Letters: Reheating pizza, dinner in a box, feel-good vacations, robot vacuum

I take every message that shows up in my inbox or on my desk, regardless of its contents, as proof someone out there is reading what I write. That’s good, because I’m not fond of talking to myself.

Today, I am glad to share a selection of those letters in the hopes that one day soon I’ll hear from you, too. For links to the columns mentioned, visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/le1.

Comments on “How to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza”

Dear Mary: I followed the directions for reheating pizza in a skillet: a cold covered pan, medium-high heat, eight minutes, no peeking. Well, I like my crust crisp, but there are limits. I imagine the secret is knowing what medium-high heat is on my gas stovetop. The burning smell and the smoke should have been a clue. I confess I peeked then. I may try it again when I have a slice of pizza to spare. — Marcia

Dear Mary: Thanks for the best tip ever! I tried it, and it turned out perfect! The pizza tasted just like it did the first time around. Bravo! — Pete

Comments on “Dinner-in-a-Box Is Not At All What I Thought!”

Dear Mary: We’ve been enjoying Home Chef meals for about six months now, and I wanted to share the result: I’ve lost 10 pounds, and my husband has lost more than 20. We love that this is nothing about dieting. On the contrary, we’re enjoying excellent food! The meals are so much more healthy than we would eat otherwise. And we’ve reduced our monthly food bill by more than $100 on average. It’s only the two of us, but it’s amazing how much we can spend and what we end up eating when we don’t have a plan. Many thanks. — Sydney and Chris

Comments on “A Feel-Good Vacation Does You and Others a Lot of Good”

Dear Mary: You suggested going out to help blaze and clean up a trail in the middle of the wilderness. Right. Real relaxing. I’m a nurse with four kids. No. Just no. I want a vacation that does not involve work, is air-conditioned and involves me getting waited on. — Vicki

Comments on “A Robot Vacuum that Really Works — and It’s Inexpensive!”

Dear Mary: Thank you for all of your informative and useful suggestions. I am all about being able to do several jobs at once, and the Eufy RoboVac II (www.everydaycheapskate.com/robovac) is the greatest time saver ever! Imagine how I smile as I sit at my computer and watch this vacuum clean up dust bunnies, cat fur and other assorted errant dirt particles like a champion. And the company’s customer service is unsurpassed. I lost the remote to the vacuum. Within five days of my contacting the company by email, I had a new remote delivered to my house — gratis. I know that at this point in our lives, we can afford to buy laundry detergent, floor cleaner, granite cleaner, etc., from the store, but it is kind of fun to make it, and I know that we save enough money with all of your money-saving ideas to buy at least one airline ticket to Europe every year. — Margaret Finlay, mayor of Duarte, California

Dear Mary: I ordered the Eufy Robovac 11 on a Monday, and it arrived two days later. I did not vacuum first. I left my floor as is and let it be the test under fire. Eufy passed with flying colors. We had a Roomba in the past, though it often got clogged with dog food and dog hair from our Great Pyrenees-Anatolian mix. I have cleaned the Eufy twice and rescued it from a cat toy string and a rope, but otherwise it is the bomb! — Michela


I don’t know how else to describe what happens to beautiful sheet pans once they take up residence in my kitchen. All I can say is that in no time, they begin to get this nasty buildup of what I call oven crud — a burned on incrustation of oven filth.

It’s not that I don’t wash and scrub those pans. I do. But apparently not well enough. I’m just not willing to spend hours of my life keeping sheet pans and the inside of my oven looking clean, lovely and like new. Not me.

I’ve been on a rampage to conquer this problem once and for all. Call me idealistic, but I’d like my sheet pans and oven to clean up as easily as my dishes and dishwasher. I’m talking sparkling clean, with only minimal maintenance — quick and easy. Is that too much to ask?

I’m pretty excited to share with you what I’ve learned through much trial and error. Now, I won’t boast perfection, but I’ve come up with a protocol that’s working really well for me based on the task at hand.


Soak the pan for a few minutes in hot water with a little Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Next, hit it with a scrubby sponge like a Scotch-Brite before putting it into the dishwasher. If I am consistent and do this every time I use that pan, it works great. Done.


If the light treatment above doesn’t easily remove the crud, I do a quick scrub with Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser & Polish, and then into the dishwasher it goes.


If it doesn’t come clean easily with Dawn and BKF, I have a problem. Provided the crud has not been burned on multiple times over a long period of time, a simple homemade process using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda should take care of it in short order. But there’s waiting time involved.

Cover the area with a sprinkling of baking soda. Next, spray the baking soda with fresh hydrogen peroxide, followed by another layer of baking soda. Allow this to sit for a few minutes (or overnight for tougher situations). Using a wet sponge or Scotch-Brite scrubber to scrub the area clean, and then rinse with water. This should not require a lot of time or a great deal of elbow grease.


When none of the above takes care of the problem fairly easily, it’s time to bring out the big gun: a serious degreaser. My favorite is Dawn Dish Power Dissolver, which is remarkable because it melts baked-on crud. Dawn Heavy-Duty Degreaser is a great alternative for the same reason. A good oven cleaner like Easy-Off Fume-Free Oven Cleaner is also effective. I’ve used them all, and I prefer Dawn Dish Power Dissolver because it does most of the work, and really fast. I don’t have time to wait overnight.

I use Dawn Dish Power Dissolver to clean the inside of my Breville Smart Oven and my standard oven. And I use it on my big oven glass door and the inside of the oven. It melts all that crud, so I can wipe it clean within minutes, not hours.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving. com and author of 18 books, including her latest, “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” You can email her at mary@everydaycheapskate. com.