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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

August Foliage The Prudent Homemaker

The few tiny flowers to be had in the garden right now: Siam Basil flowers, Peppermint flowers, and Honeysuckle


This post contains affiliate links.

We sent three of our children to public school this past week for the first time, which was not at all frugal. Besides the hundreds in school supplies that are required (different from what we normally use and already had on hand, including classroom supplies of things like tissues and dry erase markers), I had to pay for their elective classes ($25 each), buy a backpack and three lunch boxes, buy new watches, buy earbuds with a microphone, and purchase shoes (they are not allowed to wear sandals at school).  There are yearbook fees($45 each), a health class fee ($15), media fees ($20 each), and field trips to pay for as well.

This certainly changes my financial needs and my schedule, and will definitely require some changes in planning lunch ahead of time.

As this was a totally last-minute decision, I wasn't prepared for lunches, and I was so busy with extra school stuff that there wasn't time to go to the store. I still managed to put together lunches using what I had on hand.

I cut a large Armenian cucumber from the garden and picked some cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. To go with them,  I made some ranch dressing dip with plain Greek yogurt, onion powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley. This was enough for several days for those going to school as well as those of us who stay home (these cucumbers are huge). I sent almonds, dried fruit, and leftovers in lunches. I made cookies and macaroni and cheese for lunches as well. To make it easier, I made a large amount of homemade macaroni and cheese for part of our lunch at home one day, making enough for leftovers for lunches for everyone (including those at school) the next day.

When it gets colder, I'll send soups, chili, and rice and beans, and leftovers, which are our normal lunches. I purchased two of these Thermos containers with folding spoons for that time; I already had some but this will make enough for those leaving along with my husband and oldest daughter, who already take leftovers in them for lunch. (My eldest daughter takes college classes online but goes with my husband to his office to work on them most days).

I also bought some of these reusable ice packs to keep lunches cold. Since I didn't have any this week, we just sent ice in bags with the cold items.

I am researching bento boxes that will fit in their lunch boxes, which will mean we won't need to use any plastic bags.

I picked pears from the garden. They ripen off the tree, so I'll be able to use these in lunches next week.

My daughter had shared a bite of homemade bread at lunch one day at school and the girl she shared it with asked her if her mom owned a bakery! She brought another piece the next day to share with the girl. I thought this was a bit funny because it was a loaf that didn't rise properly, as I pulled it from the oven a bit too soon on the first morning they went to school.

We made arrangements for the children to take the bus. It took a few days (and was tricky with children at two different schools starting at the same time) before they were approved to ride the bus. Having them take the bus will make it so that we can continue to be a one-car family, reduce wear and tear on the car, and not add to our gas needs.

I read three Hamish Macbeth e-books from the library.

My husband cut my hair.

One of my daughters is taking a beginning orchestra class. My mom had a violin that she had purchased for a framing example in her old store. My daughter is using that violin, so we don't have to pay to rent one. 

I was able to purchase the backpack and lunch boxes on sale.

I took advantage of a spend $50 on household goods get $15 off sale to purchase the required tissues and paper towels for school, combining that with some borax and bleach for the house to reach the required $50 total (We will use some of the paper towels as well to drain fried potatoes).

The watches we purchased were inexpensive ones from Walmart ($7.99 and $15.99).

I collected leek seeds from the garden.

Hamish Three Months The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 20, 2018

    I believe it's two posts back, in Rhonda's comment for the week. The title was something like best-ever fried rice. I really liked the seasoning! I personally doubled the amount of vegetables and put in two eggs as opposed to one.

  • Rhonda A. August 20, 2018

    Hi Vivian. Here is the link to the recipe I used for fried rice: https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/best-fried-rice/. So far at least 3 people that post comments here have tried it and really enjoyed it. It's very frugal, and vegetarian friendly (though leftover chicken or pork could easily be added). Also, you can add whatever veggies you want, so feel free to get creative with your favourites (like mushrooms, peppers, onions, bean sprouts, cabbage, spinach, squash, etc.).

    Here's a bonus recipe link for BBQ chickpeas: https://www.thegardengrazer.com/2015/02/bbq-chickpea-chopped-salad-with-avocado.html. Instead of using them in this salad, I made BBQ chickpea ranch wraps (BBQ chickpeas, cheese, ranch dressing and lettuce, spinach or whatever fresh green you want to use). I made these wraps for my co-workers for a potluck. Everyone raved about them...some even asked for the recipe! Super frugal and another tasty way to enjoy chickpeas!!!

  • It has been. They are still bring home stuff for me to read and sign. It is exhausting.

  • dawnelle August 21, 2018

    That's the worst. I had 7 all in public schools a handful of years ago (still have 5) and the assorted papers were ridiculous!

  • Robert August 21, 2018

    Amen to that mama gets more homework in the beginning of school than student does
    A wet sponge placed in a freezer bag wors in a pinch for an ice pack

  • juls owings August 22, 2018

    that signing might happen until Dec/Jan I had to sign things for my grandson at the half yr point SIGH

  • Susan August 25, 2018

    If you have return address labels you can stick those on papers instead of constantly filling out that info. I know I get a lot of those types of labels for free as promotions or donation requests.

  • Jeannie August 22, 2018

    Lettuce! Lettuce! You grew lettuce???? What was your secret?


  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 24, 2018

    I KNOW!!!! My husband was surprised. I was so frustrated from last year's failed attempts that I just planted an entire packet of seeds (that I got free) in a foot and a half long flower trench. And...it grew! Veryyyyyyyy slowly. Recently I transplanted some to a larger space once I had grown and harvested some other plant, and the transplants grew to a respectable if still small size. So I ate them! Then I think the remaining slightly cramped lettuce got sunburnt or so, as they all developed freckle-like brownness on them, and I didn't eat them. Back into the earth they went, to provide extra nutrition when I replanted my blueberry bush in a larger planter. I still have no idea why the lettuce grew this year and not last. But hey, I grew lettuce!

  • Roxie August 20, 2018

    I found the ice packs at Dollar Tree. I got 3 (only 1 in school this year)
    An idea for a nice hot lunch when it is cooler; I make a nice hot soup and drop a warm hot dog into the soup to keep it warm. I add a bun or bread and that is a sandwich and soup easy a can be. My grandson loves this.
    Your baby is very beautiful.

  • Shelley August 20, 2018

    Wow Brandi big changes! I wish your children well in school. Thank God you got the kids in the bus... it's not an option for my children go to on the bus...the go to the school my sister in law works.
    I had 2 no spend days which is my new goal. It used to be 1 day a week no spend. I got some great deals at Kroger this week.

  • Marley August 20, 2018

    Hello from the beautiful Appalachian mountains of Virginia! This past week I was able to can another 12 pints of green beans and 6 pints of salsa from the garden. We have more summer squash than I know what to do with, but I have shared and frozen as much as possible. I have dried parsley for the year. As I am newly retired, I was able to stay home most of the week saving gas. I used store coupons to get free 18 count eggs plus a few other items at a discount with sales and coupons. I have only spent $23 on groceries for the week. As a retired teacher of 38 years (both private and public schools) I know parents are asked for a lot of supplies. On average I would spend $1500 per year on supplies for my students. This was just markers, cleaning supplies, etc. The most I was ever allotted for supplies from a district was $150 for the year. Most years it was $100. Some years just $50 depending on the economy. From that money I would have to buy construction paper, markers, paint, glue, gluesticks, pencils, erasers, manipulatives, etc. It never went far enough so that is why I would spend the extra money of my own. I always wanted to provide my students with the best opportunities and experiences and supplies as I could to get the job done. I believe that is the philosophy of the majority of teachers out there. It is not uncommon to work 10-12 hours a day plus a day on the weekend. We do it for the kids. We do it for the future. Any teacher, whether homeschool, public or private, works hard and appreciates anything parents can contribute. Brandy, I hope your children enjoy the experience public school provides. Thanks for the uplifting and helpful posts. You make a true difference!

  • Jeananne August 23, 2018

    From one teacher to another, thank you for your comments.

  • Dawn in the Deep South August 20, 2018

    I don't post often, but as a former public school teacher, I would like to comment on the costs associated with public school. My husband and I graduated from expensive private academies and our parents really never recovered financially. We made the decision to enroll our daughters into the excellent public schools of our district, which are located in a very high income zip code. Our school district receives large financial infusions from local taxes to supplement the poor investment from the state. Parents don't pay a lot of fees and teachers have the supplies/equipment/materials they need so they don't spend their own money for their classrooms.
    However, I recently taught kindergarten in a high poverty district for several years where there was very little money/tax revenue from local cities. Parents rarely sent anything on the supply list and like all other teachers in the school, I spent a lot of my own meager salary on supplies. As the years have gone by, too many states have cut funding for public schools and shifted the costs both to parents in the way of fees and to teachers, who feel they must spend their own money. It is not a fair system, at least in my state.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018

    The Prime Minister of Canada is a former teacher; perhaps that explains why the Government of Canada has introduced a tax deduction for teachers for supplies that teachers have paid for by themselves. I don't know the details but it isn't fair for teachers to have to pay for their own supplies.

    I myself am appalled at how much school fees are now. My parents never had to pay for such fees in the public system.
    I suppose they might have had to pay a token fee for after school activities such as volleyball. Private lessons such as piano of course were paid or by my parents but there was never these pricey fees for public tree.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018

    Sorry, I'm not sure how the word "tree" got in my reply. It should have said "but there was never these pricey fees for public school".

  • Tammy August 20, 2018

    When I was teaching I bought supplies for the kids too. Otherwise you just couldn't conduct class. After my first year I had a box of supplies shared by the students. It took me that first year to realize how necessary it was to have supplies on hand. I loved teaching, but yes as a single mom on a teacher's salary it was difficult. One year a local business gave the teachers a box of supplies. it was nice. It was nice to see my students not worry about where their pencil or paper would come from. I brought kleenexes regularly to school. I remember a year when we worried about having enough paper to make copies or conduct business. We even thought we would need to bring toilet paper. Luckily we did not run out. As a parent I remember wanting to cry when I found out all the fees involved to pay for my kids school classes. We did it though.

  • Jen@FrugalSteppingStones August 31, 2018

    So sad but so true. I friend taught for our local inner city schools. She had to buy her own paper. That meant every test,handout,etc,had to come from paper she supplied. It was crazy! Every time Staples had a rebate offer for a whole case of paper, I got one for her.

  • Maxine August 20, 2018

    What a beautiful baby boy, Brandy!

    I have finally unpacked our medicine cabinet and personal care items. I told DH we weren't spending a nickel on this stuff again until we use up everything we already have. I am not kidding...this will save us $100s.

    I used $1.75 in coupons at the grocery store for items we use all the time. I have not couponed for a couple of years, but I'm trying to justify my newspaper subscription, LOL. I cut a .75 coupon out of yesterday's paper.

    I bought fabric for curtains for a room that doesn't yet have curtains. I was able to use Jo-Ann's coupons for everything I bought--60% off one item, 50% off another and 50% off all notions.

    I washed a pair of light blue suede slip-on shoes in the washing machine and they turned out great! They really weren't wearable before, so I figured I wasn't out anything if it didn't work.

    I cooked extra rice the night we had shrimp Creole. We ate all of the shrimp out of the sauce (of course!) but DH had rice and sauce for lunch the next day. I used the leftovers for fried rice another night. This wasn't so much a moneysaver as a timesaver, but that counts for something, too.

    We drink a lot of 100% grape juice. I always use 4 cans of water, instead of 3, because we think it tastes lighter and fresher. But one can of frozen juice concentrate gives us 60 ounces of juice vs. 48 ounces. Over time, it adds up.

    I gratefully received irises in two colors from a friend. The white ones were originally mine, LOL. And, while unpacking almost the last of our stuff, I came across a pair of shorts and a pair of capris that i'd forgotten about. Wish I'd unpacked that box back in June!

  • Judy August 20, 2018

    We homeschooled [before it was popular or even accepted], public schooled and private schooled our two boys. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these systems. The advantage is they experienced different ways to learn knowledge. Eventually they learned to self educate themselves. Today they are both IT Developers. I am sure your children will find their path to knowledge as well.

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