My Frugal Week: A Challenge to Save
Saturday: I made several meals from my menu plan last week but also skipped a few. Today I had chicken breasts in the fridge along with a variety of vegetables. I decided to make an easy Peanut Chicken Stir fry for lunch. Most of the vegetables were already prepped and I had only to cut up the chicken. It was pretty yummy served over brown rice I'd made ahead and put in the freezer.
Shut curtains on the sunny sides of the house and opened them on the shadier sides to offset the heat of the sun. The blinds and black out curtains really do make a huge difference (as did the service we had on the AC on Thursday).
Went through the accumulation of magazines Mama had given me or which came through the mail this month. I set aside a few to give to Katie, set aside a few more issues to mail off to Amie.
Sunday: Stripped the bed this morning, washed sheets with clothes this afternoon. John hung some things out to dry on the line but opted to dry sheets in the dryer. It took about 20 minutes to get them dry.
My anniversary is in a couple of weeks. John had asked what I'd like to have and I wanted a cobalt glazed terracotta bird bath, which happened to be on sale for half price this week. We picked it up today while we were out.
When I went into the store to pay for the bird bath, I bought a Sunday paper, a snack and sodas for us both. He paid for the bird bath. I paid for the other items out of my pocket money.
We came home to eat dinner: tuna pasta salad with saltines.
I made coffee. I always turn off the coffeemaker immediately after we pour our two cups of afternoon coffee. Later, John will have a cup of coffee after supper. We reheat it in the microwave. No waste of coffee, no need to make more.
Made John's lunch sandwiches, packed the shelf stable stuff directly into the bag. I chilled a soda and will pack with ice packs in his lunch tomorrow to help keep his lunch cold for the morning hours.
We finished the chicken salad and pimento cheese for our supper sandwiches tonight.
We filled the bird bath with water from stored jugs and placed rocks in the bottom of it to give the birds and butterflies a spot to sit. I refill these water jugs routinely, so the water is fresh. It's good to know in a power outage I always have some fresh water on hand. Watering plants with this water is a good use for what might otherwise go right down the drain.
Monday: Packed John's work lunch. I made us breakfast.
Washed a full load of clothes. This was a mixed lot of new sheet set, towels, underthings. I hung on the line to dry.
I weeded and mulched the area at the back porch this morning. I wisely left Maddie's main lying down spot as a dirt spot and just mulched from there on. I used the last of my weed mat this morning on that area and will have to buy more before I tackle the next area.
Fed the animals while I hung out the clothes.
Took off trash when I headed into town to Mama's for our day out.
I went into the grocery. I bought dog food and paper towel both of which were on the same aisle. I walked in the exit door which led me directly to that aisle and right back out again. No looking to the left or right...heaven knows how much money I saved us just doing that!
Went to Lowe's since it is across the street from the shopping center where we ate lunch and went into grocery. I bought soil and plants. I picked up several plants from the reduced price shelf. Some looked sad but what appeared to be wrong with them was that the flowers were faded or they looked thirsty. Deadheading and a good soaking with water will set them right once again. I got two sweet potato vines, two 4-packs of marigolds and something else I can't recall at the moment. They were all $1 each which was an excellent price for them. I also bought some other plants, all good perennials and annuals like Coleus, Vinca, Begonia, Portulaca, Salvia, Celosia. I think these will all do well in my back porch flower area.
Came home and made myself a pot of coffee. Yes, I said pot. I only wanted the one cup but called Sam to see if he was coming in tonight so I'd know whether or not to make a full pot and then proceeded to make it while he told me he wasn't. He suggested I pour up, put in fridge and save for him to drink as iced coffee. I'll do that, too.
Earned $20 from Pinecone research.
I thought supper tonight would be a challenge but I had leftover stir fry vegetables and discovered I'd taken turkey out to thaw before the weekend. (I remembered as soon as I saw it but it was forgotten until that moment.) I combined some of the turkey with the vegetables, a little broth, a little soy and had a vegetable rich dish for supper. It was rather tasty.
Tuesday: Stage 3 complete on the back porch flower bed. I potted up flowers for three baskets. I've determined that the bed needs a little something more and will work on that before presenting the final product to you but it's coming together very nicely. The wire baskets came from the shed. I'd actually forgotten them but they were perfect to line with old burlap and fill for the chairs. Oh the joys of 'shopping at home'!
I used up the turkey in the fridge and made a creamed turkey over toast for our meal today with salad and steamed broccoli.
Our vitamin order arrived as did our new dining area rug. Any guess which I opened first? I plan to purchase new pictures for the dining area (they are already chosen and will be ordered tomorrow) and new table linens, too, but those will wait a bit. I've been just longing for blue/green in the area but the rug introduces other colors that I look forward to bringing into that space. The rug we purchased was a clearance item from Overstock. It was paid for with money I'd set aside earlier this month.
I've been flying by the seat of my pants and on a whim where breakfasts and suppers are concerned but this is about to change. When I finally sit down this week to plan meals for next week I'm planning breakfasts as well as suppers.
I spent a quiet afternoon doing nothing much. I've managed to clear out my magazine basket and read a few vintage magazines. No excuse except the weather is rainy and somehow its not conducive to doing work. I did promise myself to rest through out the week and I guess today was that time.
Wednesday: John had a doctor's appointment to follow up on some long ago lab results. It's taken this long to mesh his schedule and the doc's. He was given a few inexpensive supplements to add into his routine and a prescription addition that was free at Publix. I must say this one perk of using the pharmacy at Publix is the free options they offer on the least expensive and most commonly prescribed medications.
We picked up lunch and a few bits of fruit and some clearance priced items (olive oil...I don't know why it's ever clearance, honestly! but it was). John gave me some cash to offset the cost of the extras today which I appreciated and so did my budget.
We ate only half our lunch. The rest will do for tomorrow's supper or lunch either one.
We bought a gift card for a young man who is graduating. The cost of that was covered by our gift fund...which will be stretched beyond the limits next month when we have 9 birthdays and an anniverasry in a 4 week period, sigh.
I made spaghetti sauce this evening. I've been craving spaghetti for weeks now and so I gave in to my cravings. I have a pint of sauce left over. I told John as I stood there chopping myriad vegetables for the sauce, I realized that this was one of our survival recipes in our poor days. 1/4 pound of ground beef or 1/2 a pound at most, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers were all less expensive than meat years ago (and still are) and so that's how we made spaghetti sauce and served it over loads of spaghetti. We almost always got two meals off our spaghetti back then and we still do despite my cutting way back on how much I make. I just can't even imagine spaghetti without all those extras tossed in!
And I remembered as I was working, that we had only a refrigerator freezer for the first year of our lives together. I routinely bought enough groceries to last us two weeks and it all had to fit in the fridge and fridge freezer. Of course, we had little money so it wasn't nearly the challenge you'd might think, lol. But it's good to be reminded, as I struggle with a decision about keeping two freezers running, that in the past a family of 7 managed well enough with just a refrigerator freezer and that helped finalize my decision to let the little freezer go.
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
Saved leftover water in bottles, water used to steam broccoli, and even a few dregs of coffee from the coffee pot. I used to water plants.
Ordered new pictures for the dining area. I'd found some I liked some months ago and I've held on to the catalog for months and months now. I checked to see if they were still available and they were. I have cash on hand to cover the cost.
We picked up what supplements we could at the pharmacy. We had to order two of them when we got home. I used my shop and earn at Swagbucks to earn a little extra cash back.
I used my brainstorm list to jot down a few ideas I'd had for yard décor/planting. It's easy to forget inspired ideas. If they don't pan out it's okay but at least I've a cue to memory so I can try them out.
Thursday: John's diet will change a bit over the next few weeks, since he's to eat a higher protein, lower Carbohydrate sort of diet. That's not a problem. It's essentially what we did for years with Atkins and I'm accustomed to counting carbs with my own diabetic meals. I also know well how to incorporate higher protein in the diet without making it solely meat based. Our doctor is the frugal sort as well. "Use up what you have at home and then slowly incorporate the new things into the meal plan," he says. Ditto for supplements. "Use what you have on hand, then purchase the newer ones you'll need." Can do, doc, can do.
Took plain old soap and water out to the front porch and washed down the railings. It looked 100% better and doing that periodically will keep algae and dirt at bay. It never takes a long while to clean them either.
Did you know that thunder and lightning provide nutrients and minerals to the soil? I was happy to hear the thunder this morning, even though it means dear Maddie must spend time hiding out in her dog house. My baskets planted on Tuesday morning already look terrific just with the fresh soil, rain and thunder we've had. They will be looking lush in no time.
I made a big breakfast, larger than usual for a routine morning, because I had potatoes and onions in the fridge that I'd meant to make into a side dish I never got around to making. I added some bell pepper and leftover hot dogs and slipped eggs into nests of potatoes to steam while the potatoes cooked. It was yummy but it means light lunch for us today (hello, leftover sandwich!).
I had a very nearly empty (too little to use for it's main purpose) dishwasher detergent bottle. I added some water and sort of swirled it about and then poured into my hot water to mop floors. I love this solution for making my dirty floors appear white once more, plus the detergent cuts grease about the stove floor area as well.
Printed off two 8x10 seed packet lithographs for the living room walls. I need to find frames in my stash now.
Pieced together a late lunch after mopping kitchen.
Finished off the floors after lunch and then tossed the mop head into the washer with other bits of laundry I keep finding. John was going to wash a very small load earlier this morning and I discouraged it because I knew I could come up with more items between now and tomorrow. I'll do a load then. I'm going to go see if Sam has any pieces in his room that need to be washed, too.
Partially packed John's lunch with the shelf stable items. I'll make his sandwiches this evening.
Friday: Packed John's lunch and made him breakfast before sending him off to work.
I went out this morning to work in the corner flower bed. My dream is to plant it with day lily of an ever blooming sort but no money to be had for plants this week. The savings was in the amount of work required. We've had just enough rain this week to moisten the ground and soften the dirt, so I could easily weed the area, and shift about the dirt Maddie had moved in digging herself out holes to lie in. The bed weeded and leveled off a bit made spreading mulch easy peasy. And then I used some edging I've had forever (since we moved here) to border the bed. It's not rock or brick but it's right back to that "Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can" quote that is my motto this year. It was what I had. Because the ground was soft I was able to use a shovel to make a crevasse in the ground about the edge of the bed and then use the rigid edging pieces and a hammer to sink in nice and deep. Now I shall stop for a bit as I really do need to purchase more landscape weed mat before working on any other areas.
Tried several of the inspiration ideas in the flower bed in front of the back porch and none were very satisfactory. I ended up toting it all back to the shed and determining that what I'd like to do is plant petunias in two of the galvanized tin pails I have.
While I was in the shed, I plundered until I found my wreath from last summer for the back porch. Not sure yet what I'll do for the front door.
Dug out some frames to use here in the house for the living room wall.
Washed a small load of clothes and dried in the dryer since it was raining outdoors this morning.
Made a pot of soup for my dinner. I had a small container of leftovers marked "Beef Soup" and that's what I used as my base, along with some frozen leftover tinned tomatoes, a potato, carrot, a bit of celery and onion and the Broth paste base that I bought at Aldi. It sure hit the spot on this cooler, damp day!
Mixed up a little cornbread for my dinner. I thought I'd make cornmeal pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast but know from past experience if I mix the batter now they'll be very flat tomorrow. Instead I mixed my egg and milk and added just a little to the cornmeal for my bread. Then I put the rest of the egg/milk mixture in the fridge. In the morning, I'll mix with my cornmeal and my pancakes will rise high and fluffy.
While there's no one in the guest room, I took advantage of the guests being gone and vacuumed the room really well. It's a bit of a tumble that room but not of my doing. I'm not complaining either just very aware that as a long term guest room it's a bit crowded and it makes me mindful that it's a long way yet from being a truly comfortable room. I think as my indoors project that room will have to be a focus area once our guests have parted.
I love that broken pot on the patio that I've planted but water runs right out of it very quickly. I determined what I needed to do was put a broken bit of pottery there to help hold in the water/soil somewhat. I had an old berry bowl in the shed that served perfectly.
I was frustrated with weather, which wouldn't allow me to paint. And that new dining room rug just pointed up how much those old chairs needed refurbishing. However, the original green vinyl type upholstery fabric I'd cut out to use on the chair seats just did not appeal to me. That's what held me up for the past several couple of months even though I'd purchased a staple gun just for upholstery use. I recalled suddenly that some years ago my oldest son's wife had given me some upholstery fabric that was gray-ish and so I went to dig in my fabric stash and found it. Sure enough it made a lovely match to the rug, not an exact match but close enough. I had enough to do all four chair seats. Even though three of them desperately need to be sanded and painted they look nice. And I feel rather pleased with myself for pulling that long ago memory of a gift of upholstery fabric from my mind and then finding it.
I've worked hard this week. When I look at all that's been accomplished, a little here and a lot there, and realize how very little money was spent overall, I realize that the one thing I needed the very most of was time. I have enough of that to spare some for projects, especially those that give me a sense of accomplishment, a long lasting pleasure and a sense of pride in my home. Everything doesn't always turn out just as I plan it but I often have a second wind of inspiration to carry me through to a conclusion that works very well and gives me the much wanted 'new' even if I am using what I have.
What did you do this week that made a savings and made you feel proud of your work?