Tag Archives: frugal tips

After making my first batch of laundry soap I decided to look into making our own liquid hand soap. We don’t go through it that quickly but I figured I should look into it as it might be cheaper to make some myself. To my surprise it is rather easy. I did a bit of online research and decided to give it a try.

This is all you need to make your own liquid hand soap:

homemade soap, liquid glycerin, prudent living

The ingredients for liquid hand soap.

Cheese grater
2 Tbsp of Liquid Glycerin (I didn’t have any on hand but a good friend gave me some)
One 8oz bar of soap
1 gallon of water

The first step is to grate the bar of soap.

handmade liquid handsoap, prudent living

Grate your bar of soap.

Fill a pot with 1 gallon of water and add the soap shavings.

Add 2 Tbsp of liquid glycerin to the pot and turn the heat to medium-high and stir until the soap dissolves. At this point it pretty much looks like soapy water.

liquid handsoap, prudent living

Looks like soapy water to me!

Leave it alone to cool for at least 10-12 hours. It begins to cloud up after 3-4 hours.

homemade liquid soap, prudent living

Water finally begins to cloud up.

After it has cooled completely, around 12 hours later it will thicken and look like liquid soap. If it is thicker than it should be you can take some beaters and blend it while adding just a bit of water until the consistency is more like liquid soap.

For the cost of a bar of soap and some liquid glycerin you now have a gallon of liquid hand soap. Now you can refill your bottles of liquid soap. In a cute dispenser this would make a great handmade gift!

homemade liquid hand soap, prudent living

Success, a gallon of liquid hand soap.

 

I learned two things this week and it’s only Tuesday. In Vermont you can return vodka bottles for a $.15 deposit and how to make vanilla extract! Having not bought many bottles of vodka I had no idea the bottles were returnable; you learn something new every day!

This week I started my first batch of homemade vanilla extract. It won’t be ready for a while as I do have to let it sit for four to six months. To start your own batch you will need:

A large jar (a gallon or less, depending on how much extract you plan to make)
Vodka (the inexpensive stuff is fine)
Vanilla Beans (which I ordered through Olive Nation)
Kitchen Shears

vanilla extract, vanilla beans

Vanilla Beans

Begin by cutting through each bean lengthwise, leaving about an inch at the top of each bean so they stay together.

homemade vanilla extract

Cut vanilla bean.

homemade vanilla extract, vanilla beans

Carefully cut each bean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place all your beans into your jar.

Fill the jar with vodka. Put the lid on and store in a dark place for 4-6 months. Occasionally check the jar out and give it a shake.

Vodka, vanilla beans, homemade vanilla extract

Pouring vodka into the jar.

vanilla beans, vodka, homemade vanila extract

Cut vanilla beans and vodka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the time period has passed, strain out the vanilla beans using a coffee filter lined colander. Bottle the extract in dark amber bottles and you’re ready to give it as gifts and start cooking with it yourself!

1 gallon of vodka takes 80 vanilla beans
½ gallon of vodka (1.75L) takes 40 vanilla beans
1 quart of vodka takes 20 vanilla bean

homemade vanilla extract, frugal tip

Homemade Vanilla Extract in the works.

homemade vanilla extract, prudent pantry, frugal tip

Labeled jar ready for the pantry.

 

 

There are many ways to save money on your grocery budget. You can keep track of sales and purchase items at a discount. You can buy in bulk and you can grow your own food. Another way to save money is to make your own mixes. Not only are these mixes easier on your wallet but they can also be much better for you. Many seasoning packets and mixes are full of MSG and other additives, things our bodies just don’t need. Here are a few recipes for you to adapt in your kitchen.

Homemade Rice Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

¾ cup chicken bouillon granules
½ cup dried parsley
1 tbsp. basil
1 tbsp dill weed
2 tbsp, dried onion flakes
1 tsp seasoning salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)

Mix together and store in an airtight container. When preparing rice, combine 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, and three tablespoons of the seasoning. Bring your water to a boil and add rice & seasoning. Reduce to simmer and cook for eighteen minutes.

Homemade Baking Mix (AKA Bisquick)

Ingredients

5 ½ cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp baking powder
1 cup shortening

Mix all ingredients well until crumbly. Store in an air tight container.

Homemade Shake & Bake

Ingredients

4 cups flour
4 cups ground inexpensive crackers
4 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3 tbsp paprika
¼ cup vegetable oil

Mix well and store indefinitely in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Before moving to Vermont I used to make our own homemade pancake syrup. It was much tastier than the products I could find in the store and we rather enjoyed it. It’s no where near as good as real maple syrup but not a bad replacement.

Homemade Pancake Syrup

Ingredients

3 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups water
3 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter flavoring
1 tsp maple extract

Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off burner, but leave pot on burner until the bubbling stops.

 

First of all I want to wish all my faithful readers a very Happy New Year! I enjoy the first of a new year, a time to reflect on what happened in the previous year and a resolve to do  things better for the upcoming year. I like to look over our budget and see where we can save more money. As I examine at our annual budget there are many areas in which the budget is fixed and we can’t really do anything to change it. However one area, which you can change, is your grocery budget. One thing that has really helped me over the years is to make a weekly menu plan.

calendar, planning meals, menu calendar

A view of my menu calendar.

By planning ahead what we are going to eat I don’t have to think about what we’re going to have for dinner. Even if I don’t follow my menu plan exactly I know that I have shopped for these meals and have what I need on hand to make them. After I have planned my weekly menu I write a grocery list. When I go to the store I stick to the list. Using my list I know I will have the ingredients on hand to make the meals I have planned for.

Buying in bulk is another way you can save money on your grocery bill. You can buy in bulk through a food warehouse or a local co-op or just be aware of when certain items go on sale. It is important that you know your prices. If you can’t keep them all in your head make a price book. This is a little notebook where you keep track of the prices of items you purchase all the time.

Try to stay away from processed foods. Whole food is much better for you and often processed foods and convenience packaged foods are more expensive.

Eat one vegetarian meal a week. There are many options for meatless meals. This is also a great way to make sure your family is getting in those extra vegetables. One of my Christmas gifts was a wonderful cookbook called Eating Well In Season, it’s full of vegetarian recipes all of which look delicious!

cookbooks, vegetarian, vegetables, prudent living

A Christmas gift!

Plan on eating leftovers for dinner once a week. Have fun and combine leftovers to make a nutritious dinner. Some of my best soups were made from leftovers!

Learn to bake! Making your own bread, cookies, granola is so much healthier for you and will save you money! A favorite in our house is homemade pizza, when you make everything from scratch this is a very frugal meal which everyone enjoys.

Make your own cleaners and laundry detergent. It is so easy and the products you can make yourself work just as well as store bought products. Check out my blogs about making household cleaners and laundry soap. You’ll be amazed at what you can make at home!

Make it a New Year’s resolution to try some of these ideas at home and save money on your grocery bill!

Are you still looking for a simple gift idea? Perhaps you plan to be entertaining and want your house to smell wonderful. Here is a simple recipe for a delightful smelling potpourri. In preparation for this recipe I have been drying orange peels for the last week, our counter has a rather large pile of dried orange peels waiting to be put to use! With our wood stove going they dry out in just a matter of days. I think my husband will be glad that I’m finally going to put them to good use!

oranges, peels. potpourri

Dried orange peels.

In a large bowl mix about 1 cup of dried orange peels, 6-8 cinnamon sticks, 2 Tbsp whole cloves and 2 Tbsp whole allspice. Store the ingredients in an airtight container or if you are planning on giving it away, place it in a colorful holiday plastic bag.

cloves, spices, pantry, potpourri

Dried cloves.

cinnamon sticks, potpourri

Buy your cinnamon sticks in bulk.

whole allspice, spices, potpourri

Whole allspice.

spices, potpourri, gifts

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Be sure to include a tag with instructions: Simmer one tablespoon potpourri plus 1/2 cup water in a small pot or potpourri warmer. I found a very small crock pot at a yard sale that is perfect for simmering the ingredients. As the water heats your house will be filled with the smell of the holidays.

gift bag, home made, gift, potpourri

Enclose the potpourri in a pretty gift bag.

potpourri, home made, gifts

Be sure to include a tag with the directions!

Funny the things you grow up with and the things you don’t. In my house growing up I don’t ever remember my mother making any sort of Chex Mix at Christmas, she made other things such as delicious Christmas cookies which we loved to decorate. In the collection of recipes my mother-in-law gave me when I was to be married was a recipe for “Snax Mix” which I think I have made every year since I received it! It is so much a tradition in our family that my daughter says it isn’t Christmas without the Snax Mix! I usually make several batches and give them away to friends and neighbors.

One of the containers I use to package up this Snax Mix is coffee cans. I collect them over the year and even have my mom saving them for me. I wrap a piece of wrapping paper around the can, put a bow on the top and it’s an instant Christmassy package. Very easy and very inexpensive!

coffee cans, inexpensive gift container

Coffee cans transformed!

coffee cans, gift wrap, prudent living

Wrapping paper can transform an ordinary coffee can.

Here is the recipe for Snax Mix. I’ve changed it ever so slightly to add more cereal, I figure adding more cereal without increasing the butter mix means it’s less fattening!

dried cereal, snack mix, munchies

Cereals are placed in a large roasting pan.

 

pretzels, dried cereal, snack mix

All ingredients combined.

Snax Mix

½ lb butter (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp garlic salt
4 cups popped corn (1/2 cup un-popped popcorn)
2 cups unsalted nuts
4 cups cheerios
3 cups rice chex
3 cups corn chex
2 cups wheat chex
2 cups bite size-shredded wheat
Pretzel sticks
Mini bagel chips (optional)

Melt butter over low heat and add Worcestershire, celery salt, onion salt and garlic salt. Stir until combined. Place the popcorn, nuts, cereals, pretzels and mini bagel chips in a large roasting pan and pour the butter mix over; stir to make sure everything is coated. Bake 2 hours at 250 degrees, stirring every so often. Let cool and keep in an airtight container. I insert a plastic bag in the cleaned coffee can and then fill with the snax mix.

coffee can wrapped, gift idea

Snax mix in coffee can ready for gifting.

snack mix, gift ideas

The finished product, ready for snacking!

 

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