Shoeboxes are great little organizing solutions. They stack well, come in a variety of sizes, are sturdy and are easy to label.
You can reuse them to hold household items such as mail, first-aid materials, CDs, coupons, odd small toys, school and office supplies, photos, socks or as gift boxes. How have you reused them? The first reader tip shares another way to use one.
STORAGE SOLUTION: I wanted to pass on what I have used to organize my papers. My son wears a 13-size shoe and some of his shoeboxes are big enough to store 11-by-8-1/2 size papers. So instead of buying the plastic boxes, I have used these boxes to store papers from my various organizations. — Syd Olausen, e-mail
REUSE CHOCOLATE BOXES: I’ve saved a few heart-shaped candy boxes I’ve received over the years. If I have time, I make candy to fill them; if not, I buy good bulk candy. I give these to my family for Valentine’s Day. They love it and it’s much cheaper. — Diane S., Coatesville, Pennsylvania
CALENDAR INVENTORY: Freezer inventories just don’t work for me, so now I write the leftovers going into the freezer on my calendar so I know to cook it. Last night, I even labeled the beef and peas! No more UFOs in the freezer! — Vickilynn, South Carolina
SLOW-COOKER HARD-BOILED EGGS: Who knew? Put the eggs in the crock and add water to cover. Set on low and cook 3-1/5 hours. Perfect every time! — Cheryl, North Carolina
LONGER-LASTING BANANAS: If you separate your bananas from one another and don’t allow them to touch, they will last twice as long before turning brown. The idea is when one starts to turn it causes the whole bunch to turn. While normally I have about a three-day window before they start getting brown spots and mushy (I buy them just after they get through the green stage and are still really firm), by pulling them apart, they are lasting about six days. I line them up like little soldiers on an upper shelf in the cabinet, where they are out of my way. I don’t let them touch one another, so I don’t hear any of that “he’s touching me” coming from the cabinet. This has been good because I am not having to make so many banana runs, and I can get more at a time. — Jan S., Indiana
BIGGER NOT ALWAYS BEST BUY: Buy the small, individual-size packets instead of a bigger jar of food. Recently, I bought the packets for tarter sauce. Beats buying the big container and not using it often enough. — Patti, New York
SHAVING TIP: I save a large amount of money by using men’s shaving products. Last week, I picked up refill razor blades for my 13-year-old Gillette Sensor and paid less than one-eighth the price of the newer model razor refills in the women’s section. By wiping the blades dry after using, I can make the five-pack I buy last a whole year. I also use men’s shaving cream. I can buy a year’s worth of Barbasol on sale for less than $3. — Constance, New Jersey
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a Web site that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., fourth floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.