Today Savvy Frugality is featuring a guest post. This one is written courtesy of my wife (thanks!) who is also pretty frugal around the house. The Excel files she mentions for Weekly Menus and Shopping lists are included in the menu on the right hand side of the page:

As a domestic goddess it is my duty to keep costs down. One of the biggest expenses you can come across are the “nickel and dime” ones. These are those little trips you make to the store because you forgot to buy something. I guarantee if you look at your checkbook register you’ll see several trips to Wal-Mart, or your local grocery store, written down. You might run into the store for one little thing, but you usually leave the store with a cart full of stuff.

Today I’m going to teach you how to make do with what you have. For example, you’ve run out of milk for a recipe. Don’t rush out to the store. If you’ve got powdered coffee creamer you’ll do just fine. Mix up some powdered creamer with water until it looks like skim milk, and then it’s ready for substitution. I’ve had to use this a few times for several of my recipes. I wouldn’t suggest you drink this, but it will work as a substitution when you’re in a pinch.

I’ve always wanted one of those machines that stores your food in a vacuum sealed bag. When I saw the cost of those things I realized that it would take a very long time for it to pay for itself, so I made do. I usually buy my meats in a 10 pound package and then separate it when I get home. In the past I’ve wrapped the food in foil, and then put it in a plastic bag, but now I seal my food in that same plastic bag and keep it airtight. How?? Simple. Fill your clean sink with water, then place your item inside of a Ziploc bag (generics are fine), seal the bag, but leave one inch open at the corner. Submerse the bag into the water and it will force all of the air out. Slowly seal the bag until all of the air is removed and you’ve got yourself a vacuum seal.

Let’s say you’ve run out of brillo pads. No problem. You can bunch up some aluminum foil and use that in its place. This works great for your barbeque grills and broiler pans. Since I hardly have to use brillo pads, I just use a piece of foil when needed.

You’ve only got enough liquid fabric softener for one load, but you’ve got three loads of laundry to do. No worries. Take a washcloth and pour some fabric softener on it, then throw it in the dryer with your clothes essentially using it like a dryer sheet.

The best way to avoid running out of things like this is to make up your grocery list based on a weekly menu (my templates will be available for download). If you really want to save money then base your menu on your local store’s sales circular. However, if you do run out of something, just remember your home is full of substitutions; all you have to do is get creative.


  1. Meg // April 18, 2008 at 11:17 AM  

    Great idea about sealing the bags!

    Btw, am I like the only one who doesn't use fabric softener at all? I stopped using it a few years ago and have never missed it.

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