Tightwad Wednesday – Cheap Postal Scale & Crumb Cookies

Posted on October 24, 2007 by Melissa 
Filed Under Tightwad Wednesdays

Each week, I will test out two tips from the The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and on the following Wednesday I’ll review how they went and evaluate if it is worth my time/effort/money to continue with it.

I think both the challenges I tried this week exemplify what being a tightwad is about. One uses items around the house to replace a seldom used gadget and the other makes use of food that typically gets tossed to make something truly yummy. Resourcefulness at it’s best!

Cheapskate Postal Scale

This trick is supposed to help you figure out postage by determining whether or not a letter is under 1 oz (only needing one stamp). Page 115 of the Gazette states:

You need a 12″ ruler, a pencil, and five quarters. Put the ruler on the pencil so that it is centered over the 6″ mark, or in the center. Place the quarters (which weigh 1 oz) on the 3″ mark. Center your sealed envelope on the 9″ mark (the 3″ and the 9″ marks are the same distance from the ends of the ruler.) If the quarters don’t move you know your letter is under 1 oz.

The first thing I noticed was that the 5 quarters didn’t add up to 1 oz on my fancy-smancy food scale. Thinking something might be wrong with my quarters I got new ones. Nope. The 5 quarters came in at 7/8 oz every time. I added a penny on top and bingo, I got 1 oz. I figure it is better to weigh over than under anyway.

I weighed my 3 test envelopes:

  1. Light envelope = 3/8 oz
  2. Envelope w/ Coupons = 7/8 oz
  3. Envelope w/ Coupons + receipts = 1 1/8 oz

I couldn’t for the life of me find a pencil in my house so I used a pen for this experiment instead.

Envelope 1Envelope 1: When I placed the letter on the ruler he quarters didn’t move. It was pretty obvious that it was under 1 oz so no surprise there.

Envelope 2Envelope 2: When I placed the envelope on the ruler the pen moved a bit (probably because it is round) so I had to rebalance. The quarters were not moved but this time I could see that the ruler was bending a little. I’m happy to see that it indicates less than 1 oz but it seems so close that it could be hard to trust.

Envelope 3Envelope 3: When I placed the receipts on top of the envelope to simulate a letter weighing over 1 oz the quarters actually rose off the table! I was shocked! I tested it several times and saw the same results. Even with it only being a little over 1 oz it seemed to work.

Although the results of my testing indicate that this cheapskate scale works I still feel a little uneasy with it. Maybe that’s because my quarters didn’t add up to exactly 1 oz or because I don’t have the comfort of seeing real numbers. It appears to accurate though. I think this works well enough to use in a pinch and it’s better than buying a postal scale if you don’t do a lot of mailing. Try it out for yourself. I bet it works for you, too!

Bread Crumb Cookies

This recipe came at the perfect time. We have been experiementing with off-brand bread for a few weeks now, trying to find one that measures up to our favorite Nature’s Own 9-grain loaf. The one we tried last week, Honey Wheat-berry, was not a hit. It was too soft and overloaded with wheat-berries. Very odd texture. I had several slices leftover from this loaf just begging to be transformed into something else rather than thrown away.

Bread Crumb Cookies from The Complete Tightwad Gazette (p. 132)

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup melted shortening
2 cups bread crumbs

Sift together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry mixture. Add melted shortening and bread crumbs. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.

This is a remarkably easy recipe. For the breadcrumbs I simply tore the soft bread into small pieces. I could have used the crusts but I decided against it (it is a cookie, after all) so I put the crusts in the freezer to use as topping on a savory dish.

I used butter flavored shortening because it was what I had around. I made tablespoon size cookies and baked them as directed, for 15 minutes.

Bread Crumb CookiesAt first, I didn’t like them very much. I thought the first batch was too crunchy and I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate cookies to begin with. But after baking them for only 10-12 minutes I found they were softer and much better.

They have grown on me. These cookies are light and not very dense. They remind me of a crumbly cake. Surprisingly, they seemed to get better overnight. I had one for breakfast this morning and it was downright delicious!

I was a little nervous about using the bread that I did. I thought that all the wheat berries would hurt the cookie but it didn’t really. It was odd but then it reminded me of chopped nuts. It added that texture without the price. I bet it would be more cookie-like with white bread though.

I love that this recipe because it can be used with healthful breads like whole wheat. What a fantastic way to “disguise” it from children who dislike wheat.

This recipe is going in my file because it is inventive. I think I will try to make a non-chocolate version next time. This is a great way to use up stale bread and give your family a treat at the same time.

Stay tuned for next week’s Tightwad Wednesday challenge where I will be testing out:


3 Responses to “Tightwad Wednesday – Cheap Postal Scale & Crumb Cookies”

  1. Thrifty kitchen: Use it up! « Cheap Like Me on May 5th, 2008 6:05 pm

    […] bread crumbs you used to pay $2.39 for at the store). Use for breading, meat loaf, whatever. The Tightwad Gazette published a recipe for Bread Crumb Cookies to use up the leftovers; I haven’t tried […]

  2. links for 2008-05-26 « Free Hogg on May 25th, 2008 8:35 pm

    […] Tightwad Wednesday – Cheap Postal Scale & Crumb Cookies : A Penny Closer (tags: scale) […]

  3. Justin(new comment) on August 22nd, 2009 11:57 am

    I am humored by the redneck postal scale! haha. I think it’d work great with some effort. My thinking is, wouldn’t it make a difference how far the coins are from the pen, as well as the letters? I’m just passing through and thought I’d leave a comment. I found this article searching for a cheap postal scale. Never thought I’d say this, but maybe this is a little bit too cheap! BUT if you just mail letters and/or don’t mail often, you’re right, it’d probably work great for you!


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