Small nuggets of useful advice and frugal ideas

Convenience Store Traps Make your own cream of whatever soup mix. Useful tools for home storage and efficient cooking
Emergency Supplies to Keep On Hand Margarine, Shortening, Oil Weekly, monthly, and seasonal food processing activities
Here's a clue about loan payments. Oral rehydration solution What does a recipe mean by a "greased and floured pan"?

Convenience Store Traps!

Just how much convenience do you really need? Suppose you go to a convenience store every day. You buy cigarettes, a super gigantic size soft drink , and a snack. That's five bucks. That's $1,825, which is what one visit per day, every day, costs you for a year. Even if you buy a less expensive brand of cigarettes, your total is still $1,500 a year. Just 1 large fountain soft drink a day for 1 year, is enough money to buy an entire month's worth of groceries for a family of 4! Make your own snacks and drinks and kick the cigarette habit & save BIG PILES of money.

Margarine, Shortening, Oil

I won't lie to you. Your best choices for cooking and eating are not margarine, shortening, and corn/soy oils, often advertised as "vegetable oil".  I cook with lard, butter, and olive oil. They are the most healthy and natural fats for your kitchen. The only real use for shortening is to grease baking pans and season cast iron skillets. Margarine should never be served.  Shortening and margarine are cheaper in the short run than olive oil and butter, but shortening and margarine are a direct road to heart attack and stroke. Who can afford that? They aren't food anyway, they are manufactured industrial products masquerading as food. Avoid hydrogenated lard, which is over-processed. You can make your own lard cheaply from pig fat. Ask at the butcher shop of your grocery store.  How to make lard.  Another reecipe for  lard.

Oral rehydration solution

In the event of severe diarrhea and dysentery, or loss of fluids due to excessive heat, you need to know how to make an oral rehydration solution (common store names for commercial oral rehydration solutions are Gatorade and Pedialyte). Combine ½ tsp salt and 8 heaping teaspoons (or 2 handfuls) of powdered cereal and dissolve in 1 liter of boiled and cooled water. Powdered rice is best, but corn meal or wheat flour or cooked and mashed potatoes can also be used. Boil this mixture for 5 to 7 minutes to form a watery porridge. Cool quickly and give to the sick person. Give the dehydrated person sips of this drink every five minutes, until he or she begins to urinate normally. Keep giving the oral rehydration drink often in small sips, even if the person vomits. Not all of the drink will be vomited. When using, make it frequently, especially in warm weather. Without refrigeration, it can spoil in a few hours. (Source: Where There Is No Doctor, David Werner)

What does a recipe mean by "a greased and floured pan?

Take a pan, and rub it with shortening (oil or butter will work, but shortening is best for this job.) Shake a little flour in the pan, then shake the flour around the pan, including the sides, so that the shortening is coated with flour. This helps your cake, bread, or dessert pop right out of the pan without sticking..

Make your own Cream of Whatever Soup Mix.

2 cups powdered milk | 3/4 cup cornstarch | 1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon | 2 tbsp dried onion flakes | 1 tsp basil leaves | 1 tsp thyme leaves and pepper

Combine ingredients, stirring till evenly distributed. To substitute for 1 can of condensed cream of whatever soup, combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1-1/4 cups of cold water. Heat and stir until it thickens. Use as you would the canned product. Makes the equivalent of 9 cans of soup, at a cost of pennies per recipe. Mushroom: add ½ cup finely chopped mushrooms. Celery: add ½ cup minced sauteed celery. Potato: add 1 cup cooked diced potatoes. Chicken: add ½ cup cooked chicken. Vegetable: add 3/4 cup cooked vegetables. Broccoli: add 1 cup cooked chopped broccoli.

The Theory of Casseroles

There are 6 categories of ingredients in a casserole: Protein, Vegetables, Sauce, Seasoning, Bulk, Topping.

First you have the meat, poultry or a protein like cheese, beans, or peas.

Add vegetables and something inexpensive but filling like rice, pasta, grits, or potatoes.

These ingredients are held together by a creamy liquid or gravy.

The casserole can be topped with dough, pastry, or a crumb crust (such as crumbled crackers mixed with melted butter).

Seasonings and spices support the flavors you are combining.

Casseroles taste great and are inexpensive. They can be frozen for reheating later. You might as well make two and freeze one for later. To freeze a casserole: Under-cook it by about 10 minutes. Do not put the topping on until you are ready to reheat for serving. Quickly cool the casserole to stop the cooking (you can set the covered pan in a larger pan of ice water.) To save on the number of casserole dishes you need, line the casserole pan with aluminum foil. When frozen, lift the foil wrapped casserole out of the dish, wrap it to exclude all air, return it to the freezer until needed. When ready to reheat, put back into dish, with the aluminum foil for reheating (this also saves time in cleaning the dish afterwards). It doesn't have to be thawed before reheating. Casseroles can be frozen for about three months.


Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time, often without warning. Be prepared.!

Water. Wash and rinse empty 2 liter pop bottles. Fill them with ordinary tap water, and store them in a cool dark place. Every 3 months or so, empty and refill them. Store several for each family member.

Light. Candles, flashlights, lanterns, batteries, matches.

Food. Keep a 2 month supply of basic foods in your pantry as a hedge against hard times. More is better.

Heat. Propane or kerosene heaters, lanterns, and camp stoves, buddy burners, alcohol burners, canned heat ("Sterno"), candles, wood stove

Sanitation. Toilet paper, plastic bags, bleach, soap, towels, toiletries, feminine needs, trash bags, diapers.

Other. rope, duct tape, plastic sheeting, extra towels, blankets, hammer, saw, crowbar, basic tools, first aid kit, including hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, iodine, aspirin, ibuprofen,

Here's a Clue About Loan Payments

Paying one additional mortgage loan payment each year, whether in a lump sum or monthly increments, can lower a 30-year loan down to 18 years. If you pay more than one extra payment, the amount saved increases even more. Since this additional payment will be applied only to the principal and not the interest, you end up saving thousands and thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.. Note that this also works with installment loans (such as for automobiles) and student loans.

Useful Tools for Home Storage and Efficient Cooking

Airtight storage containers in a variety of sizes - for freezing/refrigerating

Thermos bottle - taking hot or cold liquids to work or school

Reusable lunch box with containers - for taking your lunch when you have to "eat out". Get sandwich size reusable containers, don't waste money on plastic sandwich bags

Ice containers: reuse water-tight containers to make ice in your freezer to keep your lunch cold.

Weekly, Monthly, & Seasonal Food Processing Activities:

Weekly: Grind grain and corn for flour and meal, make refrigerator dough and pasta, bake bread, make snacks, yogurt, cottage cheese.

Monthly: Prepare home-made convenience mixes, make bulgur wheat/meat extenders/gluten, dry bread crumbs and stuffing mixes, brew beer and soft drinks,

Spring and Summer; Make jams, jellies, pickles, hot sauces, salsas, relishes, dry peppers, smoke peppers, freeze corn, freeze tomatoes for saucing later, dehydrate shredded carrots and summer squash, cure onions and garlic, dehydrate or can fruits, make wine |

Fall: Make saurkraut, pickles, store root crops (like turnips, parsnips, and carrots) and fall vegetables like pumpkins and butternut squash; gather nuts, buy and store peanuts, make and freeze or can tomato sauce, smoke peppers.

Better Times Almanac Home | Better Times Website Index

Robert Waldrop