Home Sweet Frugal Home #4

Are your dollars not stretching as far as they used to? Everyone has different reasons for wanting or needing to cut back.  Maybe you think you do everything you can but could use some new frugal living tips?  I thought I’d start sharing some frugal things that we do as a way to not only encourage myself to stay on tract, but maybe give someone with similar goals some ideas.

Frugal living tips - fresh garden vegetables

– We’re still harvesting some summer vegetables! I put my eggplant and bell peppers under row covers since our nights and mornings are cold and they are still going like it’s July!  We’ll see how long I can keep them going. The cherry tomatoes are still doing well. I took out all but one regular tomato plant. It still is producing (although smaller and smaller tomatoes).  The kale plants from last fall are still giving me enough kale for morning smoothies or to put into soup (and the new ones are growing well).

If you didn’t plant a garden this summer, now is the time to start thinking and planning for next summer!

-The best thing I’ve done in the past few weeks concerns a prescription medicine for myself.  All summer I’ve been battling some sort of chemical imbalance that threw my blood pressure for a loop. My doctor tried so many different types of BP meds and combination of meds and nothing  really worked or worked but I had horrible side effects. Then I went to a Nephrologist (specializes in BP) and he gave me samples of a med which I’ve been on for the last month and it’s working. I feel like my old self now :)

So we decided that this was the medication I would take for the time being. Well I went to fill the prescription— $106 for 30 pills!!  It’s a “new” medication (really it’s a few years old but I guess to  insurance companies that’s new).  I had two more weeks of samples and I had to decide what to do. Pay that crazy amount every month and feel good or call and say it wasn’t covered on my insurance and go through trying different meds again (which was not fun).

I decided to do some research and looked the medicine up (I was trying to see what would be similar) and to make a long story short – the website for the med offered some sort of prescription assistance plan. Not based on income or anything like that. You just had to sign up with your personal info and then it gave me a card to print out to take to the pharmacy to get a discount. I didn’t know if it would work. But I took it to Target and asked how much it would be with this program and they said $37!! Every month – not just once!

Now $37 a month is more than I would prefer to spend but it’s a lot better than $106 a month!  So my advice before you say no to an expensive prescription – check around not only at different pharmacies for the price, but look online and see if you can find any discount programs.  Apparently they’re out there!

home made french bread

-My daughter made french bread for the first time and it was delicious! This is the recipe she used. Crusty French Bread  from Salad In  Jar.

-We haven’t purchased any bread, tortillas, or store bought baked items in months!

apple cinnamon muffins

-I had a couple of apples that were getting old and had a few bad spots.  I chopped them up and made them into apple muffins using this apple cinnamon loaf recipe.

1½ cups flour (I use 1c. all purpose 1/2c. whole wheat)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup applesauce
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 1½ to 2 apples)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan.

1. Mix the topping ingredients together and set aside.

2. Mix  the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and cloves together & set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs & then add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and mix that together & then add the sugar. Gradually add the flour mixture.

2. Fold in the apple chunks

3.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle with the topping mix.

Bake for 50 min or until until a toothpick inserted in center of the loaf comes out clean.  (obviously if you make muffins it takes less time – which is why I made muffins) :)

Yummy, healthy and no food waste!


Home Sweet Frugal Home #4
Yummy Apple Cinnamon Muffins. This recipe makes a loaf or you can make muffins.
Recipe type: Muffins
  • 1½ cups flour (I use 1c. all purpose ½c. whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 1½ to 2 apples)
  • Topping
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Topping
  2. tablespoons brown sugar
  3. tablespoon granulated sugar
  4. teaspoon cinnamon
  5. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  6. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan.
  7. Mix the topping ingredients together and set aside.
  8. Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and cloves together & set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs & then add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and mix that together & then add the sugar. Gradually add the flour mixture.
  9. Fold in the apple chunks
  10. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle with the topping mix.
  11. Bake for 50 min or until until a toothpick inserted in center of the loaf comes out clean. (obviously if you make muffins it takes less time - which is why I made muffins) :)

urban farm magazine

I got a subscription to Urban Farm for $4.50 (actually a renewal) through  Money Saving Mom here. I don’t know if it’s still good – it’s through DiscountMags.  But that’s a great price since one issue costs $5.99.

She’s had quite a few magazine deals lately and I’m sure will continue to have more. These make great stocking stuffers. I usually print off a “certificate” to put in the stocking and sometimes I’ll buy an issue if I know it won’t get here in time and attach the certificate to it.

A huge thank you to everyone that used my referral link to sign up for Swagbucks!  If you have questions just email me.  Money Saving Mom is doing a series on 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas and here’s her post about  Swagbucks.

Crinkle Cutter

Free From Amazon Using Swagbucks!

I used it to buy the crinkle cutter above. It’s a great way to be able to buy books and pay nothing since you can cash out for Amazon Gift Cards or buy on ebay or etsy since you can cash out for paypal too (as well as numerous other gift cards). My husband does it too and we use his Amazon GC $ to download movies through Amazon Instant Video. Netflix is great but they are slow to send new releases!

flowers in a ball jar

-I clipped some flowers from around my yard for a few arrangements this week. Pretty and free!

-I gave my fake fireplace a new look using materials I already had on hand, which you can see here

My Costco Shopping Trip

Last time I mentioned that I had gotten a free membership to Costco through our American Express Rewards.  We went and signed up last weekend.

Can you believe they don’t sell yeast!! We tried two different Costco’s in the Atlanta area (Cumberland & Perimeter) and neither carries yeast. I asked. That’s one of the reasons I was excited to shop there was to get a big block of yeast!  They did have big bags of bread flour at least.

Overall we were very happy with the prices and quite amazed at all the organic food offerings they had.  But you still have to know your prices. Some things are cheaper on sale at the grocery store or my local Asian market.

 cherry tomatoes

I hope you’ve found some useful ideas here whether you’re trying to pay off bills, or put a child through college (like us), save for a special event, or maybe you just need to cut back to keep pace with inflation (like us).

Well those are just some of the highlights of my recent frugal activities. Be sure to read the comments section of this and previous posts  for more frugal tips:




I love reading all the frugal things everyone does each week so please leave a comment and let me know what you’ve been up to!


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  1. says

    Hi Manuela. I’ve been enjoying all of your frugal tips. We are also paying for two college tuitions now so everything adds up. Your garden photos are always inspiring. I hope to have mine established and thriving by next spring. We also bake all of our breads too. Definitely going to try the French Bread recipe. Take care and enjoy all the bounty from your winter garden!

  2. says

    Another way to save on prescription drugs is to look at the generic name ingredients. For example, Benazapril/HCTZ is “expensive” on most insurance plans; BUT if you get your doctor to write the script for Benazapril and HCTZ separately, those are usually on a lot of chain pharmacy (Bi-Lo, Target, Walmart, etc.) $4 lists so you might pay $8 per month vs. $30 per month. When I visit my doctor for a change in medication, I usually carry a printout of the local chains $4 lists. Just don’t sign up for the ones that charge a yearly fee unless you take a LOT of meds.
    Thanks for your great tips! :)

  3. Vee says

    The only frugal thing I’ve done lately, besides not going anywhere or doing anything, is to cancel magazine subscriptions. All of them, including my beloved CLiving. It’s not worth the money simply put and I can find enough online to keep me entertained. More than enough. I’m so glad that you found out about that program…that’s a big savings.

    • Manuela says


      Amazon usually has Country Living on for sale for about $5 during the holiday season. That’s how I usually renew mine.

  4. says

    Can I just say, WOW! I am an in jealous awe of your harvest – even the local farm doesn’t have too much left. AWESOME idea on the prescription – I am so glad you can feel better AND save money. Thank goodness! And what did we ever do before the good old internet? I’m thankful it gives me access to people like you and your beautiful, creative, and now frugal blog. Have a wonderful day!

  5. says

    I always enjoy reading your helpful hints. My telephone and cable/internet bills all went up this month, so I will be sitting down to see where cuts on the services can be made.
    I also am having to deal with med adjustments right now – not fun. :(

  6. says

    Great post, Manuela! I signed up for a $4.50 subscription to Urban Farm — although the link said the offer expired 10/13, the discount magazine link still took the coupon code, so I am very happy — I always read that magazine on my weekly night out at the bookstore, but like the poster above I haven’t been renewing subscriptions or getting new ones.

    Our Costco carries yeast — you might check the online website. Perhaps you can order it from Costco there. Or talk to the manager! Here, a lot of small restaurants buy their yeast through Costco. You do have to watch prices at Costco — many things I can get as cheap at Aldi’s (and don’t have to deal with storing large quantities, now that we only have 3 people instead of 6 at home). My “must buys” for groceries at Costco are Feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, sea salt, soy sauce, yeast, brown basmati rice, almond milk, toilet paper, bacon, avocados, and the bags of little multi-colored peppers in the winter. And of course they have tons of enticing non-grocery “never knew you wanted until you saw them” items — so Costco shopping takes a great deal of discipline!

    Great tip on the med. I’m glad you found an affordable solution. This summer I also started taking bp meds — benazipril, which I get as a 90 day supply for only $10 at Kroger (which is their price for everyone, insurance or not — it’s way cheaper than our co-pay).

    Your garden looks great. 85 degrees here today, but down to the low 40’s on Sat and highs only in the 50’s! I had pulled out most of my mangy pole beans that never produced anything all summer and now the few that are left are actually producing!

    • Manuela says

      Yay! I thought it would still work since you just have to put in her code! Amazon also has $5 yearly subscription deals closer to Christmas. That’s how I usually renew my Country Living subscription.

      We checked online for the yeast and they don’t have it. I’m hoping they may get some in as a special Christmas item. Amazon has a few yeast deals so I may do one of those. Our Costco doesn’t carry almond milk – only soy (we use almond milk). Yes, so many enticing “never knew” items. We spent a fun two ours looking at everything! It was quite entertaining. Plus it was a Saturday so they had tons of samples!

      I used to take lisinopril and that was $4 at Target but it stopped working even after uping the dosage.

  7. says

    We just had my daughter’s wedding last weekend, so I’m not feeling too frugal right now. I just want to say thanks for the tip on the meds. I take Celebrex, and was able to find they have a discount program that will save me about $90/year. We already get it a bit cheaper since we have to use a by-mail prescription service, but it’s always great to save a little more!

  8. says

    I always enjoy your frugal tips. I make some of my own bread, too. Good deal for you on your blood pressure med, but I’m assuming you don’t have health insurance that will cover this cost? I’m on Lisinopril, but my husband’s insurance covers most of the cost. As for magazine subscriptions, I cut back on the magazines I read/subscribe to, and like you, I get most of my other subscriptions through amazon for $5.

    PS – Sorry for the mix-up about your fireplace…I thought it was a real one! 😉

    • Manuela says

      Yes, we have health insurance. This medication is not covered however since it’s fairly new. I was on lisinopril for years but it stopped working for me even after the dosage was upped.

      LOL! That’s o.k. I love that you think it looks real since it’s fake!

  9. says

    You are such an inspiration to be more frugal! We are the world’s worst at letting produce go bad, so I have been working to either use it up or if it can be, freeze it. I love to use my bread machine for making bread and then making my own croutons as well.

    Thanks for sharing more of your ideas!

    • Manuela says

      Thank you! I’ve really been working on the produce thing too. There’s something wrong with my fridge and for the last month or so the crisper humidity is wonky. All my lettuce etc always has so much condensation in it. I can’t find a setting where it will work all of a sudden. I’m hoping it’s not a sign of things to come since it’s only about 1 -2 years old.

      But the produce that looks like it’ll go bad before we can eat it we stick in our morning smoothies or compost it. This is when I wish I had chickens or pigs to give stuff to!

  10. says

    I have lived on the smell of an oily rag for many years but one thing I miss is the gossip mags but they are not cheap and usually tell the same stories so once a week I have a coffee at the little coffee shop next to my supermarket (they have really good coffee) and they have all the latest mags so I can catch up on the news.

    • Manuela says

      That sounds like fun! We go to Barnes & Nobles about once a month to have coffee and I look at all the wonderful British and French mags that are totally out of my price range!

  11. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE these posts Manuel…so inspiring! I too just ordered the Urban Gardening magazine using the MONEYSAVING coupon code and got the $4.50 price! Thank you so much for the link! Also…if you have Smart and Final where you live, they do sell yeast in bulk (or they used to…we don’t make yeast breads much any more now that we’re trying to clean up our diet). I’ve been making a flax/almond meal bread for a few years now but they are nothing like regular yeast breads and do take some getting used to. I will probably do a post on it in a few weeks (I make a batch and put it in the freezer for convenience). Also…I am chomping at the bit to look through the link you included about making money online! As for my frugal accomplishments…I made flax bread for the freezer (as mentioned); Rosie and I are not going out for our Starbucks every week as we usually do but are enjoying our homemade mistos using the $3 (battery operated) frother she bought me from Ikea. Mike and I missed the farm stand last week (it’s closed on Sundays) when visiting my Dad so I had to make do with very little fresh foods (I just cannot bring myself to buy from the stores when I can find it at the stands for a fraction of the cost…almost as good as growing it ourselves!). Sooo…I based my menu’s and Mike’s lunches on what we had on hand and in the freezer…it made some unusual salad and juicing combinations! I do want to add Kale to my little garden this year because we juice almost every day and our staples are oranges, lemons, cabbage and cucumber and apples now that they’re in season…we need more greens! Okay, this is becoming verry long…so sorry to ramble!
    Thanks again for the great tips and links!

    • Manuela says

      LOL! I have that little IkEA frother too!

      Yes, you have to do some kale – it’s so healthy! We have so many veggies in our morning smoothies but I don’t think we’ll be able to have them in the winter. We’ve had some really cold mornings already and it’s just hard to drink something so cold.Brrr!! So we’re thinking maybe for lunch instead. The one I made this morning had kale, cucumber, bok choy, ginger (always ginger), 1 clove of garlic, a bit of parsnip, apple, coconut oil, flaxseed, pom juice, almond milk and frozen mixed berries. We’d never be able to eat all that without making it into a smoothie!

  12. says

    What a helpful post, Manuela! You have shared a wealth of new ideas and I so appreciate it! These are times that “thrifty” is a must. I don’t know ANYONE personally who is prospering. We all seem to be tightening our belts. To think of all the money my husband and I have wasted eating out in the past. Four years ago, when the housing bubble hit bottom we hung on for dear life to our current home. Each month we would pray and plan just how to make that mortgage. Gratefully, we still have our home…Oh, my goodness! We have changed our ways. No more eating out (and we don’t even miss it) and no new clothes (unless they are thrifted).

    We shop at Costco and Grocery Outlet for most of our groceries. As long as I can afford it I will try to eat organic…and, if that has to change…that’s ok, too.

    God has been teaching me the difference between my “needs” and my “greeds”.

    Thank you, my thoughtful friend, for your encouragement.

    • Manuela says

      You would not believe how many new Hummers I see driving around here and people are flipping houses in my neighborhood again so I think some people are doing very well! We are all at different stages and things vary by geographic area.

      I know we have changed so many behaviors. Some stemming from a desire to eat better, some from a desire to just simplify and some forced on us by my daughters crazy college tuition! I try not to think of all the money we wasted on eating out and other things that don’t matter to us a bit now. I would do so many things differently if I had a “do over”! But at least I’ve learned from my mistakes.

      We’re the same as you we eat organic when we can afford it. That’s why I grow such a huge garden – it’s the only way to get more organics for us at a reasonable price!

      I’m so happy you made it through that rough time and still have your home!

  13. says

    I got a subscription to Organic Gardening for $5.00 the same way. I’ve noticed so many of the magazines are giving deals. Last year when my husband resubscribed to Victoria for my Christmas gift, he was given a deal to add two dollars for an additional subscription so we gave one to our daughter. He also took advantage of an offer for Martha Stewart AND her cooking magazine both for only $10.00.

    I would subscribe to Victoria, anyway (it is part of my Christmas from him each year), but the others only because of the deals.

    I finally got on a state insurance plan for low income families (I have to pay almost $100 a year but it covers everything, including prescriptions). Before that I qualified for free insulin and meds through a special program but even people who are not on Social Security like us should look into the $4.00 prescriptions if their pharmacy handles them.

    They are only for the generic brand of the common drugs like my Synthroid. Isn’t it amazing how just a little bit of research saved you that much?

    I was telling a friend that I know I’m beginning to get too frugal because I felt bad paying full price at Goodwill and not waiting to see if a blouse went half price, hehehe. 😉

  14. says

    my biggest saver lately is just staying home- I do things at home with no shopping.
    I listened to a phone marketer from our cable bundler, she wanted me to buy cable TV and I did not, but she did lower our landline and internet bundle by $10+ monthly.

    I love the tip you gave about Swagbucks TV app for the Kindle Fire. I have made the daily goal ever since you mentioned it.

    Needed orange craft paint but did not have any, so mixed some red and yellow paints I did have and got a very nice shade of orange.

    Made some snacks with ingredients from the pantry.
    I am also doing some freezer cooking to prepare for my husband’s upcoming surgery and recovery.

    Husband replaced my back brakes- parts were about $80 with his discounts- this repair would of cost hundreds at a dealership.

    I hope you can find some bulk yeast. I get ours at Sams, we don’t have Costco in Oklahoma. I get wheat gluten from Amazon, I expected they would have yeast but you never know.

    • Manuela says

      Glad that Swagbucks TV tip helps! I find it goes wonky every now and then. So I just delete the app and then re-install it. I don’t know why it goes weird sometimes but that and re-booting the kindle usually does the trick.

      Yep, staying home is a big big money saver!!

  15. says

    A great post Manuela, I can’t wait to hit all the links and check it all out. Our Costco carries yeast, i would agree that a request to the manager might result in yours carrying it too!

  16. Pat says

    Hi, I was very interested in what you wrote about your prescription. I had Stage 1 breast cancer and had to go on the 5-year cancer medication. I went to CVS to pick it up and the lady said $458.00. I told her that must be a mistake. It wasn’t and that was for a 30-day supply. I went home and called the manufacture of femera to see if they had a patient asistant program. They said they could not since femera went generic but they gave me a name/number of a company in Mo. named RX Outreach. I fingured since the company had referred me to them, it would be ligit. Guess what, I have been on the generic femera for 8 months now and get my prescription from RX Outreach for 10 bucks/mo. I went home with tears in my eyes because there was no way I could pay 458.00. I would recommend this company to anyone. If you go to their web page, they have a list of medicine they have to offer. Hope this helps someone. Pat/Central Texas

    • Manuela says

      Pat thank you so much for the info about RX Outreach! I looked it up and it’s a prescription assistance program that will, I’m sure, help many people.

  17. Debbie says

    Great ideas, especially the one about checking online for help with Rx programs. My husband’s new insurance doesn’t kick in until next month, and we’ve been on a transitional one without Rx coverage. Oy!

    • Manuela says

      Definitely go to RX website and see if they have any discount programs. Did you ask the prescribing MD for samples? Also as Pat mentioned in her comment, RX Outreach is a prescription assistance program – so maybe try them.

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