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posted: 5/1/2013 6:00 AM

Frugal living: Stretching your meat budget

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Meat prices are rising. If you're not interested in eating a plant-based diet, stretching meat is an acceptable option, within the boundaries of proper nutrition. You can slice meat into strips for stir-fry, fajitas, sandwiches or salad. You can cube it to include in fried rice, quesadillas or shish kebabs or pound, stuff and roll meat. Add crackers, rice, cooked dried beans, bread crumbs or shredded vegetables to ground beef to make it go further. Meat such as roasts or chicken can be shredded, too.

The first reader shares how he stretches meat:

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Stretch ground beef: We bought a large can of beef-flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein) for less than $11, and it equates to 12 pounds of hamburger. You might not even notice a flavor or texture difference if you mix it with regular hamburger in an Italian or Mexican meal. A month or so ago we found some roasts for $2.99 per pound at the grocery store and asked the butcher to grind it for us (it's free). The fat content was less than 5 percent! I've heard of mixing in oatmeal to make meat go further, too.

A.T., Idaho

Cleaning glass pans: I find that spraying dirty glass bake ware with oven-cleaner spray, letting it sit for an hour or so and then lightly scrubbing it makes it look new. The process may have to be repeated if it's really dirty. I have had the same glass bake ware for many years, and it still looks like new.

Note: Do not do this on metal or aluminum.

Betsy, Pennsylvania

Baked eggs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using oil or butter, grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Put one egg into each cup of the tin and bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on how well-done you want your eggs to be. You can place a slice of soft precooked bacon around the edge of each cup and then put the egg in, that way you have both your bacon and egg. They should slide out easily. Or you could put a small circle of ham on the bottom of each tin and lay of a slice of cheese on top of the egg. This is great if you are cooking for a crowd -- it beats frying or scrambling.

S.H.P., Louisiana

Crispy treats: I saw marshmallow treats made from various cereals other than Rice Krispies during a recent trip to the grocery store, and I immediately started making them for myself at home. You can make all kinds of tasty marshmallow treats from a wide variety of cereals.

Linda, Illinois

Glass cooktop cleaning: Soak a dish towel in hot, soapy water (made with dish soap). Sprinkle baking soda on the cooktop surface. Place the wet towel on top of cooktop and let it sit for 20 minutes, then use the dish towel to lightly scrub and clean the cooktop surface. Rinse the towel and clean up any residue.

Mindy, Michigan

• Sara Noel owns frugalvillage.com, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions sara@frugalvillage.com.

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