You’re probably familiar with the gallon-size ice cream buckets at the grocery store. Some brands call these “party pails.” Well, in my family those buckets of ice cream aren’t just for parties. Ice cream is almost its own food group, and growing up there always seemed to be a supply of empty ice cream buckets in the house. You might be surprised to know that ice cream buckets are something I almost never throw away.
I try not to spend money on additional items if I already have something that can do the job for me. Incidentally, ice cream buckets can perform a number of tasks around the house. The price has already been paid for the ice cream (and ice cream of course is a necessity) and the ice cream has been consumed, so try the following ideas for utilizing empty ice cream pails:
1.Storing dry goods. If you’ve opened a large can or paper package of shelf-stable goods and need something to store them in, just use a clean ice cream pail. They fit nicely on pantry shelves or in the fridge. I have used them/am using them to store dry milk, cornmeal, oats, flour, dry beans, etc.
2.Cutting boards. Cutting boards are among the most used items in my kitchen, and it’s surprising how much they can cost to purchase. I use one purchased cutting board for my larger chopping jobs, and everything else gets done on the lids from ice cream buckets. They aren’t much different from the thin-style plastic cutting boards that you can buy. Plus, they can go through the dishwasher and don’t take up much space.
3.Emergency bio-hazard bucket. Keep one (or more, if you have multiple children prone to peakiness) in the car, along with the lids. If someone gets queasy on the road or needs a potty break at a time when you can’t just stop, pull out the empty bucket. The lid can then be used to seal in the contents (and the smell) until the opportunity for disposal arrives.
4.Flower or herb pot. Punch a few holes in the bottom of the bucket with a sharp knife or other tool for drainage, fill with soil and use it to grow small plants on the porch or windowsill. To make it more decorative, you could wrap it in colorful cloth and/or tie a ribbon around it. The handle can be easily removed if desired; most just pop off.
5.Dryer lint. I keep an ice cream pail on the dryer and put dryer lint, dryer sheets, and any other undesirable objects that come through the wash into it, then empty it when I take out the trash.
6.Water games. Kids enjoy filling the buckets with water from a hose or spigot and toting it around. You can make a game out of filling the bucket, then having a race across the yard whilst trying to keep as much water as possible in the bucket.
7.Baby/toddler play time. Placing a few toys in an ice cream bucket rather than on the floor for some reason makes them far more interesting. Try handing a toddler a bucket and asking him to fill it with “things that are green” or “round” or “soft,”etc.
8.Organization. Rather than buying storage bins for small toys, label several ice cream buckets and arrange them in a child’s room or closet (or your own:)). Then use them for sorting and storing toys, markers, socks, etc. For some children, having a special bucket for each kind of toy makes cleaning more fun.
9.Compost collection. My mom keeps an ice cream pail next to the kitchen garbage, and fruit and vegetable scraps go there to be transferred to the compost pile.
10.Berry picking/garden harvesting. With handles already attached, ice cream buckets are ideal for going berry-picking or harvesting small vegetables like tomatoes and peppers from the garden.
Can you think of any other ideas for using empty ice cream pails? Please share!