Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Use what you have

Use what you have,
so you can use what you have.
Want freedom? Get organized.
Want to get organized? Get creative.
--David Allen
After all, what's the point of hitting a great sale on those canned black-eyed peas if they're going right into the 'Black Hole' never to be seen again?
I think one definition for frugal could be Think First. We all know most of the frugal catch-words such as repurpose, recycle, reuse, etc. Getting in the habit of thinking the 'R's' before running out and purchasing any given product would probably save us a ton of money.
Just after the new year I got on a cleaning/organizing frenzy and tackled my pantry. Then in February, my oldest daughter moved out. She left her room a clean slate for us to transform into a homeschool/playroom for Grace.
Not wanting to spend the money on unnecessary organizing gadgets and do-dads, I decided to think outside the box and use what I already had in my home.
Following are some ideas that I used as well as other tips that might be helpful.
First of all, after culling, cleaning and getting rid of expired food (arrgh!), assess your space.
--Do you have height? Can another 'shelf' be made on top or between shelves, doubling your space?
--Is there a empty space below the shelves? In my case, I had a blank wall that we added shelves to that was originally used for hanging coats.
--Cement blocks and boards are perfect for extra shelving.
--A small dresser might fit well.
Now just go through your home and look for containers.
--I had some clear plastic ice buckets that had been used as a centerpiece at a wedding. They now house my beans, rice and crackers. The other two went into the bathroom for Grace's girly stuff--soaps, bubble bath, etc. That's five nice containers that were just stacked together that I wasn't even using.
--Tupper*ware containers. Any that are only pulled out for potlucks or picnics?
--What about larger glass bowls you only pull out at holidays? Could they be used to store holiday napkins, candles etc.? (Placing them high up and away from little hands, of course.)
--I had two different wire picnic organizers. You know the kind that have a place for napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. These became my new caddys for odds and ends--plastic lids, straws, extra water filters etc.
--The gallon-size ice cream containers are perfect for storing those extra paper dessert plates and cocktail napkins as well as keeping them dust-free.
--Tins, baskets, plastic tubs you name it.
--Be on the lookout for wire or plastic shelving and other containers that can be had for very little money at thrift stores, yard sales, the dollar store.
The sky's the limit with what you can do and will save you money in the long run. Now you'll know exactly where those 20 cans of black-eyed peas are!
Then when you're finished, reward yourself with an appetizing, delicious meal Susan posted here!


  1. Great advice. Chances are we really do have the things we need right in our homes if we look for them. I use those rectangular ice storage container (the ones that come with refrigerators) as holders for my plastic lids. They line up in that nicely.

  2. Such a great post, Brenda. Double duty for items makes so much sense & cents!

  3. I just did that! Just last week, I spent some time going through my cans which I keep in an old cabinet. I separated them and put them in plastic containers that were a dollar at WalMart. I put all soup in one container; canned milk in another, etc. Then I can pull out containers when I want to look for something. Then, I got a couple of wire organizers that I could use piggy back to make "Shelving" on a cabinet in the garage. There I now have room I didn't have all of a sudden.

    I'm with you! Now hopefully I won't let cans expire as often and there that all important commodity called time to factor in!

    This is a great post--like all the suggestions of various containers we can recycle. Don't forget those large popcorn tins that are sold at Christmas time!