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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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  • Mary August 20, 2018

    The “Ziploc Divided Container” (on Amazon) is our family’s favorite lunch “bento box.” We’ve tried all kinds of fancier ones but these are the cheapest, non-leak option we’ve found. And no small lids to lose! Each one has lasted about 3 years with dishwasher cleaning.

  • Thank you. I will look at this one too.

  • Ellie August 23, 2018

    Today, Thursday, my Kroger had sandwich boxes with the icepack inside, marked down to$2 They were originally $7. You may want to see if your Kroger affiliate has marked down their back to school lunch things.

  • Julie C August 21, 2018

    These are our favorites as well. You do have to make sure they fit in your lunch box/bag, but they are a great option. They're almost bento-like, but extremely affordable. They're technically disposable, but like Mary, we've had them last several years. I never put them in the dishwasher (don't have one) and we never use them in the microwave. The 3 sections can be customized to hold a lot of food for bigger eaters. We love that they are leak-proof and just have one lid. The way the lid fits, food doesn't spill into other sections. You used to be able to find them at Target, but I haven't seen them there in a while.


  • Leigh H. October 17, 2018

    I have used the Ziplock divided containers for lunch for my twins for many years! Love them. Hand washing has helped extend their use. They disappeared from my Target awhile back but just picked up a new set @ Target this week

  • Tina S. August 20, 2018

    Hope it goes well for your kids at public school. You accomplished a lot in a short time.

    It was a frustrating week here. My doors were supposed to be installed on Thurs and Fri, and my new bathroom sink (to replace the one I cracked) was supposed to be put in on Thurs as well. I called early in the week about the doors to make sure they would be arriving on time. The person I spoke to said yes, definitely, they would be there. At 9am Thurs morning, I received a call where that same person told me my doors were unfortunately not ready yet (the supplier was still busy painting them and the necessary trim). As soon as I hung up, the sink guy arrived. He came in and took a look, and told me that he doesn't install that kind of sink (undermount), because of liability problems. I had already paid for this service, and it was clearly written on the invoice. So he just left, and I still have a cracked sink. I called the company and they refunded what I had paid. Apparently someone new was handling the install order, and didn't know about that policy.

    To say I was mad would be an understatement. Once I calmed down, I called around and got a couple (very expensive) quotes for the sink replacement. The next day, I called the door place back, and they said they would call me once the doors were done, and find us a place on the schedule. I requested a discount in the amount of income I lost because I took a day off for the install. They seemed amenable to that, and put a note in the file. She rep the procedure is to talk to her boss once the install is done, to settle up the total. So I will wait until then.

    The good news is that I managed to get my painting project done. The bedroom looks great and I am so thankful to have it completed, with everything back in its proper place.

    Frugal stuff:
    * I cooked at home all meals except two. My mom took me out to lunch one day. I used up leftovers in creative ways and put a few things in the freezer for easy work lunches.
    * In prepping for the door and trim install, I thoroughly cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen floor. So they were sparkling clean, and I enjoyed that.
    * As soon as I finished painting, I lent my ladder and painting supplies to my neighbor. He was thrilled he didn't have to buy all this stuff new.
    * And I did all the normal stuff I do: washed ziplocs, made water kefir, enjoyed the view from our patio, used the internet for entertainment, read library books, etc.
    * The air quality here (Seattle area) has been really bad, so I didn't spend as much time outdoors as I normally do. But I managed to amuse myself inside.

    I have a question about the comments posted. I come back a couple times during the week to read them, and they seem to jump around in a strange way. For example, early last week, there were two pages of comments. When I checked back later, a bunch of new comments had appeared, but they were mixed in between page one and the original page two (and these weren't replies to other comments). I just wondered if anyone else had experienced this, or maybe my browser was doing something strange.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018


    I think the reason comments seem to jump around is that, in the meantime, people have posted replies which then change the order.

  • Tina S. August 20, 2018

    It's strange though, because it's not just replies to existing posts that show up in between, but a bunch of brand new entries not in response to another comment (=they are not indented).

  • Lisa from Maine August 20, 2018

    I noticed the same thing also

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 22, 2018

    It has to do with the order in which the comments are approved. Frankly, I'm amazed that Brandy has time to read comments (320 so far this week!) and approve them, despite raising her family, laundry, meals, a baby, a toddler, the rest of the kids, a husband, sending kids to school, homeschooling kids, gardening, community and church activities, publishing blog posts, and you know, getting the occasional hour of sleep. My hat is off to you, Brandy! And as other commenters have said, please put yourself and your family first -- we all understand!

  • Rhonda A. August 20, 2018

    I noticed that, too. It doesn't normally do that, so not sure what happened. I think Brandy has to approve a comment before it gets posted, but once she approves it, they are posted in the order that they were received in. Not sure if this is correct, but that is my guess.

  • The comments were my fault. The program shows me the newest comments first. I was super busy and I would log in and see 54 comments to moderate. I read every comment as I learn things from everyone's comments all the time. I would read a couple and then get interrrupted and by the time I got back, there were 25 new ones and I hadn't gotten through all of the previous ones. I was so busy last week that I was having a hard time getting enough time to get through the comments and it took me three days to get to some of the first ones.

    Also, I try to get as many comments up as possible when I get a few minutes to check them here and there, so often I publish the shorter comments first, as I can quickly read 5 comments and get them up instead of one long one. Sorry about that! I do read them all.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018

    I really am amazed and impressed by how well you moderate the blog. With all your other responsibilities, it is amazing you can do this too. Not to worry about the order.

  • Tina S. August 21, 2018

    Thanks for the explanation, Brandy. That makes sense. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me!

  • Karen August 21, 2018

    Since comments are moderated, I think it posts them in the order of the date/time stamps, regardless of when they are approved for posting.

  • Sally August 20, 2018

    Brandy, Your children will add so much to their schools. Their teachers will adore them and will appreciate their manners and work ethic. I am a school librarian in a public school, and have had many homeschoolers join my school. They thrive beautifully and have no trouble fitting in. I can’t think of one homeschooler who was led down the wrong path by others when they made the switch. I know that is a concern. Public school is an education in itself. Our kids were beautifully prepared academically for college and didn’t freak out when they went to college 1000 miles away. They had already been exposed to all types of people and situations. In public school, I think you learn a lot about who you are by seeing who you are not. It prepares you nicely for the real world.
    You would be surprised how much money teachers shell out each year for supplies. I buy sooo much Kleenex and so many containers of disinfecting wipes to clean my library books and tables, etc.. I also spend my own money buying books here and there for children who are going through a rough time. I would advise getting your children good crayons (not Rose Art which are like using a candle to color with) and good pencils (Dixon or Ticonderoga). Get quality and they won’t need to be replaced as often. You will enjoy hearing all the stories your children come home with!

  • Elizabeth M. August 20, 2018

    What a week you've had. There must have been some long hours thinking and talking about the decision, as well as getting ready. I am sure your children will enjoy the new classes that help them explore their interests. They have had a very solid grounding from you though, so they know how to learn, and they know how to work in a team, which will be important. It is a big adjustment to your schedule at home, though.

    This week was ruled getting my cat to the vet and by my internet going down for three days.

    I had a limited amount available to pay the vet, but got one set of blood-work done. Another look at the blood-work by a specialist will happen this week. I got enough results to have a sense of what the problems could be, which are fairly typical chronic conditions for a senior cat. The cat has new (and much more expensive) food, which seems to have settled his stomach, which was the problem as far as the cat knew! I am getting a 10% senior discount, which definitely helps in vet bills.

    To have money for the vet, I postponed paying the phone and internet bill. The internet service went off. I thought it was because the phone company limited my services because of the bill. When I found money for the phone/internet, it turned out to have been a technical issue. The wireless went off, which the system itself noticed and corrected to a miscellaneous alphanumeric user name and password, which was not the plain English ones the company had converted me to so I could recognize and remember them. As soon as I realized that, I remembered the codes were on the modem, and had the internet going again within a few seconds. Unfortunately, I lost three days of transcription work with the internet off, and thought for a while, I wouldn't have it on again for another 10 days. This was very worrying, because it is the third week in a row that I haven't been able to do more than a few dollars' transcription work.

    I had an errand to do in the city. I debated taking the bus, because of the undiagnosed whistle the car is making. The timing wouldn't work, so I took the car. I had a complicated plan for what I would do if it broke down at different spots on the journey. It made the whistling noise from kilometer 35 to 55. I stopped to pick up some coffee, and give the car a break. It did not start whistling again for the remaining 100 km into the city nor for the 155 km back. Not a very relaxing drive, but I was happy with the way it worked out.

    I finished paying off a very large bill. It won't improve my monthly cash flow, but it is a big worry off my mind.

    Physically, I wasn't feeling well. I had severe muscle cramps caused by taking ibuprofen for arthritis pain, so I've cut back on it, so I am feeling the arthritis much more. I need to do some research and talk to my doctor about some options. We also had very bad smoke from forest fires a few hundred kilometers away, which triggers allergy symptoms for me.

    I am hoping to get back into a normal routine this week.

  • Susan August 20, 2018

    You may want to talk to your Dr about tumeric and curcumin supplements. My doctor recommended it for me and it's worked wonders. It has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Elizabeth M. August 21, 2018

    That's very interesting, Susan. I will definitely look into that.

  • Rhonda A. August 21, 2018

    Just saw bottles of this in Costco today. If it's sold in large bottles at Costco, it must be a popular treatment!

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