Instead of going to the store on a non-shopping day because you’re running out of something, find a substitute or stretch what you do have left. Over time, your per-use cost will be reduced, and you’ll save gas because you’re not making extra trips to the store. Also, Dear Husband and I tend to use more when we have more on hand. I’ve heard others say this, too. So buying another tube of toothpaste before we run out just means we’ll use up the old tube faster. We’ve learned to wait until there is nothing or next to nothing left before adding toothpaste to our grocery list.
Here is a list of 13 typical grocery store products DH and I have been known to stretch, and how we do it, some tactics being more worthwhile than others. A few of these methods may be a little crazy, but all of them help us save money and wait until the next scheduled shopping day:
1. If we have no butter, and I have a hankering for eggs and toast for breakfast, I’ll boil the eggs instead of scrambling them, and I’ll put peanut butter or jelly on my toast.
2. Vinegar is great at getting rid of yukky smells in the wash. If we run out of vinegar and have a particularly stinky load of exercise clothes, we’ll use lemon or lime juice. We don’t pour it into the fabric softener dispenser as we would with vinegar because the natural sugars in the lime juice might make the dispenser get moldy. The lime juice in particular works like a charm.
3. If I have three more lunchbox sandwiches to make for the week and run out of plastic wrap. I’ll scavenge plastic wrap from other places like the empty part of the bread loaf bag. One time I poured the remaining contents of the cereal box into a lidded jar and used the inner cereal bag to wrap a sandwich, tying it shut with a scrap piece of yarn. Better yet, if you have a reusable sandwich-shaped food container (we don’t, unfortunately), be green and use that.
4. If I need two showers’ worth of shampoo and only have about half a shower’s worth left, I will add one drop of dishwashing soap to the shampoo bottle (just one drop, because it’s so harsh) plus a little water.
5. When the sliced bread runs low, we’ll eat those dreaded heels. Actually, I’ve come to like them!
6. If I have a severe chocolate attack and we have no chocolate, but we have cocoa, a normal go-to would be homemade hot cocoa. But if we don’t have enough milk, I’ll make hot fudge sauce instead and eat it straight up with a spoon! Yum, but don’t do that too often because it really gives your blood sugar a dizzying roller coaster ride!
7. Speaking of milk, if we’re short of snack food but I have the munchies, I’ll drink a glass of milk instead. We buy whole milk, and the fat and protein in whole milk are pretty satiating. If it’s winter and I’m cold, I’ll drink it warm like they do in old movies.
8. I always dilute orange juice before I drink it whether or not we’re running low.
9. If we run out of clothes soap, I’ll use powdered dishwasher soap instead, putting it directly on the clothes before turning on the machine rather than trying to run the dishwasher soap through the dispenser. It works, but I wouldn’t use it on delicate or special occasion clothes.
10. If we don’t have enough bar soap left for showers and the bathroom sink, I’ll use shampoo as a body wash.
11. If I’m running short on hand cream, I’ll get my hands wet first and then use a tiny bit of hand cream which will spread easily because my skin is wet.
12. I can make my toothpaste last another week if I use only a little bit each day. I mean, if you’re brushing thoroughly, how much toothpaste do you actually need for fresh breath and clean teeth? One time I tried this and the toothpaste didn’t last another week, so I used baking soda on the last day (grim tasting, but effective).
13. If the dishwashing soap is running low, we stretch it by adding a little water. (You’ve already learned to do that, eh?!) When it gets low again and it’s still not shopping day, we add a drop of liquid clothes soap. We need to add a only a dime size drop of clothes soap to last another day because clothes soap is so concentrated.
Make this day even better. Consider:
- Pick a crucial product you use and try stretching it now, before it starts to run out. It’ll give you confidence that you can make do if you ever run low.