Sunrise in the garden

I have spent the last few days sharing links to help refugees leaving Ukraine to access services and help in Poland. I am in many international gardening and photography groups and follow many Ukranians on Instagram, and they have been sharing their thoughts and feelings as well as routes out of the country and services in other countries. The city of Gdansk in Poland is collecting funds to help give supplies to refugees, and Poland is also offering train rides across Poland to Germany for free for Ukranians who wish to travel on to Germany. The Red Cross is collecting funds as well as Catholic Relief Services. There are several ways to help if you wish to do so; Reddit has put together a list here.

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, I have been asked a lot about what I would buy. I have wheat, but my supplies of flour, oats, and oil are low, so I will be buying those on my next shopping trip, as well as dish soap. Soap has been in short supply for the last two years, and even before 2020 I had trouble getting the brand I use (it was out of stock 3 out of 4 trips to the store).

I am also concentrating heavily on my garden. I am now having to spend double what I did in 2019 for food, and I know prices are going to continue to rise. There are things I cannot grow; the price of oats is almost double what it was just a short while ago. What I can do is seek to grow more fruits, vegetables, and herbs to keep our costs as low as I can. I will be doing that. I want to lower our bill as much as possible.

I hope for us to eat more salads (with greens from the garden again this year) and homemade soups along with homemade bread. Most of our fruit trees are small as we replaced many of them and have new trees, but I hope to have more fruit next year and even more the year after that. Not only will this be helpful for our bill, but should shortages continue, it will be essential.

Red leaf lettuce, ranunculus, and Swiss Chard

I harvested Swiss chard and Meyer lemons from the garden. I plan to plant more Swiss chard in the garden as it grows year-round here (though it bolts in April and needs to be replanted).

I sowed old seeds in the garden for chives. If these don’t come up, I will get new ones or buy plants, but I wanted to try these first.

I took around 200 cuttings from the bushes in the front yard to make new bushes in the backyard.

I purchased tomato plants on sale for the garden.

I gave my husband and two sons haircuts.

We had $.080 off a gallon at Smith’s (since I’ve spent so much more on food there lately), so we filled up gas there for less than Sam’s Club.

I am experimenting with using the express wash setting on my washing machine. It washes clothing in 30 minutes, which is a much shorter cycle than usual, thereby using less electricity. I’m not using it for everything, but I tried it on several loads that weren’t overly dirty or stained.

I mended two pairs of leggings for a daughter.

I used shower warm-up water and water left in drinking glasses at the end of the day to water potted plants in the garden.

Almond Blossom

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Prayers for Ukraine ❤️

    Thank you Brandy- your blog has helped me so so much. I’m encouraged and inspired to be a prudent steward of my gifts. Instead of being fearful, I’m able to do what I can to prepare for uncertain times as best as I can.

    We had 2 birthdays in our house last week plus my husband was on vacation so definitely not a very frugal week.

    A few frugal accomplishments:
    Used a $10 rewards coupon at grocery store. I also picked up some clearance dish soap and popcorn.

    Found some amazing Valentine clearance that I’m saving for gifts and vacation treats. A few highlights: gourmet chocolate tins, sugar gummies, and full size Mickey Mouse cookie decorating kits for $1 each!

    My sister gave me some girls scout cookies they wouldn’t eat (?!) and some onions.

    Paid an extra $100 toward house principal- not a lot but it all helps!

    Got 2 free lattes for my birthday 🥳 was downright spoiled for my birthday by family- lots of treats and thoughtful gifts (ie: a homemade book planter with succulents planted inside by my oldest daughter 🪴and money towards the months I sign up for Britbox)

    Buy Nothing Group:
    *3 sets of queen sheets and some pillowcases
    *new boxed set of flower petal soaps I’ll use to gift with knit dishcloths
    *ankle boots

    Take care everyone ❤️

  2. Last week was an emotional week. With a family member stuck for three days in a line to leave Ukraine and other acquaintances in the country, there was much to pray about.

    Here is what I did to save money:
    * Purchased several used books
    * Gladly gave my husband a hair cut at home
    * Used a soap saver for our soap to use up all the small remnants
    * Carefully treated an infected tooth with natural remedies at home
    * Joyfully ate all meals at home to save money and to get maximum nutrition
    * Diligently took my vitamins and supplements to maintain my health; healthcare is expensive.
    * Relaxed by re-reading books I had and also reading
    * Hung up some laundry outside to dry and disinfect it for free
    * Used an economical multi purpose cleaner to clean my dishes, laundry, bathrooms, and floors

      1. Thank you, Emma! When I realize that I could be in a bomb shelter right now but am not by God’s grace, it really changes my perspective. Washing dishes is a blessing. I have hot water and soap and don’t need to get water from a pump or well. I don’t need to chop wood to start a fire to heat water!

        1. Well said Luba. Praying for everyone suffering and hoping for guidance to make myself useful in as many ways as I can.

  3. I also mended last week, mending a camisole, hemmed two pairs of shorts from scrub pants I’d cut off, shortened two thrifted flannel king size pillowcases, to make them fit my husband’s queen pillow, and darned four pairs of wool socks. The Alaska and Early Frosty peas began coming up on Saturday. I winter sowed 13 containers with lettuce, parsley, cilantro, artichokes, and lots of flowers. Suet was made for the birds. Double batches were made of pecan sandies and butternut squash crumble. Hummus was made for lunches. Our biggest frugal accomplishment last week was switching our home over to solar power. There are still a few things that need to be done, but I’m so glad we’re far enough along to be able to be powered by the sun. All the bags of veggie bits were pulled from the freezer, and put in pots on the woodstove yesterday, so I could can broth today, which is happening as I type.

    1. Congratulations on getting your solar system up and running! This is something we are working toward. We are in NC, too, so if you have any links to useful information pertinent to our state (i.e., tax implications, refunds, etc.) I’d be most grateful. Many thanks!

      1. Mountain Mama, this was a fully DIY project, as the cost to go through a solar company would have increased the cost astronomically. Sadly, no tax credits for DIY solar, though my husband likely knows as much as the professionals. He did buy the panels second hand. A company had gotten a grant for solar, and used them no more than two years before they went out of business. They had lots of panels, so if you’re interested in them, let me know your email, and I’ll send info.

  4. Brandy I found that out on the oats a week or so ago.. In October I bought 50 pounds of instant oatmeal in bulk at Gordon Food Service they are like a Sams Club but no membership fees. I use to work for them so I knew that Oats is not something they sell in the store but can be ordered. Anyways I got it for $39.99. I called 2 weeks ago it had went up to $60 something I can’t remember now hard to believe I had planned to buy 100 pounds. I called several bulk suppliers around the country one place quoted $86 plus $86 for shipping from Pa to Ohio. Yeah no that wasn’t happening. I was talking to a friend who shops Amish stores she said “I can get it for you $25 a bag and so we made arrangements to meet in a town in between have lunch and she got me 100 pounds it was a little higher than what she thought at $34 for 50 pounds but that was certainly more than o.k. with me. I also got bulk sugar and flour total $113.00 for all of it. I will get more before the year is over to keep stocked up. Oats are so handy unfortunately with the new trend of Oatmilk that cuts in to the supply too and we are part of that as husband can not have any soy or nut milks or regular milk. I am looking in to trying Coconut milk to see how that works. Dollar Tree had it in the cans last week. My frugals this week is clearing out my deep freezer this week of all my frozen fruits that I planned to work with this winter in to jellies. I have canned 9 half pints of raspberry jelly from Saturday to today. The pulp I am saving to dehydrate in to powders. I am watching Three Rivers Homestead on you tube she did a 2 month no spend pantry challenge.. one of the things she made was homemade pop tarts usig pie crust and home canned jams such a easy thing to do (she has 9 children I think??). So I’ve written the instructions down to try that to give husband another choice besides oatmeal for breakfast every day. I learned to make my own pancake syrup who knew it was so easy and so good?? Brown sugar, water and maple extract done in less than 10 minutes. As times get harder we are focusing even more on making things ourselves. I watched another lady on you tube make homemade mayonnaise from Chick Pea water so I want to give that a try too. Hellmans here is over $4 a jar now.

    1. Anna, you can also make homemade syrup with white sugar, too. I like to add a teaspoon of vanilla, in addition to the maple flavoring.

    2. I don’t know where Azure Standard delivers, but they still have oats at the same price as I paid last month. $16 for 25 lbs

    3. I follow 3 rivers homestead too; she is very frugal and innovative!
      Also, I pretty much grew up on homemade syrup as my family was quite poor. We used half white and half brown sugar with the vanilla and maple flavorings and water. Now I’m married and feel extravagant buying 4-5 gallons of pure maple syrup through friends. It is expensive but something my husband gladly pays for to have the real deal. I’m very thankful for it.

    4. Anna, we make our own coconut milk. I got a screaming deal on organic unsweetened shredded coconut awhile ago. I paid $1/lb. We heat 6 cups of water on the stove in a pan when it’s hot we add 2 cups shredded coconut and turn the pan off and put the lid on. After it sits for awhile, we blend it in the BlendTec. Then we strain it through a cloth bag. I know that we will pay much more for coconut shreds in the future, but I suspect that it will still be cheaper than purchased coconut milk.

    5. Anna – I make tarts similar to what you mention but just use the frozen fruit instead of jam. Just cook the fruit in a saucepan with a little sugar or honey and water till thickened. Then, use as you would the jam. Might save you a step. My family loves them and it is a nice change of pace now and then. 🙂

    6. Brown sugar syrup is a favorite from my childhood! We never flavored it, just boiled down brown sugar and water until it looked about right.

  5. Hello Everyone!

    I appreciate all the responses last week regarding pressure canning beans and reusable canning lids. Because prices are increasing and canning lids have been difficult to buy, I went ahead and bought some Tattler lids. Compared to current Ball canning lid prices, I calculated that my ROI will occur during each Tattler lid’s 4 th use. I bought these directly from the Tattler website. Jeannie mentioned a competitor lid, Golden Harvest, which I was previously unaware of that has a discount code. I may try some of these next. I feel like this purchase falls into the “spaving” category but will bring peace of mind.

    I have decided to do more home canning of soups, beans, and broths to save. Everything has gone up significantly at the stores. I know this will help our budget.

    I restocked my pantry last week and am thankful. Recent current events are a reminder to keep cupboards and freezers as full as possible. I don’t feel like this was savings either, except I ordered online from Walmart and used the pick up service. It’s the least expensive store in my area. So easy and a time saver! I will definitely use this option again.

    I pulled out a long, unused serger and gave it a good dusting and cleaning. It’s operational! Over the weekend I sewed a dust cover for both my sewing machine and serger using remnants from prior projects. I also patched a hole in my son’s jeans and repaired a pair of panties to secure the lining. I ironed my husband’s work shirts.

    Praying for peace and the Ukrainians. Have a wonderful week!

    1. The Ball company owns Golden Harvest too. All the North American canning lids are with the same ownership. I don’t know why, but when I found that out it made me uncomfortable to rely on.

      1. Elle, I understood Golden Harvest is owned by Rubbermaid. (It’s been around 40-50 years). Are they connected with Ball? The lids I found last week were Kerr. I thought Kerr was discontinued when they were bought out by Ball. Maybe old stock??

        1. OK, figured this out…NOT! Golden Harvest, Ball and Bernardin are all manufactured by the same company, which I found identified as Newell (Rubbermaid) and also as Jarden. Take your pick. Begs the question where the Kerr lids I recently bought came from. Kerr is supposedly no longer being manufactured. Wal-Mart’s Mainstay lids are manufactured by Jarden.

        2. More info…Wal-Mart has had a good stock of Golden Harvest regular mouth lids for $1.97 dozen for the last two weeks. Here, anyway!

        3. Maxine, Golden Harvest, Ball, Bernardin, Mason are all owned by Rubbermaid (Newall Corporation). It seems that all the non-Chinese disposable canning lids in North America are owned by the one company. It unsettled me when I realized how very easy it would be to NOT be able to preserve food for my family should that company decide it didn’t feel like making/selling canning lids anymore.

          1. Well, that happened in 1975 when both Ball and Kerr were operating their own manufacturing facilities. The economy was bad, people were gardening like mad, lids were as hard to come by as they are now–and a huge percentage of Kerr lids didn’t seal. Not just a few–probably 95% failed. The other companies would not/could not ramp up production to fill the void and much food/effort was lost. Kerr never did reveal what happened, or offer refunds, but the next year’s lids weren’t affected. Many people thought Kerr had either changed its manufacturing process or raw materials.

  6. I saw gas prices jump 20 cents overnight Thursday night. Gas is $3.39 to $3.49 generally. I did manage to get a fill up at Walmart for $3.24 but there was a line and they were changing prices. I have no idea what the prices are today. I made spaghetti, chicken, carrots, and rice, hamburger with gravy, onions and rice, beans, sauteed spinach, corn, etc. I bought bananas. I ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch. I made an egg, leftover broccoli and cheese like casserole. I bought three packages of chicken thighs and some ground beef. I walked for exercise. I hand washed my delicates and jeans and hung them outside to dry. It is supposed to hit 80 this week so hopefully, that will reduce the electric bill.

  7. It’s hard to believe another week has come and gone! How much the world has changed this week! We will gratefully support those relief efforts for those whose lives have been turned upside down and are living in fear! We are grateful for those neighbors of theirs who are welcoming them in !

    We had another funeral at Church to prepare and serve for this past week so Hubs organized men from Church to set up tables and chairs for family luncheon after the service. I helped with the luncheon food. The family asked for sandwiches and a simple menu, so ladies brought their two favorite varieties of cookies, veg trays and fruit trays, condiments and cheese while I brought the rolls and meats. I was able to find oven roasted Turkey breast at a little butcher shop near my daughter’s house that is located in a gas station mini-mart of all places! Remember last week I mentioned taking grandson to UDF (United Dairy Farmers) mini-mart and gas station? This butcher shop/deli is well known in the small town and we often get good sales there.
    The Turkey breast was $2.49/pound so I bought some for the funeral AND some for us to use in turkey wraps and hero sandwiches! I also got maple ham for $3.99/pound which was still better than any other stores that I checked with! The butcher thin sliced and wrapped up the meats and I saved about $40.

    This morning we went to the semi-annual Cheryl’s Cookies clearance sale where things are up to 75% off! Their national headquarters are located here in our city! We bought boxes of assorted cookies (individually wrapped) that we will put in baskets for gifts. We have some freezer space to store some too!

    We also got a beautiful basket with assortment of cookies and cake slices that we will take with dinner to our friends with new baby that I’m taking dinner to tomorrow. Along with dinner, we will send over this baby quilt from my gift cupboard.

    My scrappy lap quilt (#230) is finished now. and I have no idea where this quilt will go for it’s final home. 🥴 It’s purpose was to use up some scraps!
    After the Cheryl’s cookies sale early this morning, my daughter (and partner) came here at the house as we start laying out the client quilt we are constructing and then we have 2 more client quilts in our queue! Grateful for the work!

    I gave a twin size quilt that I made to a couple we know who have started doing foster care. I got a sweet thank you note from them! So nice to have these ready to gift without needing to run to the store or break the budget!

    1. First time I have looked at your links, your quilts are absolutely beautiful, I know there is a lot of work in them as I have done a total of three in my life. I also sew but not so much now. I find sewing relaxing and I get clothes that fit ME. Look forward to reading more from you.

      1. Moira- That is so kind of you to say! Thank you! For me, quilting and sewing are two things that I find relaxing that also bring me joy! There are many things I don’t do well at or enjoy- painting, crocheting, knitting, card-making and the list goes on and on! 🥴🤪. I appreciate all the talent and work that goes into those things, but I am not the one who can do them. I’m grateful we can all have gifts/talents and that they don’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. It would be boring if we did! 🤔😉

        Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Lynn- No, he was released as a counselor in our Ward Bishopric to become the Elders’ Quorum President about 3 weeks ago. He is thoroughly enjoying it and he is good at making sure that when service is needed that he invites different men each time to help so that the same ones don’t help every time and so also everyone has the opportunity to help and give service. Starting with the elderly couple whose basement flooded and had 3 days of men from church coming to help, he set up a spread sheet with everyone’s name and so setting up and taking down tables and chairs for this funeral luncheon, he called ones that had not helped with the flooded basement! We all have the ability to serve in some way and it lifts our souls when we do! JMO.

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  8. The world happenings upset my daughter greatly. I’ve let her pick a relief fund to make a donation to and she hopes it saves the world. My socks were knocked off when this weeks water bill arrived. $167.00 ,almost double. We have had some serious long talks about baths and laundry. The few trips we make to the grocery store are scary. So many items missing from the shelves. We started dumpster diving 18 months ago. It wasnt a hobbyy born out of need. Sugar cookie has a rare disease and a syndrome.. Keeping her isolated and quarantined was my goal. After seeing the activity on you tube , she requested we try it. Having been locked at home for 6 months at the time , I took her. I had no idea about what to expect ,but am amazed. We bring home food on a weekly basis. I’ve added two years of additional food to my stockpile. I certainly never planned on this but it obviously is well received. I know it wouldn’t be feasible for some people but it does serve a valuable place in our lives. I have another large family I take food to. They have no money to buy food and live off of the one or two food bank boxes they get each month. In better times they purchased an additional freezer and refrigerator. With 3 units, I am able to keep them completely stocked. I went to my daughters apartment and prepared 12 freezer meals for my 2 college daughters. They have spent a couple meals eating off a large chicken enchiladas casserole I made. I had a planned IKEA trip that I skipped. The girls and I had a discussion about taking a winter vacation together. While looking at cruises I saw where I had received several offers from Carnival for free cruises. The girls and I spent several hours , checking airfares and dates to replan my yearly trips. I canceled my two trips that I had just booked last week. I rebooked three cruises , including travel and gratuities and transfer fees for the same amount I had spent on the other two. this ended up being a huge savings. We have 18 days of travels with all expenses paid from my original budget of $960.00. Back to my tight wad ways , I bought 30 lbs of Tyson chicken quarters marked down to $3.50 a bag. I have them cooking. I’ll pull the chicken and make bone broth for future meals. I am having problems with not being able to freeze all the meat we find. I’m going to buy an additional freezer. I’m aware of concerns. Most of my meat is removed from the freezer and tossed at night while still frozen. I can only imagine that stuff doesn’t sell at these prices so there is more in the freezer. It has to be removed in order to make room for new shipments. Until the stores control their inventory better, we will happily bring it home. Hugs everyone.

    1. Lilliana, I think it’s awesome that you take your daughter dumpster diving! I’ve been hoping to give it a try. Our local stores chain their dumpsters against people dumping their trash. The town with the best diving probabilities is over an hour away. But, saving all that food from the landfill, and blessing others with it, is something to be proud of! We’re such a wasteful Country, here.
      Your cruise is going to be such fun!

    2. Lillianna, we have been dumpster diving for about a year now. I can confirm that here we also find huge amounts of food – it is incredibly shocking how much food is tossed! There is always produce available, usually bread, and occasionally other types of foods as well. Our family is used to cooking and eating at home, so we can use these ingredients to make many meals. We have had to invest in another chest freezer to store the items we find; we also share them with others in our circle who are comfortable with taking and using these items. No one in our family has ever gotten sick or become ill from the food. We decided to do this mostly because it seems immoral to ship foods from around the country and the world, and then have them fill up limited space in landfills; however, it is also a frugal move that allows us to allocate some of our resources in other ways. A few documentaries provide more information: “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste,” “Dive!,” and “Just Eat It” are a few I have watched and learned from.

      I am sending good wishes to your daughter that she can have some peace about the troubling events in our world.

  9. I read the introduction to your post with a deep empathy and understanding of your concern, Brandy. The current trajectory is so, so concerning and it is difficult, as mothers, to not worry terribly about an uncertain future.

    My husband and I finished our monthly grocery shopping today at the butcher. I buy the same variation and quantities of beef, chicken, and bacon there every month (our butcher is consistently well-priced and never runs sales and I only have one freezer so monthly meat purchases are necessary). In November I was alarmed at the checkout. Today I know I paid more than 50% more than what I paid in October last year. These aren’t luxury cuts: just ground beef, whole chickens, shin for stewing and soup. When planning our shopping with the sales flyers we were so disheartened to realize that most sales are on foods we just don’t eat (processed, frozen portions of crumbed fish fillets and chicken, for example, that even though on sale would cost too much to feed my large family), or that the sale price is actually still costly. Oats is one of the things we noticed in particular, along with cooking oil, pasta, popcorn, canned foods like tomatoes and tuna, and peanut butter. We’ve also struggled to get certain vegetable seeds for the garden. I’ve been trying to spend conservatively over the past few months but decided to buy as much as we could this month. With everything happening in the world, shortages and high prices are inevitable. Stored food is still a form of savings.

    I’m thankful for food from the garden including lettuce, leeks, spring onions, loads of butternut and green peppers, eggplant, and Swiss chard. The tomatoes and zucchini bore well but exhausted themselves so even though we have another 2 months of warm weather, I’ve pulled them out and started planting for winter – carrots, leeks, turnips, chard, kale, parsley, green onions, broccoli, red and green cabbages. We’re fortunate to be able to grow food all year in South Africa, and I’m determined to plant more then ever just as you advise, Brandy. I’m going to try grow tomatoes in our grow tunnel through winter. We’ve been saving seed too.

    Potatoes bought in bulk are inexpensive right now so I’m planning meals around those. I also got a good deal on bulk bags of rice. Fruit is terribly expensive but luckily my children enjoy apples which are still affordable. Gas and diesel are about to go up again, as well as electricity, so we keep looking for ways to save even small amount in those areas. I purchased (on sale) lovely warm fleece fabric to sew all the children pyjamas for winter and make extra blankets for their beds. This will limit the need to run heating at night. I’ve taken a break from charity crafting and am making new sweaters for all the children too, smart (for outings and Church) and casual. It’s much cheaper to make them myself than to even buy them at cheaper stores (which are poor quality anyway). We had to take down several trees in our garden for the relaying of sewerage pipes (the roots had invaded the pipes) and we will cut and store the wood for fires next winter (we have a fireplace in our living room). We borrowed a chainsaw and did the felling ourselves, saving a lot!

    Wishing you all strength and peace in these turbulent times.

    1. Tracy, May I ask where you live in South Africa? We were due to visit next week but due to catching Covid our trip has been postponed until Sept. I have not been out much this week( making it a frugal week) but just popped out to pick up some groceries for my Mum. According to the shelf price the generic oats were up to $2.50 but they actually rang in at the old price of $2.00 so I was pleased after Brandy’s warning. Perhaps I should have bought a few bags.

      I also stand with Ukraine and I would take in a refugee family in a flash if they could be beamed into my home. I am heartened though by the neighbouring countries welcoming people with food, water, clothes, free train rides etc. I am also so amazed by the resilience of the Ukrainian people-taking down road signs and many other clever ideas. I do believe I have learned a lot of geography and history this week. They may be outnumbered but I am impressed with their resilience and toughness-certainly puts our problems into perspective.

  10. Thank you for all that great information Brandy. Canada has a large population of Ukrainian immigrants and one of Toronto’s twin city’s is Kyiv. There have been a number of rally’s in support and the Toronto sign at city hall is lit up in blue & yellow. I happen to live in what used to be called the Ukrainian Village here in Toronto – there are still some of the old deli’s and bakeshops left and every Summer there is a weekend street festival celebrating the culture of Ukraine so it is big news here with lots of flags being hung out in support. The federal govt. is matching funds donated to the Red Cross and the premier of Ontario has already said that we will welcome those who want to come here. I suspect most will want to stay in Europe to be near to their homes and all their menfolk who have stayed behind but I hope it is something that we do follow up on for some. I saw on the news this morning how the neighbouring countries like Poland and Romania are doing so much to help them as they cross the border, but even with that there are so many that it is taking days! Prayers for all.

    My biggest stock up last week was on my favourite teabags and some jams. I also found really nice, centre cut pork chops on sale at a good price so bought a few packs. Along with a couple of other items, my one bag of groceries (and not very heavy) totaled $71.00!!! I had a burst of Spring cleaning energy this past weekend so had a good cleanout of my pantry, my baking pantry and my fridge. I did toss a couple of things but not much and I have put aside a few things to leave downstairs in the lobby for others to take if they’d like. I’m a lot clearer now on what I will use and what I won’t – so that has been helpful. I also cooked up some of the pork chops – made a pot of chili from a lot of odds & ends I had in the freezer and cooked a couple of turkey thighs that had been in the freezer since last October. I’ve kept some things out for this week but also packed away some prepared meals into the freezer for use later in the month. With Lent beginning on Wednesday, and working for a church – the next few weeks will be extra busy.

    I’m meeting a friend for coffee tomorrow afternoon – haven’t seen her since October – and we will meet near to a grocery store that we both like but haven’t been to in a bit so I intend checking out what they have. I think that I will add some steel cut oats and some rolled oats as both are always very handy and one container of each will do me for a while. For those in Canada (not sure about the US) I did mention later in last week’s comments that Kellogs is on strike and this is now starting to affect what is available in the cereal aisle. The warehouses had topped up supplies when this seemed likely but things are now starting to run low. I don’t use a lot of cold cereal but those of you with children might want to check that aisle before it gets too bare. Ukraine is also one of the world’s largest producers of sunflower oil (probably mostly for Europe) but it might not be a bad idea to buy an extra bottle or two if you use it.

    Just finished another interesting non-fiction book by Tim Spector – a British professor who is often featured on food related documentaries (we get them on TVO) – the title is “Spoon-Fed – Why almost everything we’ve been told about food is wrong”!!! I had known a lot of what he refers to through recent research and from my cardiologist who is actually up to speed on a lot of this – but it might be a bit eye opening for some. It was available from my library and, while he cites a lot of research studies – it is quite readable for us ordinary folk. It is a lot to do with the human microbiome (gut) and the effect it has on so much of our health. All of you who garden and eat a lot of fruit & veg – plus those who are cutting back (not eliminating) meat either for health or because of the cost – are on the right track! I will wait until the end of the week before topping up the fresh fruit & veg (still have a lot of frozen to use up) and will just keep my eyes open for any good deals that might be out there. I had hoped to spend considerably less this month but I won’t pass up a good price on something that might not be available next month!
    Stay safe and well everyone.

  11. My list is sugar, oil, anything that comes from wheat including pasta. Several of the Amish here (western side of OH) grew spelts this past year as they either grind their own or transport over closer to Holmes co to have it ground. Hubby put the word out to get their gas cans filled as they seem to wait until Saturday to go get gas for Monday morning (no work/shopping etc on Sundays). Twice Hubby has seen stations closed as they were out of fuel. Price is only going up but decade ago I saw gas at $5/gal in GA coming home to OH.

    We have looked hard at what we use and what we could make. More garden going in for sure. What we can do to lower our propane and electric bills.
    Blessed be… may peace come soon.

  12. Well, I ran out of dish soap and tried to use hand soap. I did 2 pots and decided I needed to get the dish soap. I got a deal on it through ibotta. A few weeks ago we put a deposit on a whole beef and a whole hog. Beef comes in March and pork in July. So we are saving up like crazy to pay for it. I needed gas and used upside instead of the shell fuel rewards. I made homemade mayo which saved a lot of money. Shipt cut the pay for its drivers. Ive been shopping for instacart more than ever before. There is less driving back and forth than with Shipt. It doesnt make sense to drive 7 miles, shop and then deliver another 10 miles for $6 if you dont know if youre getting a tip or not. Canrt think of anything extraordinary that I did to save money.

  13. I’m trying to do more bulk shopping and I’ve been loving buying from Azure standard. I bought a 25lb bag of oat from them last month.
    We have been given many oranges and lemons, which is such a blessing. We eat the oranges fresh, I zest the rind before I eat them and freeze the zest for use in baking. I juice the lemons and freeze the juice for use in my homemade kombucha (I always have a batch going). We’ve been eating kale, collards, radishes and arugula from the garden. Our fruit trees have blossoms on them. I’ve made flapjacks (BBC food recipe, I think flapjacks in the US are not the same as flapjacks in England) twice since I have the bulk oats. They are a cheap bake and my husband loves them.
    I gave away several things through Buy Nothing.
    I ordered a gift for my niece in England using our credit card that has no foreign transaction fees, and I got free shipping by having the item delivered to a store nearby. My brother-in-law will pick it up.
    We had the post installation inspection on our 33o gallon rain barrel, so our $83 rebate check is on it’s way. I’m still watering the garden using water from the rain barrels (our last rain was 2 months ago). This is a significant savings for us.

  14. I have noticed that prices are going crazy. I buy pretty much buy the same things every week to two weeks and my grocery bill has went up $40.00. The Dollar Tree in our town is now $1.25 still cheaper than paying Wal-Mart prices on cleaning supplies. Went to the library and got some books and did a free craft they were doing that day. This is something new they are trying out. I have been gathering my canning jars up to see if I have enough for this year’s harvest. After all the rain and cold weather last week, we are going to be sunny and 70 this week, so hopefully I can work in the yard. Prayers for strength and peace in these uncertain times.

  15. Baker Creek Seeds had a 2-day fundraiser, sending all proceeds to humanitarian aid for the Ukraine. I had been planning on getting some herbs started in my re-made herb garden, so I ordered seeds during the fundraiser. Although seeds are more frugal than plants, my goal was not to be frugal but to help. Thanks, Brandy, for the links for other options.

    For my not-a-birthday (I have a Leap Year birthday), one of my kids gave me a nice gift card to a grocery store. That’s a great gift, in my opinion.

    I was fed by family members both nights and one lunch this past weekend, to celebrate my birthday, meaning I now have food in the freezer I had planned to cook over the weekend, that I can use later instead.

    Thanks to my thyroid condition that started a couple of years ago, I’ve gone up a dress size and have struggled without success trying to get back down, even with medication. I finally have gone ahead and purchased three used dresses, as my options for church have gotten to be very few. I’m glad I can buy used – new clothes are just not in my budget unless I find a really good sale/discount/coupon to make the price about as good as used.

    I pruned my grapevines. This is later than usual to prune, but I work full-time, and it seems like almost every weekend was rainy and cold for the last two months or I’ve had unavoidable plans taking up my time if the weather was nice. I also cut back and opened up the two olive trees somewhat, and cut back the Meyer lemon tree that keeps trying to get too tall. It is time to fertilize the lemon and satsuma tree, so I did that as well.

    I picked some lemons and made lemonade.

    I let my grandkids pull the carrots, which were ready. I’d like for them to become interested in gardening, as it’s a skill they will need, I think.

    I borrowed two books from the library on Friday.

    Like most everyone, I have spent more time than usual watching the news and praying, for the situations around this world and here at home. I wish everyone here peace of mind!

  16. I finally called a recommended, nationally franchised pest control company for an estimate on getting two raccons out of the attic, rescreening the vents from the inside, bat-proofing the attic, and tearing out the old circa-1967 insulation in the 1500 sq ft house and replacing it with insulation up to 2022 standards. I nearly fell off my chair when I received the estimate. $13500. $3500 to remove old insulation, $2500 for new insulation, $2200 for a cover that has been around for the last decade to batproof the ridge vent, over $900 for the first year for mice control, and the rest to catch and relocate the raccoons, seal the gable vents and two other small holes, and install and remove one-way bat exits at the appropriate time. That’s more than my annual social security retirement income after Medicare and Supplemental Medicare insurance premiums are deducted (starting in August). Not happening. And the attic two years ago did not have a lot of obvious residue left by varmits. So the entire attic won’t need the original insulation removed before an additional layer of insulation is added. So what did I do? I continued calling for more estimates. I found a family company that offered to trap and relocate one raccoon for $165 and the second for $60. Gable vent screening will be about $200. They will do the one-way bat doors and obvious entry sealing without requiring that $2200 ridge vent cover. Another company offers spot cleaning of the attic for $500. I knew we had at least two critters in there one night because there was a noisy disagreement. But that might have been the splitsville fight. One raccoon has been caught and there has been blissful silence upstairs ever since. The trap for a second raccoon has been set but no raccoon took the bait in the first 24 hours. I need to check it again soon. Catching mice in traps is within my skillset and I definitely won’t pay for that (or replacing the insulation at the top of the basement walls–I can do that–and it was not included in the oversized estimate). So shop around when you need some pest control!
    I also found a man to plow mom’s driveway for one-third of what had been paid for the previous plow (that had been gifted to us by my niece). Instacart had an ad on their website saying they offer unlimited free delivery to SNAP (food stamps) card holders. And Aldi, a store 19 miles away, delivers via Instacart groceries paid for by SNAP. I posted a message in one of our local Facebook groups about how somebody stuck at home with a SNAP card can get affordable groceries and added that while I don’t use SNAP, Instacart’s increased service since mom broke her hip in February of 2020 and the pandemic started has been so helpful. A woman whose husband, an Instacart shopper, had gotten that day a goose egg by slipping and falling on an uncleared walkway said her husband liked helping homebound people get their groceries but asked everybody please to keep their walks clear. Fortunately, I knew our most recent delivery was made by a woman so our unplowed walkway did not cause his fall. I posted that I would in the future order only when our driveway is plowed but that the last plowing cost $60. (We cannot afford to plow at that price every time a little bit of snow falls.) Another woman posted “$60??? So-and-so starts at $10 and plowed our huge driveway for $25.” I contacted the snowplower with our address and asked for an estimate to plow a 98-year-old’s double-width long (we’re on a road, not a side street) driveway and one of the two turnarounds (leaving the second turnaround near the well head and the ramp unplowed). $20. Oh yes! He did a careful job plowing later that day. So I was blessed by trying to be helpful. I had planned on doing the small amount of hand shoveling needed but a friend stopped by with her husband before the plower showed up and cleared the walkway and So I, and especially my back, felt spoiled.

  17. We, too, are praying for Ukraine. Thank you, Brandy, for the donation links. Things continue to rise in price here also. We are trying to be more mindful of what we spend. I am working hard to control our food budget. I haven’t been able to garden for a few years because of my mobility, but I’m seriously considering a container garden on our deck. We will have to buy some of the containers and soil this year, so it won’t be a great money saver right away, but I know it will help in the future if I can get back into it. I used to be a prolific gardener and canner. I’ll be happy to just have enough to eat fresh this summer.

    I decided to start planning for Christmas and have chosen to make my four grandchildren heavy blanket yarn afghans. That yarn is pretty expensive so when I saw a sale plus another 20%off coupon, I went ahead and bought the yarn for one. I’m going to try to finish the two for our out-of-state grandchildren before we visit this summer, so we can drive them out with us. These super heavy blankets would cost sooooo much to mail. Trying to think ahead.

    The last six months I’ve pulled out a couple $20 bills each pay day to keep here in the house, in case there occurs a time we need emergency cash.

    Hubby cut his hair and then I checked it and cleaned up his neck. His clippers have saved us money for many, many years.

    Continue to enjoy library books, watching tv, and knitting and crocheting with yarn I already have.

    I only make dessert/treats on Sunday. My husband is the bishop (minister) of our congregation and Sundays are LOOOOOOOONG days for him, so I always try to make a substantial dinner with dessert. I tried something new, easy and shelf stable so I wanted to share. I took one box of chocolate pudding mix, added two cups of milk (my pudding was instant, but you could do it with noninstant if you put it on the stove). After whisked to blend, add one dry chocolate cake mix until blended (no eggs, water or oil). Sprinkle one cup of chocolate chips (or other flavor…I used chocolate and peanut butter chips) over the top. Put in a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It was delicious and easy! It was between a cake and a brownie, texture-wise. I liked that it didn’t use oil or eggs. It did use two cups of milk and I didn’t have that and didn’t want to go to the store, so I used Parmalat shelf stable milk. I keep a couple quarts of this on the shelf for times like this. It isn’t inexpensive, but shelf stable is worth its weight sometimes. Anyway…this was yummy.

    I hope everyone has a week filled with peace, kindness and gentleness, especially in this very difficult world.

  18. I filled up my gas tank just before we had another increase. I found gas for $3.23 and the store next door to that station is usually the cheapest and was already $3 59. I am going to Vanderbuilt to see a speciaist tomorrow and it is an hour and a half away, so I will be looking for the cheapest place to top my tank back off.
    * I made two baby gifts for my husband’s coworkers. I ordered baby blank ruffle gowns and embroidered their monogram and floral wreath on them.I ordered two more gowns to have on hand for future gifts, as shipping would be the same. Here is a photo of the gowns,,
    *We met my Army son in Nashville and ate after church. We wanted to make sure to see him in case he is sent. My MIL paid for lunch at Pucketts in Franklin.
    *I pulled spaghetti, tacos, grilled chicken, turnip greens, okra, potatoes, and lima beans from the freezer for meals. We had a couple of breakfasts for dinner, and tuna fish sandwiches. I did go to Walmart to top off a few things and got Ragu, pasta, mayonnaise, salt,lentils, Peanut butter, syrup, oil, I got kale so I can can Zuopa Tuscana. I have a list to take to Sam’s and Aldi for a few things, too. Thankfully, other than water, milk, and butter I am at the place of having everything to last atleast 6 months, and more to make it to 12 months with limits. I went 14 months without shopping for anything but milk, bananas, eggs,and some fresh fruits a few years ago. It was a good thing because I found some things I stored thinking I would eat them if in need and hungry, but when it came to it I never got that hungry and ended up giving them away to make room for what we do eat.
    *I picked up a dozen pint jars and 5 boxes of lids. The jars were $13 for the dozen, which was high, but I have 2 dozen quarts and just a few pints remaining. Since the kids are grown I don’t need as many quart canned foods. I will probably pick up one or two more dozen pints , I’d rather have them having to pay a little more than be without. I bought Taddler lids, but am still picking up the Ball lids to have for items I may give away or to use as backup and to trade of they are impossible to find when canning season starts.
    *I have a good amount of most seed except tomatoes, kale, turnips, collards. I got one package at W*lmart of Kale, turnips, tomatoes, and winter squash. They were $1.49 each so I am hoping to find some cheaper seed.
    * I ordered the vacuum sealer attachment for my food saver. I have lost mine in moving. I’ve been dehydrating mushrooms, peppers, celery, and herbs. I want to expand my dehydrating. I just have a cheap round dehydrator so it isn’t like a fancy Excalibur, which I would love.
    *I opened the garage to find my husband, Goldendoodle, and a pair of clippers. My husband had shaved the dogs face completely and he looks really really bad. I stopped him from touching the dog anymore. I tried to use scissors and there was no hope for my poor dog. It will just have to grow. I have cut my husband’s hair for 30 years and that night he said he needed a haircut. I just looked at him and said, ” Too soon!” Man, he did not want me to do his hair right after that. I did cut it a few days later.
    * You mentioned the short wash cycle. I have washed everything that is not soiled on the short cycle for years. I have not had an issue with anything not getting clean. My husband even informed me the hot water line wasn’t hooked up so I’d been using all cold water for about 6 months.

    1. Holly, your embroidery is beautiful. The parents will be lucky (and appreciative, I’m sure) to receive your lovely gifts.

    2. You may want to also consider using a handheld manual vacuum pump made by Ziplock (kind of looks like 7″ bicycle pump with out the air hose). I fit the pump over the port on the jar attachment and pump until there is fair resistance, maybe 7-10 times. If you are using the “one time lids” you will heard a popping sound as you pump-this indicates it is working. I have never tried it with the tattler lids as I have plenty of the others that are in good shape even after coming off a regular canned item. This method does not require electricity, just elbow grease and of course is not a substitute for regular canning..use just for prolonging storage of dry goods (oats, chocolate chips, rice, etc). I especially like it as it is much quicker when getting say a bit of dried herb out of a pint jar to relace in a spice jar.-no having to get out the machine, plug it in, get out the hose, hook it all up, turn it on… get it.

  19. Brandy, thank you for mentioning organizations that are working in Ukraine. I am praying for Ukraine and Ukrainians. Between the news from Ukraine and the stress and loneliness of two years of Covid, I was literally in tears Saturday night. Although I’m still watching and reading the news, I’m limiting my time. It upsets me too much and makes me feel useless when what I want is to help.

    You and your readers might also be interested in the comments from Laura in Annabel’s Bluebirds blog. Annabel lives in South Australia. Laura lives in a border town in Romania. She revealed a week or so ago that her workplace is right down the street from the Ukrainian border. Your readers might be interested in her comments about the refugees (scroll down the page)–

    This was the rest of my week (not one exactly filled with stellar accomplishments)–
    * I sewed a button on my daughter’s shirt and mended two potholders. The stitches of the hand-sewn binding were coming undone so I zigzagged it on the machine…which I should have done in the first place.

    * I don’t normally buy groceries at Safeway or Albertsons because they are the most expensive in my town. However, we get our prescriptions at the Safeway pharmacy. When I was picking up an Rx, I noticed they had a markdown meat bin. I bought 3 large chuck steaks for 50% off, which was $3.99 lb. Never thought I’d get excited about $3.99 chuck steak…but there you have it. I cut each steak into 4 steaks = 12 total for $1.59 each. Later, I bought milk at Albertsons because I was next door to the store. Checked to see if they had markdown meat and they did! (They are the only stores here that do). I bought a large package of breakfast links, also for 50% off. I got 30 links for the same price as 14 links at Winco!

    * I bought ibuprofen and vitamins at Rite-Aid at no cost using my United Healthcare OTC debit card.

    * In the last 4-6 months, I have expanded my preparedness. The thing that pleases me the most was getting a portable tri-fuel generator and connecting it directly to our natural gas line. It will power the furnace and there is an outlet where we can plug in our freezer and refrigerator. It cost $800 and gives me a lot of peace of mind. My latest addition was last week–a whistle! I found one while decluttering my home and put it in the car, along with a fire extinguisher and tool that will break glass and slit seatbelts. Why a whistle? There have been several accidents where people ended up in ravines and had to scream for help.

    Months ago, Gardenpat posted a link for a free pattern for a heated rice bag. When I got overloaded on the news coming out of Ukraine, I made a bag to keep my mind off the invasion. If anyone is interested in the rice bag, here’s the link again for the pattern: How to Make a DIY Heating Pad for shoulders and neck – Free Tutorial – SewCanShe Free Sewing Patterns for Beginners

    1. Hi Maxine,
      We’ve been considering a tri-fuel generator as well, for our natural gas line. All we care about running is our refrigerator & 2 freezers. Would you mind letting me know what brand your is and whether you’ve used it and are happy with it?

      1. The generator is a Firman T07571 and we got it at Costco when it was on sale last fall for $800. It is the same or very similar to the one that is on sale now for $899 at costco dot com (price includes shipping). It is rated for 7,500watts/9,400 watts and should run our furnace, two major appliances (fridge and freezer) and possibly a lamp or two. I can work with this. We cook with gas and the burners (but not the oven) will light with a match. We connected the generator to the natural gas line at the furnace (you can also connect where it comes into the house), and we leave it connected. It is in our garage. Although we haven’t needed it, we’ve started it twice and it fired right up! Finding out we could get a generator that would operate on natural gas was a game-changer. Eventually you will run out of gasoline or propane (and there were reasons we couldn’t use either one), but the natural gas just keeps flowing! A tri-fuel was exactly what we needed!

        1. Thank you, Maxine. Is there any issue with combustion by-products in the garage? Did it need to be vented?

          We bought a vintage gas stove and made sure it didn’t have any electronics so that we could light it (burners and oven) manually. We didn’t want pilot lights, either. When we had no electricity for 12 days after a hurricane, it was nice to eat hot meals (weather got cold right after Wilma) and take hot showers. I had to track down dry ice to keep the freezers cold, though. Lights we don’t really care about– we use candles in lanterns. Gas is great!

          1. We didn’t do any additional venting. It is right next to the furnace, which is vented. Also, we know enough to open the main door to the garage enough to exhaust fumes. We have discussed this. My husband posted a sign with use instructions and included “open outside door to vent.”

            1. This will kill you. Opening an outside door is not enough. Another problem we have had here is that when we have had out local disasters (a couple of 100-year floods and a cyclone) people have driven around spotting generators to steal. If a garage door is open other tools and things are likely to be stolen. We use the generator outside and only during the daytime and lock it up at night, so the house is cold at night. During normal times we do not have problems with theft. Our aunt had a gas-powered generator running at night 8-10 feet from the house and almost died. Her son who was sleeping in the other end of the house got up during the night, although he said he did not normally and found her just before it was too late. Carbon monoxide is so insidious.

              1. I have not read or heard anything like this before, but we will look into it. We had planned to open the “man door,” not the roll-up garage door, and the man door is behind a 6 ft. solid fence facing the other direction. I do know about theft (it’s a huge problem on construction sites) but not worried about this. Also, in response to an earlier caution, we installed a carbon monoxide detector in the garage when we bought the generator and have several inside our home. We followed all of the safety precautions we knew or discovered in our research.

        2. I certainly hope your garage has a carbon monoxide detector and either is not connected to your house or the generator is vented in such a way you are in no danger of being poisoned by its exhaust.

          A father ran to Home Depot late one stormy night during a blackout, bought a generator, did not read the warnings, and killed his entire quite large family by accident in a nearby township.

  20. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I know everyone is very concerned about the situation in Ukraine,we share those concerns and I’m struggling to process all the bad news currently so I won’t dwell on it here. We will do what we can to help.
    My husband has been sowing many different types of seed and pricking them out into pots. Some have gone direct into the garden beds. We hope to have an even more productive garden this year. We have picked purple sprouting broccoli, kale, leeks and parsnips this week.
    I was very fortunate to be invited to join a couple of friends at the holiday home one of them owns on Islay in the Inner Hebrides. This wasn’t frugal but we did try to keep costs down and our accommodation was free. We took plenty of food with us for the long drive and refilled our water bottles at service stations on the way. We cooked evening meals at the house and ate fruit we had taken with us for pudding. We had lunch out twice and chose starters instead of main courses which were adequate for lunch. We walked, read, watched wildlife and didn’t spend any money on attractions or entertainment.
    We cleaned the house before we left and made up the beds with fresh linen so my friend didn’t need to pay a cleaner to do the ‘ turnover’ ready for the next people staying.
    Inexpensive meals since my return have been cauliflower cheese, lambs liver and onions and jacket potato with cheese. I have stewed fruit for puddings using homegrown frozen fruit and made rock cakes for snacks with tea.
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. PennyP – a friend of mine was a teacher at the Gaelic school on Islay a few years ago. We laughed when she reported that she had received a letter addressed to: Gaelic teacher – house of the daffodils – Islay – it is a relatively small place! But with very good Scotch whisky! 🙂

      1. Hi Margie
        It’s just that sort of place! I would love to go back with my husband one day, the wildlife was amazing.

  21. Greetings from Bronx, NY.
    I appreciate the information about Ukraine and the links you provided. I was touched by your Instagram post.
    It was a frugal week except for a car repair. DH signed up for overtime to help offset the bill and has gotten a few hours already.
    I continued good habits I developed reading this blog—cooking meals at home, repurposing leftovers, hanging laundry to dry, and cold-water wash.
    I started seedlings for spinach. My tomato seedlings are coming up and green onions are growing on the windowsill.
    I had a package delivered with lots of that inflated plastic packing which I separated on the perforations and cut along the top to use for doggie poo bags. I also use produce bags and plastic mailers if they’re not stiff. Fortunately my dogs are small so I try to use anything free.
    Grocery bargains included old fashioned oats for $1.99 (limit 4), broccoli crowns for $.99 lb. and asparagus $1.49 lb.
    We only use milk in tea, oatmeal and cooking so I like to have powdered milk on hand if we don’t have fresh. I made a note to add 1/3 cup milk powder to 1 cup water or 1/4 cup powder to 3/4 cup water (most of my recipes call for 3/4 or 1 cup milk) instead of mixing a whole quart which we are unlikely to use.
    I am trying out keeping a stick of butter on the counter (in a covered butter dish). It spreads more easily so my hope is that I will use less. We keep the heat low in our house which makes me think this will work.
    Hope everyone has a safe and healthy week.

  22. My dad came to visit us in Norway while the war was breaking, my mom was left in Krakow. She opened her home and heart to an Ukrainian family. The men went back to fight. I am proud of her and others who invite the refugees to their homes. When I read about the train that will take them to Germany I got a bit sad. It sounds as if we don’t want them in PL. When in reality ALL transport is, of course, free for them. They should be able to get where they need, and all the major polish cities have reception centres ready, hospitals and schools are waiting. More importantly, regular people are driving buses and cars to the border to get as many people into warmth and safety as possible. Accepting those affected into their own homes.
    But I must admit that I am looking into getting mom over here rather than sending my dad back. It is not very easy time. I am very grateful that you are sharing those links, Brandy.
    Beware of the short cycle on the machine!!! Mine displays water and energy usage and on the short cycle it uses double the electricity and a little more water to get the job done in a shorter time! I just learned about this during our ongoing energy crisis!
    Onto the crisis: we used our homeschooling freedoms and decided to escape the cold, dark house. We hit up as many winter cottages of friends and family as we could think of. It is very usual here to visit each other’s cottages. They usually have no power or water, but it is so much better to be on ‘vacation’ than go without at home. We played in the snow and went skiing. My 3 yo is a snowboarder like his older brother, but he also picked up cross country skiing now (he goes 4km like a pro). The season of fun was interrupted by omicron. I still feel awful, going into the 3rd week. My dad came to help keep the morale high. He is the best. He is a great teacher, finds awesome activities for the kids, cooks super delicious, ancient ‘get well’ foods (like his famous sourdough soup) and has the best songs and fairytales. I am so grateful for my amazing parents!

    1. Oh Kinga – hope you are feeling better soon and that your mom is able to join you so you aren’t quite so worried. But how kind of her and everyone else to do all they can for the poor refugees. Take care.

    2. Kinga, I hope you recover your health soon. Please be careful. Your dad sounds amazing, a dad one would wish for! I worry for Poland as well and hope you can convince your mom to join you. What a generous woman she is! It heartens me to see so many in Poland helping. My children’s great-grandparents came from Poland and my husband is very proud of his Polish heritage, especially in his faith. Your life adventure is inspiring.

    3. Kinga,
      thank you for mentioning this! I was a little puzzled as short cycle was recommended here; it just didn’t make sense to me because all the ”eco-friendly”(less electricity and water) cycles always seem to take longer time

    4. Thank you for sharing the recipe. It sounds like a great idea.
      What a wonderful story. I hope you are well soon.

  23. Yes, so much bad news, between peaceful protests being crushed and the protestors’ lives ruined, and now war in the Ukraine, it’s easy to be discouraged. Thanks for the links, Brandy.
    I buy from Azure Standard and received a note saying wholesale accounts will need to purchase over $10,000/year to continue. That was bad news, so I’m stocking up this month on laundry soap, olive oil, rice, cassava flour and more.
    In the light of world events my frugal accomplishments seem pretty trivial. I’d bought several inexpensive linen dresses second-hand on ebay, but they were too big. I decided to try to shrink them and I was successful. Linen dresses are very cool for our hot summers, especially without AC. I was thrilled that it worked so well and was easy. It will expand my choices because it isn’t easy to find petite clothes.

    I am going to start another food forest and have been saving up cuttings to make a sort of hugelkulture. I need to remove a whole lot of ferns first, so have posted them for free on CraigsList.

    Thank you to the person who recommended Diary of, and Confessions of, a Bookseller. I enjoyed both books.
    Thank you, Brandy for all your work on this blog.

    1. I think it is important that we continue to differentiate between a humanitarian crisis like Ukraine and other situations which are a matter of political opinion how each of us sees what happened. Brandy has asked us many times to leave politics out of the comments so we can share what we have in common about frugal living.

        1. It is, but I am going to share commentary on ways to help those who are suffering. I will share and permit what I feel is appropriate.

          For me to not comment on the war would be insensitive.

      1. Mountain Mama Dawn…I just put them in my cart. I love books set in bookstores! Thank you for the recommendation!

  24. I wish I could grow a garden so I could help offset our ever growing grocery bill. I kill everything. I’m actually contemplating finding a third job for on the weekend.

    I finished a winter reading challenge at our local library and got a free mug.

    Returned a library book on time

    Sent off a $2.15 rebate to Menards

    Used $5 rewards at Walgreens to buy a sympathy card and 2 glade renuzits.

    Used a free crazy bread coupon at Little Cesar’s.

    Only worked Tuesday last week, then the weather was gross and was home from my school job the rest of the week.

    I stopped at Starbucks on my way to book club, and they made 2 iced chais by accident and gave me the second for free. 😋

    Made sure to enter receipts for points and used Get Upside when I decided to top off my gas.

  25. The news from Ukraine has been so frightening. Terrible how quickly everything about life can change. 🙁

    My daughter and I made a batch of cookies using a bag of cranberries from the fridge that needed to be used up (the remainder of the bag will go in a batch of muffins later on in the week). I used up a soft apple in our batch of breakfast muffins and saved the peel to go into the dehydrator to be ground into powder (and used in future baked goods). I spent $21 on my regular grocery trip and $28 when I ran to GFS for bulk peanut butter and an impulse buy of vegetarian breakfast sandwiches (I don’t normally go for impulse buys, but since grocery costs were so low this week and we almost never go out to eat, I felt okay about this treat!).

    I did workouts with YouTube and went for walks outside. We read huge stacks of library books, and I also read a book from my own shelves, which was bought at an all-you-can-cram-into-a-paper-bag-for-$10 book sale last year. I also combined errands on the days when I had to go out.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  26. Your garden is a sight for sore eyes. I would love to sit in it for awhile, and just read an uplifting book.
    I worked six days this week, as I do every year this time of year, since it is tax season. I brought breakfast and lunch five days, and breakfast the sixth. Our office provides lunch for anyone who works on Saturdays. They send a menu around and you choose what you want. This week I had a chef’s salad. It was so tasty, with all the fresh veggies. Just what my body craved.
    I picked up two roasted chickens from Costco on Saturday, after work. We had some Saturday night with mashed potatoes and gravy, and some veggies on the side. I then picked all the meat off the bones and put the bones in my 8 qt. crockpot, with carrots, onions, celery, peppercorns, salt and pepper and some bay leaves. Let it cook for 24 hours, and it the most gorgeous broth. Will make chicken noodle soup with some, and freeze some of the broth for other soups. We also had chicken quesadillas on Sunday for lunch. I will probably make some chicken enchiladas, and freeze the rest of the meat for later.
    I also went to the bread store and picked up bread off their 5 for $5.00 special trays. Got 2 packages of hoagie rolls. We use these for garlic bread, as it gives automatic portion control. 2 large loaves of thick sliced multi-grain bread. I made French toast on Sunday with some of that bread, and a loaf of 5 seed bread.
    I made chow mein with carrots, onions, celery, and cabbage that we had on hand, and angel hair pasta from the pantry. Not quite as inexpensive as in the summer, as the only thing from the garden was the onion.
    Made a batch of bulger. I eat this for breakfast at work. I am not fond of oatmeal.
    Best deals for the week included asparagus for 87¢ a pound. I bought about 4 1/2 pounds. The limit was 5 pounds. The chickens at Costco are still $4.99 each. I’m not sure I could buy a chicken and roast it myself for that price. I always pick the largest ones I can find.
    My prayers are with the people of Ukraine, and those supporting them in other countries.

  27. Thank you for the links for donations for Ukraine.
    I’m continuing to tend the seeds I planted inside, looking forward to the day when I can put them in the greenhouse bed. It will be another month before I can start seeds destined to go outside. While making dinner one day I made double and took the extra to a couple at church. She is recovering from surgery. For some reason I always stress about taking food to others, afraid they won’t like it or it isn’t ‘fancy’ enough. This time I told myself I was being silly and if it was good enough for my family, it’s certainly good enough for them. They seemed to appreciate it. I made homemade granola, sandwich bread, and pancake syrup (someone above mentioned how good and easy it is to my your own syrup and I agree!) Interesting to see how much oats have gone up — they are on my list to buy soon and I kind of dread seeing the new price.

  28. Just a word on the quick cycle on the washing machine. At one point we had family going through housing issues and let them stay with us. The regularly used the quick setting on the washer. Within a few months our washer was completely destroyed. Come to find out from an appliance repair that the quick cycle is extremely hard on your machine. It ruined our machine and we ended up having to completely replace the washer.

    1. I have a 12 year old washing machine that I only use the quick cycle on. We only do at most 2 loads per week (small family). It’s going strong, no issues. It is not a huge consumer of electricity for us.

    2. We also found that the quick cycle on the DW seems to work fine at first, but over time, it becomes clear that the dishes aren’t getting clean. At least that was true with our hard water.

  29. Went to an estate sale and scored big: there were cases of water packed tuna that were still well before the sell-by date. The price was 15 cents a can and I bought four cases of them, leaving two cases for someone else to buy. I went back the next day, the last day of the sale, and the tuna was still there only marked down to 10 cents a can. I bought the remaining cases, so we now have six cases of tuna. We like tuna so will be eating a lot of it over the next year. Worth it for such low priced protein. The only other thing I bought was two large cans of pineapple slices. Not sure what I will use them for, but at a quarter a can I figured I can’t go wrong. That was all we spent on food this week, except for a gallon of milk.
    Cut my husband’s hair. Went to the dump and while there saw a cast iron frying pan that was filthy but otherwise fine. Brought it home and cleaned it up and sold it for $20.
    That is all, besides the usual stuff of no food waste, being careful about lights and so on. Wishing everyone a good week.

    1. In Australia we use pineapple slices on burgers (bread rolls with rissole (meat patty,) sliced beetroot, lettuce, tomato sauce (ketchup) etc…sometimes add a fried egg and bacon too!).

      Also popular to use in a “pineapple upside down cake”.

  30. I stopped at a discount/scratch and dent grocery store last week and they had outdated peanut butter for .50 a jar. I didn’t buy any because this brand was full of sugar and hydrogenated oil. Now I am having some regret when others aren’t able to get it at all! I do have two jars on hand.

    My husband strained his hamstring last week skating, so that necessitated a trip to Instacare. His blood pressure was really low (dehydration, it turns out) and the doctor was worried, so they sent us to the ER. There he had more tests and an IV drip. We are part of a health share network, so I will be interested to see how expensive a day it was. He is doing better but has bruising and swelling all down his leg and has been hobbling since he fell. There doesn’t seem to be any other injury. I anticipate it will be in the thousands of dollars.

    Otherwise, I have been reading, knitting, and serving others. I’m fighting for balance with watching the news to stay informed but not enough that I feel hopeless. I am grateful to have hobbies that bring me satisfaction and I find myself turning more to them for relief that staying focused on tasks. But that’s part of self care. I will make a donation to help out. Thank you for the links.

    Now, I will do a quick inventory of my pantry. Oil, oats, and perhaps some flour for us as well. I am grateful to have a freezer of food and shelves of jarred food as well.

    Peace to all of you.

  31. The world seems to be getting worse every day. I can’t even watch the news anymore. Thank you for your blog. It is always a pleasure to read and know that there are people like me out in the world.
    The little boy that I watch has brought me so much joy and exercise these last few months. He is very smart and well behaved. On the warm days we always go to the park. He never tires of it. His father is having some medical issues so I have had him more recently. With prices going up, the extra money is welcome. I did have to run over 2 Saturdays ago because his father was going to the hospital via ambulance. They feed me whenever I am there. D’s mom has been cleaning (stress) out lots of closets and the pantry. She has offered me many items and I happily take what I can use. The lady I have been helping reduced my days down to one. She has healed nicely but likes the company. The timing worked out perfectly.
    Some good grocery deals over the last 2 weeks have been 8 avocados marked down to $1.99 and 12 tomatoes to $1.99. I made lots of guacamole. Hubby even put some on an egg sandwich and loved it. I got a pound of ground turkey for $1.84. I will mix it with ground beef. Pot roast was on sale for $2.99 a pound. I got the largest one and cut it into 2. One half was cubed for sauce.
    Most meals were made at home. Lots of eggs, pork chops, pasta, homemade pizza, tacos, waffles, pancakes, steal cut oats, chili with rice, mac n cheese, ravioli, salads, and lots of homemade bread.
    I did some dumpster diving. I saw on craigslist ad that a local office was closing. I stopped by and got an almost new microwave, a knife set, 1/2 a case of coffee cups, 2 packs of paper plates and bowls, a large box of forks,2 baskets, a manual can opener, silverware, a small mixer, a large box of coffee pods, 4 cans of tuna, a box of tea, a box of individual mayos, 4 garbage cans, and 2 tubs with lids. As you can tell I went for the kitchen stuff. I packed up most of the kitchen items for when my daughter or son move out.
    I have been decluttering and selling stuff as I go. I finally finished going through all of the book cases. Hubby went through all of the CD’s. More stuff out and money in. $62.
    My son was having a friend from out of state visit that he hasn’t seen since Covid started. He bought bagels, lox and cream cheese and shared with the family.
    Hubby wanted a rolling cart so he built one with supplies we had. It cost him $0. He is also building our son a record holder for his birthday.
    Finally got our free Covid tests. One of my prescriptions this year is now $0 OOP. I don’t know why but I will take it. Last year it was $10 so that saves me $120 this year.
    I planted my first seeds for this year’s garden. I can’t wait to get back out there.
    We were able to put 2 extra principal payments to our mortgage this month.

  32. I usually buy tomato plants at the nursery each year, this year I decided to try my hand at starting them from seeds, it’s working! My plants are about 5 inches tall so far. 🙂 fingers crossed. Tried to grow lettuce and failed. I think my container was a bit too shallow, will try again. Thank you so much for your posts!

  33. I need to start watching the Buy Nothing locals sites….I love seeing everyone getting free stuff the need. And what a great way to bless others in need! Since it is the end of the month and I get paid monthly, I paid the bills. My natural gas bill was high for me. It was about what I usually pay for gas and electric and sometimes even my water bill combined. It is crazy. I put $25 extra toward a line of credit and $17 extra toward a credit card. (these are both bills from before my husband passed.) Right when the pandemic started I purchased an electric canner, it works great for small batches, which is what I normally do since it is just me. I cleaned out the freezers and took inventory. I had 2 bags of chicken parts/bones, so I made broth and canned it up. Also canned carrots that I got on sale last week. Redeemed some Fetch Rewards for a $10 Amazon card.

    I am going to do a small (not so small???) stock up this week as prices are just going up and shelves are still not getting filled. I just feel we need all be a bit more stocked up and prepared. Not much else for this week.

  34. Hello, everyone!

    Some things I did last week:

    —I put ashes from our fireplace around rose bushes and peony bushes.

    —I have a couple of potted trees that I keep inside during the winter. I water them over a large bucket because there is quite a bit of water that comes out the drainage holes. Since they are well fertilized, I take that water and add it to my garden boxes.

    —I sharpened our hair cutting scissors using aluminum foil.

    —I cracked open a lip gloss tube to get several more uses.

    —I’m growing more vegetables and herbs indoors, but trying to make everything look nice by using pretty containers and keeping things tidy.

    Most of the books I have been reading lately are non-fiction. Even though a distraction would be nice, I just can’t concentrate with so much happening in the world. I brightened some gloomy winter days by indulging in flower books, including “The Flower Hunter,” by Lucy Hunter. I also enjoyed “American Cake,” by Anne Byrn. It’s a chronological history of popular cakes….lots of good recipes and stories of cake origins.

    1. I haven’t bought Lucy’s book yet, but I plan to. I follow her on Instagram and while I love her flower arrangements, I love her storytelling skills more! She is so funny.

    2. D, are you STARTING your veg indoors? Or growing them indoors the whole time? We have deer here and no way, short of building a fence, to keep them out (and we won’t be doing that any time soon.) . It is really bothering me to not be able to grow a garden right now. I am very curious to know how others are dealing with this. Do you have a grow light system? Hydroponics? Something simpler?

      1. My husband got me a grow light last year, so I have it set up in front of a sunny window (for extra light). The seeds are in Growease starting kits I got from atop a heating mat that is sitting on our big cooler. So far I’m only doing onions from old seed, but they’ve germinated and are doing well. I tried peppers as well but they have not germinated. It was seed from 3 years ago so I knew it might not work.
        Secondly, I have seeds starting in an Aerogarden I got used from Facebook. The broccoli and lettuce sprouted almost immediately. Nothing on ground cherries or petunias. I usually sprout lettuce in a shallow tray but wanted to try it in the AG.
        Finally, I have some milk jugs sitting on the deck for winter sowing. Everything has germinated and doing well in those. Snow peas, several types of lettuce, beets, broccoli, radishes, and kale. Winter sowing is super easy, and it’s like a slow cooker — fix it and forget it. I would have done more like this, but didn’t save as many jugs as usual this winter.

  35. It has certainly been a very unsettling week. I have found prices here in Canada have skyrocketed on food, gasoline, hydro and natural gas. I am grateful that we are on budget billing plans for both hydro and natural gas, although I am certain our monthly amounts will increase in the next billing cycle. I have kept the temperature in the house down this winter both day and night but the cost is still more than last year. I am also thankful we have a small car and don’t drive frequently. I need to fill up this week but it has been seven weeks since I last put gas in the car.

    I did a deep clean of our two small freezers and discarded a lot of old food. I am hoping to have everything into one freezer in the next month and turn the other off to save electricity. We also had a small fridge running that I turned off. I am shopping from the grocery ads as much as I can and trying not to buy anything we don’t need. There are definitely a lot of empty shelves at the grocery store but I have managed to find everything I need.

    We have been using the library for books and videos. My husband shaved his hair and I trimmed my son’s hair this week. We continue to be blessed by our local buy nothing group. This week I received two and a half boxes of oatmeal packets, some reusable silicone jar lids and a book for my husband.

    We will continue to pray for the people of the Ukraine and a world that needs healing.

  36. Brandy: Thank you for the information on Ukraine. I think we all feel quite helpless for so many seasons at this time in history. Helping others is always helpful in alleviating stress and fear. God bless the brave Ukrainian people!

    As an escape, a good book always helps. I am reading, The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont. It is a novel built around Agatha Christie’s disappearance for eleven days without explanation. Great read!

    I made an old dish this week: cube steak with onion and mushroom gravy over rice. Standard fare for those on a budget for years. It had been a long time and it was delicious! No longer a cheap dish, however. Sigh.

    Still looking for bargains and coming up empty. Does anyone feed wild birds? We have several Cardinal families plus many other different birds that we have fed for years. Seed is becoming quite expensive. Costco and Sam’s are high. I have always bought from the Farmer’s CO-OP, but there price has jumped about 20%. Anyone have a suggestion?

    The weather is suppose to be very warm in East Tennessee this week. I will use the time to wash my stinky Yaks, aka our Newfoundland Dogs! It is like washing a big, Old Buick!

    Much love and blessings to each of you! Stay frosty out there!

    1. Have you considered growing your own seed?

      A friend of mine in a warm climate is growing sunflowers right now. He has parrots coming to eat them out of the garden!

      Many years ago, when I had a per bird, I would buy sprays of millet seed to give to my bird. Last year I bought some millet seed and some black sunflowers seeds from the bulk bins at Winco. I forgot to plant them, but I hope to plant them somewhere in the garden this year to feed the birds. I think it will be fun to watch the birds eating the seeds. I used to have many birds in my garden (including lots of hummingbirds, which loved my flowers) but I rarely see or hear them since we have redone it and everything is small and new again. I’m hoping some seeds growing in the garden will bring them back. Perhaps I just need to wait another month until spring arrives, but I will still plant seeds for them.

      1. Excellent idea! I will try that. I love watching them, Their beauty is overwhelming!

        We also feed Hummingbirds. We have the same ones each year and have gotten to know them. One is very old and very fat. He can barely fly! I can’t believe he can still migrate! It is going to be so sad when he doesn’t come. He’s really funny as he sits on a branch and watches the others dart around. No darting for him!

      2. My first gardening experience is planting birdseed in my neighbors sandbox as a small child. It was pretty exciting to see it grow! Of course, her parents weren’t too excited about plants growing in the sandbox.

      3. I love sunflowers blooming in my garden. Always a great project for the children.

        On one visit to the USA I was absolutely thrilled to see a hummingbird! We have gorgeous birds here though…rainbow lorikeets, cockatoos, kookaburras and many more.

          1. Yes 🙂, they like to hang out around our Lilly Pilly’s, which are right outside our living area. Frugal entertainment, watching them bounce about!

      4. I am sure Brandy you know the following but it is for everyone’s benefit.
        Hummingbirds don’t usually eat seeds but if you plant trumpet-shaped flowers, they’ll come along.
        In the meantime, you could hang a hummingbird feeder. Instead of buying food mixes for it, just
        boil 4 cups of water with 1 cup sugar (any amount of water as long as the ratio is 4 to 1, water to white sugar).
        Only white sugar should be used and it’s very important NOT to use honey. The only thing is that it will have to be cleaned and refilled
        daily because of the heat. Hummingbirds have incredible memories — they remember where each type of plant that attracts them
        is from year to year. They may well show up to check things out so if you have some of their favourite, nectar producing flowers they may visit.

    2. I, too, have seen the price of black oil sunflower seed go up but am determined to continue feeding my feathered friends. I do grow sunflowers to feed them as well as our chickens. Not enough to last for a long time but it does help. The trick is to keep the deer out of the sunflowers as they grow which can be tricky. I also have to bring in my feeders at night or the raccoons and possums get to them and can clean them out in one night. But, we have to figure these things out when living in a forest. I have also observed that I can put out less seed in the warmer months when they have enough to eat out in the wild and can save a lot of seed back for winter when they need it most.

    3. I look for birdseed at discount grocery stores. There’s one that is kind of like an overrun place where they often have birdseed. It’s not a constant brand or type, however, so that might matter to you. We used to buy the kind with black oil sunflower seeds, nuts, and fruit but it’s just too expensive now for us. Sorry, birds!

      I do love feeding my hummingbirds. I just brought out my feeder today so I can get it cleaned & ready…we usually get our first hummingbird around mid-March. Planting some specific flowers this year that are supposed to be hummingbird-friendly, I hope they like them. It’s my nightly entertainment to sit on the deck and watch them battle it out.

  37. The news from Ukraine is heartbreaking…it’s definitely made me not take for granted this week the blessing of safety, home, family, and (relative) stability. I appreciate you sharing the list of links…I think one of the worst things about seeing injustice and heartache is feeling helpless to do anything about it, so I’m grateful for the resources.

    We stocked up quite a bit around September, but we’ve since been running low on some things again, just because I was so hesitant to buy more with the prices rising so much. Of course, now prices are higher than ever, but I am planning on getting more of some staples that still aren’t too terribly expensive, like oats and flour.

    We had originally planned to convert all our vegetable beds over to flowers to expand our flower farm operation this year, but now I’m rethinking that plan…if we could offset even some of our produce costs, it would be worth it to keep at least a couple of the beds for our own use. The tricky thing now is just finding room under our grow lights to start the seedlings for them!

  38. We are also noticing our prices going up . We are trying to be careful. We are grateful we had enough to cover taxes. Now we need to save for next years taxes and land tax as well as some other major expenses. We are trying not to spend so much. It is difficult with everything going up. My husband is keeping a tally of what we spend on everything. We are a team and are doing this together. My husband only worked one day last week so we will have to spread the budget even more. And we have a hospital bill coming up. I’m glad he has more hours this week. I’m growing my hair out and not coloring it. I need to get a pair of scissors so my husband can cut it. We haven’t done that yet. My hair that is coming in looks so much healthier. I’ll be glad to get my old colored growth off once it grows out enough. I plan to have my husband cut a little bit every month. I took my son to the dentist today. Someone complimented me on my clothes and my son announced to everyone that I get all my clothes from goodwill. It made me laugh. I certainly get almost all my clothes from thrift shops. I rarely buy anything new. It is fun to find a gem at a thrift store and not spend too much money. We are trying to use what we have at home for almost everything. We borrowed movies from the library for entertainment. I want to garden but I need hernia surgery. So I’m not sure how much I will be able to do yet. So we are trying to save for the hospital bill as well. We are hoping that our vehicles will hang on. They have a lot of miles. But we do routine maintenance. I’m glad my husband’s job is not too far away. Gas has gotten really expensive. We are turning of lights. I also thought about using express wash on our clothes to save electricity. So glad my husband is on board with being frugal. We hope to do more fun frugal things.

    1. We did foster care for years, for teenaged boys. (We already had teenaged boys of our own in the house and wanted to avoid adding teenaged girls.) Our local dump has an exchange platform, where you can put things that are in good enough condition that others may find them useful. I have found some great dresses that way and for this one boy we found jeans with the tags still on. Well, we went to court some months later and the judge asked him how things are going and he said, “Fine, except she makes me wear clothes she finds in the dumpsters.” It took some fast talking to explain that the clothes were new and everyone in our home wore Goodwill or dumpster exchange platform clothing. Then, not five minutes later, he added, “And she does not feed me normal food.” After some questioning, he clarified that by normal food he meant we did not take him out for or bring home fast food. At least the judge laughed when the child said, “Until I went to live there, I didn’t know people could make bread, I thought it all came from machines.” But here is the best part of the story: about 12 years later, my husband and I saw the kid, now a grown man, inside Home Depot. He proudly introduced us to his wife and young son and said, “And Miss Mable, my wife makes bread, too!” I could not have been prouder if I had been the one who taught her to make bread!

      1. That is funny!

        And an interesting perspective.

        Our dump has signs against taking things. Nothing may be taken.

  39. Hello Everyone!

    With so much going on in the world right now, we took time this last week to be thankful and grateful, while saying extra prayers for the Ukranian people. We also found out that our very good friends who live a few blocks away (our kids are best friends), the oldest son (senior in high school) of their next door neighbor took his own life and was found by one of his parents. I can’t even imagine. I did a lot of praying and reflecting yesterday. Our friends, naturally, are very shaken and sad for their neighbors. We are waiting to hear from them to see if there is anything we can do for their neighbors or for our friends.

    Gas where we live is over $5 per gallon, so we are being careful about where we drive to and combining trips. My husband commutes to work over 30 miles each way, but there really isn’t any getting around that; there is no public transportation to where he works. I am working from home as much as I can to save gas also the parking fees next to my office. I realized the week before last that it went up $2.15 per day if I used the app. My co-worker let me know that if you use the kiosk, it was $2.15 less…go figure.

    We have also been very diligent about turning off lights when not in the room or not using them. I am also trying to only use my washer and dryer from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM. If you use electricity between 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM, you get charged the higher rate. My electric bill has doubled in the last two months and we aren’t using any more than before….sigh. I contacted our HOA about the sport court. They have a pool that opens in May that we use every day. In the meantime, the sports court is available to us to use until the pool opens…just needed to get the code. We are looking forward to nice days being able to play. They have basketball, pickle ball, bocce ball and a gas bbq that we can use. I found pickle ball paddles for 70% off at Target and used a gift card to get them, so no OOP costs. While, I also looked for Easter treats and a birthday present for one of our neighbors’ children for his birthday. I didn’t see anything on sale that I liked, so I will keep my eye out.

    Also being diligent about food sales and not wasting any food. Last week we started meal planning again. We have gotten lazy over the last couple of months. We are also teaching our son, that even if he doesn’t like so much what we are having for dinner (for example if it’s a certain shape of pasta, but he prefers spaghetti), it’s what we have and we have to eat it. So far so good. In the past, he just would not eat it and we’d end up making him something else. Those days are over….hahahaha!

    I did treat myself to a shopping trip to a few of the goodwill stores. I found a metal beverage bucket for $8. I have wanting one for quite a while and have seen them advertised starting at $50. I found a magnetic hangman travel game and also a brand new still sealed board game for $5. We plan on taking these when we go to the lake in June. There were several things that I wanted, but I resisted! At another one, I found a Williams Sonoma dish to match my appetizer set for $2. I also found several dvds of British tv shows (BBC & Masterpiece Theater) for my elderly father in law. We ended the day with my mother in law treating us to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants that was closing.

    Have a great week everyone 🙂

  40. After several months of tough times, with severe cold weather and frequent snow, a big bill for the vet for my remaining cat, and a hot water heater inspection that my insurance company insisted on, I am glad to come out the other side with a couple of frugal successes.

    Today I switched to a fixed rate contract for electricity from a variable rate. This is likely to save me several hundred dollars a year if prices continue to be high. Thanks to Ellie’s Friend who nudged me towards this in the fall.

    Less importantly, I did more careful pricing of popcorn because Frito-Lay and Loblaw, one of Canada’s biggest grocery conglomerates, had a huge fight about the price of Lay chips and Tostitos. I found I could get popcorn for half the price on Amazon over my local store. There are two packs waiting for me at the post office. There are also a 2 lb of mandarin oranges in my cupboard that were the same price as a bag of chips!

    1. Oh Elizabeth M.
      I am so glad to read your post. It is great to hear from you. What you might not know is that the fixed rates for both electricity and natural gas
      are going up in April. So it is so good you tied into the fixed rate. I also advocate doing it for natural gas as well. I took a day off from working on our book (yes, the non-ending book) to analyse my printer’s home utility bill and how much he would save by fixing the rate. Here is part of the analysis for your benefit based on an Enmax bill which may or may not apply to you. First, if you are paying a transaction fee (the standard fee is 99 cents per gigajoule — I was paying 47 cents because of the grandfathered plan I was on. Well, under Enmax, if you go to a fixed rate for gas you pay no transaction fee. So right away my friendly printer saves $21 per month (depends on consumption). For most of the month his floating rat was $4.06 lower than the fixed rate but when calculated he only came out 88 cents ahead of the fixed rate at $4.09. In my case (and his)we are on an Easy Max plan which gives us cash back. It averages out to about $100 per year which is a godsend. I don’t think that plan is still available. I noticed on his bill that his carbon tax was $99.00. I don’t know what mine is. I missed the rebate last year because I didn’t realize that it was switched to a federal grant. I am about to fill out the cra form to claim last year’s. It will be about $450. Kenney just announced a rebate on natural gas which is almost useless as it only kicks in if the price goes above $6 something. Right now the fixed rate is $4.09. And now the irony: Enmax only tied in my natural gas. I didn’t notice about my electricity because I was already tied in at 6.59 cents per kiloWatt hour. I contemplated should I forego the last two years of that contract to get a longer contract at 6.89 cents. Enmax is reviewing all of the phone conversations to see whether it really was tied in. I am sure I said to tie both in. Otherwise, I’ll have to tie in at 7.49 cents the current fixed rate (which itself is going up). Anyway if my printer ties in now to a fixed rate for both, he will save $60 per month basd on current floating rates and no gas transaction fee.

      1. I hope Enmax’s review of the phone records goes in your favor! (I put a u in favor, and autocorrect took it out.)

        It is a good idea for me to look into moving to a fixed rate for natural gas. It may not happen right away, since I’ve made a couple of changes recently that will affect billing cycles and my credit score. I’d like to see how these play out before I make another change. It will be interesting to see how much usage I have of natural gas. My carbon tax is a lot lower than your printer’s. It was $46 last month. I only have my furnace running on gas, so there is virtually no usage and no carbon tax for several months a year.

        1. Thanks, Elizabeth M.
          My carbon tax is $56 per month. I was relieved to learn that it wasn’t as high as my printer’s. My carbon tax rebate will almost cover my carbon tax for the year since I do not have a car. It fluctuates with how much gas is used. I’m not sure why my gas usage is so much lower than my printer’s. I have two furnaces so by rights mine ought to be higher. While our furnaces use natural gas, they also use electricity. If Europe stops importing gas from Russia, the price of our natural gas will go up, at least temporarily. If you do review your gas, start with your bill to see if you pay a transaction fee for each gigajoule. Ask the gas company if there’s a transaction fee for fixed contracts, or only for floating rates. With Enmax it is only for floating rates because they have a cost to track the price of gas on a daily basis so a fixed rate eliminates the need to calculate the cost. Anyway best of luck –I don’t think going to fixed rate would affect your credit rating in any way but leave that to you.

  41. It seems like we haven’t saved or been frugal in awhile. It is frustrating. I have been eating up leftovers, mostly because it’s easier to add my food to my calorie counter if it’s leftovers from a meal I have already entered. I have been better about eating all my fruit and not wasting any. My best friend’s parents brought me some sample sized products from the condo where they stayed last week – 3 All detergent samples, shampoo and conditioner, and lotion. My daughter and I had a girls day out, but I didn’t buy much at all, although I did get two Christmas shirts for less than $5 total. My husband brought home a really nice solid wood table and four chairs for my son’s home (for free), and I got 7 wreaths (one incredibly large, 5 large, and 1 small) for $20! I had been looking for large wreaths for years, but refused to pay the prices asked, so this was quite a nice find.

  42. I always use express/short cycles in the dishwasher and washing machine. Everything comes out clean. The only time I use a long, hot cycle in the washing machine is if a family member has been sick with something contagious and I will wash their clothes, bed sheets, mattress protector and towels separate from everyone else’s. With stained or heavily solid clothing I wet it, rub it with a bar of Sard soap, leave it for a duration then add it to the next washing machine load. I will sard, wait, rinse off a number of times if the clothing item is particularly bad.

    Food has certainly increased in price. To keep prices down we are eating more lentils, beans and chick peas instead of meats, I changed to a lower cost clothes washing liquid soap, I am stocking up on well priced grains as I’ve read there may be shortages here, we are as always eating from the garden and we have been blessed with an abundance of mangoes, pineapples and bananas. Great to not have to buy these items.

    Meals have mostly been comprised of lentils plus mangoes, pineapples and bananas to use them up. We also cooked lentil, eggplant and pumpkin lasagne, vegetable pizzas on bases we made with flour and yoghurt and banana bread.

    Due to severe flooding in our city and region we have been ordered to stay home if safe to do so. We are situated on high land so have been ok, staying indoors and playing many board and card games.

    The city I work in is closed, as is the public transport to get me there, so I’ve been working from home.

    Schools are also closed. I couldn’t get there anyway, as the roads are all closed.

    The local grocery store is also closed. We have ample food to get us through.

    1. Annie-Blake and Suzan, I am so sorry to hear about the terrible flooding. I hadn’t even heard or read about it. I learn more on this blog than on World News. Please stay safe.

      1. Thank you Kat. Our regions dam (used for drinking water) went from 60% to 183% capacity in under three days.

        Storms are forecast for later in the week which will cause more chaos because the river levels remain high (as they are having to release some of the dam water).

  43. *I found out last minute I would be working from home for at least 2 weeks. At least that saves on gas.
    *My friend gave me some bok choy that was going to spoil. I needed greens for my guinea pigs. It was perfect timing.
    *I fell and broke my wrist early one morning last week. Instead of heading the ER I waited a few hours until the clinic opened. I was able to get a 50% discount by using my work affiliated hospital.
    *I’ll get a nice insurance payout for my wrist.
    *I saw another specialist. (unrelated to my broken wrist) I was able to use some Covid relief money to purchase my medication. The government gave everyone about $200 but we had to use it locally in independent stores.
    *My son had a playdate. They kids entertained themselves by playing board games.
    *My friend helped me dye my hair. Since I am gray now I don’t want to spend a lot of money to maintain the color. I’m using semi-permanent colors or very light blond to blend in the gray. I went to the salon and only paid for the cut.
    *My son asked me to dye his hair. It will have to wait until my wrist heals.

    1. I am sorry you broke your wrist! I’m impressed you were able to type a comment this week!

    2. You were very brave to be able to wait until the clinic opened to have your broken wrist treated. I am a nurse & I don’t think I could have done that. I’ve heard from my patients that a fractured bone is very painful. Plus you had a child you were caring for while you waited. Bravo for your courage!

      1. I broke my arm and my RN daughter said I needed to go to the ER. I slept and had a garage sale and went to the clinic after noon when I closed the garage sale. My daughter, the RN, was fussing at me. She then had a man on her orthopedic floor whining and joked with him that her mom broke her arm and waited until her garage sale was over to go to the doctor.

        1. Ha ha, this is great, Bama Mama! Too funny. I have an RN daughter but I did the opposite. We realized that going to hospital wouldn’t really prove anything and I might as well wait for the doctor. I’m so glad I saved the time and the money!

  44. Not sure which city you are in Elizabeth but I’ve been to a couple of the Loblaw stores (and their affiliates) here in Toronto and it’s kind of funny – there are all kinds of other chips on the shelves and then there will be this big gap in the middle! They could have fanned things out a bit more but I take it they are trying to make a point!

    1. That’s funny. It is probably best just to believe Loblaw wants them to know they’re welcome back any time they can get back to a target price.

  45. Brandy, thanks for reminding us that there are always ways to help others despite geographical distance or limited funds. In times like these, acts of kindness reaffirm our common humanity, and kindness doesn’t have to cost a penny.

    My frugal week:
    – I made my Shortcut Spanokopita Hand Pies ( as quick lunches for myself and for my mum to take to work. Way cheaper than buying something st a deli counter.
    – Inspired by a comment here, I made cherry cinnamon buns. Oh my gosh, SO good! I gave some away; who doesn’t love freshly baked goodies as a gift? And it used up the random can of cherry filling that I had in my pantry and wanted to use.
    – As part of my birthday gift to my mom, I cleaned her stove/oven. I REALLY cleaned it — every crevice and cranny is sparkling clean and shiny. It didn’t look that dirty but a lot of grime came off. Elbow grease makes for an inexpensive gift!
    – I took my 3yo to ikea to buy an item. She hasn’t been to a lot of large shopping centres due to the pandemic, and she had soooo much fun playing in the little self-contained apartment setups. Inexpensive entertainment!
    – I borrowed a STEM experiments book from the library, and had fun doing experiments with my daughter using household items.
    – I made ‘brownies’ out of sweet potato, pb, maple syrup, flax, and cocoa. Healthy snacks!
    – Made my weekly pizza, using leftover crumbled veggie burger as a topping on half, as well as gifted pancetta on the other half. Served leftovers the next day for lunch with a side of leftover bean salad. Plus when I made the pizza, I made a second one for my husband to bake at some point during the week. So, 4 meals but only meal-prepped once!
    – Made pancakes and tossed in frozen leftover spring mix greens. Added nutrition plus avoided wasting the last handful of greens.
    – bought blsl chicken thighs instead of chicken breast for my husband. Cheaper, and he’s just as happy.

    I know I did more but that’s all I can think of right now. Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

    1. Margaret, did you add the spring greens “as is” to the pancake batter? Did you eat it as a savory pancake? Any toppings? Marvelous idea.

      1. I froze the greens the same way that I freeze kale, and then just tossed a frozen handful into the blender when I made blender pancakes. With kale I never even taste anything, and it just blends into green flecks. With the spring greens (mesclun mix) I actually could taste the bitter greens but I served it with maple syrup and it completely covered the taste. And, added nutrition plus no waste! Otherwise I’d use the frozen greens in a smoothie. I’ve also dehydrated spring greens into a powder to use in smoothies as well. I love avoiding food waste!

        1. Thanks Margaret, I can’t wait to try this. We often have mesclun mix left over (7 oz. not enough to last the week but 16 oz. a bit much).

    2. Margaret, I would love love LOVE it if my kids came and cleaned for my birthday or mother’s day gift. How thoughtful and wonderful of you!

  46. I can’t say I saved heaps of money this week. I bought petrol at the lowest price I could. I added bulk amounts of chickens and butter to my food supply. I bought mum’s coffee at half price.

    I am choosing to donate to Doctors Without Borders as I live so far from the Ukraine. This week I will contact a school friend as she is active in our Ukrainian community.

    Sadly I live in southeast Queensland, Australia and we have had horrible flooding over this least weekend. It was incredible. We had our annual rainfall in a few days. For now our rain has eased but we do expect more storms. But the system has moved to New South Wales and the damage and loss of life is severe.

    1. Hi Suzan, we too have been impacted by the SEQ floods. I hope you are well and safe. It will take a long while to recover from all the devastation. I’m happy to see the Mud Army out and about helping. I’m concerned about the dam releasing they are currently doing plus the severe weather forecast for the rest of the week. Take care.

    2. Our cellphone service has also not been working and we’ve been a few days without electricity (electricity now thankfully restored). I guess the lack of electricity use has been a frugal accomplishment!!

  47. Brandy,
    Your lovely garden picture lifted my spirits and gives me hope that spring will come sooner rather than later. As for the situation in the Ukraine, it has been on my mind constantly and my daughter reminded me that one of her college classmates had to return to the Ukraine as soon as he could in 2020 when they graduated during the beginning of the pandemic because he had to join the military. I found myself thinking about him constantly though I never met him so I asked my daughter for his name so that I could pray for him. She has since mentioned that he recently posted helpful links on social media about where we can send donations to assist.
    Things we did last week to save money:
    Donated plasma and withdrew money from plasma account to deposit in savings-I am saving this money for our family vacation in late March. We are driving to a rented beach house which will be a lovely break for us. We will be able to cook our meals while at this house.
    Continued to keep track of all monies spent by category in order to look for ways to reduce spend.
    Paid extra money toward credit card debt with the goal of eliminating all short term debt.
    Minimized driving in order to save gas and reduce temptation to spend. My daughter and I utilized my leased work car for most trips because gas is paid for the car and I am billed an amount whether I utilize the car for personal use or not.
    Started doing Swagbucks again in order to save money for gifts.
    Planned meals and cooked most meals at home.

    1. I am wondering if he is the person I read about this morning. I read the link of lists. Did it include twitter links for journalists?

  48. I take two ladies to the mobile food pantry every other month. Since I qualify, I’ve also been getting the food and in January we were given 10-pound bone in hams. I already have a lot of ham in the freezer leftover from Christmas so decided to can this one. I canned 6 pints of ham, 14 pints of split pea & ham soup, two pints of ham broth plus another pint and half in the fridge. I still have ham left to grind for sandwiches this week and probably enough for a noodle casserole. I also had meals off the ham all last week. The two bags of split peas were from prior food pantry boxes, onions from last year’s garden so only carrots from grocery store. One of the ladies I take does not like fish so she gave me a bag of frozen pollock one time and a large bag of fish sticks another time which added to what I got has me well fixed for fish for some time yet. This food is a huge blessing with the price increases at the stores and living on a fixed income.

    I mended gloves and long underwear. Ordered a few seeds for the garden. Cooked some apples that were getting soft and made applesauce.

  49. Thanks Brandy for posting about Ukraine. I’m thinking about which charity to donate to. More about it in a minute.

    Well it was a stressful week. I received a cheque and my friend deposited it but the bank insisted on putting a hold on it. I had asked for it to go into savings but they put it into chequing and not only froze that cheque but my whole account so when my monthly cheques went in, they were frozen too. The grim specter arose in my mind – all of my automatic debits for bill payments would go nsf and I’d end up paying $45 at least for each nsf so about $450. First I phoned my utilities company and explained I couldn’t pay my bill because of the bank. The lady was very nice. She gave me a payment arrangement. It was during chatting with her and checking on floating rates that I found I supposedly didn’t tie in my electricity on a fixed rate last fall. Thy are checking the recordings.

    Then I explained to the bank how they had totally messed up my life. The young fellow I had was very obnoxious and when I tried to say something he just interrupted. I have picked up a bad habit from a friend who interrupts me constantly. I will say Wait Wait Wait Wait until the other person realizes that perhaps they interrupted me and I just might have something to say. So I said Wait to the fellow 25 times non stop. I counted. Finally he stopped and listened but just couldn’t understand they’d frozen everything. Then the cellphone went dead. Whether it was a dropped call or a hangup I don’t know. So I phoned back. Of course, I had to be on hold for another hour. I got a really nice lady. I suggested she just transfer the cheque to be held to be transferred to another account so my chequing account could be unfrozen. This could not be done but
    she arranged to have the hold removed the next morning. And so the saga ends. I kept my cool throughout.

    Frugal fails. Well, I planned on spending $30 at Superstore. About $10.00 of that was to restock my pantry with little cans of ham, turkey, chicken.
    Well, here is the ad:

    Maple Leaf ham 99 cents limit 1
    Maple Leaf low sodium ham 99 cents limit 1
    Maple Leaf chicken 99 cents limit 1
    Maple Leaf vienna sausage 99 cents limit 1 and so on
    and so on. I think it is reasonable to think I can buy one of each variety for 99 cents each but when my friend brought my groceries
    they had charged me 99 cents for one and $2.87 for each of all the rest. So my bill almost tripled. It is especially annoying because
    No Frills (a related store) had the same thing on for$1 per can with no limit a to how many you could buy. I did get some there but not wanting my friend to have to carry too much I decided to split my order between two stores. So that is how my grocery bill almost tripled. From $9.90 to $28.70. For that price I could have had steak.
    There were no pickled beets, pineapple juice, vegan mayo, but there were potato chips.
    I was shocked when I read this week’s flyer at Superstore. So pricey. Frozen veggies the 500 gram bags were 2 for $7 are now 2 for8. But superstore still carries a 1.75 kg bag of frozen broccoli florets for $7. It’s a better deal. So I got one. I’ll get the same but in baby brussels sprouts next week.
    Also you really have to watch these stores. Superstore has raised the price on Saputo shredded cheese and the 1 kg blocks are $16.99 but you can buy 500 grams for $6.99 and save $3 that way. But it’s even worse because No Frills puts the 500 gr blocks on sale for $6.99 but now the price is $9.29. I’ve been stocking my freezer with it from Superstore. I fear our cheese eating days will be over soon.

    The big win this week was 4 pounds of Moroccan clementines for $5.99 when Safeway is selling 2 pounds of American clementines for $6.88. My clementines look lovely. I have ben trying to eat5-7 servings of fruit and veggies a day. So far: winter squash, potato,, sweet potato,All 3 baked at the same time in the oven) broccoli, apple, orange and frozen blueberries I bought on sale 6 months ago. I’ve been making blueberry crisps with my oatmeal.

  50. What a mad world we live in I feel so useless, all I can do is pray.
    I have done a stock take of my freezer and I have ordered this months food for delivery. I have noticed the raising prices. Ice cream has been repackaged and downsized by 50g but the price is up 50p. I will do a stocktake of the dry goods before the order is due and change the order accordingly . Here we have a shortage of bread and salted peanuts. Bread I can make but I need the peanuts for nut roast so thats off the menu.
    I have a greengrocery order for this week that has gone above £30 for the first time ever it’s usually about £25.
    We went to see one of my daughters and the grand kids, this is the first time since mid December due to covid, we had enough petrol in the car thank goodness . Petrol here is now £1.50 a litre that’s £6.79 a gallon which is 9.10 dollars! We will have to put petrol in the car to go to see our other daughter next week. I have no doubt due to the Ukraine situation it will go up even further. We heat by gas so that bill will go up too. Luckily summer is coming. I have unplugged what I can ,pull curtains at dusk and use counter top appliances where possible. I have cooked everything from scratch .
    I am still knitting socks, only 3 pairs to go.
    Things are coming up in the garden so we will be planting up the veg beds. I try to use perennial plants for flowers. I have daffodils flowering as is the rosemary and some trees have blossom on them which is very early, I just hope we don’t have a frost.
    I am trying to think of extra ways to save gas, oil and electricity so we don’t have to buy it from Russia. I feel so sorry for the Russian people dragged into a war nobody wanted. They will suffer in the sanctions.

  51. Brandy I am so glad you have been able to harvest lovely veg from your gardens and have replaced a few of your fruit trees and will get some more fruit in the coming years. Doing your own haircuts at home certainly saves a lot and I hope you are able to get the items you are low on in stocks and your preferred soap when next you shop. It is so sad to hear that you are spending double on groceries than you did in 2019 🙁 .

    Inflation here in Australia is rife as well and we are spending far more on groceries as well as petrol up 55% here. We are reviewing our grocery budget and may have to raise it but we will hold the line as long as we can. Also we are upping what we are growing in our vegetable gardens so we have more supplies for the freezer.

    Our savings added up to $225.25 last week 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – Made 4 loaves of wholemeal white bread in the bread making machine saving $13.96 over buying them locally.
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    – Blanched and froze our corn harvest (48 cobs) from the gardens into meal sized portions for the freezer.

    Purchases –
    – On half price sales I purchased 6 packets of cc corn chips for DH, 1 x colgate sensitive pro relief toothpaste, 1 x colgate mouthwash, and 1 x packet of sultana bran and 6 x bottles Schweppes 1.1lt bottles of sarsparilla on a 33% off sale saving $26.43 on usual prices. I also coupled that saving with a 4% or $9.86 saving by using our RACQ wish e-gift card we purchased from RACQ with our total grocery shopping savings being $36.29.

    Hair cuts –
    – I had my hair washed, cut and blow dried at a local village home hair dressing salon for $20 saving $55 over getting it cut in a local town hair dressing salon.

    In the gardens –
    – Harvested 48 cobs of bantam sweet corn from the vegetable gardens saving $120 over buying organic ones in the local supermarkets.
    – We amended two garden beds with dried grass clippings and veg scraps, egg shells from the kitchen.
    – I planted another crop of corn in one garden bed that will hopefully make it to maturity before the frosts set in here.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead 🙂 .

  52. Praying for Ukraine!
    My husband started some tomato and zucchini seeds and they are doing so well that we have had to transplant them to larger pots already. We have always bought the plants so we are very interested to see how they do from seeds. The investment was 2 grow lightbulbs, seed starter kit, and the seeds. My husband works at Menards and gets a 10% discount plus there was an 11% rebate that we submitted.
    I gave my husband a haircut.
    We had a family birthday party at our for two of our sons-in-law. We provided the meat and drinks and our daughters provided the sides, cakes, and ice cream.
    I went to Aldi and Walmart to stock up a little. I bought some canned tomatoes, other vegetables, pork and beans, dish soap, and
    We ate all our meals from home. We have been very intentional lately about eating all our leftovers so that nothing is wasted. We usually make a dinner and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. If there is still something left over we will make it into something new for the next night.
    I made a large pot of spaghetti sauce. We will eat some this week and freeze the rest. On Sundays I pull from the freezer what needs to be eaten. Often it’s at least some soup that I had previously made. This week it’s butternut squash/white bean soup. I also pulled out some taco seasoned meat for tacos.

    1. Darcy, once you see how easy it is to grow zucchini from seed, you won’t go back! I don’t start many tomato plants from seed because I’m not usually organized enough, but I love to try different varieties of zucchini seed.

      1. Oh how I wish it was the case for me! I think over 20 years I have grown 7 zucchini. They are a challenge in our climate. I keep trying, though!

  53. My husband (Army) had been alerted about being sent to Poland, but those orders were cancelled yesterday. WHEW!
    Freezers and pantry shelves are pretty full. I think I will pick up more egg noodles, baking powder, and baking soda, but that’s it. I will start teaching my mother to bake bread this week. I would usually wait until June 1, but given the situation in Ukraine, I picked up my hurricane cash and topped off my water, dog and cat food, gas, diesel, and propane early.
    Dropped a couple of king-sized quilt tops off at a local place to get them quilted. If energy prices keep going up, I will need them next year rather than run the heat. I still have 6 unquilted tops in the cabinet.
    An odd frugal measure. I bought new curtains for the living room to go with the new couches (not frugal but necessary), but the suns glare through them made it so we couldn’t see the tv, so I recycled some old curtains from a bedroom for liners and used PCV to hold them since they can’t be seen.
    The old room darkening curtains from the living room will go up in the pantry room. This should reduce the heat in the room and the AC bill over the long summer.

  54. Such a heavy heart this week. I, like all of you, am praying for Ukraine. Like another reader I have to limit the amount of news I consume or I feel completely helpless.

    As for frugal accomplishments we continue to eat at home and be mindful of our spending. I did purchase more flour as I expect that will increase soon. We stayed home instead of going to a friend’s house to save gas. I have been batch cooking to putting meals into the freezer as our busy season is approaching and I would like to not get takeout as often (this is a definite problem in our budget!).

    We have been refreshing our bathroom. I was able to stick to the budget mostly. My husband is quite tall and I am quite short (about a foot and a half between us) so the mirror I purchased wouldn’t let us both see ourselves. We found another mirror but it put us over budget by $25. I am ok with that since the rest of the $200+ money spent was birthday gift money, survey rewards, and swagbucks. We are not quite done yet since when we removed the old medicine cabinet there was a huge hole behind it that needed to be repaired. Thankfully my dad has done all the work which is great because we are not handy and it gives him something to do (he’s retired and bored).

    Praying for peace in your homes and abroad.

  55. -Total for groceries in February was $90. 38 jars of home canned food used.

    -Meals- cabbage rolls, beef stroganoff, enchiladas, Pad Thai, fried walleye, and leftovers.

    -Hubby was gone during the week with a couple of buddies ice fishing. They took all their meals-I made pheasant wild rice soup, an apple pie, and some chocolate chip cookies to send with him. His buddies brought food as well. They all shared the gas expense. They sleep in the Ice Castle fish house on the ice. They ate several meals of fish and he brought a meal home for us. Fresh fish, yum!

    -Starting to plan for garden and canning season. I will need some WM lids so will need to start looking for them. When we go out to daughter’s house in May I will stop at the Mennonite bulk store and hopefully buy a whole sleeve of 200. I am good with regular. Plus I am like Maxine, I do reuse. I mark them with an x with permanent marker and will reuse 2-3 times. I have had no problems doing this and it is such a cost savings.

    -Stopped at target for creamer and found a pair of leggings for $6 on clearance rack. I used a gift card I received from work to pay.

    -I retired 18 months ago, but I stayed casual at work. I worked 15 hours last 2 week pay period. It is hit and miss but every bit helps.

    -Meal planned for 2 weeks, this so helps to keep me on track. I just make a list of meals that can be made in the next 2 weeks. I post it on the refrigerator and decide each evening what will be made the next day. At the end of 2 weeks I make a new list adding the meals not made in the previous 2 weeks.

    Have a great week!

  56. Last week I did normal things. Focusing on not wasting our fresh/ left over foods.
    New items to save money is keep the house more cleaned. Also, I am finding recipes that are made up more of veggies and meat and less carbs.
    Planning my micro garden and purchased some supplies at the dollar tree. Making a price list to figure out the cheapest place to buy dirt.

  57. A few weeks ago, I watched a Netflix documentary about the 2013-14 uprising in Ukraine and was absolutely shocked at the bravery of the people in ousting a would-be dictator. Unarmed citizens went up against well armed troops. After watching that, I know how patriotic and religious the country is and they won’t give up. My prayers are with them, their neighboring countries who are reaching out to take them in and with the Russian people who are flabbergasted at what their country is doing and protesting at great risk.
    For the past two weeks, I have found that our Kroger store has not had any sales worth buying. It’s pretty much Kroger and Walmart here (Whole Foods is completely out of my price range) and I don’t shop at Walmart. I wish we had an Aldi’s or comparable discount store. I planted lettuce last week and prepped a bed for planting peppers and pollinating flowers. Seed packets are widely available at Tractor Supply and Lowes. I have bluebird boxes, hummingbird feeders, suet and bird feeders as I love attracting wildlife to my backyard. We have an outdoor wall planter where we stuff our dog’s extremely soft hair and a pair of Carolina wrens have made a nest in the hair, using pine straw to give it stability! I will be able to watch them start a family from my living room couch. Our water usage was cut in half last month, according to our bill. We have been very diligent about saving warm up water from the shower and the dishwasher and collecting rain water on the front steps. I use that water for watering flower containers and indoor plants. Otherwise, cooking at home, turning off lights and hanging laundry. I know I have said it before, but thanks for this blog. It’s the only one I read.

  58. Sunrise in your garden is a beautiful sight, Brandy. I particularly like how you planted the white ornamental cabbage and purple pansies together. A striking combination.
    My frugal accomplishments are as follows:
    – Planted cilantro and parsley seeds dated 2019. So far, two cilantro plants have sprouted. I know parsley is notoriously slow to germinate so we shall see how that works out. I also planted lettuce, arugula and spearmint from seed. I am craving fresh greens and look forward to many salads in my future.
    – Our weather is starting to get milder and I am using the nice days to pull weeds in the garden. I also fertilized my shrubs and flowers for the upcoming season. I trimmed off the brown parts of the chives in my herb garden and have been rewarded with fresh green shoots. Which reminds me that I also planted seed potatoes in containers on my patio. I did this for the first time last year and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was and what a plentiful harvest I got. I look forward to eating the potatoes with fresh chives snipped on top.
    – Our Publix grocery store offered me a free bouquet of flowers for being a rewards member for one year. I took advantage of that offer.
    – I have decided to simplify my haircare routine. I am now letting it air dry and embracing the curls. I imagine this will save some on the electric bill and also be healthier for my hair. To tame the frizz I bought new shampoo and conditioner. I did this using a 20% senior discount through Walgreens.
    – I have been diligently cooking from the pantry and freezer. Trying to use up some of the older items before bringing in more. I don’t like it when things get buried in the back and forgotten about until they are no longer good. My parents grew up in the depression and instilled waste not/want not into me so it really bothers me when food is wasted.
    – I got an email from the library that I needed to come in and renew my library card. When I did that I checked out a few books. Reading and gardening are my salvation through the tough times. I have worked through many problems while bringing order to my garden :). One of the books I checked out really resonated with me and, since there are many gardeners here, I thought I would mention it in case anyone is interested. It is called The Well-Gardened Mind (The Restorative Power of Nature) by Sue Stuart-Smith. Along those lines I have also been reading my well-loved copy of The Secret Garden.

  59. I would love to know what your current food price points are. I know that may be difficult to estimate as things continually change. Chicken is $2.50/lb if I buy it frozen in 10lb bags. The fresh is more expensive at Walmart of all places!
    We do have more expensive groceries in needing to buy gluten free and dairy free products. I am autistic so the planning and execution of making so many things from scratch is just not possible. I get overwhelmed so quickly, especially about food. Meltdowns are not helpful for anyone—they leave me exhausted, unable to speak, and incredibly anxious. All this is to say that the best way for me to save money is to do it at the grocery store rather than trying to make everything on my own.

    1. I am still buying meat at less than $2 a pound and preferably at less than $1 a pound. I buy mostly chicken thighs and boneless pork loin roast now.

      Staples have gone up so much, though, like oats, flour, oil, vegetables, etc.

    2. Virtual (HUGS) to you from another autistic/ADHD person – the sensory overload from being out in public is exhausting and the choices can be so over whelming. I also have to now be gluten, corn, dairy and chicken egg free (but hubby does not) so even figuring out WHAT to eat is beyond me some days so the shortcuts of buying ready to eat foods can be so worth it and I get it!!

    3. Stargirl – There are a lot of ways to make a price book. I use my cell phone and take pictures of the shelf and product. I have a folder on my cell phone that I keep all the pictures in. The shelf tag gives me the $$, weight, and store (familiar with the look). I ALWAYS have my phone with me (required by my job). If I need to compare prices I have it right there along with weight so I can compare per ounce price. I have even made folders in folders with store names, if needed.

    4. Good for you for knowing your limits, Stargirl! I do not deal with autism, but there are many frugal measures I skip because I just can’t manage it. For instance, we do a lot of running around, errands, and activities after school and on the weekends. There is no way I would pack a cooler of our own food instead of grabbing lunch at a drive-thru. I admire the people who do that, it definitely takes effort, but I’d rather save in other ways. One thing I love about this blog is the encouragement to save in the way we are each able.

  60. Heading out soon to re-shop the loss leaders at our local grocery chain store. Tuna is 69 cents a can, and that will of course keep. Loved Mable’s tuna estate sale case bargain she described above!
    Our January gas/furnace and water heater bill was the highest amount used it has been in several years, so we had the furnace serviced. The technician pointed out the pipe/flu is starting to show signs of deterioration and said we should have that replaced this summer before the next heating season. Appreciated his diligence, as well as that he didn’t make it an emergency task for right now.
    The last of my purchased on clearance amaryllises are blooming.
    Had a very helpful discussion with my sister about the practicalities of donating to charities. My other sister has family connections to Ukraine, so that is much on our minds. Unfortunately, times of crisis bring out fraudsters as well as legitimate charities. And also unfortunately, aid will be needed for a long time even after hostilities end.
    Favorite money saving at the moment is just a fact of nature: The days are getting longer! Loving the sunshine! though it takes me about three weeks to adjust to daylight savings time. We are due for an at least two week warm spell that will probably bring up my bulb flowers and bud the cherry trees, even though the last frost date isn’t until the end of April. It’s the sort of weather that leads to lots of anticipation for big crops.

  61. In a lifetime of being surrounded by frugal folk, I have noticed one thing in common – they are all able to quickly discern what is in their realm of control and what it not, utilizing their energy toward the former and being prayerful about the rest. The links provided by Brandy are a tool to do just that and all the encouragement by the readers here make us feel that there is something we can do in this current situation. That is very powerful and I appreciate all the sentiments expressed. God’s blessings to you all!
    We received our free COVID tests from the USPS and are grateful for them. I did discover that, as of 15 January, all COVID tests are to be covered by insurance here in the US (there are some details with Medicare one would have to look into.) Up to 8 tests per month or 32 tests per household are to be covered. Some may find this link helpful:
    I shopped at home in my stash of kids clothes and found a pair of shoes and some shorts my youngest will be able to wear this summer. Shopping next-up sizes has saved us so much over their lives. I find it harder to do with boys as thrift stores have far fewer older boys items other than church-type clothes. Boys just wear things out which really is how it should be. My oldest has just moved up to small men’s sizes and I have been lucky to find some things he needed for summer at a thrift store’s half-price day.
    We gratefully accepted another 2 boxes of canned vegetables and fruit as well as bags of rice and boxes of pasta from a neighbor. She receives them from yet another neighbor who passes on food bank items her family cannot use. This has been a significant help in restocking our pantry. We traded more canned goods with another neighbor for our chicken’s eggs. These gifts and barters along with eating from our pantry and freezer allowed me to spend very little at the grocery store in February. We have been making some plans to increase our apiary (honey bee yard) this year. Honey is an item we typically sell rather than barter and my youngest son is interested in taking an even more active role with the bees this year by claiming his own hive. I am glad to see him take more interest in the bees every year and enjoy his company in the bee yard. The rest of the family helps with providing muscle (when I need things moved) and helps with the honey harvest and bottling. Everyone loves honey!
    I have been preparing our vegetable beds for Spring planting and we are planning another larger garden in concert with our new chicken coop plan. Our chickens current home is in need of replacing and this is the year to do it. I plan on the garden to be near their run so they can go through it in the Fall and clean up the old plants. There will also be a composting area adjacent to their runs so they can turn that over for me more easily than they do now. All good things and we are eager to start.
    Continued with my seemingly endless job of trimming out and painting the interior of our house. So far, we have not had to buy any new materials since last Fall. We also got a room length shelf up in my laundry room which is most helpful.
    Sold a few items on FB which we use to off-set the cost of my youngest son’s martial arts class.
    The price of gas brought about a good learning opportunity for one of our children. He has just started taking a homeschool PE class at a YMCA in the next county. While the cost of the enrollment was inexpensive, the increase in the price of gas and the distance to the class made it much less affordable. He had the choice between his martial arts class or PE and chose to continue the martial arts class. We have always said we would do one organized activity per child at one time but this PE class was so inexpensive, we thought we would give it a try. I am glad my son was able to prioritize which activity was worth more to him and make a decision. That is a crucial lifelong skill.
    I mended clothes for all in the family, something I regularly do and extends the life of our clothing by quite a bit.
    I finished reading “A Square Meal” and learned some things I had not previously known. It is encouraging to read how others have faced hard times and interesting to see how decisions made shape our future. While a terrible time for all, there were many good responses to the Depression and lessons learned that many of us continue to live with today. I can’t help but think those lessons help us prepare for whatever is to come in our own futures or that of the world.
    The Lord be with you all!

    1. My husband has talked about possibly learning how to keep bees. We probably wouldn’t sell the honey (just try to have enough for ourselves) but he thinks it could help with the garden, as well as just supporting pollinators. The biggest hesitation is the cost of supplies. Mountain Mama Dawn, what is a reasonable amount of money we should expect to invest in getting started? And is there anything we should know or consider before taking the steps to learn/train?

      1. I’m not Dawn, but it’s not cheap to get started. It’s something that I’ve long wanted to do myself.

  62. Praying for Ukraine and for those protesting war in Russia whose lives were threatened. I’ve heard many stories of fleeing refugees and the difficulties of traveling out of country.

    I made time this past week to do a complete inventory of pantry and rearranged it. Then did same for the chest freezer. I didn’t need it but found a really good sale on ground round for $3.99 at an upper end grocery with superior meats. I bought one family pack, divided it up and added to the freezer. I’ve decided I’m in a place where I’m going to cut back my grocery budget namely because I seem to have a lot of extras, nice to have items, and I want to focus on necessities. Also because our gasoline costs at present are running what they did all last summer when we were mowing three yards weekly. This year’s cost will be even higher for us and I can use the extra from the grocery budget there. Gas prices for us currently running $3.69 a gallon nearer the interstate. In our small town, that means our costs will be roughly $3.89 at present.

    Received my last electric bill and was a bit astonished to find it $60 higher than the previous month. In looking at usage we realized that the cold temperatures we’d had took their toll. In keeping 2 yo old grandson here I was reluctant to run propane heater as it neared time for him to arrive each morning. So we relied heavily on the heat pump and we pay the price. I know we might have used the propane heat safely, but I experienced a nasty burn on an old kerosene heater as a child, and I sure don’t want to have a grandchild experience that sort of hurt.

    I continue to work hard not to waste any food. I did dump out half a container of potatoes I’d frozen back at thanksgiving this week. I used half of them as cottage pie topping but just never got to the second half of the container.

    Besides that I am saving scraps (eggshells, etc) for making compost. It is my plan, as with many others, to garden. It’s not something we’ve done much of in the past, as my husband grew up in the city and doesn’t understand the pleasure nor necessity of growing one’s own foods. However, I plan to do my best to start where I am and grow what I can.

    I ordered the Ball Canning book. I have a water bath canner and I know I can use it to safely can a few things so I’m planning to start where I am with that also. I can make jellies and a few other things. Eventually I want to move to pressure canning but living on a limited income it’s necessary to do things in stages.

    My daughter got a new job and now grandson is attending a day nursery in the town where she’s working. It’s freed up my days once more. I miss having him around, but don’t at the same time, lol. It was exhausting and he is 2, so was into many things. It’s fun to visit with him now but also nice that I can get back to some of the more detailed things I did to save money that wasn’t possible while I was keeping him. I might have done it all at 30 something with a 2 year old but 60 something doesn’t!

    My daughter also paid us back for repair work done on her car. That money has gone straight back to savings. I’m glad we had it to loan at the time, but so grateful that it was returned.

    1. Hi Terri! When I started gardening, I knew nothing about growing my own food. I didn’t have anyone to ask either. Just kind of started and it took off. Like you, I started small. With each success, I gained confidence and the most satisfying part is eating your own food…then having enough to can. I don’t grow fruit, but go to certain orchards and purchase in bulk to can. It works for us. Good luck and happy gardening!

    2. Terri,
      If you can watch garage sales for a mirromatic pressure canner that uses a 5,10,15 pound gauge juggler all you need to do is order a new gasket. There is no dial gauge. You adjust the heat when the juggling increases as steam builds. I found one free last year. It works great. It only does 7 quarts but that’s a great starting point.

  63. Switched our life insurance and legal coverage to our credit card from checking ACH payments; we will earn rewards cash on the bills and pay the card each week, so the amount comes out of checking in the end anyway. Something several of the folks here have suggested for a while now but as I think I mentioned previously, we forgot we actually have a cash rewards thing and normally avoid using the cc. LOL

    The registration notice came for my car today – we can do one year for a certain amount and two years for what is a $100 savings. We will do that and then it’s done and over for a while. On the rewards card (haha) and then paid out of savings account.

    Signed up for a free health summit and two of the doctors speaking had very interesting sounding books; I was able to get one print and one on Kindle thanks to leftover gift card balance from my father-in-law + what I added when I redeemed my InboxDollars for an Amazon card. The Kindle book was one of the “better on Kindle” deals and gave me a $1 credit back to boot.

    Realized that a free TV channel offer on our Verizon bill had expired, so I canceled that vs paying the $5 or $10 they want for it a month.

    Borrowed three books from our library via the Overdrive app and recommended several more to them. There have been quite a few that they have the book on audiobook, but not in e-book format, so I’m hoping they will go ahead and get the e-book version to “match” the audiobook they already license.

    I have some millet in the pantry that was our least favorite grain tried, so I suspect won’t be used up in a timely manner as we try to use things for the move – so I’ve begun putting it out for the birds. There is a pair of cardinals roosting in the bushes near our kitchen window, so I’m boosting their food options as our weather bounces around, and they provide me with entertainment and beauty while I do dishes. Win/win!

    My son went to a teen event with our homeschool group; the venue was provided by our base USO so no charge for that. It was $2 per family for the materials and we gratefully enjoyed a snack and drink the USO generously provides for folks using the facility. Fun for him to be with friends and I got to tuck into a quiet corner and get some extra work done.

    My husband had a surgery at our base hospital which was fully covered by insurance since it wasn’t referred off base.

  64. Long time reader – intermittent poster. We have been stocking up as we can since we are on a fixed income. I too have noticed full sections at the stores being empty. Most notable for us is the pet’s food availability (I can live w/o ramen….yes, the stores had NO ramen). The manager at the pet food store we go to said that they have been warned that supply issues will continue until at least 2023 and to buy it when we find it. I will be investing in a couple big barrels with lids to store their dry food in (5 gallon buckets won’t hold our dogs bags of dry food). We are stocking up on canned (human) foods just because the shelf life isn’t so much of a concern but only those foods that we actually eat. We have a full freezer but I always worry about losing electricity. Gas prices are climbing and I have had my husband fill up every gas can we own. I have my quail for eggs and like many others, will try and increase my veggie production in 5 gallon buckets. Right now I am stalking marketplace and craigslist for free wood to make raised bed planters – I had to leave all of mine behind when we moved. I have managed to do several small home improvement projects to make this house a bit more workable for us – hooks and a wall mounted shoe storage box at our back door, added shelving to closets, put a drawer under my washer for storage and to raise it up higher for when I need to drain it to clean out the filter. All of these I did with wood and hardware we already had (husband likes to joke about my “junk” collection) We found a local estate warehouse place and one of the booths carries miss-tints from one of the pain stores. Gallons are only $8 and it made a huge change in how easy the walls are to clean (the entire interior was primed – including all the doors and hardware which soaked up all my wet mouth dane’s drool and it wouldn’t wash off!). Check for something like this in your area as it made this project doable for us. We have used our over-the-counter benefits thru our insurance to make sure all our vitamins, first aid and toothpaste are stocked up + it even covered a shower chair (My husband’s bad foot had another diabetic ulcer form + his spine degeneration is getting worse) and small food scale I use when vac packing foods! We treat ourselves to only one meal out a month and usually plan it for lunch because the menu is cheaper. This also coincides with our day out running errands – we have gone to only shopping once a month which has made a huge difference in our spending. I altered a shirt for my Mom and repaired quite a few clothing pieces and made new vinyl covered beds for our dogs (needed 2 more for when they are hanging out in the basement workshop with us). We’ve sold quite a few items that we just couldn’t find a space or use for in this house – I am STILL finding things from the move that I forgot we had (so obviously didn’t need either LOL) Hope you all have a good frugal week and stay safe and healthy!

    1. Melissa V – I so enjoyed reading your comment. I hope you will do so more often as time permits. Thank you for sharing the information from the pet food manager regarding an expected continuation of a shortage. We have one dog but 4 cats. We also foster kittens and assist our local Humane Society in their Trap Neuter Release program. They typically provide the formula and dry food but not the canned food the little ones need when they are weaning off of formula. We have found the pate consistency hard to come by and, with “kitten season” beginning, that is concerning. I will have to cast my net a little wider on what we might need. Blessings to you and yours!

    2. Habitat for Humanity’s Restore has been a good source for me for used paint. And also for kitchen cabinets – although the last time I went in, our local Re-Store had gone from selling indivdual cabinets to selling ‘sets’. I have also found door and drawer hardware there for pennies.

  65. It was a week of usual things again, all our baking, not eating out, library for books, and so on. But, I did decide to start canning my homemade broth (as freezer space is very limited). The more I use my pressure canner, the less it intimidates me! The broth will add flavor and nutrition to soups and rice. I also have committed to more sprouting. My husband likes sandwiches, so sprouts will be a healthy addition at very little cost.

  66. We were so sick around here that I paid no attention to basically anything other than getting us well. It was an especially viscous stomach bug we caught from our grandson. Spending time with him was worth it. Thankfully, we had plenty of food on hand. I used a couple of cans of soup I keep for these times, and since we haven’t been sick for way over 2 years, they were really getting to the time where they needed to be used anyway.

    I love the pictures of your garden. I tried to plant a few seeds a couple of weeks ago. I am still waiting to see if they rotted or are going to come up. There’s nothing yet, so I’m a little concerned. They were a gamble, as it’s early, but worth a try.

    Now that I’m better, I’m starting to catch up with the situation in Ukraine. Heartbreaking. Right now, prayer is my top priority.

    There are very few pictures on my blog this week. It was just one of those weeks.

  67. It is heartwarming seeing Poland, Germany and other European countries rushing to help the Ukrainians refugees. bravo
    Thanks to Margie from Toronto who mentioned the Canadian government is matching donations in aid of the Ukraine. In just a few days, and long before the March 18 deadline, Canadians have raised $10 million for the Red Cross that will be matched by its freely-elected, democratic Canadian government. I will be donating to Unicef.

    Since there was a prolonged build-up to this crisis, I am saddened to think that Ukraine children were not evacuated before now. As Margie from Toronto said, there are many Ukrainian immigrants in Canada. In north-central Alberta, many of the settlers in the late 1800s and 1900s were from the Ukraine and there is a strong Ukrainian tradition and heritage in that part of the province. It is estimated that 1 million Canadians are of Ukrainian heritage. Ukrainians will be welcomed into Canada as have thousands of other refugees of other ethinic backgrounds.

  68. Always enjoy your picture capturing beauty and light! Thrifty actions this week: planting lettuces, mulching the leaves that are still falling from autumn, & researching car insurance ( state regulators let our current insurance carrier Geico increase 38% this year).

  69. These are tough times. If you find you simply cannot pay a hospital, utility or phone bill, then phone the customer service of that company. I was talking to
    my utilities company after my bank put a hold not only on a cheque I deposited but on my whole account so my automatic debit to the utilities company would fail. They gave me an extra 10 days as a payment arrangement. It is important to honour payment arrangements on time. I commented to the agent that it’s important to phone them and she said “even if you have nothing to pay with”. I think sometimes people don’t realize how most companies will try to help you — they’d rather help you overcome or resolve the problem than have to refer something to collections agencies. A payment arrangement usually doesn’t affect a credit rating but might save it. Something to think about…

    1. Although my experience has been that payment arrangements
      do not affect credit ratings, the reader should check first that this is
      the case in her location.

  70. I have a good amount of most things including a lot of groceries. Ajax or Comet are not easy to get right now here, and I wasn’t expecting that to be the case. I bought a few of the Bar Keeper’s Friend scouring stuff that I found but I usually only use that sometimes as it’s more costly. (I couldn’t even find the scouring section in the store because it was so depleted!) I buy things when I see them on sale. I was distressed at the prices of toothpaste and deodorant a few months ago at Walmart so I only bought a little but I was happy to fine Aim back down to a more reasonable price although I suspected it was smaller than it used to be. I stocked up. I should really work on getting the little ones to use less. That would save some money!

    I had some sugar (like 60 pounds) in my storage but it is going up in price (like 15 percent more this week alone) so I set out to get some more as we do use it for baking and canning jams and jellies etc. I found some on sale and the price wasn’t bad. (Double what I used to pay though! Before the pandemic we only bought it when it went on sale for 99 cents for four pounds. Those days seem long gone.) It was ever so slightly cheaper than Costco (50-pound bags) which I considered buying, but I decided that little four-pound bags were a lot easier to store and deal with. (I would have bought the Costco one if it had been cheaper though but since it was so similar I did not.)

    My husband was teasing me about how much soy sauce I bought. We had decided the Aldi kind was awful and so I returned it including the opened one. I told them it was awful. They never bat an eye (neither does Costco for that matter. I only return stuff if I really need to, of course but some places wont’ return stuff like that for example Sam’s Club.) I then set out to find the best deal on good soy sauce and I found 64 ounces at Costco for $5.49 so I bought four. It’s like 2 gallons altogether. This is why my husband teased me. That’s a lot of soy sauce but the savings were significant over other stores. Even Walmart (online…I didn’t go inside this time.) was FIVE DOLLARS more each 64 ounces and that was the cheapest I could find! (This was for Kikkoman’s.)

    Anyway, I used to always use a price book (like in The Complete Tightwad Gazette) but I have gotten away from that. I do sort of memorize most prices and try to compare but you can’t beat a price book, which makes it abundantly clear which is the best price per pound or cup or whatever. I need to work on that.

    All of this was done while combining errands etc as we live slightly out of town and gas prices are skyrocketing.

    Oh and I found lots of seed potatoes at the grocery store. I was so happy because I asked the produce man and he got them out for me even though he was about to prepare a display for the next day. I had forgotten that I had asked my husband to get some on the way to work and he had. So we have lots but I decided that even if we had “too many” potatoes it’s always good to share. Often we have too much garden produce and try to share it but maybe this year people will be more willing to take it. (We can and freeze and dehydrate so much. And the extra goes to the chickens or is composted.) One thing I realize is that we still buy some fresh produce and I think we should work harder at using up the reserves BEFORE buying stuff. (Like we have dried apples and applesauce but we buy on sale apples etc.)

    Even though I am stocking up a lot right now my Lenten goal is to use up things in the freezer especially like frozen sweet potatoes or chick peans. That will give me more room for half price meat and so on.

    We also had lots of seeds already. My husband is a wonderful gardener but I still have a lot to learn. My goal is to do better this year and have a more successful garden.

    Prayers for world peace and those suffering so much.

    I hope everyone has a good week.

  71. Hi Brandy,
    Thank you for another great post.
    Gas prices in my neighborhood are now at $4.00 and I am sure they will continue to rise. Grocery prices are also crazy expensive. I went to visit my parents over the weekend and they offered me a cola to drink but said to only take it if I really, really wanted it. They had bought the very smallest cans of cola and for 6 cans it was $10.00!! I told them I would just have a glass of water.
    I stocked up on a couple things – 3 jars of peanut butter and a regular sized bottle of laundry detergent. I would have liked to buy more but the prices are out of my budget so I figure some is far better than none.
    I found a lovely print shower curtain at the thrift store for $6. I bought it for myself as a treat and I planned to cut it up and make pillow covers but once I got it home, I really loved it as all one print and didn’t want to cut it up so I asked my husband to make a wooden frame and I stapled it around the frame and now I have a huge piece of art for $6. The print is of a flower garden and I hung it in my family room and it really brightens up the room. It makes me smile and brings me joy and that is really helpful with everything going on in the world today.
    I am preparing dinner tonight for my daughter and her son. She works in our town and her son has soccer practice in the evening. To save on gasoline costs she and her son will hang out with us and have dinner and then to soccer practice instead of driving home and back again. This is a frugal win for her and we get to spend a little time with our grandson.
    I am wishing everyone a safe, frugal week.

  72. It’s been a great, frugal week in Houston, TX!
    I bought gas at $2.95 at Sam’s, but suspect it will go up soon. At least my van is full now.
    Paid cash for a car repair, which I save a little toward each month.
    Organized the clearance or free diapers I’ve accumulated in preparation for the next baby. I used cloth for the first few, but just couldn’t keep up with the laundry when I was working and juggling family life.
    I use to find ground beef marked down to $1/# or less, but haven’t in a while. Today Kroger had 1# packages of 80% lean, organic, grass fed beef marked down to $1.99. I figured that this may be as good as it gets, so I bought 10 pounds to freeze.
    Randall’s had tiny 3.5 oz packets of tomato sauce for 10 cents each. It was a brand I’d never seen before, but I bought about 100 of them; sell by date is in 2023.
    I made homemade bread, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and pancakes.
    I bought a nice North Face jacket at the thrift store that I will save for my daughter to grow into, $5. Sometimes I find great deals, and sometimes things are priced higher than the item’s original price.
    My frugal friend bought me some marked down canned pumpkin. I probably won’t use it for a while, but it was so kind of her to think of me.
    I loaned my carpet cleaner to a neighbor, who returned it a few days later with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
    I used coupons to take the kids to eat at Burger King, one of the cheaper fast food options around here.
    Our cub scout den is making trail mix, and I signed up to bring raisins, which I already had at home.
    I treated some stains with blue Dawn dish soap.
    Hope everyone had a nice, frugal week!

  73. Another reader here! I used clove oil on a molar which completely got rid of an abscess, as am allergic to antibiotics. Hope this helps someone!

  74. p.s. To the person who bought Tuna at an estate sale…thank you. I rarely go to estate sales and never thought to look at food. I happened to go to one today (and I might return tomorrow as the wool blankets might be a good deal for half the price.) I didn’t find amazing deals like the tuna but I did stumble upon the pantry. It was all 50 cents each and some things weren’t that great of a deal but others were so I carefully searched them and will add to my long term food storage. Some of the food might be worth 25 cents too if I am there.

  75. I’m very worried for the people in Ukraine. I can’t even imagine it. The food shortages there, power outages and lack of water in some areas are really making me take stock of my own stockpile. I feel an urgency that I have not had before, even with the pandemic. With the possibility in the US of cyber attacks on our power grid, I stocked up on extra water this week. If the power grid is out, the water treatment plants can’t function, so there would be no clean water. We bought an extra propane tank for our grill in case of power outages, canning jars (I don’t can, but use then for dry good storage), keeping my gas tank full. My sister gave me a solar charger for phones and electronics for Christmas. I’m going to try that out this weekend. I went through my seeds to make sure that I have all that I need, but I still need to get a lot of potting soil to expand the container part of my garden. I’m trying to think of more foods to stockpile that don’t require cooking, but have long shelf life.

    *I still need to stock up on more, but I have gone way over budget this week. I had sticker shock at the grocery store, but I stocked the freezer with meat anyway. I found a few good deals, but most items that I bought were over my normal buy price. That hurt!!! My husband bought me a Food Saver for Christmas (He knows the way to my heart!), so I am busy dividing up meat into meal size portions for the freezer.

    *When I was leaving the grocery store, I realized that I forgot to use my coupons. I went to customer service. and they credited $3.65 back to my card.

    *I went to Walmart to check for grocery deals. There were so many things that were more expensive at Walmart than the regular price at my Kroger store. I was really surprised. Typically, many items there used to be the same or lower than Kroger. It’s really good to know your prices!

    *We received a very large bill for an ambulance ride. My husband called the insurance company, and it turns out that the fire department entered our insurance number wrong. We actually owe nothing!!!!AND… our deductible has already been met, so we will pay very little out of pocket for the rest of the year. That is good news, as my husband has surgery next week!

    *I picked up a couple items at the Grocery Outlet and received a $5 off coupon for next week. I will go back and use that. The Grocery Outlets in our area tend to have different items at each store, so I try to check several stores for deals.

    *Picked up cookbooks from the library for inspiration! Made homemade bread, homemade pizza, breaded pork chops, hot dogs, homemade coleslaw, stir fry, rice. Trying to get motivated to bake, but it doesn’t seem to be happening!!!

    *My son wanted mechanical pencils for graphing. I found packages in my office supplies that I purchased several years ago at Goodwill Outlet for around 5 cents a pack!

    Have a great and frugal week!

  76. Hi!

    How heartwarming to hear that you are helping with providing information to Ukrainains.

    I live in south west Sweden and we are starting to get refugees here now. If some of the people you are in contact with want to come to Sweden, tell them that the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmoe is free, the fees are waved. I am pretty sue the ferry between Denmark and Sweden (Helsingborg/Helsingor) is to. Tell them that they are welcome to Sweden (aswell as all countries in Europe), that we are looking forward (perhaps wrong word) to have them here to.

    Everyone here is so envolved in helping, the Red Cross and other organizations are both collecting money (loooooads) and needed things. They are sending trucks to both Ukraine and to the polish border with clothes, medicin, food aso. There is also buses with volonteer drivers who drives the long trip to Ukraine and bring people to safety. Organizations/churches/municipals aso are preparing housing for everyone who comes here and ordinary people are very generously collecting and giving all sorts of things that are needed.

    Loads of Love, Anna from Sweden

    1. Anna you made me cry at the kindness and generosity
      I strive to behave like this
      Really a bright spot in a scary sad time

  77. My comment is a week or two late but thank you so much for posting the beautiful photo of Winter’s baby! You are really good at capturing the joy. I still remember a photo you took of one of your youngest in an outfit that had planes all over it, I still smile thinking of it ;). Like many commenters before, I have been working on my pantry and meal planning. Just went today and got two pork loins at $1.77lb…I remember not too long ago their sale price was $0.99. Oh well, I am glad to have them now, cut into pork chops and put into the freezer. My preparedness assumes that we will have electricity…I priced out the cost of a generator (and fuel) and that is more than the value of the freezer contents, so for now, we will hope for the best. My best wishes and prayers to the Ukrainians and Russians suffering through this war, as well as Australians and their flooding.

    1. I feel bad for the Russians too; so many are going to struggle to eat now and I feel awful for the parents of the soldiers finding out their sons were sent to war. Such sadness there too.

  78. Your garden looks beautiful! I love the colors. The lettuce and swiss chard is so appealing. Thank you for sharing links about helping the Ukraine.

    I’ve been following the Farmer’s Almanac for planting dates. Sowed several planters with lettuce and bok choy seeds. I refreshed the soil in last year’s containers with Gardentone, then topped up with some new potting soil. I was thinking about planting some extra containers with lettuce this year to use as gifts. Last summer, I gave away a few containers that had baby lettuces growing, and the recipients were so happy to have them for cut-and-come again salads. A lettuce pot is easy to grow and is something not everyone has. I will be looking for suitable, inexpensive containers at yard sales this spring.

    I have a new coworker, and she has chickens. She said she would bring some to school to sell if I wanted, $3 a dozen. I think that’s very reasonable.

    That’s all I can remember from last week. It’s been a whirlwind!

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