Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday's tip: Reuse ziploc bags

If you're anything like me, you go through a lot ziploc bags. I use them to freeze up excess garden produce, as well as different kinds of meat, like leftover shredded roast chicken and meat that I've divided up into meal size portions.

I like them because if you freeze items flat in ziploc bags, they stack well and don't take up much room in the freezer - only as much room as the contents they hold.

In the interest of saving money and avoiding sending more plastic to the landfill, I try to reuse my ziploc bags as much as possible. However, it took me a while to figure out a good method for getting the bags clean and storing them for re-use.

Old method for reusing wet ziploc bags
I used to immediately throw out any bags that had held meat. Vegetable bags would get a rinse in hot water and then hang out in my dish rack for a while trying to dry. I would stand them upside down over the dish-rack dividers to keep them open and let any water drain out. Half the time it would take too long and I'd chuck these ones out too because I didn't like the mess.

New (better!) method for reusing wet ziploc bags
Now I rinse out both vegetable and meat bags in hot water, give them a quick shake and chuck them back in the appropriate draw of the freezer, eg. vegetable, chicken or red meat.

All the bags are already labelled with whatever ingredient they held, so I can just pull out the one I need and use it to hold the same ingredient. For example, raw chicken goes into old raw chicken bags, cooked into old cooked chicken bags. I probably don't need to be as finicky about this as I am, since all the ingredients get cooked again anyway, but I figure it's better to be safe than sorry.
Empty used ziploc bags in the freezer waiting to get reused.

Vegetables go into any of the vegetable bags and get re-labelled if need be, otherwise I would have zucchini bags waiting around 3/4 of a year to get re-used.

Because the bags go straight into the freezer, I don't need to worry about drying them as they're not going to sit around getting mouldy. This saves me so much time and hassle, and keeps my kitchen benches vaguely tidier.

What about bags that have held dry goods?
I just wipe them out with a clean tea towel and chuck them into the kitchen drawer that holds all my new/dry ziploc bags.

If you've got any improvements on my method, please share them! I'm always keen to learn better ways to do things.

Linked up to Patchwork Living Blogging Bee #3.


  1. This has got me thinking......we don't tend to use zip-lock bags, I usually put everything in those cheap plastic containers, which are easier to wash out, but take up more room. However we do go through the vacuum bags and I've been wondering about the best was to re-use them, thing is that we only need them once a year when we do a beast, so I would have a stack of bags in the freezer by then (and we start to turn off freezers when they get low), so I will have to think about this one!

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