Tuesday, August 9, 2022

My Strategy for Stretching Stuff

 Happy Tuesday all!  Today I want to speak about making things last longer and making things go further.  I do this with about everything.  Do I need to?  No!  Why then?
Well, this is how I was raised.  You made everything go as far as possible and you wasted nothing.  
I still feel that is important.  I can pretty much buy what I want now - but I see no sense in wasting things.

I have done this for years.  It is just who I am.  I know it has helped save money as well.  I think whatever I can do to be a good steward of money and things, helps!!  That allows us to do other things and saves a bit from the landfills.

Here are just a few things.  There are many - so I know I can't possibly mention them all.

*I do not use fabric softener sheets, except once in a great while in the winter (when static is really bad.  Then I only use a third of a sheet.  I have had the same box for a couple years.  Generally I line dry (or hang inside) or use vinegar in the rinse.  I can tumble in the dryer for a few minutes with a damp cloth to remove wrinkles

* Laundry detergent - I use way less than the say to use.  My clothes still get very clean.
I have been using this bottle for way over 2 years, and there is lots left.  I sometimes do one load a week, sometimes multiple, and sometimes none.  You use waaaayyyy too much if following the bottles directions.

*Juice - I always water it down.  I pour my first glass of juice from a bottle - then add water.  It always tastes plenty flavorful

*Toothpaste - I use a pea size dollop - that is plenty.  If I don't use toothpaste, I use a bit of baking soda.
*Dish soap - always gets watered down.  I mix water, soap and a bit of vinegar in another bottle.  Works great! (vinegar helps cut grease)
*Shampoo - gets watered down as well.  I mix a third of a bottle to 2/3's water.  Let it set a while, then shake up.
*Make my own foaming soft soap.  I have an old bottle from foaming hand soap that I re-use.  I add about 1/3 bottle of bath wash or other soft soap (I get free as gifts) with water.  It is perfect foaming soap.

*Bread - a loaf can last me a couple weeks.  I remove all air from the bags - and close tightly.  It stays nice and fresh tasting
*Meat - I never use what a recipe calls for.  I generally use 1/2 lb. or 1/4 lb. to anything I make.  I always used less when cooking for two as well.
*A pound of veggies can be stretched like crazy.  I can make carrots, radish, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts - you name it - last for a long while.  I mix lots of things together - so a little goes a long way.
EXCEPT tomato! - If I cut a tomato - it is eaten completely.  There is never leftover tomato - I eat it all!!!!!  As Justin Wilson used to say "I guarantee"!!
*Leftovers always get used in some form.  Maybe as they are for another meal or remade into something new.  I may freeze and use another day.

*I use rainwater outside for plants when possible - I also bring in some bottles of rainwater - to use on my hair in the winter months.  My hair gets drier feeling, so the rainwater makes it soft when washing. No need for conditioner.
*I only wash clothes when they are dirty or stinky.  I don't just wash to be washing.  I often wear something more than once.  Jeans for a few days if not dirty.
*Sticks and limbs - I keep some for plant stakes.  Many larger ones work perfectly for bracing up a garden plant.  I have even used a nice branch in my vining houseplant in the house.  It just kind of blends in, and the cost was FREE
*Leaves are used as mulch and weed barriers.  I either toss behind my shed to prevent grass from growing or in my garden.  Great compost

*Buy smaller bites of sweets.  I do love a candy bar now and then.  I don't buy full size candy bars - but I get bags of candy bites when they are on clearance.  A couple of those small pieces satisfies my craving.  Less sugar, less money and still satisfied!
I ONLY buy bags of candy on clearance, and I make it last. Just a piece or 2 is all it takes.

* I use old rags or old washcloths on my swifter.  They are washable and last forever.
*Old t-shirts become plant ties, rags or hankies
*I use my portable dehumidifier water in my washer
*I often just lightly dampen a rag for dusting.  No need for fancy sprays
*I clean mainly with vinegar and baking soda or just plain water.  Sometimes I wipe the inside of windows down with just a damp cloth - to clean kitty kisses.  Sometimes I mix with vinegar
*When we camped, I would save dryer lint and TP tubes (stuff lint in tubes) for campfire starters

OK - my brain is done for the morning!!!!!  LOL
How do you stretch items around your house?  Do you do it to save or just because you always have?
I love getting new ideas.  Let us know what you do!!!

PS - It's raining, it's pouring - the old man is snoring!!!!!  YAY


  1. You live a very economical lifestyle, Cheryl. It's a GOOD thing and reminds me of my maternal grandparents' motto of not wasting anything. When I was growing up (in the 60s and 70s), that was considered old fashioned, and I suppose some still see it that way today. I learned a lot from my grandparents--grudgingly at times--that came in mighty handy when raising my own kids with limited finances.

    I do a lot of what you do. My main area of home economics is in the kitchen, but it extends beyond that. I don't darn socks as my grandma did, yet holey or saggy socks make darned good dusting mitts! Pun intended. Much of what I do is a lifestyle choice more than anything else now. 30-40 years ago, I had to get past the stigma of seeming/being cheap. TWG helped me see the wisdom of earlier generations. You've picked up that baton and run with it! Your encouragement is priceless. --Elise

    1. I think many of us just DO things - because we should! Not necessarily to save in our lives, but to save THINGS in our lives. I don't mend socks anymore either - but they do get other uses, like you said.
      I was always told - waste not, want not - I guess I cannot get past that.
      Thanks for your sweet words. We all need a reminder now and then.

  2. Don'tcha just love the rain!? My little dogs didn't care for it so much but the Farmer and I were glad to see it. Our power flickered long enough so we had to reset the clocks.

    We are better off using vinegar and other kitchen ingredients for cleaning. No odor to take your breath away and make you sneeze and cough. You always have good ideas for using natural goods for cleaning. Pinterest is full of good ideas also. I use the small cup that came with some liquid cold medicine to measure detergent, don't need any more than that. White vinegar is perfect to put in the fabric softener cup in the washer. I make my own eyeglass cleaning spray. Dirt cheap! The Urban Farmer adds fresh lemon juice to his water each morning and now the peels are marinating in a vinegar bath to make lemon cleaner.

    I did a search for the "use it up" slogan and found this: "Use it up... Wear it out... Make it do... Or do without" - what a great slogan! It was coined by the War Advertising Council during World War II to promote the dual need to conserve scarce resources and to help keep prices down by not generating excess demand". I think a lot of folks are doing just that these days.

    1. The rain was wonderful. I got stuck a bit in the greenhouse this AM. Went to feed the kitties, ran off a possum, walk in and was getting their food ready and down it came!! It poured and poured for about 30 minutes, then I made run for it!!!
      I just like using natural - I don't need all those nasty chemicals in my house. They aren't healthy for me or the animals. Lemon water is good for you!
      I know my parents used that phrase a lot. And they lived it. Had good teachers!

  3. Years ago, I had a washing machine repairman tell me that I was using far too much detergent. No more than 2 tablespoons is what he told me, and I've never used more since then.
    I do use dryer sheets as I cannot line dry (against city bylaw), but I don't use a full sheet.
    Bits and bobs of veggies on their last legs make a great vegetable broth.

    1. Good advice from the repairman. I do the same for shampoo - I heard years ago from a top notch hairdresser, that ANY shampoo is too harsh for hair and should be watered down.
      In the winter I hang clothes to dry in the basement - then toss for a few minutes.
      Yes, love veggie/meat broth - so good and full of vitamins.

  4. I love this post. I always come away with something new to do or pick up again as I lapse in doing something, like the vinegar for softener. I can't wait for some rain here and to think I wanted to move to Arizona. Nuts!!

    1. The vinegar really does work and it leaves no smell.
      No rain for you? I thought you got a lot of rain. No I can't imagine most of AZ. - Now Elise lives in a part that has rain, but she is higher elevation I think!
      Thank you!!!!!!!

    2. Yes, some of AZ gets plenty of monsoon rain in the summer and snow in the winter, but it's a good 3 hour drive from either Phoenix or Tucson! There's a mountain range that runs through a large swath of the state; it includes Flagstaff, Prescott, and the whole White Mountain region (where I'm now living). I'd happily share some of the rainfall we've been getting! ;-)

    3. I do believe most people think of AZ as hot, desert and dry. I sure did, until you stated talking about your place. Laurie has some folks in AZ too - but I don't think they are in the same area as you.

    4. Elise, My friends live in Queen Creek, AZ but they spend their summer and fall in Minnesota. Cheryl, We used to get all the rain they get up in Portland when we lived there. Now we are in the banana belt of Southern Oregon.

  5. I love all of your frugal lifestyle ideas, Cheryl. I dry laundry outside as often as possible. When I do need to use the dryer, I use liquid fabric softener in the rinse cycle rather than using dryer sheets. I wash my hair with baking soda water rather than shampoo, and have found that this allows me to wash my hair far less frequently than when I used shampoo.

    1. Love the smell of clothes dried outside!
      Hmmm, now that gives me something to ponder. I can go 3-4 days on hair washing, so I am OK with that - but never thought about using baking soda on it. Years ago, my hair was so oily, that I had to wash basically every day! Thanks

  6. I’ve used baking soda to wash my hair for the last 8 years and my hair has never been better! Then rinse w vinegar water. Used to wash it daily, now every 4 days.

    1. Thanks - need to try this tip for sure.

    2. I used to do the baking soda & vinegar shampoo too. Made my hair a bit to dry.

  7. Great post, with lots of reminders. I only use rainwater on my outdoor planters. Since I started putting bowls on the deck for the pup (he likes to bask outdoors), I really see how dirty our rainwater is, from city and suburban pollution. There are times I simply need to dump his bowl after a good rain, just to wash it out, lots of sediment in the bottom. With leftover chicken or other meats, I need to remember to chop it up and freeze what won't be used in the next day or two. I've also begun buying smaller sizes of dairy and condiments that I won't go thru before they go bad.

    1. Wow, I think my rainwater is clearer than the city water. The city water is always leaving sediments. That is why I filter my drinking water. My outdoor animals seem to prefer the rainwater over tap. Might be the chlorine.
      Smaller sizes are a good idea - that way things don't get wasted before used up.

  8. Probably everyone is doing these. I know I'll think of others as soon as I hit Publish.
    *when I think a detergent bottle or dish detergent bottle is empty, I fill with water, shake each time and use as usual until gone.
    *I keep two jars in freezer for bits and bobs. First jar is for leftover cooked veggies. When full it becomes part of either veggie soup or shepherd's pie. Second jar is for leftover canned fruit. When it's full it becomes part of either a cobbler or base for warm fruit and sweet dumplings.
    *Save my tissue boxes. They make great holders for the plastic bags we get way too many of. Corrals them and makes it handy to grab one for lining the bath waste basket or however you repurpose them.
    *Save my empty pill bottles. Great for using to put spice blends or my own dried herbs. Labeled nicely, they look nice to put in a Christmas food basket.
    *Save the styro or plastic containers that hold produce.wash well of course. Great for giving treats to others and no need for them to return the container.
    *If you buy those ice cream pails, never get rid of those. You can freeze in those, pick garden produce, little cleaning pails, store things in them, etc. So versatile!
    *Popcorn tins are also awesome for storing lots of things from grains to yarn and beyond.
    *I reuse a tea bag often...my second cup of hot tea is still refreshing.

    1. Sure enough - always put water in the bottle and shake. I do that with dressing as well - only I add milk.
      Great idea for tissue boxes. I don't buy tissues - but love the idea of using the boxes.
      I give a lot of candy in the stryo containers! Ice cream containers are good for all kinds of things.
      A popcorn tin is a thing of wonder!
      You have some great ideas - thanks for sharing.

  9. We do many of the same things as you. Besides saving money, using less laundry detergent saves your washer, too. My Dad was an appliance repairman when I was in elementary school and he said he could always tell when a customer used too much detergent because it corrodes the machine. We use one tablespoon and it cleans very well. We also cut our dishwasher powder to one tablespoon after I read on a blog that someone had found that their dishes were not getting clean because of too much detergent. We immediately went from dingy silverware and glasses to sparkling clean.

    Every bit of compostable material goes out to the compost pile. We do nothing but pile it on all year. Then in the Spring we dig out the bottom of it and get 30 to 40 gallons of black gold for planting.

    We use bar soap so when we get down to a sliver we wet that and a new bar and stick the sliver to the new bar. Our bars of soap are stored unwrapped in a small basket to allow them to dry so they take longer to use up.

    We save all our bacon grease to give flavor to foods without using bacon. I used to make a fried cabbage dish with bacon but found that it is every bit as good just cooked in a scoop of saved bacon grease rather than frying bacon for the grease and then crumbing the bacon on top. We have also switched from butter for making eggs to bacon grease because butter just keeps going up.

    We stretch our storage space by cleaning out and getting rid of items we no longer need or use. This morning we cleaned out a shelf in the linen closet to store quarts of our canned foods. I often see that people have purchased shelving units for more storage but did they look at what they already have to see if they can just clean out for more storage space? We also have empty dresser drawers on 3 guest rooms where we need to remember to store items.

    Great post. It got me thinking!

    1. Smart on the dishwasher - I have heard that too.
      So neat to be able to compost - to buy that stuff would be a fortune. You would probably never get any as good either.
      Smart with bar soap - I have bars and bars. It does last so much longer when stored out of package.
      Bacon grease is absolute gold. It is good for everything. My favorite way to fry most foods!!!!!

      Smart idea on storage. Not everything is about food. Our stretching can be capacity as well. There are so many free storage options out there.
      Great suggestions!

  10. We do many similar things to stretch what we have. I use a microfiber cloth for dusting and I have made dusters for my reacher (they are washable and only cost pennies to make).

    God bless.

    1. Microfiber is such a good invention! They work great for everything. Good idea on making duster cloths!

  11. I mend all my clothes, even socks. Ive sewed binding over pant hems that had frayed they're so old ! I really hate clothes shopping, so will pretty much mend anything to avoid it.

    1. I wear things till they totally wear out! Not much of a shopper either. I mend clothes - just don't spend time on socks any more. I probably should, but I find other uses for them!

  12. I do all you do except watering down. I am the only one using my shampoo or dishwashing detergent, so I just use less. Watered down makes it flow faster, resulting in still using too much. Tommy pinches pennies, so when I showed him I only use a drop of Dawn, he does the same with the bottle of Dawn he uses. I am allergic to the one he uses, so we don't have to have our own bottle. He is good about not using much detergent in the washer. I use one-eighth of what is recommended.
    One time, I had two pairs of shoes, one white pair and one black pair, but identical shoe styles. One shoe tore up on the white pair. The other pair had a lost shoe. So, it just so happened I had a left shoe and a right shoe. I wore those around the house and yard and did not have to buy new shoes!

    1. I put my shampoo in a squirt bottle, so have a little control. I think it suds better.
      That is funny about the shoes - lucky you that they were opposite shoes! LOL!! why not use them around the house. I have done that with socks - kids today say that is cool - to use 2 different ones!

  13. These are great. I’ve heard you can water down whole milk, but I’ve never tried it.

    1. I would imagine you could - make it more like 2% or 1%. I sometimes add water to milk, if using the last bit when baking or cooking.

  14. Love this ..so many ways to save money! I use the dawn power spray and then refill it with half dish detergent (any kind will do) and the half water, then shake. Works great.

  15. So many great tips Cheryl! I am fascinated/horrified people washing clean clothes. This wears the clothes out as well. If its not dirty I am not going to wash it. I dont buy drier sheets either. This all saves so much money. Yesterday I went through the veggies I was given. I had washed everything and got it all into the fridge but now I was planning what needed using first. The cauliflower had brown spots on the surface in a lot of patches. Cauliflowers are $8 here. I immediately cut off the brown and cooked the whole thing. Some Broccoli was getting soft so I cooked that too. Then I made a cheese sauce and made a cauliflower (and broccoli) cheese. It was delicious and we will get a few meals out of it. I think I will have enough to give my daughter some as she loves it. I like to put everything to good use! xxx