Monday, May 28, 2012

Frugal in the kitchen

I've had a few people ask me recently to share some frugal tips. I thought it'd be easiest to share my frugal tips room by room, just for organization's sake. I'm starting with the kitchen, because it seems to be the easiest place to see fast results.


Here you can read my post about how to start the ball rolling on frugal grocery shopping. Stockpiling is key!

Next, you must make sure you're using everything you buy. I'm not always perfect in this respect, especially since returning to school. Here is a post about how I used up our turkey leftovers at Thanksgiving, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Dinner leftovers make great lunches the next day. Grilled chicken can become chicken salad, or be diced and thrown into a tortilla with some salsa and a bit of cheese. Even a couple of spoonfuls of veggies can be a side dish for Sam (14 months old) at lunch. I've dressed up fried potatoes with cheese to make a quick lunch for me. And remember to save the heels of bread for homemade croutons or breadcrumbs! Get creative! Try stretching your dollar by delaying your grocery trips by just one more day, if possible. An eight-day week might make your creativity blossom! My trips are usually about every 10 days, not counting a quick stop by Aldi for milk every few days.

Think ahead! I really liked the suggestion in The Tightwad Gazette, that dinner plans for the next day be made while washing dinner dishes. That way I'm still in the kitchen, thinking about dinner, thinking about what we had and what leftovers I've got - it helps me decide what I'm going to make the next night and determine if anything needs thawing. (That means I'm less likely to have a dinner emergency at 4:30 the next night and run down to the corner grocery for a pricey convenience meal!)


Most of the cleaning supplies I use, I make myself from non-toxic ingredients. There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel and detail all of my recipes, as so many other women have done a better job than I of putting the info out there. I recommend the book Clean House, Clean Planet for the best recipes. I've also made my own laundry soap in the past. Go Google it, I know you'll get a few 100 recipes. My tip? Use the dry recipe. It's easier to put together.

The basic of cleaning with homemade ingredients is vinegar. Don't like the smell? So what?! The smell goes away as soon as the vinegar has dried. I also use tea tree oil, castile soap (Dr. Bronner's Peppermint is my fave), and baking soda. Borax (my one toxic ingredient) is used in the toilet bowl.

Trash Talk

Don't buy paper products to clean with. Good grief! Talk about throwing your money away! Show of hands - how many people have stained t-shirts that they just throw away? Mismatched or holey socks? Start yourself a little bin in your laundry room or in your kitchen for those odds and ends, and put them to good use. Have an unmentionable mess that you NEED to throw away? Then use that old t-shirt to clean it up and THEN throw it away.

Are you reusing your food containers for storage? There are so many uses for salad containers, for coffee cans, for cereal boxes - you can pretty up so many items that most "normal" (read: in debt up to their eyeballs) people would throw away. Don't even get me started about milk jugs. Those little wonders are GOLDEN in a frugal kitchen. And don't even tell me if you're not washing out your ziploc baggies after every use - 'cause you know that those couple of bread crumbs left in that bag makes it completely unsanitary for reuse. (that was sarcasm, btw.) That kind of waste keeps me up at night. *shudder*

Are you composting? Recycling? Trash bags are expensive. Some of you have to pay for trash pickup by weight or volume. Ask yourself, every time you throw something away, "Can I reuse this?"

Are you using cloth napkins? Handkerchiefs? (Use the 100% cotton variety of both.) Handkerchiefs can often be found at Target after Christmas for a steal. I've also found some beautiful vintage ones at garage sales for a quarter. If you have children, are you cloth diapering?

Okay, that's all I've got for now. Next up? The laundry room!

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