Friday, August 1, 2014

Frugal Victories

(I post my frugal victories once a week, on Fridays. The victories actually run from Friday to Thursday of the week before.)

I could sense that Papa would really like to get take out Friday evening, but I offered to make french toast and he accepted. I used leftover batter from the evening before, and learned that the batter is far better the next day, so that is something I will know for next time.

We did some errands, going to Target for natural peanut butter (least expensive price), 99¢ birthday cards, and two water bottles. We left with only those things, no impulse purchases at all. The water bottles are intended to be the boys go to water bottles, for everyday use. We are trying to a) increase the amount of water that J drinks daily (and needed measurements), b) reduce the number of cups the boys use daily, and c) have water bottles that can go from home to car to wherever without risk of breakage. I bought my bottle (the same brand and size) there and have been very pleased with it. It is easy to drink from, which is important, easy to clean, and I can track my water intake.

We also stopped at Lowes to pick up the order I had placed for food safe buckets and gamma seals. I tried to order them through my co-op but they were out of stock. While the gamma seals were slightly more expensive at Lowes, the buckets were less expensive, and I actually spent a couple dollars less at Lowes. Lesson learned! I would not have though to check with them if the co-op hadn't cancelled that part of my order. I also bought a paint brush to use as a pastry brush; they are the same brushes but sold as pastry brushes they cost a lot more.

Papa wanted to go to the bookstore to see if they had a magazine that he and the boys enjoy. I didn't buy anything for myself! I have been seriously addicted to magazines in the past, so this took a lot of willpower.

I baked homemade cinnamon rolls Saturday morning, heading off any temptation to walk to the local market for a beverage and baked good breakfast. I also baked a batch of banana muffins since we had three bananas that were very spotty. All extras were put into the freezer for grab-and-go breakfasts later.

I planned to cook the last 2.5 C. of dried black beans from the pantry and served them with rice for our main meal. Husband has indicated that black beans aren't his favorite, so I won't buy them in bulk again even though I really like Caribbean black beans. If a dish is enjoyed by only one person in the family, tolerated by one, and hated by two, it can't stay in the meal rotation.

However, for the first time ever, I hit the wrong button on the Instant Pot, and the beans weren't ready to eat when we were.  Oops! While I would have been happy with rice and leftover greens, the boys weren't going to be, so I rummaged through the freezer and found a package of Beyond Meat vegan chicken that I bought last March. I quickly defrost the strips, then diced them and sautéed them. I also made a quick cabbage salad. So we had brown rice + Beyond Meat chicken + leftover sautéed kale + cabbage salad, and it was delicious. Truly, it was a bit of a treat!

Rather than considering the beans a failure, I put the lid back on the pot and hit the correct button so we could eat them at dinner time.

Because I had successfully made french toast Thursday and Friday, I decided to attempt rice pudding using flax instead of eggs. It turned out really well (the best rice pudding I have ever made), and I will try to remember to blog about it next time I make it (so I can take photos).

Sunday we went shopping; the boys needed shoes and we had a few other errands to run. Unfortunately the two closest thrift stores didn't have shorts for T, so we're still looking, but one of them had an almost new pair of Levi 501s for J, and the other had a like new IKEA wood (pine) Trofast unit, the tall one that is discontinued and used be around $100. It even included one shelf. For $25 I have something that will work perfectly in our breakfast nook to hold the dog water at an elevated position and also to hold our Berkey water filter high enough that the Puppy Girl can't lick it. I also bought 10 vintage cloth napkins for $2, and two metal 1 cup measuring cups for $3 (along with five metal cookie cutters, a church key, and a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon as part of a grab bag).

Monday I revised our meal plan when I realized that we had some expensive plant-based sausages that were just past the sell-by date. Yes, rice and beans (our usual Monday meal) is less expensive overall, but wasting food is like putting money in the trash. I dug some frozen hot dog buns from the freezer and a can of baked beans from the camping stash, plus I cut up a cantaloupe that was very ripe and made a cabbage salad (the cheapest salad I can make).

We went to Costco and I resisted the urge to stock up on everything and make our August food expenses look better.

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