Here’s a mishmash of frugal things I’ve done this week (or thought about doing and haven’t got the guts yet . . . see the last tip).
– I’ve been re-using milk bags instead of using (no-name) ziplock bags. When I was young we never had ziplocks, but sometimes we had those little fold-over plastic sandwich bags. Mostly I think my mom used waxed paper. Anyway, when I was young & eco-conscious, I started re-using milk bags (i.e. the 1.3 litre bags that hold the milk, not the bigger bag that holds the 3 bags of milk . . .) for my sandwiches, or cookies, or whatever I was bringing in my lunch that day. Then there was the whole plastics scare that basically said, “Don’t use plastic for anything!!!” so we all stopped. But then I saw a handy guide from the David Suzuki Foundation (download the item called plasticsbynumber) that tells you what plastics are & are not safe for re-use. Turns out milk bags are one of the safe ones, so I’ve started re-using milk bags again. We drink a lot of milk, so this gets me a lot of little baggies, great for sandwiches, cookies, and anything else we bring in our lunch!
– Buttermilk powder: Now, I’m not one of those super-duper-frugal moms who suggest drinking powdered milk. Yeuch!! I’m recommending buttermilk powder only for use in baking. It can be used to replace fresh milk, mixed 1 part powder to 6 parts water, in many recipes, and will add a nice flavour dimension that regular milk doesn’t impart. Just mix the powder in with the dry ingredients and use the water in place of milk in the wet ingredients. I used buttermilk powder in my pancakes this morning, and while they weren’t as light & fluffy as when I use real buttermilk, they were tastier than using plain milk. (But I didn’t end up wasting 3 cups of buttermilk as I usually do when I buy a litre of the stuff, use 1 cup, and the rest sits in the fridge!)
– Zero Dollar Days: These are basically “Buy Nothing Days”, but we aim to have them as often as we can. The ultimate here is a “Double-Zero-Dollar-Day” when my partner and I BOTH manage to keep our wallets in our pants and spend a grand total of nothing for an entire day. It’s actually harder than it seems, but we had 2 this week (yay us!). It really helps us notice those little “insignificant” purchases that can add up (like a daily coffee & cookie from Starbucks). It also encourages me to do follow the next tip . . .
– Grocery shopping once a week: There are many benefits of this, and you’ve probably read it all before, but it really has helped us bring our food costs way down. I work from the plan of what meals I’m going to make for the week, and then try to pick up everything I need all at once. It’s amazing how many things jump into the cart when you’re not looking, even when you head to the store just for 1 or 2 things. Keeping myself out of the grocery store keeps my food budget slim & trim.
– Make your own personal care products?? This is the one I have yet to dive into, but recently I’ve read about making your own deoderant, using baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo, and–get this–using re-usable cloth wipes instead of toilet paper. This is verging on the extreme, but to be honest I’m intrigued! I’m sure I’ll report back if I actually try any of these things, but for now I’m just putting it out there . . .