Do you wonder how you can help with your family’s income? Even though your husband provides a good income for your family, you can implement homemaking skills for the frugal housewife to help your husband’s income stretch further.
Most of these homemaking skills for the frugal housewife revolve around food.
Because usually the biggest budget buster is food!
Too tired to cook? Get carry out. In a rush? Swing into the drive through. No food ready for supper? Stock up at the deli. Don’t want to do dishes? Let’s just eat at the buffet.
For a couple, eating outside the home all the time may not seem like a big deal. But as you add in children or as you attack your debt, you will see just how much money can be saved by cooking and eating at home.
Read More: Homemaking Skills for the Modern Housewife
13 Homemaking Skills for the Frugal Housewife
Making meals for your family is one of the best ways to save money and control how they are nourishing their bodies. Not only does cooking at home save you money, it is usually much healthier than prepackaged foods and restaurant dining.
Cooking at home means cooking at home! Actually chopping your own vegetables, browning your own meat and adding your own spices.
If you don’t know how to cook or you hate it, find someone in your church or community who you can shadow. Ask your mom, aunt or grandma. Invite them over or go to their house and learn from them. Pick your family’s favorite dishes and ask them to show you how they would make them.
Sure, you can sign up for cooking classes, but that costs more money and can be overwhelming because they may use fancy methods or uncommon ingredients.
And don’t forget about YouTube!
Baking is one homemaking skill that isn’t essential but is handy. Box mixes have made it very affordable and easy to bake, but not healthier. I know, sugar is sugar. But mixes have a lot of extra ingredients for shelf stability.
And a lot of times when I’m baking, I automatically cut back on the sugar. With box mixes, you don’t have this option.
Whatever type of baking you choose to do (from box or scratch) it’s still far cheaper than buying a box of cookies or brownies from the deli or bakery!
3. Know Cheap/Seasonal Foods
Does your family love peaches? Splurge on them while they are in season and at their lowest price – and best flavor.
Do a little research and discover when foods are seasonal in your area. Stock up on them at that time and enjoy fresh or throw the food in the freezer. Just understand that the rest of the year it’s apples, bananas, and carrot sticks for your family.
Aside from produce, there are some healthy food staples that are affordable year round:
- Dried beans
Read More: Healthy Convenience Foods to Keep on Hand
4. Grocery Shopping
For me, grocery shopping is a sport. I challenge myself to find the lowest prices and the best deals.
The first places I hit up in my grocery stores are the reduced price items. Many times the bins are full of close-to-expired food that I can take home and use right away or pop in the freezer.
[Pssst! Check out Crystal’s Grocery University for more in depth grocery budget guidance!]
My store has a small reduced price cooler for dairy and one for meat. Then I go to the dry goods section on the back of the isle to the marked down dry goods. Most of the time the dry goods aren’t expired. The packaging is slightly damaged or it’s a product being discontinued.
One of the hard things about grocery shopping for the good deals is extra stops. I don’t do all my grocery shopping at one place and then head home. I stop several different places to take advantages of sales and discount bins.
Read More: 14 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
5. Buy in BulkTo preface this homemaking skill: buying in bulk will only save you money if you can use all the food before it spoils. This skill is best suited for larger families or homemakers who have a little extra storage, refrigerator or freezer space.
I have an Amish store nearby that sells lots of food in bulk. I get 50 pound bags of flour and sugar, large bags of rice, lentils, spices, cheese, peanut butter and oatmeal.
Most of the time, buying food in larger quantities (provided you have the room to store the overflow) is cheaper than buying individual boxes and bags.
Some people actually MAKE money couponing! That’s insane to me! But, hey, more power to them.
If I come across coupons that are for a product I already buy, I use it. Because I do most of our cooking from scratch and make most of our own cleaning products, I don’t benefit from coupons much.
I’m far from pro in this department but check out Ruth for more couponing tips. This is one of the homemaking skills for the frugal housewife that I don’t excel in.
If you are completely new to gardening, start small. Pick one or two things to grow and expand your garden from there.
For me, I have a traditional garden where I grow most of our vegetables. Thankfully we have freezer space and I can a lot so we have our own veggies year round!
If you have no space for gardening, try patio plants! Or windowsill herbs.
8. Canning & Freezing
If you don’t garden, you can still can and freeze food for your family! Place orders at your farmer’s market for large quantities of fruits and veggies your family likes. Ask for discounted seconds on produce because you don’t need it to look pretty to can or freeze it.
Keep an eye out at stores for produce and meat sales. Check at the counter to see if you can order extra. Otherwise wipe out the store shelf and go home and throw the food in the freezer.
I normally get our chickens from our neighbor, but one day our local grocery store ran a great sale on thighs. I bought five packages, brought them home, divided them into smaller packages for our family and threw them in the freezer.
Just a few weeks ago, that same grocery store had too-ripe strawberries. Instead of throwing them out, they marked them down to $.50 a box. Yes! Fifty cents for a pound of strawberries! I loaded up on them!
9. Meal Planning
This is crucial! Without a plan, you will divert to your old ways and habits. Make a meal plan for the week or month in advance and stick to it.
Plan around seasonal food items. Throw in a meatless meal here and there to cut costs. Look through your grocery fliers and plan your meals around what’s on sale.
More importantly, make meals out of food you have in stock or food that’s on sale. Meal planning won’t be frugal if you are planning gourmet, expensive meals – even if you do cook them at home!
If you don’t have time to make your own meal plans, use this affordable meal planning service that even makes your grocery list for you!
Read More: Cheap Meal Planning in Reverse
10. Kitchen Prep
A meal plan won’t help you unless you are prepared for the day’s menu. Choose a day when you look at the week ahead. On that day, do as much food prep for the week as you can. Make one big mess all at once instead of a bunch of smaller messes all week long.
- Chop veggies
- Thaw meat
- Marinate meat
- Soak beans
- Bake bread
- Soften butter
- Hard boil eggs
- Shred cheese
Then on the day of each meal, your ingredients are ready to go!
Grab some more helpful kitchen day prep tips from Stacy.
11. Mending & Sewing
The days of sewing clothes for frugality have passed. China and thrift stores have made clothing so affordable it is not a necessity to sew your family’s clothes.
But you should still know your way with a needle and thread! Sewing on a lost button, patching a hole or hemming a skirt are all useful skills.
Shopping at thrift stores is challenging for me – I think because I’m such a common size. So if I find a skirt I love but isn’t perfect, I’ll take it home and put in a few darts or pleats and hem it up to my liking.
My husband is also an odd size and has a hard time finding shirts that are long enough but not gunny sacks around his middle. So he buys shirts a couple sizes too big to get the length and then I alter them to fit him side to side.
Mind you, I do not alter brand new clothing! It’s not worth it to me to pay $20 for something just to come home and butcher it. I’ll pass!
I only put this much effort into altering thrift store finds.
12. Hair Cutting
If you have a house full of boys this homemaking skill can save you tons of money! Invest in a quality clippers and hair scissors and watch some YouTube videos.
Learning how to keep and balance your checking account will make you more aware of how much you are spending. It doesn’t matter how frugal you think you are being, if it’s not reflected in the numbers, good intentions won’t matter.
Set up a budget with your spouse and commit to sticking to it! A budget does no good if you don’t look at it.
If money is no worry for your family then you can skip a few of these homemaking skills for the frugal housewife and be just fine.
However, if you are trying to pay off debt, your house or get ahead on your retirement, consider mastering each of these homemaking skills for the frugal housewife to contribute to your family’s financial goals.