Thursday, April 19, 2012

6 Little, Easy Ways to Be More Frugal

I like living simply, and I love doing things for my family with my own two hands.  I'm learning more and more every day, and I love the way that creating things that my family needs with my own know-how and with items that I already have in the house allows me to be more frugal.  This is especially important to me right now as I am going back to university in the fall, which is a pretty expensive prospect when you have little ones at home, and jobs aren't exactly growing on trees at the moment, particularly in the conservation field.

Some of these homemaking activities require (or will require, as I haven't started them all yet!) time and commitment and work, but for me, they are so rewarding that it doesn't matter.  It's actually kind of addictive, and Pinterest and blog-reading are fuelling the fire.  Oh--you make your own deodorant?  I should try that!  You have a recipe for homemade ginge rale? Sign me up!  You sewed your own apron which beautifully gathers so you can put your freshly plucked organic vegetables in it when out in the garden?  Where is the pattern?!

Obviously, I'm just starting down this path.  There are oodles of people WAY ahead of me.  And maybe, some people who drop by this blog are with me in the early phases or are just figuring out that they'd like to explore these ideas a little more, which is why I am including a few easy ways to live more frugally and do things for yourself, by yourself.  You can be kinder to the planet, have fun with items already in your home, and save a few pennies (or soon-to-be nickels, in Canada I guess!).  Some of these you've seen before in blog posts, but I thought it would be fun to do a quick review in a list format!

 1.  Make your own bread.  Really.  It isn't hard to do, and this recipe is super easy, forgiving, adaptable, uses less yeast so even less expensive, and it's no-knead.  You mix it up, leave it alone, come back, flip it around a few times, put it in a pan, give it a break, then put it in the oven.  Before you know it, your house smells like a bakery and you feel a sense of accomplishment.  It tastes way better than what you would buy in the store, for a fraction of the cost and probably even saves time in the long run because you don't have to drive to a store, pick out a loaf, wait in line at the check-out counter, get home and put it away. :)

2-3. Grow your own vegetables.  This one is sort of a frugality double whammy, are you ready?  Grow your own vegetables from seed (all of them) rather than buying the seedlings at the garden centre.  This is loads of fun, gives you an activity to interest your active three-year-old son and prevents him from endlessly, noisily crashing his cars around you, or colouring on your bedroom door, and costs less than buying the seedlings (which in turn costs less than buying the full-fledged vegetables).  Frugal tip number three: grow them in cut up toilet paper and paper towel rolls.  Save them and then plant in them when you need to.  They hold the soil, can be planted as they are in the ground because they'll decompose and you won't have to disturb the roots shaking them out of the pot, reduce household waste, and save you loads of money on unsustainable peat pots.

4. Save your eggshells for your garden.  Egg shells break down in the soil, add to the compost that you are hopefully already adding to your garden, and provide much-needed calcium to the most beautiful of all garden crops, tomatoes.  Also, slugs don't like to cross them so they can act as an effective barrier to those horrid slimy creatures (and as a biologist I say that with love and no discrimination against a natural creature of any kind).  If you eat lots of omelettes or angel food cakes, you'll collect quite the pail-full of these in no time at all, and your afore-mentioned three-year-old boy will love helping you crunch them up!

5. Use vegetable crisper compost to make new veggies!  Specifically, celery (above) and green onions (not pictured).  I don't know if there are other veggies you can do this with but these are the two I've tried.  When you cut them back to nothing and all you have is the bottom of the celery or the silly little white onion bulb from the green onions, just as you're about to toss them in your compost bin, think again and stick them in a glass of water.  They'll grow and you can harvest them again!  Gets you a lot more bang for your 99 cents (or $1.49, if it's the celery and it's on sale!).  It also provides a fun little experiment for your kids and it doesn't take long--those celery leaves are 5 days old.

6. Use orange peels to make your own environmentally friendly household cleaner.  Have you noticed yet that I save a lot of garbage?  Toilet paper rolls, egg shells, celery bottoms (what is the correct term for those anyway?) and now orange peels.  And it's not only me saving them, I have my parents and my sister saving them for me too.  And I require that my husband take home the orange peels leftover from his lunch.  But I like this cleaner, it's fun to make, smells better than cleaning with straight vinegar and it only takes a few minutes using something that would end up in your compost bin.

I love little tips like these!  Please share yours and I can delightedly add to my little rituals of using weird items to cut down on waste and create great new things.


  1. Great ideas Rosie! I admit I enjoy eating your homemade bread, and look forward to sneaking a few of the veggies from your yard too!

  2. Here is a recipe for Oatmeal Crackers that will be fun to make* with your helper**
    Simple, good and wholesome.
    2 1/2 cups of rolled oats
    1/2 cup water
    salt to taste
    In a bowl stir 2 cups of the oats with the water for several minutes until it forms a ball. Using the other 1/2 cup of oats roll out the dough, pressing in the oats and turning until it's about 1/8" thick. Slide onto a cookie sheet(or 2), score in 1 1/2" squares, sprinkle with salt and bake at 275 for 30 minutes, turn and bake for another 15-20. Cool and break along the score lines.
    * The second batch will be better than the first
    ** Oats will get on the floor

    1. Darcie, I will totally try these. Thanks so much for posting the recipe! And I am starting to loosen up about things getting on the floor. We have to vacuum all the time anyway. :)

  3. Great read, thanks for posting some of your tricks and tips!! You'll be able to use some of those eggshells when your hens are laying too, as well as any oyster shells you may use! Fabulous calcium builders!

  4. Tamsyn, thanks!! I had heard that feeding them crushed egg shells helps them lay stronger-shelled eggs, so whatever my garden doesn't need will be going into the chicken coop. I am getting so excited about them! Was researching "treats" to feed them, run ideas, coop ventilation info, and breed cold hardiness stuff today. Cannot wait!!

  5. You can grow pineapples from the top left over! Apparently it takes something like 2 years to get a ready to eat pineapple, but it makes a neat houseplant with a bonus surprise every 2 years. I haven't tried it, because I don't have a permanent residence yet, but looks fun.


I love to get comments and questions, and particularly suggestions!