6 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Kitchen
Ah, the kitchen.
It is always one of my favorite places in a home. It's where memories and delicious meals are made, and where friends and family instinctively gather to be together.
However, it can also be a place of utter chaos. Dirty dishes, crumbs, and trash seem to pile up awfully fast, especially when you have a family to nourish.
If that is where you're at, friend, this post is for you! I want to share with you six ways I reduce waste in my own kitchen that you can easily implement in your own home. Let's get started!
1| Cloth napkins. This is one of the easiest ways to cut down on the amount of waste in your kitchen. Just put those paper napkins on the top shelf of your pantry (You are totally allowed to get them back down the next time you host a big dinner party, don't worry.), and start using cloth. Not only are they reusable, they are durable and pretty too! I like to keep several sets on hand so we won't run out if some are in the wash. They are also useful as placemats, emergency spill control, and adding a little pattern to your centerpiece. I've found some basic cloth napkins that are great for everyday use at Target, and I also have a set of dainty white ones with some embroidery detail from a local thrift store. If you're feeling crafty, you can even make your own! Here's a great tutorial - if you can sew four straight lines, you're golden! (And even if you can't, just use patterned fabric and thread that blends in well and no one will be able to tell. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.)
2| Cut down on plastic. That's right. I'm talking plastic baggies, plastic Tupperware, plastic cutlery, disposable straws, disposable cups, plastic wrap, etc. Did you know there are reusable options for ALL of the above? Aside from the fact that most, if not all, plastic contains BPA (or BPA-like chemicals, which are no bueno for hormone health) and isn't the cleanest choice for our homes, it also doesn't last as long as glass or metal and cannot be properly sanitized (yuck!). Opt for mason jars or glass food storage when you're packing lunches or putting away leftovers. Invest in a few metal straws for your afternoon iced coffee break, and a set of reusable sandwich bags for hubby to take to work. Instead of using plastic wrap to save that half an avocado for tomorrow's salad, snag a handmade beeswax wrap from your Homeplace Box and put it to good use.
3| Use up your food. While you can't always anticipate how quickly your produce will go downhill, you can do a few things to make sure you eat it up before that happens. First, keep a clean fridge. Food that gets lost in the depths of the bottom shelf is a goner, let me tell ya. Take inventory at least once a week, a day or two before your shopping trip it best, and see what needs to be eaten up. Put those things front and center on the shelves so they are the first things you see when you open the door. If you're not going to be able to eat something before it goes bad, you might be able to stick it in the freezer and save it for another time. Spinach starting to wilt? Freeze it and add it to your morning smoothie. Bananas turning brown? Peel, freeze, and treat yourself to some banana "nice" cream or score some points with your hubby with a fresh loaf of banana bread. Miscellaneous veggies looking a little sad? Toss 'em in the freezer and save them for the next time you make homemade bone broth or soup. Another great thing to do is have a mystery dinner night around the end of the week when groceries are running low. Make sure you have some sort of protein and get creative with your side dishes!
I HATE wasting food, but, I'll admit, sometimes it happens. And when it does, read #4!
4| Start composting. This has been a game-changer for our home. Instead of emptying the trash every day, I only need to empty it, at most, 3 times a week. That's all because I started composting food scraps instead of throwing them away. This is a great article about composting. Anyone can do it! Also, getting a little metal pail with a charcoal filter is a must if you want to keep that lovely odor a bay and don't want to be making 85 trips out to your compost pile a day. (I've been using this one and I love it! I keep it under my sink for easy access.)
5| Buy in bulk. Why more people don't take advantage of this wondrous thing called bulk I will never know. When I purchase staple things like almond flour, oats, brown rice, coconut sugar, etc. I always buy in bulk. It saves you money, you can buy A LOT at one time, and you get to choose your own packaging (see #6 for some recommendations!). I have quite a few of these glass storage containers and when I get home from town I will just dump all the goodies into them. They keep everything dry and organized and I love the way they look on the shelf in my kitchen! (If you're looking for a set, try these. If you want a few extra large containers for your flours and such, these or these are perfect!)
6| Invest in some reusable grocery, produce, and bulk bags. I received a few cloth grocery bags at a wedding shower before I got married and I have been using them ever since (Five years and still going strong!). They are inexpensive, durable, washable, and will simplify your grocery shopping routine. I've also noticed that my refrigerated items like meat, eggs, and yogurt, will stay cold quite a bit longer in these bags (especially when you pack them together) compared to the times I forget them at home and have to use plastic. Find them at your local grocery store, Walmart, Target, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc.! Another way to reduce waste while grocery shopping is to use reusable produce and bulk bags instead of the flimsy plastic ones available at the store. These simple bags include a tare weight tag so they won't effect the price of what you're purchasing, and they are durable enough to hold whatever you need to put in them.
How do you reduce waste in your kitchen, friend?