Tuesday, April 28, 2009

frugality tips for (economically) trying times

On some blog or another these last few months I encountered this oh-so-very simple idea... one week out of the month, don't go grocery shopping as you normally would. Use up all the old odds and ends you have on hand. I thought this was so brilliant (maybe you'll think I'm insane for not thinking of it/knowing of it before) but have still just been sitting on it for the last few months, not putting it into action, because it is oh-so-very much easier to just buy the snacks that work and the bits and pieces for meals that occur to me and push the other accumulated bits and pieces to the back of the fridge. That is oh-s0-very not depression-era of me (as I always say my mom still is, and of course my grandma was...) AND Matt's mom just left from a wonderful visit in which she always inspires me by using absolutely everything and letting nothing go to waste. So anyway, I am giving it a shot this week. It's actually been about 9 days... I just been stretchin' my brain to use up the stuff that's in the back of the cupboard and I feel quite frugal and savvy. We've been out of bread for awhile now and I'm realizing how much we lean on this glutinous staple... but I just made some bread tonight, made biscuits a few days ago, might even try my hand at tortillas because those do come in handy for wrappin' up those rice and beans... I've never been able to bake bread before but then I found this glorious book Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day and all of a sudden gorgeous golden-brown crusty loaves were flying out of my kitchen like you wouldn't believe. Almost every time I opened the oven, whether I'd put bread dough in there or not. It's that fast, people. Believe it. And just do a search on the ol' internet before you buy the book, I'm sure you can find the recipe instead of shuckin' out twenty bucks in these economically trying times.

My third and final tip is did you know that you can add use 2-4 tbsps Borax and put some white vinegar in the rinse compartment as an alternative to dishwashing detergent? So say the anonymous they out there on the internets. Haven't tried it yet, but I'm gonna. If my dishwasher blows up after I've directed you all to try this unproven method, I guess it will serve me right.


Katy said...

Sooo, I've been making our laundry & dishwashing soap (& cleaning products, too, of course) for several months now. It's so ridiculously simple & you'd be appalled at how much cheaper it is. I keep boxes (& boxes) of baking soda, multiple bottles of vinegar in my cabinet at all times. Also borax & washing soda, & my new favorite--for our ultra-hard limey water here in Austin--citric acid. I'm currently hunting down a source for bulk soap flakes, since grinding the soap in my food processor gets me quite unpleasantly high on all the Ivory dust. Blech.

Dishwasher Powder
1 cup Borax
1 cup bi-carb soda (baking soda)
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid
essential oil if you want it

Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight plastic container. Use 1 tablespoon at a time.

Laundry Soap:
1/2 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup (or thereabouts) grated or ground-up soap (this is where I'd like soap flakes instead)
essential oil if you want it

Mix thoroughly. Use a couple T for front loader, a bit more for top loader.
Use more or less soap when making up the detergent depending on your machine, & more or less detergent when you wash as well. This is where you'll have to intuit a bit, play around, see how clean your clothes are getting & adjust accordingly.

Also, I've been wanting to make wool dryer balls for a while, too. You just get some 100% wool yarn, knot it into a tennis-ball sized ball, then tie it into an old pantyhose leg so it won't come unraveled. You can tie many into one leg, a la sausage links. Then you toss them into the washer on hot (next time you wash sheets/diapers for example) & they'll felt up really nicely. Then you just toss them in the dryer cycle--no more unidentifiable chemical dryer sheets! The balls fluff your clothes up really well, apparently. You can put a few drops of essential oil on them every few weeks, too, to keep your clothes smelling yummy if you want.

Hope this helps you in your quest for frugality! I'm full of this kind of stuff (cheap, what?) so don't hesitate to ask me about any of it :o)


Kami said...

That is so awesome, Katy! I am totally doing all that. I would love to hear of any more of your brilliant frugal tips and tricks.