Tips and Questions


Sharing ideas helps solve problems and provides inspiration. When it comes to the Oily Rag community, sharing and helping is a way of life – all the with common goal of living well, not wasting resources and saving money wherever possible!

This week we dive into the mailbags and find tips about cleaning, cheap meats, DIY, and more. And we have a number of questions from readers.

Two-minute Mum from Wellington has a problem. Things tend to get left on the stove for two minutes too long. The latest incident involved boiling milk and a stainless steel saucepan. The consequence is a pot with very stubborn burn marks. If you have suggestions for Two-minute Mum on ways to remove the stains she would be very pleased to hear from you.

Warren from Tauranga has sent out an SOS. “Does anyone have any suggestions to remove black mold from grey silicone in a tiled shower base that is constantly wet in winter.” If you can help with his moldy problem, please let us know and we will pass it on to Warren.

Lorraine from Hamilton has this tip for cleaning a microwave. “Take 1 tablespoon baking soda, half a cup of white vinegar, and a cup of water. Mix in a bowl and cook on high for 1 minute until just boiling. Remove the bowl and wipe the now moist interior of microwave with a damp cloth.”

R.B. from Masterton responded to last week’s column about bananas. “On the topic of bananas, our New World supermarket sells cooking bananas for $2 for a large bag. So I mash three to six together and put in a zip-lock plastic bag ready for a banana cake or muffins or both. Just thaw before using and hey presto, all is ready.” Way too simple – and even better, low cost!

Roberta from Cape Town has this handyperson tip. “When removing a lid from a can of paint, squeeze cling wrap into the groove. When done painting, remove wrap and replace lid. No messy grove filled with paint!”

Rebecca S from Waikanae has this tip to make hand soap go further. “Refill your old foam hand soap dispenser with watered down soap and it will continue to foam when dispensed.”

Denise from Auckland has this cheap eats tip. “Think differently when it comes to buying meat. When visiting a supermarket don’t look at the price of the item but how much per kg. You can pay $16.00 for sausages and $10.00 a kg for beef. Buy a piece of meat i.e. a beef bolar. From that one piece of meat you can cut it into: slices to slow roast in the oven or slow cooker; smaller pieces to casserole; or mince it and make burgers. Same principle with pork. You may need someone to show you how to cut the meat correctly but it’s worth finding out as you will save yourself money. Maybe your friendly butcher will show you how to cut meat. I never buy chicken pieces – always a whole chicken. From one chicken you can make – from the breast – butter chicken, or schnitzels to pan fry; legs can be slow cooked; wings can be fried Chinese style. The frame can be cooked with onions, carrots and celery then left overnight. Next day, skim off the fat, retain the meat and veggies and add a can of cream style corn to make chicken sweet corn soup, or add extra veggies and make a chicken vegetable soup. If you buy a fresh chicken you can then freeze the stock for another time. If you don’t have a mincer, either borrow, or pool money with friends and buy one together. Same with the meat – sometimes it’s an outlay to buy a medium to large piece of meat, but again pool with your friends and distribute between you. Once you get the hang of it, the recipes are limitless and you’re saving a heap of money and eating well.”

Hot Dog.

Here’s one from the “that’s fairly interesting” file. Did you know the 23rd of July is National Hotdog Day – well in the United States it is! We think having a hot dog day may be a sizzling good idea for charities here in oilyragaroa to get out onto the streets to raise funds for their good causes.

Typically hot dogs are boiled sausages in a bread roll with oodles of mustard and tomato sauce and dollops of onion – but there are lots of ways to “dress up a ‘dog”, so let us know if you have a favourite hotdog recipe and we will share it with others.

By Frank and Muriel Newman. Read more here.

Don’t forget to send us your tips and queries so we can share them with the oily rag community – you can do that by visiting the oily rag website ( or by writing to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.