Stale Chips? Did you know that you can renew stale tortilla chips in the microwave? Just place a single layer on a paper plate and microwave for approximately one minute. I tried it and I couldn't believe how good they came out! Jen
Keeping Potatoes Fresh Here's how I store potatoes for a few weeks without them sprouting. As soon as I get them home from the store, I take them out of the original packaging and put them in doubled paper grocery bags. Then I fold the top down several times and clip it shut with two clothespins. Lala in Ocala, FL
Massage Oil I work in a gym with two full-time massage therapists. Last weekend, I was talking to one of them about what kind of oil he uses for massages. He cautioned me against using any kind of baby oil, as it is mostly mineral oil and can clog pores. Instead, he uses a very light olive oil mixed with either more expensive massage oil or scented essential oils. S.O.
Less Expensive Gift Containers Now that summer is over and thoughts are turning to the upcoming holidays, I found an inexpensive way to collect creative gift containers. I keep the glass jars that spaghetti sauce, relish, pickles, salsa, etc. come in. Some of these jars are plain, but some have designs on them that look quite "country." They can be used for co-workers, teachers, and mail carriers and hold everything from cookie mixes to candy. Lisa B. in Hopewell, VA
Wrinkle Releaser I haven't ironed in six years! When I hang my clothes up, I simply spray them with water and fabric softener. After letting the items dry a few minutes, they're wrinkle free. If extremely wrinkled, two applications may be required. I fill a spray bottle a quarter of the way up with fabric softener and then fill the remaining with water. Haley C. in Atkins, AR
De-Greasing Ground Meats When I'm using meat to make things like soups, stews, sauces, taco filling, etc. I boil the meat first to remove the excess fat. I try to buy the leanest cuts and the leanest ground beef that I can. I like to freeze the meat prior to putting it in my electric stockpot. It usually cooks within two hours. After cooking, I take a skimmer and dip it out of the plain water that I boiled it in. Even with the leaner meats, I can't believe the grease that is found in the cooking water. After this, the meat is ready to be used for whatever I am making. When I take the leftovers out of the refrigerator, it's so nice to not have that disgusting thick film of grease on top of the dish. Lana J.
Bread Machine Trick My sister gave me a bread machine several years ago, and the loaves had a big hole in the bottom from the paddle, so we never used it. There were not enough sandwich-sized slices. Our multi-grain store-bought bread went up to over $4 a loaf this past year, so now I use the machine for the first kneading and rise cycles. I then dump out the dough, roll it out, and fit it into a regular bread pan. It just has to rise one more time and then be baked. We have saved a small fortune, and we're eating very healthy, delicious bread at the same time! If you have a bread machine you aren't using, try it! You'll be glad you did! Miki
Window Shopping for Books I love books. In the past, I found great pleasure in browsing used bookstores; however, I spent a lot of money on books that I just didn't get around to reading. Now, I can get the pleasure from shopping for books without spending a penny. I downloaded Amazon's Kindle for PC app. Now as I browse through the collection, I sort by price. There are many free ebooks on a variety of topics. I download a few of these ebooks daily. I get that "spending urge" out of the way and end up with a lot of interesting reading material. Even if I don't get around to reading a particular book, I'm not out any money. Cynthia
Salad at the Ready I save money by making my own version of ready-made bag salads (without the bag) and by making them last longer. My salads stay fresh for seven to ten days and provide quick meals/snacks for one person or the whole family. For the main salad, I use a lot of fresh lettuce, fresh leaf spinach, chopped carrots, celery, bell peppers, green onions, fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped nuts, and whole cherry tomatoes, etc. I don't add veggies that are "juicy" like cut cucumbers, avocados, or sliced mushrooms. I save them to use as toppings, served buffet-style at mealtime. Cheese can also be grated and stored separately as a topping. Now here is the secret to stretching the "life" of the salad. Season the main salad with the juice of a fresh lemon or lime. The acid in the fruit imparts a tasty zing and extends the life of the greens themselves. A second and equally important tip is to only use a large glass or stainless steel bowl for storing the salad in the fridge. Never use plastic. (Use a dinner plate for a lid.) I have tried all the different types of plastic bowls, both expensive and cheap, and none keep the greens as fresh as this simple method. O.
Affording an Extra Mortgage Payment Making one extra payment per year can cut years off the life of a mortgage. However, most people can't come up with anything extra without some discipline. My husband and I have come up with a good way to make an extra payment each year. We have an additional savings account for our extra mortgage payment. We take the amount of one payment and divide it by 26. I get paid every two weeks or 26 times a year. For example, the house payment divided this way is $23 per paycheck. Before paying bills or purchasing groceries, I pay the "mortgage savings account." This is much easier than trying to come up with one extra mortgage payment at the end of the year. On our previous home, we were able to cut almost 13 years off our 30-year mortgage, just by making two extra payments a year. It's the best way I know to save some of our hard-earned money. Karen