Golly, I do quite a few "wacky" savings things. Not sure I can enumerate them all off the top of my head. Hmmm....
~ All the ends and skins of veggies that one doesn't typically eat go into the freezer. (Onion and garlic skins, for example, and carrot ends, thick brussel sprout stalks, you name it.)
~ All raw bones go to the cat, along with the last little bit of raw egg in the bottom of the eggshells or bowls. She also gets fed raw beef, chicken, fish, turkey, etc....whatever we're having....the last little bit of raw stuff goes to her...plus she gets her own serving of certain "meats" we don't eat. She happens to prefer most fish slightly cooked, so she gets to lick our plates after fish meals for all the little tiny morsels. She also likes a bit of rice and veggies and will clean the entire plate after a fish meal. Otherwise, though, she is on a raw food diet (99% carnivore).
~ All cooked bones go into the freezer.
~ I make bone broth with the cooked bones and ends and skins of produce. Add some seasoning and this is the perfect soup and stew "starter" and we cook rice in this nutritious broth, too. (There are details for making and storing it.)
~ We mostly have natural fiber clothing and linens. I hang-dry most of the time, but when I use the dryer.... I save the dryer lint (only natural fiber lint, though) and make "firestarters" by wrapping a bit of lint in waxed paper. We use these in Girl Scouts and family camping instead of the newspaper and chemical firestarters. They work beautifully! (We don't subscribe to a newspaper, so it's not like we already have it.)
~ We do receive a free community newspaper that is printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. It is fairly thin and only comes once a month, ten months of the year. We save those and use them for mulching the garden, which then becomes worm food as well.
~ Rotten produce also becomes worm food. (Several friends and neighbors bring us theirs, also.) Our red wiggler worms are directly in our garden beds, not in a compost bin. We compost directly in the garden beds, in certain areas and rotate those areas.
~ Our Vitamix can handle certain parts of fruits and veggies that most people don't typically eat. I do cut off the outside of pineapples and I pull the stems out of apples and pears and such, but the cores go right into the smoothies. Citrus peels go in the garbage disposal because the worms don't like 'em, but the other peels go to the worms. Citrus peels ground up in the garbage disposal freshens the kitchen air.
~ All pits (avocado, peach, plum, etc) go to the worms. Some start growing and we get free plants, which I carefully dig up and pot in a container. Most end up as houseplants since our garden space is way too small for trees.
~ We freeze bread heels and make stuffing and bread crumbs.
~ We freeze the little bits of leftover cake (the parts that fall off while flipping out of the pan, the bits that stick to the corners of sheet cakes, etc) and make trifle when there is enough. A tip when freezing is to use good quality glass storage with plastic lids. Freezer burn is a lot longer away that way.
~ We also save glass jars from ordinary packaging. The thinner glass gets used short-term (and never in the freezer), but the thicker, sturdier glass becomes a permanent part of our storage collection. Only fill partially when freezing; leave adequate expansion space.
~ We receive a CSA box every two weeks. We split it with another family, so neither family has too much of one thing. Our family has developed a few go-to meals for the random produce we receive sometimes (one of this or that; or oodles of this or that unfamiliar item). Shredding some of the unfamiliar produce for certain dishes/veggies or stir-frying other types in bacon grease is a win-win way for all of us to try something new. We've really expanded our palates A LOT in the 11 months of our CSA adventure. Quiche, pot pie, roasted veggies with chicken or turkey kielbasa, and stir-fry meals are very flexible with random, unknown veggies.
~ CSA produce lasts a LOT longer than grocery store produce because it is picked just a few days before we receive it. (SIGNIFICANTLY less travel time.) This has probably been the best "surprise" benefit for us. Our own garden produce is similar. When we do know we are not going to eat something before it goes bad, I wash it and freeze it single layer in a glass storage container or on a cookie sheet (if there is room and then into a storage container). These items become soup veggies or smoothie greens usually. Most often it is leafy greens and the texture changes after freezing too much for us to want to eat it as a cooked side dish, but it is lovely in a soup and no one notices in a smoothie. I blanched green beans from our garden before freezing and we eat those as a side dish, but that's a little different than having tons of Swiss chard or collard greens or kale, etc.
~ When making soup, I will add the random little bits. If it is in a small quantity, it works well. I puree anything my family doesn't care for and add it to soups and sauces and smoothies. They typically object to certain fruits and veggies due to texture more than actual taste. Pureeing handles that issue. Even when it IS taste, keeping the quantity small handles that (shred or finely dice and spread it out). Using up all the little bits means we waste a lot less food now than ever before. (I don't add tidbits from people's plates after they've eaten their fill. Those go to the cat or worms or garbage disposal or trash, depending on what it is.)
~ We make rags from old t-shirts.
~ When our rag supply is overflowing, I have made breast pads (when I was post-partum and leaking) from old t-shirts. So much nicer than other fabrics! Doesn't stick like flannel and softer than woven cotton.
~ With old knit clothing of any kind, turn them into shoe bags for traveling. Keeps both the shoes and the surrounding items (clothes or toiletries or whatever) cleaner and in better condition. Ours are just open-end pouches and work beautifully. I used to travel with a separate small piece of luggage with my shoes (along with a shoe polishing sponge!) and no longer feel the need to do so with these shoe bags. The soft knit fabric doubles as a shoe polishing rag, if needed. You can also stuff socks and/or panties into the shoes to help them keep their shape if they are less sturdy types of shoes.
~ Slowly we have been using our Christmas wrapping paper up (mostly with shipped gifts) and have been converting to reusable items in our home (and with certain locals). Decorative boxes get reused year after year. Loose fabric gets tied up in pretty ribbon. We've had certain boxes and gift bags so long, I stopped pulling the labels off and just give a new gift to the same person in that container. Every single year, I give my DH a DVD of some kind in the same DVD paper box. Every single year, we give my dad a homemade family video in the same DVD paper box. He opens gifts with us at our house and leaves all the reusable wrappings here. Wrapping gifts has gotten a lot faster this way, too!!! My mom sent us some GORGEOUS decorative holiday boxes a few years back with gifts inside. Various shapes and sizes. We use them to pack away holiday decorations and then use them to hold gifts. They are always in use! I also have some fabric drawstring pouches we use over and over again. We store these flat with the gift bags.
~ I am planning to sew a tree skirt with pockets soon. Those pockets will be used to hold gifts, too.
~ Santa delivers one gift to our DD and it is completely open and ready to play with as soon as she sees it. No packaging to wrestle with Christmas morning....no wrapping required...great immediate pictures! It has batteries, if needed, and all pieces assembled already. She LOVES this! Adults LOVE this! She is occupied first thing (sometimes for LONG periods of time!) and the rest of us can grab a bite to eat (quick and easy "first breakfast") and settle in and wake up more fully. Her stocking is the same way, but she typically remembers to get that last. She doesn't keep track of how many gifts because it is one and she fully enjoys that one gift (although it is sometimes a "set" or "ensemble"). She receives other gifts from family and us, but the Santa gift is the most exciting and fully engages her. Gift-opening is leisurely and fun and so pleasant... not a frantic race....
~ We don't drink coffee, but sometimes I get into a tea kick. I will brew an entire pot of a mix of whatever teas strike my fancy that day. I love herbal teas and green tea and white tea. If I don't drink it all, I pour it into glass bottles with metal lids and pop 'em in the fridge for iced tea another day. If it isn't enough to fill a bottle, I'll add juice (if we have any). Even just a splash of juice makes it taste very similar to the fancy bottled teas that cost a LOT more.
~ Instead of making my own syrup, which uses quite a bit of sugar, I make a fruit "sauce". It is just fruit and a little sugar blended up in our Vitamix until hot. YUMMY! I use whatever fruit we have, but berries are our faves. They happen to be quick to prepare and breakdown fast, too. Without a Vitamix, it would just be two steps. Puree and then heat. You can also just cook down the fruit in a pan on the stove with a bit of sugar, but that takes longer. Easier clean-up, though, if your food processor or blender is a pain to clean.
That's all I can think of for now....
Edited by sunnysandiegan - 11/18/10 at 11:28pm