Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Use It Up ...............

 Howdy all.  Hope you are all well and safe and warm.
Today we are going to talk about using it up!  We have all heard the saying - use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!  Well, it really is a good way to live.  Not only does it teach us how to be good stewards of what we have, but it saves a little money and helps the environment.  It also just makes sense!  If we stretch things to the max and get every ounce of use from them, we are also stretching our dollars.

I know we have talked out this before, but reminders are always good and maybe someone new will see something they never thought of.  We are here to teach and help - hopefully this helps.

I believe this saying with all my heart.  We have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring, what life may dump upon us, how our finances can change - it is all uncertain.  Knowing what to do IF it happens is important.  I like knowing that I have 'practiced' all along the way and that I will be OK.  

We talk about stretching food a lot.  There is so much you can do with food and leftovers and bits and pieces.  You just need to get creative.

Those bones from any type of meat - can be cooked in a big pot of water to make great stock.  You can also throw in all those scraps from veggies - to enhance it.  Freeze or can this - and you have fully natural broth/stock to use in your cooking!
Whatever is left after that can be composted or dried and ground into free garden nutrients.

Use those leftovers in different ways.  Leftover veggies/meat can be made into soups, casseroles, stir fry, fried rice, added to pasta or rice - the list is endless.  Shoot, unless highly seasoned, you can even make pet food.

Oranges or citrus - it isn't just for eating!  Eat the fruit, juice the fruit - lots of vitamin C.  BUT you can use the peels as well.  You can zest and freeze for special recipes.  You can candy it and eat - that stuff is expensive to buy.  Candied peels not only taste good to eat - but it is great in hot tea or coffee or a warm cup of cider.  It can be used in potpourri.  You can use the peels for a great smelling natural cleaner (also helps keep ants away).  You can compost.  The fruit that just keeps giving.

Water!!!  Yep, you can use it again!  If you are cooking pasta or veggies - you can use that water (strained) to water plants.  It contains lots of nutrients.  Now if you use salt or vinegar in your water - you don't want to water plants - but you can pour over compost or you can pour on weeds.  Keep that water that just 'goes down the drain' when showering (or warming water to do dishes).  Keep a bucket in the shower to catch it.  Free water for plants, bird baths, pets, flushing, cleaning etc.  I dump my scalding canning water on weeds outside - it kills them quickly (plus it has vinegar in  it).
Some places have water troubles - it is good to use it in another way.

If you are throwing away clothes that cannot be donated - use what you can.  I keep buttons and good zippers.  Also, elastic.  You can cut those items up and use for rags for cleaning.  Keeps us from using so much paper.  Grandma always had a button box - so did mom - guess what?  I do too!!!  We should all keep those odd and end buttons - they can replace one on clothing or they can be used in crafts.  SO handy.

Baskets - they are pretty and they can contain about anything.  Books, kitchen towels, napkins, TP, crafts, spices, plants, toys, anything you can think of.  Depending on how big they are - they can hold throws.
                                                                           Pet toys!
                                  Any shape or size - can be used in some way.  Get creative.
Your baskets don't have to be just the pretty ones.  Keep those baskets from farm markets or orchards.  They can be turned in handy garden aides (carry your garden picks), or they can hold packets of seasonings.  They can carry items from basement or pantry to kitchen or other rooms.  They can be turned into gifts.
I have gifted more items in baskets than I can count.  I generally place a couple (thrifted) checkered napkins in the baskets (hanging over sides) - then fill with home canned goods or make a spaghetti dinner basket, pizza bake baskets, home baked goods, coffee/tea baskets, etc.  There is no limit!!

Old towels can be cut, and edges sewn to make wash cloths.  They can be used for pet bedding, They can be used as rags.

We could go on and on today - but I will stop for now.  There are just an abundant amount of uses for just about everything out there!  Use it up!!!!!  

A simple life isn't always an easy life - because living on less takes some work and thought.  But it sure can be a fulfilling life.  You can feel good about knowing you got your money's worth out of something - you kept it from a landfill - you saved a little money - and you are just being a good steward.
Learn to live on less now and IF or WHEN you HAVE to, it won't be such a culture shock.
We have become such a consumer driven world - people push it.
I say have self-gratitude for 'what you have' and don't feel the need to keep up with others.
It is all a mindset - you get to the point it is just LIFE - not "oh, crap I have to do without this week"

I will offer some other ideas to extend and stretch more items again this week.
Take a deep breath, look around at what you have, and use it and make it work for you!
Have fun and have a wonderful day!!!


  1. You surely touched on a lot of points that I happen to share with you today.
    baskets! I have so many of all sizes and they all work for me. I have 1/2 bushel baskets for small limbs and twigs that I gather and use for starting fires. They then get filled with apples in the fall and stay in the garage until cold weather. I have a big basket in the porch just now with squash and sweet potatoes (on the floor where it is cooler). A big basket carries jars to and from the attic where my stash of canning jars live. We have a basket in our truck when we travel with water, snacks, fruit and sanitizers. Never a need to buy drinks or food. Baskets for potatoes, baskets for onions and so on. There is always a basket with me in the garden with scissors and a knife to harvest bits of this and that. They used to be so cheap to acquire; maybe they still are but I have all I need so am not up on current prices.
    water! becoming a scarce commodity. We should all value potable water and never waste it. Even though I have a lake full of it available, I reuse as much as possible. Water from veg cooking is saved for soup making or gravy (unless brassicas were cooked in it).
    pet food! so important to feed your pet as much real table food as possible. Kibble producers promote a lie that table food is not good for pets. Ideally pets should eat plenty of good quality meat but who can afford that? I don't know what kibble costs any more as I no longer have pets but I wonder how much organ meats, etc cost compared to it. Our dear departed dog lived to 16 years of age. He got as much raw meat as we could manage; we have butchered road kill deer just for him. Sometimes I'd make a porridge with oats and meat. Dog biscuits were made with various fats and grease added to the biscuit ingredients.
    buttons! zippers! wish I could donate my collection to my younger self when I did more sewing of clothing. Have you priced buttons? wow.
    so I start my day with renewed zest for living a frugal life. thanks, Cheryl, for keeping your readers inspired.

    1. Hey Rita. I am glad I hit on some things you do too. It just makes so much sense to reuse.
      I love baskets of every sort. You hit some good other uses. I never really thought to keep one or more in the vehicle. Smaller for snacks and bigger for hauling things. I do have a milk crate in back with various car supplies.
      Potable water is valuable commodity. Everyone takes it for granted - flip the faucet on - boom water. That could all end some day - know how to stretch it.
      Buttons are soooooo expensive, as are zippers and elastic. And don't get me started on material! We need to remake more clothes from other already made.
      I LOVE IT! "renewed zest for living a frugal life". Thank you!!

  2. Good morning, I love this kind of post. I am always trying to think of some other way to use up old rags and such.
    * I cleaned out my linen cupboard and found a few napkins and such that I thought I would put in a yard sale, well they are still here cause I just can't bear to get rid of them. I will find a use for them.
    One thing I want to ask, Do you use unpaper towels and do you use them for any kind of clean up that involves grease or oil? If so do you toss them or clean them to use again?
    I have errands to run today, post office and grocery store.

    1. Morning. I have some napkin tips tomorrow!! I use a lot of rags or cloth items to clean. I use very little paper anymore.
      I use cloth to clean - inside and out. I usually pour grease into a tin can and wait for trash day. Of course bacon grease is saved! I wash most of the rags unless they have been in oil or grease - then I do trash.
      Have fun with your errands.

  3. Excellent post! Anything to make us think rather than just toss something. My mom was good about that as she raised small children in Kentucky during the Depression. Baskets are worth their weight in gold. We have lots of baskets and totes in the sheds, greenhouse and garage for harvesting and storing. I use baskets to corral pens that I use for coloring and journaling. And they don't have to be Longabergers! Chipped mugs are good for office supplies too. I use an old aluminum measuring cup to scoop out borax for the laundry. Old buttons and the wooden spools of thread are decorative as well as useful. All these things make your home more colorful and personal.

    Enjoy this sunshine!

    1. Thanks. Good ideas there. I love baskets so much. I have a couple expensive ones I was gifted, but I still use them. I use all baskets - most have been gifted or thrifted.
      Yep, those mugs are great for office supplies.
      I like the country look with spools and buttons. I know it isn't for everyone, but I sure think its cute.
      The sun is glorious!

  4. Great post. Our daughter's neighbour used any cardboard boxes they both have for her garden, she either breaks them up for the compost bin or puts them on her garden under home make compost as she gardens the 'no dig' method. Apart from winter/spring when it's too muddy, we use all our veg/fruit peelings in compost bins on our allotment plot. Our local refuge company provides food waste bins collected weekly and this is made into compost locally.
    I often use up the 'fridge gravel' (left over bits) in other dishes. When we had our Springer Spaniels, they would eat almost anything. Also when our three late dogs were young, they all had cardboard boxes as beds to start with as they used to chew up normal beds.
    Yes we use old towels for pet use and just before we got Freddie I cut up a single duvet and an old duvet cover and made 4 dog beds with removable covers for his crate.
    I too have a button box which our daughter added to when she say a bag of buttons for sale cheap in a charity shop.
    Waste no, want not, as the saying goes.

    1. Thanks. Yes, great use for cardboard - over the garden bed.
      I wish we had a project here, that the city would collect things for compost. We do have recycle businesses (you have to pay), but nothing for compost that I know of. I love the idea of community gardens. That needs to be done more.
      Animals seem to love boxes!! Why not make beds - smart.
      I love looking for buttons at yard sales or thrift stores - when I go.
      Yep, waste not want not.

  5. Frugal is an AMAZING lifestyle. I have no issue spending good $ on something I really want (I'm not talking need). I also have no issue doing a 2 week $$ fast to keep up great skills. If we lost half our retirement funding we'd survive without assistance. It's a genuine low-stress lifestyle and a fabulous feeling. God has been good to us

    1. Thank you for saying that - IT IS AMAZING! I love when others try to get the point across to others as well.
      I am similar - I think I could be fine for a long, long time. Your lifestyle and views are why I believe a lot of us are frugal. We sure can be when needed, but we can still enjoy life and have things! Saving isn't just for emergencies - but for LIFE as well.

  6. Button box! I was just this morning looking through mine for 5 buttons to use on a project. Found them. :)

    Baskets are so nice. I have them for the garden and for the house. I do not keep them in the car - it gets too hot and I wonder about that damaging them. I keep a box in the car with emergency car supplies.

    Chipped, handleless mugs are great for storing pens, pencils, barrettes, teaspoons.

    I need to make some washcloths from old towels. New towels & wash cloths are not very good, I've found. The weave is too loose, and the thread hasn't enough twist. Soft is nice, but I'd prefer a bit more absorbency. ;)


    1. Love it. Great minds! I have used my button box so many times.
      Baskets serve so many purposes. I have plastic milk crates in car - but after a long time they get brittle.
      I like the older towels and cloths as well. That is one reason I love towels hung on the line - they may not be as soft feeling, but they are sooooo absorbent.

  7. I have a large basket collection from when we lived near a JoAnne's fabric. They always had 40-50% off and I found really nice ones that were very affordable. I use them for so many things, inside and out.
    Jars, mugs, unique vases I've been given all are used for holding things like pens, makeup brushes, you name it.
    I used to get this nice large tin box with a lid that was filled with cookies every year for Christmas from one of the docs I work for. I ended up with 8 of them. I store my seeds in one. All of my mani, pedi items in one. Tins with lids are one of my favorite storage containers.

    1. Cheaper baskets are all the better. Love getting a deal on them. They can be used for so much.
      Tins are great. So many uses. Great idea for the garden seeds. Anything that needs to stay dry and out of life - perfect storage. Keeps rodents/bugs out as well.

  8. When I cleaned out the linen closet, I had extra sheets, and older towels. The blanket bags I purchased had low quality zippers that split open. As its been mentioned, zippers are expensive and there are very few long zippers available locally. I researched zipper by the yard and found that to be a good option. SO, I've been working on sewing blanket bags made out of old and scratchy sheets. I can custom size them to fit my blankets and duvets. I think my sheet scraps and towels will be made into dog beds. I hope the zipper by the yard idea will help someone else. I did have to mail order it.
    Central Az

    1. Great ideas. If a coat can't be reused -or a sweatshirt - those are nice long zippers to keep as well.
      I like that you are thinking outside the box so to speak. Love the idea of blanket bags. Thanks for the zipper tip.

  9. My basket runs over with all the love, kindness and advice you have given me these past few years.

    I like to use baskets in the bathroom. I use a small one on rhe tank of the toilet to hold 2 or 3 extra rolls of toilet tissue. I have half baskets hangind on the wall by the sink to hold extra hand towels..i have smaller on the wall by the shower/tub with washclothes and large one on one the floor to hold extra bath towels. i tend to rolls all of them for easy storage and it looks more decorative. Some are natural and some I spray painted to match colors of the bath.

    I have used others in the kitchen to hold packets and smaller things to help with organization. There is always a use for so many things if you take the time to think about it.

    1. How cool. Glad you have found ideas over time that you could use. They are great for the bathroom! Yes, towels and TP are great uses. I have a low basket with TP in it that slides under a cabinet in there.
      They are just so versatile and useful - from soup to nuts!

  10. When my grandmother died, she had a huge number of zippers and buttons. I have used every zipper over the years, and the button can is still with me. I also have torn zippers out of things I was throwing away to reuse and saved all the buttons.

    1. And this folk comes from a SEAMSTRESS!!!!! YES, saving those things comes in so handy and saves a small fortune. They are expensive at fabric shops now. Thank you!

  11. I have a stack of old worn jeans I just can't bear to get rid of! I understand. I use them to mend others and the potholders idea is a great one. I will have to maybe do that. Baskets and tins are wonderful. They can hold anything.
    I think button jars are just fascinating. Fun just looking at them.
    Yes old books and calendars make a great source for card making. They sure have some lovely pictures and imagines.

  12. Great post today Cheryl.
    I must admit I am not a fan of baskets. I love the look of them but find I just can’t keep them free of dust ( that’s more a judgement on my housekeeping skills than baskets)
    Do you remember I told you that my partner had bought home a commercial sized box of dishwasher tablets??
    Turns out they are great for removing grease and oil from my son’s work clothes. He is an agricultural mechanic so comes home greasy, oily, dusty most days. I have been soaking his clothes in an old laundry tub with 3 tablets at a time, by Saturday morning the dirt has lifted out and they are good to be washed. Even better they have lost that sour smell that oil in fabric gets. I’m counting that as a win.

    1. I get the dust - I give mine a shower now and then!
      Win-win on the dishwasher tablets. What a great and creative use. I wish I had known that when G was working - oh the oil smells and the stains and the smell of gasoline!
      Good going. Making good use of what we have on hand!

    2. I’m not sure that it does the actual fabric much good but at least he looks and smells clean. His boss gives him three new sets of clothes every six months so they don’t have to last. Then the shirts are cut up for rags and the jeans go to the homeless shelter.

  13. My garage is overflowing with baskets (from garage and estate sales). I was just thinking of which ones I can use for Easter baskets!
    You know all those little things can really save money. Great post!

    1. Yes, Easter baskets! Another great use. Gifting anything in baskets is cool with me. You will get creative and have fun with it, I am sure!

  14. This is another great blog post, Cheryl. I’m definitely in the use it up camp. It just makes good financial sense to be good stewards of what we’ve been provided. Mom always had a button tin when we were growing up, which is mine now and I add to it from time to time. You never know when you need a button.

    1. Thanks. I have been in the use it up mode a lot here lately. I usually am, but for some reason it just happens more often now. You are so correct - just good financial sense.

  15. Mama had a button jar, and so do I. I even bought some antique buttons. My friend gave me buttons from Yemen. I lived in a town that had many sewing factories. I could buy a bag of buttons at one very cheap. Mostly, the buttons were flower shapes, so that was fun for children's clothing. The sewing factories are all gone, business sent elsewhere thanks to Clinton.
    I knew a man who cut down white pine for baskets. He did everything the old-fashioned way. I bought a basket from him every time we did a craft show together. Baskets can be hosed down. These were very expensive, but I always bought something I wanted at each show because I felt horrible being around such nice things and taking nothing home. I made a lot of money at craft shows, so I felt the need to have something. All the baskets were used, not just displayed for show. The guy was in his 80s thirty years ago, so I am sure he is dead by now. Nice guy.

    1. Oh how lucky to have been able to get cute buttons cheaply. Shame all the businesses left.
      That would be neat to have - homemade baskets. That is quite an art. I know what you are saying about craft shows. I used to sell at them, and had to buy something that caught my eye. It seemed right to support each other and get something unique as well.
      I hope he shared his technique with someone.