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Waste Not, Want Not Frugality

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We’ve all heard it, probably all said, “Waste Not, Want Not.”  It’s true, of course, especially in lean times that if we don’t waste, we’re unlikely to want later on.  But it’s more that, that little tid bit of old-fashioned wisdom can be a huge key to making our budgets work and creating a homespun, simple lifestyle.  Think of it as waste not, want not frugality – a path to help change our mindsets about money, budgeting and likely gratitude.Waste Not, Want Not Frugality - Homespun Seasonal Living

The idea of reusing and re-purposing objects, while very much in fashion right now because of the whole green movement, is in reality a very old fashioned practical idea brought about from limited resources and need.  I venture to say that people are feeling the pinches of limited (and expensive) resources and need today as well.  Let’s apply some waste not, want not philosophy to common items:

Food – I know there are people who don’t like leftovers, get over it, find a way to turn leftovers into food you like.  The mere idea of having enough food for leftovers to exist, must seem extravagant to a good percentage of the world, and throwing it away must just appear arrogant.  If you don’t like leftovers and can’t figure out a way to like them, learn to cook in such a way that you don’t have them.

I’d venture to say that soup is the original leftover food – its so easy to throw bits of leftover meats, veggies, and grains into a pot for a simple, healthy, and hearty meal.  Other ways to use leftovers that will help cut your grocery bill include: saving bread crusts, heals, stale bread in your freezer for those holiday stuffings, saving meat bones to make soup stocks, putting food in the freezer before they go bad, and much more.  If you do have some food spoilage, compost it.  You’ve just re-purposed your leftovers into free wonderful fertilizer.

Money – Waste not, want not applies to our spending habits too.  Research major purchases so that you get the most bang for your buck.  Learn to negotiate and haggle to make those pennies go further.  Resist impulse spending on items that provide you no return beyond the initial high of buying something.  Put your money in a high yield savings account or other investment so that it is working for you. 

Household products– Make it a habit to pour water to bottles get the last dregs of the laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo, etc. out of those bottles, if you’re not already making your own.  It is amazing how much useful material is left clinging to the insides of those bottles and even diluted how effective they are at their intended purpose.  Learn alternatives to expensive cleaning products, cream of tartar (buy this in the bulk section of your health food store, not in the little spice jar to get the most bang for your buck) is a great porcelain cleaner and cheaper and much less toxic than the porcelain cleaner sold at the grocery store.  Vinegar can clean most anything as well as any store-bought cleanser.  Put those little bits of soap into muslin bags and use it up.  Don’t throw it away, that’s throwing money away.  Ban disposable products from your home – It’s much like throwing money in the trash.  Learn to use cloth rags instead of paper towels, handkerchiefs instead of tissues, cloth pads instead of disposable, etc. 

Fix, don’t toss – Learn to mend clothing instead of simply throwing it away.  Try to fix things that break before replacing it with something new.  Sometimes we need professional help, get it and support your local repairman before buying something new.  I understand sometimes it is cheaper to buy new than get something repaired, but make every decision on a case by case basis.

Supplies – All those bits of craft supplies, garage items, etc. have a purpose.  I’m not an advocate of clutter for clutter sake, but there is value in the last few feet of yarn.  It might not be used in a knitting project but it can be used as ribbon on a gift or used to tie up tomatoes.  Odd screws and bolts, you might not need it today but if you can keep a little stash it might come in handy when something breaks, preventing a run to the hardware store later to buy it more expensively and waste time.

Most importantly, pay attention to the waste you create.  It’s in the awareness of what you’re doing that allows for and creates changes.  Once you start noticing what you’re wasting, you can begin looking for ways to cut that waste from your life and pocketbook.

Have a waste not, want not tip?  Please share it with us in the comments.

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Thursday 12th of May 2016

All stale bread or crusts are either turned into breadcrumbs or used as a filler mix in meatballs. Bread and some leftovers are mixed with the dogs feed and the herbs and vitamins keep them healthy. Buy damask remnants from waste material shop and make own serviettes and table clothes. Dry herbs from garden and store in empty coffee tins. I also ask friends to donate their empty bottles,containers and tins and give them of the produce in return. Cook smaller quantities to avoid waste, but cook bulk soups and stews and freeze them.left over pieces of candles are melted and used to refill tea lights. Thank you all for all the great advice and tips!

Homespun Seasonal Living

Friday 13th of May 2016

Such great ideas, thanks for sharing them.


Monday 28th of December 2015

Towels are used down to the last scrap in our house. Once they get too worn to use whole, they are then cut into hand towel size for the bathroom. Once they get to old for that, they get divided into cleaning rags and/or 'family cloths' for #1's, then placed in the compost at end of use.

For paper towels and napkins, I stopped buying both years ago. I use cloth tea towels for most things in the kitchen, and old (and free) newspapers to drain foods or clean up messy spills (and to line my indoor compost bin). I bought someone's 'unwanted gift' cloth napkins on EBay and we are still using the same ones years later. Some are nearly ready to be replaced, but I will make my own this time. There are many tutorials on the web about how to make your own, and you can use any fabric that still has life in it but isn't suitable to purpose any more or you can get some cotton fabric/linens/clothes out of the thrift shop or off EBay to use as well.

I save paper egg cartons or toilet roll cores, the wax from the end of candles and my dryer lint to make fire starters. (I live in a wet climate, and in a small house so don't have space to dry them inside. I do dry outside when possible. My dryer has very good eco rating)

Leftovers are a starting place for mealtime creativity! For example, our leftover brisket/veg from a few days ago will become a Shepherd's pie today, the roast turkey will become a rice casserole with added home grown veg.

Bread ends/leftover bread- made into bread crumbs to use in many dishes/recipes, croutons, bread pudding, French toast, etc.

I use old sheets to make crocheted rag rugs for the bathroom. Very cushiony and absorbent. Lovely to step onto out of the bath.

Re-using, repurposing is my way of life; and a fun, challenging and satisfying game for me. Looking at it like that, makes it enjoyable, rather than a chore or deprivation so many people tend to view it.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 28th of December 2015

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and amazing tips!

Tracy Brown

Friday 16th of January 2015

Yes to "getting over" eating leftovers! I'm appalled when I see someone throw away perfectly good food because they "just had it yesterday."

It's not just wasting food - it's adding a tremendous amount of garbage to landfills too. Compost whatever you can that can't be eaten.

I will admit that my household struggles mightily with overusing paper towels. This is something I need to improve.

Thanks for a great post and all the reminders! Have a great day! :-)


Monday 6th of July 2015

Tracy, I found some awesome 12x12 flour sack cloths with a surged edge on etsy. I'd been trying to get my family of 5 off of paper towels and napkins. We've been off of them for over a year now. I bought 2 packs of 24, I think. We also use cotton bandanas for napkins for larger messier meals and family gatherings. They're perfect!

Kess DeLairen

Saturday 20th of September 2014

Pressed paper egg cartons become seed starting cups that can go right into the ground. Toss the rest (top) into your compost pile along with your coffee grounds. Old sweatshirt sleeves become chihuahua sweaters around our house. An old robe can make a much loved dog bed with just a little thread & fiberfill. We heat with wood, so we save all boxes & paper to use as tender to start fires. My husband calls it, "making something out of nothing".


Tuesday 25th of February 2014

I save parsley stems, woody asparagus stems and other bits of veggies; throw them in a bag in the freezer and use them for vegetable stock. Delicious!