Butter Wrappers, Cereal Bags & the Income of a Homemaker

use-it-upAs a homemaker, my “income” can be how much money I save by “making do”. I’m inspired by past generations of resourceful homemakers when it comes to making do. In WWII folks were encouraged to plant “victory” gardens and make do on rations to support the troops. We could learn a lot from those women who could feed and clothe a family with very little.

Look, I may not be cashing a pay check anymore but I’m also not spending anywhere near as much as I did back then. I can’t walk and chew bubblegum, that’s to say I kind of suck at multitasking anymore than necessary… so if I was working, we’d spend more money just buying the convenience items that allow many a busy Mom to take care of her family as well as bring home the bacon. Yes that was a major run-on sentence because I also suck at writing. We’d be spending more on gas, my wardrobe, makeup, my hair (gotta look good in the office) not to mention childcare, and still take care of the home. Working Moms are amazing.

So, spend less money. That’s the goal. In order for me to stay at home with the kids, I didn’t just quit working; we didn’t just lose an income, we had to change the way we live or else it wouldn’t work. And for a while there it damn near didn’t… There are a million & one things to buy when you’re shopping for a household, especially one with kids in it. Those supplies add up and become a huge chunk of the budget because there is just so much everyone needs. So, cutting costs is the goal.

I make money by saving money and one way to achieve that is to really get your money’s worth from the items you buy; squeezing every last drop out of things and being a total cheapskate. I admit though, this lifestyle isn’t for everyone and if you don’t do as I do, that’s super! High-five! You’re doing everything you can to make a home for your family and you’re rocking it your own way. Get it girl. This is just my way. You’re all awesome. I mean it.

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In earlier posts I mentioned cutting costs by not buying cleanerspaper towels & plastic baggies. That is my mindset- what can we do without?  How can we make do? Do we really need to buy that or can we use something we already have to get the same result? In that vein, do you remember Home Ec. class? Do they still have that? I took Home Economics in the 9th grade and still remember many of the lessons from that class because I actually use those lessons in real life. One trick our teacher taught us was to use your butter wrappers to grease baking pans or griddles and I practice that to this day. I keep butter & margarine wrappers in a plastic container in the freezer to use as needed. Keep in mind that butter is a perishable and will go bad on you. So I store the wrappers in the freezer and then when I need to rub down a pan the heat of my hand thaws it immediately. Nifty, huh? After reusing a wrapper once, I finally do throw it away.

Another thing I save is the plastic bag that cereal comes in. Someone once told me they make great piping bags for frosting & stuff but that turned out to be a bust- literally. The seams on the side of the cereal bag won’t hold up to the pressure of piping which, if you think about it, makes sense. Those seams are designed to open easily so you can get the cereal out.

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So, no, to piping bags but YES to freezer bags! When I open a bag of frozen vegetables and only use part of it, a handy cereal bag is a great way to store what’s left without having frozen corn rolling all over the inside of your freezer. I seal it with a twist tie or just fold it over. Also, I use freezer bags- excuse me, cereal bags- to wrap baked goods like banana bread, meatballs, what-have-you, and freeze. If you’re a little paranoid about freezer burn (I am) then wrap the food in plastic wrap, aluminum foil  or both, first. How much money did you save this week? Well what if I told you that’s an income? Nice, huh?

Freezer Bags

Once, I went to freeze something and realized too late that we were out of baggies. Oh, no! What to do? Run to the store?? Nope. Staying on budget means I don’t run to the store every time I need something and being frugal often requires thinking outside the box. So I had to rethink the expensive freezer bags we were using. I put the food I wanted to freeze in the fridge while I brainstormed.

As I heated up some chicken nuggets for my toddler’s lunch that day, inspiration struck. I held a resealable freezer bag in my hand! And since we go through a bag a week, a supply could be built up relatively quickly. So now I save all of the resealable bags that frozen food comes in after washing, sanitizing, and then drying them on my handy bottle drying rack. Some other things that come in these resealable bags are  frozen fruit, meatballs, vegetables, etc. I wouldn’t use a bag that had contained uncooked meat though. What other items could you reuse? Happy freezing!

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Soap Bottle Squirters

One thing that my kids LOVE to do outside is squirt water. So we bought some cheapy little party favor squirt guns to entertain them but they had to be refilled every couple minutes and ultimately broke within a day or two. I started saving my dish soap bottles and, after a few good rinses with cold water, they’re a great substitute for squirt guns. Sometimes we put food coloring in the water and they call them their rainbow squirters. These are also a lot of fun in the bathtub!

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Let them water your plants!

Another way we play with water is to have the kids water plants. Our daughter, Miss S, loves to water every bush and rock she sees until she’s soaking wet and covered in mud. It’ll entertain her for a good hour or so at least. So we gave Miss S a cleaned out gallon milk jug as a watering can. My husband used a tiny bit to drill holes in the cap to let the water out. We’ve also done this with 12 oz. water bottles and plastic juice containers.

 

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