Waste Not

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. 

 

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The Rest of the Can

The recipe calls for a tablespoon of tomato paste. The can contains more than that, and you don’t need the rest. Consider freezing a tablespoon each in ice cube tray compartments. Once it’s solid, you can decant it into a plastic freezer bag, ready for the next time you need tomato paste.

This works for many things. The rest of the condensed milk. The yolk of the egg when you only needed the white, and vice versa. Chopped vegetables when you had to buy a whole pepper or onion and only needed part of it.

Leftover coffee, milk, creamer, juice. . . .

Fresh fruit you need to use up.

The possibilities are nearly endless.

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. https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html. 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.

 

Ice, Ice, Baby

A couple of days before Hurricane Matthew got here I took my largest food storage containers, filled them with water, and put them in the freezer. On Friday, the power was out for thirteen hours. Because of the large ice blocks, the temperature never went below thirty degrees and I didn’t lose any food.

 

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Kindle preview: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00HQKOQBG&asin=B00HQKOQBG&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_gITAxbZWT7SRJ

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

52 Weeks: Water – Laundry

In the summer of 2012, many areas in the U.S. and Australia had a severe drought. People posted on message boards about using less water. They also reused water that used to go down the drain.

Some folks in very parched areas are saving the rinse water from the washing machine. They pour it back in to the washer to be the wash water for the next load. In a drought situation, whether a drought of water or of money, there are ways to do less laundry.

Outer clothes that are not actually dirty can be hung up, either indoors or out in the fresh air, to air out before wearing again. Sheets can be aired instead of washed, perhaps every other time. You can reuse towels more times if you hang them up so they dry instead of souring. If your washer has settings for different levels, only use as much water as you need for the load.

52 Weeks – CFL Bulbs, Is It True?

In 2013 I put a CFL bulb in my reading light in the living room. Fourteen watts vs. sixty, and I think I can see even better. They burn much cooler too, so that will save a little on the a/c.

I had it in my head that CFL bulbs cost a lot, but the prices have gone down since I formed that idea. I saw them on www.walmart.com at less than $2 a bulb. They are said to last as much as ten times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs, and use 50% to 80% less electricity.

On the other hand, when I went to buy some, I read the reviews on amazon.com. It seems that in real life the cheaper bulbs may not last very long at all! I learned from the reviews that their claimed ten year life might actually be less than a year in practice. So I searched on “complaints CFL bulbs.”

  • I learned that you’ll have better luck if you buy Energy Starrated name brand bulbs.
  • They do better in places where they will stay on for long periods.
  • It’s better not to use them in a recessed or enclosed fixture.
  • They don’t do as well where there is vibration, such as a ceiling fan or garage door opener.
  • You need special bulbs for fixtures on a dimmer switch, even if you don’t use the dimmer feature.
  • An ordinary light that stays on for hours is the best place to use them.
  • The used bulbs must be disposed of as hazardous waste because they contain a small amount of mercury. Home improvement stores like Lowe’s have collection centers for them.

After two years, the CFL bulbs in fixtures that stay on for long periods are still going strong. The ones in the bathroom light burned out.

Several people told me that it costs more to turn a florescent or CFL light on every time you enter the room than to just leave it on. I looked into it. This is old news from the ‘70s. The old style ballasts used a lot of energy. Modern fluorescent lights use only a tiny bit of extra energy on startup, compared to the energy used to leave it burning.

Frequent turning on and off can shorten the life of a bulb. But again, for modern bulbs this effect is very, very minor. According to Scientific American and http://www.consumerenergycenter.org, a rule of thumb for modern fluorescents, including CFLs, is to leave it on if you will be out of the room for less than five minutes.

Fix It Up: Vertical Blinds

My condo came with vertical blinds throughout. Decades of heat, sun, and use have made some of the vanes brittle. The small piece above the hole that the clip goes in to hold it broke off on some of them.

I was going to Lowe’s to buy vanes. I Googled a bit to get an idea what they cost. Some of the results were for little tabs to repair broken vanes, so I looked into it. They cost a fraction of what a new vane does and are far less bulky to bring home.

Clean the top of the vane. Pop out the holes in the repair tab. Remove the paper backing from the self-adhesive side. Bend in half and stick on the vane where the hole is. Easy. Once they are back in place you can’t tell they’ve been repaired.

(The pic shows an unbroken one because I didn’t think to take it before repairing them.)