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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - September 19, 2013

Oven Boiled Eggs
Need to make a lot of boiled eggs? Simply place them on a muffin tin in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. The muffin tins prevent them from rolling. Then place in cold water and they will peel easily! Shirley M. in Fenton, Michigan

Cheaper Floor Cleaning
I bought a microfiber mop with reusable pads and a refillable bottle. I use a mixture of white vinegar and water as the cleaning solution. It does a great job, gets off greasy messes, and cleans the floor without a soapy residue. After I throw the pad in the washer and let it air dry, it is ready to use again. Sheila

Reduced Restaurant Spending
If you have an eating out problem and you're still trying to budget your grocery bill, here's a tip. Raise your grocery budget. Because I'm not eating out as much, I don't feel guilty spending more on groceries. Now my pantry has a lot more interesting food in it, and I actually spend less on eating out! Instead of running out of good stuff to eat and getting whatever's convenient (and expensive), I shop my pantry. I save overall and eat healthier, too. It's one of those cases where spending money really does save you money. ~SC

Time to Save Seeds
I save seeds from my annual plants. I collect seed heads and crumble them into an envelope, muslin bag, or an empty pill bottle. Then I label with the flower name, date that I collected, and any information I'd like to remember about the plant. This works great with zinnia, calendula, all varieties of sunflowers, blanket flower, blue flax, bachelor buttons, and snapdragons. If I'd like the plants to self-seed, I leave some of the seedpods on the plant. I keep my seeds in a dry, cool place until the next garden season. ~C.

Cleaning Greasy Driveways and Garages
When I was a kid, my father pulled the engine on his Volkswagen bug in my Grandmother's garage. He made a huge oil stain on the floor, which Nanny tried to clean with all sorts of compounds. She finally used Pepsi and a scrub brush. It got the stuff off when nothing else would. She swore by it after that. And it's non-toxic, inexpensive, and readily available. ~Linda B

Advice from Grandma
My grandmother taught me this tip. To keep lettuce fresh longer, rinse it, cut it, and dry it off. Put the lettuce in a gallon-size resealable bag. Close the bag only far enough to insert a straw in the top. Suck out all of the air with a straw and then carefully seal the bag. It keeps for weeks like this without turning brown! ~MM

Winter Heat Loss
Attic fans are a popular convenience in modern homes for summer cooling, but the louvered ceiling vents can cost you precious heat in the winter. I noticed that my attic fan's louvers open slightly when opening an outside door (suction pulls air through the vent and out the attic ventilation; windy conditions can increase the suction considerably). This airflow is definitely undesirable in cold winter weather. Since heat rises, it's easily lost through an opening in the ceiling. I used foil insulation over the vent and sealed the edges with aluminum tape, and it made a noticeable difference in heating the house last winter. I've seen prefabricated attic fan vent covers in home improvement stores that are available in different sizes. ~DD

A Little Here . . .
My husband gets paid on a commission basis, so our monthly income fluctuates from month to month. Since I never know what the coming month will bring, in January and throughout the year, when I go grocery shopping, I purchase either a $10 or $25 gift card. I also purchase gift cards at another retail store where I shop. I save these gift cards and use them at Christmas for holiday entertaining, gifts for others, etc. This is a painless way to save for the unexpected costs during the holidays. There have also been times during the year when my husband's check was low and I was able to use these gifts cards to help with the food budget. ~SY

Lunch Containers
This morning, while packing my kids' school lunches, I was short two small plastic containers (I try not to use plastic baggies). That's when I grabbed two plastic kiddie cups (the kind you get at restaurants for the kids to take home with them)! I just filled each up with pretzels and snapped on their plastic lids! As long as you only put in dry items (because of the straw hole in the lid), you are good to go! Most of us moms have too many of those cups to count! ~JR

Moist Slow Cooker Meals
The number one thing that I found that helps my meals stay moist is to brown the meat before placing it in the slow cooker. This helps seal in the juices. Don't lift the lid during cooking unless absolutely necessary. It increases the cooking time and lets precious moisture escape. Also, make sure you are putting enough liquid in the cooker to keep things moist. It doesn't need to be a lot, but a little will help your meal steam a bit, which prevents moisture loss. Find recipes that require enough cooking that they won't be completely overdone when you get home. For example, a recipe that calls for eight hours of cooking is probably fine on low for up to ten hours, but a recipe that only calls for five to six hours of cooking could be overdone if you don't get home until ten hours later. ~Cindy

Quick Biscuits
Here is a very easy recipe for biscuits that takes less than five minutes to make and dinner can cook while they are baking.
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Stir up and pat out on floured surface. Make them as big or small as you want. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and cook about 15 minutes, depending on where you live and how your oven works. My husband doesn't like mayo, but he loves these and I make them a lot. ~EM

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/index.cfm?TipsSyn to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2013 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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