How To Store Onions – Frugal Tip

Onions are something I almost always have around. They are so versatile and add a nice burst of flavor to soups, stews and sandwiches. The most economical way to buy onion is in a large bag, but how often do the last few start to rot before you get a chance to use them?

The problems start when one little part of one onion starts to rot because it’s sitting at the bottom of a bowl on your kitchen counter or in a basket in your pantry. Since we usually keep the onions together the rot will quickly spread and ruin all your onions.

Best way to store onions

Good air circulation is key when storing onions. Get an open mesh basket that hangs in your kitchen. Another great idea is to take some old pantyhose. Cut off the legs and use them for onion storage. Drop an onion in the foot of the pantyhose and tie a knot. Add another onion and knot again… keep going until all your onions are tied up or you run out of pantyhose. Suspend the string of onions from the pantry ceiling or tie it to the top shelf.

Another important tip is to never store your onions next to potatoes. Stored properly in a cool, dry place with plenty of air circulation, your onions will last for months.

How To Clean Your Dishwasher with Vinegar And Baking Soda

You regularly clean your fridge, your oven and even run some vinegar water through your coffee maker… but how often do you clean your dishwasher? If you have an older model like me, you’ll notice that your glasses aren’t getting quite as shiny and clean and there may even be a bit of a smell to your dishwasher (even after you clean the filter).

There’s a quick and easy way to give your dishwasher a deep cleaning and sanitize it. All you need is white vinegar, baking soda and a bit of time.

Start with your empty dish washer. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar in the bottom and run it on a long cycle. If you have a cleaning cycle, use that. Otherwise pick the pots and pans cycle or any other long one that uses plenty of hot water.

Once the dishwasher is done running, sprinkle about 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of your dishwasher. Let it sit overnight. It will absorb any other funky smells. In the morning, do one more quick run without any dishes to clear out the baking soda and you’re done.

Pretty easy but very effective.

How To Clean Your Dishwasher with Baking Soda and Vinegar

 

Going Paperless In The Kitchen – More Than Just Ditching Paper Towels

I’ve long stopped using paper towels 99% of the time. I keep a roll around, sitting in a cabinet for really bad messes where I don’t want to have to deal with the cloth afterwards.

For the mots part, we’re using rags and towels to deal with spills, messes and use cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

This morning I came across a great post By Sarah from Early Bird Mom on KitchenStewardShip.com.

She has some great tips on:

  • Avoiding Disposable Dishes
  • Using Different Types Of Cloths for Different Chores
  • Tips On Washing Kitchen Cloths.
  • Dealing With Stains On Your Kitchen Rags

To read more head on over to the Good Bye Paper Towels post on KitchenStewardship.com to read more.

 

The Hillbilly Housewife's Tasty Bites

Removing Stuck-On Egg – Frugal Tip

I had fun making the egg muffin cups I shared earlier today. By far the hardest part was cleaning the muffin tin after. To be honest, it was mostly my own fault. I didn’t get it cleaned up right away. Instead I let the pan sit on the counter until the egg residue was well caked on. I soaked it and started scrubbing with little luck.

I remembered an old trick my grandmother shared with me. She would make an egg based casserole and if the dish was too hard to clean, she’d soak it in some hot water with a good splash of white vinegar. I gave it a try and the rest of the cleanup was a breeze. It lifted the egg residue right off.

Cleaning Cooked-On Egg From Pots and Pans

Quick And Easy Ice Cream Sandwich – Frugal Tip

In an email that I sent out earlier today I shared that we’re making our own ice cream sandwiches. We’re baking cookies tonight and make homemade ice cream tomorrow to fill them with.

While we have a lot of extra time this summer and are always looking for something fun to do, taking two afternoons to make one simple frozen treat isn’t always an option.I have a yummy and frugal alternative for you that we indulge in quite a bit throughout the year.

The next time you have bananas that are getting a little overripe (and you don’t feel like baking banana muffins), peel them, slice them and freeze them.

Using Frozen Bananas To Make Ice CreamWhen you’re ready to make some healthy ice cream, grab the frozen banana slices and put them in a blender. Add a little vanilla flavor and just enough milk to get your blender to work. I usually start with just a small splash and add a bit more if needed.

Depending on the sweetness of your bananas and your family’s taste buds, you may want to add a little sugar or other sweetener to taste. Blend until you have something that resembles soft serve ice cream consistency.

You can eat it as is, or scoop it into a bowl and stick it in the freezer to harden a bit more.

To make the ice cream sandwiches, grab some graham crackers or your favorite cookies. Spread a little of the hardened ice cream mixture on a cookie or cracker and top with another one.

Wrap them in freezer paper or stick them in freezer bags and freeze until hardened before serving.

For more delicious homemade icecream recipes, grab a copy of the Homemade Ice Cream and Other Frozen Treats ebook here.

You’ll find instructions for making ice cream with and without an ice cream maker and 100 recipes for ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet and popsicles.

Get your copy today!

Don’t Stuff Your Fridge – Frugal Tip

This week’s frugal tip is something I picked up from my mom when we were visiting the past two weeks. It has to do with her fridge and how she uses it to waste almost no food. One of the advantages of European fridges is that they are much smaller. As a result there’s less of a chance for things to get pushed to the back corner where you can’t find them until they have spoiled.

In addition to having a much smaller fridge, my mom doesn’t have all that much in there. She’s down to 2 o 3 condiments, a bit of jam and a little cheese and sandwich meat in addition to any produce and meat that she’ll be cooking over the next 48 hours.

Frugal Tip - Keep Less Food In Your FridgeHow can we adapt this to our American fridges? I’m going to start by emptying, cleaning and reorganizing my fridge. Along the way I’ll be making a plan to use up what’s in there a the moment. Between the fridge and pantry, I should have plenty to fix for breakfast lunch and dinner for the next few days.

After that, I’ll create our meals based on what’s growing in the garden and what I can find on sale at the grocery store. I’ve noticed that it helps to start out in the meat section and then create meals on the fly based on what I can find there. Of course not every meal will include meat, frugal staples like pasta and veggies with sauce or pinto beans and cornbread are still on the menu along with egg dishes.

The key to saving money will be to take advantage of sales and deals on expensive food like meat and fresh produce along with making sure that no food is thrown out. And who knows… by the time we need a new fridge, I might be ready to go with a smaller model which will save space and energy in the long run.

Facebook Frugal Tip Giveaway

Being frugal has become downright fashionable these days.  There are so many great ways to make the money last longer that I’d like to hear from you about how you help stretch the family budget and make the dollars go further.

In honor of Smart Money Week, I thought it would be appropriate to have a good old fashioned pot luck, but instead of each bringing a dish, everyone should bring their best tips for being frugal so we can all share ideas.

To make it fun, I decided to throw in a little giveaway and since pot lucks are social affairs, I thought I’d make this a Facebook event. I’ll have 3 giveaways – all random drawings from the tips posted in the comments on the Facebook post.  1 of the drawings will be for any individual who contributes a frugal tip to the Facebook post. 1 of the drawings will be for a blog, website, or facebook page that contributes a tip. In keeping with the spirit of sharing, I will have a third drawing for one of your friends. In order for your friend to be entered, they don’t even need to leave a tip (but we’d love it if they would).  All you have to do to get your friend entered is tag them in the comments under our Facebook post. They’ll be entered just for being your friend and they won’t be competing with you for a prize – they’ll have their own drawing! What could be better than that?

Each individual winner will receive their choice any 3 of the Hillbilly Housewife ebooks from our collection.  Each blog winner will receive their choice of any 3 of the Hillbilly Housewife ebooksfrugal-tip-contest2 (1) from our collection for themselves and an additional 3 books that they may give away to their readership in their own drawing, at their discretion.

The giveaway will begin today, April 8, 2014 at noon (EST) and run until noon (EST) on April 12, 2014. We will randomly draw a winner from all entries received via Facebook comments and announce the winner on our Facebook page on April 13, 2014.  We will post the winners on the Facebook page and make every attempt to contact them via Facebook. We will also send the winners out in an email to our blog readers, so you might want to get on the mailing list if you’re not already.  If we do not get a response from the winners by noon (EST) on April 14, 2014, we will select another winner from the category in a random draw.

I can’t wait to hear your ideas and will be sharing some of the best ones with Hillbilly Housewife readers on both the website and the Facebook page, as well as Pinterest, Twitter and sprinkled in a few more places, so be sure to tell us in your entry comment how you’d like your name or blog to appear on our website (first and last name, first name only, blog name, or if you’d prefer to remain anonymous) and if you’d like a link back to your own page!

Let’s get started! Be sure to go to the post on the Facebook page and tell me your favorite way to be frugal so you can be entered to win!

Bath Away Dry Itchy Skin with Baking Soda – Frugal Tip

The long winter month with dry air always do quite a number on my skin. Before I’m ready to head outside in a shirt or shorts, it takes a little TLC to go from dry, itchy and flaky to smooth and healthy looking.

Today I thought I’d share one of my favorite (and a very frugal) dry winter skin treatments with you. It’s very simple. Take 1 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of baby oil and add it to a warm bath. Relax and soak in the bath for 20 minutes. If you have very dry skin, apply some lotion or coconut oil to your damp skin after the bath.

The baking soda soothes the skin and the baby oil moisturizes while you soak. Baking soda is also great for detoxing your body. Taking a bath in this mixture once a week will do wonders to restore your skin. And who doesn’t love an excuse to take a nice, relaxing bath.

Baking Soda Bath Soak

Frugal Produce At Ethnic Grocery Stores

Eating healthy can get pricey if you don’t watch what you buy where. With produce prices on the rise at your local grocery store, I wanted to share a tip with you this week for buying your fruits and veggies for less.

Find an ethnic grocery store in your area and browse through their produce section. They often sell in higher volumes than your regular grocery store and can thus get better prices on anything from apples and bananas to greens and carrots. They cater to customers who still make most of their foods from scratch and thus don’t rely on the prepared foods that are the “milk and butter” of your chain grocery store.

Frugal Tip for Buying ProduceYou’ll also find some new fruits and veggies that you won’t find in the produce department at your regular store. Have some fun with it and try some new dishes.

If you don’t have an ethnic grocery store with a good produce department, look for farm stands and farmers markets. Buying local not only gets you the freshest ingredients at the best price, you’ll be helping your local economy and more importantly your farmers as well.

Last but not least, stick to fruits and veggies that are in season for the best deals.

Cut The Landline – Frugal Tip

Do you still have a landline phone? It always surprises me how many people continue to pay a monthly bill for a phone that only seems to be used by telemarketers. Even worse, I recently came across an older relative who still pays a monthly rental fee for their kitchen telephone.  She’s been faithfully paying almost 2 dollars a month “rent” for the past 35 years.

Take 2 minutes today and think about what you use your landline phone for. Do family and friends already have and use your cell phone number? If so, it would be pretty easy to cut the landline and switch everything over to your cell phone. Yes, it will take a little time to update account information for your utilities and the likes, but it won’t be nearly as hard or nearly as much work as you may think.

There are quite a few good reasons why you should consider cutting your home phone:

  • It’s easier to get in touch with you. There’s only one number to keep track of and you always have it with you.
  • You’ll be saving cash because you’re getting rid of a phone hardly anyone uses anymore.
  • Your cell phone has voice mail built in and most plans come with free long-distance. No need to pay for those extra services.
  • No more Telemarketer Calls! That’s reason enough to cut of the home phone if you ask me.

Of course there’s always an exception to the rule. While it’s a good idea for most people to get rid of their landline, I can think of a few scenarios where you may want to hang on to it:
– No cellphone and no real need for a cell phone. This one is obvious. If you don’t have a cell phone right now and don’t feel the need to have one, stick to the landline. It’s much cheaper than a cell phone (though less convenient).

– Poor cell coverage at your house. We’re in that situation right now. It gets a little annoying because I have to remember to sit my phone in the window when I get home and stand next to the window to make calls, it’s not annoying enough to make me spend $25 a month on a basic landline phone.

Cut Your Landline and Save

How Fresh Are Your Eggs – Frugal Tip

Sometimes recipes call for fresh eggs or older eggs. There are some things that just work out better depending on the age of your eggs.

For example, if you’re making poached eggs, you want to make sure you’re using eggs that are as fresh as possible. If you’re making hard boiled eggs on the other hand, you don’t want them to be too fresh or it will be hard to peel them.

Unless you get your eggs fresh from a farm, it’s hard to tell exactly how old they are. My favorite thing to do is to submerge the egg in a glass bowl in some water. A 2 cup measuring cup works great for this. Fill it with water and then gently submerge the egg.

If the egg is fresh, it will lay on the bottom of the dish, usually flat on it’s side. If the egg is older, air bubbles start to form inside and the egg will stand upright in the water or even float to the top.

How Fresh Are Your Eggs?

Turn Leftover Soups and Stews Into Casseroles – Frugal Tip

I love making hardy soups and stews throughout the winter. It usually turns out to be more than we can eat in one meal. Sometimes it’s just enough leftover for me for lunch the next day, but other times it’s a little more than that … but not quite enough for dinner for the whole family.

Since I don’t like to see things to go to waste and love getting more than one meal out of cooking, I started getting a little creative. It didn’t take me long to figure out that those small portions of beef and vegetable soup, bean soup or stew were the perfect starting point for a casserole. Here’s what I do.

Grease a casserole dish. Take a look at your soup or stew. If it’s already pretty thick, pour it into the casserole dish. If it’s pretty soupy, either pour out some of the liquid, thicken it with some flour, or add some dry rice to your casserole mix. The rice will absorb the liquid at a 1-1 ratio while it cooks.

Once your starting base is in the baking dish, decide if you need to add something to make it enough food for the whole family. I often grab a can of corn, green beans or some kidney beans to add to the pot. Just rain them well before adding.

Next it’s time to pick a topping. If it’s a pretty filling meal already with lots of potatoes or rice on it, I top the casserole with a sprinkle of dry bread crumbs and bake until heated through.

If it still looks  a little skimpy, I make some biscuit dough and drop it on top by the spoon full.

Bake the casserole at 425 until your topping is done and everything is warmed through and dinner is ready.

Turning Leftover Soups and Stews into Casseroles

Interesting Ways To Use Up Beans – Frugal Tip

We cook and eat a lot of beans and I always make extra to freezer or turn into things like re-fried beans for burritos and such. But it doesn’t stop there. Even with the repurposing and freezing anything that’s enough for another family meal, I end up with little bowls of leftover beans.

Today I thought I’d share some of my more interesting ways to to use up those cooked beans.I hope you find some ideas you can use to stretch your meals and get more healthy legumes into your diet.

  • Sprinkle some cooked beans on your salad. Black beans and Garbanzo beans are a favorite around here, but any type of beans will work.
  • Use them in spaghetti sauce instead of meat. You end up with a frugal and healthy meal that’ll fill you up.
  • Grind up various leftover beans and turn them into a dip. Season with spices, garlic etc. to taste. We love this for dipping tortilla chips, carrots and even as a spread for burgers and sandwiches.
  • Grind up cooked beans and mix them in with ground beef to stretch it in burgers, meat loaf etc.
  • Throw some cooked beans and pot liquor (the cooking liquid from the beans) into a blender. Refrigerate the mixture and use it to thicken soups and stews while adding more nutrients.
  • Spoon of Cooked Kidney Beans Throw the leftover cooked beans into your next pot of soup or combine them with various other leftovers hanging out in the fridge to make a casserole.
  • Stir some black, pinto or kidney beans into your next batch of homemade salsa for added flavor and crunch.
  • Mix your leftover beans with some cooked rice. Season with a bit of cumin and you have a delicious side dish.
  • Replace half the oil in your favorite cake or brownie recipe with mashed up beans.
  • Throw some beans into your next smoothie for added thickness, texture and nutrition. If you have seasoned beans, rinse off any liquid they were cooked in to remove as much salt and seasonings as possible before using them in your smoothie.

Thrifty Bean CookbookThe Thrifty Bean Cookbook

Ready to cook some beans? Not only are beans a great way to add high quality nutrients to your family’s diet, but they are versatile too. You can easily adjust flavoring or start out with a big pot of pintos to have with corn bread the first night, then turn them refried beans for bean burritos the following night.

You can use them as a main dish by serving them over rice, with tuna or serve them as a side dish. Here are 35 savory bean recipes from simple frugal dinners to dishes you can make for company.

Get your copy of the Thrifty Bean Cookbook today and start cooking.

 

Knitting Socks – Frugal Tip

I thought I’d share one of my favorite things to knit with you today. They are socks and when it comes to knitting, they are quite frugal and best of all, you end up with a hand-knit item for everyday use when you’re done.

I wouldn’t recommend socks for your very first knitting project, but if you’ve made a few dish cloths or scarves and are looking for some ideas to keep knitting on a budget, socks are a great way to go. You can find sock yarn rather inexpensively online and at major craft stores. The yarn is pretty thin, so it’ll take a lot longer to knit up a skein of it than a ticker yarn.

Here’s a picture of some socks I’m knitting on right now. These particular ones are for me, but I also knit quite a of as gifts. You can find hundreds of free sock patterns on Ravelry or just by doing a quick little Google search.

Here’s another quick tip. When you’re knitting socks for kids and they get too small or you end up finding a sock with a few holes in it, unravel them and reuse the sock yarn to knit another pair of socks.

Fun and Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Dates – Frugal Tip

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to start thinking of some date ideas. Yes, you could celebrate by going to a movie and dinner. But if you’re up for something more adventurous, try these ideas:

  • Before you head out to dinner, pick a number. Count the number of restaurants you pass and when you reach the restaurant that matches your magic number, stop in for a bite, even if it’s a fast food place or a dive bar. To keep it frugal, just order an appetizer or share an entree.
  • Instead of sitting through a movie, get physical on your date by going bowling, playing a round of indoor miniature golf, or going ice skating (don’t forget the hot chocolate!). If you look for some coupons ahead of time, your adventure date doesn’t have to cost very much.
  • Soak up some art and culture by going to the art museum, to a play, or to a concert. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, high-end event. Search your local paper for presentations put on by your local theater group or for the local bands playing at the smaller venues in your area.

Valentine's Day Date Night