How to Be an Old-Fashioned Frugal Homemaker

A woman in an apron holding a basket full of apples.

Homemaking is a job that our culture undervalues, but I’m here to tell you today that homemaking is an infinitely valuable vocation and I’m showing you 15 ways that you can contribute financially to your family by being an old-fashioned frugal homemaker.

A collage of photos including a woman holding a basket full of apples, mixing dough, a batch of biscuits and clothes hanging on the line.

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How to Be an Old-Fashioned Frugal Homemaker

In pre-industrial days, homemaking was seen and valued as a vital part of society. After all, someone had to keep the home fires burning, so to speak. Food had to be made, the home had to be cleaned, clothes had to be sewed, kids kept in control and the garden managed.

Sadly, in our modern lives, homemaking is no longer seen as a real job, even though these things still need to be done by someone. As they say, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. These words are still true, no matter if our society believes them or not.

Homemaking still is and always will be an extremely vital role, but it can be a frustrating one in a society that says only those who contribute monetarily are important. To me, this is extremely sad, I mean just think about how shallow and materialistic this sounds. You’re only important if you bring home money. Wow. So ignorant.

Our society is entrenched in consumerism, so much so that we value people based on their money making abilities, but isn’t nourishing the human spirit and caring for families also valuable? Of course it is and don’t let anyone tell you different.

I’ve been told since elementary school that going to college and climbing the corporate ladder is the only way to contribute to society and be worth something, which is such a lie and so extremely shallow. 

What about farmers? Isn’t our food supply important?

What about all of the (mostly) men doing trades like plumbing, construction, and mechanics? Don’t these jobs play a vital role in society?

What about a mom who stays home with her kids and cares for them like no one else in the world can? Doesn’t raising kind, loving and morally sound children mean anything? OF COURSE IT DOES and anyone who tells you any different is confused. Strong families are the bedrock of a society.

Like I said before it can be frustrating to be a stay at home mom in our current society, simply because you aren’t bringing home money, but don’t stay at home moms still contribute to the family monetarily? The answer is absolutely and the more frugal, industrious, and resourceful that you can be, the bigger of a blessing you will be to society and your family.

Today I’m going to be sharing with you 15 ways that you can save your family money by being a good old-fashioned frugal homemaker. I hope this list inspires and motivates you to look at your resources and see how far you can make them stretch.

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15 Ways to Save Money and Be an Old-Fashioned Frugal Homemaker


Make Homemade Bread

An easy and fun way to save your family money is to try making your own homemade bread. Your money goes a lot farther with a jar of yeast and a bag a flour than it does on the bread aisle at the store. If you try it and like it, see how many more bread products that you can make from scratch such as, naan bread, pizza dough, dinner rolls, doughnuts, tortillas, and muffins. It really is amazing what you can do with a few, simple ingredients.

Woman mixing batter.

Reverse Meal Plan

Meal planning can be a huge money-saver, if you do it right. Don’t just think of a list of meals that sound good, but go through your pantry and see how many meals that you can come up with and then stock up on what is on sale at the grocery store that week. This is the most economical way to meal plan. If you need a list of frugal meals to get you started, see the resources below.

Additional Resources:

Eat at Home

The more you eat at home, the more you save. I’m sure we all realize this, but sometimes it’s tricky to implement. Having a meal plan is a great start, but also keeping a few quick and easy meals on hand will save you money in the long run. Also, planning ahead by packing dinners or lunches when you have a busy day can save you hundreds over time.

Always be thinking ahead, prepping for the next meal and you won’t be caught with hungry kids and nothing to feed them. Don’t over complicate it. Oatmeal or toast and scrambled eggs is a full meal. Sometimes all you need to do is fill bellies.

Grow a Garden

Growing a garden is a great way to save money, if you can grow what you would normally be buying at the grocery store. Look at the produce that you buy and see how much of it will grow in your area. Challenge yourself to grow a years supply of at least one item. If you’re new to gardening, the learning curve can take some time, but just keep trying and eventually you’ll find that you are bringing in tons of fresh produce to supplement your family’s grocery bill.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a smart way to shop, if you know that your family will eat the food that you are buying before it goes bad. Only buy in bulk what you’re family eats and if you have a way to store it properly, otherwise it can end up costing you money.

DIY Everything

This one can seem kind of vague, but once you make the mindset shift of trying to make things yourself instead of buying, the money saving possibilities are endless. Pretty much anything can be made at home instead of purchased if you put your mind to it. If you need a little help in this area be sure to check out the resources below.

Additional Resources:

Learn to Eat and Preserve in Season

If you’re growing your own food or buying it on sale in bulk, then knowing how to preserve it is a great way to save money for your family. Canning, freezing and dehydrating are great skills to look into. Check out the resources below to get started.

Additional Resources:

Stay at Home

Some people might not like to hear this one, but the more you can stay at home, the less money you will spend on gas, entertainment and unplanned purchases. See how many days a week you can stay home (without online shopping) and learn to make home life exciting, by growing a garden, keeping chickens, playing cards or learning to crochet.

Make Homemade Cleaning Products

It’s amazing to me that there are entire aisles at the grocery store dedicated to cleaning products. I mean how many products do we truly need? The truth is, most of your cleaning needs can be met by using vinegar, baking soda and dish soap. Don’t try to make everything at once, which can be overwhelming, but just pick one thing that you normally buy at the store to make at home. The easiest ones are glass cleaner using vinegar and water and toilet bowl cleaner using baking soda.

Buy and Sell Used Clothing

We buy at least 80-90% of our clothing used either from thrift stores, ThredUp or at consignment stores. With the fast fashion culture that we live in, there is a surplus of clothing that is floating around out there at amazing prices. You can get pretty much any name brand you want if you are willing to shop around and look through racks.

Kids clothing especially can be found at rock bottom prices, since they outgrown them so quickly. Doing this will save you hundreds of dollars each year and is better for the environment. You can also keep all of the gently used kids clothing that your kids no longer need and sell them online or at a consignment shop. Doing so can pay for at least some of the clothing that you need for the upcoming season.

Skip Using the Dryer

This one might seem insignificant, but every bit that you can save adds up. The average family can save $200 per year just by not using their dryer. Laundry lines are cheap and weather permitting, it’s pretty calming to hang your laundry to dry by hand, not to mention it’s better for your clothing. Why not give it a try?

Baby boy clothes hanging on the line to dry.

Learn to Mend Clothing

Mending is a dying art, I mean who takes the time to sit down with a needle and thread to fix clothing anymore? Well, I do for one and I know that their are others out there. Mending saves you money by extending the life of your clothes and it’s a calming activity that can be done in the evenings while watching TV or listening to music. There are several books on the subject, so why not check one out from the library and give it a try? It’s sure to save you money.

Take Advantage of the Library

The local library is an amazing resource for the frugal minded homemaker. Not only do they offer books and DVDs to check out for free, but they often also have a vast online library of resources that you can access using your card. They also often offer community classes, workshops and sometimes book, puzzle and seed exchanges, all for free.

Learn to Do Hard Things

Our culture seems to think that the easiest, quickest way is the best way, but of course, that isn’t always (if ever) true. Quality matters and often times that means we have to sacrifice either our time, energy or money to get the quality that we desire.

For instance, it our takes time and energy to line dry clothing. It’s “easier” to just throw clothes in the dryer, but it uses more electrical energy that in turn costs us money.

Buying bread is easier than baking it, but baking it saves you money, gives you a healthier product, uses less packaging, gives you the satisfaction of doing something for yourself and has a calming effect from getting your hands into the dough.

Growing your own food is more difficult, but it also saves you money and is good for your physical and mental health. I think our culture has bought into the lie that hard work is a four letter word to be avoided at all costs, but I beg to differ. I think working for our family and our own well being is extremely satisfying and worth doing. We were made to work and to create, which I think people are craving in their modern lives.

Use What You Have and Learn to Need Less

An amazing money-saving mindset to have is to look around you and use what you have to solve problems, instead of always buying more. It’s surprising to realize that we actually need very little and the rest is us using up unnecessary resources on things that don’t matter.

I hope you enjoyed this list and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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    1. I like foraging. Especially for dandelions. They are so versatile they are evasive, yes! But can be a wonderful food source. The whole of it can be eaten and they are everywhere you turn. My favorite is the yellow blooms. I egg/ milk batter, seasoned flour, then fry them in butter. Makes a wonderful lite snack or add it to dinner. And the kids will have fun helping forge these flowers .
    2. I absolutely agree with you that homemaking is a lost art. Where I struggle is that even though I'm "married" I put this is quoted because it is name only, I have to work at least 60 hrs a week and am looking for a second job because I take care of 8 people in my house by myself is how to fit this into my already busy schedule. I would love to have a garden, make my own clothes, bread and be more reliant on myself and not fast food and dollar stores. Bless you for this article and how vital homemaking is.
  1. What a beautifully REFRESHING and MUCH NEEDED "RESET" of our culture's current yet unfortunate "MINDSET" regarding such subjects as homemaking and the like!! Society begins in the HOME...EVERY HOME, and therefore it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to encourage every home and homemaker to be as self-sufficient, frugal, hard working, and conservative as possible. A strong family means just that - STRONG. HARD WORKING, DILIGENT, CREATIVE. Far too easily we give up when a challenge arises - critical thinking seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Advance, be faster, richer...and all of a sudden your family is going in a million different directions with no time to even stop and acknowledge one another - THAT'S where society slips away. We rush for what? In a mere moment, it seems, we are looking at a wall full of pictures and the children are grown and gone. Part of this great plan of life is to SLIW DOWN AND SAVOR IT TOGETHER. BE A FAMILY, BAKE TOGETHER, PLAY TOGETHER, BE PROUD TO BE A HOMEMAKER, A PLUMBER, A FARMER, PRAY TOGETHER, EAT TOGETHER, LET YOUR CHILDREN BE CHILDREN...OR SOCIETY WILL BE LOST ALTOGETHER.
  2. This is something that is so far reaching across society. I've been a single working woman, a single working mom, a stay at home wife/mom & now back to single working mom. Funny that as wife/stayhat home mom I raised our kids to be caring hard working people who contribute to society & be responsible. I took care of everything at home & we had good life. I grew various gardens for our food which Icanned & froze. Bought much of our meat from local farmer. I had always been frugal & taken care of the home/property. Because ofthis we were able to pay half for 2 kids college education & save for retirement while still able to take vacations/camping. After years of this my (now ex) husband fell into the need more money & things culture that much of society practices. After divorce he still makes same good money but now with so much debt (that should be none as he doesn't have mortgage/rent, bills!) from buying 3rd vehicle, newest camper, take out food daily & no budget. Just as many others who make good money but have not much to show for it. If it were not for my already frugal ways we (my teen & myself) would not be able to live the good life we have. The price of food alone from grocery stores would consume entire income. I do think that people are starting to look at some frugal ways because don't have choice unless go without or go bankrupt. The supply chain has gotten smaller & more difficult to access after Covid19 with not much hope for its return in near future. Luckily many of these tips/traits listed will allow those people who use them to adjust & make best of situation with better ease.

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