Frugal Friday Week #42

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Here on the blog, I post a lot of how-tos and recipes, but I’ve often thought that it might be even more helpful for my readership to get a better glimpse inside of what my simple/homestead/from scratch/frugal life really looks like. This series was started in 2023 to provide more of a peek into our regular everyday life and how we put things together.

In 2024, I’m changing things up a bit to fit better with our community here at Little House Living. Here’s what I’d like to do!

The format of Frugal Friday will be changing a little. Yes, I will still show some pictures and things from our everyday lives, but this blog isn’t just about me; it’s about the community that we’ve created here! So from here on out, Frugal Friday will also feature your frugal tips and everyday things as well.

Each week, I need you to go to the Forum and post in the most recent Frugal Friday post about your frugal and simple life for the week. Make sure you share a picture with it! Each week when I post Frugal Friday here on the blog, I will feature a handful of the posts from that thread on the forum. I will also use to select one of the posts to receive a prize for posting. This might be a great book, a homesteading tool, or anything else I can find that we love using.

Scroll down for more details and to read about our frugal week!

Some soup I made for lunch one day. Canned corn, mixed veggies from the freezer, pizza sauce, chicken broth, white beans, and noodles.

Meals We Ate

We ate several meals this week with family since we are staying with them. Here are the highlights of what we had!

Breakfast is getting into a routine now of only a few items (but they can be different flavors each time!). We have yogurt and granola, pancakes, waffles, hard-boiled eggs and toast, scrambled eggs, and breakfast sandwiches.

For other meals this week, we had Hamburgers, Chili, Grilled Cheese, French Toast and Sausage (breakfast for supper), Chicken and Green Beans with Rice, Skillet Potatoes and Onions, and Leftovers.

New House
My favorite room in what will be our new home. This will be great a multipurpose room!

How We Lived Frugal This Week

This week, we stayed with family to help work on some projects. It was also a big week for us because we made an offer on a new little homestead, and it was accepted! I know most of you will think we are crazy for leaving our beautiful homestead, and it’s true that we will miss it, but understand we live in a very expensive area, and our place and land have gone up to unsustainable expenses and taxes in the past year. Living in South Dakota has become “trendy” in the past few years, and those coming from other states have priced us out of the market.

We chose to move closer to family and buy a house for half the price of our other one. We were very fortunate that a family friend was ready to sell one of his rental properties, and we were able to get an affordable deal to stay here. We won’t be moving in just yet, but we are excited for this more frugal chapter of our family’s life. Our new home is a fixer upper but we think we can make it just right for what we need for now. Plus, we can still travel and do ministry work since we won’t be tied down as much.

We’ve been staying with family his week to help them work on projects they needed help with. Next week, one of our children needs to have some major dental work done, but then we are free to be on the road again after that. We will continue with some of our ministry projects for a couple of weeks and then come back and start working on our new homestead.

We did only a small amount of shopping this week, picking up a few things like milk, lettuce, and some snacks for the kids; otherwise, we are working on a “pantry challenge” where we try to eat only what we have. We’ve accumulated an overflowing pantry in the camper, and some things just need to be eaten up!

I have many posts on doing a pantry challenge here on the blog, and I’ll work on updating them this week. (Or you can search for them if you want to read them now.) We’ve been doing this challenge for well for a decade, and it always helps to eat down those things that you forget in the back of the pantry and freezer!

Deals for Week 42

Deals I Found This Week

Vitacost has a coupon for 15% off sitewide. Use the code FRESH15. You can stack this with the other codes they have on their site for even better deals! Looks like this deal goes through the 15th of January.

I updated the Auguson Farms deals for this week here.

5 Ingredient Cookbook – This ebook is free right now for a Kindle download (can download the Kindle app to your computer to read for free.)

Bob’s Red Mill Products are 20%+ off here on Amazon right now. There are some other deals in that category too like coconut oil and nuts.

This pack of Organic Triscuit Crackers comes out to only $2.16 per box. They are on sale for a limited time plus if you add them to your Subscribe and Save you can save an additional 15%. I also grabbed the gluten free pretzel snack packs that were part of the same snack sale (49% off). Those will be great for in the car.

Homemade Gelatin on a fork.

New Blog Posts I Wrote This Week

I didn’t have much extra time for writing this week but I managed to sneak in a few posts and updates. Here’s what’s new:

  • Homemade Laundry Soap – I updated my mom’s recipe for the laundry soap that she has made and used for years.
  • How Long Can You Store Homemade Dressing? – This blog post was a new deep dive into storing homemade salad dressings with tips on how to store them and what will make them last longer.
  • Easy Salad Dressing – I updated this recipe for my favorite super easy salad dressing. This is so good and simple!
  • Easy Homemade Gelatin – One of my kids’ favorite recipes, and you only need 2 ingredients to make it!
Small Cat sitting on my United States map where we document our travels. Guess he’s ready to get back on the road!

Your Frugal Tips/Life This Week

This week, I’m prepping meals as we go back to school on Monday. I took inventory of everything I had left over from the holidays and turned it into meals. My favorite recipe is hotdog casserole, as I call it. Grandma made it one day, and I’ll never forget it. Sauerkraut, cut-up hot dogs, cheese, and mashed potatoes! It’s in the freezer now, so no picture. – Wandering Hoof Ranch

I am on a low buy year. It’s not as though I am out shopping a lot, but I am to the point where I am just tired of “stuff” (and everything I have has to be used, so I really am tired of it!) I do like to stock a certain bath store’s candles, and I used my shopping rewards (fetch, ibotta, etc) to buy them, so they are mainly “free,” but I decided to really evaluate what I can make instead. So, beeswax or soy candles with essential oils instead! I tend to keep ingredients on hand vs premade foods. I make a lot of casseroles or soups/chilis because I can substitute lentils or beans for meat.

I also make sure I am using electricity at the lowest hours and try not to run things during peak. Always check with your provider to make sure you are on the right plan for your use and that you use the least amount during peak. Also, you can water down so many things to basically double their supply, like shampoo, soaps, detergents, cleaning, etc. I now only use some dish or castile soap for cleaning because I came across an interview with an infectious disease specialist who said he only uses watered-down dish soap to clean because it kills pretty much everything. We were told by the product manufacturers that you need all the antibacterial or harsh agents, not by scientists. – Michelle

Beans in a colander.

We are in a pantry challenge for January as we head out for three months in our RV in February. So I’ve been through pantry cupboards and freezers, listed what we have that needs to be used first, and kept a strict hand on spending generally. I also started packing some of the things with a good shelf life for the RV. Today, I have cooked and cooled two 1lb bags of kidney beans that need to be used; they will be bagged and frozen for quick adds to chilies and salads. I do keep some canned beans by myself but find it’s much cheaper to cook and freeze my own. I have a supply of chickpeas and black beans in small ziplocks in the freezer, too. – JulieP.

Baby chick in hands.

My simple living, frugal week has been spent focusing on decluttering and the homestead. I spent time in the study rearranging the layout, sorting the filing cabinet, and filing receipts. Living in Australia, we are in the middle of summer, so the vegetable garden is in full swing. I’ve been picking, and preserving the harvest in the kitchen, freezing beans and making freezer meals with the abundance of Zucchini’s I’ve picked.

I’ve also been incubating some chicken eggs. I had a broody chicken, so I purchased some fertile eggs to put under her. Unfortunately, the Momma chicken became unwell and abandoned the nest. So, the eggs came inside to finish incubation. Incubators are expensive, and I couldn’t justify the cost. So, being frugal, I made my own with a box, a desk lamp, and a small dish of water, and I hoped for the best. Although it’s now a new week, I have to share that my makeshift incubator worked, and today, one finally hatched. Every internet search I did said I needed all this special equipment, and the temperature and humidity had to be perfect. But my simple no spend DIY incubator, along with a bit of time and patience, did the trick! – Christine

We have a New Year’s goal of consuming less sugar. It’s crazy once you realize how much sugar we eat daily (not necessarily sweets; however, we put brown sugar in our Pinto beans, a bit of sugar is in our bread and muffins, and the list goes on…). Just this past week, we purchased so much fresh fruit and veggies (with some being frozen as well; this helps keep the budget manageable). It’s nice to open the fridge and see mostly fresh produce versus processed foods.

We have been working on our diet to reduce processed foods for a few months, so now is a good time as ever to reduce our sugar. We are cutting out sugar in our diets for 21 days, and after that, we hope to only have sugar occasionally, as well as try different (to us) sugars such as Coconut sugar, stevia, honey, etc. Making a lifestyle change is always hard, but what makes it easier is an accountability partner (in my case, my spouse), as well as doing it for the right reasons for us; we want to raise our kid and future kids like eating real food versus becoming a picky eater and desiring only processed foods. A few ways I hope to keep this up while also staying frugal or within budget is by shopping the sales ads and planning a menu based on what’s on sale. I’ve recently started using Azure and love it. We are unable to afford all organic produce from our local stores, so if we do purchase locally, most will be conventional, but we figure fresh, home-cooked meals are better than processed; however, I do plan to try and use azure more often! – Isis B.

This is where your post and picture could appear next week!

Post over on THIS THREAD on the forum. Next week, I’ll select several posts (from the forum) to feature here on the blog, and one person will even win a set of my favorite measuring spoons just for sharing!

Michelle is our winner for this week! Michelle, could you please email me at [email protected] to claim your prize? I’ll get that mailed right out to you!

What have you been up to this week? How did you stay frugal over the holidays? Feel free to comment here AND copy and paste your comment on the forum as well!

Me and Kady

Merissa Alink

Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

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  1. I love your updates this week and your new homestead looks like a beautiful start, love that room! I totally understand the change. I have lived in the same area all my life and taxes and insurances have us looking for alternative places as well. I never thought that would happen. May God bless you and your family and make all things easy.

    1. It’s crazy isn’t it? We are 6th generation South Dakotans and looked at other states before finding this place but we really want to stay by family. Our taxes alone in the last year have gone up over 60%, insurance has gone up because housing prices are so high. Even a mobile home that you might have paid $100,000 for 3 years ago is well over $250,000 now.
      I hope you will be fortunate and find an affordable place as well!

  2. Hi Merissa:
    I want to wish you well in your new homestead. I was wondering about what was happening. I knew that you and your hubby had undertaken some ministry work but sensed there was something else. It makes good sense to sell your expensive property and move to something more affordable. This will be a topic of conversation that my hubby and I will be having sometime in the future for ourselves. We are seniors and are starting to find that our current living arrangements, a house which includes a lot of stairs is starting to get more difficult to manage. I’m starting to put the bug in hubby’s ear – downsizing time. Our big problem is finding something affordable in our city. It may mean moving to a smaller community which I know I would like.
    As for frugality – this week due to last minute change in family plans I accidentally cooked more than needed for my family and will be making the leftovers into makeshift meals for an elderly friend of mine who can no longer cook or get out much.

  3. I’m very excited for you and your family! God bless you guys!
    Is the new little homestead in South Dakota? I hope you share some details about it such as does it have acreage, do you plan on having any farm animals, and what size garden.

    This week, we ate at home except for an inexpensive In and Out burger meal. I had a doctor appointment in the city so we also went to Costco and to Sam’s Club, where I found and bought the last two boxes of holiday (holly design) dish sets that I’d seen at the beginning of Christmas. They were $49 a box then and I bought them for less than $13 a box. I’ll use these year round because they make me smile! I’m replacing my old set of 8 Christmas plates, which were from the thrift store about twenty years ago. I offered those to church friends and the pastor’s wife snagged them. They nearly match six plates she has! She’s thrilled because she has enough for her large family now.

    This week, I concentrated on making birthday cards for three January b-days. I’m also replenishing my stock of homemade notecards. I use rubber stamps, embossing powder, and a heat gun, plus reusing paper and other embellishments I save.

    Overall a kickback week. I’m getting better from COVID from last month, and an infection that requires antibiotics.

    Thank you, Melissa, for your posts, especially frugal Friday.

    1. Yes, we are able to stay in South Dakota thankfully! We will have a big garden again, not sure on animals, at least not right away.

      I love that you are making homemade cards! I’d love to get back into that again.

  4. CONGRATS!!! That is great news on the new homestead! We are having the same issue here, our small town became very popular with California residents and now housing is INSANE! I wanted to move out to the outskirts more to have more land, but it is just foolish to spend what i would have to spend (to pay with cash). I am an empty nester (well, one comes home from college at times) but selling would be foolish right now, I would make a great deal on the sale but would have to buy really high. I was reading the tip from the readers and was thinking wow she sounds just like me (I didn’t realize it wasn’t your post material, lol) and realized that was mine!! Thanks so much! I will email you now!

  5. So glad y’all have found a home and at a “reasonable” price. Property is still really expensive even in rural areas. The window view looks great. Being close to family is important if at all possible. 😊
    We are expecting low teens here in the South this weekend and beginning of next week. We are not used to these temps so lots of preparation going on. 😳

    Debra G

  6. We have been trying to get rid of the clutter each day. Eating from the pantry has been our challenge after Christmas. Today we did a big shopping trip at Costco but it will last us a very long time. I am so happy that you have found something affordable and close to your family. Wishing you the best in your new home and with your mission work.

  7. My mom and I shopped at the Dollar Tree for her Christmas gift. She filled a cart with food and personal hygiene products for our local food pantry. Mom says the shelves were empty.
    Our animals get old bread from the pantry that is squished or past date. Our cows love a little bread. I put grease on old bread for our barn cats.
    I love to sew and tie quilts for disaster relief. Also, I trace templates to make liners and transport cases for days for girls.
    I listen to lots of books on the Libby app.

  8. This week started with an unexpected case of pink eye and an ear-ache. My 4 year old came down with both on Monday morning! I didn’t want to go to urgent care or the Dr. if at all possible, so we tried a warm onion compress and hot salt sock on the afflicted ear, and herbal eye drops for the pink eye infection. The onion compress is just slices of raw onion wrapped in wool and heated (I used the microwave) until nice and warm. Then place on the ear and keep on until cool. Then heat and repeat! After a couple times, we used the salt sock, which is coarse sea salt stuffed in a cotton sock, tied, and heated until warm. The dry heat is supposed to help draw out moisture that may be in the ear, and soothe it at the same time. Both worked! Earache was gone that day. The herbal eye drops recipe I used: 1/4c distilled water, 1/2t goldenseal root, 1/2t whole dried eyebright, 1/2t chamomile flowers (though should be avoided in people with Ragweed allergies!), pinch of Himalayan salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of raw honey. Combine herbs and salt in a glass jar. Boil distilled water in a clean pot or kettle. Pour over herbs, cover, and steep for 15 minutes. Strain through clean muslin, then stir in raw honey until it dissolves fully. This is enough to fill a 0.5oz glass bottle with dropper, with a few Tablespoons left over for refills or eye compresses. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Use 2 drops in each eye, 4 times daily until cleared. It cleared up completely within 3 days for us! I’m thankful we could resolve both of these issues quickly, without having to go buy medications or visit the Urgent Care!

  9. I might not always read posts that day, but I try to make time to do it during the week. I appreciate all the tips. For freezing.
    And there have been several things I’ve tried.
    Told ppl about littlehouseliving.
    Thank you!