Simple Ideas to Repurpose Glass Food Jars

posted by Andrea | 09/19/2019

Although I don’t buy nearly as many store-bought products as I have in years past, I still end up with a handful of glass jars from store-bought salsa and other sauces. 

These jars, while easily recyclable, have a special storage spot in my kitchen cabinets because I reuse them for SO many different purposes on a regular basis. 

Watch my recent video to see how I reuse these jars!!

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If you’re reading this via email, you’ll need to click through to the post to watch

As you see in the video, these jars always seem to be “just the right size” for various storage needs — and since they are technically “free” (unlike mason jars that are getting more expensive every year), I often use them to give food gifts and even as disposable flower vases I don’t need back again! 

Of course, I also use these jars for my own pantry and freezer storage needs… the clear containers with tight-fitting lids are often the perfect size for nuts, seeds, granola, M&M’s, chocolate chips, trail mix, homemade croutons, etc. etc. 

No, they aren’t quite as cute (or as matching) as all my mason jars, but the price is right, plus, they are a little bit smaller so they actually fit better on one of my shelves!

NOTE: Here’s a link to the chalkboard labels I use

I realize this might be super “old news” for many of you, but when I bring food, snacks, or flowers to others, I often get comments about “what a great idea it is to reuse store-bought glass jars”… so I figured it was time to officially share this tip on the blog! 

If you enjoy giving food or flower gifts, or if you’re just looking for a few extra storage containers for your own pantry, I’d encourage you to save a few glass jars and put them to use in and around your home (or for gifts this next year!)  

… yup, I did just encourage you to SAVE something!

What are your favorite ways to repurpose store-bought glass jars? 

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Filed under: LifeFoodTips and ToolsGoing Green

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42 comments

  1. Natalia

    09/24/2019

    I use them for everything, from crafts to kitchen, including dried herbs from my garden.
    I’ve been transferring the cereal from boxes to the jars as soon as the box was opened, but I stopped that when I noticed my little one was more interested in the box itself than the cereal.

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  2. Kathy

    09/21/2019

    Your flowers are gorgeous, Andrea! Plus, I enjoy your tips for reusing/recycling glass jars. I have spray painted the lids gold a few times so they match (yeah, a little bit of OCD!).

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Kathy!
    Others have mentioned painting the lids too — I honestly never thought of that. I’ll have to give it a try!

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  3. Alicia

    09/20/2019

    I love these suggestions. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to save the jars before? Such a great idea! The ideas in the comments are great, too!

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    Andrea Reply:

    in general, I’m not a huge fan of saving stuff “just in case” but with these jars, I always have a use for them so I save most of ours! 🙂

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  4. Marva

    09/20/2019

    I love getting to hear your voice in the video!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha thanks 🙂

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  5. Betty Allen

    09/19/2019

    There is one more use for store food jars that many people believe is not possible. Food you buy in those jars is canned in a way that puts much more stress on the jar and lids than home canning does. The lids and sealing compound are way tougher than the two piece lids that come with mason jars.

    The fact tat ALL lid-producing companies have been purchased by a conglamorite who changed production standards, making the lids unreliable, resulted in seals that can fail long after the food has been stored on the shelf, and rings that begin to rust and corrode after a single use. Rarely will they stand up to 4 or 5 uses.

    The grocery store food jars and lids are reusable many times. Since there are so many sizes you have to keep them with the jar they fit, and the wholesalers who produce those lids will sell to individuals. They seem pricey, but the number of times you can reuse them makes them competitive.

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    Betty Reply:

    CORRECTION

    That middle paragraph is referring to mason jars with the traditional two piece lids with a flat and screw ring.

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  6. Meghan

    09/19/2019

    Love the video, and I usually prefer reading!
    I hate throwing away glass jars and our community no longer accepts them for recycling. I also don’t like using plastic for food storage so this is perfect! And giving flowers without need the vase back? Great ideas! Lime the idea of painted lids. Does anyone know what paint would be best?

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad you enjoyed the video — I’m hoping to do at least 1 or 2 a month. We’ll see how that goes for me!

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  7. Barbara

    09/19/2019

    Andrea, it looks as if you are using white plastic lids on your Mason jars, to unify their “look”. I do that, also.

    I re-use glass jars with metal lids; and unify the jars by painting the metal lids in the same color. It’s a short, fun project that gets rid of visual “clutter” and creates a simpler, intentional collection.

    Because I’m a visual person, I enjoy using glass containers as much as possible…..it’s easy to see what is there, and become inspired to do something with it!…..oooo – chocolate chips and walnuts! : )

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much — this is an awesome idea! I can’t wait to try it!!

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  8. Tiffany

    09/19/2019

    The Aldi salsa jars make excellent water glasses… large enough to really stay hydrated. We go thru enough salsa that I have enough to have a “matching set” for fun summer drinks!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve never used them as water glasses, but they are a really great size for food gifts! I honestly don’t even love the salsa that much, but I LOVE the jars!!

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  9. Rachel

    09/19/2019

    I use these glass jars to pour grease into – rather than pouring it down the sink. I just keep it under the sink and add to it until it’s full.

    My question for reusing them for food – how do you get the salsa smell out of them. Even after putting them thru the dishwasher – they still smell like what was in them. Even the glass honey jar still smells. If you leave the lids off – does the smell go away after time? after several washings? Am I the only one this happens to? Thanks

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    Barbara Reply:

    Baking soda in the jar, with lid on, for a time, should help eliminate odor.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good idea for the grease! I often use yogurt tubs (after the grease cools a bit) for this!

    As for the smell, I usually rinse them really well and then put them in the dishwasher. Pickles are the worst for me, but yes, if you leave the lid off for a few days, the smell SHOULD be gone. Letting a mixture of baking soda and water sit in the jar for a bit is a simple smell-absorber too!

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    Betty Reply:

    Baking soda – I throw a handful into the dishwasher occasionally anyway.

    You could use vinegar BUT NOT AT THE SAME TIME AS. BAKING SODA.

    The suggestion about baking soda in the jar is a good one. Or use a goodly quantity oh baking soda and fill the jar with water. Seal tightly and allow to set upside down for a few days or however long it takes.

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    Caro Reply:

    As the lids are mostly the smelly part – I put some coffee grounds in it and let it stand for some hours.

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    Karen Reply:

    Great idea! I’ve just started doing this in my fridge instead of baking soda ~ works great.

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    Andrea Reply:

    good idea! Thanks Caro!

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    Rachel Reply:

    Thank you all. I will try the baking soda route first since we are not coffee drinkers. These jars would be great for sharing/storing soup along with all the other great ideas. Just can’t get past that lingering smell. Thanks.

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  10. Rhonda

    09/19/2019

    I don’t usually save these unless they fit a standard Mason jar lid. But now after watching your video, I am going to start!

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  11. Christy

    09/19/2019

    I also use the jars for leftovers! The lids seal better than the plastic or rubber lids for my glass bowls so I don’t have to worry about things leaking in my husbands lunch. I’ve also started using jars to store cut up fruit and veggies in the fridge. My teens can easily see what’s in the jar. This last week I made home made tomato soup and put leftover soup into smaller jars and froze them for individual servings for lunch or snacks when I don’t have leftovers for my husbands lunch.

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  12. Caroline

    09/19/2019

    Coconut oil works really well to remove jar labels.I just put a little bit on a paper towel and rub it over the stickiness and it comes off quickly and easily.

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    Natalia Reply:

    Great idea, Caroline! Thank you!

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  13. Ann

    09/19/2019

    Andrea,
    Do you have a trick in removing labels? Have tried without much success.
    Thanks,
    Ann in SC

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    J Reply:

    Spraying with oil like PAM, or WD-40, nail polish remover, soaking in hot soapy water, scrubbing with steel wool, running through the dishwasher (making sure to clear the screen afterward!) and a razor blade! These are all things I have used/done to remove labels- sometimes it takes a combination! Salad dressing bottles are more “vase-shaped”, for give-away flowers. I’m lucky because we have curb-side recycling here for everything except plastic bags and Styrofoam. Those have to be dropped off at a special place.

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  14. Melissa

    09/19/2019

    BEAUTIFUL flower arrangement!

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  15. Priyanka

    09/19/2019

    I do this too, since we buy the same brand of spaghetti sauce every time, I have a good stock of glass jars that are similar looking.

    Love the video post!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Priyanka! I’m not sure how many videos I’ll do, but hopefully at least one a month!

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  16. Chris

    09/19/2019

    Have you or any of your readers had success in removing Oiu yogurt labels? The jars are so cute. (No lids though)

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    Heather Reply:

    I have removed the labels, then used goo-gone on whatever stickiness remained. My daughter’s preschool teacher used them for crafts.

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    Chris Reply:

    Thank you!

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    Betty Reply:

    Oh! Why on earth do never think of Goo Gone for the sticky stuff? And, it also comes as a spray !

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, GooGone is what I use too! It works well — then I run them through the dishwasher once more to remove any extra residue or greasiness.

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  17. Diana

    09/19/2019

    I do this with certain sizes of jars too–especially Classico spaghetti sauce. Did you know the Classico lids fit any regular-mouth Mason jar? (And they seal better than the white plastic lids you can buy.) And in our area, the Classico often goes on sale for less than $2, making a pretty quick, inexpensive meal and I get the jar too!

    Question: do you have a process or special substance that helps you get the labels off? I use baking soda + soap sometimes, but it still takes a lot of scrubbing.

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    Donna G Reply:

    try making a paste with baking soda and a little olive (or other) oil. It’s a non-toxic goo-gone and works pretty well! A woman stuck some stickers on my car a few years ago without my knowledge or permission, and this took them right off!

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  18. Michele Arias

    09/19/2019

    We use our jars for cookies in a jar and other jar goodies for holidays. We had to convert the measurements to fit our smaller sizes, but now it’s easy to refer to and so sweet.

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  19. Michelle Bonk

    09/19/2019

    At our local Bulk Barn (bull food store) you can sometimes get a 25% discount by bringing in your own reusable containers.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s an awesome incentive!

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