Fantastically frugal ideas from readers

This week we took a dip into the bulging oily rag mailbags, and found some fantastically frugal ideas about all sorts of things. Here’s a selection of the ones we liked the most.

Kla from Stratford has this tip for a fresh smelling laundry. “If you add a few drops of essential oils to your load they will come out smelling nice. Also if you use a dryer try adding a couple of drops to a clean rag or face cloth and add to the dryer with your load. That way the smell lasts longer.”

Ann from Matamata has this smell-good idea. “Use left-over perfume or aftershave that no one likes as fabric freshener.”

J.S from Taupo has a way of getting better value from fish meals. “I have found that cooked rice in a fish pie will extend the amount without affecting the flavour or texture of it. Adding turmeric powder will give a nice golden colour and is good for you too.”

There have been lots of helpful tips for a reader who asked for help to clean the underside of an iron which had grown a black sticky residue on its soleplate (which, by the way, is likely to be residue from a build-up of melted synthetic fabrics). Emma from Auckland says, “Nowadays I use a detachable teflon sole plate, not cheap but they last a long time and nothing will stick to them! Before that, I used to do the old ‘salt trick’. Spread a layer of table salt on a sheet of newspaper. Move warm iron back and forth until clean. Discard salt and repeat with clean salt if necessary. Wipe iron on clean, damp cloth, tapping on ironing board to dislodge any salt in the steam holes. Finish by rubbing a candle stub over the plate and iron over clean newspaper until all traces of dirt and grease are gone. Never, ever, use abrasives (like sandpaper) to clean!

Mary G from Auckland has this rather cheeky tip.  Each week Mary helps herself to a few extra free sachets of salt and pepper while frequenting fast food outlets! She says it soon adds up. (So too does the cost of going to the fast food outlets Mary!)

Jan from Whangarei is eggcited about this eggcellent tip. “When you have a few extra eggs freeze them. Just beat a couple together and put in small jar or container and into the freezer. Use for baking or scrambled eggs and particularly useful for Christmas or birthday cakes.”

Caroline from Wanganui has this tip to use what most consider a problem in the garden. “Often our favourite chives die down in the winter and we miss that yummy flavour in our meals. So why not use onion weed instead?  It’s a similar but different flavour, yummy yet mild – and prolific in winter. Most people have it in the back yard and treat it as a nuisance weed. Enjoy it in your meals instead. Anywhere you’d use chives, you can use onion weed, finely chopped.  Here’s a few suggestions for a quick winter meal:

  • in scrambled egg or omelette
  • with grilled cheese on toast or in a cheese and onion sandwich – toasted or plain
  • in egg sandwiches
  • in mashed potatoes (with lots of butter and a zap of white or black pepper)
  • on hot toast with avocado and lots of black pepper
  • in scones – add cheese if you like

M.T. from Dunedin has this idea to make starting fires easier. “Blue gum trees shed bark as they grow. Collect, cut into suitable lengths with loppers while moist, allow to dry, and use a few pieces on top of paper. Just as good, if not better, than pine cones!”

We have received great feedback from the column about frugality and home ownership. Many have said “well said”, which was nice, and a few have said they remain of the view that home ownership is an impossible dream. It is impossible if one does not save, and for most, saving means giving up the things we can do without: like smoking, drinking, gambling, flash cars, and so on.  It’s no coincidence that smokers and drinkers are usually the people who have the least money – and for obvious reasons. Save and invest $50 a week and within 14 years a person will have $50k for a house deposit. A couple could do it in 8 years. If people don’t want to give up something to get something then, yes, they will forever have to rely on others to provide their housing.