Categories
Food Frugality

Five Frugal Things – Volume 4

I’ll be continuing my 40% savings rate

I know it’s against YNAB rules to budget money you don’t have, but I couldn’t wait for payday.

I did not think I could make a 40% savings rate work. YNAB keeps me in check, but I’m a spender at heart. A frugal wannabe.

However, despite a little grocery overage last month, it was pretty easy to live on 60% of my after-tax pay.

I chalk it up to a lot of staying at home and having extremely cheap means of entertainment.

Started making gifts and cards

My boyfriend and I are staunch believers in not commercializing the holidays. Every year, we refuse to buy into the hysteria around gift-giving. Instead of attributing our gift-giving to Christmas, we dub the whole affair Holiday Appreciation Month.

This year, since we’re not going to be seeing anyone for the holidays, I’ve started a campaign of making small goodies for close friends and family.

Hand painted watercolor greeting cards, polymer clay magnets and sculptures.

Snagged a 3DS game on sale

I’ve been eyeballing the game Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy (affiliate link) since I got my 3DS this summer. I’m an avid fan of anything having to do with courtroom shenanigans, crime solving, etc.

Ever since I’ve started looking, it’s been in the $30 range. Way overpriced, in my mind.

The temptation has been growing strong lately, since I haven’t been in the mood for my other games. So it was to my great surprise that it went on sale in the Nintendo eShop yesterday for $11.99. 😮

I snagged it immediately and have already finished the first courtroom episode.

Added a few new recipes to our repertoire 🍲

We’ve been having a hankering for sandwiches lately.

My boyfriend placed an Instacart/Costco order over the weekend to load up on dog food. In a momentary lapse of judgement (?) we added an 18-pack bag of sandwich rolls to the order

Recipe #1: Vegan Philly Cheesesteak

This recipe knocked our socks off. We subbed a slice of Chao per sandwich for the cheddar cheese. No butter was used. We also didn’t have a green bell pepper, so we subbed an old anaheim pepper.

It has been added to the recipe hall of fame, so it will probably get a biweekly spot in our rotation.

Recipe #2: Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

Yesterday was officially my first time ever making steel cut oats. I found a bag of them in the cupboard; my mom happened to buy them during her last visit.

I decided to give this recipe a shot. It was perfect to throw in the Instant Pot right before my Monday morning work meeting, and my boyfriend reheated some when he woke up a few hours later.

I have leftovers in the freezer that I plan to defrost this upcoming week! 🤤

Didn’t buy into the Black Friday/Cyber Monday thing

Other than a new domain name for a business my boyfriend and I have been dreaming of starting, not a single purchase was made.

There’s nothing I want or need to spend my hard-earned money on; I’ve got more than enough as it is.

Categories
Food Frugality

Vegan Costco Haul – November 2020

A friendly disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links to products. When you click through these links, I may receive — at zero cost to you — a small commission from the purchases you make. These purchases help support this site and allow me to continue writing helpful articles.

Yay, it’s that time of the month for a frugal vegan Costco haul! 🥳

Some people like shopping for clothes. Some people like shopping for cars.

I am one of the strange ones who gets immense enjoyment from grocery shopping. Because we have a Costco membership, we’re able to do our Costco shopping online and get it delivered via Instacart. We pay a bit of a markup on the items, but it’s been worth it for me as I have a lot of anxiety around resuming a “normal routine” in the thick of the pandemic.

After running out of coffee, vegetable bouillon, and oat milk in the same week, I decided we couldn’t put it off any longer.

I also want to add: this list does not include all the things we have ever bought or ever will buy from Costco.

We buy a lot of awesome, vegan, cost-effective products from Costco. This is just what we needed to stock up on right now. So — get ready for it — here’s our gigantic shopping list from this month:

Produce

Grapefruit (8 lbs) – $11.19

Costco’s grapefruit is usually out-of-this-world delicious. Having these on hand keeps me from consuming mass quantities of vegan chocolate chips when I have a sudden sweet craving. I also like having them on hand to make Rip’s Big Bowl — my favorite breakfast in the entire world.

A bowl of Rip's Big Bowl, including kiwi, grapefruit, shredded wheat cereal, oats, Grape Nuts, and wild blueberries.

Organic Bananas (3 lbs) – $2.29

Now that it’s getting super cold, I’ve been making more oatmeal in the morning. There’s just something about oatmeal with a whole banana mashed and boiled up that is just oh so good.

A bowl of oat meal with blueberries, flax seed, and banana.
A go-to usage for bananas in this house: oatmeal.

Organic Crimini Mushrooms (24 oz) – $6.19

We like having these handy for spaghetti and pizza nights. Lately, though, we’ve been making this vegan mushroom stroganoff weekly. This container of mushrooms is enough for 2 stroganoff nights.

Organic Snacking Apples Gala (3 lbs) – $5.09

At $1.69/lb, these apples are a steal. I’ll be snacking on these and sharing these with our apple-obsessed doggies.

Kirkland Signature Organic Broccoli Florets (4 x 1 lb) – $8.99

There are more cost-effective vegetable options, like the Organic Normandy Vegetable mix. However, we tend to enjoy eating straight broccoli. I also like that it comes in convenient 1 lb bags. 

A bowl of jasmine rice topped with baked broccoli, orange tofu, and sriracha.
Not our staple tofu broccoli dish, but this orange tofu dish was a winner. 🙌

Household

I’m sure we’re not alone in our excessive soap usage due to COVID. We just cracked open a fresh 90 oz bottle of dish soap last week, but I wanted to grab the next one just in case. This is what we bought:

  • Dial Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap, 4 x 7.5 oz – $7.29
  • Dawn Advanced Power Dishwashing Liquid (90 oz) – $11.19

Everything Else

Adams 100% Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter (80 oz) – $11.19

We go through a lot of nut butters. My boyfriend’s breakfast is usually a slice of toast in the morning. A few other uses include:

  • A dynamite peanut sauce for our weekly tofu and broccoli dish
  • Peanut butter and banana milkshakes
  • A delightful addition to random soups and curries

Kirkland Signature Organic Diced Tomatoes, 8 x 14.5 oz – $6.69

These are essential in our household. We never let our count of diced tomato cans get to zero. With this ingredient and a handful of random veggies from the fridge, I know I can at least whip up a bomb vegetable soup. If there’s nothing else in the pantry, at least there’s that. 

Kirkland Signature Organic Tomato Sauce, 12 x 15 oz – $8.99

The sidekick to our superhero diced tomatoes. Tomato sauce is great to have on hand because it’s so damn versatile. We usually substitute these for crushed tomatoes in recipes; I can’t tell the difference. 

Aside from the usual stuff (spaghetti, pizza, etc.) you can also whip up a great homemade enchilada sauce from this stuff! This is one of my favorite quick enchilada sauce recipes from Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore fame.

A deep dish vegan pizza swimming in homemade cashew cheese
A common use case for canned tomato sauce: homemade pizza! This one is topped with homemade cashew cheese, Beyond Burger, bell pepper, and pineapple.

Libby’s Canned Pumpkin, 3 x 29 oz – $7.49

This is a very out-of-the-ordinary purchase. We’re not much for seasonal fare, so pumpkin pie was the furthest thing from my mind when I added this to the cart.

I do have a few ideas though:

  • Pumpkin chili
  • Pumpkin curry
  • An addition to the homemade dog food we make occasionally
A close-up of some vegan dog food I made in the Instant Pot. Feturing brown rice, flax seed, chia seed, sweet potato, and greens.
A batch of homemade dog food I made in the Instant Pot. This one was great for using up some old greens and aging sweet potatoes.

Kirkland Signature Whole Almonds, 3 lb – $12.29

When I signed up for Cronometer a few months ago and started tracking, I realized I was perpetually low on Vitamin E consumption. Ridiculously low – like an average 5-10% RDA over the course of a month. 😱

I’ve since course corrected and am trying to get in the habit of eating around 20-30 of these bad boys daily.

Kirkland Signature 100% Colombian Coffee, 48 oz – $11.19

I can survive on matcha, but I’m overly reliant on coffee. This is the best bang for your buck at Costco.

Oat Organic Non-Dairy Beverage, 6 X 32 oz – $11.19

I’ll be honest — I hated this oat milk when I first tried it. It tasted almost too milky for me. I’ve since gotten used to it. It’s very creamy and perfect in coffee. My boyfriend also uses it in his signature pizza dough.

Garden Fresh Organic Jack’s Cantina Salsa (48 oz) – $7.29

This is more like a pico than a salsa. We love this stuff and it’s a definite splurge. The Pace salsa and Kirkland Organic Salsa 2-packs are far more cost effective. But we get way more enjoyment out of this stuff.

Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base, (16 oz) – $6.69

We use vegetable bouillon (as opposed to broth) in pretty much every recipe, so I like to always have this on hand. I’ve been out for weeks and have been using way too much nutritional yeast in DIY bouillon mixes, so this was an emergency buy.

Kirkland Signature Organic Raw Kombucha, 8 x 16 fl oz – $14.49

Kombucha has been one of those things I want to learn to make at home. This year I feel like I have no additional bandwidth to learn this esteemed craft or care for a SCOBY. So for now, it remains a bucket list item. For now, at around $1.81 per bottle, this is the best deal on kombucha I can find.

Dave’s Killer Bread Organic 21 Whole Grain (2 x 27 oz loaves) – $8.99

Before we started buying our groceries online, I think these loaves used to cost upwards of $5 each at the local Winco. Getting the 2-pack at Costco saves us a chunk of change.

House Foods Organic Firm Tofu, 4 x 16 oz – $6.39

I have yet to find a better deal on tofu than at Costco. At $1.59 per package, it’s a steal.

The Grand Total

The final total (pre-delivery tip) for all these groceries was $165.11.

Not bad — in my opinion — for getting stocked up on most of our essentials. And I can rest easy knowing that we have all the ingredients handy for our staple meals.

What does your Costco list look like?

Categories
FIRE Frugality Retirement

November 2020 Update & 5 Frugal Things

A friendly disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon products. When you click through to Amazon, I may receive — at zero cost to you — a small commission from the purchases you make. These purchases help support this site and allow me to continue writing helpful articles.

Financial Update

This last couple months is exciting in terms of FIRE goals. I’ve finally passed 50k net worth and could scream with excitement. About 28k of that is in savings accounts; I have about 18k squirreled away for a house down payment and a 10k emergency fund.

For the first time ever I’ve started throwing money into a taxable brokerage account. I’ve maxed out my Roth IRA for the year, and with no other retirement vehicles like a 401(k) or an HSA, I decided to finally put my Vanguard account to use. (My Roth IRA account has been at Fidelity.)

Here are some FIRE stats for this month:

After-tax pay$4287.16
Roth IRA contribution$1018.52
Vanguard brokerage$696.35
Total FIRE investing$1714.87
Savings rate40%

I’m not usually able to pull off a savings rate this high; I think it’s due to lifestyle inflation. Things haven’t felt tight this month, so I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to sustain this level of FIRE investing going forward.

5 Frugal Things

  1. I cut my boyfriend’s hair after several weeks of him asking me to do it. Every time one of us remembers, it’s usually past the point of my being functional/willing for the day. I finally pulled out my hair scissors and gave his bangs and lengths a trim. He hasn’t had to get a professional hair cut in a couple years now that I’m cutting his. I’m not the best stylist, but it’s not too difficult to give him the shag-style cut he likes.
  2. I didn’t impulse buy a book about something I’ve been impulse-wanting. We’ve been on the fence about a baby for years.
    Do we want one? Would we be good parents? Are we too selfish with our time? Should we adopt later on? Should we try to enjoy our time together and not bring another life into the mix?
    I fell into a baby mania the last week. After browsing some subreddits about parenthood, I decided we needed to read The Baby Decision immediately. However, it wasn’t available as an Overdrive e-book at the library and I couldn’t find it for under $10 on Amazon.
    I’m feeling less hungry for parenthood this week; I’m reading some of the other 5 books recommended for fence-sitters instead. Money saved, crisis averted.
  3. I was able to rescue a good deal of food from rotting this week.
    In addition, I DIYed a veggie broth base as I haven’t placed a Costco order yet this month and the other grocery stores we’ve tried have been out of stock. EatPlant-Based.com has a great vegetable bouillon recipe that I’ve used a handful of times with great success.
    Here are the ways I put some nearly-forgotten foods to use:
    • A shriveled, squishy banana: I was able to salvage half of this and mash it into my morning oatmeal.
    • Old cooked rice and an almost-expired avocado: These were delicious mixed with homemade pinto beans and my ever-reliable Frank’s RedHot.
  4. I uncovered a nearly full tube of lip gloss. It was hiding under a pile of papers in my backpack-purse. At this point, I won’t need to buy any lip products until sometime next year.  
  5. This week I decided I couldn’t stand my Wacom tablet stylus perpetually falling off my work desk. Instead of keeping it propped up in an old jar or buying a fancy pen holder for it, I decided to make one out of polymer clay. My pen holder buddy is still in progress, but I’ll be sure to debut him in a future post.

What frugal things did you do this week?