Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Power of Potatoes - a Great, Filling Food - and a Blank Canvas for Cooks

I love a good baked potato. Come to think of it, I also love a delicious dish of cheesey Scalloped Potatoes. Oh, and a plateful of fries...and mashed potatoes are my ultimate comfort food. Hmmm, come to think of it, I just plain old love any kind of potato.

Buy a big bag of potatoes on sale, and just look at some of the amazing ways you can use them to feed your family inexpensively!

  1. Stuffed Potatoes - basically just bake your potatoes as usual and then add all sorts of yummy fillings. It's a great way to use up leftovers. Top with cheese if you like (I do, because I'm a huge cheese fiend!) Add some extra veggies on the side and you have a meal all in one potato.
  2. Mashed Potatoes - A delicious side dish that we all know and love, but make sure to make extras. The next day, you can make yummy potato cakes - just mix the mashed potatoes with some green onions (or regular onions if that's what you have on hand), an egg, salt and pepper, and any other leftovers. Again, some grated cheese works marvellously in this, as would some crumpled up cooked bacon. Yum!
  3. Scalloped Potatoes with Onions - If you've never made this nourishing, filling and oh so delicious dish before, don't worry! All I do is butter a casserole dish, and then put a layer of thinly sliced potatoes (you don't even have to peel them; I often don't!) on the bottom. Follow up with a layer of onions, salt and pepper. Continue those layers, until you're nearly at the top of the dish. (I like to add seasoning to each layer, as then you have a perfectly seasoned dish when you're done.) Then, pour milk or half and half (or a combination of both) over, until the milk covers the potatoes. Dot a bit of butter on top, and bake in a 350 oven until the potatoes are tender and the whole sauce has thickened. No need for flour or cornstarch - the natural starch of the potatoes will thicken it up beautifully. Grate a bit of parmesan or cheddar over top if you like, and pop into the oven just to let the cheese melt and get browned and bubbly. Oh, so good!

Adding a bit of meat to any of these - let's say sliced up leftover ham - would make them a real meal. The ham would be especially good in the scallopped potatoes. Then all you need is a salad or some steamed veggies on the side, and you're set. No wonder I love potatoes so much!

Have a great potato idea to share? Please send it to me at

Save on Your Water Bill - RunningToilets, Dripping Taps and more

Saving on your water bill can be relatively easy and painless. Make sure to fix any dripping taps or faucets as soon as possible, and running toilets. Both of these can add incredible amounts to how much water your family is using!

And...if you can help it, try to take showers more often than a full bath. A quick, refreshing shower uses just a fraction of the water that a filled bathtub does. And, in this hot summer weather, using cool water will also help you save on the heating costs of your home!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Frugality Tips - An Inexpensive and Effective Air Deodorizer

Remove smelly odors from your home with one very common household essential that I happen to love. Vinegar! Just a bowl full of white vinegar left out will absorb and deodorize even the stinkiest household odors like pet odors or cigarette smoke.

I've found this even works with tough-to-remove smells like burnt popcorn (I hate that smell!) Give it a try - just leave the bowl of vinegar out for an hour or two, and then remove and throw away. You'll be amazed by how well it works!

As I mentioned, white vinegar is one of my favorite household products...look at the list of ways to use it I've come up with at: Enjoy - and stock up with a big jug of vinegar the next time you go grocery shopping. :)

Store Brands (Generic Brands) vs. Pricey Name Brands

Did you know...that many of the 'cheap' store or generic brand products in your local supermarket are actually made with the same ingredients at the same factory? So, if you don't have a fantastic coupon to use on the pricier name brand items, definitely purchase the store brand instead. There's a good likelihood that it's the same stuff anyway!

I do find that sometimes there is a real difference between certain products - so try out some store (generic) brands and see which products are different, and which ones are practically identical.