If you keep even a remotely well-stocked kitchen, you’ve got everything you need to cut down on your spending on all sorts of consumer goods. Here are eight common products that have very good (or even superior) replacements right in your own home already, most with just the most minimal amount of work:
Hand cream I just mix a dab of Crisco with a dab of vegetable oil, scrub my hands for a long time with this mixture, then wash my hands thoroughly and dry them. My hands feel fuller and the skin feels quite moist – I no longer get chapped hands in the winter.
Tabasco sauce Grow two hot pepper plants in a pot on your windowsill (I use dirt from the yard, a coffee can, and my own seeds). I like to use red tabasco chiles, but most small, hot, red chile peppers can be used. Harvest all of the peppers from them, chop them up, and weigh them. For each pound you have, add two cups of distilled white vinegar (had for pennies at the store) and two teaspoons of salt. Put it over heat until it’s about to boil, then let it simmer for five minutes. Dump the mix in a blender, puree, then put in a glass jar and sit it in the fridge to season for about two weeks. For about $0.25, you have enough Tabasco sauce to fill four or five of those little Tabasco bottles. Once it’s steeped, I usually put it in a number of small baggies and freeze it, then refill small bottles when needed.
Chapstick / Carmex I see lots of people using Chapstick on their dry, chapped lips during the winter, yet I’ve never understood why. Just take a very tiny dab of Crisco on the tip of your index finger and it’ll do the very same job. Want it portable? Use a Carmex tin until it’s empty and fill that up with a small amount of Crisco. Instead of spending a buck on this stuff, spend a penny or two on Crisco instead. Afraid to try it in public? Give it a try at home first to see if you’re okay with it – I actually prefer it to Chapstick now.
Barbecue sauce If you enjoy eating the low-end sauces, you’ll probably not save much making your own sauces, but if you want wonderful tasting barbecue sauces without all those preservatives, make your own – it’s quite easy. Take a quarter cup of white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, a third of a cup of molasses or brown sugar, a cup of ketchup (I actually like to boil tomatoes to a pulp and add a bit of salt to them instead of using ketchup here), a tablespoon of mustard, and a teaspoon each of various spices (try garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, or whatever). I like to saute two real garlic cloves and a cup of minced onions into near oblivion and use that mixture instead of the garlic and onion powders. I also like just a little bit of sage and rosemary in it, too. Heat up the vinegar and brown sugar/molasses together in a pan until it’s all liquid, then remove from the heat and stir in everything else. Yum, and it’s usually cheaper than that store-purchased junk.
Herbal shampoo Five bucks for herbal shampoo? Try this instead: mix an ounce of vegetable oil (olive oil is great, but could be expensive), one egg, a tablespoon of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and any herbs you’d like to add to it (if you’re oily, add some basil, ground citrus peel, or thyme; some general good ones are a dash of rosemary and also any aromatic flower pieces you have). I recommend filling up a travel-size shampoo bottle with this stuff and keeping the rest in the refrigerator, as you shouldn’t leave it out in the shower for more than three days or so. It’s way better for your hair because there aren’t any chemicals attacking it.
Herbal conditioner Five bucks for a bottle of herbal conditioner? Forget it! Take a teaspoon of baby oil, a egg yolk, a cup of water, and any herbs you’d like to add to it, mix them in a blender, and fill up a conditioner bottle. Just be sure to use it within three days if you don’t refrigerate it or freeze it.
Windex If you’re buying Windex, stop. Just, stop. Mix a quarter cup of vinegar, a half teaspoon of liquid soap (I just use dawn), and two cups of water in a spray bottle (for example, your old Windex bottle), shake it up, and you’re good to go. It works as good as anything I’ve used and it’s so much cheaper that it’s almost sad.
Sure, you can buy a lot of this stuff yourself a bit quicker, but why throw money to the wind when you can make cheaper, more natural, and often superior variations using a lot of stuff you already have?