10 Things Homesteaders Should Thrift
Updated: Jun 1
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For myself, homesteading is all about building a holistically healthy life! It’s about being self-sufficient and providing nourishing food for my family! Because we don’t have an unlimited budget, it’s also about being frugal and innovative! And I think it’s that way for the majority of people. See my post here for 10 things to never buy new!
Thrifting is a skill I think all homesteaders should have! And yes, I said a skill! Because I know it takes a strategy to get exactly what you want over time secondhand. The trick is to go in knowing what you’re searching for (I keep a list), and to go frequently! I make it a part of my Saturday morning routine! Farmers market for raw milk and any other local meats, and then a quick pop into Goodwill on the way home to check for whatever I’ve been searching for.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a homesteader, but strive to grow some of your own food and live holistically and naturally, these are things you should thrift for!
This is something I find commonly at thrift stores, and use heavily every single summer! I love using the dehydrator to save LOTS of herbs because we use LOTS of herbs throughout the year! I swear, we even like dehydrated herbs better than fresh herbs because they’re easier to cook with! Our dehydrator runs almost constantly because we go through that many herbs in our house! I try to cram-pack mason jars full of them! We also love to dehydrate fruit to eat throughout the year! Dried figs, apples, peaches, and plums make for great snacks! Sun-dried tomatoes are also great to make in the dehydrator!
2. Canning pot/equipment
A good water bath canning jar is one of my essentials for the kitchen! It’s a great way to preserve veggies and fruit from the summer harvest! I find that there are a lot of these in thrift stores, and you can usually find the other needed equipment within the vicinity of the pot. Previous generations did a lot more gardening and canning than people today, so these items are donated frequently.
3. Kitchen Equipment
I hated to list out all of these because everyone likes to use all kinds of different tools in the kitchen. Regardless of what you like to use, the thrift store is a great place to look for it! I’ve seen instant pots, bread makers, blenders, juicers, and plenty of others! Know what you like to make, and watch for the equipment before buying new. If the equipment you are looking at is corded, make sure you test it before buying it. There is almost always a place to plug in and test electronics at thrift stores. Give it a good cleaning when you get home, and you’re good to go!
4. Napkins/dish towels
Linens such as napkins and dish towels are great to find in thrift stores! I rarely buy new ones anymore. Not only are they more affordable, but I can also usually find beautiful patterns and fabrics that I otherwise would not be able to find in a regular store. We use cloth napkins in our home, and I like to buy tea clothes with pretty fabrics from thrift stores and cut them down to size to use as napkins. You could sew the edges to make them nice, but we just cut and then wash.
5. Mason Jars
The thrift store is THE PLACE to get Mason jars! Maybe it’s just me, but I use a TON of Mason jars! We drink out of them, store dry and canned goods in them, and I use them for my sourdough, kefir, and raw milk. I like getting these from the thrift store because they are so much cheaper, and I can find a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. Wide mouth jars, gallon and half gallon jars, and tiny jars for jams or homemade household products like deodorant. If you’re using mason jars to can veggies or fruits in, make sure to purchase new lids so that the seal works. I usually purchase some every year to can veggies and fruit from the garden. I get them here.
6. Gardening tools
This can be a hit or miss, depending on your thrift store. However, estate sales are the perfect place to find gardening supplies! About half the estate sales I go to have a shed outback full of great tools! Keep an eye out for hand tools like spades, gloves, hoes, rakes, etc. You can also find pots, gloves, watering cans, buckets, bags of fertilizer or mulch, and gloves! I usually find hand tools only cost me $1-$2 at estate sales and larger tools like rakes or shovels might cost me $8-$10. Buying a brand-new shovel can cost upwards of $30! Buying used is 100% the way to go! Especially, since I tend to break my tools (I'm on spade number 4). Buying a new spade is not a big deal when I can find them for $2 at an estate sale!
I use a LOT of baskets! I like them because I can always find them in different shapes and sizes, and they’re beautiful! Baskets are so much prettier than a bin or box! I use baskets for all kinds of storage all over my house! Clothes, food, tools, towels, blankets, etc! I always stop by the basket section of the thrift store to see what they have. Buying baskets new can be very expensive, depending on where you live. Baskets at my local thrift store range from $2 - $5, whereas a new basket can cost $10-$50!
8. Cast Iron
Cast iron is a kitchen essential at my house! We have 2 pans and use them multiple times a day. You can also find pots of various sizes, and baking molds made from cast iron. A good cast iron pan/pot will last forever, and is so easy to use once you learn how to care for it! Buying cast iron new can be very expensive, costing $25-$50 for a new pan! Purchasing used cast iron can be intimidating as the item usually looks pretty rough or nasty in the thrift store. When you get it home, scrub it out really well with a Brillo pad and dish soap. When you’re satisfied it’s clean, season it with oil and put it in a very hot oven for several hours. It’ll come out clean, nonstick, and ready for use!
Overalls, flannels, aprons, and others are all great items to look for in a thrift store! Oftentimes, these items are hard to find in general, and when I find them new in stores, the fit is usually very weird. For example, overalls are weirdly tight in the legs, even if I size up, flannels are poor quality and tend to shrink when I wash them. Buying used is also, of course, much more affordable!
10. Books on homesteading
Again, older generations did a lot more gardening, cooking, and creating from scratch than people today do. AND, they had to learn it from books as there was no Internet! As these generations clean out their bookshelves (or their children clean out their bookshelves), they donate a LOT of good books! You can find books on candle-making, gardening, cooking, preserving food, animal husbandry, soap-making, sewing, etc.
Want to learn more about homesteading and frugal living? Visit the homesteading section on my blog to learn more! Learn how to build garden beds cheaply and how to build your own DIY rain catchment system!
Buying second-hand is my absolute favorite way to shop! What did I leave off the list? Let me know in the comments!