Today is December 3rd, the countdown is on for Christmas. Usually we end up giving at least some homemade gifts. When a gift is made yourself it’s usually:

  1. Cheaper - Most homemade gifts cost way less than the same thing bought in a store, and all my ideas today are economical.
  2. More meaningful and you can personalize them – It’s nice when receiving a gift to know someone put time and thought into it and you can personalize it with their name, favorite colors or interests.

 

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s usually the males on my list that are harder to think of gifts for, especially if I’m wanting to make something, so I was overjoyed when I saw this marshmallow shooter tutorial! It was so cheap and easy to put together for my 14 year old brother!

 

Chai tea is one of my very favorites, especially in cold winter months. This is a great recipe to whip up a batch of instant chai tea mix which can be used for multiple gifts.

 

Crocheted dishcloths or pot holders are one of my go-to gift ideas because they’re so useful and I can usually make one in a couple of hours. Check out my free crochet potholder pattern.

 

How about baking muffins or quick breads? Lots of people give away cookies and candy at Christmas, and while that’s a yummy treat, sometimes it’s nice to have something with a little less sugar that can also be used as a quick breakfast or snack. I have lots of muffin recipes on my blog, like the orange cranberry ones pictured above.

 

Another food gift is granola, like this coconut granola.

 

Looking for homemade gifts for kids? How about playdough for just over a quarter…talk about economical!

 

Do you have a box full of random little crayon pieces? Simple melt them into crayon cookies,

and if you have molds then they can be even more exciting!

 

If you buy those frozen concentrated juices than re-use those metal lids for making a juice lid memory game,

which is not only super resourceful, they’re also more durable than your usual paper memory cards making them a great idea for young toddlers.

 

DIY fingerpaint can be a fun gift idea for kids too! What kid doesn’t like painting?

 

Let’s make this list of economical homemade gift ideas even longer! Leave a comment or link with your favorite DIY gifts!

 

Linked at Living Well Spending LessA Blossoming Life and Lady Bug Blessings.

Today’s muffin mania is a little different from all the other ones I’ve done…it’s a savory muffin! These are perfect for picnics, lunch boxes, dish-to-pass meals, appetizers, snacks…you get the idea. And if you usually buy those bagel bite, pizza pocket, things, you can make these instead and save some moola and eat healthier! They’re also perfect for using up leftovers after making pizza. It seems like every time I make pizza we have some sauce, cheese or something leftover.

I got the idea for these from this recipe, but I tweaked it a little based on what I had and made it a little healthier.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • oregano
  • red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chopped up pepperoni
  • black olives (I only had a little left, less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Pizza sauce for dipping (Don’t have any sauce? They taste good without it too!)

Preheat your oven to 375.

Mix the flours, baking powder and seasonings.

Mix the milk and egg then mix them in with the dry ingredients along with the cheeses, pepperoni and olives.

Let sit for 10 minutes.

Put into greased muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes or until done.

Serve with pizza sauce and/or ranch for dipping.

I got one dozen small muffins and 3 regular sized ones out of it. If I make it again for my family as a meal, I think I’ll double the recipe.

This post is linked at Sneaky Spoons and Frugally Sustainable.

You May Also Like:
How to Make Your Own Homemade Frozen Pizza
Spaghetti/Pizza Sauce in the Crock Pot

1.Healthier

When you make your own food you can easily cut back on sodium intake, toss in some extra fiber with whole grains, add vitamins and nutrients by using more produce, cut back on the amount of sugar and completely skip artificial junk!

Buying a muffin from the store is like buying a cupcake minus the icing. But when you make them yourself they can be full of fiber, vitamins and even fruits and veggies, and have way less sugar!

2. Yummier
I’ll admit that I do prefer some things from the store over the homemade variety, but usually homemade is better. Think about a slice of fresh warm homemade whole wheat bread with melted butter….mmmm.

3. Cheaper

Most foods are going to be cheaper when made at home rather than bought pre-made. Even if you only do part of it from scratch, like the pizza bagels below. Price break down here.

If you make pizza bagels once a week instead of ordering pizza, you can save about $240 a year!

 

 

4.Less Waste

A perfect example of this is popcorn. When I used to buy microwave popcorn, there would be the bag the popcorn was popped in, the plastic wrapping around that bag and the cardboard box that held all the popcorn. Now when making popcorn over the stove, the only trash produced is the one plastic bag the kernels come in and the bottle of oil (and even those only get used up and tossed maybe once a month, not every time I make popcorn!).

Now think about the amount of trash if you compared even more foods like, bottled ice-coffee, pudding cups, pre-made pizzas…..

5. Make it How You Like it

Ever eat spaghetti with bottled sauce, but you wish it tasted just a little less sweet? Or you wish that your frozen pizza had some more cheese, or that potato salad from the deli had less onions?  That’s one of the joys of making it yourself! You can make it exactly how you like!

6. More Fulfilling

While eating out and purchasing ready-made meals can be fast and easy, there’s something satisfying about sitting down to the table and knowing that everything (or almost everything) was made by your own hands. It’s like a work of art and feels so much homier!

7. Helps You Waste Less Food

While homemade food might go bad a little faster, simply because it’s not packed with preservatives, home-cooking can actually help you use up food. You can use that yellowing broccoli in potato broccoli soup, you can mash those bananas up for muffins, or freeze foods for use in cooking later.

 

As I sit and type this there is a bag of Cheerios in my kitchen, Cameron ate jarred salsa last night and I’ve only made my own yogurt once. I’m not saying we all need to only cook from scratch, but we can definitely see there’s some big benefits to it!

Linked at Frugally Sustainable and the following:

Amy
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I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d try making my homemade deodorant, in fact I hadn’t even heard of any one doing it until a couple of years back. But now I’ve tried it and am really liking the results! I used A Blossoming Life’s recipe.

Only 3 ingredients!

  1. ¼ cup of baking soda (I’m always amazed at all the uses for baking soda!)
  2. ¼ cup arrow root powder (the recipe said you could use cornstarch instead)
  3. 5-6 tablespoons of coconut oil

Only 3 ingredients!

A Blossoming Life also said you could add tea tree oil, but that was optional so I skipped it. It took almost no time to make! I just mixed the three ingredients together and put them in a cleaned out baby food jar! I had enough coconut oil (that a wonderful friend gave me!) to make a second batch.

I was worried that it wouldn’t work and I’d stink all the time, but honestly I think it works better than regular deodorant! I usually just have to apply it once a day, but I can update you again when summer rolls around and I sweat more! :)

I also have had issues with deodorant getting in the armpits of my shirts and it not washing out well. I’ve only been using this deodorant a couple of weeks, but so far it seems to wash out great! Yay for keeping my shirts nice!

It’s natural, it works, it’s easy, and it’s probably cheaper than the store-bought!


This post is linked at The Frugal GirlsThe Peaceful MomA Blossoming Life, Frugally Sustainable and Creating Naturally.

 

Amy

When you start reading frugal blogs and books, before too long you run into homemade laundry detergent, some make the liquid goop others the powdered kind. I’ve kept telling myself I should try making some if I wanted to fit in with the other self-proclaimed penny-pinchers, but I didn’t know what all those strange ingredients were that were involved in detergent making, plus there’s so many recipes out there! But alas I finally decided to give it a whirl and it really wasn’t that complicated!

According to The Thrifty Couple, the cost break down for one load of this detergent is just 4 cents!

There’s a lot of detergent recipes out there, I decided to stick with a simple one for my first try:

  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap
  • 2 cups of super washing soda
  • 2 cups of borax
  • a few drops of a scented essential oil (I happened to have some lavender oil on hand that I used, but this is completely optional).

Just 3 ingredients (4 if you want to add scented essential oil).

Now if you’re anything like me, I’d never bought any of the above ingredients in my life, but thankfully Twinology 2011 had a post about laundry soap and she said you could find these in the laundry isle, and she was right! All 3 of the necessary ingredients were in the laundry detergent section at Wal-Mart!

Yes, it looks just like cheese, Gracia kept asking if she could eat some
I grated the bar of soap.

Then mixed all of the ingredients together.

Then I decided the bar soap was rather big and ran all of the detergent through the food processor. Next time I might try microwaing it first, or maybe just leave it grated, I don’t know yet.

Store it in any kind of container you like, a pretty glass jar with a lid, a big zipper top bag or an old ice-cream tub like me! :) Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load.

According to The Thrifty Couple (where I got the basic recipe), it costs about 4 cents per load. While that is  cheaper than your regular store-bought  detergent, I don’t think it’ll save us hundreds a year, but…

  1. Every penny counts!
  2. It takes just minutes to make, and I’m guessing I’ll only have to make it every few months.
  3. It’s actually kind of fun and satisfying to do it yourself.
  4. I have more control over what  scents and things go in it.
  5. Now maybe the really serious tightwads will take me more seriously! :)

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent? Liquid or powder? What were the results? Did you make it with your regular kitchen utensils, or do you have a separate grater and such for your soap?

 

 

 

Amy

 

Key holders are my best friend! I think I would lose keys every day if it wasn’t for having one hanging at the front door. When we moved, we got rid of the one we had, but never fear! Cameron came to the rescue! He went outside and found some wood and sticks just lying around, then drilled 3 holes in the bigger piece of wood using an antique hand drill that he had purchased used on ebay.

Then he glued the smaller sticks inside the holes and let it dry…and viola! I now have a rustic, nature themed key holder, so I don’t lose my keys! Plus almost no money was spent making it!

 

The pink, orange and yellow one in the front was my favorite

Gracia got a nice crayon set for her birthday this year. She had crayons before that, but they were all broken and miscellaneous crayons. I didn’t throw the old crayons out though. I saved them to make crayon cookies with, and finally got around to doing it!

  1. Take all the paper off the crayons (if these are old crayons, chances are the kids have already done this!).
  2. Break them into pieces and put in muffin tins. If you have cool shaped muffin tins that would be even better. You can put like colors together or what’s really fun is mixing the colors up. My favorite combination was bright pink, yellow and orange (see photo). I also made a camouflage one with brown, green and black (see photo below).
  3. Turn your oven on very low then put the muffin tins in.
  4. Keep your eye on it and once the crayons are melted take them out and let them cool a little, then put in the freezer (I got the freezer idea from Ten Ten). After being in the freezer they pop out super easy.

You can experiment with these to see how you like them best. My first batch were a little thin, so I made the next batch a little thicker. These are a great frugal gift to put in stockings, or use as party favors. They’re especially good for little toddlers just learning to color, since they’re big and easy to hold, but any kid can use them.

I saw a crayon maker on a commercial, which uses this same idea, so I looked it up online and it cost $30. I made mine at home for practically free, just old crayons and a tiny amount of gas to heat the oven.

Some other frugal kid gifts are:

Juice Lid Memory Game

Homemade Finger Paint

Homemade Bubbles
This post is shared at Frugally Sustainable, a new favorite site of mine!

I’m so excited about this!! I got the idea from Fake-It-Frugal (a new favorite site). It not only costs a lot less than buying Febreeze, but it works great and only takes a couple of minutes to make! First go buy some fabric softener with a nice scent (this was the first time I have ever bought fabric softener!).

Then mix:

  • 1/8 cup of fabric softener
  • 2 Tablespoons of baking soda
  • Warm water (enough to fill the bottle)

Mix the above in an old Febreeze bottle (or any spray bottle). That’s it!! Now you have cheap air freshener! It works great and according to Fake-It-Frugal‘s calculations only costs 15 cents a bottle!

The power bar...and it's creator

So Cameron’s been wanting to try making our own homemade protein bars instead of buying Clif Bars.  Saturday, we experimented and came up with what he likes to call “Peanut-Butter Power Pucks”. Don’t let the tongue twister name scare you, they’re super easy to make! They’re perfect for a meal replacement, hiking bar, or pre/post workout bar.

Peanut-Butter Power Pucks

  • 3 c. rolled oats
  • 2 1/4 c. natural unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 c. roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 Tbs. flax seed meal

Butter a baking sheet and spread the rolled oats onto it, drizzle about 1Tbs. honey over oats and place them into a oven at 325 and let them bake (stirring frequently) until toasted brown.  After toasting, pulse the oats and the sunflower seeds in a food processor until medium pulverized.  (If you like, you can leave a portion of the oats and seeds un-chopped for texture) Mix all ingredients together. Form mixture into approximately 1/4 cup servings. Wrap each serving tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate or freeze. Yeilds about 18 Pucks

Placing the oats in the oven

Pulverizing the oatmeal

Mixing the ingredients

Wrapping them up in aluminum foil.

Comparing them to Clif Bars, our is the one to the right, the left one is a Clif Bar.

And now, a word from Cameron: _______________________________________________________________ Before we started on the Peanut-butter Power Pucks, we had 4 criteria we wanted to meet:

  1. Each Power Puck should have roughly the same caloric content of a Clif Bar.
  2. Only all-natural, healthy ingredients can be used
  3. Less expensive to produce than it is to purchase a Clif Bar
  4. Easy and rapid production process

I feel satisfied that we met these criteria and we did so in these ways: Each Power Puck should have roughly the same caloric content of a Clif Bar. Cliff bars contain (depending on the flavor) between 240 and 270 calories.  Seeing as our house is not currently equipped with a state-of-the-art calorimeter and a team of lab technicians, we just estimated the calorie content per serving based on the calories contained in the ingredients: Each Power Puck contains (roughly):

2 TB Unsweetened Peanut Butter 200(click to see calorie data)
1 TB Roasted Sunflower Seeds 52
¾ TB Honey
48
¾ TB Chopped Raisins 10
2 TB Rolled oats, Toasted 20
Total Calories: (aprox)

330

We made each Power Puck roughly ¼ cup in size. If you wanted them to be less calories, just make the portions smaller. Only all-natural, healthy ingredients can be used A lot of granola bars or other so-called “meal replacement” bars contain preservatives that enable them to have a long shelf life, making them a perfect choice for a bomb shelter stock pile.  However, the preservatives, along with things like high-fructose corn syrup, sucralose, and soy or whey protein, work together to give them a flavor that I would describe as unpleasant. In our Power Pucks, we used simple, healthy ingredients, available from your local grocery store or gas station.  It contains no preservatives, so you have to freeze or refrigerate them. Less expensive to produce than it is to purchase a Clif Bar This post is starting to get wordy so I wont bother you with another table detailing the cost breakdown of the ingredients.   We estimated, based on ingredient cost how much each Power Puck cost, and here is the grand total (compared with unit cost of Clif Bars):

1 Cliff Bar 1 Peanut-Butter Power Puck
$  .80 – 1.00 $  .45

Easy and rapid production process It took Katy and I about 1 hour to make the first batch of Power Pucks, and that was with experimenting with the ingredients, trial runs, and backtracking.  I’m sure the next batch will take about 15 – 20 minutes total. The only baking involved is the toasting of the rolled oats.  If you had some home-made granola standing by you could substitute that for the oats and eliminate all baking from the process. In conclusion, we had a lot of fun making these Power Pucks and I look forward to eating them.

Amy

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