We all love shortcuts, new ideas, and creative inventions that save us time, cost us little to nothing, and make us say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  To be honest, I’m not that imaginative. BUT, I do like to save money and hate to waste something that could be put to use somewhere in the house. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so here are just a few simple things we do in our kitchen to reuse items in order to save some crumbs.  Maybe you’ll find some of them useful in yours too.

1. Plate Holder = Convenient Recipe Stand

You can buy all sorts of fancy cookbook holders and stands out there, but you’ll pay a pretty penny. I found this plastic plate holder for a dollar and use it to hold up my cookbooks or pretty much anything else that will fit!

Plate Holder 1

Of course, as you can tell, it’s a bit cheap since it was only a dollar, so it tends to topple over with thick or very tall cookbooks. But it’s the perfect size for a tablet. This way, you can cook, get your hands dirty, and still have the recipe propped up and in good eye’s view. A bonus is that it folds and I can keep it neatly in the cup that holds my pens.

2. Oatmeal Cartons = Grain Silos

Since we make our own granola and buy our oats at ALDI, we end up with lots of cardboard oatmeal cartons. They have a nice snug lid, are fairly large (42 oz), and make great containers for our other grains which we buy in bulk (especially rice).

3. Detergent Lid = Perfect Size Grain Scoop

Were you admiring my little scooper dooper that I use to ladle out my rice? I hope so, because guess what!? Here’s where it came from, so you probably have lots of potential scoopers sitting around at your own house too!


You may find a nifty scoop like this on something other than your detergent. A lot of things come with nice plastic lids that are just about the size of a 1 cup measuring cup.

4. Ice Cream Spoon = Ideal Sugar Spoon

Speaking of scoops, whenever Al and I get our free ice cream cones at Baskin-Robbins for our birthdays, those little pink spoons come home with us. Since I keep my sugar in a wide-mouthed container for cooking, the ice cream spoon gets transferred from scooping one sweet thing to another!

5. Scrap Sticker Sheets = Cut-out Freezer Labels

If you’ve ever printed address labels at Christmas time or CD/DVD labels, you’ve probably ended up with a bunch of sheets with big chunks of sticker leftover around the corners. It’s more than a little painful to throw it away all that nice white sticker still untouched around the edges, isn’t it? Well, don’t waste it anymore! Cut out sections (like I’ve already done in the picture below) to label your food in the freezer (or anywhere else you can use small labels).


Just don’t let the bags get too wet or the labels won’t stick as well. I usually double bag all my smaller bags of frozen foods in a larger bag to keep things organized, so it also helps to keep the labels dry and in place.

6. Rubber Wristband = Handy Jar Opener

Did you ever get one of these for admission to a park or as a marketing gimmick at a convention?


Rubber bands are great for a lot of things, but these large ones are especially perfect for twisting off hard-to-open lids. Wrap a wide rubber band around the lid, twist with the rubber band as grip, and the stubborn lid almost always pops right open! (By the way, this is also a great way to impress the opposite sex of your brute strength.)

7. Tissue Boxes = Ultimate Bag Organizers

We keep most of our plastic grocery bags, but we also keep 1) produce bags (the thinner ones in the produce department, which especially come in handy when we share vegetables from our garden with our neighbors), 2) small plastic grocery bags, and 3) bread bags (for homemade bread and because I double bag frozen bread).

As you can imagine, with this great assortment of different kinds of bags getting all mixed up together, bags would be flying everywhere as I pawed through the 75 Walmart bags and 15 bread bags in frantic efforts to find the produce bag at the very bottom. What a mess! But with our new tissue box reorganization, this is what it looks like now:


We’ve separated the types of bags and stuffed them into empty tissue boxes. Now, finding a produce bag is a calm, quick, flick of the wrist as I pull a plastic bag through its convenient dispensing slot  (oh yeah, and notice that spiffy label?).

These are just a few of the tips and tricks we use in our kitchen. I’m sure if we all walked through our kitchens, into our closets, or rummaged through our drawers, we’d find tons of other creative things we’ve learned from our moms or through the trials and errors of life.

How about you? Do you do any of these? We’d love to hear any tips and tricks you do in your house and maybe we’ll start doing them in ours too!