1. Leave your car behind when possible – add baskets and racks to bikes. Make sure bikes get a tune-up, and take a tire repair kit.
2. Visit websites before you go to check for discount coupons.
3. Check neighboring towns for free music performances and festivals. Meet up with friends for low-key fun.
4. Attend a parade. Bring a picnic and homemade lemonade.
5. Limit fireworks purchases to sparklers and attend free public fireworks shows.
6. Have cooler, will picnic! Buy reusable ice packs, or fill with ice and bring along a day’s worth of hydration rather than pay for expensive drinks.
7. Check out lake beaches within an hour’s driving distance. Leave early and stay all day to maximize the fun without adding a hotel stay.
8. When the big summer movie that you all want to see comes out, eat lunch at home first, then go enjoy the matinee.
9. Decrease oven use. When you must, bake in the cool morning hours.
10. Fire up the outdoor grill to keep the kitchen cool. Purchase meat in bulk, divide, marinade in freezer bags and stock the freezer. To save on gas, grill a few items for the week and reheat in the microwave.
11. Use your slow cooker in the summer and make your own BBQ sauce, baked beans or ratatouille.
12. Scour the house for plugged-in appliances you simply don’t use in the summer. Unplug what you can.
13. Save on air conditioning. Open upstairs windows before bed. Turn fans on low for the night. Close windows before the sun gets high in the sky. Close curtains on the sunny sides of the house.
14. You don’t want your AC to quit on the hottest day of the year and incur a rush repair. Check your AC for maintenance and replace filters.
15. Lower the heat setting on your dryer. Hang partially dry sheets and towels out to dry in the sun.
16. Grow your own cutting garden. Fill an entire bed from end to end with varieties like daisies, lilies, gladiolas, sunflowers and zinnias.
17. Build a raised garden bed to keep out weeds and pests and plant a whole summer’s worth of salad plants. Pace plants to harvest on an ongoing basis.
18. Invite birds and butterflies into your yard by planting sweet smelling flowers like cosmos, phlox, and zinnias. Purchase seed in bulk to last the whole summer and fill feeders bought at the thrift store.
19. A delicious way to start the day: Mix up homemade granola using oats, nuts, and dried fruits purchased in the bulk food section. Don’t forget the honey and peanut butter.
20. Enjoy plenty of fresh, local berries, at their best prices of the year. Rinse, then dry in a salad spinner lined with paper towels. Refrigerate in a vented container lined with more paper towels.
by Christina Katz