Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on April 26, 2024 · 57 comments

    1. I continue to cook almost all our dinners from scratch while my adult nephew is visiting from NYC. (I did splurge on Olé Olé takeout burritos for the boys one night.) So far we’ve had Mexican chicken soup, chicken adobo, fried rice, green curry chicken with veggies, plus one night of leftovers. Tonight will be a burrito bar. The fried rice was a big ol’ hit as leftovers, so I threw together an extra batch for random cravings.

      We took a day trip to a family cabin on Wednesday, so I brought a pan of twice baked potatoes from last week’s freeze-a-palooza. They were yummy, filling, warm and perfect to fuel the three hikes that we took that day.

    2. I kept a scheduled dentist appointment, even though it was inconvenient timing. Nothing frugal about neglecting my teeth. And by the way — “Look ma, no cavities!”

    3. I stopped at Safeway on my way home from the dentist’s office to pick up sale items. (Tillamook ice cream was $2.99 and chicken thighs were 99¢/pound!) I also scored six bags of clearance priced mixed frozen veggies and half-off matzoh. Four bags of groceries for $41.41, which ain’t too shabby these days.

    4. • I baked another loaf of no knead artisan bread. Big bang, low bucks.
      • I was chatting with my next door neighbor, who then took a call from her husband who was at the grocery store. I needed a head of garlic so she asked for him to pick one up for me. Saved me an errand and he wouldn’t accept any many as “you always do so much for us anyway!”
      • My friend Lise picked up tea and cilantro for me as she was going to Winco. Thankfully she’ll accept reimbursement.

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money, which my attorney can corroborate.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby April 26, 2024 at 12:06 pm

Your meals sound so good! Great job on the discount groceries too.

I have done simple alterations on two shirts and a pair of trousers, bought the least expensive hose at the hardware store to spare my arthritis from another summer of carrying buckets of water to the garden, ate leftovers for lunch for two days, rebuilt the birdbath with scrap cut stone from our pile of useful rocks cleaned up from the yards, and melted a broken lipstick and one wobbly in the holder together to make a nice pot of lip gloss.


Katy April 26, 2024 at 12:12 pm

Hooray for alterations, simple or otherwise!


Avery April 26, 2024 at 12:39 pm

1.) Submitted my expense reimbursement for a monthly MTA card, since my work pays for it.
2.) According to my local library, I have saved $210 since February for not buying new!
3.) Free entertainment this weekend: going to the half marathon and then my friend’s core power free class!
4.) Got a free bunch of bananas, box of cereal, a couple bagels from the food pantry I work at.
5.) Lots of frugal fails, BUT I didn’t buy a new dress for an upcoming event.


Katy April 26, 2024 at 1:37 pm

Sorry about your frugal fails, but I’m happy to see that did the finicky task of submitting the expense report!


Kara April 26, 2024 at 1:23 pm

1. I’ve spread compost (free from city) under my fruit trees and grape vines. Then I transplanted into it calendulas that had reseeded elsewhere. It’s a cooler week, so a good time to transplant. And I have to water the transplants, which also serves the second purpose of watering in the new compost. All with free rainwater from the barrels.
2. I’m going to make it in on budget for groceries this month, which has taken concerted effort.
3. Got a refund for 2 different items for which I had submitted written complaints. $130 back in my bank account. Now if only Lufthansa would reimburse for out of pocket expenses from a cancelled flight. A written complaint via registered mail is on its way to them.
4. Picked up free fresh mozzarella at Safeway.
5. Riding my e-bike everywhere I can. Gas prices are ridiculous. I even transported 10 plants home in my bike baskets today.


Katy April 26, 2024 at 1:38 pm

Registered mail? I am impressed!

P.S. Note to self — don’t mess with Kara!


Lindsey April 26, 2024 at 1:35 pm

All my frugal scores this week were minor compared to this one: our house is old by Alaskan standards and went through our big flood years ago as well as various earthquake tremors (some serious, most not). So, each year we do one big project, like take down a falling down shed and build a new one ($3000 later…). This year we are rebuilding part of the house itself. Husband got the materials list from the contractor and went to Home Depot and priced it all. Went to the grocery store having a 4X sale on gift cards and bought $4000 worth of cards, earning us 16,000 gas rewards OR $160 off a future food order. (Every thousand gives us a dollar off a gallon of gas if we don’t want to put it toward groceries.) Then he came home and ordered all the materials from Home Depot through My Points and used the gift cards to pay for it. That day there was a special on My Points and we earned $100 in the form of an Amazon gift card for the $4000 order. When he went to pick up the order, he enrolled in their Pro club for building and the size of the order will give us $25 off a future purchase from Home Depot. Then he gave me the receipt and I scanned it into Fetch and Receipt Hog. I feel like I wrung every last ounce of pennies from the $4000 I had to spend to keep our little shack in good shape for a few more years. We celebrated by doing a mystery shop at a restaurant, using the drive thru, that gives such large portions it fed both of us for lunch. I feel like I can rest on my laurels for the rest of the week.


Kara April 26, 2024 at 1:49 pm

Lindsey, you sure did wring every cent out of that $4000. I am very impressed!


Katy April 26, 2024 at 2:06 pm

Impressive shopping shenanigans!


Plaidkaren April 26, 2024 at 5:24 pm

Lindsey, that is incredible!!!


texasilver April 26, 2024 at 7:16 pm

You rock in the savings dept.!


Ecoteri April 26, 2024 at 8:33 pm

WOAH! You rock the planning for points game, Lindsey! I am very impressed!


A. Marie April 27, 2024 at 1:14 am

All hail Lindsey and the husband! This is one truly impressive round of savings!


Jill A April 27, 2024 at 3:58 am

Lindsey, I always enjoy your frugal things. You have an amazing life. I don’t think this qualifies as a tiny frugal thing. We need a post for gigantic frugal things.


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:37 am

A “Gigantic Frugal Things” blog post? On it!


Ashley Bananas April 27, 2024 at 10:21 am

That’s really impressive! Glad you found a way to curb the spending on this project!


Vickey May 10, 2024 at 4:00 pm


I once tried a much more modest points-angling purchase – buying gift cards to pay for a necessary new laptop for my business – and they flagged my account for fraud!

Glad your points-racking, money-saving adventures worked out so splendidly!


Mary Ann April 26, 2024 at 1:37 pm

1. I registered with my health insurance company for a program called Lark. It provides AI coaching and a bluetooth scale to track my progress. if I meet my 5% goal weight loss I get a Fitbit. I am open-minded enough to try anything at this poit to lose 20 pounds. It being free is a bonus.

2. I’m sliding into home with a budget of $200 for food this month. I am going to see how many months I can do this comfortably. As the months progress my stores will decline and I will really see what the cost of food is for my family.

3. I deposited a $9300 check into my HSA account. That feels good. The bank also had little treats and I picked up a single serving of popcorn and fruit jelly’s which will go in my purser for emergencies.

4. I found a quarter on campus.

5. I put out the last of the potatoes on the countertop to force myself to use them this weekend. I will research a good freezer potato recipe.


Katy April 26, 2024 at 2:04 pm

I did one of those “free fitbit” programs maybe six years ago, although you didn’t have to lose weight to get it.

$200 food budget is very ambitious, I wish you all the bestest sale items upon you!


Juhli April 26, 2024 at 2:16 pm

I see those hikes were in a lovely and verdant area. Lovely.

1. Hubby just finished resetting a part of our flagstone walkway that had sunk – no cost.
2. I made non-dairy corn and potato chowder when I found our mini food processor had finally broken. Potato masher worked ok to smash part of the soup to thicken it. I’m not replacing the food processor as it was rarely used but I did add a stick blender to my very short gift wish list.
3. We spent a chunk of money to get a ductless mini split heat pump installed upstairs where it is generally cold or very hot and cannot have heating ducts run to it readily. We already notice both levels are more comfortable and hope to see a reduction in furnace costs. We will be taking advantage of the federal tax credits for installing energy efficient heat pumps to reduce the cost.
4. Library books only is one of this year’s frugal goals and going well.
5. I made a list of small fixes that would improve the functioning of our home and I think we can do at least half of them ourselves for very minimal or no cost so we will start there.


Ruby April 26, 2024 at 5:35 pm

A stick blender is an awesome thing. I bought one some years ago when our son was recovering from a broken jaw and lived off blenderized soup. It turned out to be so useful that I rarely need to use the stand mixer any more.


A. Marie April 27, 2024 at 1:16 am

I too am very fond of my stick blender, aka immersion blender, aka “the kitchen vibrator” (as the naughty Two Fat Ladies used to call it!).


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:41 am



Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:55 am

We went hiking in a couple different areas of the Mt Hood National Forest, which is gorgeous year round as almost all the trees are evergreen.

I’ve had the same stick blender for almost 30 years and use it at least once a week. It’s so perfect for sauces and soups!


Marybeth from NY April 27, 2024 at 11:22 am

My stick blender died last years after 30 years of service. My oldest bought me a new fancy one with lots of parts for Christmas.


Juhli April 27, 2024 at 11:42 am

Glad to hear stick blenders get such rave reviews!


Marie April 28, 2024 at 10:28 am

We’ve had our duct less mini split for 6 years. House is one story no air conditioning. We use it as a backup to our woodstove. Yay, for no more waking to a house that is icy cold. Very economical to use.


Marybeth from NY April 26, 2024 at 3:54 pm

1. I also got chicken thighs for 99¢ a pound. I got the 2 packs I was allowed. I got 2 packs of chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound. Thomas English muffins with a coupon were $1.99. Daiya feta cheese was marked down to $2.24 so I got 2 for Hubby. I got 2 packs of bacon for $3.99 and bananas.
2. I returned $1.55 in bottles and cans. I also found a penny in the parking lot.
3. I got $53 in credit card credit. I always apply it to the balance. We pay it off every month. I paid all bills online saving me 4 stamps.
4. Yesterday was no school by us. I took my cousin’s middle son out. I like to take them by themselves sometimes to give them special attention. We went to Chick fil a for lunch. I used points for my fries and drank my water. He played in the play center for a little while.
5. We hit a little free library and we both got a book. We went to my favorite thrift store. He picked out a new puzzle for $1. I got 3 wedding precious moments that I am collecting to use at my daughter’s bridal shower next year. They were a $1 each. We then went to my house. We played Trouble several times and played with the dogs.
6. I used our carpet cleaner to clean the bedrooms carpets. I need to do this more often but am glad that I did it .


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:52 am

You found a penny?! You can now say that you “Recently came into some money.”

You are the nicest cousin, what a treat for that little boy!


Christine April 26, 2024 at 4:49 pm

That wooded path looks lovely!
1. DH and I went to a wedding where we both wore clothes we already own. I seem to remember a conversation about the subject before on this blog: Relax…no one cares what you wear.
2. I divided our tax return equally between 4 bank accounts: Checking, Savings, Christmas & Birthdays, Emergency. It felt good to pad each account.
3. I wait for a sunny day to do laundry so I can hang it outside. It smells so good, especially the sheets.
4. I picked up another book I had on hold at the library. Like many on this site, I look at the library as an invaluable source of reading material and entertainment, including their live programs.
5. Listening to a free podcast on NPR…Ted Radio Hour. The podcast is A More Walkable World. The benefits of walking (including it being a frugal mode of transportation) are remarkable.


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:50 am

Yes, that was from when I went to my cousin’s daughter’s wedding a couple years ago. I kept reminding myself that “No one cares what the mother’s random cousin is wearing!”

Yes, pad those accounts! high five!


Fru-gal Lisa May 4, 2024 at 6:23 pm

When I was in high school, my dad was unemployed and I transferred to a new district one year. My mother told me, “Now, every dress and outfit you own is a new one, as far as all the other students are concerned. Because they’ve never seen you wear it.”

More recently, I’ve re-worn dresses for special occasions and I don’t think anyone there has ever figured out that this was the outfit I wore last Easter as well…..after all, it’s been an entire year…..and for that matter, I don’t recall what anyone else wore either — not last year, or even last Sunday.


Elizabeth April 26, 2024 at 6:07 pm

1. Husband and I went to a “pay what you want” night out to see “Murder on the Orient Express”. I originally had free tickets to the preview night but they lost power and had to cancel. So I bought tickets instead but decided to go on the “cheap night” and save some money on the tickets. We also found free parking downtown as the lot connected to the theater was charging $15.
2. We brought my son home from his first year of college today. We got no parking tickets (his university is FAMOUS for handing them out all the time)! He spent hours going through his room and getting rid of a huge number of things. A bunch of it I’ve put on my Buy Nothing group with people scheduled to pick things up. Some things I’ve put aside to take to the lady who owns a consignment store and there’s some Lego’s I’ll try and sell.
3. Finished the audio book “All the Lies” from Libby from my library. Now reading a book my friend let me borrow called “Mad Honey” by Jodi Picoult.
4. Went to book club at a meadery downtown. Managed to find free parking about a 1/4 mile from the venue and just walked there. I ordered two small samples of mead instead of full glasses (I was driving so I just wanted a taste). They didn’t have a lot of options for food so I didn’t order anything and just waited until I got home to eat.
5. My daughter comes home from college Wednesday so this summer will be more expensive with two college kids back home. Will get back in the swing of cooking (my husband and I have just been doing very simple eat whatever you find or is easy) to prevent them from grabbing food out often. They both prefer homemade food also. Going to give myself some grace with them home and life being not as frugal as it would be if it were just my husband and I. Different seasons of life require different things.


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:47 am

There are like a thousand layers of truth in “Different seasons of life require different things”

And I am impressed that you walked a quarter mile to save on parking, that is true frugality!


Selena April 26, 2024 at 7:09 pm

I saw Tillamook ice cream at a local grocery store. Didn’t catch the price (I had ice cream toppings on my mind) but incentive to go to said store with better half tomorrow.
Caldo de pollo – our almost weekly Mexican restaurant haunt has really good caldo de pollo. You serve it with avocado slices?
While not me personally being frugal per se, extremely happy my state elected officers are not in favor of any taxpayer welfare to billionaire sports team owners.


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:43 am

My husband and I stopped the habit of having ice cream on hand since we became empty nesters, but it’s been kind of fun to have a bowl after dinner these past few days.


Selena April 27, 2024 at 3:37 pm

Better half likes ice cream once a week (started in childhood). Older kiddo likes ice cream (little option between her father and mine) so that justified the purchase of the topping. Most of the time better half adds fruit (fresh or thawed frozen).
AND since we had no need to be in the frozen section, I did not remember to check price but I did remember better half wanted eggs. The local produced eggs we buy are *not* with the rest of the eggs – go figure.


BettafromdaVille April 26, 2024 at 7:14 pm

1. I made homemade granola, loosely using The Frugal Girl’s recipe (I did not add coconut or fruit, substituted sliced almonds, added 1 c more oats, and added cinnamon).
2. I reached the necessary “points” to not pay a 10% surcharge on my health insurance at work for the entire next year.
3. Finished a semester of teaching a course overload. I like the extra money, but I wonder if it is sometimes worth it.
4. Changed the date to take a test at work so that I did not need to go into the office at all one day, saving gas money.
5. Neither paid hush money nor a lawyer to defend me for paying hush money.


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:42 am

I wonder if my husband’s work provided health insurance has a “points” system. I’m going to ask him!


GK April 27, 2024 at 2:17 am

Well done on the grocery hauls! I keep trying and failing to stay within our grocery budget (which I have already raised due to the inflation) 🙁

Enjoy the time with your visitor!

Frugal 5:

* Recent favourite library read: That summer by Jennifer Weiner
* It was time this morning to put out a new bar of soap. We switched from using liquid soap years ago, no more plastic liquid soap bottles and much gentler on the skin! I always half the soap bars as that somehow seems to make them last longer, they disintegrate less.
* I am able to forage in the garden again (is it still called foraging if it’s in your own garden?). Sorrel and wild garlic for salads and sauces, blackberry, blackcurrant and raspberry leaves for tea. We are also already able to use some herbs this spring, oregano, chives (we have thyme, sage and rosemary all year round, too).
* There was 20% off all own brand cat food in Lidl so I got enough for about 3 months.
* Bought a new peeler! Thinner peels = less food waste


* Burnt a dish towel by accidentally leaving it on the stove which I thought I had turned off.
* Additional driving lessons to get my son ready for his driving test.
* I was overcharged in Lidl as two products did not scan in as reduced – only noticed it at home unfortunately, lesson learnt!


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:41 am

I will read anything by Jennifer Weiner, love her!

Frugal win = you didn’t burn your house down!


A. Marie April 27, 2024 at 3:23 am

FTFT, More or Less Post-Bronchitis Edition:

I’m still coughing a bit, but I’m well out of the worst part of the worst case of bronchitis I’ve ever had. Here are the few frugalities I’ve managed:

(1) I continued to practice passive frugality by not going much of anywhere and not spending much money.

(2) To keep hot liquids moving through my throat, I did a cleanout/reorganization of my tea stash, particularly the herbal/noncaffeinated ones. I found a few that had been in there for 20+ years, but they were still brewable. (A testimony to the quality of the herbal products from Mrs. Mango’s of Rockledge, FL!)

(3) When I was finally able to go out, I masked up and took my next-door neighbor (NDN) on a much-postponed grocery run to Tops. (I’ve either been taking her shopping or going shopping for her since last July, since she no longer drives.) She let me use her Tops card to pick up a family pack of chicken drums for 88 cents/lb., which I have been eating for the last three days. Not much appetite or interest in cooking with this bug.

(4) As soon as I was able to manage the lifting and spreading, I picked up several bags of the $2/bag mulch from Lowe’s, for the few parts of the garden where I use bark mulch.

(5) And I bought four bags of the Coast of Maine tomato/veg soil I use in NDN’s and my tomato pots. It’s not time to plant tomatoes here in Central NY, but the soil was on sale this week at Country Max.


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:39 am

I’m so sorry to read that you’ve been sick, but I am super impressed that you brewed 20-year-old cups of tea!


Lindsey April 27, 2024 at 9:09 am

So glad to hear you are better. At our ages, lung issues are frightening.


Jill A April 27, 2024 at 4:24 am

That looks like a beautiful hike. We have Tillamook ice cream in our Meijer now. I’m waiting for a good sale before I try it.
1. I cut up a butternut squash that’s been sitting on my counter since last fall. I put half in the freezer and half will be used to make veggie chili.
2. I checked next weeks sneak peak sale flyer for Meijer. I put off buying some of the items on my list until next week when they are on sale.
3. My daughter and I helped my Mom put up a cloth cover on her pergola. She fed us a delicious spaghetti dinner.
4. I filled up with gas at Costco where it was 36 cents less than elsewhere in town.
5. I weeded some wild scallions out of my landscaping and put them in water to either eat or plant in a planter or both.


Kathy April 27, 2024 at 6:17 am

Recovering from a super bad case of food poisoning. We meet my former boss and her husband at a well know restaurant in Portland before we left on our Columbia River cruise
1. Listed number of items for my sister as they are planning on moving. Using Katy’s Frankenbox method of packaging
2. I’ve also several of my items
3. Regifted an item as a thank you to former boss
4. Made stuffed peppers incorporating leftover quinoa, pepper tops, sun dried tomatoes with ground pork. Have peppers leftover for another meal
5. Air dried bath mats


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:35 am

You must have air dried the bath mats before Thursday when ALL the rain returned! Have fun on your river cruise!


Kathy April 27, 2024 at 1:38 pm

1. We were in Portland on 4/11 and returned home to Oklahoma on 4/19
I was sick the entire cruise
2. No rain here in Oklahoma earlier in the week


Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:39 pm

The entire cruise? I’m so sorry.

Katy April 27, 2024 at 8:36 am

That’s the Barlow Trail that made the Oregon trail safer for settlers. They sued to have to pass a certain area on raftes on a river, which was both dangerous and expensive.


Bethany M April 27, 2024 at 11:07 am

Found a pencil in the hallway on my way to class. I knew the first thing some kid would say is, “Can I borrow a pencil?” I said, “Here take this one. I found it on the floor in the bathroom.” Kid proceeded to sniff it. Hahaha! I love messing with my middle schoolers.

Looked over my contract before signing it. It looked a lot less than advertised according to the “huge” raises. Since I’m part-time, I get paid per class that I teach, and they added up my single-semester classes wrong. A $4000 blunder. Sheesh! So glad I found it!

Our kitchen table is UGLY. Lol… I have a table cloth, and it’s beautiful. Been throwing it on there all the time and washing it regularly. We don’t need to replace it. Furniture is far too expensive for our goals right now. Got to thinking instead, I could order us another tablecloth and have variety, but then I just decided to get out of the endless black hole, AKA Amazon, and get back to living life to the fullest. The table is great. Just be thankful, Bethany!

My daughter was ready to scrap an old sweater my husband picked up for her birthday a couple years ago. It was a bad buy! But she’s been using my pill razor all over it. I think the razor was an AMSR fix for her too.

My dad gets more OTC allotment than he can use with their insurance. They got piled up on stuff. He let me pick out some stuff this last round. I can scratch off 5 things off my Costco list now.


Vickey May 13, 2024 at 7:41 pm

Great win on the table/tablecloth self talk! Being able to content oneself with “good enough” is a urge money-saving skill.


Vickey May 13, 2024 at 7:42 pm

*huge*!. Huge money saving skill. Fer Pete’s sake!


Cindy in the South April 27, 2024 at 1:54 pm

The hike looks beautiful.


texasilver April 28, 2024 at 3:21 pm

The 2 cats are adjusting to the new (to me) Litter Robot 3. I had to buy clumping litter for the Robot which costs more than the clay litter. However, I think the ease the Robot creates for litter box maintenance is well worth it. The cats will always have a clean dry bed of litter to step into. It also assists w/ odor control. I don’t think I would have spent the 500$ that it costs new, but it is a miraculous device. I believe this is one of the most expensive items I have found. The only item that tops it is a like new leather recliner that I found for hubby. He looked up the brand & it retailed for 1500 $. Now I cannot get him out of it.


Ecoteri April 28, 2024 at 7:36 pm

@texasilver, you make me laugh – Glad it is the recliner not the litter box that your husband is not wanting to get out of! However I suspect that you need to prod him on occasion, as his extra reach is necessary for some of the deeper treasures in your ever entertaining dumpster dives!
Thanks for the report on the litter robot… who would have ever thought to invent something like that (and who would buy one new)?


Victoria April 29, 2024 at 4:51 am

The best comments section on the internet!


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