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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Paper Products

Frugal Kitchens 101Part of running a frugal kitchen is realizing every single thing you throw out actually costs you money. One of the biggest money wasters in the kitchen is paper products. This includes items like paper towels, paper serviettes, paper plates/bowls, paper lunch bags, paper serving trays, paper cups, coffee filters, baking cups, wax paper and parchment paper. From an eco-friendly viewpoint all paper products should be eliminated in the kitchen. From a convenience and practical view this is not quite as easy as it would appear. Unfortunately the holiday season is the time of the year when you will use more paper products but you can really minimize your use. Here are some of the ways I've reduced using paper products in my kitchen.

  • paper towels - Ideally paper towels should be entirely eliminated in the kitchen but they are ideal for wiping up any greasy spills. Paper towels bought on sale here usually cost about $5 for 8 (SpongeTowels) or 62.5¢ per roll. On the surface that doesn't sound too expensive but if you average 2 rolls of paper towels per week that works out to $65 per year. I invested $15 total in 25 bar towels from Sam's Club to use as t-towels and 25 pk of white wash cloths at K-mart. Both are 100% cotton. These have reduced my paper towel use down to a little less than a roll of paper towels per month or about $7.50 per year.
  • paper serviettes - In general I do not use paper serviettes on a regular basis although I do use them for larger (15 or more) gathering entertaining where cloth serviettes would not be appropriate but use cloth serviettes otherwise.
  • paper plates/bowls/cups - Unfortunately I have not been able to eliminate these entirely for larger gathering entertaining purposes. For get togethers under 28 people I have enough non-disposable dishware. For some entertaining events disposable dishware is almost a must especially when several dishes are served throughout the event not giving you time to re-wash dishes. I minimize the cost by buying paper plates and bowls in bulk at Sam's Club or in large packages at the grocery store on sale. Dixie Ultra 24 pk goes on sale for $2 or 8.3¢ each so a small price to pay for simplifying entertaining. I have eliminated paper cups entirely.
  • paper lunch bags - At one time paper lunch bags were and to some degree remain popular for taking lunches to school or work. They also served to pop microwave popcorn and keep mushrooms fresh in the refrigerator. I eliminated using paper lunch bags by buying a reusable, insulated lunch bag, popping bulk corn kernels on the stove and storing fresh mushrooms for shorter periods of time at the proper crisper humidity setting.
  • paper serving trays - These were never a popular item with me. If you use them they can be elimated by investing $10 at a dollar store to get 10 various sized serving trays that should meet most of your entertaining needs.
  • tea bags - Tea bags present three issues with the first being the use of paper itself, the second being the paper is bleached and the third being the paper imparts an off flavour to the tea. A better solution is use a tea ball and loose leaf tea.
  • coffee filters - Everything that applies to the problem of paper tea bags applies to paper coffee filters. A better solution is to use a re-usable coffee filter basket that will not impart any off flavours to the coffee.
  • baking cups - Paper baking cups are quite inexpensive but are not eco-friendly. A better solution is to use a silicone muffin tin or individual silicone baking cups. Individual silicone baking cups can be found 12/$1 at dollar stores. Silicone muffin tins can be found for quite a reasonable price at most department stores.
  • wax paper - Wax paper is often used for wrapping foods for short term storage. A better solution is to store foods in glass storage containers with re-usable lids. Wax paper is also used to wrap sandwiches for lunch. A better solution is to use re-usable sandwich containers. Wax paper is also used for rolling out pastry doughs and letting no bake cookies set up. A better solution is to use pastry sheets and Silpat® silicone sheets.
  • parchment paper - Parchment paper is used to line cookie sheets, baking sheets, baking pans and to make paper baking pockets. Silpat® silicone sheets and properly greasining/oiling baking dishes will replace parchment all uses for parchment paper with the exception of baking pockets. If you make baking pocket you will want to keep a small roll of parchment paper on hand but if you don't make them then eliminate parchment paper entirely.

4 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

a great post, and I agree with everything (except the parchment paper... I have bad experiences with silicon).

I have a single friend who will wash a coffee cup and dry it with two paper towels.

Oh well, what can you do... oh wait, I know, use a blog to help offer money and earth saving tips

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Dave :) I swear by my Silpat® silicone baking sheets. They perform nicely while keeping their good looks. My first silicone baking sheet was a funky green one bought from Canadian Tire. It performed well but developed horrible stains :(

Getting the word out about using eco-friendly practices in the kitchen is very important. Blogging about using eco-friendly practices is only one small way to do this. We can longer environmentally afford to be like your friend.

Kat said...

Great Post! We do most of these things in our home as well! All loose leaf tea is a good idea. I hadn't thought of the paper wasted in tea bags.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Kat and thanks for visiting :) Once you start keeping track of all the little ways paper makes its way into the kitchen you would really be surprised. The issue with tea bags goes beyond just paper though to become an actual health issue since most of the paper used is bleached :(