Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5 Penny Pinching Tips: Re-using in the Kitchen

Reggie and I have been looking to cut back on costs recently, with the baby arriving, and my income decreasing drastically we thought we would prepare ahead of time. So every other week I plan to share some of the ways we have found to cut monthly costs. I hope that this might help any of you who are looking to do the same.

So I have a few more tips for you today, and they are all centered around re-using items you find in your home, specifically your kitchen. The kitchen can be one place in your home where your consumption is quite high, with all the processed and overly packaged foods we are encouraged to eat through advertising it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. I know it can be difficult to completely remove these items from your home, so I have some tips to help you reduce your waste, and to save money in other areas by reusing some of this packaging and other kitchen items.
  1. Ziplock bags: Some people opt to purchase the really large box of the regular ones, which means you are saving some money because of quantity. But I would recommend purchasing the thicker freezer bags and using them for everything you need to put in a bag. I wash and re-use my resealable bags numerous times, it makes the more pricey purchase a lot easier to handle. If you don't like the idea of buying plastic bags, you can always wash and re-use your milk bags (if you live in Ontario and can buy milk in bags), which is something my mom has always done since I was small. And another option is to purchase (or make, but more on that later) cloth, re-usable snack bags.
    Click on photo to go to source :)
  2. Glass Jars: When you purchase salsa, pasta sauce, pickles, jam... so many things, they come packaged in a glass jar. And what do most people do with these jars once they are empty? Put them in the recycling, which we've learned since we were young is a great thing! But even better than sending these items to the recycling plant is re-using them. And I'm sure you're wondering how this is also going to save you money? Well glass jars can be used for so many things: vases; food storage, in the pantry for dry goods as well as the fridge or freezer (just make sure you leave space for the liquid to expand in the freezer); crafts and craft supply storage; organizing your office space, craft area, bathroom; canning and preserving (depending on what you are preserving, more on this later!). And glass is great because it doesn't have all the negative properties of plastic, and it is a durable option. I say if you have already paid for the jar you might as well save it and use it for something else. All of these options will also help you to reduce your spending in other areas, because you won't have to purchase glass containers for other activities in the kitchen or around the home.
  3. Plastic Containers and other packaging: Similar to glass jars I try to re-use any plastic containers that we accumulate, this includes using yogurt and other tubs as food storage in the fridge or freezer, or to take things in lunches. This is a great option, instead of having to purchase containers for these purposes. Meat trays, once well cleaned, can be cut up and used for crafting/scrapbooking. They can hold items like pins and once cut into small squares can be used to raise photos/embellishments on scrapbook pages. And I'm sure there are thousands of others! Have any good ideas? Leave a comment below!
  4. Dish cloths: Now when you think of a dish cloth that is at the end of it's life, you imagine it grungy and smelly, am I right? And I suppose you are wondering, what the heck can we possibly do with these dirty old rags? Well just that. When I have a cloth (I prefer to use cotton dish cloths to sponges or other scrubbies) that is nearing the end of it's dish-washing life I make sure to wash it and then it goes in the cleaning pile. And can be used for cleaning the bathroom, dusting, wiping up messes, and pretty much any other cleaning needs. Commercials for cleaning products are my least favourite, because they make you believe that for every mess you need to have a brand new synthetic cleaning item, that is already packed full of chemicals or a super spongy paper towel, and all of these items are designed to be thrown away after one or very few uses. That is not only expensive but it is bad for the environment and for my conscience.
  5. Towels: Dish towels fall into a similar category as cloths for me. And although we do have paper towels in the house, I always prefer to use a fabric towel that can be washed and re-used. I have both dish towels and hand towels in the kitchen, an inevitably (with a dog, a boy and a soon-to-be baby) there are always messes to clean. So when a dish or hand towel gets a little grimy it follows suit with the dish cloths: a good washing and goes into a rag pile. And then when I need to clean up muddy paw prints, spilled grape juice or anything else messy, I reach for an old towel rather than paper towels or some brand name magic cleaning towel.
And that's it for my re-usable tips for today. I know that there are many others, which is why these posts will keep coming, every other Tuesday, until I run out of ideas. If you ever have an addition or would  like me to talk about a specific topic please leave me a comment and let me know! And if you'd like to see the rest of the Penny Pinching Posts, click here.



  1. Great tips, Margot!

    We had some bath towels that had seen better days & started ripping/wearing holes. So instead of throwing them out, I gave them to my mister to use in his workshop. He's always looking for something to wipe/dust off his projects.

  2. Love these tips! I'm all about finding ways to reuse things. :)

    - ashley

  3. I reuse my ziplock bags too! And sometimes aluminum foil....

  4. I love the tips. I love the snack bag idea! Never thought of it. I hope you post more tips! i like this!

  5. I grew up turning old, holey tshirts into rags and now do the same in my house. They are just so perfect for cleaning and don't shred or let your fingers tear through and get dirty! I've grown so accustom to reusable cleaning rags that I'm always surprised when I make a mess and someone hands me a paper towel. People!? do you know how much you are wasting!?


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