Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Reusing Ziploc Bags

THIS JUST IN: Rinsing and reusing Ziploc bags (I know - there are many brands!) is apparently not an unheard of idea. I found this picture posted on Plow & Hearth, where you can find all sorts of things you don't need for your home!

I know there's some germophobe out there who will not like this tip but for the rest of us, here goes. This is something I learned from my gram who grew up reusing foil, paper bags and even paper towels. I always remember her keeping plastic Ziploc bags in the freezer and now that I have my own home, I can't bear to toss a Ziploc bag until it's served me well.

I buy the best quality Ziploc bags and believe it or not, a box in each size usually lasts me almost a year. I wash them well in hot soapy water after use, slip over a serving spoon in the dish drain and let them dry, then fold and store on my freezer door. Now mind you, I never reuse any in which I've had any kind of meat or liquidy food substance. Mostly what I reuse them for is to store things like bags of coffee beans, graham cracker and bread crumbs, and herbs. They're also useful for storing unused portions of bacon and hot dogs, wrapped first in plastic wrap. This keeps my meats handy and organized in the freezer. Oh and overripe bananas get cut in half and tossed in a bag (unpeeled) for later use in banana bread (hint - if you try this, do not take the bananas out of the freezer until you're ready to peel and mash them).

Here are a few other uses for those plastic marvels! I use tomato paste in a lot of recipes and always hated opening those cans and having leftover past. Several years ago I got the idea of buying it in large cans, and scooping it onto a cookie sheet with a small cookie scoop (line the sheet first with wax or freezer paper). After the scooped portions freeze, I store them in a - you guessed it - Ziploc bag. Each portion equals a tablespoon and about 3 of them equal a 1/4 cup.

I also buy grating cheeses in bulk (usually a pound lb. each of Parmagiano Reggiano, and Asiago) at the Strip District downtown, cut into 1 inch square pieces and store these in a Ziploc in a freezer. It's easy to grab one or two and use in my table grater for always-fresh taste of good cheese.

Perhaps one of these tips will work for you - they work for me! If not, check out the tons of other good tips posted at Shannon's site on Works For Me Wednesday.


Jennifer said...

My mil washes and reuses all of them. I generally try if there are just a few crumbs. It's a good reminder and I should be more diligent now that I live here and everything is more expensive (including, I've specifically noticed, Ziplock bags).

Katrina said...

These are great ideas, Dianne. I'm horrible about going through Ziploc bags too quickly! Also, I like the banana idea. I love to make banana bread, but didn't know I could stick the bananas in the freezer until I can use them. Thanks!

melissa said...

There is a product called bag-e wash ( that allows you to wash and dry the bags in the dishwasher.

Also, not all plastic baggies are the safest for re-use. Over time the plastic will leach into your food. The best bets are listed below, courtesy of an article on plastics in the kitchen ( )

Glad Food Storage Bags
Glad Freezer Bags
Glad Sandwich Bags
Hefty Baggies
Hefty OneZip Slider Bags
Saran Cling Plus
Ziploc Bags
Ziploc Double Guard Freezer Bags

Mama Duck said...

Good idea, we used to do this all the time growing up! Happy Wednesday, ours is up as well!

Gail said...

I do this too! And thought I was the only one to do kids think it's crazy I think. I too don't wash any that have had meat or liquid in it & you can usually tell if it's been washed too many times, then I toss it and start over! Fun to know someone else does this!

Barb, sfo said...

A lot of my "re-used" bags wind up wrapping travel items (shampoo bottle, etc.) so they don't leak all over the suitcase.
Otherwise, I use them when I have something double-wrapped--like an opened bag of frozen veg.

Susanne said...

I'm going to do the tomato paste idea today! I've just put the leftovers into a plasic container but then you have to thaw practically the whole thing to get it out. And the bag idea is great. I'm sure I could have bought the company by now with as many as I go thru!

lady laura said...

I do this too. It is such an easy thing to do to save a bit o'money.

Question though: why do you put them in the freezer?

Jeana said...

I do this too--but is there a reason for storing them in the freezer?

DivaP said...

Okay ... file me under germaphobe. I just can't do the rinse and reuse thing. But I am very conscientious about which size bag I use. I get the snack size Ziplocks and try to use those instead of wasting the larger size ones for Little P's school snacks!

Dianne said...

Some of you asked why I store them in the freezer. Dunno except to say that's what my Gram did. I do think it helps to ensure they're extra dry and keeps them separate from new ones.

Also - I really only reuse them for either dry ingred. (i.e. coffee beans, etc.) or wrapped products (a bag that I had a few bananas in is okay to rinse and reuse for wrapped bacon, etc.).

amelia said...

I've been thinking about this lately, and everytime I throw one away I've thought what a waste! In fact, I have one sitting on my counter now that I'm going to wash! Great tip. Thanks for stopping by my site today!

Stacy said...

I'm a bit of a germophobe, but I do this as well. Especially for bread. I bake bread every week and wash out the same ziplocs (labeled BREAD!) and reuse them every week. I hate throwing those things away, I feel like our planet will be overrun with plastic and foam containers in a few decades :)

That's a good idea about the cheese and also the tomato sauce. I'll file that away for future reference, thanks for the tips!

Have a great day :)