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.

Free jar of homegrown 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!)

Overwintered carrots are my favorite. Note to self – plant more next year.

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.

Less than $0.17/pepper!

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.

Gratuitous Hawai’i photo

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.

Wide open trail to work 

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.

26 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 9)

  1. Wow I wish my grocery store had a discount bin like that! I would absolutely be willing to plan my meals around that for those amazing prices! As for environmental/frugal wins, I bought books last week. Used books. It still wasn’t great on the shipping front, but at least I’m reusing already-printed books. Plus they’re so much cheaper!

    Heh, UNPACKING your thoughts about CLOTHES? 😂 (This is apparently what happens when I have an unexpected day off due to ridiculous wind.) Thanks for the shoutout 😘

    1. I’m honestly surprised every grocery doesn’t do it, because otherwise all that stuff just ends up getting tossed, which is so sad. And I definitely do buy based on what’s there and then work my meals around them – part of why meal planning has proven to be a little difficult.

      Ha ha ha… that wasn’t even a purposeful one 😆

  2. Your post has inspired me. I have been really good the past couple years at not buying clothes–it’s just not where i want to spend my money. This year I had this thought not that I should spend a lot of money–but that I should try a little harder at looking “put together” and perhaps start buying a few quality pieces to have in my wardrobe. I’ve gotten a few things, and i do think that generally, I want to lean that way, buying fewer, more quality things. Still, even the act of going online and searching for things to buy and spending the money has been really unsatisfying. The things i have bought are for Spring so maybe I will feel better about them when I am actually able to make use of them. Anyway, it kind of made me happy that the process was so unsatisfying. Clothes and spending used to do something for me temporarily that they just don’t anymore. I’m glad of that. With all that said, I think I’m done buying anything non-essential for the rest of the year–I’ll be saving my money for travel as well! Thanks for fortifying what I was already thinking ;).

    1. I’ve experienced that same mindset shift you’re describing. I used to mostly enjoy clothes shopping / browsing, but the longer I’m away from it, the more it feels like a chore. At the point I do have to purchase a few items, they will be very specifically chosen for a purpose, not just because it was something to do and it looked pretty. And yes – travel will always win over new clothes in my book 🙂

  3. It’s honesly amazing how much money you can save at the grocery store by just looking for discounts and buying those items instead and being generally aware of the prices.

    I used to just pick out whatever fruits and vegetables that I wanted at the time regardless of the prices, but now I actively look and you can find some great deals like you mentioned! With the added benefit of trying new things that I don’t get as often! It has definitely contributed to me spending so much less per month at the grocery store so far this year.

    Post forthcoming at some undermined time later this year if I can keep it up 🙂

    1. Maybe you should write the post now so you’re forced to keep it up for the accountability 😉

  4. WOW I am in utter awe of you running six miles to work… I don’t know the last time I *walked* 6 miles at one go… that’s amazing, for your wallet, health, and the world, so thank you, you gorgeous secretly mustachioed goddess.
    In other news, I’m insanely jealous of your mom’s bay leaf plant and am currently research how to get one in my yard ASAP.

    1. I am still considerably sore today, so I think I need to up my running game even on the weeks I can’t run all the way to work. And the bay is pretty darn hardy, so I can’t see why you couldn’t grow one! Or I’ll just mail you some 😉

  5. I’ve been quietly applauding our lack of purchases that mean no boxes show up on our doorstep for the past couple of weeks. It’s a really nice feeling to convert the excitement over getting something to the excitement of NOT having boxes to recycle. We get one monthly delivery of our necessities and we’ll need a couple other things but I’m going to try and aim for no more than three deliveries a month.

    I’m also being strict about not buying unnecessary clothes and shoes, and do relatively well on that. I haven’t bought shoes since … last July! I’m going to add this in my monthly updates just to have the information on hand, it’ll be nice to see how long I go between needing anything.

    1. That’s one of my favorite parts of this blogging thing – that I can look back and see how long we’ve gone without doing/buying something. It’s definitely stopped me from buying lunch out more than once during the week because I don’t want to ruin my streak! We still get some deliveries, but definitely nothing like we used to.

  6. Huh. Well paint me ignorant, but I had no idea you could grow your own bay leaves. Honestly, they’re such a hassle to keep around that I skip using them in cooking. We’re just now seeing a return on our garden this year – green onions and cilantro are coming up like crazy!

    This week:
    1. I received really nice, washable shoes as a birthday gift. These suckers should last me years.
    2. I’m about to split my kombucha SCOBYs to make even more kombucha. We’re hoping to put cold, carbonated kombucha on tap in a few months. Yum!
    3. I’m starting to see the seedlings I planted last week already start growing. Soon we’ll have broccoli, squash, and beans in the garden.
    4. I’m still sitting on some birthday freebie coupons I got last week. I’ll use ’em to get a few treats this weekend.

    1. Maybe it’s time to think about a bay plant in the yard then 😉

      I just received a SCOBY in the mail from a friend this week! I’m super excited to make my own for the first time ever. And I am soooo ready to have fresh green onions again!

  7. Thank you for the tip about the bay laurel. I’ve only just started thinking about a garden (long story) but I’d love at least a few fresh herbs besides rosemary. They’re so expensive…

    1. Let me know if you have any questions about gardening!! Bay leaves are stupid expensive from the grocery store but once you have a stable plant it will cost you almost zero.

  8. I try to grow some herbs in the summer, usually parsley, thyme and rosemary but they never make it to the end of the summer. I guess I don’t have a green thumb!
    While trying to reduce our food waste, I have also been trying to reduce our environment waste. With 5 of us in the house, I can’t control it all but happy to report we are making progress:)

    1. Rosemary is one herb that I have never had success with. Which is so frustrating because there are tons of giant rosemary bushes all over our area! And well done on the progress – I hear you about not being able to control it all 😉

    1. Thanks! It sure felt good to get back at it after a 5 week hiatus – AND it wasn’t raining or freezing cold!

    1. Thank you!! And I’ve made it a full year already, so I’m certain I’ve saved a decent chunk of change in the process. Still have too many clothes in my closet though!

      1. Oh wow, I misread and thought you were just starting it!
        Amazing that you still have too many clothes. It shows that in the western world we really do have too much stuff!

      2. Yeah, I’ll be doing a follow up post this month and go through things in detail. But continuing on for now! 🙂

  9. Our dogs got into the garden and ate all of our overwintered carrots…whoops. We’ll be reinforcing the fence this spring. I love sharing seed packets with friends, so many of them come with waaaaayy too many seeds for one house!

    1. Oh no!! This is why I’m glad the garden is in the front yard and the dogs get the run of the back. Otherwise I know this would be a constant problem for us too.

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