Mary Hunt is the award-winning and best-selling author of 23 books. She writes the Everyday Cheapskate column that appears in The Daily Journal.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 invites you to go to, 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