This frugal mother keeps all the ketchup packets she ever gets from fast food places, puts them in a kitchen drawer, and when the ketchup bottle runs out, spends an hour with a funnel and scissors, refilling the bottle. Imagine how much more money she could have saved, in real dollars and health costs, if she forwent fast food in the first place. [Wisebread via Blogging Away Debt]


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  1. markrubi says:

    I can walk into micky d’s and order an apple pie then walk over and throw a handful of packets into my bag. I still have my good health too.

  2. hollerhither says:

    Erm, labor-intensiveness of this procedure aside, I read somewhere that ketchup and other sauce packets (salsa?) aren’t designed to keep for very long unrefrigerated. You might be taking a risk eating packets of stuff that have been in a drawer for a long period of time…even if they are preservative-laden.

  3. homerjay says:

    Or she could have spent that hour working and made 5 or 6 times what that ketchup was worth.

    Way to prioritize.

  4. HungryGrrl says:

    Why refill the bottle? What’s wrong with just using the packets at home? Is she trying to hide this from the kids?

  5. HungryGrrl says:

    @hollerhither: If you read the original article it says that she keeps the packets in the fridge.

  6. Chicago7 says:

    Ketchup is about $1.50 for a 36 oz. bottle. That’s got to be about 72 of those packets.

  7. mopar_man says:

    I can buy a bottle of ketchup for $1 on sale. I think I’ll spend my time being a little more constructive.

  8. swalve says:

    @markrubi: You’re better off eating a double cheeseburger.

    Yeah, why not give the kids the packets?

  9. balthisar says:

    I take ’em to work. Much nicer than a bottle growing mold in my drawer.

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    If your time is worthless, I suppose this is a good idea.

    I’ve been unemployed for a year, and I’ve gotten a lot done that I wouldn’t have if my time was worth anything.

  11. skrom says:

    What a cheap ass

  12. rkm12 says:

    @HungryGrrl: seriously, my mother saved those and we just used the packet.

  13. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    Um, I think the original article was meant to sort of poke fun at the idea? It seems like more of a meditation exercise than an actual attempt at frugality.

  14. Televiper says:

    My kid’s mom is a very frugal person. She recently told me that my child support covers rent, food, and clothes for my daughter. Ok, her rent is very cheap but it’s still an accomplishment. I doubt you’ll ever find her even bothering to keep those ketchup packets. 1 night out at McDonald’s equals how many cooked meals + a bottle of ketchup? I mean in Canadian dollars I bet I’d have no trouble buying a 1lb of beef, a 12 pack of coke, a bag of french fries, a bag of buns, a bottle of ketchup, a bottle of relish, and a jar mustard for less than $20. That’s enough for what 4 with a few months worth of condiments left? I could probably get a side of ribs, a bottle of BBQ sauce, and dozen cobbed corn and have change left. Don’t people understand how cheap McD’s isn’t?

  15. courtarro says:

    That’s all fair, but Hunts brand ketchup? Gross – Heinz is the only way to go.

  16. miborovsky says:

    I’m sorry to be a grammar nazi, but the correct phrase would be “had forgone” instead of “forwent”.

  17. Xkeeper says:

    @miborovsky: It’s made worse when you misread it as “went for”.

  18. thedreamingtree says:

    I keep all condiment packets from any restaurants I’ve been to (taco sauce, that awesome bbq sauce from Chik-Fil-A, etc.) but I just keep them in the fridge in the butter section. I rent and don’t have a large enough fridge to buy full-size bottles of everything anyway.

  19. olegna says:

    I agree: buying anything at a fast food joint is an anathema to the whole idea of frugal living. And if you steal the packets then does it really matter how the ketchup is contained anyway? I think whomever does this is clinically insane.

  20. shades_of_blue says:

    I usually grab a handful of packets too, but not ketchup. Arby’s secret sauce, soy sauce, McD’s buffalo, McD’s honey mustard, TocoBell hot sauce, things like that.

    But to open each packet, to funnel them into an empty bottle, that’s just sad… Reminds me of the worlds cheapest man, from Ripley’s Believe It or Not, who would buy two-ply and re-roll his tp into two rolls. What a waste of time and effort.

  21. Hexum2600 says:

    At deep discount stores like Save a Lot you can get 48 oz bottles of ketchup for like 99 cents… and I’ve always been happy with the taste and quality.

    WTF would someone do that with a funnel and empty bottle for, to save like 50 cents. Because you know shes not emptying 48 oz of ketchup.

    GOOD LORD, just shoot people like this.

  22. CyGuy says:

    I admit I will keep any extra’s I end up with, they are handy for taking camping and I hate to waste food. But the linked article says she asks for extra ketchup packets specifically so she can stock her drawer. That isn’t being ‘frugal’ or ‘thrifty’ that’s stealing.

    As for the frugality of going to fastfood, if you have kids, taking them to McD’s for a $1 double cheeseburger and $1 box of chicken nuggets is a lot better bargain than the cost of the years of psychotherapy you will both need to go through from arguing with them over whether or not you should go.

  23. ElizabethD says:

    The embodiment of the saying “penny wise, pound foolish.” Pay too much for fast food, then spend precious time squeezing dabs of ketchup into a bottle later to save a few pesos.

    This woman has way too much time on her hands!

  24. thepounder says:

    I’m going to have to lean towards “not frugal” in general, as well as wonder why you’d bother with Hunt’s packets to begin with. It’s not bad, but it’s not Heinz.

    On the other hand, if you’re stopping at a drive-thru anyway and you keep any leftover sauce packets in the fridge instead of tossing them, that’s ok as long as you don’t squeeze them all into a ketchup bottle… how strange.

  25. thepounder says:

    forgot something… those little ketchup packets do not require refrigeration.

  26. MeOhMy says:

    This could also be an indication of a mental health problem.

  27. mrmysterious says:

    Sorry, but asking for extra ketchup (and this lady its napkins, forks, etc) for the sole person of saving for later is not being frugal it’s being a thief.

  28. Myron says:

    If you ask for extra ketchup without the intent of using it for that meal, you are stealing. This is exactly the same as taking a bottle of ketchup from a restaurant. Sorry.

  29. Chaosium says:

    @Troy F.: Hoarding is pretty much obsessive/compulsive behavior, regardless of whether you keep all the newspapers you get because you’ll “get to them later” or when keep all the fast food condiments you receive because “you’ll never know when you need them”.

  30. stubblyhead says:

    @thepounder: The big bottles don’t either. Check the label, doesn’t say refrigerate after opening anywhere on it.

  31. backbroken says:

    Um…you want to save money? Buy less of what you don’t need and work harder at making money.

    Any other advice is probably crap.

    The same people who think they are saving money by hoarding ketchup packets are the same people who think they are going to permanently lose weight by going on a fad diet.

  32. hollerhither says:

    The *one time* I don’t click over. ;) Lesson learned.

  33. SaraAB87 says:

    I don’t see the point of this, this person must be frugal-obsessed. There is a difference between being frugal or thrifty and just plain CHEAP! There is nothing wrong with keeping the packets in the fridge for later use but this is just insane because as others have mentioned you can buy a huge bottle of ketchup for about a dollar at most any store around here. If you are so concerned about ketchup use why not just teach your kids to only take what they will eat and to not waste it by not leaving any leftover on the plate?