Frugal Village: Keep cleaning, baking supplies handy, plus other reader tips to make life easier |

Frugal Village: Keep cleaning, baking supplies handy, plus other reader tips to make life easier

Sara Noel

Save time and effort by keeping things close at hand. For example, rather than storing your cleaning products all lined up on a shelf, you can create a cleaning-kit caddy or two. This makes it easy to carry supplies room to room or store the caddy in the room in which you use it. Gathering baking supplies can be time-consuming, too. Another solution is to store your baking supplies together. One reader, Janice G., from Washington, shares: “Buy three large, clear plastic tubs (40 quarts). Label them “Cookies,” “Cake” and “Pie.” Then put into each tub all the supplies and utensils relating to that category. Baking is a snap now when the grandkids come and bring out one plastic tub. I use a closet near the kitchen to store the tubs. It clears out the kitchen and makes it so easy to find things.” The next reader tip shares another idea:

Central closet: I don’t mind washing, drying or folding laundry, but I hate putting it away. What if all the clothes for a household were stored in one central closet, in or attached to the laundry room? I think I’d love it. I could put a three-way mirror in there and a screen to change behind. You wouldn’t need closets or dressers in bedrooms, resulting in fewer surfaces to dust and less furniture to clean around. If we add on to this house I’m considering leaving a small ‘bedroom’ to use this way. – Constance, New Jersey

Shop around: Today I was at a big-name hardware store and bought two solar lights. Later, I went to a dollar store and found small solar lights for a dollar. I bought 10 for what I paid for two at the hardware store. It’s nice to have the walkway lighted. – Marla, West Virginia

Office lunch tips: I’m a really big fan of making huge containers full of prepped lettuce, rinsed, chopped and ready to go. I do five on Sunday and then every morning I just have to make another small container for whatever topping I feel like for the day (tuna, chicken, nuts, feta, etc.). It works so well and is delicious! – Annie, forums

I like making a basic pasta salad, then adding things to make it different each day. This is a good recipe: I also keep some instant soups and other healthy snacks or lunch items in the office for those days when I am too busy at home. One of my favorites is instant miso soup that I get from the Asian market in various flavors and for reasonable cost. A cup of that satisfies me quite well – at the very least it reduces what I might need to buy if I really am stuck. I try to plan dinner so that there is something left for lunch the next day. If I pack it as I am cleaning up after dinner, I am much more likely to take it with me to work the next day. – Saule, Illinois

I like packing items that I can pick at all day in case I don’t get to sit down to lunch: grapes, croutons, veggies, a variety of canned fruits, crackers or tortillas cut into triangle pieces. I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a week ahead. I have been doing this with great success. I wrap each one in foil, throw it in the freezer and it’s fresh as the day I made it by the time lunch rolls around. No sogginess at all! Very easy to grab and go. I use a hearty whole wheat bread which fills me up more than the white fluffy breads. – Peggy, Colorado

• Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (, 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 Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or e-mail