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This article was published November 13, 2013 at 2:25 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Starting in early fall, I begin buying a few extra items each time I grocery shop. I buy an extra bag of sugar or flour. I catch canned pie filling on sale, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, boxed gelatin and spices such as sage or pumpkin-pie spice.

I buy things that will keep until Thanksgiving or Christmas that I normally use to prepare holiday meals. By doing this gradually, my holiday grocery bill doesn’t hit me all at one time.

  • Evelyn T., Abilene, Texas

DEAR READER: You are one smart cookie! Or should I say “cook.”

DEAR HELOISE: You once shared a recipe for taco seasoning. I loved that recipe, but somehow lost it. Could you please reprint it?

  • K.S. in Nebraska

DEAR READER: One nice bonus is this is very cheap to make, so why not mix up a big batch and save a bundle of money?

All you need is:

2 teaspoons chili powder

Salt, pepper and onion powder to taste (starting with just a sprinkle)

A dash of crushed, dried oregano

Mix together all the ingredients and start using this seasoning on all your favorite foods. I like it best with my Heloise Taco Casserole made with taco shells/corn chips, salsa and ground turkey or shredded chicken cooked in the seasoning for flavor.

Use nonstick spray or grease a casserole dish (you pick the size depending on ingredients). Put some salsa on the bottom, then a layer of broken-up taco shells/chips, followed by the cooked, flavored meat. Next, layer with your favorite toppings: beans, cheese, onions, etc.

Bake until heated through and cover with sour cream, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., before serving. When mixing your own seasonings, make sure to store in an airtight, sealed container (away from heat and light) to maintain freshness. Save your old spice jars, wash and dry well, and use them. Just add a label.

DEAR HELOISE: We love our dishes for individual ears of corn on the cob, but I’ve found them useful in other ways. They are perfect to use as a serving dish for asparagus, hot dogs or even broccoli spears. At parties, they can be used to serve pretzel rods, licorice strips or candy sticks.

  • Tina C., via email

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 11/13/2013

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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