No-Spend Challenge: 3 weeks down, 1 to go

23 02 2009

Three weeks in to my No-Spending in February Challenge, the fridge, freezer and pantry shelves aren’t exactly bare but there are gaping holes. We are learning to make do.

On Friday, when I went to make my usual grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, I realized we had no more bread…..No problem, I made one with a bun. I have to say I wasn’t counting on it being very good, but it actually tasted just fine. Not much difference really.

When I realized I had no barbecue sauce for crockpot beef barbecue that I had already thawed, I used a marinade instead. It wasn’t quite as good, but still more than edible.

I’ve also fudged a bit on recipes using fewer eggs than called for, and I’ve begged and borrowed a time or two from friends and neighbors. (Thanks, Mom, for the baking powder and Mary, for the chili powder.)

But probably the biggest thing that stands out this week is the continuing good fortune we have had during this month of no spending.

One day last week, as I was walking in the neighborhood with a friend, I found a $10 gift certificate to a local pizza place. It was just blowing in the wind down the street on a blustery day.

Another day, a friend was cooking for neighbors in need and ended up with way too much food. She gave us the leftovers.

On yet another day, my husband got an email from the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, telling him the team wished he would reconsider his decision not to purchase tickets this year. (In previous years, we have had a “mini-pack” of season tickets to 10 games.) In appreciation for his past loyalty, the email offered him two free tickets to Friday night’s game. Whoohoo. Free entertainment. He and my daughter went, parked in a free lot and hiked in to the stadium and then, get this: They were selected to play one of the fan-appreciation games in between periods. So not only did my 10-year-old get the thrill of being on the jumbo-tron, she and her Daddy won $10 in gift certificates to Moe’s Southwest Grill.

On Saturday, our good fortune continued: When I announced it was grilled cheese on a bun all around for lunch after my daughter’s noon basketball game, my Mom kindly invited us all out for a fast-food lunch — her treat.

Add that to the well-timed arrival in the mail of a $5 gas card from a long-forgotten promotion and a $20 gift card from a rebate, which allowed my husband to go ahead and fertilize an area we are preparing for blueberry bushes. I would have to say our no-spend month has created some good karma.

Now for the moment of truth. Did we meet the challenge this week? 

*I put $50 on my credit card to register my daughter for Girl Scout camp this summer. Since these camps fill up quickly, I couldn’t see having her miss out because of my little social experiment with money.

*With a Target gift card I had in my wallet, I bought 5 apples, three bananas, salad greens, a tomato, a dozen eggs and a jar of yeast. No money out of pocket. Had to have an infusion of fresh produce and eggs to keep my husband happy and the family healthy. And instead of buying bread, I opted to buy yeast to try my hand at baking my own. I made two loaves Saturday night, by the way, but with not-so-great results. My loaves failed to rise sufficiently so they were — shall we say — a tad dense! We ate them anyway and I will try again, making sure to keep the kitchen nice and warm to help the yeast rise.

*With my CVS gift card, I purchased a gallon of milk.

*With a Panera Bread gift card, I purchased bagels for neighbors grieving the loss of a family member.

*With their Moe’s gift certificates, my husband and daughter treated themselves to Sunday lunch. (I had my grilled cheese on very dense homemade bread.)

*I gave my daughter the coins from my wallet to put in the offering basket at church.

These last few days of the month, I’ll be sticking close to home. My gas tank is nearing empty! 

To read previous, No-Spend Challenge posts, click here, here, here and here.

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4 responses

23 02 2009
Birdy

My trick for making sure my bread rises is to stick it in the oven!

While I’m making the dough, I set the oven to warm for a few minutes, then turn it off. After I’m through kneading, I put the dough in a greased bowl and cover the top with a damp towel, and stick it in the oven to rise. Works great! You have to be careful that the over isn’t TOO hot (you don’t want your bread to bake as it rises!), but otherwise its pretty foolproof. Instead of going by the rise time given in the recipe, just keep an eye on the dough. When its about doubled in size, and you can poke it and your finger mark stays… you’re good to go.

Also… if you’re using yeast from a jar, it might be bread machine yeast (fleishmann’s is sneaky like that). Usually you want to stick to active dry, or rapid rise yeast. Rapid rise you need to add to a dough with hot liquid (120 F), but it cuts your first rise down to about 15 minutes.

Good luck finishing out the month!!

23 02 2009
Kathy

Just wanted to say that I admire you a great deal for doing this. You are an inspiration to me to do better with my own “frugalness” Best of luck to you and thanks!

24 02 2009
freetobefrugal

Thanks, Kathy. Good luck on your frugal journey and I hope you will keep following mine as I blog. It keeps me honest!

24 02 2009
freetobefrugal

So glad you wrote, Birdy. I’m definitely going to try your oven trick.

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