The Brown Grocery Bag

I was sipping coffee this morning and browsing the weekly grocery ads while I put together my shopping list and my meal plan for next week.

You know this is the time where I end up having random thoughts. Right? As usual my brain went into a rabbit hole and remembered that my grandmother loved brown paper bags. When we went to the store and the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” the automatic response was, “Paper.” While in this rabbit hole I sat and made a random list of all the ways I remember using brown grocery bags.

Back to School Time

One of the first that I remembered was my lugging every single text book home and covering them with the glorious brown sturdy paper.

It seemed like it took forever and I don’t recall ever loving the task. I sat at the kitchen table handing books, scissors, tape and grocery bags to my grandmother like we were wrapping gifts. Instead of nametags I used crayons and markers to label the new protective cover with the subject and my name.

When my son was younger it was unheard of to cover books with grocery bags. And to be honest with the more common use of plastic and rarely sweing paper bags at our local grocers we just didn’t have them handy. Instead we bought into the back to school shopping frenzy of buying plastic covers in various covers to help him know which book was which and hoped they didn’t get lost. Insert the next kid 8 years later we still bought covers but not as many. Why? Well schools only bought classroom copies and printed worksheets to save costs and today most textbooks are digital. I remember telling them both the “Back in my day, we….” I bet the first time they were in awe and wonder. But the third or fourth time I seem to recall they had glazed eyes.

Tomatoes

Before it started to get too cold in Missouri, we would pick every last green tomato off the vines and place them on the window sill or in grocery bags to help them ripen.

To this day, I love tomatoes. I want to grow my own here in Phoenix. It is possible in the desert if you do your homework and tend the garden diligently. Our season is much shorter and pulling them off the vine unripened would not be due to extreme cold. No. More like before the heat starts cooking them right there on the vine.

Onions and Garlic

By the way, paper bags speed up ripening of various produce. Did you know they also help onions and garlic last longer?

Small lunch bags and grocery bags alike are great for storing these amazing flavors on the counter or in your pantry for several weeks. If you do not have clay pots or Tupperware bins designed to store them properly, consider grabbing some bags and a hole puncher to ensure proper airflow.

Tip: Store each variety in separate bags like shown in the picture. Combining them in one bag will not extend the life as long.

Kitchen Trash Bin Liner

Let’s chat about rabbit holes. My coffee got cold when I went in search of any internet photo that might resemble the trash bin we used to have when I was a teenager. I have never seen a single one like it since. Maybe I never will. Imagine a black rectangulaelr bin (it was probably Rubbermaid) that is shaped to hold a grocery bag inside it perfectly. Its lid was like a white picture frame that sat on top fitting around the edge of the bin. It didn’t cover to block in the doors. Nope. It was open to toss rubbish right in. The one feature that was nifty was how it held the brown paper grocery bag to the edge of the bin while keeping it from folding in on itself. The downside was anything wet would obviously weaken the bottom. And coffee grounds were a common culprit. Have you ever had to clean up coffee grounds and other trash off of your kitchen floor? Yeah. Me too.

I hear the invention of plastic trash bags were revolutionary and made women very happy for several reasons. When I moved out on my own I never even looked for a kitchen bin like that one. I am guessing they were not a best seller. If someone has ome though, I would love a picture so I can at a later date update this article.

As the world is shying away from single use plastics, there may be a resurgence of ways to revisit reusing or repurposing paper. Studies show positive and negative environmental impacts of both. Today is not the day for that rabbit hole.

I am curious though. Do you use paper bags for crafts or creatively at home for other purposes? I would love to know more.

I have a shopping list to finish and a cold cup of coffee to finish sipping.

Have a great Friday!

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