Sustainable Home, sustainable kitchen

5 More Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainability is one of my favorite topics, and there are countless ways to make your life just a little bit better each day. Here are 5 more of my ideas. Let me know if you already to these, or if you have any to add!

Grow your own herbs. Not only is it fun to see the herbs grow, but you eliminate the plastic you buy live herbs in- and you don’t need a bunch of space like gardens do. Fresh herbs really help to elevate a dish and seeds aren’t expensive. I am currently growing strawberries, mint, rosemary, thyme, and lavender- and we live in an apartment, so every spare space has a plant. (Sorry, hubby!) I am so excited to start using them this summer!

Prep your veggies and fruit and store them properly. I have this problem where I buy produce and forget about it at the back of the fridge until fridge-cleaning day… I feel guilty for buying something and not using it. It’s not budget friendly, and I hate creating more food waste. Some ways to prep food is to cut carrots and submerge them in water until you are ready to use them, or for a healthy snack. You can portion out meat into separate containers and freeze them so you don’t have to defrost the whole package when you next need meat. There are countless other ways to store your food so it lasts longer.

Eat what you have. This is a super simple thing to do to eliminate food waste. I try to buy what we will actually eat- for example, I know bell peppers are healthy, but neither of us like them. I am less likely to actually cook with them than something we do like- like carrots. So buying carrots would be a better option for us. Also, if you have the time to do so, I highly recommend making freezer meals! They save time on busy days and instead of going out to eat, you can pop the meal into a crock pot or instant pot, and voila! This has really helped us eat healthier meals without having to a) figure out what to eat and b) actually prepare it after a long work day.

Have a meatless meal or day every week. This actually helps the budget and can potentially make room to eventually buy quality sustainable meat from a local farmer. Our goal is to have more meatless meals and buy meat from local farmers that raise their animals well. No ideas for vegetarian meals? There are many delicious ideas out there! Sweet potato taco skillets, quinoa chili, pancakes, and countless other recipes can be found on Pinterest.

Use cast iron! Cast iron pans last forever- my mom has her grandma’s cast iron pan and it still works great! Stuck on non-stick pans? If your cast iron is used often and seasoned well (and used when HOT), you don’t have to worry about cleaning up a huge mess every time you use it. I am including this point because some non-stick pans have been proven to have some not-so-nice chemicals in them and you don’t have to buy more than a couple cast iron pans over your life time (and hopefully your grandchildren’s lifetimes too!)

I hope these five tips help you on your sustainability journey! And remember- you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Just one or two changes at a time have a big impact.

Breakfast

Lactose-Free German Pancakes

Breakfast foods are so versatile- they make Saturday mornings memorable, bring friends together for a late brunch, or make dinner quick and easy. Even though we don’t have kids, we still have plenty of days when I come home exhausted and don’t want to make a true dinner- so we have breakfast for dinner at least once a week.

One of our favorite things to eat for breakfast (or dinner) is German Pancakes. They have six eggs in them, which is three times the amount I put into normal pancakes, so I like to think that we get some protein in under all that syrup.

I prefer to bake the German pancakes in my cast-iron skillet, but it’s perfectly fine to bake it in a 9×13 glass pan too.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of lactose-free milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of lactose-free melted butter, plus 2-4 tablespoons more for melting in the pan
  • 1-2 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of flour
  • One thinly sliced apple (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place the 9-inch cast-iron pan or the 9×13 pan into the oven.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except for the flour into a blender.
  3. Then add the flour.
  4. Blend together until smooth, scrape down the sides of the blender, and blend again for a few more seconds.
  5. Add the 2-4 tablespoons of butter into the preheated pan and let it melt. It should only take a few seconds.
  6. Pour the blended mixture into the pan and bake for 15-18 minutes. The edges of the German pancakes should be golden brown and puffed past the sides of the pan.
  7. Top with maple syrup and sautéed apples (optional).

Side Notes:

  • You can mix everything in a bowl with a whisk, of course, but the texture isn’t as smooth without the blender.
  • I prefer baking German pancakes in a high-sided cast iron skillet because it turns out thicker and has a custard-like consistency, but they are delicious no matter what you bake it in!
  • I like to put apple slices on the bottom of the pan and bake the German pancakes on top, but my husband doesn’t like the texture. So I sautéed the apples until soft in some Ghee, honey, and a little cinnamon to top my German pancakes. Delicious!
  • If you are wondering where I get my lactose-free butter and milk, I have recipes on how to make your own on the blog.
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5 Tips for a More Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainability is a broad topic that can cover every part of our lives. To me, the kitchen is a place that can easily be a source of more waste than any other part of the house. Food waste, disposable containers, and plastic bags slowly add to the environmental problem.

While I don’t have a perfectly sustainable kitchen, I am slowly swapping out products where I can. Like most people, we can only spend so much of our budget on a sustainable lifestyle. The most important thing about sustainability is that we are never perfect- only continuously striving toward a better life, a better home, and a better world.

Here are some of the tips I have amassed after working to have a sustainable kitchen for the past couple of years.

  • Buy products in cans or glass jars when you can. You can then recycle the cans and reuse the glass jars! My husband and I like to buy Classico pizza and pasta sauce because the full size jars fit the regular size Ball lids. We happen to have plenty of lids at our house because I can what we can get from the Farmer’s market. I love to reuse jars for keeping bone broth or sauces or even planting something in them!
  • Use dish towels and dish rags over paper towels. Most spills can easily be soaked up with a dish towel and then wiped down with the dish rag. If you have a spill that you consider grosser than most, have a basket of rags in the kitchen so you don’t ruin your cute dish towels. We were able to find reusable paper towels (pictured) at an Asian store and they have been fun to use in place of disposable ones.
  • Thrift! There are so many great things you can find at the thrift store. I have found a new pizza stone, a big cookie scooper, and plenty of great containers (like in the picture) at our local thrift store. It’s a great feeling buying something for cheap and knowing it is still good quality. (Of course there are not-so-great things at thrift stores, but the search is part of the experience!) Supporting your local thrift store also helps the community- my favorite thrift store is a non-profit that donates everything to organizations that support the family and protect people against abuse. I would recommend a quick google search to find what’s local!
  • Go to your farmer’s market. Not only is it a great experience, but you can support your community and buy delicious, high-quality products. During the summer months, we try to buy all of our produce at the farmer’s market. I also like buying honey, flowers, and products at the farmer’s market. Since we don’t have a garden or space to make one, the farmer’s market is the next best thing for us.
  • Use reusable containers when possible. We love our snapware and jars. They don’t leak and are perfect to stack together. Our reusable bags are great for quick snacks and sandwiches. We also use paper bags and Lunchskins for packing lunches. They are recyclable and easy to use for lunches on the go when a container won’t work.

And there you go! Five of my tips for a more sustainable kitchen. If you have anything to add, please let me know! I hope these tips help you on your journey to a more sustainable life.