These days, as people are more likely to eat out or order in, it's getting less likely that everyone has the same pantry staples like sugar, salt, and cooking oil in their kitchen.
But even the worst home cook is bound to have a box of Ziploc bags sitting on their counter.
They're so useful for storing leftovers and spare ingredients. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
If you have Ziploc bags sitting at home, you already have everything you need for these clever hacks.
1. Make Breakfast In A Bag
You can pre-portion pancake batter and store it in your freezer. Thaw the bag out the night before, and by morning it's ready to pour right onto the griddle.
Keeping the batter upright will avoid clumping, so invest in some stand and fill bags* and cinch the bag with string to make it tall and slim.
For a quick and hearty breakfast, you can also mix an omelette in a plastic bag and drop it directly into boiling water.
The omelette cooks inside the bag with no mess or fuss - and tastes just like it was cooked on the pan.
2. Protect Your Recipes
I have a notebook for my recipes, and used to deal with splatter and stains on the pages.
Now, I keep it inside a large Ziploc bag, which lets me pick it up with my grubby fingers without ruining the page.
Better yet, get some strong glue and a pair of magnets. Attach one magnet to the bag and one to the inside door of an overhead cabinet.
Now, the book bag fastens tightly to the cabinet door, and holds the recipe in plain view, but when it's not in use no one sees the ugly magnet on the other side.
3. Close Your Bags The Right Way
Ever seal a Ziploc bag and notice that it's still puffy? You unseal and reseal it, but there's still plenty of air inside.
That will make the food inside spoil more quickly, which is what you were trying to avoidin the first place.
Here's how to properly close the bag: zip up the sides but keep a finger-width hole in the middle. Use that hole to suck out the air from inside the bag.
Now the food inside will last longer because most of the air is gone (it's impossible to suck out all of the air). If you have trouble, try using a straw.
Let Slate's L.V. Anderson show you how it's done:
4. Organize Loose Cables
Is your living room table covered in wires and cables? Our dependence on phones, wireless controllers, and other gadgets has cluttered our homes with these wires.
But with a place for everything, you can keep your home tidy (or at least clean up faster). You don't need a fancy storage system either.
A pleasant basket with a few Ziplocs inside is perfect for storing loose wires and cables.
5. Freeze Wine For Cooking
A few cubes of frozen wine are perfect for dropping into a sauce. And freezing a large amount at once lets you use a cheaper boxed wine instead of a pricey bottle.
So why freeze the wine in a Ziploc bag?
- Be honest, there's no room in your freezer for another ice cube tray.
- You also don't want to stain an ice cube tray. Once the wine is used up you can throw out the stained bag.
6. Cheap And Easy Icing Piping
Every so often, home bakers need to decorate some cookies, or simply write "Happy birthday!" on a cake.
So what do you do if you don't have a piping bag handy?
Just spoon icing into a Ziploc bag, then snip the corner off (smaller cuts are better for writing, larger cuts are better for icing cupcakes or cookies).
It helps to twist the empty top of the bag to force the icing out, but otherwise this trick is very simple and handy.
7. Portion Perfect Patties
Hamburgers are a popular meal in my house, but unless you buy premade patties they involve a lot of time-consuming work.
Then, make indents through the bag using a chopstick or the long, flat edge of a handle.
Voila! Now you have perfectly portioned hamburger patties that are ready for the grill.
8. Homemade Ice Packs
This "trick" is dead simple, but you'll never have to buy an ice pack again if you use it.
Just wet a kitchen sponge and store it in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.
Now, when someone bumps their head the icy cold sponge is ready and waiting.
9. Keep Flies Away
Whether or not it actually works, countless people swear by this classic fly-repellent made from just a Ziploc bag full of water.
Hanging these bags on your porch or in the backyard supposedly keeps insects at bay. The best explanations for why this might work involves sunlight reflecting or refracting through the bag and water to scare away flies.
You can call it hokum, but the bug wards are hugely popular. Many people add pennies, lime juice, or salt to the water for added effect.
10. Fix Your Shower
Do you get a "weak flow" from your showerhead? It's a common problem, but easy to fix.
The key is to break up hard water buildup inside the showerhead itself.
Fill a Ziploc bag with descaling cleaner or plain white vinegar. Then, secure the bag over the showerhead so it's submerged in the vinegar.
Let the showerhead soak in the vinegar for a few hours, then rinse the residue off. Your shower should give off a much stronger stream of water now.
11. Homemade Wet Wipes
Reusable diapers make up a very small percentage of the diaper market, simply because cleaning them is too much work - hey, parents, we get it.
But a reusable wet wipe is much more convenient, and you can make your own with justa washcloth and a Ziploc bag.
Keep a wet washcloth inside the sealed bag, and it will stay wet until you need it. Then, drop the dirty cloth into the bag when you're done and take it home to wash.
Just be sure to wash out the bag or use a new one each time, and definitely don't use that dirty bag to store kitchen ingredients.
12. Homemade Ice Cream
Milk, sugar, flavoring, and rock salt. That's about all you need to make tasty, homemade ice cream in a Ziploc bag.
There's no shortage of recipes online with tips for making your favorite flavors.
Just bear in mind that it takes way more shaking than you expect to get thick ice cream. Don't believe those "five minute" recipes.
13. Store Herbs
Growing your own herbs - either indoors or in a herb garden - is a thrifty way to keep your kitchen stocked with tasty ingredients.
But herbs seem to go bad the second you put them in the fridge.
Try wrapping them in a damp paper towel, then storing them in a sealed Ziploc. They'll last much longer.
You can also suck the air out of a sealed bag of herbs and store them in the freezer. Now you'll have fresh herbs for your recipes all year long.
14. Vacuum-Seal A Bag The Easy Way
Feeling embarrassed about huffing and puffing the air out of a Ziploc bag? You could buy a vacuum sealing device, but there's an easier (and cheaper) way.
Seal a bag, leaving just a small hole in the top for air to escape.
Then, lower the bag into a container of water until everything but the air hole is submerged. The water pressure will force air out through the hole.
Now seal the bag, and put your vacuum-sealed ingredients in the fridge or freezer.
15. Stress-Free Packing
I used this trick on my last vacation and fell in love with it. It involves a little extra planning, but takes the stress out of rooting through your bag for clothes.
Get some Ziploc Space Bags, extra large bags meant for storing clothes and other bulky goods.
Organize a day's worth of clothes in each bag. Now, each day's outfit is always at your fingertips, and not buried in your bag.
It's easy to flick through the bags, to find a coat or sweater, and you can stuff the dirty clothes back inside.
Be sure to keep Ziploc bags full of toiletries and electronics at the top of your suitcase too. That way, you can take them all out in one fell swoop for the TSA line.
Extra bags are always useful on the trip as well, for storing snacks, medicine, wet clothes, and muddy shoes.