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updated: 5/4/2011 10:30 AM

Don't throw it a-whey

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Leftover liquid whey from making yogurt or cheese can be added to recipes for extra protein. You can use it to soak beans or cook rice or in place of water for pizza dough, biscuits and oatmeal. The first reader tip suggests a few more ways to use it.

Whey better: The recipe for yogurt cream cheese from Patty A. is great, but she says to discard the liquid left over. This liquid, whey, is very nutritious. Use in baked goods, pancakes, soups, smoothies, etc., or at least feed it to the dog or cat.

Diane S., Pennsylvania

Divide bread for less waste: When I buy a loaf of bread, I take four slices and wrap them in plastic wrap and do that with the whole loaf. Then put it back in the bread bag and freeze. When I need bread, I take four slices out and put it in a freezer bag on counter. I never have a problem with bread getting hard, and no wasted bread that way.

Piney, Arkansas

Multi-tasking melon baller: A melon baller is a handy kitchen tool. Don't limit yourself to melon. Use it to make perfectly round butter balls, to scoop out tomatoes or mushrooms to stuff or to remove apple or pear cores. It's a great gadget to remove the seeds from bell peppers and squash. Or use it to shape mini versions of cookies and meatballs.

Reader Linda H. from New York says you can use a melon baller to remove the stem and hull on strawberries. You can even hollow them out and fill them. Use 24 large strawberries hollowed/scooped out. Combine 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar. Spoon into strawberries.

Dishwasher alternative use: One other use of the dishwasher is I wash the rubber floor mats (weather-tech) for my truck in the winter here in Iowa. The commercial washers do not do a good job.

D.C., e-mail

The price of Pam: Have you seen the price of nonstick cooking spray lately? YIKES! Even the generic brands are up to almost $2 a can! Today while I was in the grocery store, I came across a really neat product called MISTO. Basically you can pour "any oil" (as the instructions say) half way into it and use it to spray on food, pans, the BBQ, etc. I grabbed one and brought it home and put canola oil in it. Worked great! And it will no doubt pay for itself ($14) in just about no time!

Kate, Pennsylvania

Homemade gift idea: My daughter-in-law gave me a vanilla-making kit the Christmas before last. That stuff makes the best vanilla I've ever used! I'm an avid baker and I can really tell the difference using the homemade variety. The kits would be easy to make and give as gifts, as well (tall bottle with rubber-seal stopper, fresh vanilla beans split, a small bottle of inexpensive vodka). Shake it up, put a sticker on it of when you bottled it, and then start using it about two months later. I swear my same recipes taste even better using this homemade vanilla, and it's so much less expensive than buying it.

Marcella, Texas

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers 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 sara@frugalvillage.com.

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