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Friday, March 13, 2009

Reusing Ziplocks

Yes, I am one of those people that washes Ziplocks! I use them quite often, especially for fresh homemade bread and for freezing food - leftovers, prepared recipe size ingredients, breads and muffins, etc.

Over the years I have refined a system to organize and store these washed Ziplocks so I can keep flavors from mingling and keep foods labeled for freshness.

To start with, the food that goes into the Ziplock is usually in something else like a sandwich baggie. This not only keeps things in usable sizes (so the whole bag doesn't freeze together), but it also cuts down a bit on freezer burn, especially if there is some air space that is hard to work out of the Ziplock. So lets say I dice a bunch of onions to be ready for use in recipes. I will put the diced onions into sandwich baggies, 1/2 cup each. Then these sandwich baggies go into the Ziplock. I know that it would be cheaper to skip the baggies (I don't wash these), but they are quite cheap and I feel their benefit outweighs the cost.

Once I use a Ziplock, I don't switch the type of food that goes in it. This is as much for labeling as it is for freshness. On the label I write the contents of what is going in it and the month and year of the food. When I use everything up from the Ziplock I wash it and put it away. The next time I use it (for the same type of food), I just scribble off the old date and put the new date on.

The way I organize my used Ziplocks has changed a bit. I used to just keep them all together. It got to be hard finding the one I needed since I was getting such a variety of food that I freeze. So now I have them sorted by category in brown paper lunch sacks which are kept in the cupboard. On the bottom of the paper bag I have written what category of Ziplocks are stored in it. When I wash a Ziplock, I just pull out the appropriate brown bag to store it in, and when I need a Ziplock I look in the lunch sack that is labeled for that category.

Now that I type it all out, it sounds a bit complicated. Really, it isn't. I rarely have to buy Ziplocks anymore, and it only takes a second to store and find one. Like I said, the way I do this has changed over the years. I'd love to hear any methods you have.

Maybe for my next post I'll make a list of my categories and what type of things are in them.

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Picket Fence Farm said...

This is a good idea...I am sure it helps save some money...which we are all about right now!

Becky said...

You can get nearly all the air out by inserting a straw and closing the bag up to the width of the straw and then sucking out all the aire - don't breath back in just pull the straw out with your teeth as you finish zipping up the bag - this was one of "my" jobs on the farm I grew up on when my Grandma was freezing stuff.

McKrola Family said...

I have a money saving tip.. I refuse to buy nasty little baby carrots.

Joyce said...

You are so awesome for reusing your bags! My husband and I have a small subsistance farm and I am currently a graduate student. My job as part-time 'house wife' includes managing our household as effeciently and frugally as possible, given my busy schedule. I throw used baggies in the utility sink on the back porch, then have a baggie-washing day when they've accumulated somewhat. Then I hang them on the clothesline to dry. My point - even if you can't commit 24-7 to an ecofriendly and money-saving home/farm, there are lots of small things you can do.

PS. I love your blog!

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The Frugal Fraulein said...

Years ago I read (I believe it was in one of the Tightwad Gazzete books that Ziplocks could be washed in the washing machine along with a load of wash. I have done it over the years and the only trick is not to forget and throw them in the dryer!!! I like to wash them with the kitchen towels and sponges. First I turn them inside out so the food is removed with washing. I take the bags out when the load is done and hang them up to dry. I do label the bags so meat bags get used with meat and cheese with cheese and so forth. When bags are kind of rough looking they get moved to the garage for the shop.
With the price of these useful bags it is necessary to keep reusing them! lol no I am not nuts!

Anonymous said...

We wash out used ZipLoc bags each time we wash dishes and hang them by one corner on one of those plastic folding travel lingerie hangers that look like the skeleton of an upside down umbrella...with spring clothespin- like clips on the end of each spoke. It's hung out of the way in a corner over our dryer... saves money, since I use
ZipLocs a LOT.

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