The Secret in Great Spaghetti Sauce


Every week, reader tips arrive in my inbox and my mail box, too. Without fail, there’s at least one that is so great, it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of that. Take today’s first tip is for how to change homemade spaghetti sauce from ordinary to awesome. Who knew it could be this easy.

AWESOME SAUCE. When making homemade spaghetti sauce the tomatoes can be a bit acidic, and that can ruin the flavor. Try adding a few pinches of baking soda. It will fizz up at first, but just continue to stir it in and the result will be a slightly sweeter sauce. Laurie B., Maine


YOU FREEZE I FREEZE. I like to cruise through the frozen food aisles at my favorite warehouse club to see what’s new. I figure if they can freeze it, so can I. On a recent trip I saw a long line of people waiting for samples. I looked to see what it was, only to discover rice! Frozen pre-cooked plain white rice. People seemed to think that was the greatest invention ever and they were all tossing it in their carts. I went home, pulled out the rice cooker, made my own … and froze it.  Rebecca M., Washington

TEN BUCKS? NO WAY! I’ve been seeing bottled ironing water. The directions say to use it to mist items as you iron them. The squeaky-clean fragrance leaves a light halo of clean on freshly washed items, from tablecloths to T-shirts. But it is pricey—$10 a bottle or more. I read the ingredients and found it contains only water and a trace of lavender oil. So I made my own. I purchased lavender oil for four dollars and added a couple of drops to a gallon of distilled water ($.59). It’s great and also fills the entire room with a wonderful fragrance, all for only pennies! Kim H., Wisconsin

COLOR CLIP. I’ve been spending only cash when I shop, but knowing at a glance how much I had available in each category was difficult when I had all the cash together in my wallet. Now I use colored paper clips to organize my cash, just like the envelope system. I assign a color to each category and I can see at a glance how much I have to spend. It also makes me think twice when I’m tempted to overspend by borrowing from another category. Mary Beth W., California

SEEING RED. Each time I write a check to a creditor I use the second line in the register to record the interest charged that month (in red), the amount of my payment that is actually attacking my debt (in green) and the new balance (in blue). This way I can see at a glance my progress and the red is a visual reminder of why I never want to be in debt again. Michele B., California

EXTRA TIMER. Did your kitchen timer break, or end up being used all the time in another room? Before you pay money to replace that timer, check your microwave oven. Most of them have a kitchen timer feature which operates without turning on the oven. Often this function is listed on the control panel. Suzanne S., Colorado

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Becky Walker Phillips

    I never knew my microwave had a timer available for use without food being in there! WOW! This is going to be my new best friend. Have I told you lately how much I love your newsletter and blog, Mary? Well, I do.

  • Shellee

    One way I separate my cash in my wallet when I need to spend out of more than one category is to fold the bills in half and place a small sticky note with the category name on it. Just be sure to refold your change and place it back with that category.

  • Emily Booth

    I have a wallet with a lot of bill holders and pockets so I split my cash. I put my grocery $$ in the 2nd bill holder and my gas $$ in a pocket. Personal $$ goes into the main bill holder. I keep an extra $20 squirreled away in another pocket for just in case. Change from groceries goes back into the grocery pocket (except for coins). Even the coin pocket is divided into 2. I put all of my quarters on one side to make it easier to see how much I have (for meters and public transit). Any money I have left over at the end of the week goes into savings. I got my wallet at Sears.

  • Mrs. S.

    I don’t do this because I just thought of it while reading the comments….Why not use a coupon holder labeled for each store or category, and put the money allotted and the coupons to be used in each corresponding section? Coupon holders have the dividers in place, tabs and are made to expand. You can also file the receipts in the same way with this system. This way your wallet isn’t so fat and there may be less struggling to stay organized.

  • DianaB

    Wow, and to think I had already “invented” cooked rice in the freezer…LOL after I have cooked it in the microwave. Dorky people will buy anything.