Thursday, 25 October 2012

Thrifty plus

Every day, home-makers are discovering ways of saving money and enriching their lives in the process. That's the kind of thrift I love to learn, and I have been fortunate to pick up many tips from ladies who have generously shared their knowledge and experience with others.

I thought it would be nice to write about some more unusual ideas, maybe one or two that are not so common, that the home-maker can try and test for herself. She can find the ideas that work for her, gradually incorporating them into her routines - little habits which will make a big difference over time. So that is why I call this the 'Thrifty Plus' post. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe use the comments box below to add some of your own.

If you dissolve a little salt in hot water, you have an instant mouth wash that costs next to nothing. It has no harmful chemicals in like the commercial ones. I keep my salt in a pretty container in the bathroom cabinet to use regularly after brushing.It is also very effective for treating mouth ulcers.

Another container in the bathroom - this time with bicarbonate of soda. This is a gentle, effective shampoo. Put a spoonful of bicarb (not washing soda!) in a cup and add a little warm water. You don't want to dissolve it just mix it quickly. When you are in the shower, pour this onto the scalp and rub in gently. Then rinse the liquid through to rest of the hair. Rinse the hair well. Some people find that for the first two or three times they wash their hair with soda, the hair feels a bit greasy or looks rather dull. I really can't explain why that happens, but if you persevere, you will find that your scalp and hair feel clean and look nice.

I hope you have a lot of containers - you'll need one of vinegar next. After shampooing with the bicarb, put about a tablespoon of ordinary brown vinegar in your cup and add about half a cup of warm water to it. You may have heard that people use apple cider vinegar for a hair rinse, but cheap brown vinegar works very well and when your hair is dry you will not smell like a chip shop. Pour this over the hair. If your hair is long, you can dip the ends into the cup before you begin. Leave for a moment or two and then rinse well. I have used this method for many months and have found, surprisingly that it has calmed my itchy, sensitive scalp.

Vintage image from the Graphics fairy
Moving to the kitchen, did you know that it is not difficult to make a substantial soup from beef bones? Just put them in a large pan with some sliced root vegetables, stock and seasoning. Although there is fat on the bones, you can, if you wish, skim off much of the fat as it cools. Personally I don't bother when the weather is cold as it is more warming. If you use a pressure cooker it doesn't take too long for the meat to be falling off the bones nicely. You can free the meat that is held in by the fat and put it back into the soup/stew. A dash or two of Worcestershire or 'Daddies' type brown sauce is a good substitute for stock cubes and works out cheaper.

When making meals using ground beef (mince beef) adding a handful of lentils will bulk out the meal but not mar the flavour. Some ladies use rolled oats in the same way, but I have not yet tried this one myself. Porridge, of course is a truly frugal, healthy and satisfying start to the day and quickly made. When making porridge on the stove-top you can switch off the heat after it has come to the boil and it will carry on bubbling for a minute or two until it is ready. It still stays nice and hot.

Try thinking creatively according to the offers at the store or supermarket, or even when you are given surplus produce from neighbours gardens. If you get overripe bananas, apples, dried fruits, carrots... make a basic cake mixture and add them to it. Chop the apples fairly small, mash the bananas, grate the carrots etc. They make delicious and varied cakes that the family will love.

If you come across fresh meat or fish that is reduced for quick sale, you can snap them up and freeze them as soon as you get home.

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up Proverbs 21:20


Regularly have a review of the clothes in your wardrobe (closet) Get them all out and lay them on the bed. Nearly every time I do this, I find pretty items that I had forgotten about! How often do we forget what we have and then want to go and buy more? How many clothes stay on the hanger unworn simply because a button has come off and we procrastinate about sewing it back on. If you have lost the button, find some suitable ones in your button tin (What, you haven't got a button tin? Go and find another container right away!)

If you find shoes or clothing which fit you, but you don't like much, just get some wear out of them by wearing them around the house. Tie a nice apron over the dull dress or slip some pretty leg warmers on to make the shoes look more appealing - try out a few ideas. Sometimes you can get to like something just because you decide to wear them anyway


Like the home-makers of old, you can save fastenings, buttons, fabric, bits and pieces that can be used again. I recently made a wrap-around skirt with the waist fastening from a pair of trousers. It works well. Keep those jam jars easily to hand and remember what you have got in them. Children are fascinated with jars of buttons, and bits of lace and it gives them an opportunity to make their own items like dolls clothes or a hat for teddy.

It can be so enjoyable and satisfying to discover and practice new ways of saving the pennies.

Happy home-making ladies


  1. I love reading your blog and hearing all your ideas! You are so helpful. I need information just like this. Thank you!

  2. Thank you Sarah. I got in a real mess with this post, and ended up cutting and pasting everywhere. And published an unfinished version by mistake too! I'm really happy to read your kind comments.

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  4. Sarah, Is Coffee, Tea, Books and me your blog? If so, I have visited and am very interested in the recession posts.

  5. I keep a jar of soda bicarb by my kitchen sink. I dip wet fingers in it to make a paste to rub around inside a tea cup, and it also cleans the sink. Soda bicarb in the bathroom is also great for a deoderant. Your clothes won't be stained, and it won't emit any kind of odor like deoderants do, and won't stop working. Just dip wet fingers into bowl of bicarb and paste under arms. Soda bicarb is great for tea stains on teeth, although has to be used minimally.

  6. Great ideas Lydia. I will try the deodorant idea tomorrow. Thank you

  7. Hello,
    I called to let you know that we have both had a lovely mention on Simplicity and Grace;

    Which is how I came to discover your blog. I like it - it is so down to earth and very practical. For decades, women's magazines have presented an ideal life in which many women think they have to be 'experts' in everything, including being a gourmet cook and also have a house that looks like a showhome. The reality is very different and so they feel a failure if they don't measure up. Your blog is a great counterbalance to the myth. May I add you to my sidebar of good blogs to visit?

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind post. I had no idea of the mention. I want home-makers to know they are doing so well. I have visited your very beautiful blog and will add yours to my sidebar. I would be thrilled if you could add me to yours too. Thank you for asking.

  8. We made soft wipe clothes out of flannel and use them to wipe with instead of toilet tissue for the non messy jobs. Simply wash them and reuse. Has cut our toilet tissue cost greatly.

  9. What a good idea. Thank you for sharing this. Toilet tissue is getting very expensive

  10. Good ideas here!! I should mention that I have done the baking soda and apple cider rinse and it took about 4-5 weeks for my hair to adjust. I was a greasy icky mess, but after a month or so everything became balanced and my hair was beautiful. It really does work and cost pennies.


    1. Thank you Katie. You have some good advice about the baking soda hair washing - perseverance is the key.

  11. I have washed my long hair with baking soda for 11 months now, and it's working like a dream. It also has made my hair curlier, not a bad thing at all. :-)

    I like your blog alot, it's very down to earth AND practically feminine at the same time.

    1. Thank you Miriam. It is so good to read of successes