Home frugal living/saving money Making Home on a Budget: Frugal Ideas for You

Making Home on a Budget: Frugal Ideas for You

by Kelly Crawford

In a never-ending quest to be resourceful, help your husband as you carefully manage your income and be the best steward possible of what the Lord has given you, you need ideas!  We all have enough creativity if we put our minds to it!  I thought I’d toss out a few ideas we’ve implemented recently:

Feminine apron

Need to give a gift on a shoestring budget?  Grab some stashed fabric and make an apron!  Aprons have made a sassy comeback and besides being useful can be quite decorative as well.  Usually you can find a simple pattern or directions in a search.  This one would be too fancy for me to make, but there are some really simple, cute ideas too.

*Another apron option is to purchase a denim jumper at the thrift store, cut it up the back and add ties and embellish with ribbons, buttons, etc.

Child’s Gift

Click over to learn how to make Tricia’s cute idea for a homemade pencil and notebook roll.

Recycled Gift Packaging

Tricia also had this adorable, simple idea:

Delicious, Frugal Dinner:

Jumbo Pasta Shells

1 chicken breast

Handful of mushrooms, sliced or diced

1 block cream cheese

1/2 stick butter

2 cloves garlic

Pasta sauce

Shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Sauté chopped garlic and mushrooms in oil or butter.  Add chicken, continue sauteing until done.  Set aside.  Melt cream cheese, butter over low heat in saucepan or skillet.  Add a little milk and stir with whisk until creamy.  Add chicken/mushroom to sauce.  Line cooked pasta shells in casserole dish and fill with spoonful of mixture.  Top with pasta sauce and shredded cheese and bake until melted.

I made this last week and for our family of 10 (remembering that we have several small children) I only used a half a box of shells, half a jar of pasta sauce and one chicken breast!

Fun for Kids:  Homemade Playdoh

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 TBS cream of tartar
1 TBS oil
food coloring


  • Heat all ingredients in a saucepan, slow to medium heat. Stir continuously. Once dough is at the consistency you want, remove from heat. Cool before using. *high salt content so please keep playdough away from pets.

My best tip for staying cool and keeping the thermostat up:

Crush ice in a blender and dole it out.  It will lower your body temperature and have you shivering in the 82 degree house.

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Diane August 3, 2010 - 11:21 am

Great tips Kell! For the last several years I have been making rather than purchasing the gifts I give and I have been utterly shocked at the response. The homemade gifts are cherished and appreciated far more than any other gifts I have given… more even than the very expensive and trendy gifts I used to be able to afford. Here’s one piece of advice I have for homemade gifts- find something that you can make well and make that- even if you have to give everybody the same thing, lol. I’d love to be able to give folks soaps and those kinds of things (like you make!) but I know anything I’d make along those lines wouldn’t be of a very good quality. Woodworking or anything using tools- forget it! I can sew a fair bit though, so that’s how I created the things I give. I’ve made aprons for the ladies in my family for years and they’ve been very well loved♥

My best money making tip though is to change your attitude and expectations. We truly need so very little, and being contented with one’s needs is a huge money saver. If you don’t go shopping as a recreational activity, it’s a lot easier to be content too (and you can guess how I know this;-))

Heather August 3, 2010 - 12:11 pm

I am doing food on a budget on my blog this week. Must be in the air! Thanks for the ideas! You are always a blessing to me! LOVED yesterdays post! We are sooooooo much alike! Would love to meet with you someday! Think we would have lots to chat about and our big families could play together!

Dawn August 3, 2010 - 12:55 pm

Haha on the ice!! During my anemic pregnancies, I ate ice practically 24/7. There were times during the middle of summer in the deep south here that I had the HEAT on in my car, with the fan blowing on me on high!! This tip really does work!!

Word Warrior August 3, 2010 - 12:58 pm

Yes ma’am it does! Last night I’m snuggled up on the couch, long sleeves, flannel pj pants and a blanket. My husband thinks I’ve lost it. But I crave ice constantly, since my last pregnancy. Anemia is no doubt the culprit, but what a perk in the summer!

Luci August 3, 2010 - 2:26 pm

These are great suggestions! I especially love the first one ~ aprons are always such good gifts!! I have a sturdy canvas apron from Williams-Sonoma; I just copied the main body for a pattern, made a few modifications (it was really long!), changed the straps so that it had separate neck straps and waist ties, and voila! I’d like to think it came out well. 🙂 I repurposed an old sheet and folded it in half to use for “batting” on the top half, so that it would be a little sturdier.

One of my favorite sources for free sewing patterns is Craft Stew. I bookmarked their link for free apron patters a while ago, and thought I’d share it here! 🙂 It’s: http://craftstew.com/sewing/38-free-apron-patterns


Luci August 3, 2010 - 2:27 pm

Sigh – I posted a long comment that got lost! 🙁 I wanted to share a favorite link for free apron patterns. It’s here:



Elizabeth August 3, 2010 - 6:21 pm

That apron in the picture is so cute. Do you happen to know where the pattern for it can be found? I am so tired of my old utilitarian apron, I’m ready to make myself a new, pretty one.

TulipGirl August 4, 2010 - 12:30 am

We love homemade playdough — especially koolaid playdough, as it has such a lovely smell and vibrant colors.

But. . . umm. . . half a pack of pasta and one chicken breast for a houseful? Even with my boys snacking on fresh fruit and veggies throughout the day, that would be inadequate for growing almost-teen boys. We do practice frugality, but also practice good nutrition. Dr. Furhman is helpful, as is whfoods.org. For example, tonight we had Moroccan veggie and chicken stew (4 frozen chicken tenders, lots of veggies, and some chickpeas) and homemade bread. I believe it is important to invest in healthy and abundant food — especially for our growing children.

Word Warrior August 4, 2010 - 7:39 am

Tulip Girl,

Feeding on a small portion doesn’t mean they aren’t getting adequate nutrition.

What if they had just had a snack of fruit and veggies at church? (Which they did.)

What if I served a salad on the side? (Which I did.)

What if I don’t have any teenage boys and several little bittys and they actually had food left over?

jen in AL August 4, 2010 - 8:25 am

Great ideas! One summer i got some ice cube trays from walmart and filled those with a yummy juice and froze it, then crushed that up and the kids thought they were having a snow cone! I need to do that again! especially in this heat! thanks for the great ideas and recipe! yummy! blessings, jen in al

Sixsweeties August 4, 2010 - 1:45 pm

Love the frugal homemade ideas…..we are already planning our Christmas lists! Keep the ideas coming! 🙂

Luci August 4, 2010 - 3:22 pm

PS: Many thanks for posting that recipe! 🙂 I plan on making it for my husband, although I’ll definitely have to double it. He’s one of those fellows with an extraordinarily fast metabolism; he needs to eat about 6,000 calories a day just to maintain his weight! (I’m the opposite – if I smell food, I gain a pound, LOL!) Meeting his nutritional needs on a budget is always a fun challenge! 🙂

Kim M August 4, 2010 - 3:41 pm

hahahahahaha! I am laughing at you and your ice. Great way to stay cool.

Idea: You can also use pant legs to make body pillows(I made camo pillows for my boys out of their daddy’s old hunting pants) ….or punching bags (which my boys love!)

Jamie August 5, 2010 - 1:01 pm


Here’s my recipe for home made tomato sauce. Super frugal! My husband is first generation Italian American and my dad is first generation Italian American as well. My hubby calls pasta with home made sauce a poor man’s meal. When we were first married my hubby was part owner of an Italian restaurant in NYC that was suffering the effects of Sep. 11th. We had no income at all but fortunately we had a small savings and not too many bills. I was determined no to go into debt. I put my thinking cap on and we lived on pasta and home made sauce and our garden. Now we eat pasta maybe once a week or every other week but we always have sauce in our freezer. And it makes a great dinner for a meal to give away when someone is in need.http://pursuingtheoldpaths.blogspot.com/2010/04/cooking-for-crowd-homemade-tomatoe.html

Charity August 6, 2010 - 8:26 pm

Kelly, Wanted to let you know that I made your yummy recipe for supper tonight. (Actually I halved it since my family is half the size of yours and there are enough leftovers for another meal!) This is a new favorite for us. So yummy! I do think next time I am going to add spinach to the saute team, just to sneak another veggie in there. 😉 Since I write out our menus (helps me stick to our grocery budget) I had to come up with a name for it. Cheesy chicken in shells? No. And then it hit me…”Kelly”s Frugal Chicken Stuff”…and there you have it! 🙂 (I wrote in on the menu, so it’s official!)

Nikki August 7, 2010 - 11:14 pm

If you add some kool aid and a little sugar and water to your crushed ice you will have something like a slurpie. The kids love them on hot days.

Diana September 12, 2010 - 2:16 am

If you find mint growing in your yard (which I did) you can save the leaves to dry or use fresh …but you can boil them and strain the water for putting in the fridge instead of punch etc. It isnt strong but it very refreshing on a hot day.

Marisa Mallinson October 14, 2011 - 2:21 pm

I hope you continue to blogging because you are good.

6 arrows January 6, 2013 - 4:52 pm

Fun to come to this post, written by a Southern lady in the month of August, when I’m somewhere else and reading in January on a 20-degree-something day 😉 Tips on staying cool? Head on up here in the next few weeks, Kelly, and we’ll sit on my porch and you’ll find out 😛

But seriously, if you ever want to beat the heat or anything else, door’s always open 😉

Word Warrior January 6, 2013 - 6:02 pm

Awww…now wouldn’t that be so awesome? Thank you for invite….you just never know.


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