Friday, June 8, 2012
Stretching the life of things, stretching a dollar
Vegetable stems and ends--I make stock with them. Then I compost them. If I cook meat with the bone in, I'll make stock from the bones. I was able to get a good price on a huge container of dried mushrooms; when I reconstitute them for a dish, I save the water they were reconstituted in, as it's a delicious stock. I freeze it in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into a marked bag.
Speaking of compost, if you have stinging nettles in your yard or garden, you can compost them. Bryallen tells you how. Though keep in mind that nettles are edible, like many weeds. (And if you want to go out foraging, make sure you know what plants are safe to eat and what may be poisonous look-similar plants--a hospital trip isn't frugal, my friends.)
Bread ends--I run them in the food processor and use the bread crumbs in recipes (I store the crumbs in the freezer).
Laundry--I use about half to three quarters of the detergent that I'm "supposed" to. My clothes come out very clean. I also hang dry them, so they last longer.
Do you need a dutch oven? Patty-Ann has a solution; use an old crockpot insert.
If you can sew, you can make a quilt completely for free--just save old clothing.
Pickle brine--I slice another cucumber and put it in the jar with the brine. (Or I use whole pickling cucumbers if they fit into the jar that way.) I've also read that you can use it to brine chicken, though I haven't tried that.
Olives--My friend Steve from World of Okonomy will occasionally splurge on the really fancy green olives. Once he's done with them, he'll save the brine and fill the container up with the cheap green olives he gets from the dollar store. He figured it was the brine that made the olives taste good (or awful) and apparently, he's right. So he stretches the brine of the expensive olives, and makes it even better by adding rosemary, cloves and garlic. Each week he adds different herb and spice mixtures (basil, dill, hot pepper, etc.) to the brine. He swears these olives are the best he's ever had.
Scones--Steve also mentioned his love of scones but his difficulty in buying a package of them. Like me, he's single and so a package would go stale before he could eat them all. He realized he could freeze them, take out one the night before he'd like to have it and let it defrost (in a bag to keep any bugs away and to keep it from getting stale) and eat it in the morning. I do this with bread and other baked goods when they go on sale.
Jeans--when they get torn or raggy, I cut them into shorts. I'm going to try and make potholders or trivets out of the next raggy pair I have.
Cracked or chipped jars--these are useful as pen/pencil holders, or as containers for odds and ends like paperclips, coins, etc.
Soap pads--I cut them in half or quarters, and store the one I use in a small baggie in the freezer. It doesn't rust as quickly, and the smaller amounts mean I stretch the life of them even further. Patty-Ann does one better; she makes scrubbies from the mesh bag that holds oranges.
What do you do to stretch the life of the things you have? How do you reuse the things you have?