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Frugality Takes Hold

8581 Food Money
8581 Food Money

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

When the oily rag website was first published a few years back we had no idea it would grow into a community of thousands and have tens of thousands of page views a month. Frugality is obviously sweeping though the suburbs as more and more people appreciate the virtues of saving. It is also surprising that the oily rag website has a large number of overseas readers, and this week’s tips include one from Ohio in the US.

  • After years of dirty nails and hands after gardening I recently discovered that if I put disposable vinyl gloves on then the knit type gloves on top – my hands remained wonderfully clean, and the disposable gloves lasted a considerable time. – N.W., Waverley.
  • Go to the local Indian food emporium and buy 100 grams each of Ground Nutmeg, Ground Ginger and Ground Cinnamon. Throw together in a suitable airtight jar, shake well and sprinkle a pinch or two over rice for breakfast with a bit of honey. Add Milk or cream. OK on cornflakes and probably OK on oatmeal though haven’t tried it. Lasts quite a few months and gives plain food a lift. – Pamflitt, Hawera.
  • I always buy a good quality dishwashing liquid and find I can water it down by about 3/4's and it is still effective. The cheaper liquids often lose their bubbles half way thru the wash. – HREK, Lower Hutt.
  • I have a family of 7, 2 adults and 5 kids. My growing lot can go through 2 loaves of bread a day, so you can do the math with the amount I spend on bread a week, so I started experimenting with some cheaper alternatives. The best one I have come up with is this. Grab yourself a bag of high grade flour cheapest being home brand at $2.15. Add enough warm water to form a firm dough, leave to stand for 30 minutes. Break off small amounts of dough roll into a ball, then roll out on floured surface to circles about the size of small dinner plate. Heat non stick pan (medium heat) then dry fry each dough round about 2 minutes either side. One bag of flour makes about 40 "wraps". Fill with desired filling and send the kids off to school happy. I also fill them with salad, chilli and cheese. Kids think they’re much better then boring sandwiches plus you don’t need butter. So butter bill also goes down…winner! – KM, Te Puke.
  • Live in a motor home or bus or van and join the Association to get tips about places where you can still camp for free. – E.L., Christchurch.
  • Purchase Oat Groats (unprocessed oats) put them in a coffee grinder and grind into a powder.  Add water and soak overnight.  The next day put this in a pan with a touch of olive oil and salt.  In a few minutes, you will have oatmeal. The oat groats cost about 88 cents US per pound (in NZ terms that’s $1.12 for 450g).  Add milk and sugar. Great breakfast for hardly anything. – Motivated In Ohio, Ashtabula, OH U.S.A.

We, at Oily Rag Central, are on a quest – to find out all about the oily rag type things people are up to in their back yard.  We know there are lots of things one can do to turn a small plot of grass into a fresh food basket, but we want to hear what you are up to. Email your tip to us via

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. If you have a favourite tip then share it with others via or post it to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei 0140.

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at