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Frugal Accomplishments For The First Week of July

July Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

We harvested red and green seedless grapes, peaches, tomatoes, and apples from the garden.

I cut chocolate mint for a large batch of herbal tea.

I went to the Joann's on the 3rd of July to buy a few items on sale, including some broadcloth in black, white, and navy at 50% off at $2.49 a yard and some ribbon by the spool at 60% off. 

My husband replaced our garbage disposal himself.

We used solar lights at night in our bedroom instead of turning the lights on. I bought a two-pack of these at Sam's Club in May for the same price as one from Amazon. We've had problems with other solar lantern batteries burning in our heat in the direct sun. We put these inside the window and they worked without any problems. They were bright enough to use for reading at night.

I collected warm-up water from the shower and used to water potted plants.

We celebrated the Fourth of July at home. I hosted and food was combined with my mom. We watched fireworks from our yard--they weren't real large, but we were able to see what several people were setting off nearby from our yard and we didn't have to spend any gas to go anywhere.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 gift card to Lowe's.

I looked over the grocery ads when they came. There were some good deals--but not the pasta sale that I'm hoping to see. I threw the ads out. I also received some catalogs with summer clearance sales. I glanced through them--and then quickly tossed them. There were some things that I liked but that weren't in my budget nor were they priorities or planned purchases. Throwing them out removed the temptation to spend money I need to use for other things.

I organized three drawers. It took a bit of time but was a no-cost way to add some peace to my life.

I organized my garden seeds. I have plenty of vegetable seeds to plant for my fall garden without having to purchase anything.

My husband and I chose to celebrate our anniversary at home with a meal for the two of us: caprese salad with tomatoes and basil from the garden.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Comments

  • Cat in NC July 15, 2017

    Hi Rhonda,
    The cornmeal pie crust recipe sounds yummy and practical--would you please share it with us?
    Thanks a bunch!

  • Rhonda A. July 16, 2017

    Sure, Cat! Here's the recipe:

    -1 1/2 cup flour
    -1/2 cup cornmeal
    -1/2 cup sugar
    -1 tsp salt
    -8 tbsp butter cubed (can use shortening, but may need to increase amount)
    -2 egg yolks
    Mix all ingredients until it is crumbly and will form a ball when pressed in hand. Can be rolled out or pour portion of mixture into pan and press to form a crust. Enjoy!

  • Cat in NC July 16, 2017

    Yay! I plan to try it this week--thanks again Rhonda!

  • Riley July 11, 2017

    I love reading everyone's accomplishments! I wonder if anyone out there has any suggestions for me...with two young kids, studying, and work I sometimes feel defeated that I don't accomplish as many frugal accomplishments as those of you on here. one of my big struggles is healthy, quick dinners. I would love to use my crockpot more, but by the time I get home after work, it will have been running for 10 hours which is too long for a lot of recipes. Also, I haven't been able to find a lot of really healthy crockpot menus! During the summer we do a lot of grilling and frozen veggies. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    - I almost never shop but Loft was having a huge sale and I had a gift card given to me a year ago. I bought a few articles of clothes and jewelry for date nights. I skipped things like jeans and pants because I get those at thrift stores. I also went through Ebates
    - we had to buy a few outfits for a friend who just had a baby. We went to the carrters outlet for them. I was still floored by how expensive they were! Our kids have been dressed in hand me downs and yardsale finds. The only thing we've bought are socks and shoes!
    - we decided to never buy greeting cards again. I know this is old news for you all, but I couldn't believe how expensive they have become! I have a bunch of $1-2 dollar cards from the clearance rack at TJ Maxx and then some blank card stock cards. I had my son fingerpaint a few for future grandparent cards.
    - Used cloth diapers and tried to hang them to dry. When my husband does them he puts them in the dryer (which is easier but more costly and wears out the diaps!)
    - tried to use up food in our fridge. A few veggies got tossed as casualties. Lunch yesterday was a salad with just lettuce- not the best haha
    - tried to remember to water our veggie garden. Hard to remember at the end of a long day!
    - studied hard for my certifying exam tomorrow!

  • Sherri Killion July 11, 2017

    I think you're doing great! Lots of nifty ideas!

  • Sarah July 11, 2017

    I have 3 kiddos and work full time- this is my pinterest board of recipes that we've made and enjoyed- many are fast to cook at the end of a long day.

    https://www.pinterest.com/yellowallpaper/best-recipes-that-ive-made-so-far/

  • Laurie in AZ July 11, 2017

    Keep trying! You will achieve more and more savings as you go along. I've been frugal for over 30 years and I am still learning new things and getting new ideas from this blog!

    Remember that veggies that might not be good fresh anymore may still be ok for a soup pot. I keep a plastic container in my freezer things like soft celery and tomatoes and also put in leftovers that I think would be a good blend like leftover veggies from dinner (that last tablespoon of corn in the bowl!), that little bit of roast beef or hamburger, etc. Then when it is full, I add some bouillon and maybe a can of tomatoes and round it out with some Italian spices and have a great soup.

  • Mable July 11, 2017

    Since meats can be on a counter for up to two hours before it starts becoming unsafe, when I used to be gone from home for 10 hours I would plug the crock pot into a timer that I set to start cooking two hours after I left. I would fill the crock pot insert at night and put it in the fridge so all I had to do was plug it in right before I walked out the door. (I put a sticky on the door to remind myself to take it out of the fridge, after I forgot a few times and came home to the crock pot still in the fridge.) By the time the timer goes off, the insert has warmed up enough that it won't crack when the heating element comes on. Also, if you set it for six hours of cooking, it will go on warm for the last two hours so things don't get so over-cooked. Between the warm cycle and starting two hours after you leave the house, you may find that you can use your crock pot more often. Hope this helps.

  • J July 12, 2017

    Riley it sounds like you are doing great. Some crock pots are available with a timer that can change from a low setting to a keep warm setting to stop food from burning. I'm not sure how much they cost though. I try to do a huge cook on Sundays and divide into meal size portions for Mon/Tues/Wed so those three nights I just need to re heat. Thurs/Fri are quick and simple dinners like eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese, fish, soup, smoothies, continental breakfast at night, etc.

  • Riley July 13, 2017

    you guys are all so wonderful! thanks for the fantastic tips and encouragement!!

  • SJ in Vancouver BC July 14, 2017

    Some of my time savers - when I got home from Costo, I would cook up the hamburger. Some was fried in the fry pan. Some was made into a mix for either meatballs and/or meatloaf. Those would be popped into the oven, cooled and frozen in meal sized portions. Same for the cooked hamburger - once cooked, then cooled, it would be packaged for the freezer. I preferred to freeze the meat already cooked.

    One of my favorite rotations was : meatloaf on night one then leftover meatloaf crumbled into spaghetti sauce for night two. Night three was homemade pizza using up the rest of the sauce. No one suspected that nights 2 and 3 were leftovers.

  • Rhonda A. July 13, 2017

    Riley, don't be too hard on yourself for not having the time to be as frugal as you'd like. You have a lot that you are trying to balance and not being at home all the time will limit what you can accomplish in a day. You are doing great!

    My suggestion is to make things on you are at home (I'm assuming you do have days off from work & school), that can be used for multiple meals. For instance, make up a big batch of chili and use it for chili with cornbread one day, chili mixed with pasta another day and chili cheese dogs yet another day. Cook up some chicken, shred it and use it to make BBQ chicken sandwiches, hot chicken sandwiches, a casserole, soup, chicken wraps, quesadillas or chicken fried rice throughout the week. This also works for ground beef, pork, or even turkey, like Brandy does for her family!

    If you don't like eating the same thing over and over again, that's OK too. Try making pre-cooked frozen meat servings or pre-assembled freezer meals when you have the time, or make extra for the freezer when preparing something for dinner. You will need to remember to pull the item to thaw in the fridge, either the night before or in the morning, but all you have to do is cook and serve when you get home! If you forget, frozen, pre-cooked meat packets can be thawed in the microwave fairly quickly as well. Hope these ideas help with your busy schedule.:D

  • Athanasia July 14, 2017

    Riley, you can only do as much as your situation and stamina allow. Never feel bad about it.

    My way, and my mother's, was always to cook extra and cook ahead. I keep a large covered salad bowl in the refrigerator with a mixed green salad with a wide variety of vegetables in it. That lasts usually 3 days. I don't add wet vegetables like cucumbers or tomato ahead of time. Keep relishes cut up in the refrigerator also like carrot stick, celery, peapods...ready to put out as a salad with just a bowl of ranch dip. Also make marinated salads like 4 bean, coleslaw, 7 layer, cucumber, tabouli, pasta. These are good for several days. Even salads like tuna macaroni and potato salad can be made a day ahead and will keep for 2-3 days. Last night for dinner we had spaghetti pie that I had made the night before from leftovers...leftover pasta, sauce, cottage cheese, mozz, just had to bake and it was ready in 40 min and just added the already made salad, sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, and fresh fruit. After dinner while my daughter was cleaning up I started curry using vegetables that I had cleaned earlier in the week and onions that are always kept chopped in a container. Also made a bok choi ramen noodle slaw. Both of these dishes are better the next day so tonight all I do is add already cooked chicken that is thawing now to the curry and reheat, put the rice in the cooker, put out a bowl of plain yogurt and dinner is ready in 45 minutes.

    Also, if your family does not like leftovers it is best to train them that they can be just as good. My husband was not used to eating leftovers as coming from a family of 10 there just weren't usually leftovers or they were used up at lunch by his mom and whoever was at home. But he loves leftovers now and often makes up a plate of leftovers for his lunch the next day (his shop is next to our house).

  • Juls Owings July 16, 2017

    You are doing fine. I try to focus on doing one thing frugal a day...sometimes that is take a shower instead of soaking in the tub.
    My kids have the same problem with the crock pot...options they used was buy one that had a timer or buy a separate timer and have it come on later. Daughter single mother of 4 teenage boys in every sport there is went to using a ONE POT. Then talked her single brother (okay my son LOL) into buying one for himself. She fills it up the night before and puts it in the frig. When she comes in she puts it in the pot and turns it on. Longest she had had to wait for dinner is an hour HANDS OFF, she forgot to get the meat out the night before and it was froze solid...pork chops... when it was done it fell off the bone so she stirred in hot BBQ sauce . As a personal chef I stick to 30 min meals for the main entree and side dishes I can heat up in mins. I prep on the weekend usually by not sleeping in (down side ).

  • Sheena July 16, 2017

    Hi Riley

    I am a widow with 3 children. Until a month ago I left home at 8 am and returned at 6pm for 9 working days out of 10 ( I had alternate Fridays off). This has been the case for the last 5 years since my husband died. On getting home my priorities were dinner, homework, bath then bed ( for me too).

    Some thoughts on your question:

    1. Leftovers are your best friend. If kept in the fridge it takes minutes to heat them up in the microwave ( really cheap microwave without all the silly extras you will never use). You can freeze leftovers to use another day. Takes care of Monday and maybe Tuesday depending on your weekend.

    2. The slow cooker ( English speak for crockpot) is also your best friend. Try to look at recipes that call for frozen ingredients you can make up beforehand ( Pinterest). These take longer because they are frozen. Alternatively a timed crockpot is great I hear ( mine is not timed- cheap basic model that is great).

    3. Stir fry was created for time- poor mothers. You can even barbecue the meat beforehand to give it extra taste. You can then freeze it and defrost when needed. Takes minutes.

    4. Bolognaise sauce. The food processor is a wonderful invention. My children have never figured out what veggies are hidden in there. Freezes like a dream. Defrost in fridge or microwave as time and organisation allow.

    5. I also make meatballs in stock. Basically make up mince ( beef, turkey, chicken whatever) into balls and throw ( gently drop) into boiling stock. You may need to bind with egg but I have done without when I forgot. They cook in boiling stock. You can then freeze and defrost to have with rice.

    6. You can buy mince reduced and cook burgers then freeze them. Takes minutes to put on plate.

    4. Last but not least. The cop- out. Reduced ( discounted) rack pre-cooked fish and oven chips. The kids love them whatever your ( and my) opinion.

    That's all for now. There is all the usual - cooked whole chicken use meat and then bones for soup etc but I think you are already there.

    Hope that helps. I would say good luck but the reality is that you are doing great so you don't need luck. So- all the best.

    Lol Sheena

  • Miriam in Estonia July 11, 2017

    Brandy,
    I wanted you to know that this year I was able to have a tiny container garden on the top of the garage in the back yard. The garage is quite new and it is partially built inside a bank. So far I have harvested arugula, lettuce dill, my favorite of fresh herbs. Silverbeet and green onions are on their way ;-)

    Thank you, Brandy, for everything!

  • Renee July 11, 2017

    Mariam, that is so wonderful!!!

  • Oh, Miriam, I am SO happy for you! It has been several years since you've had a garden; wasn't your last garden in Finland? You never mentioned having one while you were in Jerusalem, so I can only imagine how wonderful it is to have a little space for a garden again! I remember you said everyone in Estonia uses every tiny bit of land to garden in. I am so glad you have a garden growing!

  • Erica July 11, 2017

    1. My SO fixed the shower valve to switch between the shower head and the handheld. It had developed a significant leak. We already had the part from his old house. While he was doing that, he replaced the shower head with a low-flow shower head that we received free from the utility company.
    2. My 15 year old washer finally gave out. It needs a new belt which we will replace ourselves. However, SO had his washer from his old place. It is a front load, energy efficient washer. We swapped out the washers. The old washer will go out to the shop for the icky shop rags and floor blankets.
    3. We replaced the tail light on my van. The lens had fallen off while driving on the interstate. I bought a new tail light off Ebay for a lot cheaper than the automotive stores and we replaced it ourselves.
    4. SO changed the oil on his pickup. We had to buy oil and a filter, but saved $20 in labor.
    5. The garden is coming along nicely and I hope to start harvesting from that in the next week. We should have peas and summer squash ready very soon! I don't think we will have strawberries or raspberries this year due to transplanting them to a direct location.
    6. One of our local grocery stores had a B1G1 Free sale plus a 24 hour sale. I spent $52 and saved almost $65. Most of those groceries will last us 1-2 weeks. Plus, a friend of mine spotted four almost expired lactose-free milk for 99 cents for each half-gallon. She picked it up for my lactose-intolerant daughter and I gave her a brand new shirt that didn't fit me very well.

  • Jen@FrugalSteppingStones July 11, 2017

    I cut my husband's and son's hair using our clippers. If I was brave and wouldn't look like Curly from the Three Stooges, I would buzz my hair too. OK, maybe not, lol. My girls have never had their hair cut and we all wear it long and waist-length. We also used things we had around the house to eat when we spent a day at a campground with friends.

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