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Use ice cube trays to freeze leftovers
By Sara Noel | Columnist
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Published: 10/5/2010 5:24 PM

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Ice cube trays are perfect little organizers. They can be used to freeze herbs, coffee/tea and baby food. They stack easily, so use them to organize jewelry, loose change, tacks, paper clips, small screws and bolts or buttons. They're great to hold different-colored paints for kids or candies, a variety of dips, to grow seeds or as a candy mold. The first tip has one more way to use them.

Ice cube tray use: Even when I have only just a bit, I like to freeze leftover(s) in ice cube trays then transfer to a Ziploc bag(s). I write down what I put into these bags on a running list on my fridge or otherwise. I incorporate the frozen cubes into new recipes that I'm already making. For example, if I am making spaghetti, and I have 4 cubes of leftover goulash in the freezer, I could add this to the sauce. Or if I am making chili or vegetable soup, I could add the cubes. By having cubes, you are separating the leftovers so everything doesn't get dumped into a pile in a container in the refrigerator or freezer. Instead of one frozen chunk, you have all these small little individual cubes that thaw quicker and are more versatile to incorporate into many recipes you already have on your menu plan.

I also use the ice cube idea to freeze vegetable and beef broth and yogurt starters. Each cube is about 2 tablespoons, too.

-- herbsgirl, email

Camp tips: I usually go camping with a group at least a few other friends and family so we can share resources. We'll plan out the main meals and split up who brings what, and do the same with games, equipment, etc. Not only is it more fun with more people, but you can also save money by not having to provide everything you'll need on your own. For instance, while each person needs to have their own sleeping bag, you only need one Coleman stove for the group, so if one person has that, you don't need to go buy one.

-- Suzanne email

Clean oven racks: Sandwich your racks between sections of newspaper until they are all covered in paper. Slip the whole thing into a garbage bag. Add about 2 cups of ammonia to the bag and close it. Let it sit overnight, and when you take the racks out, they will wipe clean like magic.

If you have any black chunks from spills, they will flick off with a butter knife. It stinks but it sure works. I have been a landlord for 40 years, and have used this tip hundreds of times. I even forgot the bag on one job and it all became dried out. I added hot water and let it sit 30 minutes, and everything wiped off.

-- Sandee S., Iowa

Makeshift mushroom keeper: The zip bags that grapes come in, with the big holes, are great for storing mushrooms! The mushrooms might dry out, but they don't get slimy!

-- Judi, New Hampshire

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (, a website offering practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or