Hello, March! If you couldn’t tell, I am past ready for spring to arrive. My garden keeps trying to start growing, but the below freezing temperatures have really put a damper on things. The kale is still alive, and the garlic and green onions are starting to send shoots up, but the ground is too frozen to do any new planting quite yet. Hopefully I’ll be able to really get out there in the next few weeks as it should be warming up at least a little bit.
1. My mother-in-law has a large bay laurel in her garden, and she supplies all of our bay leaves for cooking. I’d let her know around Christmastime that we were getting low, and she just delivered a canning jar full of new bay leaves.
I’ve considered planting one in my own yard, but hers is so large that there is more than enough to go around to everyone (including my parents and one of my neighbors).
Bay leaves are one of those crazy expensive herbs if you buy them from the grocery store, but once you have a bush growing, it takes almost no maintenance and care. Olivia at Birds of a FIRE recently asked me about ROI on vegetable gardens, and I’d have to say that bay leaves are high on the list of best bang for your buck.
The beauty of having different households with decent sized gardens is that we can each grow different perennial plants and share with each other. We also tend to share seed packets and onion starts, since neither of us need all of pack, and we get quite a bit more variety this way. My mother-in-law has an even smaller yard than we do by half, but she grows an amazing amount of food in that space (and just shared some of the last of her overwintered carrots as well!)
2. My love of the discount blemished and misshapen produce at our local grocery store continues. This week I got SIX bell peppers for 99¢. Unlike most of the produce I buy from that area, the bell peppers were just barely showing their age and needed to be used in quick order, so I immediately put two in that night’s dinner and oven roasted the rest.
A couple of the remaining peppers got used with subsequent dinners this week, and I chopped up and froze the final ones for later meals. I may not quite be of the point of meal planning and full on freezer meals, but I’m finally heading that direction.
The discount produce shelf at our grocery store is seriously the best. Not only do I get produce at seriously reduced prices (bell peppers go for $1 on sale all the way up to $2-$3), but I also do a small part in eating fruits and vegetables that might otherwise get thrown out. Frugal win and environmental win.
3. March 1 marked an official year of the clothes buying ban I enacted for myself. You can read about my thoughts midway through the challenge here, but I’ll be doing an in depth follow up post later this month. There have been some surprising realizations that have come from this challenge, and I’m looking forward to unpacking them in detail in order to write the post. I’ve never been someone to spend a crazy amount of money on clothes, but I probably spent close to what Erin at Reaching For FI did in 2017, which is still a decent chunk of change.
2018 is all about aligning our spending with what really matters most to us, and clothes don’t make the cut for the things that bring us the most value, so other than worn out work shoes or similar purchases, I expect I will continue this ban for quite some time. After all, I’d much rather put that money toward another trip to Hawaii.
4. I finally ran the full six miles to work on Wednesday after five weeks off. I’d still gotten somewhat of a run in each of those days (in the range of 2-3 miles), but I hadn’t commutes without the aid of either my car or the bus. It felt so good to get back to propelling myself with just my two feet, though I am definitely sore today. Of the five week hiatus, two were due to not having a change of clothes at work, two to having to drop off my son, and one to a 7am work meeting where I just didn’t have the hour it takes to run there, plus the time to shower.
One of the weeks I just completely forgot to bring a change of clothes the previous day, and the other I brought them into my office and then took them home with me at the end of the day. You’d think that I would have the routine down by now since I’ve been doing it consistently for a good 9 or 10 months. Alas, my brain apparently was shut off on those days and I was forced to take the bus and then run at work. Not the end of the world, but it did cost me an extra $5.50 and a shorter workout.
5. The recycling on our street didn’t get picked up last week for whatever reason (likely ice and snow, though the garbage and yard waste/compost were both picked up). Since we’ve cut down on our Amazon purchases as well as the amount of beer/wine we drink as part of our grocery bill reduction efforts, our recycling has shrunk by quite a bit. Thanks to those changes, our recycling bin wasn’t even half full, and the non pickup week wasn’t an issue for us at all.
While recycling isn’t nearly as bad as garbage creation by any stretch, it’s not as good as simply not creating the outflow of boxes, cans, and bottles in the first place. The stuff that comes in those containers had to be boxes and shipped here, and then the recycling has to be picked up, sorted, and put back through the system (with some additional waste). This might not technically be a frugal win, as it didn’t save us any money, it certainly was an environmental win, and one that I was absurdly proud of.
Tell me, do you have any awesome frugal or environmental wins to share this week? It’s the little things that add up to the really big ones.