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updated: 9/26/2012 1:35 PM

Frugal living: Freeze dairy products before they spoil

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Dairy products often spoil before you can use the entire carton. Milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk and eggnog can be frozen (before they expire) in ice cube trays and transferred to freezer storage bags to enjoy later. One quart fills three trays. The frozen cube form makes them ideal for smoothies.

The first reader tip shares how to freeze and use milk:

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Freeze milk: I regularly pour milk into several small, sterile jam jars and freeze it. I thaw the jars in the fridge as needed. The cream melts first, so I pour it off into a fresh sterile jar for coffee cream. The rest of the jar thaws as skim or 1-percent milk, which I use on my cereal or for baking. I haven't bought coffee cream in years.

Donna, Canada

Note from Sara: When freezing milk, leave an inch of space in the container to prevent a milk explosion in your freezer from expansion.

Cloth napkin suggestion: Terry-cloth or waffle-cotton washcloths or dish cloths are the absolute best cloth napkins I have found -- I've been using them for 40 years. They're absorbent, attractive and very easy to wash. After using them, most people don't go back to regular cloth napkins, and certainly not paper! When they get stained or worn out, they keep working as rags.

Sam, email

Don't waste food: People send so many dollars down the drain when they toss out food! Use leftovers for soups, casseroles and pizza toppings -- do anything but throw them away. I dehydrate left over bits of veggies and make my own soup starter. Potato peels become cheesy appetizer lunches; overripe fruits become fruit leathers, smoothies and jams.

K.H., email

Cook from scratch: Cook from scratch, even things you would normally not think of making yourself. The people at frugalvillage.com have always impressed me because they seem to have a knack for finding out how to DIY stuff I would never have even thought of DIYing, and I've always thought of myself as an imaginative person. Learn to bake bread, make salad dressings from scratch, mix up your own condiments, etc. Give something a try and find out how easy it is.

S.D., Minnesota

Deodorant savings: I use men's deodorant all the time. It comes in a bigger-sized container (2.8 or 3-ounce instead of 2.6 for women's). The "fresh" scent doesn't smell too "manly."

Zakity, Oregon

Muffin tin tip: I freeze homemade soup in muffin tins, then transfer it to freezer storage bags. This makes it possible to microwave a little at a time, instead of reheating a large portion.

Laurie, Texas

• Sara Noel owns frugalvillage.com, a website of money-saving strategies. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106 or sara@frugalvillage.com.

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