Frugal Living

Three Things I Do Because I’m Frugal

One of my biggest pet peeves is waste. I hate to see anything wasted – money, food, energy or time. Because of that, I have developed frugal habits during my adult life. I’m not saying everyone should adopt these practices – this is more of a “confessions” type post than anything. However, if you are looking for ways to save money and eliminate waste, I have a few ideas for you!

#1 Eliminate food waste when cooking

If a recipe only uses half of the can (diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, cream soup, canned pumpkin, etc.), I pour the rest into a ziploc bag, lay it flat for easy storage and thawing, and write something like “diced tomatoes, 1/2 can, 5/2/16” on the bag. That bag goes into a specific section in my freezer. Any time I need something like that for a recipe, I first look in the freezer to see if what I need is in there before I open a new can of whatever it is. There’s no reason to throw away half a can of something!

I make sure to get every last drop of sauce or liquid out of a can or jar. When I’m making spaghetti, I pour as much sauce as I possibly can out of the jar. Then I add just a teaspoon or so of water, screw on the lid and give it a shake. That loosens all the extra sauce from the sides of the jar and gives me as much as a 1/4 cup of sauce I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to use! The same practice applies for cans of cream soup – for example, when making Beef Stroganoff, I put a little bit of the milk into my “empty” can of cream of mushroom soup. After I scrape the sides with my spoon, I’m able to get the rest of the soup that sticks in the bottom of the can.

#2 Use samples and travel size toiletries for everyday 

I have quite the stash of samples and travel size toiletries – items from Target Beauty Boxes, freebies I sign up for online, or even just leftover bottles of shampoo from travel. When I’m about to run out of shampoo or body wash, I grab one of those to tide me over until the product I want is on sale. I try to never pay full price for brand name items – and using those travel size items helps me to accomplish that goal!

#3 Use cloth napkins and cleaning rags instead of paper

We use cloth napkins at every meal – not only is it cheaper, I find that cloth napkins do a better job of keeping your hands and face clean! I cut up dingy dish towels for cleaning the kitchen and use old t-shirts for dusting. They work great and are basically free.

Do you have any frugal habits?

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32 thoughts on “Three Things I Do Because I’m Frugal

  1. We’ve used cloth napkins for years now. I love it! Not only are they economical, but they instantly jazz up my dining room table ;-). Plus, you can easily find cloth napkins at thrift stores!

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  2. I have always heard that you should empty every drop from a can because you are tossing someone else’s bite if you do not! 🙂 I use old towels as rags for cleaning because I think they do a much better job than paper.

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  3. I need to do a better job of food waste… I’m the girl that throws out the half used container of something. I like your idea of freezing the leftovers from a can – do you write how much is there, too? I LOVE cloth napkins. They are always in use here.

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    1. Yes, I write exactly what it is and how much there is – it’s amazing how hard it can be to tell what something is after it’s frozen! 🙂 Thanks for asking that, I should have included those details originally. Post is now updated! 🙂

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  4. Great tips! I hate wasting food too and have gotten better about freezing things. I find myself chopping up veggies and fruits to freeze for future meals if they’re in danger of going bad before I can eat them. I liked your tip to label the bags because it is tricky to figure out the quantities once things are frozen. I have a big stash of travel sized products we’ve collected from hotel stays that I always offer to house guests. I really should start using them for myself to help get it under control. The other frugal thing I do is pack my husband’s lunch and snacks every day. It’s so pricey to eat out so I always factor in making his lunch into my morning routine. I also eat leftovers for lunch because I hate wasting food. It’s not the most exciting lunch options, but I feel good about eating up what’s in the fridge.

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  5. I have always thought about the cloth napkin switch but have never made it. I really should look into it though.

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  6. I’m a huge proponent of using cloth napkins. Not only are they economically advantageous, but they are also snazzy!

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  7. These are great ideas! I do love cloth napkins and the Ziploc idea is great. I use them for meal prepping so I should definitely use them for saving extras. Thanks for the tips!

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  8. I have finally started using all of my travel size toiletries. I used to save them for traveling, but we rarely travel. It just made more sense for me to use them up. I’m pretty good about not having much food waste, but I go through some paper towels and paper napkins.

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  9. Whitney, these are great! I’m also super frugal, and I totally do the same thing with sauce jars! My husband and I don’t use napkins (no particular reason, we just don’t), but someone gifted us with cloth napkins which we will definitely use sometime! One of my frugal habits, which goes into #1 of your list, is saving broth. When I cook meat, I don’t like throwing out the broth if it’s not needed in the recipe. Instead, most times I’ll just put it in a container and freeze it. Small white mailing labels are my lifesaver, because I use them to label and date everything that goes in the freezer! I’ll be giving birth to our first child in about 2 months, so the other week, in my frugality, I spent some time sewing projects. Old t-shirts and fabric scraps became cloth wipes and menstrual pads-way cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying the disposable versions of these items from the store 🙂

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  10. When finishing a meal, if there are leftover vegetables that are not enough for another meal, I put them in a freezer container and mark it Veggies for soup. That way when I make vegetable soup, I have an ample supply of vegetables, or you can always add more if it isn’t enough.

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