March 14, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 12 - March 14th

Well after a day of laundry and some painting I was ready to sit down and get some more advice from Amy Dacyczyn. It appears we will be owing some money on our income taxes and with tax day 1 month away, I will be gleaning as much advice as I can from Amy in order to save, save, save!

As you go through today’s reading you will note the homemade recipes and ideas for frugal gift giving. Some ideas may seem out of date, but I think they aren’t out of date as much as we are used to giving and receiving expensive, nice gifts. It’s really not necessary after all.

Perhaps instead of saying “Let’s get back to the basics,” we can say “Let’s get back to Amy.”

Here are the highlights of today’s reading along with my underlined comments. As always post any comments or additional ideas you may have.

Pg. 118 – TAG IT

Amy always makes up a nice tag to put with a gift. It is nice, but frugal, especially when she is making several gift tags.

She uses her computer to make up a design, prints it off and glues the labels to jars, tins or whatever container she is going to put the homemade gifts in. Her husband makes candy at Christmas and they collect tins throughout the year to put the candy in.

I also collect tins to put homemade fudge in at Christmas. My favorite container to use to giveaway cookies is a Folgers or Maxwell House coffee container. If you go to the Folgers website they have designs you can print on paper that fit perfectly onto the canister. Also I collect red margarine containers throughout the year. I pour fudge in these containers, cut out a scrap of Christmas Paper to put on the lid and I have a simple little gift to give away.

Amy also describes in detail how to make nice potholders out of old jeans. It is hard for me to explain as she goes in to great detail in the book. However, I am certain you can find instructions on line as to how to make potholders out of jeans or other fabric for gift giving.

One year they found some wild grapes growing on her in-laws property. They picked them and made wild grape jelly for gift giving. As always Amy made a cute label to glue to the jars.

Now you can buy adhesive labels ready to print from your computer.


Amy had several readers submit their recipes for homemade pancake syrup. After taste testing the recipes she found out that one of the recipes tasted far better than the generic syrup they had been buying. At the time this recipe only cost Amy 79 cents to make 3 ¾ cups syrup or 30 oz.

The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon maple extract which is more concentrated than maple flavoring. At the time Amy wrote the book, she was able to purchase maple extract for $2 for 8 oz or for 4 cents per teaspoon. I checked Amazon and you can purchase 4 oz. of maple extract for $9.00 which comes to 38 cents for 1 teaspoon. You can purchase an 8 oz. size for $15.00 which comes to 32 cents for 1 teaspoon.

Here is Amy’s recipe:


3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter flavoring
1 teaspoon maple extract

Bring all to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves (a good rolling boil). Turn off burner, but leave pot on burner until bubbling stops.

I have tried this but I did use maple flavoring. It took 3 times the flavoring to get a subtle maple taste to the syrup. My mom gives me a large jug of pure maple syrup when I go to visit her. So, instead of using the maple extract, I leave it out and add about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the pure maple syrup to this homemade recipe. Pure maple syrup by itself is too rich and sweet for me to use on pancakes. When I run out of the pure maple syrup, I will search for a cheap source of maple extract.

One more comment about homemade syrup – you know what is going into this syrup. I like that. I also find it hard to actually figure the cost of this as it contains ingredients that I already have on hand, except for the maple extract.


Amy was paying $180.00 per month for groceries for her family of 8. Even for 1992 that was phenomenal. Amy states that “there is no magic in our ability to do this but rather by using a variety of strategies. Not everyone wishes to do as we do.” Here is a list of ways that Amy saved on her grocery bill.

1. Gardening

2. Preservation of garden surplus.

3. A price book (or some system to keep track of prices between various stores).

4. Bulk buying, purchasing sale items or good deals in stores you seldom shop, in quantities to get you through to the next sale.

5. Elimination of non-nutritious food such as soda, ice cream, candy.

7. Choosing less expensive foods (cheaper tuna, powdered milk, cheaper vegetables and fruits)

8. Buying store/generic brands.

9. Buying marked down damaged goods (check deli for marked down cheese and cold cut ends). When I am driving by our local grocery stores, I will sometimes stop in to see if they have produce or meat marked down.

10. Coupons. Amy said that they seldom used coupons as generally the products were more expensive. Today I would say that that is no longer true in many cases. However, I always check to see when using a coupon if a store brand is cheaper.

11. Vegetarianism – cut back on using meat

12. Portion comparison – instead of comparing boxes of raisin bran, compare raisin bran to oatmeal or pancakes, instead of buying steak when on sale, compare portion price to that of chicken.

13. Free food – garden surplus from neighbors, picked wild berries, food obtained through barter

14. Preparing foods from scratch

15. Maintaining an optimum weight

16. Waste nothing – finish your meal, cook a turkey carcass for broth, eat leftovers

17. Eat fewer meat and potato meals – casseroles, soups, stews, stir fry meals are generally less expensive


Here are a few ideas submitted by readers:

1. Buy magazines from antique stores dated the month and year of the birth date of the person you are buying for.

2. Make up a price book for a “wannabe tightwad.”

3. Make pumpkin bread in coffee cans. After baking, wrap cans in plastic and top with a pom pom or ribbon.

4. Give an elderly person stamps to pay bills and write letters.

5. Make up a bean soup mix with different beans and spices layered attractively in a glass jar with a pretty lid. Include a copy of the directions.

6. Make fire starters by dipping pine cones in hot wax. Put them in a decorative basket.


Here are a few recipes from Amy:


1/2 cup instant coffee
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons cocoa

Stir ingredients together. Process in a blender until powdered. Use 2 tablespoons for each 4 oz. cup of hot water. 40 calories each


1/2 cup instant coffee
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir ingredients together. Process in a blender until powdered. Use 2 teaspoons to one cup of hot water. 35 calories each


1/4 cup dry white beans
1/4 cup dry kidney beans
1/4 cup dry split peas
1/4 cup dry pinto beans
2 tablespoons pot barley

Layer the beans in a jar with a lid.

2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons dried onions
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons powdered beef broth

Wrap these spices in plastic wrap and place on top of the bean layers. Cooking directions: wash beans and soak overnight. Drain and top with 6 cups of water and simmer until done. Add one can of tomato soup. Also add one pound of fried and drained hamburger. Simmer a few more minutes. Do not add salt of any kind until the last five minutes. It toughens the beans and the cooking time will be twice as long.

I am sure that you can leave out the hamburger altogether in this recipe or substitute a little bacon or ham for extra flavoring.

Tomorrow we will cover pages 127 (beginning with Homemade Presents for Kids) through page 136. A major part of tomorrow’s discussion deals with using up leftovers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am thoroughly enjoying these posts, Martha. And of course, since there is food involved, this is my favorite so far! I love the fudge in a margarine tube idea. Of course, chocolate sounds good pretty much all the time!