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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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  • Libby October 01, 2018

    Merci beaucoup! Google Flights is an amazing tool for finding good airfares. I use the "graph" function and it shows the lowest price flight each day for several months. I was so excited to find this low airfare on Swiss Air.

    I was visiting the family I lived with 35 ahem years ago when I was a university student!

  • Laurie in central NC October 05, 2018

    Thanks so much for sharing about Google Flights. I wasn't aware of it.

  • momsav October 01, 2018

    I, too enjoyed reading about your trip! My daughter loves France. I hope to get to Europe some day.

  • Libby October 01, 2018

    France is an amazing country with so much geographical diversity and beauty. I hope both you and your daughter get to Europe in the near future!

  • Tina S. October 01, 2018

    Glad to hear your surgery went well. I hope the wound is not too painful and heals quickly.

    The tiny tomatoes are so cute! I love tomatoes in any shape or form.

    I got two crowns last week. Unfortunately, one of them is not quite right, and has to be redone. I hate dental work so this is stressing me out. It will be a month until they can do this. I don't have to pay for it, as the dentist guarantees his work. I will be glad when it's all done.

    Things I did last week:
    - The weather is cooling down a bit, so I dressed up my summer work wardrobe with some scarves I got on clearance last year. I run hot, so I haven't been able to wear scarves all summer.
    - Cooked a large batch of pinto beans and froze most of them for future use. I made a bean dish for dinner one night, and had leftovers for two lunches.
    - Accepted a bag of crookneck squash from one of our patients at the clinic. Gave one to my mom as well.
    - Made a large batch of tomato soup and froze it for my work lunches.
    - My husband got a raise. We are very thankful for this.
    - Read two library e-books. It's so convenient to be able to download books without driving to the library. I actually love visiting our library, but it is so hugely popular, it is sometimes difficult to find parking. If you go there on a Sunday morning before it opens, there are always about 20 people standing outside waiting to get in.
    - Bought some inexpensive flowers to fill a few planters on my patio. Even though I live in a condo in an urban area (six blocks from a downtown area), we get occasional visits from a family of deer. They have discovered my planters and found many of the plants very tasty. But they didn't touch the pansies, so I think I will get some more of those when they go on sale and replant a few of the flowers.
    - Otherwise, did all the normal things I always do: walked to work, packed my lunches, cooked from scratch, made water kefir, and washed out ziplocs.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  • Athanasia October 02, 2018

    Tina, your deer seem pretty bold so maybe this wouldn't even faze them. You can put whirligig types into your planters, like pinwheels or other things that more with the breeze and spin or wiggle or wave. They don't like unexpected movements.

  • Tina S. October 02, 2018

    That's a great idea, Athanasia, thank you! I will definitely give it a try.

  • DJ in SW MO October 04, 2018

    Something else I have tried with success the past couple of summers....I taped clear plastic forks to dowels or metal sticks (I found some metal support rods in a green color at my local garden center that were easy to cut...and will hold up better from year to year than the wood I used on my first batch) of varying lengths and pushed the dowels into the ground so that the prongs were peeking out just above the foliage of the plant. When the deer reaches for a bite, they get a little poke from the fork. Last year I lost a lot of hosta and succulent foliage and this year I did not, starting out early with the fork trick. I also lost a lot of foliage earlier in the year in the beds in front of my office and after I placed forks, most of it has grown back. I was fearful for the ornamental kale (do deer like kale...looks yummy to me) I planted in the pots at my home this early fall but with the forks, so far so good!

  • Chris M October 01, 2018

    So glad to hear the surgery is behind you! I hope your recovery goes well. I had some surgery in May and when I had the stitches removed, the assistant was going to throw away the metal instruments. Evidently, it’s less expensive than sterilizing. However, she did offer them to me. I now have a sharp needlework snipping scissor and a great pair of tweezers, which are in my kitchen drawer to remove fish bones. Be sure and ask.

  • Cindi October 01, 2018

    Wow! I never would have thought of this!
    I managed medical clinics long ago and we had an autoclave and sterolyzed our own equipment -- i guess they don't do that much anymore.

  • Sigrid October 01, 2018

    I love this...good for you! I always ask for the toothbrushes at the dentists.!

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood October 01, 2018

    Glad the skin cancer removal was successful! And your teeny tiny tomatoes are adorable!

    I was able to get a few things done this week too:
    - I picked most of the basil, parsley, and rosemary from my balcony garden, along with any baby carrots that had grown, an one lone baby stalk of rhubarb.
    - I used the rosemary to make rosemary roasted potatoes (http://approachingfood.com/rosemary-roasted-potatoes-im-exhausted/)
    - I used the basil, parsley, and carrots, along with a few baby tomatoes from my fridge, and some onions, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar from my pantry, to doctor up a can of tomato sauce. It tastes amazing! I didn’t have enough tomatoes to make tomato sauce from scratch, but this was the perfect way to make lots of almost-homemade pasta sauce without having to buy anything besides what I had in my garden and pantry. I served the sauce with pasta from my pantry that I had previously purchased at 50 cents/lb, and topped it with freshly grated parmesan that had been leftover from a cheese plate at my baby shower.
    - DH used loyalty points to get $70 worth of free groceries.
    - I stocked up on butter at $2.99 a pound. I now have enough in my fridge and freezer to last until the next sale comes along.
    - Due to my waning energy in my last month of pregnancy, I haven’t had a lot of energy to pack lunches. Instead of eating out like a lot of my colleagues, I’ve compromised and bought some prepackaged curries that I bring to work along with pita. I can make each curry packet last for two lunches. Easy in regards to energy, and much cheaper than lunch out. Plus, I choose high protein curries, so healthy for baby too. Normally I’d make both the curry and the pita from scratch, but at this point it’s better for me to rest and get off my feet. And then I add in little yoghurt cups and fresh fruit and veggies to snack on during the day, along with apple juice. Super-healthy, and manages to stave off the morning sickness at least until I reach home in the evening. If my mum finds the curry packets on sale, she’ll buy a bunch for me, and then I’ll pay her back. I really appreciate my mum! Weekday dinners have been things like my favourite homemade smoothies, grilled cheese (on inexpensive whole grain seed bread), and ice cream sandwiches. Inexpensive and frugal, as I always make sure to buy the items on sale.
    - Speaking of which, I made more ice cream sandwiches (cookies and ice cream purchased on sale).
    - I used a combination of a completion discount and some gift cards, to get the rest of the items on my (very modest) baby registry. I still have a Carters’ gift card left to use to pick up some more onesies and sleepers, so I’ll watch out for sales at that particular store, plus I printed out a coupon sent to me for signing up for the email newsletter, to use with the gift card.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

  • Rhonda A. October 02, 2018

    Margaret, if you are looking for sleepers and onsies in newborn, 0-3 month or even 3-6 month sizes, check your local thrift stores first before buying new. Babies are not in these sizes for very long, they don't do much at that age (aka don't wear out knees from crawling, etc.) and people love to buy these sizes as gifts for new moms. Often you can buy adorable, good quality, barely used and sometimes new with tags attached clothing in those sizes for very cheap at any thrift store. Hold onto the gift card for when the baby gets a bit bigger. They stay in those sizes longer, wear them out a bit more and are worth investing in a few items that are new.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood October 06, 2018

    Great advice, Rhonda!

  • Cindy in the South October 01, 2018

    I have a friend who got skin cancer in her hair part in her 30's. She is doing fine, and I hope you are doing well also. I made meatloaf. I make it very basic so that I can use leftovers in hamburger soup, and chili. I also make meatloaf sandwiches for lunch. I had collards that were about to get wilted, so I made a collard and rice soup. I threw in leftover onions, and a little bit of cabbage I needed to use up. My child is somewhat ill again, and I have been helping him out financially. I have been budgeting very carefully because of this, and only buying food when I run out of something I really need. I am not buying extras, such as canned mushrooms, and only buying basic canned vegetables that I can get for 50 cents a can or less, and I have cut back on my food storage. I have lots of dried beans and rice I need to use anyway, so this is a good reason to use those items up.

  • Marybeth October 01, 2018

    I'm sorry your son isn't doing well. I will add him to my prayer list.

  • Cindy in the South October 02, 2018

    Thank you.

  • Holly October 01, 2018

    I haven't posted lately because 95-year-old mom was in the hospital for a week because of dehydration and a UTI. She then was in a very nice skilled nursing facility for six weeks to regain enough strength to go home. Because she was admitted as a patient, not for observation, to the hospital for at least three days, Medicare completely covered most of her stay at the SNF and her supplementary insurance should cover the rest. We had to postpone her visit to the retinal specialist for a week because, if she needs a shot in the eye for wet macular degeneration, there would have been an issue of Medicare paying for the pricey injection while mom was a patient at a SKU. Because my mom was so anxious, I slept on the window bench while she was at the hospital and on the floor of her room in the nursing home. Medicare is now providing visits by a nurse, pt, and ot. Because mom's appetite is still small, I have arranged for Meals on Wheels to deliver her lunch every weekday for $15 a week. If I was her caregiver spouse of any age instead of her senior caregiver daughter, I too could get lunch for the same price. But I am not, so I cannot unless the Meals on Wheels nurse decides I am homebound too. It isn't like I can leave the house for any length of time without bringing homebound mom with me in her car.... It was startling to realize that tiny mom might get so ill that she needs both a nurse and an aide to take care of her. And I am only one person. Now that mom no longer wants to deal with the bills, I am trying to get quite a few long-postponed repairs done to her house. She also needs to replace her current vehicle, with a KBB of $350 on a good day, with something much more reliable to reduce the possibility of the car breaking down while I am taking her out. A servant in our congregation installed the handrail by the porch step that was needed before mom could return home. I had a never-used Rubbermaid cabinet in the garage that didn't meet the purpose I had bought it for which I gave to him in gratitude. It helped declutter the garage. We don't live where the neighbors are within earshot and our Craigslist is for a city known for its crime, so I am afraid to post large items for sale that I cannot bring to the village police's parking lot to do the actual sale. The SNF she was in would have cost her $375/day if it was private pay. Fortunately, she was motivated enough to do the daily therapy (granny gym) that was required by Medicare to cover her stay.

    If anybody has any suggestions on how to increase a very, very elderly person's appetite and thirst, I am all ears. I got scared the first two days she was home when she ate and drank very, very little. But her feet and legs, which had become very swollen while she was institutionalized, shrunk back to normal as she kept her feet elevated on a special pillow on the sofa. I think her body was exhausted processing all the stagnant lymph fluid from her legs. She is back to drinking and eating enough to sustain life now.

  • S. CO Mary October 01, 2018

    Holly, my thoughts are with you. As so many others here I have been a caregiver of elderly parents and FIL. What I found with food is that I really needed to figure out what they wanted as far as taste. My dad and FIL both wanted food that was more beef focused (not surprising given both grew up on ranches and my FIL kept cattle for most of his life). Chicken and ham were okay occassionally - as in maybe once per week! And fish - nope, nope, nope. So I would make beef tips with gravy, heavily loaded mashed potatoes (they both needed the high fat content), beef stew, meatloaf (again with mashed potatoes). My mother enjoyed anything other than beef! She enjoyed chicken and fish, quiche, pasta with alfredo sauce. All seemed to want things sweet as well.

    For your shopping needs you might consider going online and have food delivered. We live in the country so that isn't feasible but I know that it is really great in town.

    If you can find out if what is considered in home respite care is available you might find that they will come in for a couple of hours so you can do your shopping and get a little break. A friend did that as a retirement job. it isn't care per se (bathing for example) but more of someone who is there so you don't need to be. Our local Senior Center works with AARP and is a great resource.

    Make sure you do some great self care. Sleeping on the bench and on the floor are had on the body and continual care is hard on ones energy.

  • Ava October 01, 2018

    This seems little enough to offer as a suggestion, when I can only imagine how worried and stressed you must be, but when my uncle was in a similar situation, my cousin tried tempting him with a squeeze of lemon or orange in a glass of ice water, or a few raspberries or sliced strawberries to make it more pleasant. He would scowl about it but he tried it, and it did help him stay hydrated.

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