Dear Readers: Saving money is No. 1 on everyone's mind these days, but you don't necessarily have to sacrifice taste when preparing a favorite dessert. In fact, with my quick and easy graham-cracker crust recipe, you can have homemade taste for less than you'd spend on a store-bought brand.

You'll need only three ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

1 cup graham-cracker crumbs

Make the crumbs by crushing about 8 whole graham crackers in a closed plastic bag with a rolling pin or by using a food processor. Then mix the sugar, melted butter and graham-cracker crumbs together. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch pie pan. Keep refrigerated until you're ready to use it. Doubling the crumb-mixture recipe works well for cheesecakes made in a springform pan. — Heloise

Dear Heloise:I find that if I spray a little cooking spray in my strainer when I am cooking pasta, the pasta does not stick. Saves pasta and scrubbing of the strainer. — Jimmie Haury, Zachary, La.

Dear Heloise: Due to high cholesterol, I have to eat "fake" eggs, which are not very fluffy. Now I add about 2 tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese to 1/4 cup of fake eggs and stir over low heat. They come out fluffy and light, and taste great! — Raul Kottler, Oak View, Calif.

I do egg-sactly the same, and it's a nice way to "fluff out" an egg-white omelet, too. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: My mother-in-law taught me to "look over" dry beans, peas and nuts for stones by pouring a single layer on a clean, flat surface. Yesterday, I was having trouble trying to sort fresh field-picked blueberries for stems, bad berries, etc. I got a tray and poured a single layer of berries, and the job was done quickly. I rinsed them well, drained in a strainer, packed and froze them. They are really good frozen. — Dixie Howard, Huntsville, Ark.

Dear Heloise: My wife asked me to peel some spuds for dinner. They were small, round, red potatoes. I tried a new idea so I would not nick my finger with the peeler. I peeled about 1/4 of the end of the potato, then stuck a fork deep into the peeled end. Then I held the fork, and my fingers were no longer in the peeler's way! — Brian, via e-mail

Dear Readers: There are several things you can use in place of sugar, if you need to watch sugar intake:

 Fresh fruit or vanilla can be added to plain nonfat yogurt.

 Ground cinnamon adds flavor to applesauce or baked apples.

 Cinnamon, vanilla or other extracts help flavor coffee.

 Sweet potatoes taste good when sprinkled with pumpkin-pie spice and a little butter substitute. — Heloise

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax: 210-HELOISE; e-mail: © King Features Syndicate Inc.