It's always amazing to read the self-help ways people find to turn a dollar into two. This week's selection of tips is no exception, ranging from babies to the pantry and then out into the garden.

Plingie from Christchurch writes: "Making your own baby food can save hundreds. There are a couple of ways of doing it. Easy but not the cheapest: buy tinned fruit and puree it, then freeze in ice cube trays. Cheapest but a bit more labour intensive: boil your own veg and puree and freeze as above. You can cook extra when you're making family meals and puree it and freeze. When it's frozen in ice cube trays you can simply pop them into a zip-lock bag and use one or two at a time."

S.S. says: "I make free cafe meals for my 2-year-old. He won't eat vegetables but loves pasta, so each weekend I make a big pot of thick minestrone soup for the whole family. I add tomato paste to make it red and small elbow pasta. Then I freeze single-serve portions in re-useable airtight containers. I take them with us still frozen and have yet to come across a cafe who wouldn't reheat one for us at meal time."

L.M. writes: "Our daughter is teething but buying rusks can be quite expensive. Instead, we buy discounted bananas, cut them into small pieces, skewer them on to plastic ice holders (bought from a second-hand store), then freeze. The end result is a tasty teether, which my 3-year-old can help me make and enjoy as a special treat."

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Allie from Nelson says: "A good way to store and use celery in the winter is as follows. Cut off the base, and the very coarse top leaves, if necessary, and discard. Wash the remainder thoroughly. Dry and chop fairly fine (leaves and all). Store in the freezer in zip-top bags. Add handfuls to soups, stews, stir fry and casseroles as needed. No waste, quick and convenient, stays fresh."

D.H. from Howick has a great idea for keeping valuables safe: "Hide keys, rings, jewellery etc in an empty baked-bean tin and place it up high on a shelf in the pantry when you go away. Should anyone break in when you're away, your valuables will appear to be part of the larder. Harder to find than easy places like the dressing table in the bedroom."

T.B. from Blenheim has a cleaning tip. "Annoyed with unsightly stains around the base of your taps? It's caused by calcium deposits in the water. An easy way to get the stain off is to wrap a piece of cloth soaked in vinegar around the tap, after a day or so the stain will wipe off. It's the acetic acid in the vinegar that does the trick."

Trish from Tauranga has a secret "weapon" against slugs and snails in the garden cucumber. "To keep slugs and snails away from newly planted seedlings, just make a small flat container out of tin foil and put three or four slices of cucumber on it. The cucumber and tin foil together seem to give off a smell that slugs and snails don't like.

"I put a couple of little holes in the bottom so they didn't collect rain water.

"We have a raised garden about 2.5m x 3m and I used three small containers about 12cm x 9cm."

Jules from Napier recommends growing New Zealand native spinach. "They are a little-known vegetable -- it is a vine that is really fast growing, provides huge volumes, keeps weeds down and is incredibly delicious.

"Simply pluck the leaves from the vine and it continues to sprout.

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"Three to four plants will easily keep a family fed for the winter. It grows all year round and is idiot proof."

This week the number of Oily Rag club members passed 6500. If you would like to become a member of New Zealand's frugal community and receive our free weekly newsletter, join online at oilyrag.co.nz and share your favourite tips.

For those who prefer pen and paper, please send your tips to Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Read tips at www.oilyrag.co.nz