One of the new mutual benefits I see currently in the world of frugality is that I no longer stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone now is trying to be more frugal so no one objects nor gives me a dirty look when I parlay one of my frugal moves.

I recently found out that the county next door to my county lowered their tax rate on a gallon of gas. Instead of charging 4% per gallon, they are now only charging 8 cents a gallon in taxes. So,, currently I can get a gallon of gas at $3.93 vs the $4.29 I pay in my own county. Based on a 20 gallon fill up, that’s a savings of $7.20, which to me, a lifelong frugalista, is a lot of money. Worth the extra five minutes it takes me to drive over to the next county.

I also have been finding myself saying “NO!” a lot in the grocery store. No to steaks, no to salad dressing (I can make my own) no to coffee creamers (plain milk works just fine) no to snacks and candy, no to specialty breads (sliced whole grain white bread is only .85 a loaf vs $3.99 for that sourdough loaf) no to specialty items (too numerous to remember) no to butter (I occasionally use margarine instead)

You get the idea.

I’m not, however, giving up too too much in the trendy department in the kitchen because I’ve always cooked and baked the same way now as I did back in the 1970s. Here are some of the dishes I prepared this week. It’s almost like stepping back in time. For .89 cents I bought a pre-made graham cracker crust. I filled it with a .49 cent box of instant chocolate pudding (2 cups of skim milk that was slowly going sour) and topped it off with a generic Cool Whip that only cost .79 cents a container. What did I do with the rest of the almost-sour skim milk? Just like old times, I stove-cooked two cups of rice in it, added in a bit of sugar, cinnamon and some raisins to make it sweeter. Both dishes I topped off with that ersatz whipped dairy topping. Delish, cheap, retro and inexpensive. Just like I have always done.

I still make my $2 pizza every Friday night. Only this time, because of inflation and my desire to hold onto flour a bit longer than usual, I’m making my crusts using two cups of flour instead of my usual three. The crust is a bit thinner BUT tasty nonetheless. I’m not missing a beat as far as this family favorite is concerned. This week I included left over minced red onions and a half-bag of fresh spinach.

I very rarely buy store-bought cookies. I’ve mastered the fine art of either oatmeal raisin cookies or chocolate chip cookies. All recipes date back to the 1970s. I’ve also mastered the art of coffee cake. Just perfect to go with a cup of coffee when an unexpected guest comes over. The recipe I use is an old favorite of the Entermann family (they invented NY style crumb coffee cake, click here). I usually bake this once a month. Today’s crumb cake came out more like a streusel cake. Nonetheless, it’s delicious, easy to make (bakes in 20 minutes) and everyone here at home loves it!

Saturday evening, hubby and I had a hankering for take-out Chinese food. We used to do this a lot but after looking at our favorite local Chinese Asian cuisine menu, the updated prices made a once typical meal of $25 now $40. Again, I had to say another ‘no’ to myself. Not to be outdone, however, I came to the conclusion if I went to our favorite grocery store instead, and bought their superb frozen Asian dinners, for only $5.75, I was able to microwave two Chinese food dinners. We had chicken fried rice (nothing actually was fried which made the meal fat friendly, more healthy and fewer calories) and one chicken egg roll each. Everything topped with a favorite Asian sauce (included in frozen prepared/processed food box) and voila: Saturday night take-out was saved:

Lastly, and a bit off my food topic, I’m slowly mastering the art of self-grooming my little dog. At a price of $72 our local groomer wanted to charge me for washing, cutting and grooming my little 11 pound doggie, I said ‘no’ and decided to take that money and buy professional grooming tools(once) instead, including the turnstile grooming platform. I bought a low-sounding professional dog buzz clipper (not pictured) which came with an array of numbered add-on guide cutters (I use a #3) as well as two professional scissors and one steel comb (to smooth out the matted hair). My little doggie is a good, patient ‘client’ as she almost sits perfectly still while I do my best. I will admit that I am getting better with each passing cut (every three weeks, ka-ching NOT!) little doggie and I have bonded and our monthly pet expenses category is none-the-wiser. It’s all good news. (PS: If I had shown you the before picture you’d think this after cut photo would be divine! Stay tuned for next time.)

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