Uses for Butter Wrappers

For those who like extreme frugal measures, consider saving the wrappers from sticks of butter or margarine. They will keep in the fridge or freezer for a long time.

You can use them as needed to grease a baking pan, put a little butter on top of rolls or biscuits, grease a knife for smoother cutting of sticky things like brownies, take a dab to moisturize dry cuticles, or use the wrappers to separate hamburger patties in the freezer. 



Systolic Blood Pressure

All my life, the top and bottom numbers of my blood pressure have related to each other in a normal way: 117/73, 120/80, 125/82, like that.

Then I got pancreatitis and stopped cooking with garlic. I never ate mass amounts, but normal amounts regularly. When I had to stop eating it, I developed Isolated Systolic Hypertension: the top number when high but the bottom number didn’t. Turns out garlic contains a compound that improves the elasticity of blood vessels, thus contributing to normal systolic blood pressure.

Once I figured this out and resumed eating modest amounts of garlic, the top number came down again. My pancreas doesn’t much like it, but I feel it’s worth it to keep my pressure normal.


Eggs on Sale After Easter

Now’s the time to help the stores clear their excess holiday eggs at sale prices.

Omelets for dinner, French toast for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch.

Eggs freeze well, and stay good in the freezer for up to a year. crack them out of the shell, and either freeze them individually in ice cube trays first, or mingle them in containers, depending what future use you intend.



Many baby-boomers are now presiding over empty nests. What if you haven’t yet gotten the hang of cooking for one or two instead of a crowd?

Go ahead and buy that roast. Have it for dinner with the usual side dishes the first night.

Cut slices for sandwiches, and freeze them in one- or two-day quantities, and you’re ready to make lunches easily.

Chop some of it, add vegetables and gravy, and you’ve got stew.

Take the leftover stew and bake it in a pie shell for pot pie.

A little change, a little addition, and each new meal isn’t just plain leftovers, it’s a new dish.



Save on Sprouts

You can make sprouts at home for a fraction of what they cost at the store. You need the seeds of whatever you want to sprout, a glass jar, cheesecloth, and water. Put a teaspoon of seeds in a small glass jar. Stretch cheesecloth over the top and secure it with a rubber band. Add water and soak the seeds for twelve hours. Pour off the water and set the jar on a sunny windowsill. Rinse and drain every day. When you have a jar full of sprouts, store in the refrigerator.

Directions for sprouting are widely offered on the Internet, including at Alfalfa sprouts are an old standby. I’ve also seen broccoli, onion, and kale sprouts.


For more ways to save, see my book Frugal Living for the 21st Century

Deep Freeze is Different than Freezer

I’ve seen recommendations for how long various foods will stay good in the freezer. Only now have I realized that it makes a difference what kind of freezer it is. Any frozen food will stay good longer in a deep freezer than in a frost-free freezer compartment in a refrigerator.

In either type of freezer, it’s important to wrap the food well, removing as much air as possible from the package.

Here’s a handy chart showing how long various foods will stay good. Notice the temperature is zero degrees or colder. It’s not that cold in my freezer compartment, so I usually store things there for days or weeks rather than months. The main benefit is being able to cook a large batch of a dish and eat it once a week for several weeks. Sometimes these frozen meals lose a bit of flavor. That’s when I add something when I thaw them: mustard, barbeque sauce, poultry seasoning, gravy, salsa, garlic powder, whatever suits the dish.


Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

I first heard that phrase applied to refraining from managing other people’s lives inappropriately, but I find it also works very well in some cooking situations.

Don’t check on the rice! To make good rice, cook confidently. The package tells you how much water per cup of uncooked rice. Put that much water (or broth) in a pot, with a little salt, and bring it to a full boil. Pour in the rice and stir it once to spread it around. Put the lid on tight, turn down the heat to the lowest temperature, and leave it alone. After the cooking time*, take the pot off the heat and still leave it alone. Leave the lid on and let it sit for ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Now is the time to note any changes for next time. Maybe you like a different texture, so next time cook it less for chewier rice or longer for softer. Experiment with adding seasonings at the beginning of the cooking, so it permeates the rice. To make yellow rice, start with either brown or white rice and add chopped green onion, garlic, celery salt, and turmeric. The turmeric makes it yellow. The onion, garlic, and celery give it the unique flavor. The more expensive packets of yellow rice use saffron as well as turmeric. If you have saffron that’s good, but turmeric is much less costly than saffron and can stand alone in this recipe.


* About 50 minutes for brown rice, about 20 minutes for white.