More Kitchen Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner

Here is a wonderfully creative collection of tips that spotlight my readers’ resourcefulness and intelligence in the kitchen and pantry. From clever tricks involving coffee filters, kitchen mallets, and shower caps (yes, shower caps!) to simple storage solutions for sugars and spices—get ready to take conventional wisdom to an unconventional level.

Calcium Stretch

Add powdered milk to meatloaf, meatballs, and cookie recipes. It’s a good way to add calcium to your diet. Most kids won’t touch milk made from powder, but if it’s mixed into other foods, they won’t know it’s there.

Cheap Clips

Need a cheap but effective way to clamp shut your chip bags? Buy a bag of clothespins at the dollar store. They make great chip clips!

Odor Eliminator

Used coffee grounds can eliminate even the worst refrigerator odors. First, remove the offending item that’s gone bad and is stinking up the fridge. Then take out the used coffee filter with the coffee grounds in it, and place it in your refrigerator in an open container. Just replace the coffee grounds when they dry out.

Cubed Eggs

Did you know you can freeze eggs? Spray an ice cube tray with nonstick cooking spray. Break one egg into each compartment. Freeze. Once frozen, transfer them to a zip-type freezer bag. Do it quickly so they don’t melt and stick together. Return the bag to the freezer. When you need an egg, grab a cube from the bag. This is especially useful if you can buy eggs in bulk.

Easy Store, Quick Thaw

When hamburger meat is on sale, buy extra, and then put 1-pound portions into small freezer bags. Before closing, use your rolling pin to flatten it out. Now seal it up, and stack these in the freezer. When you need a pound, it will thaw quickly because it is so thin. These flattened bags stack nicely in the freezer, too.

Fresh Lettuce

To keep lettuce fresh longer, do this: Wash the lettuce, and allow it to drain for a few minutes, and then place it in an airtight container. Before you close it, slip in a single paper towel. It will keep the lettuce fresh longer. It’s like magic!

Freeze Cooked Rice

Take away the hassle of cooking rice fresh every time you want it for a meal. Make a big batch; then pack it into smaller portions, and freeze. When you’re ready, the exact-sized portion you want is waiting for you.

Frugal Luxury

Real vanilla sugar (for coffee drinks or to sprinkle on sweets) can be costly. Here’s a way to make a whole pound of vanilla sugar inexpensively: Place one whole vanilla bean and a pound of granulated sugar in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the bean is invisible and the sugar is a cream color. This keeps very well in a covered canister.

Leftover Inventory

A great way to avoid cleaning out the dreaded leftovers in the refrigerator is to keep a leftover inventory. Place a dry-erase board on the front of your fridge, and each time you put a leftover in the fridge, write it down alongside the date.

Plastic Keeps It Clean

Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the top of your food processor’s bowl before applying the lid. When you remove it, all of the splatters will be confined to the bowl, and the lid will be spotless!

Soft Sugar

To keep brown sugar soft, store it in a wide-mouth jar. Place a slice of bread (the heel, if possible) on top of the sugar, and apply the lid. Leave it on the pantry shelf, and you’ll have beautiful, soft brown sugar all the time. Amazingly, the bread does not mold. Replace the bread each time you open the jar.

Tie It in a Bow

To keep dry onions fresh for a long time, cut a leg from a pair of clean pantyhose. Slice open the toe, and then tie it tightly with a piece of yarn into a bow. Now drop an onion into the toe area, and tie another yarn bow above it. Repeat until the leg is filled with onions. Hang it to allow the onions air space. When you need an onion, simply untie the bottom bow. This makes the pantyhose leg reusable.

Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021

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Mary Hunt
Author: Mary Hunt

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