The kitchen is a great place to get started going green. Buying food, preparing it, cooking, eating, cleaning up…..there’s alot going on in that one room! Contaminants, preservatives, and chemicals can make their way into your kids’ systems through a number of avenues. And if you think about it a large percentage of our monthly budget goes into all those tasks.  So going green in the kitchen can be a great place to start so you can see immediate results.


Before we get started though there is one piece of advice I would offer: Identify your primary goal for going green before you get started. Some typical goals for going green might be:



Save Money
Protect your health and the health of your family
Improve your carbon footprint and help the environment

All three of these are important in my book and the good news is that you will be doing all three to some extent by implementing these things in your life. But deciding how important each of these goals are now might help you prioritize the tasks I outlined below. For example, eliminating plastics from your kitchen might not save you a ton of money overall but will likely reduce the stream of chemicals moving through your body and improve your carbon footprint.  If saving money is top priority you will want to focus on developing your shopping strategy and identifying ways to get disposable products out of the kitchen.


One final note – it can take some time to save money in the kitchen.  For me it has been more about spending my money differently.  I know I have certain goals for my food budget – eating organic as much as possible, buying grass fed, humanely raised meat for my family, and purchasing free range eggs. And I have come up with the most economical resources to have these things, as I will outline below. These things sometimes cost a bit more or they require cash upfront. But then I buy less of other things so it’s ok to spend a little more on certain items. Also I am saving huge amounts of money over time for very high quality food but I don’t see it in my pocketbook right away. Right now I am probably spending around the same amount of money on groceries as before but we are eating more than 75% organic and free range foods. That my friends is a really big deal!


Here is the meandering path that we have taken in our kitchen with a few extra tips or suggestions sprinkled in along the way.


Task #1  Avoid or limit Canned Goods


The huge majority (almost all) of metal cans in the United States are sprayed inside with a thin clear coating of plastic to increase the shelf life of the product. Unfortunately, it is the plastic that contains Biphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, which leaches into the food to varying degrees.  A study by the Environmental Working Group found the chemical in up to 90% of the cans they tested in 2011 (read more here). Concentrations varied significantly from can to can making it difficult to avoid.  I stopped buying most manufactured canned foods around 18 months ago. My sources for these foods now include:



frozen veggies and fruits from the store
veggies, fruits, and beans that are sold in glass jars
my garden
the Farmer’s Market
a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Vegetable Share

Obviously I switch around my methods throughout the year.  I am growing my own organic veggies at home now but I am limited for space and sunlight so I pretty much just grow enough to supplement our meals through the summer.  I learned how to can at home this year so that I can buy bulk organic produce from the farmer’s market for cheap and then can it or freeze it for the winter and spring. It is easier than you think!  We get my stepkids involved in the prep work – I am not ashamed to admit that I bribe them with ice cream!  We are making memories snapping green beans together or chopping fruit and then we have yummy food for later. Some of their friends have never seen anything like it so they like to come help. We just play the music a little loud, set up stations for everyone in the dining room, and let them go to it. It makes for fun times and gets them involved too:)


Task #2 Get Plastic Out of the Kitchen! 


We used to buy those square “disposable” tupperware containers a lot. We had a million slightly different ones and it took awhile to get the right lid for the right container. I am a big fan of taking leftovers to work so I used them all the time. To get them out of the kitchen we started to save the glass jars that we get some of our beans and fruit in and use them for leftovers. My favorite glass jars are from canned peaches we were buying at Aldi’s. We bought them a lot for a while before I learned how to can peaches this fall so I accumulated a lot of jars. They have measurement markings for 1 cup and 2 cups. We found it difficult to get the taste of the original food out of some of the lids so we just ended up recycling them. I found resusable lids that are BPA free that fit many of the large glass jars out there. You can get 8 of them for less than 5 dollars. Here are some pics of my re-used glass jars with the BPA reusable lids on them. I have seen the lids at Kroger’s and Walmart in the canning section. You can also buy them online – here is a link to them on Amazon. They are made for canning but they fit a lot of glass jars.


Leftover spaghetti in a re-purposed jar with a reusable BPA free lid.


Other ways to get the plastics out is to avoid plastic wrap. We found a flexible silicon reusable cover for dishes – they are call Lilypad reusable lids. Here is a link to them on Amazon. They are so awesome! They are made from silicone so they won’t leach any chemicals into your food. You can use them in the refrigerator, freezer, or oven. They make a tight seal to the point that you can pick up the whole bowl off the counter by the handle! And they are pretty darn cute too! Oh yeah and they are fairly cheap to buy and pretty much indestructible so they will last forever. They have several different sizes so you can use them for anything.


 


Lily Pad silicone cover on a glass mixing bowl


Another shot of the Lily Pad cover


We are also slowly investing in quality glass bakeware and food storage bowls. We are asking for them for Christmas to cut some of the costs.  We are also making it a point to not buy disposable plastic cups, bowls, or plates. These are convenience items that we just don’t need to be using. We buy paper disposables if we have to but I try to just use our regular dishes as much as possible.


Task #3 Get Rid of the Teflon


Teflon pans are some of the worst cookware you can buy for your health, particularly once the teflon is damaged in any way. This one was a no brainer. We started out purchasing a few pieces of ceramic coated pans (OrGreenic to be specific). Recently we invested in a set of very high quality stainless steel pans through Saladmaster. They were a definite expense for our family but we felt that it was the right step for us for many reasons. We did the research and found tons of great reviews on the pans.  Some families talked about how these pans were the only pans they had ever used and that sets were often passed down from generation to generation. Women talked about receiving a set for their wedding and using them their whole lives. Now that sounds great doesn’t it??  Prior to our investment we were using the standard Paula Deen cookware set from JC Penney’s that we received for our wedding in 2010. They were already somewhat scratch on the bottom. Most people I know are using these types of sets and just buying new ones every 2-3 years. But they aren’t cheap – they usually run from $200 to $300 a set! So we are basically using semi-disposable cookware that is known to leak poison into our food. Taking the plunge and buying a quality set of cookware that will last us forever was a great step on the path to green living at our house. If you are interested in finding out more about SaladMaster check out their website or send me an email and I will get you more information.


 


This concludes Part 1 of Green Kitchen: Protect Your Family’s Health, Save some Cash, and Help the Planet. I originally planned on 1 post but I had so much information that I had to break it up!!


In the meantime – start thinking about where you will start in your kitchen. What are your priorities? What are your local resources?


Please share what steps you have taken in your kitchen! Feel free to post questions here and I will get right back to you!


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The kitchen is a great place to get started going green. Buying food, preparing it, cooking, eating, cleaning up…..there’s alot going on in that one room! Contaminants, preservatives, and chemicals can make their way into your kids’ systems through a number of avenues. And if you think about it a large percentage of our monthly budget goes into all those tasks.  So going green in the kitchen can be a great place to start so you can see immediate results.

Before we get started though there is one piece of advice I would offer: Identify your primary goal for going green before you get started. Some typical goals for going green might be:

Save Money Protect your health and the health of your family Improve your carbon footprint and help the environment

All three of these are important in my book and the good news is that you will be doing all three to some extent by implementing these things in your life. But deciding how important each of these goals are now might help you prioritize the tasks I outlined below. For example, eliminating plastics from your kitchen might not save you a ton of money overall but will likely reduce the stream of chemicals moving through your body and improve your carbon footprint.  If saving money is top priority you will want to focus on developing your shopping strategy and identifying ways to get disposable products out of the kitchen.

One final note – it can take some time to save money in the kitchen.  For me it has been more about spending my money differently.  I know I have certain goals for my food budget – eating organic as much as possible, buying grass fed, humanely raised meat for my family, and purchasing free range eggs. And I have come up with the most economical resources to have these things, as I will outline below. These things sometimes cost a bit more or they require cash upfront. But then I buy less of other things so it’s ok to spend a little more on certain items. Also I am saving huge amounts of money over time for very high quality food but I don’t see it in my pocketbook right away. Right now I am probably spending around the same amount of money on groceries as before but we are eating more than 75% organic and free range foods. That my friends is a really big deal!

Here is the meandering path that we have taken in our kitchen with a few extra tips or suggestions sprinkled in along the way.

Task #1  Avoid or limit Canned Goods

The huge majority (almost all) of metal cans in the United States are sprayed inside with a thin clear coating of plastic to increase the shelf life of the product. Unfortunately, it is the plastic that contains Biphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, which leaches into the food to varying degrees.  A study by the Environmental Working Group found the chemical in up to 90% of the cans they tested in 2011 (read more here). Concentrations varied significantly from can to can making it difficult to avoid.  I stopped buying most manufactured canned foods around 18 months ago. My sources for these foods now include:

frozen veggies and fruits from the store veggies, fruits, and beans that are sold in glass jars my garden the Farmer’s Market a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Vegetable Share

Obviously I switch around my methods throughout the year.  I am growing my own organic veggies at home now but I am limited for space and sunlight so I pretty much just grow enough to supplement our meals through the summer.  I learned how to can at home this year so that I can buy bulk organic produce from the farmer’s market for cheap and then can it or freeze it for the winter and spring. It is easier than you think!  We get my stepkids involved in the prep work – I am not ashamed to admit that I bribe them with ice cream!  We are making memories snapping green beans together or chopping fruit and then we have yummy food for later. Some of their friends have never seen anything like it so they like to come help. We just play the music a little loud, set up stations for everyone in the dining room, and let them go to it. It makes for fun times and gets them involved too:)

Task #2 Get Plastic Out of the Kitchen! 

We used to buy those square “disposable” tupperware containers a lot. We had a million slightly different ones and it took awhile to get the right lid for the right container. I am a big fan of taking leftovers to work so I used them all the time. To get them out of the kitchen we started to save the glass jars that we get some of our beans and fruit in and use them for leftovers. My favorite glass jars are from canned peaches we were buying at Aldi’s. We bought them a lot for a while before I learned how to can peaches this fall so I accumulated a lot of jars. They have measurement markings for 1 cup and 2 cups. We found it difficult to get the taste of the original food out of some of the lids so we just ended up recycling them. I found resusable lids that are BPA free that fit many of the large glass jars out there. You can get 8 of them for less than 5 dollars. Here are some pics of my re-used glass jars with the BPA reusable lids on them. I have seen the lids at Kroger’s and Walmart in the canning section. You can also buy them online – here is a link to them on Amazon. They are made for canning but they fit a lot of glass jars.

Leftover spaghetti in a re-purposed jar with a reusable BPA free lid.

Other ways to get the plastics out is to avoid plastic wrap. We found a flexible silicon reusable cover for dishes – they are call Lilypad reusable lids. Here is a link to them on Amazon. They are so awesome! They are made from silicone so they won’t leach any chemicals into your food. You can use them in the refrigerator, freezer, or oven. They make a tight seal to the point that you can pick up the whole bowl off the counter by the handle! And they are pretty darn cute too! Oh yeah and they are fairly cheap to buy and pretty much indestructible so they will last forever. They have several different sizes so you can use them for anything.

 

Lily Pad silicone cover on a glass mixing bowl

Another shot of the Lily Pad cover

We are also slowly investing in quality glass bakeware and food storage bowls. We are asking for them for Christmas to cut some of the costs.  We are also making it a point to not buy disposable plastic cups, bowls, or plates. These are convenience items that we just don’t need to be using. We buy paper disposables if we have to but I try to just use our regular dishes as much as possible.

Task #3 Get Rid of the Teflon

Teflon pans are some of the worst cookware you can buy for your health, particularly once the teflon is damaged in any way. This one was a no brainer. We started out purchasing a few pieces of ceramic coated pans (OrGreenic to be specific). Recently we invested in a set of very high quality stainless steel pans through Saladmaster. They were a definite expense for our family but we felt that it was the right step for us for many reasons. We did the research and found tons of great reviews on the pans.  Some families talked about how these pans were the only pans they had ever used and that sets were often passed down from generation to generation. Women talked about receiving a set for their wedding and using them their whole lives. Now that sounds great doesn’t it??  Prior to our investment we were using the standard Paula Deen cookware set from JC Penney’s that we received for our wedding in 2010. They were already somewhat scratch on the bottom. Most people I know are using these types of sets and just buying new ones every 2-3 years. But they aren’t cheap – they usually run from $200 to $300 a set! So we are basically using semi-disposable cookware that is known to leak poison into our food. Taking the plunge and buying a quality set of cookware that will last us forever was a great step on the path to green living at our house. If you are interested in finding out more about SaladMaster check out their website or send me an email and I will get you more information.

 

This concludes Part 1 of Green Kitchen: Protect Your Family’s Health, Save some Cash, and Help the Planet. I originally planned on 1 post but I had so much information that I had to break it up!!

In the meantime – start thinking about where you will start in your kitchen. What are your priorities? What are your local resources?

Please share what steps you have taken in your kitchen! Feel free to post questions here and I will get right back to you!

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