Frugal Flu Season Remedies


Drat, we didn’t escape it!

This past week, the Missoula Health Department issued an Influenza Alert as a result of increasing confirmed cases of flu in Missoula County.

On a positive note, the alert did mention the CDC is reporting this year’s flu cases were below average. Yet, they are still expecting many new cases to show up over the next couple of months.

As a mother, I have learned to loathe the month of March. Just when I’ve thought I had beat the cold and flu season, the kids pick something up and end up sicker than dogs. (Although, knock on wood, we haven’t been sick yet this year.)

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’ve had sniffles and some minor coughs and sore throats but nothing really significant. However, the month of March is upon us and now there’s confirmed Influenza A cases in Missoula, so our family isn’t out of the woods yet.

Not to mention, this is the month when the weather plays havoc on all of us…a touch of spring one hour followed by blizzard conditions the next. Our immune systems can’t seem to keep up with the weather thus making us susceptible to colds and flus.

Getting sick is miserable all the way around. You feel lousy and you get behind on housework, school, and/or at work. And if your kids are sick, they miss school, you might have to miss work, nights are long, and you end up with a few more gray hairs from worrying about them.

Plus, think about your wallet: When there is a “bug” in your house, are you frugal then? Probably not! If you need to go to the doctor, you’ve just spent $50+ there, followed by medication and other health-related items. I don’t know about you, but I always end up buying “feel-good” treats for my kids to perk them up a little bit.

Stock up on cold meds early to save money.

Stocking up a cold and flu medications early in the season is one way of saving money when the flu hits.

Even our wallets feel the impact of the cold/flu season! There just isn’t an upside to being sick.

So, what is the frugal way to handle cold and flu season?

First of all, be prepared! Stock up on over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen, Airborne, cough drops, etc) early in the season when you can get them super cheap.

The second and most important step in handling cold and flu season frugally is to NOT get sick. Easier said than done, right? Well, maybe…but maybe not. By following some tried and true methods, you may increase your chances of saving the cash and avoid being under the weather.


  1. Wash your hands. It’s a no-brainer. There are hundreds and hundreds of studies which prove this is the most effective way to combat germs. Wash your hands as often as you can and wash them for the duration of two times through the “Alphabet song”. For you super frugals: Stock up on soap throughout the year. You should be able to score soap for well under a dollar every couple of months. Or if you’re super thrifty, you can make your own soap for minimal cost and minimal effort.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. I am a sleep Nazi! I make sure all members of my family are getting adequate sleep. I don’t function well when I don’t have enough sleep (that’s putting it kindly!) and I know my kids don’t function well without it, either. On average kids between the ages of 7-12 years old need 10-12 hours of sleep each night while adults need somewhere between 7-9 hrs of sleep. Being vigilant about bedtimes may be a challenge but will pay off when your family has a strong immunity to fight off a cold or flu.
  3. Eat well.  This is another area where I have dedicated a lot of time. I view food as medicine, so I try to make sure our meals are well-balanced and provide the nutrition we all need to be healthy. If the kids are showing signs of coming down with a cold, I try to combat it with beefed-up nutrition. You may think providing healthy meals as expensive but I’ve found ways to keep the costs down and make healthy eating cheaper than unhealthy eating!
  4. Drink water. Adequate water keeps the germs at bay and keeps your body healthy. On average, we are supposed to drink 64 ounces of water a day. And sorry, soda doesn’t count! Remember water is pure, natural, AND free – the perfect medicine!
  5. Physical exercise. While my mom ingrained in me the importance of washing my hands and eating healthy, my father taught me the importance of physical exercise. Whenever he feels a cold coming on, he hits the treadmill and does a little sweating. I have found this to be effective to ward off colds that want to rear their ugly heads. Regular physical exercise does the body wonders, physically and mentally. Plus, talking a walk or a run is free!
  6. Grandma’s remedies. Erin Turner's homemade cold remedy Before running out to the store to buy commercial cold medicine, you may want to try some natural home cold and flu remedies. Many times I have found them to be more effective and much cheaper. There is a lot to be said for that bowl of chicken noodle soup! My husband and I swear by a tincture of apple cider vinegar and honey. Now, please don’t ask my children about it because they will contort their faces beyond imagination and moan in agony at the mere mention of this remedy. But as much as they hate drinking the stuff, they do know it will make them feel better. We also drink a lot of tea with lemon and honey which is great to soothe a scratchy throat. Honey itself is an anti-viral and anti-bacterial food so adding it to your daily diet is a cheap (and delicious) way to ward off those nasty germs. There are many herbal and natural remedies for various ailments which can be effective and less expensive than store-bought medication.

So, there you have it: A frugal approach to cold and flu season!

A little preparation and much prevention will hopefully keep you and your wallet healthy during the last part of cold and flu season. But if the flu bug does catch you during this next month, don’t despair—just sit back, rest, drink lots of fluids, and plan your battle for next year’s war against colds and flu.

Here’s to good health!


Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her previous posts: What I Love About MissoulaSave Money and Do It Yourself with Pinterest, and The Frugal Living Pantry Challenge. Be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.

   Visit the Coupon Queen’s “Save It” archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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