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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Substitution 101--many small economies

Look Good?
Cinnamon swirl toast with butter? No, it is garbage-can-rescued cinnamon swirl toast with chicken fat. My hens eat anything.

Reading other blogs
Dmarie at Better me, Better world spoke of many small economies. I asked her if I could borrow and use the phrase. She generously gave me permission and promised not to sue me.

My goal
My blog is all about the many small economies that I practice to make my life not only manageable but better. Yes, I do have a conscience and use it to buy and use my resources, even if it's chicken fat from my cooking and bread my friend brought me from the garbage at work.

I don't feel the need to purchase things to solve all my needs, wants, and problems. Usually, I can figure out a way to not spend. I had rather spend on things I want or when I cannot find a make-do solution. Make-do solutions are not always about lack of money. They are small economies. And, we all want to live economically, right?

Back to the chicken food
Normally, they are NOT fed white bread. But, they love raisins and cinnamon. I didn't want to waste the chicken fat. Hens need fat in their diet. I had already melted about a half cup of fat on the bread. It is all soaked, top to bottom, four slices deep or more on the two back stacks and put in the oven for a few minutes while something else was baking. This plate of food will last one week. Plus, I have more fat for another week of food.

Powdered sugar in oatmeal instead of granulated sugar
One day, the sugar canister needed a refill; my oats were piping hot; I was hungry. I grabbed the granulated cane sugar canister and faced disappointment. Five pounds were still on the shelf, but I wanted sugar now, while the oats were hot. Then, the Confectioner's sugar came to mind and into sight and saved breakfast. I rarely use confectioner's sugar except at Christmas, so why save it until next year, especially when I have four boxes? I was ill this year and baked so little! Probably a cup of confectioner's sugar will be enough for the whole other 50 weeks. I have four pounds.

Maybe powdered sugar would be good in coffee. I know it is great sprinkled over French toast. It would suit me on pancakes.

If I had needed to purchase more granulated sugar, this might have called for a trip to the store. I might have had to do without sugar until I could go to purchase more.

There is no particular hurry to consume all the confectioner's sugar. It is stored in glass canning jars, safe from pests or moisture. The used canning lids still keep the jar pestproof and airtight. As soon as I refilled the canister, I resumed eating granulated cane sugar in my oats.

Table salt instead of ice cream salt
One 4th of July, I did not want to pay the cost of more ice cream salt. I still had a smidgen from the last 4th of July. If I bought more, I would have leftovers for a year. (Like biscuits and gravy or syrup and pancakes, it never comes out even.)  Okay, I had the money for rock salt and had ample storage space. My parsimony kicked in and I took a chance. I used table salt.  How wrong can homemade ice cream be if I substitute the salt? For the last 20 years, no one has complained.

Tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of milk instead of buttermilk
Many people already make this substitution. It is so easy when you need buttermilk for anything you bake. Lemon juice works, too. I never measure.

Save twist ties
No, you will not be hoarding. I use these for temporary fixes until I get around to a permanent fix. Twist ties kept some chicken wire together. I wrapped one around the neck of the marshmallow bag the other day.

Use elastic instead of a rubberband
I took a scrap of sewing elastic about a foot long and tied a square knot in it to make the large rubberband that I needed. (square knot: right over left; left over right) Then, I used it to hold together a rice bag where I had folded down the top. When I got through with the elastic, I threw it in the drawer with rubberbands and twist ties. All the rubber bands were too small to loop around the rice bag, top to bottom, so the folded-down bag would stay folded down. Even used elastic, removed from a garment can be used to make a giant rubberband.

Normally, I would never refer to one foot of elastic as a scrap. I would sew it onto a larger piece for use in another garment.

I went to a local fabric store and discovered they use bands of elastic to keep bolts of fabric looking neat. And, I thought I had discovered a new use for elastic besides using on a garment!

Clothes pin or binder clip instead of buying chip clips
I wrote about this in another blog post. Decorate the clothes pin if you like. I use mine plain. A friend uses large binder clips at his house. I discussed this in another post. Another friend buys huge rubberbands...eeeek, the cost. Oh, yes, the money I save...yay.

Other benefits
Having thought about my many small economies on other occasions, I decided it is not all about saving money. It is about using my mind instead of money to solve problems. The creative process is likely to save money, but saving money is not the whole purpose, always. I am fulfilled. I am proud. My creativity has served me well. I did it myself. Mindlessly spending money is not satisfying to me. I am proud of my accomplishments.

Your turn
Does it thrill you to substitute a less expensive item or an item on hand for one you would have to buy? Okay, I am easily thrilled. Are you proud when you use your ingenuity or follow the lead of someone else to save money and accomplish a job yourself?


  1. Heck yeah! I grew up in a household that bought everything though we still had some traditional things we did the old fashioned way (yogurt for example). I married into a frugal lifestyle and learned that nearly everything can be done with things we already have around the house. When I wanted a cheesepress, the hubs made one for me. Is it perfect? Not yet, but he is tinkering away.
    We have had no real income for two years now so we have gotten very good at making due in nearly every aspect of our lives. I think its pretty fun actually.

  2. That is great to have a husband to do these things for you. My ex was no help along those lines. I grew up with creative parents. Both made things we needed. For a long time I just thought that was the way things were in all homes. I have a yogurt maker from freecycle that I will use one of these days. I don't have the nerve to do it without the maker, although I do make buttermilk on the counter.

  3. i have always made yogurt without machines. Its how I learned so I never thought about it. Now that you have a deydrator so you can incubate in that:)You are lucky that you had creative parents growing up. I will hand it to my dad though. Once I got my first aprtment, he got me a ton of DIY books on everything including how to fix plumbing. I have always had boyfriends in construction so learned a fair bit from them. If my husband was working, I'd have to do these things on my own more or less., but he needs to keep busy, so has taken over alot of things. I don't mind at all!


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