In the last TFC blog post, Glean Outside Your Home to Save Big, we discussed how gleaning outside (collecting little by little) can help you really save. Gleaning inside our homes, however, further leverages what we possess. Isaiah 17:6 addresses this concept. “Gleanings will be left in it, as when an olive tree is beaten—two or three berries in the top of the highest bough, four or five on the branches of a fruit tree, says the Lord God of Israel.” RSV So, just as God notes in nature when gleaning occurs, some small bit is left; thus, small morsels do add up in our homes.
SEE BELOW for a $93 savings 1. Searching for in-home entertainment or free reading? Don’t forget your library’s interlibrary loan system. When my daughter needed to view Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago for school, we got them for free in two days instead of renting them. ( A $10 savings) 2. Feel like an update in your decorating scheme? Try rearranging what you have. Move around Knick-knacks, end tables, even pictures for an updated look. (A $20 savings) 3. Don’t throw away that used computer paper! Cut it up into smaller pieces, staple it together, and use the blank side for shopping lists or telephone messages. ( A $2 savings) 4. Dumping the prescription paper bags from the drug store into the recycling bin? Well, they make great lunch bags—just a bit smaller. The same goes for the plastic bags which hold produce. Your “brown bagging” will look creative. (A $2 savings) 5. Don’t toss used plastic Ziploc bags. Merely wash them, dry under the sink, over an empty wine bottle, or even an aloe plant. After a few days of drying, use again. Some of our Ziploc storage bags date back five years. (A $5 savings)
Invert the Ziploc bags on your plant to quickly dry the plastic bags.
6. Have a bit of peanut butter or mayonnaise still left in the jar? Welcome to a gleaner’s best tool: the rubber spatula. With a variety of spatula sizes, you can glean any leftovers. (A $3 savings) 7. Clothing with holes? Whip out needle and thread as you watch your favorite TV program. Mending clothes or shoes (as taken to a shoe repair person) is a great way to keep what we have going. (A $20 savings) 8. Save those plastic yogurt or deli containers to store food for freezing or giving away—mark the top with a permanent marker noting the food and date. The permanent marker can be removed with fingernail polish remover or Trader Joe’s Citrus air freshener. (A $5 savings) 9. Take those glass Ball canning jars and lids in your attic or garage and turn them into bean sprouting jars. Just add dried beans to the bottom, and put a stocking, cheesecloth, or cut-out screen under the metal screw top. Then replace the top, cover the beans with water, and soak them overnight. In the morning, drain, add more water, drain again, then lay the jar flat in a non-sunny spot. Every morning and evening, refresh them with another rinse and drain. Your effort will produce fresh mung, alfalfa, or salad sprouts in a few days. When these nutritious sprouts fill their jars, they last for a week or more in the refrigerator. I also find they stay fresher with a rinse and drain every other day, and for the best taste, put them in a spaghetti drainer and swish under running water to remove the tough seed coverings. Fresh homemade sprouts are perfect for stir-fried dishes, sandwiches, and excellent health. (A $10 savings) 10. Ladies, make a “fashion file" by cutting out pictures of your favorite trends. When questioning what to wear, check through the photos for new ideas by uniting old clothes. (A $10 savings) 11. Things in the basement or garage you don’t use? Repurpose them. For example, I had an unused gallon jug of gentle dog shampoo. Now unbeknownst to my family members who never read any of my articles, they are all washing their hands with canine cleanser and will be for a long, long time!! (A $6 saving)
“Gleaning inside of your home” inspires frugal creativity. After all, some of the most successful gleaners were our parents and grandparents, who lived through The Great Depression. They coined this adage which has held for decades. Make it do: Do without: Use it up: And wear it out!
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.