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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Meyer Lemons and Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

I picked more lemons from the garden.

I gave the baby a haircut. 

I used Recyclebank points to get a free two-year magazine subscription to Better Homes and Gardens.

Our bank decided to start charging $5 per paper statement. We changed to get online statements, for which they do not charge.

I have been trying on a few different items of clothing each day to see what will fit and what will not. Most everything no longer fits, and so I have been putting it aside to donate. I am keeping some things that are too large to either try taking in or to just keep wearing until I can find something to replace them. Some things still fit, but fit better. Those will stay.

I studied French using free online sources.

I made a decision to not purchase two things that appeared to be needs. I realized I could make do with what I have and save myself a few dollars.

From the garden, I harvested lettuce, arugula, and radishes, which we used in a couple of salads.

My Swiss chard plants are huge and starting to bolt. I offered Swiss chard to several people. I was able to give huge amounts away to a couple of friends, who told me they like to saute it with garlic and also use it in homemade ravioli. I plan on trying cooking some both ways!

I harvested Swiss chard for us and used it in two frittatas, steamed it as a side dish, and in a stir fry. 

I cooked a large batch of black beans in the crockpot and made taco soup one day and bean burritos another day. 

Snow Peas The Prudent Homemaker

I made museum pasta salad using green onions and snow peas from the garden. 

I mended a hole in a sweater. I mended a dress.

Eagle Scout Project The Prudent Homemaker

My son was able to get almost all of the supplies (save for $4 worth) donated for his Eagle Scout project, which happened this past week.

My mom went to a few garage sales and came back with 4 large boxes of books for $15! They are for grades K through 2 from a retired teacher. My girls have been enjoying having several new books to read.

My mom bought a skirt for me at a garage sale for $0.50. The skirt isn't quite my style, but it has shell buttons. These buttons would cost more than that, so I will keep the buttons and use them on a blouse.

My parents were given a large lot of men's shirts, several of which were my husband's size. He chose the ones he liked and we will donate the rest. They are long-sleeved shirts, and I will turn most of them into short-sleeved shirts, as that is what he needs for most of the year in our climate.

After 17 years of not having a cell phone (I had a work one paid for by work company 17 years ago) I switched our home phone for a cell phone. Our home phone had gone up and I wanted to change it before the next month's billing. I went with Metro PCS, which is who my husband uses for his work cell. Their lowest plan is $30 a month for unlimited everything (that includes taxes) and there is no contract (you pay each month and can leave at any time). Since we combined our plans together, they have a discount of $5 per line, so my husband's bill went down $5 to $25 and I now have a cell phone for $25--just under what my home phone had gone up to--plus I have the ability to call long distance (which was becoming needful as many people I need to call for church have moved in and kept their out-of-state cell numbers). They had a phone deal where you can get a free phone (though you still have to pay sales tax on the price of the phone).  

I downloaded several free apps, and I'm on Instagram now; you can find me under "theprudenthomemaker".


What did you do to save money this past week?

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  • Forgoing things that you thought were needs has been one of the big ways we paid off our biggest credit card bill this year. It's amazing what you can do without! We're trying to pinch our "needs" tighter and tighter in an effort to use our money more wisely.

    Here are the ways we saved this week:

  • Becky April 03, 2017

    Those sound like good ideas for the swiss chard, especially the ravioli! Those snow peas look wonderful, too. I have some chard that I overwintered, but have not been able to plant anything new, since it's been so wet. However, my husband tilled a test strip in the garden yesterday after a few dry days, and says it won't be long if it stays dry. I am not used to using chard, and purposely chose a green, mild kind, since the other time I tried it if was too strong for the family. Since the new leaves have been growing, I have used it twice, carefully picking only a large handful each time. I have put it into spaghetti sauce both times, and have had no complaints. I can see that I will soon have a large quantity. With the sunshine of the past few days, it's growing like crazy.

    We were given a few food items, which we ate. We got away for a few days to the coast, in our camper, using our free park pass. We ate out a couple of times, but mostly ate from the camper. We save up our change in a can, and over time, have enough money to use for eating out when we get away. We used that up, and will start filling the can again.

    The way we saved the most money was to pack "car picnics" at least 4 times that I can remember. At bare minimum, we saved $100 and up to $200, depending on the fast food or restaurant choice we would have made.

  • Mariana April 03, 2017

    Nothing beats a 4 boxes of books for $15 deal. :)
    I am adding you on instagram too!

    My update is up:

    Wishing all my virtual friends a great week. Xx

  • Laurie in NC April 03, 2017

    The peas look so good. I hope we'll be getting a harvest from ours a few weeks down the road. I've never made ravioli, but your mention of swiss chard filling makes we want to try. The voles are really hurting our crop this year, chewing all the roots on them. They've killed a dozen or more chard plants already. Gardening is always an adventure! Joining in here:

  • Marcia April 03, 2017

    This was good. I have also been going through clothing. My baby is 4.5. I lost the baby weight when he was 2. Recently found some clothing I had set aside. Tried it all on a few times. Sadly let go of the shirts that are too small (shoulders and ribcage are broader now), but happy that the pants fit.

    Donated to the local charity, turned in two pairs of black dress pants... One too big and one too small. Just happened to find a pair there that fit perfectly ( very hard!) Bought them.

    Today I am avoiding an online shopping party. Last week we were on spring break and took a short trip.

    We saved money on it by
    1. Choosing a cabin 20 min north of the big more popular destination. Savings: $800, $200 per night
    2. Cooking all our meals in the cabin. Savings: who knows.
    3. Taking some of our own groceries. Definite savings because there is tax at the grocery store there. And higher prices
    4. Choosing sledding (free) over skiing ($600 per day!!)
    5. Having lunch at Costco on the way there ($10 instead of $30)
    6. Stopping to take pics of poppies on the side of the road (free) instead of going to the preserve ($10)
    7. When we got back, still three days of spring break. Hubby and I split the work days (work at home for half, at work for half). Savings: $130 per day of camp fees, times two. The third day (today) no camp anyway.

    Also I've been playing the Vons Monopoly game. I've gotten coupons for free tissues, buns corn, sour cream, and bagels so far.

    Saturday I baked your rosemary olive oil bread. It's a favorite.

  • Jennifer April 03, 2017

    I had the week off for Spring Break so I was super productive. It was a little expensive, but worth the investment in our home.

    Found beautiful glass tile on clearance (originally $25 a sheet, I got it for $4 a sheet) and tiled the bar top (has been just a piece of plywood for years). Since I only needed 7 sheets, this was a bargain for such a beautiful addition. Borrowed the tools I needed to install it.

    Picked up a paint brush and rollers at Habitat for Humanity (brand new) also several partial rolls of painting tape and the mastic for the tile for a total of $15.

    ACE hardware had paint buy 2 gallons, get 1 free. Bought 6 gallons.

    Bought the parts to repair the dripping kitchen faucet. I have been collecting the leak water for my plants and the cat for a couple of weeks.

    Picked up cat dewormer at the Feed Store instead of the vet. Much cheaper this way.

    Scrubbed the walls, ceilings and baseboards in the living room, dining room, hallway, bathroom and guest room, fixed holes and dents, and then repainted them.

    Painted the risers on the stairwell. I will keep watching Habitat for some paint to repaint the stair treads as I will need less than 1 quart.

    Took down and ran the AC vents, ceiling light globes, light switch covers, and ceiling fan blades through the dishwasher.

    Washed curtains and mini blinds. 2 mini blinds really need to be replaced, but am thinking I may invest in professional blinds now that the puppy is no longer eating them.

    Checked and recycled my water storage.

    Scrubbed, sealed and polished the granite counter tops.
    Deep cleaned the oven, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. This maintenance should help them last longer and be more efficient.
    Deep cleaned the beds.
    Inventoried my food storage. I still need to do the freezer, but it's progress.
    Moved the refrigerator, freezer and stove and cleaned beneath them.
    Decluttered the living room, dining room and hall cabinets.

    Melted the retrieved candle wax from the winter and recast new emergency candles.

    A friend treated me to a wine tasting a few weeks ago and I returned the favor this week.

    Bought a pair of leggings (at full price) but their addition will make 4 different tops wearable this spring/summer.

    Treated myself to a microderm and deep cleaning facial at a local beauty school. They were running a special, so it was only $30 for the service and I got a set of face creams valued at over $40 as a free gift. While I was there decided to get my brows done, but they used me as a demo for the class so my service was free!

  • momsav April 03, 2017

    Wow! You were a cleaning machine!

  • Lillie Pickle's April 03, 2017

    I am exhausted just reading this. That is some great work you got finished

  • Athanasia April 05, 2017

    Wow Jennifer, with that cleaning schedule you could be getting ready to host an Amish wedding or taking your turn at holding church! No kidding.

  • Margaret @approachingfood April 03, 2017

    I love the picture of your lemons -- they look so luscious! I honestly thought they might be plums at first! And I'm curious what your son did for his Eagle Scout project!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    - Made a batch of pea soup, using up some dried peas that I’d had for a while, the last of a bunch of parsley, some discounted bacon (a treat for the DH, as I’m veg), some dehydrated celery, and some storage potatoes. (
    - Treated myself to a Starbucks drink when I was waiting for an appointment – but no money out of pocket because I used a gift certificate from Swagbucks!
    - Tried a new hair dresser, for half the price of my usual one. Not as good a haircut, so I won’t switch permanently, but may use this one occasionally to cut costs.
    - Was given some oregano to take home after a dinner party, dried it, and added it to my spice jar of oregano.
    - Dehydrated some more clementine peels, and added them to my tub scrub jar (baking soda and clementine powder). I now have enough tub scrub for at least two months, and it cost me only the price of the baking soda (which I bought on sale). Plus, the scent of the clementines is keeping my bathroom spelling fresh!
    - Found some slightly past expiry boxed juice (guanabana, a tropical fruit) in my pantry and mixed it with homemade soda water to make a healthy fruit soda.
    - Made iced tea from loose leaf tea gifted to me.
    - Did the usual of taking homemade plain soda water with me to work each day. I much prefer it over plain water, which means I drink more, and stay hydrated.
    - Made a batch of my granola, and added in some psyllium powder for extra fibre-y goodness (it’s the only way I’ve found that I can eat psyllium powder without choking on it). Plus, it makes the granola clumpier, without using egg whites!
    - I needed a new kitchen whisk, as my old one from the dollar store had been coming apart for over a year (and I had been fixing it each time it broke), so I priced them out in different places. I found that Canadian Tire had the cheapest KitchenAid one, cheaper even than Walmart (by 50%), and definitely cheaper than Amazon (by 75%).
    - I ordered some items from Amazon using gift cards that I had earned by doing surveys online. I ordered two chocolate bunny molds (small and large bunnies) and a mint julep cup for flower arranging (Can you tell I’ve been influenced by Brandy? What can I say, she has great taste!) and I ordered a nice resin flowerpot that looks like marble, and can be used indoors or outdoors (it has a removable plug in the bottom). I ended up paying $1.03 out of pocket, and got free shipping!
    - I earned $75 cat-sitting for someone in my neighbourhood. Cash and cat cuddles are the best combo! 
    - Washed and dried eggshells, and ground them to add to dirt in my balcony garden.
    - I made blueberry lemon scones for breakfast one day. I used blueberries that I had dehydrated last summer, lemon zest from my freezer, shortening that was gifted to me from a friend, and flour that I only ever buy on sale. Very frugal scones – not to mention, tasty! I froze most of them for future snacks.
    - Brought a gift box home from my work that was going to be thrown out. Perfect size for mugs or cupcakes!
    - As for inexpensive fun this week, I auditioned for The Great Canadian Baking Show which is the Canadian version of The Great British Bake-Off! ( I didn’t think it was going to be frugal as I baked some ganache-topped chocolate-cherry brownies to bring, although I did buy the cherries from a bulk store and used chocolate both gifted to me and bought in giant bags at Costco, as well as using leftover wine (to soak the cherries in), but I ended up coming home with a big bag of blueberry lemon scones, so I think I probably broke even. It was a really fun experience!
    - Another lovely thing that happened this week, was that my husband told me that he didn’t worry what would happen if our income suddenly dropped, because he knew I would be able to manage on whatever income we had. I was very touched by his faith in me!
    - I planted the start of my balcony garden! I planted lettuce (in the sunniest spot on my balcony, to try to avoid ‘leggy lettuce’), radishes, nasturtiums, and peppers. We still had freezing temperatures last week, but this coming week is above zero, so I’m hoping it isn’t too early to plant. Some weeds had already sprouted in the pots on the balcony, so I think it must be growing weather!
    - Went through my condo and set aside some items to sell on Craigslist or Bunz.
    - Redeemed Pinecone Researches rewards for $5 to my Paypal account

    And that was my week! Looking forward to learning what everyone else did!

  • Athanasia April 03, 2017

    Hi Margaret, that must have been quite an experience auditioning for the baking show!
    I, again, tried to read your blog today but for me it doesn't work. Along the whole left side is a banner going down with 6 or 7 icons like the bird and the letter and the G and the F etc. They cover up the beginning of every line of your post (approx 1-2 words in). Maybe it works out fine on other people's computers but not on mine. Also I cannot get rid of the banner. Several others have a set up like this and I also cannot read theirs. Is there some reason that banner cannot be at the end of the post i.e. the bottom of the page? Thanks.

  • Margaret @approachingfood April 03, 2017

    Hi Athanasia! Thanks for letting me know about the blog issue. It sounds like my image/posting sharing tools from sumo are the issue. I'll contact them tonight after work and try to figure out how to resolve the issue. I'm thinking the problem might be only on some computers or operating systems. Thanks for letting me know so that I can fix it! And by the way, I always love hearing about all your accomplishments and life on your family farm!

  • Athanasia April 05, 2017

    Thank you. I would love to able to read what you post.

  • Amy April 03, 2017

    Our apartment complex sent out a notice Friday that this year they will have a community garden with 20 by 10 plots for $35 each. We signed up for 2 plots. We'll be able to grow a sauce and salsa garden to meet most of our needs for the year. Since our utilities are included in the rent the canning process won't cost us any additional money over our initial investment in the plot and seeds.

  • Athanasia April 05, 2017

    Amy, I wish you a happy and productive growing season. Have fun!

  • J April 03, 2017

    Welcome to the cellular world Brandy! We should probably get rid of our landline and just use our cell phones, but we have a very low rate and I always worry if there is a babysitter here (even though they all have cell phones) having a landline is best. Of course, we haven't had a babysitter here in over 8 months....but this is the mind of a mother I guess....

    This month I did some things to save money - but I had some purchases that needed to be made, so I tried to focus on making the most efficient and wise use of my money as possible (like buying things that were 50% off, using Ebates, etc.). We are preparing for Easter and Mother's Day, and the good news is I now feel like I am ready and I can relax and enjoy the month of April. I also re examined what grocery items we are buying at certain stores and where the best value currently is.
    You can read what I did to save money this month here:

  • Susan H April 03, 2017

    Congratulations to your son on completing his Eagle Project. This is such an accomplishment and an achievement which will have lifelong benefits! The Boy Scouts have truly been a blessing to my boys as they have learned some fabulous skills, established great friendships, and avenues to help others. We are blessed to have two Eagles in our family.

  • Marivene April 03, 2017

    Drove back from a visit with our daughter in Washington. I brought back a cheese knife for the cheese plate that I hand carried back when I flew last visit, along with a scarf that she was gifted & does not use, that will go with several of my outfits. The drive is long, but follows the Columbia River for part of it, & the scenery is beautiful. Driving costs less than half of what the plane ticket costs, but the plane takes ¼ of the time.

    Cut several vases of daffodils from the beds before the snow came again midweek.

    Continued to dig out at least one tree pot full of weeds or grass roots from the growing beds each day. Planted some spinach.

    Our dandelions are up in the “dandelion salad bed” which protects them from being accidentally sprayed. We have had several salads, & I have added them to a couple of stews as well. Here along the Wasatch Front, the dandelions are up & growing long before the cloched lettuce is ready, & still growing long after it bolts in the heat. We use them in salads until they flower, then as a spinach substitute, so the cooking removes the bitterness.

    Pulled the grass mulch covering back from a section about a yard wide of the back perimeter bed. Dug a shallow trench & filled it with cut pieces of the fir branches I trimmed from one of the curbside rescue trees that morning. Pulled the dirt over top, then dug a 2nd trench in the bed behind the first & filled it the same way. Spread the grass covering back over the top. Later in the week, I cut the remaining branches from one of the curbside rescue fir trees & dropped them over the fence to the back yard. Tossed the trunk over the fence, then moved it to the woodpile area to dry. Placed a large handful of the cut branches over the area I trenched earlier on the back perimeter, to be handy to cut into pieces when I trenched the next section in the bed.

    Bought some garlic knots from the bargain basket to try. They were very inexpensive, & were very good, too. I intend to duplicate the recipe. Bought 2 whole chickens on sale. I baked one for dinner that night, & put the other one in the freezer.

    Bought a set of wooden eggs on sale. I put them in a footed silver fruit compote bought years ago at the thrift, with a little brown shredded paper saved from a Hickory Farms Christmas box. I also use the brown shredded paper around a small ceramic lamb that I set on a green footed cake plate. I keep the paper in a zip bag in the same box as the Easter decorations, & use it every year.

    Bought 3 half pint jars & 2 tall jelly jars at Deseret Industries, along with 3 little shirts for my granddaughter. I had filled a box to donate as I decluttered, but I forgot to take it with me, so I will take it next time. I always look for little tops at the thrift, because I refuse to buy “licensed” clothing, with Disney, Pooh, etc on them. My grandchildren are not walking advertisements, & they can look very nice without being taught to listen to the marketing voices.

    I disposed of the remaining brown rice that had gone rancid, & washed the bucket out well. DH does not like brown rice, & with just the 2 or us, we cannot use it fast enough, so I will not be buying more. The case lot sales are on now, so I purchased white long grain rice to fill that bucket. It is taller than most of mine, & I was pleasantly surprised to find that it held two 20 pound sacks, easily.

  • Danielle April 03, 2017

    This is a recipe I really enjoyed that uses Swiss chard as a wrap:

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks April 07, 2017

    Those look really interesting Danielle. Thanks for sharing.

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