Croutons can be used for more than just a salad topping. They come in a wide variety of flavors, so add them on top of soup or cook them into your omelets or breakfast casseroles.
The first reader tip shares how she uses them:
Use for croutons: When a recipe requires breadcrumbs, I use croutons that I have put through my mini food chopper. I can buy a bag of croutons for $1 or so, compared to $3-4 for breadcrumbs. We don't eat a lot of bread in our home, so I don't have leftover bread to use. The croutons are a quick, easy and inexpensive substitute. -- Jill H., email
REUSING GROCERY BAGS: I take my own bags to the store, but I continue to use the fruit and vegetable bags as needed. I have several uses for them:
I use a bag to collect the stems, leaves, skins and whatever else is removed from fresh vegetables. The bag goes in the freezer, and whenever it gets full, I make my own vegetable broth. I also use these bags when we travel, to store things like lotion, hair spray and anything else that could leak in the suitcase. The bags also come in handy when we take our dog for walks. -- Nancy T., email
MULTI-GRAIN CEREAL: I've started eating cold cereal. Unfortunately, the multi-grain cereal with fruit in it that I like is really expensive, whether it's on sale or not. So, I've started putting a "base layer" in the bowl, made up of corn flakes, unsweetened puffed wheat, Cheerios or whatever sort of plain cereal I can get cheaply. Then I put a layer of the expensive stuff on top. Works fine! -- Judi, New Hampshire
USE FOR VINEGAR: When I have a cold, I drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in some water. I find it stops post-nasal drip and keeps the sinuses clearer, especially at night. If I catch it early enough, I am able to shorten the cold cycle by preventing the drip from going down my airways. -- Nancy T., email
DETANGLE DOLL HAIR: Use shampoo, conditioner and detangler, just like you would on your own hair. If it's extra matted, try soaking the doll's head in fabric softener and very hot water. Soak, rinse and then use a brush or comb. It just takes patience. -- Pauline, Ohio
SAVE MONEY FOR CHRISTMAS 2013: Join the 52-week money challenge. Save money in small increments that gradually increase. Read more at frugalvillage.com/ forums/money-challenges/151476-52-week-money-challenge.html.
PRESSURE CANNER TIPS: I've taken an interest in canning over the past few years for nutritional reasons.
Everything store-bought has way too much salt in it, not to mention other additives.
If you can grow your own produce, have access to excellent farmer's markets or have nutritional concerns, I think canning is a good investment. It also helps if you can get the equipment inexpensively. I paid $2 for one of my canners at a garage sale, then spent another $8 online to get the manual for it, for a total cost of $10. I've picked up jars here and there, and I also inherited a bunch. If I had to go out and buy everything at full retail price in order to get started, I don't think I would.
Here's an excellent step-by-step illustrated guide that not only tells you how to can, it tells you why things need to be done a certain way: extension.usu.edu/utah/htm/fcs/food-preservation-canning/usda_home_canning. -- S.D., Minnesota
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living.
To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.