A Half Dozen Uses for Empty Egg Cartons

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When you think about it, eggs themselves are a pretty frugal food.  They are just about the cheapest form of natural protein available, and are the primary ingredient in nearly every made-from-scratch recipe.  We go through a lot of eggs in our household–boiled eggs, scrambled eggs for breakfast (and occasionally, dinner), deviled eggs, etc.  Instead of tossing the empty cartons I began hunting different ways we could reuse them.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Use an empty egg carton to ship breakables.   If you are selling on eBay, egg cartons are a great thing to keep around as they offer protection to small, breakable items.  If the item is especially small, and you don’t want to pay extra for shipping a rectangular container, cut four compartments from the bottom and roughly the same-sized square from the top, clam shell them together over your breakable and place in a small box, or wrap with tape and brown paper.  Since egg cartons are light weight they won’t add much to your shipping bill.
  • Start seedlings in egg carton bottoms.  A little soil leveled off in the bottom of an egg carton makes the perfect area for starting a seedling.  Later, you can transfer the dirt and root bulb to your square foot garden!
  • Make extra ice for coolers.  Need some extra ice to ice down the cooler?  Cut the bottoms on an egg carton and fill with water.  Place them in the freezer overnight and slide out the ice “cubes” in the morning to ice down your favorite beverages.  Note, give them a good cleaning if you plan to use the ice in drinks–wouldn’t want any egg leftovers in there.
  • Organize washers, nuts and screws.  I hate putting together store-bought furniture because it usually comes with instructions no one can understand and a huge plastic pack of screws, washers, etc. that all look alike.  Save some leftover egg carton bottoms to sort and organize these items during your next DIY bookcase project.
  • Make fire starter briquettes.  Looking for a good use for a pile of sawdust from your latest home improvement project?  Melt some wax in a big pot, mix in a little sawdust, and pour the wax into the bottom of an egg carton.  When the wax cools you are left with little fire starter cakes that are great to take along camping, or use in the backyard fire pit.
  • Change sorter for yard sales.  Why buy an expensive cash box with separated compartments just to hold loose change?  For your next yard sale, hang on to an empty egg carton bottom and use it to make change. This is also a fun way for kids to learn to separate their coins.  Cut out a four-compartment section of the egg carton bottom to separate pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  Let the kids decorate their “egg banks” to add a personal touch.

*Got some old milk jugs sitting around, too?  Check out 12 Household Uses for Empty Plastic Containers

Do you have any other tips to share for reusing egg cartons?

Comments

  1. If you have a friend who’s part of the backyard chicken movement, swap half a dozen cartons for some fresh eggs and find out what REAL eggs taste like. You wouldn’t believe what free-ranging and eating grass does for a bird or her eggs. Hens who have access to grass and sunlight produce eggs with lower cholesterol and higher omega-3 fatty acid level, and the egg yolks are so dark they’re almost orange. This is why omega-3 eggs from the store are so much more expensive.

    Urban chicken-keepers are often on the lookout for egg cartons. Also we’re fond of grass clippings (as long as you don’t use fertilizer or chemicals on your lawn) and certain kinds of weeds such as bindweed or dandelions. Fresh, they’re bird food. Dried, the grass makes nice soft bedding.

    It’s not always easy to locate a backyard chicken-keeper because without a rooster the birds are rather quiet compared to, say, a dog. Also, the number of birds is usually less than a dozen, so there’s no noticeable smell.

  2. Better yet– be really frugal and keep a couple of backyard chickens yourself — we LOVE our chickens and there are surprise bonuses — no ticks around this year, or grasshoppers. Snakes are chased away too. I had squash bugs taking over my pumpkin patch until I turned a couple of chickens loose in there and they went to work. And they keep the grass mowed short. Oh yeah, and the nice fresh eggs too.

  3. @Lisa:

    Mad props to you for being a fellow chicken keeper. Of course it’s not for everybody, there are some start-up costs to build the coop and run, and depending on where a person lives there can be predators or anti-bird ordinances.

    Do you hang out on http://www.backyardchickens.com ?

    Now there’s a huge forum full of extremely frugal, self-sufficient people.

  4. I buy eggs 5 dozen at a time from Costco – so I save the 12 and 18 packs for storing the 5 dozen in. Fits better in the freezer that way.

    My grandkids use them for art activities – little pieces of colored paper, buttons, sparkles. Once used, with dryer lint, they start fires. If you want to make them for camping fire starters, use the lint and wax, and then cut into one egg sizes for easy carrying.

    Mostly I use them for seed starters.

    The foam ones are good to cut up and use as weatherproofers for the electrical outlet switches. Cut to size, remove the outlet cover, put the screws thru them, and then screw back in place with the outlet covers. Keeps some wind or draftiness from coming thru the stud walls.

  5. Not exactly a re-use, but a way to recycle them. I use the cardboard type egg cartons in my worm bin and compost bin for browns. Makes wonderful compost for my small square foot type garden. We use a lot of eggs and just wish we were allowed to keep chickens in our urban location.

  6. Hi! Cut into long strip, turn over and paint, add eyes and a pipe cleaner and you have a caterpillar. My kids love to make these. -Becky

  7. The big costo size (5-doz) make great trays for sorting and keeping craft glue-ables (sequins, buttons, any small items for kids crafts). They stack rather nicely with a simple piece of cardboard (something else recycled) between them.

    The regular size make good collecting trays when the kids go out to pick blackberries, raspberries, beans, etc.

    Individual cups from the trays, with a pipe-cleaner thorugh them, make tulips and daffodils for craft bouquets.

    The tops make great trays for mixing things; spackle, epoxy, paint, etc.

    Pre-mix soup starter (or anything else you want to have on hand) and freeze it with just a bit of water in a well-washed foam type carton; then just pop one or more into the crock pot with a lump of your favorite protein and a quart of water to have great pot-roast/chicken/etc. when you come home.

  8. We have a few chickens but, they a little more than we can eat. I have told my neighbors that if they bring their empty egg cartons over I will refill them with eggs for 1.00. This keeps the carton out of the landfill and helps with the chicken feed cost. They don’t throw their cartons away. Win win.

  9. Not so sure about the idea to make extra ice for the cooler due to salmonella contamination from the eggs that once occupied the carton and the permeable cardboard and possible cross contamination on the surfaces of other items which would occupy the cooler. Oh well, the other ideas are great and I have found so many helpful hints from this and other frugal dad articles.

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