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updated: 4/24/2013 6:11 AM

Frugal living: Tips for freezing yeast, juice and rice

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Q. Is it OK to put dry yeast packets in the refrigerator? My house gets hot inside in the summer, so I'm thinking it would keep better in there.

S.S., California

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A. Yes, you can refrigerate dry instant yeast (such as SAF dry yeast). You can freeze it, too. Make sure it's tightly sealed. I suggest using it within a year. Some people report that the yeast goes dead, but I haven't had any problems with it; I suspect that some packets are probably already dead when you buy them.

Q. Can you freeze cartons of juice? It's on sale, but I can only keep so many in my fridge. Do you think they would freeze OK?

P.S., email

A. It's perfectly fine to freeze juice. You'll want to remove some juice from the carton to leave room for expansion. When you're ready to drink it, simply thaw it in the fridge.

Q. Can I chop up a large piece of chocolate candy and make hot chocolate out of it? I've used candy this way in cookies, but never in a beverage.

Laurie, Florida

A. I prefer bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for homemade hot chocolate, but nothing should stop you from making it from leftover milk chocolate. Chop the chocolate and add it to a saucepan with milk. Slowly heat on medium-low, stirring constantly until the chocolate melts. You can add a splash of vanilla, too.

Q. What are your main pantry staples? I am looking to restock and I just want to get some more ideas!

F.B., Texas

A. I have created a basic pantry staples list that you can consider as you restock your pantry. Add to or subtract from this list based on what you and your family consume: frugalvillage.com/pantry-list-othermenu.html.

Q. I sometimes forget to marinate. Is there anything wrong with just pouring marinade onto the meat/poultry and cooking it?

Pauline, Ohio

A. Marinade is pretty strong because it's concentrated, so using too much directly can result in a flavor that is overpowering. If you're short on time, you can brush the marinade onto the meat/poultry toward the end of the cooking process. The idea is to enhance the flavor of your meat, so soaking your meat in it overnight isn't absolutely necessary.

Q. We rarely drink hot chocolate, but happen to have tons of mix. What can I do with it besides make hot chocolate?

Dob, email

A. Give some to friends or family, or donate it. You can make chocolate pudding or a chocolate shake, or add it to coffee, pancake batter or oatmeal. You can use it in baked goods such as cakes and muffins, too. Here's an easy microwave cake-in-a-mug recipe: howto.wired.com/wiki/Make_Cake_in_a_Mug.

Q. I'm making a breakfast sausage casserole, but I grabbed the regular Jimmy Dean sausage instead of the sage flavor. I have some sage; how much do you think I should mix in with the sausage to flavor it?

S.S., California

A. I wouldn't add more than 1 tablespoon of sage per pound.

Q. Can I freeze leftover cooked rice?

Jennifer C., North Carolina

A. You can freeze cooked rice. Let it cool, then package it in freezer storage bags. Flatten the bag (leaving rice in a layer about -inch thick) and squeeze out any air, or you can even roll the rice into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. To reheat, microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until fully reheated, or use a frying pan or small saucepan. Add a bit of water if needed.

• Sara Noel owns of 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 Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or sara@frugalvillage.com.

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