I have always been obsessed with reusing things–and since I started this blog, my desire to find new purposes for basic items has gone up exponentially.  My poor husband.  First of all, I’m the type whose kitchen is destroyed after making a meal.  While cooking dinner, I typically have a baby hanging off my legs while helping three other children with their homework at the same time.  So when my husband walks in after work (on the days I don’t ask him to pick dinner up on his way home, mind you), it always looks like a bomb went off–there was some serious multitasking going on for the last hour before his arrival, let’s remember.  Every once in a while he loses his senses and says, “Wow–you can really make a mess, can’t you?  I’ll never understand why you don’t clean up while you cook.”  And I’ll never understand why you think it’s a good idea to offer that remark, Bucko.

He is typically captain of the clean up crew at our house since I do the cooking, so I do leave him quite a mess at times.  But it’s not on purpose.  Sure, I would put everything away neatly and do the dishes as things bake beautifully in the oven if I was home alone and had all the time in the world–but I’m not and I don’t.  So I do the best I can, and he quickly remembers why it’s not in his best interest to let me know how I could do things better.  :)

Anyhow, when there are cans involved in the clean up, he’s always (sighing and) saying, “Can I just put these in the recycling or are you keeping them?”  Um, I’m keeping them, pal–hello!  There is good use in those beauties!!  So my gem of a husband stands and cleans them and pulls the labels off to set them aside for me.  I have quite a stash at this point.  Which brings me to this post… look at this fun way I’ve found to reuse those handy cans!

Did you know you can bake in cans??  I recently discovered this when a recipe said I could use “large coffee cans” in lieu of loaf pans for baking.  What!  You can do that?!  I never thought about it before, but of course they can go in the oven!  You can use them just like a regular pan.  So when making chocolate chip pumpkin bread recently (I’ll share the recipe later this fall), I simply sprayed some clean cans with Pam and then put the batter in like normal.

I wrapped our cans up in cellophane and added ribbon and a gift tag (“We CAN’t thank you enough for all you do!”) to distribute to teachers during teacher appreciation week.  You could also cover just the top of the can with plastic wrap and then a piece of cute fabric held on with a rubber band–and then tie a ribbon around the rubber band.  So many ideas!  What a fun gift for teachers, a neighbor, a hostess gift, etc.  You could even make a bunch at once and keep them in the freezer, all ready to go!

Here’s a closer look…

First of all, make sure there are no sharp edges.  I used the back of a spoon to push down any rough edges I could feel.  I also ran the cans through the dishwasher just to be sure they were as clean as I could get them.

I sprayed Pam in the can and then added the batter.  I left a little room as shown because I knew it would rise.  I lucked out and happened to leave just the right amount of space.

How cute are those?  And they pop out really easily for someone to enjoy!

I chose to cover the top of mine with plastic wrap, and I then tucked the cans in tiny cellophane bags and closed them up with ribbon.  (If there is too much excess cellophane above the ribbon, simply gather it up in your hand and then cut straight across.)  Add a gift tag, and you’ve got a simple gesture of appreciation that I think anyone would like to receive!

Other ideas:

– Cover the top with plastic wrap and then a small square of fabric; use a rubber band to secure it, and then hide the rubber band with ribbon.

– Decorate the can with washi tape, stickers, or paint after you bake.  (Be sure to use paint that is oven-safe if you paint the cans prior to baking!  I actually originally painted some cans in stripes, but then I got worried about putting them in the oven?!  So I played it safe and just used unfinished cans.  You could always add a little paint detail after it cooked, though…)

– Add a gift tag using “CAN” in it.  Here are some thoughts:

“We CAN’t thank you enough!”

“We hope this CAN make you smile!”

“How CAN I thank you for all you do?”

I hope this Friday Fast Tip got your creative juices flowing!  So next time stare at that can for a bit when you’re done making dinner–maybe you can make some use out of it!  :)

What have you done to reuse something in your house?

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