Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on December 9, 2023 · 35 comments

  1. My family has started celebrating Chanukah and I started thinking about how the traditional dish of latkes is about as frugal as can be. Shredded potatoes, onion, a bit of flour, salt, pepper and maybe some baking powder and oil! Sour cream, but that’s something that’s always on hand at my house.

    Of course it’s not the entire meal, but I can still appreciate the crispy simplicity of this traditional Jewish dish.

  2. I made up a batch of pickled red onions, which couldn’t have been simpler. The recipe called for a mandoline slicer for perfectly thin slices, but that’s not something I own. I view most recipes as a starting point rather than an edict, so I sharpened my knife and carefully cut thin (mostly) even slices.

    Yet another example of “make it do!”

  3. Someone in my Buy Nothing Group who follows me on Instagram saw that I’d nabbed a used Bonne Maman jar from a neighbor’s recycling bin, so she messaged me to offer two more. I use these for bulk purchased spices, small amounts of leftovers and other tidbit-y items so I happy accepted her offer.

  4. I thought I’d run out of menorah candles, so went and bought an $18 set at Powell’s Books as 1) I was there anyway; and 2) I had a gift card. But then I came across a box that I’d thrifted for $1.99 back in January. I saved the Powell’s receipt, so I’ll be able to return the pricey ones.

  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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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Bee December 9, 2023 at 1:44 pm

Happy Chanukah! Wishing you the blessings of the season…
Yesterday’s small Frugal Things:
I bought three potted plants for my Christmas planters on my front porch. One of these plants died within 3 days of purchase. It had been overwatered but not by me. I brought it back to Trader Joe’s where they kindly refunded my money. Now what to do about the empty planter?

I paid several bills using online bill pay systems saving money on stamps and avoiding the possibility of a late delivery.

I took advantage of a Target promotion by buying $50 in household essentials and receiving a $15 gift card in return. I also used a $2 digital coupon for toilet paper and received $5 back from iBotta for dishwasher tabs.

I bought the store brand of cotton swabs rather than the named brand.

One of the groups I belong to had a baby shower for one of our younger members. Several people brought paper goods. Most went unopened and I couldn’t get anyone to bring them home. I immediately listed an entire brown grocery bag filled with cups, plates, napkins and banners on Buy Nothing. The were swooped up by a neighbor who is hosting a baby shower this coming weekend.

I peeled and froze 3 bananas that were becoming too ripe to eat. I will use these in my green smoothies. Lots of green leafy vegetables to keep me healthy.

Total savings equals $32.24! Woot! Woot!


Jill A December 9, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Bee, I finished the book Yellowface finally. I wouldn’t say it was bad, but just not for me. It was frustrating and depressing to read about someone digging themselves a deeper and deeper hole. I just didn’t enjoy it. How about you? Did you finish it? What did you think?


Bee December 9, 2023 at 5:16 pm

I am approximately 60% through the story. I needed a little break for the reasons you expressed. I don’t understand the actions and emotions of the main character. They are so different from what my own would be. However, I will finish it. I really want to see how it ends.


Kathy December 9, 2023 at 2:00 pm

1. Took a few items to consignment store=$20
2. Sold multiple items on line over the last week or so. Reusing packaging materials and boxes we had.
3. Decluttered and have items for the 3 families local Starbucks adopted for the holidays. Gathered up HABA items for women’s transitional shelter. Used the $20
I receive to purchased gift card for one of the residents.
4. Attended a free holiday concert by the Army Band at local community college
5. Dumped dish for utube tv which will save us $50/month


Coral Clarke December 9, 2023 at 4:09 pm

Aussie, sub tropical Queensland, here( love this site, especially when people give a location! )Can you clue me in on HABA? Our Christmas is HOT, HOT, HOT, so we are big on fresh seafood, ham, salads, pavlovas etc. Being Irish born, a potato bake, however, is still a must!


Kris December 11, 2023 at 11:09 am

I think it’s health and beauty aids but am ready to be corrected if I’m wrong.


Lindsey December 9, 2023 at 3:02 pm

1. Attended a free Christmas concert.
2. Thanked my siblings for continuing their now decades long tradition of each sending me a case of toilet paper for Christmas; I received two cases this week. This started when we lived in the villages, where toilet paper was so expensive I would have seriously considered using newspaper except that there was no daily paper. I begged them to stop sending useless but lovely things when we really needed paper supplies. It was also before Amazon, so sending it was a pain to send it but they did it. Now they send it through Amazon so cheaper and easier. Frugal for me, frugal for them, no junk so better for the environment.
3. Sold a book that had been on eBay for about a year. I had just been considering removing it when it sold.
4. Got $1.25 per gallon off my gas fill up. We are doing a bit of remodeling so paid for the supplies by buying Home Depot gift cards; the HD cards were on a 4X the value grocery points at the grocery store. Brought empty gas cans so we could completely use up the 25 gallon limit allowed.
5. Took a bag of magazines to a bed bound friend, along with sandwiches we each ate for lunch while we chatted. I am so happy to recycle my magazines and it was a cheap way to socialize with someone I like but it is not usually easy to visit.
6. Once in a great while I like a bowl of shredded wheat. The bag I dug up was stale but I crisped them up in the oven and they were tasty. Note to self: next time wait until the cereal is totally cool before you pour on the cold milk that immediately becomes lukewarm.


Jill A December 9, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Happy Chanukah!!!
1. I made homemade pizza last night and invited my Mom & sister for dinner. My Mom brought a homemade apple pie.
2. Tonight my Mom invited my daughter and I to her house for dinner. Afterwards we drove around looking at all the beautiful Christmas lights.
3. My mother and I split the cost of a spiral sliced ham that was on sale for 89 cents a pound. A whole one is too much for either of us.
4. I used digital coupons at Meijer when I stopped to pick up a few items.
5. I transferred Ibotta rewards to my account.


Kara December 9, 2023 at 4:15 pm

May this festival bring blessings upon you and your family.

1. I’m housebound with a nasty respiratory infection. Frugal because I have no appetite, and because I’m finally well enough to sell a few things on FB marketplace. Yay for porch pick up. I sold my daughter’s friend’s TV (by request) and the dad who bought it for his son was so very thankful. It made me happy.

2. I’m also decluttering at home. I gathered all the picture frames from my 2 stash spots and realized that I had many more than needed. I gave away a bag on Buy Nothing this afternoon. It was hard to part with them, my “maybe I’ll need this” urge is VERY strong, but many of the frames were thrifted in very very hard financial times and I figured those memories were perhaps best let go of.

3. I’ve enjoyed several books from the library while I’ve been ill.

4. I made a batch of English flapjack (oat based bar cookie type thing) that I wanted to give as a gift. My oven timer did not work and the flapjack got very overdone. I didn’t overreact, just took it out of the oven and went back to whatever else I was doing. Once cool I decided that I could probably crumble it into granola, which I did. I then gifted the ‘granola’ to a friend and she LOVED it and asked for the recipe!! I haven’t told her the story yet, but she is a friend who would actually appreciate it.

5. We are very fortunate to have an abundance of bottles of free wine, which make excellent gifts for many friends (I’m careful to only gift to those whom I KNOW would want this). Our daughter works in marketing at a very nice winery and she’s always bringing us wine and saying she has way too much and needs to get rid of some. I’m also thankful that this isn’t a temptation for us. I can drink precisely one swallow of wine about once a month. So we rarely open a bottle for the 2 of us. But at this time of year, a good supply of a nice gift that costs us nothing is a wonderful thing.


Bee December 10, 2023 at 5:25 am

Congratulations on your declutter. I sympathize with your efforts. “I may need this some day” is the biggest barrier to decluttering that I personally face and it is difficult for me to overcome. I suppose my thrifty nature combined with lean times in my 20s contributed to this. I have used Buy Nothing quite a bit lately saying to myself, “Someone may be able to use this now.” Every time something finds a new home I feel a bit lighter.


Heidi Louise December 10, 2023 at 11:01 am

I also understand the “I might need this some day” attitude. A friend found a helpful recommendation. Figure out how many of a thing one might need in a lifetime, and keep only that many. Her example was shirt buttons: she figured she could keep six, and get rid of the rest.
“Someone can use this now” is a very healthy stance.


Selena December 9, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Your latkes look good but much as I too love sour cream, ketchup is calling. To each her own I guess.
If you don’t do any online shopping, a crappy weather day is frugal, which is was here. Rain left but temp dropped and wind kicked in. Baked in the morning using up apples, supplemental heat from wood stove so the furnace didn’t run starting after that, then baked two of three items for dinner. Watching a movie on loan from a friend tonight so zero entertainment cost tonight.


Marybeth from NY December 10, 2023 at 1:15 pm

And here I was thinking they need applesauce.


A. Marie December 9, 2023 at 5:23 pm

FTFT, Early Holidays Edition:

(1) Katy, your latkes look great. I’ll be having some myself next week, when Dr. Bestest Neighbor throws his annual latke party. (He gets outside help with the cooking nowadays, but he’s entitled to it: He turns 87 on Dec. 22. Still, he’s younger at heart than most people I know, and I wish him and Ms. BN as much more time together as humanly possible.)

(2) The unusually mild December weather for Central NY made it easy for me to get over to the next city to the west for today’s JASNA regional meeting. I met my JASNA Panera friend there for lunch before the meeting, and she presented me with a staggering number of Panera souffles and pastries. I plan on sharing these with the BNs, my next-door neighbor, and others, as I’d weigh 300 pounds if I ate them all myself!

(3) I found a $5 bill in the street last week, surpassing the $1 bill I found in the street a few weeks ago. But, hey, if folks are going to throw money around here, I’m perfectly happy to pick it up.

(4) At Wegmans on Friday, I picked up 4 pounds of boneless/skinless chicken thighs on Reduced for Quick Sale; I divided these into two 2-pound bags and froze them for future use. I also bought the smallest $1.49/lb. spiral-sliced ham I could find and will be freezing part of this likewise.

(5) And I’ve been reconnecting via holiday emails and cards with a few folks I was about to lose touch with. It’s good to feel myself coming back to life after a long dark stretch.


texasilver December 9, 2023 at 6:43 pm

I wondered if menorah candles are a specialty item. Do they have to be a certain length and/or color?
1. I found 2 bedframes in FL. I used one to replace a rusty one I had. I gave the other frame to a young man who was working on the construction crew at my condo.
2. The overhead kitchen light went out in TX house. Hubby could not repair it, so it had to be replaced. I can’t cook in the dark.
3. I made a lasagna from items I had on hand. It’s gotten chilly in TX so a good meal on a cooler day.
4. I’m enjoying the fall foliage here in TX. In FL it is green all year. I had forgotten about the changing fall colors as I had been seeing only green.
5.My a/c in FL went out. The heat & rust is very hard on metal. The a/c part is under warranty for which I am grateful. I will have to pay for labor.
6. Off I go in January to my part time job to pay for a/c repair & whatever breaks next.
I hope all are enjoying the sights & sounds of the season. I do not want or need anything for xmas. I’m grateful I have an overage of things to donate & share with others. Glad to get the stuff out of the house!


Mand01 December 9, 2023 at 7:16 pm

1. I picked 3 kilograms of rhubarb from the garden and together my husband and I made jam, chutney, bbq sauce, and a spiced rhubarb cordial. It was a lovely fun time pottering around the kitchen while it rained outside. I have made a solemn vow though not to make anymore jam until the apricots are ripe.
2. I sat down and made a bunch of homemade labels out of paper grocery bags for all the jars as well as wrapping paper and Christmas gifts. This is the third year now that I have not purchased any Christmas gift wrap or labels.
3. I picked a pound of cucumbers, more green beans, chard, and chillies from the garden today.
4. I used all recycled jars for our jam and sauce experiments.
That’s it


Nicola December 9, 2023 at 7:31 pm

Happy Chanuka!

1. Used a points code to get $20 and some free pickups from the grocery store.
2.Bought some ground beef that had been ground too fine. Tried using it in koftas today which was a success and we both want to add them to the rotation.
3. Sold a whole bag of frozen, raw dog food ,left over from our dog that died, to an acquaintance with a poorly dog. Apparently the dog loves it, so win win.
4. Decided to move along the 10 bins of unlisted stuff I have “for ebay” I think the sheer volume is overwhelming me. I think I can move it along to another re-seller who also has a physical store. It’s like a pre-picked pick for her. Fingers crossed she will take it. I am hoping to find the joy in selling again, once the mountain has left the building!
5. Got really angry about my long term heel pain and having to wear ugly shoes and inserts. Bought some heeled boots (cuban, not stilletto!), and the heel was painless all that day of wearing them and most of the next day. Apparently this means it’s achilles in origin, not plantar, so I can adjust my stretches accordingly, and maybe have more success!


Iris December 10, 2023 at 11:23 am

Might check if it is Haglund deformity which is very painful. Backless shoes help a lot.


Ava December 9, 2023 at 7:51 pm

1. Made macaroni and cheese with bits of left over cheese that needed using.
2. Poached pears in some wine we wanted to be rid of.
3. Went to a free concert.
4. Picked up free painting magazines. I will take them to my painting workshop to share with others.
5. Put leaves on my garden box to enrich the soil.


Ruby December 9, 2023 at 7:56 pm

I took more stuff to Goodwill to donate, but also popped inside and spent a bit over $8 total on three flannel shirts and a pretty china bowl just right for feeding our messy new pup. Also got a pro haircut after a year of cutting my own hair and qualified for the senior citizen discount. Had to get my car washed — it had sawdust and drywall dust all over it from a home repair in the garage — but went with the lower cost option and cleaned the interior myself.

Did a lot of handsewing this week to repair some chewed-on dog toys, sewed a button from my big tin of salvaged buttons on a shirt cuff, and took up the neckline of a baggy shirt to make it fit right. Repaired the handle of the dishwasher with a strip of extreme conditions Velcro, which is the same stuff we bought to anchor the previously slippery floormats in my car.


BettafrmdaVille December 9, 2023 at 8:51 pm

1. Between sales and Swagbucks and 5% back on my credit card, I was able to get some frozen potstickers and 2 packages of Wasa down from $17.77 to $3.27. I’ll be able to do the same at work apartment this week and go from $17.77 down to $1.70.
2. The meat that I wanted for Christmas Eve was on sale but only through today. I bought what I needed, put it in the freezer, and saved $7.00. Also bought the potatoes that I needed for Christmas Eve for $.50 a pound.
3. Did a mystery shop for lunch and made $18.00. Tomorrow, I’ll do another mystery shop that is delivered so I will make $10 without leaving the house and getting a free lunch.
4. Went to a neighbor’s house for a house party and needed to bring some food. Partner made tortilla española using potatoes that we already had and eggs that we got free from mystery shop.
5. Did not buy a tiny Lear jet to fly to neighbor’s house.
Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate!


Blue Gate Farmgirl December 9, 2023 at 9:10 pm

Happy Chanukah!
I made latkes, served with fresh melrose applesauce, homemade sour cream, a spicy tomato chutney for my Mom and I had a mango habanero sauce that I made this fall. So good!
Started a new hand sewing/quilting project out of a friend’s stash, she is on hospice and asked me to make a few memory quilts for her family. I did not need to go hiking after as I climbed 2 flights of stairs about 30 times with very heavy boxes of fabric. It was a priceless day.
I made star garland out of very weathered cedar fence boards and wrapped them with lights and crocheted jute twine. I put it up at a neighbor’s home as he is suffering his first bout of covid.
I sold a lawnmower and edger. My tool shed is a little easier to move around in.
I found $1.25 in the Costco parking lot.


Katy December 10, 2023 at 1:13 pm

I love that you decorated a friend’s house for them during a difficult time! And a happy Chanukah back at you!


lisa December 15, 2023 at 4:31 pm

Blue Gate Farm Girl-
The memory quilts for your friend in hospice and the decorations for your neighbor with covid are so lovely and kind, during a time that feels so heavy and dark this brought tears to my eyes and made me feel hopeful. thank you!


K D December 10, 2023 at 8:46 am

Have you seen the new Bonne Maman jars? They’re smaller, a different shape and the red on the lid has been replaced with purple. I am glad I have several of the kind Katy pictured.

1. DH give local chocolates this time of year to some people that work for him (not frugal). The boxes are decorated and tied closed with ribbon. He wanted gift tags that could be tied on (so they could be re-gifted if not appreciated). We only had a few generic in the stash but after being very disappointed at what Target offered (I was by there anyway) I decided I would make some. I used a tag we had as a template on a file folder, added an appropriate seasonal sticker, punched a small hole, and used a bit of red yarn for the tie-on. Not only was it a essentially free, and better looking than what Target offered, but there was no packaging involved.
It also made me feel a bit creative.

2. When I bought my current laptop five years ago I didn’t want to pay for Microsoft Office so I limped along with Open Office which is free. I hadn’t updated it and it stopped working the other day. Google led me to Libre which is also free but much more Microsoft Office like. It reads my Open Office created files.

3. When I shopped at the Grocery Outlet a few weeks ago my receipt contained a coupon for $5 off a $25 order. before it expired I stopped in and bought a few things. They had 12 packs of Lara Bars for $3.99 and a few other good deals.

4. I have a pot of old apples in the slow cooker that will become applesauce. I’ll add a generous amount of cinnamon when they are done cooking, no sweetener is needed. I’ll freeze much of it in jars I have saved over the years.

5. A friend and I ran errands together on Thursday. She brought over ham and bean soup for us to eat for lunch.


Katy December 10, 2023 at 7:47 pm

It might be that you’re seeing seasonal jars. I still see the regular red and white gingham top ones in my stores.


lisa December 15, 2023 at 4:37 pm

The Bonne Maman “intense fruit spreads” have the purple lids and the smaller jars, and their caramel sauce is also smaller and has a blue lid. My dad is a Bon Maman conessouir and I bought him an assortment for Christmas and was surprised by the different lid colors.


MB in MN December 10, 2023 at 12:11 pm

I’m back! It’s been a challenging, overwhelming week since we moved – physically, mentally and financially. We have had ISSUES galore, most of them unexpected and all of them unwelcome, but all are of the first world variety so we’re keeping things in perspective. Each day feels like I open the front door and throw $100 bills out to the wind. I’m on a first name basis at the hardware store, but I’m afraid I’m not on as friendly terms with the automated phone menus and online chats with our electricity and Internet providers. Our moving company’s truck hit wires that tore off from our house, bringing down wires across the road that affected a neighbor’s services and blocked access to all of our neighbors down the street (our street has no outlet). It was a comedy of errors over several days that wasn’t funny in the least. There have been plenty of bright spots, too, and we LOVE our house and neighborhood!


Bee December 10, 2023 at 12:58 pm

I hope you enjoy your new home once you are settled. I’m sorry about the customer service menus. I’ve discovered several compares that are utilizing Automated services this holiday season. Grrrrr…. Not at all helpful. Anyway, May your new home be a haven of joy and peace.


Bee December 10, 2023 at 1:23 pm

That would be several companies not compares..,,


Katy December 10, 2023 at 7:46 pm

Oof . . . that’s a lot of deal with! Hopefully some of those hundred dollar bills will blow back your way.


Ecoteri December 11, 2023 at 11:46 pm

AH, here is where you shared, I missed this yesterday. so sorry to hear of all the challenges (or at least to hear that there ARE a lot of challenges – the ones you detailed sound just plain awful!). Glad you love your neighbourhood and your new home. May the dollars begin to flow back your way!


Julia December 10, 2023 at 7:26 pm

1. Got a $15 Dunkin Donut gift card as a holiday gift from one of my employers. I’ll use it to buy ground coffee.
2. Remembered to sign up for the free library winter reading challenge. There are prizes,!
3. Other than a live garland I am reusing all my old ornaments.
4. Put a major dent in my mending pile.
5 a friend took me to a Motown music concert. It was great!


Katy December 10, 2023 at 7:44 pm

Winter reading challenge? I wonder if my library system does this.


Ecoteri December 11, 2023 at 11:45 pm

OOO thanks for the reminder about the winter reading club. I am devouring books and today I was in a HUGE hurry so didn’t stop to read the info, will be sure to get back in and get signed up. prizes are good, I am always up for gaming my reading (any excuse to read)…


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