Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

Frugal Café Philosophy
Save more.
Spend wisely.
Use resources responsibly.
Laugh often.
Kindle passion in life.
Give back.





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Don't Call a Professional: 5 Easy Fixes in the Home – Wobbly Table Leg, Squeaky Wooden Floor Board, Stuck Window, Loose Countertop, Electrical Outlet Safety

Second Time Around: Smart, Frugal Ways to Reuse & Recycle Things around the House

Beauty DIY: Homemade Body Scrubs

Beat the Stink... Cheap, Homemade Odor Beaters

Spice It up with Cinnamon, It's Not Just for Desserts: Budget Recipes & the Miraculous Spice for Meats, Fruits, & Vegetables... and for Health

Frugal Celebrity Recipes: Martha Stewart's Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Frugal Celebrity Recipes: Oprah Winfrey's Un-Fried Chicken

Frugal Celebrity Recipes: Paul Newman's Sautéed Beet Greens

Winging It: Three Hot Wings Sauce Recipes: Supreme Hot Wings, Hooters' Copy-Cat Hot Wings, & Honey Hot Wings

Frugal Duchess: Kate Recycles Her Wardrobe, Rejects ‘Only-One-Wear’ Policy with Her Clothes to Chagrin of Critics, Delight of Others (video)

Descoware: Cast Iron That Warms Up Your Kitchen... Descoware Collecting and Cleaning Tips

Dollar to the Max – Slash Your Grocery Budget at Those 99-Cent & Dollar Stores

The Beautiful Burrito: Make Your Own and Save Money

Chefs' Culinary Secrets & Cooking Philosophies | Tom Colicchio, Jamie Oliver, & Rachael Ray

Frugal Café's Kitchen & Shopping Tricks to Save You Money & Time: Oiling the Pasta Pot, Slicing Eggplant, Frying Ground Beef, Cleaning Leeks, Preventing Tomato Stains, & More






















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Toothpaste and Shampoo and Soap... Oh, My! — The Truth Behind Those Wasteful Grooming Product Ads

By Vicki McClure Davidson


If you're at least as old as Jennifer Aniston, Johnny Depp, or Madonna, chances are you also remember those vintage TV ads for a men's hair grooming product whose slogan was, "A little dab'll do ya!"

Brylcreem... 'a little dab'll do ya' was its slogan for years.
Brylcrem... 'a little dab'll do ya' was its slogan for years.

It was a stroke-of-genius slogan for Brylcreem — talk about truth in advertising. Rather than featuring clean-cut Ivy Leaguers slathering the stuff all over their heads, the company actually encouraged its customers to go easy on using their hair styling cream in its iconic jingle. Refreshing and memorable. And honest.

However, in many commercials, there was (and still is) over-the-top excess regarding the amount of hygiene and grooming products that advert models use on their hair, teeth, and everywhere else. Often, much more than is needed.

Toothpaste commercials and print ads have been particularly notorious, often showing a thick ribbon of paste stretching across the length of a toothbrush's bristles and then sweeping back over the first layer, much like old-fashioned Christmas ribbon candy. Shampoo ads and soap ads were equally excessive, with the "gotta be clean" actors covered in whipped cream-like caps and formidable body armor of froth.

Why would advertisements show this exaggerated overuse of their products?

Simple. People would use it up faster. And then they'd buy more.

Click here to continue reading >>




DIY: Homemade Seasoned Dried Bread Crumbs, Plus Italian-Style Bread Crumb Recipe

By Vicki McClure Davidson


DIY: Save money by making your own inexpensive, seasoned bread crumbs
DIY: Save money by making your own inexpensive, seasoned bread crumbs

Making your own seasoned bread crumbs isn't rocket science.

It's super simple and much more economical than anything you buy from the grocery store pre-made (often with a few mystery ingredients thrown in). Making a big batch of your own bread crumbs is so easy, it's surprising that anyone actually buys pre-made bread crumbs — the price markup is staggering. Homemade is cheaper, fresher, healthier, and usually tastes far better.

Even some of the most thrift-minded of people these days don't make their own bread crumbs because, frankly, they probably never thought about it. Perhaps their own mothers or grandmothers didn't make them. But for centuries, homemakers did not have pre-made bread crumbs available at the corner general store or open market place. They made their own, as they made so many other things for family meals and for the home.

Bread crumbs are an imperative to have on hand in your pantry when coating chicken pieces or fish or pork for a "shake 'n bake" entrée, for sprinkling over homebaked macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, and other casserole toppings, mixed into meat loaves or meatballs, ground turkey patties, economical bread puddings, and many other dishes.

Dried out bread for homemade bread crumbs is OK to use, although fresh bread is usually better. Using very old stale bread, however, will taste stale, so don't use stale bread that has an "off" or icky foul odor. Stale bread could ruin the flavor of anything in which you use the crumbs.

I recently checked out the General Mills website. The price for a 2-pack of Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs (24.00 oz.), at the time of this writing, was $6.74 USD for the 2-pack (or $3.37 USD each). For bread crumbs, for crikey sake. Sodium content per serving is estimated at a whopping 470 mg (20% of daily value) and the product contains a number of mysterious ingredients, including calcium propionate and potassium sorbate as preservatives. A 12-pack of Old London Seasoned Bread Crumbs (the 10-ounce size) currently costs $29.19 USD at Walmart, which is about $2.50 for one container. That breaks down to about 25 cents per ounce of bread crumbs in a 10-ounce package, or $4.00 a pound — more than the price per pound for chicken, many cuts of pork, grains, fruits, vegetables, and a number of fishes.

For bread crumbs.

Click here for more information and for the bread crumb recipe >>




DIY Dog Fashions on a Bare Bones Budget: Save Money Recycling Old Sweaters & Shirts to Make Cheap, Attractive Dog Winter Clothes & Raincoats

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Back view of doggie hoodie jacket using old hoodie sweatshirt | Photo credit: garann, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved


DIY dog fashions, using recycled clothes

Man's best friend can be quite tolerant of inclement weather, but sometimes, in those regions that have bitterly cold days and nights, it's preferred to keep your dog warm when taking him or her out for a walk or on a trip with an extra layer of insulation from a wrap, sweater, or coat.

Even in warmer regions, like my state of Arizona, a doggie shirt or sweater may be needed several months out of the year when the temps drop. When there's a light shower outside, a water-repellent raincoat will keep your dog drier, warmer, and more comfortable than he or she would be otherwise.

The cost of protective apparel for dogs is surprisingly pricey, considering the scant amount of fabric or yarn that is used in a small sweater or shirt. Bigger dogs' clothes obviously cost more. Many dog clothing items can run as high as $40 (ouch!), some even higher depending on the pet store in which it's bought, which can really ding a tight budget. However, pet owners who are financially strapped need not despair nor break their budgets — frugal DIY to the rescue!

Save money and recycle — you can easily and cheaply make your four-legged best friend snuggly, warm winter clothes from old sweaters, T-shirts, or sweatshirts that are languishing in your drawers or closets. If you don't have any that you're willing to part with, gently used winter wear can usually be bought for no more than a buck or two at garage sales or flea markets (especially during the summer months) or at local thrift stores. Pick fabrics that can be home laundered and are somewhat durable. Other than that, you can easily transform all sorts of used articles of human clothing into attractive and protective cover-ups for Max or Princess.

Continue reading more about making recycled dog fashions >>




Beautiful Beans Bonanza: Yummy, Filling, Money-Saving Recipes for Beans... Soups, Stews, Salads

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Believe it or not, there are thousands of varieties of inexpensive beans from which to choose to make frugal meals - loaded with nutrients and fiber, beans can dramatically lower your grocery bill | Image: Carlos Porto /
Believe it or not, there are thousands of varieties of inexpensive beans from which to choose to make frugal meals - loaded with nutrients and fiber, beans can dramatically lower your grocery bill | Image: Carlos Porto /


Food prices continue to skyrocket, and for many families, grocery shopping has become a horrific financial nightmare. As of 2013, more families in America were receiving government-issued, taxpayer-funded food stamps than had ever received them in all the nation's history.

Ground beef has gone up 24 percent since January 2009, and bacon has gone up 22 percent in the same period. Ice cream has jumped 19 percent, and the list goes on and on. With no end in sight to rising gasoline costs, food costs will continue to climb because of the rising costs to harvest, transport, and process fruit and vegetable crops, meats, dairy products, and other food items.

You can't dial back the clock to the more affordable, pre-2008 food prices. However, there are ways for you to battle the food jungle, saving money while maintaining nutritional health. There are so many bargain foods out there that will slash your family's dinner bills. Frugal food shopping is key during these horrible economic times.

I'm talkin' about BEANS. Yes, beans.

Click here for money-saving bean recipes and nutritional info >>




Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-hand Bargains

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Second-hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are booming during this economic recession, as more people discover the bargains that are available at thrift stores
Second-hand stores like Goodwill are booming during this economic recession, as more people discover the bargains that are available at thrift stores


My 21-year-old daughter and I hit the used thrift stores and garage sales in our area with enthusiasm at least one weekend a month. I raised my children as I was raised: second-hand shopping always comes before retail shopping. Buying used whenever possible is the smart path to take to give yourself more money at the end of the month for other bills or to put into savings, without having to get a raise or win the lottery.

When money's tight and prices soar in the retail stores, there's no need for despair or foolishly overspending. Second-hand stores always have inexpensive alternatives, fabulous buried treasures.

Granted, you can't always find what you're looking for at a used store, but you'd be surprised at what you often do find. And the hunt makes the conquest just that much sweeter. My daughter nearly shuns the malls these days, preferring instead to "go on the hunt" at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. Her friends are always stunned at the fabulously funky clothes she wears, many of which cost her only a dollar or two. She is quite petite and has unconventional tastes, and always scores a few amazingly cheap fashion finds when we go out. She never has been faced with not finding something she loves. When necessary, she makes a few alterations to make a shirt fit better or to update the look, but that's not too often. I have found Descoware, Revere Ware, a Pfaltzgraff serving platter in mint condition, and other kitchenware pieces stunningly under-priced. Instead of spending $7 to $10 on a new paring knife, I found an excellent one at Goodwill this summer for 99 cents, which I bought for 50 cents on half-off Saturday. I do about 60 to 70 percent of my Christmas shopping at the second-hand venues.

Being frugal doesn't mean going without or dressing frumpy. It means being wise with the cash you have and stretching it as far as it can be stretched. Why buy a pair of pants or a blouse or a large sauce pan at the mall for $50 when you can find often something of equal (sometimes even greater) value at the Salvation Army or a garage sale for less than five bucks? And you don't have to sacrifice style for savings.

Click here to read more about saving money at thrift stores >>




DIY T-Shirt Transformations: Save Big Bucks with Adorable Fashion Makeovers Using Old T-Shirts

By Vicki McClure Davidson


DIY T-shirt fashion transformations... spend little, look amazing with upcycled T-shirts
DIY T-shirt fashion transformations... spend little, look amazing with upcycled T-shirts


Specialty and fashion T-shirts are often horrifically expensive... you can easily make your own cute and casual fashion statements at a fraction of the cost by using old T-shirts. Why spend $30 to $50 (or more) on a cool spring or summer shirt or dress or shoulder bag when you can T-shirt DIY for next to nothing?

Dig through your drawers for old T-shirts, or take a trip to the second-hand store or hit some neighborhood garage sales. Clearance racks at clothing stores or T-shirt swaps with friends are other good sources for collecting inexpensive T-shirts.

Fashion trends may come and go, but T-shirts are always in style at school, the pool, the park, or any casual gathering or outing. Some of these T-shirt makeovers are more upscale, making them suitable attire for clubbing or parties.

These how-to videos are easy to follow (some require no sewing) and barely scratch the surface of what you can create for less than a few dollars... and still look fabulous.

Frugality and recycling rock, so embrace your inner DIY!


Click here to check out 16 awesome how-to DIY T-shirt transformation videos >>




Make an Adorable, Cost-minded Baby Shower Diaper 'Cake' Centerpiece

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Clever and functional, this baby shower diaper 'cake' centerpiece is easy to make and will delight the mother-to-be and guests.

Party supplies have become quite expensive, and are often discarded after the festivities (money in the trash), so making a baby shower table centerpiece that does double-duty as party decor and as a gift is totally frugalicious!

This is über-adorable:

Tropical-themed diaper 'cake' centerpiece for baby shower | Photo credit: Shoebox Chef

Tropical-themed diaper 'cake' centerpiece for baby shower | Photo credit: Shoebox Chef


Click here for more information on making this baby shower diaper 'cake' centerpiece >>




Beauty Is As Beauty Does: Great Ways to Reduce Your Grooming and Beauty Aid Expenses | Cheap Beauty Tips

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Beauty products sure ain't cheap anymore. A single tube of waterproof mascara can cost more than a bag of groceries these days. Times are tough for those of us who aren't naturally gorgeous and rely on cosmetics to enhance our attributes and to fix or hide flaws.

I remember back when the price of a bottle of nail polish was less than an hour of minimum wage work.

When Vaseline dabbed on the lips for a bit of shine and lubrication was respected, and a restful, bubbly bath was cheap-cheap-cheap. When washing your face wasn't a complicated, expensive science project.

Reduce cosmetic and grooming costs with homemade recipes and techniques. | Photo credit: MS Clips
Reduce cosmetic and grooming costs with homemade recipes and techniques. | Photo credit: MS Clips

When pinching your cheeks for a natural glow of color was the "in" thing to do, a frugal and fast way to appear to be in rosy health (OK, that one's not really true of my generation—I had several palettes of Cover Girl and Revlon powder blush and a Yardley gel shimmer cheek highlighter—but my mom's generation of cosmetic wearers did a lot of cheek-pinching to save money).

It's not just women who are cringing at the escalating costs. Many men are feeling the financial pinch with the high-rising cost of bronzers and other subtle grooming/beauty enhancers. When bills need to be paid and your supply of grooming products run low, difficult choices must be made to stay on budget.

Being broke, though, doesn't mean you can't look good nor have to delay paying your utility bills.

There are many ways to combat the high expense of grooming and beauty aid products. You can make your own skin treatments at home using common items and foods and stretch out how long they last. Reducing your outlay of cash to be able to buy things that are actually more important in the whole scheme of things—important things, like paying your rent. You can skimp on your daily usage to make them last longer. Cheap (and free) beauty tips have been around for years... centuries, actually. During the era of Cleopatra, the wearing of kohl eye liner in 4000 BC was all the Egyptian rage with both men and women (and was made of ground lead sulfide, which it still is today).

Click here for easy, frugal DIY tips for making your own beauty products >>




DIY Recycling & Fashion: ThreadBanger

Video Demo: Recycling/Repurposing Plastic Bags & Making Shopping Tote Bags from Old Clothes

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson


ThreadBanger's Rob and Corinne show a number of innovative ways to reuse plastic bags to keep them out of landfills. Also, a sewing demonstration is included with designer Rebekah Potter, who shows how easy it is to make a functional, attractive shopping tote bag from old clothes. Reuse and recycle rules!

Click here to continue >>







Ordinary Kitchens Have Magic... Cool Vintage and Retro Kitchens of Yesteryear

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Vintage 1940s kitchen, with popular aqua/turquoise metal cabinets

Vintage 1940s kitchen, with popular aqua/turquoise metal cabinets | Credit: Ugly House Photos blog

Recently, I was thumbing through a wondrous treasure box of vintage cookbooks that a colleague gave to me that had been his mother's. Tucked inside one of the cookbooks I found an old, ragged, stained newspaper clipping from 1971. It was a philosophical tribute to, of all things, kitchens.

Not fancy, hi-tech kitchens, either, but ordinary kitchens. Kitchens that millions of average families have lived in and prepared meals in for decades.

This lovely little article briefly explained how magical an ordinary kitchen can be in that it embraces simple traditions and rituals, and is one of the only rooms in a house that is expressly meant to create things. The essay also touted the spiritual side of bread making and the thrifty virtues of recycling food. This article's publication coincided with the launch of the first Earth Day.

Frugality and the magic of a loving kitchen haven't changed all that much since 1971, or 1951, or 1921, for that matter, although kitchen styles most definitely have changed.

Click here to continue >>



Baking Soda... From Frugal Cleaner to Thrifty Freshener to Beauty Aid, So Many Cheap, Easy, & Effective Uses

By Vicki McClure Davidson


In addition to its many uses in cooking, baking soda is a frugal, environmental friendly cleaner, beauty and health aid, and home freshener
In addition to its many uses in cooking, baking soda is a frugal, environmental friendly cleaner, beauty and health aid, and home freshener


Good old sodium bicarbonate — aka baking soda. It's been in use in some form or another since at least Egyptian times when natron, a mixture primarily of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate, was created as a cleansing agent much like current-day soap. A compound using sodium bicarbonate was concocted in the 1800s that was used extensively in the commercial fishing industry to prevent freshly-caught fish from spoiling.

Baking soda's countless, multiple uses today are astounding and go beyond using it as just a leavening agent in baking. Cat owners have known for ages that sprinkling some baking soda in a kitty litter box will minimize the box's nasty odor. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more uses. Before pricey, potentially toxic cleaning products came onto the market, harmless baking soda was used in millions of homes and businesses around the world to clean, disinfect, sooth, scour, and even put out fires. Its first use in America was during colonial times.

Baking soda is cheap, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and abundant. It even comes in a small cardboard box that breaks down quickly in a landfill. What's not to love?

For many practical, money-saving uses for baking soda, click here >>





Dress Like Royalty for Less: How to Copy Duchess Kate's Classic Fashions on a Commoner's Budget

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Look like royalty for less... you can imitate Duchess Kate's classic fashions on a limited budget
Look like royalty for less... you can imitate Duchess Kate's fashions on a limited budget


When Britain's Prince William proposed to girlfriend Kate Middleton, much of the world was captivated by this English beauty, who has displayed humor, common sense, and style. Since their wedding in April 2011, the interest in Duchess Kate of Cambridge hasn't let up. Kate's frugality, considering that she is an international celebrity, has impressed many, while upsetting those who wish she were more lavish.

But while the new duchess regularly recycles her fabulous fashions and isn't excessive with high-end designers, her place in the royalty spotlight demands that she spends much more money on her elegant clothes than the average commoner can afford.

However, imitating Kate's classic, beautiful looks need not break the bank. You can recreate them for much less. Dressing like royalty, with a bit of creativity, can be quite affordable.

Click here for how-to tips to inexpensively recreate Duchess Kate's fashion looks >>