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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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organic living journey reusable containers

The following is part of an Organic Journey Guest Post Series, written by Amy a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.

It’s a new year.  New goals.  New hopes.  New baby steps.  This time of year I find myself organizing, purging, and sorting.  New toys need homes and the reorganizing bug spreads from there to all areas of the house.  One area that I have been wanting to bring some order to was my pantry and snack zone.  I have been buying more foods in bulk and have been making more foods from scratch as well.  All of these goodies either have inconvenient packaging or, in the case of homemade goodies, no packaging at all.  I have long been a fan of plastic bags in all shapes and sizes, but lately, in an effort to find more wiggle room in the budget (and to be a better steward of the planet), I have begun the process of ditching the baggies.  We have started replacing them with containers that I can reuse.  Cause let’s get honest, I’m not going to take the time to wash out plastic bags.  I know myself, and that just isn’t going to happen in my house.

My motivation at first was to save some money (by not having to constantly buy more baggies) and eliminate BPA from our lives.  I discovered, though, that most of the big name companies don’t use BPA in their plastic disposable bags and containers.  Then, I started reading about phthalates.  I was a bit stunned to read about the health hazards of this often used chemical compound.  Bottom-line, researchers are finding that phthalates (which are found in everything from shampoo to shower curtains and hoses to toys) can disrupt our endocrine systems.  There is a growing tide of complaints about phthalates, and so some companies have begun to make things without them.  Legislation has even limited their use (but not eliminated it) in toys that go in babies mouths as the effects that it has on developing bodies is greater than the rest of our population.

Here is what gets me.  They have replaced BPA and phthalates with other chemicals.  Other chemicals that we haven’t had a chance to see what their effects are on our systems.  Now before you start to think that I have lost it and am headed to the loony bin, I am well aware that we can in no way eliminate all the toxins in our lives.  It is impossible.  However, I can continue to take baby steps towards lessening the toxicity of my home, right?  Here’s my baby step.  I’m going to start moving towards storing things in glass containers.  When I googled about the health risks of glass, I found one.  It can break.  That is a health risk (and annoyance) that I can live with.  Now, not everything in my house is going to be stored in glass containers and I am open to learning about other safe methods of food storage, but for now, here are some things that I have started to store differently.

Spaghetti sauce jars are great for storing everything from dried fruit to freezer jam.  I keep hearing that you have to be careful when freezing things in glass.  Here’s what the National Center for Home Food Preservation has to say:

“Regular glass jars break easily at freezer temperatures. If using glass jars, choose wide-mouth dual purpose jars made for freezing and canning; these jars have been tempered to withstand extremes in temperatures. If standard canning jars (those with narrow mouths) are used, leave extra headspace in liquid packs (3/4-inch for pints; 11/2-inches for quarts) to allow for expansion of food during freezing and completely thaw food before removing it. Do not use regular canning jars for foods packed in water.”

That said, I have used pretty much every type of glass jar to freeze jam in from salad dressing jars to applesauce containers, and I have never had one break.  You’ve been warned though; so, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not you want to risk it.  I have also started freezing cooked beans and homemade condensed cream of soups in glass jars.  One side note, if you are using a narrow mouth jar, it is harder to get the contents out unless they are completely thawed (don’t ask me how long it took to excavate my partially frozen cooked beans last night!)

Baby food jars are also wonderful for all kinds of storage needs around the house.  Right now, I’ve got my bulk spices stored in them.  The labels are simple and not Pinterest worthy; some masking tape and a permanent marker lets me know what spices are in each jar.  Stage 3 jars are great if you are needing more storage space.  This is another time I love to use Facebook.  There are plenty of mothers that would be happy to share their jars if you just ask.

My snack drawer got a makeover too.  Nuts and dried fruits now look lovely in their glass jars of varying sizes.  My eldest especially loves sprucing up her breakfast granola with the different options.  She pulls out the jars full of diced dried apricots, apples, raisins, craisins, sliced almonds and chocolate covered sunflower seeds (a treat from her aunt) and goes to town creating her own cereal.  It is easy for me to see when we are running low and it’s pretty.

When I mentioned to Jon that I wanted to invest in some glass jars, he reminded me that we had a ton given to us that were out in his shed.  My favorite discovery was these 4 ounce glass jars.  My kiddos absolutely love things in single serve packaging.  Since we homeschool and eat the vast majority of our meals at home, I rarely buy things packaged individually.  Well, these 4 ounce glass jars worked wonders for their excitement over applesauce and yogurt.  I loved that I could pour my homemade yogurt and applesauce into these containers and save myself one more step when serving snacks and meals.

Glass jars can get expensive, but if you reuse what you already have coming into your house and ask around (Craigslist is another great place to look), you might find some great deals or even freebies!  I’ve got a long way to go in eliminating plastic as a means of storing food, but I’ll get there, one baby step at a time.

What creative storage solutions have you found for your kitchen?  Do you have any great ideas to repurpose something that you already have?  I’m all ears!

    • Brooke Kinross

      I am very curious about how you are cleaning/preparing these already used jars and lids to be reused. I am mostly referring to using them for refrigerated perishables, such as homemade yogurt or ricotta, etc.

      • amysanders

        i normally just scratch off the labels and then toss them in the dishwasher. if they are super sticky, i’ll use goo gone (but i have no idea about the toxicity of it–that might be a baby step for a different day). anybody else have a way to get the stickies off?

        • Sarah

          I have a scraper that I use for cleaning my cast iron pans with. Its awesome because it doesn’t scratch anything and I use it on lots of things besides my pans. I think these pan scrapers would do the job

        • katkoupon

          I was using Goo Gone too, until recently, when I learned the EWG rated it an “F”. (The EWG just recently got the “2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning” database up and running, and I was so excited to clean up my cleaners, not much left besides baking soda and vinegar, lol. But yeah, another day, sorry.) I use a few different methods for cleaning off the sticky labels, I guess it just depends on what type of glue they used. I start with your method, peeling off as much as I can then throw in the dishwasher. Then I rub on some old oil (I use old olive oil) and just let it sit. Sometimes it comes right off with a scrape of your fingernail, other times it takes a few applications. For tougher jobs, I break out the baking soda. Sometimes just hot soapy water will do the trick. It takes more time and elbow grease (just like any other natural cleaner) but it works!

          • amysanders

            thanks! i figured it was probably toxic. :)

        • Steph P

          You can use white vinegar (warmed). It really is a “multi-purpose” product! I haven’t tried it on labels, yet, but I did use vinegar/water (50/50) to get off stubborn wall paper. Spray on, let set for 5 min. and scrape off!

      • Virginia

        If you are really concerned about sterilizing them, you may bring them to a boil in clean water for 15 minutes after they have been washed. Remember to set them on a towel, not on your counter top when you remove them from the water, otherwise the glass will shatter.

    • Jen

      Glass jars are definitely a worthwhile investment…and Hobby Lobby often puts glass jars on 50% off. Check grocery store shelves at the end of growing season as they are usually marked down as well. KMart and Walmart both sell the wide mouthed versions-you can order them from the website and have them shipped to the store so you don’t have to pay shipping :) Happy Storing!!!

    • Janet Singletary

      Loved this!!! Thank you!

    • This is a great post. After watching a few science documentaries with my homeschooler last summer we started eliminating plastic storage containers. It’s a little bit more to store but the benefits out weigh that problem. After hitting a stock up sale, us couponers are experts at finding extra space, lol.

      • amysanders

        love it! we are space saving kings and queens, right?

    • Anna

      This Christmas I gifted a jar of peach butter, and the recipient said thank you a week later with a bag filled with 10 8oz canning jars. Another acquaintance gave me six cases of quart jars, because she was going to throw them out anyway. In the past I’ve received jars, too, just because people found out I’d use them.

      We use the half-pint jars for drinking glasses, since the pints are a bit big for the kiddies.

      • amysanders

        what a great thank you!

    • Sherry

      I love using glass jars, have been for years, you can usually repourpose jars that you get from purchasing sauces and such, you can paint the lids w/ chalkboard paint if you want to get cute and write contents on there. Or if its dry goods and doesn’t need a new lid, I reuse them and write in Sharpie the contents and date. If you want to sterilize the jars before putting fresh items in, follow canning instructions or use the cycle on your dishwasher.

    • casail

      What about for packing lunches? My child goes to school and I pack her lunch. I also pack my husband’s lunch. I do not want to send them with glass. Any tips here? Thanks.

      • amysanders

        planetbox makes a great stainless steel lunchbox. it is pricey, but i know several that have this and say it holds up well! (plus, it is dishwasher safe. a big perk in my opinion.)

    • Virginia

      I save all the glass jars that come into my home, anything from jelly to artichoke hearts. If I find that have an excess, instead of recycling them I use them to make jarred gifts for birthdays and holidays, often cookie or bread mixes. Most are suitable for pint or quart mix recipes.

    • lacat

      I wish the soft drink companies would go back to using glass bottles, we would return our empties to the store and they were reused. A deposit was required if you didn’t have empties to exchange, also, stores would buy your empty bottles back from you. That makes a whole lot more sense than plastic bottles everywhere! I know, we recycle, but many people don’t. And why do we always have to have bottled water? Why can’t we just use a water fountain? Just some thoughts from someone who has been around a while!

    • elizabeth

      I have been using glass for storage of food items for years…my nieces used to comment how pretty all the jars filled with beans,grains,pasta,etc looked lined up on the shelves of the pantry!
      One thing about food safety: Canning jars are great,but please DON’T re-use the lids if they have been used in the canning/preserving process! New lids are inexpensive to replace. Rims can be re-used if washed thoroughly with hot water and soap.

      • amysanders

        are you saying not to reuse them at all or not to reuse them for canning?

    • Kelly

      Wondering if anyone uses one-piece lids on top of canning jars? I don’t mind using canning jars but the whole two-piece-lids off and on all the time is just a tiny bit annoying. Wondering if there are good alternatives to the two piece lid.

      • Sarah

        The sale regular lids. I’ve seen them before along with the two-piece-lids.

      • amysanders

        i have bought the one piece lids which makes me not hate canning jars for other purposes nearly so much. they actually say that the plastic lids are better for freezing. i’m not sure if this is contradictory to everything i just wrote, but because you need to leave some room at the top for the food to expand, it doesn’t actually ever touch the plastic.

      • lacat

        The lid on the two piece canning lids can be used only once for canning, as they seal only one time. Sure, you can use it to use just as a lid, but not for canning more than once. I don’t know if there are any one piece lids for canning or not.

    • katkoupon

      We are working on this same thing. I cleared out most of my kitchen plastics a few months ago and was surprised at how many I really had. I kept all the glass and stainless steel, and a few plastics just until I can get more jars and more comfortable with freezing glass. A family member gave me a few jars to help me get started. I was so tickled to get my girls drinking from glass jars, and we’ve only broken one so far! Another way we are trying to reduce BPA is limiting canned goods and buying glass when we can. I love buying spaghetti sauce and almond butter in glass jars, it’s like getting a bonus! Thanks for sharing! It’s like we are heading in the same direction, but there are so many paths to get there and it’s nice to find company along the journey. Thanks, Amy!