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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 1, 2011

Cooking Aid
I have a tip for the tiny cups that you get with individual servings of applesauce and such. I love the cooking shows and especially like the idea of the prep cups that the chefs use to set up a recipe before they mix it. The budget doesn't cover the miniature bowls, but those little cups hold up to a half of a cup of ingredients and do very well for my recipes. And if the mixture is really sticky, I don't mind throwing them out. ~LynAnne

Using Ground Turkey
I want to add my "two cents" regarding cooking with ground turkey in lieu of ground beef. I have found if you knead spices into the ground turkey the night before you plan to cook it, the flavor will be greatly improved. I frequently spice ground turkey this way for spaghetti and chili dishes. For spaghetti, I work Italian seasoning, garlic, and onion powder throughout the meat, and for chili, I use chili powder, garlic, and onion powder. I use lots of spices and my guests seldom know the meat is turkey! The little extra time it takes is definitely worth it. ~HF

Free Storage Bins
We recently had to purchase a new refrigerator. Before they came to take away the old one, we removed all pop-out shelves from the doors and the three drawers. The small pop-out shelves can be used in your cupboard to organize spices or any small items. They can even be used to organize a sock drawer! The larger drawers can be used to store sweaters in a closet or under the bed. They are so handy because they are made of clear, see-through plastic. We managed to remove eight small pop-out shelves and three drawers and have already recycled them for other uses. ~Kathy

The 5 for $5 Dinner Challenge
My sister and I try to outdo each other with something we call "dollar store dinners." The limit is five bucks and it must feed our combined family of five. Frozen meatballs with pasta and sauce with Texas toast and steamed broccoli on the side is a favorite. Tuna casserole calls for canned tuna, pasta, peas, mushroom soup and bread crumbs. Our pancake dinner uses two of the small dollar-store pancake mixes, and we either buy nuts or dried cranberries/raisins as fillers or fruit pie mix for a topper. It is absolutely amazing what you can get for five bucks at the local dollar store. Choices are more limited than in a regular grocery store, but sometimes I think that is part of the fun, making something out of nothing! ~Ali K. in Mesa, AZ

Cleaning Silk Plants
To clean silk plants, I put about one cup of table salt in a large grocery paper bag. Then I put a silk plant inside the paper bag, roll the top down a couple of times, and then shake the bag. The salt removes the dust from the leaves of the plant. Then I just shake the plant a little as I take it out of the paper bag to make sure all the salt is off the silk plant. I store the salt in the paper bag for future use of cleaning silk plants. ~Sue D.

Souvenir Christmas Tree
When my family is traveling, we always look for a nice key chain as a souvenir. We keep them all in a small box, and at Christmas, we use them to decorate our Christmas tree. This saves money and space, and we enjoy looking over the tree and talking about all the places we've visited. The key chain has its own ring to hang onto the tree, and there are no breakables to deal with, which is great when small children are around. ~Tina H.

Finding Extra Holiday Cash
A great way to find some extra money for the holidays is to look for money you may have forgotten about. Up to one in four people have money with their state unclaimed property offices that has been turned over by financial institutions, insurance companies, or other businesses. This money will be turned over after required dormancy periods, essentially periods of inactivity or loss of contact with the property owner. Every state, several provinces in Canada, and Puerto Rico have unclaimed property laws. I looked up a neighbor's name and found nearly $1800. They followed through with the paper work to claim it and got a check cut to them three days before Christmas last year! People should be encouraged to look up their names and the names of their friends, neighbors, and relatives as well! ~Laura

Great Gifts from Grandma
My parents started giving some of their belongings several years ago to some of their children and grandchildren. One year, my father gave my son, his only grandson, his pocketknife. He never uses it any more and thought my son who is a Cub Scout would appreciate it, which he does. Last year, my mom gave her mother's wedding gloves to me, her father's wallet (from 1945) to one of my brothers, and my grandmother's butter churn to a sister. They want to see us enjoy the items that would normally be taken after their deaths. They know some of us are sentimental about some things and want to be sure we get certain items. Each year, we love to see what else they are giving that are family heirlooms. These are "free" for them to give, and we love receiving them. It also helps their budget as they are on fixed incomes. ~Liz S.

Special Group Events
My friends and I try to get together for breakfast, lunch, or dinner about every six to eight weeks to stay in touch. Within the past few months, we've been trying something new. Instead of just eating out, we find some type of fundraiser in the area that's going on and we meet there instead. So far, we've been to a spaghetti dinner, a pancake fundraiser, and a wine and cheese tasting event that supported three local charities. This way, we are giving back to the community and staying in touch at the same time. An added bonus is that we've also met very nice and appreciative people who always welcome us with open arms. These events are easy to find in local newspapers, websites, etc., and we rotate between the three of us to choose the venue for our next outing. ~Annie

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/r/99.htm to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2011 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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