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Monday, November 12, 2012

Acquiring containers

Have you ever bought something, just so you could have the container? Tell me that I'm not the only one who does this! Sometimes I find a something or other that's just okay, but it's in a great container. I acquired a couple of very nice glass jars that way -- some "gourmet" food items, found on clearance at Marshall's, in old-style glass storage jars with wire bail closures.

I'll also buy grocery store items, with the idea that the container would be perfect for some use. See the above photo. The rectangular plastic containers held baby food. Nope, no babies around here. But I liked their size, about 2-3 tablespoon capacity each. They looked perfect for small amounts of trail mix, raisins or nuts, to be packed in brown bag lunches.

The day that I stumbled upon these, I scoured the baby food aisle, trying to find something that would truly be useful to me. That's when I found the baby food prunes. Baby food prunes make excellent fat substitute in baked chocolate items. I substitute pureed prunes for butter in brownies, hot fudge pudding cake and chocolate cupcakes. The prune taste is almost completely masked by the cocoa powder. So, for less than a dollar, I got 2 of these containers, with the pureed prunes as a bonus.

These small plastic containers with lids are not easy to find. Many of the fast food ones collapse too easily. The oval container, above, is a sturdy one. It held salad dressing from a catered brown bag lunch that my husband attended. This container holds about 1/4 cup, also a good size.

The carved wooden, sectioned box on my desk, holding my paper clips, rubber bands, butterfly clips and push pins, is also one of these buy-the-item-just-for-the-box acquisitions. I found it on sale, holding packets of spices. I loved the box, the spices were merely a bonus. Yard sales, thrift shops and mark down racks can be terrific shopping venues for finding containers with greater value than their contents.


  1. I've gotten containers holding salad dressing similar to the round one above. However they were not very sturdy. Good find.

    I, however, don't buy things for the container, but I like the concept--a useful container with an added bonus of contents.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I found another one of those buy the item just for the container, today, in my purse. I wanted a tin for pain killers for my purse. One day I bought a small tin of mints, with a pill box in mind. I think I must do this more than I realize! And the mints were good, too.

  2. I've bought a grocery item before for just the container too, Lili. It was a beautiful jar of pickles. Now you know my secret, lol. My girlfriend likes the square baby food jars. She keeps quarters in them in her kitchen cabinet to give to her husband and children when they need change. They do come in handy for so many different uses.

    1. Hi belinda,
      I'd love to see what the pickle jar looks like. What do you use it for now?

  3. When we ate more lunchmeat, I would buy the brands that came in the plastic rectangular containers precisely because of the containers--and we still use them! There is a brand of spaghetti sauce that comes in Ball jars that my husband loves to reuse (don't remember which brand). I reuse tea tins (takes forever to empty a tin, so I don't have too many of those) as well as Maxwell House International Coffee containers (they are now plastic and a great size to store lunchbox items in). So, I don't know if I buy these things FOR the container but I look at it as an added bonus! :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I've bought a couple of packages of lunchmeat that came in reusable containers, too. In fact, I think it even says "Gladware" on the lid of those packages. I still use the plastic containers. I have one mason jar, that I think says "Mason" on the side, that spaghetti sauce once came in. I use it for canning, as the opening is the standard size for canning lids.

  4. Guilty as charged! I bought a limited edition Tate and Lyle tin of treacle with a mean pumpkin face on it recently - 'trick or treacle' ! I like Tate and Lyle syrup tins for pencil pots etc. I have used some of the treacle already so it wasn't a complete unnecessity, and at 88p it didn't break the bank!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      that sounds cute! And you're right, at 88p, it's an affordable treat item, both the treacle and the tin.

  5. I don't usually buy things for the containers, but I do stop and try to think of what I could use the containers for if I allow myself to buy the item. My neighbor just asked if I had a use for a container from Tide Pods, I wanted to tell him how bad these pods were, but held my tongue and took the container. It now holds my grand daughters paints. Without an oven I sometimes buy a baked dessert like a carrot cake or now pumpkin roll to have for dinner when I have family over. They come in a plastic #5, I learned that you can use this plastic for shrinky dinks so I cut them up and give them to my son and his wife for crafts for the kids. Years ago my sister worked in a plastic shop where they made plastic containers for baby wipes, they looked like huge legos, I took a few and put labels on them for crayons, stickers and what not for the kids small play items to keep them organized.

    P.S. I actually love to eat baby fruits. When I had braces put on at 14 I couldn't eat solid foods so my grandparents bought me baby fruit to make sure I ate something. Ever now and then I will pick one up for a snack. I like your idea of using the prunes for baking. I'll have to remember that.

    1. Hi Lois,
      I remember those baby wipe containers. It was a brand that was a bit more expensive than I was willing to spend, but I remember seeing a lot of those containers used as blocks. They came in a bright color, if I remember correctly, making them even more appealing to buy with the idea of letting your kids play with them after they're empty. Clever marketing.

      Yes, tell us how to use plastic for shrinky dinks! Do you know what temp to bake them? Does it matter if there's a curve to the plastic, and can it be colored on before baking? My daughters used to love doing those at parties.

  6. How do you make shrinky dinks out of plastic #5?


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