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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I spent the first part of the week organizing things to run as smoothly as possible for the end of the week, as I had surgery on Thursday to remove cancer from my head. It was growing in my hair next to my part, a place where I don't usually put sunscreen. I'll have stitches for the next three weeks and I imagine I'll have a swollen face for at least this week. One way I'll save this week is by not wearing any makeup, because it's a bit impossible right now! 

To save money this past week, I did the following:

I baked a carrot cake in a 9 x 13 pan. I didn't have cream cheese on hand to make icing, so I lightly dusted it with powdered sugar instead.

Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut red noodle beans, Armenian cucumbers, rosemary, Genovese basil, chives, and green onions from the garden. I picked some teeny-tiny cherry tomatoes from the garden as well to use in a pasta salad. They are so tiny that I put a slice of olive in with them so you can see how little they are; they are the size of blueberries! The heat we have here in summer makes them stop flowering, or if they do flower (these are in afternoon shade and just started flowering recently) they are still super tiny because of the heat.

Sun Gold Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

The Armenian cucumbers do well in our heat, growing huge. I still don't get a lot of them when it's really hot, so I am happy to have them grow to great lengths, as they don't get bitter like other cucumbers and can grow as long as my arm. This means I have a lot of cucumbers to eat but not always enough to make pickles (as sometimes just one or two are ripe). This week we ate them sliced thin in vinegar, cut into sticks and dipped in ranch dip made with Greek yogurt, put in green salads, and chopped in pasta salad.

I went to the library and checked out a large number of books with my three youngest daughters and my 2-year-old son.

I opened the windows and doors in the early mornings to cool down the house for a couple of hours each morning.

I used my solar oven to cook three meals. One of the things I cooked was a large batch of pinto beans. I made bean burritos one day with them. I made a huge pan of bean enchiladas with them another day, which we ate over three days. My corn tortillas were a little old (so they would break rather than roll), so I made the enchiladas lasagna-style, layering the tortillas flat instead and layering the filling between with three layers of tortillas. I also find this is a great way to make enchiladas when you don't have enough tortillas, as it uses just 18 corn tortillas in a 10 x 13 pan. You'll need more filling, but if you're using beans for all or part of it, it is still quite frugal.

When I cooked baked potatoes, I cooked enough to have leftovers for the next day. I usually cook 10 pounds for our family, but recently we have upped it to 15 pounds at a time, saving gas for the oven (and not heating up the house) and giving us more leftovers. Leftover baked potatoes cook really quickly as cubed potatoes on the stovetop with onions for breakfast, a great side dish to a fried egg or two. It also means use you can use less oil (I only use a couple of tablespoons for a 5-quart pan full of potatoes) which means less money and fewer calories.

My son went to a thrift store with his uncle. He found a pair of cowboy boots there that he liked. One boot was priced at $35 and the other at $15. He tok them up to the register and asked how much. They told him $5, so he bought himself a pair of boots.

My mom went to a couple of community garage sales and picked up a few items for me, including a polo shirt for my eldest son ($2) and ten brand-new wide mouth quart-sized canning jars for $0.40 each.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  • Ellie's friend October 04, 2018

    Elizabeth, thanks for info that H & W are now in Calgary. Unfortunately, they are in the NE which is a long way for me. Their special look good but their price for russet potatoes is the same for 10 pounds as Co-op's sale price this week. If i ever get to the NE, I'll go there for sure. Ann

  • Sandy O'Neill October 01, 2018

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Cindi October 01, 2018

    I pray that your recovery is swift and painless, Brandy.
    A very busy week here. I had three (routine) doctor’s appointments and needed to catch up on commitments I missed while we were away.
    I baked bread and hamburger buns. I, like you, cooked a big patch of pinto beans.
    I picked apples from a tree on the roadside to make into sauce. They were little apples and I only got 3 pints of sauce from them, but it was delicious.
    I picked almost a quart of wild rose hips to make rose hip syrup.
    I cut cattails from the roadside to use in an arrangement in the house.
    I harvested Swiss chard, celery, mint, raspberries, and tomatoes from the garden. I also collected arugula and lettuce seed from plants I had purposely let go to seed. I never saved seeds before I started reading this blog! I planted garlic, lettuce, arugula, and carrots.
    I shared chard and collards with a neighbor.
    I made muffins for breakfast one morning and instead of using purchased muffin tin liners, I made my own from 5” squares of parchment.

  • Athanasia October 02, 2018

    Cindi, I was taught years ago by my Grandma that liners were just for cupcakes, not for muffins. I have never used a liner for a muffin. Not sure of her reasoning...never asked. It was just one of those things I noticed that the cupcake store we visited with son and daughter in law in their town used squares of colored parchment paper rather than premade liners. Looked nice.

  • Marcia R October 02, 2018

    I learned the same -- I think in grade school. I never use papers for muffins either, although I have a new recipe for blueberry muffins where I did use them after making them the first time. They were so cake-like that it was hard to remove them from the tin without smooshing them. It worked better with papers. I use spray oil to grease the muffin cups for other muffins and they pop right out. Might save a few pennies here and there!

  • Athanasia October 03, 2018

    Marcia, yes, liners are getting more expensive also. I buy mine at the bulk store in packs of 500. Those are very reasonable. About 1 1/2 cents apiece if I remember right. But no fancy colors or holiday theme. Just plain white. They don't always have them, being the nature of the store.

    Muffins are just more dense than a cupcake, so we always grease or spray the tins and when they are done I bang them on the side and they fall out onto a towel. Cupcakes are just too delicate to do that.

  • Cindi October 03, 2018

    My mother never used paper liners for anything, but I find cooking at altitude (8000 feet above sea level) that everything sticks if I don't use the muffin liners.

  • Jennifer O. October 03, 2018

    Be on the lookout for the silicone liners. They work great for cupcakes or muffins - or egg cups or mini meatloaves.... They're washable and reusable. I've had my set for nearly 10 years.

  • Sheena October 12, 2018


    I agree about the silicone ones. They are great. Easily found in charity shops here in the UK.

  • Diana in Indiana October 01, 2018
      I bought some garage sale toys for my granddaughter. My son doesn't have many toys at his house for her so he asked if he could take them home with him. So I will keep looking for both his toy box and mine. I work in a professional dress office and was able to find a new jacket regular $60 for just $10. I was able to get several more days use out of the bottle of shower soap and toothpaste by cutting them open. I meal planned and only bought exactly what was needed. (two onions instead of a big bag, etc). This saved me $30. I packed lunches everyday from leftovers. The weather is perfect right now so I have all the windows wide open. I cut the amount of laundry soap and softener in half and it still gets our clothes clean. We got some free broken pallets to use as firewood if we hauled it away. I accepted some free tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini from the neighbor's garden. Got a free flu shot at work.
  • Becky October 01, 2018

    I'm glad your surgery is over, and I will pray for your speedy recovery.

    I love the story of the cowboy boots! I'm happy that your son got them for such a great deal:)

    I, too, love making enchilada casserole. It's easier. This must have been a good week for pinto beans. My husband came across a really good deal--$18 for 50 pounds, so he bought them. I made a huge batch of refried beans, which we ate some of and froze the rest for later. We love them. 50 pounds is an awful lot for our family, which is quite small these days, so I will likely share some of them. I figure that when our monthly turn comes up to feed the college-aged kids at church, they will come in handy for a large batch of chili, for one. I did make a big nacho for the extended family to eat on Sunday, along with their hamburgers.

    You must burn through bags and bags of potatoes! Hopefully, they will come onto a good sale in your area pretty soon. It's the right time of year.

    I continued working in the garden, both harvesting and cleaning up. Some pictures of things I harvested are on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-september-30-2018/

    It was an exceptionally busy week with our work with the kids, so I was basically running 2 households--cooking, cleaning, eating, etc. in both places, so I was tired on the weekend and didn't get as much done as I wanted. In fact, my nephew stayed over here and we spent quite a bit of time snuggling on the couch, with me reading his favorite books to him. He's on a roll with the author Carolyn Haywood, and wants the "Betsy" books constantly.

    This week will be a bit easier, as everyone is settling into routine, and the kids' parents don't have to work quite as much. One thing I did do is plan 2 weeks worth of menus, shop the sales and use Ibotta, and hopefully have what I need so I can skip next Friday's weekly shopping trip. I have some other things I'd like to do with my time that day.

    Friends brought another load of wood for us to burn this winter. It is dry, cut and split and they delivered it. They would not even take gas money, although we both offered several times. We are very grateful.

    I started a sewing project, and am having to adjust a pattern to fit my daughter, so spent quite a bit of time making a mock-up from muslin. I'm almost ready to cut the real fabric. This will be great for 2 reasons. The dress will fit, and we are saving quite a bit of money because I got a great deal on the fabric, using sales at JoAnn's.

  • Athanasia October 02, 2018

    Becky, don't you still have the 3 girls at home?

    We cook a lot of pinto beans too as it is so easy and they freeze up nice in containers as refried beans too.

  • Becky October 03, 2018

    The older 2 are in and out, as they pursue other interests, and our older one is most likely heading out on a new adventure soon--if things work out for her as she wishes, she will be moving out soon. Both the 2 older ones basically cook for themselves all the time or eat where they are, so I'm mostly cooking for my husband, myself and our youngest daughter, plus any cousins or other relatives who happen to be over, or I take food over there. But, those kids are super picky, due to their special needs, so they only eat certain foods. It's kind of simple and kind of complicated at the same time. As long as I stock the things they like--it's all good:). Their parents will eat beans, but the kids will not, where our youngest would eat them every single day, but she won't eat other things. They are all different in their tastes:)

  • Carolyn October 01, 2018

    Thank you so much for creating such a lovely website and blog. I know that when I come here, your entries and your readers responses will all be pleasant and kind. It's reassuring.

    I had been curious about your choice of Armenian cucumbers and the red noodle beans as they seem like unusual varieties to me. Do you grow red noodle beans because, like the cucumbers, that's what will grow in your climate or is it something else such as your family's preference or they take up less space?

    I'm praying for your quick recovery.

  • Long beans are recommended for growing in our heat. I have tried other kinds but they failed to flower and/or the plants burned to a crisp. I have grown long green beans too (Chinese yardlong) in the past. I may grow them again to add some more color to the plate, as the red ones turn black when cooked. They taste wonderful, but the two colors together is prettier on the plate.

  • Libby October 01, 2018

    I am so sorry that the biopsy turned out to be cancerous. Hope all was successfully removed and sending you wishes for a speedy recovery. I hope you are able to sleep with the stitches on top of your head. What a score on the cowboy boots!

    This covers two weeks:
    • I flew RT $470 Boston – Nice, France. Took two hour train ride to get to Boston and used credit card points to “erase” the charge. Took a two hour train ride in France to get to my friend’s house. Again used credit card points to “erase” the charge. Took the bus from Boston’s South Station to the airport for $2.75 going and free coming back. Arriving I also took the bus for $7.40 from the Nice airport to the Nice train station – saving close to $40 versus a taxi.
    • We went to a beach with free parking and free beach access. Since I was visiting an elderly friend we rented beach chaises but negotiated a reduced rate since we only planned to stay for two hours.
    • The next day we went back to the beach but sat on a wall that we had spotted the day before saving us the fee for renting beach chairs.
    • Shopped 2x at outdoor market for fruits and vegetables. Made all meals at home in France except for one.
    • Learned how to make authentic quiche Lorraine from scratch. Learned how to make potage des legumes soup and soupe de cresson (watercress).
    • Cashed in reward points and stayed for $3 at a five star hotel in Nice. Room service started at $24 for appetizers so I walked down the street and bought a take-out salad, drink and raspberry tart for $11.50.
    • Took the bus three times in Nice to get to different museums across town.
    • I usually bring back quality chocolate bars in unusual flavors as gifts for friends and family. The supermarche where I shopped had a promotion of buy 2, get 1 free on specific flavors. I paid for 10 bars of chocolate and got 5 free: pistachio, nougat, and crème brulee flavors.
    • Back in the USA, our local library had their annual book sale. Even though it is cheaper to borrow books, I love having my own copies. I bought 22 books for $38
    • Made cauliflower au gratin, stuffed tomatoes, and asparagus soup. Found a great deal on tomatoes so I experimented and dried them in the oven and then put into a jar with garlic, oregano, basil, and olive oil.

    Now I'm back to the reality of job searching again.

  • Cindi October 01, 2018

    Your trip sounds so wonderful! Thank you for sharing it with us -- for a few moments there, I had a little French vacation!

  • lillianna pickles October 01, 2018

    Libby, I wish you well in your search for a job. I enjoyed your post. It was like going on a mimi vacation thriugh your travels. It really lifted my spirits.

  • Libby October 01, 2018

    Thank you so much! It was a wonderful trip and I appreciate the good wishes for a fast job search :)

  • Ellie's friend from Canada October 01, 2018

    Amazing trip toFrance and your budget measures! How lovely! Incroyable! Ann

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