Do You Save Condiment Packets?

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Frugalites get hassled a lot. Those of us who want to be good stewards of our resources might be mocked for some of our frugal ways. Ah, such is life, when you go against the stream.

That’s not to say that some people go to pretty far extremes when it comes to saving a dime. And there are some frugal practices that might be considered dangerous to one’s health or even illegal. Each of us needs to find our comfort and health level when it comes to frugality and be wise.

One benign and often mocked frugal practice is to save condimentΒ  packages.

I’m not talking about “going shopping” at McDonalds when you run out of ketchup. That is unethical at best, illegal at worst.

But, do you save the condiments that you receive at a restaurant or do you toss the unused packets?

We have a small box in our pantry that holds the extras that we receive from takeout restaurants. Those in the know can tell that our eating out is almost exclusively from Costco’s food court, Panda Express and DelTaco.

To me, it seems wasteful to throw away perfectly good condiments just because I’m “above” saving them. When I know that we have a supply at home, I decline more when we’re at the restaurant. And we use them up. Occasionally, I bag up what we have and donate them.

Miserliness or good stewardship?

This isn’t necessarily a way that I “save money,” but rather a way I save resources and avoid waste. Somewhere along the line, that saves somebody money, even if it’s not me. And I think that’s a good thing.

What do YOU do to save money?

Share your favorite money-saving ideas today. Leave a link to a post that shares some frugal wisdom. (Please no giveaways or deals posts. Teach us how to fish!)

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  1. I always save condiments from Chinese take out. I try to remember to tell them not to give them to me – but the large plastic bag of them (since the food bank my daughter volunteered at closed) attests to the many times I forgot). Also plastic utensils. I keep saving as I hate to waste. Please tell me where I could donate them in NYC.

  2. No only do I save (I agree, definitely don’t steal!), but I use them! Occasionally I make “pasta with packets”. Pasta, add good oil (ok, I like good oil). Toss in parmegean and hot pepper, or soy and hot pepper and a bit of peanut butter. Yum!

  3. I was just going through my packets that we keep from takeout. I have an abundance of soy, duck sauce and Chinese mustard. I’ll sometimes use the packets to make dipping sauces for summer rolls, egg rolls, and other Asian dishes. Mux soy sauce with peanut butter and hoisin with garlic.. Arby sauce I’ll mix with mayo and use for sandwiches. I have mayo and sandwich sauce for lunches.. And tons of ketchup packets I’ll use instead of tomato paste in spaghetti or sloppy joe sauce.

  4. We save them as well. Sometimes restaurants, like Chinese, give you more than you need. Ketchup is always a big one. Arby’s sauce is as well. We try not to go overboard, because there is only so much you can use. However, the packets of mustard or mayo we get, as well as salt and pepper, are invaluable when traveling and for packed lunches. My fiance and I love to go on spontaneous picnics, and we don’t like to put the condiments on the sandwiches until we get there. It just helps out.

  5. I used to save the packets, but I realized that I never actually used them so I quit. I rarely need a single serving of soy sauce or ketchup (and I plain forget about the parmesan and red pepper flakes), I’m usually measuring into a recipe.

  6. Kudos to you for donating your surplus! I found myself with a similar collection, though mine quickly grew out of hand and I had to start writing a cookbook to whittle it down. πŸ™‚

  7. I save the Packets as well! Now I mail them over seas to the soldiers!! I even posted on Craigslist to see if others would send them my way as well lol. Who would’ve thought I would go from Too many to not enough? Lol.

  8. Yes, I save them for later use. For instance, when I drive through Del Taco alone and say I’d like some mild sauce with my order, the person at the window often puts a handful in my bag. I don’t understand why the manager lets them do that.

    I registered voters at a fair earlier this year, and a women’s club member I worked with said that soldiers request hot sauce packets in their care packages. It makes the bland military food taste better. The women’s club collected condiments to send to Afghanistan and Iraq.

  9. Absolutely! We save them at home and at my office! Like some of the other commenters, I find them really useful for lunches or picnics, but I also find myself using them if I’ve run out of something and haven’t made it to the grocery store yet. Oh, and they’re great for camping, too!

  10. Yes I do. Who would not save condiment packages except people who can afford to be,”food snobs”. They are great for picnics and kids love them. If you can’t afford everything organic, why not? I think stress and a negative mindset can cause more cancer than an occasional ketchup packet.

  11. Thanks so much for providing this as a linky! I always learn so much through the other’s posts!

    This week I have links to how I make my own laundry detergent, dish soap and cereal bars to save money!

  12. Yes we save them and use them. My boys love to use them on their lunches. They pretend we are out eating!

  13. If I eat inside the fast-food restaurant I usually leave the leftover packets there. But if I get too many in my take-out bags, I usually save those. What we don’t use at home, I take to the fire station where my husband and I volunteer at. The paid-staff at the station have a “condiment packet drawer” and I just leave it there. Eventually, some hungry fireman will use it!

  14. Ha!!! I’m at work and was reading this while at my desk for lunch and guess what, had to use a packet of ketchup from the fridge as my bottle was empty. So yes, we do keep them, both at home and at the office (but heaven forbid, do NOT shop the condiments!!)

  15. Love Arby’s sauce on homemade roast beef sandwiches occasionally, and the last time we had carryout from Bob Evans we had a ton of honey and jelly packages that my boys are only too happy to eat on bread at home. Those little packages can come in handy sometimes.

  16. Someone has kindly left a basket of packets by the microwave at work and magically it’s always full. I love being able to grab a little bit of parmesan cheese for my leftover spaghetti.

  17. We do not order take out very often due to our budget, but if we ever do, it would be Chinese food, and yes, I would save the sauces! Again, we hardly ever eat out at fast food places, but I would save what I don’t use, but I think it is very wrong to take more than we need just to get something “free” although I am not saying anyone commenting is doing that! Anything that comes with the meal that I have paid for is to take home if I want, and I would not throw it away!!

  18. When we knew my Husband was going into the hospital for a prolonged stay we saved up just about every sauce, spice and sweetener packet we could get our hands on. That way, when his taste buds changed due to the treatment he could still add a little something to make his meals more palatable. Even a packet of lemon juice in his drinking water made a difference.

    Thos little packets have saved me during those times when there is more month than paycheck. But I do have a limit: anything I have to pick up twice is out of here!

  19. My post today is about how to save time and money by organizing your pantry! Part of Tidy-Up Thursday and Frugal Friday @

    To your success,
    Dr. Laura

  20. I am totally with you on this one! We don’t go out a lot but I figure I’ve already paid for the 3 servings of ketchup that are left over so I better use them. Sometimes I even go ahead and open up the individual packages and put them in my big ketchup bottle. That way it will get used for sure. I had never thought of donating the extras though. That’s a really good tip!

  21. I used to! Then I realized that I ended up throwing them away at some point anyway because I never used them. I figured if I was going to “waste” them anyway I might as well waste them immediately before I started cluttering up my kitchen. Like others said, I don’t get too many anyway b/c we don’t eat out much and don’t get many of those packets anymore. My MIL is like you, though, she can’t bear to throw any of those away, esp the bbq sauce packets from Famous Dave’s. She loves those!

  22. I save them, first and foremost because I would hate to throw away something edible…if I didn’t use them, I would request we not get any to begin with. But I have found that they are absolutely unbeatable for packing in lunchboxes for hubby! That way his bread isn’t soggy from mayo of ketchup before hand!!

  23. We especially save the ranch, seems like we always are running out of ranch dressing. The boys don’t use any sauce on their nuggets, so I always ask for some anyway, then save it. We also keep the other packets in a ziploc in the fridge.
    Thanks for hosting another great FF!

  24. I used to save condiment packages, but, I admit, I have become too much of a food snob to do so now. The way I see it, many of the ingredients in condiment packages are not ones I want going into the bodies of me and my family members. Why save money now only to spend it later on health and diet-related issues? So, I read packaging carefully, and, if things contain dyes, HFCS, certain additives, etc., I stay away from them./ In the rare case condiment packages do not contain these things, or if we are having company due that I know enjoys such things anyway, we do though. πŸ™‚

  25. I don’t know if my link is a frugal tip, but it’s currently saving me money. I find that when I take time to go through the house and/or my life and count up all the things (and people) that God has blessed me with, I no longer “need” anything. I’m no longer shopping to buy stuff because I realize I’m loaded with stuff already (some that I don’t even use or needs to go out in the next yard sale!). It was a good lesson to learn.

  26. We don’t save them, because we don’t get them. πŸ™‚ Partially because of frugality, but also because all restaurants with those packages serve mostly meals with gluten.

    Just a different take on things.

    Annie Kate

  27. I do save them when we get them. πŸ™‚

    But I have to admit that I always roll my eyes when I hear about people snagging tons of ketchup packets from McDonalds. Honestly, if you want to save money so badly, just eat at home. You’d have to save a LOT of ketchup to make up for a meal out, you know?

    1. @Kristen@TheFrugalGirl,
      I save the mayo and ketchup and mustard packets they work great to send in lunchboxes also I used the red peppers to refill our red pepper shaker. Or we buy crushed red peppers in the organic section at our grocery store. I bought sleeves of condiment size containers from mt Tastefully simple consultant and we use these for condiments if we don’t have packets. I find it very wasteful to put mustard in little container and end up throwing part of if away because the kids couldn’t use it all. I found even the smallest ziploc or tupperwarecontainers are too large and the condiment just gets spread on the sides. I especillay say mustard because the kids like to dip meat and pretzels. Stephanie

  28. Hmmm… I don’t have condiment packets saved… because we never get them I guess? πŸ™‚

    But when I worked at Taco Bell, I would get free food and taco sauce on my shifts. And yes, some of that taco sauce made its way home and into homemade chili. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for hosting Frugal Fridays! πŸ™‚ I posted about spreading water on our bread in order to use less butter. πŸ˜‰

  29. I saved these things for years – until recently. And wouldn’t you know it – my grandson was visiting and wanted ketchup on his hot dog (I prefer mustard but that’s just me). A thorough search of the fridge and pantry revealed that his coupon lady grandma was completely out of ketchup (hard to believe!). If I had saved a few of these little darlings I could have racked up some “cool” points in his eyes – but I missed out. It was traumatic but I think in time it will fade from his memory.

  30. I totally save them, because I can’t bear to “waste” them and throw them away. However, I am not very good at actually USING them- I have a pretty large collection right now!

  31. Of course I save condiment packets too! My favorite is soy sauce from the Chinese restaurant. I keep them in the refrigerator door and try to use them up first before getting out the soy sauce bottle for cooking.

    Sometimes I go a step further and separate the condiments by type into separate containers (it’s true)…

    Danelle Ice (Home Ever After)

  32. We do save these little packets and I find them very handy for sending with my husband for his lunches, for picnics and for camping. The mustard and mayo ones are especially handy when I make a stack of sandwiches for a picnic. Then we can customize when we arrive at our destination.

  33. I am also ‘guilty’ of saving condiment packages. I have a small container quite like yours that I keep in my bakers rack drawer. I do it also to avoid waste, and they are nicely sized to put in lunches for the hubby to take to work…and sometimes they save a trip to the store when Im in the middle of a recipe & realize that I am out, or nearly out, of something like mayo or soy sauce.

  34. I laughed out loud when I saw this photo! I almost posted about this same thing this week. I have a bin in my pantry with condiment packets as well. As I was getting out some ketchup I was thinking… I need to write a post about this. πŸ™‚
    Great minds I guess?