Ways to Improvise and Maximize

By The Sharp Edge

In light of the skyrocketing inflation and looming food shortages, the public is looking for ways to stretch their dollar, make use of their supplies, and find creative solutions to prepare for whatever may be around the corner.  Here are some great tips to improvise and maximize your resources.

Optimize Your Most Valuable Resources

Source: Outdoors Allie, ‘Watch BEFORE You Buy a Compound Bow *beginners*,’ February 17, 2020

You and your time are your most valuable resources.  Treat them as such.  To optimize your time and your potential, cut out wasted time spent on watching TV or scrolling through social media.  Instead, reallocate that time towards learning new useful skills or creating new sources of supplemental income.  Cut out wasteful spending on cable TV, eating out, or shopping and use those savings to invest in your most valuable resource – YOU – by honing new skills such as hunting, fishing, or gardening.  Additionally, you could invest the savings into creating a new supplemental income source such as independent contracting.

Make the Most of Your Food & Water Supplies

Source: Rooted Revival, ‘How to Grow Store Bought Potatoes

Why buy the same vegetables at the store each week when you can regrow them?  There are several store bought vegetables and herbs that may be regrown including potatoes, green onions, yellow onions, romaine lettuce, ginger, garlic, carrots, leaks and celery.  There are a multitude of tutorials for regrowing these store bought vegetables in your home garden. 

Optimize your outdoor space by replacing decorative plants and grass with edible or medicinal plants that are useful.  In order to maximize your garden produce for year-round consumption, consider freeze drying, dehydrating or jarring your food supply. 

Save your food scraps because they can be useful.  For example, the water you use to make rice can be repurposed to make a liquid fertilizer for your plants.  Also, try using your potato peels to make a liquid fertilizer.  Instead of throwing out your vegetable scraps, consider making a vegetable broth for another dish.  Vegetable scraps can also be used for trench composting to help your garden grow.  When cooking meat, save the drippings. You can use the drippings to make fat and bullion for more cooking. 

Don’t forget the importance of securing your water supply as well.  Consider buying less bottled water and, instead, investing in a water filtration system.  This may stretch your water supply and end up saving you money in the long run.  Preparing storage containers for an emergency water supply may be a wise idea as well.

Boost Your Immunity, Supplement Your Medical Supplies

Source: For This Land, ‘Echinacea: from plant to medicine,’ July 4, 2020

One of the most effective ways to stretch your dollar is to minimize your medical expenses. There are a variety of cheap or free ways to upgrade your immune system and boost your overall health including: diet, exercise and getting a daily dose of sunshine.  It would be wise to stock up on any over the counter or prescription medications that you need as well.  Also, you may consider stocking up on essential vitamins or even growing medicinal herbs in your garden.  Herbs and plants such as Aloe Vera, Calendula, Cayenne, Chamomile, Echinacea, St. John’s wort, and Lavender all provide health benefits.  Do some research on which medicinal herbs work best for you to grow.  Growing medicinal herbs is an economical way to supplement your medical supplies. 

Old Household Items Made Useful Again

Old things can be made new again when you improvise a little.  Plastic bottles and coffee cans can be repurposed storage containers for dry food, herbs, and seeds.  Egg cartons can be converted into great seed starters.  Old gutters and tires can be transformed into planters.  Bamboo sticks can be recycled into garden stakes or curtain rods.  Plastic grocery bags can even be made into rope.  One way to cut back on paper towel usage would be to use old t-shirt scraps for cleaning.  Cheap and common products that you probably have at home can be used to make your own cleaning supplies instead of expensive store-bought cleaners.  Simple and cheap products like rubbing alcohol, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice can be used around your home in a variety of ways.

Augment Your Power Supply, Optimize Your Heating & Cooling

One way to offset the high energy costs we’re facing would be to reduce your heating and cooling expenses.  Caulking windows and sealing ducts are inexpensive ways to reduce energy costs while making your heating and cooling system work more efficiently.  By simply adjusting your thermostat between 7 and 10 degrees for 8 hours per day, you can save as much as 10% per year.  You can supplement your heating and cooling with space heaters, heating blankets, fans, window units, and window tints.  In the event of an emergency, consider investing in a backup solar generator. It would also be wise to stock up on the batteries you need for emergencies. You can prolong the shelf life of your batteries by wrapping them up and safely storing them in your refrigerator or freezer. Chilling batteries will work better for NiCd and NiMH batteries than alkaline batteries. However, if your alkaline batteries are normally stored in a warm area, then chilling them in the refrigerator will help them to better retain their charge. You may also consider investing in a battery recharger to cut back on your battery purchases and ensure you always have batteries in stock.  In a pinch, if you need double A batteries for an emergency but you only have triple A batteries, you can fill the empty space with foil to make your triple A batteries work for some, but not all, devices.

Convert Household Items Into Camping & Survival Supplies

There are a number of items around your house that could be used in creative ways for camping or in the event of an emergency.  For example, if you are out of candles, a crayon can make an easy emergency candle to give you a couple of hours of light.  A can of Crisco and a stick make a great candle that provides much longer lasting light.  If you need to build a fire, there are some household items that can help.  Toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint make excellent fire starters.  Potato chips make great fire starters as well.  You can even use a battery and a piece of foil to create a flame.  When you’re camping, 3 metal shelving L brackets can be repurposed into a simple camping stove.  In an emergency, superglue can be used to stitch up cuts, while a t-shirt may be repurposed into an arm sling.  When fishing, you can catch minnows for bait by creating a minnow trap out of a plastic bottle or you can even make a crawfish trap from dollar store mesh waste baskets and clothesline.

Final Thoughts

Finding creative solutions to stretch your dollar and maximize your resources will be an important strategy to prepare for whatever may come.  Remember, YOU are your most valuable resource. So, learn to think creatively and improvise in order to adapt to every situation that arises.

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Independent Journalist and Co-host of the Dig It! Podcast

One Comment

  • Linda Wenstrom

    Love love all the research and resourceful information your pod casts provide….very factual and honest….great work and make me. Motivated !!!!

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