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Low waste kitchens

I'm always looking for ingenious way's to avoid disposable goods in the kitchen. I reuse bulk bags and have many uses for canning jars. However, some times I still find myself going for freezer bags and foil. I would love to hear how my fellow Chowhounds reduce their amount of waste in the kitchen.
Thanks in advance for great new ideas!

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  1. I found cheap tupperware at the 99 cent store and bought about a dozen in three different sizes for my house. I think it's important to have a lot of one kind so that you don't have to search for lids that match, or throw something away if you lose the lid - like buying lots of pairs of identical socks. Also, it's easier to store empty ones and stack full ones if they're all the same. I have always used the same system at restaurants I've worked at, just on a bigger scale. I haven't used a ziploc bag in ages.

    1. I have to use freezer bags a lot because it helps with saving space, and I find that the more durable ones from name brands are better if I want to rinse and reuse.

      1. If aluminum foil was doesn't have a lot of baked-on food and is not torn, I wipe it clean and reuse. It helps if your foil is heavy-duty to begin with. I cover dishes with glass plates to microwave. I also wash and reuse ziplock bags.

        1. i'm sorry if this is a "duh" and not along the lines of what you are asking for-- but i think one of the most important things you can do to get rid of kitchen and other household waste is figure out a good composting system. you can also compost newspaper, coffee grounds and filters, paper towel type things, paper to-go boxes, and if it's pest-proof, meat scrap & bones (after exhausted thru making stock, of course).

          rather than tupperware or ziploks or other storage, i like to use plain ol' glass ball jars. you can find them by the case, on sale a few times a year and stock up. fresh foods like berries and salad greens last longer in glass, there is no issue with plastic leaching, you can put in the microwave ( i hear-- i don't have a microwave), your lunch is screwed tight & securely sealed inside your laptop bag while you bike to work, the lids are 1 size-interchangeable, you can send leftovers home with a friend w/o bumming about getting your precious container back, when you need an extra, you can grab another from the case, you can recycle when you are done with it, they never warp, they are retro-fashionable, they can be multi-use (dry storage, canning, flower vase), they are a uniform size and can line up like soldiers in the dishwasher w/o flying around the interior when you turn it on, they are see-thru and you can check the contents of your fridge with a quick glance. . . ball jars are freaking fantastic.

          2 Replies
          1. re: soupkitten

            I agree with you 100% and it's great to store things in something you can nuke it in if you want to heat or thaw it, which is a nasty thing to do in plastic, but..... 1. How much storage space do your empty jars take up because they can't be packed 100 in a tiny box you can hold in your hand like zip oocks, and 2. What do you do with all of your empty peanut butter jars, jelly jars, mayonnaise jars, gallon dill pickle jars and stuff like that? When I was a little kid, my mother (who was a world class empty jar hoarder -- a jar had to break to get thrown out!) kept most of the clean empty food jars in the basement and would bring a few up when she needed them or put more down there when she had emptied them. In today's home, storage space is the thing that chokes us on full-practice recycling. Or it is in my house...

            I want a cellar! '-)

            1. re: Caroline1

              lol Caroline!

              good points! the jars don't seem to take up too much space. i leave them in the case and stack pantry items on top, or they can go underneath the ss prep table we have in the kitchen. i keep a few smaller glass jars on hand for storage but i recycle most of them right away, esp if the size is not useful-- these days so much stuff seems to come in plastic rather than glass, and i don't buy prepared spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, or most other condiments etc. reusing prepared-food jars is very thrifty, but i agree it can get out of hand with trying to keep everything organized and the lids straight. i do get fresh-ground peanut butter-- so i'm already using my own jar for that. i do confess to keeping one or two orphaned & odd-size jars around for the express purpose of sending food home w others or taking food to the neighbors. gotta watch that hoarding impulse, though-- way too easy ;-P

          2. I reuse Parchment Paper several times, until it's very crusty or burnt-on.