More Oily Rag Q & A

Last week we asked a couple of questions that readers had sent in. True to form, the frugal community has lots of penny-pinching answers.

Rachel from Tauranga asked, “How do you feel about soda stream machines and yoghurt makers? Do they save money; are they worth it?” Here are some of the suggestions from readers.

Charmaine from Whangarei writes, “I just love my soda stream, but am also extremely careful not to purchase sweet drinks. I use mine mainly to carbonate plain water which is so much nicer to drink than ordinary water, which I don’t like much. To this I can also add fresh orange, lime, lemon, or any natural juices – much nicer. So Rachael go get your soda machine – if used wisely they are great!”

Caroline from Wellington says, “I am able to make a healthy, lightly sparkling drink for next to nothing. Called Water Kefir, it is made with just water, sugar and Kefir grains. The grains are pro-biotic and eat the sugar, creating the fizz as a by-product. Once made, the grains are re-used, and the drink can be flavoured with vanilla, fruit or drink syrups. I also make Viili, which is similar to yoghurt. The main difference is that it doesn’t need to be kept warm for it to ‘set’ the milk. Just leave milk with a tablespoon or two of your last batch on the kitchen counter, and in a day or two it is ready. To get started, ask around in your community. Many people make these products, and are often happy to donate some to a newbie!”

Penny-pincher from Taihape has this suggestion. “My husband uses his yoghurt making machine – it only takes 1/3 of the packet to have great yoghurt! Instead of using the other 2/3, substitute with whole milk powder. It is a lot cheaper than buying it at the supermarket and you can become creative adding different flavours and experimenting with it.”

To do a quick check to see what savings can be made by making your own yoghurt we went online and compared the cost of buying a powder sachet to make 1kg of strawberry yoghurt and a 1kg tub which cost $5. At the everyday price the saving was 31c, but the day we checked the powder was on special so the saving was $1 a kg – a saving of 20%. There are other advantages too. One oily ragger says they like the convenience of making their own. “We live out of town so it’s great having sachets on hand to make it when we need it. And the kids seem to love it even more, when they are engaged in the process of selecting a flavour and making it!”

Thrifty recently asked this question, “Does anyone have an economical homemade recipe for fabric softener including the amount to use per load please?”

Karen from Palmerston North has this suggestion. “White vinegar! Depending on the size of the load, use 1/2 a cup or so in the final rinse. It will also remove the ‘shine’ from the seat of uniform pants etc and keep black fabric dark.”

Tramore from Whangarei has a number of suggestions for Thrifty. If you use 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner, you have your laundry detergent and fabric softener all in one!

Tramore also suggests white vinegar. “Does the same thing as brand softeners but is a whole lot cheaper! It also kills bacteria, brightens colours, reduces lint, eliminates soap residue, and reduces static cling! Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the final rinse as a softener in your washing machine.”

And this suggestion: “Washing soda is also a water softener; it’s great to add to the washing if your water is very hard and makes the clothes feel hard and dry. The soda will stop this and also keep the washing machine clean from a build up of suds.”

Doreen from Paraparaumu also suggests washing soda. “I suggest putting a couple of handfuls of washing soda into the machine. It costs very little at Bin Inn shops.”

Kate from Hawera asks, “I have shifted to a house with a Hawera plum tree, I would love some recipes and tips!”

If you can help Kate out with a plum recipe then please drop us a note. We checked out more about this plum and found this on Wairere Nursery web site. “Originated from a chance seedling found on the roadside near, you guessed it, Hawera. Large dark red fruit with very firm dark red flesh. Yum Yum. One of the best deep red plums. Heavy cropper, freestone, ripens January. Self fertile.” Sounds like a plum tree worth a try!

Thank you to everyone for sharing your questions and tips – please keep them coming!