Repurposing old kitchen items

by Kristen on March 27, 2013 · 28 comments

in Green and Frugal

These aren't repurposed, but they are cute, and they are in my kitchen. Plus, I needed a photo at the top of the post, so there's that. (These aren’t repurposed, but they are cute, and they are in my kitchen. Plus, I needed a photo at the top of the post, so there’s that.)


If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I love to find new uses for old stuff. Heck, I wrote a whole ebook about ways to breathe new life into old clothes, and my enthusiasm for this is certainly not limited to clothes.

While I’m currently trying very hard to only buy kitchen items that will stand the test of time (Ideally, I’d like to not have any old kitchen items to repurpose!), I’ve got kitchen stuff from Mr. FG’s bachelorhood and from the early years of our marriage that are wearing out.

So, I replace them with high-quality stuff by reading the equipment reviews from Cook’s Illustrated (the reviews are seriously worth the price of admission) and then I try to think of alternate uses for the old equipment.

Here are a few ways that’s worked out at my house.

This old, worn-out nonstick pot from Mr. FG’s bachelor days holds all of our Magnetix toys.

Magnetix storage

The great thing about it is that the magnets stick to the pot, so if you turn it upside down, it makes a great spot to build things.

Of course, you all know about my brand-spankin’ new ladle, which I am deeply in love with. Well, the worn-out one it replaced has found a new home in the bathtub, along with another spoon from that same bachelor set. Sonia and Zoe are very pleased.


Because when you make bubble soup in the tub, you always need something to stir it with and something to serve it with. ;)

When I arranged the shelves in our fridge, I ended up with one extra, and it happened to be the perfect size to hold our watercolor paints.


In a variation on a theme, this is an ice cube container that’s from my parents’ old fridge. I used to use it to hold ice cubes in our old fridge, but our new-ish fridge came with an ice cube container.

So, now this one holds Joshua’s pencils and markers.


This 1/3 cup measuring cup used to have a handle on it, but it broke clean off one day. Fortunately, 1/3 cup is exactly the amount of oatmeal you need to make a single serving, so now this handle-less cup just stays in the oatmeal bin. It makes mixing up a bowl of oatmeal very convenient.


You all are well aware of my love for Pyrex. But back when I got married, Pyrex didn’t seem to make the lovely containers that they do now, so I had Rubbermaid plastic containers. I don’t need them for food storage at this point, but I’m here to tell you that the rectangular ones make very, very lovely spice holders.

spice organization

I did this when I organized my kitchen cabinets last year, and it’s still the best change I made during that process. I’ve got them grouped by type (sweet spices, Italian spices, Southwest spices), and it’s so, so easy to find what I need now without making a big mess.

Highly recommend this!


Have you ever found a new use for an old kitchen item? Do share!

Joshua’s 365 post: Light to Dark

Leave a Comment

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathy M March 27, 2013 at 8:03 am

Great ideas but the bunny tea party is my favorite!


2 Kristin C March 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

Old muffin tins make a great way to organize art supplies for little ones. It also helps them learn to sort items in different cups.

If you have any old broken dishes, you can break them up into pieces and use them to make a mosaic on outside coffee table/side tables. very cute and a great way to cut down on old coffee cups.


3 Kristen March 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Ooh, that’s one I hadn’t thought of. And I DO have an old muffin tin. Hmm.


4 Economies of Kale March 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

Great ideas, especially the magnetic saucepan for the magnets :)

I have a rotating spice rack, which holds 16 spices and makes them very easy to find – it was a Christmas gift and I love it. But the remaining spices are still kind of a mess, so maybe I’ll use some containers to organise them :)


5 Lili@creativesavv March 27, 2013 at 9:16 am

I try to do the same. Although I have to admit, no ladle of mine has ever made it into the bathroom!

When we replaced some very worn kitchen cabinetry, we saved all the drawers and wall cabinets. When you remove the hardware from the bottom of the drawer, they make handy storage bins, with handles, and the floor of closets. They slide out from under whatever, so that you can access stuff from way back. We also saved the wall cabinets and repurposed them in the garage for storage of gardening supplies and tools. A bathroom base cabinet became my potting bench in the garage, many years ago, as well.


6 Lili@creativesavv March 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

*sorry, this is early on the west coast* meant to say “for under bed storage and storage on the floor of closets”


7 Paige March 27, 2013 at 9:26 am

You could even go a step further and label which spices are in the Rubbermaid containers. (Who doesn’t love a good label-making session?!) That way you don’t have to dig through all of them to find what you need.


8 Kimberly Yue March 27, 2013 at 9:45 am

I use the egg holder that came in our old fridge for my daughter to mix paint in–it’s like a deep palette that holds a large quantity of paint for mixing, etc. When she was younger I used to space the primary colors out every other hole and then have her mix the secondary colors in the in between hole and she really got the hang of how to make colors that way! Now that she’s a more sophisticated painter (at the age of 8, lol) she has more colors to work with and having the egg containers has really come in handy.
We also use old spatulas, spoons, etc in the sandbox b/c if you are making sand pies you need to use these things! LOL


9 Lauren March 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

I use a big vintage roasting pan as a fruit bowl. Keeps the fruit corralled and puts the roaster to use other times than Thanksgiving and Christmas (which I’m usually not the main cook for anyway).


10 Cheryl March 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

I use my old rubbermaid containers for toys as well. All the little pieces of polly pocket accessories and my little pony are contained. Bonus that they are see through!! I also use them for storing hair accessories in the bathroom. They are just the right depth to go in a drawer (without the lids) and corral barrettes, elastics, and bobby pins!!


11 Cheryl March 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

We also have pyrex for food storage and the same sized small rubbermaid containers you have hold our puppy’s treats for housetraining, perfect size


12 Elizabeth March 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I love cooking with old pots! The 50 year old ones I was given from my grandmother are so much better quality than the newer ones I have.


13 Katy Wolk-Stanley March 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm

You and I were separated at birth. Seriously.



14 The Norwegian Girl March 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Great Ideas! Thanks for inspiring me to make use of what I already got laying around in my kitchen! :-)


15 Sarah March 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Our old stock pot is now used to hold ashes from the woodstove. Baby dishes and utensils are now in the play kitchen. Some sturdy, old, plastic food containers were used in DIY bird feeder projects. And an old, handle-less frying pan is great to have for messy crafts when we use melted wax and the like. Thanks for your ideas – can’t wait to store the kids magnet toys in an old pot – genius!


16 Katy @ Purposely Frugal March 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

This is just the kind of post I love! I have some kitchen items that serve multiple purposes, like my culonder is a fruit bowl when not being used to drain things. And my triangle-shaped cheese slicers works great as a pie server for those rare occasions that I make pie.


17 Linda Sand March 27, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Along those lines, we use our pastry blender to chop eggs for egg salad and water chestnuts that we use instead of bread in meatloaf.


18 Laura March 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I had some mini muffin pans that I wasn’t using. I donated all but one of them. The one I kept lives in my tool box along with a dry erase marker. If I buy something that needs assembly (furniture from Ikea, Wal-Mart, Target etc) along with the tool(s) needed to assemble the item I get out the mini muffin pan & dry erase marker. I sort all the small bits of hardware (screws/nuts etc.) in to the muffin cup (one type of screw/nut per cup) & use the dry erase marker to write on the pan just above the cup what number/letter that particular screw/nut is. This keeps all of those small easy to lose parts in one place as well as sorted & labeled which makes assembly of the item much quicker & easier.


19 Jeanine March 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

That is bloody brilliant.


20 Marti March 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Rubbermaid containers are the best, aren’t they? I use them all the time for mixing paint colors. Snap the lid on and they last for days, and then so easy to clean. Dried paint just peels off. Not that they are really kitchen items, but I love water bottles with the sports lid for storing old paint. It doesn’t dry out and the lid never has to come off, just pull and then push to close.


21 janknitz March 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm

After 20 + years we just got a new fridge. Before they hauled the old one away I saved out all the removable bins like the one you have in the photo above, and they hold my “overflow” canning jars in the garage. I turn the jars upside down and cover with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the dust out. The bins are sturdy and hold a good number of jars.


22 janknitz March 27, 2013 at 9:21 pm

One more thing–old sheet baking pans make nice “lap desks” for children if they’re not too warped. It’s a good, firm surface for coloring, writing, etc. They can do lots of messy stuff with no worries, and they’re magnetic if they have magnetic shapes or toys to play with. They’re great for long car rides.


23 sarahelisabeth March 28, 2013 at 5:01 am

An old saucepan which had lost its handle became a visual aid for teaching children, at church, about John Bunyan who was a tinker before being given to my children to use in the sandpit.


24 AK March 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm

You rock. Because seriously, all these homeschooling blogs with the perfectly sharpened colored pencils in the ideal $30 basket make me tired. I think, “I am barely surviving each and every day, and this woman has stickers in a box labeled ‘stickers’ with her label maker! Wha? Who has time for this? SHOULD anyone have time for this?” Some slightly-snarky part of me just loves that you plunk the colored pencils and markers all together in an old ice tray and and leave this testament: “My kids are perfectly happy. Also, I have not slowly gone insane separating and managing my art supplies in craft store caddies. Thank you very much.”


25 Kristen March 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm

This made me laugh.

I do try to keep my home fairly uncluttered and organized, but I have never used a label maker, our Legos are all mixed together in a big bin, and my junk drawer is perpetually messy.

I also have had plenty of days where I feel like I’m barely surviving, so you are NOT alone. ;)


26 RebeccaScaglione - Love at First Book March 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Oh my gosh, I loooooove this post! I don’t have any kids, but I like the idea of how you repurposed so it wasn’t just recycled or trashed!!! Although, recycling is great but repurposing is too!!!


27 Randi March 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm

since you cook a lot, I highly recommend Penzey’s or The Spice House. The former always sends out coupons for free bottles of spices. If you don’t have a location near you, they have mail order. Ounce per ounce, their prices are lower than supermarket spices and the quality is much higher.


28 Mrs. Ripples April 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I like your idea for using containers to organize spices. I’m going to have to try it. I have tons of extra containers and my cupboard that has all my spices is a mess. I can never find anything.

Thanks for the idea.


Previous post:

Next post: