, Gloucester, MA

January 24, 2013

Tips, recipes for living more frugally

Senior Lookout
Anne Springer

---- — If you are frustrated by the high cost of groceries and household goods, but don’t like clipping coupons, or you never seem to find ones for the products you buy, you can still save money by learning some tips and tricks on making your food last, or doing without some products that our mothers and grandmothers were able to make do without, and maybe even making some products that you don’t want to live without.

How many of us have been guilty of throwing away that hardened brick that used to be a bag of brown sugar? We can prevent it from hardening by placing it in the freezer, but if yours has already hardened, try zapping it in the microwave for 30 seconds or seal a piece of bread in the bag for a while.

Honey is one food that never goes bad, it just crystallizes — but, don’t throw it out if that happens. Instead give it the 30-second zap in the microwave, too.

Butter can be kept frozen for up to six months! So, buy more than you need when it’s on sale, and freeze some for future use.

If you line the vegetable drawer of the fridge with paper toweling, it will soak up moisture, which is what makes vegetables and fruit spoil faster. However, paper towels are expensive and easily replaced by sponges, dishrags and hand towels that you can wash and re-use, so maybe the only time you should use them is for “veggie preservation.” The money you save by using reusable towels could make a real difference the next time you go grocery shopping or fill up the gas tank now that paper towels cost more than $2.50 per roll for some of the premium brands.

Fabric softener is another one of those expensive items that we all think we need. But, did you know that you can make your own for pennies per use? Simple — just combine 1 gallon of white vinegar, a few drops of clear essential oil (orange, lavender, or even peppermint) and 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerine. Shake each time you use it so that the oil won’t stain your clothing, and put in one tablespoon per load. Even if you purchased the 51-ounce Downy, you’d get only about 60 loads, versus 256 loads with the homemade version.

Swiffer dust mops are convenient, and they do a great job, but the disposable pads are extremely expensive. There are several ways to make your own washable Swiffer pads here:, including a pattern for one that you can knit. These pads are small, so if you don’t mind the “crazy quilt” look, you can make them for free by asking your friends for their scrap yarn. If you want a pattern to make pads for the Wet Jet version of the Swiffer, here’s one: They’re made of terry cloth, so can be laundered and bleached as well.

These are just a few suggestions, and there are a gazillion more that you can find by just surfing the web. Remember, though, frugality needn’t mean you should live less comfortably, it’s about continuing to live comfortably on less!

Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.