Friday, December 19, 2008

Taking a break

No more new posts until after the New Year. Happy holidays... see you next year. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Squeaky clean face

Baking soda, again. Make a lather or use your favorite face cleansing cream, then add a half teaspoon of baking soda and mix it in well. Clean your face with this and rinse well. Your skin will be super clean, but won't feel dry like some exfoliators make it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Save potatoes

When you have potatoes that are not keeping well, save them by partially cooking and then freezing. This works especially well with fries. Cut and bake on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about half the cooking time it takes. Or boil, mash and season, then freeze in meal size portions.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Keep your feet dry

Cold and snow and wet weather! Winter is upon us and if you're boots leak or you don't have anything waterproof, here's a cheap way to survive: Put on your socks, slip your feet into bread sacks (double if they're thin) and put on your shoes or boots. Your feet will stay dry.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Winter snacks

Are you still eating winter squash from the garden? Besides saving a few seeds to plant next year, save the seeds for snacks! They're all edible; just make them like pumpkin seeds. Clean and soak overnight in salt water, then roast at 250 to 300 degrees until done lightly toasted, two to three hours.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Potato starch

Make your own potato starch for soup recipes by boiling a potato in water to cover. Keep cooking it until the water becomes very cloudy, drain and use this for a soup base.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quick potato soup

Still have leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving? Use them this way:

* 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes
* 2 tablespoons of dehydrated onions
* 1 small can evaporated milk or 1 cup of milk to which you've added 1/3 cup of instant milk powder.
* salt, pepper to taste
Put the onion in a cup or so of water, and set to simmer. Add about half the milk and mix into the potatoes well, then add to the onions. Add water if it seems to thick, then let the mixture simmer until the onions are tender. Add the rest of the milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with corn bread or homemade yeast bread.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Self rising flour

Sorry, I've been missing! Life gets in the way sometimes...

Don't buy self rising flour unless you can get it cheaper than all purpose flour. First, it's not very healthy, since it has a lot of salt in it and secondly, it's very easy to make as you need it. Take a cup of all purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix it thoroughly. If you use it a lot, mix up a bigger batch and store it just like you would any flour.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Surely everyone knows to use clothespins to keep chip bags and so on, closed. They're much cheaper than the clips sold for that purpose. Did you think, though, to use clothespins for other things? Like holding papers together, keeping quilt or other sewing pieces sorted, or holding music books open.

Another use for used coffee grounds

Got gunk? I mean like sticky, icky ash trays, or greasy pans? Scrub them with coffee grounds, dry or wet. They won't scratch like abrasive cleaners do and they deodorize at the same time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Window cleaner

This might not be officially "frugal," but it addresses a problem frugalites sometimes have: finding ways to bypass the questions and strange looks.

Use a little vinegar or ammonia in water to wash windows - that's commonly known - but if you want to fool your neighbors (spouse, mother-in-law, etc), put a drop of blue food coloring in it. They'll think you're using a commercial window cleaner.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Free gift wrap

If you eat potato or other chips, save the bags and turn them inside out. Some look like mylar or smooth foil and others are solid colors. You can use them as bags or cut them for wrapping paper. They make pretty packages!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sour cream

If you need sour cream for a recipe, you can substitute cottage cheese, pureed, or mashed thoroughly. Plain yogurt will do the trick, too, but it may be thinner.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clothespin holder

Hanging clothes on the line outside? Make a clothespin holder from a child's pullover shirt. Just sew the bottom closed and put it on a wire hanger. You can bend the hanger to keep it from slipping off. Hang it on the clothesline and slip it along as needed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Free hot water

A barrel or bucket painted black or other dark color, filled with water and set in the sun (even in the winter) will absorb enough solar rays to heat hot enough to wash dishes, do laundry, or even bathe. It may take a few hours, so keep an eye on it and move it if necessary to keep it in the sunshine. Alternatively, stretch a long hose across a sunny lawn (even on a warm winter day as long as you keep it up out of snow) will heat water in a few hours.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Free gift tags

Save junk mail envelopes and cut the glue covered edge from the flap to use for stick-on gift tags. Write names with colored marker or crayons to make them more festive.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Keep cold from coming through the door

The old dollar bill trick - putting a dollar in the door of the refrigerator and closing it, then seeing if it pulls out - works on exterior doors on your home, too. (You can substitute a piece of plain paper.) Hold a paper on the door frame and close the door. If it falls to the floor or comes out easily when you tug gently on it, put in new weather stripping. If it resists coming out, the door fits the frame close enough to keep out the winter cold.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free static guard for the dryer

Since dryers smash and pummel fibers enough to keep them soft, you really don't need fabric softener to soften them. (Try it if you don't believe me.) What you do need, if you just have to use a dryer, is something to cut static cling so you won't lose your socks inside your trouser legs. Crumple a piece of aluminum foil - used and washed is good - and place in the dryer with your laundry. That's it. It works.

Re: Save a Penny, Make a Penny

In this post, I had to add this:

I have been hearing bad things about this program. I haven't tried to cash out yet, so I don't know first hand, but reports say that they are not paying, or that they're paying after long periods of time. Spend time with it at your own risk, and I apologize for leading you into something that apparently isn't working.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Free pony tail holders

Save narrow elastic from worn out underwear and other clothing, the cut it to lengths and sew or tie the ends to hold hair in a pony tail. It won't trap and pull hair.

Trash bag anchor

Save the wide elastic from old underwear. It's great for anchoring the tops of trash bags over a large kitchen garbage can.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Clean your floor for free

Catch a bucket of hot soapy water from the washer when it spins the first time and use it to mop your floor. It works well for cleaning woodwork, too. You can probably find other uses for it if you look around. Saves on water and cleaner.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Save your shoes

Take your shoes off in the house to save wear on them. Wear cheap footsies or learn to crochet or knit slippers for house wear from scrap yarn.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Most frugal foods

This time of year is great for frugal food! Use in your diet now and as long as you can get them: Cabbage, carrots, potatoes and pumpkins. All of them (even with the rise in the price of potatoes) give great nutrition and versatility to your menus. (Look for recipes online if you don't believe the versatility part!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Free salt

Bags of pretzels, potato chips and other salty snacks usually have salt in the bottom of the bag... you're getting it. Don't throw it out. Save it in a special container and use it on popcorn, in coating mixes for meat or anywhere a slightly flavored salt would taste good.

I call it "free" because it's something most people throw out without thinking about it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More on freezer bags

If you buy chicken breasts in those heavy duty plastic bags, save them. Wash them out and dry, then package things to be frozen in bread sacks or other lightweight free bags, then put them inside the heavy bag that held chicken. Your food will be safe from any possible contamination (washing the bag well with soap and water should remove contamination anyway), and you'll have the benefit of a very good quality freezer bag.

Friday, September 26, 2008


If you save the liquid from pickles, whether home canned or bought, you can reuse it at least twice. Pickle cucumbers or other vegetables in it by heating it to just boiling, then pouring it over prepared vegetables in a jar or bowl with a lid. Put it in the refrigerator immediately and in about two weeks, you'll have pickled vegetables ready to enjoy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Squash blossoms

If you have a garden, you're probably sick of summer squash by now. Eat the blossoms instead. Pick them either at their peak or a little spent. Simply saute them in a little butter, or get fancy and stuff them with cheese and bake. They're very good and they're free. (If you've been supplied with zucchini by a neighboring gardener, ask for the blossoms!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Free closet deodorizer

Spread a batch of used coffee grounds to dry on a cookie sheet, then put them in a panty hose leg. Tie the top and put in the closet to absorb odors.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Saving on hot water

When you wash your hands, chances are that the water doesn't have a chance to get really warm before you're through. Since you're essentially washing in cold water anyway, don't even turn on the hot water. Traditional water heaters come on every time the temperature drops, and if the water in the pipes is cool, hot water replaces that awhile before it reaches the faucet, lowering the temperature and kicking on the water heater.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Forget the Bisquick

Why would you buy something when you can make it cheaper with very little trouble? Here's a self rising crust that's great for cobblers. For meat pies, just omit the sugar!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 TB oil
Enough milk to make a thick but pourable batter.

Mix it all up and dump it in a baking dish, put the fruit in on top (two cans worth) and bake about an hour at around 400 degrees.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Soap is soap

If you bought shampoo and didn't like it, don't throw it out. Use it to clean the bathtub or mop the floor, wash painted woodwork or launder delicate items.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wild food

Gathering and using wild food can make a difference in your food bill. (Not everyone agrees - see the comments here: Beat the High Cost of Food: Eat From the Wild), but just for instance, a can of spinach isn't cheap... and wild spinach (lambsquarter) is free for the taking in many areas.

More on the subject: Wild in the City.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Save a Penny, Make a Penny

Along with saving those pennies, you can make a few toward gift cards from places like Amazon, Target and Starbucks. You just sign up with My Search Bonus and do your internet searches through them. To be honest, there are a few times when I go to Google when I can't find what I want otherwise, but "My Search Bonus" runs a pretty good search engine. If you search the internet now and then, why not make a few pennies from it?

Edited: I have been hearing bad things about this program. I haven't tried to cash out yet, so I don't know first hand, but reports say that they are not paying, or that they're paying after long periods of time. Spend time with it at your own risk, and I apologize for leading you into something that apparently isn't working.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Newspaper dripping pads

It's been a little hectic around here, and I'm slow getting things posted, so I apologize.

Here's your extremely frugal tip for the day. :)

Use a pad of newspaper near a doorway in wet weather to put boots and wet shoes on. When it gets too soggy, throw it away.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Emptying cans

When you empty a tomato sauce (or other sauce) can, turn it upside down over a small container to drain completely. Keep adding to it, keeping it frozen between times, and you'll soon have a "free" can of tomato sauce!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Save a little more gas

Although gas prices have started to drop a little, it still makes sense to save where we can. If you're driving with the air conditioner on, turn it off a few blocks before you will park the car. Leave the fan on and cool air will continue to blow. The car will stay cool for several minutes and you'll have saved a little more gas by not running the AC.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Corn dogs

So they're not the best nutrition available... kids and adults still like and eat them! You can make them a lot cheaper than you can buy them.

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1 TBS oil
8 - 10 weiners

Combine dry ingredients, then add rest of ingredients and mix well. Put weiners on skewers or popsicle sticks, coat with flour, then dip into batter and fry in hot oil. Drain and serve or freeze for later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Free defrosting trick

If you have a refrigerator or freezer that isn't frost free and you need to defrost, pack your frozen food tightly in a box that's been lined with newspaper and put a thick layer of newspaper over it. It will stay frozen solid for several hours.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Clean drip pans

Drip pans on your stove looking nasty? If they're really bad, dissolve a quarter cup of baking soda in a half gallon of water in a pan. Put the drip pans in the solution and boil for 3 or 4 minutes. Leave them in it until it's cool, then scrub with additional baking soda if needed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bleach water

If you use liquid bleach, rinse the jug when it's "empty" with a couple of tablespoons of water. Put it in an empty dish soap bottle with a squirt top and label it, then use it to remove stains on counter tops or anywhere you need it.

Meatloaf: Ultimately frugal

You've probably heard of freezing bits of leftover vegetables and meat until you have enough for soup. Use the same method to stretch meatloaf. Mince or puree vegetables, also add grains like leftover rice, barley or quinoa. Cooked cereals like oats, corn meal mush or wheat can be added, too. A tablespoonful now and then adds up. Don't waste it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

More Uses for Plastic Bags

Use bread sacks or those plastic bags that newspapers come in as disposable gloves for tasks that don't need fine finger use. They're great for nasty stuff. Just turn them inside out to take them off when you're done and drop them in the trash.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free laundry basket

Substitute a cardboard box, lined with newspaper, or better, line it with plastic bags. You can cut hand holds from the sides. Sturdy cardboard boxes will last as long or longer than many plastic laundry baskets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More juice for the money

You can usually add a half can more of water (or even a whole one) when you make juice from frozen concentrate without losing flavor. Even whole juice can be stretched with a little water - about a cup or more to a quart for most.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Steel wool pads

Don't buy those steel wool soap pads. Buy plain steel wool pads (available in any hardware department) for a fraction of the cost and use your own dish detergent - just one drop. You don't have to use a whole pad at a time, either. Tear off a piece only as large as you need and when you're through with it, put it in a plastic bag in the freezer to keep it from rusting. Just one pad will last a long time like this.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Use it all

Always use all of everything. Turn bottles upside down and drain to get the last bit from them. Tear open sugar and flour sacks to get it all; squeeze or cut open tubes of anything to use it all before buying more. You bought it to use, not throw away.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Water savings

If you have access to the outdoors, you can cut your water bill by using rain water. In lieu of rain barrels, use any container you have and put it wherever the rain comes off the roof the heaviest, under a downspout or inside corner. Use it to water plants, inside and out, wash the car, etc.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Keep cool

  • Run cold water over your inside wrists.
  • Set a bowl of ice or cold water in front of a moving fan.
  • Use a wet washcloth on your forehead. Move it often to help release heat.
  • Put your feet in a basin of cool (not cold) water.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and stress.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cheap facial moisturerizer

Olive oil is the best; better than most special facial moisturizers. Smooth it on over freshly washed skin and pat off any excess after a minute. Use twice a day - morning and night.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oven and grease cleanup

Put a half inch or so of ammonia in a shallow nonmetal container and leave it in a cold oven overnight. Fumes from ammonia is what does the job, so if you have grungy pots and pans, put them in there, too. The whole mess will clean up with soap and water and just a little elbow grease in the morning.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cheaper popcorn

Popped on top of the stove, popcorn is a lot cheaper than microwave servings. Learn how to do it if you don't know, then grind regular salt in a coffee or pepper mill to use on it. Keep the "old maids" (kernels that don't pop) to feed to the birds (separate them out before salting or flavoring the popcorn) or mill them into corn meal.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cheaper than canned salmon

Make a fish loaf or patties from canned jack mackerel or tuna instead of more expensive salmon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Free rope

When you cut up old clothes for rags (you do, don't you??), cut alongside the seams and keep a few on hand for lightweight rope. Depending on the material and type of seam, these can be sturdier than you might think. Tie them together for a longer rope.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free rubber spatula

Why buy one? Trim a plastic coffee can or margarine tub lid to shape, leaving a wide "handle" to get a good grip. Make it a little wider than commercial spatulas for stability, since the plastic is thinner. Bonus: When it gets stained, throw it out and make a new one!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Homemade plaster

If you need just a little plaster to fill nail holes or a small crack in a wall, toothpaste has often been offered as a solution. However, toothpaste shrinks over time. Instead, mix baking soda into white glue until it's the consistency of plaster and use that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Homemade furniture polish

Most of the time you don't need it, (use a damp cloth) but if you want to polish your furniture, mix equal parts of white vinegar and vegetable oil and rub on the furniture. Buff with soft cloth until it shines. Olive oil can be substituted for the vegetable oil and lemon juice can be substituted for the vinegar.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More "free" freezer bags

Do you ever eat potato chips that come in air tight bags? (Almost all do.) Reuse them as freezer bags. Smooth as much air out of them as you can, then fold each corner inwards, then fold the triangle point down a couple of times. They keep food as fresh as plastic freezer bags.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Leftover salad

Got just a few leftover, cut up vegetables? Put them in your blender, add some liquid if needed (tomato sauce, grapefruit juice, etc., whatever is appropriate) and make a cold soup or vegetable drink.

Or cook them (even lettuce!) and puree for soup stock. If you don't want to use it at that moment, you can freeze it for for later.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saving more water

When you shower, besides setting a bucket under the faucet to catch what runs out before it warms up, plug the drain and use the shower water to flush the toilet. Flushing takes a lot of water, even if you have one of those new low water toilets.

Homemade ice pack

Mix one part rubbing alcohol and two parts water in a ziplock type of plastic bag and freeze. The rubbing alcohol keeps it from freezing solid so the pack will conform to any part of your body. Wrap in a cloth to use.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Counting comments

Sorry, no frugal tip this time. I just wanted to tell you that blogger isn't counting comments right. If you've commented on a post, but it's still showing as "no comments," go ahead and click on it and you'll see it. Hopefully it will straighten up soon...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sweet iced tea

First, never buy iced tea. It's a LOT cheaper to make at home. Secondly, this is for those of you who like sweet tea: Tea tastes sweeter after being stored in a refrigerator 24 hours, so take advantage of that. Make your tea not quite as sweet as you'd like it, then let it set refrigerated until the next day. It will be sweeter than you made it and you'll have saved sugar.

Minimize bacon shrinkage and curling

I read this once in an old fashioned recipe book and it really works. Simply dredge slices of bacon in flour before frying and the bacon won't shrink so much and won't curl as it fries. The drippings make excellent milk gravy, too.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Milk gone bad

If it's just a little off, put a pinch of baking soda in it and stir. No need to throw it out. If you have milk that you can't use up, put it in the freezer until you need it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Use less; save money

Never use more than you need. Just because it says on the box that you need a full cup, doesn't mean that you really do need it. Half a measure of laundry detergent, a quarter of an inch of toothpaste and a half teaspoon of dish detergent are examples of what is usually enough, rather than what the manufacturer says is enough.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Don't waste cleaning solutions in spray bottles

If you buy cleaning solutions in spray bottles, you know there is always some left in the bottom that the tube can't reach. The way to save that solution is to save the bottle and pour the leftover into the new bottle. Another method that helps, but doesn't save all of it, is to put marbles, rice or small stones in the bottle. That raises the liquid level so the tube can reach it better.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

ATM fees

Today's tip isn't all that extreme, but it can be overlooked easily (as in "It's only a few dollars!")

ATM fees are on the way up. Never use an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank - some banks even charge their own customers. Plan ahead. If you go to the bank for any reason, get your cash there. It's cheaper.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cheap facial scrub

Cheap only in cost; it's a quality treatment! Make a lather in your hand of inexpensive hand or face soap, then add a teaspoon or so of cornmeal, work it into the lather and scrub your face lightly with it. Use washcloth to remove most of the cornmeal before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Moisturize if necessary. Cornmeal makes a gentle but thorough scrub and it's all natural - no chemicals to worry about.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There's more to canned food than food

If you use food from cans (and who doesn't, now and then, anyway), don't just toss the can when it's empty. Whether it's a small can, like a tuna or cat food can, or a large one, the label is paper. Tear it off, trim the ragged torn edges and there you have a piece of paper for lists or notes.

Then wash and use the can to hold other things from candles to pencils to paint brushes. More on tuna and cat food cans later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cheaper bread

If you don't bake all your own bread, go to a day old bakery outlet and see if they'll let you have or buy bakery items that would otherwise be thrown out. Some of these outlets won't; some will. Take advantage of what you can, you might be able to buy a truckload for a few dollars. Share with friends. They'll be more inclined to share their windfalls with you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Save water

Keep a bowl or container in the kitchen sink to catch water that would otherwise go down the drain. This can be used to wash dishes, mop the floor, or for other cleaning. Besides all that, it will make you more aware of how much clean water goes down the drain - a good place to start saving.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More about saving gas

As soon as you can see you'll need to stop, take your foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down under it's own compression. You'll still have to use the brake (unless you started slowing down way back there, but you won't be using gas to get that last 300 or so feet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Marshmallows for hot chocolate

If you happen to wind up with hardened marshmallow peeps leftover from Easter, don't toss them. Save them for hot chocolate - they make a little different topping as to looks, but they taste the same and the heat and liquid softens them so they melt just like fresh marshmallows.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All the apple

Peeling an apple? Save the peels. You can make jelly of them and the cores - no pectin needed. Save them in a plastic bag for a few days until you have enough. It won't matter if they brown a little, but you can sprinkle them with vinegar or lemon juice to stop that. When you're ready, cover them with water and boil until they're soft, adding a tiny pinch of salt. Strain the liquid or press through a jelly bag. Return to a boil and add 1 cup of sugar for each pound (approximately) of peelings and cores you started with. Cook until it sheets off a cold metal spoon, then pour into a jar or bowl and cool. That's it. You might want to skim off the foam. Put that on a cold plate and it will subside into jelly, too. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stain pretreatment

Save those squirt dish soap bottles! One way to use them is to store solution to spot treat laundry stains. Fill the bottle with about a quarter cup of laundry detergent (NOT the kind with bleach in it) and a tablespoon or so of ammonia. Finish filling the bottle with water and use it like any commercial pretreatment: Squirt the solution directly on the stain, let it set for a minute, then launder.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Other frugal blogs

You can learn a lot just by reading other people's ideas. No matter how frugal we think we are, there always seems to be something to learn - or inspiration to gain.

I don't have the usual "blog roll" here, but I've linked to a few frugal blogs that I think are the best:

A different kind of blog roll


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Washing dishes

There was a study not long ago that claimed that it took less water to wash dishes in a dishwasher than by hand. I protest. Here's how to do it by hand and use much, much less than in the study (they estimated 12 gallons by hand!)

How to Save Water Washing Dishes By Hand

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Freebies are frugal! The internet is a fantastic way to sleuth them out. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and coffee samples can help stretch your budget. Don't be wasteful with them just because they're free. Use them carefully and put off the time when you'll have to replace the item.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Keeping a broom

Never stand a broom on its bristles. Hang it upside down on a rack or nails. Clean it when you've used it for real dirt - garage floors or sidewalks. Use a bucket with warm, soapy water, swish the broom in it several times, then rinse with clear water. Hang it to dry.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Save flour

When you knead bread dough or roll out pie crust or biscuit dough, use the flat side of a butter knife to scrape the flour from the board or table into a flour sifter, held over your flour container. The sifter will clean out any chunks and your flour board will be easier to clean up, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grow garlic on a windowsill

Garlic will grow happily in a container on your windowsill. Buy fresh garlic from the grocery store and use the largest cloves to plant. Put the unpeeled clove, pointed side up, in light soil with the tip just showing. Keep the soil damp and in a few days you should see a green shoot. You can use this shoot as a mild garlic flavoring (Give it time to grow at least six inches first, then trim only a few inches at a time. If you don't trim this top, it might become quite long and topple over - that's ok. When it turns brown and dries up, dig the clove of garlic you planted and you should have a full bulb. Take a clove from that and start over! (Container grown garlic will make small cloves.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Watering houseplants

Put a bowl under the kitchen tap to catch water that's run to warm up or cool down and use that to water houseplants or container plants outside. You'll be surprised how much water goes down the drain unused.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sandwich meat

You can buy luncheon meat, but why would you? Instead, buy a package of chicken breasts, cook and slice them. You'll be surprised at how many sandwiches a pound of chicken breast makes. If you buy it in the large packages, you'll save quite a bit and you can freeze what you don't use within a few days. Other meats to slice at home: Turkey, ham, roasts (beef, pork).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Frugal foot care

With spring and summer comes sandals and bare feet. If your feet are still winter dry, give them a spring treatment! Before you go to bed or sit down to relax for awhile, generously rub vegetable oil or shortening into your feet (lard or tallow can be used, too), then put old socks on, then slip plastic bread sacks on over that. After a couple of hours, you can wash it off with warm water and mild soap. The price sure beats the commercial foot lotion.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Double duty for baking soda

Make a box of baking soda do double duty by using it first to deodorize the refrigerator, under sink or wherever you need it, then use it to clean and polish.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Macaroni and cheese

If you make macaroni and cheese from a box that has powdered cheese, don't use all the cheese. There's usually more than enough, anyway, so save the last teaspoon or so and put it away. When you have enough, you can make cheese sauce for your own macaroni, or for vegetables or casseroles. Mix 1/4 cup of powdered cheese with 1/4 cup of butter or margarine (or half butter and half oil) and 1/4 cup hot milk. Stir until smooth.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Got an old flannel backed tablecloth? It makes great placemats. Just cut it to size and machine or hand stitch around it to keep the layers together. Or make them from any material you have around. Use an old towel for padding, cut two pieces of material and sandwich the toweling between. A zigzag stitch will secure the edges without having to turn it inside out or do blind stitching.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Save that thread

Have you ever taken out a hem or seam that was commercially sewn and had the thread come loose in one long piece? The stitch was interlocked and the thread is perfectly good for hand sewing. The next time that happens, wind the thread on a piece of cardboard or empty spool for use when you need it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Popcorn to cornmeal

Got popcorn that won't pop? Mill it into cornmeal and make yourself some delicious corn bread! If you don't have a flour mill, put the corn in a cloth bag or wrap it loosely in cloth, then crack it by hitting it with the flat side of a hammer or something similar. Finish milling it in your blender or food processor. Sift out the larger pieces process again.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Soap is soap is soap

Most soaps and detergents can be used to clean almost anything: Laundry detergent will wash dishes, clean floors and scrub the bathtub. So will shampoo and so will dish detergent and so on. If you have a sample of something that you won't use for it's original intent, use it for something else. If you run out of something and can't or don't want to go to the store yet (where you'll be tempted to buy other things), use whatever you have on hand within reason.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No more paper towels

Can't live without paper towels? I wonder what your grandmother used?

Some probabilities: Hang up a real towel in your kitchen to dry your hands. Use a dishcloth to swipe up counter top and table messes. Use rags for the floor and anything really messy. Cut up material that's not good for anything else, to use as throwaway rags. (Keep them separate for the really yucky things.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Make your own watch band

If you have or had a watch band with a buckle, it's very simple to make a replacement for it. Use sturdy material such as denim, canvas or fake leather and use the old watchband as a pattern for length and width. Be especially careful to cut the width exactly the same as the original, or it won't fit your watch. Measure an inch longer and turn a half inch under for the buckle pin to fit and put a slit in it, following the pattern of the old one. The other half inch will be used to fit the watch itself. Turn the fabric back on itself and sew it so you can slip the watch pins through it. Use a blanket or zigzag stitch on the edges. Use an icepick or very sharply pointed knife or scissors to make holes.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Freebies are frugal

Sending for free samples of products can definitely help you choose what you want to buy and getting products for free - well, what's more frugal than that? Just beware of getting your email address on some spammer's list. Use a special address somewhere like hotmail, or yahoo, for freebies and other offers that may bring spam. A few minutes work each day can net you some interesting and useful products, all for free.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Take advantage of your age

Getting older has its privileges! Most states have special pass rates into their parks and recreational areas for seniors, but you might have to ask to find out. There may also be bus passes or tickets to seasonal events that are discounted for senior citizens. Sometimes these things are not well advertised, so ask!

Don't forget about these possible discounts for senior citizens and if you don't think you're "senior" quite yet, ask anyway. Sometimes the discounts start at age 50.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Free yarn barn

If you craft with yarn, use an empty gallon milk jug, well washed, and cut a hole in one side. Put the yarn in the jug through this hole and thread the loose end through the top. This will keep the yarn clean and in one place as you pull it out.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cheap "air freshener"

Use spices to make the air in your home smell better. Ok,. that's obvious... but how? Put them in a bowl of water and set them where the sun will shine on them, or use an electric or candle powered simmer pot with a little water and some cinnamon, caraway, rosemary, cloves or whatever has a smell that you enjoy. You can make your own air freshener to spray in the air, too, by using water that's had spices or other smelly things simmered in it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Eating out cheaper

Authentic ethnic restaurants usually have good food cheaper than well known restaurants, even if they're local. Don't confuse "authentic" with "well marketed." The truly authentic may not be in the best part of town. It's usually well worth the effort of tracking down a real ethnic restaurant.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Make liquid soap

It's not hard to make liquid soap from leftover bar soap scraps. First, grate the soap or chop it finely, then add an equal amount of water and let it set until it gets goopy. If you have a blender, you can use that to help smooth the mixture, or you can whisk or beat it by hand. Put it in a pump bottle left from other liquid soap, shampoo or something similar. Sometimes the labels on those bottles will peel off and you'll have a neat free pump bottle for your free liquid soap.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Windshield washer fluid

If you run out of windshield washer fluid during warm weather (or if you live where it never freezes), put plain water in the washer fluid container. It does just as good a job.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Free pea or bean vine support

If you have a garden, you may have a need for a simple, short trellis sturdy enough to hold pea or bean vines. This one can be taken down (or pulled up) in seconds and reused year after year. What's more, you probably already have the raw material on hand. And it takes about two seconds per section to have it ready to go.

Take a wire clothes hanger, unbend the hanger part to where it's more or less straight, then grasp the bottom of the hanger in the center and pull straight down until you have a diamond shape on a stick. Make as many of these as you need. To use, push the straight part into the ground. That's it. You can overlap or space these as needed.

I got fancy and picked out all the white coated hangers so they all matched.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cheaper motel rooms

If you'll be traveling to an area and/or during a time when motels are not overcrowded, don't make reservations ahead of time. Wait until you get there, then rent a room after dark. You'll get a better deal because motels want to fill their vacancies. Don't be too shy to dicker a little because most motel clerks have a lot of leeway in what they can charge you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Make your own potting soil

'Tis the season to be thinking about the great outdoors! For anything from a large vegetable garden to a potted pansy, start your own seeds in your own potting soil for the most savings. Use compost, half and half with regular old dirt. To pasteurize soil, put it in a covered container and heat in the oven at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180 and leave it there for another 20 minutes. This will kill most diseases and weed seeds. Add about 1/4 sand (in volume) and it's ready.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Listen to free audio books

You can just listen to them, burn them to CD or whatever you choose. They're all in the public domain, which means there are a lot of classics. Librivox is a good place to start.

You can't get much more frugal than free.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Make your own recipe cards

You don't have to buy those packages of recipe cards; you can cut any paper to fit a recipe box - even scrap paper. Colored paper is nice, since it's often a little stiffer than regular paper. Think: Recycled junk mail! You can also make tabs to organize your "cards." Glue them on, or cut a special card from pasteboard or heavy paper with a tab on it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cheap sting cure

When the bee stings, when the mosquito bites... when the jellyfish stings or the unknown bug gets to you, what do you reach for? Calamine lotion? Hydrocortisone cream? There's a cheaper solution and it's called baking soda. Make a paste of it with a little water and apply on stings and stinging, itching bites.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Grow your own bird seed

With spring in the wings, it's time to think of growing things! If you like to feed birds year 'round, you can grow your own birdseed. Just how much of a dent you can make in the birdseed budget depends on how much room you devote to it, but even a couple of square feet will yield a worthwhile crop. Plant whatever seeds you feed the birds and you'll have the right ones. Whether it's millet, safflower, sunflower or any of a dozen more types, you can grow it densely, seeding a small area generously. Keep birds away until they've germinated by covering with screen, or start them indoors in clumps.

You can harvest the seeds when they're ripe and store them for winter days, or leave them on the plant and the birds will find them.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gas saving tip

To get better gas mileage, check the air pressure in the tires when they're cold, not after the car has been driven. Manufacturer's recommendations are made for cold tires. If you have to drive to get somewhere to add air, check the pressure first, and add air according to that. If you're shy a couple of pounds when the tires are cold, you're still shy a couple of pounds when they're warmed up after driving, no matter what the meter says.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cooking fat

If you eat bacon, you might as well save the bacon grease to use in other things. Try it instead of butter on popcorn, or put it in green beans or use it to grease the pan for cornbread. It's free and you eat it anyway when you eat the bacon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

You can wash suede clothing

Did you know that you can wash suede clothing? While it's usually recommended that you have them dry cleaned, a gentle wash in your washer will do it. Just stop the machine before the spin cycle and squeeze as much water from it as you can. Lay it flat to dry, then brush to relax the nap. Washing by hand is even gentler if you don't wring it out when you're through. Again, squeeze the fabric, then put it to dry on a flat surface.

Read: Can You Wash Suede Clothing?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Water, water, water.

You can water anything down, even lotions and cream. Basically, they're emulsified versions of oil and water. When your hand lotion bottle is "empty," add just a little water and shake vigorously. You'll have enough lotion for a few more application. You can mix water into creams, too, to get more from them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Make your own bowl covers

Make your own bowl covers from old vinyl table cloths or shower curtains. To be extremely frugal, use elastic cut from old clothes. Cut a circle, using a dinner plate for a pattern, and cut a piece of elastic an inch or two shorter than the circumference of the bowls you'll be using (a little more or less won't matter much). Sew the elastic around the edge of the plastic circle, gathering as you go. Make larger and smaller covers while you're at it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Save on dish detergent

It happens to everyone who cooks: You need just that bowl or pan to make something in and it's dirty! Instead of using a squirt of dish soap to wash just one or two things, keep a squirt bottle or soap dispenser on your counter filled with half dish detergent and half water. It just takes a tiny bit to wash one item and using it straight from the detergent bottle almost guarantees overuse.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Coffee grounds

Ok, so who wants a bucket of used coffee grounds? Well, you might if you garden, because coffee grounds make excellent compost, especially if your ground is mildly (or atrociously) alkaline. Coffee grounds are good for worm beds, too. It stands to reason that the worms in your garden will like them just as much as the worms in a controlled worm bed. They'll put them to good use, making good dirt for your garden.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Cloth napkins beat the price of paper ones that you have to buy over and over again. Don't buy cloth ones, though... make them yourself. And if you want to save another half penny, hem them by hand instead of using the electric sewing machine. If you really want to save, use thread taken from the hem of the old shirt, dress, sheet or tablecloth that you're making napkins out of!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Free pot and dish scrubber

Take a nylon or plastic net produce bag and roll it back on itself until it's formed a ball of sorts. Tuck the ends under and secure if necessary. Alternatively, twist a bag into a small ball and insert into another net bag, then twist this bag closed and turn the ends back over the ball. That makes a free dish scrubber. Make one for the car windows or other outdoors scrubbing chores, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cheap window cleaning

Don't use cleaners, just water. Unless your windows have bird stuff or grease on them, plain water will do the job just as well as "cleaners." And if you just have to use a cleaner, for heaven's sake don't buy it. Use a little vinegar or a drop of dish detergent in water. Why pay for something you don't need?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Milk substitute

Use water in which you've boiled potatoes (peeled) instead of milk when you make bread or gravy. Potato water gravy doesn't look exactly the same as milk gravy, but it's close and it tastes good. For yeast breads and most quick breads, you won't know the difference.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sweetened condensed milk

Don't pay that awful price for sweetened condensed milk! Make your own this way: Mix one cup of powdered milk (dry) with 2/3 cup of sugar, then add 1/3 cup of boiling water and 3 TBS of margarine or butter. Mix it until it's smooth. (This makes the equivalent of one can.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Saving soap

Every time you put a bar of wet soap on a dish that drains away the water, you drain away soap, too. Put it in a dish with a solid bottom and when the bar is finished, use the "sludge" in the bottom of the soap dish. It's soap and you paid for it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Make candle wicking

If you like to make candles, but hate to buy wicking or it's hard to find in your area, you can make your own. Save fine string from a feed or seed bag, or use pure cotton thread and braid it into a firm braid. Make a solution of 3/4 cup of hot water, 1 TBS of borax and 1 tsp salt and soak the braid in this overnight, then allow to dry thoroughly. That's all there is to it. Just remember that it needs to be cotton only. Manmade fibers may melt or sputter or refuse to burn at all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Free Popsicles

Got leftover "juice" from canned fruit? Mix it with plain yogurt for a flavoring, or freeze it as Popsicles. Or use it as part of the water when you make Jello.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Clean the jar!

It's amazing how much peanut butter or mayonnaise is left in a jar that's hard to get out. I use a rubber spatula to clean out the last bit. I get enough out of an "empty" jar for another sandwich and sometimes two.

If you just want to empty the jar, but don't use the product at the time, add it to the new jar.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Powdered sugar

Make your own powdered sugar: Process a cup of granulated sugar and a generous tablespoon of cornstarch in your blender until it's powder. That's one less product to buy and store.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Second hand decorating

Use second hand sheets and towels to decorate your home. Sheets can be made into curtains, table cloths, pillow cases, slip covers, napkins, dresser scarves... Use towels to cover throw pillows or make curtains, etc.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Make toilet bowl cleaning easier

An empty liquid dish soap bottle makes a great "squirter" for under the rim of the toilet stool. Put bleach water or vinegar in it, squirt and let it set, then brush and flush.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cheap dry skin remedy

Dry skin responds just as well to shortening, vegetable oil, butter, margarine or lard. While your skin is still wet, smooth on whichever fat you choose just like you would hand lotion or cream.

Monday, February 4, 2008

"Free" freezer bags

Do you buy frozen vegetables? Save and wash the bags they come in... they're freezer bags, right? Since they've held frozen vegetables, they're very easy to wash - a good swish in soapy water, a rinse, and you're done. To freeze things in them, close them with a twist'em tie or rubber band and write the contents with a marker.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ironing clothes

It's cheaper to iron clothes than to dry them in a dryer. If you can time it, hang them until they're almost dry, but not quite, then take them down and iron right away. If you can't iron at that moment, roll them and put them in a plastic bag until you can get to them. (How long you can leave them there depends on your climate - don't let them mildew.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Hey, I could'a had a V-8!

Or a V-2, or a V-7 or whatever. Don't throw out tired raw vegetables. Salvage all you can by juicing or blending them. If you don't want to drink (or eat) the result, use it for a soup base. Freeze it for another day if you like - just don't throw it out.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Butter finger

Use your clean finger to gather up the remains of butter from the dish before you wash it or from the butter wrapper before you throw it away. Put the salvaged butter in a container with a lid in the refrigerator. Try it; you'll be surprised at how fast it accumulates.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hard water deposits

To remove hard water deposits from faucets, tie an absorbent cloth around it, and saturate with vinegar. Cover with plastic to keep the vinegar from evaporating and leave it on overnight. The deposits will clean off in the morning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cap your bowls

A shower cap makes a great bowl cover when you want to store something in the refrigerator. It's cheaper than plastic wrap because you can use and reuse and reuse it. Wash it with your dishes (not in a dishwasher) or, if it hasn't touched the food, rinse and air dry between uses.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Leaking Electricity

TVs, microwaves, computers and anything else that has a clock or light that stays on (or an "instant on" feature) still use energy when they're turned off, so unplug them when not in use. If that isn't convenient, put them on a power strip and turn that off when you're not using the appliances.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Scrambled eggs

Do you need to stretch a scrambled egg or two? Add crushed crackers before you cook them. It gives them a slightly different texture/taste that you can say you did on purpose, because it's good!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fool your neighbors

This might not be officially "frugal," but it addresses a problem frugalites sometimes have: finding ways to bypass the questions and strange looks.

Use a little vinegar or ammonia in water to wash windows - that's commonly known - but if you want to fool your neighbors (spouse, mother-in-law, etc), put a drop of blue food coloring in it. They'll think you're using a commercial window cleaner. If you can come up with an old spray bottle with a brand name label on it, so much the better, but maybe you can fake it somehow. All in fun, of course.

Free bread crumbs

Save cracker crumbs and bread crumbs from their packages as they're emptied. It won't be long until you have enough for a meat loaf or casserole - no added expense.

Buying liquid products

When you buy liquids in see through containers (dish soap, vegetable oil, etc.) check the level of the liquid. They're not always the same, so get the one that's the fullest.


Extremely frugal is me. :) In case you hadn't heard.

Several times a week I'm going to post an extremely frugal tip, comment, quote, advice, etc. Stay tuned. Come back. Sign up.

In other words, don't miss it. ;)