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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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  • S August 22, 2018

    Sometimes even for very frugal people costs are not the key factor when making decisions.

    I actually believe that the author of this blog must have been on the edge to do this decision anyway. Let´s give her some room and try not to make her burdens heavier than these already are.

  • Cindy S. August 22, 2018

    I often wonder if teachers request so many things because they know not everyone will be able to do it. Then they have enough for everybody.

  • Kristin August 26, 2018

    As a teacher we have a limited supply list for our grade level. However, on the request of specific colors...I teach elementary and it is SO much easier to say to them “please pull out your red reading notebook” than it is to have them looking through their notebooks to figure out which is labeled for what subject. Anything that isn’t brought in or donated I have to purchase. We get no money to purchase needed supplies... and tissues, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes are not supplied.

  • Rhonda A. August 20, 2018

    Wow, I'm so surprised to read that some of your children were attending school this year, Brandy! I'm curious what made you come to this decision? You seem to really love homeschooling your children. I agree, buying supplies last minute would be rather expensive. Had you had more time, you could have sewed lunch bags, watch more closely for sales on the things you needed and possibly found coupons to save you a bit of money. At least some of those supplies are reusable and will hopefully last more than 1 year. Anyways, I wish your children much success in their new school adventures!

    After a summer full of stifling heat with high humidity, we finally had a thunderstorm roll through that brought cooler, more seasonable temperatures this weekend. Whoohooo, fall it on it's way!!!!! This week, our frugal accomplishments for our family included:
    *Meals made at home included BBQ hamburgers & hotdogs with homemade coleslaw, cheese & spinach ravioli with tomato sauce and coleslaw, tacos (meat only this time), hot chicken sandwiches with mixed veggies, and breaded chicken burgers/patties with corn on the cob.
    *My mom and I had an appointment booked close to dinner time, so opted to buy a rotisserie chicken dinner from the grocery store. The leftover carcass was frozen for making broth later.
    *I cooked up the bean sprouts left over from making fried rice on the weekend, to avoid them going bad. DD discovered she loves bean sprouts with soya sauce! I will happily buy more on occasion (they were just over $1 for a good sized bag) as they are a very healthy option for her to eat. If her love for them continues, I may try learning to sprout my own. I know from experience her love of certain foods can be short lived. There is no point in buying a bag of mung beans, only to have her turn around and refuse to eat bean sprouts!
    *Took DD with me to the bulk barn when I needed to pick up some pickling spice. I offered to buy her some healthy snacks of her choice as a treat. She picked out 4 different dried fruits to try (strawberries, apple rings, banana chips and mango). It was quite expensive, but worth it if I can get DD to eat more healthy options. This has been a problem this summer. We divided the dried fruit, mixed together, between 7 baggies and will be allowed 1 baggie as a treat per day. I think I might buy some dried fruit for stocking stuffers at Christmas!
    *Harvested dill heads from the garden, that had gone to seed. Collected the dill seeds in preparation for making dill pickles this coming week. Not sure if we will get much else from our garden, as the wildlife are feasting on pretty much everything at this point (the deer even eat the green tomatoes right off the vines).
    *Signed DD up for 3 free cooking classes through Autism Ontario. She will participate in 1 per month for September, October and November. I'm hoping she will try new foods and maybe find some healthy recipes she likes!
    *I made applesauce at work this week, from the small apples pick from the wild apple trees in the village. I brought maple syrup from home, to use to sweeten it (the 1st settlers would not have had access to cane sugar, but learned about maple syrup from the natives in the area). At the same time, I boiled the peels/cores in another pot, then strained the juice off and saved it to make apple jelly another day. What I thought would be an easy demo, turned into an all day event. It took me all morning to pick, peel and quarter enough small apples to make a half decent pot full. Several people commented that I should use an apple peeler, to which I reminded them 1st settlers would not have had those. I had help from several co-workers, who got my fire going, sharpened my extremely dull paring knife and fetched some soapy water for washing things up. Then it took me all afternoon to boil it down over an open fire. I finally gave up and left it as chunky applesauce. My co-workers said it was excellent applesauce. Really made me appreciate modern day kitchens, though!:p
    *The next time I worked, I attempted to make the apple jelly. Something went wrong, but ended up so right...I made caramel instead! Don't know if I could do it again, but it sure tastes amazing! I've never been so happy with a mistake in all my life. I'm planning to using it to make caramel apples for all the staff, as an end of season treat. ;)
    *Free things I received through work this week: Popcorn, 2 ripe tomatoes, various treats made in village, and a totally unexpected 3 days off in a row.
    *I currently have 2 Visa credit cards, both with low limits. One of the cards had a credit on it (they owed me money), due to some returns, but ultimately I want to get rid of this card eventually (leaving it for now as the history of payments on that card helps my credit rating). The other I am trying to use just a little bit each month, then pay of the balance, to build up a credit payment history. Last month hubby went into the bank and asked them to pay of the balance on the one credit card. The bank made a mistake, and applied the payment to the credit card that had a credit on it already, thus I had a non-payment on the other card! When I received my Visa statement and noticed the amount they owed me increased on the card from before, I realized what happened and immediately called. They were able to transfer the entire credit owing from the one card to the other card and reverse the non-payment plus the interest that occurred because of their mistake. Bonus, the credit transferred covered everything I owed on the other card, plus I now have a small credit on that card, so we don't have to do any payment this month!

    Looking forward to reading all your frugal success, downfalls and everything in between! Have a great week, everyone!

  • Heidi Louise August 20, 2018

    I hope DD finds more foods she likes to eat!
    Of all the things I would do differently for my now-adult autistic son, teaching him to eat a variety of healthy foods tops the list. I could not know how patiently helping him as a child would be so important now, for his weight, his health, and his overall independence.

  • Rhonda A. August 20, 2018

    My daughter also has weight issues, which is why I focus on trying to improve her eating habits. I am preparing for the possibility that she will require living off government disability, which is not a lot of money each month. So I am trying to teach her how to cook with inexpensive, but healthy food options before she is living on her own. As you know, it takes a long time to teach these concepts to Autistic kids. Just hope she gets there before she moves into her adult years!

  • mable August 20, 2018

    Rhonda, I am always so impressed and humbled by how patient you are with your daughter who has autism. I lack the patience when it comes to dealing with a relative with autism and find it very difficult not to make my impatience visible. I find myself wondering if I am not indulging him too much, attributing behaviors to his diagnosis when really he is just being obnoxious. Then I am ashamed of myself. I find it helpful to read your entries. Your daughter is lucky.

  • Rhonda A. August 20, 2018

    Yep, Autistic people can be naturally obnoxious. They don't realize they are, but they are. What helps is to understand why they do the things they do. Usually it is a self preservation thing, not an "I like to annoy you" thing. It really does help you to be more patient when you understand their logical reasoning (which is very different than our logical reasoning) behind the behaviour. For instance, my teenage daughter HATES clothes shopping. Clothing is irritating and annoying to her touch sensory, so the idea of trying on a bunch of clothes is equivalent to us putting on extremely scratchy wool clothing and wearing it for hours in extreme heat. She will fight me on going every single time, complain loudly/rudely in the stores and beg me constantly to take her go home. It's obnoxious...but I make her suffer through it about twice a year (school clothes and summer clothes), so I know about what size to get her and have an idea of what styles/colours she gravitates towards. After I know, often I finish up clothes shopping without her. I usually buy multiples of the same pants and pick out shirts I know she would like that are comfy. Because in reality, I'm not always so patient...she's really good at wearing it thin and jumping up and down on my last nerve!:p

  • Lillianna pickles August 20, 2018

    Rhonda, I appreciate your honest and truthful posts. Sugar cookie has so few issues but the ones she does have are doozies. On top of the ones she has, socialization is a huge issue. She has very few options to be friends with anyone now that she is out of school. Resources are almost nonexistent here. I try hard to promote her friendship with the young man she has known 10 years. He is on the the spectrum and I have to really work at it to take both of them out for time together. I constantly find myself reminding myself that these two adults in front of me must often be handled very gently. My favorites are the boys very inappropriate comments in public that he thinks no one else understands. Although a struggle at times, they are both my joy. The boy is a genius in so many areas. He reads a manual and never forgets it. He does all my household repairs. This week ,we are off to the movie theater with free movie tickets. I will patiently sit on a bench inside and read while I wait.

  • Athanasia August 21, 2018

    Rhonda, can you put up deer netting around your garden? It is not cheap but it reusable for years. It comes in rolls probably 7 feet tall and attach it to metal stakes or wooden poles. Sometimes when animals and birds are eating at things like tomatoes and cucumbers they are actually thirsty because their sources of water are drying up or they can't get to them. Even if you can only wall off your tomatoes.

  • Rhonda A. August 22, 2018

    It has certianly crossed my mond that I should look at some sort of netting for the garden. This was my first year putting in the raised garden beds, which were pricy. I'm thinking my next step will be to look into buying something like this. Do you have a suggestion of what to look for? I'm in Canada, otherwise I would ask where to find it.:p

  • Athanasia August 22, 2018

    Rhonda, I am pretty sure it is just called deer netting so your local farm store probably has it. It is black and plastic, flexible. I googled and it looks like you do have Lowe's and Home Depot in Ontario. So a store similar to that.

    I wonder if you could tack it along one long side of the raised bed then bend it over and tack to the other side. At the short ends put up a 4 foot or so stake, attach the top of the peak to that stake. Tack the long sides so that you can lift up one side or the other to access your bed. Chicken wire would work also but that gets pretty bent up with a lot of movement.

    Mother Earth News website often has many good ideas.

  • Melissa V August 27, 2018

    This is where I got the idea for some of my raised garden beds. http://swingncocoa.blogspot.com/2013/04/covered-green-house.html PVC is relatively cheap as is "chicken wire" (actually this time of year, many frustrated gardeners list their fencing/supplies on Craigslist, often for free). Hinging them would still give you access but the fencing would keep the buggers out of your plants. I have used it on both square and rectangular - I don't have a deer problem and used the pvc piping as a base for a trellis for my cukes and cherry tomatoes.

  • Marybeth August 24, 2018

    Leave out a bowl of fresh water where they are picking at your vegetables. They are probably thirsty and will drink the water instead.

  • Rhonda A. August 25, 2018

    We have a water canal a very short distance from where we live (maybe 5 minute walk through the unused field behind our house). If the deer were thirsty, there's plenty of places to get water. We have doe's in the area who have twin fawns nearly every year. I think the mom's bring their babies to feed in our garden, because it's safe and easy access.

  • Robert August 21, 2018

    Easiest way to use up a card where they owe you money is gas.Lets say they owe you an odd amount you just walk up to the cashier and say whatever odd amount is on the card like37.82 they punch it in and like magic you an get rid of the card when your ready no new balance to pay not even one cent

  • Rhonda A. August 22, 2018

    In this case, I was just holding on to that balance owed until I wanted to buy something from Amazon or a bigger ticket item (they owed me over $400 from Amazon returns). It was a Visa credit card, not a gift card. Now the balance owed is on the card I use more frequently (which I used for maybe 1 purchase each month, then payed off to build up credit rating), so it will get used probably in the next month or two.

  • Julie Walker August 20, 2018

    I saved old wood to make a raised bed and tiny pots for seedlings. I usually return pots to Lowe's for recycling. I went to a yard sale with a friend for the first time this summer, and I bought a beautiful large picture of Jesus and the woman at the well for $1. I was surprised to see it was from Home Interiors. I also got a pretty shirt with an attached loose sweater and a jacket for $1 each. I hate to wear coats. Then we went out to eat at Subway and used a coupon that was buy one, get one free. That was a treat since I don't eat out much.

  • Carol S. August 20, 2018

    Dear, Dear Brandy, I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and this is my first post. You have my total admiration. After reading this last post I was exhausted for you. You are amazing. And you have beautiful babies. I love reading all the posts and learning more about frugal living and meal prep. As old as I am, I always learn something.

  • Carolyn August 20, 2018

    I love this comment!! I so agree.

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