Tuesday, September 16, 2008

WFMW - Stretch The Life Of Your Groceries



I’m a nut about saving money by making things at home instead of buying them. But there are some things that either I would rather just buy than make it or I can find it at such a big discount that it would cost me more to make it at home.

And even though I buy some things that are pre-made I still like to stretch every penny I can out of them.

I’ve found that the suggested usage size that the manufacturer puts on containers is the size that they prefer simply because it makes you use it up faster….so you have to buy it again sooner…so the company makes more money. It’s not necessarily the most frugal amount you can use to have the results you want.

I’ve tested this time and time again and have realized that, as a rule, I can use half of what the company suggests and the products always seem to work just as well and lasts me twice as long.

This works with store bought laundry detergent (before I started making my own). You know those little cups they put in the boxes or the lids that have the measuring lines on them? You really only need half of what they suggest. My laundry still came out clean and smelling good.

This also works great for dishwasher detergent. I spoke with a dishwasher repairman recently and he said that we really only need about a Tablespoon of liquid or powder dishwasher soap to get our dishes clean.

And all this time I’d been filling up both sides of the container in the door. What a waste!

And you know those little scraps of bar soap you have left and you normally just toss away? Well if you get the scrap all soapy and then get a new bar all soapy and rub them together piggyback style, when they dry they cement into one big bar again and you don’t have to throw your scrap away. You’ll use every tiny little inch of your store bought soap.

Another idea to make my groceries last longer is when I buy a gallon of milk and it gets about half empty I mix up a batch of powdered milk and pour it back into the gallon jug. My kids have NO IDEA that they are drinking a re-filled jug of milk. They can’t even taste the difference.

When baking recipes call for an egg I substitute one heaping tablespoon of soy flour and 1 tablespoon of water for the egg. This has the same effect the eggs does for a fraction of the price. I save the fresh eggs for other things. Don’t lick the batter though because it will taste funny. But when it cooks, it tastes just the same as if a real egg was used.

And last but not least, When a recipe calls for a pound of hamburger I use half a pound of meat and then substitute the other half with Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) just like the fast food restaurants do and it makes my meat last twice as long.

So those are just some ideas to make your store bought items have a little bit longer life and your paycheck stretch even farther.

And don’t forget to go check out Works For Me Wednesday for more great ideas.

26 comments:

amy said...

Where do you buy TVP? My mom used it growing up and we never knew the difference. I'd forgotten about it until just now.

Stephanie said...

Gayle, I love your frugal mindset and appreciate all of the suggestions you have on your site. Thanks! I need to start making my own laundry detergent... but if only there were a way to make our own TP... there are never good coupons for toilet paper!

Homesteader in Training said...

Great tips. When my dish detergent is half empty I fill it up with water to dilute it. It cleans just as well and goes a lot further. Then I save that bottle to reuse and fill the next time half detergent and half water. I LOVE saving money!
Blessings to you!
Kim

Miriam said...

Morning :) So you use TVP regularly? I remember you posting about trying it. What are some of the recipes that you use it in? I don't make alot of beef bbq, tacos, things like that, I guess I'm wondering if you could use it in... spaghetti, meatloaf, things like that. And :P I wondered if you can buy it at a regular grocery store, or where I could find it. And I HATED soap snits when I was a kid! Mom put it in a panty-hose "sock". It was gross, but fun to squeeze the softened soap through the pantyhose holes just for the fun of it!! (not very frugal back then I guess...)

Frugal Finds said...

Great tips!!!

Katie said...

Those are great tips! ...I'm feeling a little mad at Cascade right now, though!

Phoebe said...

I really wish I would have read this post before I tried the whole soy flour subsititute thing.
I ran out and bought soy flour and decided to use it in brownies last night. I'm a sucker for good brownine batter. I took a big chunk and threw it in my mouth....um yeah. THAT was bad news! I thought I had done something wrong...but after they baked they tasted just fine.
Thanks for the tip by the way!

"Cents"able Momma said...

Thanks for all the great ideas! I'll definitely have to try some of them...especially the egg substitute.

HeathahLee said...

I had totally forgotten about TVP! I used it until I ran out and no one here in town sells it...I have to go into Memphis to get it, and I avoid traveling in Memphis as much as possible! : ) Thanks for the reminder!

And, I didn't know I could get away with just using that little bit of dish detergent...that stuff is expensive!

Jen said...

Great ideas. It would help me take my frugality to a new level.

Halfmoon Girl said...

Good ideas here. I am going to try the soy flour trick- maybe it will keep me from enjoying the batter too much!

Emily said...

That's brilliant what Jane said...if you BAKE with soy flour instead...you'll eat less sweets.

score.

I keep gaining weight. Can you say 'stress eater?'

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Very good ideas! Can't believe I never thought of using half of the laundry and dishwashing soaps - I'll start that right now.

I have never heard of TVP. Very interesting - I will have to look into it. Does Winco have it?

Gayle said...

I get my TVP in the bulk section of Win-co but I'm sure you can also find it a health food store at a bit of a mark up.

April said...

I need to try to egg substitute, I do a lot of baking.

I do use only half of the laundry soap recommended, refill my dish soap jug, and also cut y magic erasers in half.

Amber said...

Why bake if I can't lick the batter????
Your tips are great. Because I still have very small children we receive WIC so eggs and milk aren't usually issues in our house, but I'm sure when all four of these boys are teenagers that milk tip will come in very handy!

Trina said...

I'm not sure of any places around here that sell TVP. I did a search and found it at www.bulkfoods.com. With shipping it's $17.43 for 5 lbs. Is that a good price? How long would 5 lbs last?

Gayle said...

To Trina....

That's crazy-expensive. At my local Win-co I pay about 1.45 per pound of TVP. I bought a little over a pound in July and I still have lots left. (It's doesn't weigh much.) So if you are paying $17.43 for 5 lbs (with shipping) that's almost $3.50 per pound. I'd keep searching or save on gas and call around at our local grocery stores to see if they carry it for any cheaper.

Tammy W said...

You had such good ideas I subscribed to your reader!!!

Peanut said...

I totally didn't believe you about the little soap pieces, but I tried it anyway... and it really works! I feel so proud of myself that I'm actually enjoying washing my hands with the piggy-backed soap. (I really need to get out of the house more)
I've been meaning to start making my own laundry detergent, but I totally agree about using less.
I will try the milk idea too.
Great tips!

just another day in paradise said...

Great ideas! Thanks so much. (I was on to the clothes detergent scam, though. Have you noticed the new "green" idea is to give you the detergent that looks and acts the same as the old but is half the size? Hmmmm.....I'm thinking they're in to making money instead of being green. . .) Thanks again!

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I find tvp in the grocery store. I normally buy Bob's Red Mill because that's what's available. I don't like the taste of tvp alone but I mix it half and half with boca crumbles.
I use it for sloppy joes, chili, hamburger helpers, basically anywhere you would use ground beef. I always add bouillion flavoring to the rehydration water for flavoring. Tvp on it's own is very bland.

OneHotDish said...

I hadn't heard of using soy flour instead of egg - I use flax meal. You can also use flax as a substitute for vegetable oil in baking which is awesome in my opinion!

Michelle said...

I learned that about the laundry detergent years ago. What a great blog you wrote about this subject. Me living on a strict budget, I always watch how much of something I use. If something calls for a pound of meat, I never use the full pound. One thing I want to suggest is if you buy those crockpot meals, I cook rice to go with them to make them stretch more.

'Becca said...

Great tips! Another way to get every last sud out of bar soap is to put it in a nylon mesh bag--less gross than the pantyhose Miriam mentioned because it dries faster and doesn't get so gooey. See instructions (and other tips) in the link behind my name.

Stephanie, I've seen two tips for saving on toilet paper:
1. Before loading a new roll, press on it so the tube is not quite round. This makes it spin less easily and deters people from using TP by the handful.
2. Some people make their own wipes from old clothes and wash them. I haven't tried this myself, mainly because I love real handkerchiefs (compared to tissues) so much that I'm afraid I'd get hooked on cloth wipes and never be able to leave the house! :-) On the discussion boards at mothering.com you can find extensive discussion of cloth wipes.

Rachel said...

I was so glad to read this post today. I have been looking into egg substitutes for baking purposes and the soy flour sounds great!!! This will be a good addition to our hurricane kit, as well as for everyday baking.