Packing school lunches can be stressful for those who aren’t “morning people.” Organization is key to making it much easier.
The first reader tip can make the morning run more smoothly:
I put all of the lunch foods that I can (refrigerated and pantry items) into plastic bins on Sunday. Throughout the week, I just pull from the bins. Making multiple lunches is quick and painless. — Olivia, Ohio
Note from Sara: Look at my mix-and-match lunch idea list, too: frugalvillage.com/forums/food-kids/134225-mix-match-lunchbox-ideas.html.
Dress up a paper plate:
I bake a lot of cookies to give as gifts. Tins make nice containers for them, and I like to stack the cookies in glass jars, too. Sometimes I punch holes into a paper plate and thread ribbon through the holes and tie a bow. It’s a frugal way to gift cookies, and it’s a nicer presentation than on a plain paper plate. Different ribbons and colored plates make this a great gift for any time of year. You can run paper lunch sacks through your printer, too. Think: Gift bags and goodie bags with cute images or messages. — Kelly, Texas
Uses for pillowcases:
I use our old pillowcases to store things like the food processor or large pans that aren’t used often. The pillowcase keeps the dust and bugs/spiders off. — Zakity, Oregon
Bacon end pieces:
I buy the end pieces and grind them up into “bacon hamburger.” I then fry it up into bacon bits. We store them in old 64-ounce yogurt containers in the freezer. When we need some, we pry some off with a fork. The bottom layer ends up being a mix of bacon bits and bacon grease, so we make bacon gravy out of it. Oh my, that stuff is heavenly! Also, when we cook up the bits, we drain them using a mesh colander. I then save the bacon grease in an old 32-ounce yogurt container. We use that to season our cast iron. Occasionally, we will cook with it. Homemade tortillas with bacon grease instead of shortening is to die for. — Zakity, Oregon
I find freezing rice to be very helpful. You can freeze it in whatever containers you want (I use one-pint jars, which are the perfect size for the two of us). Both brown rice and white rice freeze well. I find it especially helpful to freeze wild rice, since it has a longer cooking time. A one-pound can is almost $4 here. I would never pay that, but a lot of times I’ve been tempted to have one on the shelf, since I don’t always have time to cook wild rice. Having it frozen is a big help. And adding rice is a great way to stretch hamburger. — S.D., Minnesota
Uses for toothpaste:
I could hardly see through my car’s headlights, so I hooked up the buffer (the kind used to buff the car when waxing), placed some toothpaste on it, added a small amount of water and went to town. The headlights were clear again, and I saved a lot of money! I also clean my wedding band with toothpaste. It’s silver, not gold, and cleaning with bleach would cause it to turn dark. Now I use toothpaste to buff it, and it shines good as new! — Rose F., North Carolina
photo by la flaf http://www.flickr.com/photos/laflaf/6160252010/sizes/z/in/photostream/