Posted: January 8, 2014 at 2:44 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Why do the people who put chicken pieces in foam trays put in the little absorbent pads? They do indeed absorb stray fluids, but they start stinking within 24 hours at room temperature. This isn’t good if it’s two or three days until garbage pickup.

  • C.K., via email

DEAR READER: I’m with you, but they do serve a purpose. The pad keeps the chicken (and meat) “ looking good” by absorbing any liquid that may leak while it sits in the cold storage bin in the store. You are right that it can become smelly if it sits in the garbage can for too long. Try this hint: Wrap the liner in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer until garbage day. Many readers do this with food that cannot go down the disposal and that starts smelling if it sits in the can until pickup day.

DEAR HELOISE: I make soups and stocks during the winter. A good hint for making individual-serving-size portions is to pour the soup or stock into the cups of a muffin tin before freezing. After it is frozen, it easily pops out.

  • Layla M. in Wisconsin

DEAR READER: This is a great way to freeze soups, especially if you have limited freezer space, while being able to have just one cup. After freezing, repackage the soups (in plastic freezer bags or containers) for a better fit in the freezer. Soup is my go to meal for lunch or dinner, especially in the winter. When freezing soups, be aware that soups with noodles or rice may change texture when reheated. Try freezing stock, and then, after heating, add noodles or rice before serving.

DEAR HELOISE: I may be the only one who uses popcorn (un-popped, of course!) as a way to keep salt in a saltshaker from clumping. I have found that over time, the rice breaks into bits small enough to be shaken out. Popcorn kernels never break up.

The popcorn seems to absorb moisture from humidity, and if there is any clumping, it breaks apart the clumps when you shake out the salt. It takes only two or three kernels in a shaker, and they last practically forever.

  • Virginia M. in Texas

DEAR HELOISE: If you store your “fruit on the bottom” yogurt upside down in the refrigerator, then give it several good shakes before you open it, and it will be so much easier to mix.

  • Peggy C. in Texas

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Food, Pages 36 on 01/08/2014