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Make it yourself to save money

By on June 28, 2008

photo by marlana
friendship bread

Frugal people know how to make things. It’s not just a way of combating costs. For many, these are basic life skills and a way of life. A little self-reliance goes a long way. It’s easier to start out small and build your way up. This sets you up for success instead of burning out from trying to do or learn too many things at once. Take a look at what you buy on a regular basis. Consider which items you can comfortably make yourself.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. You’ll notice that once you master one skill, it often overlaps and helps you master another.

It isn’t for everyone, but it’s well worth giving it a try. If you’re limited on space, grow in containers. Try a simple tomato plant and see how well you do. You can save seeds and learn to propagate, too.

PRESERVING: You’ll waste less and be able to enjoy your garden food throughout the year by home canning, dehydrating, freezing and knowing how to store your food. It’s nutritious and makes great gift items, too. To get started, I recommend “Ball Blue Book of Preserving” (Alltrista Consumer Products, 2004). It contains recipes for condiments, syrups, sauces, pickles, etc.

CLEANING SOLUTIONS: Simple supplies, such as vinegar and baking soda, can clean most of your home. Using them not only saves money, it’s gentler on the environment, too.

Being able to create is a valuable skill. Mending and repairing gives your clothing and linens an extended life.

MIXES: Making homemade baked goods tops the list of must-know frugal skills. They can be frozen for future use, and nothing beats the aroma of baked goods in your home. There are master mixes to make pancakes and waffles and starters to make breads and cakes. Here’s an Amish friendship starter recipe.

Amish Friendship Bread


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 small box instant-vanilla-pudding mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins, chocolate chips or nuts, optional

Cinnamon sugar:

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

For starter:
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a deep glass, plastic container or half-gallon zipper-type bag. Stir in milk, flour and sugar. Beat until smooth. Cover. Your first batch of starter has fresh yeast, so skip 10-day directions and go directly to splitting your starter. Don’t refrigerate or use a metal spoon.

Day 1: begin or receive starter
Day 2: stir with wooden spoon (or squish baggie)
Day 3: repeat day 2
Day 4: repeat day 3
Day 5: add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk
Day 6: stir with wooden spoon (or squish baggie)
Day 7: repeat day 6
Day 8: do nothing
Day 9: do nothing
Day 10: add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk

Put 1 cup of starter in each of three containers. Give two away and keep one. This will begin their day 1.

For bread:
To the remaining batter, add vegetable oil, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, milk, vanilla-pudding mix, cinnamon and salt. Beat until well blended. Add 1 cup raisins, chocolate chips or nuts if desired. Grease two loaf pans well, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, coating bottom well. Pour batter into bread pans, and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar onto tops of loaves. Bake at 325 F for 1 hour. — submitted by Jeannie, Kansas

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