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.