5 Ways to Use Brown Bags Beyond Packing Lunches

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Raise your hand if you have a lunch box or a tote that you use for packing lunches (either for you or your kids). We thought so. Yet you still probably have a pack of brown paper bags in your kitchen, right? You should! These things are pretty handy. Not only can use them to make your own puppets on a rainy day, but you can also use them for a slew of other things in the kitchen and around the house.

Here are five of our favorite non-lunch-related uses for brown paper bags.

1. Ripen fruit.

If you need to speed up the ripening of, say, a peach or an avocado, stick ’em in a paper bag. The fruits naturally release ethylene gas, which gets trapped and accelerates ripening. Note: Do not use plastic bags, as they’ll also trap moisture, which can cause the fruit to rot. Paper is the way to go here.

More on Ripening Fruit with a Paper Bag

(Image credit: Christine Han)

2. Make popcorn in the microwave.

No need to buy expensive (and way-too-buttery!) microwave popcorn — you can just make your own with some kernels and a paper bag for a fraction of the cost. One lunch bag is big enough to pop one serving of popcorn (about 1/4 cup of kernels) and the process is just as easy as the store-bought bags.

3. Wrap some gifts.

Paper bags, when unfolded, are basically just kraft paper. Wrap small gifts with them or use the bags as is to hold edible treats like brittle, popcorn, candy, and more.

Some ideas: 5 Ways to Dress Up Brown Paper Bags

4. Clean windows.

Some people like to use newspaper to clean windows, but depending on the type of ink used, the sheets can leave marks on the windows. Wadded-up paper bags are a much better alternative and they’re better than another popular choice, paper towels, because they’re far less expensive.

5. Serve chips and pretzels.

No little serving bowls? No problem! Just roll down the sides of a few bags and pour in some chips, pretzels, or candy and set them around the room before your next party. They’ll add a rustic touch to the decor and you can just crumble them up and toss ’em in the garbage (or recycling!) at the end of the night.

How else do you use paper lunch bags?