A Flame Weeder And Other May 2018 Expenditures

We bought blueberry bushes! And cherry and currant and Saskatoon and honeyberry bushes! Lots and lots of perennial berry bushes found a home on our homestead this month, as you’ll see in the below expense report. Garden fencing, fertilizer, the notorious flame weeder, and soil test kits rounded out our garden-palooza of spending. I’m going to give the full rundown on how all of these berry beasts were planted in my next installment of This Month On The Homestead, so consider this your sneak peek at our new berry-land. The flame weeder does exactly what its name would imply: it weeds your garden with the power of FIRE! Don’t worry, I’ll write extensively about this thing once we actually use it (which’ll likely happen in early June). It’s not often I can work “flame” into one of my titles, so you understand I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

The Holy Grail Of Frugality: A PRESSURE COOKER

You people have been after me, for oh about four years now, to buy a freaking pressure cooker. You all noted how much easier and faster it is to cook large batch meals with one of these babies and, chiefly, you highlighted the delight it is to cook dried beans in a pressure cooker. I should say that your pleas did not fall on deaf ears. However, we were loathe to buy a pressure cooker new since they run on the pricey side.

Spring on the homestead! More interesting than a photo of our pressure cooker, no?

And so, following my regimen of attempting to source the majority of our stuff second-hand, we’ve been scanning the used market for a pressure cooker for oh about four years now. And this month our valiant scanning paid off!! Our resident chef–that’d be Mr. Frugalwoods–spied an excellent pressure cooker at a thrift store for the thrifty price of $14.99!!! Woohoo!!! This is the model we got, which looks like it retails for $239 on Amazon. He’s already used the thing about 19 times so I’d say it was $14.99 very well spent indeed.

The best part about life APC (that’s After Pressure Cooker) is Mr. FW’s ability to cook dried beans quickly. In ye olden days of BPC, he had to soak dried beans overnight before cooking them, which isn’t a hardship, but was a hassle when he wanted to whip something up that he hadn’t planned several days in advance for. He tries to do his cooking on rainy days (since there’s less outside labor to do when it’s raining) and he hates to waste a sunny day in the kitchen. Given this, it wasn’t always working out to know when to soak the beans. He doesn’t cook every day but prefers to cook once a week for reasons of efficiency and then we freeze the leftovers–I have a complete post on this process if you’re curious about the foodie deets.

Beans are a staple in our diet because they hit that awesome trifecta of cheap, tasty, and healthy!! They’re the base of most of Mr. FW’s dishes. Even if he adds in meat, beans and veggies form the base since it’s a cheap (and healthy and tasty!) way of stretching a meal and boosting the protein content. And dried beans are cheaper than canned beans which are cheaper than just about anything else. Dried beans are essentially the cornerstone of frugal cooking, but I’ll tell ya that for years we’ve been buying canned beans in addition to dried beans just because of the timing thing with the soaking. Well. Those days are gone. Now that we’ve entered the epoch of APC, we are rolling in dried beans. Picture Scrooge McDuck languishing in his dolla dolla bills—that’s pretty much what we’re doing with our dried beans (who says rural life is devoid of entertainment?!). Emboldened by the heady days of APC, we bought a monstrous amount of dried chickpeas–25 pounds!!–which we’ll use in both homemade hummus and one of our favorite meals, Chana Masala. And hey, probably a lot of other things too now! They’ve already made their way into  a Moroccan Red Lentil Stew (coined “Maraca Stew”by Babywoods). We couldn’t find dried chickpeas in any of our local grocery stores (not even the local Co-op!) so we resorted to ordering them online for $1.79/pound.

Tires, Boots, Pants, Paint!

Mr. FW sporting some work pants. But what you really want to focus on is Littlewoods’ expression… I mean seriously

Upon taking the snow tires off of our Prius this month, Mr. FW discovered that the Prius’ summer tires (aka regular tires) were due for a replacement, so four tires made the expense rundown. Mr. FW also desperately–I do not use that word hyperbolically–needed a new pair of work boots. The entire sole had come off of his old boots, which was additional to the previous holes that’d worn into the sides. We looked into having them repaired, but they were sadly beyond repair.

He settled on this pair for his replacement, which he bought from a local store (Farm-Way) that we like to support. While there, he picked up another pair of work pants. For those of you following his work pants saga (and by “work pants” I mean “outdoor labor pants” not “dress slacks”) he’s tried Duluth and Carhartt and reports that he likes the Duluth a bit better but that the Carhartts are cheaper and almost as good. This is the pair he got (although we bought them from Farm-Way, so if you’re local and need some pants, check them out!).

I continue on in my clothes-buying-ban (four years strong with one deviation for a pair of winter boots) and am cobbling together some–ahem–interesting outfits for this time period of post-pregnancy, still-nursing-a-baby, trying-to-lose-the-weight-after-having-two-children-in-three-years. You know, that phase of life. Fair warning, if you see me, I look dead sexy in my mismatched leggings (which I recently discovered have holes), maternity skirt and nursing tops (all hand-me-downs to begin with). Feel free to compliment me and show your jealously for my spit-up-adorned, hole-y attire. I mean really, try not to be too dazzled when you see me roll up.

Babywoods at work. A painting of a whale. Obviously.

Babywoods (who is actually a toddler and not a baby at all) racked up one of the first expenses she’s ever had in her 2.5 years of life: paint and paintbrushes!! She is SUPER into painting right now (recently painted a whale, a wolf, and “a mountain climber” in one painting–not sure what ecosystem these dudes were living in, but she was adamant) and so we got her some real paints. Not real in the Van Gogh sense of the word, but real to a person who is two. I had a set of watercolors that were a hand-me-down, but she was craving more painting adventures after learning to paint at preschool, so we indulged her. We’ve gotten actual HOURS of entertainment out of these paints and brushes, so it was $10.28 well spent. I picked up an easel at a thrift store a year ago and also have a hand-me-down smock, so that’s Babywoods all sorted every afternoon.

We also got this mattress bag to cover the twin mattress and box spring that used to live in our second guest room. That room is now Babywoods’ room, but I want to keep the mattress and box spring in good condition since it’ll be Babywoods’ once she graduates out of her crib/toddler bed combo. I bought that mattress, box spring, and frame used on Craigslist for $50 about five years ago and it’s a great bed! Served us well as the second guest bed for many years and now it’ll spend a few years in the basement (in its mattress bag) before a reincarnation as a big girl bed. I’m honestly not sure if a mattress bag is even necessary, but since it’ll be stored in our basement (where I have seen signs of rodentia in the past), I REALLY do not want a rodent to make a home in there. Worth it to me to try and keep it dry and critter-free.

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Babywoods playing in the creek. Spring has arrived!

Mr. Frugalwoods and I purchase everything we possibly can with credit cards for several reasons:

  1. It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where that random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. This prompts me to spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense in detail at the end of each month.
  2. We get rewards. Who doesn’t like rewards? Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, Mr. FW and I get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying things we were going to buy anyway.
  3. We build our credit. Since Mr. FW and I don’t carry any debt other than our mortgages, having several credit cards open for many years (which are fully paid off every month) has greatly helped our credit scores. By the way, it’s a dirty, dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years, however, does help your score.

If you’re interested in opening a credit card, I highly recommend using this site to search for a card that’ll best fit your needs. And if you’re interested in travel rewards cards specifically, check out this list curated by my friend Brad from Travel Miles 101. I respect Brad’s work in the travel rewards space and I trust his advice on which cards will reap the best benefits.

Huge caveat to credit card usage: you MUST pay your credit card bills in full every single month, with no exceptions. If you’re concerned about your ability to do this, or think that using credit cards might prompt you to spend more money, then credit cards are not for you–stick with using a debit card and/or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend!

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

 

 

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide the below analysis for you fine people.

Tracking expenses is, in my opinion, the best way to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it. Sounds harsh, but without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a frugal must, folks. No excuses.

Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, give Personal Capital a try.

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report

Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Look no further than Our Low Cost, No Fuss, DIY Money Management System. We also own a rental property in MA, which I discuss here.

Babywoods and Littlewoods rocking some hand-me-downs on Mother’s Day

Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence and move to a homestead in the woods (which happened in May 2016).

For us, embracing frugality is a joyful, longterm choice. We prefer a simple life to one filled with consumerism and we spend only on the things that matter most to us. Our approach isn’t one of miserly deprivation; to the contrary, we live a luxuriously frugal existence.

If you’re interested in the other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.

A Note On Rural Life

Since we live on 66 acres in rural Vermont, our utilities and expenses are slightly different from traditional urban and suburban dwellings. We don’t pay for water, sewer, trash, or heating/cooling because we have a well, a septic system, our town doesn’t provide trash pick-up, we heat our home with wood we harvest ourselves from our land, and we don’t have air conditioning.

For more on our rural lifestyle, check out my series This Month On The Homestead as well as City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown.

But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z????

Wondering about common expenses that you don’t see listed below? Our August 2015 expense report has the answers you seek! Plus, as I explained here, we pay bills in full the month we receive them–that’s why you won’t see monthly payments for things like car insurance or property tax.

If you’re curious about how we handle charitable contributions, check out How We Donate To Charities Like Billionaires and also How We Make Meaningful And Tax Efficient Charitable Donations.

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in May:

Item Amount Notes
Vermont mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $636.17 Uh, I am really hungry while nursing a baby and Mr. FW is really hungry after working outside all the time and Babywoods eats a lot. The end.
Garden fencing supplies, mailbox post and house numbers, other garden stuff $369.29 Our mailbox met an inglorious end via a snowplow this winter, so now that the ground’s thawed, we put in a new one (and new post and house numbers).
Summer tires for the Prius $279.92 Purchased from Simple Tire
Berry bushes $277.90 28 blueberry bushes purchased from Indiana Berry
MORE berry bushes! $259.00 Cherries, Saskatoons, Honeyberries, Currants (all bushes) from Honey Berry USA
Mulch $173.17 LOTS of mulch required these days
Household supplies $155.71 This includes thrilling items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo, soap, sunscreen, medications, baby items, etc
Gasoline for cars $124.73
Boots and pants for Mr. FW $123.43 These boots and these pants
Internet $74.00 We have fiber internet out here in the middle of nowhere and we LOVE it
Car insurance $61.92 An additional payment to add our new-to-us used truck to our car insurance (which is through Geico)
Flame Weeder $51.35 Behold: one Flame Weeder
Chickpeas $44.95 25 lbs of dried chickpeas from Palousebrand
Diesel for tractor $44.00
Doctor visit co-pay $25.00
Cell phone through BOOM Mobile $19.99
Fertilizer $17.50
Utilities: Electricity $16.36 We have solar panels, which accounts for our low bill. I swear to all dogs in the world that I WILL finally write a post about our solar panels in June.
Pressure Cooker $14.99 From a thrift store. All hail the APC epoch. Here’s the model new, in case you’re curious.
Soil Test Kit $14.73 Soil Test Kit for our garden
Mattress Bag $12.99 We got this mattress bag to store our twin mattress and box spring
Paint and paintbrushes $10.28 For Babywoods’ creations
Total: $4,200.24
Minus Mortgage: $2,807.38

How was your May?

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94 Responses

  1. Steph says:

    The girls are too cute!
    So awesome you guys are getting more berry bushes! Half my grocery bill is on berries during the summer haha.
    I also love how chickpeas got their own line item 😛

  2. Like you I love putting all my expenses on our credit card. It makes life much easier to track through Personal Capital plus when I am trying to look at old expenses from years past, it’s super easy to pull up. My wife just did this to watch the trends of our insurance bills. So convenient and nice 🙂

  3. Babywoods and Littlewoods are so adorable! I still remember the day when you announced the birth of your children. Now they’ve grown so much!

    We have a pressure cooker at home but rarely use it. I’ve been dreaming about an air fryer and actually purchased one. Unfortunately, that air fryer wasn’t the right size, so I returned it through Amazon Prime (love it!). My goal now is to find a used air fryer for about $20. It’s not easy, but I want to keep my eye out for that. I hope it will pop up at our community yard sale next weekend! 😀

  4. Huzzah for the berry bushes! Mrs. FFP and I are big fans of the “edible landscaping” movement, which involves planting fruit-bearing trees and bushes which double as attractive landscaping. We’re trying to make our 1 acre earn its keep! We planned to put in a dwarf blueberry variety known as “Top-Hat” as a foundation planting along the east side of the house this spring, until my Achilles rupture got in the way. We’re planning on tackling this next year, for certain.

    https://www.newlifenursery1.net/collections/fruit-berry-plants/products/top-hat-dwarf-blueberry-vaccinium

    You won’t regret your berry plantings! There’s an old idiom that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and I’m pretty sure it applies to fruit-bearing bushes as well. Picking their sweet rewards will be great fun for your children as they grow up! 🙂

    I’m a big believer in the power of mulching plants and gardens. Keeps the weeds out, moisture in, and builds the soil. Have you and Mr. FW ever considered getting your own chipper rather than buying mulch? You’d have the trees and brush to produce your own chips I would think. Seems like something that would suite Mr. FW’s insatiable appetite for outdoor projects.

    Life B.P.C. and A.P.C. cracked me up. Kudos on landing such a sweet deal on the pressure cooker! Babywoods sounds like she’s enjoying herself. All I have to say is you’d better have eyes in the back of your head or you might end up with a house remodel, Babywoods-style… 🙂

    That’s a beautiful creek! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a photo of it before, though I find that hard to believe (I mean, we ARE talking Mrs. FW here, people). I used to love playing with running water when I was little, primarily attempting to dam it up. Still remember the days of running the garden hose down our 100-yard gravel driveway and playing civil engineer with the water flow. Good times. I ended up installing low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads as an adult in an attempt to make up for this superfluous consumption of life’s most precious resource.

    Aha! You have solar panels?!?! How did I miss this? I’ve been star-struck by your low electric bill literally forever. This makes much more sense to me now! Energy savings is a passion of mine. Looking forward to the story detailing your system and experience!

    As always, an intriguing post full of humor. Looking forward to the Month On The Homestead rendition!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You read our minds–getting a chipper is high on our list. We’re just hoping to find one used! Those things are surprisingly expensive new. It hurts to buy mulch right now, but the garden demands it ;)! We were able to get a free load of chips delivered last summer (from a chipping crew), but haven’t had the same luck this season. I have to imagine a chipper purchase will happen before too long here ;). And fortunately, Babywoods’ paint is totally washable!

      • Shelba says:

        Our chipper shredder saga began with an industrial, used model and ended with one on sale at Tractor Supply that uses the PRO on the tractor, using a Labor Day clearance sale. Technology is your friend, a used one that still works is probably not going to make you happy when compared to what the newer models will accomplish in, say, a commercial orchard. Smaller models were no match for our pruning and went back, in some cases, the day of purchase, after the tedious heartbreak of assemble it yoirself.

      • CJ says:

        I’ve seen ads for different services that will deliver free wood chips. I haven’t tried it, but I’m intrigued.

        • Callie says:

          We use one called “chip drop.” You register your address and the location you would like them deposited on a site for arborists in the area. You can offer a financial incentive as well. An entire truck load of mulch for $10!

  5. Ashley says:

    We got a pressure cooker this month too! After delaying the purchase we found one in a dumpster, thanks college students for moving out. But it’d be nice if they were less wasteful.

  6. Mr. Up says:

    Being vegetarians, the wife and I really love lentils! Sometimes they just don’t cook (probably user error) but when it works out, they are surprisingly filling. We’ve added it to our food staples along with beans. Mulch is an expense that seems to be perpetual, but there is a recycling facility near us that gives away free mulch! I’ve heard the quality isn’t as good but we’re going to try it, because, you know.. free.

    • Amy says:

      We’re veggies too (this year makes 18 years as a vegetarian for me!), and we pretty much live off lentils, too. But I’ve never had them not cook…is it possible you are adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process? Adding salt prevents beans and lentils from softening while cooking…it has to be added at the end. Also, one of my favorite lentil recipes for the Instant Pot is Vegan Richa’s lasagna soup. Divine, and so healthy! It uses red lentils.

      • Mr. Up says:

        Your right! That happened to us a couple of times and we stopped salting before. But then we got a bad batch or something and they just would cook forever and still be crunchy. But I’ve never tried red lintels, I’ll have to look into that!

    • Janice says:

      Be careful of using others free mulch. Our city picks up mulchable thiings curbside and many obnoxious weeds etc are picked up as well as grass, etc. that has chemicals used on it. I have used the city much for fill, but I won’t use it on the garden.

    • ivy says:

      No, not user error — if they just don’t cook then either they’ve been heat-treated (to kill insects living inside them) or they were just really really old.
      Salting is completely fine — see Serious Eats for an explanation at https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/salt-beans-cooking-soaking-water-good-or-bad.html

  7. Sherry Venable says:

    Mrs. Frugalwoods,

    Your pressure cooker was a great find but NOTHING beats a DIGITAL PRESSURE cooker. And to be honest, the digital pressure cooker is SO MUCH SAFER than those utilized on top of the stove. The safety features of a digital pressure cooker is phenomenal. The Wolfgang Puck brand is good but also many people are utilizing the INSANT POT.

    • Elle says:

      Good luck with the digital models in power outages! Gas stoves and pressure cookers go together beautifully on dark and stormy nights! Hugs, love the matching outfits on the babies.

    • Carolyn says:

      I agree about a digital pressure cooker being safer. I am not familiar with the one you bought, but for years I used my mother’s old one from the 1960’s. I had more than a few instances of kidney beans or chicken stew on my ceiling. Fortunately nobody was hurt. A couple of years ago, we bought an instant pot, and I love it, so much so that I bought each of my grown children one for Christmas.

      • Laurie Villotta says:

        I bought an Insta Pot at christmas from Amazon for about $40. We are a family of 3 si I bought the smaller one. It totally is the absolute best thing I have ever bought. Hard boiled eggs in 5 minutes!!! Fresh corn on the cob 5 minutes. I agree invest in the digital ones and you will just not know how you ever cooked before. No more boiling water for eggs and corn.

  8. We purchased an Instapot via a Black Friday deal last year and have loved it so far. We also have two young children and it makes food prep much easier.

    I love how you can go on for paragraphs about how much you love your new $15 purchase. I find that when you love something so much that was acquired for such a low price, it really gets you to second guess many other more expensive purchases in terms of value per dollar.

    Frugality begets more frugality!

  9. Whitney says:

    You actually don’t have to soak beans at all before cooking them- I was married to a Salvadoran man for 7 years and his beans were delicious and there wasn’t any prep work other than putting them in a pot and boiling them with garlic cloves and salt. I still make them once in a while and don’t soak them at all.

  10. Robby says:

    Not sure if this is available where you are, but if you need mulch, and they deliver to you getchipdrop.com delivers free woodchips from local tree triming, etc.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks for the tip–I’ll check that site out! It hurts to buy mulch right now, but the garden demands it ;)! We were able to get a free load of chips delivered last summer (from a chipping crew), but haven’t had the same luck this season.

  11. Melissa says:

    You can make an easy paint for kids using any kind of white (creamy looking) dish soap and a bit of food coloring. If you look around you can often find this soap for $1 for a big bottle. I have used Ivory and Palmolive. Add a drop or two of color and you are good to go. My daughter did a big painting using her homemade paint for a 4-H project and was actually selected to go to the state fair! It also cleans up easily so that is a big plus!

  12. Josh says:

    Mrs. FW! Big fan here…long time lurker, first time commenter. Anyway, the overnight soak method is not really necessary for beans. Have you heard of the “quick boil” method? Check it.

    Bring the beans to a rolling boil for about 2 minutes and then let soak for 2 hrs. Pour off the water/rinse, then you cook the beans however you want–stovetop, slow cooker, pressure cooker. This method is way faster (obviously), and it still rids the beans of a large percentage of the oligosaccharides in the skin that make you…um…you know…give beans their “musical” reputation.

  13. FireReadyAim says:

    Nice find! Although it looks like that new price on Amazon may be wishful thinking. Using keepa ( which is a plug-in that tracks historical Amazon prices and displays them whenever you bring something up on Amazon), it looks Amazon used to sell this for about $100, and they stopped selling it last summer, at which point in time the third party sellers have tried to jack up the price. If you’re not using this tool, it’s a must – it will even send alerts when something you’re tracking drops below a certain price – I use this to track used items sold on Amazon and snatch them up when someone sells them too low 🙂

  14. Soggysuzzi says:

    Great progress on the homestead! Grass clippings (as mulch for vegie beds) works well as long as you don’t pile it too thick. Just sprinkle it on every time you mow. It will dry out and add nitrogen to the soil. It clumps if you put it on thickly. Also works well as a “green” in your compost pile. Use sawdust for your blueberries – they like acid soil. I suspect you have no shortage of sawdust.

    Just a hint if you haven’t already tripped over this vendor: Azure Standard. It is a digital co-op and you order on line and they drop all local orders at a pre-determined place once a month. They have their home base in Oregon, but deliver all over the United States. Just dial them up for details. If you don’t have a drop handy, if enough folks are interested, you can start one. Prices: Garbonzo Beans (chick peas) are $31.30 for 25 pounds and Organic rolled oats are $29.90 for 25 pounds. They have a huge selection of mostly organic stuff for very good prices. Lots less than you are paying for bulk chick peas.

    Another one is Zacon. You need a freezer for this one as they sell meats at prices much lower than most grocery stores and their quality is much better. You have to order several months in advance as they source their meat fresh while it is still walking around. Their chicken and ground beef are delivered 40 lbs. at a time. There are different things at different times of the year, but hamburger and chicken turn up fairly regularly, but you do have to work well in advance. This is also a drop situation but well worth the hassle to save a lot of cash for quality meats and fish.

    There is another one I’ve heard of, but when I checked it was mostly in the mid-west. It may have moved to your area by now. It’s called Bountiful Baskets and also delivers as a group drop and is primarily produce, but I think they also have chicken from time to time. 40 pounds of oranges anyone?

    The kiddies are getting cuter by the minute. Love their pictures.

    • Catherine Nelson says:

      I agree with your review of Zayconfresh.com. Their meat products are excellent quality and I have bought ground beef, chicken breasts, applewood smoked ham and chuck roast. The chicken needed to be repackaged in smaller quantities prior to freezing, but the others come in well packaged meal size amounts.
      BountifulBaskets.org is an excellent source of good quality produce. They are currently making a comeback after losing their distributors a couple years ago and are working to find local sources for each state. I’m in Washington and they have recently reopened some sites here and I’m looking forward to our area opening soon.

  15. Anne says:

    I use my pressure cooker(s) for a ton of things–artichokes, anyone? In 18 minutes for big ones! And they are wonderful for a bunch of other things (cooked chicken for casseroles, etc.) VERY quickly, also wonderful soups & stews. FWIW, a backup way to cook (a lot of!) dry beans fairly quickly is in your crockpot–I have a ton of cookbooks, but before the internet only one that I saw ever pointed this out. If I remember right, I think you can take them from dry to cooked in about 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low (check online for instructions). I will occasionally do up to 2 lbs at a time and freeze them in 2 cup portions with some cooking liquid. You can also season/add aromatics. Yum!

    • Winifred says:

      I’ve tried the crockpot method a few times for beans (with just water) and they always come out sweet-ish, almost like baked beans, which I did not like, and some were unevenly cooked. Guess it depends on the crockpot!

  16. Jim Wang says:

    I wanted to read about the flame weeder! 🙂

    (and we love our pressure cooker too)

    • Shelba Durston says:

      I also want to hear about the flame thrower. I feel a need for one that is light to carry, mostly for when I encounter trash left behind by people who visit our rural area…

  17. Kristine says:

    Sounds like the pressure cooker was an awesome find! I’m sure I would have given up waiting years earlier 🙂

  18. Julia says:

    Are you happy with Boom Mobile? How did you decide to use them vs other competitors? In general I don’t see a cell phone blog post, but maybe I missed it! Thank you in advance if you can link to it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So we choose Boom just because it’s the only carrier that sort of gets service out here on our rural property. I wouldn’t say Boom is necessarily the best or the cheapest, it just happens to be the only one that works for us (and even then, we don’t really have reliable service and so we also have a land line). Other cheap carriers that a lot of Frugalwoods readers like are Ting and Republic Wireless. I think it just depends on where you live and what coverage you need. But definitely worth checking out a cheap re-seller (MVNO)!

  19. Anna says:

    Sounds like you’ve gotten a lot of mulch advice already, but sheet mulching is a great way to build and maintain garden fertility and keep weeds down. It can be as basic as layers of wet newspaper or wet cardboard covered with straw but you can also incorporate other yard and food scraps if you want. The paper or cardboard keeps the weeds down really well and keeps the soil from drying out. It is also a great way to recycle materials that you can surely find near your home or in your community for free.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, we actually do sheet mulch too! We have EPIC weeds out here (hence the flame weeder!!!). Ideally we would not have to buy mulch and are considering buying a chipper so that we could make our own mulch. We actually have used so much cardboard that we’ve almost run out of our moving box supply!!!! We were able to get a free delivery of wood chips last year from a chipping crew but sadly haven’t been able to find a similar deal this season.

  20. Victoria says:

    Not judging but really interested in whether both price and annoyance-wise it was worth waiting four years for a pressure cooker? Have you saved that much if you’ve been buying more expensive canned beans? I can’t fault you for a commitment to delayed gratification but four years when it seemed to cause you trouble not to have one?
    Reading your blog is helping me to look for second hand and wait for things, but I wonder if you’d consider a post about when it was and wasn’t worth waiting the length of time that you did?
    For example, I completely got the reasoning behind original small truckette vs new to you truck, but the pressure cooker seems a couple of years too long! 🙂

  21. Torrie says:

    Super curious about this flame weeder—I’ve never even heard of one! We’re constantly losing in our battle to our weeds (and we only live on just over a quarter acre, so I can only imagine your plight…), so I’ll be curious to read all the details of that in your homestead post!

    We’ve been looking into getting an Instant Pot (which I know can take on the same stuff that a pressure cooker does), but it might be awhile before we can find a used one since I feel like they haven’t been around that long. Good to know that your purchase has been worth it, though! Makes me more motivated to get one.

  22. Aghh those little outfits!!! So precious! I almost want to see a video of this flame weeder in action, hahaha. Nothin’ like setting stuff on fire in a way that’s productive! 😛

    We overspent on food in May, but miraculously came in $500 under budget, even with hubby spending a week in NYC. We put $4,000 on our student loan debt, which feels ~amazing~

  23. JD says:

    I have the 8-quart Fagor, and love, love it. I saved up Swagbucks and got mine new on Amazon for $3.64 out of pocket. I know a ton of people love their Instant Pot, and I might, too, but I was drawn to the Fagor by America’s Test Kitchen, which prefers stove top over counter top cookers. The safety is no longer the issue it used to be, since Fagors have an auto safety release. Common sense still applies, of course. Have you found out how quick and easy hard squashes, beets, and sweet potatoes are to cook in yours? And yours is a canner as well, correct?
    We have a flame weeder, too. Those things are awesome. I don’t like to spray poisons everywhere, and pulling weeds is a highly overrated past time, in my opinion, especially from cracks between bricks or paving stones.
    I can see the ground in your photos! No more white stuff!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nicely done with the Swagbucks!! Glad to hear you’re enjoying your pressure cooker! We haven’t done any squash in ours yet, but we will have to try it out.

    • Lindsey says:

      FYI: Pressure cookers are not the same thing as pressure canners. You cannot safely can low acid foods in a pressure cooker.

      • JD says:

        The Fagor 10 quart has a canning accessory kit to use when pressure canning in it. I am not an expert but it has been billed as a canner and cooker.

  24. Karen says:

    Congrats on your pressure cooker and new flaming farm toy. I’m sure you already knew this but cooked garbanzo beans freeze beautifully and once you’ve got a stash in big bags or a freezer container you can scoop out a “cans” worth at a time when you need it.
    Cook, drain well and freeze on a tray, put in container.

  25. Cindy says:

    Scoring a pressure cooker at a thrift store is crazy easy to do these days! It seems like everyone got an InstaPot for Christmas so they donated them. Lucky us who refused to jump on the consumer bandwagon! I also found a splash pool for our kiddo for $6! Cheap summer fun, and it’s easy to clean! not to mention I was able to score a week’s worth of school uniform clothes there for $20 as well. I love the thrift store so much.

    • Carolyn says:

      In addition to thrift stores, Mrs. FW, have you checked out the salvage stores in North Walpole NH? They are just across the Connecticut River from Bellows Falls. I wouldn’t make a special trip to go there (since sometimes they have absolutely nothing that I want to buy), but if I am coming up 91 from Brattleboro to WRJ, I always stop there. There are 3 stores right across the street from each other, and they all have different but similar things. One has mostly tools and electric kitchen appliances: in Feb I got an air fryer there for $30 or $35. I have seen electric pressure cookers there, but since I have an Instant pot I don’t need one, so I didn’t retain the prices.
      Also, a few years ago one of those 3 stores (Mr. G’s) had chick peas in 1 lb plastic bags for $0.19 per bag. I bought all they had (probably 50 or 60 lbs) , and we finally finished them last year. Sometimes they have dried beans on sale (not necessarily chick peas), but now their best prices seem to be more in the $0.69/lb range. And they do not always have any dried beans available: it is a matter of luck as to what they have, which is why I never make a special trip down there, but only stop in if I am on 91 anyway. They have a lot of canned goods, too, and recently Igot canned salmon for $1.29 per 14 or 16 oz can.
      Also, the Williston Liquidation Center on Route 2 in Williston has similar things to the North Walpole stores, albeit at slightly higher prices. This morning I opened a bag of chickpeas (inspired by your post) that I got there within the last year, and the price tag said $0.45 per lb. Again, they do not always have dried beans, and sometimes they are priced a lot higher, but I stop in if I am in the Burlington area anyway. Also, I have seen electric pressure cookers there, probably for less than $50, but it varies, as does the availability of what they have. I also recently got a lot of Celestial Seasonings teas for $1.29 per 20-tea bag box.
      Finally I am surprised that you could not find chick peas at your local coop? Which one? I know that there are 3 or 4 coops in the Lebanon area (my son lives there, and since you mentioned that you go to BJ’s, I’ve got a pretty good idea of the area of VT you live in). Anyway, my coop, the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier certainly has them, although I haven’t bought them there recently because of my score at the salvage stores. Another tip: the Hunger Mountain Coop gives away empty food-grade plastic containers (1 gallon or 5 gallon size) that bulk peanut butter and cashew butter and tahini come in. Maybe your local coops do the same thing. I used those big containers to store all my chick peas.

      • Carolyn says:

        To add to my own post: those salvage stores have mostly processed and canned goods. But I do buy some processed goods: olive oil at $1.99 per quart, balsamic vinegar at $0.99 per jar, unsalted peanuts in a jar, the already -mentioned dried beans, KAF flour, sugar, tuna, sardines, and other sort-of-processed but otherwise natural foods. The trick is to ignore the masses of junk food in there, and to be picky and just buy what you would at other more-expensive stores.

  26. Pauline says:

    OH MY Are you going into the berry & jelly selling business? I have 1 raspberry bush I planted about 5 years ago – it is now over 10 feet tall and has about 30 shoots! The bush has 2 “seasons” each summer and I harvested so many berries last year I must have put 2 or 3 gallons worth in the freezer, plus all we ate. I made jelly 3 times and still have some in the freezer. We are looking forward to some fresh ones in the next month.

  27. Yay for the new-to-you pressure cooker! I wanted an Instant Pot for a long time, but wasn’t willing to pay full price. I kept an eye on our credit card points and decided to strike when they had a 20% off points sale for Crate & Barrel. I was able to get a $100 gift card for $80 worth of points. I bought our IP online with free shipping and was able to get some cash back with ebates. More expensive, obviously, than buying used but it was difficult to find one and I am not graced with your patience! 🙂

    Since then, we’ve made many a frugal meal in the pressure cooker! I’ve started making a lot of lentil dishes and have a nice supply of individually portioned black beans in the freezer. I’ve also discovered how easy it is to make paneer in the pressure cooker! This is a good way to use up milk that’s on its last legs and it’s so much better than what you’d buy at the store. Here’s to frugal, delicious food! 🙂

  28. Phyllis says:

    I LOVE all beans but especially pintos. At night I just sort them, rinse them, put in a bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. In the morning when it’s cooler (I live in AZ) I drain them, rinse them, put in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil, then lower to medium low, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours (no salt). When cooked I drain (re-use the water for making soup), cool, then put in one cup recycled plastic containers (cream cheese, sour cream), mark top with a P and freeze. When a recipe calls for 1 cup pinto beans, I just take one out and defrost. I do the same with other beans. I love them in soup, in vegetarian ‘meatloaf’, in green salads, in tortillas etc.

    • Winifred says:

      Sometimes I brine/soak beans overnight and then freeze them at this stage — they cook up well in long-simmering soups and stews that way.

  29. Jana Colgin says:

    Laughing to hard at “I swear to all the dogs in the world…” and I can’t wait to read about the solar panels. We recently insulated, vented, exhaust-fanned, and solar powered the interior of a Nissan NV Cargo van so it would stay cool even when it’s hot out. It was our first brush with solar power and we’re hooked! It’s just one 100 watt panel but it does SO MUCH!

  30. Jessica Banker says:

    Liz- I love reading about you and the family! I am a little sad about your clothes scenario… Are you into sewing at all? I know that when things get worn and tattered they may not draw any love, but you sound miserable talking about your attire. I hope that it wasn’t inferred to be that way. A little lace or beading can go a long way though. If you notice a shirt has a tear on the bottom, but still looks nice, you can trim the bottom inch and add either lace or ribbon to give your old top a refreshed look. You can find notions and scraps at flea markets or thrifting, as well as requesting through freecycle groups. I wish you luck. If I was smaller (Alot smaller) I would just send you some things. 😛

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I do indeed sew (enough to mend) and the above paragraph was intended to make you laugh! I just can’t help myself with my satire sometimes ;). My mom mends a lot with lace, but I’m not a lace gal, so I usually use iron-on patches or just a straight mended seam.

    • Jan says:

      Along the line of remolding material/clothes, I recently cut off the edge of a king size blanket that I love. The blanket was fuzzy and was laminated to the foam inside. No hemming, no sewing, just cut the edges and it looks good as new.

  31. Cat says:

    Quick question: I guess I’m surprised you had to buy mulch at all what with your logging operation. I would think you’d generate plenty from the smaller branches of felled trees and from clearing brush? But maybe you don’t have a mulched…

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We don’t own a chipper, which is the piece of machinery required to make your own mulch. We’d love to buy one used but haven’t found one yet. We may break down and get a new one though, we’ll just have to see :). Unfortunately, they’re pretty expensive.

  32. Casey says:

    I loved your note on why your grocery bill is above $600. I weaned my youngest kid a few months ago but still remember the HUNGER of nursing. OMG, the HUNGER.

  33. Elena says:

    I miss babywoods preschool. Has it already ended for the year?
    It must be so hard having two little girls at home all the time.

  34. Holly says:

    Sometime when you’re inspired, could you post a few of your favorite Mr F’s recipes? They must be dang good if you eat them all week!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I was just talking to him about this last night–I will try to pin him down for a few recipes in the near future. The challenge is that he improvises a lot, so his meals are different every time, which we love, but which makes it tough to write out a recipe for others to follow. I’ll try though :)!

  35. Kristine says:

    Look at how beautiful they all are, in their happy little homestead house!

  36. Margo says:

    A big saving can be made by making your own soap, (room temperature method is easiest ) it only takes Olive oil, coconut oil, water and lye ( you can add fragrance if you want). This basic soap is white and is good for sensitive skin or excema.I use it for hair washing, so no longer buy shampoo.
    Laundry powder can be made by finely grating the soap and adding washing soda and borax, if you want fragrance you could add some Eucalyptus oil, Tea tree oil or Lavender oil. I have been using it in my front loader for 8 years.
    A blog called “Down to Earth ” has all the recipes and instructions.
    I

  37. Elaina Barbaree says:

    I would love your Chana Masala recipe too!! I love that stuff!!!

  38. Lindsey says:

    You will love honeyberry bushes! They over winter just fine even in interior Alaska, where at our house the temps go to more than 40 below zero…and still they come back. We also have raspberry bushes. Bought one and in the last five years it has sent out so many shoots that I cannot keep up with the quantities of berries we get.

  39. Erin Kirkendoll says:

    I may be the only one but I would love to see a post about the ‘thrilling’ 🙂 category of household items. Do you order online, buy in bulk, get it at grocery store, dollar store? Do you use coupons or coupon apps?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, I feel like it’s boring, but I suppose it’s stuff we all need :). We have a BJ’s membership (it’s a warehouse store similar to Costco) and they mail out a coupon book that we use. When the BJ’s store brand items have a coupon, we buy them. Other things come from Wal-Mart and still others from Amazon. We try to price compare between the three stores and then work out a pretty good rotation of where items are cheapest.

  40. Jean says:

    I, too, would love to see a few of your favorite recipes. Also I would love to see updates on some of your couples that you have helped by giving them advice. Always enjoy reading your posts. Thank you

  41. Kari says:

    Another way to deal with dried beans without a pressure cooker is to soak some batches and pre-cook them, then freeze them for future use. (Times you would have had to use canned). Best picture was Mr FW reading to his girls. Best thing about your lifestyle, you get to spend time with them. And not having to Stress about money the whole time.

  42. Susan V. says:

    Score on the FAGOR pressure cooker. I have had the 6 quart for over 19 years and it still works well (though it could use a new rubber gasket that seals the lid–I oil it and it seems to work okay still). I am so happy that the whole family is enjoying all the delights it is providing! I have to admit that I bought an Instant Pot when it dropped down to 60 dollars on amazon a couple of years ago as you also can sauté in it and I make a lot of veggie stews so it works well and requires fewer pans. But I love my Fagor too. The girls are so cute and I love the expression on Littlewoods face during story time–I think she was saying “Don’t take my picture now, Dad is reading the really exciting part and I need to concentrate!” Blessings to you all. Susan

  43. Marie-Josée says:

    Your daughters are lovely! Estelle has grown so much! And what beautiful artwork. Enjoy your summer on the homestead!

  44. MW says:

    Any chance you’d be willing to share your Moroccan Red Lentil Stew recipe? I make a Lebanese Chickpea Stew
    from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” . But I’d like a new one to try.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sure! My friend cooked it for us after Littlewoods was born and we loved it so much that Mr. FW recreated it. Both chefs took some liberties with the recipe, but this is the recipe it’s based off of. Hope you enjoy it :)!

  45. Fun easel! And it looks like Babywoods is sticking to painting on it so that’s great 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      It’s touch and go with whether we’re strictly on the paper or not, but thankfully the paint is super washable ;)!

  46. Colleen says:

    Wow we just bought 6 Blueberry bushes (ON SALE!) and I thought that was a lot…you will have tons of berries. I hope you bought some netting to keep the birds/deer away. I had 3 deer walking through the backyard yesterday and I moved them along so they would not get a chance to see of all the wonderful food growing in the garden! Love the Mother’s day photo of your girls!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Mr. FW built a pretty large fence around all of the berry bushes, so hopefully that’ll deter critters :)!

  47. Omg your 2 girls in the matching black and white dress – I had to double back! They look like porcelain dolls you see in the window of old toy stores!! SO CUTE!!

  48. Jen says:

    In our household, art supplies for the kiddos is a necessity, not a want. So I always am on the look out for sales, coupons, etc. Also, recycling items are great items to paint and glue as well. One of their favorite things to ‘make art on’ is cardboard boxes. Love Babywood’s creations!

  49. Kate says:

    I love beans and wish I could get the rest of my family to embrace them. Since I’m the only bean-eater in my house, I’ve stuck with making dried beans every so often in a slow cooker for a day, and then freezing bags of cooked beans for future recipes.

    PCs haven’t appealed to me yet, though I do have a rice cooker I love! So far, we do pretty well with the slow cooker, rice cooker, and just regular cooking. With a PC it appears you still have to cook some items ahead of time, so that turned me off. A slow cooker is just tossing it and going. Great find though, I can always count on you finding the most amazing deals on used goods.

  50. Pamela says:

    Are the cherries bushes or trees? I assumed you could only get cherries as trees, but if they are bushes I’m sooo excited to get some. I have the perfect place for something cherry bushes. 🙂

  51. I’m with Jim, I’m here for the flame weeder stories 😉 And the blueberries.

    We were just standing in our backyard wondering if fire was an option but we also want to get rid of the roots. Will tune in again when you get around to sharing those stories.

    It’s reassuring to hear that blueberries like acidic soil, though, it seems that’s what we have here.

  52. Soggy Suzzi says:

    A thought about wood chips. I have a friend who lives on a country road and she has put out a big sign next to the road stating WOOD CHIPS WANTED. It works for her. I live in an area where the trucks don’t pass, so I have a two page collection of names of companies and even the telephone numbers of the truck crews, supervisors, etc. To find out who has the County Contract for street tree trimming each year, call the County and ask for the PROCUREMENT Department. Ask who has the contract, and get their telephone number. They will give you the office number, so call them and ask for the local supervisor’s number, call him and whine and beg. If you ask for the County Tree or Street Department you will be told that you have to get on a list. Thank them kindly and get put on the list. I will guarantee that you won’t get any that way. You have to sneak around through the back door to get what you want. Also you just phone all the local mostly residential tree companies and stop when you see any trucks working on trees on the road. Works for me. With the advent of the “Back to Eden” gardening movement, getting wood chips is a real pain.

    I also understand there are some green poles you can buy and put out on your property line that alerts the snowplow where not to plow. It may save you another “mail box” issue. I don’t have that much snow, so I have no direct experience with these poles.

  53. Michaela says:

    You’ve inspired me to explore the world of beans now! I made a beautiful red lentil soup last week which was cheap and incredibly delicious, so beans are the next frontier. Great work on your pressure cooker find, that’s a bargain! I love when the right things fall into your hands your like that. I feel very similarly about my slow cooker, it is the ultimate in frugal, healthy, convenient cooking. In fact, this post has really inspired me to see if I can minimise our food costs 🙂 This as an area I know we could improve on, so here goes nothing! 😀

  54. Wow, that is some good itemizing right there! It apparently pays off too because just browsing it I would not have estimated the total at over 4k. Still not that many total line items for a family of 4+.

  55. p.s. yummy recipe for lentils for your pressure cooker… majadara… can use crockpot to caramelize onions too!

  56. Dotti says:

    Baby woods is getting so cute and grown up!,

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