Kitchen (still) Accomplished: Changes in 2016

Since I started blogging about Near-O Waste over a year ago, I’ve made several changes in my kitchen to save time and simplify (or improve) my routine. Today I’m looking back on my first kitchen post and describing what’s changed and what’s remained the same…

PRODUCE: I got rid of my salad spinner and now rinse my greens in a colander, wrap them in a cloth napkin, and store them (still wrapped) in a snap-lid container in the fridge, just like my grandma used to.

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I transfer bulk strawberries from their green baskets into my own snap-lid container at the store to eliminate plastic and avoid smashing. For durable produce I use cloth bags.

MILK and YOGURT: Although we still buy Strauss milk in half-gallon returnable/recyclable glass bottles, I am no longer making yogurt. It’s a waste of my precious time. I now buy yogurt that comes in a glass jar. I reuse the jars for…

  • food storage
  • freezing muffins, leftovers, and emergency water
  • drinking glasses
  • getting soup at the deli
  • teacher and family gifts (bulk snacks)

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BREAD: I still buy bread at one of our local bakeries but I no longer get it sliced. This makes for a quicker errand (and whole loaves are easier to store in the freezer, still in my bread bag). When we’re running low, I put a frozen loaf in my largest pot (lid on) and leave it on the counter to thaw.

EGGS: I stopped buying loose eggs when I discovered it was more expensive! Now I buy eggs in a carton and return the empties to Staff of Life each week.

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MEAT: Instead of reusing meat labels for sticky notes, I ask the checker to toss ’em (less clutter for me) and I found one shop that will give me meat without a sticker. For deli meat, I leave a container with my butcher when I’m shopping and swing by when they call me to pick up my plastic-free ham.

CHEESE: I gave up on rationing one Costco package of cheese per month because I got tired of running out and explaining to my family that they couldn’t open the other package in the bottom drawer because it was next month’s cheese. And I stopped making special trips to Whole Foods for unpackaged cheese (which required me to leave a container at the cheese counter in advance and wait for their pick-up call). I now buy packaged cheese on a regular basis. It creates some waste, but has simplified meal planning significantly, which is a huge relief.

BAGELS and CREAM CHEESE: My boys still get bagels and cream cheese for an after-school snack on Fridays, but I rarely buy them to take home anymore because I’m trying to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates (and sugar) in our diet. But I’ll pick up some cream cheese (in my own jar) if I’m making ranch dip.

BISCUITS and BUTTER: I no longer make biscuits (why would I when I can buy rolls at the bakery?) but I’m still “churning” out the homemade butter.

TORTILLAS: I still make my own on occasion (two batches at a time) and freeze half of them for future meals.

CHIPS, SALSA and GUACAMOLE:  Tortilla chips are now available in bulk at my grocery store! I’ve always made my own guacamole using 2 avocados, 1 lime, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp. of kosher salt, and sometimes a few shakes of chili powder. I used to make my own salsa, but started buying it in a glass jar to save time. Then I wanted to recycle less (and therefore didn’t want the jar) so now I make a quicker variety with an immersion blender or just add chopped tomatoes to my guac.

BEER: We still fill growlers at our local brewery (and I’ve only had two bottled beers and one canned beer in five months!).

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POTATO CHIPS: A jumbo bag of BBQ Kettle chips usually makes the cut for our “packaged item compromise“, which has reduced the number of smaller bags we buy for sandwich night.

CONDIMENTS, SPICES and SAUCE: I found soy sauce and pickles in bulk and stopped buying mayonnaise, ketchup, and BBQ sauce (I don’t make my own, we just do without at home). Glass-bottled hot sauce, mustard, and jam are still popular in our house, but I did stop buying pasta sauce and started making my own to avoid the jar. I immersion blend sautéed tomatoes, garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and salt for a quick and tangy concoction. Good Italian!

CEREAL: We buy honey-sweetened granola and unsweetened rice cereal in bulk and have each type once a week.

SWEETENERS: We rarely use sugar, occasionally use honey, and no longer buy maple syrup.

SPECIAL TREATS: I still bring home treats from our local bakeries and creameries every now and then, and we sometimes indulge when we’re out on the town.

BULK ITEMS: I bring my own glass jars for dry bulk items (flour, rice, pinto beans, oats, pasta, coffee, tea, nuts, cocoa powder, dried fruit, tortilla chips, fig bars, energy chunks, granola, cereal, and pretzels) and “wet” bulk items (olive oil, coconut oil, peanut butter, honey, vanilla, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar).

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And as for our dog’s food: we still buy his treats in bulk, but his kibble comes in a huge sack, which we’re using to contain our landfill waste this year (10 pounds in the first 5 months, and counting).

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One thought on “Kitchen (still) Accomplished: Changes in 2016

  1. Jay May 29, 2016 / 5:02 pm

    Inspirational! Thanks for posting your successes and compromises, your current “state of being”. It’s helpful to have progress, ideas, goals laid out in such concrete terms.
    Its all about *approaching* zero isn’t it? Congratulations on your weigh-in.

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