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updated: 8/8/2012 9:33 AM

Frugal living: Reusing mesh bags and toning down cinnamon

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The durable mesh bags that produce such as onions or oranges are sold in can be saved and reused. Use them for bagging your produce when you're shopping (instead of using disposable plastic produce bags) or reuse one as a beach bag.

The first reader tip has a few other suggestions:

Nylon mesh produce bag reuse: I save the mesh bags from oranges and use them for dish scrubbers and to hold odds and ends for the garden (tools, gloves, flower bulbs, etc.).

Carrie, Ohio

Uses for hydrogen peroxide: I use a mixture of one part hydrogen peroxide and one part ammonia to clean jewelry. You can't use this for soft gems like pearls and opals, but it's fantastic for gold and hard stones like rubies, sapphires, diamonds -- real or otherwise. Just swish the jewelry around in the mixture for about a minute, rinse and lay on a towel to dry.

W. Calderon, Mississippi

Another use for a muffin tin: Use one to serve condiments for a barbecue party. Add ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, etc. I like to use it for sundae and salad toppings, too.

Patty, Montana

Clean gas-stove grates: You can clean these the same way that you clean oven racks. Place them in a plastic garbage bag and add ammonia. Seal the bag and leave it outside overnight (at least 12 hours). You'll be able to wipe them clean in the morning with a sponge, without scrubbing.

Amanda, Ohio

Q. I made a crockpot full of beef vegetable soup. The recipe called for about teaspoon cinnamon, which overpowers the taste of the soup. What do you suggest I add to it to mask the cinnamon taste? I don't want to throw it out!

Jackie, email

A. Cinnamon is often added to soups. Many people love the flavor of cinnamon in soup, while others find it completely inedible. Half a teaspoon is quite a lot to deal with if you're not fond of the flavor. I would double the soup recipe and hope for the best.

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email