No need for hair conditioner
If you mix a teaspoonful of baking soda into your shampoo in your palm just before you shampoo, you will not need to use conditioner and your hair will feel soft and smell sweet.
Extra linen storage
I use the space between the box spring and the mattress to store my extra blankets and towels. I store them flat and they take no space at all. I was able to empty my linen closet by storing my “extras” this way. I also store my gift bags, and everything that can lie flat on the box spring surface.
Whenever I have an abundance of fruit and it is about to go bad, I puree it and freeze in ice cube trays. Then whenever anyone wants a smoothie, I take the flavor I want and put it in the blender along with the other ingredients. I no longer have to buy expensive, out-of-season frozen fruit.
A safer, more convenient “envelope system”
I like to use a coupon organizer as my envelope system. I just make new labels with my categories like gas, groceries, etc., and then I place the labels over the coupon sections. I also feel much safer carrying a coupon organizer, versus several envelopes with cash.
Stacy F. in Houston, TX
Making dry beans convenient
I love beans, but can’t always be home to cook them. And, I can only cook them if I remember to soak first. I’ve found the solution, which is my slow cooker. I wash beans, and then add them to the cooker with water, onion and seasoning. I then turn on low for six to eight hours. When I get home, the beans are done!
Stretching laundry detergent
I use liquid detergent, and I was always bothered by the amount left in the cup after I’d added the detergent to my washer. After several uses, the cup would be filled with a gelatinous mess of detergent. Now, I use an old washcloth and turn the cup upside-down on it. The leftover detergent drains down onto the cloth, and after about five to six washes, there is enough detergent on the cloth to do another load, so I just drop it into the washer.
Donna from East Berne, NY
Halloween costume material
If you sew, you can really stretch a buck by going to rummage sales. Look in the clothing section for things you can make Halloween costumes from. You’d be surprised what you can find! I found feather boas, yards of fabric, etc. You’d be surprised how many great costumes I was able to devise using this method, and they usually didn’t end up costing me a cent.
Picture play for kids
Instead of tossing all of my magazines in the recycle bin, I like to go through and cut out all of the interesting pictures. I keep these in a shoebox on a shelf, and when my daughter is bored, I give her a “subject” and have her make a collage based on it. This can consume anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more, depending on how creative she is feeling. A sheet of construction paper and a glue stick are the only extra items needed.
Rashawnda K. in Platteville, WI
I always use every last bit of the chicken. Whenever I roast a chicken, I take the carcass with the little last bits of meat on it, break it in half with my hands, and freeze it. Once I have two or three, I put them into the slow cooker. I add vegetable leftovers, dry carrots and anything that is still edible, but not appetizing on its own, but great in stock (I have a bag in the freezer for that, too). I leave the whole thing in the slow cooker for two days until all the bones are completely soft (the protein from the bones gets into the stock if you wait that long) and then drain everything through cheesecloth. The stock is of several chickens and especially thick, so it takes less space to store and can be diluted later if you want. Use for soups and sauces!
Ilana B. in Poughkeepsie, NY
Thinking of winter drafts
I was reading the tip about using fleece to cover your windows and prevent cold drafts. An even cheaper method is to go to the home supply store (Home Depot) and buy boxes of plastic sheets, which is a lot like stiff plastic wrap. You put a double-sided tape border around the window, cut the plastic to fit one inch wider than the window frame, and then use a hair dryer to shrink the plastic to seal the window. You can still see out, sunshine still comes in, and the drafts are completely eliminated. I also bought inexpensive covers for my window air conditioners, which are bolted into the window frame. It keeps out the cold air and I don’t have to put the air conditioners in each summer and take them out in the winter.
Loretta S. in Black Mountain, NC
Need more time?
Start cooking large quantities of foods in advance and freeze them for future meals. You can start slowly, just double or triple your recipes. For example, in my freezer right now I have one meatloaf (I’ll just defrost it and pop it in the oven), two freezer bags of chili, two or three freezer bags of spaghetti sauce, and so on. Rather than cook seven nights a week, I can choose to serve something I have already prepared and supplement it with a side dish and a green salad. This is especially handy when you have late afternoon activities and aren’t home to cook.
B. M. in Pollock Pines, CA
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