We are all different people with different views and habits in every aspect of our lives. What is the definition of “disgusting” as YOU see it?
It varies from one person to another. Some of my unusual ways to save money may look … how to put it? … weird to you. Same way, many of your habits can be unacceptable to someone else.
Knowledge is a great power. We always can learn from each other, no matter how strange the other’s ideas may seem. I’ve learned some of the tips from my grandmother and will probably pass them to my daughter as family traditions.
My philosophy is to use everything as full as possible, until the last piece. It’s not because I can’t afford a new item or a disposable option. I’m just really upset about the amount of trash I add to the landfill every single day despite all my efforts to reuse, reduce and recycle.
In my opinion, the modern culture of consumerism is very annoying and dangerous to the planet. New generations are raised with the wrong moral values, as they are taught to get everything they want NOW, to throw the old and get the new just because it’s a bit shinier version.
I oppose these views and try to do my best to avoid any waste. In most of the cases, it also benefits both my own wallet and the environment.
Let’s see if you find my weird ways to save money disgusting or useful.
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#1 Reuse Supermarket Bags For Garbage
Kitchen trash bags with drawstring are easy to use but they cost about 10 to 20 cents per bag. Frugal people like me just use the regular plastic bags given for free in many supermarkets (if your state still permits it). I actually like them more than the big trash bags, as using smaller bags doesn’t allow us to keep the garbage (and the smell) at home for more than one day. Once the bag is full, someone has to take it out (and usually it’s not me!).
There is an environmental benefit as well, as you re-use these plastic bags and don’t add more to the landfill.
#2 Save On Sandwich Zipped Bags
Everyone needs small zipped plastic bags sometimes, especially parents who pack sandwiches and snacks for the kids. These bags can cost a couple of cents per unit. There are at least 3 ways to save on sandwich bags (and help the environment):
- Use small plastic containers for fruit and other food if you are sure it will make its way back home to be washed and reused.
- Don’t throw away the bags used for dry foods like goldfish or cheerios. Teach kids to bring them back home and reuse. My kids know to ask the teacher not to throw away their sandwich bags.
- Use zipped bags you get from the deli when you buy cold cut meat or sliced cheese. These bags are not of great quality, but they are still useful for many purposes in the kitchen.
#3 Wash Big Zipped Bags
I grew up in Russia of the ’80s. In those days, any plastic bag was treated as a family treasure. My grandma used to wash plastic bags by hand and hang them to dry along with the other laundry. All our neighbors did the same.
Today, we don’t have to wash all of the plastic bags, but it still makes sense to me to wash and reuse good quality (by that I mean thick plastic and a good zipper) zipped bags, as they can cost more than 10 cents per bag.
Actually, you don’t need zipped bags too much. I get mad when I see a chef on TV mixing chicken with oil and spices in the Ziplock and throw the bag away immediately after. We always use pyrex or plastic containers for similar tasks.
However, sometimes a Ziploc is the best solution. For example, we use gallon size Ziploc bags to freeze the sliced bread we bake at home. I wash and reuse these bags for years!
When the bag gets old and can’t be airtight anymore, you still can use it to store small toys or other things that don’t require a vacuum.
#4 Replace Paper Towels With Washable Rags
Personally, I try to minimize the use of paper towels, along with any other disposal products. Of course, sometimes, there is no choice, like when I need to absorb the excess oil from the pancakes or fried cookies.
However, I barely use them for daily cleaning tasks. My preference is reusable cleaning clothes, especially microfiber clothes that don’t leave any trace on the countertop surface. Many people find the idea of using and washing the rags quite unappealing.
There are a lot of discussions on many frugal advice forums around the cost comparison between the paper towels and the cleaning rugs. Taking into account the water, energy and the detergent costs of washing the clothes, the price might be close. A roll of regular paper towels can cost about 50 cents if you find a good sale. The microfiber clothes would cost about 40-50 cents each when you buy a large pack.
#5 Reuse Napkins And Paper Towels
Every time we have a family dinner, I collect the lightly used napkins and save them in a bag near the kitchen sink, along with paper towels that still have some life left in them.
Why do I save them?
You probably hate dealing with oily pans, pots, and containers. I know I do. Pouring used oil down the drain is not a good idea, as it can clog the pipes. So what is the easiest way to clean this greasy stuff?
Before washing a pan or placing a dirty plastic container in the dishwasher, I wipe them with a couple of used napkins. Washing a pan becomes much easier and needs less soap and water. My food containers come out of the dishwasher much cleaner as well, so I don’t need to repeat the cycle.
#6 Reuse Parchment Paper
We use a lot of parchment paper in our kitchen, as we make a lot of roasted vegetables and baked goods like bread, cookies, and cakes.
In many cases, like with dry cookies, the paper will be barely spotted, so there is no need to throw it away. You can reuse it several times before it becomes really greasy and burnt at the edges.
While making bread in the rectangular loaf pans, you can use just a narrow strip of parchment paper instead of a bigger piece that will cover all four sides of the pan. The narrow pan is enough to pull the bread out of the pan. Usually, cleaning the pan wouldn’t be a problem anyway.
Another money saving solution is to use silicone baking mats instead of the parchment paper. You can find sets of 2-4 mats for less than $5 per unit. They are easy to clean and last for years. Just look at their raving reviews on Amazon.
#7 Reuse Tea Bags
Most of the tea bags can be easily used to make more than one cup of tea. If you are making tea for several people, use the same bag for 2-3 cups or make it in one large teapot, as in the good old days.
In cold winter days, when I drink several cups of tea a day, I put my used tea bag aside on a tiny plate and use it again within several hours.
Here is one of our favorite herbal tea options – Celestial Tea Sampler with 5 great fruit flavors.
#8 Reuse Deep Frying Oil
Who doesn’t like deep fried food, like doughnuts or French fries? Almost anything deep fried tastes like heaven. These days, there are many easy to use at-home fryers, making fried food even more accessible.
If you make it too often (and it’s not so healthy, you know), you’ll run out of oil pretty quick.
Do you know that it’s ok to re-use the oil several times? What you need to do is to let the oil cool, remove any large food pieces, strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer and a cheesecloth and store the oil in a cool dry place. Don’t use the oil if it becomes cloudy or gets an unpleasant odor.
One of the best oils to use for frying is peanut oil, high in saturated fats, that has a longer lifespan and produces crispier results.
Another healthier option will be to try an air-fryer that uses up to 80% less oil.
#9 Save Fruit That Goes Bad
We try to plan our grocery shopping well, to avoid spoiling food. However, rarely as it is, it happens that some fruit is getting close to being spoiled. Usually, it will be bananas. My favorite way to save them is making delicious banana bread using this recipe from Natasha’s kitchen. Another option is to peel and freeze these browning bananas for future use in healthy shakes or pancakes.
An additional way to save fruits can be making fruit cakes, jams or just adding a grated apple or mashed banana to the morning pancakes.
To learn how to better plan your grocery shopping, download my FREE guide below:
#10 Collect Bones And Veggie Scraps
Do you buy a rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner sometimes? After you finish the dinner, don’t throw the bones away! Freeze them to make a tasty chicken broth. I use the bones from grilled chicken and roasted ribs as well.
In addition, I save clean scrapes of different vegetables, such as onion, carrot, celery, parsley stems etc. Once I have enough scraps, I use my Instant Pot to make a broth. What is great about this popular kitchen device is that it doesn’t require any attention. You can load everything in the pot, set it to 4 hours and leave the house.
Once the broth is ready, let it cool down, strain the golden liquid, freeze in small containers (I use hard plastic ice cream containers for this purpose) and don’t buy chicken broth anymore.
#11 Collect Fruit Scrapes
Anytime I core and peel apples or pears, I save the scrapes to the Ziploc bag in my freezer. Once the bag is full, I place the contents in the Instant Pot, add more fruits that are at the edge of being spoiled (wrinkled grapes, not too fresh strawberries, blueberries, plums or peaches), add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and a handful of cranberries. I fill the pot to the maximum and cook for 10 min using a “Soup” function.
The result is a Homemade Juice or Kompot that my kids like a lot, taking into account that usually water is their only drink option at home.
#12 Ask For Doggy Bags At The Restaurant
Many restaurants have so big portions that you can’t finish them at once. It happens a lot with Asian noodles, steaks, BBQ, hamburgers etc. In most cases, you can ask the waiter to pack the leftovers and take them home. Don’t be shy! There is no shame in asking to take the food you already paid for.
My kids love when we bring home leftovers from our date night. It allows them to taste new food as a small compensation for being left behind while we go out.
In The Nutshell
Here are my 12 weird saving tips for your kitchen:
- Reuse Supermarket Bags For Garbage
- Save On Sandwich Zipped Bags
- Wash Big Zipped Bags
- Replace Paper Towels With Washable Rugs
- Reuse Napkins And Paper Towels
- Reuse Parchment Paper
- Reuse Tea Bags
- Reuse Deep Frying Oil
- Save Fruit That Goes Bad
- Collect Bones And Veggie Scraps To Make a Broth
- Collect Fruit Scrapes To Make Kompot
- Ask For Doggy Bags At The Restaurant
Related posts for more savings:
P.S. What do you think about these unusual ways to save? Is there anything you can use in your kitchen?
What are YOUR crazy saving tips? Please share in the comments! I’m so curious to know!