Dear Readers: Today’s sound-off is about the shrinking size of food packages.

"Dear Heloise: Have you noticed that many food items are now packaged in smaller amounts? Cake mixes, sodas, pastas and frozen dinners have all reduced the portions but not the price. For example, the pasta I buy went from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces per package. Many canned vegetables went to 13 or 14 ounces, when they used to be 16 ounces. Sugar that I've bought for years went from five pounds to four pounds! I've noticed more air in bags of chips.

Consumers do read labels, and we know that we're paying more for less. We feel cheated. I know manufacturers are saying that their new packaging is "greener" (more environmentally friendly), and it may be true, but we're still paying more for those "greener" packages. For larger families, this poses a serious problem with their food budget.

Manufacturers can complain about the cost of doing business, but the public feels shortchanged. This is especially true when people have to buy two packages of something instead of the one package they've bought in the past, just so they'll have enough to feed their families.

Renee N. in St. Louis

Dear Heloise: Years ago, my mother taught me to place a small, wadded-up piece of clean paper toweling in all the empty canning jars to absorb the moisture and musty smells. It works wonders!

Nina Y., Provo, Utah

Dear Heloise: Got a cloudy shower curtain due to mildew? Just pop it into the washing machine with a little soap and two cups of vinegar, and wash on "gentle." When finished, just leave it out to dry, either hanging up in the shower or outside.

Helen P., Boone, N.C.

Dear Heloise: My son was terrified of "monsters" that he thought lived in his closet or under the bed. I got a spray bottle and put water in it with two drops of lemon oil. Before my son went to bed each night, I'd take the bottle of "magic monster spray" and pretend to chase the monsters away with two quick zaps under the bed or on the closet floor. No more monsters, and no more nightmares.

Carolyn G., Lynchburg, Tenn.

Dear Heloise: As the weather gets colder, it's important to remind people that their pets (cats, dogs, rabbits) need to be kept indoors. They might be animals, but they need to be sheltered from any extreme weather. Do not chain a dog up to a doghouse and leave it there. A pet needs attention, love and companionship to thrive.

Maisy M., Nutley, N.J.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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