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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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  • It was SO weird having a list and having to find such specific things. Normally I just buy the few things we need. I only had purchased a few rulers and erasers for this year. My daughter's school wanted the big pink erasers, which I never buy (I get the white Pentel ones). It was just different.

  • Amalia@AHousewifeWrites August 20, 2018

    What a cutie! :)

    Life is moving too fast this month to keep good track of everything! However, we hosted our first church get-together, and instead of the usual "everyone bring money and we'll buy pizzas" dinner, I decided to have a taco bar, where everyone brought a topping or two. So much cheaper and less hassle! I got several compliments on the good idea.
    I'm expecting a delivery today of some short-dated food (from a Mennonite co-op of sorts) which includes 5# of shredded cheese for $10, roast beef for $2 a pound, and a 1/2 gallon of coconut milk for $1.
    My dehydrator is running around the clock, at the moment drying comfrey and elderberries. Garden harvest continues to be my all-consuming "hobby"--last week was pickled okra, relish, dill pickles. Today looks to be a good one for harvesting beets and freezing green peppers.

  • Piggykr August 20, 2018

    First of all CONGRATULATIONS to the kids going to public school! They will love it I'm sure. And it is good to hear they've signed up for extracurriculars. That's where all the fun is, right?? Also, you did a fantastic job on the babies picture. He's gorgeous and growing well.

    This week has been hectic with back to school. It's actually mid school year here as we begin in March. But nonetheless there was alot of running around making sure we had all the needed supplies. I've mostly stayed home because I haven't started work again myself. However, we found a few ways to make our dollar stretch:
    *I hung up all the laundry to dry. Even bed sheets. This isn't easy as we live in an apartment without a balcony.
    *I cooked beans and made a loaf of bread.
    *We ate most of our meals at home.
    *A client gave us a box of grapes.
    *A friend came to town on business and we went out and played Pokemon go. We also prepared water bottles.
    *I met a friend at Starbucks. I had a free cup of water instead of ordering coffee. I don't like their coffee anyway and I was there for less than 5 minutes.
    *I crocheted a dishrag to practice stitches. There are a few mistakes but it works to clean.
    *I'm making a baby poncho with yarn friends gave to me.
    *I traded some unwanted lotion for a package of bread mix.
    *My son read two books about pancakes and so we made some together.
    *We went to a free splash pad one day with friends. We took snacks and water with us.
    *We went to a community pool as a family.
    *I organized a swap.
    *I saw in the recycling someone had thrown a couple boxes of crayons and some random kids' toys. I decided to dumpster dive with my son and came home with an Ikea bag full of lego and lego type blocks, two life jackets, and some random things I'll add to my prize bags. A google search told us that one of the sets sold for $40. Hopefully we can find the instructions and all the pieces are there. The life jackets will go to charity. The three boxes of crayons will be saved for future use. One box was brand new.
    *I had some wilty lettuce that I soaked in water and gave to the guinea pigs.
    *We spent many days on the playground with friends.
    *My son went to a movie with his aunt one day.

  • These are the regular elective classes, not extras after school. Payment is required, whether they take Spanish, Orchestra, band, yearbook, or are a student aide or cafeteria worker.

  • PIggykr August 20, 2018

    I've never heard of that before! I guess school has changed a lot since I was there. When I was a students electives were required each year but there was no set fee. However, you might have had to buy the equipment ie, musical instruments, sports shoes, art supplies, etc. I hope whatever they chose they like it for the year. :-)
    I have a first grader and we skipped the after school extracurricular programs. We are already busy with martial arts, a tutor, piano lessons, and foreign language classes that we couldn't manage anymore.

  • Anne August 20, 2018

    Yikes! I never heard of payment for electives. One would think that the Las Vegas school system would be quite wealthy with tax money from casinos.

  • JT August 20, 2018

    Here in KS you pay for electives too!

  • Rose August 20, 2018

    I wonder if the fees have anything to do with the fact that Nevada doesn't have a state income tax. My brother lives in a state with no sales tax and he has to pay similar school fees as well as an additional collection with property taxes.

  • Tejas August 21, 2018

    It is very sobering to realize school systems in some states are, in effect, systematically denying economically diadvantaged youth the arts and even electives that could provide training for future employment and economic security. Surely, there is some kind of assistance for lower-income students? In Texas, there are no such fees. In fact, many high schools here sre beginning to "specialize" in certain fields of study, and students sre encouraged to pick a "major" by 10th grade. For too many students, school is the only place they are exposed to the arts, but it is totally free, except for costume, instrument, and uniform rentals.

  • Athanasia August 21, 2018

    I know they call them electives here but that only means that you choose for example between French and Spanish and German and between art or music or foods or clothing, shop, metals etc etc. They are real classes necessary for graduation in addition to the core classes. We did not pay for them though different classes may have different fees or cost associated with them. When a family fills out the financial aid disclosures at registration they may end up being exempt from (or get reduced) fees for lunches, and the class fees. The same with the athletic fees. I think it is an acceptable system...if you can afford the fees you pay them.

  • Neo August 22, 2018

    I do not know the reality of the US, so might be wrong.
    The news is 2010 and 2013.
    Not free, after all: Public school fees add up
    Why Does It Cost Almost $600 to Attend Public School?
    Public Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees

  • dawnelle August 20, 2018

    Hope the kids all enjoy their new school! I homeschooled when my kids were younger and they're all in public schools (and universities) now.

  • Laurie in central NC August 20, 2018

    I love the story of the lunch bread, and think it's wonderful that little girl is learning about Moms who make bread. Our grandaughter spent a few days with us. We picked garden produce, shelled beans, took lots of walks, read, and did some sewing. Your bouquet is lovely, even with sparse pickings. We gave away tromboncino squash last week. Also tried to give away concord grapes and okra, but no takers. I took a green bean dish to share at a family reunion. Books were requested from the library, which I hope to pick up tomorrow. I look forward to reading everyone's comments. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2018/08/more-mushroom-adventures-frugal.html

  • Gardenpat August 20, 2018

    Wow! Big changes at your house! If I’m not being nosy, were the 3 children you sent to public school your older ones? To me, that would seem like the most challenging to homeschool while also homeschooling the younger ones at the same time. But I marvel at how well you seem to have done to this point! I wouldn’t have had the dedication or organization to have homeschooled our 11!

    This week a dear friend that lives in a neighboring city that I met onl8ne in a pantry group and then in person two years ago, gifted me a big box (25 pounds?) of celery, 4-1/2 dozen ears of corn and 4 ten pound bags of potatoes! I am so excited! I chopped the celery up and filled my Excalibur dehydrator twice ! The big box dehydrated down to 2 half gallon mason jars that I vacuum sealed and put on my pantry shelf! https://pin.it/xmeqata3m5gjnq

    The trimmings and toss away parts of the corn and celery went to my chickens (which they will convert into eggs for us!!) and our composter to use in the garden!
    The corn fit into 8 quart freezer bags and we will certainly enjoy that during the winter months!! https://pin.it/unb3zl3ln5bxil
    We will enjoy some potatoes fresh, make frozen French fries with some and dehydrate diced potato chunks for use in our dry dinner mixes we make!
    What an awesome friend! I gave her a big bag of cheese rolls and 3 bags of bagels as a thank you! Her family has been enjoying those!
    Another online friend was looking for some fabric scraps with roses and so today she will be receiving a big priority mail box filled with scraps and a lot of yardage from my fabric stash! One of the nicest things about having an abundant food pantry and fabric stash is, besides using it to benefit my own family, I can share with others!
    I pulled out 5 pound boneless pork loin and slow cooked it in the crockpot to add BBQ sauce to for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches which we enjoyed for dinner and have had as lunches and leftovers!

    The scrappy bag that I made using a free online tutorial got modified and I made a couple different sizes than the original and a couple friends have now ordered 5 bags from me so that will be an unexpected little stream of money coming in this week! With that encouragement, I will make up more and list them on my Facebook business page for sale and see what happens!
    A friend who is DIY-ing at her house to prepare it for sale asked if anyone would cut her baseboards because her miter saw had died. We offered as friends to do it and she insisted on bringing dinner and dessert over to us as a thank you plus she gave us oak trim that we will use for another project!
    After this week, I am ready and would love to go back to a bartering society! It just leaves us with such good feelings!!
    This afternoon we meet with a financial analyst at work to see if we are prepared adequately to retire in May! I’ve done the worksheets and it looks quite do-able but I want no surprises when we make this change! Wish us luck!!
    Hope everyone else is having a frugal week!,

  • I sent a first-grader, a seventh grader, and an eighth grader.

  • Becky August 20, 2018

    I think your house has been a whirlwind this week! Go Brandy!! School starts so early there. We, too, have always looked at each child as an individual and done which ever schooling option seems to work best for them. I applaud you for doing that, even though changes can often be difficult. But, you will get into a routine. My youngest daughter will start the day after Labor Day. We took her down and did the "Taking Care of Business Day" at the new school and $138 later...she was all signed up and ready to start there. Wow! They absolutely will not bus her, we checked, but it is over a mile and a half to the new school, along a very busy road and she has to be in her seat by 7:30 am, which would cause her to be wandering around out there in the dark and rain once the days get shorter, so we will have to drive her each and every day. Twice.

    In the meanwhile, I am getting ready to do one last year of homeschool for my niece and am thinking about which things to order, etc. I told my sister I would just order what we needed and send her the bill, so that's easy for me. I'll keep the cost down, but money is not really an issue for them, so I'll get what I need.

    We had a busy week because a family member was admitted to the hospital and we all took turns spending time down there with them. I stayed very frugal there, though, because I took my own food with me and the hospital was only about 10-15 minutes away from my house. Truly, I was more afraid to eat the hospital food because of my severe gluten sensitivity than anything else, but it turned out to save me a lot of money as other family members had to go off and eat at the hospital cafeteria and I just grabbed my food from my bag. The patient was discharged after several days, and will be just fine now. Whew!

    In the meanwhile, I had an enormous amount of produce to deal with, from my garden and from my sister's garden and orchard. I sent my husband and youngest camping/rock collecting/fishing with one of my husband's best friends and had a food preservation weekend. Here: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/08/19/food-preservation-weekend-august-2018/

    Then, on Sunday, when I had fully planned to take a nap and relax, I checked the peaches that I had picked only the day before and a bunch of them were ready to can! Yikes!! They should have taken a couple of days at least to ripen fully, but it's been pretty warm. I ended up working on them during the afternoon. It's not what I had planned, but I was glad I had checked them. I sure didn't want to lose them. I did the ones that absolutely had to be done, and the rest are still out there for tonight when I get home. (It's my day to spend with the recovering patient--we are all taking turns over there for the next week at least).

    My husband covered almost all of the hours taking care of our nephew and niece this week, so the paycheck will be the same, despite the crisis. We did take an afternoon and take daughter and nephew over to the beach as promised, we just left later in the day. They dug in the sand and had a ball. Pictures are on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-august-19-2018/

    It was a crazy week, but ended well. I am kind of hoping the next one will be a little quieter. I do have a lot of produce to deal with, but am gaining on the pile of boxes and buckets that are still sitting around here. I love this season of filling the cupboard and freezers.

    I did have to go shopping at last. In the past 5 weeks, I've spent about $150, but $60 was yesterday when I realized that I was out of so much and Rob and Patsy would be arriving home last night to an empty fridge:). I mean except peaches, peaches, peaches! And soup. Those are what I've been living on the last 3 days:). I got things like bread, milk, eggs, 2 chickens, etc. and can go for quite a while on what I got when I add in the garden produce.

  • Athanasia August 21, 2018

    Becky, my peaches ripened awfully fast too and I had to pack them all into the refrigerator to give me an extra day to get to them. Must be the weather.

  • Diane August 20, 2018

    Brandy, you may want to look into your school district’s free or reduced price lunch program. Several of the states we have lived in also offered free or reduced price breakfasts.
    Congratulations on making such a big decision!

  • Karen August 20, 2018

    Such a beautiful picture of your baby! Sounds like you have had a stressful week - hang in there! Back to school time is hard enough when you've had the summer to plan for it. I hope the kids have a great year!

    We had a fairly frugal week. I split my grocery shopping into two trips this week - our Fred Meyer (local Kroger affiliate) has been doing an extensive (and annoying) remodel, and they sent me four coupons for $10 off a $40 purchase. I've mostly switched to Winco at this point, but I pulled up my digital coupons and made a list of just $40 worth of things that I needed at Fred Meyer and picked those up. Saved 46% with coupons on that shopping trip! Then I got the rest of the things I needed at Winco. It worked well and I'll do that for the next few weeks until my coupons run out.

    Took my daughter shoe shopping for school. On Facebook, I was lamenting the difficulty of buying large women's shoes for a 9-year-old (she wears an 11, so finding appropriate shoes in a style she'll wear is next to impossible), and several friends immediately said they would look for hand-me-downs that would work for her. We did manage to find a pair of sneakers for half price at one store and a pair of boots that weren't too expensive at another.

    We harvested a few cherry tomatoes from the garden. I have tons of tomatoes but they are taking their own sweet time ripening!

    We mainly ate at home, only got take-out once. I took leftovers for lunch most days and froze some others to eat in the future. My boss took the team out for lunch one day so I got a free meal.

    My nine-year-old is in the kitchen making herself some play-dough as I type this. :-)

  • I should make some homemade playdough with my 8 and 10-year-olds. I have never had the children make it and they and my 2-year-old would love it. I am teaching these two daughters to cook more now with our school change and this would be fun for them.

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