Frugal tip of the week

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming Frugal Cooking carnival and thought it might be fun to share some other money saving tips now and then as well. 

My first tip is a simple one:  THE GREAT WATER JUG.  We spend a fair bit of time running back and forth to various places– I’ve got three kids in soccer right now, as well as the usual number of doctor and dentist appointments, shopping trips, etc.   I always keep a half-gallon water jug in the van, as well as a few sturdy plastic cups.   Often kids will bring their own water bottles on outings as well.  But someone inevitably forgets their water, so the big jug helps thirsty kids be happier when out and about.   I also use it instead of buying drinks on the occasional busy day when we do the McDonald’s dollar menu for a quick dinner. 

How about you?  What’s one simple thing you do that saves your family a bit of money on a regular basis?

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  1. I’ve just started making bread. I’m not sure how much I save, but I enjoy knowing that I am giving my kids fresh 100% whole wheat bread with out all the preservatives.

  2. Making pizza at home instead of ordering from a pizza shop. It’s cheaper, tastes better, we have fun making it as a family, and we can make it exactly the way we want it!

  3. I buy most of their close at consignment, thrift stores and on the super-sale racks at the end of season, buying in the next size up. I bought myself some large rubbermaid tubs to store them until they fit, marking each tub with a different size. When they start growing out of stuff, I put it away in the bins and fish out the right size. I can pass most clothes on to the younger one but sometimes the pants are waaaaay to beat up.

    When we are done with the clothes I donate the decent ones to Goodwill or another charity thrift store. The ones in really decent shape that haven’t been worn much (like the Easter Outfits that didn’t get worn due to flu this year!) I consign. Since I am a SAHM I am always trying to find ways to keep me at home!

  4. Speaking of milk jugs we fill them up with water and freeze them. Then we use them instead of buying bags of ice for the cooler. And as an added bonus as the ice melts we drink the icy cold water! We have even used Kool Aid before too when the kids were younger.

    Just remember to completely clean the jugs first if you want to drink out of them.

    Looking forward to more frugal tips!

  5. Just went on dr appt/grocery store/returns errands today. As I entered the grocery store at lunchtime with my two hungry little girls, I had to laugh at my frugality….so I’m glad I get to pass it on here. It’s a little like your water. Before leaving home this morning, I packed little lunches for my girls (4, 2), but I didn’t give them to them until we were entering the grocery store! It curbed their appetite (of course) but also kept them occupied while I grabbed all my groceries. I thought I probably looked a little funny leading them in holding their plates of leftover pizza & sliced oranges.
    But I saved money & also avoided the drive-thru grossness. Yay!

  6. I’ve just started using cloth napkins instead of buying paper ones. They’re softer, earth-friendly, often last more than one meal, and add very little bulk to a load of laundry. And they look more formal, too, which is kind of fun. You could easily make them from scraps of leftover fabric.

  7. Mine is similar to the water jug. When we go out for an extended amount of time, I bag up some healthy snacks for the car. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but up until recently, I’d just grab a little something for the kids at a drive through or convenience store. We’ve definitely saved money that way (healthier, too). My hubby keeps a spreadsheet of where *all* our money is spent and it’s surprising to see how using the debit card for just a few dollars here and there added up.

  8. I went ahead and dropped a little money on Tupperware cups. When a tupperware cup is sealed with its lid you can throw the thing anywhere and it won’t spill or leak, which is exactly what the car ride with kids needs. Same is true for smallish tupperware containers. Perfect for homemade trailmix to fend off the car ride munchies.

    We’re also cutting down on fast food stops for meals with a picnic pack that I can throw in also and give everyone a healthier choice meal for less money.

  9. Great idea, Mary! Making sure we eat a meatless meal several times per week really cuts costs for us. We do beans or scrambled eggs for protein instead of meat. We also have hens and a plentiful supply of eggs, which takes a little effort, but the result is well worth it for our family.
    Gardening is my other big saver to cut down on produce costs.

  10. Debbi Busack says:

    I love these ideas. We also do the dollar menu at McDonalds and I always have a HUGE bag of pretzels from Costco in the car, so a $1 burger, pretzels and ice water from McDonalds can feed our family of 9 for $10.

  11. well, this is all about me, but I LOVE LOVE caribou coffee (if you arent from the north..its similar to Starbucks). But, of course, its expensive. WEll, my sister works at caribou so she gets me my syrups for 1/2 price.This way I really have no reason to get a Caribou except for special occassions b.c I have almost the same thing at my home!

  12. I recently blogged about how we are saving money by using cloth diapers. Not only that, both my babies seem to get rashes from disposable diapers, so the cloth ones are more gentle, too.

    This is a great “regular” topic. I am very interested in learning ways I can save money around the house.

  13. When we take our kids to the cineplex, I always take a few frappe containers in my purse- got these in Europe where they use them to shake iced coffees – but tupperware sells similar. Mine have a leak proof screw-on top and a lift up tab with a straw hole underneath.

    We don’t go often, so I splurge on one big combo. Large popcorn and pop and both refillable for about $12. Once in our seats I divide it into the frappe cups. Yes, we are still consuming too much junk food, but at least we aren’t spending $40 for it.

    Note: if you haven’t tried pouring from a giant flexing paper cup into much smaller plastic ones, do it in the lobby, over the garbage can. There is a knack.

  14. Here are some things we do:

    1) Bake our own bread for $0.50/loaf. We eat kosher, and the cheapest kosher loaf is $4. I pre-measure dry ingredients into bags (12 bags at a time), freeze, and take out as needed. I just add oil and water. Each bag makes 4 loaves.

    2) Make our own soy milk for $0.48/gallon. We drink regular milk too, but this is terrific for smoothies, baking, drinking fresh and hot. YUM. We use a Soyquick machine. 6 cups in 13 minutes.

    3) Make our own jams. Cheaper and MUCH better. 🙂

    4) Pre-cooking and freezing beans instead of buying canned.

    That’s all I can think of right now…

  15. I always plant a huge garden each year and can or freeze what I can. I like to make a variety of things out of my tomato crop such as homemade salsa (I use this for tacos but it is also yummy on pasta), tomato juice and tomato soup. This always gives me a variety of things to choose from all winter. I have also planted my own fruit trees and berry bushes. This saves me from buying the more expensive fruit through the winter. We also have a great neighbor that raises cattle and hogs. He sells us a hog and 1/4 beef each year. We were able to get a whole hog butchered last month for .80 a pound…What a savings! This gives us chops, hams, bacon, sausages, and roasts. Definantely cheaper than the grocery prices!

  16. We make our own bread using fresh ground whole wheat. It’s so much more nutritous & about 1/4 or less the cost of store bread. I love my bread machine. It makes the job so easy. Another money saving tip when making whole wheat bread is to substitute bottled lemon juice in place of vital wheat gluten. I use about 1-2 tsps. per cup of flour. The lemon juice helps the natural gluten in the wheat to develop properly, thus resulting in lighter loaves of bread. I also make our pancakes from scratch. Fresh ground whole wheat/oatmeal pancakes pack a lot of nutrition.

  17. Sarah Schmitz says:

    I have three children ages four and under so snacks are always in demand, especially during outings to church/mall/soccer. Instead of buying those expensive, prepackaged snacks, at the beginning of each week I fill up small tupperwares and baggies full of individual portions and put them in a large basket on my kitchen counter. When in need, I simply throw a few in the diaper bag when I’m headed out the door or when the kids just can’t wait until supper. I use items that I buy in bulk such as dried fruits, homemade trail mixes and granolas, chips, petzels, crackers, etc.

  18. It seems like baking bread is a pretty popular money-saving option. Mary, (or any of your readers) do you have good bread recipes, or know where to find some?

  19. I’ve got a good recipe for raisin bread, and I’ve just written it up on my site for you Shana. There will be a picture shortly (Bread is still in oven.) Enjoy!

  20. Since we are in the “process” of adopting again and on a pretty tight budget, I decided that I would pull out what I thought we needed for groceries every month in cash and that was all I got. We have saved at least $150 a month doing this. I now put aside $600 a month for our family of 7 and that includes things like dog food, laundry detergent etc. When you go into the store and you know you only have a certain amount left for the rest of the month, impulse buying is just not an option.

  21. Years ago we discarded store bought window cleaner for vinegar/water mix – it works great and is also the best spot remover for carpet! Just mix about 3 T. per quart of water and spray on spot, leave for 2 or 3 minutes and gently clean up with a clean rag changing spots on rag as they become dirty. I do not like the powerful smell from store-bought spot removers so I love the vinegar mix and of course it is much more affordable.

  22. There was a request for bread. I gave a yummy yogurt bread recipe on my blog: We cook with organic grains and raw milk that is usually cultured by kefiring (I use real grains) or by using the butter milk from making butter from the cream we skim off our raw milk. I’m just starting to play with recipes that soak my grains before baking. If this type of cooking interests you check out my blog for more recipes and tips to come. Tonight there are three batches of freshly ground flour soaking for making pancakes, muffins, & banana bread tomorrow. I’ll post the recipes if they work out well.

    Honestly I’m still trying to figure out my true budget cooking organic, raw dairy, with pastured meats, etc. But one thing I do on a regular basis is purchase all my grains, beans, and baking supplies bulk from a local co-op. Actually I shop through 3 local co-op’s because in my area to shop healthy at the local grocery stores costs almost twice as much as what I can get it for from the co-op’s.

    My other frugal healthy tip would be to find farmers or farmers markets in your area that are willing to share or trade for products or services that you have that they need and the reverse. Currently I have a friend who just got a dairy cow and has no clue how to make yogurt, sour cream, cheese, kefir, etc. So I’m teaching her in exchange for FREE raw milk!