Readers' Tips


First In, First Out Pantry Storage

You can make your own using a "double decker" fridge soda pack. Just load up an empty carton, and you have a cheap and inexpensive can rotator!
Barbara

editor's note: For more on first in, first out pantry storage, please click here.

Ready for Winter

While raking up my yard this season, I realized that the fallen pinecones would make great fire starters for the wood stove. I played a game with my granddaughter to see who could fill the bag first! Of course, she won, but now I have a quick start to a fire.
K.

Longer Lasting Razors

I keep a bottle of alcohol (medicinal, not drinking) in the bathroom. After using my razor, I clean it under running water and then I simply pour a small amount of alcohol over the blade. It dries almost instantly, keeps the blade as clean as possible (almost sterile), and helps extend the razor blade's life almost four fold.

Like most any other metal, when exposed to moisture and air, your razor blades begin to rust. It's rust that forms on the edge of the blade and hastens the "dulling" of your blade.
Phyllis

Eliminating Odors from Wood Furniture

Scorched coffee grounds will eliminate just about any foul odor. Simply put some coffee grounds in a pan, moisten, and then heat enough to slightly scorch. Remove the pan from the heat immediately when the grounds begin to scorch to avoid creating a lot of smoke. Place inside the items for awhile. Set the pan on a trivet or pad so the bottom of the pan does not burn or mar the wood. In general, even plain coffee grounds placed in a confined space will absorb most odors.
Bruce

Slow Cooker Meals

The best slow cooker meal I ever made was so easy that it didn't require a recipe. I put a thawed pork roast in the slow cooker, covered it 2/3 with water, and added one jar of BBQ sauce and one large sliced white onion. Then I added some seasoning and let it cook all day. It was great with potatoes and a vegetable side dish, but the leftovers made some incredible sandwiches! Try it!
Jen T.

Additional TDS Resource: More great slow cooker recipes

Small Batch Cooking

If cooking for one or two, recognize that a pressure canner (an otherwise expensive purchase) will more than pay for itself if you purchase sale items in quantity or cook things like spaghetti sauce or soup in bulk. Buy your jars at yard sales and estate sales, and the price drops even more.

The initial lack of convenience will turn into a convenient advantage when you open one of those jars and have a meal or side dish within minutes. The processing time can be used to complete other tasks with frequent checks on pressure. Furthermore, if you run into times of tight money or unemployment, you have a back stock of food already purchased. If you are on a low-sodium or low-fat diet, you can spice your canning to suit you and create more nutritious and tastier dishes than bland, over-salted store canned goods.
Margaret

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on cooking for 1 or 2 and an introduction to canning

Ready Biscuits

In an effort to save money, I have started making biscuit mix biscuits in very large batches. I cut them out and place them on cookie sheets to freeze them. When I need biscuits, I take the needed amount out of the freezer and bake.
Caye H.

Garbage Disposal Care

To care for your garbage disposal, the best tip of all is to use it only to clean out "stuff" that gets into it inadvertently, such as stray scraps of peelings, etc. Throw away peelings that are not going to be used for compost. Don't use the disposal for peelings or leftovers.

A few years ago, we needed a plumber. It turned out to be roots from a tree blocking our line, but he told us that 80% of his business was due to waste clogging disposals. From that day on, my peelings and everything scrapped from plates went into the garbage or compost.
K.

Winterizing an Apartment

One thing I have found to make my condo warmer and more comfortable in the winter months is to run a vaporizer. With the moisture in the air, I can turn down my thermostat five to eight degrees and still feel warm. It also cuts down on carpet shocks from static electricity.
Kathy

Additional TDS Resource: More on winterizing an apartment

The Bulk Food Group

I get together with friends to bulk order food from different places. It is like a food co-op of friends. We purchase spices from an online company. We order bulk food from another company. It really helps the budget to purchase items in bulk, and when ordering with friends once a year, we save by shipping it freight. The shipping cost is very small compared to UPS or regular mail.

We've saved so much by buying items like powdered milk in bulk bags. The same thing applies to bulk oatmeal, grains, TVP, and beans. Bulk baking cocoa is also very inexpensive when purchased in 50-pound bags compared to buying it in small bags. We often do this as a group with the ladies from church and the neighborhood.
M.

Halloween Costume Idea

A neat costume would be one using items in your house. A fun idea I got from a friend is dressing up as a grocery bag. You can take a paper bag (or 2) and cut out the bottom(s), so it fits over your torso. Next add decorations like coupons. Make up a neat saying such as "couponing for treats" and attach that to the bag. You can staple everything on.
CS

Additional TDS Resource: More great Halloween costume ideas

Prepare for Winter Heating

Winter is almost here, and I'd like to share a tip that saved me a bundle. I have an apartment, and the place was always cold. I would have the heat on 80 to 85 degrees, and it would stay around 70 to 72 degrees in my apartment and still felt cold.

I went to the hardware store and bought canned foam that expands. Well, my baseboard heating was the source of my heating leaks, so I sprayed this expanding foam into the spaces around the baseboards. Don't use this stuff in the kitchen or around pilot lights, as it catches fire.

My heating bills went from over $200 per month to under $80 per month. It has been a saving grace. My average is about $50, and I live in New England. No more heating the neighborhood for me!
D.

Repurposing Microwave Turntables

When your microwave goes out, put the glass turntable under your coffee pot to catch spills and drips. You can easily wash the turntable and put back under the coffee pot.
Rose K. in North Little Rock, AR

editor's note: It would probably also work well under a vase of fresh flowers on your dining room table or other wood surface.

Cat Clawing?

This is my method of deterring and training cats to leave my furniture alone. I buy thick, clear plastic off a bolt at the hardware or fabric store. I tape it (with clear tape) or attach it with upholstery pins to the sides and corners of the piece. It is not horribly noticeable and spoils all the fun for the cats until they finally give up and find an appropriate place to claw like outside on a tree, a scratching post, etc. I no longer have to cover anything, as my cats just ignore the furniture.
Robin

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to control cat clawing

Better Caramel Apples

The kids love caramel apples but can never eat a whole one. No one wants it after the half-eaten apple is brown either. I now make bite size caramel apples. I use a melon baller on the outside of the apple to get apple balls. Then I insert a small object into the green outside of the apple balls to make a hole. I use a small pretzel rod as a stick and put it in the hole. After melting the caramel as usual, I dip the miniature apple balls into the caramel. Then I roll them in nuts, sprinkles, etc. It's a no waste way to have caramel apples.
G.

editor's note: Unless you want round mini-apples, you don't need a melon baller. Just cut up the appropriate sized pieces of apple.

The Rewards System

My husband and I have been trying to pay off a large debt (approx. $15,000) for over a year and have made little progress. I've recently found a great way to motivate us.

After a certain amount is paid off, we are rewarding ourselves with something special. We just celebrated the $3000 mark with a special dinner out. My husband commented that he couldn't believe we'd paid off that much, and it made him want to pay off even more.
M.


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