A workman is only as good as his tools but in a frugal household, his tools can and will be anything!
We belong to a handful of Facebook Groups aimed at Saving Money and running the home in a cost effective way, all of which are regularly full of questions like “Where can I find a good egg cooker?” or “Who makes the most reliable rice cooker?”. Now, these are valid questions but the electronics themselves aren’t necessarily ‘Cheap as Chips’ (see what I did there?!) and neither are they the most efficient way to cook.
This blog is all about extreme frugality and for us, this looks like removing anything that will add cost to our processes (like using electricity for beauty, food preparation, cleaning, etc). That doesn’t mean that we’ve 100% cut the cord (although we are working towards that in many ways), we have done away with many modern conveniences. What we’ve kept we use sparingly.
Here’s a list of our must-have tools for running a cheap and economical home:
- Wooden or Metal Cooking Utensils – wooden for the non-stick cookware and metal for everything else! The item we use most are: Rolling Pin, Wooden Spoon, Spatulas, Whisk, Masher, Ladle, Slotted Spoon and Peeler.
- Manual Food Processors (Presses/ Multi-faced Graters, Mortar & Pestle)
- Empty Jars – used for storage & canning.
- A stock of Reusable press-close bags – We’ve found that Ikea bags are the sturdiest and the least likely to tear. They stand up well to a lot of washing and reusing!
- A sturdy metal Sieve – This replaces a blender and works SO well, as long as you take good care of it!
- Plastic Food Storage Boxes – In a variety of sizes are infinitely useful.
- Wax Wraps – This is a new one to us but an ancient practice! It replaces tin foil in our home.
- Bowl Covers – This can be a fabric cover or just a dish covering a bowl.
- Jugs – For Milk and for Water.
- Metal Scourer – Easy to use and keep clean. Easily recycled after final use.
- A Trivet of some kind – cork, wood or metal. You need at least one!
- Grill Rack and Pan for Grill/Oven – The best way to make toast.
- Tea Kettle – They go on forever as long as long you care for them properly. Descaling them is a doddle with Lemon Juice or Vinegar. Leave them to boil the Juice/Vinegar gently until you can’t see scale and rinse!
- Racks – Essential for cooling bakes or adding an extra level at the bottom of your oven in a pinch!
- A variety of differently sized Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Jugs
- A selection of sharp Knives (serrated and non-serrated)
- A sturdy set of knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons
- A set of REAL bowls, side plates and dinner plates – I’m not talking paper or plastic here. Real crockery! Save money and stop this type of waste going to landfill ❤
- A variety of heavy, shaped Ceramic or Pyrex dishes for oven cooking/baking
- Heavy Bottomed non-stick Saucepans with lids – The BEST saucepans. They go on forever! Ours are a set that we inherited and are as good as new despite YEARS of constant use.
- Lightweight Frying pans – For me, this is essential. We only buy Tefal now after trying all others and finding that they really do stand the test of time. I’d LOVE cast iron but I just can’t take the weight.
- Pots with Lids (and one large enough to double as a Water Canner!)
- Somewhere to Sit – for me, this is key for working in the kitchen as i’m not able to stand long enough to make a cup of Tea! I can sit for hours working in the kitchen with minimal fatigue and I highly recommend it to anyone who can fit a table and chair in their kitchen.
- Funnels, measuring cups and spoons
- A manual weighing scale
- Silicon Muffin Cases
- Muffin trays and Pyrex Baking trays – They just go on and on (as long as you don’t drop them!)
- 1lb and 2lb Loaf Tins – For bread baking and banana bread making!
- Refillable washing up bottle and oil bottle – We buy Oil and Washing up liquid in large quantities (and in the case of washing up liquid, dilute it by 50% to stretch it out).
- A set of good quality Bath towels, beach towels, hand towels, bath mats and face cloths – After years of buying white towels (and struggling to keep them white, especially with my sweet Green-Fingered/Mechanically Minded Husband!) we decided to buy dark towels that could be refreshed with a small quantity of dye if needed.
- Bar Soap
- Reusable toothbrush
- Safety Razor with replacement blades
- Recyclable cotton buds (paper core)
- Washable shower curtain
- Nail Brush
- Pumice Stone – Good for feet and also for removing calcium deposits in the toilet!
- A solid Nail Kit – Nail scissors, Clippers, Files & Tweezers
- Sturdy Hair Brush & Comb
- Hair clips and bands
- Hair Scissors
- Cotton Wool/Rounds – Reusable Rounds and raw wool which can be composted
- Reusable sanitary wear
- Aloe Vera plants – For Antiseptic jobs. The sap works beautifully on cuts, stings and spots. We use this before adding a plaster or bandage to cuts.
- Bandages & Safety Pins of various sizes
- Hair Clippers – This is used very regularly for saving (my Husband has a beard which he has to keep maintained for work) and we both cut each-other’s hair.
- Carpet sweeper
- Good quality bedding
- A sturdy Dustpan and Brush (both short and long handled)
- A traditional Mop and bucket with Wringer
- Microfibre duster mitts – also works great at washing the car!
- Homemade Cleaners – We use Vinegar based cleaners which are multi-surface and can be scented with essential oils. We also use Bicarb, Borax Substitute, Soda Crystals and Caustic Soda.
- A good supply of Tea towels & dishcloths – either homemade or shop bought!
- Refillable spray bottles
- Washing powder – You are a lot less likely to get a smelly Washing Machine with powder. Don’t ask me why, I just know that it works!
- Removable Sink Bowl
- Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner – We use this less and less but it is a handy tool to keep around.
- A selection of manual Hand Tools – Hammer, Wrenches, Screwdrivers, Torque Spanners, Drill bits etc.
- Wood – Sourced anywhere (but free is best!).
- Scraps – Scraps of wood, leftover gubbins from fixing things. All things come in handy at some point (in a non-hoardery way!).
- Hardware – Nails, bolts, screws, etc.
- Hammer Drill – The walls in our home are incredibly thick and we can easily blunt bits. A hammer drill helps to get the job done.
- Rechargeable Batteries
- Paint leftovers
- Staple Gun and Staples
- Tape measure and Level
- Candles in a variety of sizes – Good for lighting, heating using Terracotta warmers and for waxing drawers that stick!
- A variety of Oils and Greases – Machine Grade Oil, Silicon Oil, Bearing Grease, WD40, etc. All these things are needed to keep mechanicals in tip-top condition.
- Fabric – Including scraps. Practical and useful. I only buy/accept fabric I can work with and everything not used gets recycled .
- Essential Oils – In a variety of scents that I base on the seasons. Excellent when used in cleaners, on Terracotta warmers and in candles.
- Soy Wax – For candle making and Wax Wrap making/renewal.
- Yarn – I have a problem with Yarn and am currently knitting the stash (but it’s good to have a small stash!)
- Threads – I only keep 3 now which I can buy cheaply. I use Black, Navy blue and White.
- A good selection of Needles – For machine & hand sewing. Wool needles are massively helpful when weaving in!
- A variety of Scissors – Pinking, Fabric Shears and Utility Scissors for everything else!
- Thimbles – very useful when hand sewing through layers of very thick fabrics.
- Weights – I made mine with fabric scraps and rice.
- A Sewing Machine – Mine is an older, non computerised machine and is infinitely repairable.
- A selection of machine Feet – For different jobs. Get to know your machine shank type as it makes finding feet MUCH easier (especially if you have an older machine)!
- Button Storage – You can never have enough!
- Fabric Glue – The tackier, the better!
- Hot Glue gun and sticks – Not necessarily a requirement but very useful.
- Knitting Needles and Crochet Hooks
- Knitting/Sewing Accessories – Tape Measure, Stitch Markers, Stitch Holders, etc.
Truly, the most important tool to have is creativity and this takes time and experience through needs arising that desperately need this creativity to develop. Creativity and Resourcefulness are tools that get sharper and sharper every single time you use them. It’s ok to fail! Take a break, take a deep breath and TRY AGAIN.
This type of creativity builds resilience and self-reliance too and the more you use these tools, the less you realise you NEED to buy. The secret is having the tools you NEED on hand. You don’t have to run out and buy this list of things, we certainly didn’t! Much of what we have has been picked up here and there, in Charity Shops, from Family and Friends, etc. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get quality but you do need patience to find the things you need in time for the right price!
Hoping you all have a great week ahead!
With Every Blessing,