What common household, pantry, and beauty items do you make yourself instead of buying? If you got a moment, I’d love for you to share, as I am always hungry for new ideas in this area!
- Laundry detergent – my favorite thing ever. I make an easy powder version which is nothing but 2 C of borax mixed with 2 C WASHING soda and a bar each of fels-naptha and ivory soaps, grated (because it makes me feel morally superior, I hand-grate all of mine). I then just put all ingredients together in a covered container and shake. Use ONE TABLESPOON ONLY per FULL load. It costs next to nothing and lasts a couple of months in this family of five, which includes three young kids between the ages of 1 and 7, a rather dirty housewife, and a farmer husband. Now Fels-Naptha is a pretty strong laundry bar (normally used for pre-treating stains and such), and if you are sensitive to this type of thing, you may want to go with something more innocuous like all-ivory.
- Lotion! That’s a new one, man. A homemade lotion is nothing other than a super-easy emulsion of oil (you can use cooking or specialty skin oils), wax, and water, blended with a stick blender. I use my own well water, beeswax, a few drops of lavender essential oil, and so far I’ve used almond and sunflower oils (the sunflower oil version is lighter – and far cheaper). If you are interested, a quick google search will return recipes aplenty. Now, it does feel greasier than bougthen, but I don’t mind it, and my daughter absolutely adores it! Note that I keep mine in the fridge and love the temperature.
- Lip balm! The easiest thing ever. Just melt two parts of oil (olive is fine) with one part grated beeswax by volume together in a small jar, let the mixture cool until set, and go right ahead and use! I simply melt mine in a microwave and then store it on the counter. I made mine a couple of months ago and it still hasn’t gone bad.
- Bubble bath – it’s just a little shampoo mixed with with water.
- Play dough – easy to make with kids and fun!
- Apple cider (something that my husband does).
- All of our frozen winter vegetables, such as sweet corn.
- Pickles (but only in the summer)
- Puff pastry! There’s just no comparison, man.
- Ice-pops, like these berry-yogurt ones. Yum!
- Kombucha (when I make it).
- Bread – we go through a 5-lb loaf in a matter of a day or two, so yes, I bake my own – and you know what, I find it to be FAR more nourishing than any boughten version, not to mention fresh and delicious at a mere fraction of the price. Plus, you simply won’t find bread as good as I (and you) can make at home in any store in this town, period.
- Yogurt – we use about a GALLON to a gallon and a half per week, so I’d be a fool to pay twice the price for yogurt when I can buy milk and make my own. And it tastes 1000 times better.
- Jerky – done with ease in my dehydrator! And, again, fresh venison jerky tastes 1000 times better than the store variety.
- I can also make this delicious venison pastrami but don’t make it very often.
- Fruit leather during the summer – ditto.
- Ice-cream, including this blackberry, no-cook vanilla, and the five-minute berry ice-cream made in a food processor!!
- Chicken and beef stock – we raise cows and chickens, so an ample supply of bones is a given.
- Pita bread and other flat breads, including this grilled naan.
- Pizza crust!
- Baby food! 100% of it.
- My husband also makes most of the wine we drink and use for cooking as we have a large vineyard. It’s not world-class, but it’s cheap!
I also know how to make butter, cream cheese, and feta cheese, but these two, I decided, are not worth the effort for the price. Also, homemade cream cheese is not as smooth in cheesecakes, and I decided that I prefer mine smooth and perfect.
I also recently began to teach myself how to knit and sew (I crochet as well, but I’ve known how to do that since the age of five or six), and I can’t BELIEVE how CHEAP it is to make something moderately high-quality in a matter of days or even hours. Now, I am a total beginner, and so far haven’t ventured beyond dressy girl skirts, easy quilt tops, dress-up skirts and capes, hairpin embellishments, tutus, aprons, and scarves, but hopefully one of these days I will work myself up to making bigger, more complicated items. And it’s even cheaper if you upcycple what you already have rather than buying new fabric (although that too is cheap and great fun).
We also use all-cloth napkins, and both that and hot pads can easily be made at home (people even knit and crochet their own dishcloths, although I haven’t yet).
Another thing I choose to do myself is cut my kids hair (and I am really not half-bad) while they are still little. Do you do that sometimes?
My big dream is to make a working dish soap as an alternative to Dawn since we don’t have a dishwasher and do all of ours by hand. If you have a recipe, don’t hold back (NO Fels-Naptha or Castile Soap-based recipes, please)!
For the complete list of our DIY food items, click here.
Now it’s your turn! What do you like to make? Please share, as I’m always looking for new DIY ideas!