Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Latest Read: Dining on a Dime

What does it say about your stage in life when the last "page turner" you read was a cook book?


This cook book had some serious insight and great recipes that I had never seen before. Now, for those of you who don't know me so well. I am NO gourmet cook. I am a self-proclaimed penny pinching, practical, pantry cook. (I can hear the "amens" and laughter of my good friends right now.) 

What I mean is... if it takes more than 45 minutes to make, more than 5 ingredients, and includes items that are too pricey and not in my pantry- chances are I won't make it. My husband, on the other hand, loves trying new recipes. So, I feel it is my spiritual duty to submit to his delicacy desires and let him cook when he wants to try a yummy new recipe. ;) A night off in the kitchen and a meal I don't have to cook- I'm in!

This post is all about some of my favorite tips that I read in the cookbook Dining on a Dime. As one review puts it, this book is an "encyclopedia of frugality."

Here are my favorite Frugal tips:
Cooking frugally is a mind set. You have to change your cooking and eating habits.
Eating frugally does not mean eating all casseroles, canned food, with dairy and gluten. Most all diet preferences can exist in a frugal home. Being frugal is not about what you cook but a life change resulting from a frugal mind set.
  • Wrap celery in aluminum foil and it will keep in the refrigerator for weeks!
  • Renew limp celery by soaking it in ice water.
  • To keep hot oil from splattering sprinkle a little flour or salt in the pan before frying.
  • Dipping your knife into water from time to time will make frosting baked goods easier.
  • When cooking with glass pans ALWAYS reduce the temperature by 25%.
  • To  make peeling veggies/fruits easier (like tomatoes and peaches), carve an x on the bottom of them and place them in the microwave. Microwave on high for 35-45 seconds. Remove and peel.
  • When your bread is at it's end- freeze it. Put it in a blender/processor and grind it into crumbs and use when a recipe calls for bread crumbs.
  • When baking, use dry milk. (I often do this. It does save $.)
  • Use an air freshener to clean mirrors. If you coupon, this is a GREAT idea! We can often get air fresheners for FREE. I also tried this and I absolutely love how it left my bathroom mirrors and how it left the bathroom smelling. :)
  • SAVE TIME: clean the bathroom sink and toilet while supervising bath time with the kids.
  • Pour one cup of vinegar in the dishwasher and let it run. This will help remove soap scum.
  • Carpet stains: rub shaving cream on a stain and wipe up with a wet sponge.
  • Spray plastic containers with cooking spray before adding tomato products. The oil will keep the container from staining.
  • To remove permanent marker: wipe with rubbing alcohol until it is removed. 
  • For a blood stain: soak with peroxide. Repeat the application until the stain is gone.
  • For rust: mix lemon juice and salt together to make a paste. Just rub on the spot and let it sit overnight. If it isn't all gone, repeat.
  • When cleaning your microwave, place a glass of water and cook until boiling. Then leave it in the microwave for 1 hour. The steam will make the yucky microwave easier to clean off.
  • Keep a master list of menus. Meal planning is a quick and easy way to start saving your family money. Don't be overwhelmed. Use this as a guideline but don't feel horrible if you fail to strictly stick to your menu.
  • Know your prices. I like to use this price list from Print is and put it on your refrigerator. When items you use are around those prices buy a few!
  • If my family (of 4) was to eat out just one night less a week (@$40) we would save: $2080.00 a year.
  • If I can get my husband to pack a lunch 20 days a month (@$5 a meal) we would save: $1200.00 a year.
For homemade laundry soap: 
  • 4  Cups - hot tap water
  • 1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1 Cup - Washing Soda
  • ½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser. Dilute if you prefer.

For more DIYs and Frugal Tips
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I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

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