This is a tip that I picked up when my first was just a few months old. (I believe credit originally goes to Kim at Large Family Logistics.) I keep a basket on our dinner table with cloth napkins and washcloths in it, and that's what we use during meals for spills and wipes. When N1 was a baby, I was going through paper towels by the hundreds (or so it seemed) for each meal, everytime there was a spill or mess. Napkins and washcloths are way more absorbant, especially for those liquid spills, and when the meal is over, I just throw then in the washing machine and run them with the next load. (I mean, if they are gross, then I rinse them out in the sink first, but that's pretty rare). It's worked for me for a couple years now. :)
For more tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!