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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Siam Basil in pot with bench The Prudent Homemaker 

This post contains affiliate links.

On the try, try, again line I planted seeds in the garden yet again for sunflowers and zinnias. Only one of the seeds came up from all of the zucchini seeds I planted two weeks ago. This next week, I hope to plant again and I also plan to dust the areas where I planted the seeds with diatomaceous earth, which will hopefully keep the bugs from eating the seedlings as they come up (as well as kill the bugs, which will hopefully lead to a more productive garden!)

The Siam basil (pictured in the photo above) that I cut for last week's arrangements for my table rooted in the vases. I planted the rooted cuttings in pots in the garden. This basil was advertised as having red leaves, which it clearly does not, but it tastes just fine. I am still hoping to grow some next year with red leaves just for the fun of variety in color on our plates.

I cut Genovese basil for the table this week, this time expressly to let it root. By topping my basil plants, they will branch out and give me a larger harvest. I will plant the cuttings that grow in the garden. I took off any leaves that would be below the water line, rinsed them, and left them to dry to use in cooking.

I harvested green onions and Swiss chard from the garden.

My 2-year-old watched shows on YouTube. This is something we do every week but that I don't mention often. There are plenty of shows to watch this way without paying for cable tv or even for a subscription service such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Our favorites children's shows are Peppa Pig, Little Einsteins, Backyardigans, and Rolie Polie Olie.

My husband gave himself a haircut.

I continued to collect water from the air conditioner run off and used it to water the garden. I also used shower warm-up water in the garden.

I read four more Hamish Macbeth e-books from the library.

I used several coupons at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to purchase two sets of new sheets and two new pillows for my bed. I have a California King-sized bed, and most places don't sell sheets in that size; they are one of the few places that do. I usually only have one set of sheets at a time, but we decided to purchase a second set this time as we were able to do so. The store will take expired coupons, and you can use one coupon per item. Using coupons saved me $60 on my purchases.

My two middle-school children tried out the school lunches a couple of times last week, as we qualify for free lunch. My son decided he would rather take a lunch, and my daughter will take a lunch some days, depending on the menu. Of particular concern to me is the high-calorie content of the lunches, usually hitting 1500 calories for one meal. I won't be purchasing special items for packed lunches, so our food costs won't go up from packing lunches. I did end up deciding on these divided boxes which are small enough to fit in their lunch bags.


Dear readers, there were some less than kind comments last week towards one another. Some I did not post, and some that were borderline I let go through, but feelings were hurt. As you share your frugal accomplishments, please remember that others reading here come from all different places in the world, with different religious, political, and personal beliefs, and that everyone deserves respect and kindness. As a reminder, I won't be publishing anonymous comments.

I share a lot of things, but I don't share everything, and no one is obligated to share all aspects of their life with others. Our reasons to send three of our children to school are personal, and I don't know if we will send them next year or if this is just what we need for this season of our lives. I still have six children at home and my days are quite full.

I would like to thank all of you who offered some wonderful ideas for dealing with school expenses and lunches. 

I am deeply touched by those who said they were praying for me as I make some big changes in my life. The transition has been difficult for me and the change in my schedule is difficult. I have thought especially about all of the comments that came from teachers this last week; I have thought how hard it must be to teach all day, and come home to correct papers (classes here are between 36-42 students per class and 6 classes a day), make dinner, and also help your own children with their homework each night. I am touched that you make time to read here.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  • Elizabeth M. August 28, 2018

    You did so well! And for both summer and winter things!

  • Rhonda August 27, 2018

    Good evening,
    We are trying eating vegetarian with a little dairy and eggs. I have some of your bean recipes saved and will be cooking them soon. https://ifyoudostuff.blogspot.com/2018/08/eating-differently-no-meat.html

    Also, I do a little coupon shopping and CVS is my favorite store for coupon deals. We stopped after church on Sunday and I bought $78 worth of body care, hair care and oral care for $4 and got back $20+ in CVS bucks for my next purchase. I rarely buy food items with coupons but I do get almost all our home and personal prodcuts for very little.

    We are retired and we’ve tried earning a little on the side but what works best for us is to just be diligent about careful spending.

    About education, my 3 children were both homeschooled and attended public school, for various reasons. They all turned out fine. One works at a public school library, one works at a high tech factory and the other is an attorney. Trust your heart, Brandy, to do what is best for your children in whatever season they are.

  • Marybeth August 28, 2018

    Great job at CVS. Sometimes you can get great deals there by rolling ECB, sales and coupons.

  • PIggykr August 27, 2018

    Brandy, change is always hard at first but after a month or two you'll be in a new routine. And, your children will adjust as well. As for your kids hating the school food....me too!!!!!! I avoid the cafeteria if I can.
    Our frugal ways this week were:
    *Went to the park across the street for a free performance. music, dancing, and a magician.
    *Went to a local festival and got a free beer sample. I almost never drink but it was something different. I got the chance to meet up with friends and had a good time visiting with them.
    *I made bread and cheese. I saved the whey and will use it for bread later.
    *I hung up the laundry to dry rather than using the dryer.
    *I signed up for a Pokemon go social media group and took my son to a raid. He caught a much desired pokemon.
    *A friend gifted me a box of clothing and another gave me two pairs of jeans.

  • Cindy Brick August 27, 2018

    Funny -- I enjoyed a lot of the cafeteria food! There were no 'free lunch' options (though we would have qualified). Instead, my brother and I worked in the lunch line -- he washed dishes, and I worked the cash register -- in return for our lunch. I still crave the hamburger gravy the lunch ladies made, and still use a pig in the blanket (hotdogs baked in rolls) recipe that they used. (My aunt was in charge at that school, and gave me the recipe.) I was a sucker for the cafeteria mac and cheese, too.

    Since we so rarely went out to eat, 'made-up-and-ready-to-eat' food seemed incredibly exotic to me, a little Michigan farm girl.

  • Pamela B. August 28, 2018

    I went to an extremely small, rural high school and I was on free lunches. I remember really enjoying the cafeteria food, probably for similar reasons you mentioned - we rarely ate out and it was almost like a "treat." There are several items they served that I still miss, 25+ years later! They used to make this one dish called "fiesta stack" that was essentially a giant taco salad.

  • Cindi August 28, 2018

    I'm smiling as I read these memories of school lunches. My mother worked in the cafeteria when I was in elementary and jr. high (thus we ate free lunches) and everything was made from scratch -- I still have a couple of recipes from there that I use. School lunches are much different now.

  • Debby in Kansas, USA August 28, 2018

    Cindi, these comments made me smile, too! We were also poor and the school lunch was too expensive. We were allowed to choose one day a month for the caf lunch. I always chose spaghetti day! It was spaghetti, garlic bread, green beans(my favorite), and applesauce. I practically licked the plate clean! My mom hated pasta so that was the only noodle dish I ate. I didn't try pizza, lasagna, or Kraft Mac and cheese until college!

  • Karen August 29, 2018

    I also love these school lunch memories! My school district had something called "Cheese Zombies." Essentially, it was two layers of bread dough with a thick layer of cheese in between, butter poured over the top and baked. It was just about everyone's favorite and they didn't make it often because it took two days. My parents were both school librarians and, after I moved back to my hometown after college, they'd both give me a heads up when it was Cheese Zombie day and I'd go have lunch with them!

  • Susan in So Cal August 30, 2018

    You are all bringing back memories to me. I went to school in the pre-free lunch days. My Mom was a single parent (my dad passed away when I was 7). My dad had done most of the cooking and my mom had very few skills in the kitchen. We had very little money but on the few days I could buy lunch, I really enjoyed it! I remember in high school I had a part time job as a hostess at a local restaurant. I used some of my tip money to buy what we called Pepper Belly's. A small bag of Frito's. The bag was cut open along the long edge, then topped with chili and shredded cheese. I remember how much I love those! Thanks for the memories!

  • Annie August 27, 2018

    My favorite frugal accomplishment was downloading some of my favorite classic novels at no charge. I'm going to have many hours of free entertainment.

  • Cindy Brick August 27, 2018

    THANK YOU Brandy for hanging in there with us -- we are a very diverse group, as you so aptly pointed out. There are such strong feelings about public school vs charter vs Christian school vs homeschooling. It is easy to decide on one, and urge it onto the world as your personal mission in life, on the theory that what works for you or your kids must be the divine answer for everyone.
    It isn't.
    I mentioned before that both our daughters went all the way through public school. I had two good friends -- one taught at a charter school, and sent her son both to charter and a private Christian school. Another started her children in public school, but within a few years was homeschooling them -- and continued that the rest of the way through.
    A third friend sent her kids to public school all through... but taught (and still teaches) at a private Christian school.
    If the four of us, not to mention our children, were able to get along with each other, in spite of our different opinions and passions -- and we could and did -- I would hope that your audience could do the same.
    I realized early on that you weren't going to discuss your reasons for varying school needs this year...and I don't think you have to. It was probably quite frustrating to have your readers ask you that, over and over -- but that's partly due to the nature of e-mail comments. We can't always see that the question has been asked, until we post it ourselves. (And I apologize again, if asking for MORE MORE posts was bossy and pushy. As a blogger myself, I can't always give what I'm expected to. You are absolutely right -- your family and faith come first.)
    So all's good. I'm grateful to hear you're there, and still picking herbs, and posting.
    Two questions:
    *Did you put anything in the vase water, to get your basil to root so nicely? Or did you just fill with water, and let them sit on the table? (They look lovely in the planter, by the way.) I have regular mint and chocolate mint -- have tried rooting them in water, but they just look nice for a few days...then rot. Ditto for catmint. Would regular basil root in water?
    *Have you started sewing or constructing anything for Christmas? Are you planning on doing the how-to-make-a-gift posts again? Hearing what you've collected for stockings and such is helpful, as well.

    I love hearing about your monthly purchases and plans, too. In fact, I just plain enjoy your blog. THANK YOU again.

    P.S. If it would help you, and you're willing, I would be glad to write a few guest posts gratis. (I normally get paid for these.) I can submit a list of ideas, and you can choose what you want from them. Just contact me privately.

  • I did not put anything in the water.

    It is important that you rip off any leaves that are going to be below the water line to prevent rotting. The nice thing about rooting plants is that they will grow roots from where you ripped off the leaves. Do add fresh water or change out your water to discourage rotting.

    I had mint in those same arrangements and it didn't root, but I have rooted mint in the same way before. You can also bury a bit of stem on a mint plant and it will root that way; you dig up the new plant later and sever the connection.

    You can root several plants this way; mint, basil (any basil), honeysuckle, etc. In fact three of the honeysuckle pieces I had in the arrangement rooted, but the others did not. I started my honeysuckle with a cutting from a neighbor. Her honeysuckle plant died since then, so I am going to plant these for her so that she can start over.

    I don't know if I will have time to sew anything for Christmas this year, so I am trying to figure out what to do. Our thrift store had a 20% off sale last week (they never have sales; this was an 80th anniversary sale) and I picked up two things that I will gift to two daughters. I am probably going to have to look for sales. I haven't been making birthday gifts much either lately as I just haven't had time.

  • Cindi August 28, 2018

    This is a different stage in your life. No doubt you will return to homemade presents in the future -- for now I hope we can all help you find what you need. (If you have a close friend or relative you can share your 'wish list' with, I've found this is a great way to source gifts -- they can alert you to special sales or garage sale finds that fit your needs.)

  • Rhonda A. August 29, 2018

    Brandy, I'd love it if you would do a post on how you bought for Christmas presents this year. There are some people who are not very "crafty" that may benefit from tips on how you find ways to give gifts on a tight budget. I'd find it very interesting to read, especially if you included some of the gifts you were giving. You always have such wonderful gift ideas!

  • Juls Owings August 27, 2018

    Blessing on all.... I ordered garden seeds using discounts and clearance and ebates. I hope to get some things in for this fall even if it's just in pots. I do plan to plant my garlic this fall.

    I talked to my Amish neighbor about routines, she has 7 children under the age of 9, the youngest is just turning 1 and nursing. Her 6 yr old was making bread for the family when I was there.Her house is HUGE,almost 4000 sq ft add to the fact she uses a wringer washer (ran by a Honda motor off a lawn mower) and the clothes line and no refrigeration with an acre of gardens and an acre of sweet corn she just was finishing canning.... I would love to have the energy and said so but she told me it's not energy but ROUTINES that gets it done AND having the kids start earlier at doing chores and cooking. The 7 yr old boy packs everyone's lunches while she fixes breakfast ,that is leaving the house like Dad for work and 3 of them for school which started this week. AMAZING.They all help with laundry.

    We have settled on how to move this week and as cheap as possible, Daddy fell and looks horrible but no broken bones at 91 that's a miracle. I have orders from him through my brother that I am to bring pictures of the house being done.

    Rest is here, Not much though

  • Athanasia August 29, 2018

    Amish and farm families are a lot alike. My husband is from Amish and I am from farm.
    Everyone has to do their part to make it work, meaning children start age appropriate chores with supervision soon as they can understand the concept. You do your chores well and you move onto other chores with more responsibility and difficulty. It is also not optional.

    I am sorry to hear your father fell but thankfully no broken bones.

  • Marcia R. September 02, 2018

    I am thinking my girls were making their own school lunches by about age 7. They knew what they liked or felt like eating, and if it was in the house, it was available to take. It was leftovers or peanut butter and jelly most of the time, although I did buy some cold cuts in those days. I was up and available to help--I didn't start working outside the house until the younger girl was 10.

  • mable August 27, 2018

    1. Since it is raining every day now and our first (light) snow is supposed to come on Saturday, I am harvesting what I can each day. I pull enough to process that day.
    2. Canned tomatoes, spicy tomato jam, pickles and more pickles.
    3. Shredded zucchini for the freezer, plus we ate latkes two nights running.
    4. A friend's daughter has a September birthday. She loves pumpkins. So, early in the season I lightly carved her name on a small pumpkin and it is now about 25 pounds and her name grew with it and scarred over. I am giving it to her for her birthday--frugal for me and she will be beyond thrilled to have her "very own" pumpkin. (It is easy to please a five year old).
    5. I cut husband's hair and he cut mine.
    6. For the entire month we bought nothing but milk and a loaf of bread. Everything we ate was from cupboard, freezer or garden. I think we can do it for another week or two. This is a huge savings to us. The garden really , really helps, not just in the summer but all year with what I preserve.
    7. Traded cukes for caribou sausage.
    8. Traded cukes for eggs, with a different person. There are about 6 of us who trade back and forth. A hunter, a fisherman, two gardeners, a chicken keeper, and a duck keeper. It developed over the years, among neighbors and really is a help. I plant extra of certain things each year, knowing that egg woman likes artichokes and hunter man like leeks, for example.

    Thanks to the person who mentioned being frugal with time, using it wisely. I have not thought of it that way before so you have given me food for thought for the coming week.

    Also, I hope I am not one of the ones who wrote thoughtless things last week; if I was I apologize. It is probably a good reminder for all of us who have the flaw of being thoughtless or judgmental to work on keeping that in check. I am sure my husband will appreciate me keeping that in the forefront of my mind!

  • Tina S. August 28, 2018

    I love how you personalized that pumpkin from your garden. What a great present!

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