Frugal Boot Camp: April Gleanings

I said at the beginning of April I was going to go to Frugal Boot Camp and I meant it.  I missed out the last week of April on the study end but I have been working hard all the same.  Probably the most intensive bit of work I did the last two weeks was trying to piece out a wardrobe for spring/summer without purchasing anything new.

A few things I read through were just so much 'peat and repeat stuff that we all know.  It wasn't new information nor was it a reminder of forgotten skills.  But I did find myself reminded of two very important facts:

#1 We must be and express gratitude daily for the blessings we receive each day, whether it is a bargain or an inspiration that spurs us on to savings. 

 #2  Time is a commodity.  If we save time in one area we are free to pursue yet another venue of savings during the day.

Most of my work this month focused on Laine's Letters.  I continued perusing Pinterest and other sources for articles on other frugal and financial information.  I came across two or three that were interesting and informative.

This article from Yahoo!News is not new but it is a good reminder of alternative sources of protein.  I liked that the author broke down the costs of each protein source and gave both pros and cons about each.

I had another one about the new coupon rules which included using store apps and such to garner more savings.  If I ever find it again...sigh...I promise I will share it immediately because it truly did put a new spin on the use of coupons and the 'new' ways we can take advantage of them.

A couple of articles were helpful in saving time and money by making in bulk something we'd normally buy perhaps.  This one tells how to prep potatoes for frozen french fries.  That is something I remember my ex-mother-in-law doing one year and certainly it is a nice convenience food that translates to a thrifty convenience if we do it ourselves.

Pie crusts are something I've only been making for the past two years and only in the past year have I made them up and frozen.  This article has a bulk recipe that I'm interested in working with to stock the freezer.

Here's the short list I culled from my reading this past month, some were thoughts I had as reading, some are actually Laine's own tips.

Time Savers:

Tape frequently used recipes to the inside of the cabinet doors...
For me these recipes would go mostly in the area of my baking center.  I've a small cork bulletin board I plan to have John mount inside the cabinet door.  I'll keep the recipes for Dinette Cake, Biscuits, Challah bread, and Pie Crust there since they are most often used recipes.  No matter how often I make them there's always the need to check an ingredient amount and that means finding the right cookbook and the right recipe, etc.

Clean one shelf a day of the fridge...
I really do prefer to do the whole fridge at once, but doing one shelf a day is far better than my method of hoping I clean the fridge once a month.

Keep a calculator at the kitchen desk...
I keep my Household Notebook at the kitchen desk and that's where my budget sheet is.  I also want, at times, to figure out how to reduce a recipe and lately I'm wanting to figure the costs of meals.  I need a calculator handy if only to double check my figures.

Keep a 'car keeping' kit in the car...
Not as much as in days past when the kids were at home but occasionally I find myself waiting upon John when he's at a meeting, or browsing in a music store.  I used to keep a Swiffer duster (I had extras) in the car and would Swiffer it down.  Much needed in our dusty area where dirt roads still exist.  Laine suggests keeping glass cleaner, a small broom (dust brush), vinyl protector, dust pan, trash bag.

When planning a big job, start dinner first...
Wish I'd paid attention to this one this Sunday.  I started a big cleaning project and about dinnertime was mighty hungry, tired, unable to think what I had and no plan.  Ugh.  Much better to plan and prepare first (crock pot meal or main dish salad).

Money Savers:

Buy dry milk to use for cooking/baking...
I'll have to price this one out but it might well be less expensive to buy powdered milk and reconstitute to use for baking. I recall I can also make buttermilk with it and it's a good addition when making yogurt.  I'll check Aldi price and see about getting a box.

Maximize oven use...
I've been doing this more often lately, trying to add in a few extra potatoes, a pie or bread etc to bake with other foods.  Especially in summer this would be a great saver, as the heat of the oven does cause the AC to run more.    Ideally then I'd be up very early mornings utilizing that oven to the fullest.  I'll have to keep a running list of things I can bake together each week.

Sage Tea is good for coughs...
Laine uses quite a few 'home remedies' and this one stood out.  I find cough medicines seldom work well for me, being medication sensitive.  Home remedies might well be the best answer for me.  I'm going to start a whole section in my Home Notebook where I keep natural remedies listed.

Reconsider how we shop...
Several years ago, I attempted to shop weekly in order to cut down on how tedious shopping was for me.  Then John started helping with the weekly shopping and we stuck to our bi-weekly shop.  Now that our circumstances are different and we have one larger check each month and one smaller...and because when John does retire we're likely going to have one check at the start of each month, I'm thinking we need to consider doing things differently.  I was thinking a big once a month shop and then weekly for fresh produce and/or very good specials.  (This is also my reasoning behind the Retirement Remedy of decreasing my budget still further.)

Be Prepared To Shop...
 Not just when I plan to shop but when I haven't planned to but stumble on a good deal.  I bought a clearance decaf coffee last month at Target.  Had I had my coupons with me I'd have made out like a bandit.  As it was I got three bags but I didn't get a chance to go back as I'd hoped.  The coupons ended up expiring and going into the trash.  Lot of good they did me!  From now on, I mean to not only have a list with me of whatever my current needs are, but also have my coupons with me so that I can use them.  That means I'll have to work a little harder at keeping them organized and culled.

Put cloths back on the counter:
John likes paper towels and he has no trouble at all grabbing one or two for a sandwich (rather than a plate).  I've gotten into the habit of grabbing them, too, for quick wipes and cleaning cloths.  Shame on me!  If I put the cloths back on the counter, odds are I will grab a cloth and that will help cut down on paper towel usage.

Bulk, bulk, bulk, bulk...
While I am cautious about stocking up on foodstuffs in large amounts there are a few things I know that are not going to 'spoil' if stored properly: like paper products, most toiletries (gel deodorant will solidify so no long term storage on that one), most soaps, candles, powdered drink mixes.   I have laundry detergent bought January 2014 still on my pantry shelf (last bottle, alas.  Must find another great sale!).  I bought multiple bottles when it was on sale at CVS with a great ECB incentive, high value coupons in hand, etc.  I think I ended up with something like 8 bottles for $4.  I want to take advantage of these sorts of sales and not be afraid of stocking up.

 No  Bulk...
With just John and I here there's no need to bulk purchase spices or herbs.  We barely use a single bottle in a timely manner.  I've tossed some foods that went past their expire date and didn't hold up well despite being canned/bottled.  So I really need to use my head about what I do buy in bulk and what I need to avoid buying in bulk.

Well that's it, minus the one article on couponing I really wanted to share.  These were the ideas I pulled from my readings this past month.  Now I'm off to continue my Boot Camp training!

Note to Dale:, are the two emails I use.  


Anonymous said…
I use powdered milk a lot when I can. Here it is close to the price that liquid milk is currently. As long as it is lower I will get it and even keep some if it is exactly the same price. Also it is non fat and we buy the 1%. Bit of a help there? I know having it here has relieved us from having to go to the store to get milk as soon. Many times I could then wait till the next week when new ads came out with good specials I wanted to take advantage of. :)
Even beans have risen in price but we keep an eye out for bulk beans on sale. They have been half the price of bagged ones. Our many ethnic stores have sales pretty often on more types of beans than most regular stores carry bagged. Thank you too for the forward on the protein article. :-)
I was buying bottled detergent ahead. My washer has to sit on our covered patio. Odd but that is how it is. The detergent sat on a shelf in the sun. One time the plastic bottle broke down and leaked!! So much for saving! Now I keep it out of the sun. The manufacturer said they make the bottles as thin as possible now and with recycled material so they do not last as long. Lesson learned. I know our plastic trash cans even though a major brand do not last as long as the same brand older post recycled ones did. In fact our old old ones are still good and the newer ones with recycled plastic have been replaced twice! So how is this helping the environment? Makes me wonder sometimes if some of this has really been thought out.
We too have rethought what we buy, how much and so on. Life is all about learning. It is amazing though how many things we used to buy but now make or grow ourselves. Repackage, reuse or make due with. I love learning new ways to do things or save money. I have kept any paper napkins we get while getting take out under the sink to clean out greasy skillets. Or newspaper. Take out places give us too many napkins. and we have always used cloth ones at home. I put any small rags or sox we don't need for other rags under each bathroom sink. I use these to clean the sink and such on down to the floor then throw them out if I want! Knowing a rag is close I tend to use them more often. If I have no cleaner in the bathroom I use a squirt of hand soap or even tooth paste! Sarah
JoAnn Baker said…
Instead of taping recipes to the inside of the cabinet... I copied some of mine and than framed them in dollar-store frames and hung them under my cabinets. All I have to do is just glance at them.
Lana said…
I do have recipes ta[ed inside my cabinet door and there are so many now that I really have to look to find what I want. I do really like the convenience of it and it saves me a lot of time.
I have recipes and a conversion and substitution paper taped inside my cabinets. Remember when we would receive recipe cards in the mail trying to get us to purchase a notebook style recipe book? That is where the conversion/substitution paper came from. I just went in there and looked at it. It says McCall's and is dated 1992. I can't tell you how many times I've used it. I am trying to use up some of my food stockpiles. Such as bottles of BBQ sauce that isn't my husband and daughter's favorite my mixing it with their choice. I have them because they were free with coupons.
Were there supposed to be links where it said 'this article' in a couple of places. If so, I'm not sure they took because I can't see them.
The 'I'm not a robot' option was a new one this time. It told me to pick all the cake images. LOL
Karla Neese said…
Some of these are simply reminders for me but such good reminders since I've gotten away from so much of the frugalness I used to operate in.
Anonymous said…
Menu planning, no more buying cold cereal - instead. making homemade granola, and trying to stay away from high fructose corn syrup so making pancake syrup from scratch are 3 ways I'm saving for us. I enjoyed this article. Pam
I have seen you and Annabel talk about Laine's Letters but I can not locate them. Do you have a link you can share?

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