Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ten Paper Products To Cross Off Your Grocery List | Kitchen Economics Link Up

Are you looking for more ways to trim your grocery bill? Are you trying to run a more 'green' household? Try replacing some paper products on your list with cloth and re-usable products that you probably have around the house and you will not only reduce your grocery spending, but you will also reduce your waste.
1. Switch from paper napkins to cloth napkins - We have been using cloth napkins ever since we received them as a wedding gift ten years ago. I found some new ones recently in the clearance section of Kohl's and I retired some older, stained napkins to use in place of paper towels for smaller spills and to wipe messy little hands and faces.

2. Switch from paper towels to old bath towels - Do you have old towels in the back of your bathroom closet that you're not using anymore? When you have really big spills, grab an old bath towel instead of a massive amount of paper towels and then just toss the towel in with a load of laundry.

3. Switch from paper tissues to flannel cloth hankies - Flannel is so much softer on my kids' little noses. I use flannel hankies during sniffle season. I cut up some old flannel receiving blankets that we no longer need. A quick stitch around the edges should hopefully prevent fraying.

4. Switch from parchment paper to silicone baking mats. I have been using a Silpat Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat for years. There is an initial investment. I've seen silicone mats priced at $14-$20 depending on the brand and size, but parchment paper is pricey too and your investment will eventually pay for itself. You can use a coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond if you decide to purchase a baking mat.

5. Instead of using aluminum foil or plastic wrap to cover casseroles and leftovers, store the food in re-usable containers. I love my Pyrex Glass Storage Containers with the blue plastic lids. I have 4 different sizes. They are microwavable (except for the lid) and dishwasher safe. There is an initial investment, but I have seen similiar containers at yard sales or thrift stores and at Bed Bath and Beyond where they regularly offer 20% coupons.

6. Use plastic store bags for trash bags. Even though we try to use cloth grocery bags, we still end up with some plastic. Use them for your garbage.

7. Skip the sandwich bags and use re-usable containers in your lunch tote.

8. Switch from disposable cleaning cloths and mops and use old t-shirts, towels, flannel or micro-fiber instead.

9. Save the paper plates for your really BIG parties. From May-October, we eat outside on the patio for many meals and it would be so easy to use paper plates each time. I found these compartment plates at a yard sale for a couple of bucks and they are great for those times when you might grab paper plates, like picnics, patio dinners and small family gatherings. I also don't have to worry about breaking them on the patio. But I will admit that when I'm expecting a big crowd (20-30) for a family get-together which might be once or twice a year, I'll use paper plates.

10. Re-use glass jars instead of buying plastic storage ware. I learned this one from my Nanny. She is always sending food home in pickle jars when we visit. Cracks me up every time. I re-use pasta sauce jars for my homemade chicken stock , or my Roasted Roma Tomato Sauce, or my homemade sugar-free applesauce and store them in my freezer. Just leave an inch at the top, because of expansion from freezing. I also re-use #5 plastic containers that we get with Thai take-out; that can be a controversial concept for some people. I don't microwave any plastic containers.

Sometimes reaching for disposable paper products seems easier, but it doesn't take much more effort to use products that are re-usable or recycled. You save money and resources. What paper products do you avoid and what did you substitute them with? Let us know in the comments.

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This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM and Your Green Resource at The Greenbacks Gal.

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  1. Love this post. I just got the idea of using glass jars to store things but I still need to try it out to see how it helps w storage. From what I read it helps save space.

    Anyhow, I think we do everything else that you mentioned here already - I love your idea about the flannel handkerchiefs. We use rags and bandanas here. I try to get bandanas at garage sales.

    We also use the rags for cleaning up around the house. Puts those old socks and T-shirts to good use. We keep a bucket of them in the kitchen down at floor level so the kids can reach them too. We don't even have a box of tissues out in the open for anyone (that's a problem when guests come over, though :-))

  2. What a great list. I've never tried a silicone baking sheet. I don't use parchment paper, but could I use it in place of a non-stick spray like Pam?

  3. I do just about everythig except #10. But I don't buy pasta sauce so I don't have those containers to reuse. But good idea though. Our issue is that my mom lies with us and she is NOT on the bandwagon. At all.

  4. Great list! I do most of these except hankies for some reason. We also use cloth diapers! And I LOVE them.

  5. Barb @ A Life in BalanceMarch 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Great list! I use parchment paper, but I try to reuse it a few times at least before tossing. However, I will invest in a silpat to save myself the expense of buying more parchment paper.

    We're switching over to the glass storage because even the BPA-free plastic has lots of issues. However, it is expensive to buy the glass. I lucked out last night at Giant when I found pyrex rectangular ones for half price - $2.67. I noticed a big price difference between the pyrex glass storage in one section and the pyrex bakeware in another. And yet, both can go in the oven.

  6. Julie - I've never used pam spray for cookies, but I think that is the premise behind the silicone sheets. They are supposed to be non-stick.

  7. We can do more with less items, especially if we learn to be practical. There are things that we have at home that we can reuse and we do not have to buy new ones often. Paper is among the most wasted items and if we just learn to economize, we will be surprised on how much money we can save. When we go grocery shopping, make a list and stick with it. Do not buy bulks if you are not certain that your family can consume all of it. Aside from our grocery list, we can have our used papers shredded to serve other purposes and we can cut down from the use of plastic bags as well.

  8. These are such easy changes that really make a difference to your budget and the environment! I also find that in most cases, using "real stuff" is more pleasant, sort of elegant. :-)

    For hankies, another option is to cut up worn-out cotton knit garments. They're SO soft, and the edges don't fray until the fabric is wearing out anyway.

    They're not exactly paper products, but I switched from disposable tampons and pads to a reusable cup and cloth pads and I love them!

    Thanks for hosting the linkup!

  9. I'm obsessed with this topic lately. I am watching for flannel blankets at the thrift store, as well as cloth napkins. Another idea I saw recently online is to make re-usable makeup remover pads. One site said they used flannel, another used baby diaper material. As soon as I get a sewing machine, I will try both and see which one I like better. If I knew how to crochet, I'd make the crocheted ones, so pretty, so convenient.

  10. I've been doing this for a while. I use old washcloths for spills, dusting and any other job instead of paper towels.If something is on the floor just dampen the cloth throw it on the floor and use your foot to clean it up. Throw it in the wash until the next time.


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