Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Green Kitchen Tips

Being green isn't a fad, it's a lifestyle.  It's a set of behaviors one practices everyday - it's an approach to living. And being green looks different for everyone.  If you're considering adopting a more green outlook on your home and life, it's important to remember that the journey is different for everyone, it doesn't have to be all or nothing, and change doesn't happen overnight.  I recommend taking it slow, working within your means and comfort level. For example, visiting in an attempt to extend the life of your refrigerator would be a great place to start.  The refrigerator is a crucial part of any kitchen and it's important to take care of it!  Moreover, broken appliances are extremely wasteful and are often discarded into landfills. 

If you're interested in more green kitchen tips, check out this post: 
How to Decrease Your Kitchen Waste: 101

Today I offer you additional ideas that can be easily adopted into your green living repertoire.  

Keeping a Plastic-Free Crisper

This was one of the most recent things I changed in my green living quest.  I started using Carebags years ago and this solved my problem of using those plastic produce bags.  But it took a lot of willpower to refrain from purchasing pre-packaged produce (you know, the occasional bag of romaine, carrots or shredded broccoli).  The Natural Foods Coop in Sacramento does not carry any bagged produce, which I absolutely love and appreciate.  The Coop in my town does.  See here for a comprehensive list of plastic free food storage ideas. 

So the first step is arming yourself with lots of 
non-plastic bags for produce, such as my all time favorite, Carebags. 

I use this HUGE gorgeous basket to hold all 
my produce when I shop.  

When I get home from the store, I immediately wash and dry my lettuce and spinach and then store in glass containers.  
My greens stay fresh for up to 2 weeks 
(although we usually eat them up pretty fast). 

I then wash and transfer all my produce into the crispers.  I store strawberries and mushrooms in glass containers. 
I also just throw my beans and peas in the crisper (not shown).  

Getting The Most Out of Your Produce

I have the best neighbors!  They let me sneak into their backyards and harvest lemons anytime.  I come back to my kitchen armed with a ton of lemons (20-30) and just hate to see them go to waste.  My solution for this is juicing them.  I store them in my old baby food containers.  I pop several out at a time and defrost as needed. I also fill old jelly jars, freeze, and defrost these as needed.  

And don't throw out those broccoli stalks! Push them through your food processor (on the grater setting) and use them in salads, stir fry, soup, etc.  

Alternatives to Frozen Fruit Bags

We are smoothie lovers, but okay, who's not a smoothie lover?
 In the beginning I relied heavily on bagged frozen fruit. Sometimes it makes sense, especially if the fruit is out of season (another example of working within your means).  But here are a few methods I use to decrease my frozen fruit package waste:

1.  Depending on the season, freeze fresh fruit.  Apples, strawberries, mango, bananas, etc.  Just slice and freeze on a cutting board or tray of some sort, then transfer to glass containers and store in the freezer.  

2.  Puree or juice fresh fruit and veggies and store in old baby food containers or ice cube trays.    

3.  My favorite method is using seasonal fresh fruit and then adding cubes of frozen nut milk.  When I make nut milk, I make an extra batch for freezing and store in my old baby food containers.  This gives you the milk and ice in one!  Just add your fresh fruit, nut milk cubes, some water and bam - smoothie!  And without plastic bag waste.   

Utilizing Glass Jars  

I use old glass jars for all sorts of stuff, from beans and spices, to seeds and oils.  In doing this I decrease my use of paper bags for spices and other finely ground foods that won't fit into my Carebags.  Now, I shop in bulk, which makes this possible. I take the entire glass jar with me and fill directly from the bulk flours.  But again, not everyone has this option.   

Forget the Bagged Frozen Chicken

Instead of purchasing bagged frozen chicken, I take my snap glass storage (that I find at Costco super cheap) with me to the store and fill with meats; from ground to deli.  I usually purchase 8 -10 chicken breasts at time.  I bake them all at once, cool, place in glass storage, and pop them in the freezer.  I simply transfer into the fridge the day or night before to defrost. 

Reuse What You Can

Planting season is in full swing.  Egg cartons and old toilet paper rolls make great in-door seed starters.  

So there you have it friends.  A few more ways you and your family can "greenify" your home and kitchen.  

10 easy ways to decrease your food waste 
How to find a recycling center in your town 
The Pacific Garbage Patch 

Shared on: Whole Foods Wednesdays 


  1. Wow - you have some fabulous ideas here! I have a huge bag of lemons in the fridge - I never even thought of freezing the juice! Think I will check out those glass containers too. Thanks for all the great ideas! :)

    • Hello Ina,

      I'm so glad you found this tip for you lemons! They are very expensive in the store. My neighbor dropped off a huge bag yesterday. Looks like we will both be juicing lemons today!! :-)

  2. Excellent article with very useful ideas. I am bookmarking this page for future reference. I use glass jars all the time for my dry products, but never thought to use them for my produce. I also use the reusable, mesh produce bags instead of plastic. My husband and I make a lot of smoothies. I like the processed, frozen fruit idea; it will come in handy for future smoothies.

    • Hi Laura,

      Thank you! I'm just thrilled that my ideas are inspiring others to "greenify" their lives. Glad to hear you use those non-plastic produce bags! We also love the smoothie ideas. So simple, yet very effective.

      Be Well,

  3. The Cyclist's WifeApril 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Amber, I'm loving the lemon juice, grated broccoli and frozen fruit ideas! I recently used a bunch of my left over veggies to make veggie broth and I froze it. You inspire me to become more and more green. Good job lady!

    • Wonderful to hear Laura. Thank you!!! It warms my heart to know others are interested in reducing their waste. Really and truly!!


  4. Rachel @ The Health RevivalApril 24, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    What is wrong with me that I don't freeze my own fresh, organic fruit? It would cost less and probably taste better! I'm a smoothie lover too, and I'm going to start doing that...great ideas! Love the frozen milk idea (we use unsweetened almond milk in our smoothies, so that's a great tip). I also don't use plastic produce the market or when I get home, but I DO forget my eco shopping bags a lot! Maybe I could store them in the car...

    Anyway, thanks for the great post!

    • Thanks for much Rachel. Glad I could offer you some inspiration today. Step by step, little by little, we can all make a difference in our homes and lives. Thanks for the feedback. Have a great day!

  5. I have more then three gallons stored in the freezer from this years harvest and I gave away at least 80 lbs of lemons away!

  6. These are great tips! I especially loved the one about using broccoli stalks, I'm definitely going to try that. Check out my green kitchen tips here:

    • I LOVED your green kitchen tips - fantastic. I couldn't find a place to leave a comment. Thanks for the link.


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