Cultivating a Frugal Mentality

scraping bowl clean

Image by Rex Roof

Today I roasted a whole chicken. As I was cutting up and freezing bags of cooked chicken, I noticed myself doing something that I do automatically, but had never really thought much about… before sticking the cutting board in my dishwasher, I used my knife to scrape every last bit of chicken, bones, skin, etc. into my crockpot to use for making chicken bone broth.

Something so small, but I realized that I do little things like this often.

I am forever dirtying rubber spatulas, using them to scrape the dregs out of any blender, food processor or bowl that I might happen to use. I add water to every jar of homemade kefir or yogurt that I finish up, so that I can shake it up and get any last bit to dump into our morning smoothies. I still wash every single Ziploc bag that I use until it has holes in it, even though I’ve learned how to get them for free using coupons.

Every little bit of leftovers get saved. A scoop of casserole too small for an adult can be my toddler’s lunch the next day. A cupful of cooked cauliflower gets chopped and tossed into a soup or a wrap filling. An extra egg white or two gets refrigerated to be added to tomorrow’s scrambled eggs.

Why?

Because I don’t want anything to go to waste. I’ve cultivated the frugal habit of doing my best to use up absolutely everything. Right down to the last drop, the little bits, the drippings… everything.

This frugal mentality is what helps me make it through the month on (a tight) budget, serving my family as much high quality, organic, pastured, nourishing food as possible. Without a doubt.

What does it mean to you to have a frugal mentality when it comes to food? Do you think it really makes a difference?

This post is part of Frugal Friday, hosted by Life as Mom.

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. I am learning that by using up the last bits makes heading to the grocery store or co-op to re stock more gratifying. Also, living on the outskirts of my town has helped me be creative and use what I have on hand.
    I am still learning and this post help me stay focused, thank you!

  2. I think it does make a difference to use a frugal eye in the kitchen (elsewhere in the home as well). Last night, when Hubby was cooking up some meat and beans for super nachos, I watched him put some worchestershire sauce into the practically empty organic salsa jar and shake it hard…and then pour every last bit into the skillet. Our son eats gluten & casein free (among many other things not in his diet) and it adds up, so yes, we try to make all of our ingredients stretch! :.

  3. I all I can say is “Amen”!

  4. Thought of you this morning as I added a peanut butter filled piece of celery to my smoothie. When my son didn’t finish it yesterday, I had put it in the fridge, hoping I’d find a way to use it! I’m like you, I don’t waste anything! (and in the unfortunate instance when it occurs, I vow to prevent it next time when possible). Keep it up!

  5. Great post. I definitely try to use every little bit of things, although every now and then I’ll have to toss something…and I feel bad, but I just do it and don’t look back, and promise to get better next time. It is just Hubby and I, so we go through things much slower than families. It’s actually kind of hard to shop because I use so many fresh things…it’s hard to judge whether we’ll be able to use it before it spoils. I am getting better though! Just have to make smaller, more frequent grocery trips.
    .-= Nikki Moore´s last blog ..Growing up and needing new stuff (and orange furry monsters) =-.

  6. I am learning that by using up the last bits makes heading to the grocery store or co-op to re stock more gratifying. Also, living on the outskirts of my town has helped me be creative and use what I have on hand.
    I am still learning and this post help me stay focused, thank you!

  7. I think it does make a difference to use a frugal eye in the kitchen (elsewhere in the home as well). Last night, when Hubby was cooking up some meat and beans for super nachos, I watched him put some worchestershire sauce into the practically empty organic salsa jar and shake it hard…and then pour every last bit into the skillet. Our son eats gluten & casein free (among many other things not in his diet) and it adds up, so yes, we try to make all of our ingredients stretch! :.

  8. I all I can say is “Amen”!

  9. Yes, it does make a difference. I do many of the same things that you do. There’s just no sense in being wasteful – financially or environmentally. I do many of the same frugal things my grandma did – she started doing them because she had to -way back when -but it became a habit and although her budget didn’t dictate she do it she still did. It’s a good thing!
    .-= Debra´s last blog ..Frugal Friday… =-.

  10. we are the same way here with 6 teens and us it has to be that way

  11. I have made stock from my roasted chickens in the past and I’m trying to learn to be more frugal with our grocery budget each week. Can you tell me what you do with the bags of frozen chicken? I have a whole roasted chicken in my fridge now and I don’t want it to go to waste!

    Thanks.

    • @Luli, I use the bags to add to various meals… a chicken pot pie, a soup or stew, to make chicken/egg salad for sandwiches or wraps, to add to Chicken Divan… anything at all. It is so handy and make dinner quicker and easier to prepare having these bags of pre-cooked and chopped chicken in my freezer!

  12. Great topic! Being frugal helps us spend the money where it matters most. I’ve started ‘converting’ my family to frugal meals the last while and we’re still all fed and happy. Another tip has been to support local farmers / farmer’s markets as the prices to buy direct are usually lower. Last fall, I even had an offer to come and pick as much produce as I liked before the final frost!

    Food frugality can only save so much, though. My best frugal move to date was using cloth diapers instead of disposables– I’ve saved $50-80 every month, upwards of $2000 so far! http://www.justbummingarounddiapers.com for more info on that.

    Great article!

  13. yes! me too! drives my husband crazy, but it is the way I was brought up and I don’t even think twice about things like that until someone else brings it to my attention, or I notice someone doing the exact opposite of what I would have done (all veggie byproduct into the disposal instead of chickens/compost/broth pot, for example).

  14. My husband and I are that way, too! we try to eek out every bit of worth out of an object without becoming a hoarder! :)
    .-= Lindsey@ Mama Sews´s last blog ..a letter of love to my son =-.

  15. I think it is so important to use every last drop. I hate having to throw away anything! Even if you’re not on a budget, its like throwing money in the garbage.

  16. Great post, thanks for the tips!

    • I get teased by my husband about the fact that I never buy anything unless it is on sale.Also when I cut an onion or anything else that I too pick up and put in the pot EVERY piece that I have cut.Seriously my motto is waste not want not.

  17. We’ve had some tough times, but things are starting to turn around. Among several factors in this, my husband recently got a promotion and a good raise. Still, I’ll keep doing the kinds of things you do because I never want to be in bad debt again. I’m an avid couponer, and I combine them with sales whenever possible. My latest thing is to buy half-price rotisserie chickens or turkey breasts and use the bones for broth. So I not only get a meal or two out of them, I get soup, too! (Or gravy!) I invested in a vacuum sealer to keep things longer and I try to use my stockpile as much as possible.
    It’s smart to shake up that last bit of mustard with some oil and vinegar for free salad dressing, or to throw your vegetable leftovers into a pot for soup. After all, what’s the point of saving dollars with coupons if you throw food away?

  18. Hi there! Niki here, dropping in from over at Free 2 Be Frugal. I really enjoyed your Frugal Friday post…frugality truly is a state of mind.

    Stop by and see me sometime.

    :)

  19. Such a helpful reminder. Thank you!
    .-= *Given Much Momma*´s last blog ..Got 5 Bucks? =-.

  20. Mind sharing how you use coupons to get ziploc bags? I’ve never seen such a coupon around here. I almost never see coupons for things I actually use, even though whenever I see coupons, I always check just in case.

    • @Nola, I get my coupons from either newspaper inserts (like Smart Source), from ziploc.ca, or from the other coupon sites, like save.ca or brandsaver.ca. I wait until they go on a good sale, like $1.99 per box (and if the sale is at a store I don’t shop at, I pricematch it at Superstore or a Loblaws store).

      I’ve also managed to get the containers for lunches for practically free, even from full price. I did this at London Drugs, the only store I know of in Canada that will allow you to stack manufacturer’s coupons (there might be others, but it’s the one I know of in my area). By combining multiple coupons ($2 off one, and $3 off of any 2, etc.) I think I paid $1 for $10 worth last time, and the bags I got for free with a $2 coupon off a $1.99 sale.

      Of course, it’s hit and miss. I don’t have any ziploc coupons at all at the moment and haven’t seen any in over a month, but then again, I’ve stocked up so it doesn’t really matter. Nola, a good place for you to check out is: http://mrssmith-extremeshopper.blogspot.com/. She’s a Canadian lady who lives in my area and is teaching couponing classes. I already knew the basics of couponing, but she was still really helpful and showed me how it can be done in Canada, and though I still don’t buy many items with coupons, it’s really nice to get deals on at least some things.

      • @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home,

        Thank you SO much! This is super helpful, I didn’t know this and I will check this out. You’re right about it being different in Canada. That is why I asked, since I knew you would know. We don’t have London Drugs around here though. The only thing I’ve ever encountered with the few coupons I’ve used is people that work there grumbling about it, especially if I use coupons on a sale item, and stock up so there are lots of coupons to use! Oh well, not my problem I guess!