Dear Readers: Saving money never goes out of style. With GROCERIES costing more and more, here are some simple hints to cut costs the next time you go to the grocery store:

* Plan your meals for the week, using coupons or items that are on sale in the store’s weekly flier.

* Go on the computer to check manufacturers’ Web sites for online coupons, especially on the most expensive name brands you use.

* Try a meat-free meal once a week, because meat tends to cost the most.

* Buy meat in bulk, especially when on sale. Freeze in portions you can use for later meals.

* Be sure to stock up on items you use all the time when you find them on sale (if they can be frozen or you have space in the pantry for them).

* Share a warehouse membership with a friend. Split the cost of items you can both use.

* Never shop on an empty stomach. That’s how you end up with purchases that you don’t need!

-- Heloise

SEND A GREAT HINT TO:

Heloise

P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE

E-mail: Heloise@Heloise.com

HOT-DOG HANDLER

Dear Heloise: With the Fourth of July almost here, I am planning my usual menu of hot dogs and hamburgers for several friends and family members. Since I have grilled so many hot dogs through the years, I have discovered this easy hint.

I take two skewers and stick them through up to five or six hot dogs at a time. Now, with one motion, I can evenly cook multiple hot dogs, and they will not roll off the grill rack, either. -- Michael S. in Tennessee

SMOKED PAPRIKA

Dear Heloise: I am often tempted to buy smoked paprika when I see it in the store. However, I am really not sure how to use it. Do you know anything about this spice? -- Carly F., via e-mail

Smoked paprika is made from sweet, red bell peppers. The peppers are smoked over wood to create a smoky flavor before being ground up. It’s much more flavorful than plain paprika, so you won’t need to use so much in your cooking. Add it to any egg or meat dish, or even rice or potatoes. -- Heloise

REMOVING FAT

Dear Heloise: I used to have a fat separator, but it cracked and had to be thrown out. Before I could purchase a new one, I made homemade gravy one night, forgetting that I no longer had the separator. No problem, though. I just let the pan drippings sit a few minutes in a cup until the fat rose to the top. I then used my turkey baster to collect the fat and place it in a can, to be disposed of later. This worked so well that I may do without a fat separator in the future! -- Melanie D., via e-mail

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

, King Features Syndicate