Sunday, September 9, 2012

Waste-Free Grocery Shopping - Tips and Suggestions To Inspire a Green Kitchen

My green kitchen didn't happen overnight.  I made little steps toward decreasing my waste, and today I'm proud to say I have a well functioning, green, low-waste kitchen.  Trust me, I'm not perfect, and I would LOVE to be more like one of my eco-friendly blogging heros, Beth @ My Plastic Free Life, but I work within my means, do the best I can and what I feel comfortable with.  

So what does it mean to have a green kitchen?  This definition is different for everyone.  For me it's about creating as little landfill waste as possible.  For example, you won't find any disposable plastic in this kitchen.  I don't use plastic lunch baggies/Ziploc, plastic freezer bags, plastic wrap, plastic bags or plastic food containers.  When I can (and when in season) I freeze fresh fruit instead of buying frozen bagged fruit, and overall, I don't purchase many frozen food items.  Other items you won't find in my kitchen are napkins, paper towels, foil, dish sponges, or those bleach "wipes. But as mentioned, I'm not perfect.  I do purchase dish soup, rubber gloves (due to my husband's eczema), dishwasher soup, bagged chips, I use non-toxic plastic popsicle molds, and non-toxic plastic baby food containers (from my homemade baby food making days).  Other things I do to save money and decrease waste is make my own window cleaner from vinegar, use soap nuts as my laundry detergent, use baking powder as an abrasive cleaning scrub, and I stopped using bleach (that was a hard habit to kick).  

I notice that grocery shopping creates a lot of waste.  From plastic produce bags, to wrapped meats, plastic deli containers, to plastic grocery bags.  Over time I have found a way to create very little, to zero waste when grocery shopping.  It takes some planning, but living this way makes me feel good and balanced.  It's something I can do within my means that helps me on my green kitchen journey. If you've been thinking about decreasing your kitchen waste, perhaps this post will inspire you.  Remember, it's little steps toward that larger goal.

You can read more about the products I use and find links for these products here: How To Decease your Kitchen Waste: 101.  I've included some additional suggestions here: More Green Kitchen Tips 

Here's a glimpse of my grocery shopping paraphernalia:

A nice big basket for all my produce.  I also take this to the Farmer's Market and add in fruit and veggies as I stroll along.  So with my produce, when I get home I dump everything into a big bowl of filtered water and clean with a some hydrogen peroxide (apples, grapes, pears, lemons, squash, green beans, etc).  I use a separate bowl for leafy greens. 
Everything is clean and ready for the week.  
Carebags are my absolute favorite.  With Carebags I don't need to use plastic produce bags.  They are super light and great quality.

For my bulk items I simply take my glass storage.  I weigh the jars, then fill them up.  So simple.  When I get home, I just put them away in the cupboard.  
I take whatever I have on land and fill with bulk foods.  I fill my glass storage with olives from the olive bar, nuts/seeds/spices, ground meat, and loose leaf greens. 
Glass storage with meats:

We have a bunch of to-go bags that hang on the back of the door that leads out to the garage.  This way, we never forget.  I have one big insulated bag I take and load up with cold items when grocery shopping.  And I like to take my big basket for produce (shown above full of produce in carebags).  

Each week before I go shopping I clean out my fridge.  I clean out each crisper, wipe down the fridge shelves and take inventory of what I have and what I need before I go shopping.  I shop for 6 days at a time (meals for Monday through Saturday) - I usually go shopping on Sunday.  I create a menu for 6 days of breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, and from this menu I create my shopping list.  Cleaning out my fridge each week helps me save money too.  By knowing what I have I avoid double purchases.  Plus, I feel it's really important to keep the fridge clean and organized.  
My plastic free crispers 

I hope this post has inspired you to try a few waste-free shopping tips, or at the very least, get you thinking a little bit about ways to decrease waste in your own home.  
Shared on: Melt in your Mouth Mondays, Motivate Me Mondays, Monday Mania, Mealtime Monday My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Whole Foods Wednesdays, Whole Foods Friday


  1. Gabby @ the veggie nookSeptember 10, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Lots of great tips here Amber! I need to get my own produce bags, I always feel so bad using them!

  2. Great advice Amber! I feel so guilty! You really are super efficient! I love those carebags especially, I wonder if they sell them here?

    • Hi Vicky,

      I always feel guilty, so you're not alone. But, we do the best we can...right! Nobody is perfect. And we all work toward finding that balance. I do believe Carebags ship worldwide. I just love them.

    • Oh I totally agree, we have to find a balance! Thank you, I'm going to have a look on their website, they look great! I had a look in this country and there doesn't seem to be anything like them.

      Take care x

  3. I wish I was organised enough to write out menu plans, but I tend to buy, then create a meal based on what's around - life's full of surprises that way:) I always re-use bags, and made some cotton grocery bags for shopping. I've recently decided to cut out plastic storage and am well on the way to using glass jars now, though I'm terrified of dropping them and smashing them!

    You're so right, we can all do what we can and feel comfortable with, and it all helps:)

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks for your message. I love your idea of making cotton grocery bags. So clever. I'm so glad to hear you've cut out plastic storage. That's a great step toward decreasing toxins too.

      You know, I don't think I've ever dropped one of my glass containers. But my kitchen is pretty small, so they are never in my hands for long. :-)

      Keep up that great work! Every little bit helps.

  4. Barb @ A Life in BalanceSeptember 11, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    Great advice! I bought some cloth produce bags, and I never remember to use them. I also have metal lunch boxes for the kids, but my dh never grabs them. As you said, baby steps. If I make it easy for my dh to use stuff, I'll get it done.

  5. You are so organized! I don't do menu planning yet, but have been pondering it when the chaos of selling our home is over. I love those eco bags you use...need to buy some!

    • Hey Laura,

      When life gets crazy, it's okay to feel crazy right along with it. It can feel exhausting to try and keep up and do everything perfect. Go with the chaos right now, just SURVIVE! Everything will settle down soon and you'll get back into your routine. :-) Hugs to you my friend.

  6. glutenfreehappytummy.comSeptember 12, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    what great tips! i'm definitely going to try having a plastic free crisper! thanks for the wonderful ideas!

  7. Mystery Shopping CompanyNovember 26, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    It is glad to hear that you are functioning green kitchen. First and foremost we need a plan to control it. I didn’t try anything but I must avoid wastage and go for an eco-friendly environment. Thanks for inspiring me to do it.


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