Monday, 14 September 2009

A holistic approach to frugality

by Throwback at Trapper Creek


We often lament about the good ol' days, simpler times and an easier time of being frugal. It all seems so simple when Gramma reminisces, and now we are faced with hard times too, and it isn't always so easy.

We all live when we live, we can't go back or forward, we are living our lives right now, and dealing with whatever comes our way. It used to be a common marketing tool for companies to package their goods in re-usable containers. This was an enticement for the thrifty housewife to choose one product over another. Instead of single use packaging, if you bought coffee in a mason jar that could be used for canning - you were in fact going to save money. Another great example of this was the flour sack made from beautiful calico that could be used for sewing projects for the household.

Vintage coffee jars, made specifically for re-use.

More vintage jars - meat, condiment, and shortening containers.

Most of these older jars take a regular mouth canning lid and can be used for dry storage/decoration and canning too. Mayonnaise used to be sold in actual mason jars that were made for re-use. That is where the advice to can in mayonnaise jars comes from. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Some of those jars are still around, but haven't really been marketed that way since 1950 - since the companies realized they could squeeze out more profit by going to a lower grade (thinner) glass for their jars.

Will manufacturers go back to this? Probably not in our greedy world. But we can look for ways in the home to squeeze more "profit" out of our purchases. A penny saved is a penny earned and sometimes more.

We use sisal twine for our haymaking operations. But we buy straw for bedding and that farmer uses poly twine. So instead viewing the plastic twine as garbage we look for ways to use it. Being mindful and creative we see the twine as a 5' foot length of tough material that may be used for putting together a temporary pen or...

But to make the twine the most useful, we need be careful to cut it at the knot, and to save it in a manner that neither takes up space or allows it to become a tangled mess. Instead of a constant mess on the barn floor, this hank of twine looks functional and is handy.

We also save the good cotton string from our feedsacks - I have used it to string my pepper ristras, and am entertaining thoughts of knitting with it.


In the kitchen I save bacon grease for cooking. I make my own butter and pack it in canning jars for freezing, but I do buy butter from the store also. It is usually wrapped in wax paper. I find that if I save these wax paper butter wrappers, I can use them for greasing a baking dish. Folded up and stored in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator, I have ready made baking helpers. I am getting one more use out of that purchased butter and its wrapper before I throw it away. Every little bit does add up, I save money by using something that would get discarded, and I don't have to purchase a product specifically for greasing my pans.

I like to think of ways to re-use things, and I keep that in mind when I am at the store.

Lids from my coconut oil jars become extra lids for refrigerator storage of my home canned foods.

Vitamin bottles can become seed storage containers

Feed bags can become mulching material, or something to kneel on to stay clean while gardening.

Plastic food containers can become storage containers. Just make sure if you are reusing plastic containers for food items that you follow the rule of hot and cold. Do not put hot foods in a container that was made for cold foods, as the hot product may cause chemicals to leach from the plastic that was made for cold products. For instance - soup in a yogurt container is a no-no. Also it is not recommended that fatty foods be stored in plastic either. Hence, my butter goes in glass jars.

These are just a few money saving ideas off the top of my head - what creative tips have you found to be useful in your household?