A subscriber I’ve known since she was a kid sent these tips. She’s now married and has three children. She said she could make three meals for her family of five on just one pound of ground beef. 

She writes:
 
We are on a very strict budget. Dessert is only served on Sundays, so it’s a special treat. Soda, chips or any other junk food are not an option at this house. Our children also do not have cellphones, IPods, or other gadgets. We do have a used computer for schoolwork but there are NO games on it!
 
We don’t spend money on these things so we have the money for our house payments and the taxes. Our kids go along willingly because they each have their own rooms now and they are decorating them as funds become available. They well remember the years that all three of them were jammed into one small room with cardboard boxes for dressers and NO closet!
 
 
Back to the ground beef meals…
 
Meal One: Brown about 4 ounces of the beef with a couple of onions and add some tomatoes, and crush them with a fork (I find diced tomatoes at the salvage store for about 20 cents a can). Add some Italian seasoning and pour the mixture over two pounds of cooked spaghetti noodles and enjoy.
 
Meal Two: Cook about five cups of macaroni; add 4 ounces of the browned ground beef and some onions and tomatoes, and then add mustard for added flavor. This is a goulash dish.
 
Meal Three is Chili-Mac. I sometimes find boxes of the commercial macaroni and cheese in the ‘get rid of’ bin for 20 cents each. I add more macaroni to what is in the box and then add extra milk to stretch the cheese. I put in some chili powder, and if I can find a dented can of chopped chili peppers, I add those in. The kids really think this is a treat.
 
We have 3 teenagers plus my husband and myself and we all have physically demanding jobs.  The kids all work too so they have to have enough good food to get them through a long day. We raise a big garden every year and there are always at least three kinds of vegetables on the table, sometimes more, depending on what is ready to eat. We can, freeze and dry any extra garden produce for winter. I don’t worry about my kids not getting enough vegetables.
 
We have three apple trees, two pear trees and a peach tree so fruit isn’t a problem either; the kids eat all of them, and a lot of it!  Again, canning, freezing and drying any extra fruits for winter really stretch our ‘thin’ budget.
 
I really have to give kudos to this family – they have a huge goal and are working towards a ‘paid for’ home and self-sufficiency. Yay for them!
 

Drying Flowers
A subscriber from the eastern part of the state writes, “Cut peonies when JUST beginning to open; hang them upside down in a dark closet for at least two weeks and then let dry completely, preferably in a dark area to prevent color fade on the blossoms. Dried flowers are expensive – some several dollars each, but when used to decorate a wreath for fall, they [dried peonies] are beautiful!” –tip submitted by CK, SD
 

Getting Rid Of Ants
A reader writes:
“The easiest and cheapest way to rid your property of ants is simply boiling water.” She says, “Take a sharpened stick or a shovel – depends on the size of the ant hill – and open it up until you see the eggs and then pour out a teakettle of boiling water right down where the eggs are! It kills them instantly.”
 
She’s right.  I’ve gotten rid of all kinds of ants along the sidewalks and even the big hills of red and black ants (the kind that bite and leave a welt) have been ‘done in’. I did have one huge hill in the garden that took a couple of treatments, as I didn’t get deep enough the first time. I really like the fact that there are no chemicals, which could harm the cats, dogs, kids and me!
                                                                     

Silk Removal
It’s roasting ear time again and getting rid of the silks is one of the most miserable jobs I know, especially when preparing hundreds of ears of corn to be blanched and frozen. I have found that a clean ‘whisk broom’ from the hardware store works pretty well to brush away that annoying silk. Sure makes the job go faster! –submitted by GD, IA
 

Pepper Growing Cabbage
If you take a full pepper shaker with large holes in it to the garden and pepper the tops of the growing cabbages, the green cabbage worms won’t bother them as much. You do have to repeat this at least once a week for a while. It really cuts down on the ‘critters’ when trying to make slaw or sauerkraut. –submitted by WW, NE
 

Paint Catcher
When painting ceilings, cut a small hole in half of a hollow child’s ball and pull it up around the brush handle.  Any dripping paint will be caught by the half-ball and can be dumped back in the paint can, rather than having it run down your arm. –submitted by KS, MI
 

Band A Glass For A Toddler
I use the small four ounce jelly jars for glasses for kids two and over instead of the sippy cups they string all over the house. I put the big wide bands from broccoli around the jar so they won’t slip when toddlers use them. This way, they get their drink of water or juice and the glass gets put in the sink! –submitted by BK, OR
 

Dehydrator Scrubby
My boys are hunters and always make a lot of jerky from the meat they bring home, which is fine until it comes time to clean the screens and trays. They don’t fit in the sink so I end up putting them in the bathtub to soak. I then take an old toothbrush to the nooks and crannies and the brush really works to knock the crud out of the corners. A quick spray down with the hand shower and the trays are just like new again. –submitted by JS, SD
 

‘Free’ Fruit Trees
Peach and nectarine pits planted in a protected area will make a tree that will yield in about 5 years. About 90% of the fruit is edible, and although it does not run true to form, it is usually very good and is called ‘common fruit’. It’s not hybrid and probably one of the original stock that was crossed with another to make hybrid fruit. –submitted by FF, CA
 
(We had some birds ‘plant’ apple trees behind an old granary down by the barn.  Two of the trees bear little apples like the lady apples sold in the stores on occasion and the other three trees bear a larger, very good pie apple. They are in a clump, but unless we get grasshoppers or hail, we always have apples. FREE FRUIT! 
 
 

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