Jill Cataldo: Readers share tips on laundry, cooking and savings
Dear Jill: You have written in past columns about the ineffectiveness of many newer HE washing machines. I want to share something I learned recently as we have had one of those low-water front loaders. Have you heard of a strip wash? You fill your bathtub with hot water and add 1/3 cup Borax, 1/3 cup washing soda and 1/3 cup liquid laundry water softener. This mixture will strip all of the dirt out of your laundry.
I was shocked to see how very dirty our “clean” laundry really is! The water was an awful greyish brown color after taking our sheets and white towels out. It also made me realize that our machine is not getting things clean at all. Time to look at replacing our washing machine with something that does a better job!” — Patricia P.
Strip washing, a method once known for soaking and cleaning cloth diapers, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity on the internet as a way to deep-clean laundry that may not be getting as clean as you like due to detergent buildup, hard water or less-than-effective wash cycles. Strip washing can lift some color from fabrics, too, so it’s best to use for things like sheets and towels.
Dear Jill: I want to share how we save money and plan meals ahead of time, too. I pay close attention to prices on meats particularly. I know that pork chops go on sale as low as 99 cents per pound and ground beef goes on sale as low as $1.99 per pound.
When both of these go on sale, I stock up by buying multiple meals’ worth. I then do some light preparation at home to freeze them for future dinners. For pork chops, I open the package and put the chops in a freezer bag with some marinade. When I am ready to cook them and thaw them out, I can pour everything into a dish and bake it.
With ground beef, I like to make meatloaf ahead of time. I put a freezer bag inside a loaf pan, mix the raw meat and ingredients and form it in the pan inside the bag. Then I take the bag out with the meat molded into a loaf shape, and I freeze it that way. When I am ready to cook, I thaw that frozen loaf out and just pop it back into the pan. I can freeze multiple meals this way, and then I am not ever forced to over pay for meats when they go up to $3 per pound or more.” — Jennifer N.
This method has long been a part of my own meal-planning in our household. Like you, we buy meats when the prices are low, and we buy enough to last for many meals. We have a chest freezer to supplement our refrigerator’s freezer space, which helps us to stock up on other foods, including vegetables, juice concentrates and frozen treats.
“Dear Jill, here is a tip that I would like to share with your audience. Whenever we use coupons, we look at the amount we saved and put it in a coffee can. This is our ‘kitchen cash’ can. For example, if we save $8.75 on our groceries with coupons this week, we look at it from the perspective that we would have spent that money to buy food anyway. So, the cash goes in the can.
By the end of each month, we usually have $40 or $50 in the can. That’s enough for us to go out to a dinner together. It is our reward for shopping smart all month and we really enjoy our date night thanks to coupons!” — Kevin A.
I love this tip! Over the years, I’ve heard many stories from readers who similarly keep their coupon savings and put it toward a larger goal: Vacation, college fund, car. It’s definitely worth mentioning that the small goals are also worth celebrating. Enjoy your monthly dinners out together, and keep on saving!
CTW Features Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.