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Reusing These Kitchen Items Can Save You Some Cash

A plastic bag dispenser hanging on a wall, a teal floral print reusable grocery bag, a simplehuman compost bin.
Utopia Kitchen/BeeGreen/simplehuman

If you’re looking to save some cash (who isn’t?) or just trying to be a bit less wasteful around the home, the kitchen is a fantastic place to start. The more you reuse, the less you’ll have to buy, which means more money in the bank and fewer trips to the store.

Perhaps in the past, you simply tossed every scrap of plastic, glass, or foil in the trash or recycling bin without a second thought. But if you’re ready to change up some things to help your wallet and/or the environment, we’ll help you get started. Here are some common kitchen items that you can reuse.

Grocery Bags

A grocery bag dispenser hanging on a wall above a kitchen counter.
Utopia Kitchen

The humble plastic or paper grocery bag already gets reused in many homes, but it still merits a mention. If you don’t already do this, consider using yours as trash can liners or recycling bags.

You can also stash your old grocery bags in a dispenser and reuse them on your next trip to the store if you don’t have enough reusable tote bags on hand.

If you have a bunch of paper bags, you can always cut them up and let your kids draw on them for some inexpensive entertainment.

Aluminum Foil and Ziplock Bags

We often treat aluminum foil as a single-use product, but it doesn’t have to be. You can easily handwash it. In fact, you can even put it in the dishwasher! Just place it dirty-side down on the top rack, and then place something small on top of it to hold it in place.

Once you tear a hole in the foil you’ll have to get rid of it, but until then, you can wash and reuse it as many times as you want. If you handle your foil gently to prevent ripping it, it can last for a surprisingly long time.

After it rips, you can also ball it up and use it as a scrubbing device on any pots and pans without a nonstick coating.

Likewise, you can also handwash ziplock bags and reuse them to store food again and again. Just turn them inside out, wash them, and then rinse them out. You can reuse them until they develop holes.

Kitchen Towels

When your dish towels start to look a little ratty or develop holes, you don’t have to toss them right away. Old towels make excellent cleaning cloths and rags and will help you cut down on paper towels.

So, save those old towels for dusting, wiping up spills, and anything else that you’d usually use a paper towel for. Then, just wash and use them again.

Rubber Bands

Rubber bands abound on food products, from takeout containers to bunches of vegetables. Start saving them from any packaging that they come with, and you’ll soon have quite a collection going!

Also, the thicker bands can even help you open stubborn jars. Next time you can’t get the lid off that pasta sauce, just stretch a rubber band around it for a better grip.

Glass Jars

A bunch of glass jars.

Pickles, pasta sauce, and countless other grocery staples come in glass jars. You might already recycle these, but have you thought about reusing them in your pantry or cabinets?

A glass jar with a lid makes a beautiful household storage container. You can even repackage your dry goods in glass jars to save cupboard or pantry space. It will also make your food storage look chic and organized.

You can also take a few of those jars to the store with you to buy things like spices, nuts, or candy in bulk, which might save you some money. Clean glass jars can also store non-kitchen goods, from pens and paper clips to makeup brushes.

Plastic Containers

If you’re short on storage containers for your leftovers, washing out the lidded plastic containers of things like yogurt and cottage cheese can help you fill in the gaps. Your restaurant takeout might also come in lidded plastic containers that are perfect for reuse.

Pretty much any washable container with a lid, like coffee canisters, can be reused for household storage. Again, these aren’t limited to food and kitchen items, either—coffee tins are perfect for storing odds and ends, office supplies, or screws and nails.

Food Scraps

Someone slicing an apple on a cutting board next to the simplehuman Compost Caddy.

Even food scraps can be reused! A compost bin is one way to repurpose food scraps into fuel for your yard or garden, or even for a local farm.

Vegetable scraps can be turned into vegetable stock, which can improve everything from rice to soups. You can even regrow some vegetables, like potatoes, from scraps!

The simplehuman Compost Caddy is a great way to get started. It’s magnetic, so you can hang it conveniently on the side of your trash can and detach it to clean up any veggie waste after chopping, slicing, or dicing.

If you’re on a budget or trying to save a bit more money, repurposing a few common kitchen items can give you some breathing room. It doesn’t take much effort to work a few of these into your kitchen routine. You’ll probably find that things stay more organized as well. Win-win!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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