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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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Monday, October 15, 2012

Frugal Kitchens 101 - The Waste Not Kitchen Fallacy

Frugal Kitchens 101
I am a rather frugal person who wants the best value for my dollar without overspending.  I tend to follow several frugal forums because sometimes I learn a thing or two.  One of the forums I follow has the philosophy of wasting nothing.  Some are claiming the waste nothing in the kitchen while others are moving in the direction of wasting nothing in the kitchen.  I'm sorry but wasting nothing in the kitchen is a  delusion.  Putting a can or plastic container into the recycle bin is not by any stretch of the imagination wasting nothing.  Energy and resources are wasted cleaning those containers then they are collected at curbside (a colossal carbon footprint) and transferred to a recycling facility (even more waste).  The whole concept of a waste not kitchen is a fallacy.  There never in history has been a kitchen that doesn't produce waste and there never will be.  The only way to have a waste not kitchen is to not have a kitchen!   The fact is kitchens produce waste.  However, the thrifty and frugal person can greatly reduce the waste their kitchen produces.  We have been focusing on reducing our kitchen waste and are seeing the results for our effort.  Here are a few ways we are reducing our kitchen waste:

  • eliminate individually packaged or single serve - This includes single serve yogurts, cheese slices or strings, hard candies, snacks, fruit cups, puddings, and that type of thing.  We never did use much in the way of single serve foods to begin with.  Some like cheese strings or slices and freezies create waste that can't be put into the recycle bin so it does end up in the landfill.  Our one single serve splurge is K-cups for the Keurig but most of the time we use the My K-cup reusable filter system.  K-cups are recycled for crafting projects and starting seeds.  Coffee grinds from both go into the compost.
  • reduce plastic and metal containers - We avoid anything commercially canned in aluminum cans period. We buy in the largest container possible for things like sour cream, cottage cheese and yogurt but normally make these foods from scratch to avoid the plastic container entirely.  We use reusable water bottles and hot drink travel mugs rather than buying bottled water, bottled juices, tea or coffee.  If I have to buy a commercially prepared product I will purposely choose one packaged in a glass container over plastic and always in the largest size possible based on unit price because the jar can be be reused for dry storage.
  • reuse containers - A vast number of the glass jars or plastic containers that come into our home are reused for dry storage or other purposes.  If we can find a use for it, the container doesn't make its way to the recycle bin.  We buy as little as possible foods that have been commercially prepared so we get the industrial sized pickle jars and plastic pails with lids from a local donut shop and local restaurants for dry storage.  So we are actually reusing containers that would have been discarded by these sources.
  • home canning -  Home canning can greatly reduce kitchen recycling waste as the mason jars are reused until they break.  I have jars over 30 years old still being used for home canning now.  The rings are reused unless rusted or bent then they go into the recycle bin.  The single use metal snap lids go into the recycle bin which is one reason why I am making the switch over to using the reusable Tattler lids and glass inserts wherever possible.  Foods being home canned do produce scrap waste, much of which can go into the compost bin.  It takes the same amount of energy to run BWB canner and/or pressure canner at part capacity as it does to run at full capacity so run at full capacity whenever possible.
  • cooking from scratch - Cooking from scratch is a great way to reduce packaging waste (eg. convenience food packaging, take out food containers) plus the waste can be turned into wonderful, rich compost to enrich your garden, container plants and houseplants.
  • nix the box - Store bought convenience mixes (eg. 'Helper", mac & cheese, cake etc) are not only expensive and filled with horrendous additives, they also create a lot of waste.  If you really want these types of mixes in your pantry, take a half hour on the weekend to make up a few mixes.
  • give up grocery bags - Carting home groceries is part of any kitchen but rather than use plastic or paper grocery bags from the grocery store that now in Ontario have a 5¢ surcharge, use reusable cotton grocery bags or plastic totes.  Both can be purchased very inexpensively and will pay for themselves over the years of service.  Even the dollar stores carry reusable grocery bags and plastic totes.  This will also help curb a bit of kitchen clutter.   
  • energy usage - Kitchens by default now include many electrical appliances, ranges (natural gas, propane or electric) and lighting.  By far, a fair amount of energy can be wasted each day.  There are manual versions of many small kitchen appliances and all major kitchen appliances should be EnergyStart rated if electrical.  There are many creative ways for getting more light in your kitchen without using electricity including solar and reusable battery powered task light.  Use CFL bulbs in all overhead fixtures unless they are fluorescent tube fixtures.  Multi-task to save energy.  Cooking extra baked potatoes or an extra casserole or an entire meal plus extras in the oven takes the same energy as cooking one baked potato in the oven so take advantage of that.  If your slow cooker is over 10 years old it might be time to invest in a new one that is more energy efficient and keep the old one for times you may need more than one slow cooker.  A pressure cooker can save you time and energy  For more energy saving tips in the kitchen, consult your local energy provider.

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