May
8 - 2009

Friday Wrap-Up: Spring Edition, cheap meals, frugal tips, onion bags and layoffs

After Colorado had a dry winter, then a very warm January and February, then a snowy March and April, I think we might be able to say it’s actually spring. This wrap-up comes to you after a day of 83-degree temperatures, squirrels marauding at the bird feeder and a cherry tree in bloom.

If you are laid off …

I’ve seen plenty of articles about what to do if you are being laid off, but this piece with 25 things to do before giving up your chair seems especially good. If you’ve lost a job and learned a hard lesson, share it below, and good luck to you.

122 ways to save money

Frugal Dad this week posted a list of 122 tips from readers on ways to save money – from diaper purchases to senior discounts and everything in between. You’re sure to find a idea or two on the list.

‘Dollar menus’ at home – green and healthy, too

This blog at Thrifty Mommy alerted me to an article in the Miami Herald focusing on Linda Watson, whose Web site, Cook for Good, purports to teach people how to save time and money, live healthier, live easier on the planet and likely lose weight by cooking from scratch. Watson cooks for her family for $1 a meal. The article mentions that Watson was motivated by trying to beat her state’s daily food budget allowance for the poor, and says this about her going green:

After a week, they expanded the experiment to three months, spending $1.53 a meal per person, which was their state’s food stamp allowance at the time, and changed where they shopped each month.

Watson wanted to try one month of shopping at Whole Foods and the Durham Farmers’ Market to see whether organic, sustainable food cost more. (The answer is yes, but not very much; her “green” meals cost about 75 cents more per serving in February.)

If you wanted to quibble, you could note that the “not very much” different cost of organic, sustainable food was actually 50% higher than her standard budget, although the grand total was still low. That shows that it’s all the more important to watch what you buy if you are attempting to purchase sustainable goods and watch your budget at the same time.

It’s fantastic to see that it is possible to eat sustainably for $2.25 or so a meal. My local organic store recently offered a series of fliers saying “You can eat affordable organic meals!” — but every meal was “$20 or less.” I don’t know about you, but I would be scandalized if my average for home-cooked dinners cost $20 (or maybe just lazy, and we’d be eating at Chipotle instead, which would actually cost less).

Cheap summer kids movies

It’s that time of year – my daughter and my teacher husband are counting down the days until summer vacation (and getting a little punchy).  In our area, at least one local theater has rolled out its summer kids movie package, offering tickets to 10 movies for $5. Search online for similar deals in your area, or check for deals at movie chains like Regal, AMC and United Artists.

Re-use mesh produce bags

You know the ones … the heavy-duty or not-so-heavy-duty bags that onions, fruit, garlic, etc. come in. You use up the contents and then stare at the bag, poised over the garbage can, thinking, “Isn’t there something … ?” Reader Nikol shared what she does with ’em:

I save all my old mesh onion and citrus bags, peel off as much as the labels a possible (usually they’re printed flat plastic heat bonded to the plastic mesh–if they don’t come off readily, just turn the bag inside-out), and use them as scrubbers in the kitchen. They’re fabulous for scrubbing all surfaces, including nonstick, as well a vegetables like potatoes and beets, and when they get mucky or greasy, they just go in the dirty rag hamper and get washed with the rest of the rags. Lemon or garlic bags are a better size than big onion bags.

The big drawstring ones (usually onions or oranges) also make good produce bags at the grocery store or beach/pool bags, or wool washing bags.

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