Fun fact about me: I'm a bargain hunter. If you're looking for something, I will do a little digging and find you a great price - if you can wait a few months. To buy my Kitchen-Aid, I followed price trends for 9 months before taking the plunge. My car console has a designated Aldi cart quarter. And I 100% use Wal-Mart Grocery Pickup. It's easier than getting out and shopping when you have a toddler and a baby, by far. All that to say: I like finding good deals. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Flour Sack Towels
Here's the thing: cotton is incredibly absorbent and sturdy. Flour Sack Towels are thin, 100% cotton towels that are large squares (28x29 inches). They're excellent for drying dishes, wiping up messes, quickly picking up spills, and covering countertops. They're also invaluable in the world of cloth diapering - a fantastic budget option at less than $1 each. I spent last summer visiting my friend, Kara, and we tried ice-dyeing flour sack towels (called "flats" in the cloth diapering world). It was a super easy craft and the results are awesome! Generally, flour sack towels are super multi-purpose and so inexpensive it's unreal.
I just cleared these out of my local WalMart, but you might have luck finding some in the laundry aisle at yours. Of course there's loads of laundry baskets to choose from - this one in particular is ninety-six cents. That's right. Less than a dollar. It also comes in a variety of colors - I've bought white and mint green for myself. They're not super large or sturdy, but they make cleaning up a room full of toddler toys a breeze. I just start chucking toys into the baskets as I sort them and we're good to go!
Like many bakeries, the WalMart bakery will discount items as they age out. Instead of tossing bread, they'll mark down entire loaves to less than $1. This is a great option for lots of different applications - if it's still soft, sandwiches or as a side to your meal. If it's started to get a little crusty - breadcrumbs, stuffing, or french toast. You can even use your food processor to pulverize the bread, then freeze it. It's a simple tip that saves loads of money and prevents food waste!
Here's another good multi-purpose find. These are less than $3 each - a twin-sized fleece "throw" blanket. They come in loads of different colors and patterns that change seasonally. I keep one in my car in case we get stranded somewhere, because I am my mother's daughter. Since they're made of fleece, they also make great fabric for sewing projects. I've made a few carseat ponchos from these blankets - they're big enough to fit a toddler-sized poncho with a hood. Last but not least, I cut these into pieces (no fraying!) and use them as liners in my cloth diapers. This keeps baby feeling dry and makes #2 cleanup so much easier.
I haven't figured out how to turn these into a multi-purpose staple in my house. Mostly they're just yummy breakfast food. Although, I suppose we could start using waffles in place of buns for breakfast sandwiches. Either way, they're literally just $1 for a pack of frozen waffles. How can you go wrong? It's a vehicle for syrup and butter (hello, delicious), and it's quick to make to appease the tiny hungry toddler tyrant in your life.
Because I'm always keeping my eyes out for good deals, I'm sure I'll find a new list of my five favorites. As you can tell, I try to find as many uses as possible for each of these items - but I know not everyone needs their "steal" to be a Swiss Army knife. For the record, no one at WalMart is paying me to rep them. I'm just a big advocate for sharing what makes life easier.
What deals have you found that have made your life easier? Which of these bargains have you tried yourself? Tell me which ones I've missed!