Lessons in Frugality

One of our goals as a family is to adopt at least one child. We are diligently trying to become debt free and our goal is to be completely debt free (aside from our mortgage) before we adopt.

As with many goals in life, our quest to be debt free is slow going. Living off one income, choosing to eat local and/or organic foods as much as possible, and paying of debt takes a lot of prayer and planning.

We’ve found that making products from scratch does save money in the long run, but, of course, it often requires large chunks of time- a rarity with a baby under one year old.

So, how do we do it? Well, to be perfectly honest, sometimes we just don’t have the money to buy all organic or local. We rely on our common sense and try to make wholesome choices for our family- organic or not. For instance, have you heard of the dirty dozen? It is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest amounts of pesticides. We try to only buy the fruits and veggies that are on this list from local farmers who do not use pesticides or from the organics section in our supermarket. Similarly, there is a list of the 12 cleanest fruits and veggies. If we want to buy any of these, we usually buy them from a grocery store at the cheapest price we can find.

We try to stock up on things when they are in season. Zucchini is quite cheap right now at the farmer’s market so I bought a bunch of it and froze it for making zucchini bread in the winter.

We also ask ourselves quite frequently, “Do we really need ____?” We use cloth diapers, and we’ve switched to using cloth napkins. We also try to use cloth dish towels as much as possible in place of paper towels. If we need something, we first think about a way to either make it ourselves or come up with some other solution to avoid buying whatever it is. Here is an example: We really wanted something small in our living room to put our daughter’s toys in. Rather than buying a basket or a bin, we ended up using an old picnic basket that we found in our attic.

Often, we’ve found that if we use our imagination or don’t mind taking the extra time to make something ourselves, we are able to have what we need (or want) without spending any extra cash.

My latest money-saving idea is keeping a log of the groceries we buy and how long they last us. (This was inspired by Thomas Jefferson. He kept a log of everything relating to his home- crops, weather, food, and so forth). A lot of our products I buy online because it is cheaper than buying them from our local health food store. There are discounts for buying in bulk, so I’ve started keeping a journal of things like coconut oil, Rapadura (alternative sugar), and such so I can get an idea of how much we consume over the course of several months. My hope is that we’ll be able to buy what we need in bulk and save money that way (a side benefit is that I won’t need to go grocery shopping as frequently…). I still need to figure out how much of each item I’d need to buy in bulk for it to be worth our while.

What about you? How do you save money, but still manage to eat wholesome foods?


4 thoughts on “Lessons in Frugality

  1. I can turn a whole chicken into at least 3, sometimes 4 meals. By the way, forget buying zucchini. I can give you some for free! When my garden is going better and I have more time on my hands (this year has been a bust what with the new baby, 4 year old’s broken arm and hubby’s illness), I buy in bulk, rely on my garden and can, dry and freeze like crazy. My neighbor lets me glean from her garden, but she’s getting older and I’m not sure how long she will garden. If she gives it up, I’m going to ask if I can continue in her garden plot. It’s huge!

    Oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to save on one meal.

    Making my own laundry detergent and cleaning solutions helps save. Washing laundry in cold water and air drying saves a bundle! Taking a bath instead of a shower helps, too. I know they say otherwise, but plug up your tub while you’re showering and you’ll have enough water to bathe in before you even finish washing your hair!

    Cut up old bath towels for washcloths or rags. I use old towels on my swiffer mop rather than buying those ridiculous pre-soaked pads. Have rugs? Invest in a carpet sweeper. They’re fairly inexpensive and do a decent job without running electricity.

    Cutting up a loaf of bread? Sweep the crumbs into a glass jar to use for breading later on. (Depression-era tip)

    Bananas a bit mushy? Freeze them unpeeled and whole. They make great banana bread or oil/applesauce substitute in recipes.

    Buy with a friend…..I am slowly getting reorganized after all this chaos this past year. We could always buy in bulk together, Grace, and split it up.

    Grace, I need to take you to a farm I know. Their prices are phenomenal! They have maple syrup, too. I buy a gallon of it every year. They have coconut oil, too for a good price. It’s pretty far away for you, but I’d be happy to make an afternoon of it with you. I can also take you to a health food store I know of and if you’re interested, there’s a gluten-free store in the town near the farm. Oh, and there’s a farm in Fonda that has organic bulgar and popcorn for a good price. They may have late raspberries coming up, too.

    • Grace says:

      Our vacuum broke several months ago and we never replaced it. We only have one rug in the house so we just use a good old fashioned broom! It works just fine! Loved the saving bread crumbs idea. I freeze bananas in chunks for Myla if the banana start to get mushy then when she needs food I just pull out a chunk, run it under warm water and she’s got food. I’d love to buy in bulk w/you and to go to the farm, as well as the other places you mentioned. Myla is still sick so we’re not going anywhere at the moment though. Two teeth just came in and she’s still got a terrible cold. Poor thing.

  2. Kay says:

    I heard that its ok to buy bananas without going organic, since you peel the skin off anyway. However, something like an apple that you eat without peeling, better go organic.
    Speaking of bananas, any that are getting old, I peel them, place in the freezer and save for smoothies! Yum. Oh, and peeling before freezing is a must, I learned the hard way.
    Any ideas on what to do with massive quantities of tomatoes? I am not a big canning person, but perhaps I could be persuaded, Thanks!

    • Grace says:

      I’ve never had a ton of tomatoes so I can’t offer any first hand experience. If I get a lot from my garden this year (that is the one thing that seems to be doing alright), I am going to make salsa with them. I’ve also thought about making homemade ketchup. Here’s a link to a recipe I was going to try for ketchup:


      We’ve bought organic ketchup for the past few months from our health food store and LOVE it! It tastes SO much better than regular ketchup (most of which has HFCS in it too).

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