With the recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council that the average family throws out $2,275 in food annually, I'm being even more diligent about using every ounce of food that comes into my kitchen. These tips will help:
Single serving mac 'n' cheese: My toddler eats only a small portion of a box of macaroni and cheese. Leftover mac and cheese is never a hit, and the individual packs are too pricey. Instead, I buy the boxes when they are on sale and store the cheese powder and noodles in separate jars. Then I can prepare individual servings as needed. I use 1/3 cup dry noodles and 1 heaping tablespoon each of cheese powder, butter and milk.
-- Michel, New York
Steam warmer: To keep my mashed potatoes hot and fluffy while I finish the rest of my dinner, I put them in a heat-proof bowl and place that bowl in a pot filled with a couple inches of simmering water. I cover the bowl with a lid or foil to keep the potatoes from drying out.
-- Doris, Nebraska
Anti-sticky marshmallows: I had an open bag of marshmallows get sticky. I put them in a zip-type bag with cornstarch and stirred them. They separated. I tried some in hot chocolate, and it tasted just fine.
-- Cathy, Florida
Spice file: If you don't have a lot of kitchen space to devote to spice and herb bottles, make a spice file. All you need are sandwich-size zipper bags and self-adhesive file tabs. Empty a spice jar into a bag, zip it shut and stick a
-- Cindi, Arkansas
Pan liner: To avoid cleaning a roller pan when I paint, I slip it into a large plastic department store bag and pour the paint onto the bag over the pan. After painting, I simply turn the bag inside out and discard it. I am left with a clean roller pan, which saves a lot of time and costs nothing.
-- Tony, Mississippi
Neat fridge: I just bought a new refrigerator, and I didn't want the shelves to get dirty. When I store a bottle that tends to get messy, I put a sheet of plastic wrap down as a shelf liner. It works beautifully, and because it is tacked down to the shelf by the adhesive wrap, it is neat and tidy.
-- Cathy, California
Cloth shopping bags: I have accumulated many cloth tote bags over the years from seminars I've attended or book clubs I've joined. Instead of purchasing reusable cloth bags for groceries, I use my tote bags instead. They are machine washable, and I can save money and the environment by recycling them.
-- Cindy, Missouri
Denture tablet cleaning paste. Denture tablets work great to clean all sorts of things. I crush a tablet and mix in a few drops of water. I apply this paste to the tray under the water and ice dispenser in our refrigerator door, allowng it to sit overnight. In the morning, I wipe up the paste, and the calcium buildup is gone.
-- Annelies, Florida
Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.