Frugal Tips Friday: Things We Re-Use

Everyone seems to be enjoying the frugal tips we’ve been talking about this week. Both in my posts and in the comments. Some of you have asked me to make frugal tips a regular event.

So today I’m introducing a once a week series on living a frugal lifestyle: Frugal Tips Friday.

Today the theme is tips on things we re-use.

Frugal Tips Friday Graphic

Lets start with the things we use twice. Or even three or more times.

5 THINGS YOU RE-USE OR PLAN TO RE-USE

1. Aluminum Foil:

I keep gently used aluminum foil to use again. I just fold it and put it in the box hanging on the kitchen wall that holds aluminum foil and Saran Wrap.

Out of fabric softener? Wad up a ball of aluminum foil and throw it in the dryer and dry normally.

Use aluminum foil to line your crock pot.

2. Yogurt Cups:

Poke holes in the bottom of old yogurt cups and use to start seedlings.

Put them on your desk to organize small items like paper clips.

Take a sharpie to write how many ounces are in the cup. Then use as a measuring cup.

Sort beads in yogurt cups for craft projects.

3. Empty Stick Butter Wrappers:

Instead of using pricey non-stick cooking sprays, use butter wrappers. Just fold them up and stash them in your freezer in a baggie. Use them to grease baking sheets and pans.

Aluminum foil can also be used to separate pancakes.

If you bake bread, take one out of the baggie in your freezer to rub on top.

4. Coffee Grounds:

Coffee grounds are packed with nutrients that can nourish plants and deter pests in your garden.

The abrasiveness of coffee grounds also makes them a great cleaning scrub around the house.

Click here for my post on using coffee grounds in your garden.

5. Tea Bags:

Put used tea bags in a jar and place it in your refrigerator to absorb odors.

Place tea bags over your eyes to relieve puffiness.

Have you ever shaved too close with a new razor? Use tea bags to relieve the burn.

Old tea bags can clean glass. Rub over surface and dry with a cloth.

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Can you come up with 5 things you re-use? Or now plan to re-use? Just put your tips in the comments.

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If we use themes each week the frugal tips will be compartmentalized. We can bookmark them on our computer or print them out if we like.

I will also begin a category here on my blog for Frugal Tips Friday.

I’d love it if you’d suggest what themes you’d like to see for Frugal Tips Friday. Anyone have any ideas for next Friday’s theme?

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81 Comments

  1. A tad late to this discussion but I have to read when I get time so sometimes I am reading a week or so after the date. Love these frugal tips and wanted to add a few things I do to save money and keep things from the trash bin………..Left over hot dog buns make wonderful toasted bread sticks by adding a little butter (and garlic if you want) and toasting under the broiler for a few minutes. Left over biscuits make great toast by cutting them in half, adding a little butter and toasting under the broiler……….I save a lot of the jars and containers throughout the year and then use them to decorate and fill with home made treats for Christmas. A 4 pack of Starbuck type jars for instance can be decorated and filled with home made bath oils, salts, milk bath, soaps or lotions. Also can fill them with colorful candy and use for a quick hand out to friends or neighbors for an unexpected needed gift. Home made snack mixes can fill the jars also and make great hand outs. Large jars with flat bottoms also make great “water” globes for decorating for Christmas. Small lids can be made into very cute magnets to give as gifts. I could go on and on…………I love frugality tips………
    Brenda

  2. I never buy laundry stain remover – One day I happened to try pouring a little “All” onto the spots, then with my fingernail I scratched and scratched until the stain was nearly disappeared. By the time it went through the wash, no stain. I’ve been doing this ever since, and it gets out virtually everything. Someone got ink on my new white dining room table cloth. I was dismayed. But … I did the scratching trick and got out every bit of it. Hope this helps someone!

  3. I never throw out bananas that are past their prime. I put them in the freezer and use them in smoothies. Need to thaw one minute in the microwave

    Also deli meat and cheese can be frozen and used for toasted subs

    I just can’t stand to toss food.

  4. I bought a paper punch in the shape of a price tag. I use any Christmas cards, birthday cards, and any packaging that is sturdy and has a blank side to make tags to price my items in my antique booth. I buy the thin ribbon spools at my local thrift store instead of string. I sit and punch tags while watching TV. I use them for rummage sale pricing too.

  5. I use plastic lids from food containers for small amounts of glue or paint for projects, they also make great plant saucers for small size pots. I save seeds for the following year.
    Also, the bags in boxes of cereal are surprisingly strong, I wipe them out and reuse them. When I buy celery, I can never use it all so I chop it and freeze in small amounts and toss it it when I make soup.
    I love the veggie scrap idea that several of you posted. Lots of great ideas, keep them coming!!

  6. Just remembered this one — we use the juice in the jars of green olives for marinating peeled boiled eggs. We just use the olive jar, and when the olives are gone, or even if there are a few still in the jar, we plop several boiled eggs into the jar, and by the next day they have a great flavor — if you like green olives, that is. We also get the Delallo brand of marinated vegetables and use that juice for marinating boiled eggs as well. They taste great sliced on a salad, particularly with a bit of pepper sprinkled on them. Or we take them along on fishing trips and eat them with some crackers and cheese.

  7. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we are a bunch of tree huggers up here! 🙂 I always try to reuse everything I can, upcycle, downcycle, and reduce — just as a matter of principle and frugality. I work full time, so I batch cook once a week and store everything in tupperware and mason jars. I limit my food waste that way, and don’t eat garbage during the week because all my meals are there for the choosing. Plus some are frozen for when I don’t want what I’ve cooked that week. It’s a great budget savings for food.

    I don’t use many paper products. When towels get worn I cut those into squares for rags and they are used and rewashed. I keep them in cute baskets strategically placed around the house so one is always in reach.

  8. I’m a papercrafter. I save the tiniest scraps : punch such things as tiny hearts, leaves , dots, etc., when watching tv and have time. I store them in baggies. I love your blog, Brenda! I love your decorating style and practical tips! You make me feel like money and loneliness will never be an obstacle to joy.

  9. I use an old toothbrush for scrubbing the grout in the small bathroom floor tiles and then clean them with used paper towels. I use grocery store receipts for making lists. And grocery store plastic bags to use as trash/garbage bags. Thank you much for this new feature Brenda, full of great ideas. Keep up the good work. Kate

    1. I use the old toothbrushes for the same thing. Also to clean around the parts of the faucets I can’t get to any other way. I use tooth brushes to clean in any hard to get to place.

      1. Thank you Brenda; I will figure out more uses for old toothbrushes. I think this feature is great because it gives us ideas and prompts creative thinking. Big hugs to you and Charlie and Ivy.

  10. Wow, wow, and wow! I’ve been out and about today running errands and come home to find a wonderful treasure trove of ideas.

    Brenda, this is a fabulous topic – looking forward to the next one. I wish I had something to offer but I can’t think of anything right now.

  11. Some of my favorite tips are:
    Freeze your Brillo pads after use and they won’t rust.
    My favorite laundry stain remover is Dawn dish soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
    Repurpose the plastic rectangle baby food containers for small craft or sewing supplies, or office supplies. I also used them to store spices in.
    I save the take-out containers from restaurants to store leftovers in or to pack salads for lunch. The small KFC one seals very well.
    I am looking forward to these posts.

  12. Everyone can use thrifty tips, right? I’m really enjoying this series and learning from you and others. Here’s some of the things I do in our home…this is just off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s others that I haven’t thought about:

    Like I mentioned below Mountain Mama’s comment, I save veggie scraps (mostly onion, celery and carrots but sometimes other vegetables that wouldn’t overwhelm a broth; you wouldn’t want to use Brussels sprout scraps, for example) in a Ziploc freezer bag and keep in the freezer. When it’s full, I toss the scraps into the Crockpot, add salt, pepper and a bay leaf, cover with water, and cook on low all day. Strain and you have homemade veggie broth – for something you would’ve thrown away.

    I drink a lot of water and it tastes better to me when it’s flavored. I don’t drink any fancy flavored waters; I cut a fresh lemon into quarters, squeeze 1 or 2 lemon quarters into my Hydro Flask water bottle, then put one of the used quartered lemons into the bottle as well. The other used lemon quarter as well as things like banana peels or any other fruit or veggie scraps that don’t go into the freezer, go into our kitchen compost bin which then gets dumped into the compost bin in our backyard.

    We try to not use so many plastic baggies; we use glass canning jars and glass food containers with lids instead.

    My husband has to wear undershirts under his work uniform shirt. When his undershirts become worn, I cut them up and use them for cleaning rags.

    I use my old t-shirts for when I’m working in the yard or painting; a few of them are even used as sleep shirts. (I don’t like traditional pajamas.) The more worn, the better! (I’m all for softness and comfort, especially while sleeping.)

    I don’t use dryer sheets in the dryer, as they’re very toxic – even the unscented ones. Instead, I use wool dryer balls. They don’t work as well as dryer sheets, but I’d rather have some static in my clothes than toxic chemicals. We also don’t have many clothing items that produce static anyway. The only polyester clothing items we have are Brian’s workout shorts and some of his work socks.

    When I print something out on my printer, if it doesn’t take up the whole page…let’s use a recipe for example, I cut the paper around the recipe and I use the leftover paper for scrap paper. I keep a pile of these papers in my “junk drawer” (which is actually pretty neat and organized!) in my kitchen. I use these for my grocery lists, errand lists, taking notes when I’m on the phone to the doctor or vet, etc.

    1. I don’t use dryer sheets. Haven’t since I got this portable washer I hook up to the kitchen faucet. I never have static. Wonder why? Love the idea for scrap paper. I don’t have a printer right now. But will remember this.

  13. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!! THIS IS AMAZING AND IS GOING TO HELP SO MANY OF US!!!! I KNOW I’M SHOUTING BUT I’M JUST. THAT. EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I haven’t done this but a friend of mine saves and freezes bones from meats. She summers these overnight in her crock pot and makes a bone broth which she uses in soups and stews.

  15. I mix tap water, a splash of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. This and a sheet of old newspaper make the best window cleaner. Don’t buy a paper, use your free grocery store circular.

  16. I use cereal boxes , juice and milk jugs for templates in quilting and for hemming . Will be using the butter wrappers when baking. When I freeze meat I wrap it first with a cheap wax paper or saran wrap then put it freezer bags – no clean up. I use leftover rice for breakfast tacos – just sauteed sausage, onions , peppers and then add rice and eggs – serve with salsa. Yum ! Enjoyed the post.

  17. I found myself without a new calendar to track expenses. I have saved past calendars for their pictures, and was able to find one where the dates fall on the same days as this year-that was 2013, there may be other years also. This calendar is in a back room, unseen by others, so doesn’t bother me that the year on it is wrong.

  18. This is a great series Brenda! Looking forward to seeing all the great tips and ways to save money! Happy Friday! Have a great weekend! Love and hugs!

  19. Someone mentioned re-using fabric softener sheets for dusting or removing pet hair. There are many other great uses for them as well. Clean your scissors blades and they will cut better, clean your iron by ironing over them, if pots have stuck on food add a used sheet to the water you are soaking the pot in and it will soften the dirt so it can be cleaned easier. You can clean soap scum from the tub or shower door with used dryer sheets. Also they are good to leave in drawers or in your car to freshen it.

    Also, I know you don’t like mice Brenda – did you know if you left an open bar of Irish Spring soap in a cabinet or place where you have seen mice it will keep them away!

    I love this new series Brenda!

  20. A little thing that I do is to save the little white cardboard strips that divide the tea bags in the box and use them for mini grocery lists or reminders. Also good bookmarks. Strips of cardboard paint color samples also make cute bookmarks.
    Love this idea of sharing tips, Brenda. Thanks for starting us along the path.
    Mary

    1. Well I’m so glad! I want you ladies to give me ideas you’d like to see on this blog. I try my best to accommodate. Been spending much of my day segmenting Lovely Reads into subjects so you can find the blogs you need more readily. I aim to please and make your life easier if I can!

  21. Has anyone tried a homemade flea repellent that really works? Now I really can’t afford the $50 a month (cat and dog) for the prescription but fleas are a year – round here in Florida.

      1. Thanks, Brenda! Hope you also have a post on budget meals for one or two for people that love to cook and eat.

  22. You can use old baking soda and then add white vinegar to your toilet bowl to clean it. Let it “fizz” and brush!
    One thing that has saved me tons of money is to make your own homemade laundry detergent with Fels naptha (or Zote soap), Borax, and washing soda. You can add scent from essential oils if you like. I always add a little oxyclean to it, too, and you can buy the knockoff brand at the dollar store.

  23. Two things: 1: Reusing – I use only scentless dryer sheets (Bounce) used ones are used to dust floors & furniture and are great for removing pet hair on clothes or furniture. Also only use baking soda to clean my stove glass cook top, much more efficient than bottled cleaner & a razor – and much cheaper.
    2: Business costs – Have you ever considered the Small or Minority Business Enterprise or the small business diversity center? Not sure about Oklahoma, Connecticut’s is helpful.

  24. I love this idea Brenda and so many great ideas from everyone. How about the topic of bulk cooking? I’m still in the workforce but I make seven dishes in my crockpot: spit pea soup, beef stew, turkey chili, chicken tortilla soup, seven bean soup, vegetable soup and cabbage sausage. I rotate and make two to three dishes at a time and place them in small containers for freezing and I take them for lunch and occasionally have one for dinner (but I normally make smoothies for the evening meal). These dishes are cheap and so easy to make in a crock pot. I have a small standalone freezer that I use just for this purpose; I’ve had it over 20 years out in my utility closet and it is perfect for this type of bulk cooking. Just a thought. I hope the babies are doing well. Have a lovely weekend!

    Carol and Molly
    xoxoxo

  25. I remember when my daughter was little I used old bread wrapper (bags) to put her dirty cloth diapers in when I took her somewhere. And putting bread wrappers over our socks when we went outside to play in the snow. I would like more information on how to save-recycle-reuse when growing vegetables in small gardens. Fresh Vegetables have gotten so expensive. I no longer buy those expensive tupperware/plastic storage containers. I reuse jars. I like them better as you can actually see whats inside and I can always go to the fridge and pull out a jar and share it with someone. I won’t need the jar back. Thank you Brenda for sharing your ideas!

  26. I have a kind of country look in my house, so the following two tips work for me but might not look so good in other kitchens:

    1. Clothes pins for bag clips — I use wooden clothes pins, the kind with the little metal spring, as clips to keep food bags closed. If you can’t find and extra plastic bag clip you could use a clothes pin in a pinch!

    2. Canning jars — we use canning jars all over the house to hold things like pencils, cotton balls and Q-tips in the bathroom, leftovers in the fridge, and so on. We also use the two-cup wide-mouth size as our everyday drinking glasses. I also use the two-cup and one-cup size as measuring cups. When I’m making something that needs beaten eggs, I stick the egg or eggs in a two-cup canning jar, put on the lid, and shake it hard and the egg gets nicely beaten up and I haven’t splashed it all over the place the way I usually do when trying to use a fork and a bowl!

    My husband is always turning something into something else, so here are some ways he re-uses things:

    1. Food containers — he uses cardboard food boxes, such as cereal boxes, as material for making patterns. He cuts up the box and draws his pattern on the plain brown side. I’ve also seen him use plastic milk jugs to make patterns as well. He sometimes asks me to buy a particular brand of milk or size of jug if he wants a certain thickness or color of plastic that will work best for his pattern! He also cuts up herbal tea boxes, such as Celestial Seasonings boxes, to make book marks. He makes gift items such as wooden carved Christmas ornaments, and he uses the tea boxes as his gift boxes. (He’s an artsy-craftsy person who can get away with this stuff because he’s done it forever and everyone just expects it!)

    2. Plastic lids from food containers — he uses the lids from margarine tubs and other containers to lay on a work table and hold bits and pieces he needs, such as nuts and bolts, needle and thread, and so on. It works well for things that can roll, such as little beads, too. He uses an entire container, such as a little margarine container with lid, to make up kits like a sewing kit or to hold packs of salt and pepper or other kitchen spices, to take on camping trips. He also uses plastic lids for coasters and for spoon rests.

    3. He cuts the sleeves out of old sweaters to make leg warmers for added warmth when we are out hiking.

    4. This idea is good for campers or people who make fires in backyard fire pits — save dryer lint, the last bits of old candles, and burnt matches and stuff them into empty toilet paper rolls, Wrap this stuffed roll with newspaper, tuck the ends of the paper into the roll, and you have a little cylinder that makes a great fire starter for your campfire. You can find the detailed instructions for what I mean on pinterest. We do this for ourselves, and I also made up about 50 of these for a nephew who camps, and he was so happy. And, it uses up stuff that usually gets thrown away.

    5. Finally, we found that re-using our tea bags resulted in two weak second cups of tea, but if you put two used tea bags in one cup and pour on the hot water, you can get one good cup of tea!

    1. You could also use foil for covering matches when outdoors to keep from getting wet. Your husband is very creative! I use canning jars for lots of things and need to order more soon. I also use wood clothespins for chips, etc.

      1. Our house isn’t so stylish with some of the things he rigs up! But it’s ok. When we started going out he drove an old Isuzu Trooper. The quality on the interior wasn’t great and lots of plastic knobs and pieces had broken. He had whittled little knobs and other pieces from wood and attached them somehow. I thought he was funny and clever. I didn’t stop to think about what my house would look like inside someday if I married him! It can be pretty comical.

  27. Plastic zip bags get washed (there’s always a sponge soapy from washing dishes) and reused. Other plastic bags get folded and reused at the market, though much of the time I don’t use a bag at all. I have a wheeled shopping trolley, and everything goes in there. Still, you can’t put a pound of loose spinach into the shopping caddy, so a few plastic bags are needed. I use them until they are in shreds.
    Old clothes get downcycled and worn for dirty work (cleaning, gardening), and if they’re comfortable they turn into pajamas. When they are too ragged for those tasks, they get cut up into rags for cleaning.
    Vegetable stems and such get chopped up and turned into soup or couscous broth. Peels and really inedible parts are composted.
    Leftover wine (rare, but it happens) or corked wine gets turned into vinegar; we have a special crock for it.

    1. What is leftover wine? lol.. thanks Brenda and everyone.. for these tips. Very helpful. Though going out to eat is expensive, sometimes there is enough food for 3 or 4 meals in one meal..so get those “to go boxes”, and take a cooking break.. cheers Ladies..

  28. My idea for expired baking soda, is one that probably many of you already use, and that is to pour it into my Kitchen sink drain, and add a little warm water, not enough to wash it down, but just enough to keep it in the “J” shape pipe below the sink, to keep everything smelling fresh.

  29. (1) I also save gently used aluminum foil (I still call it tin foil, like back in the “old” days, LOL!) (2) I will keep in my save stash five or six glass jars of varying sizes with their screw on tops. I find they come in handy for a number of things, especially when I want to downsize a large container of something is half-way used up, for instance. Whatever it is, I put a label on the glass jar and stash it where I keep that type of product, be it laundry soap, fabric softener, cleaning products, whatever. Also good for storing some types of leftovers like gravies/sauces, but really a glass jar with a good top that you can screw on works just as good for me as a plastic container with a screw on top. (3) I cut up old worn out flannel PJs and use for dusting cloths. (4) I use wash cloths that have seen better days for general scrubbing and cleaning around the house, until they’re literally worn through to holes and have lost their texture. (5) I use old toothbrushes for all kinds of scrubbing and cleaning where I have to get into tight corners, nooks, crannies and crevices, to gently scrub off vegetables, and to work/scrub soap and stain removers into clothing.

  30. I take our expired baking soda and add a little water to it to make a paste. Then I gently massage it onto my face. It makes the best and most gentle facial scrub. Unlike those apricot seed scrubs, baking soda has round microscopic granules that will not scratch or injure your skin. You will be amazed at how soft and radiant your skin looks and feels.

    1. I’m beginning to think maybe it’s a good thing I’ve lost $1000 in income a month. This way I’ll learn to be more frugal. (Glass half-full and all…)

      1. I also found out this week that I have to come up with over $2500 for self-employment taxes! With all the vet bills I haven’t been able to save for it. Yikes!

  31. Wonderful ideas!
    I save orange rinds in a baggie in the freezer and use them (frozen) to clean and freshen my garbage disposal.
    I also reuse envelopes from mail for my grocery lists instead of expensive note pads.
    I look forward to more tips. How about one on homemade cleaners?

  32. I put wax paper (or parchment paper) in between tortillas, and then freeze the entire package in its original packaging (lay flat until frozen). I pull out only what I need. They also thaw quickly. And the wax paper/parchment paper can be used over and over again.

      1. I use wax paper between hamburger patties ( I bring home hamburger meat and make into patties), after putting wax paper between them,put in zip lock bag. You can take out as few as you need.
        Great post Brenda.

  33. I reuse ziploc bags if they are still clean. I also save the scraps I cut off veggies in a bag in the freezer to make broth – I call it my ‘garbage broth’ and it’s always amazing to me that I make it out of what I used to throw away! Good new series, Brenda!

    1. I could take cooking lessons from you, Debbie! I still think you should maybe have a second cooking blog. Maybe you could soon retire and just blog! I know there are a lot of cooking bloggers out there. But I see consistently on my ad network that they make a ton of money. Just have to find the right niche that isn’t overdone yet.

    2. I do the same thing with my veggie scraps! I put onion, celery, carrot and parsnip scraps in a Ziploc freezer bag and keep in my freezer. When it’s full, I use it to make my own veggie broth in the Crockpot!

  34. Good morning Brenda! I love this post, so many great tips! I use my butter wrappers all the time for baking, I put them in a baggy and when I need them to grease the pan it is what I use. I had not thought of rubbing it on the top of bread fresh from the oven! I “reuse” lemons and limes, once I squeeze them for whatever I am making i put them into a pitcher of water and then drink it, or I put them in a bowl of water and heat them up in my microwave to clean it. You can also use lemons and salt to clean things like your wood cutting boards and I think copper? Not sure but I believe that is a Martha stewart tip.

    I hope that you have a wonderful day.

    I would be happy to send you the Southern Living cookbook I featured on my blog this morning i you would like it.

    1. It’s got a beautiful cover, but I never entertain. So it wouldn’t be of much use to me. Sure is pretty though. I bet it sells a lot of copies due to that alone!