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Frugal Accomplishments For The Third Week of July

July Garden Harvest 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I've been seeking new ways to save money all month, as our finances are particularly tight at the current time with a lower income, increasing expenses, and an emergency trip to the hospital earlier this month. I have found that if I look closely, there's always another way or two to save money in addition to what I normally do.

Here's what I did this past week to save money and make the most of what we have:

Concord Grapes The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested two Armenian cucumbers (these are quite large if you've never grown them; they're easily like having 2-4 regular cucumbers a piece depending on when one harvests them), a zucchini, a handful of red noodle beans, two colanders of tomatoes, five baskets full of Mission figs, bay leaves, garlic chives, rosemary, Genovese basil, 2 baskets of Concord grapes and a basket of table grapes from the garden.

I used water collected from the a/c drip (a couple of gallons a day) and from shower warm-up water to water pots in the garden.

We had a few minutes of rain on Monday. I saw the storm clouds and I know that mid-July is usually one of the two days a year where it normally rains here. I put out buckets and pans to collect water off the roof (houses here have no rain gutters as our annual rainfall is 4 inches a year). I collected about 20 gallons of water this way and used it to water potted plants in the garden. I even put out trash cans (several of which are actually buckets) which were needing a good rinse. The rainwater cleaned them out and I reused it on potted bushes.

I sowed seeds for zinnias (if at first you don't succeed . . .) and vincas in the garden.

We changed the filters on our air conditioner. We use really inexpensive filters and changing them means using less electricity, as the air conditioner won't have to work as hard. Our lows have been around 89ºF, so the air conditioners (our house has 2)  are running all the time.

We had one exceptional day on Wednesday where a storm was south of us. We got a few drops of rain but it was overcast and temperatures dropped to 81º for a large portion of the day. I turned off the a/c units for a good part of the day, which saved us $4 for the day. (I saw the results on the weekly report from the electric company. I receive an email each week showing how many kilowatts I used and how much it cost for the week).

My husband had our insurance agent reshop our auto insurance. We were able to get better coverage for $400 less per year. 

We cut my husband's hair and two daughters' hair at home.

I read a borrowed mystery book.

I cooked chicken pieces using a free sample of seasoning that came in the mail. I used the bones to make broth and made chicken soup with Swiss chard, bay leaves, and basil from the garden and some garlic, an onion, and white beans.

I canned applesauce, fig jam, and grape juice using produce from the garden. I dried figs in my dehydrator  (affiliate link) as well. 

I made cupcakes from scratch for a party my daughters had with their friends. I cut flowers from the garden for the table (I shared a photo over on Instagram, along with three others from the garden this week) and we hung a cloth bunting that I made years ago from scraps.

I accepted some hand-me-downs.

What did you do to save money this past week?


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  • Lisa July 23, 2017

    You continue to be a source of inspiration. Thank you.

  • Julia @ Prudent Joy July 23, 2017

    I hope everything is okay with that hospital trip and I hope your income goes up again soon.

    I also made bone broth this week...sooooo much better than canned.
    I used coupons at CVS and purchased 11 items for 36 oop....

    Other than that not a lot out of the ordinary.

  • i hope your zinnias make it this time. I planted them for the first time this year in ages! They are so pretty I'm glad I did.

    You can read my frugal accomplishments here:

  • Juls Owings July 23, 2017

    Brandy your gardens are wonderful . I know you have spent a lot of time getting them that way with Blessings from Heaven to help.I don't turn the lights on in the mornings. Bugs the crap out of Hubby that I walk around in the dark but I was raised you didn't turn the lights in the morning unless you were cooking . I light a candle in the evenings unless I need more light. Straining my eyesight isn't going to save money. I priced our ins(car/house and term life) again...still the best with where we are at this time still saving 5% for having smoke detectors through the house and carbon detector at the furnace. I have read JL Collins book "The Simple Path To Wealth" as Hubby is getting ready to retire and I'm not willing to pay a lot for someone else to manage my money. I don't mind paying some but I'm not clueless on investments either.I transferred more of our savings from our local bank to Ally to get more interest but still have enough locally to cover us until the money was transferred back from Ally if needed.I add water to dish soap, shampoo, conditioner and body soap. The hand soap is made from scraps of bar soap melted in water or body soap with extra water. I changed the font on my computer to use less ink when I am printing, sometimes I will copy and paste if what I am needing printed has a font that uses more ink. I print on both sides of the paper (except for coupons ;) ) I use scrap paper (did when we homeschooled also or had the kids use the computer and just save what they were doing to a thumb drive) Dad told me to quit wasting food when I threw watermelon rind away instead of pickling the white part of the rind. I haven't bought a watermelon since LOL.I reread "More-with-Less Cookbook" and "Extending the Table". I save any fat off any meat to use for cooking and save my oil. I buy oil around Thanksgiving (we deep fry the turkeys for more than one family) I get what is for the turkey fryers (not peanut oil due to allergies of my brother and his family). The used oil is give to a friend that uses it to heat his workshop, he gives us eggs or barters work we need done. I use the power saver mode on my laptop display instead of balance that uses more energy. I also do this on my cell phone as it saves battery then I don't have to charge it as often. I unplug cell phone chargers as they are vampires and still consume power when not charging your phone so are computers. I have coffee makers on powerstrips. I started checking the caulking around the doors and windows .I wash full loads only, even though my washer is HE, every time you run a load it uses the same amt of electric no matter what the load unless you use quick wash. My electrician also told me that HE is only water efficient you need to have energy star on it also.I use one fan pointing out the window and one across the house/room pointing in to move the air through. Putting a pan of ice cubes in from of the fan will make the air feel cooler also. Grew up with cooking the meals in the mornings during the summers and ate cold meals for our evening meals. Cooked breakfast in winter so we have some heat in the kitchen. The rest of the week of frugalness and preparing for surgery and staying frugal is here.

  • Juls,

    I have read the More With Less cookbook. I had heard it was supposed to be filled with very inexpensive meals, but I found that it was very expensive (to me) and most of the main courses seemed to call for meat, and not the cheapest cuts (like ground beef and sausage rather than chicken or pork, which are much less per pound). Does it read that way to you? It's been a while since I got it from the library.

    I have heard about that ice cube trick! I think it's wonderful.

  • Carole July 24, 2017

    I bought "More for Less" cook book years ago. It's an interesting read, but I have never used many of the recipes. I like it's companion "Living More With Less" (both by Doris Janzen Longacre) much better. It is very helpful even these many years since it was written. I think these books are still in print and often found in Mennonite/Amish stores as well as other places. And through the library, of course.

  • Athanasia July 26, 2017

    There is now a 40th anniversary edition out.

    The idea behind the cookbook was not to make cheap as possible recipes but to realize that other areas of the world subsist on so much less than the "advanced" areas. Thus when we cut back on our own food expenses (to what ever degree) we have that much more to give in assistance to various charity, relief, rescue organizations.

  • Cara in OH July 24, 2017

    I completely agree with you, Brandy, about the More with Less Cookbook. I grew up in a Mennonite family with very conservative Mennonite Grandparents. I think the More with Less Cookbook provides some good ideas and a 'different way' of thinking about food, but it's not altogether all that frugal and sometimes not super healthy. Extending the Table and Simply in Season are two other World Community Coookbooks, by the same publishing company. In my opinion, those books are way better- both in recipe flavor and frugality. Brandy, if you're able, those might be enjoyable for you to look through. Both of those books have beautiful pictures and quotes.

    There is also a book called,"Living More with Less", by the same publishing company. The book has many Mennonite contributors on all sorts of topics. It's an old book and out of print. I bought my copies at our local thrift store. ( I live in a heavily populated Mennonite area). BUT, if you can find a copy, it's a fantastic book!

  • Mary Ellen July 25, 2017

    I have all of the Mennonite books you refer to, and I prefer Simply in Season and Extending the Table. One of the articles in Living More with Less was written by my CSA provider. I read them for inspiration as much as inexpensive, healthy recipes.

  • Juls Owings July 24, 2017

    In some areas Yes Brandy it seemed on the expensive side but if you are raising the cattle and hogs like Hubby did as a kid, it's not so, I just substituted what meat I had. I felt there was a lot of expensive cheese in the recipes. I also read Rita Van Amber's Stories and recipes from The Great Depression of the 1930'S, Clara Cannucciari had a cookbook called Clara's Kitchen (she is deceased now) also Great Depression recipes, Brother VIctor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette has cookbooks out with recipes from the Monastery, frugal and not much meat also Marcia Adams has several cookbooks with Amish (Quilt Country she calls it) that has several good frugal recipes. When all fails I fall back on the dish my Nonna made here stateside as she called it since she was from Italy. Bean soup on Monday, add mixed veggies and water on Tuesday, add rice and water on Wednesday, add pasta and water on Friday and on Saturday she added more water and served it over stale bread that was baked the Saturday before..wasn't much beans in the pot after Tuesday ... she baked 25 loaves at a time. Sunday was fried chicken, spaghetti with meatballs and homemade sauce, day old bread and whatever veggies were in the garden or she had canned. She made curtains and quilts out of worn out clothes, clothes out of bed linen she would get at thrift shops or yard sales.

  • Heather inL.A. July 24, 2017

    Instead of a pan of ice cubes we freeze a jug of water and place in front of the fan. Then we just refreeze the jug.

  • Roberta in So. Cal. July 23, 2017

    Oooh, your grapes look delicious! And how nice that you were able to find more affordable auto insurance; that's a significant savings!

    Last week was a busy appointment week for us (orthodontist for son, dentist and MRI for me), so I didn't get anything written down. Still, we plugged away with the normal things like keeping the AC at 80F (although we're still about 11% higher in usage than the same time last year--it's hotter this year), saving warm-up and rinse water, baking bread, etc. Hubs has also continued to have fun making things in the Dutch oven. This week it was a frittata (with eggs from our hens and herbs and yellow squash from the garden) and an apple crisp (with apples from our tree and some that were canned last summer). I also took advantage of some good sales for groceries, so I may actually come in a bit under budget this month.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  • Darcy July 23, 2017

    The garden is coming along very well. We harvested cherry tomatoes, kale, the last of the lettuce, cilantro, basil, stevia, mint, and green beans.

    I shared some cilantro with a friend and some mint and stevia with our daughter. Our granddaughters (they are 6 and 8 years old) loved eating the stevia leaves right from the plants. They are so sweet. One of them said, “Wow, Nana, you sure grow lots of stuff!” Next year we plan on growing even more. My husband will be working part time starting in November and collecting social security, so he will have more time and energy to do more things around the house that will help us to save money. He already is making plans for all the things he wants to accomplish that he hasn't had the time for, such as house repairs and refinishing some furniture.

    We stocked up on pasta that was on sale for 50 cents per pound and tuna that was 50 cents per can. We also bought cabbage for 19 cents per pound, zucchini for 37 cents per pound, and cucumbers for 25 cents each.

    We did all of the usual things that save us money: washing baggies to reuse, turning off lights when leaving a room, and making do with what we have.

  • heidi strain July 23, 2017

    Good job on collecting all that water! I have a question my husband and I debate on. He hates when I can indoors because it heats up the house but I hate canning outside in our garage where I have an extra stove because I have no water source. I try to wait for cooler days to can...I am in MN so it does happen but sometimes you need to can today! How do you feel about heating up the house when canning? I sometimes put my water bath canner outside but lugging hot jars is heavy and a little dangerous.

    I harvested 5 gallons of picklebush cucumbers with 5 thousand more coming on. Lol I harvested my first 2 early girl tomatoes. Snow peas and regular peas, a gallon of banana peppers, raspberries, zucchini, and 100lbs. Of red potatoes. My first planting of sweet corn will be next week. I planted a total of 500 seeds so even if the raccoons get in we should still get some.

    I sold $21 worth of items on Facebook and $60 on ebay. This will be my peach budget. This week Colorado peaches are on sale for .99 lb. That is a good deal here.

    I used all food and didn't waste anything. I made pork broth from a roast bone and I made an Asian Cole slaw that was horrid! Since I didn't want to throw the large amount of slaw away I made soup with the slaw and pork broth. I added some spicy sausage that had been in my freezer too long. It was good.

    I am down 20lbs. By just eating less and walking 6 miles a day. I have seen a decrease in my food budget since my husband and I cut our portions.

    I cashed out $25 on ibotta to my PayPal account.

    Have a great week everyone.

  • Heidi, it definitely heats up the house, BUT it's 108º outside and there is no way I can stand outside and can in that! I keep the a/c at 79º and if I am doing a lot of canning it will heat up to 84º in the kitchen at night. If I keep the doors closed to the other rooms that helps keep those other rooms cold, and when I can turn off burners for a bit then I do.

    My husband feels the same way about canning but he's not the one doing it and I know he doesn't want to work in the garage when it's that hot out :D so I can in the house. Also, I need the sink while I'm working as I'm washing fruit as I go, or if I'm canning peaches then I'm constantly using the sink. So to me, I HAVE to can in the house.

  • Juls Owings July 24, 2017

    same goes here, hate heating up the house but can't bear the heat outside. I do use a rotating fan to blow the stove heat away

  • Jen F July 24, 2017

    Re: raccoons in the corn, I have a friend who uses garden lime to dust the ears when they are in tassel. He said he learned it from an Amish man and it will keep away the deer and anything else that will try to nibble away at the ears, as the lime dust is not pleasant for them.

  • Heidi strain July 24, 2017

    Thanks!!!! I accidentally bought a bag of garden lime and didn't know what to do with it. I trust the Amish gardening secrets! Thank you.

  • Athanasia July 26, 2017

    Heidi, we can in the garage whenever we do large projects. My husband has built a semi kitchen in one end. We have a cooktop and a double utility sink, counter tops and then we set up folding tables. Every spring he gets it ready ad then closes it down late fall. I prefer ducks, geese and fish etc not be cleaned in my kitchen. The water source comes from the house as pipes would freeze in winter. It is a system of hoses for water in and to drain the water out. If your husband does not want you to can in the house but offers no safe alternative then keep canning in the house.

  • Libby July 23, 2017

    I was away three days on a business trip. Before I left, I froze several food items so they wouldn't go bad while I was away.

    I flew in & out of an airport in the next state. Since CT has some of the highest food prices in the US per cost-of-living index, I stopped at an Aldi and another grocery store in RI on my way home.

    On Friday I was really tired and so badly wanted to buy lunch, but I pulled the frozen leftovers out and had them instead. I have to tell myself, "eye on the prize."

    Made swagbuck's goal 3x. Hung laundry out to dry. Made food from scratch over this weekend to eat all this coming week. Uploaded medical receipts for reimbursement.

    I'm really keeping an eye on my July budget versus expenditures. I was just going to make it, but in Saturday's mail the every two year auto inspection and registration notice arrived. This means $90 to the state and $20 to the testing center on top of the $132.71 in car taxes I paid at the beginning of the month. I'm mad at myself for forgetting to budget for this biannual expenditure and also frustrated at how expensive all of this is....and my car is 11.5 years old. I am thankful that I have the money and a reliable working vehicle.

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