SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{January 3, 2013}   Waste Not, Want Not

Okay, so some wiseacre (Rhonda Belle, aka Granny at the Farm) voted for a “Waste Not” post.  Most of my posts are about things I’ve tried and my experiences with those things.  Well, waste not is big in my house.

Do we waste a lot? Yes.  My “Property of the City of Bossier City Utilities” trash can is down at the curb every Friday.  Sometimes it is even joined by my decrepit Rubbermaid garbage can without operational handles.  And when Grizzly cleans out his truck (once or twice a year, I think), forget about it, the garbage men hate my house with a purple passion.

We don’t waste as much as we used to, though.  Before I throw things away, I catch myself looking and thinking “Can I use this for something?”  In the past year, wine bottles have become candle holders.  Plastic coffee cans hold cookies and snack mix and canning lids.  Canning lids cannot be used more than once for actual safe canning, so I have a stack that I think will become snowmen at some point.  Or a magnetic board.  Or something.  And if your husband (or you, I guess) have developed the lovely habit of using smokeless tobaccos, there is no better spit cup than an old soup can.  My hard-won Mardi Gras plastic cups are pretty much off-limits for that kind of nonsense.

So here are some things that I try to repurpose:

Cans (from soup or beans)

  • After emptying these pantry gems, I rinse them and run them through the dishwasher.  These cans have become pencil holders for teachers by hot gluing an assortment of hand-me-down crayons.  They are great for organizing plastic utensils for get-togethers.  I also have this vision of using them to organize my school supply stockpile (currently residing in a deep dresser in the garage). I saw the coolest idea for an art caddy made of soup cans on Pinterest.  Love love love.  Tuna fish cans are shallow and are great for organizing a kitchen or bathroom drawer.  Any other soup can ideas?

Coffee Cans

  • I LOVE a coffee can!  I have come to prefer Folgers to Maxwell House, not because the coffee tastes great, but because of the shape of the cans.  I especially love the small ones that are round.  In my plastic coffee cans, I keep canning lids, canning rings, food coloring, and other baking necessities.  They are fantastic for organizing my pantry.
  • Due to my cheaptitude, I occasionally purchase the store brand coffee.  When I do this, I’m certain to buy the bigger can because the smaller ones are constructed out of some kind of foil-coated cardboard – not useful to me.  Those big cans hold colored pencils in my classroom as well as nails and screws in my garage.  At one point, I slit a lid and used it to store my massive collection of Box Tops for Education (you are very welcome, Bellaire Elementary!) and another became the Laundry Fairy’s wallet.  Love a coffee can!

Butter Bowls

  • I remember at 10 or 11 years old eating my cereal from a Cool Whip bowl at my parents’ in the summer.  I can count on one hand how many times I’ve purchased whipped topping during my adult years, but butter/margarine containers?  They are marvelous!

A serving size of Cocoa Krispies for Grizzly is the big Country Crock tub.

  • While not great for long-term storage or freezing, these containers are convenient for throwing leftovers in the fridge or toting a dish to a potluck (I’ve had too much expensive Tupperware not make it home over the years!) or even just serving a side at dinner.  And it doesn’t just have to be butter tubs.  I have some of the Country Crock sides and Lloyd’s Barbecue containers as well.

Oatmeal Containers

  • My family loves instant oatmeal.  You know the kind that comes in little paper envelopes? And that’s fine, when it’s on sale.  But I always have a container of regular, supposed to cook it on the stove oatmeal because I LOVE no-bake cookies (aka Doo Doo Balls) and when I want them, I want them.
  • While these are also cardboard containers, I can repurpose them.  On Pinterest, I found an oatmeal carton that was used to contain ponytail holders on the inside and headbands were wrapped on the outside.  How cute!  I have a plan to Mod Podge scrapbook paper that matches Monkey 2’s bedroom and then all of her hair bobs can be in her room.  Cute and functional.

Glass Bottles and Jars

  • Beer bottles, wine bottles, olive oil bottles, pickle jars…I’ve learned how to remove the labels and put them to further use.  Lots of ideas come from Pinterest ad I have yet to try even half of them.
  • I have tried one project and was pretty happy with the results.  After cleaning a jar/vase/bottle, I drew a picture in hot glue and then spray painted the bottle.  Mine is now a black vase with a fleur-de-lis.  Once I get a little more practiced, I could see making these as gifts.
  • On the windowsill by my sink, I keep an old bottle.  The bottle holds a repurposed toothbrush for scrubbing dishes and such.  It works out really well.
  • Bottles also make fantastic candle holders.  We used to have this amazing store in the mall, Wicks N Sticks, but it’s long gone.  At this store, you could purchase these cool colorful candles that when they burn, they drip down the sides of whatever holder.  I’ve seen where they’re available online, but they’re too pricey for a cheap chick like me.  I simply buy the really cheap tapers from the dollar store and guess what?  They drip!

Dryer Lint

  • Ok, this one is different, and I don’t save it for myself.  Granny at the Farm is collecting dryer lint.  I believe she’s making starter logs for the fireplace?  I currently have a grocery sack overflowing with lint, just waiting for me to take a trip to the farm.
  • I wonder if it could be used for felting?

Leftovers – It’s What’s for Dinner

  • My family is really easily bored with leftovers.  I hate it for them, but there are certain things I cannot feed my indestructible four-legged baby, and I cannot throw away good food.  Here is a trick I saw on TV.
  • One of my favorite former Bravo Housewives was on some morning talk show.  She’s a professional chef and has it so together when it comes to food.  She says she always has a bit left over from dinner each night.  The next night it is incorporated into another dish.  Leftover corn?  Throw it in tomorrow’s taco soup.
  • Grizzly did question the appearance of corn in this week’s Magical Mystery Beans.  They were part of a frozen serving of taco soup!

So slowly but surely, I’m repurposing rather than contributing to the local landfill.  I’m far from perfect, but it’s amazing what I can do with what I already have on hand.  Who needs Tupperware?  I have a coffee can.

What ideas do you have for repurposing things at your house?

~ Katie




ariel says:

Magical Mystery Beans!!!!! OH now I need to make some! But I can’t remember how to make them. How I miss those….

katiebman says:

Ground meat, lil smokies, bbq sauce, variety of beans …..a few other things lol

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