I’ve been home all week with my son thanks to the holiday break. His preschool was closed anyway, so I’m thankful I have the week off as well (my husband doesn’t). I don’t know what we would do if we both had to work while preschool was closed. Being a two income family is mostly positive, but it can get dicey sometimes. Weeks like this make me debate the stay at home option, but I know that the grass isn’t really greener and the best option for our family is to continue with the hours I work now. Plus, a week off is very different than when it becomes months and years. 

1. Part of being home means I’ve been more apt to try new things in the kitchen because I have more time. I made homemade naan for the first time ever this week and it was so good. In the future, I plan to make up extra to stick in the freezer for later meals. I really need to dive into more from scratch baking because homemade options are pennies on the dollar compared to store bought, plus they just taste better. 

Of course I had my little helper to assist

2. We went over to my in laws the day before to make up some homemade pho for Christmas Eve dinner. If you’ve never made it before, this recipe will not steer you wrong. The only “downside” is that you’ll never want to go out for pho again and have to make it yourself because it tastes so much better. We had a fantastic homemade meal and spent a ton of time just hanging with family, which was wonderful. 

3. Christmas Day was spent first enjoying a fancy breakfast and low key morning at our house, and then we headed out to play in the snow. A white Christmas is really, really rare for us (first time in recorded history to have more than 1” on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) so we had a fabulous time sledding on our hill. We have a pretty steep dead end street, so everyone in the neighborhood comes to sled with us, which makes it extra fun. 

Less fun when the ice refuses to melt

After lunch and a failed attempt at naptime, we headed to see both our families at my parents’ house. We are so lucky that we do a big celebration all together for holidays instead of having to balance separate events. 

4. We had fancy ramen for dinner one night. The temperatures have hovered in the high 20s to low 30s for a week now, which is really cold for us, so nice and hot bowls of soup sounded like the perfect kind of dinner. Cheap, easy, and we were able to use up some of the last of the beef from the freezer. One of these days we will clean it out entirely and defrost it before filling it up again with more bulk meat

5. We had some library books to return yesterday so we headed to that area of town after breakfast. We ended up arriving twenty minutes before the library opened though, so we decided to take a short walk while we waited. The area where the library is located has been a very unexciting drive by area for as long as I can remember, but the city is doing a great job in turning that around with the new development going on. A new building had gone up a few months ago, but I thought it was just a coffee shop and restaurant, so we hadn’t ever gone in. Turns out, it is actually a big free community space with a fireplace, comfy chairs, free WiFi, and a bunch of toys and games (plus a coffee shop at one end). 

Toys are always more fun when they aren’t your own

It’s only three or so miles from our house, so I expect we will spend a lot of time there in the future. I’m excited to see how it evolves as it matures. I love free community spaces (as well as the library) because they are places you can go and enjoy regardless of your financial situation. 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season and had some time to relax and enjoy before we begin the new year. 

Any frugal wins you’d like to share this week? I’d love to hear them. 

25 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (Year End)

  1. Uunfortunately, we did not have daycare this week and both had to work! So, we drove across the state for Christmas to my parents, left our son there since they are partially retired, and will drive back and get him this weekend. Sure am homesick for him so I loved all your spending time stories! That’s one thing we haven’t done since moving to a new city – check out all the free things to do! Will be working on being less a hermit in 2018 and getting out there more!

    1. Oh, that is so hard! I bet you can’t wait to race to go pick him up. But glad he got to spend a week with his grandparents – that time is priceless.

  2. That’s a great frugal five! I especially love all the homecooking you mentioned. We make homemade tortillas now and have the same problem as with your naan and pho, storebought can’t even hold a candle to homemade goods in price or flavour!

    Here’s to an even greater 2018!

    1. I made homemade tortillas for the first time ever this fall as well and they were SO good. Have yet to attempt corn ones though and mine always turn out super fluffy.

  3. I have done it for years now – blowing all my hard earned money on vacation camps. But your little one will have to be in school for that.
    One of our main criteria while picking day care was that it should be open during Christmas break as well. We chose kindercare just for that reason. They didn’t close the entire week.

    1. That definitely makes it more difficult. We are so lucky to have the family support we do (a huge part of moving back to our home area before starting a family).

  4. That community center sounds like an awesome find! It is always great to have more areas to visit outside the house that don’t expect you to spend money.

    Cooking from scratch is definitely the way to go. But like you said with the pho, once you find good recipes, it is hard to go out to eat or buy store bought ever. We make all our own bread and now when we buy a loaf from the store we are so disappointed!

    1. Bread is definitely on my list of new things to learn this winter. For some reason I haven’t done a ton of baking so far. Past time to change that.

  5. Family game night is always a great frugal way to spend the night, as long as you can handle the inevitable arguments that pop up! You have some great ideas I’d like to try soon though!

  6. Family game night is a great frugal way to spend a night, as long as you can handle the inevitable arguments that pop up! You have some great ideas I’d like to try soon though!

    1. We actually haven’t done a game night in a looooong time – thanks for the suggestion! Puzzles have been the activity of choice, but we used to play board games a while back.

  7. Great list. Can’t wait to try the pho recipe! My wife is half Vietnamese but we’ve never tried a home cooked pho – should be fun! Over the break we played a bunch of card games with my parents after the kids went to sleep. Easy and free.

    1. Let me know what you think of the pho! It’s the best recipe I’ve found, hands down. Apparently the rock sugar is just for the clarity of the broth, so not super important (looked this up last time when we didn’t have any).

      We used to play a lot of card games but have gotten away from that. Time to get back to it – hand and foot is my family’s favorite.

  8. Really wish I had a community center like that. I go to the library a lot, and I guess that’s the closest thing cuz the Wi-Fi is great and they have nice places to sit, but you can’t have a drink. That’s the only shortcoming

    1. Libraries are great, but the lack of food/drink is definitely a down side. I expect we will spend quite a bit of time at this new one.

  9. The county we live in recently gutted and rehabbed the library right across the street from us. Our three year old loves it there, and after not visiting a non-college campus library for over a decade I’m impressed with how much it has to offer as well. It brings me back to the days of going to the video stores (e.g., Blockbuster) on weekend, only everything is free.

    1. That’s awesome! I would love to have a library within walking distance. Our closest one is 3 miles away and all downhill from our house. Ha, I love the blockbuster analogy.

  10. Our daycare is closed for a week for the holidays too which is great on the face of it but it would be awfully tough if PiC didn’t also have it off. I can flex my work so things work out in the end but I do find myself wishing that we had the option to all be off for a week at a time once a month.

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