Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sandwich Bag Savings


We use lots of sandwich bags in our house. I use them to freeze homemade bread, to take food with us when we’re on the go, to freeze leftovers, to hold crayons or markers and to store craft supplies. I just use them a lot. And that can get really expensive if you throw them away every time you use them. It seems that the good sturdy kind can cost as much as your child’s college fund if you use them as often as I do. So I stopped throwing them away and started re-using them. That’s a pretty easy concept if all you’re doing is storing crayons but when it comes to food it can get a little tricky.

Once or twice a year I buy a box of gallon size Ziploc bags and a box of quart size Ziploc bags. And that purchase will last me several months. The seams in the Ziploc bags are about the toughest I’ve found so that’s why I’ve stuck to that brand. And I wait till I find them for a bargain before purchasing them.

When I’ve emptied a bag of it’s contents, maybe a batch of sticky cinnamon rolls or leftover hot dogs, I turn it inside out and put it over the tines on the top rack of my dishwasher. Then I just wash it when I do a regular load of dishes. When the washing and drying cycle is done I pull out the bag. It’s usually still wet because water gets trapped in the bends and folds of the bag. So I’ve rigged a string, like a clothesline, over my kitchen sink and I clip them on there with a clothespin so they can drip dry. Then they get folded and stuffed back into their box for another use.

And once I got the kids on board (HEY! Don’t throw that in the garbage!) I started to save lots of money.

42 comments:

Terri and Bob said...

I throw away 2 a day of the sandwich size. I am going to try your method.

April said...

What about the ones that hold raw meat?

Angela said...

WOW, what a great trick! Thank you!

$5 Dinner Mom said...

When we lived in the Dominican Republic, we had to make sure they were good and dry (non potable water was used to wash them), so we would stick them damp to the wall. When they fell off, they would be completely dry! Worked like a charm.

Janelle said...

I always wash out my ziploc bags (except the ones that had raw meat in them), but I've always done it by hand. I will have to try the dishwasher idea. I've been using the same bags for several months - they wash beautifully!

Mom of Many Messes said...

I had read in one of your earlier posts about your bag recycling and I've been trying it! With 4 people packing lunch every day we use a lot! But I've been handwashing them...I will definitely have to try my dishwasher! Yay! Thanks for the tips.

Frugal Girls! said...

Great post! I just started reusing ziploc bags by handwashing them several months ago, and have really noticed the savings!! I'm definitely going to try your trick of putting them in the dishwasher next. :)

Gloria said...

I have bought my ziplocks bags at Bj's wholesale for sometime now. I purchase them there for three reasons; I can buy in bulk; they accept coupons and it saves me on trips to the market.

I have been washing ziplock bags it seems like forever.

I have never put them in the diswasher. Your telling me it's safe to put them through the dishwasher????
I will give it a try!

My home of 5 said...

I save my bags too! Although, I have never thought about placing them in the dishwasher. I have always just hand-washed them. Thanks!

Kristen said...

My mom always saved them growing up, now I do too. I throw away meat bags but every other one we reuse unless there are holes.

Chris said...

I'm so glad someone else does this!

The only time I throw one away is if I've had raw meat in it.

I also use the freezer bags a lot since they last longer after rewashings.

Thanks for the clothesline tip!

Heather Brandt said...

My only concern with trying this is whether the plastics leak BPA or other stuff as they are heated up so much and reused.

heather

Blakely said...

We currently hand-wash our bags, but might have to try washing them in the dishwasher for convenience sake!! And I totally made fun of my mom for doing this when I lived at home, but now that I have to stick to a budget myself, I yell at my husband when he tries to throw them away!!

Becky said...

I have been an avid baggie washer for years. Especially in the summer when I bag a lot of fresh produce from our CSA. My husband put up a baggie drying line for me in the garage. A helpful tip for folks with an Aldi: they sell 2 gallon ziplocs that will fit a homemade pizza crust and they are sturdy.

Anonymous said...

I wash out our baggies too, but I never thought of using the dishwasher! What a life saver! Thanks!

Kristen said...

I wash and reuse all but the ones that have raw meat in them. I just can't feel that those get clean enough. I haven't ever put them in the dishwasher, though. I will have to try that.

Sherry said...

I wash mine, too, although I would have never thought to put in the dishwasher. :D Thank you for the tip!

Heather & Chaos said...

Wow Gayle! You must have read my mind because i was going to e-mail you about this very topic one of these day. =) When I was reading back through your blog I noticed a guest post from your hubby who mentioned you saved sandwich bags and I was going to ask how you "wash" them.

I'm definitely going to try this. I NEVER thought of simply putting them in the dishwaser. My dh thinks I'm nuts for wanting to save them but if I start putting them in the dishwasher to save I bet he'll feel more comfortable about reusing them!

One quick question - what about bags that had raw meat in them?? Do you still wash them? I feel kinda funny about doing that. Worried about food poisioning

Anonymous said...

My mom washed ziploc bags all the time while we were growing up....we used to tease her about it! Now I have to laugh when I wash a bag out. I never thought of the dishwasher method! Good to know - I will wash them more often now!

nanny said...

I hope your husband knows the extent of your savings,,,,you are an inspiration girl. I actually went to a sav-a-lot this week because of you. I'm thinking a green bean is a green bean, no matter the label!!!Then I go and buy Olay for my face and gosh blow the savings, but it was buy one get one half price.....

Lisa B. said...

When I was a little girl, I thought my grandmother (who I loved dearly) was nuts washing and saving everything she saved to re-use.

Now that I'm an adult woman, living in these times, I understand my grandmother. I began about 18 months ago saving and re-using bags also. I'm with you, I think the ziplock brand holds up much better than all the others.

Miriam said...

Hmm,I've never tried the dishwasher... But I wash and re-use mine, too, until they get holes in them. I agree, Ziploc brand works the best for reusing.

Sarala said...

I remember my mom washing out bags like this when I was a kid, and when it came down to my husband and I saving money, I started doing the same thing. I haven't tried the dishwasher yet though. Great idea!

April said...

Thanks for this tip. I always wondered how that worked. Now we just have to save up for a new dishwasher (halfway there!) and I'll give it a go!

Gayle said...

My dishwasher has a sterile setting so I'm pretty confident that raw meat isn't an issue.

Alicia said...

My grandmother and father's family has always done this. I actually feel guilty every time I throw one away because it was so ingrained in my head to reuse them. LOL

Erica said...

Brillant! When we lived overseas ziplock bags were like gold, but I always hated washing them. We'd stick them to the wall to let them dry. Now I try to use tupperware instead of ziplock bags, since I refuse to wash them because we are in the land of ziplock bags. I'm going to try this, because I hate wasting a perfectly good ziplock bag.

Anonymous said...

I admit I've never saved them but I always feel bad when I throw them out. You've inspired me to start saving them -- especially if I can put them in the dishwasher. My dishwasher also has a sterile setting so I wouldn't worry about raw meat either, though I can't really think of a time I've used them for raw meat...

Carol said...

I always buy the freezer bags in qt. and gal. size. They can be reused over and over. Too bad sandwich size bags don't come in freezer weight. I do have the kids bring those back home in their lunch boxes along with plastic silverware and containers.

Stacy said...

argh! that is so smart! I have been cleaning them by hand which is only effective about 80% of the time. Thanks for the tip. :)

Duckygirl said...

My aunt saves hers and she claims she has ones she got her first year of marriage...over 30 years ago! (I don't think for meat though, just breads and things)

-Laura

Anonymous said...

There's even a tool to hold open the bags in the dishwasher - check out www.bag-e-wash.com.

I've gotten rid of sandwich bags altogether by using wrap-n-mats instead - check them out at www.greenraising.com.

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

I have ALWAYS washed and reused our sandwich bags. I agree, Ziplock brand is the most sturdy.

Mrs. B

Laura said...

I turn my bag inside out and throw them in the washer with towels. Then I let them air dry. They come out really clean and I leave them on the counter in my laundry room to dry. It's sure makes it easy.

Anonymous said...

I've used a baggie dryer for years - and just bought me MIL one for xmas!

Halfmoon Girl said...

I wash my bags too. It took me a while before I finally realized they dried faster if I turned them inside out before washing- duh!

Bethann said...

I hand wash mine and hang then upside down on the fridge with a magnet inside them. They dry wonderfully. I don't wash the raw meat ones. I have a sterile cycle on my dishwasher, too, but it uses so much extra electricity that I don't use it. I don't mind throwing out one once in a while. Although you have to think--if your raw meat leaks out onto a dish, you don't throw the dish away! Still...I ditch the bag!

Bethann said...

Other bags are reusable, too. If you bake bread at all, hamburger and hot dog bun bags are the perfect size for a loaf of homemade bread, whereas a gallon ziploc won't hold one. These I do turn inside out to wash and dry. Also, we raise and butcher our own chickens. Certain bread bags and bun bags are a perfect size for a homeraised chicken. We double bag them for freezing. The 2-gallon bags from Aldi (Ziploc makes them too) will hold two of our chickens, usually. (Sometimes not!) I don't save every plastic bag I get, but I do reuse some of them!

Deana said...

Hello Though this is great idea for saving money this is also great for the environment. But the best way to save money is to pack lunches using tupperware. They make sandwich containers and all sorts of other containers that are kid friendly to open like the twist off top ones.

Anonymous said...

For the ones that hold raw meat I write on the outside "hamburger" or chicken or whatever was in it.
I wash it and then I do the same dry method only after it is dry I store it in the freezer. In this way I can get at least a few uses out of a raw meat bag as well. I only put hamburger in hamburger chicken in chicken and pork in pork but they do last this way.

Anonymous said...

The best way I found to get the kids on board about not wasting anything is tell them it is going into the vacation fund.
If they turn off lights instead of wasting electricty it goes in the vaction fund. If they save ziplocs instead of buying more plastic bags it goes into the vacation fund or should I say FUN !

Anonymous said...

The ones that hold raw meat I mark Hamburger wash fold and put back in my freezer empty for the next time I come home from the store and divide up the meat.