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updated: 1/9/2013 6:32 AM

Frugal living: Using leftover whipped cream and coffee grounds

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Q. I have a small carton of 35 percent whipping cream in the fridge. I believe I bought it for a recipe that didn't come to fruition. I don't want to waste it, but it's not getting used and the expiration date is looming. Any suggestions? FYI: I don't need to make whipped cream, so the obvious suggestion is out.

Libby, Canada

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A. You can make butter (shake it in a glass jar), add it to cream soups or make salad dressing, Alfredo sauce, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and more.

You can freeze it, too. Use a pastry bag with a large tip and place dollops or spoon-drop mounds of it onto a wax-paper-lined or parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once it's frozen, transfer it to an airtight storage container and place back in the freezer. Use it within two months. You can't whip it after freezing, but you can use it in other recipes. It also works well for hot cocoa.

Q. I bought these little yellow guavas at the store the other day. When I eat them, they're soft and creamy, but the seeds are really hard. I thought the seeds were edible, but it's hard to chew them. Am I eating them wrong?

Lilly, Illinois

A. When guava is ripe, you can eat the entire fruit, including the peel/rind and the seeds. You can bite into it like an apple, but you can eat it all. Some people cut off the ends, cut the fruit in half or quarters, remove the seeds and only eat what is remaining. Some people cut them in half, scoop out the fruit center and throw away the skin.

Q. Have you ever tried just writing the prices on the things you buy? I have heard that you should make a price book for the things you buy most often, but I'm never really sure what to include and what to leave out. Using an actual notebook was too cumbersome and time-consuming. I figure if I write on the most obvious ones with a sharpie, I'll probably just memorize the price, since I'll be using the item so often. I guess it wouldn't work if you tried to keep track of the price of everything, but it should work at least with the most common things you buy, right?

Nishu, California

A. Your idea will work, and most importantly you'll have created a system that works for you, specifically. Many of the products you buy will already have a price sticker on them, so it won't be too time-consuming for you.

I prefer using a handy little notepad; some people prefer a dry-erase board or a spreadsheet, and others simply use their receipts as a reference. After a while, you do tend to memorize the best price on many products. I like to have information recorded, too, such as unit sizes and prices, dates, store name, etc.

You might be interested in comparison shopping/price book apps, too, such as Pricebook, RedLaser and CompareMe Shopping Utility.

Q. I've heard coffee grounds can be reused to make additional pots of coffee. Any tips? I heard it was best to refrigerate the old grounds as soon as the pot is done brewing, to prevent mold. What ratio of new grinds to old grinds (plus water) do you use? I do reuse coffee. I immediately remove the carafe from the burner when the coffee is fresh. Whatever is not immediately consumed is allowed to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. This coffee is either reheated in the microwave until piping hot to be drunk, or it is used to make iced coffee drinks.

Stacey, Pennsylvania

A. Yes, you can reuse coffee grounds if you want to. This probably isn't an appealing idea to some people, but if you don't mind the taste, go ahead. Some people don't like the taste; it can be bitter because the good flavor has already been extracted. Regarding the ratio, you'll have to experiment. You might find topping it off with one extra scoop of fresh coffee grounds is enough, but someone else might want to add more scoops to get the flavor where they want it. If the flavor is weak, you can combine it with hot cocoa and make a thrifty mocha.

Reusing the grounds in a French press might work best, and I would reuse them as quickly as possible (back-to-back brewing). I'm a bit of a coffee snob, so I recommend reusing the grounds in other ways, such as sprinkling them in your garden. You can freeze your brewed coffee in an ice-cube tray to use later, too.

If you find that you are refrigerating a lot of leftover coffee, you could cold-brew it in a French press instead (let it set for 24 hours in the press).

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

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