Monday, March 9, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 03/02 - 03 /08

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Put a lot more green onions in the windowsill to grow. The others are continuing nicely. I've been harvesting green onions 1-2x a day, so this is definitely a frugal way to grow a little something indoors in winter.
* Harvested 1/4 c greens from the indoor garden early in the week.
* Later in the week the cress and arugula had started to bolt, so I harvested every good leaf from the pots. I got about 3 cups of greens. Memo for next year: stick to the lettuces and leave the other greens for outdoor gardening. The yields on the mustard, arugula, parsley and cress are lackluster and I'm pining for more homegrown salad than it's giving me. I actually had to buy a head of lettuce this week!
* I still have the overwintered peppers, some kale (that I've never harvested as it's been slow growing in the shaded/cold area it stays), parsley and green onions growing in the indoor garden.

* We made taco dip for dinner one night. It's not the healthiest meal ever, but we only have it occasionally and it is fantastic. Spread refried beans on the bottom of the dish (My last experiment with making mock refried beans made from powdered dehydrated cooked beans didn't turn out perfectly. More experimenting to do!), then a layer of sour cream mixed with cream cheese.  Topped that layer with some of the leftover rice from last week's stir fry (it's not usually a part of the dip, but we had it to use up and it made it more filling). Then I layered lettuce (I did have to break down and buy lettuce since my potted containers aren't giving a huge amount right now), salsa ($.79 from the grocery outlet, half jar), cheddar cheese (store brand, on sale), black olives ($.59/can, used 1/5 of the can) and sweet peppers (manager's special). We dipped store-brand tortilla chips ($2/bag). This basic dish was Trucker's mother's go-to for potlucks when he was growing up, so it is nice and nostalgic.
* While running errands out of town, I stopped by a grocery store that has better sales than I find in the city (this is the same one that I was at last week when I met up with Mum). Yuban coffee was on sale for $2.50/13 oz can, making it about the same price as Aldi brand coffee, but we like it better. I bought 6 cans to be able to get the discount. I got a huge bag of sweet peppers marked down from $5 to $.99. There were three more bags and I would have liked to buy that many to dehydrate, but there was only one bag that wasn't leaking and full of lots of squishy peppers. Even though I'm sure there were enough good peppers in each bag to be worth $.99, I didn't want to mess with that, especially since I still have a fair amount of dehydrating to do soon. I bought more yogurt, 3 1-quart tubs for $1 each. I put these three in the freezer. I know that kills some beneficial bacteria, but we are anticipating a severe limit to our spending soon, and I want to have some good food stockpiled to make it easier. I like having frozen yogurt not just to thaw and eat as is or as a parfait, but also to blend with frozen bananas (whenever they get black before we can eat them, I toss them as-is into the freezer) and homemade chocolate syrup for a mock milkshake. It's healthy but feels indulgent. I want to plan to be able to indulge in a yummy dessert when we are trying to reduce our spending.
* For dinner one night we had eggplant parmesan. While I'm not a vegetarian, I do try to eat vegetarian meals regularly and this is by far my favorite. I dipped slices of eggplant ($.20/lb) in milk (made from free powdered milk someone gave us because they didn't like it) and then into breadcrumbs made from bagels that Trucker brought home from his job) and fried them. I served with tomato sauce (with added dehydrated tomatoes from the garden last year) and angel hair pasta. We served with a bagel (bread sliced) from Trucker's job instead of regular bread. It was filling, delicious and pretty cheap, too.
* Made sausage gravy and biscuits for dinner one evening using sausage I'd got for $2/lb (sale + coupon), milk made from powder (free from my mother's friend) and biscuits that we got during the after-holidays sales for $.25/can (while I know these are not ideal, they were cheap enough to justify buying for busy days to make it easier to pull together dinner than to order a pizza). I made the gravy from the pan drippings and don't use those packets. I had a dozen eggs that were well past their use-by date. I did the float test; 1 floated so I disposed of it. The others sank, so I hard boiled them. We each had one hard boiled egg with dinner. We had leftover: 9 hard boiled eggs for meals/snacks later in the week, enough sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast a couple days later.
* I found seasoned half fryers on sale for $1.40/lb. I bought 3 packs of them. I also found pork chops on sale for $2/lb and bought a pack of those. I froze all except one pack of chicken. I baked the buffalo-seasoned fryers, tossed in bread crumbs for a crispier skin. I served it with roasted squash from the manager's special cart.

Food Preservation:
* I dehydrated one of the bags of mini eggplants from the manager's special cart. I just sliced them and dried. These will be added to soups/stews. I may try rehydrating them and using to make baba ganoush. I have no idea if it will work or not, but it can't hurt to try. I'm always trying new things with dehydrated veg to make it more practical to dehydrate the vast quantities I do.
* I dehydrated several pounds of bell peppers, cut into slices. These are great for adding as is to soups or rehydrating to use in omelets, tacos, enchiladas, and casseroles. I also like to throw dehydrated peppers of any sort into leftover pickle brine for mock pickles. Delicious and practically free.

* Met my mother again for coffee. I was out of town running some errands, and she happened to be in that town to visit a friend in the hospital. We met up at a Tim Hortons for coffee. Only cost a couple bucks, but it was nice to see her. Work scheduling usually has kept me from being able to get together with her as much as I'd like, so now that I'm getting out super early (while I work third shift), I'm taking full advantage of the opportunity.
* Trucker and I had a couple $3 coffee dates. On one, we split our free bagel from the rewards program so we could work longer before needing to go home to eat.

* The temperature has been rising a bit, so we went out for a few walks through the neighborhood. They haven't been terribly long, but it's been wonderful to get out into the sunlight and fresh air.

* Used Swagbucks for all of my searching when researching for writing or projects or just general curiosity. It doesn't bring in much, but it's something. It doesn't take any extra effort to search there instead of google and I'm saving the Amazon gift cards I get to use for beekeeping supplies.
* Got my temp tags so I could pick up our new-to-us car from my parents (scheduling conflicts meant that they got the title to me but I wasn't able to get out to their house to pick up the car. Our current car needed some brake work done. So one day I drove the car out to my uncle's house so he could fix it for us, and my mother picked me up. I drove the new-to-us car home. Once the other car is fixed, we'll have my uncle fix a couple minor issues with this car (has a minor oil leak). We charges us the family rate, plus parts; for the oil leak he charged us $35 including parts. He gets a wage he's happy about, we get a deal and we can trust our mechanic (and these benefits are why we're okay with the inconvenience of having to take the car 1 hr away). Another uncle needed a cheap car, so we are selling him the pickup truck at a good price (fair to us, affordable to him).

Waste Reduction:
* Used the last little bit of a bottle of hand soap as a bubble bath.
* We used the last of a bottle of pancake syrup. It wasn't enough to pour any out. I added a little milk and shook it up. I then heated the milk, added my morning coffee and had a little sweet treat. I drink my coffee black most of the time, but every now and then switch it up.
* I saved the bones from the fryer and added the vegetable scraps I'd been saving in the freezer. I had a half gallon of stock in the slow cooker.

* Trucker brought home a goodie bag.
* We packed our lunches and had free coffee.

* Stockpiled some pasta and pasta sauce I found on a good sale. In general, I try to always have several months worth of food stockpiled (rotating everything). I try to keep a variety of foods for a variety of nutrients and flavor, only foods we like to eat, and things we use regularly so it is easy to keep the items rotated. I also only stockpile foods when I find them at a fantastic price. In this case, the pasta was a store brand on sale for $.88/lb and the sauce was on sale for $1 instead of $2 (store brand).
* Added more dehydrated veg to the stockpiles.

* Trucker checked out several books from the library for me. They are written by one of my favorite personal finance authors (there was a book that Trucker bought be when we first got together that has been a life-changer for us). I'm really excited to read them. He also checked out an audio book from the same author for me to listen to while I drive to and from work.
* Took more steps for a new path.

* Snow shoveling burns about 300 calories an hour. The weather is ensuring I get a good workout.
* Took a few walks around the neighborhood.

* Third shift. We've been trying to make the most of our afternoons. I'm losing some sleep, but making up some of it on my days off.

* Trucker set up the coffee every night so all I had to do at 1:30 in the morning was push the button. Definitely made my mornings easier.

What did you do this week?


  1. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and just want to let you know how much I have been inspired by these ideas and the ways to cut down on the things we waste money on. My hubby and I are also trying to create a more self sufficient lifestyle and cutting back on expenses as best we can so that we can sock money away. It is not always easy, as you know, but it feels so much better than getting caught up in what our society tells us we need. Thanks so much for sharing your great, frugal ideas! I look forward to them each week.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoy it! You're right, it's not always easy, but it does give us a good life.


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