Guest Post: Homestead Savings - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Guest Post: Homestead Savings

Unbelievably gorgeous photo courtesy of Rachel Tayse Baillieul


Our guest mensch today is Rachel Tayse Baillieul, urban homesteader extraordinaire.  Read more about Rachel at the end of the post.


My family calls ourselves urban homesteaders. What we mean is that we try to grow and make all that we can in our home on a tiny lot in Columbus Ohio.

We grind sausage, brew beer, grow an organic garden, mix cleaning supplies, raise backyard chickens, and make jam by hand because we enjoy the pastime. We like knowing and trusting the sources of our food. Our stocked garden and pantry make us feel secure.

However, only some of these activities save us money. When the tools and raw materials are accounted for, making sausage at home is just not worth it though we do it anyway because it is fun. Growing root vegetables and keeping chickens for eggs only break even with what we might pay for similar quality goods.

Which Homesteading Activities Are Mensch-Worthy?

1) Creating cleaning supplies - We make our own window, sink, floor, and counter spray from bulk white vinegar, water, and tea tree essential oil. A 16 ounce bottle costs $0.50 in a reused spray bottle. Beat that, Windex!

2) Making jam - High quality jam made from local fruit costs $5 for an 8 ounce jar at the farmers' market. I can make jam from fruit seconds for as low as $2 per jar, including the cost of the jar.

3) Growing tomatoes - Organic tomatoes at the farmers' market can cost up to $3 per pound for fancy heirloom varieties whereas a single $3 seedling can produce up to ten pounds of fruit. True penny pinchers can plant open pollinated (non-hybrid) varieties, save the seeds, and grow next year's seedlings for the cost of some seed starting mix.

4) Canning pickles - Pickled beets, cucumbers, onions, and more are a cinch to make. When you compare to store products of a similar artisnal quality, home-made pickles save 50% or more.

5) Brewing beer - We brew beer from $35 of grain in five gallon batches. It's not the finest beer in the world but certainly matches standard microbrew quality. Generously accounting for the equipment, our beer clocks in at $1.10 a pint or $6.60/six pack. Homebrewing seems to come with an increased consumption of rare and unusual (also expensive!) beers from around the world which might drink up potential savings. Obviously, not drinking beer at all would save tons of cash but a cold one is necessary after chasing chickens, children, and dogs around my 'stead most days!

6) Home hair cuts – Myself and my daughter trim our long hair with stylist scissors while my husband shaves his bald head and trims his beard with razor electric beard trimmer. We haven't paid to go to a salon in over a year.

7) Raising herbs - Fresh herbs at the farmers' market and grocery store are wickedly expensive. Growing them at home takes very little space (most are happy in a container) and only the cost of some seeds or a seedling. Some herbs like oregano, mint, thyme, parsley, and rosemary are perennial, meaning after you plant them once they will come back year after year. When you can step outside and harvest fresh herbs, you enjoy better meals and a fatter wallet.

The list can go on, of course. What do you make at home that saves you money?



Powerless & A PSA | Hounds In The KitchenHounds In The Kitchen said:

Pingback from  Powerless & A PSA | Hounds In The KitchenHounds In The Kitchen

July 3, 2012 10:21 AM

Kassy said:

I appreciate your topic as I get so much inspiration from 'homesteaders'!

What do I make from home to save me $$? My answer goes in a different direction. I make/knit scarves, hats, dishcloths etc. to give as gifts. I make most things from scratch when baking/cooking.

Must tell you that I benefit from others who have gardens! Much produce shows up at our church to share with its' members. Thank you gardeners.

Use $$$ saving tips such as vinegar for cleaning , meatless meals, less sugar in recipes etc.

July 4, 2012 11:15 AM

Work at home Mom said:

Hanging laundry is one of my favorites- I love the smell.  Of course we covered gardening. Make everything from scratch. Going to start this year gift making- I work from home at a job I love- saving on daycare, gas, and eating out with co worker. I have apple trees, cherry trees, pear trees, strawberries, blueberries that is extra from my garden- my neighbors have walnut trees, grapes,  and we trade food with the surplus. I also am growing madrin oranges, tangeloes, and coffee in pots in my house- the coffee plants give me free coffee for approx 6 months- tehy are only 3 years old, and I drink alot of coffee.

July 11, 2012 10:11 AM

haverwench said:

Work at home Mom, how many plants do you have to supply your coffee needs? I always assumed you'd need a whole bunch of them to produce just 1 pound of beans, and if you go through that amount every month...

July 17, 2012 12:07 PM

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