Monday, April 4, 2022

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

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Doing frugal posts this last bit has become a bit challenging for me as it seems saving money is becoming harder and harder in our current world conditions.  I know I'm not alone, far from it, in feeling that way.  I went shopping on Friday and my daughter got to deal with me being in near tears in frustration as I was trying to get a list of like 14 items and only about 3 of them were available.  After about the 8th item not being in stock, an empty cat food isle, no asparagus that was supposed to be on sale (no asparagus period, actually), no peanut safe ice cream to be had, products still out of stock for over a month straight now, no allergy meds for the son on the shelf at all (thank goodness for Amazon in this case, or I don't know what I'd do), and was really not fun.  The rest of the items I had on my list I just had to kind of figure out other solutions for (if there were any solutions available) and nothing was cheap that I could actually get.  It was so frustrating and depressing.  My grocery bill has just about tripled now and that is WITH shopping sales and being super careful.  At least I was able to find vegetable oil at Fred Meyer this week.

My natural gas bill went up this month when it should have gone down as the worst part of winter temperatures is over.  Putting a quarter of a tank of gas in my truck actually hurt to do this week and it's just going to get worse.  This inflation spiral we are in, combined with EVERYTHING else, and I know I speak for all here, sucks. 

One of the big things that happened this week for me and in the not good department was the deli drawer in our fridge decided to self destruct.  It broke a runner on one side a while ago (since the fridge is probably about 20 years old, it shouldn't surprise me when these things happen, but it does), so I was keeping as little weight in it as possible to help keep it together, but this last week it broke the other side and the deli drawer was barely hanging onto the shelf suddenly when I went to close it.  I grabbed it to stop it from collapsing onto the shelf beneath it and yelled for my daughter to bring me my tool bag as I worked on unloading the deli drawer shelf with one hand while holding up the drawer with the other so it wouldn't start breaking other things in the fridge.  It was an interesting afternoon.  I finally figured out how to get the drawer off of the shelf so I could still use the shelf it was on (yay) and I then spent the entirety of that afternoon reorganizing and deep cleaning my fridge.  Which, if there was a silver lining to losing the drawer it was that I was able to get the deep cleaning of the fridge done as that was on my Spring cleaning/to do list.  I put everything I could that had been in the deli drawer into Gladware like containers and stacked them on one shelf in the fridge.  Not ideal, but it works and we can find everything, so I'll go with it.

So, let's get onto other things we've been up to around here.

1.  I decided it was time to crack open a bucket of wheat and grind some wheat flour.  I wanted to see how the hand grinder by itself worked (no motor or anything) and I wanted to start getting into practice of how to make flour (putting it through different sifters to sift out bran and how fine I wanted to grind the flour, etc) and use it in baking so that we could still get a decent result in our baked goods.  So, what I found was this.  I really need my husband to up his game on getting a motor mount made for the wheat grinder (it is able to be motorized, which is one of the reasons I bought my particular wheat grinder).  We downloaded the specs on what type of motor we would need and what pully and belt system the manufacturer stated to use and the rest is up to my husband who knows what he's doing *laugh*.

I've found that once you are in a rhythm you can grind all day long with a hand grinder, really, if you wanted to, but the volume of flour to would be ridiculous trying to grind a week's worth of flour at one time with a hand grinder.  I'm starting to see why the term "the DAILY grind" came into being as it would take so long just to grind a day's worth of flour, that basically that was all people had time for.  The daughter and I (mainly me) ground wheat for an hour straight and we ended up with roughly three cups of wheat flour by the end of the process (after sieving out the coarsest of the bran and so forth so that the final baked goods wouldn't be too dense).  I have done that the last couple of weeks and been using the three cups of flour I make to pad out my bread flour and all purpose flour so that they'll last longer and also add some better nutrition to our diets.  I grind it directly into the Rubbermaid container seen above and then after sieving it I put it back into the container, put the lid on and put it in the fridge so that the nutritional value won't deteriorate so quickly over the course of the week.

2.  My kids really needed new Spring/Fall jackets as they had both grown so much.  We went to the used stores over the weekend and found several jackets for the daughter and a new rain jacket for the son (the daughter will just use the son's old rain jacket, if needed, until we can find her one that is more to her tastes).  The daughter really wanted a pink jacket, but couldn't find one in her size.  I got home and checked the size on a pink jacket I had bought for myself last year at a good price and realized that it would probably fit the daughter (I'm now the smallest person in the family as the daughter and son have grown so much and/or have a different build than I do) as I am always cold so I bought a jacket that I could layer under.  She tried it on and it fit her perfectly, so I just gave it to her.  She's super happy with it and I just pulled out my old jacket (I replaced it so I could get a jacket with a hood on it, but it still works fine) for myself.  My husband found several old jackets of his that the son could have and fit him well, so it all worked out for now without a ton of money being spent.

3.  The daughter outgrew her jeans, so when we went to the used store I found several pairs that would fit her with her current build (she's at those awkward build teen years) and she's super happy as the new jeans are comfy, fit her well and were in brand new condition at the used store (two pairs even still had the original price tags on them).  When we got home I had her pull out the pairs of jeans she had outgrown and I realized that they were in my size and they fit me fine.  So, I inherited a few pairs of jeans for later use.

4.  We watched a few movies for free on YouTube.

5.  I did my yearly donation of 1.00 to Rifftrax to support their yearly Kickstarter campaign.  For just 1.00 and showing support it helps to unlock certain stretch goals in their campaign every year, so for a 1.00 investment I'll be getting 10 free shorts (a 10.00 value) and a few other goals they opened to all backers during the campaign.  I feel for a 1.00 investment it is worth it for the laughter, which in the current world, I think we could all use more of.

6.  I had a problem with a Tillamook product.  I wrote them to just report the issue so they could check their equipment to make sure it was sealing things correctly, but not really wanting anything in return for it.  But, they did send me coupons as a thank you for reporting the issue and providing the product code and things and so they sent me enough coupons to replace the product I had reported about.  I was touched that they did that, honestly, as I know how tough things are for everyone (including farmers and the farmer co-ops), so I gratefully went and got a free block of cheese this weekend.

7.  I started to pop open some of my food storage to use up things that were getting near their use by dates.  I tried the Augason Farms Creamy Potato Soup (affiliate link) mix with dinner one night and with a bit of tweaking with some seasonings it was really good!  I was happy as it won't be too painful to eat *laugh*.  I also opened a thing of quick oats to make homemade oatmeal packets, which has been kind of fun to put together.  I bought some Augason Farms banana chips (affiliate link.  I linked to them as they are currently 9.98 for a number 10 can, but that changes quickly, so if they are expensive wait a while and put them in your cart to save for later.  Eventually they do go down to about 10.00 and that is when I would buy them) as part of my food storage and used those to make some chocolate almond butter (I just got some powdered chocolate Barney butter a while ago and used that in the packet) banana oatmeal packets and those were actually kind of tasty :).  

8.  I'm continuing the deep cleaning and organizing that comes with the Spring Cleaning bug.  I am actually really pleased with myself the last few years as I'm determined that if I buy something that I HAVE to have a place to put it and a purpose for it before I commit to buy it.  This has included walking away from things that in the past I probably would have bought and tried to find space for later, which just opens the door for frustration and in a lot of cases eventually re-donating to the used store later on when you realize that the thing you really wanted just wasn't going to work in your house.  

For instance when we went to the used store over the weekend I found a set of three stainless steel mixing bowls for cheap.  They were lightweight, decently big and deep.  I have been wanting to get bowls like this to use during canning season and things as it always seems like you never have enough bowls when you start projects like that.  The two smaller bowls I happily grabbed, but the biggest bowl was a really good price, but I was worried it was too big to fit in my cabinets (which, when I tried to put it with my other mixing bowls, I was right, it is too big).  My husband came up with the idea to store it on top of the kitchen cabinets and after thinking about it for a moment I knew where I could put it on the cabinets where it would work well, so I bought it and that is where it sits ready for canning season.

Meanwhile I found a bunch of Corelle plates and bowls that were in patterns I loved.  My husband asked me if I wanted them and I immediately shook my head and said, "No.  I have plenty of dishes to eat off of.  I don't need any more."  I didn't need them.  Sure, part of me wanted them.  But, we did not NEED them.  So, I walked away with no regrets.

9.  We took our cardboard to the recycling center over the weekend, which saved us a lot of money compared to throwing it in the landfill.

10.  I fixed a couple of blankets of my son's that had failed in the seams.

11.  Carrs offered me a coupon for a free bag of cheese, so I had my husband pick it up when he stopped off to get milk one night after work.  I was thrilled to get a freebie like that.

And, I'm going to end the post here as I need to my son some lunch before we get back to school work for the day (he needed a break, so I gave him one...the benefits of homeschool :).

How about you guys?  Still hanging in there?


  1. Conditions in the stores in Fairbanks seem to be a bit better than what you are experiencing in Anchorage. One thing we have started to do is check every single expiration date on things like milk and cottage cheese. We got home recently to find that the Sell By date had passed two days before...the store apologized and replaced them, saying they are having a hard time hiring stockers and they are the ones that make sure old foods are pulled from the shelves. I understand so now we are being more vigilant on checking sell by and use by dates. I remind myself that our grocery stores still contain more variety than in many places in the world and that the percentage we spend on food is less than almost all other western countries. When that does not work (HA! it often does not) I remember that I could be in Ukraine...I sure am learning how to substitute ingredients in recipes when I cannot find the specific item called for.

    1. Yeah, I do the same thing with the pep talks, but like you it is still hard sometimes. Being on a super tight budget and watching things go up in price all the time and's kind of nerve wracking. I can imagine how the poor people in Germany are handling things this week when their groceries are going up 20 to 50% as of today. I imagine we are probably going to get there, honestly. I think some panic buying is starting to take hold down here a bit, which may very well be effecting supply. I noticed at Fred Meyer that their flour section was completely wiped out when I went and Carrs has had no vegetable oil of any type (except peanut oil, which of course we don't use for obvious reasons) for a good month now. We are living in interesting times to be sure.

      I haven't found short dates on dairy products and things, thank goodness (always check the milk for the furthest out date, which probably helps *laugh*), but thanks for the head's up. I'll have to pay more attention to yogurt and cheese for sure.

  2. Have you ever read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Part of the Little House series. In this book nearly all they have to eat all winter is a bag of grain which they have to grind in a hand grinder every day. So definitely a slow job. I haven't noticed any serious shortages. My daughter hasn't been able to get diesel for her car this week. I use petrol so no problem with that. Everything has gone up though. Well done on your thrift shopping and swapping clothes about.

    1. I read those books years ago. I haven't read them since I was a kid. I should re-read them as they might give me some tips *laugh*.

      I have noticed shortages for sure, but we don't have any kind of rationing going on here yet. Other blogs and YouTubers I follow do have product limitations in their areas already starting to take hold, so we'll see when that kicks in here. I feel for your daughter not being able to get diesel. That has to be tough! I might not like what I'm paying for fuel, but at least we still have it available.

  3. Simply happy enough to have a roof and warmth and ENOUGH. That is good for me. I live so very simply and still enjoy each day to the fullest.

  4. I shook my head in agreement about shortages and rising grocery prices. That was such a money saver that your daughter fit in your coat and you fit into her jeans!

  5. I've been thinking of you lately when shopping; with prices rising everywhere, I can only imagine how much worse it is in Alaska. I'm so sorry you've been struggling so much!

    I've always been a big fan of using up leftovers and making sure there's as little waste as possible, but now I'm kind of nuts about it (I made a batch of cookies I wasn't planning on making this morning, just to use up the last three brown bananas!). Our food costs are still *fairly* normal, but only because I've put in so much work over the years to get our regular diet down to the lowest cost possible and then making the most out of it. I don't know how people who are suddenly experiencing out-of-control prices and who have no experience with frugality are managing.