The culinary world is awash in gadgets. Kitchen stores boast inventories full of specialized tools that promise to perfect your cooking—everything from dough scrapers to melon ballers to carrot curlers. It’s overwhelming, and for the everyday amateur cook, it’s expensive. Plus, who has enough kitchen storage for five different pastry cutters, slicers for every vegetable, and multiple food processors? To save money, storage space, and even the planet, skip the kitchen supply store—useful cooking tools are already in your house, hiding in your recycling bin.

#1: Wine Bottle Rolling Pin
There’s no exact science to the rolling pin. They are available in sizes ranging from 10 inches to 20 inches, constructed from wood, marble, plastic, acrylic, silicone, cast aluminum, and stainless steel. Essential for flattening pizza or cookie dough, rolling pins can be a baker’s best friend. Unfortunately, rolling pins are difficult to store, heavy, and often expensive. A wine bottle, empty or full, works just as well. Before rolling, remove the label and wash off lingering glue residue. The bottle’s cool glass surface prevents dough from sticking, and the bottleneck functions as a handle. Just don’t press too hard or you’ll break the glass. The best part? You can skip washing and recycle the bottle when you’re done.

#2: Food Packaging as Utensil Holder
Cylindrical paper food cartons, often used for oatmeal, coffee, and other dry goods, are the perfect shape to hold large kitchen utensils like wooden spoons, whisks, and spatulas. Pick a food product with attractive packaging, or decorate the carton with wrapping paper or newspaper. Keep it away from heat and moisture and it’ll work just as well as store-bought utensil caddy.

#3: Scrap Tile Trivet
Used as landing pads for pots and serving bowls, trivets prevent counters and tabletops from heat and water damage. Trivets are commonly made of cork, silicone, cast iron, ceramic, or stone. Though useful, a trivet is, to be blunt, a thing to put another thing on top of. So why pay for a fancy one? Instead, use a scrap piece of tile leftover from last year’s bathroom remodel, or on clearance at the hardware store. Affix adhesive felt furniture bumpers to the bottom to protect table surfaces.

#4: Tic Tac Container as Spice Storage
Tic Tac breath mints are packaged in small rectangular boxes with a flip-top lid. Instead of throwing these away, these simple boxes to store spices. This is particularly useful for specialty spices used infrequently. You can buy spices in bulk at most health food stores. Bring a Tic Tac box with you, weigh it and set the tare weight, and fill it up. Don’t forget to label each container.

#5: Tin Can Cookie Cutter
When baking cookies, use a tin can as a cookie cutter to create perfect circles. Simply remove the label, wash the can, and open both ends. The size is great for big cookies or biscuits, and the tin is sharp enough to cut thick dough with precision. For smaller cookies, use jars or bottles.


Amy S. writes for Become A Better Baker, an online resource for bakers of all skill levels and ages. Become A Better Baker offers innovative recipes, baking tips, and instructional videos.

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