5 Frugal Things I’ve Done This Month

5 Frugal Things I've Done This MonthLiving frugal is a lifestyle and I have been doing this a very long time. When I look back at things that I’ve done, it’s sometimes hard to remember frugal activities because they are so much a part of my everyday living. Here are just 5 of the things I’ve done this month.

1. New mixes for the pantry

Three mixing spoons

Mixing spoons

I love mixes. I love homemade mixes even more.

The first mix was for ranch dressing. Yum! It’s really good and so easy to do. I found this same recipe on several websites, so I can’t say for sure where I first located it.

Ranch Dressing Mix


1/2 cup dry buttermilk powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together until well combined. Store mix in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To use: Mix together 1/4 cup ranch dressing mix, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1/2 cup milk. Blend thoroughly.

The second mix I found Cooperative Extension Department at Utah State University. (This link will open a pdf file) I have used the SOS mix several times instead of canned soup and the recipes have come out very well. The cool thing is all the recipes that come with the basic mix. It really shows you how to use this mix.

Soup or Sauce Mix


2 cups powdered, non-fat milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon
2 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)


Combine 1/3 cup of dry mx with 1 1/4 cup of cold water. Whisk until thoroughly blended.
Cook and stir until thickened. (Stovetop or microwave)
Add to recipes as you would a can of cream soup.

2. Remembered the dollar store

I started giving my daughter a Valentine card when she was a little girl. She’s well into her thirties now, and I still get her a Valentine. We all know how expensive greeting cards can be but not at the dollar store. The savings is worth the trip. Plus, there’s a lot of other cool things at that store worth investigation.

3. Made broth

Bowl of homemade broth

Homemade Broth

I’ve made chicken broth many times but not with any regularity. A few months ago, I bought and Instant Pot. Of course, I read all kinds of things online about using my new gadget and one of the things I found was making broth. Now, I purposely make broth. I buy whole chickens, roast them, pull the meat from the bones and make broth from the carcasses. The leftover rotisserie chicken can also be used for broth. Of course, beef, pork, or turkey all make excellent broth.

Also, I’ve started saving vegetables in a freezer bag for vegetable broth. I’ve made one batch so far, and I’m pleased with the results. I put leftover vegetables, peels from carrots and potatoes, and little bits and pieces that result from preparing vegetables for a meal. It all goes in the pot and comes out wonderful broth. I bought 2 cup freezer containers (at the dollar store) to store my broth. The Instant Pot makes it easy to use frozen. Just thaw enough to remove from the container.

How to Make Instant Pot Broth

Put chicken or turkey carcass, beef or pork bones, or 4 to 6 cups of vegetable scraps into the Instant Pot. Fill with water to the 2/3 line. Set time for 1 hour at low pressure. Use natural release. Refrigerate broth overnight and then skim off any fat before storing.

4. Started my garden seeds

Seed Starting in Newspaper pots

Starting seeds for spring

Garden plants have become expensive. Spending $3 or more on a plant for the garden makes it more difficult to save money by gardening. I will still buy a few, but some are so easily started that it doesn’t make sense not to do it.
I first posted about starting seeds in Fearless Gardening. Make these useful seed-starter pots with these instructions here and here.

5. Shared a no-cost solution

I’m including this even though I didn’t save money by doing it. Someone close to me was paying a subscription site for audio books to listen to while she was jogging. I pointed her to her local library which has audio books available to borrow. This is about a $10 per month saving for her and a warm and fuzzy feeling about helping someone for me.

How did you live frugally this month? Be sure to leave a comment.

The Garden Conspiracy

The garden is in. Spring has arrived. All is good. Not.

I think there is a conspiracy afoot that purposely sabotages my garden every year. I’ve had late freezes, droughts, heat waves and critters all wreaking havoc on my tender, little plants. This year the critters struck first. I put in my pepper plants with a handful of crushed eggshells in the hole. Something out there thought that egg shells would be a good treat. Four out of six peppers were dug up and destroyed. I found two upside down, but still in their newspaper pots. They’ve been replanted. They may not survive.zukeplant

The next thing to hit was the weather. We had a heavy downpour the day after I put in my plants. Most of them came through, but the rain hammered the little zucchinis. One didn’t make it. The others look pounded but are hanging in there. I put more seeds directly into the garden to replace the lost plant. I’ll hope for the best.

If I had to survive on the produce from my garden, I would be much, much thinner. I hope the day never comes that I have to turn my property into a working farm just to survive. I won’t give up on growing some of my own produce. It brings me joy.garden

Fearless Gardening

Since coming to Texas, I’ve been a complete failure at growing vegetables. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did grow a pretty good pumpkin a few years ago.

But, on the whole, my gardening has not been that successful.  Few things I learned by gardening in other states seem to apply here.

The result is that a fear of the vegetable garden has crept into my heart. I’m determined to face my fears and charge head-long into the turbulent soil. I’m labeling this the “Year of the Abundant Zucchini.”

I started on the Texas Ag Extension website and their invaluable Vegetable Variety Selector. This is a great resource for those of us in Texas. Outside of Texas, check the listings of Cooperative Extensions Services at the USDA. I selected varieties that were listed as doing well in my county and purchased only those seeds.

It often gets too hot too fast here in north Texas and vegetable plants suffer. I’ve started things indoors before, but this year I am doing more. These little newspaper pots are easy to make plus they are nearly free. There are instructions here and here. Pick your favorite method and fold away.


Soil for starting seeds should be very light and doesn’t really qualify as “soil” at all. Again, there are a number of mixtures you can try but equal parts Perlite and peat moss works well. Once the time comes to plant outdoors, the whole pot can be put into the garden.

So, here are my little pots and my hopes for a fearless gardening experience this year.