18 Necessities I NEVER Buy at the Store Anymore (And What I Do Instead)
Note: This article is about saving money, being healthier, and feeling empowered because I am going to show you how you can make many of your own home, body, food, and other products yourself. My goal is to inspire personal self-reliance and well as natural health. This article been edited from when I first wrote it over two years ago.
I realized the other day, when I walked into a Target store after not being in one probably for at least more than a year (at the time of this editing, it’s been about three years since I’ve been in a Target store), how absolutely strange it felt!
About 20 years ago, Target was one of my "Must Go" places every single week! I was a Target freak! And I couldn't walk out of there without spending at least $100, either. That was "back then."
So, when I entered the local Target store with my grand daughter recently, to grab a bathing suit for her so we could go swimming, I was A-Mazed at all the aisles I NO longer needed to visit! I've been making many of my own things for years, and that habit has just really added up, to the point where I buy very little.
You, too, can join the make it yourself movement, and save TONS of money and have higher quality products (body care, home remedies instead of over the counter chemicals, scratch cooking, and so much more) to use. MIY and DIY is a huge part of being self-sufficient---and something you can do even in an apartment!
Now, this phenomenon of not having to buy things didn't happen overnight. It has been a journey. It all began when I started learning about and researching the toxins in our daily foods and products, and I decided I didn't want to be part of putting those things in and on my body NOR did I want to support the evil systems that dupe us into thinking, "It's all ok," when in reality, we are being slowly poisoned every day.
You CAN make it yourself! You can start your self-sufficient journey now!
Have you ever wondered why so many young men have "man-boobs" and have the testosterone levels of 50 year old men? Or little girls are developing breasts in third grade these days? I kid you not. Being the age I am right now, I have the privilege of looking back over the decades and seeing the changes in my minds’ eye I’ve noticed in children and adults over the years.
And honestly….it’s shocking.
The chemicals present in our modern packaged and processed unnatural foods and body products are largely to blame for these and hosts of other disorders. Artificial fragrances contain known toxins and hormone disruptors. How about the increasingly high rates of Autism Disorder? Or Alzheimers? Or Cancers? Or a plethora of other health issues?
The moment I began realizing the effects of commercial foods and products and began taking responsibility for the knowledge I had, was the moment I began making DRASTIC changes in what my husband and I use in our home. It's been a process of decades, I would say. And it's never too late for you to start too!
So now, here is a small list (and I know it's not even comprehensive--I'm sure there are some things I left out) of things we NEVER buy at the store, along with a short list of "sometimes" things. These are all things YOU CAN make too! They are EASY, CHEAP, and WAY BETTER for your family!
NOTE: There are some really great things in this article, but since I wrote this one, I realized that now I buy even less at the store. Here is a link to another article I wrote along the same lines, where I share even MORE of the things I no longer buy at the stores: 50+ Things You Should Stop Buying and Start Making.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Things I NEVER Buy at the Store Any More
Since I discovered that most deodorants, even so-called "natural" ones found on the store shelves pack a chemical punch--and your armpits happen to the the home of some pretty important lymph nodes---I decided to make my own.
It's EASY. It's FAST. It's SUPER CHEAP. You can make it smell however you want. There is seriously no reason to buy deodorant at the store.
Here is my best recipe for homemade deodorant, along with some research about commercial deodorants and why they are SO bad for you. And here is my latest deodorant recipe: Mango-Lime & Spearmint Natural Deodorant.
2) Toothpaste & Mouthwash
Just like with deodorant, toothpaste has some pretty killer ingredients that when used over time can cause some serious problems. Plus, your mouth is one big mucous membrane that absorbs these toxins at an amazingly fast rate.
And like deodorant, making your own toothpaste is EASY and CHEAP! There is absolutely NO reason not to at least give it a try! I'm serious! Find out what's in commercial toothpaste and a recipe for an all-purpose toothpowder that tastes great and works wonders!
I also make my own herbal mouthwash that is WAY better than the chemical potions found in the stores. I know what's in it, and my body gets to avoid ingesting toxins through the membranes in my mouth. You can see my herbal mouthwash recipe here.
3) Facial Cleanser
I'm sorry. No. I'm not. Ima just gonna say that there is NO reason to go out and buy that crazy expensive and once again---dangerously laden-with-chemicals---facial cleanser! It's easy to make your own! I need to write a post on this later on, and I will!
The great thing about making your own is that you can add a huge variety of essential oils that affect your skin in the perfect way for your own needs.
OK---I won't even do a separate post--that's how easy this recipe is--Here you go, my super fast and easy recipe for perfect facial cleanser:
Heidi's Recipe for Perfect Facial Cleanser
**8 oz. Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronners unscented, but you can use the scented too---he uses essential oils, so there are no unnatural fragrance oils in it.)
**1/2 Cup distilled water (I just use our tap water, but I'm on a well. I'll leave that up to you.)
**1 tsp Jojoba oil (Now, I know this ingredient sounds strange, but follow me here. Jojoba oil is actually a wax that is nearly perfect in comparison to the natural oils on the surface of our skin. Using just a tad in this cleanser allows your face to be perfectly cleaned while retaining a bit of that needed shield.)
**Essential Oils of Choice. This is the fun part!
For dry or mature skin, use a combination of 10 drops Frankincense Oil and 10 drops Peppermint Oil
For acne or oily skin, use a combination of 10 drops Peppermint Oil and 10 drops of Rosemary Oil (an excellent astringent oil)
**You can add a little Lemon Balm hydrosol, but I don't usually because I don't have it on hand. This cleanser is AWESOME either way!
TO USE: SHAKE FIRST! This is VERY Important because the jojoba oil will float to the surface, and since there are no emulsifiers in this wash, you just need to give a a good little shake before using! :-)
4) Body Soap
If you've been following me for any length of time, you probably know I make our own soap. We use it exclusively, and since I have lots of friends who always ask for it too, I can't seem to keep enough around!
I have a great recipe and lots of variations! So, just search my website for "soap," or check out these tutorials for beginners: MAKE YOUR OWN SOAP!, along with Lavender-Rosemary-Vanilla Hot Process Soap..., and there are TONS more soap recipes on the blog.
Here's another important article about Killer Toxins Lurking in Your Soap you might be interested in reading.
5) Medicinal Salves and Ointments
If you know herbs and how to make your own salves, then it's super easy to make your own Vapor Rub, Neosporin, and more. I'll be adding posts soon on how to make perfect-every-time salves.
These are also super EASY and CHEAP to make! Plus, they are fun because you get to add your own creative touch! In the meantime, here's a recipe for how to make an all-purpose herbal healing salve for your family. It works like a charm on small wounds, burns, and skin irritations too. I use it on my pets as well! :-)
Here are a few other salve recipes you might like:
How to Make Black Drawing Salve (for splinters, cuts, boils, zits, etc.)
* And lots more on the blog! In fact….Check out my complete series, How to Start Using Herbs, which is filled with ways you can start using herbs for your health right now!
6) OTC Medications
Yeah. So call me a kook. I have NOT put any kind of OTC pain reliever (aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, etc.) into my body in YEARS. Gosh. Probably since 2012. First off, I think using herbs and eating fermented foods on a daily basis creates an environment in your body so that you just don't have the headaches, pains, etc. that seem "typical" these days.
However, IF I DO have a little headache or some joint aches (I'm a granny after all), then I use my Willow Bark Tincture. If you'd like to learn more about what a tincture is and how to make one, just click the link. Willow Tincture is one of my husband's and my favorite go-to's for minor pains.
It's really pretty amazing...and not only is it natural, but it is EASY and CHEAP---and dare I say? It works WAY better than the stuff on the store shelves. Just saying.
Here are some articles you may enjoy:
How to Make a Natural Decongestant, and LOTS more on the blog!
Here's an article all about How to Make an Herbal Tincture.
7) Raw Fermented Foods
Raw foods are all the rage these days. I have a friend who specifically looks for the "raw" fermented foods in the stores. HOWEVER----making your own is WAY better! You get to decide what to make. You get to decide how to spice it up. You get to decide everything...and once again, follow me people---It's EASY and CHEAP!
Here are just a couple of my many fermented food recipes:
Other articles about fermentation in general you may enjoy are:
8 Fermentation Myths, among many more!
So, I learned about Kombucha, the Wonder Drink, from a great friend of mine. But when we'd go shopping together, and I saw how much this stuff costs and how much she actually drinks, I started looking into making it myself.
I figured I'd better start making my own, especially after I developed a little addiction to the stuff myself. It is GREAT for you! My mom even makes continuous brew Kombucha now, which is beyond my current capabilities.
If you drink this every day, in my opinion, you have a better chance of staying healthy. Plus the probiotics in kombucha are different than in lacto-fermented foods---and your body needs a variety of different probiotics! Here's how to make perfect kombucha! AND, if you want to know what bacteria and yeasts are in kombucha, here you go!
Oh, I have begun to love making my own bread. I didn't think I would. I thought it would be some HARD work. But I love watching that yeasty bread rise and enjoying the scent of warm bread in the air---so awesome!
And guess what? Soon, I'll be grinding my own flour to make my own bread, since I bought a manual flour grinder as part of our emergency preps. Excited about that! :-)
(You can buy electric flour grinders, too, that won't kill your arms. They are a bit pricey, though---and who doesn't need an arm workout?) Here is my most favorite, (did I say EASY) recipe that you can change up as you like!
10) Herbal Tea
Man. I stopped buying any kind of commercial tea years ago. First off--it's stale. Secondly, much of it contains artificial flavors, and even so-called "natural" flavors are not necessarily natural.
Did you know a company can make the flavorings synthetically in a lab, but if the molecular structure is the same as the natural, then they are allowed to call it "natural." Sorry. NOT natural to me.
So--I purchase my herbs and teas in bulk through Starwest Botanicals or grow and forage for my herbs, then blend my own teas! I love doing this! I have full control! And, if I have a health issue that needs tending to, a few cups of medicinal herbal tea does the trick, most times!
And if you really want to learn how to become a master at blending your very own teas, you must get my eBook, "Creating and Preparing Your Own Herbal Tea Blends for Pleasure and Health."
If you feel you are not ready to create your own tea blends, you can buy some truly wonderful blends that are already to go for you from Starwest Botanicals. They are fresh, loose leaf, and you have the choice of buying organic, wildcrafted, or regular.
11) Fly Spray for Our Animals or Ourselves
Essential oils are seriously super powerful! And when you combine just the right ones, you can make a killer Bug Repellent. My horses hate the Piranha-type sprays/wipes. I don't blame them, either.
They are filled with chemicals--and not just any chemicals--something called Pyrethrin, which is touted as being "natural," because it is a single component extract from the chrysanthemum plant. At any rate, this stuff is very toxic, and of course, anything you put on your skin enters your bloodstream eventually.
So....for my "kids" (horses, goats, dogs, and chickens) I make this Bug Spray. If it's a particularly bad fly day, I can increase the strength too, very easily be increasing the ratio of essential oils. Just put it in a pump bottle and spray away! I use the dark amber glass because it protects the essential oils from UV light. The link is for the larger bottles (16 oz).
12) Enriched Soil for the Garden/Fertilizer
We USED to buy bags of organic mulch and soil to help amend our soil. Since our compost heap (as well as the horse/goat/chicken poop) is always ready to go these days, we no longer have to buy bags of soil! Here's how we amended our rocky, dry, "moon-like" soil over a period of three years.
13) Expensive Hair Appointments/Coloring
Even though this is technically a service and not a product at a store, I'm including doing my own hair in this list because of how much money it's saving us! I figured out I save over $900 a year coloring my own hair with Henna/Indigo!
If you are a woman who works outside the home, like I do, then you may have to have a certain more professional appearance. But last year (October 2016 to be exact), was my FINAL hair appointment. I haven't even gone in for a cut yet, and it's been more than eight months!
I started using Light Mountain Natural Color It's Henna and/or Indigo in different combinations so you can choose the color that's right for you. The Amazon link is to the Mahogany color I use in my hair.
NOTE: Be sure you take a look at the color charts on the box because the Mahogany is actually a bit darker now that my previous color/lightening is all gone. It's still beautiful, though! And looks a lot more "normal." :-)
Check out these articles to see how it looks the first time around and also after over nine months of using henna. **At this point, I have not been to a salon for my hair in around three years! Guess what? It’s never been healthier!
They also have a natural "Color the Gray" system, too. I haven't tried it because my hair hasn't grayed yet, but I'm sure at my age I'll be shifting over to that at some point too!
I won't ever go back to harsh chemical colorants and expensive hair treatments again---ever. My hair is healthier and way more conditioned than before.
14) Body Oils and Butters
I make my own. Enough said----except EASY and CHEAP! Here's a body butter I use often, and I'm including some links for other easy recipes I've tried from very reputable sources I love!
and...more on the blog!
15) Beer or Ale
My husband is a die-hard beer aficionado, and he even loves his Bud-Light too! But, since we started creating our own beers with herbs for health, he pretty much just sticks with our own these days. I just have to stay up on having a brew or two continually processing.
But since HELLO---IT'S EASY AND CHEAP to make, it's not a problem! I purchase the herbs I use at Starwest Botanicals, but often, I just use the herbs I grow in our gardens or forage for herbs here in the mountains where I live!
Here are a couple links to our favorites, with more recipes to come as we keep trying them out!
Recipe for Spring Bitters Tonic Beer, Well Balanced, Healthy, Delicious. Search my site for more beer recipes!
And, if you want to check out a GREAT book that I refer to all the time about making herbal beers---and see how easy the process REALLY is, take a look at Stephen Buhner's Ancient Healing Beers.
16) Household Cleaners
I rarely buy any cleaners any more. Actually, since I haven't actually purchased a cleaning product in over a year (probably more), I guess it can certainly go on this list. They are super EASY AND CHEAP to make! :-) I hope you're not getting tired of hearing that!
Here's how to make perfect gentle soft scrub:
All you do is sprinkle baking soda on the area that needs cleaning, the squirt a bit of white vinegar on it. It will bubble away, and it's almost magical how even tough grease comes right off.
I use this combo to clean stainless steel surfaces too. You just have to rinse really well, but your appliances will be shiny and beautiful! If you want scent, just add some essential oils! I recommend Lemon Essential Oil because it will certainly add to the grease cutting action!
17) Calcium Supplement
EASY & CHEAP! I raise chickens, and all parts of them are used for our health. I happen to use their eggshells to make our own Calcium Powder. I know that it's easy to pick some up at the store, but I like to know where my stuff is coming from. Just saying.
And here is an article that explains more uses for that Calcium Powder too!
That probably goes without saying. But if you are in an area where you are allowed to keep some backyard chickens, I highly recommend it! They make wonderful pets, they provide you with a daily egg (at least until they start aging, then egg production slows down), and if you need a lift of spirits, chicken watching will do just that! :-)
So, the list above is my NEVER-EVER list. I thought I'd mention a few additional things I now buy very RARELY because we make some or most of our own of these things:
Things I Buy VERY Minimally
We have a pretty good garden that provides for us from late summer into the fall. Our growing season is really short up here in the mountains, so we do go visit our local orchard down the mountain for seasonal fruits and vegetables.
I can, dehydrate, and preserve a LOT during these good growing times, so that in Winter, we have fruits and veggies down in our store room to use. We do supplement with store-bought organic here and there, because there are just some things I don't grow and aren't local, like Ginger and Turmeric and some of the more exotic veggies.
We harvest or hunt for much of our own meat. I know some people don't like to hear that, but it sure beats supporting the evils of the modern American Feed Lot system, with its inhumanities to animals.
I won't buy that meat---I think it comes from an evil place. And I won't eat it if it's presented to me either. You can read more about what I’ve researched and discovered in Don’t Eat That Meat!
When we must purchase meat from a store, we visit our local Whole Foods because they have a rating system for how humanely the animals were treated from birth to slaughter. Even their lowest rating is FAR FAR better than the meat you buy, at say Costco, Albertson's, Smith's, or your other typical grocery shop.
***Now that we live in the Idaho panhandle, there is no Whole Foods or other store that sells clean meat anywhere near us. So, we have discovered the pleasures of supporting our local farmer. Crow Bench Farm is our favorite, and they ship for very reasonable rates.
Most local farmers are willing to work with you on pricing, and they have a pride in their product you can’t find from the evil CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation).
You can find out more about local farmers in your area here: Local Harvest.org
3) Medicinal Herbs and Herbs for Teas
I mentioned this above---I grow or forage for a great amount of the herbs I use (Chamomile, Burdock, Dandelion, Chicory, Calendula, Feverfew, St. John's Wort, Valerian, Mullein, Brigham Tea, Juniper, and lots of others), but sometimes I need to buy herbs I don't have.
I get these from Starwest Botanicals. I love that online shop! By the way, if you are into cooking and want the BEST spices, they offer those in bulk too---and the quality is excellent!
4) Laundry Detergent
I do sometimes make my own. And I like it--after all, I get to use up all my little natural soap bits. But I also buy it sometimes too, because I do prefer liquid detergent due to the kind of washing machine I have.
5) Plastic Bags & Plastic Wrap
I admit: I do still use plastic ziplock bags to an extent. But I no longer purchase or use any kind of cling wrap since I experimented with how to make beeswax Cling Wraps out of cloth. You can read about how I make Beeswax Cloth Cling Wraps that are reusable and actually work better (info in the article), and I hope you'll give this a try! They make really cute gifts too.
**Also, I hope you’ll check out that article because I go into a little more detail about my aversion to plastic.
Final Thoughts About Not Going to the Store
Well, those are the things I could readily think of off the top of my head. There's probably a lot more that I forgot about. I should probably calculate the total annual savings sometime from all the DIY we do around here.
You know, it's probably easy to look at someone like me and wonder why? And how? How did I learn all this stuff? (I know this because it's a question I get asked a lot.) Well, I read a lot. And I experiment a lot. And I like to think about things. I'm not afraid to fail.
It's taken me a long time to get to this place, and it's been a really fun and interesting path! Start now! No matter how old you are! If you want to know when I seriously began my own do it yourself journey, well, I was probably in my early forties--so I've been at this about 15 years now. My biggest regret is not knowing enough to have started much earlier.
And I was not gung-ho at first. If you are a young person in your twenties, say, can you imagine how empowered you will be by the time you are my age? Go for it now! Start learning and doing! And even if you are my age and you've never experimented before---start! It's never too late to take charge of your health!
I hope you will try at least some of these ideas! They are great jumping off places if you are interested in becoming more self-sufficient and not at the mercy of the big box stores or expensive specialty shops.
Doing these things, a little at a time, and learning some new skills is a great way to get your homestead journey started---even if you are living in a city.
I'd love to hear if you make your own things or are interested too! Leave comments, questions, and experiences in the comments section---
OH! And you may also enjoy 10 Money Saving Tips from Survivors of the Depression Era, which is an interesting historical look at surviving on pretty much nothing.
You might also like this related article: 50 Things I Never Buy Anymore Because I Make Them Instead.
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,
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