In my quest to save as much money as possible and live a little greener, I’ve adopted some habits that, in my opinion, really do make a difference. You can save everything until you become a hoarder buried in your own home. Even toilet paper rolls can be collected and turned into DIY wall art! Or you can save the higher yield stuff that you’re more likely to find a use for. I recycle what I can in the traditional sense of the word because I don’t have the room or creativity to repurpose everything that comes along.
I’m actually not saying anything bad about TP roll art. People have made some pretty cool designs! That’s the kind of project that you first decide to try and then start collecting your rolls for, as opposed to saving everything on the off chance you find a way to reuse it in the future. There are some items I make an exception for. I save all jars and sturdy containers, most veggie scraps and uncooked bones, and invest in rechargeable batteries.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say you can find 1001 uses for glass jars on Pinterest. They’re pretty handy to have around even if you don’t have an immediate use for them. Use them in your kitchen for food storage. Keep one under the sink for pouring grease into. Store your cotton balls, cotton swabs, or makeup brushes in jars in your bathroom. Organize craft or sewing supplies in them. Use jars as vases or candle holders. Save them for a friend’s wedding reception decorations. Give homemade and DIY gifts in a jar this Christmas. And since you’re thinking about all the ways in which you can use jars according to Pinterest, visit Budget and the Bees on Pinterest for some fun stuff.
My family will laugh at me for writing about this because I’m always harping on them to save their vegetable ends. But seriously, do it! Rather than buying cartons or cans of vegetable broth or meat stocks, make your own for free and with a sodium level you can control. I first got the idea from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook (the name says it all). Grab a freezer quality zip top bag and begin collecting your clean spare vegetable bits like bell pepper cores, kale stems, broccoli stumps, carrot tops, corn cobs, celery leaves, garlic skin, etc. A full one gallon bag is just about right for my crockpot. Put the frozen veggies in your slow cooker, pour filtered water over the top, add a bay leaf, and cook all day on low. Season at the end. Strain with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, and store broth in convenient pre-measured amounts in your freezer.
The same basic process applies to meat stocks. Save raw bones from chicken or beef you’ve carved up in addition to any parts you didn’t want to eat like necks and wings. Add to a crockpot with a roughly chopped onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, cover with water, and turn to low. I’ve even done a lobster stock with lobster shells.
Sturdy plastic containers
In my area, to go containers are made to be reusable. I don’t get take out often, but I have yet to receive food in styrofoam or tin foil other than pizza in cardboard. It’s pretty cool! The containers are usually a pretty hard plastic that say they’re even dishwasher safe (not that I have a dishwasher, but that speaks to their quality). I’ve saved them all and use them to store leftovers in the fridge and to take food out of the house with me. Whipped topping tubs and deli containers are great if you ever send food home with guests; you needn’t worry if they’ll return your nice tupperware.
These break the theme a little because they obviously didn’t just find their way into my home. I had to purchase rechargeable batteries intentionally, but I’m pretty happy with the investment. I didn’t know if the charge would last as long as a normal battery, but there are no complaints here. I feel good about not throwing “dead” batteries away and always having charged ones on hand that I don’t need to run out and buy. I feel confident they’ll save me money in the long run.
Reusable snack bags
These I don’t actually use yet, but I’m really interested in them! I hate going through too many sandwich bags, but more than that, I hate washing them and trying to get them to stand upside down to air dry. Who has
the patience time for that? I’ve seen the reusable ones in really cute patterns that claim to be easy to clean since they’re stronger than the regular zipper bags. I think I’ll take the plunge to reusable when my stash of regular finally runs low.
What do you keep and find additional uses for? Do you think that saves you money?
Photo courtesy of Olearys.
Shannon @ Financially Blonde says
I actually wasn’t too sure of the reusable snack bag; however, I just traveled with my aunt and she used them and now I am hooked. We seem to go through lots of snack bags since my son brings lunch and I would love to cut back on those. Now I just have to hope that he doesn’t throw them out with everything else at lunch. 🙂
That’s good to hear! I really like the idea of reusable baggies, but I want them to fit my needs, too. They’ll have to be easier to clean than regular ones and have a good seal. I’ve seen very simple and basically clear reusable bags and I’ve seen them with fun patterns and colors. Hopefully a patterned set would help him remember not to throw them away.
I love keeping glass jars! I also repurpose sturdy cardboard boxes to use as storage for different items. For example I turned a smaller cardboard box into a plastic bag holder. Or I use them as pantry organizers, etc.
You’re right about boxes. Mine usually go to the cat, but I do like shoe box sized ones for organizing my pantry.
Erin @ Journey to Saving says
My mom and grandma have always saved take out containers, and they have lasted years! My mom gave me a few when I moved out. They’ve been fine in the dishwasher, too. I’ve been purchasing rechargeable batteries for a while now. It’s so nice to get several uses out of them!
Hopefully you get more than several uses! =) Mine are supposed to last up to 1000 charges.
I am definitely with you on the take out containers and rechargeable batteries! The batteries especially are worth the money in my opinion.
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says
When we moved last time I realized how many containers I’d been hoarding, so I tend to recycle them now instead.
Great reminder about reusable snack bags. I have some waterproof fabric I was going to use for cloth diaper covers that would make great reusable snack bags.
At some point enough is enough. It’s problematic when you physically don’t have the space, but keep saving them anyway. I have seen tutorials for making your own reusable snack bags, but I don’t have that much faith in my crafting abilities! If you try it out, let me know how it goes.
I am pretty frugal and somehow had forgotten to collect my veggie scraps so that I can make my own veggie stock. Will be doing that from now on-thanks for the tip.
I hope you do! What I gave was the basic recipe that’s more about using your scraps, but you can find more detailed directions if you want to make more full bodied broths for fancy soups. Thanks for stopping by!
Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine says
I love having glass jars around. There isn’t much I buy in them, but I make sure to hold on to them when I do for freezing soups, sauces, or just storing left overs.
I used to always save the vegetable scraps and make my own stock- but my freezer is too full these days! Maybe I need a bigger freezer? I like in the tropics, so all flours, nuts, dried fruit, has to be stored in there- goes bad too fast in this heat, and bugs somehow work there way in if a seal is 100% tight.
I promise I understand 100%! I lived in Grenada in the Caribbean for the last three years. The ants would eat anything, so most food had to fit wherever it could in the fridge or freezer. My husband got so used to it that he still puts balsamic vinegar in the fridge while I remove it and put it back in the cupboard. Ah paradise =)
Christine @ The Wallet Diet says
Empty wine and liquor bottles can be used as a water carafe and look totally chic at dinner parties. Just make sure you peel off the label so your guests don’t think you’re serving them a glass of tequila 😉 I’ve also used them as vases for fresh cut flowers.
That’s a good point! A friend serves cold water from wine bottles, and it does look pretty. I need to host a dinner party!