Dear Heloise: I have found a foolproof way to keep my refrigerator clean and organized. As a full-time teacher, after-school tutor and housewife-mom, it gets pretty hectic around here!
Chores just seem to pile up. Some days I just don't have the energy to do any more than cook and clean up the dinner dishes. I found this method helpful in keeping the refrigerator organized and safe. Ultimately, I save money, too. Hope this helps someone else!
My refrigerator shelves and drawers are organized this way:
ULeftovers on one shelf only. I check and use or toss anything more than three days old.
UOn one shelf goes anything with an expiration date -- e.g., yogurt, etc.
UCondiments on one shelf and organized in rows -- e.g., pickles and relishes in one row, mustards in one row, etc.
UVegetables in one drawer. (Readers: Although some drawers are marked for veggies, they aren't always kept there, according to a quick poll of the Heloise office. -- Heloise)
U Meat and cheese in one drawer (with meat on one side and cheese on the other). I freeze newly purchased lunchmeat and hot dogs to make sure that the older stuff gets eaten first. Holly Sander, Houston
Dear Heloise: Is there one safe, effective and mild all-purpose cleaner that I can use to clean all around the house? It would make my life a lot easier, and cleaning more fun! Gita Ram, Fairfax, Va.
Gita, help is on the way -- and it is as close as your cupboard. Here are just a few items found around your home to forgo the cost of name-brand cleaners: vinegar, ammonia and baking soda.
Baking soda can be used on surfaces as a gentle scouring powder, or sprinkle it on your carpet and vacuum as a freshener.
Vinegar is great for removing hard-water buildup and for cleaning mirrors and fixtures. Use it diluted or straight from the bottle.
For ammonia-based cleaning solutions, mix 1/2 cup of sudsy ammonia with enough water to make 1 gallon. This solution makes a great grease- cutter around the stove, oven, microwave and floor. (Always use ammonia products in well-ventilated areas, and never mix them with anything containing bleach.) There are a multitude of uses for baking soda, such as cleaning children's toys, as a laundry deodorizer, for car odors and much more. For more ideas for freshening and cleaning your home with baking soda, send $4 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (60 cents) envelope to Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001 for a copy of my four-page pamphlet that is a must for every household. Did you know that baking soda is a great foot deodorizer, toothpaste and breath freshener? Heloise
Dear Heloise: I read the article regarding freezing potatoes. I have found that I can freeze leftover mashed potatoes in vacuum-sealed bags, and they keep wonderfully. I tried them on my family without telling them they were leftovers, and no one knew the difference. They seemed a little watery at first, but after sitting for a couple of minutes, they looked just like fresh-mashed. Mary Everitt, via e-mail
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.
King Features Syndicate