Readers' Tips

Recipes for Pork Marinades

An easy marinade for pork is apple cider. It gives a great flavor, especially for loins, which can be rather dry. Pineapple juice is also good. Add a little dry onion and let it set for several hours.

editor's note: Visit here for more pork marinade recipes.

Affordable Body Scrubs

I love the body scrubs from those expensive shops, but I canít justify the price. Now, I mix either salt or sugar with generic baby oil and a few drops of essential oil. It is helpful to alternate the salt or sugar with the oil so it mixes more quickly. However, when you use oils in your shower or bath, you should be careful, as the tub can get very slippery. This also makes a great gift!

Stocking a Pantry

If you're having trouble finding the money to stock a pantry, try sitting down with your family to figure out what the cheapest meals are that you can make with the things you normally buy. Plan a week's menu of really cheap meals that may include hot dogs, pastas, ground beef, etc. Take your regular amount of money with you to the grocery and use whatever you have left over after shopping for "Cheap Week" to buy your bulk items. Start with things like canned veggies, macaroni and cheese, pasta and anything that you can buy as a "buy one, get one free" deal. If you do this once a month or so, you'll soon have a stocked pantry.

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to stock a pantry without busting the budget

Health Club Plus

Recently, I wanted to sign up for a membership at a health club. They wanted a monthly membership fee that I couldn't afford. Plus, the services were limited and many programs had to be purchased separately.

Then I remembered that our local college had a great gym. It was better than any of the local fitness centers. But, it's only for students. I decided this was a great opportunity for me to get some additional education. One class would still be less than a membership to the local health club. And I get the benefit of the gym for free!

I now have access to a huge climbing wall with an open climbing time twice a week, aerobics classes (several a day), gym time, tennis courts, a swimming pool with open swim times, and racquetball courts. Also, I can join clubs, such as the fencing club and basketball club. Itís a much better deal than the YMCA!

Baking Soda to the Rescue

My mother-in-law is a master at getting out stains and cleaning just about anything. She taught me to use baking soda instead of other cleansers. For stovetops and other surfaces, wet a paper towel (wring it out well) and sprinkle it liberally with the baking soda. It absorbs all the oil that you're trying to clean off, and it leaves your hands soft. No other cleanser will cost you so little, and as an added benefit, you do not need to be quite as nervous if you don't get up every bit of residue!

Kitty Litter Liners

We have a house cat as part of our family. Therefore, we have a need for a litter box. Instead of buying liners, I buy the store brand trash bags to use as liners. I use the same bags for our trash. I also put on several bags at a time. When it comes time to change the bag, I just pull up the top bag. The next one is ready to use. On the rare occasion that my cat has put a hole in the top bag, I just tie up the next bag as well.

Ready for Touch-Ups

I've used this idea for years, and I have saved myself a lot of work with it. Each time a room is freshly painted, I use a small jar, such as a baby food jar, to save some of the paint. I use it to touch up when needed. Now, I can rearrange the furniture and wall groupings without worrying about nail holes and scuffs. It's important to remember to label the jar with the color and room identity.

Travel Tip

If you're on vacation and looking to save money when visiting attractions, be sure to ask the clerk at your hotel if he/she has any discount coupons. Recently I asked the desk clerk if the hotel offered any discounts and he gave us a coupon for a much-reduced rate on a museum and a free tour of a factory we wanted to visit. He also told us about a free chocolate factory tour that we didn't know about and gave us a coupon for free samples at the chocolate factory's store.

Keep Chore Chart Organized

I utilize chore charts in my house, because if I had things for the kids to do, they never got done, unless it was written down. That is kind of the same way for me. I also have a "to do" list, and I mark off what has been completed or add things that need to get accomplished. So, I figured if I had a list, then why not the kids? After all, it's a team effort in our house!

With two children, I made a chart and had an "X" for one and an "O" for the other. Then, I made a computerized chart with the seven days on it, and then listed down the chores that needed to be completed during that week. At the beginning of the week, I would print one out and give them the chores accordingly (everything being fair) to spread them out over the week. It helps me out around the house, as well as makes sure things are done.

Some of the chores I give out (my children are ages 11 and 12) include doing dishes (after supper), feeding animals, mowing, helping weed garden, vacuuming, dusting, taking out trash, and doing poo-poo patrol in the dog pen. As they perform the chores, they check them off in the box with their "X" or "O" in it, and I can see at a glance what they have done (or not done). They get a small allowance for following the chart, as long as their attitudes are in conjunction and they don't get into trouble! It teaches them responsibility, organization, and the value of work and family.
Michelle H

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on chore charts

Leveraging Debit Cards

If your grocery store awards fuel points (like Kroger), then you can earn gas discounts by purchasing the cards.
Sara M. (via Facebook)

editor's note: This comment was in response to a reader that commented when she had extra money, she bought grocery debit cards as a way of saving money for some time in the future when money was tight.

Moldy Salsa?

I was throwing out salsa because it doesn't keep very long. Now when I open up a bottle, I divide the salsa into three or four plastic resealable bags and freeze. If I just need a small amount, I bring out one bag. If I need more, I bring out the number of bags that I need. By doing this, I'll never see mold floating on the top of my salsa again.

Still Fresh Bread

When you buy a long loaf of French bread, here's how to keep it fresh and crusty. As soon as you get home from the store, slice the portion you won't be using that same day into the portion sizes you usually use. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Then put the pieces in resealable freezer bags and store in your freezer.

When you want to use it, remove from the freezer and let it defrost at room temperature (it doesn't take long) or unwrap it and warm it in the oven.

Affordable Flooring

Some friends of ours have chipboard flooring in their living room. The floor consists of full sheets of chipboard laid down and finished with either varathane or urethane. It looks great! I also saw this flooring in a local hair salon. When I asked how they liked it, they said it was the best. The big bonus was that you couldn't see any stray hair lying around on it! We have a basement, and we plan on laying a chipboard floor.

Dehydrator Recipes

I have a great recipe that came with my dehydrator several years ago. I can use it to make any kind of jerky. I mix together three parts soy sauce, one part brown sugar, and one part liquid smoke. Let this stand for five minutes and then add meat. I let this marinate three hours at a minimum or overnight. I place on trays, making sure not to overlap. Drying time varies, depending upon amount of meat I used.

I generally go to the grocery on Mondays after the picnic weekends are over. I can get excellent cuts of steak in the markdown section. I bring them home and cut them up. I've found that cutting them into bite-sized pieces makes it easier to enjoy later. Another great meat to use is the very thin-sliced "family" steaks. Usually I can get a decent sized package for less than $4. This generally doesn't have a lot of fat and tastes great.

My son takes a plastic container filled with this stuff to school and puts it in his locker. Then he grabs a handful in between classes.

The above recipe can be altered. Sometimes I even roll in black pepper for peppered jerky.

Additional TDS Resource: More dehydrator recipes and resources

Can't Fail Hard Boiled Eggs

When you want to hard boil eggs, just place them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, cover with a lid, and take off the heat. Let them sit for 30 minutes. The heat of the water will cook them completely, and you will have less broken eggs. I learned this trick when I was asked to make hard boiled eggs for my son's classroom Easter party.

Easy Winter Exhaust Fan Cover

To keep the cold air from my whole house fan in winter, I went to a place that sold magnetic signs and bought enough to cover it. It works great. To help put it up, I turned the fan on. It required one trip to the attic and no hardware. And, now there will be no winter heat loss!

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