Frugal for Four

Adding four people to your family at the same time can be quite taxing on finances.  In our case, it meant income being reduced significantly with expenses steadily rising.  We went on a mission to rethink our spending and find places to pinch pennies.  It wasn’t terribly difficult since my own father is extremely thrifty.  In an effort to save money, we’ve begun making many of our most used household commodities.

Before the quads were even born, we began using Dad’s recipe to make laundry detergent.  We knew four babies would mean exponential growth in laundry and they would need a sensitive formula.  We found it surprisingly simple to make and also effective in cleaning our clothes.

DIY laundry detergent

To make our detergent, we mix 2 c. Borax, 2 c. Super Washing Soda, 1 bar grated Fels Naptha laundry soap, and 1 bar grated Ivory bar soap. We use a cheese grater to grate the soap, and store in a lidded container. We found it’s easier to grate soap that’s been out of the wrapper and air drying a few weeks ahead of time.  Use 2-3 teaspoons per load (tip: a medicine cup is  the perfect scoop!) Instead of using fabric softener on the kids’ clothes, we add about 1/4 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.  It helps remove odors and softens clothes too.

If you prefer a liquid detergent, check out Our Multiples Journey for a similar recipe that results in liquid form.   Also, if you’d like step by step directions, please visit The Littlest Lesnaus since Krista uses a similar recipe to us.

Before the babies arrived, we received many packages of diapers and wipes as gifts.  It was a huge blessing to us, but we eventually began to deplete our supply, and we also noticed problems with diaper rash.  Because of additives and chemicals, our pediatrician recommended we use toilet paper instead of wipes, but I wasn’t a fan of that idea.  Consequently, we began making our own baby wipes, which we now prefer to store-bought and we are saving quite a bit of money.

How to make baby wipes using paper towels, water, baby wash, essential oils, and baby oil.

Once the babies began eating solid foods, I made baby food from fresh, frozen, canned, and dairy products.  It was surprisingly simple to make, and the babies really enjoyed it.  Consuming a lot of produce meant A LOT of washing.  That’s when I started using a two ingredient produce wash.  It’s simple: one part white vinegar and one part water mixed in a spray bottle.

DIY produce wash using vinegar and water

In addition to using my produce wash for fruit and veggies, I use it to clean toys and sometimes even the counter tops since vinegar contains antibacterial properties and is safe around toddlers.  Check out Texas Tales for a few other ways to use vinegar in your home.  I started using Amber’s tip of using vinegar/ water for mopping except I add a few drops essential oil for fragrance.  Vinegar is also an excellent substitute for dishwasher rinse aid!

It may not be a commodity in everyone’s house, but popcorn is a staple here.  It’s a guilt free snack with its high fiber content and ability to fill grumbling tummies.  Seriously, it is among my favorite snacks, and most of our friends have been served popcorn at our house one time or another.  For me, popcorn is nostalgic.  I recall family movie nights with my own parents and we always enjoyed freshly popped popcorn.  When I went off to college I developed an addiction to microwave popcorn.  I hadn’t mastered the skill of stove top cooking like my Dad, but still wanted to enjoy warm, fresh popcorn.  Several months ago, I considered the many additives that likely lurk in microwave popcorn and knew there must be a better option.  I still haven’t mastered the art of stove top popcorn popping, but I remembered a trick my sister used when we were kids: lunch sack popcorn.  It’s brilliant, and now enjoyed at our house almost daily!

DIY microwave popcorn

Put 1/2 cup popcorn kernels in a paper lunch sack (large size works best) then roll the top. Microwave 2 minutes (time may vary based on your wattage, ect). Once popcorn is popped, melt about 2 tablespoons coconut oil then drizzle over popcorn and season lightly with sea salt or dry Ranch dressing mix.

crock pot yogurt

With the quads, yogurt is a major commodity for our home.  We go through an insane amount of it each day.  As in, they ate a large tub just today.  My friend, Becky, recently introduced me to Homemade Yogurt. It is simple to make and is definitely a money saver.  The only problem is we devour yogurt so quickly I cannot make it fast enough to keep up the pace.  Therefore, I only make yogurt when we are running low and won’t have a chance to replenish our stock.  It’s nice to have the ability to make yogurt even if we don’t make it regularly, however.

What are your favorite money saving tips?  Do you have any great do-it-yourself recipes?

hugs!

Amber

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15 thoughts on “Frugal for Four

    • I love the make up wipes! They are very similar to the baby wipes we use for bums, but the round make up pads would make them work well for make up. I’ve always used baby oil for eye make up, it works better than commercial eye make up remover!
      Haha, I still can’t get over the quads either. I think it’s crazy every.single. day. hugs! Amber

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  1. These are great tips! Going to have to try your produce spray! Recently, Lindsay and I began using e-cloths as our primary cleaning tool. The initial investment ($30 for the set) is steep, but they are re-usable rags. With that, plus water, my granite counter and glass table-tops have never been so shiny and streak free. The number of paper towels we are consuming has been cut by 75% if I were to guess. Lindsay vetted these with her investigative reporting skills, so I think they’re the real deal! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A391WW8/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1425991919&sr=1&keywords=e-cloth

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    • The produce spray is great! I just started adding a little tea tree oil, peppermint, and lavender to the same wash and use it for counter top spray.
      Thank you for the ecloths link!!! I knew Lindsay loved them and have been meaning to check with her about the price and where to buy. $30 is a little steep, but it’s much cheaper than the Norwex brand, which I think is at least twice that. I’ve got them added to my Amazon wish list now.

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  2. I spend so much money on clothes softener and the cheap solution was in front of my eyes during all of these years. I will definitely try your trick with the white vinegar! Thank you for sharing! Chelsea Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

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    • You’re welcome! The vinegar doesn’t have the nice scent of fabric softener, but works as well and removes odors from soiled laundry. You can also dilute fabric softener with vinegar if you want to keep a little of the scent. I do that with towels and sheets sometimes.

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  3. I love a lot of these (we do lunch sack popcorn too!) but I don’t see how you can save money on baby wipes. What kind of paper towels do you buy? I’m always doing per unit math at the grocery store. Please share!

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    • I’m addicted to the popcorn! We usually buy whatever select a size baby wipes are on sale at Costco so it varies. When we first started making them, I did a cost breakdown and it was a fraction of a penny per wipe and like .02/ wipe for store bought. We didn’t initially start making them for cost savings, we had a diaper rash problem, but realized it was cheaper.

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  4. Wow, great ideas and thank you for the recipes! I’ve made popcorn on the stove, but didn’t realize I could do it this way in the microwave–I’m going to try. Yay!

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