Thursday, January 12, 2017

Frugal Accomplishments First Week January

This past week we did pretty well with the budget category, until my car started flashing the check engine and AT oil temp light.  We took it in to get checked out, and a sensor needs to be replaced, which is generally not cheap in Subarus.  We're trying to make this one limp along until we can get enough saved up for a new to us AWD vehicle, but we'll see how the repair bills keep coming.

Here are the rest of last week's accomplishments:

  • Cooked all meals at home.  Had a few shared meals with family and friends, which was fun.
  • Composted all kitchen scraps.
  • Used veggie stock, frozen tomatoes, frozen beef, and gleaned veggies to make a pot of soup in the crock pot, saving on electricity.
  • Accepted gleaned items from the food pantry:  yogurt, bread, green beans, mixed veggies, snack packs of almonds and cheese, and fresh fruit.
  • Gleaned from school cafeteria:  three string cheese, two apples, one milk, five bags of Goldfish crackers, two cartons of yogurt
  • Picked up a few items on Harris Teeter's Super Doubles event, totaling about $15
  • Tried a new overnight porridge recipe.  Needs some tweaking on the cook time, but the flavors were pretty good.
  • Did some organizing and cleaning out.  Filled a paper grocery sack with items to donate to Goodwill.
  • Washed all clothes in cold water and line dried things.  Found dryer balls stashed away, so will try to use these for drying towels to cut down on drying time.
  • Continued to use cloth diapers, cutting down on cost.
  • Little man had several dry nights, so that saved on laundry.
  • Hand delivered thank you notes for Christmas gifts as much as possible, saving on postage.
  • Sent out evite for little man's 4th birthday party, saving on paper invitations
  • Found cake mix in cabinet to use for said birthday party
  • Found another tie dyed t-shirt little man made that we can use as a birthday gift for another party to attend this weekend.
  • Showered every other day to save on hot water, and keep skin from drying out.  This also saves on shampoo, soap, and hair products.
  • Used both sides of a cotton ball for makeup removal, saving on cotton.  (Tip:  if you use natural products, you can then compost your cotton balls)
  • Used cloth wipes and family cloth when possible.  We wash these on the sanitize cycle or with diapers, so they are always very clean.
  • Took advantage of being snowed in for a few house projects such as spackling and sanding dings in walls, cleaning out behind the fridge, and catching up on laundry.  Being snowed in saved on fuel.
  • Made homemade powdered citrus cleaner from dried orange peels to use for cleaning bathrooms and kitchen sink.  Repurposed a large spice container to make using the cleaner easier.
I'd love to hear from you!  What did you do to live and save green last week?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January Meal Plan

This month we're going to continue to work down what we have in our freezer.  We were also gifted several things over the holidays that will help round out meals, and we made a trip to Costco for a few things.  It is my hope to do very minimal grocery shopping for staples only (we already picked up corn meal, baking soda, and milk).  Hopefully next month will be our annual bulk spice/herb order, so next month's grocery budget will be less too.

We also plan to make use of the leftover items available to us through the food pantry.  This week I put up a quart of collard greens in the freezer, used two bags of fresh organic green beans, saved two gallons of milk, and we took several apples and cut up fruit that would have gone bad before the pantry reopened for clients.  This gleaning really does save our grocery budget and help cut down on their food waste.

My grandmother gave us a new crock pot for Christmas, which we're super excited about.  We're planning to use it a lot, as we have come to rely on it with the boys keeping us so busy.


  • Cranberry bread (gifted over holidays)
  • Egg and cheese sandwiches (using croissants or rosemary bread from Costco)
  • Leftover holiday egg and cheese casserole
  • Overnight oatmeal in the crock pot
  • Muffins:  lemon poppyseed, cranberry orange, molasses muffins, marmalade muffins, and winter squash muffins with nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt parfaits with frozen berries and pumpkin seeds, nuts, or dry cereal crumbs
  • Leftovers rounded out with fruit (citrus, bananas, or gleaned from the pantry)
  • Smoothies with frozen fruit and smoothie powder from Costco
  • Crock pot Asian chicken with carrots, pineapple, onion, and candied ginger over rice
  • Baked sausage, apples, and sweet potatoes over rice with greens
  • Tomato basil soup in the crock pot with grilled cheeses
  • Pasta with tomato basil soup as marinara
  • Black beans (crock pot) and rice with fixins
  • Black bean tacos with winter squash or enchiladas
  • Homemade pizza x 2-3 with homemade pesto
  • Homemade mac and cheese with steamed/roasted veggies
  • Veggie stir fry over rice with egg rolls
  • Breakfast for dinner:  French toast or French toast casserole with fruit and yogurt parfaits
  • Tuna casserole with roasted veggie sides
  • Chex mis (gifted)
  • Hot cocoa (gifted)
  • Gingerbread house pieces
  • Holiday cookies
  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit (apricots, prunes)
  • Dried fruit and nut trail mix
  • Cashews (gifted)
  • Almonds (gifted)
  • Pistachios (gifted)
  • Popcorn (gifted)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Frugal Accomplishments

This past week we had some great frugal scores, as well as keeping up with our regular activities.  Here's our list of accomplishments:

  • Cooked all meals at home.  This included lentil sweet potato soup using homemade turkey stock, sweet potato waffles, baked chicken with sweet potatoes and salad, and cranberry currant muffins.
  • Took leftovers for lunch every day to work.
  • We took advantage of lots of overflow from the food pantry and said yes to:  half gallon of milk, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, chopped root veggies, yogurt, oranges, pomegranates, and bread.  This will keep us from having to go to the grocery store this week and maybe next week.
  • Took advantage of three shared meals this week with family, friends, and church.  We took corn on the cob to the meal with friends and tortilla chips to the chili cook off at church.  These meals were fun entertainment and saved us on meal prep and groceries.
  • Saved two cartons of milk from the school cafeteria that kids were going to throw away unopened.  Used these for coffee drinks.
  • The citrus we ordered from the local high school band arrived, so we have two boxes of mandarins and grapefruit.  The whole family loves these, and they will store well for weeks in our unheated basement space.  It's nice that it was a fundraiser for the band program too.
  • Hung all clothing to dry after laundry.  Used lowest heat setting on dryer for drying sheets and towels.  Washed all clothing on cold water.
  • Continued with cloth diapers for baby and night time potty training for little man, saving on diaper costs.
  • Both boys have colds, so we're treating those with home remedies such as homemade broth, humidifiers, Vicks vapor rub, hot showers, and hot tea.  I'm still nursing baby, so his cold isn't as bad, and I'm trying to convince little man to take some of the extra breastmilk to help ease his cold too.
  • Showered every other day to save on water and keep my skin not as dry.  
  • Saved citrus peels for making homemade citrus cleaner.  I'll make some liquid with white vinegar and some powdered with baking soda and borax.  It is great for cleaning the bathrooms, and I use the powder for gifts for some friends.
  • Zested some citrus for drying. I'll store this in a jar and use it in baking.
  • Enjoyed our first delay day due to weather to make waffles with the family.  It was a nice treat to have extra family time on Friday.
  • Carpooled to work most days, saving on fuel.
  • Used our shop vac to clean the car out, rather than paying to vacuum it out at the car wash.
  • Continued to compost all appropriate kitchen scraps, including paper towels, brown cardboard, and brown paper.
  • Stayed home on Saturday, saving on fuel costs.  I entertained the boys with things we had at home, and helped little man make tie dyed shirts for the family for Christmas using dye we already had and existing white shirts.  Baby will look so cute in the onsie, it gave new life to dingy shirts, and little man is so proud of his gifts!
  • Accepted some hand-me-down clothes for the boys.  Some are a bit big still, but they are good quality and we can store them.
  • Browsed magazines and cookbooks we already had for entertainment and to help get new ideas for menus.
  • Posted items to sell on eBay.
  • Reposted our room ad for upstairs.  Hoping to rent that space soon so it doesn't sit vacant too long.  It really helps our budget, and we enjoy sharing the space with someone who's a good fit for our family.
  • Saved cool whip containers from a lab at school for use with Christmas goodie gifting.  The containers will hold holiday goodies well, and will look festive when wrapped in tissue paper tied with ribbon.
What did you do to live and save green this past week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Frugal Accomplishments Holiday Edition

This past week was great for us in terms of frugal accomplishments.  We did splurge on family photos with a photographer, but she gave us a discount since I've taught her children.  Our focus this past week was on saving time and money in the kitchen so that we could take advantage of some holiday gatherings with friends.

  • Prepared all meals at home.  Were grateful for holiday leftovers, gifted soup from friends, and everyone being healthy enough to eat this week.  We made cranberry muffins for breakfast one morning (which were a total hit since 11 of the 12 were gone by the end of the day!) and used pantry items to fill in with the leftovers.
  • Welcomed gifted food from my grandmother who was cleaning out her pantry.  We acquired some fruit syrup, canned goods, baking mixes, and dried fruit.
  • Washed all clothing in cold water and hung most laundry to dry inside.  Only sheets and towels were run through the dryer.
  • Continued using cloth diapers for baby, saving a bundle.
  • Made candied popcorn for little man's teachers using ingredients on hand.
  • Opted not to purchase new glasses for myself this year, but will wait until next year.  My prescription hasn't changed much, so it wasn't a necessity.  The 14 year old glasses will serve just fine for another year!
  • Began putting holiday cards up on the mantle for some festive cheer
  • Listened to Pandora for Christmas music
  • Wore existing clothing to a holiday party and paired green accessories with red sweaters/shirts.  Little man wore a Santa jammie shirt as his festive item.
  • Participated in two holiday parties over the weekend, so were grateful for the food there and gracious hosts.  We did take pizza toppings to share at one, using green peppers and homemade pesto we had in the freezer.
  • Used Christmas books as our advent calendar this year.  I had enough collected that I could wrap them, and might need to borrow a few from the library.  Little man gets to open one a day.
  • Saved my supplement check to pay for car repair/maintenance work being done today.  Using a shop that is close to my school, so I can drop it off in the morning and walk to school.
  • Finally located the box of 12 month winter clothing for baby, so glad to have found winter sweaters and jackets for him.  Also grateful for a cousin sharing baby clothing with us which we'll return to her.
  • Intend to help little man weed through his toys some to give to other kids in need this season.  He has many (though not as many as some), and as with most kids, seems to find the most joy in simple blocks, stones, balls, and time outside.  We will keep the treasures, but need to weed out some to begin making room for more clothing storage as the boys grow.
  • Accepted a small table top tree from my grandmother to decorate upstairs for the boys.
What did you do this week to live and save green?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December Menu

This month, as usual, is all about making use of what we have.  We're grateful to have the opportunity for several community meals this month through church, community, and family to stretch things further.  Our largest expense this month will be on baking items for Christmas goodies and gifting, but we're trying to simplify there too, so we'll try to keep things totally in check at our $100/month budget for groceries.

Breakfasts:  breakfast casserole with eggs and veggies, baked oatmeal with raisins and shredded carrots, winter squash muffins, lemon poppyseed muffins, cranberry oatmeal muffins, steel cut overnight oats with raisins, bagels and smoothies made with frozen fruit, hard boiled eggs and toast with jam or cinnamon sugar, banana oatmeal bars

Lunches:  leftovers, fresh fruit, peanut butter and banana/jelly sandwiches, smoothies

Dinners:  turkey enchiladas with shredded summer squash, salmon hash with leftover Thanksgiving dressing and fried eggs, lentil and sweet potato soup, gifted corn and salmon chowder, veggie stir fry with egg rolls, black bean chili with tomatoes, peppers, and onions from the freezer, crockpot lasagna soup, homemade pizza with sausage, pepperoni, and/or veggies and homemade sauce x 3, pesto pasta with tomato salad, mac and cheese with roasted veggies, tuna casserole with salad or roasted veggies

Holiday baking/gifting:  homemade winter spiced cocoa mix, candied chocolate popcorn with pecans, gingerbread house building, rosemary olive oil french bread

What are you up to in the kitchen this month?  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Frugal Accomplishments

This past week was particularly frugal for us for several reasons:  we had the stomach bug which was miserable, but resulted in frugality; we didn't travel because we didn't feel well; and we took advantage of community meals.  Here are the details:

  • All meals were made at home including butternut squash and chickpea salad, roasted veggies, turkey with rosemary butter, butternut squash casserole, and apple and cranberry crisp.
  • While we were sick, we were grateful for our stash of homemade popsicles, Cheerios, rice, and a wonderful friend who delivered Gatorade to us.  We were also grateful for my mom who kept little man while we were sick.
  • Friends made soup for us when we were recovering, so it was nice to have a meal we didn't have to prepare.
  • Used peppers, onions, pineapple, and sugar snap peas from the food pantry for a yummy stir fry.  Saved the sesame seeds from a bag of bagels to use as topping for the stir fry.
  • Made shared meals with family for Thanksgiving, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
  • Continued to nurse and pump for baby boy, so thankfully he didn't get the stomach bug
  • Used humidifier to ease baby boy's congestion, saving on a doctor's visit.
  • Composted all appropriate kitchen scraps, paper towels, and brown paper
  • Planted garlic in prepared beds with little man using garlic saved from last year, so not out of pocket cost.  Used gifted straw to mulch beds.
  • Washed all laundry except diapers in cold water and hung to dry.
  • Little man continues to do well with night time underwear, so we're trading disposable diapers for a little more bed linen laundry in the short term, but most nights he is dry.  Yay!
  • Showered every other day to save on hot water and keep my skin from drying out.
  • Used accumulated credit card points as cash to purchase our last Ecobee thermostat for upstairs.  Will install that this weekend, hopefully.  We really like this brand of smart programmable thermostat, especially because we can adjust the temperature from our phones while we're away.
  • Decorated for Christmas using saved items from previous years, so no out of pocket expense.
  • Used a coupon combined with sales to make ornaments with little man for Christmas gifts for his teachers and family.  Spent about $5 for 12 ornaments and used paints we already had for decorating them.
  • Found coupon code for Shutterfly, so ordered Christmas cards and used Ebates on the order, so 2% cashback.
  • Received my annual supplement check, so will put half of that toward paying down home equity line and half toward car repair/replacement fund.
  • Will take advantage of discount offered to public workers this week at optometrists' office to order new glasses for myself.  We've used Zenni in the past, but for my prescription, we feel like going through the office is better, and I like the frame selection better.
  • Began making Christmas gifts and will give three of those this week while family is in town, since we won't see them again before the holidays.  We love this candied popcorn recipe, and its super easy.
I'd love to hear what you did to live and save green this week!  I'll be posting again soon on ways to save on Christmas gifts and decor.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Frugal Accomplishments

This past week was a pretty normal week for us.  We continue to save where we can and try to find new ways to save each week.  Here are last week's highlights:

  • Cooked all meals from scratch at home including chili and corn bread, red lentil curry, winter squash casserole, and winter squash muffins.    
  • Took advantage of a few shared meals with family and friends.
  • Prepared meals to share with families in need two times last week using ingredients we had on hand.  These meals included breakfast casserole, fresh fruit, and bagels and a family size portion of lentil sloppy joes with bread and muffins for dessert/breakfast.
  • Composted all appropriate kitchen scraps, including paper towels, brown paper, and coffee filters/tea bags.
  • Accepted a flat of tomatoes, two watermelons, overripe bananas, yogurt, and asparagus from the food pantry (things that would have otherwise gone to the dumpster).  Roasted the asparagus last night and hope to process the tomatoes for sauce in the crock pot later this week.  The watermelon will be our fruit of choice this week.  The 
  • Washed all laundry on cold, except sheets and towels.  Hung everything to dry inside or on the clothesline (except with it was too smoky from forest fires), except sheets/towels.
  • Used cloth diapers and washed them at home.
  • Little man said he's ready for undies at night time!  So, we're trying it out, and it's going pretty well.  Only a few accidents, which the extra towels have caught, so minimal extra laundry and fewer dollars spent on night time diapers.
  • Said "yes" to some hand-me-downs for the boys and one for me.  Some were not my style, so they went to Goodwill, but most were welcomed additions.
  • Found a pair of fun slippers for little man at the local consignment sale that should last him two seasons.
  • Had fun entertainment at home with existing toys, colored on paper bags, and read books at home on the holiday to save on extra expenses of being out and about.
  • Renewed library books online to save a trip.
  • Worked to prepare the garden beds for winter.  I still need to plant the garlic, but compost and straw are spread in most beds.  
  • Added raked leaves to the compost to try to balance all the green kitchen scraps.  
  • Accepted donated straw for my garden, which saves significantly on winter mulching.  Will use mulched leaves for additional mulch in other beds.
  • Began to update the Christmas gifting list.  We are trying to make almost every gift we give this year, or use gift cards, so that we're not spending out of pocket.  My lack of canning this summer will make this a little more difficult, but I hope to be able to make a batch or two of citrus marmalade to give at the holidays.  Maybe I can do a batch over Thanksgiving.
What did you do to live and save green this week?  I'd love to hear from you!