The amount of things you get for free is mind-boggling. Most of us don’t stop to think about it.
For instance, when you boil vegetables, the water you boil them in is vegetable stock. Don’t throw it away, strain and freeze it. — Unless you are parboiling bitter greens like broccoli rabe or collard greens, use that water in your garden. You can also use your pasta water in the garden instead of pouring it down the drain.
Some “free” items are not “free”. Food samples at the market are advertising so you will buy a product, they are not lunch. While most manufacturers will allow a second sample if you need it to make a decision, the demonstrator is responsible to the manufacturer for how much is used vs how much sold. They are not allowed to tell you no, but they can be fired. Be considerate of their job.
SOME FREE ITEMS for details, see the appropriate section
Boxes – break down shipping boxes to re-use when you need them. I also re-use tea boxes, frozen pizza boxes, sheet protector boxes. See Gifts and Household
Chicken livers – when you buy a whole chicken, they come free.
Chicken stock – when you boil chicken, strain and save the stock. If you cool the stock before straining it, you can skim off the chicken fat. This is gold – use it to make gravy. Keep it refrigerated so it won’t go rancid.
To strain chicken stock, line a strainer with a paper towel and pour the stock through it into a storage container. You can also make chicken stock by saving the roasted carcass of a whole chicken or bones from chicken pieces and boiling them. If you buy the skin-on chicken because it is priced cheaper and you remove the skin before freezing the pieces -boil those to make your chicken stock.
Chinese dipping sauce – we eat our eggrolls plain, so the sauce that comes with them is free. Same for potstickers if you don’t use the sauce provided. Use it in another dish.
Christmas cards – every 3 or 4 years. See Crafts
Envelopes, padded – when you receive one, peel the labels off and re-use it.
Fabric – old sheets (even if they are torn) See Household
Grocery coupons – the best ones are X dollars off your next purchase. Buy-one-get-one-free are the next best as long as it isn’t the expensive brand. Compare cost with two of the generic brand.
Maraschino cherry juice – comes free in the jar. Use as a substitute for grenadine or as a flavoring (milk shakes) or ice cream topping.
Money – Coupons and recycling. If your city has free curbside recycling, keep your aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Take them to the local recycling center for cash.
Packing material – save in a plastic trash bag to use when you need it or sell it to a mail center if you have a full bag. Some mail centers offer to recycle it for you for free. Ha! Find the ones that buy it from you.
Pickle juice – comes free in the jar. Re-use one time, or use when making potato salad.
Pineapple juice (for cooking only) – if a recipe calls for canned pineapple and pineapple juice, use the juice you strained from the pineapple. If you freeze the juice from the can, don’t be surprised if it “seeps” to the outside of the plastic container and makes it sticky.
Pumpkin seeds – when you clean your Halloween pumpkin, save the seeds. Clean and roast them, or plant them in the garden to raise your own pumpkins.
Seasoning packets – if you use just the Ramen™ noodles without the seasoning packet, save it as a boullion substitute or Rice-a-Phoni seasoning.