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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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  • Robert August 21, 2018

    This is so true and public school is almost too expensive for some

  • I August 20, 2018

    Beautiful baby Brandy!! I can understand that sending 3 of your children off to school would be a big change and expense-I hope they enjoy it!

  • Sharon August 20, 2018

    I purchased 100 lb of chicken at $.39/lb. The cashier told me how smart I was to buy that much at that price! It will be great for hot chicken sandwiches and soup. Yum!

  • What a great deal!

  • Kelly August 20, 2018

    Wow, you have a lot of life changes going on.
    All of these fit into most flat rectangular lunch boxes. They unfortunately don't fit into the ones that are more square based and stand up with or without the zipper portion on the bottom.

    I have a few suggestions for bento boxes, if you'd like.
    these first ones are great for most things, they are on the cheaper side but hold up really well. The only downside is that you can't have any saucy things in them or they may leak into other sections.

    These next ones are more expensive but, last through a lot of drops and dishwasher trips. The smaller sections can have yogurt or apple sauce added to them and they usually wont leak into other sections even if stored on its side while being carried or in a bag/locker.

    This last one is my favorite, but also the most expensive. I have very slowly grown my collection and only purchase with swagbucks GC's. These ones are truly leakproof between each section and I have had some very runny things in the containers. The little tiny circle holder is great for homemade salad dressing (that I have to get out with a spoon because you can't remove it to pour on the salad - my only caveat with these containers). They too last after being dropped on far too many occasions to remember and run through the dishwasher hundreds of times. These are also available on their website for the same price but have a few more options and a coupon code if you sign up with your email. In the "other" section, you can find just plane inserts and cases for a little bit cheaper which I have done as I don't care about the designs. They also have several different sizes and insert options. The one I have linked is my personal favorite for its size and flexibility to include a sandwich or salad or use silicone muffin liners with a homemade lunchable.

  • I really, really appreciate your reviews. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. If I had had more time to plan, I would have bought different lunch boxes that were a bit larger. I am going to have to look for some smaller bento boxes as they are all too big, but I like hearing what you like and don't like. I definitely want to be able to send sauces and dressings when we start having lettuce in the garden again.

  • Erika August 20, 2018

    Keep an eye out on the Pottery Barn kids site for nice lunch boxes for cheap. I wait until the previous style goes out of the catalogs toward winter and manage to find one of two styles for 5.00 or so. Great quality lunch boxes and for cheap definitely worth it. For lunch containers I go with the Rubbermaid containers with the stacking lids. I find they manage to keep most things from leaking (so long as the kid is on tight) are dishwasher safe, are microwavable and the containers and kids stack for easy storage. I'm not on space savers :),.

  • Jennifer C in Phoenix, AZ August 21, 2018


    I bought these lunch boxes for my kids this year, as we had a need for a bigger size, and better insulation. So far, they love them.


  • Michelle August 21, 2018

    Hi Brandy,

    I don't know if you've said which kids are in school. I bought this bentgo box for one of my sons when he was going into kindergarten:

    I like the box because he only has to open 1 thing, but my son always complains that his lunchbox is too heavy (by the time I add an ice pack & the bentgo box).
    As you choose something, be sure to check the weight of the item (especially if it is for younger kids). A heavy lunchbox + lots of books can be too much for a child to carry.

    My kids actually seem to like these Rubbermaid Lunch Blox kits & they are much lighter & cheaper. They come with the ice & the boxes all lock together & on the ice too:


    Some kinds are very inexpensive add-on items if you are ordering $25 in other things. If you have a Kroger affiliate, they often clear them out at a great price when the school supplies start going on clearance too.

    Like others, I'd love to hear the story behind your big change. Good luck to all - I hope it's a good change for all!

  • Nancy Lotzer August 21, 2018

    Dollar Tree has very small containers 10 for $1. Both round and rectangular. Not leak proof but fine if they stay relatively flat. Nice size for raisins and nuts, small carrot sticks with dip at the bottom, a few grapes, etc.

  • Athanasia August 21, 2018

    Kelly, I too liked the links. We have some bento type boxes that we use that aren't perfect. My daughter and I pack our lunches everyday and I use one for my husband too. His is for his snacks for the day...I fill it with cheese and crackers, fruit, muffins, cookies, trail mix, etc. He basically snacks all morning, comes home for lunch and then snacks in the afternoon. Fortunately he can work it all off. I have a couple thermoses left from the kids school days where you freeze the lid and it keeps the contents cold.

  • Steph August 22, 2018

    I can also attest to how good (the last link) these lunch boxes are. I know of a friend who has been using the same one with her children for 5+years now and they still look as good as new.

  • Marcia R. August 22, 2018

    Having covered lunch boxes, I will warn about the annoyance of schools who encourage kids to sell fund raiser items. They reward the ones who sell the most, and the stuff is usually overpriced and lacking in quality. I do not want to buy $3 worth of wrapping paper for $20 and often just send a contribution instead. If I were to do it again, I would just say no to such selling or at least limit it to Girl Scouts or one thing only. It is a royal pain and it happens way too often. The items are usually garbage to begin with. Forewarned is forearmed!

  • Robyn Nalley August 22, 2018

    I suggest looking up School Spirit Vending for your school to raise funds. Absolutely no work on the parents or teachers part to raise these funds. A sticker machine is placed in the school with a custom sticker for your school and other fun stickers. The kids bring their quarters to school and buy the stickers. I believe the school receives 25% from the profits. There are also franchise opportunities for anyone interested in a side business.

  • Rhonda A. August 23, 2018

    Marcia, I agree with you. The fundraisers always killed me for costs and there were a lot of them. So when I was on parent coucil, I suggested, then ran a fundraiser that was seed packets (flower and veggie heritage seeds). In stead of giving the "top sellers" the prize of more seeds, we decided to donate them to the school, to use in their gardens at the school. I really liked it, because it was environmentally friendly, the heritage seeds were a great investment to offset the cost (which really wasn't that expensive in comparison to some of the stuff we were asked to buy), and the school received seeds that the children could plant in the school gardens!

  • Tina August 24, 2018

    I bought my son a two pack of containers like these at Ross for a couple of dollars. He takes salads to work and was using little plastic containers that made a mess, he loves these as they don't leak. https://amzn.to/2wbfpnZ

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018

    What a beautiful baby and an exquisite photo! Hamish is gorgeous!

  • Nikki October 17, 2018

    Agree, Hamish is adorable! Love his classic clothing!

  • Stephanie August 20, 2018

    Phew, that IS a big change! I've been there, although not with as many children; when my son was in fourth grade, I sent him to public school for the first time after homeschooling full time. I was a little teary sending him off, and he was more than a little nervous, but he loved it. He absolutely thrived there and now in high school, he's found his niche in choir and wants to become a choir director. I hope that your children's experiences are as positive!

    On the money saving front, I finished cleaning out the basement! That will save SO much money as we now know where all my husband's tools are (I collected them in one big bin; they had been scattered all over the place and he was constantly running out to replace things he couldn't find, eek). I found two knitted gifts in my knitting things in the basement, finished them up, and added one to my Christmas gift stash. I didn't have to purchase school supplies because we already had the folders, paper, notebooks, and pens and pencils that my son required.

    My son and I went to hear a local speaker at one of the area high schools, and we'll go hear another this Wednesday. Our schools here put on fabulous programs with authors, parenting experts and psychologists, etc, to help with parenting challenges, motivation, exposure to literature, etc. We're really lucky to live where we do, and I try to attend many of these events. I made two batches of muffins for my children's breakfasts and packed my son's lunches every day. I bought nothing at yard sales this week, mainly because I was feeling poorly and we stayed home instead. Despite that, it was a good week! We harvested a LOT of tomatoes this week, along with a small pumpkin, and we discovered yet another pumpkin growing out there. Those kind of surprises are always welcome!

    Have a great week, everyone! :)

  • Angela in Kentucky August 20, 2018

    May I ask why you chose to send three of your kids to public school at this point in time? Although I'm sure it is been overwhelming trying to teach all of them at home I was just wanting to know if there was some factor that played into all of this. It is extremely expensive today to send your children to public school. When I was going to school there was no Community wipes or markers or pens it was you brought your own. I am shocked on how much it cost parents just for those things for their children. Then we have the teachers that I think go way overboard in things that they demand of their students like certain colored folders, pens, type of paper, etc. I am hoping all goes well with your kids in public school and it provides you with more time for yourself and to take care of your wonderful household.

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