Friday, May 28, 2010

5 cheap things that are better than the expensive alternatives

You get what you pay for is a familiar refrain. I think in many cases it's true - often, spending money on quality means you'll get more wear, more use, better health, etc.

But sometimes the cheap stuff really is better. Even much better. Here are 5 cheap things that are better than good.

1. Petroleum Jelly as lip softener and eye makeup remover
I am one of those people who rarely goes out without mascara. It's not that I prefer to wear makeup, it's just that if I skip it, people have a tendancy to ask if I'm feeling okay. A combination of glasses and short, stubby eyelashes, you see. I have used expensive eye makeup removers - Revlon, Mary Kay, others. Best? Good old Vaseline. A small tub of generic lasts forever, and was $0.99 at the grocery store vs. the approximate $8-$13 for eye makeup remover. Plus I'm 37 and have almost no wrinkles showing around my eyes, due to a strict nightly regimen of vaseline and eye cream. Coincidence? Don't think so.

Plus it's great on the lips, although I keep a separate tub of it for that.

2. Mascara
I've tried the $20 tubes. I've tried pretty much every brand on the market, in a series of desperate attempts to improve the length and look of the aforementioned nonexistant eyelashes. Best? Cover Girl Lash Blast Length in the yellow tube. I think I paid $8.99 on sale, which is more than you could spend if you went ultra-cheap, but I think this stuff is the best value for the money.

3. Cooking Wine
Lot's of celebrity chefs will use expensive wine in their food. With a few exeptions (shrimp scampi may be one) this is a waste of good money and good wine. I know - I've used good wine, and I've used $2.99 a bottle cooking wine in all sorts of recipes, and unless the wine is a finishing ingredient, do yourself a favor and keep the good stuff in your glass, dump the cheap stuff in the pan.

4. Homemade soil amendments
Rose bushes love your old coffee grounds. Ground up egg shells - let them dry on the counter a while - amend the soil and keep slugs away. Mash up some hot pepper in water, put in a spray bottle to get rid of beetles and other garden pests (I haven't tried this one, but others swear by it). Compost literally turns your food waste into soil. All cheaper, and all work better than stuff you can buy in the store. Plus it's the heart of reduce, reuse, recycle.

5. Summer Picnics
Are about as romantic and fun as any expensive outing you can have. There is nothing better than sitting on a beach, in a park, or in your own yard on a blanket sharing food with people you love. I'll take that over a filet mignon in an expensive steak house any day.

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