Five Frugal Things


Chocolate stash: for scale, the tin is about the diameter of a medium pizza pan and quite deep.

  1. Even though I’ve stocked up on lots of items this month (and have blown the grocery budget), I’m still concentrating on using up items on hand. I’ve got a ways to go on using up all that chocolate, but I made magic layer bars, chocolate pecan scones and ganache for the Easter cream puffs using goodies from this tin rather than buying something special. I also used a lemon cake mix that had been in the cupboard for a while to make a lime soaked citrus cake. I should have added some baking powder, but it still tasted good. And had the added advantage of also using up a container of limeade concentrate and some leftover frosting that had been in the fridge for a LONG time.

***All these desserts were made over the course of a whole month. Even my sweet tooth is not that intense!

2. I picked up a tub drain cover at Target after pulling an unseemly amount of hair and other debris from the shower drain. So gross. Hopefully this will keep us from having to call a plumber out or do any expensive DIY work.

3. I chopped up leftover Easter ham to use in a ham, potato and bean soup for dinner tonight. This also makes use of some white beans I have in the pantry, bought quite a while ago at the local Mormon canning center. I’ll also use the ham to make egg cups for breakfasts/snacks this week, ham fried rice, and chop up the remainder to freeze in 1 cup portions.

4. Frugal splurge: I used a $10 Balance Reward that had accumulated at Walgreens to get three 12 packs of Diet Dr. Pepper for only $2 OOP. An end-of-semester lifesaver. Which is what I’m also calling the package of cherry licorice that jumped into the cart at the same time…

5. I finally took Nathalie’s advice and rooted the green onions I buy at Aldi. I planted them in the same planter that has the cilantro (currently looking great!). Hopefully they will thrive and my need to buy green onions is more or less over!

Five Frugal Things

Wheelbarrow redo (1)

  1. Rather than buying a new wheelbarrow, we repaired the one we had. And then I had fun making a stencil to embellish it (totally needless, but I was amused). Michael ran over the old handles with the lawn mower (don’t ask), so we had to purchase a new set of handles and I ended up needing a second can of black paint, but otherwise we used what we had on hand. I sprayed it with a rust inhibitor first, so I’m hoping this repair lasts us a little while.
  2. I was able to reuse a plastic basket I had on hand to help organize my spice cupboard, rather than purchase a new container.
  3. Our city waste service changed their rules regarding recyclables, so I’ve had to revamp my system for sorting and corralling the recyclables in our house before transferring them to the giant bin outside. Again, I used some old bins I had in the garage to create a sorting station rather than going out and purchasing anything new.
  4. During spring break I found plants for one of our garden beds in the clearance section at Lowes. They were more than half off and perked right back up when I watered them.
  5. Most of the seeds (the really old ones) I planted in the window boxes on the porch didn’t germinate, but the cilantro did! I picked up a few more packets of herb seeds to replant in the other boxes. Even paying full price for a packet of seeds is cheaper than buying fresh herbs at the grocery store.

What I Spent, What We Ate

What I Spent

I went to the grocery store twice this week, once was more of a random trip to check out the grocery outlet/salvage type of store in town and the other was my regular trip to Aldi. I spent a total of $51.75 — WAY more than what I spent the previous two weeks. This brings my total to $82.85 and leaves me just $17 for the rest of the month. While I hadn’t planned, exactly, on this scenario, I AM glad that I went to the grocery outlet. I did purchase a few things that were unnecessary and fall outside of the dairy and produce categories. But…I don’t plan on hitting this store up more than once a month at most and wanted to take advantage of what I found. And the Aldi trip just reflected our need for produce. We’ll see how I do!

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At the grocery outlet I picked up a case of organic plain yogurt, two containers of organic cottage cheese, a jar of organic peanut butter, a bottle of chocolate sauce, two boxes of chocolate Moravian cookies (to use for a pie crust although Michael found them…) and a bag of cinnamon imperials which I can NEVER find here during Valentine’s day and they are one of my favorite candies. Obviously not everything was required, but for $10 I am okay with the splurges.

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At Aldi, I bought a bit more than I expected because of some sale prices and I picked up corned beef and coffee beans. Eggs were $.69/dozen, so I grabbed the limit of six dozen. I also picked up two bags of carrots ($.69/2lb bag), onions, a cabbage, bananas, strawberries, 2 pounds of asparagus, romaine lettuce, a large container of organic mixed salad greens, frozen raspberries, half & half, 2% milk, fake club crackers and tortilla chips. I also grabbed a pack of hamburger buns, which aren’t pictured. I  spent $41.75. Usually I get coffee beans at BJs, but the bag is expensive because it’s huge and I knew I would probably be tempted to purchase more than I needed. So we’re trying Aldi whole coffee beans, which are also organic and fair trade. We’ll see. You know I’m picky about coffee. 🙂 The raspberries were not strictly necessary, but I wanted to make smoothies using that yogurt and I don’t like blueberry only smoothies (cry me a river, right?). The corned beef was also not a necessary purchase, but Michael really likes it and it’s not easy to find at other times of the year, so…I indulged. And then the prices on carrots, eggs, onions, and asparagus had me stocking up. I noticed that quite a few items have reduced prices through 4/11, so I’ll be back next month to take advantage of those (cream cheese is $.85/pack). Anyway, without the coffee, raspberries and corned beef I would have been closer to just $20 for the week.

What We Ate

This week was not one for culinary wonders. We ate out quite a bit — a combination of birthday treats for Michael and then me just being totally off-kilter with my school schedule. It was mid-term and projects and exams took up most of my time. Our eating and my cooking was definitely kind of sad. As an FYI, our eating out budget is NOT the same as the grocery budget, although I do look at those numbers together.

Saturday: Vietnamese (out)

Sunday: Pizza (take out)

Monday: Tacos (take out)

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Tuesday: Cabbage Fried Rice

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Wednesday: Spaghetti with Sausage & Peppers Sauce, Green Salad, Garlic Bread

Thursday: Leftovers (Laura at class)

Friday: Bookclub (Laura), Soup & Salad (Michael)

One thing I realized this week was that prepping just a bit on the weekend really saves me during the week. This coming week is spring break and while it won’t be as busy as a normal school week, I’m really looking forward to getting some projects around here taken care of. That means that prepping over the weekend is going to be just as important as it would be during a regular school week. Also, you’ll also notice that my posted meal plan and the actual meals cooked bear little to no resemblance to each other. Ah, well. It was mostly an exercise to spark my interest and motivation. There’s a reason I usually post what we’ve eaten after the fact, not what we’re going to eat.




What I Spent, What We Ate

What I Spent

File Mar 04, 4 20 15 PM

I spent $10.15 at Aldi this week for groceries. As you can see, we needed fruit and half and half plus I really wanted to get some asparagus. A neighbor gave us a lot of grapefruit so we have plenty of fruit in the house. I will probably head there this weekend for berries and dairy, but overall we are good on most things during this pantry challenge. Of the $100 produce/dairy budget I have for the month, I’ve spent $31.10.

What We Ate


Saturday: Lemony Greek Pasta Salad (lunch), Margherita Pizza

  • I was so pleased with this pizza! Also I successfully froze this dough a couple of weeks ago and two wonderful things happened: I remembered to use it AND I froze it in a plastic container instead of in a bag. I think the different container made it so much easier to use and also much less likely to get lost in the freezer. I will do that again for sure! The basil is from loeftover pho; they always give so much basil and cilantro along with the broth and meat and this time I brought home the extra (in addition to the extra soup — even the small is a huge portion). I was able to use the basil in several meals, although this was the last.

Sunday: Stir-Fry Noodles w/Asparagus, Mushrooms & Tofu

Monday: Cajun Red Beans and Rice

  • I used this recipe for the red beans and rice, but omitted the andouille sausage because I wanted to keep it vegetarian. This turned out really, really well!

Tuesday: Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • This may be a new favorite for us — it was really good and really yummy! I kind of did a mash-up of different recipes, but they are all pretty much the same, I think. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend. Also it’s a great way to take advantage of the cheap cabbage that’s available now.

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Tilapia (not sure if we’re having Parmesan or Horseradish Crusted), Roasted Asparagus, Baked Potatoes

  • Or maybe I will do a Cajun spiced and pan fried thing with the fish. I’m not sure yet, but we’re definitely having fish as it’s thawed in the fridge. Don’t want it to go to waste!