Monday Mission: YOUR Top 3 Frugal Practices

This post may contain affiliate links, including Your price won't change but it enables free content & supports our family business.

Top 3 Frugal Tips for Healthy Living

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to be a rock star in someone else’s world today.

It felt great to write that again after taking a much-needed break for most of December! Ah, absence makes the heart grow fonder!

Today’s Monday Mission is a bit of a flip on its head – rather than giving you a new task to complete or attempt in the kitchen, I’m asking you to branch out to help your own friends/community. I’m kind of excited about this mission, so bear with me as I explain what I’m thinking.

I noticed someone on my own (personal) Facebook page this week asking for best tips to trim the budget. This particular gal already does an amazing number of frugal tips, so I wasn’t sure how much she’d learn, but the question itself inspired me to think outside the box this Monday.

I want YOU to think about your own frugal journey, whether you’re at the beginning of learning budgeting (or reducing the budget for whatever reason), in the midst of the journey, or at a comfortable place but can still remember the leaner days.

Type out your TOP 3 frugal tips, especially if they have to do with the kitchen or fit within the natural living field – anything having to do with simple cleaners, reusing stuff, reducing your waste, etc. You might also share ways you make extra money, since that achieves the same end as being frugal with what you already have.

I absolutely cannot wait to hear what you all come up with, because if I’ve learned anything over the nearly five years I’ve been writing here at Kitchen Stewardship, it’s that my readers know wayyyyy more than I do. About just about everything, if you really want to know. Winking smile

UPDATE: Here’s a great thread with over 20 contributions on this question!

If you’re not on Facebook, we’d love to hear from you in the comments here, and if you want to accept the “rock star” part of the mission, think of 3 people to email, post on Twitter, or share at a weekly Bible study or Mom’s group. You can blame it on me so you don’t feel weird. Winking smile

What About Mine?

I almost don’t want to share my top 3, because I don’t want to sway anyone’s thinking. I want your rock star tips to be 100% your own without my interference, so make sure you’ve done yours before you read any further.

Go on. Type them out.

Now go share them so you can’t edit.

Chickpea Wraps - Meatless Meal from Kitchen Stewardship

Go ahead…

We’ll wait.

Apple Squares (8) (333x500)

You can look at these pretty food pictures so you don’t see my three…

grain free cranberry nut muffins (8) (475x356)

Grain Free Almond Apple (Paleo) Pancakes :: via Kitchen Stewardship


Ok then.

Now I’ll share mine, but if you’ve been around long enough here, you’ve heard them before (maybe a hundred times!).

Number One: Homemade Yogurt

yogurt with gluten free buckwheaties (13) (500x375)

I remain amazed at how much I save with this one little kitchen task! I’d never give it up!

A quart of organic Stonyfield yogurt is about $4 on sale here, and Greek yogurt is even crazier.

I make a quart of organic yogurt for $1.75.

And I make 4-5 quarts per week.

Assuming I couldn’t always find yogurt on sale, let’s say $5 is a fair price. That means I save between $13-16.25 every week. Who wouldn’t want a savings of around $650-845 every year?! That’s a lot of wiggle room in the food budget – enough to buy a quarter cow and save even more buckeroos.

Here’s my homemade yogurt tutorial with lots of pictures to make it totally simple. (Did I mention I only spend about 20 minutes a week making this? That means I “earn” over $40/hour making yogurt!)

Number Two: Homemade Chicken Stock

chicken rice soup with homemade chicken stock

Bones + Veggie Scraps + Water = Broth

It can’t get any cheaper than free, folks. Now that I’m actually saving ends of carrots, onions, and celery in the freezer and growing my own parsley in the summer, then freezing it too…AND reusing the bones a second and even third time…I am truly getting gallons of organic bone broth for the cost of my gas range and my time (and I suppose the huge stock pot I own that one is on Amazon, although mine was from Meijer, but even that was not expensive).

I haven’t priced organic broth in a long time, but I’m willing to bet that I’m saving $20-50 each time I make stock, PLUS having plentiful broth on hand encourages me to make and consume more soup, which is definitely healthier for my family (and usually less expensive than other types of recipes!).

Y’all. If you’re not making stock yet, resolve to start NOW. Here’s how.

Number Three: Cooking with Dry Beans

black bean soup

This is sort of a cheater, really, because I’m hitting two birds with one stone.

Particularly in the real food, traditional foods, well-sourced world that I live in, meat is the most expensive thing we eat (and maybe cheese). That means that cutting down on meat here and there really helps the budget.

I use less meat when beans are either part of the meal (like making a double batch of chili but not doubling the meat) or the main attraction, like chickpea wraps, black bean soup, or veggie bean burritos.

And if I’m cooking my own beans from the 25-pound bags of dry beans (found on Amazon) that I have in the basement, the savings is pretty huge. (You caught me – drat – that’s actually 3-in-1 here isn’t it? Cutting meat, using dry beans, AND buying in bulk. Sorry about that – I always ask if ice cream places can put two flavors in one dish, too.)

Here’s how I cook dry beans in bulk and freeze in can-sized containers to make any recipe a cinch.

Other Frugal Resources at KS

Back in 2011, a group of bloggers began an incredible series called Eat Well, Spend Less. The collaboration was in response to some serious rising food prices we were observing – and that trend hasn’t really stopped in the years since.

Here’s a post I wrote at the inception of the series listing out my top 5 unexpected places to source inexpensive real food (and a bonus 5 cost-cutting strategies to implement in the kitchen).


The following year I listed ALL the best ways to save on the budget, and then how to prioritize where you spend a little more to achieve the “eating well” part of the series title.


That post includes my best food savings tips and other areas to trim the budget.

If your interest in piqued, you can view the entire series right HERE.

Last week’s post where I shared some inspirations for totally doable healthy eating goals also has some good frugal information, especially the fermentation lists in the comments of all places.

5 Baby Step Totally Doable Healthy Eating Goals to Choose for 2014

Other Frugal Resources on the Web

One of my favorite bloggers who will teach you to get out of debt and stay that way is Stacy Myers of Stacy Makes Cents. Her first eBook, Crock On!, is truly one of my most-used cookbooks, and I’m ready to dig into her second book, Keep Crockin’, hot off the presses!


I wrote a post at Green Your Way about 9 Ways to Cook with Garbage that will help you reduce your food waste and have fun with it!


For similar ideas, I love Carrie Isaac’s recipes and reduction of food waste in the most beautifully designed eBook I own, From Garbage to Gourmet (no longer available). My review is here.

Learn how to prevent food waste and create delicious food out of things you normally throw away! (no longer available)

Another eBook perfect for this subject is Stephanie Langford’s Real Food on a Real Budget, a massive tome covering just about every way you can save money on real food that exists.

realfood realbudget

Are You Becoming a Real Food Expert?

If this mission, this idea of sharing what you know with others, struck your fancy and fit your personality, I have a request for you.

But first, a little admission.

I’m running out of Monday Mission ideas. (gasp!)

I know, I know, it’s been “my thing” for five years now – but I feel like I’m not making very many changes in my own kitchen, so what do I have to write about? As I was wondering where to get inspiration for new missions, my husband said, “Why don’t you ask the readers?”

To which I replied, “But even if they want to hear about something, that doesn’t mean I know anything about it. How can I write about something I haven’t done yet?”

And then it hit me – maybe YOU can challenge ME.

I won’t promise that I’ll tackle all the missions, but I have a feeling it would breathe some fresh air into Mondays and be a great thing all the way around if readers submitted some Monday Mission ideas – and not only the ideas, but the how-to for the post as well.

If you’re interested, please email me at katie at with the subject “Monday Mission idea” and a short description of your idea. You don’t have to be a super amazing writer – I’m a pretty good editor – but you do need some kitchen knowledge, passion to share it, and the ability to string a few words together to explain yourself.

I’m not exactly sure yet what you might get in return – it might just be 15 seconds of fame, the joy of helping other women with their healthy eating/natural living goals (there are men here too by the way), or something else. I’ll let you know before you do too much work!

What Next?

I’m pretty excited to see where this “sharing” mission goes and what ideas you all come up with – if you leave them here in the comments or tag my Facebook page, I can reply to you with gratitude.

Be sure to check the Facebook page to collect other folks’ ideas – enjoy!

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and a few other eBooks from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

31 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    About 6 years ago while we were living in California I read about how terrible fabric softeners are. So I began a quest to find an alternative. I found a tutorial on how to make wool dryer balls. You have to make them with something that is at least 85% or more wool. I went to Goodwill and found 2 extra large mens 100% wool sweaters. You need to have at least 10-12 balls I followed the directions on the tutorial and it took me only about an hour to make all 12 of them. We calculated a savings of $500.00 the first year on just not buying fabric softener! That didn’t even include the awesome energy savings considering by using these dryer balls we cut the drying time by 30-40% on every load of clothes we dry!!!! I am so enjoying your blog and would love if you get a chance to stop by my blog I am having a giveaway of all natural organic chemical free skincare products.

    • J in VA says

      I made some dryer balls from a thrift store sweater but I don’ t find them to be all that effective. They seem to work in the summer when it’s raining and I can’t use the clothesline; but since winter, I’ve had to go back to fabric softener. Even vinegar in the dispenser just leaves a static-y mess.

      Maybe my house is drier than average since we have a wood stove?? I did learn that certain nylon/knit and blend items just can’t go in the dryer and come out static free.

  2. anny says

    Katie, have you heard about kefir? I read it is healthier than yogurt and very easy to make n way cheaper than making yogurt.

    • Abi Craig says

      I make both! We use kefir for smoothies and yogurt to eat with granola and use in baking. Kefir is easier since the milk doesn’t have to be heated and cooled . . . just add the grains to your milk and wait until the milk is set to a soft jelly-like consistency. Time depends on temperature; it takes longer in the winter than it does in the summer. I understand that the number of pro-biotics in kefir is higher and more varied. Don’t know about cheaper, though, since cost of milk is the same. If you mean water kefir, that would be cheaper since your cost is just the sugar to feed the grains, but it is not really comparable to yogurt as far as how you eat/use it. We make that too so that the kids can have a “fun” drink in addition to water.

    • says

      Anny, I do make water kefir and haven’t ventured into milk kefir, partly because I don’t think we’d drink it and partly because we love the yogurt so much! I do have one countertop yogurt starter that is just pour-mix-let sit, so that’s actually really, really simple, just like kefir. It’s my fifth jar each week. But yes, I think you’re right, dairy kefir has more probiotic strains than yogurt. I guess I really should give it a try! :) Katie

      • Bethany W says

        We do both kefir and yogurt (using the method you taught me years ago… awww! warm fuzzy moment).

        We use the kefir for smoothies. The really great part? Because the kefir is in a milk-like-liquid state, when we whizz it in the blender the cream actually makes the smoothie thicker and creamier!

  3. Amy Carter says

    Love this idea! I thought long and hard about my top three and was excited to see that they all have to do with frugality and community. I didn’t plan it that way.
    1. Bartering! It’s amazing what you can gain from making extra loaves of bread, batches of cookies, salves, cleaning supplies, etc. We bartered for almost all of our Christmas presents for our family this year and are planning on bartering for the kids’ birthday presents and even some of our spring vegetables as well as mushrooms. So much fun!
    2. Clothing Swaps! I like to plan nights where Mama’s get a break from the family, bring clothing and even household items that their family no longer use, and everyone gets to take home goodies for free. Sometimes we go ahead and turn it into a tea party or a finger food pot luck. All of the extras get donated to our local woman’s shelter or St. Vincent’s.
    3. Potluck Get Togethers! These work for birthdays, holidays, or just excuses to have fun. It cuts down on the stress of planning as well as the financial cost. Not to mention you get to taste other people’s food and swap recipes. These are a favorite around our place and most of our friends and family ask what they should bring over to our place without us even asking them to bring anything!

    • says

      the bartering is SO cool! Very old-fashioned in a most lovely sort of way…

      And seriously, the way your tips connect with community, and you didn’t even plan it – that really says something about your spirit. You must be a great person to be around!! :) Katie

  4. Amy says

    My number one is my PVC-free Deyer ball set. I’ve had the same 2 balls for 3 years now. 3 years with no fabric softener! Yay! Yes, we do get some static sometimes. But, it’s not a big deal:)

    #2- I use vinegar to do so many things around here. I wash fruit, clean my wood floors, must it with dish soap and clean the bathroom, disinfect….the list goes on.

    #3-kombucha! We were spending anywhere from $8-$16 on store bought every week. Now I make my own and we love it!! Much cheaper:)

  5. Susanne says

    Essential Oils! I make all of my household cleaners with them. I just made a vinegar, water, clove oil mixture and sprayed on some curtains I was given. They had a slight musty smell…but now it is gone! We also use a water/tea tree oil mixture to spray on our hair to deter head lice…it has been a bad year for lice in the school where I work and my children go!

      • Susanne says

        I do mix my cleaner in plastic spray bottles (because that’s what I had!) but I feel OK about it since the concentration of EO is so small. I also don’t mix up too much at a time.

        • Abi Craig says

          I also make my EO cleaners in plastic and agree – they are diluted, so it should be fine. In addition, it is mainly the citrus oils that break down petrochemicals (plastics, for example), but I’ve not had any trouble even when using lemon because of the dilution. And I’d rather face the possibility of replacing a plastic spray bottle at some point than the inevitability of the kids breaking a glass container while cleaning the bathroom!

  6. Susanne says

    I have missed you Katie! I don’t how or why I “lost” Kitchen Stewardship for a while. Anyway, I am glad you are on my radar again!

  7. Brittany says

    Perfect timing! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make more food for meals. I have four growing boys and I never want them to feel like they can’t eat as much as they need to. So I need to be thinking of ways to make this more feasible on my budget.

    1. Azure Standard/buying in bulk: This has seriously allowed us to eat much higher quality of food for nearly the same price as shopping at Aldi. Plus it keeps me from having to shop as often, which keeps me out of the store and helps me save more money.

    2. Making and using tallow. Pastured butter is pretty pricey (even through Azure), but pastured suet is very cheap. I can make tallow for about 1/3 of the cost of butter. I substitute it for half of the butter in almost all my recipes. And it’s almost exclusively my sauteing oil.

    3. Foraging/Sharecropping. We’ve picked raspberries in a nearby park and I’m hoping to learn more about foraging. We’ve also picked apples and pears for friends and friends of friends. We keep the fruit we pick, but I try to send them a jar of jam, sauce or a pie as thanks. Usually they’ve just been glad that it’s not going to waste or gumming up their lawnmower. This keeps us supplied in jam and saves us from having to buy as much fruit.

  8. Abi Craig says

    This has been good to think about – what do I do and does it really save money . . . (and you already mentioned the 3-5 biggest ones!)

    1) Homemade staples – SOAKED GRANOLA (on top of homemade yogurt and a little fruit-or not, this can be breakfast, snack or lunch as needed!), SOURDOUGH BREAD and SUNFLOWER BUTTER

    2) Packing lunches and snacks – for my husband daily and for the kids and myself when out on a field trip or doing errands

    3) “Sunday Supper Snack” – for Sunday evening meal we have snacks (and its my middle child’s favorite meal of the week!); this usually means popcorn, apples and cheese or PB and kefir smoothies. Sometimes we vary it by having simple nachos (just chips with melted cheese) or chips and veggies with homemade hummus in place of the popcorn. If someone really needs more filling up they can scramble an egg or have a PB & J sandwich.

    And don’t forget the little things . . .
    – saving bread crumbs
    – using cloth napkins
    – re-using plastic grocery bags as trash can liners
    – cooking extra rice, potatoes and beans to use in a later meal or freeze
    . . . they may not seem like much each time you do them, but over time they can add up financially. It also helps me maintain an attitude of not being wasteful.

  9. Joanne Cannella says

    This is a great question and I can’t wait to read everyone’s answers. My number one thing for saving money is reading lots of different blogs and websites and Pinterest pages from many frugal moms and adopting some of their ideas. I have made many changes a little at a time through the last two years and have saved tons of money. My next best idea is that my sister-in-law and I trade dinners each week. We each cook two dinners and trade. We then eat leftovers or freezer meals for the rest of the week. We both have small families and it has been a huge blessing. We talk over the weekend and plan our menus so they compliment each other and then cook and trade. It is great only having to think about two meals. The third thing that I do is make all my own household cleaners, laundry soap, cloth napkins, handkerchiefs and dish cloths and rags. I don’t even think about the paper and cleaning products because homemade works so well and are pennies to make.

  10. says

    This is such a fun idea. I posted on my fb page but it didn’t tag your page and I guess I can’t edit the post…bummer.
    But here’s my 3…
    1. Learn to be content with what you already have.
    2. Learn to cook from scratch – and unlike the teenage boy I saw in the grocery store yesterday, I don’t think opening a box of Jif Cornbread mix and adding milk and eggs is cooking from scratch.
    3. Grow as much of your own produce as you can.

  11. Sharon says

    1. Baking my own sourdough bread. Last time I did the math, it was less than 75 cents in ingredients for a 1 lb loaf. The closest equivalent in quality I’ve seen in town runs about $5.

    2. Gleaning/foraging. There are mulberry trees all over town and what can be better than free fruit? Also a pear tree at a vacant house down the street and a crab apple tree the homeowner is just too happy to have someone else deal with. Walnuts too, but they’re a heck of a lot of work.

  12. BeccaM says

    Not in any particular order, but here are 3 things that save us money:

    1. Meal planning (and thinking ahead). That way, if I am in the think-ahead mentality, I can soak my grains and beans the day before, etc… I shop every 2 weeks for groceries, which saves on gas and time.

    2. Buying raw milk direct from a working farm. Not organic, but it’s from grass or hay fed cows and only $3 a gallon (we only make the drive every 2 weeks to save on gas since they are 45 min away).

    3. We clothing shop primarily at Goodwill (particularly for the kids) and usually you can find decent stuff. If I want something really nice, we go to a more upscale kid’s consignment shop. Clothes and shoes cost a lot of money!

    A few other things we do that save money and/or to be healthier: Make our own yogurt and kefir, buy some of our food in bulk from a food distribution company or bulk store, cook from scratch, clean mostly with vinegar and baking soda, and make my own meat stocks.


    • BeccaM says

      I wanted to add, about the kefir, it is super easy to do! I have heard that has a more comprehensive list of good bacteria present in it even than yogurt! My kids love it blended up with frozen blueberries or bananas in the morning. We make ours with raw milk, and you literally just pour the milk over the starter grains in the jar and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days until thickened. Much easier than making yogurt (which I also make). :-)

  13. Angie says

    Has anyone tried making cottage cheese? My hubby LOVES cottage cheese and when trying to keep his weight up likes to snack on it now and then. It’s a little pricey at the store and I wouldn’t imagine it would be too much more difficult than yogurt or paneer.

    • says

      My husband’s family runs a dairy farm, so we get unlimited free milk. Hence, I make everything dairy for our home–butter, yogurt, greek yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, kefir, ice cream, cheese, and yes, cottage cheese. It was actually super simple and I may have happy-freaked-out when it turned out just like the real thing. Do you want me to post the recipe here, email you, or I could make it the next post on my blog…I would be MORE than happy to have to make another batch so as to finetune it :)

        • says

          Alright Angie, here it is.
          1 gallon milk (whole and raw is best)
          1/4 t liquid rennet
          2 T water
          1/4 c cultured buttermilk
          1-2 t salt
          Heat the milk on low until it reaches 95 degrees. Dissolve the rennet in the water before stirring into the milk for 30 seconds. Stir in the buttermilk. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 30-60 minutes or until “solid” curds form. Cut curds into 1-inch chunks, then heat over low to 110 degrees, stirring gently to bring the curds from the bottom to the top (stir constantly for the first 5 minutes, then once every 5 minutes until 110). Pour the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander and let it drain for a few minutes. Gather together the edges of the cheesecloth and rinse the cheese while squeezing it. Squeeze dry, then transfer to a bowl. Add salt to taste, and then a little bit of cream to get that cottage-cheesy effect. Ta-da!!! Then EAT.
          Remember that although the cheese itself is now cultured, the cottage cheese will stay good only as long as the cream stays fresh. But it’s usually not a problem to get it eaten in time :)

Take a Bite (of conversation)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *