Frugal Storage Solutions

The time for cleaning and organizing is upon us as we approach that lovely time of renewal in our homes. You will notice that the stores recognize this season too, as the time for sales on expensive organizers occurs. They know that naturally as consumers, we realize that this is the season and we will run out and buy tons of storage containers, which will later gather dust in our basement and our garages. There is a cheaper alternative to organizing than just buying new items. Challenge your creativity and realize that you can organize your home in a frugal way, rather than emptying your wallet. Here are a few inexpensive alternatives:

  • Look at the items that are already being stored. Open the containers and rediscover what you have been storing. Is there a need to store it anymore? Will you actually use the items in the containers? If you won’t, donate the items to charity and free up some space in the organizers you already have. Condensing items into containers and donating the items that you no longer need will give you new room to use for storage.
  • Do you have photo boxes gathering dust in your home? Weed through the duplicates and unload the photos that will never make it into photo albums. Share photos with friends and relatives and repurpose these boxes. Photo storage containers are one of my favorite storage items because they are inexpensive (at craft store sales they can run as little as $1.50 each) and they disguise the mess in your home. These containers make the perfect storage for spices in your kitchen, a great location for storing your medicine, a place to house your DVD or CD collections, and are a great way to store sewing kits or craft supplies.
  • Mason jars are an inexpensive way to organize many things in your home and you may already have some of these lying around in your house. They are a great way to store items that are gathering dust in your pantry. I love to use these for pastas, rice, cornmeal, and baking soda. If you make your own mixes (pancake mix, biscuit mix, bread machine mixes, or pizza mixes) these can be a great place to store these mixes and make them accessible to you when the dinner hour rolls around and you have nothing ready to go. Something about those clear jars stirs your memory quicker than items thrown to the back of the pantry in boxes. They can be found for mere quarters at the thrift store and lids are can be picked up at your local discount store.
  • Think outside the box. When you run out of an item in your fridge, throw your empty containers into the dishwasher to be used for storing children’s items. I love the plastic coffee canisters, butter containers, and yogurt containers for storage. They can be a great way to store puzzle pieces, Matchbox cars, and tiny Barbie accessories. I also love to give these containers to our kids for pretend play. The grocery food sets in stores are often not durable. I instead save these items for our children to use to do their “grocery shopping”. Boxes from food items and butter tubs are great items for them to play with. There is no crying if the box gets smashed because I can always come up with another one.
  • If you have a growing collection of baskets, find a new use for them. They can be used for storing all sorts of clutter lying around your house in an attractive way. I use baskets for storing out of season items and small items that can get lost in the day-to-day shuffle in our basement.
  • Shoe boxes are great for storing items and can be creatively disguised using wallpaper remnants, gift wrap, or scrap fabric. Use these to store belts, panty hose, ties, or other small items that can be easily lost in your closet. Decorating these boxes can be a great craft project to do with your children and your children can also use these to store items that are lurking in their closets or toy bins.
  • Dishwashing tubs are my favorite storage solution because they can be purchased for a dollar at any store and the possibilities are endless. While not as attractive as other storage containers, they are extremely functional and can be used for so many different things. We use dishwashing tubs for organizing items in our bathroom closet. Labels are made for the front and make instant organization for health & beauty items. We also use these for first aid kits, organizing underneath sinks, library books, or school books- the possibilities are endless! If you discover you no longer need one of these containers, they make wonderful gifts for a high school graduate. Fill these up with plastic cutlery, plastic plates, plastic cups, a sponge, and dishwashing soap and stick a bow on the front. This makes a functional and fun gift for the soon-to-be college student.
  • Thrift stores are a goldmine for storage containers. They always have lots of baskets that have been donated and they can also house creative items that you would not think of for storage. Try to go in open-minded and you will find a world of ideas.
  • If all else fails and you have to run out to get containers, don’t overlook your local dollar store. You’ll love finding cute storage solutions for much less than in other stores. Always visit the dollar store first before any other because you will be surprised to find how many items you can get there without spending the big bucks.

Published February 18, 2007 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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