Last Saturday we dropped the kiddo off for a sleepover at Nana’s and we headed back out to the Olympic Peninsula (Port Angeles in particular) for a weekend trip for a neighbor’s birthday. It’s been over a year since we’ve gone overnight together without the kiddo, and it was a much needed trip. We each went on kid-free adventures this past fall, but we did them separately, my husband on a hunting trip and me to Cents Positive in Denver.

We prefer to travel with the kiddo 95% of the time, but occasionally it is nice to do an adults only trip. It meant that we were able to move a bit more slowly, spend a couple of hours chatting over pizza and beers at a brewery, head out in the evening and then take our time and not actually check out of the Airbnb until required to at 11am. Of course, we were both up by 7:30am, but we didn’t get out of bed for a while and then just hung out in the house after that. Moving slow is something that just doesn’t exist with a small child in tow.

Even better though was knowing the kiddo was so excited to have a sleepover with Nana, Papa, and Grammy and wasn’t worried about missing out on a trip with us. Knowing he was having such a great time meant that we could really relax and have a great time too.

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. We stayed in the cutest little Airbnb during that trip to Port Angeles that was just a five minute walk outside of the downtown, which was a perfect way to enjoy a car free weekend outside of the travel there and back. The hosts were hands down the best I’ve ever experienced, down to the birthday cupcake they left us for our friend’s birthday (why you always leave details when booking!) and some general snacks for a “welcome” gift as well as a little handwritten note welcoming us by name.

Seriously, if you ever find yourself in need of lodging in Port Angeles for 2-6 people, do yourself a favor and look and see if The Seashell Cottage is available. Well worth it, and completely reasonable on the cost side of things.

I also had a bit of Airbnb credit from a couple of lovely blog readers who took their first trip using my link, so we were able to get an additional discount on our stay, though not as much as if we’d gone alone because I split it with our friends, but that’s what we usually do when traveling; if I get a discount, they do too! Like with credit card miles to fly places, we find ourselves often sharing those with others because the whole point is to share the experience with them.

If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We love the flexibility it gives us while traveling as a family – full kitchen, laundry, and extra bathrooms, and it’s usually considerably cheaper than a hotel, especially when you travel as a group. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for $40 off your first stay (affiliate link).

2. Sunday I had an entire vegetarian day. I’m starting to have quite a few days where I eat meat at just one meal (usually dinner), but a full vegetarian day is still pretty rare, even more so when we go out for a meal. On our way home from Port Angeles we stopped at a Thai restaurant in Sequim and instead of ordering pad se ew with pork like I usually do, I asked for tofu instead. That meal feels like an easy switch because it is still so good (and vegan to boot).

We then had tacos for dinner, and my husband cooked up some fajita chicken with bell pepper as well as corn and jalapeños. For the first time ever, I picked around the chicken and took just the bell peppers as well as the corn (and cheese, sour cream, and green peppers). My biggest challenge with vegetarian meals is that my husband always wants meat and he cooks it well, so it’s hard to resist. And then of course, I took the leftover chicken for a work lunch.

3. The taco filling leftovers meant that I packed a more exciting lunch for work than I have in a while (see: lots of oatmeal for lunch during the week), so if course I then left the container in the fridge at home the next day. Because I knew that there was a good chance that I would forget them yet again the following day, I set a reminder on my phone to grab them in the morning. Amazing what I can remember to do when my phone remembers it for me.

4. January marked a new record for No Spend Days at fifteen – a full 25% more than my previous record of twelve, which I’ve hit a couple of times now. I’m going to give The Smart FI the credit here for the jump in no spend days this past month because he set a challenge for himself to hit ten days and tracked them on a calendar and posted on Instagram. I should know myself by now that a challenge that includes more than just me means I’m likely to do significantly better with whatever it is because I’m a very competitive person. And it certainly worked here. We even had one no spend weekend day, which basically never happens.

We did have a few expensive days early in the month between vet bills, future vacation spending, and a power tool that went on sale that my husband had been eyeing for a while, so I’ll have to see when I tally everything up for the month where we actually landed on our spending, but I think we did quite well even with the big lump sums early on.

5. After talking about it for a good month (and then repeatedly forgetting to start tracking on a Monday), Budget Epicurean and I embarked on another week tracking all of our trash a week ago Tuesday (and she wrote up her experience here). We had both done the exercise a number of months ago, but like with most things, we aren’t quite as good at reducing our trash as when we are tracking it closely, so we wanted to do another week check in.

The last time I went through this, I started keeping a small jar for compost in my office (mostly for coffee grounds and tea bags) and that’s kept up since then. I also started bringing in a larger container of creamer for my coffee instead of using the individual creamer tubs that are provided by work. I’ve done reasonably well with this, but once again I ran out and hadn’t gotten around to replacing it. Thanks to writing down my trash again, I finally remembered to bring a creamer in from home.

Otherwise, my trash for the week was as follows:

Tuesday:

  • 2 oatmeal packets and two mini creamers (before I brought the carton of half and half to work)
  • Teriyaki take out boxes (again, another reason not to pick up to go dinner besides the cost)

Wednesday:

  • Napkin at lunch (covering my soup heated in the microwave – didn’t think to compost)
  • Paper towel at doctor appointment after using the bathroom (didn’t feel I could dry my hands on my pants at a medical center)

Thursday:

  • Single serve dish and silverware at Commission retreat dinner (I remembered to bring a water glass with me but we don’t normally have a meal provided so I didn’t think to bring my own dishes otherwise. Oversight on my part)

Friday:

  • Oatmeal packets at lunch
  • Napkin at dinner (went for a sit down meal out with neighbor friends)

Saturday:

  • Plastic wrap from new vitamin bottles (2)
  • Two creamers and napkin at breakfast (out with parents)
  • Napkins at lunch and dinner (meals out on Port Angeles trip)

Sunday:

  • Microwave popcorn bag (from Airbnb – didn’t think about the waste until I’d already opened the wrapper. Mindless waste)
  • Ramen packaging at dinner

Monday:

  • Oatmeal packets
  • Jimmy John’s sandwich wrapper (work provided lunch) – napkin did go in the compost
  • Plastic tag on green onions for tacos at dinner

Again, this is just my waste and does not include trash created by the kiddo or any of the pets (or my husband). Pretty obviously, my biggest regular offender is the oatmeal packets for the oatmeal I often have for lunch at work. I really like that they are packaged for reasonable serving sizes and I like the flavor of the low sugar maple and brown sugar variety, but I really should switch over to a big container instead.

The other one is that I brought a plastic plate to put over any of the food I microwave at work to protect from splatter instead of using a napkin. Of course, I can put the napkin in the compost, but that is still unnecessarily using a napkin and that isn’t as good as not using one in the first place, even if I officially keep it out of the trash.

Along those same lines, Chris over at Mindful Explorer went one step further and has been tracking all of his plastic use, regardless of the fact it goes in the recycling. My total “waste” created seems really small until I look at the bigger picture and include recycling and compost, which are really second best to not using the materials in the first place. The next time I do this challenge, I will include everything I dispose of, regardless of whether that’s in the trash, recycling, or compost.

Exercise Update

Friday I had time for just 15 minutes on the elliptical instead of the 20 I’ve been doing most days, but I’m making it happen now even if I have just five or ten minutes, because that’s still well more than zero. Saturday we walked all around Port Angeles and up the hill to the Airbnb three times, but not exactly exercise (more just “active”).

Monday was an extra long work day, but I still squeezed in a twenty minute elliptical workout in the work gym. Tuesday was another long work day but I didn’t manage any exercise that day (though did still at least hit my minimum 12,000 steps). Wednesday again was walking but more of just an “active” day versus an actual workout.

Total January trips to the gym: 3 (plus 7 trips to the work gym)

How was your week? I’d love to hear any frugal wins you had. And if you ever decide to track your trash, please let me know!

20 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2019 – Week 5)

  1. no frugal wins here, but i’m glad you had the needed date night. the workouts continue to rock on and it’s a bachelor weekend for me and banjo! as mrs. me is visiting her family. we got tickets to the mardi gras in new orleans too so that doesn’t suck.

    1. Oh have fun in New Orleans!! Some place I still haven’t been. And I’m certain you will appreciate the warmer weather!

  2. Sounds like a fun getaway! We love staying in accomodations with kitchens – makes mealtimes so much easier. We haven’t gotten organized enough to bring groceries from home yet and buying everything at the destination grocery store is often as expensive as a fast-casual meal out. So, we’ve taken to getting pre-prepared entrees and a salad mix from Costco when we vacation. More food, more relaxed pace, and feels more homey than going out to Chipotle.

    If you know you’re going to have oatmeal for lunch, one other yummy thing is to make overnight oats. I like them with a spoonful of peanut butter, some chia seeds and almond milk. It’s easy to make them in jam jars and do a few at a time.

    1. Oh okay overnight oats in a mason jar makes a lot of sense. And then I can add the flavorings as I please 🙂 We do about half and half with bringing groceries from home versus going to local markets, but shopping in new places is one of our favorite ways to explore an area 🙂

  3. That AirBNB is darling! I really, really love AirBNBs. We’ve had some that were better than others, but we’ve truly never had a *bad* one. I hope our stretch keeps up because I think we are staying in like – 10 (?) different ones on our upcoming trip…

    1. You know I do too! We’ve had a few that are less than perfect, but that’s true for hotels as well!

  4. Not sold on tracking trash just yet, but just found your site and I’m really enjoying it! I had a frugal win this week: I was able to reduce my internet bill from $50 to $30 a month by calling my provider, talking to the “loyalty representative” and requesting to go back to the “introductory rate.” Not a HUGE deal but it’ll be something over the course of the year. -Jed

    1. Well done!! I love those kind of savings because they keep happening month after month once you’ve made the initial phone call.

  5. I use phone alarms for reminders too! For whatever, reason, I rarely remember things I need to do when it’s useful. So phone works great.

    I find I’m mostly vegetarian in the summer. Not on purpose, just that meat is generally less appealing in heat. Winter I gravitate more towards meat and fish. Seems easier to eat lighter in heat. Maybe something similar would make it easier?

    1. Yeah, I am terrible at remembering things besides birthdays and anniversaries so having phone reminders keep me in check.

  6. That’s pretty minimal waste! But FYI my mom bought me a resuable plastic splatter guard for use in my microwave. She got it off Amazon pretty cheaply. If you have an area where you could stash it, you could cut out the waste of a paper or a plastic plate. Just a thought.

    1. Yeah, I was thinking I need to get one of those to keep in the office. Maybe I could get other people to use it as well.

  7. That is an impressive level of tracking your garbage. I am happy that our recycle pile is always larger than our garbage pile, but are next level. Its interesting to read your progress each week.

    1. Well, perhaps I’ll need to do a separate post again once I do another tracking week but with recycling and compost included. And then maybe start looking at the rest of the household waste from the other people and pets I live with.

  8. I was trying to figure out how to cut down on the oatmeal packets too, especially since they are plastic lined and can’t be recycled. So I came up with portioning out oatmeal into repurposed glass jars. I add oats, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, whatever over the weekend and then they are ready for the week. I can add milk at home and make them overnight oats, or keep all the ingredients dry and add hot water when I get to work.

    1. Yeah, I think I will be going this route as well. Now to assemble them… I certainly have more than enough mason jars to set a number of them up!

  9. First off…Thanks so much for the Shout-out, you didn’t have to do that so very grateful for the support. For future trips to Port Angeles do check out “Sabai Thai” , incredible food and super friendly staff as well I recall the prices were very fair with large servings.

    As for my challenge last week, I tracked all my plastic and found some spots I really need to clamp down on or optimize. Even though I can recycle my plastic I want to stop the consumption in the first place, after all the goal first and foremost is “REDUCE” right 🙂

    Recycling and Reusing is great but looking at the full consumption of our daily lives is important to me, if I can change hopefully it inspires others.

    For the no spending, January was my lowest expense month for as far back as I can remember. I tweaked my budget separating groceries and all food/drinks not consumed at home. This way I can optimize each category.

    Keep up the awesome job with your posts and glad I finally caught up with my reading to check this one off my list.

    1. Excellent. We haven’t been out to Thai in Port Angeles so that place is on the list for or next trip.

      Ahem, you know, if you ever want to write to your experience, I know a great blog for that post to live… 😉

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