Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reusing Glass Jars | Kitchen Economics

I have a grandmother who would never dream of buying containers to store leftovers or food for the freezer. She has always reused food containers, such as glass pickle jars or plastic cool-whip and sherbert containers, so I am not quite sure how or why I got started buying plastic food storage containers. Maybe it was the screw on lids that attracted me and how they were so uniform and neatly fit in my freezer or cupboards.

Several years ago, it struck me that I was using plastic food storage containers (with screw on lids) that I bought at the grocery store to store my homemade freezer food and at the same time I was throwing perfectly usable glass food jars in the recycle bin. It seemed a bit wasteful. I have since made a vow to not buy any more plastic ware and just reuse the glass containers from the pickles, salsa, pasta sauce or any other food that I buy.

The glass jars are perfect for storing my homemade sugar-free applesauce, homemade chicken stock, and roasted tomato sauce in the freezer. They can be used for storing anything and not just in the kitchen. I use recycled jars to store baking goods (those blue Ball jars were a yard sale find), leftovers, matches, Q-tips, cotton balls, and office supplies.

The jars might not all be the same shape and size, but I'm not shelling out money for containers anymore. I soak the jars in water to remove the label and clean in the dishwasher. When using a glass jar for freezing, do not fill all the way to the top, leave an inch open to allow for expansion that will happen when the food is frozen. To label, I have written with a sharpie on the jar or the lid, used a piece of masking tape or my label maker.

Do you buy food storage containers or reuse food containers?

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This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.


  1. I have been doing the same things. I have a whole collection of random sized glass jars under my kitchen sink. Unlike you I usually leave thee old labels on and I don't relabel them, so no one but me really knows what is inside of them :)

    I think the difficult thing is having containers for leftovers, like enchiladas, or lasagna, or chicken. That is when I use plastic containers, but I would like to slowly get away from using them and switch to using more glass.

  2. My mom is a Coolwhip container queen. We're forever getting leftovers sent home with us in old butter containers, Coolwhip tubs, or those just-like-you-can-buy-for-$$ plastic tubs that her lunch meat comes in from the grocery store. On the other hand, we don't go through a lot of glass jars at our house, so I'm not throwing them away a lot. I purchased some of the store brand plastic containers with the screw on lids a few years back and I use them over and over and over, so I feel like it was a good deal for us. The reason I like them over glass is because if I forget and fill it too full of soup or chili, they expand witout breaking. Just curious if you had any issues with that in the glass jars? Otherwise, I'm a big repurpose person - use what you have! :-)

  3. SuzyHomemaker - I have a set of pyrex that was a wedding gift that I use for the big leftovers. I'm trying to slowly get away from plastic too.

    carrie - I haven't had a problem so far with the glass cracking, but it is important to leave at least a 1 inch gap at the top.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. I use both glass and plastic. My husband takes lunch/dinner to work everyday and it's much safer for him to tote plastic rather than glass. At home I use my ball canning jars for storing everything. I have both metal and plastic lids that fit them. I use pints, quarts and the 1/2 gallon size in my kitchen. I don't buy a lot of items that come in glass jars, all I found in my pantry was a jar of pickled beets! Everything else is in a can or home canned.

  5. Both. I bought glassware for storage, but I also reuse mason jars and my glass PB jars! :)

  6. I love this idea!! What s the best way to get the salsa or pickle smell out of the jar? It seems to linger even after multiple washings. And that annoying old label, how do you remove it?

    1. TO remove the labels, soak the jar in water.

      To remove the smells, here's a link with some solutions:


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