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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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  • Darcy August 28, 2018

    Frugal Accomplishments at our house:

    We have gotten lots and lots of tomatoes. What a blessing. We also picked basil and the last of the green beans. I’m already planning for next year. We don’t have a large space for gardening but if we plan carefully we could plant much more.

    What we have done with our tomatoes: tomato soup, spaghetti sauce, roasted over pasta, roasted topped with herbs and Parmesan, tomato sandwiches, and we froze lots of them.

    I planted spinach and lettuce seeds in containers.

    We took our lunch to work each day except when my company provided lunch one day.

    We used up what was in the refrigerator. By the time we went to the grocery store the refrigerator was almost empty. We bought seasonal and marked down produce, loss leaders, and needed toiletries.

    I made laundry soap and used vinegar for fabric softener.

    We have noticed a drop in our summer utility bill compared to last year since using a programmable thermostat. Although we are on the budget plan and pay the same amount each month, we actually have a credit for the month of July.

    I look forward to reading everyone’s comments. This is the one site I faithfully read each week. Thank you, for all your hard work, Brandy!

  • Kim in Florida August 28, 2018

    The past few months I have been scrimping and saving and scrimping even more due to my fear of "what happens if our tenants stop paying rent". Well guess what, we found out. I sure am glad I had money set aside. We have a contract to sell the house but cant settle untill the tenants are gone. Legal eviction proceedings were started August 9th. Unfortunately it bought them more time, we've been to court once, it got them 10 days, we go to court again and they get more time, and then the constable puts them out a few days after that. In PA, we have to store their stuff for 30 days if the constable puts them out. We have learned a lot from this experience. One is that being a long distance landlord is extremely difficult. Two being, never ever give in to a tenant. There is a reason that so many people think their landlord is a jerk. They need to be to protect their assets. We had to make an emergency trip to PA on Friday(839 miles). I dont know exactly how much we spent in gas but one way it was $234. I put it all on the discover card and will get 5% back in reward points. We shared the driving so there was no hotel expense. This week we are back to scrimping and saving. I need to buy some canned fruit so that the next time we have to go, we can eat that instead of stopping at McDonalds and truckstops. I had absolutely nothing that we could pack to bring with us as Friday is payday and I buy some food on Saturday. I am so looking foreward to better days ahead!!!

  • Deb August 28, 2018

    Kim, I know exactly how you are feeling. I moved 2500 miles to help my son and grandchildren and leased my house (couldn't sell it due to market conditions...sigh) through a property management company. The first tenant cost me over $6000 in unpaid rent, utilities, and court costs. The second tenant was excellent and lived there for several years. I finally sold the house to them last year. What a relief! No more worries about a new roof or furnace or some other huge expense. It will be a real weight off your shoulders when you sell the rental house.

  • cherie August 28, 2018

    Such a chaotic week here, we moved two children to college in two different states. I used hotels.com for our travel and earned a free night [after 10 - I've been using it for quite some time!] and paid cash for everything while away except for restaurant meals [because my credit card gives me 5% back] and gas [same]. On the second leg our hotel room had a kitchen so we had breakfast there.

    I'm now faced with refiguring my food plans! My son who is a college freshman eats a tremendous amount and now I must relearn how to shop and cook without him here! I'm already talking with my youngest about what she'll actually eat now that I have lost my 'trash disposal' child for the next few months LOL.

  • Sara August 28, 2018

    This is such a great blog I always look forward to reading it. Frugal....not to much of that. My hubby and I had a surprise with my daughter college we had to help her pay 1000. maybe a little less but this has really set us back. She goes to school full time and does work study. One of her teachers told her she did not need a book so that was a savings of 100. God always has provided and I have just turned it over to him.
    I work full time and clean and maintain the church. In between that we have managed to put up 60 jars of pasta/pizza sauce; 25 jars of pickles; 50 large zippies of frozen greenbeans; 25 jars of pickled greenbeans; and 52 pints of stewed tomatoes. This was our year for tomato canning we were completely out of everything. We also used the last of the greenbeans in March. Thank God for his supply.

  • stephanie m. August 28, 2018

    i purchased 14 pounds of peaches at $.33/lb. i made dehydrated peach slices, peach butter, and peach bbq sauce. I canned the last 2 and some will be given as gifts.
    I asked on my local Buy Nothing facebook group if anyone had extra figs, and was given a bag of about 30. we ate quite a few, and i also made fig vanilla jam.

  • Rhonda A. August 28, 2018

    First, I want to address my questioning your decision to send some of your children to school. I will not apologize for asking, nor should I be made to feel guilty for asking as some of the commenters suggested. As humans, we are naturally curious for a reason...it is how we learn. I simply wondered if you had chosen this route because your children were asking or perhaps you had found out that sending them to school would help them when applying to college (I really have no idea if it makes a difference between homeschooling or traditional schooling, thus the curiosity) or maybe the school offered something you were not able to provide through home schooling. After all, Brandy, you have proven to rarely make rash decisions without a lot of wise forethought. It was truly a sincere and innocent question, which many of us obviously wondered about. Having said that, your response of "It's personal and I wish not to discuss it" is also a perfectly acceptable answer. We all highly respect you, Brandy and will of course respect your request for privacy on the issue. That's all that needed to be said to start with. I hope your children are enjoying their new schools and your household settles into a more peaceful routine for everyone.

    Our frugal accomplishments for this week are:
    *Meals made at home included grilled cheese sandwiches with homemade coleslaw and potato chips, homemade lasagna (prepared second pan at same time for freezer), BBQ hamburgers and hotdogs with coleslaw and potato chips, homemade beef stew with dumplings, and breaded chicken burgers with mashed potatoes, coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob.
    *Canned 9 pints of dill pickle slices. A small handful of cucumbers were from my garden, and the rest were a basket of pickling cucumbers I bought for $3.97 at the grocery store. I used dill seed from my garden. When the dill seed ran out, I used fresh dill sprigs. I haven't made many pickles before, so I hope they turn out tasty!
    *Invested in an 8lb bag of dried chickpeas ($8.50 for the bag) and a 4.4lb bag of dried black beans ($3.90 for the bag). Since I seem to be using them quite a bit, I though it would make sense to invest in larger, bulk sized bags of the dried beans. When needed, I will soak a batch and pressure can them for convenience.
    *Made a run to Costco to fill my tank with gas (paid $1.20/litre), and did a shop while I was there. Was able to cross a few more stock up items off my list.
    *The 50lbs of "C grade" peaches were picked up this week, that I ordered a few weeks ago. They cost $13 per 25lb box, so we paid $26 total. I will be canning them up this coming week.
    *Brought home the "apple jelly turned caramel" from work, bought a couple bags of apples, some thick wooden skewers from Dollarama and made caramel apples for my co-workers as an end of season treat (gave 1 to DD and her friend who was staying over). They loved them!
    *Free thing I received from my work: popcorn, various treats made in the village (including some I made), and a freezie.
    *Hubby informed me this week that he has completed putting away all the money we will need for our European vacation for next April (everything is booked as well) and has now started to put away money in our savings again.
    *Celebrated my birthday on Sunday. Enjoyed dinner as per our usual Birthday celebrations. We used loyalty points for a free appetizer, which filled us up before our meal came. We then brought our meal leftovers home for lunch the next day.

    I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!

  • Rhonda,

    It was not a problem that you asked. You were right when you stated that I love homeschooling them, and I would love to continue to do so. I had some backlash for not sharing my reasons. The subject of schooling brought out some reader comments to one another that were unkind, and I just had another reader send me a message about yet another comment last week that was hurtful to her on yet another subject, so I just asked for kindness and encouragement. So many readers come here for encouragement, and I don't want anyone to feel discouraged or judged for their decisions, whatever they are. For example, one person's frugality may make cooking from scratch possible, while another person lives a life where her frugality means eating out all week using coupons. We all have to approach our individual situations the best we can.

  • Juhli August 28, 2018

    Thank you Brandy for expanding on your thoughts and reasoning for asking for kindness and encouragement. I appreciate the non-judgmental tone of this blog and enjoy getting ideas even though at this stage of life (retirement) we have more financial flexibility than we did at some earlier stages of life when money was very tight.

  • Rhonda A. August 28, 2018

    I completely agree with your request for kindness and positive encouragement on your blog. There is far too much negativity and hate in the world already. We could all use a little more kindness in our lives. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Stacey August 28, 2018

    I agree with Rhonda. It's not wrong to ask questions. With good boundaries, people can ask respectful questions, and the person they ask can choose to not answer their questions. And they don't have to give a reason why or defend their choices. A healthy, lively community is usually full of differing opinions and values. It's good to make room for that to happen. Being able to share different perspectives within healthy boundaries is a strength. It helps us all to grow and learn from each other.

    Schooling is such a personal decision. So many factors come in to play. All families are different, all children are unique. My brother homeschooled two of his four children back in the eighties until his oldest completed second grade. He was a school psychologist and his wife was a grade school teacher. I have one brother in law that homeschooled all three of his kids all the way through. One is becoming a physical therapist, one is working on an engineering degree and one wants to be a farmer. All of our other siblings sent their kids to public or private school. They don't seem to be any better or worse off than the homeschooled kids. But it has made for some interesting holiday meals over the years. . .

    Personally, I would have loved to send my kids to a private school. Sometimes I get sad thinking about some of the teenaged rights of passage they have missed out on that my husband and I enjoyed in high school. But this mythical school experience I'm feeling sad about does not exist in my community and even if it did, we would not have been able to afford it. What we do have are excellent homeschool laws in our state, and close proximity to lots of resources. So, we've done our best to capitalize on what's available and have tried to trust that it will all work out in the end.

    And that is my hope for you Brandy, and all of your readers. To do what you can with the resources you have, and to trust that kids who are loved grow up to be exceptional people no matter where they get their education from.

  • Susan M. August 30, 2018

    I love your comments about what you make in the Village. Might I ask what museum or living history place you work at? Every summer our family visits Greenfield Village in Michigan, connected with The Henry Ford museum, and we absolutely love that place!

  • Rhonda A. August 30, 2018

    I work at Lang Pioneer Village Museum, which is near Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Here is the link to the website: http://www.langpioneervillage.ca/.

  • ellie's friend from Canada September 01, 2018

    I have often wondered where you work and enjoyed reading about lang pioneer village.

  • Susan M. September 04, 2018

    Thank you! I will enjoy checking out the link!

  • Myra August 28, 2018

    Good morning! I am saddened to hear about the comments on last week's post. (I had a wedding to do last week and was very busy so didn't get to read every comment like a normally do, so I missed them.) Being a public school teacher, yet sending my own children to private school has resulted in some very snarky comments, until people understood our decision to go private schooling for our children. However, you are totally correct in that we don't have to share everything over the world wide web about each and every decision we make for our families. I come here every week for inspiration on how to save money, and make it beautiful at the same time. This week, I was blessed with a beautiful china hutch for the "great room" of my new house for free. I filled it with my Blue Willow china (which I got mostly for free with grocery store points about five years ago when they did a promotion) and sent out a picture to my family to share my blessing. I immediately got a comment about how expensive that piece of furniture was and how pricey those dishes were, therefore I immediately had to justify and defend my acquisition. It made me sad. Why can't we all be happy for others blessings? I love looking at pictures of your home, they inspire me to make mine more beautiful. I love reading comments that people share on what they did to save money, because often I say "I didn't think of that! Let me try that this week!" I sincerely hope I have never offended anyone on this blog with my comments. Have a blessed day each and every one of you.

  • Reader August 28, 2018

    Hi to everyone! We grow our own vegetables. While pulling our many onions out of the ground, I noticed that they still have quite nice greens on them which we just cut off and leave there. I made a mark to have my dehydrator ready next year - i could cut the greens up, dehydrate and use during winter.
    Also I made several meals from mushrooms we pick from our land. Could pick much more. I´m lazy with them.
    Been eating our own fresh potatoes. What a treat.
    Buck-thorns we planted a few years ago have berries! I must pick them before they go soft, I think. I plan to freeze them.
    I found that consignment store near us (may be the wrong word, I mean the shop where people bring their own stuff to sell for little money) has good selection and very low prices. My son goes to school this year and I found him some things without spending myself out of balance. Also I can drop off stuff there I do not need - I just leave it to "free" box.
    My mom sent me pears and plums. I shared them with others. We gave apples and potatoes to others as well.
    I wish i´d done more...
    Greetings to you, Brandy! You´re the best!

  • Lisa from Maine August 31, 2018

    you can also just cut up your onion greens and freeze them.

  • Jennifer O. August 28, 2018

    Ate dinner out one night as I had errands to run in the city. Did the Olive Garden with the buy one take one deal. I turned it into 4 meals for me. Went to a friend’s for Sunday dinner. She sent me home with leftovers. I will bring a couple of servings of my prepared meals to her when we meet for dinner tonight (I’m bringing a soup, she’s doing an entrée salad) and she will let me use her washer so I can avoid the time and expense of the laundromat! (My washer died last week). Great way to share the cooking load, get my laundry done and get fellowship time with a dear friend. Went to a wine tasting one night and a wine dinner another last week. Not super frugal, but a wonderful experience and a great time to catch up with friends.

    Cooked all other lunches and dinners at home from restaurant leftovers, materials already in the freezer and gifted vegetables. Re-reading books from my library. Took my dogs to a pet wash and nail trim at the local FFA chapter. A bit cheaper than a groomer and I support a good cause. A nice steady rain meant I could skip the car wash. Gave myself a manicure and a facial. Am waiting a week to dye my hair – headbands anyone?

    The tripping electrical circuit in the kitchen fixed itself. Hallelujah! I suspect it got damp when they were fixing the roof.

    Waiting until this weekend to go look for a new washing machine, microwave, and sofa. I will get a washer (ours is dead), but will wait on the sofa, if I don’t see anything I absolutely love. The microwave is more exploratory as it mostly works.

  • Tara from Massachusetts August 28, 2018

    Hi Brandy- To save money on back to school clothes shopping, I told all of my children that we were going to start at our local thrift shops first before purchasing anything. We have an excellent Savers right up the street and a decent church thrift shop close by. I did well at both. The church thrift shop was having a $5 bag sale which could be filled with as much women's and children's clothing as possible. This was an excellent deal. I bought quite a few shirts, a sweater, and a pair of leggings for my children. I bought a large amount of clothing for one of my sons for back to school at Savers half off clothing sale a few weeks ago. One of my daughters brought a friend with her, and we shopped at Savers early this week for excellent back to school clothing deals. Went to Walmart for socks, underwear, and sneakers for my youngest daughter. I told my children to go through their clothing, wear what they have, borrow / swap clothing with friends, and be creative! I am teaching my children that thrift shops are an excellent resource and should be the first stop when shopping. Brandy- I am very proud of you for all of the changes and hard work that you have weathered these last few weeks. You are a blessing to so many people; not only your family and friends but also your readers. You are always steadfast and loyal to everyone around you. Thank you for everything that you do for everyone. You are truly an inspiration to many, many people.

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