Friday, March 22, 2013

Frugal accomplishments

I had so much fun the last time around that I made another list of some recent thrifty activities:

*Cooked two pounds of dry black beans--I freeze them in  about 8 two-cup portions

*Made homemade energy bites (a healthy, cheaper, less wasteful alternative to granola bars)--when I'm hungry for a mid-morning snack, I grab one or two of these. Yum!

*Made "Better than Pam" pan release when I ran out of cooking spray mid-way through a baking session. I've made it once before but it had been a long time. I like it for muffin pans, even though it does of course take longer to apply than a spray.

*Thrift store purchases take 1: swim trunks for Nathan for $2 (I've been looking for months for a second pair for him), polka dot leggings for Natalie for $2, 2 spring dresses for Naomi (darling and name brand so I can probably sell them for more than I paid) for $2 each, 2 coloring/activity books for Natalie (25 cents each), an electronic handheld game for each older kid for $1 each (for road trips), and a little b-day present for my sister. Emoji Sticker said 50 cents, but it was 75% off! SCORE!

*Nursed Naomi full-time to one year and now beyond. I am so proud of that, especially with the added post-surgery challenges she and I both faced. And what a huge savings to avoid formula!

*Had a rockstar trip to the grocery store. My savings (which only reflects price-matched sales and coupons) was nearly the amount I paid. There was a 6-hour sale one day with some pretty sweet deals and I had a few coupons to make them even better (Examples: 3 bags of Chex Mix for 50 cents each, 5-pound bags of flour for 74 cents, and I  also stocked up on tortilla chips at 88 cents/bag!)

*Made Naomi's birthday cake and frosting from scratch--other than the inexpensive food and cake, I spent nothing on her party. I made the invites from materials I had on hand and the decorations were given to us.

*Received a coupon for a free tub of Oscar Mayer pulled pork sandwich meat (up to $6-7 value!)--Eric's been requesting this, and I've actually never made it. (His mom makes it almost every time here or there.)

*Used a coupon for a free personal pizza that we earn from the school for reading at home.

*I cooked two pounds of pinto beans to make these. I was very pleased with the result and how easy they were to make, but when I did the math, I didn't save much comparing the dry beans to 6 cans. I'll definitely make them again, though.

*Took advantage of a free kids' meal coupon at Olive Garden

*Scored some amazing clearances deals at Old Navy (headband for 47 cents, leggings for $1.97, etc.)

*Got a free ream of paper from Staples using a coupon/rebate

*Purchased a HUGE bag full of marked down bread packages for $1.75 at a local bakery! (Total retail value: $27.51--5 packages of raisin buns, 2 packages of hamburger buns, a baguette, and a loaf of cinnamon streusel bread)
*Thrift store purchases, take 2:
A cute, springy polka dot birdhouse decoration for the mantel--50 cents. 2 black sleeveless tops for $1 each, and a cake stand with cover--$5 for both pieces. (I have a pretty cake stand that I love, but I had been thinking about getting a cover, and this is the tallest one I've ever seen!)

*Found a cute pair of bright pink bib snow pants for Natalie for $3 at W-mart, along with some hats and gloves for a dollar or less each!

*Used coupons for free lettuce and a free Coke 12-pack at the grocery store

*Bought a whole chicken on sale for 68 cents a pound. I really hate de-boning chicken, but for this price, I forced myself to power through it!

*I LOVE CHURCH GARAGE SALES! They are very unusual around here, but I went to one last week and brought home the following goodies: Ruler for 25 cents (ours broke last year and I never remember to replace), new package of stationery for 25 cents (gift or OCC shoebox item), Hanna Anderson little girl leggings for 50 cents (!), little dipper crockpot for $1, and a really awesome birthday gift for Monica (which I will share about later).

This list was compiled over the last month. It sure is fun to track these activities. In fact, Monica, my mom and I have started sending each other a summary at the end of each week, which has made compiling this more comprehensive list even easier.

I'd love to hear some of your recent frugal accomplishments! 

And, completely unrelated, but today marks one year since we came home from the hospital after our 40-day "desert" journey. Eric and I have been intentional during this time to read back through our journal entries, to process what happened, and to specifically contact people* (again) who were pivotal during that time. We'll be celebrating the end of the 40 days tonight by going out to eat as a family!

*One of the most significant exchanges occurred when we contacted a former nurse. We had a favorite nurse who took care of me before Naomi was born, and Eric wanted to call her. Beating all odds (not knowing her last name, work schedule, there are 200+ nurses in that department, etc.), we got in touch with her at the hospital on the first try! She was thrilled we called, and it was really neat to thank her again and to tell her how great we're doing now. It reminded me of the importance of going back and saying thank you both in the short-term and the long-term.


thehomespunheart said...

Neat about getting in touch with the nurse! :)

Loved seeing your list again. My best score was stopping at Kroger yesterday. They had General Mills cereals most on sale for 4/$10. If you bought four boxes you got a free gallon of milk too! And, of course I had coupons to sweeten the deal.

Mom said...

Oh what a happy day it was when you, Eric, and Naomi came home last year! We are very thankful that you are all doing well now :)

Yay on all your deals!
Love you, Mom

kelseylynae said...

WOW! Way to go! I like when you post these because it reminds me that I can be better about some purchases.

I wish we had a better thrift store in town [which is why I always hit up yours when I'm there!], ours is only open on Tuesdays, and has very limited items, so I usually just skip it. However, now that we know Kali is having a BOY I may have to go to help her load up, since approximately 1/40th of the clothes we have will work for a boy :)

Also, how special for you and Eric to be able to contact some people from this time last year. What a testimony to God's faithfulness.

theoklahomatexan said...

I really love that you called the nurse to talk to her. I'm sure that meant a lot to her. Certain jobs are somewhat thankless, and I imagine that would be one of them. I still regret not contacting the hospital after Alex was born to let them know how exemplary one particular nurse was and how compassionate when no one else would believe me that my water broke and I was in labor. (Lo and behold, I was right!)

You did well on the frugal front! This month has been a bit of a disaster for us. Super-sick cat (and not the old one, either!) and a baby now having to go off of all milk products for a time. It's expensive to ignore the cartons of Lactaid sitting in the fridge for him and go buy non-dairy alternatives for baking and for him to drink. Ah, well. At least I know how to cook and can adapt easily to this new restriction.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Great job, Carrie! I scored an outfit for me (think I'm wearing it on Easter) for $4 at my local thrift shop. And I got a top for A for $1.50 last week. I also got a box of Celestial seasonings tea for .99 with sale/coupon. That's all I can think of.

So cool you called your nurse. Great reminder like you said about short and long-term gratitude. :)

angie said...

I love this idea of being "accountable" to others to report your frugal accomplishments. It makes the extra work seem more worth it. And I'm sure you get ideas from one another.
Enjoy your celebration of reaching a peak after a difficult valley!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your Mom that it was indeed a happy day when you got to come home last year on this date.
How thankful we are for your amazing progress. God is SO good!
Also, it was very sweet and thoughtful of you to contact that nurse and how thrilling that you got her the first time you called. So nice that you could go out to dinner as a family tonight.
Also, congrats on all your bargain finds. I had one today. I got a $35 pair of Alfred Dunner pants (like I wear) for 4.98 at Penneys, with a coupon and since I still had my Christmas gift card from there, they were free to me. Can't beat that!
Love, Grandma