old friend from college, which was absolute perfectenschlag! He and I ended up talking for two full hours and I love that what was considered science fiction when I was a kid is now standard practice. Video phone call? What am I, Buck Rogers?!
    • I found a dime on the ground outside of Winco.

  5. I didn’t buy any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Bee November 15, 2023 at 4:32 pm

1. I cleared and straighten my desk yesterday, filed my paperwork, shredded my junk mail and paid bills. Keeping things organized helps me spot little problems before they become big ones. Bills get paid on time saving late fees and life generally runs a bit smoother.
2. Like Katy, I’m putting together my menu and shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner. I hope to take advantage of the grocery store sales prior to the holiday. I am trying to restock some items after losing them when the refrigerator/ freezer went out. I was shocked to see that a quart of mayonnaise was nearly $9 at the local Publix!!!!
3. I cared for my grandchildren today — a frugal and enjoyable activity. They are wonderful if I do say so myself. It also saves them some money because they do not have to pay a babysitter.
4. I have an older friend who is editing her cookbook collection. She loved to make pastries and cakes when she was younger and has some great cookbooks. some I am in the process of going through them for my daughter who also loves to bake. Books are such wonderful things to share.
5. I picked up a pair of watering globe for potted plants from Buy Nothing. I haven’t used these before, but I thought that I would try them out. We have had a bit of drama in our group, but our administrator did. an excellent job of handling things. If you are a Buy Nothing member, make sure you thank the people who keep the cogs turning.
Wishing everyone good health and prosperity.


Juhli November 15, 2023 at 5:22 pm

This is primarily the “if you do a boatload of paperwork you can save money” list!
1. Have almost completed the form to get a partial rebate of city transfer taxes for our new home due to work we have done on it. Just waiting to get the cancelled check screenshot from the earthquake retrofit contractor. A dent in what we have spent but actually a chunk of money.
2. Found the correct form to have signed by the same co tractor to get an annual discount on our earthquake insurance. A small amount each year but we get it every year we own the house.
3. Found all the proof from the sellers to get a discount on our homeowner’s insurance for having a new roof and hopefully for major water pipe replacements.
4. We did a comparison shop on homeowner’s insurance and realized we need to increase our deductible to save money and reduce chances of cancellation in the tough California insurance market. Staying with our existing provider though.
5. Not having to host Thanksgiving is priceless and frugal for us! We do have to drive quite a way to attend the family gathering but that is just annoying lol.


Selena November 15, 2023 at 5:26 pm

Divide and conquer for T-Day. I’ve never seen it written that the host/hostess of T-Day *must* personally prepare every food item that will be consumed. Someone can bring rolls, a side dish, appetizers (if you are one of those who eats late in the day) etc.


Katy November 15, 2023 at 6:07 pm

It’s complicated in a way I don’t feel comfortable sharing on the blog.


Selena November 16, 2023 at 7:16 am

Private complicated is sufficient. Remembering to take the turkey out of the freezer and put in the frig is 50% of the battle.


Lindsey November 15, 2023 at 5:36 pm

1. WHAT? I did not realize scanning receipts found in abandoned shopping carts counted as a frugal activity?! I always look for the carts that have little flags of white paper in the bottom of them and take them home to be submitted to Fetch and My Points. Found a Safeway liquor receipt earlier this week and scanned it in.
2. A friend who lives pretty much at the poverty end of the continuum called and asked if my husband had any black pants from his fat days (Husband recently lost 70 lbs.) because he needed them for an event and could not afford to buy them. Indeed husband had several pairs we had put in the donation bag we keep open in the back room and deposit unwanted clothing items in; when it gets full, we drop it off at Salvation Army. We found two pair to give to the friend. I consider getting things out of the house to be a frugal act.
3. My dentist has these great pens that last forever and are very comfortable to use. I was standing at the counter, paying my bill for a cleaning, and told the lady how much I loved the pens. She handed me the receipt and the pen, saying Merry Christmas. I am inordinately thrilled with this gift! Saves me buying a pen.
4. Turned a sad head of cauliflower into cauliflower/cheese soup that we ate for two nights.
5. Cut the husband’s hair.


Kara November 15, 2023 at 6:49 pm

You are not the only one. I share your approach of trying not to stress, and yet, it is stressful. I do my best to be present even with the stress, and to enjoy the parts that are wonderful. My grandson is 2.5 and has just learned how to sing. It is VERY cute!
1. I picked up a free wine rack on the curb and sold it 3 days later for $35.
2. I have received 3 houseplant babies in the last 2 days, thanks to Buy Nothing group. I also received a bag of not-dry markers for my grandson when he visits, and arranged to borrow a neighbors step stool as well.
3. I pinned blackout lining (bought cheap on FB marketplace) into the guest room curtains-a request that had been made after grandson’s last visit.
4. Happily eating free Asian pears.
5. I received baked goods from a friend last week and I remembered to return her container today. I put a bunch of pineapple guavas into the container as a thank you. As you’ve mentioned before, these reciprocal frugal friendships are amazing!


Katy November 15, 2023 at 7:52 pm

I try to enjoy the day, but trying to be cheerful can feel like an extra stressor.


Iris November 16, 2023 at 9:33 am

I think so many of us can relate to you, Katy, concerning the Thanksgiving holiday and eveything that goes with it. So nice when it is all done and over with.

I once made $10.00 off a picked-up receipt. So worth picking up those lost and discarded receipts.

Thanks Katy!


Ruby November 16, 2023 at 12:07 pm

Our local grocery store did a seasonal promtion that gave out a very high value coupon at the end of the year. The woman in front of me checking out received hers and was informed it could not, by state law, be used for alcohol or tobacco. She scoffed that beer and cigs were all she bought there and left it on the check stand.

I politely asked the checker if I could have it and she said, “Sure!” Our holiday meal was nearly free after the $60 coupon was deducted. That was my best ever “found at the grocery store” score.


Val November 16, 2023 at 2:52 pm

Wow, Ruby, what a great thing! I can’t imagine ever turning down a $60 grocery store coupon. How the customer ahead of you didn’t think ahead to possibly buying something besides cigs and beer was a windfall for you.

Katy November 16, 2023 at 3:48 pm

Wow, that’s a great story!

Katy November 16, 2023 at 3:51 pm

That is motivation to continue keeping an eye out for receipts!


Bee November 16, 2023 at 11:29 am

Hosting holidays can be stressful! In our family, we no longer expect things to go smoothly. Our holidays are more like the movie Christmas Vacation than Norman Rockwell. Here are just few holiday highlights.
* One year as I was cleaning up the Christmas Eve dishes, the bottom fell out of the garbage disposal without warning. Boy was that a mess!
* Last year on New Year’s Day I served a traditional southern supper followed by a dessert of baked Alaska. Perhaps this was overly ambitious. We now refer to that evening as The Baked Alaska Incident. I can tell you that ice cream and meringue can really make a huge mess when they melt. My guests and I laughed until we cried, cleaned it up and drank some champagne.
* When expecting 29 people for Christmas Eve dinner, I pulled the sprayer out of the sink to wash vegetables. Unfortunately, it kept coming. A geyser of water sprayed all over my kitchen. I was totally soaked.
* We host traditional day after Thanksgiving oyster roast. One year, we had purchased a brand new outdoor grill/roaster for the event. My husband did not the read directions and properly cure it. It caught fire.
I could go on and on. There were so many memorable moments – Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Halloween. We have learned to laugh at the disasters. Holidays are seldom picture-perfect even when I try. This is just something that I’ve finally learned to embrace.
This year I will host Thanksgiving. I’ve planned the menu and table setting. I will do the shopping and the cooking. All SHOULD be well. We will see.
I hope your heart will be light. It’s not the food. It’s the love.


Katy November 16, 2023 at 3:50 pm

Those are some hilarious incidents!


Blue Gate Farmgirl November 15, 2023 at 7:23 pm

Katy, you are NOT alone in the “I worked how many hours to feed you all for 15 minutes of eating”?! Yep. Plus they bring their tupperware from home to take leftovers, bless their hearts. I bought my $50 worth of groceries for a cheap turkey at Grocery Outlet. I drove to the one in a neighboring community as they have a better gluten free aisle/selections and organic veggies.
The highlight of my shopping trip was buying 2 brussels sprouts “trees” for $5.
I picked up tulip bulbs for 75% off. These will be planted into special pots for neighbor gifts.


Ecoteri November 15, 2023 at 9:08 pm

1. I returned an item to Canadian Tire after I collected my awesome estate sale haul. no need for a ‘spare’ mini blender when I have a new-to-me Oster (with bonus mini processor) plus another new-to-me blender. Return for the win (thank you past Ecoteri for taping the receipt to the top)
2. Although the car STILL has Estate Sale Haul items in it, I have brought in 3/4 of the items. Sorted them too! a box of random Mugs (thought of you, Katie) is destined for our local goodwill, along with a number of random or unwanted kitchen items. two big boxes are put aside for #1 Daughter. #2 son is getting a couple of things, too. A bundle of cutlery plus an additional bunch of forks and spoons is downstairs waiting for the next call out for a refugee or woman fleeing violence – they join the large number of plates (including some old corolle plates and bowls) and other kitchen gear that I am collecting. the need is great.
3. several items are too good to give away, I am going to try my hand at lowball posting on Marketplace to see if I can recoup some of my expenses.
4. Took the dog for her pedicure. she has been slipping on the stairs and I was hoping that the trim would help, the groomer said that she has hair between her pads and that she would need a bath for them to do her (hard on their equipment with a dirty dog). Although she HATES having us do her toes so I pay the groomer, I think I will be able to persuade her with treats and do the simple trimming of hair myself. wish me luck.
5. I needed more kindling and couldn’t find a kindling shack during my driving around today – so I used the hatchet and made my own out of some end-cuts that I found in the woodshed. Saved myself $5 and converted a piece of wood from a block that would burn too fast into sticks to help me start my fires. WIN


Ruby November 15, 2023 at 11:24 pm

1. Used some scrap fabric and part of a foam twin mattress topper to craft a dog bed that fits in an corner.
2. Spent $16 on spray paint to rejuvenate our 15-year-old metal garden bench.
3. Bought boxes of tissues at the drugstore because the sale price was $1 less than the same number of boxes at Dollar Tree.
4. Did some mending on my husband’s bed pillow to fluff it up.
5. Rack dried some more laundry, the only up side to the current extreme drought conditions.


K D November 16, 2023 at 3:49 am

1. We don’t give gifts to adult aged nieces and nephews but I have a handicapped nephew that loves getting beverages at Dunkin Donuts so we do gift him gift cards for Christmas and his birthday (his mother is the matriarch of the family and is always welcoming of us). I bought a gift card at Sam’s Club, saving just over $1, and sent the card with our daughter when she traveled to see that family last weekend, which saved on postage.

2. We used our senior park passes, $10 for life starting at age 62, twice last weekend to visit local state parks. We hiked a wonderful trail on Sunday. We used hiking poles purchased almost 30 years ago.

3. I had a Columbia windbreaker that I bought on clearance about 25 years ago. The zipper pull went missing a while ago and I was wearing a jacket I don’t really like. DH said a small zip tie would work and it does.

4. I used Shout Advanced Laundry Stain Remover on a blueberry juice stain on a pair of light gray jogger pants. I love that you treat a stain immediately and then wait to wash items until you have a full load of laundry.

5. I went to Restaurant Depot with a friend and did not buy anything, including the 50# box of sweet potatoes for $15.95.


Judi November 16, 2023 at 5:18 am

We always host Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at our house. When I bought a dining room set I got the biggest I could find that sits 10 and I have my in-laws old table that can seat an additional 4 if need be (It serves as my desk).

My daughter and I took a trip in June to Maine (postponed because of the pandemic) and on the way home we stopped in Calais and bought cheap frozen turkeys before crossing the border. We were each allowed one so we were set for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Most of the vegetables were from my garden. Here’s the frugal part. Though I did buy and plant two bags of seed potatoes, I sorted through the potatoes that were left from last year and planted all the small ones. So got an extra three rows of potatoes. I grew enough to last a year and grew even more this year.


A. Marie November 16, 2023 at 5:38 am

The one and only time I tried to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on my own was a major-motion-picture-worthy disaster: As an inexperienced newlywed, I didn’t thaw the turkey nearly enough, and it was still red at the joints when I finally got it out of the oven. (Not to mention what happened with the various side dishes.) DH and my parents occasionally chuckled over it years later–and it’s a good thing my parents-in-law weren’t there for some reason, because my MIL would have been razzing me about it to her dying day. Since then, I’ve been either taking side dishes to other folks’ feasts (as I’ll be doing this year) or doing something completely untraditional.

Now, my FTFT, Five Miniscule Things Edition:

(1) I found a shopping cart in the parking lot at Aldi last week and kept the quarter after returning the cart.

(2) I salvaged a returnable half-gallon milk jug from a recycling bin and returned it to a branch of the local dairy store that sells milk in these jugs (this branch was right on the way from one destination to another on Saturday).

(3) After collecting the $1 deposit on the milk jug, I found a dime in the parking lot. Cha-ching!

(4) I just ran my dishwasher for the first time in over a week (that’s how long it takes just me to fill the machine these days). And I’m leaving the dishwasher door open to warm the kitchen and cool the dishes before I put them away.

(5) And since the post-eye-surgery ban on bending over and lifting heavy weights expired yesterday, I did a load of laundry and then carried it up from the basement to the second floor to hang on my drying racks as usual. (I prudently rested between flights, but I did fine.)


Marybeth from NY November 16, 2023 at 5:56 am

1. We have 2 full fridge/freezers at work. The only item in either freezer is 2 containers of ice cream. I asked my boss if I could throw a cheap turkey in one of the freezers. She told me I could have one whole freezer. So I got 2 20lb turkeys for 49¢ each at Stop & Shop. I have been taking the pumpkin I froze with me to work. I now have room in my chest freezer.
2. Aldi had butter for $1.99 a pound limit 6. I went with my daughter and we each got 6. We are going today again.
3. My daughter and I went to the thrift store. I got a pretty Christmas top for $4. I got 4 Star Wars mugs and a new, in plastic board game. My daughter got 3 Christmas mugs that she will fill with candy as presents. We always buy our mugs at the thrift store. My daughter is painting denim jackets and selling them. We were talking to the lady that runs the thrift store and she offered to discount the jackets my daughter was buying. She took my daughter’s number and she will be holding jackets as they come in for her. She also asked for before and after photos to post on the thrift store web site. We donate to this thrift store all the time.
4. I had leftovers for lunch and dinner. Hubby ate free at work for lunch and had leftovers for dinner. We had eggs and toast for breakfast at home with some figs from our tree.
5. Stop & Shop had Haagen Daaz ice cream for 2 for $6 if you download the coupon. I had a paper coupon from a past trip for $1.50 off any $6 ice cream purchase. I LOVE ice cream but HD is usually above my price point ($6.49 a pint). I now have 2 pints hidden in the chest freezer.
6. I found 11¢ in the coin star machine and a battery. The battery was added to my collection that needs to be recycled.


Kathy Sell November 16, 2023 at 6:25 am

Love that thrift store lady discounted cost of jackets for your daughter. After photos of samples are posted, she may get custom orders. Several years ago, we talked with a young man who was clerking at a thrift store, and he was painting jackets. People really like them!


Marybeth from NY November 16, 2023 at 7:45 am

She has been doing it for years for herself and as gifts. She graduated last December and still hasn’t gotten a job in her field. She is working but only making minimum wage. She enjoys doing it so she is trying to sell them. The problem is getting the jackets cheap so she can make some money.


Kathy sell November 17, 2023 at 5:15 pm

Perhaps friends or acquaintances would pay her to custom paint their jackets? Maybe other items, too. She could charge a bit more for custom work. Hope a good job opens up for her soon.


Jill A November 16, 2023 at 6:49 am

Thanksgiving this year will be at my daughters house for the first time ever. I usually host. She is a chef so usually she does a lot of the work anyway and before my husband died he would always help so it wasn’t such a burden.
1. I combined errands and took the dog to the dog park, stopped at Costco which is on the way back and purchased gas, picked up meds and a rotisseries chicken and chose the cheapest bag of coffee beans, Starbucks winter edition. I’m using up the last bag of ground coffee which my daughter pulled out of a dumpster of a restaurant that was closing. These bags of coffee have been taking up space in my freezer.
2. I picked up loss leaders at Meijer including two 5 lb bags of potatoes for $1.49. Sweet potatoes for 39 cents a lb and a turkey for 59 cents a lb. None of these things will be used for Thanksgiving (I’m in charge of a vegetable and some rolls) but I’ll cook the turkey some other time since it’s cheap and potatoes will be on the menu more often.
3. I’ve have been taking regular walks through the woods for free exercise. I love the quiet and the sound and smell of the leaves make when I walk through them.
4. I made sure I used a 25% off coupon at the pet store before it expired. I purchased my dogs food of course.
5. I also did not purchase a tiny Lear jet. I have however been researching cars. My car has over 200,000 miles on it. Hopefully I can purchase a new or used one just before it completely dies. Normally I would be looking at used cars but with the wonky prices I’m not so sure this time. I’d like a hybrid small SUV. If anyone has any recommendations I’d love to hear them.


Peg November 16, 2023 at 7:18 am

I also use the Fetch app, and it will take well more than a year to earn the first reward. I discovered yesterday, completely by accident, that the app accepted a receipt for a free photo I ordered from Walgreens. I’m not sure I’ll continue to use it after that first reward.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl November 16, 2023 at 9:23 am

I’ve found that if I use it intermittently, the app sends me, “Come back! We’ll give you 300 points for any receipt!” offers. And that helps a lot!


Katy November 16, 2023 at 3:52 pm

Take the win!


Heidi Louise November 16, 2023 at 7:54 am

Has anyone ever done the math on how much a freezer really saves? Leaving out the cost of the freezer purchase, consider the cost of the turkey, the electricity cost, and how long it is stored for. There must be a formula for this.
I recognize that meat for about fifty cents a pound is about as cheap as it gets, though the turkey also includes inedible bones and takes up space that could be used by other items. I just wonder when the savings ends.


Katy November 16, 2023 at 4:00 pm

I haven’t, although I know that a full freezer is much more efficient, so I put empty milk cartons filled with water in it when it gets empty.


Patti November 16, 2023 at 8:02 am

We have had some huge expenses lately so I am being more frugal than usual:
1) I am eating our of the pantry and freezer. Last night we had chili made with some leftover spaghetti sauce (husband did not notice the chili was watery or tasted different) and we cooked a package of cornbread I had purchased for camping that was out of date. This cornbread is pretty awful (very dense) but we crumbled it into the chili and didn’t mind.
2) Our turkey will be one I have had in the freezer for awhile. I bought one that is too big to go in our refrigerator (why it has not been cooked yet) so I asked my church if I could thaw it in the church refrigerator and they said yes!!
3)My son has moved to Austria and we video chat often. We also text and message nearly every day – none of which we did when he lived an hour away. Technology for the win!
4)I have delivered many small items to recycle – ink cartridges, light bulbs, eye glasses, remote controls, and also recycled all electronics last Saturday at a community recycle day. I am combining this with normal errand running so no extra gas used. I am posting three useable electronic items on our community free give site.
5) I made a Mexican Lasagna last Saturday that I will give my hairdresser for her Christmas gift. I do this every year and she loves it as this is such a hectic season for her and it is ready made dinner. I am proud of myself for doing this early as I usually wait until the day before I need it. Trying to think of more things I can do ahead to make the holidays less stressful.


Katy November 16, 2023 at 3:59 pm

Wow, you’re on a roll!


mary in maryland November 16, 2023 at 11:04 am

1. The Mister said that the $1 electric kettle I got six months ago at a yard sale had stopped working. And he loved it. I thought finding out how useful it was was worth a dollar. As he walked it toward the trash, the cord fell off. He didn’t know the cord was detachable. He plugged it back in and the kettle works again. A very small save.
2. Our flu shots were accompanied by a 10% off coupon at Safeway this morning. I pointed out the two year mini-planner that I’d like for my upcoming birthday. I also noted that frozen pizzas were only $5. I bought us one for lunch. It was good, but I’ll go thin crust in the future.
3. I’m up to over 1500 items out of the house since June.
4. I have a hot new crush on a specific quilting ruler. I’ll watch the how-to-use-it videos before suggesting it for the birthday list.
5. I’ve also asked that one of the shelves for storing canned tomatoes be lowered so that I can use it for larger jars. Cheap thrills.


Katy November 16, 2023 at 3:50 pm

Those are some very “cheap thrills,” but those are my favorite kind!


mary in maryland November 16, 2023 at 11:05 am

He bought the planner with our discount as well.


Dori November 17, 2023 at 8:28 am

That’s so cool that you accidentally made ricotta! Haha I made some homemade ricotta once with ingredients I had at home when I didn’t have any that I needed for a recipe – it came out pretty good, I thought. I think that’s a really interesting hobby to make homemade cheese and I’m curious to see your future efforts! Oh, and GOOD JOB NOT BUYING A LEAR JET


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