Some More Frugal Things

by Katy on October 31, 2023 · 44 comments

  1. I made a batch of homemade pasta for the family which was both fun and tasty. It didn’t turn out perfectly as I coiled them into little nests before they were sufficiently dry. However, it was still a success as most of the linguini-style noodles separated just fine and I used kitchen scissors to fix the rest. Here’s the recipe I used.

    I topped the pasta with chicken breast and Costco pesto, which was almost unbearably salty. (I won’t buy it again.) It made me think about how my summer pasta dishes were made with homemade pesto and store bought pasta, so this was an opposite meal. I loved having endless fresh basil this summer and need to remember to grow extra next year.

    For those who might think I’m an impressive urban farmer, let me remind you that I just buy the $3.99 pot of Trader Joe’s basil and just separate out the twenty or so small plants that come in the pot. I’ll make sure to double my investment in 2024!

  2. I brought my friend Lise a small jar of the taco seasoning that I buy in bulk at Winco as she’d expressed curiosity about it. I use it to add a flavor punch to chili, refried pinto or black beans. She had three leftover uncut pumpkins on her front porch from a family jack-o-lantern carving party, and she sent me home with one. It was uncomfortably heavy and I thought my arms might drop off before I got home.

    It reminded me of a story from when I was in kindergarten and my class walked to Lloyd Center Mall to pick out pumpkins. The other kids chose cute little ones, but I had my eye on a behemoth. I then had to carry it the full 12 blocks back to the school, which absolutely did me in. My mother began to worry when I didn’t come home on time and left the house in search of my five-year-old self. She located me sucking my thumb and sitting on my pumpkin a couple blocks away from the house.

    So yes, that’s what I felt like yesterday. But without the urge to suck my thumb.

  3. I used a ziploc freezer bag for my pasta dough instead the suggested saran wrap as I try to avoid single use plastic. I buy “freezer” bags as they’re thicker and stand up to multiple gentle washes. I grab a box every four years or so and although I’m not precisely sure how many times I’m able to reuse them, it’s at least a couple dozen. This kitchen cabinet sits above a heat register, so the clipped inside-out bags dry efficiently in this spot.

    I’ve tried the silicone ziploc bags, but they always pop open so I’m no fan.

  4. I didn’t carry a Lear Jet home.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan October 31, 2023 at 1:35 pm

I buy those thicker freezer bags on Amazon and get so many uses out of them. I’m just careful not to re-use after meat, but anything else is a go.


Katy October 31, 2023 at 1:59 pm

I don’t use them for raw meat ever.


Selena October 31, 2023 at 7:01 pm

Agree with limiting one time plastic wrap (we use the old time plastic-with-elastic covers a lot) BUT Press’n Seal wrap can be used for raw meat. Wrapped meat is then put into a likely many times used Ziploc bag. I balance the cost of one time plastic against the cost of the target food. While I’d never attempt to reuse Press’n Seal wrap from raw meat, I may see if a reuse (at least once) is possible.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 12:04 pm

I save my scrappiest plastic bags for raw meat.


Kathy October 31, 2023 at 2:09 pm

I sold two boxes of DVDs online=$36. There were several that weren’t bought so I’m giving the kid ones to a friend for her 5 year old. I’ll donate the rest
Somehow I ordered 2 copies of the newest Janet Evanovich book plus I had a credit for audio download so I’m returning the 2 copies to Amazon
I love homemade pasta


Jen in Santa Cruz October 31, 2023 at 2:29 pm

Always a delight to see a post from you. You are becoming quite the homesteader with the basil farm and homemade sauerkraut and pasta. I am impressed.

Reducing/reusing/refusing plastics is my jam, too.

With the tomatoes/peppers/sketchy parking lot box, I thought I would take the whole thing. But then a few days later I saw a dumpster in the Costco parking lot with dented pumpkins/old pizza/loose strawberries and I just couldn’t do it. Everything was stinky and overwhelming. At least you saved the pepper.


Katy October 31, 2023 at 3:11 pm

Yes, my Trader Joe’s pot of basil definitely makes me a true homesteader. And I jump at any opportunity to bring home cheap peppers. They often show up on the Fred Meyer clearance produce shelf and I always buy an armload!


Jen in Santa Cruz October 31, 2023 at 8:21 pm

We don’t have Fred Meyer’s in CA. Or grocery stores with produce on the clearance shelves! Only packaged foods. I think it all goes into the dumpsters-aargh.


Ecoteri October 31, 2023 at 11:44 pm

my most local grocery store has a clearance shelf that can be wonderful or dismal – I often score deeply discounted items that I bring home with delight as they aren’t in my usual food rotation. Most are simply near or at best before date. I just picked up some salad dressings on steep discount – yes, I can make my own but no I don’t always have the time. cheapo dressings mean I might pull the greens out and fling a salad together!
The grocer never has fresh produce in their clearance, though, and I haven’t located a clearance in the produce aisles. No never mind, I prefer to shop for produce at a very local discount farm market stand – who frequently have things like peppers on steep discount. they are also frequently ‘uglier’ than what they sell at the regular grocer – however, I am going to cut them up anyway! This store has a clearance section where I frequently find ‘deals’ (and have learned to be judicious about what I bring home, a deal is only a deal if we use it). I often get large bags of just barely overripe bananas, which I used to dehydrate (YUM) and currently I have been freezing for my morning smoothie. When Cauliflower is $4 a head, I will gladly cut a few spots out of the 99cent discount version. I also score bags of mixed lemons and limes – and just scored a discount electric citrus juicer – my hands get pretty tired after the first half dozen if I am working through a big batch.


Roberta November 3, 2023 at 7:44 am

The food bank I volunteer at receives a lot of produce (and clearance bread) from the local grocery. So your grocery might be donating the old veg!


Ruby October 31, 2023 at 5:23 pm

After last week’s frugal efforts, I’ve thus far rack-dried a quilt and lubricated the dishwasher’s stiff hinges and latch with WD40. Also took two old dog crates my son cleaned up to the animal shelter.

It was not intentional, but we managed to keep our grocery spending quite low all through October by using what we had.


Kara October 31, 2023 at 7:24 pm

We came in low on groceries too! $160 for the month for 2 of us, and the occasional 3rd. We didn’t even eat out much-spending a whopping $15.95 for eating out for the whole month. Now I wonder what we did eat…I do know yesterday I chopped, blanched and froze 20# of free organic carrots and I made a beans and greens recipe over rice with the carrot tops. That fed us for 2 nights.


Q November 1, 2023 at 4:19 am

Kara, that is impressive! and Ruby, you are inspiring me to do a dropoff.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 12:03 pm

Processing twenty pounds of carrots is an impressive task. Well done!


Katy November 1, 2023 at 12:06 pm

Our dishwasher’s springs are super loud, but we like the sound as it’s almost musical.


Mary Ann October 31, 2023 at 6:52 pm

Thank goodness it is payday. I get paid once a month and October is a long month. I am buy no means living day to day but I do try to keep to a budget I took several opportunities to set up travel for the coming year which meant I was way over. I have only one more airline ticket to buy and I will be through with travel for awhile.

1, I attended a Kardashian like wedding (actually just thirty minutes from them.) The hotel was free with points. The family fed us 4 times at the wedding, There was also a barista, a saxophonist hired to play with the DJ and mix with the Dancers, a cigar bar and on and on. I did not have anything to wear knowing a regular work dress wasn’t fancy enough. I went to goodwill and found deep green lace cocktail dress midi with tags for 6.99. The only reason it was still there is am sure is because it was in the wrong size section. I got several compliments and the bridesmaids dresses were the same color. Score.

2. I took the extra day and wandered the beach and swimming. Heaven.

3. Our friend owns an Italian restaurant. Free mea!s and cheesecake.

4. I spent the night at the ranch to view the century home on the river that is almost ours. I picked two boxes of fuyo persimmons – my favorite. That is our fruit for the month.

5. I made us dinner at the ranch which is always lean pickings. Harvest mix wild rice and lentils. Tasty.


Selena October 31, 2023 at 7:06 pm

I envy you getting paid once a month. I loved being paid once a month – it made it even easier for me to budget (got paid on the 15th of the month). But alas that ship sailed 30+ years ago.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 12:05 pm

That sounds like quite the wedding!


K D November 1, 2023 at 4:54 am

1. On Sunday we curbside picked a few items. DH grabbed some planter boxes and I grabbed a framed mirror and a floor lamp.

2. A neighbor planted a persimmon tree a few years ago. She told me they are easy to care for and they had fruit the first year on their small tree. DH wanted to plant one but neither of us had ever eaten a persimmon. They had them in the grocery store the other day. A bit pricey at $2 for one but also frugal in that we determined we don’t want to grow persimmons so there is no need to drive to a nursery and spend money on a tree. I thought the fruit had no flavor and the skin was tough. It is a nice dark orange color though and probably would add nutrition to a smoothie or a pot of applesauce.

3. I will pack a lunch and eat at a friend’s house today. I eat GF and she no longer eats much since she is using Ozempic so this is easier, healthier, cheaper, and more relaxing than going out.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 11:19 am

I’m with you on persimmons.


Marybeth from NY November 1, 2023 at 6:26 am

1. I ran to the thrift store. I got 3 long sleeve tops for $4 each. They had 2 beautiful lace tableclothes for $1 each. I couldn’t resist. I also got 8 Cloth Christmas napkins for $2 and 4 Christmas hand towels for $2. That is more then I usually get but they were putting away all of the Holloween items and putting out Christmas.
2. Aldi has flour on sale this week for $1.99 for 5 pound bags. I bought 5 bags. That will get me through Christmas.
3. I grabbed a cart in the parking lot so free quarter.
4.We are supposed to get our first freeze tonight so I picked everything in the garden that would survive: a few cherry tomatoes, lots of lettuce and swiss chard, 5 small eggplants, lots of peppers and beets , 3 large bunches of parsley and 5 more figs. The carrots will be fine with the frost and I will pick them as I need them.
5. The dehydrator was running all night with swiss chard. I have a large jar of it that I sprinkle into lots of food to add greens. I always need to eat more greens.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 11:15 am

I’m scouring the grocery ads for flour sales right now, now I have an extra reason to wish we had Aldis here in Oregon!


Jill A November 1, 2023 at 7:10 am

1. My country road doesn’t receive any trick-0r-treaters so no candy purchases. We headed over to my Mom’s house to enjoy all the kids who trick or treat in her suburb. We watched halloween movies on her TV. Free entertainment.
2. My daughter who is now an adult put on one of her cute high school costumes. She purchased some cheap accessories to add to it.
3. My Mom served my family an inexpensive dinner which was delicious. I contributed some mac-n-cheese. We brought home leftovers for a second meal.
4. I picked up a few things at Costco including some pot pies that were on sale. These are a quick dinner when I don’t feel like cooking which means I avoid buying take out. I gave half of the pies to my Mom.
5. I bought the cheap gas at Costco while I was there. It was under $3 again.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 11:15 am

Our gas here is still flirting with $5/gallon.


Nancy November 1, 2023 at 11:33 am

Costco n Clackamas has been 3.99 lately!! Cheapest place around Portland.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for the tip!


Jill A November 1, 2023 at 1:11 pm



Dicey November 1, 2023 at 7:31 am

I have a couple of garage sale stands for drying baby bottles. I use them to dry my freezer weight plastic bags. They fold and stow when not in use.


Alie November 1, 2023 at 8:49 am

That’s what I use too! I also got a free small drying stand (just 4 arms) from Grove for free with a purchase and it’s handy when I have just a bag or two.


Lazyretirementgirl November 4, 2023 at 4:15 pm

Skewers in an empty mayonnaise jar for me.


Heidi Louise November 1, 2023 at 8:00 am

Not lots of money-saving here, but lots of habits working together to save.
1. With the first freeze this week, put away outdoor stuff like hose, chairs, grill, rain gauge, so those things, most between 20-30 years old, would have the next 5-6 months out of the cold.
2. Planted tulip and iris bulbs, sprinkling them all heavily with dollar store cayenne pepper. It is frustrating to plant them and then have various rodents eat the bulbs. Hoping this deters at least some of the varmints.
3. Picked up a free start to a spider plant in a cup of water at the library. They have a huge plant there and occasionally take the shoots off it to share. I have terrible luck with spider plants and with aloe, probably overwatering.
4. Not sure if it is here or elsewhere that I saw reference to the WW2 book, “All the Light We Cannot See”. Haven’t read it myself. Netflix version is coming out this week.
5. Thanks to the grocery store checker who worked and worked to get a coupon to scan properly on a clearance item, finally calling over a manager. I appreciate that she didn’t just say she couldn’t take it.
And apologies to the woman behind me in line who picked up her stuff and moved to another line. I felt badly about the hold-up, and still was not going to give up my two dollars off.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 11:13 am

Thank you for the cayenne trick! I noticed that the squirrels were poking about my freshly planted garlic, so I’m definitely going to try this trick! And yes, spider plants thrive on neglect!


Lindsey November 1, 2023 at 9:38 am

We had 189 kids come by for Halloween (husband kept track). Several of them exclaimed with joy over being given full sized chocolate bars. The leftovers are in the freezer, back behind stuff, in the hope that I will be too lazy to dig them out and eat them frozen. I think buying full size bars will be the new normal because it gave my husband a charge to hear the kids exclaim over them. One young kid must watch a lot of TV because when he got his bar, he said, “Are you doing this because Al Roker does?” We have seen him announcing weather on the Today show but had not heard him talk about big sized bars. Too funny.
1. Reused Halloween decorations, so no money spent on decorating this year. We did not even buy a pumpkin since we grow lots of them ourselves.
2. Woman whose husband and kids will not eat leftovers dropped off a large pot of potato/leek/sausage soup. It was so thick that I had to add some milk to the existing broth, which then fed us for two dinners and two lunches. I am going to make bread today and will drop some off to her.
3. Library visit for several movies on DVDs and two books.
4. A dress that is 100% cotton keeps getting shorter and shorter but rather than throwing it out or donating it, I am wearing it as a long shirt today. I like how it looks and feels so it is now officially a shirt.
5. I still send out Christmas cards so I gathered up all the leftovers and will be doing my usual of writing a card a day. I don’t send them until early December, but this way I write a letter with each one and don’t feel rushed. I need about 10 more cards and I have the supplies to make rather than buy them.


texasilver November 1, 2023 at 11:08 am

1. Items I pulled from junky closet were picked up by charity truck last week.
2. Was offered 2 classes to teach for Spring ’24. (Was not actually offered as I had to inquire about the school’s needs. How do they expect to get faculty?)
3. After cleaning out junky closet I still needed a container to store husband’s extra golf clubs. On my daily walk I found a tall white bucket that contained a little plaster. Dumped plaster into dumpster. Washed out bucket at home. Voila! A new container for free.
4. Found a large plastic container to put my hair items in. It once contained seaweed salad & was rather stinky. The dishwasher took away the smell.
5. Converted a mop handle into a walking stick. Put a rubber cap on the end of the handle & it was ready to go. I did have to buy some heavy rubber caps (for a walker) to complete the project. I have found the walker caps are very durable & last during my 4 mile daily walks.
6. Found a dollar coin during my walk last week. I did not know what it was at first. I thought it was a quarter.


Katy November 1, 2023 at 11:12 am

I love how organized you are to start your Xmas cards so early! Although I didn’t give away full size candy bars, I did let each kid take four candies as the Hi-Chews are pretty small. They were so excited!


A. Marie November 1, 2023 at 12:31 pm

Some more frugal things and a question:

I’m making a kale, apple, and carrot salad to take to the Bestest Neighbors for dinner tonight. Homegrown kale, foraged apple, and homegrown scallion (but store-bought carrot, alas).

I’ll also take the BNs a Ziploc bag of cilantro from my self-perpetuating cilantro bed, which is flourishing. (Tip for those trying to grow cilantro: It does best in spring and fall–in other words, on its own schedule, not necessarily ours.)

And I’ve been greatly enjoying the first day of Project FeederWatch, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada ( The rain/snow mix we’ve been (not) enjoying today is bringing my birdie friends to my feeders in throngs.

Finally, although I admire Lindsey’s diligence in getting started so early on her holiday cards, I am seriously considering not sending any this year. Any tips for getting up some enthusiasm for holiday cards when one’s year sounds on paper like “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”


LDA November 1, 2023 at 2:02 pm

A. Marie,
As you get to each name on your list, try to think of a good memory of them. Then, if you wish you can share that with them, in addition to holiday greetings. And hopefully it brightens the day for both of you.


Katy November 2, 2023 at 11:05 am

I need to try growing my own cilantro next spring, as I seem to ever only have too much or none.


Ecoteri November 2, 2023 at 9:29 pm

The trick to growing cilantro is to sow it every 7-14 days (every week or so) in patches about a foot square, sow it thickly. each patch will have its own timeline, but if you write it on your calendar and start just after the last frost, you can stick with it and have cilantro even when it starts to get hot. keep it watered as you would something like carrots, or beans, and stick with it. Buy the seeds as the herb coriander (whole not ground) at the bulk store, much cheaper than seed packages. and once you have things happening, let the first few patches go to seed. Collect the seeds as they brown and dry, and presto, free seeds for next year….


Ava November 1, 2023 at 1:14 pm

Heidi Louise, All The Light We Cannot See is a wonderful book.


Susie's Daughter November 1, 2023 at 2:30 pm

I second Ava’s recommendation! I still think about particular passages on a regular basis.
Thanks also to this group for recommending Nella Last’s Diaries – another compelling WWII read. 34 Charring Cross Road is another I liked for the post War era.


Q November 1, 2023 at 2:03 pm

1. I took my friend (who is blind) to her doctor visit: taking care of friend: priceless! And frugal for her, as taxi would be $25 each way. Plus, who wants to go to the doctor alone to get a cast removed? We are organizing a team to take her to her appointments.

2. We received two light up shot glasses at an Oktoberfest party: I asked for a 3rd, as they had many leftover, and now have great stocking stuffers for my 3 young grandchildren, who will not realize they are shot glasses, and will just think they are very cool. I would not buy these plastic doodads, but at least they are getting a second use. I am saving (eg hiding from DH) the leftover Halloween candy for the stockings as well.

3. I knew I would be getting back late from the doctor visit, so this morning I mixed up the Slow Cooker Black Bean soup recipe from budget bytes. Topped with a little avocado, some oyster crackers, and a slug of sherry, it was perfection for dinner. I make the inexpensive oysters crackers, from Lidle’s, last by keeping them in a recycled jar. Having the delicious smelling and tasting soup awaiting us on a rainy, cold evening helped make it certain we would avoid takeout. This recipe is very easy and very delicious. As a nice bonus, my niece and nephew are stopping by after their brother’s game, giving us a visit and saving them takeout as well.

4. Accepted free toothbrush at dental check-up Made it to November 1st before caving on heat this evening for the first time since spring. It feels delightful to be at 68 degrees! I borrowed a temperature gun and a watt meter from the library to gauge some of our energy users and losers next week

5. This last one involved spending money, but was a very good buy. DH is very tall, and very picky about his dress shirts for work. Costco is discontinuing the line of no-iron dress shirts that he really likes, and he has needed some new ones for awhile now. I managed to find them on Costco online, combined two discounts to buy 12 shirts, and spent under $150. These shirts are terrific. I will put half aside for the next time he needs brand new ones. The shirts last well, and so I think these will see him through his career!


Katy November 2, 2023 at 11:02 am

That’s so funny that you’re giving shot glasses to your grandkids, I love it!


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