Advertise with us!

Use it up

By on April 2, 2010

Frugality involves being less wasteful. Even if you’re pretty good about not wasting much, there’s always room for improvement. What ways do you avoid being wasteful? Here are a few ideas.

CRAFT SCRAPS: Don’t throw away yarn or fabric scraps. Fabric scraps can be used in applique, coasters, sachets, hair scrunchies, decoupage, quilt blocks or string quilts, pillow stuffing or fabric wreaths. One reader, Carol from Canada, shares: “I keep anything 2 inches or larger. I purchased a couple of plastic containers on sale and use those to store my pieces. If I have a piece of material left over, I cut out triangles or strips for Log Cabin quilts. The material is already cut up and ready to sew when I want to make a quilt.” Consider using your yarn scraps to make security blankets for shelter pets. Visit for details. Vow to use up what you have, too. Instead of finding a new project and buying new supplies, look at the supplies you already have and find a project that works.

LEFTOVERS: They often get shoved to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten. Not everyone has time to plan out meal makeovers or remembers to pop them into the freezer. But maybe you can simply remember to set out a leftover or two at mealtime. Put your fast food condiments to use, too. Don’t save them with good intentions in a plastic tub only to toss them later. It’s tempting to open a brand new container of a product. Resist and make it a point to use the takeout packets or the last little bits in a container.

SAMPLES: Maybe you have a stash of hotel or travel-size soaps and shampoos or freebie product samples. Use them up or gift or donate them to someone who can use them.

PAPER: Save envelopes and any paper that is used only on one side. You can cut and staple them together or simply save them in a box to use so you don’t use up a new sheet. Or make paper beads for jewelry. Visit and for tutorials. You can shred it for packing material or use it for Origami. One reader, Christine from Oregon, shares how she makes homemade paper: “Get an old blender and a dish pan. Make a wood frame from scraps that will fit inside the dish pan and rest on the bottom. Then tack a small piece of screen tightly over the frame. Fill the blender 1/3 to 1/2 full with water. Add thin paper shreds. Keep adding paper (and water as necessary) until you have a good amount of pulp. You don’t want it too soupy, but liquid enough so that it will pour and not burn out the blender. Fill the dish pan half way with water and add the pulp. Add more pulp if necessary. Put your screen down in the dishpan and press it all the way to the bottom, then lift it up. Do this several times until the screen is covered entirely with pulp. Take the screen out of the tub and drain it over a sink. When the pulp is still damp but has drained enough to hold together, turn it out onto a flat surface to dry.

photo by heidi elliot


  1. Tom

    4/3/2010 at 11:21 am

    Great advice, but only start on it if you intended to follow through. If your throwing out leftovers because your not a person/family that likes eating the same thing mutliple times in one week cooking extra will not do you any good.

    What we’ve found works better for us (my wife is one of the above mentioned people) is to only cook extra of the stews/sauces (spaghetti, green chili, soup, stew, etc) and freeze that rather than putting it in the back of the fridge. A month later when we want it again it thaws out great and makes the meals easy to cook.

    Because we lack planning, this also means that we will go through cycles of double cooking/freezing a lot and then using everything out of the back of the freezer. Ideally we would do all of our double cooking Friday through Sunday (when we have spare time) and all of our freezer cooking on the Monday through Thursday (when we’re getting home from work dead tired).

  2. Tom

    4/3/2010 at 11:24 am

    …oh yeah. Waffels freeze and dethaw in the toaster great. I’m still trying to figure out pancakes which freeze great but don’t have a great dethaw method yet (air/pan/oven doesn’t give the right texture and they fall appart in the toaster).

    • simplyme

      1/30/2015 at 4:31 am

      Make sure pancakes are room temperature before freezing them. To thaw pancakes, use your microwave on the defrost setting.

  3. Laurie S.

    4/4/2010 at 4:29 pm

    Tom, you can thaw/cook pancakes in the microwave oven. Just put them in for a minute at 50% power. If not hot enough, zap them on high then for about 10 seconds more. It works great for me!!

  4. Suzanne R.

    4/7/2010 at 11:45 am

    Great ideas! I tend to be pretty good about using up leftovers, but there’s much room for improvement in the other areas you mentioned. The one I will implement immediately is leftover craft scraps. I have knitted and crocheted several dishcloths recently, with each one using most but not all of a skein of Sugar’n Cream. I’m sure there’s enough left in each one to crochet at least one scrunchie, if not more!

  5. Jan

    4/8/2010 at 3:10 am

    One of the best ideas I have heard of for leftover party napkins and all the “extras” that come with a party is – Have a “tacky party”. The hostess used up every paper napkin – birthday, new years, christmas… and plates. She cooked a turkey and just put the carcass on the table! Sounds like great fun to me.

  6. Jacqui

    4/13/2012 at 2:26 pm

    I squeeze all the little takeout packets of ketchup, must, etc. into my bigger bottles at home. That way I don’t end up forgetting about them until they are too old! I just can’t understand why people throw those away!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.