By Sara Noel
When your pantry is low on supplies, it's time to get creative. If you're down to a box of lasagna noodles and don't have any other type of pasta, don't despair. They have uses other than to make lasagna. These tips will work if you have leftover cooked lasagna noodles, too.
You can break them up and add them to soup, or make beef and noodles or stroganoff. You can use them in casseroles such as tuna casserole or in pasta salad. Once cooked, you can also fry them in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle on parmesan cheese. The first reader tip shares another idea.
Use for lasagna noodles: This is kind of like lasagna, but not. Boil the noodles till they're almost done, like you would with lasagna; lay them out, put ricotta cheese (and whatever else you like in the cheese mixture) on one end, and roll them up. Lay them in the baking dish, kind of like manicotti. Put sauce on the bottom of the pan first, so they don't stick, and then cover with more sauce and bake.
Summer activity for kids: You can create tie-dye shirts yourself using just a couple of tools, such as a white cotton T-shirt, fabric dye, rubber bands and a bucket. It's best do this outside the house. Put some plastic or garbage bags over your work area. Preshrink the T-shirt using warm water. Prepare your color dyes. Make sure you follow the directions on dye usage. Use the bucket or any container that will hold the colored water. This is where you will dump your shirt later.
Fold, twist or tie knots in the shirt, and hold them with rubber bands. On the parts where you bind, the fabric dye won't be able to penetrate. Put the shirt in the pail where you mixed your dye. One good technique is to use multiple colors in multiple containers and just immerse a portion of the shirt in each color. The longer you soak the shirt, the darker the color. Remove the shirt and allow it to dry for about two days.
Once it is dry, remove the rubber bands and gently wash it. Then lay the shirt flat and allow it to dry once again. You now have a unique, one-of-a-kind gift. You can also do pillow cases, aprons, or even socks if you like. I suggest you do several shirts at one batch to maximize the use of the already mixed dye solution.
Be alert: Recently I purchased a bag of ginger tea packets. The bag label read that it contained 30 packets of tea. As I refilled a counter jar containing the packets for ready use, I discovered that the bag contained only 22 packets. I have been purchasing assorted teas for 30-odd years. It never occurred to me that packaging would not contain the claimed amounts. I recall the days that one had to watch a butcher to see if he kept his thumb on the scale when weighing your meat purchase. Your readers may need to become more aware of these deceitful business practices if they desire to be frugal.
Peter P., Nevada
Repurposed laundry basket: When we helped clean out our in-laws' home, I came across a nice wicker laundry basket, but one of the handles broke, so there it sat waiting for a new handle. Well, instead of adding a handle to it, I cut the jagged one flush, added a pillow and an old flannel sheet, and my cat is now lying in it happy as a clam. I let her find her way to it, and as I sat here at the computer I could hear the crinkle of the wicker and knew we had a winner. She now has her own bed upstairs and down.
Darlene, New York
• Sara Noel owns frugalvillage.com, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or firstname.lastname@example.org.