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Paper in the Kitchen - do we really need all these?

Butcher Paper
Freezer Paper
Wax Paper
Parchment Paper
Aluminum Foil
Paper Towels
Paper Napkins
Paper Plates/Bowls
Paper Grocery Bags

I currently have all of these except for the butcher paper & was thinking about getting some of it but it only comes in a big roll & shipping is pricey. Folks have been using the red butcher paper to smoke briskets in. It is FDA compliant so I guess it could be used for other things too. Do you have any good uses for it? Can it take the place of other paper products or is this just one of those "nice to have" items, but not really practical?

Actually, I am trying to cut down on all this paper clutter, but don't know where to start. Maybe if we went down the list & tried to make one item do multi tasks, some money could be saved & bulk be eliminated in the kitchen cabinets.

Which item do you consider essential & how does it do double duty for you? Which item do you rarely purchase?

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  1. I don't use butcher or freezer paper, nor paper plates/ bowls (never sturdy enough for me) or paper grocery bags. We use sturdy linen napkins, but I do use aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and I keep a roll of paper towels in the kitchen.

    1. I am not big on butcher paper or freezer paper, I use saran and/or foil for most things. Think they work better at sealing in the moisture and preventing freezer burn. Wax and parchment, yes, always in stock, you can count on needing when least expected.

      Foil, definitely: 12 inch regular, 18 inch regular and 18 inch heavy duty. Paper towels of course, but I do try to dry things with a terry towel as much as possible. Napkins yeah. Paper plates and bowls, only if I'm having a big, casual party (rare around here). Paper bags, I have plenty but hey, they're free. I am more into collecting the plastic ones, for use in the bathroom garbage and also kitty litter.

      8 Replies
      1. re: coll

        We're visiting Seattle right now and all stores charge a nickel for paper bags. It's not the money; it's that it makes you think. I'm hoping to finally start breaking myself of the habit of not taking bags with me.

        We use paper plates for, say, toast or a sandwich but we reuse them multiple times. Rarely use paper napkins but have on hand. Use kitchen towels as napkins. Have parchment, plastic wrap, wax paper and foil. Reuse foil regularly if it's not particularly befouled.

        1. re: c oliver

          Good post. My forays into Aldi for on-sale vegs and berries finally trained me to take my own bags. I got sick of shelling out 5 cents (or 10, I forget which) for cheapydeepy plastic.

          About foil...I need to be more mindful. My H will wrap a sandwich in five layers of it, as if he were concealing a brick of drugs or something to evade xrays, so I should counterbalance that!

          1. re: c oliver

            In San Francisco plastic grocery bags are banned and paper grocery bags require a separate fee.

            Now people bring in their own reusable bags to the store, and nobody thinks twice about it.

          2. re: coll

            Plastic bags for kitty litter? How do you use it? Maybe you are just saying you place the used kitty litter in a plastic bag?

            1. re: cstout

              Yes, sorry if it was unclear. To COLLECT used kitty litter. They tie up very nicely. Until recently we had three indoor cats (down to two now), and three pans (still), so I'm always scooping away.

              As of now, our local groceries have stopped giving their little discounts for bringing your own bags, and don't charge for theirs, so I might as well take advantage while I can. Paper is good for packing shipping cartons, or for hiding excess produce to put in neighbors mailboxes.How about draining fried foods, or shaking on the coating, not that I always do it that way. Also "Care Packages" of leftovers for dinner guests to take home. They also come in handy as a fine grain sandpaper, when the occasion calls for it and I'm out. I'm too old to use as jackets for school books unfortunately.

              1. re: coll

                Paper is good for......... for hiding excess produce to put in neighbors mailboxes.

                Thanks for the laugh!

                I also remember covering my books with brown paper bags. Do kids "these days" still do that?

            2. re: coll

              I also collect the plastic bags from the store for kitty litter.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Same in our house. The "better" bags (from the liquor store) are saved for heavier duties and the grocery store ones are saved for litter clean up.

            3. I almost never use waxed paper anymore - I find that parchment works wherever I might have otherwise used waxed, and is much more useful overall. I don't have butcher paper or freezer paper either - I use plastic wrap, foil and/or plastic baggies for freezer items.

              13 Replies
              1. re: biondanonima

                I actually only keep wax pop ups, for when I make hot sandwiches for the road. Too many years in the deli business! I use them between the sandwich and the foil wrap to keep everything hot and juicy. The parchment I purchased in a case of 1,000 so I keep trying to think of new and better uses for it myself.

                Yes, forgot ziplock bags for the freezer too, for quick in and out items.

                1. re: coll

                  Parchment paper is neat to wrap those little loaf pans of breads to gift to someone.

                2. re: biondanonima

                  Wax paper is far more useful for rolling out dough than parchment.

                  1. re: ferret

                    That's true. Parchment doesn't become truly non-stick until it's heated.

                  2. re: biondanonima

                    One thing that any turophile knows (or should know) is that waxed paper is *the* thing you need to store cheese. It should never be put into a plastic bag. It should be wrapped in waxed paper and stored in the fridge.

                    I have no respect at all for any cheese shop that shrinkwraps cut cheese.

                    1. re: JonParker

                      That's a good point. Would parchment paper do as well?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I would guess so, but while I've used it I haven't really tried it.

                        1. re: JonParker

                          Yes, parchment works well for cheese. So do paper towels.
                          I often wrap in a paper towel, then put that into a plastic bag'left open a crack.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            Wasn't going to fess up to this additional paper until you all starting talking about cheese, but: the miraculous cheese store in my little town sells Formaticum's cheese paper -- waxy inside, papery outside. You can get cut sheets, or bags.

                            It's what the store wraps its cheese in, but the extra comes in handy for repackaging big hunks of cheese that stays around longer (like Parm), and for making gifts of cheese.

                            1. re: ellabee

                              I bought a too expensive round of cheese some months ago and asked the best way to keep it the longest. She gave me four sheets of that paper. I cut the round in quarters, wrapped each in the cheese paper and then in waxed paper. It stayed perfectly for at least a month.

                            2. re: greygarious

                              You make an important point. Whatever you keep it in needs to be semi-permeable. Wrapping cheese in something airtight is never a good idea.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                We use parchment paper for cheese. Works great In fact that's our main use for it at this point. I bought a roll for Christmas baking at some point and it just sat and sat there, since we don't do that much baking, until we realized we could use it for cheese.

                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                  I have to get in the habit. I have enough parchment if I live to be 150!

                      2. I have waxed paper, parchment paper, aluminum foil, paper towels and paper plates and bowls.

                        I find parchment paper is extremely useful for baking (and other stuffs too). Aluminum foil is useful from time to time, but not always. Paper towel is very useful for cleaning up mess.

                        I did not find waxed paper to be very useful. I bought paper plates and bowls when I first moved in before my regular dishes get here. So it was very helpful for that short period of time, but I have never used them since.

                        <Which item do you consider essential.>

                        Paper towel and parchment paper are essential for me.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I frequently grate cheese onto waxed paper if I don't already have a cutting board that's been gently used.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Waxed works for this, but so does parchment - why have both?

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                I don't know :) I know the parchment is much wider. And the waxed paper is more 'flexible.' I think I'm low on WP so I'll give parchment a test. Thanks.

                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  I used wax paper similarly for grated cheese, and for other items I am prepping. The wax paper is easily gathered up and the ingredients can be transferred to a bowl or pot.

                                  I also use wax paper over plates that are being reheated in the microwave to prevent splatters.

                                  I prefer wax paper for these type of tasks because it is a lot less expensive than parchment. You can often find it at the dollar store.

                                  1. re: pamf

                                    I have 3 rolls of wax paper in my house (I have no idea why) and I like the prep surface idea, a great way for me to use them.

                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                      Recycling in my town does not accept styrofoam. I wash the styrofoam trays from meat and produce, then give them a one-time use as a cutting board and to hold prepped ingredients. I've also used them as trays/plates for picnics.

                                  2. re: biondanonima

                                    "Waxed works for this, but so does parchment - why have both?"

                                    Because, at least here, waxed paper is a LOT cheaper than parchment. Although I did find a deal on parchment at Sam's Club recently.

                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      I often grate cheese onto parchment. I used to use plastic wrap but it works better with parchment as it doesn't stick.

                                  3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I use wax paper for lots of things. When baking, I sift my dry ingredients together onto wax paper. Then you can easily pick it up and pour into the mixer. I cover stuff in the microwave with wax paper. You can wrap a sandwich in it to take to work. My mother used to roll out pie crust on wax paper.

                                    I'd much rather use wax paper than plastic wrap. And, it's much cheaper than parchment paper

                                  4. Out of that list we have parchment paper, foil and paper grocery bags. We occasionally have paper towels for really dirty messes but there are more effective, more environmentally friendly alternatives that I prefer and I just can't stand having overstuffed kitchen drawers and all that paper clutter.

                                    I'm a big fan of cheap IKEA kitchen towels and cloth diapers are awesome cleaning rags. We also have lots of cool vintage cloth napkins.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                      I just bought some Ikea kitchen towels for 79 cents IIRC.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Yup I use those... both the ones that come in the set for a few dollars (blue and white) and the .79 ones that are white with a red stripe.

                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                          I dump them in the washer with a scoop of Biz at night and let it agitate a bit, turn off the washer and let them soak overnight and finish the cycle in the morning. They look great and you can't beat the price!

                                          (I wish they had the blue and white styles in red instead. Blue doesn't work in my kitchen.)

                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                            Yeah I tend to use the red ones more cause they "go" better :) My best ones though are vintage reproduction flour sack towels I got at Target in 2003. They're pretty stained, but still very functional, and I love the embroidered designs on them... different vegetables, and little doll looking people with "dinner" or "lunch" printed on them. My grandmother had the real deal in her kitchen when I was growing up, wish I still had them.

                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                              Since I sell vintage patterns and sewing stuff I have kept many of the cute transfer patterns for kitchen towels over the years. I should ask my Mom to do some of them for me for my birthday and Christmas this year. She's both much more skilled with embroidery and much more patient than I am!

                                              I must have been snoozing in 2003, I never saw the ones Target had but they sound super cute!

                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                Flour sack towels are wonderful. I have been burned by buying a bundle of cheap ones online & after washing they shrank to half size & turned out like cheese cloth. Best to see in person & feel for heaviness.

                                                Mine are stained too but they are so absorbent & soft, just love them. Yes, a big bonus is to have the retro ones with embroidery on them.

                                              1. re: cstout

                                                www.acronymfinder.com As an old fogie, I am forever having to consult it.

                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  Acronymfinder.com - have it bookmarked. I am lost half the time with this new abbreviated language. Thanks.

                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                              What do you use to clean up dirty messes if you don't use paper towels?

                                              1. re: cstout

                                                What do you consider dirty messes? Like I said, we occasionally have paper towels for really dirty messes but really most things can be cleaned up with cloth and then washed.

                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                  I find kitchen towels really useful for drying my hands and wiping down counters, but for the occasional dribble or small spill paper towels are really useful.

                                                2. re: cstout

                                                  The dog.

                                                  J/K. I just use dish towels for most of them. If it's something like raw meat juice or something, I use a Clorox wipe.

                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                      For dribbles on the floor I have a Libman Freedom spray mop. Its cool because it has a tank that you can fill with any kind of cleaner you want to (I'm pretty chemical sensitive so this is a really nice feature for me.) It also has a reusable pad so you're not spending money on disposable stuff. I made a bunch of pads for it out of old towels and microfiber towels from the dollar store since their "refills" are too pricy to have a bunch of them. I made them pretty thick so I can flip it over and keep mopping instead of having to grab another one (the microfiber hangs onto the hooks on the bottom of the mop.) They all live in a basket on my laundry room shelves and get tossed in the laundry as they get dirty. It works really well for me.