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The Past Week's Frugal Accomplishments

May Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

I mended seven leaks in the drip irrigation. I had accidentally cut these last year when pruning hedges.

I planted seeds for Armenian cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, and Thai basil in the garden.

I harvested apricots, lemons, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, green onions, garlic chives, oregano, parsley, and chocolate mint from the garden.

May Roses and Honeysuckle The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut flowers from the garden to enjoy inside.

My husband and I had an at-home date night playing a game of Rummikub. My mom found that she had a duplicate of this game when she went through her closets earlier this year when I had a garage sale, and we kept the game back from the sale.

I redeemed free coupons from the grocery store Monopoly game tickets for five free 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce, three pounds of egg noodles, four free store-brand AAA batteries, two small bags of potato chips, a bag of free hamburger buns, two free containers of aspirin, and an 8-ounce container of sour cream.

I used a coupon for a buy one, get one bottle of shampoo to get a free bottle of shampoo.

My sister-in-law is moving house and downsizing. She offered to let me go through several boxes of children's clothes before she had a garage sale. I found several pairs of jeans for daughters number 2 and 3 (they wear the same size, plus my second daughter is very hard on clothes, which has meant a shortage of clothing for a few years for these two daughters; it seems they are always wearing everything through!) I also found a few other clothing items for other children.

My children helped their aunt with her garage sale on the actual day, and in return, she allowed them each several items to keep from her sale. They brought home several more items of clothing.

My husband arranged to borrow the bike rack that his brother made for the same sister for us to use at our house. There isn't a place for it at her new house and she's not using it right now. My husband was planning to make one for us with his brother; this will work well for us for now without any outlay of money.

My husband cut my hair for me.

My husband painted our front doors.

Katy Apricots The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  • Love the pictures as always, and great score with all the free items from the grocery Monopoly game!

    My week was nice and productive too:
    - I bought green apples on sale and used kale from my freezer, to make inexpensive Green Apple & Kale Smoothies. A very frugal dinner and easy to throw together after work! (http://approachingfood.com/green-apple-kale-smoothie/)
    - I picked and dried some oregano from my balcony garden and added it to my pantry.
    - I finally had the energy to do a trade again, using my local trading app. The app has recently created a digital currency and to start everyone off, they gave each user 1000 points (equivalent to $10). I traded the points for a very nice 3-piece hand soap, lotion, and cream set, which I will regift. I was very pleased with the trade!
    - I also traded two bnib metal puzzles (that I had in my gift drawer from a previous trade) for a black raspberry bush seedling. Made me happy!
    - I found a false charge on my credit card, which I disputed, and should be able to get that refunded once the fraud investigation in finished. In the meantime, the company is couriering me a new card free of charge (I put as many purchases as possible on my credit card to get points, but always pay it in full each time).
    - When I use my Starbucks card from Swagbucks, I use it during promos to get the most points to redeem for free products. I noticed that I didn’t receive the points that I should have last time, so I followed up with it online and they made the adjustment. That tipped me over the edge so that I was eligible for another free reward, which I redeemed for a free super-healthy vegan lunch. Perfect timing, as I didn’t have time to make lunch that day.
    - I emailed the help desk for the rebate app that I use, Checkout51, when the rebate advertised in the email didn’t show up in the app. Turns out they mixed up the U.S. email with the Canadian one, but they gave me a $1 for my trouble. I was happy with the return on 30 seconds of my time!
    - I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 certificate to Old Navy.
    - I combined a free offer of $5 worth of points plus an offer of free shipping, to get a onesie from Indigo/Chapters for 25 cents. The only charge was the tax of 25 cents, which I paid using paypal money I earned taking surveys. Am slowly preparing for baby on a budget!
    - I washed the backpack that I take to work, and it came out super-clean! I hope it will last for at least another few years. I have another bag that I could use, but I want to keep it to use as a diaper bag (one less thing to purchase).
    - My workplace was given a nice gift in a pretty ceramic pot; no one wanted it so I took it home. I’ll either use it on my balcony, gift it with a plant inside it, or trade it.
    - I boiled some kidney beans and made some enchiladas, using salsa I bought on sale, some grated cheese from my freezer, and a couple of broken taco shells that I crumbled over the top. Yummy and enough for many meals this week. Does anyone have any advice on cooking kidney beans? I can cook other beans from scratch but no matter how much I soak and boil my kidney beans, they’re always slightly crunchy.
    - I added the leftover enchilada filling into lasagna sauce/filling I was making. Worked perfectly, it stretched the filling, and it didn’t change the flavour of the sauce!
    - I made a batch of homemade yoghurt, enough for several weeks worth of breakfasts.
    - I made several loaves of chocolate chip banana bread for snacks for the week. I was supposed to use 4 eggs for two loaves, but only had two eggs, so that’s what I used. I just added in some extra oil and water and the loaves were fine. I prefer when I can make them with 2 eggs per loaf, but this will do.
    - I made several pitchers of herbal sun tea with tea gifted to me.
    - A friend let me pick a gladiola from her garden. It’s currently sitting on the entryway table, looking pretty. I do love fresh flowers in a home!
    - I ordered a baby box for free from babyboxco.com. If you live in Ontario and are expecting a child, you can get a box free. It comes with a matching mattress and mattress cover, and functions like the more traditional wicker “Moses baskets”. I used paypal funds from doing surveys to pay for the shipping, but you can pick it up for free (I just don’t have the energy right now). I had been planning on buying a wicker basket, but now I’m only out of pocket $15 for shipping, and I’ve got a bed that baby can use until 6 months of age and that is designed to provide a super-safe sleeping space. The baby box is a movement that’s spreading across the world, so it’s worth googling if you’re expecting a child.
    - Instead of a rocking chair, I bought a much less expensive chair from IKEA, the one with the molded wood frame. It’s flexible enough to create a bit of a rocking motion, perfect for a colicky newborn, but there’s no way any little fingers could get pinched under a runner. There’s a slight recline to it, so I can rest during night feedings. Plus, it will function as extra guest seating, as it can be easily pulled out of the baby room. I’m working on sewing a cover for it (using material from my sewing stash), so that if it gets spit-up on it, it can easily be washed without staining the original cushions. I’m using it now beside my bed, so that I can elevate my feet on the bed when I sit in it each evening. (I didn’t bother buying a footstool).

    Looking forward to learning from everyone as usual!

  • Becky May 28, 2018

    Margaret, I was always told that if your beans (any kind of dried ones) stay slightly crunchy, after cooking, they are too old. No amount of cooking will soften them totally. You probably need to change where you are buying them from to get a "fresher" bean.

  • Marcia R. May 28, 2018

    I have never been able to cook kidney beans well either. I don't care for them myself, and when the kids were still at home, they insisted I buy the canned ones instead. Now it's only my husband eating kidney beans, so I just buy the canned ones still. I bought them the same place I buy other beans, so I don't know why they would be any more stale than the other kinds of beans.

  • You know, I think you're right! I actually got these in a sealed bag in a trade a few months ago, and I guess they're too old. Ah well. I'll add them to my parent's compost heap, and that way they're not entirely wasted. Thanks, Becky!

  • Athanasia May 29, 2018

    I have never heard that beans get too old to cook. I certainly would not throw them away just because of an expiration date. I keep mine in jars that I have filled either from the bulk bins or plastic bag from dried bean section at grocer. I have never looked at expiry date. No matter the bean, I bring them to a boil, cook for 2 min, cover and let sit for 2 hours. Then drain and cover with fresh water and cook till done. I've never had a crunchy bean. Don't add salt to cooking water.

  • Athanasia, beans have a long storage life of many years, but if they are 10 years old, they will not soften. Baking soda added while cooking can help old beans (like 5-7 years old) but at 10 years, they are too hard. They can cook for 2 and even 3 days, all day long, and never soften.

    That said, you can have the same experience with new beans if you don't rinse them after soaking. You can NOT pre-soak and put them on to cook without a problem, but if you pre-soak overnight and try to cook in the same water, the same thing will happen. I did this recently. I normally don't pre-soak my beans and just put them on to cook. I recently (i.e. a couple of weeks ago) decided to presoak and then put them straight on to cook without rinsing, in the same water. They cooked all day and didn't soften. I figured out my problem and rinsed them, then put them on to cook with no water the next day. They still never softened. It was very odd; I knew the beans were good as I had cooked them before without a problem. Now I know better than to do that.

    Salt added--yes, you're right, they won't soften. I did that the first time I cooked beans, cooking them all day. My friend told me what I had done wrong (it was my first time cooking dried beans as a college student) and I learned that I had to throw them out.

  • Athanasia May 30, 2018

    Brandy, I store beans in the old half gallon size canning jars and I know that I just keep adding when I need more so I don't really know how old they are. I have never checked an expiration date on the bags and if we buy at the bulk store well you never know. I doubt if I have any as old as 10 years. I do in the back of the cupboard have a premix of beans and seasonings that I won as a door prize YEARS ago at a wedding shower. It is for 15 bean soup. I should look at the date on that. As a test, if we have a day of cool weather I will cook it up and see what happens :)

    I don't think I have ever heard of adding baking soda other than as a way to get rid of the the bean effects. But we always rinse after soaking which does the same thing.

  • Marivene May 29, 2018

    Either cook the beans in your pressure cooker, or can them in a pressure canner. Even old beans will soften when canned. They need to be soaked first, drained, then put in the jar, but do not fill past half way, as they will swell as they cook. Fill the air with desired liquid ( no salt) and pressure for the time & at the proper pressure for you elevation.

  • Marivene May 30, 2018

    Oops- that should be jar, not air. Autocorrect.

  • Samantha May 30, 2018

    Hi Margaret,
    I have encountered this (as Brandy describes below) with very old beans. We're talking gifted end of the world beans more than 15+ years old :p. They sort of softened with baking soda, but not well. Instead, I used them to make heat socks for aches/pains (bean stuffed socks tossed in the microwave for a minute) which can be used over and over. I also used them as pie crust weights to pre-bake. You can get very creative with old beans- shaker musical toys for older kiddos, and I even recently encountered someone that used kidney beans for a litter replacement for the Breeze litter box system. I haven't tried that last one myself, but people sure are creative!

  • Ooh, what clever ideas, Samantha! I just might try the beans-in-a-sock idea to make a heating pad for my neck. Thanks! I already have some chickpeas that I use for pie weights (I've used the same chickpeas for at least 5 years) but if I hadn't, I totally would use that idea too! Thanks!

  • Leigh May 28, 2018

    Maybe try the kidney beans in the slow cooker?

  • Thanks for the tip, Leigh!

  • Rachel May 29, 2018

    I used to have this problem until I started cooking all of my beans in a pressure cooker (which was a wedding gift!). Now they cook beautifully, even without soaking, in ~30 minutes.

  • Thanks for the advice, everyone! I'm going to try Brandy's advice of adding some baking soda to the water, to see if that helps. I don't have a pressure canner, and I've tried boiling the beans for literally two days, and they were still crunchy. I definitely rinse the beans after soaking, and I never add salt, so I suspect that they are indeed too old, but I'll try the baking soda and hopefully they can be salvaged! Thanks again to everyone for their advice!

  • Juls Owings May 30, 2018

    Dad (91) has never soaked his beans, rinsed and brought to boil and then simmered 5 hrs the least. Mother (80 when she died) always soaked in baking soda, rinsed and then brought to boil and then simmered 3 hrs. Mother in law does pressure cooker ALWAYS, rinses and tosses in pot.
    I have always salted the soaking water and the cooking water and always had softened beans even when they were over 10 yrs old (thank you Mother for hoarding dried beans LOL)

    Serious Eats did a testing on this so you can check it out https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/salt-beans-cooking-soaking-water-good-or-bad.html

  • robyn May 28, 2018

    Thank-you for your inspiration, Brandy!!! God has blessed you and now others with your prudent and beautiful ways. I look forward to your weekly posts! In Him,robyn

  • I May 28, 2018

    My husband accepted a used I-phone from my brother( which he had bought for $2!). Today I am lending my brother my National Parks Pass as he is taking my daughter and her boyfriend hiking in the mountains for her 19th birthday. DH and I filled the car up at Costco as they have the cheapest prices around for gas. I have been summoned to appear for jury duty on Thursday and if selected I will receive $50 per day plus travel expenses-truthfully though I kind of hope I am not chosen as I don't really like the idea of not being in charge of my own schedule and possibly being sequestered for days.

  • Janet May 28, 2018

    Be very careful lending out your national parks pass rangers are now instructed to look at id and if the person is not in the car they can take the pass and keep it.

    Just FYI

  • Ms. Flathat May 29, 2018

    My seasonal job in a National Park is to work in an entrance station. Janet is correct that what you are planning is against the rules and one person who has signed the pass and has photo ID must be in the vehicle for the pass to admit the party. Only the two signers of the pass may use it to admit their party. If you absolutely are unable to pay, I recommend entering very early - 6 a.m. or so or very late. Otherwise - plan to pay or don't go.

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