7 Ways to Minimize Kitchen Waste

Making Room for Peace

One of our core values here at Making Room for Peace is sustainability.  For us, sustainability means being aware of how our actions impact the planet, adjusting them as we are able, and raising awareness.  We're not calling for perfection but encouraging everyone to do the best that they can do to love and protect our planet.  A few weeks back we had a look at what it means to be zero waste and how as a consumer we can modify our day-to-day habits in order to minimize our production of garbage.  Though I don't believe our family will ever become 100% zero waste it is a movement that I admire and feel that we can all take something from.  The idea can feel overwhelming but really it comes down to a lot of prep work and fore-thought.  Our kitchen for example is one of the biggest areas in our home in which we produce waste, most of it coming from packaging.  Over the past year by doing a little problem solving and prep-work we've been able to minimize some of our kitchen waste by implementing a few practices.


Take a Look At Your Trash


One of the first steps that you can take towards minimizing your waste in the kitchen is to take a look at what is in your trash can.  What our family found when examining ours was that our main source of trash was food scraps and plastic wrappers.  The later we figured could be composted while the wrappers posed more of a dilemma.  They forced us to look at what we were consuming on a regular basis and to see if we could either: go without, make it ourselves, or find a less wasteful option. 


Locate Where You Can Purchase Food in Bulk


One of the biggest game changers for our family in minimizing the use of plastic wrappers was locating where we could purchase some of our food in bulk.  While there are all types of stores across the nation, the one that is closest to me is Whole Foods.  There I am able to purchase dry goods such as pasta, flour, grains, nuts, snack foods, etc. from bulk containers; and wet foods such as honey.  They also have a wonderful meal station, bakery and deli which I occasionally take advantage of.


Bring Your Own Container (B.Y.O.C.)


When shopping in bulk I take cloth bags, my plastic Trader Joe's shopping bags, and some glass containers.  Whole Foods also provides brown paper bags for putting your bulk items into which I do use and then re-use until worn out.  I put all of my dry goods into my paper and cloth bags; and my wet goods into my glass containers.  I haven't been brave enough to do it yet however you can also use your clear glass jars to shop the Deli, putting your cheese and meats into them.  You'll just want to make sure that when you bring your own containers that you go to the Customer Service station for your containers to be weighed.  Your cashier will then discount the tare when it is time to check out.  Another bonus to bringing your own container is that you will receive a small discount at checkout.  This goes for all stores from Target to Starbucks, where (if I remember - I'm still working on it!) I'll have them put my drink in a thermos.


Say No To Plastic Produce Bags


One of the easiest changes that you can make towards going zero waste is to say no to any sort of plastic bag, such as found in the produce section at Trader Joes, in bulk sections of some stores, and in the checkout line at most stores.  The key is to plan ahead of time and bring an alternative.  If I know that I'm only going to be purchasing a couple of items I'll sometimes just carry them as is back to the car.


Invest In Re-Usable Containers


Investing in re-usable containers, such as those made of glass and metal, is one step in the right direction of creating a zero waste kitchen.  Our family currently has a mix of Pyrex and various-sized mason jars which we use to store and transport food in.  One thing about the Pyrex though that we didn't anticipate when registering for it a few years ago is that with excessive use, the lids can develop tears in them and can melt in the dishwasher after getting stuck in the wrong place.  We've had to recycle some and are planning on eventually just using mason jars and stainless steel containers.  We also have a small collection of stainless steel straws and beeswax wrappers.


Make Your From Food from Scratch


I have to admit that this took a little time to adopt as a habit...While my husband and I had been cooking throughout our marriage a lot of what the food came in was plastic packaging.  Though I do cook it is not my favorite thing to do, especially when I'm busy.  Joining up with my husband though as a team was really helpful in making this transition.  While I do our meal planning at the beginning of the week, he is in charge of making bread, pizza, and helping out with the cooking.  A side benefit that I've found towards making our own food is that we see what goes into the food that we are making.  Recently I was craving some chocolate chip cookies and so decided to make some of my own.  As I was making them though I almost immediately regretted it as I saw that what I was going to be eating was basically butter and sugar! 


Shop the Farmers Market


Shopping the farmers market is a great way to support your local economy while also minimizing your use of plastic.  None of the produce is wrapped in plastic or has stickers stuck to their surface!  Below is a short video on how you can make your produce last longer: