What I Learned from Ziploc™ Bags

Poor Kyle’s parents are out of town and the first thing I did when their tail lights were out of sight was break into their house (I had a key) and steal two forty-count boxes of name brand gallon-sized Ziploc™ bags.

I’m not sorry, either.

When I was a kid, my mom would buy Ziploc™ bags on sale with coupons, and then we would wash and reuse them over and over again.  One Ziploc™ bag’s life could begin with storing leftover tuna casserole, then move on to shredded lettuce, grated cheese, or mashed potatoes, and finally, at the peak of its career, it would graduate to actually storing frozen food—chicken, maybe—in the freezer.  We only ever threw them away after they’d 1) contained raw meat, or 2) whatever they’d been storing had gone rancid.  Because that’s just gross.

ziploc-gallon-freezerImage from here.

During my rebellious teenage years, I grew to despise the sight of scratched and tattered Ziploc™ bags in the baggie/plastic wrap/aluminum foil drawer.  They became a salient symbol of our middle-class-ness, and my roots as a product of a product of the Great Depression.  Not that I was ashamed of my heritage—just annoyed by it.  I wanted to move beyond the “penny saved is a penny earned” years, and instead longed to frivolously spend my pennies without the accompanying guilt to whom I was raised a slave.  If I ever had use for a Ziploc™ bag, I would immediately bypass all the previously-used bags and reach straight for a pristine, never-been-unzipped one.  As a further act against my parents’ thriftiness, whenever it was my turn to clean up from dinner, I would use brand new bags to store all the leftovers separately.  What’s worse, I secretly delighted any time I could stealthily discard a Ziploc™ bag that still had three or four good uses in it.

This is my confession.  Some teenagers get high or drunk or pregnant or all of the above—I threw away my parents’ Ziploc™ bags.

And I feel bad about it.

See, now I’m married.  (Famous last words, right?)  When I first got married, I moved into a house that Poor Kyle had already inhabited for over a year, and at some point he had acquired Ziploc™ bags of his very own, so I inherited those when I became Mrs. Poor Kyle-Camille (we hyphenate our last name).  (Not really.)  (But I want to.)  (When we were engaged, I asked Poor Kyle if he would, and he flatly refused.  I should’ve never married someone so stingy to compromise his own last name.  More famous last words.)  Anyway, for the first few months of our marriage, I glibly utilised Ziploc™ bags for every occasion.  One slice of bread left?  Switch it to a Ziploc™.  A spoonful of rice leftover from dinner?  That’ll fit in a Ziploc™.  Three grapes that I can’t bear to finish off?  Ziploc™!  Ziploc™, Ziploc™, Ziploc™!  I was a Ziploc™ fiend.  And, because of the immaturity leftover from my teenage years and the fact I was practically still a teenager myself when I got married (21), I flippantly threw each bag away after just one use.

“Ha!  Saving Ziploc™ bags…that’s for the birds.  I have a whole box of them in my drawer—I can use them at will, whenever I want.  The good times will last forever.  I am invincible!”

Again…famous last words.

Of course, the good times do NOT last forever.  Three months in to our marriage, I had run myself completely broke of Ziploc™ bags.  There were none to be had in our house—not even ones with crumbs left in them from the pb&j I packed for Poor Kyle’s lunch two weeks ago.  None.  I had nothing.  Humbled, I scribbled “Ziplocs™” on my grocery list, and planned to pick some up during my next Costco trip.


Imagine my surprise when I went to Costco later that week and found that a three-box package of Ziploc™ bags was some ridiculously exorbitant price, like, more than ten dollars.  I DON’T SPEND MORE THAN TEN DOLLARS ON MUCH IN MY LIFE—NOT EVEN SHOES, IF I CAN HELP IT, AND CERTAINLY NOT EFFING ZIPLOC™ BAGS.

I immediately phoned my mother-in-law and whined, “Have you seen how much Ziploc™ bags cost?  This is highway robbery!”  She laughed at my plight and offered to give me a box from her stash, which I politely refused because it’s only polite, but then promptly accepted when she didn’t offer again, because I didn’t want to miss my chance at free Ziplocs™.  That would’ve been a tragedy.

When she gifted me with that box of Ziploc™ bags, I could hear a heavenly chorus singing in the soundtrack of my life (I just know someday there’ll be a sitcom based on this blog, so it’s important that I add notes for the producer as to how I’d like the soundtrack to figure, and in this scene, Producer, could you please be sure to have a heavenly choir singing, to note the glorious reunion of me with my long-neglected Ziploc™ bags?).

Of course, I was a changed person—I had learned my lesson.  I was ashamed of the way I’d been acting toward my Ziploc™ bags; I was raised better than that.  All the time I was in high school and thought I knew everything about everything, as it turns out, was actually a farce.  My parents were right all along.  I made that one bag last three times longer than the first, reverting back to the ways of my mom, and even going a step further by actually scrubbing, with soapy water, persistent smudges out of the inside of the bags to make them presentable for their reincarnation.  My parents were on to something, I can tell you that much.

Again with the famous last words.  I’ll never hear the end of this.

At any rate, I’m really glad my mother-and father-in-law left town, because my begging was getting pretty pathetic, but I’d been out of bags (again) for several months and that’s just no way to live.  Someday I hope to have my own paid-for stash of Ziploc bags, but I don’t deserve it now—I have years’ and years’ worth of dues to pay to the Ziploc™ gods for all the wrongful murders I committed in my youth.  Someday…when I’m retired, maybe…or at least when I have obnoxious teenagers of my own to convince of the merits of reusing Ziploc™ bags one hundred times before discarding them…maybe then I will be able to buy my own Ziploc™ bags.

For now, I’ll beg, borrow, and steal them as often as I can, from whomever I can, and especially from people who are out of the country and can’t roll their eyes at me.  (At least not to my face—I have no doubt that certain people are rolling their eyes uncontrollably at their computer screens right now.  I have that effect on people.)

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in fiascos, It's All Good, kitchen failures, Married Life, oh brother what next, short stories/vignette, what I'm about. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to What I Learned from Ziploc™ Bags

  1. Jordan says:

    Well I think the Ziploc gods loved your old ways- they could make much more money off of you!
    And when it comes to storing leftovers, or taking a sandwich for lunch, we tend to opt for tupperware- you never have to throw that out! Unless your husband leaves his filled with lunch remains sitting in the hot car for days. Not even I will wash that tupperware.

  2. jeff says:

    plastic in general tweaks me to uneasy. i’ve had maybe 5 zippy bags in the last year. i support what seems to be your actions, though i haven’t read the post yet, just scanned. seems to be about a less comsumptive idea of cooking. less dead dinosores.

  3. jeff says:

    glass jars. please. glass jars. plus including dishwasher. i’d glady coerce granny into expunging on the glass jar storage story.

    you can’t imagine. the jars, all the jars. glass shards, waiting.

  4. Mikelle says:

    Loved this post! My parents used to do the same, rinsing them out and hanging them over the water sprayer knob thing. I only reuse them once in awhile, if it’s a bread product. I can get them for close to free with coupons anyway, but I usually use tupperware if I can.

  5. Shesten says:

    K. They make these really cool thingies that expand your Ziploc so that you can run them through the dishwasher. http://www.greenhome.com/products/kitchen/kitchen_drawer/109649

    It’s interesting that I grew up throwing them away and now I reuse them… only once usually, because we tend to be rough on things, but I do wash them out and reuse them especially if it was just fresh (unspoiled) produce in them.

    I also buy in bulk from Costco, WHEN THEY HAVE COUPONS for them… keep your eye out for those Costco coupons that give you like $4-5 per case. Then they’re cheap and they usually last me until I find more coupons.

    Except for that (and now I’m rambling) I found these really cool storage Ziplocs that expand on the bottom to make it easier to store corn on the cob and grapes and other bulky things that I can only find at a specific grocery store, so I use my newspaper coupons on those :o) There. Now you have all my Ziploc secrets. Not that you wanted them.

  6. amy says:

    Lawl, my dad always insisted on reusing ziploc bags, too.

    Now I’d give anything to be able to afford ziploc; we get the lame fold-over sandwich bags instead ’cause they’re cheaper and a penny saved is a… penny earned…? I hope?

    We just joined Costco with my MIL, though, so maybe I’ll watch for coupons and then we could afford ’em better! Woot!

  7. Debbie says:

    You haven’t really used Ziplocs until you start making multiple school lunches every day. That’s when you realize that not every bag needs to be a zip. You can buy a box of 1000 fold-over bags (remember those) at Smart & Final for less than 100 Ziplocs. It’s OK if the Cheetos fall out into the lunch box during the day. Kids don’t care. They would never bring a Ziploc back home for recycling either.
    When I was a kid it was paper towels. We were NEVER allowed to use them.

  8. Cristin says:

    I ran out of freezer size Ziploc bags about 3 months ago and I’ve been trying to re-use and make do with the ones I have lying around and it is AWFUL. This post reminds me that I really need to buy new Ziploc Freezer bags.

  9. Jeff says:

    I also remember washing out ziploc bags. Simple solution…make less food…eat what you take.

  10. Jeff says:

    That and Tupperware containers as was mentioned. Actually maybe those are made by ziploc too…..

  11. linda rae says:

    mega eye rolling here. And LOL ing.

  12. chelsie says:

    So my family went the other way with the whole Ziploc bag thing… my grandma would reuse till there was no other use for them. So, my mom rebelled and she only uses them once and will always have a stock of the brand name ones.

    I always feel like I am so waistfull though when I follow these ways. part of me wants to be like good ole grandma, but the other likes the convenience that my mom has taught.

  13. My mom does this sometimes and it grosses me out!!!
    But after reading this…I just might be a changed woman.

  14. D'Rae says:

    We use store brand. Much cheaper and they do the same job. Plus now that we have a foodsaver, we use much less plastic bags.

  15. Tisha says:

    You can actually get pretty decent zipper bags at the dollar store up here and then you don’t have to feel so bad tossing them! If they have a coupon at Costco, thats obviously a better deal, but for the interim, the dollar store works!! Also, there are lots of chemicals that can seep into your food the more you use the bags, & since I’m kind of a freak about that, we’re a one-use-per-baggie family!!

  16. You won’t believe this…. just about an hour and a half ago when I was making mine and David’s lunches I made a mental note to buy more ziplock bags! I’m really cheap and usually buy the generic brand baggies that fold over, but when we moved back to Utah there was a box of 125 in the drawer. Those have lasted us for months and have been so convenient (no crumbs in my book bag from the cheap fold over bags), so I decided to start buying actual ziplocks. AND I’m not just going to buy the 30 count, I’m going to buy the 125 count.

    My mom saves them too- mainly the big huge freezer ones. The part that grosses me out is right after the bag has been washes, so it’s kind of wet inside and then is air dried. Yuck.

  17. lindsay says:

    i’ve boycotted ziploc bags. it’s all about the off brand ones they sell at the dollar store. and even then, i’ll only use them for REALLY important things.

    my mom saves all of her plastic bags too…but she takes it a step further. in order not to give me one of her precious third-cycle ziploc bags, she would wrap my school lunch sandwich in the huge bag that the whole loaf came in. oh the horror at my young elementary school table when i opened my lunch box to see that.

  18. Geneva says:

    Not going to lie, I just two minutes ago pulled out a ziplock bag today and thought, “Maybe I should start washing these things out like my mom did.”

  19. Rachel says:

    Hee hee. I like Glad bags myself, but I get your point! With my mom it was peanut butter jars. Hundreds of peanut butter jars.

  20. mameelynn says:

    hahaha… I used to think my grandmother was nuts for washing them out too and like you I also would pull out a new one any chance I got so I didn’t have to use the inside out one in the dish rack. Now I’m married to a man that had an over abundance of Ziploc bags (my in-laws almost always have two Costco packs of both sizes and should when Costco is your livelihood!) So I don’t beg or wait till they go out of town to pilfer me some name brand baggies… I proudly walk over to the baggie cupboard(yes I said a cupboard full of baggies) and take a box or two! See I can’t even get Brad to bring home his containers from lunch so now he gets dollar store baggies for his stuff and the boys and I get the goods (washed out and used till death of course!)

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