In making quality food a priority within our budget, I did a little researching/brain-storming on ways that allowed us to cut corners elsewhere. Paper towels are one way the Wellness Mama (http://wellnessmama.com/) keeps her expenses manageable and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.
I already had a pile of clothes to drop off at Savers so I rummaged through and found a couple of t-shirts we were already giving away that had durable enough material to work as napkins or “paper towels.” We already own tons of bar towels so once I cut up our old shirts, we had plenty to experiment with.
Two weeks ago, when we ran out of paper towels and napkins, I didn’t add them to the grocery list. Instead I grabbed a stack of my makeshift squares and put a stack in the laundry room and a stack under our kitchen sink. Whenever we needed a towel or napkin, we just grabbed a cotton square or rag (with hesitant fingers, we felt really wierd) and used it instead.
The Results: Great! Not as convenient as paper because you have to wash them (obviously) but I just kept a basket in the laundry room for dirty rags only (not clothes) and threw them into the wash over the weekend.I never ran out of clean rags because we had so many. I will probably search from some “pretty” napkins so we don’t freak our guests out but for everyday use, we don’t care. I designated stained rags for “cleaning only” because stained rags are kind of gross looking and I don’t really want to put one on my lap at dinner. . . Right?
How much we saved: I wasn’t keeping track of how much we personally were spending on paper towels/napkins before this experiment. Plus, I know many of you are great couponers/buy-in-bulkers so this “calculation” may or may not be accurate. I chose the most popular brand and most popular store (other than Costco) 6 rolls of Bounty paper towels go for $9.79 as Target. 6 rolls would last us (we’re only a household of 2) 3 months. So . . . $9.79 X 4 (12 months divided by 3 months) = $39.16 a year! Not including tax.
Conclusion: For us, it works. Getting rid of paper towels alone doesn’t make a huge difference on a monthly basis but combined with some other stuff we are working on cutting out (TBD), it adds up. Also, we are kidless at the moment. When I have toddlers and ketchup all over the place, there is a good chance I will kick savings to the wind and just buy a darn roll of Bounty. You should feel no shame for buying paper towels. I should feel shame for buying lard in bulk. But I don’t, so I got rid of paper towels instead.