Dollar Stretcher Tips for June 18, 2015

Quickie Summer Meals

Better Cereal

I buy store brand cereals to save money, but to make them special, I add chopped nuts and any dried fruit that isn’t used in other dishes I’m cooking. My family gets something special. I get the savings!

Loves Dogs, But…

I rent where no pets are allowed. To get my puppy fix, I volunteer at my local animal shelter. I get to walk, play with, and care for a variety of dogs. The only downside is that much as I’d like to take one home, I can’t.

Cheap Detergent

My family has allergies, so I can’t use cheap detergents on our clothing. However, I can still use it on area rugs, cleaning towels, etc. Therefore, I buy two detergents. I buy one more expensive brand for clothing and a cheaper brand for everything else.

Summer Fire Starters

You don’t need to use Match Light® charcoal. Just cover a cotton ball or swab with a coating of Vaseline®. Light it and put it on your grill. It’ll burn for up to five minutes, which should be enough to get your fire started. This is especially true if you use dry wood or some newspaper, too.

Still Good?

My pantry isn’t well organized, and I often find things that I forgot were there. When that happens, I’m often unsure whether I can still use them or not, so I go to Many times, the sell-by date is not the date that counts. Any food that you save is money in the bank.

The Duster

If you have a dust problem, I know the solution. Just take a 20×20 furnace filter and put it in front of a running box fan. The fan will suck the filter, so it stays put. We leave it running 24 hours a day. It’s amazing how much dust it accumulates over a few days. We use the type of filter that can be cleaned, but the disposable ones would work too.

Hair De-Tangler

I am Italian and have always had very curly, wiry hair. When I was little, I would scream and scream when Mom tried to brush it after a bath. My mother’s hairdresser told her to mix 1/3 regular conditioner with 2/3 water in a spray bottle and use as a “leave-in conditioner” for after a shower. It doesn’t take much, and it works just like the name brand no tangle formula.

$5 Fridays

We have a summer tradition in our home. We call it $5 Friday. Each week, my three kids and I think about what we can do to have fun while only spending $5 or less. One week, we bought flavors and made snow cones. At another time, we bought balloons and had a water balloon fight. The kids are always coming up with new ideas. Not only does it help keep them occupied during the summer, but also it helps to teach them about the value of money and saving.

Summer Cool

Here’s a great way to keep cool this summer. It makes a fan super-efficient. I freeze an old quart milk bottle that I’ve filled with water. I place it in front of the fan that blows on me. The fan blows air over the melting ice and keeps me really cool! To catch the dripping condensation from the outside of the bottle, I place the bottle on a cake pan. It’s the cheapest way to get cool that I know!

Affordable Organic

The key to organic is to simplify your menu first. Figure out what your family likes or can live without and go from there. Consider a garden to get the much needed tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, etc. in order to make the favorites for the family. Then learn to can and freeze your food properly. Consider canning the best recycling ever! Get canning equipment for next to nothing by just asking around, and maybe can with a friend to make it “less painful.” I gave up “convenience” foods, especially in the organic health food section. I can’t rationalize boxed macaroni and cheese when making it from scratch is way better and just as easy. Invest in simplified cookbooks that break it down to the basics, such as Moosewood Classics, Cheap. Fast. Good!, Miserly Meals, and the indispensable More-With-Less Cookbook. These are the most used books in my cupboard because of the wide range of menus and simple ingredients.

Can’t Afford Wedding

Since we couldn’t afford a fancy wedding, we came up with an alternative. We invited just our close family to a private wedding ceremony. Then three weeks later, we had a big potluck party for extended family and friends. Since it wasn’t a formal wedding, we didn’t have to hire a band or a caterer. We just used our neighborhood clubhouse. We told people not to bring presents, but rather bring a dish to share. Music was provided by Pandora and we all had a great time! We’re thinking of doing it again next year on our anniversary!

Quickie Summer Meals

My husband likes to grill and my family loves charbroiled foods, so we always cook extra any time he fires up the grill. We’ll do extra hotdogs, burgers, even chicken and pork chops. For the pieces that we won’t be eating that night, we pull them off the grill when they’re about 80% cooked and put them into the fridge. When we want a quick meal, I put them in a bowl of water and finish cooking them in the microwave. They taste like they just came off the fire!


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