Five Ways to Cook Less Garbage

by Bill on January 2, 2012

Yes I’m writing a post about cooking less garbage. No, I’m not going to show you how to cook. I’m writing about how to use cooking to create less garbage. You would think that cooking generates more garbage, and I have seen where people who cook a lot or have large households have at least one bag of trash going out each day – been there and done that.
Here’s a few tips on how to use cooking to make LESS garbage.

Cooking from Scratch
I’ll wait for everyone to get the collective groan over with; and the arguments about how I don’t know how busy your lives are. True I don’t know. But, take a look at your last few shopping trips; how many are filled with convenience items and “kits” that let you toss two or three items together and call it food? Now, how many of those use non recycled products and items that can’t be recycled. The brownie packets, the cheese packets, the bags of rice mix and the pouches of seasonings are prime examples. Processed food like boxed chicken, frozen burgers and canned Chinese don’t help either. You do also know that those eventually raise the food bill due to the convenience being sold as a “value-added” item (which is another blog post later this year)

So, how to get around all that? Five pound bags of lean hamburger or skinless chicken bought from a local butcher counter. Get your cheese and such the same way. Buy a couple of boxes of gallon freezer bags and some other ingredients for a week of food. Learn a few good recipes and break up the meat and cheese into gallon bags to freeze for later.



Buy Bulk and Store
For those of you who go through lots of peanut butter, mayo, coffee, juice or beans consider buying those huge cans or boxes of the item you find at the front of the store someplace. Same goes for everyone who uses 12 roles of toilet paper per month. Why? I get a huge pack of toilet paper and paper towels, and then I’m fine for the month. You save on gas and the added costs of those littler packages. I’ve got a coffee fix that requires a large can of coffee each month. And yes, I do recycle the can.
Another thing that saves, oddly enough, is the large bags of pet food. No, I didn’t realize this until earlier last year. I’ve got one dog and he can make a 10 pound bag go for awhile. Six cats make a ten pound bag of cat food run for a month when you mix it with canned food.

Use It All
Here’s an example from the famous family I know and once lived with (that spend everything). Wasted food was, and still is, a huge problem with them. No leftovers. If they make too much by accident, they might save it for a day but then likely never use it up. And it all goes in the garbage. Here’s my point, no you don’t need to eat lasagna five days a week but you could at least mix those green beans into soups, salads or other items instead of tossing them out.

Another thing that upset me all the time was when the food stamp day came near. Half used boxes of cereal went out. Unfinished bread went out. Bread crust went out. Bags of chips went out.

Here’s my solution – either use it up, or don’t buy more until you are done.

Composting and Recycling
And all this brings me to my next point. No, you might not want to use it up by eating it – try recycling or composting. There’s a simple table-top version of composting which I will add into this blog this month; no smell or much fuss. You could also dump the scraps into the garden.
As for recycling, you’d be surprised how many people I want to beat over the head who refuse to try recycling even today. Cans, plastic and boxes all going into the garbage flow instead of being reused somewhere.
Does anyone remember how to do crafts with some of these cans or plastic?

Don’t Shop Sales Exclusively
Here’s another issue I have with some people. Now I do understand shopping sales; and I do realize that sales save money. But there is a point where shopping sales exclusively will affect the quality of the food you purchase, and in turn the amount wasted.

Case in point – the lady next door only buys generic dollar cat food. The cats refuse to eat it, but yet she refuses to try stuff they will eat. I end up feeding them in the morning so they at least eat. She wastes money.

If you have things that you and your family normally enjoy and find THOSE items on sale, go ahead and get the savings. But don’t go switching brands all the time just because one brand is cheaper this week. I remember my parents doing that and they’d spend more money on gas traveling between stores than on saving money; and sometimes honestly the stuff sucked.

So, with a few simple changes around your house and working with what you already have, you can have very little impact on your life. This is how you can use cooking to create less garbage.

How can you cook more while making less garbage?

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