The Yard Sale Item I Never Pass Up

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There’s a handy dandy item for which I always keep a lookout. If I pass a yard sale, visit an second-hand store or stroll through an antique (some might say, “junk”) mall. I can usually pick up several of this item for a mere handful of coins and I always wind up being super happy that I have them on hand, except when I need them for their originally intended purpose and then never seem to have enough.

The awesome lifehack product about which I speak is the ice cube tray! One of my biggest pet peeves is opening the freezer on a hot and humid summer day only to find several empty trays glaring back at me. Water freezes, yes; however, there’s nothing I can do to make it freeze faster when I’m parched, in need of refreshment, and staring at a bunch of empty trays. I can fill them and then I have to wait.

This is the only time ice cube trays get on my nerves – and it’s really not the trays, per se, as much as being irked at whomever it was that happened to use the ice cubes and not refill the trays for the next person.

At any other time, I love these little gadgets because they are useful in so many ways. My favorite way to use them is as micro-organizers. Ice cube trays are the perfect storage ware for post and dangly earrings. My daughters love days when I dump my earring trays on my bed so they can carefully help me sort them, according to style or color, then fill each cubic compartment before sliding them under my bathroom sink. You can stack the trays, of course, which means they don’t take up a lot of space.

When my children were infants, I used ice cube trays to store my pureed baby food. I loved to work ahead of schedule by cooking various veggies in bulk, then blending them in a blender and filling my ice cube trays. It was easy to pop a frozen pureed veggie cube or two out of the freezer, thaw and serve at just the right temperature, depending on the food item.

Coffee lovers will be happy to know that you can make coffee-flavored ice cubes to add to your favorite iced coffees! How many times have you let your iced coffee sit before drinking only to find it watered down and icky when you took a sip. Coffee ice cubes to the rescue!

Similarly, if you want your smoothies to be thicker, you can freeze cubes of yogurt (Greek style is best for this.) and bananas then add these (rather than regular water ice cubes) to your smoothie blender.

If you’re a campfire lover, you can make some great fire starters by shredding old paper and filling ice cube trays then very carefully pouring melted paraffin in each cube. Quickly and cautiously place the trays in the fridge or freezer until the paraffin solidifies. (It will turn solid at room temperature as well but placing in the fridge is a way to make sure the hot paraffin doesn’t start to melt the ice cube tray.) When you’re ready to start a campfire, pop out a cube or two and you’re all set!

If you’d rather stick to food-based uses for your ice cube trays, there are myriad ideas online for ways to use them to make delicious treats, preserve homegrown herbs or store pesto and other homemade foods.

Once you get started, you’ll find yourself coming up with all different sorts of ways to use your ice cube trays and maybe you’ll also find a way to get your loved ones to remember to fill the regular ice cube trays when they use the last cubes in your freezer! (If you do, let me know because I’d love to hear that solution!)


Writer Bio: Judy Dudich

Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.

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