Upcycle It!

If you’re a pinner on Pinterest, you may have a little bit of an obsession with the millions of ways to use Mason Jars.  I’m sure there’s a whole slew of you that went out to pick up a case of them just to do all of these projects.  WHY?

Why didn’t you just use the jars that were already in your pantry?

If the food in your pantry doesn’t come in a can or a plastic bottle, it most likely comes in a jar!  If you look at some of those spagetti jars in your pantry…you might notice they’re already in MASON JARS!

While I could do a post about the millions of ways you can use mason jars, I’m not going to.  I’m actually going to give you some second thoughts before tossing that jar out into the recycle bin. 

1.  USE THEM TO CARRY LUNCH.  I have this thing about not storing my food in plastic containers.  Plastic comes from oil…you know, the stuff you put in your cars.  What if that oil seeps into my food in the microwave?  I don’t want that.  So instead, I use either ceramic or glass to tote my lunch to work.

A lot of glass containers you can buy these days use plastic lids.  That means forget about bringing soup to work with you.  It will leak all over the place.  If you put it in a glass jar, you don’t have to worry about leaks.

I prefer the Target & Co. jars.  If you buy Archer Farms or even Giada De Laurentiis’s pasta sauces from Target, they come in these jars.  They’re nice and streamlined.  But the part that I love most about these jars is that it is probably the easiest jar I’ve found that allows you to put food into it easily because of the wide opening.

I can actually fit my big soup spoon inside the jar while ladling up the soup to store.  It makes for less mess.  Oddly enough (I haven’t figured this out yet), when you store the soup in your fridge, the lid reseals itself so it ‘pops’ when you open it up again…as if the seal of freshness approval is reapplied.

Not only can you put your salads in there, but even putting your pasta and sauce in makes it easy to tote [Hint: keep the liquid on the bottom.  If carrying salad, make sure the dressing is at the bottom and the lettuce/spinach is at the top. The lettuce and dressing cannot touch!]. 

Just make sure you keep a plate or bowl at the office to heat up the contents (I always keep a big coffee mug in my desk drawer that I can put food into to warmup for lunch).  [WARNING: Do not heat cold glass in a microwave after taking it out of the refrigerator.  It will break.  Use a ceramic plate/bowl to re-heat items.]

By upcycling that jar you were going to throw out anyway, you don’t have to go out and buy a whole set of Mason Jars to carry your food in!  You have the jars to do that, as well as all of those projects you’ve been wanting to do.  The jars are just sitting in your pantry already. 

You can even save money on buying those glass containers to take to work or to store food.  I have 3 of those glass containers at home.  All of the rest of the items in my fridge are stored in glass jars.  Probably one of the easiest meals that you can grab and take to work are in these jars…just store the meals on Sunday and go.

Since I make two big pots of soup on Sunday, I put them in the Target & Co. jars.  I take one jar into work…that’s two meals in itself.  I’ll bring in 2 jars of soup that week, and one day with pasta and sauce or a rice dish.

When I can every summer, I reuse these same jars every single year.  Why buy more jars when you have them already?!?!

HINT: If you can your summer bounty, make sure to start saving up the jars over the winter months and on through until the summer.  You’ll have a whole stock of jars ready to use come summertime. 

CLEANING HINT: For those darn labels that are stuck on there…soak the jar in vinegar.  The label will come off.

2. STORAGE SOLUTION.  So after the baking soda comes out of the fridge and you replace it with a new one…what do you do with the baking soda? 

If you’re like me and can’t have any toxic cleaners in your home, re-use the baking soda for cleaning projects.  Just store the baking soda in a glass jar and keep it with the rest of your cleaning supplies. 

If you end up with a lot of those Target & Co. jars, start storing food in them.  From dried beans, rice, nuts, flours, etc. you can put them all up for display in your pantry. Just put a label on it.  You can find a tutorial on how to make dishwasher safe labels for the jars at The Painted Hive.

If you’re like me, you probably have a whole bunch of plastic spice jars, too.  You can tranfer the spices into jars while they sit on the shelf waiting to be put into the glass jars by your stove (you do have glass spice jars, right???  If not, there are plenty of retailers selling sets for less than $20 with the spices in them already).

Also, for those ladies who make their own seasonings (taco seasoning, onion soup mix, ranch dressing, etc.), putting your mixes into an upcycled jar and slapping a pretty label on it will actually beautify your own mixes…and they are even good enough to hand out as gifts! 

3. BATHROOM STORAGE.  I like to take the fatter jars and put cotton swabs and cotton balls into them.  It’s actually a nice and clean way to display the bathroom essentials.

4.  THE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES.  Whether you need a cool way to display candles, plant an indoor garden, or whatever you need storage for…there are endless possibilities on how to upcycle your jars.  In other words, don’t rush out to buy cases of jars when you probably already have a bunch in your pantry already.

{From House of Humble}

For more ideas on how to upcycle jars, just search for “jar” in Pinterest.  You’ll find so many ideas.  For those looking for gift ideas…upcycling your jars and using it to share sourdough bread starters, seasoning mixes (sans all the additives), or even just a new way to display a plant or knick knacks…upcycle what you already have in your pantry before you run out to buy a case of Mason jars!  You’ll find that even using a little Tiffany blue spray paint on the outside of a Christmas cookie tin will give you a whole new look to upcycling something you were going to throw out.

Like a photo…you can turn just about anything into something better.

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth has been a member of the NHL credentialed media covering the New Jersey Devils since 2008 for Inside Hockey. She is the owner or PerfectionistWannabe.com.