Last Updated on October 16, 2020
Aldi announced in the spring of 2019 that 100% of its private label packaging, including plastic, will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
Of course, a lot of people aren’t waiting five years to start repurposing commercial food packaging. For as long as grocery stores have been around, people have been saving and reusing grocery store food containers for all kinds of purposes, often for storing leftover food or small household items.
While I generally don’t reuse plastic food containers (such as what butter or cottage cheese are sold in) for food storage because the plastic can break down and leach chemicals over time, glass jars that pasta sauces are often sold in are another story.
The internet is full of ideas for how to reuse glass jars from the grocery store. Even better: some glass pasta sauce jars, including ones from Aldi, have measurement markings, making them useful as liquid measuring cups or simply good for any time you want to know how much of something you have.
Some Aldi shoppers have said their stores have switched to plastic jars for many of their pasta sauces. My local stores has always sold sauces in glass jars.
Here are a few of the Aldi jars I’ve re-purposed recently:
1. Simply Nature Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce. This is my favorite red sauce from Aldi. It has no added sugar and is made from easily identifiable ingredients such as tomatoes, salt, onions, garlic, basil, and oregano. It’s great with spaghetti and lasagna or as a dip for mozzarella sticks. The jars for this sauce are 25 ounces total and have markings for 1/2 pint, 3/4 of a pint, and 1 pint. (friendly reminder: 1 pint = 16 ounces.) The label peeled easily off this jar, but I had to pick at a few glue dots. The glue came off more easily after I soaked the jar in hot soapy water in my kitchen sink. The jar says “MASON,” but The Spruce Eats says it has become trendy to put this word on jars to give them a “down home” look, and it is not an indicator of the quality of the jar (read more on that at the end of this post). This is the prettiest jar of the three I re-purposed, in part because it’s the only jar that does not have a “best by” date stamped on the glass; instead, the date is stamped on the lid.
2. Priano Creamy Alfredo Sauce. Until recently, my local Aldi stores carried the Aldi-exclusive Priano brand of alfredo sauces, which are 15 ounces total and have markings for 4 ounces, 8 ounces, and 12 ounces. I haven’t seen the Priano alfredo sauces for a couple of months, so Aldi may have discontinued this product. The label did not peel easily off this jar right away, but it came off after a soak in hot, soapy water and some light scrubbing. After scrubbing the label off, I had to scrub this jar more to get rid of some large areas of glue residue. The glass still has a cloudy residue inside it, so it doesn’t look as nice as the jars the other sauces came in, perhaps making this jar better for gardening or garage projects. This jar also has a “best by” date stamped on the glass.
3. Classico Creamy Alfredo. This is a newer addition to Aldi’s shelves, and it’s a national name brand that is sold at other retailers such as Target. The Classico jars are 15 ounces total and have markings for 4 ounces and 8 ounces. The label also did not come off right away with this jar, but it came off easily after soaking and left no glue residue. This jar also says “MASON” but again, that is not necessarily indicative of the quality of the glass. This is another jar that has a “best by” date stamped on the glass.
And now, here are 26 ways to reuse your glass pasta sauce jars, plus one thing I don’t do with my jars. Have fun!
Ways to Re-Purpose Glass Pasta Sauce Jars From Aldi:
- Liquid measuring cups. If you’re short on traditional kitchen measuring cups, use these.
- Drinking glasses. Drinking jars are trendy now, for everything from water to iced coffee to margaritas. Drinking jars are also a great way to showcase your whipped coffee.
- Shaker bottles for drink mixes. Examples include protein shakes or Crystal Light-style drink mixes.
- Sourdough starter storage. Sourdough bread is all the rage with home bakers right now, especially when commercial yeast can be difficult to find in stores, because sourdough bread does not require store-bought yeast.
- Dry food storage. The storage possibilities are many: pasta, sugar, chocolate chips, tea bags, coffee grounds or beans, dried rice, dried beans, dried herbs, spices, oats, quinoa, dried fruit, or small snacks such as nuts, crackers, or candy. (Don’t forget to clip and save cooking instructions for items such as pasta, rice, etc.)
- Leftover food storage. If you’re trying to avoid plastic containers, store foods such as leftover soup in glass jars in the refrigerator. Some people claim they freeze foods in store-bought glass jars if they leave some space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion. However, I only use home-canning jars that are designated as appropriate for freezing, such as when I make freezer jam.
- Overnight oats. This is a popular, easy breakfast food that is an alternative to hot oatmeal. Pour your ingredients into a jar the night before, put the lid on, and the next morning you’ve got a grab-and-go breakfast. Here’s a recipe.
- Salad in a jar. I’m not sure if the jar mouths are wide enough to easily eat salad from, but these jars might be an option if you want a single-serve salad to-go in a jar.
- Parfait containers. Layer yogurt or pudding along with fruit, granola, chocolate chips, whipped topping, etc. in glass jars that will show off all the different layers.
- Refrigerator pickle container. Refrigerator pickles don’t require canning. Simply pack everything in a jar and store it in the fridge, where the pickles should last for about two months. Here’s a recipe.
- Food-in-a-jar gifts. Fill a jar with soup mix, cookie mix, or hot chocolate mix. Put the lid on, and decorate the jar with a bow or ribbon and some baking or cooking instructions, and you have an easy homemade gift.
- Candy jar. I prefer gummy bears, but do whatever you want. Add a ribbon and name tag to turn it into a gift for someone.
- Grease storage. A lot of people online say they dispose of cooking grease (or store it for future use) in glass pasta sauce jars. Give the grease a few minutes to cool before pouring into a glass jar so you don’t shatter the jar due to the temperature differences between the hot grease and cool jar.
- Muffin tin liner storage. Keep those paper or silicone muffin/cupcake cups organized and tidy.
- Hummingbird food storage. To make hummingbird food, mix four parts boiling water with one part sugar (ie. 4 cups water and 1 cup sugar). Let the mixture cool. No need to add red dye. Store the cooled mixture in your refrigerator and clean and refill hummingbird feeders every few days to prevent mold growth.
- Office supply storage. Keep paper clips, rubber bands, rulers, pens, and pencils under control.
- Art supply storage. Corral those markers, Sharpies, colored pencils, paintbrushes, and more.
- Toiletry and personal care item storage. Cotton balls, Q-tips, epsom salts, bath salts, bath bombs, etc.
- Hardware storage. For nails, screws, and more. Just like your grandfather or great-grandfather used to store things.
- Leftover paint storage. If you have a small amount of paint left after a project, pour it into a jar so it will be handy for touchups later, and you won’t have to waste space storing a large paint bucket.
- Sewing supply storage. Safety pins, buttons, small spools of thread, etc.
- Planters or seed starters. Fill with potting soil and grow a flower or plant some seeds to later transplant to your garden. Be careful not to overwater since jars don’t have drainage holes.
- Seed storage. Store seed packets or loose seeds for your garden.
- A vase. Fill with cut flowers to brighten your home.
- Homemade candles. Here are instructions.
- Coin/loose change jar. You can even cut a slot in the lid to turn your jar into a coin bank if you want to.
What I don’t do with grocery store glass jars:
- Home canning. Some home canners reuse grocery store jars in their canning projects (adding metal screw bands and new lids), but most experts agree that you run a greater risk of jar breakage or jar explosions during the canning process because today’s grocery food jars are manufactured to different standards, and as a result you are at risk for injury from flying glass. It also may be more difficult to get a good seal on your jars. In addition, The Spruce Eats says, “It has become fashionable for jars containing sauces, jams, and other foods to be inscribed with the word ‘Mason.’ Don’t be fooled by these at the grocery store! These are often used to give the product a ‘down home’ feel and should not be considered an indicator of the jar’s quality.” I prefer to use jars made specifically for home canning.
If all this re-purposing leaves you with too many jars around the house, it’s also okay to simply put your glass pasta sauce jars in your recycling bin.
Do you reuse glass jars from the grocery store? Tell us how your re-purpose your jars in the comments below.