Use creative ways to save food and money in the kitchen with these tips and hints.

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Every cook faces common dilemmas in the kitchen.   It can be finding food that has gone stale, having just a few leftovers that you hate to throw away or needing to stretch ingredients to make a meal.  These hints and tips can help solve some of the problems you might face in your kitchen at one time or another and will save you money.

  1. When celery and carrots get a little old they will go a little limp.  They are still good to use in stews or soups when they are like this but you probably don't want to serve them.  To firm and crisp them up, soak in cold water for an hour.  Add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water.  Drain the vegetables, place in a ziplock bag and then store in the refrigerator until they feel crisp once again.  
  2. Does the oil in your deep-fryer have tastes from previous foods that were cooked?  Fry a few thick potato slices until they are brown.  This will remove the odd tastes so you can use the oil again.
  3. Did you make too many slices of toast in the morning?  Blend the slices into crumbs to use as toppings on casseroles.  You can also use these crumbs instead of flour to thicken casseroles or soups.
  4. Empty leftover cereal or cookie crumbs into the blender, grind and store in an airtight container.  Use these instead of graham crackers for a tasty pie crust or dessert topping.
  5. To make fresh vegetables last longer, wrap in damp paper towels, put in plastic bags and refrigerate.
  6. Did someone leave the bag of cheese open and it got a little hard?  Grate hardened cheese for casseroles or pizza.
  7. Put hard brown sugar in an airtight container with a crust of fresh bread or a slice of apple.  Wait for about 24 hours and the brown sugar will be soft once again.
  8. To get all of the juice from a lemon, place it in a bowl or cup of very warm water for a few minutes before using.  Remove from the water, press down firmly and roll on the counter before juicing.
  9. Speed up the ripening of your fruit by placing in a brown paper bag.  This works especially good on bananas.
  10. You can make your own croutons very quickly.  Butter several pieces of bread and sprinkle with spices such as sage, thyme, garlic and onion salt, and oregano.  Cut into cubes and toast under the broiler.  Stir every minute or so so they brown evenly.  Use your homemade croutons in salad, soups or in turkey stuffing.
  11. Save small amounts of leftover vegetables in ziplock bags and place in the freezer.  When you make stews or soups use these leftovers.
  12. When you drain the juice from canned fruit freeze it in a plastic container.  Use this juice when making punch or jello salads.
  13. Broil stale potato chips under a broiler for a few minutes to restore freshness but be careful not to brown them.  
  14. Soggy crackers or cereal?  Spread out on a large cookie sheet and bake in the oven for a few minutes to crisp them up.
  15. Run into some cream that won't whip?  Add an egg white, chill well and then try whipping again.  Cream needs to be very cold to whip well.
  16. Baked potatoes are a dinner favorite but using the oven takes energy (especially for just a couple of potatoes) and can heat up the kitchen in the summer.  Boil the whole potatoes in salted water for a ten minutes and then bake until tender.  You will cut the baking time in half by doing this.  Bake extra potatoes since you are heating the oven anyway.  Use the extra potatoes for hash browns or fried potatoes.
  17. Need peeled fresh tomatoes for a recipe?  Place tomatoes in a brown paper bag and pour boiling water over the sack until the bag breaks.  The tomato will peel easily.
  18. Use oatmeal or applesauce to stretch ground beef for hamburger patties or meatloaf.  Use one part applesauce or oatmeal to four parts of ground beef.
  19. To make it easier to loosen and separate bacon slices, roll the unopened package into a tube lengthwise and roll back and forth with your hands. 
  20. Soften cookies up by placing in a ziplock bag or an airtight container with a few apple slices for a day.
  21. To slice fresh meat into thin slices, freeze slightly before cutting.