In an effort over the years to save money at the grocery store and reduce our waste, we’ve found reusable alternatives to many disposable products, such as paper towels, paper napkins, storage containers, and bags. With those items not on my grocery list, I’ve made more room in my grocery budget for actual food.
It’s not hard to make the switch to reusable alternatives and hopefully, my tips below will give you some ideas on how you can reduce store-bought paper products in your home too.
10 Disposable Products to Cross Off Your Grocery List
Paper Napkins, Use Cloth Napkins
We have been using cloth napkins in place of paper ever since we received them as a wedding gift many years ago. This is an easy switch. To get started, head to the clearance section of any department store and you’ll find plenty to choose from or make your own. When my cloth napkins get too stained to use with company, they move on and become substitute “paper” towels.
Paper Towels, Use Reusable Towels or Cloths.
For large spills, I use old bath towels that have retired from the bathroom, because they were too old and/or unsightly. For smaller spills, I use old hand towels and cloth napkins. Keep them stored under your sink for easy use.
Side note: I use about 1 roll of paper towels in a year. They are nice to have on hand when you have a sick child that couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom in time. Who really wants to wash that kind of a mess, so I will wipe it up with a paper towel and toss it in the trash. But besides those occasions, which fortunately are rare, this is an easy switch to make.
Tissues, Use Flannel Cloth Hankies
Flannel is so much softer on my kids’ little noses and I have used flannel hankies during sniffle season. Just cut up old flannel blankets or shirts and a quick stitch around the edges should prevent fraying.
Parchment Paper, Use Silicone Baking Mats.
I have been using a Silpat Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat for years. There is an initial investment, but parchment paper can be pricey and your investment will eventually pay for itself. Look for sales or use a 20% coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Plastic Wrap or Aluminum Foil, Use Re-Usable Containers.
I love my Pyrex Glass Storage Containers with the plastic lids for storing leftovers. I have many different shapes and sizes. They are microwavable (except for the lid) and dishwasher safe. There is an initial investment, but I have seen these containers at yard sales or thrift stores and at Bed Bath and Beyond where they regularly offer 20% coupons.
Small trash bags, Use Plastic Store Bags.
Even though we try to use cloth grocery bags, we still end up with some plastic, so use them for your garbage.
Sandwich & Snack Bags, Use Re-Usable Containers in Your Lunch Tote.
Disposable Cleaning Supplies, Use Old T-shirts, Towels, Flannel or Micro-Fiber.
I love my Swiffer, but I don’t like the disposable refills, so I came up with my own No-Fuss DIY Swiffer Dry Sweeper Refills.
Paper Plates, Find Cute Alternatives.
For picnics, dinners on the patio, and quick lunches, paper plates would be so easy, but cute plastic ware works just as well. I bought our festive red plastic ware several years ago at Kohl’s for 60% off and they are awesome for dinners and small family gatherings on our patio. I found the compartment plates at a yard sale for a couple of bucks and they are great for picnics.
Side note: When I’m expecting a big crowd (20-30) for a family get-together (which might be once a year), I’ll use paper plates, but as a general everyday rule, nix the paper plates!
Plastic Storage Ware, Re-Use Glass Jars Instead.
I re-use glass marinara sauce and salsa jars for my homemade chicken stock , my Roasted Roma Tomato Sauce, and my homemade sugar-free applesauce to store in the freezer. You MUST leave about two inches open at the top, because of expansion from freezing. The jars will crack if they are too full when stored in the freezer.
I also re-use plastic containers that we get with Thai take-out although I know re-using plastic can be a controversial concept for some people. When using plastic containers, I hand wash and I don’t put in the microwave.
It doesn’t take much effort to find products that are re-usable in place of disposables, and it’s an easy way to reduce your grocery spending and waste.
What paper products do you avoid and what did you substitute them with? Let us know in the comments.