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posted: 6/26/2013 6:05 AM

Frugal living: Tips for starting a container garden

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By Sara Noel

If you don't have room for a full-scale garden, try container gardening. Focus on what you can do. Maybe start with a kitchen herb garden, or regrow produce scraps such as garlic, potatoes, leeks, ginger or celery, to name a few.

The first reader tip shares more ideas:

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Window-box garden: If you have a sunny windowsill, buy some window boxes and plant seeds in them (you can use gutters and hang them outside, too). I am growing spinach, herbs and green onions, and I even have a bok choy plant in my east window. I'm even growing mini-carrots! The bok choy and green onions were started from food I was not eating quickly enough. I picked up my window boxes at the Dollar Tree.

A.T., Idaho

Toaster oven: We used a small toaster oven for years. We even made toast in it from time to time, and we could cook a frozen pizza in it if we cut it down the middle and put half on each rack. We bought a larger countertop oven that doesn't make toast, but a pizza will fit into it. If you have cast-iron frying pans, see if there is one that will fit inside the toaster oven and is a useful size for you. Lots of stuff can be baked in cast iron. Corningware, Pyrex and aluminum pans work, too. Check out Goodwill stores and garage sales if you decide you need these or other baking pans.

S.D., Minnesota

Budget eats: Check the supermarket cases for bags of bulk-packaged chicken and fish. You can buy frozen chicken breasts (sometimes individually wrapped) and fish filets (always wrapped) in 2-pound bags at a very economical rate. I get 2-pound bags of chicken for $4.99 and tilapia filets for $6.99 per bag. This is just about the cheapest way you can get fish or chicken these days. They're very easy to thaw, marinate and cook however you like.

Sausages and brats are also cheap eats. I look for the turkey ones, and I buy a lot when they are on sale. A 1-pound pack of turkey kielbasa has 4 moderate servings. I typically cut one in half and grill it, and my husband and I share it. If yours is a big eater, he could eat half of the package himself, but it would still be inexpensive. It's also a good leftover for lunches. I buy brand-name turkey hot dogs on sale when they go below $1. They last a very long time in the freezer. My husband can get these out and fix them himself whenever he wants a snack or quick lunch.

C.H., Missouri

Haircuts: I'm a barber with 18 years of experience, and I am excited about buying a CreaClip (creaclip.com). I cut men's and women's hair, but I have never received a good haircut myself. I've always been frustrated that I cannot cut the back of my own hair. I bet I can with this!

T.G., Arkansas

• Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email sara@frugalvillage.com.

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