The (19) Ways I Reuse Food Glass Jars Around My Home

The (19) Ways I Reuse Food Glass Jars Around My Home

I have a confession to make: I am a jar hoarder – a glass jar hoarder to be exact.  I keep and store every single food and spice jar of any size and shape as I truly believe that I will need it in the future. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I threw one away.

I am also a little embarrassed to admit that my criteria for buying pickles, capers, sun dried tomatoes and other jarred goods might slightly differ from most ordinary shoppers. It’s not always the quality and the price that matter, as I often find myself selecting a product based on the shape, size and quality of its container just because I will get to keep it after the product is consumed. The jar has to be nice looking, always made of glass (never plastic), with an interesting shape. On the other hand, the size doesn’t really matter as I need to have jars in many, many different sizes. Also the lid has to preferably be metallic, as opposed to plastic, with scarce printing on it, if possible. Thankfully, I’ve found that most good quality products come in better quality and better looking jars, too! Very often, I’ve also bought refrigerated desserts (i.e.crème brûlée, pudding and more) just to get my hands on their cute little glass jars. And I’ve left many hotel rooms with a suitcase filled with empty mini jam jars that came with room service breakfast.

As you can see, my problem is real and it would even be a serious one if I hadn’t found so many amazing and practical ways to re-use glass jars around my home. I’m happy to share them with you, and although you might have seen a few of these ideas elsewhere, most are my very own. If you are visiting regularly, you might recognize some of them posted here on the blog, but I’m also taking pictures to show you more uses that I haven’t talked about before.

Last, although I admit being a glass jar hoarder, I still remain a very organized person who always looks for the best storage solutions; storing the empty glass jars until I would need one again was always a problem as the shelves in the kitchen cupboards and the pantry, keep jars that are in the back out of sight and out of easy reach. Just recently, I found the perfect way to store them ~ more about that  at the end of this post.

Before you go on reading, keep in mind that food glass jars are completely free and that gives every new use so much more meaning!

So, are you ready to become a glass jar hoarder, too?

1. Transfer food that was bought in bulk:

Grains, nuts, flour, and beans that I buy in bulk at the grocery store or from specialty food stores are immediately transferred from their plastic bag or plastic container into a glass jar. There are a few reasons why it’s better to store dry goods inside glass jars * the glass jar will keep the product from spilling {the original thin plastic bags often open or tear} *  the item remains fresh for longer * it is easier to keep track of your stock with jars that are lined up on a shelf instead of having plastic bags with food hidden under other plastic bags * you will be overjoyed with your organizational skills every time you open your pantry 🙂 If you have already invested in fancy storage containers, that’s great! But if you haven’t, this is a really inexpensive solution – and if you’re the matchy-matchy type of person {as I am}, the too many different styles of containers might not work for you. So, I ended up organizing the glass jars inside crates in my pantry (photo here); I dedicated one crate for grains, one for nuts and one for flours & sugars.

Note: If you have already invested in fancy storage containers, that’s great! But if you haven’t, this is a really inexpensive solution – and if you’re the matchy-matchy type of person {as I am}, the too many different styles of containers might not work for you. So, I ended up organizing the glass jars inside crates in my pantry (photo here); I dedicated one crate for grains, one for nuts and one for flours & sugars.

2. Transfer food from resealable bags, but with this tip:

I found that this type of food organization described above worked so well for me, that I started re-using glass jars to store many of the branded goods that are sold into resealable plastic bags {rice, quinoa, chia seeds, etc.} and that do not “sit” well on a shelf. However, before tossing the package away, I cut out any important information and stick it onto the jar with a piece of tape. Valuable information can be anything from nutrition facts to cooking instructions,

to the type of product (so that no one accidentally pours lentils instead of flaxseed into their cereal)

or the best by date that was printed on the package.

Once the product is consumed, I remove the label, I wash the jar and store it until I need it again.

3. Glass Jars inside the refrigerator:

I also transfer into glass jars anything that comes from the super market’s olive bar * olives looks so much more appetizing when they’re not in a plastic container! * I specifically use taller and narrow jars because they can fit better on the refrigerator’s doors compartments and they take up less space * say good bye to accidental spills in the refrigerator because the glass jar lids close tight  * they can be served directly on the table, as the jar can double as a serving container – we, Greeks, eat olives with so many of our dishes!

I also use glass jars in the refrigerator to store leftover sauces, dips and pesto.

Tip: add a piece of plastic wrap under the lid when the jar is filled to the top or when the content has a strong odor – it will keep the lid  odor-free and clean from sauces and oils. Here, home made pesto:

4. Breakfast yumminess in a jar:

Filled with proteins, vitamins and minerals these jars are refrigerated overnight and make the perfect breakfast when you’re in a rush in the morning. Here, I used small Weck glass jars but when I need to prepare a bigger quantity, I use one of my larger jars. You can find a list of my favorite ingredients for this yummy breakfast, here.

5. Vinaigrette shaker

There are so many sophisticated dressing mixer bottles on the market, but why waste money when you can re-use a simple glass jar? Just add all the ingredients inside a jar, close the lid, shake well and your dressing is ready to be poured over your green salad. Here is my quick Vinaigrette Dressing recipe: 3/4 cup olive oil * 1/4 cup lemon juice * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 1/8 spoon pepper * 1 teaspoon brown sugar * 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

As I never buy bottled dressings, I use a jar to also prepare and then refrigerate leftover home made dressing such as Thousand Islands, Blue Cheese Dressing, etc.

6. Desk drawer organizers:

Although being a strong supporter of square and rectangular containers when it comes to organizing [as they give better space usage], I like to use cute little jars inside my desk drawer in lieu of partitions to store the smaller items, such as flash drives, paper clips, etc. They do the job just as well, and they’re completely free. Plus, it’s easier to clean them, change their contents and move them around than it is to do with one large partition.

7. Junk drawer organizers:

I shared this idea a few years ago and I still love it! I spray painted the metallic lids of glass jars in various sizes (make sure they fit inside a deep drawer) and I used stickers to label each one with its content. Never before has a junk drawer been so organized, what do you think?

 

8. Inside the bathroom drawers:

The two Bonne Maman jam jars inside the bathroom drawer are very practical because you don’t have to take off a lid to get a Q-tip or a cotton pad.  If it’s not on the countertop, it doesn’t have to be super pretty nor expensive!

9. And for storage inside the bathroom cupboard:

Glass jars -with or without their lids- make great storage containers for more items that we store in the bathroom, such as hair clips, stock of dental floss, small size hair care products etc.

 

10. Body lotion container:

Do you also empty your body lotion bottle to the last bit?  I do! I always transfer into a glass jar whatever is left on the bottom of the lotion bottle that can’t come out through the pump. I prefer a glass container over a plastic one just because when it’s time to wash it, glass cleans better, it doesn’t stay oily and doesn’t smell! (stick to a plastic one, though, if you travel often).

11. A vase inside a vase

You can turn a decorative vessel that is not waterproof (like this stoneware pitcher) into a vase, just by hiding inside a smaller glass jar that will keep the flowers and the water.

 

You can also use this method to arrange fresh flowers and branches inside baskets, and other types of containers that are not leak-proof.

Use a glass jar to separate fresh flowers from dry items (lemons, here), inside a vase – the trick to an impressive flower arrangement that will last.

 $6 supermarket flowers make an impressive flower arrangement

Or when you need to keep branches upright in a larger vessel:

 

12. Floating Christmas Ornaments

When it’s time to decorate for Christmas, every single glass jar in storage is put to use for my amazing “floating ornaments” mantel décor. I simply arrange a string of Christmas lights around the mantel and I position jars of all heights (without their lids), each with one shiny ornament on top. From a distance, it looks as if the ornaments are floating in the air. Whoever has seen this Christmas arrangement in person has been astonished – truly!

Here in the San Francisco, CA home:

And this year in our Houston, TX home with gold, copper and silver ornaments:

13. A tiny vase

Either it’s a bloom that fell off a bouquet or a leaf from the garden, there is always a good reason to fill a tiny jam jar with water and display it.

DIY picture ledge

 

a bloom that fell off a bouquet 

14. Tiny individual dip containers

I finally found the best way to reuse the few dozens of tiny jam jars that I’ve collected over the years from hotel breakfasts. You, too, can use them as individual dip containers, and I promise that they’ll be the highlight of your next party! More details, here.

15. Votive holder

Although I use votive candles very often, I’ve never bought a single votive holder ~ instead, I use cute little dessert glass jars (from refrigerated puddings or crèmes brûlées). These jars have a special characteristic ~ they don’t have the thread/ring seam because they are sealed with foil, so their finish is smooth and they do look like real votive holders. Here are just a few of the times I’ve used glass jars as votive candle holders:

Christmas 2016 

Christmas 2015 

Thanksgiving 2015

Christmas 2013

16. Watercolor vessel:

I keep a couple of glass jars on the side to use for craft projects and more heavy uses; because they’re made of glass, these containers are heavier and more stable for projects like watercoloring (see how to make this watercolor rainbow name art, here).

17. Craft Storage:

The smaller jars are great for storing beads, buttons and small craft items. Use them inside a bigger container, as such:

18. Small present packaging:

Always think of a jar as being a cute way to offer a present. I’ve used glass jars in past to offer my DIY Valentine’s Dice Game (find the tutorial, here).

And also to give to a friend some of my homemade chicken seasoning, recipe found here:

 

19. Small planting pots:

I’ve turned small but wide glass jars into cute planting pots – so easy! And the tiny succulents look absolutely adorable in these pots!

 

 

How to store glass jars:

With so many jars in line to be used, I knew that I had to find the best storage solution. Shelfs – either in cupboards or in the pantry – are not ideal as it’s difficult to reach the specific one you need in the back. It’s best to store jars in a deep drawer and most modern kitchens have a few. My kitchen is older so I had to create one; I used a large wooden wine crate to which I attached a mechanism and turned the crate into a pull-out drawer. You can find the instructions here.

 

So, are you ready to become a glass jar hoarder? Or are you already one 😉 ?

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Hi! I'm Angelica! For the last ten years I've been sharing my cooking, home projects and ideas with my sister Irene. "Once Again, My Dear Irene" is just an extension of our daily chats. Moreover "My Dear Irene" Continue Reading