After a pretend spring where we had a few lovely sunny days in the 60s (and one amazing one that hit 70), we’re back into the rain and gloom for the foreseeable future. I’m usually pretty okay with the weather we get in the northwest, as it’s generally not ever too hot or too cold to do things outdoors, but this time of year I’m just over the damp and ready for spring. Alas, the rain will likely be sticking around for another two months yet.

Okay, now that I have that whining out of my system, on to this week’s Frugal Five. Sometimes I feel like I have to struggle to come up with this list, but this week I could have listed at least twice as many. Always feels like a successful week when that happens 🙂

1. My friend and I have a tradition of giving each other homemade gifts for Christmas, but this year instead of her creating something new, I asked her to just repair the unpaper towels she’d sewed for us a few years ago. They’d started to fray pretty badly and the terry cloth was separating from the pretty top fabric, so she took them home with her to clean them up.

While she would have been more than happy to make me new ones, the old ones still had plenty of life in them, and I see nothing wrong with “reused” gifts. Plus this way we’re continuing the life of the fabric instead of tossing them into the landfill when they still have years left of use in them. My friend’s in school full time right now along with full time work, so the Christmas present showed up months later, but that’s not a problem at all in my book. I’d much rather have the handmade gift later than a quick store bought “well I had to get you something” gift any day. Yes, we could do away with gift giving all together, but we like doing it, so I don’t expect that tradition to go away any time soon.

A bit faded, but lots of cleaning life left

2. Easter was last weekend, and similar to our Christmas traditions, our holidays aren’t so much about stuff. Our son gets Easter baskets from both grandmothers and his great grandmother, so we don’t give him one at home. So far, he hasn’t noticed that he’s missing out on anything (though this may change as he gets older).

Easter morning saw a breakfast of chocolate chip banana pancakes and then off to church. After nap time, we headed over to my in laws for a big family dinner and the Easter egg hunt. Even though our son was only two last year, he remembers that Easter egg hunt! We put one or two chocolate chips per egg and he remembers it as the best thing ever. So this year, I knew the one thing I needed to do was fill some plastic eggs.

I kept the eggs from last year, so I just pulled them out of the cabinet to reuse them this year. Mixing it up though (and so he’d get less sugar), I filled them with whatever we had around the house: stickers, temporary tattoos, raisins, popcorn, a mandarin orange, and yes, even some chocolate chips. Again, it was his favorite part of Easter, and it didn’t cost us a thing.

3. Since Easter dinner was at our in laws, we didn’t do any food prep that day, but we did bring some fresh spring garlic from the garden as a garnish for the meal. We’re really lucky that both our moms like hosting for the holidays, so we don’t have to do more than just show up and sometimes bring a side dish. We do enjoy hosting parties, but the more laid back ones that aren’t connected to a holiday, for whatever reason, so we’ll leave the holidays to our mothers.

Easter dinner spread

4. I finished planting onion starts over the weekend and got quite a bit of weeding done as well. It’s still early in the year, but the garden is starting to get going again beyond just the kale and spring garlic. The hops have started to push through the soil, but so had a TON of weeds around them, so I had to do quite a bit of work on that raised bed. I need to do some mulching, but I’m considering looking for someone who might be giving away some free wood chips, because I’m really focused on keeping the garden costs down this year. Growing your own food can be a big money saver, or it can be an expensive hobby, depending on how you go about it. Working on mine being a frugal one.

5. I didn’t buy lunch out again this week. My meals weren’t anything terribly exciting, just a mix of oatmeal, sandwiches, fruit, and leftovers, but work has been extra busy this past month, so I’m really just glad to have avoided the siren call of the take out lunch (plus at least we were fed at some of the long meetings).

Also, I ate some yogurt from someone else in the office because it was a couple days past the best by date and would have been thrown out otherwise. According to my research online, yogurt is supposedly good for 1-2 weeks past the expiration date, and it tasted fine (the bigger test, in my opinion), so I got to mix up part of my lunch and kept some food from ending up in the landfill. Win, win.

How do you feel about expiration dates? Do you pay attention to them to the letter, or are you more “adventurous” like me?

58 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 14)

  1. Keep whining! That’s all I have been doing. Just went for a walk. Was 25 degrees when i started. And we are going to have a snowy, rainy day. It is April!

    1. Yeah, at least we’re sitting at the 40s and 50s and raining at least 😉

    1. Yeah, two weeks in is a little less enticing, but I think I’d at least open the container and see if it still smelled good 😜

    1. We did! Though the little guy did get a little crazy on the sugar. So far the sniff test hasn’t steered me wrong.

  2. Most of them say “best by” on their dates so I usually go by smell and eat them anyway if they smell good.

    1. And even when they don’t ACTUALLY say “best by,” that’s still what it means 😉

  3. I totally don’t follow the dates and instead use my senses smell/look and then taste! Honestly, giving up meat/dairy and most processed foods at home makes this much easier.
    We brought a giant salad and some wine that had been in our cabinet for a while to Easter so that made for an inexpensive contribution compared to providing the meal!

    1. Very true! We still eat quite a bit of meat and dairy in our house, so it’s more of a thing for us. And vegetables give you a pretty good clue if they’ve gone bad 😜

  4. Hah my mother’s a scientist so among many other things I grew up hearing how expiration dates were only guidelines. Food past its date but smells fine? It’s fine. Big bottle of ibuprofen past its date? Still fine, it may just be slightly less effective.

    Every time you talk about the gross weather I have one more reason to not move up to the Seattle area 😉 Although we’ve had ridiculous weather here, too. I’m *hoping* winter is over for good, but then again we might get snow tomorrow so who knows.

    I hear you on the busy week thing. I ate a lot of PB&J for lunch this week (actually today might be the first day I have something other than that haha) because I didn’t have the time (or energy) to spend cooking until last night. But hey, PB&J is cheap and damn delicious so that’s a win right there!

    1. Apparently I need to start sending you pictures of the pretty days – soon(ish) there should be a lot of them! There’s nothing better than a PNW summer.

      1. I get it from my mum. She once had a cleaner that cleaned out the food cupboard and put the outdated stuff on the counter. She felt she had to sneak it back in her cupboard!

  5. My DH worked in the grocery industry when he was in school and for a large product manufacturer (everything from coffee and juice to brownie mix to soap) afterward. He told me that unless something is incredibly out of date, the sniff test will serve you well to determine whether to consume or not. Food banks will take non perishables up to two years past the “best by “ date.

    1. Yeah the fact that food banks will take “expired” food made me feel like well then it sounds good to me!

  6. So a thing I noticed this year on social media is how much money/effort people put into their kids’ Easter baskets. I swear some of the ones I saw, they spent more on the Easter baskets than I would spend for Christmas! Has anyone else noticed this?

    “Grammy” sent an Easter basket for our daughter and then we bought plastic eggs for $1.69 and filled them with Cheerios, Kix, Goldfish, etc. and hid them around the house (it was super cold on Easter for us this year). She LOVED it! And after the holiday we stashed the basket and eggs in our storage area to reuse next year.

    1. Yeah I’ve definitely noticed that as well. We always had Easter baskets growing up but they were small, simple things. Now it seems like every holiday warrants massive spending.

    1. Our spice cabinet is the same way. The only thing is that the older ones clump up some, but they break apart and can be used just fine.

    1. Hey now, I was specifically invited to come down and share the lunch! But if not… I think I may have invited myself anyway, because everything she cooks is freaking delicious.

    2. That’s what I was wondering. Did she just notice the yogurt was out of date and start eating it without asking?

      1. Hahaha no – it was offered up to me. Maybe I have a reputation around the office 😜

  7. Winter showed up again here this morning, but now the snow is melted just crazy cold and wind. Meat dates are what I pay the most attention to, other items are far less risky.

    1. Fair. Though I feel like meat usually gives you a heads up anyway with smell and color.

  8. Those are great ideas to keep Easter from getting costly! I was at the store yesterday (just browsing!) and saw all the Easter related items up to 75%. There were so many things that it’s crazy to think people spend so much money every year on this. Not just Easter but all holidays! Keeping the holidays under control is a great way to save year round! 🙂

    1. It’s crazy how even the grocery stores now sell so much STUFF for every possible holiday. The hard part is steering the kiddo away from those aisles…

  9. We haven’t bought our kids anything for any holidays yet. Lol. They get so much stuff (especially from my in-laws) that it just seems sort of pointless to buy them anything else. Like overkill. They are too young to realize, so I figure we can save our money for a few years of holidays and once they are old enough to understand that mommy and daddy didn’t buy them anything we will start. Also, I really like those towels. They are cute. I think that could help me kick the paper towel habit because I may actually look forward to using them since they are pretty. I will have to look into those.

    1. That’s exactly the way we look at it as well. And the towels work a lot better than the paper kind as well!

    1. As long as someone can do the sniff test 😉 Sight alone won’t do it for sure!

  10. I learned expiration dates were more guideline the first time I took a mouthful of milk, after checking that it was still good for some time by the date. Saying it didn’t taste so good is putting it mildly. Anyhow, I use sniff test and looks now. So much more reliable!

    Glad you had a good Easter! The spread looks delicious!

    1. Yeah, I’ve learned the hard time with milk as well that sometimes the expiration date is off the other direction as well.

  11. Like so many before ^^^^me, it’s a guideline. I’ve worked grocery (currently “Whole Foods”) for 20 years, my entire family would of dropped dead years ago! Lol

  12. I do the sniff test too! Good that you didn’t let that yogurt go to waste. Have a great rest of your weekend! The Easter dinner spread looks delicious.

    1. It was totally delicious! And I maybe have then told others in the office to bring their “gently expired” foods to me after everyone was surprised by my boldness 😂

  13. Hey Angela, nice spread! Although we’re not religious, we celebrate the traditional holidays around our house. Any reason to bring family and friends together is a good enough reason for me.
    Same boat here with the weather. Instead of rain and damp though, we have snow. And cold. Over six inches of white stuff and overnight temps in the teens. Waaahhh!! I’ll stop whining one of these days…

    1. I’m definitely in the minority of my family who fully celebrates the religious side of things, so our gatherings are usually focused on the time together as a family. And your posts make me think I should quit whining because your weather is way worse 😉

      1. Ouch. That seems like fair whining weather to me.

    1. Ha, it was well within the past expiration date “guidelines,” so it didn’t feel very brave – though my coworkers sure thought so!

  14. Funny story – my husband and I just had a discussion on waste of paper towels and napkins and such. And I”m like, “yeah, my mom always stole dinner table cloths if she ever went out to eat….they were super nice to have at home to use…I think she still has the same ones.”

    And then I hit up this article and see your #1…ohhhh, homemade dinner cloths are so much nicer…and legal…!

    1. Hahahaha way to go mom. The homemade ones are awesome (especially if you have a friend like me who’s crafty and will make you some 😉).

  15. How often do you use the “un-napkins” before you wash them…we currently use paper towels (eeek – i know!) We have 8 in our family and I usually only wash laundry once a week. We also eat dinner at the table and I have two toddlers at home for lunches. If I were to have enough un-napkins for all of us to last a week, I am thinking I would need to buy a BUNCH – which might cost a small fortune.

    1. Ah, I do laundry almost every day, so we don’t need quite so many. I toss them into whatever load I’m doing that day. Another option instead of buying them is shopping your thrift store, cutting up old clothes/towels, or buying flat fold cloth diapers in bulk (thin but great and pretty cheap).

  16. All good suggestions! Laundry is the bane of my existence. But it is MY chore, since the Hubbs does the floors – I really can’t complain. With eight people it is a several day job. I would never be finished if I did it every day. It is nice to have a few days off before I start all over again on Sun. LOL

    1. Ha yeah I’m never “finished” but it never gets overwhelming this way either. Amazing how much laundry 3 people can produce (plus cloth diapers and general toddler mess, a roommate, and a dog that pees herself at night and needs her bed washed regularly). In the grand scheme of things, the unpaper towels don’t even rate 😉

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