Category Archives: in the kitchen

don’t scrap your scraps — compost ‘em! here’s how.

When I first started googling how to compost, for whatever reason I got super confused.

Some people said you should compost this, or do that, or put it here, or blah blah blah.

Don’t get overwhelmed with composting –– it’s super easy and simple!

I’ve gotten my info from personal experience, research andddd a lot of help from a dear friend of mine who is a farmer/gardener. (s/o to Dave!)

Here are a few steps in order to successfully compost from your kitchen! (even if you live in an apartment!):

GET A BUCKET AND A LID

There are loads of composting containers online and in stores that’ll use trendy marketing ploys to try and convince you to purchase their containers.

Don’t fall for it, fam! (I did, so if you did, you aren’t alone lol).

In the photo attached to this post, I have my trendy stainless steel composting bin I purchased from Target.

It was $20 and I thought it would look super cute on my counter. It had a charcoal filter on the lid that was supposed to prevent odor. There are holes in the lid that are covered by a charcoal filter.

And at first I loved it! It was pretty, easy to throw lettuce into and I really felt like I found the best bin around.

Buuttt then one day I noticed there were lots of flies near my bin. I didn’t think much about it.

I went away for a couple days and came back to find MAGGOTS IN MY COMPOST AND THE CHARCOAL LID.

Flies got through the holes / charcoal filter in the lid!

Bugs don’t typically bother me. But having maggots chill on my kitchen counter wasn’t really up my alley.

So we switched things up. We tried out a bucket instead.

We bought a 5 gallon bucket and lid (you can get these from The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or some other store where you can buy paint). Or honestly, ya might even have a bucket and lid in your garage!

Mike and I kept ours under our sink and every time it got filled with food waste, we’d drop it off at our friend’s house because he has a compost bin (another s/o to Dave!).

It’s a great route to go! But we noticed we still occasionally got gnats around our bin and the smell was a little rough sometimes.

Our new method? Remember that cute stainless steel bucket I talked about?

Now, we’re opting to toss our food scraps in there, but keep the bucket in our freezer!

You don’t need a cute bucket. In fact, you can just use a big bowl! Keep your container in the freezer and toss your banana peels and apple cores and egg shells in there!

You get zero smell — because it’s frozen!

WHAT GOES IN MY BIN?

Basically anything that would grow naturally…

Like fruits and veggies, egg shells and paper products.

Here’s a list of items you CAN compost:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and (most) filters
  • (Some) tea bags (not all… many tea bags actually contain plastic. Best to opt for loose-leaf tea!)
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and wool rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

Here are things you shouldn’t compost:

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Dairy products (like butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt…) and eggs
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Meat or fish bones/scraps
  • Pet wastes, such as feces and litter
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides

For an even larger list, check out this post here. Also this post just gives some super helpful info in general!

WHAT IF MY BIN GETS MOLDY?

It’s most likely going to grow a little bit mold. And that’s fine!

Don’t be alarmed when you see some green fuzzy stuff growing in your compost bin. That’s totally normal.

A way to help avoid that, though, is to add more paper products — like newspapers — into your bin. If you put a bunch of crinkled up newspapers as the bottom layer in your compost bin, the compost won’t become as wet, which won’t produce as much mold.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY COMPOST BIN IS FULL?

So, technically your bin isn’t compost. It’s basically like a holding cell until you can transfer your food scraps to become real soil.

Ask around to see if anyone you know has a compost pile. If not, contact a few farms — I’d almost guarantee they have a compost pile. Go to a farmer’s market and see if they’ll let you drop off your compost with them.

If none of that works, consider creating your own compost area somewhere outside. You can purchase a large container to hold your compost, or you can essentially dig a hole in the ground to keep your compost in. It’s called the trench method and it’s simple and easy to do. But for people who live in apartments — like Mike and me! — that’s probably not the best option. There’s a great article about composting / different options here. Also, Happy DIY Home recently wrote an article about composting. It’s super helpful, check it out here.

I don’t have a lot of experience with having a real compost pile myself… but I’d be happy to do further research if you’re interested in trying it yourself!

Another way to compost on your own is to buy red wigglers — you can typically find those wormies at a local bait shop. I haven’t tried using worms, but I’ve heard great things! Wormies are amazing at creating compost!

HAPPY COMPOSTING! 🙂

Resources

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

is misfits market the right “fit” for you?

Mike and I have been hearing about Misfits Market on social media for months. A few friends have told me about it and I’ve seen some awesome reviews. So we went for it!

Before I start this review, I want to clarify a few things. I think Misfits Market is great! The produce is delicious and unique, but for Mike and my current situation, it’s just not the right fit for us — pun intended. 😉

If you’re interested in subscribing to Misfits Market, I think it’s a great company to support! But if you’re like Mike and me, maybe it’s not exactly what you’re looking for.

If you’re not familiar with Misfits Market, here’s a little summary of what it’s all about: Essentially you subscribe weekly to receive a box full of organic produce that farmers would normally have to toss out because it’s not the prettiest of tomatoes and carrots, but that’s still perfectly edible and tastes just a good as the prettiest cauliflower you ever did see. 😉 You can subscribe for a larger or small box and you can have it delivered weekly or every two weeks. It’s  just like any other subscription box sort of deal, except you get fruits and veggies.

In this review I will go over the following: quality, quantity, packaging, delivery, price, ethics/sustainability, miscellaneous and overall thoughts.

On with the review!

QUALITY

The idea behind Misfits Market is the “ugly” but still good produce that farmers would typically have to toss out, you get! While some of the produce is clearly a misfit, others look just like something you’d perhaps pick up from your local grocery store. Not all of their produce looks hideous. And it all tastes great!

It’s the same quality of product you’d get from your local farmer’s market, but some of your potatoes may have a few extra bumps, your eggplant may have an ugly patch and your cucumbers may have a bruised spot.

Besides having a few bumps and bruises, the quality of the produce really is good. Mike and I had absolutely no complaints about that. The apples were tasty, the sweet potatoes were delicious and the kale was excellent.

QUANTITY

With Misfits Market, you get a LOT of produce (the photos above are only half of what you get each week….). And it’s more veggies than we could eat in a week. We opted for the small box even though my husband Mike is super active and eats constantly.

That being said, the weekly small box had way too many veggies for us. Granted, we aren’t super creative with our veggie-based meals (anybody got tips? leave a comment!). If you are, maybe you’d find a way to use all the veggies during the week. But we didn’t. We had extra the following week and then ended up with a ton of vegetables when our second box came in. Our produce started going bad and we had to waste quite a bit because there were some items we didn’t eat.

For the two of us, the small box every week was too much. A small box every other week would probably suffice for us. If you have more than two people, then I’d say a small box weekly works well! Or, if you use a lot of vegetables in your meals, it’s definitely a good idea to get the small box for one or two people. It really depends on how many veggies you can eat in a week.

PACKAGING

Here’s the bummer. There’s a lot of plastic involved — but not as much as there could be. The box comes lined in plastic and Styrofoam insulation and the lettuce and some other veggies and fruit come wrapped in a plastic bag.

The plastic bag is technically compostable in an industrial-sized compost. But, sadly in my area, we don’t have one of those, so I can’t compost my bags.

But it’s not all wrapped up! Most of the produce is just chilling in the box, unwrapped. So that’s good! Misfits Market doesn’t use plastic unnecessarily, which I appreciate. They use it for insulation — which is needed — and to keep more delicate produce safe, like kale and other lettuce.

If you live in an area where you have an industrial compost available, I’d say Misfits Market might be just perfect for you. But for Mike and me, we end up wasting a lot more plastic than we would if I just took my reusable produce bags to the grocery store with me.

DELIVERY

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I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but for the delivery, you essentially can opt for weekly or every two weeks. The brand is super easy about adjusting when your package comes. You can log on to their website and opt to skip a week if you have too much produce.

The package comes in a big brown cardboard box and it lands right on your porch. You get notifications throughout the delivery process and once it’s been delivered to your house.

PRICE

screenshot-2019-3-5 the misfits boxes

The above picture is a screenshot taken from the brand’s website. For a smaller box it’s $19 and for a larger box it’s $34. The smaller box says it feeds 1-2 people for a week, but like I mentioned before, unless you eat a largely plant-based diet, or if you don’t like everything that’s in the box, you may have some extra at the end of the week. I’d try it out first and see how it works for you! Everyone eats differently, so it’s hard to say exactly how much is too much or too little for each person.

For the quality of produce and the amount you get, the price is great! Especially because everything is also organic.

ETHICS/SUSTAINABILITY

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I love what this brand stands for. I love the idea of using produce that would otherwise be tossed out. It’s definitely a sustainable mindset and I can tell this brand prioritizes sustainable living. That’s HUGE.

The fact that their produce bags are technically compostable is also an encouragement to see in a company! Not many brands do that. And how the majority of their produce is package free… that’s excellent.

MISCELLANEOUS

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The only other slight downer with this company is that you can’t choose what it’s in your box. Every week it’s a surprise! In some ways Mike and I actually liked that, because every week was different. But other times, like if we got several cucumbers — I hate cucumbers — it was kind of wasteful because I really don’t like them.

But for some people, especially those who are super creative and daring in the kitchen — that’s not me, though I’m learning! — this miscellaneous box might be just what you’re looking for!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

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Overall, Misfits Market is an excellent company that I can definitely stand behind. Here is a recap of everything I said above:

GREAT QUALITY
BIG QUANTITY
INDUSTRIAL COMPOST PLASTIC BAGS
NON-RECYCLABLE PLASTIC INSULATION
DELIVERED WEEKLY OR WHEN YOU NEED IT
EASY ONLINE ACCESSIBILITY
SUSTAINABLE COMPANY/REDUCING FOOD WASTE
PRICE IS EXCELLENT
ORGANIC
ALWAYS DIFFERENT PRODUCE
YOU CAN’T PICK YOUR PRODUCE

For Mike and me, we’d rather pick our own produce using our reusable bags. But for some people, this company is going to be the perfect fit. My suggestion? Try it out! If you have industrial compost bins in your area, it may definitely be worth it. But for Mike and me, because of the amount of non-recyclable plastic produced from the subscription, as well as not being able to pick exactly what we want, we’ve decided to stop our subscription.

But who knows, maybe we’ll go back to it! 🙂 I’m always about supporting companies that are making efforts to eliminate unnecessary waste — especially imperfect companies that some might consider a misfit 😉

zero waste party planning must-haves

Mike and I hosted a New Year’s Eve party this year and I really wanted to make sustainability a priority.

It wasn’t a huge party, but we had around 15 people. Before I went straight to the store to buy disposable items, I wrote a list to see what I needed, and if/how I could buy them secondhand.

Here are a few must-haves I thought I’d need for my sustainable party:

LINEN NAPKINS
LINEN TABLECLOTH
CUPS
PLATES
BOWLS
FLATWARE
SALSA/DIP BOWLS
SNACK CONTAINERS/TRAYS
DRINKS
FOOD/SNACKS

Once I looked at what I already had in my cupboard and rummaged through my mom’s pantry, I made a list of what I still needed and headed straight to my closest thrift shop.

CHECK OUT YOUR LOCAL SECONDHAND STOREdcb_2570

Secondhand stores can have some killer items for dirt cheap. Check out these beautiful linen napkins I found at Goodwill and another secondhand store near me! I also got the tablecloth there, too.

Finding linens at some thrift stores might be a little bit more difficult than it would be to find something simple like a gray sweater. Often the linen section isn’t well labeled, so you might have to ask an employee if/where they sell linens.

Most of these napkins were between $0.25-$1.00 per napkin.

What’s great about using linen napkins is once they get used, you simply throw them in the wash and can use them for years.

Same goes for plates, cups and flatware. I don’t have a dishwasher, which would’ve made clean-up much easier. But even so, it wasn’t too bad! A few extra minutes of labor on my end was worth it so I could use less plastic.

FOOD AND DRINK OPTIONS

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Since I’m on a pretty serious budget, when throwing a party, I ask guests to bring something along with them. I’ll usually ask them to bring a side dish or drink of some sort.

Luckily, if you’re going to have alcohol at your party, beer comes in cans and bottles, and wine and liquor usually come in glass. So that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

If you are looking for non-alcoholic drinks, consider making a large juice/punch recipe that is already pre-made when guests arrive. Also, opt for cans of pop or sparkling water rather than liters.

For food, stick with simple things. You can make a large amount of buffalo chicken dip or a vegan alternative. You can make pico de gallo for cheap or make/order pizza — who doesn’t love pizza? (AND pizza comes in a cardboard box!)

If you want to provide all the food and beverages, maybe ask everyone to bring $5-10 to contribute to the party! That way, you can ensure everything you have is plastic-free or recyclable and you won’t break your budget.

MAKE RECYCLING + COMPOSTING EASY

I made a composting and recycling sign at my party to help my friends remember what to do. Some people aren’t apt to recycle when they’re done using an aluminum can and some folks don’t think to compost their scraps if they haven’t finished their food.

It’s helpful to provide easy visuals to remind your friends and family to recycle and compost! Make it even easier by drawing a picture and writing exactly what you can/can’t recycle or compost. And draw arrows/describe where your recycling and compost bins are. I used left over brown paper bags I had from my wedding last spring and used tacks to hold them in place on the wall instead of plastic tape.

It might sound excessive, but small reminders really can make a difference!

WHAT IF I’M HAVING A HUGE PARTY THOUGH?

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Instead of opting for plastic plates and flatware, consider getting a compostable option — check out Amazon. Or sometimes Target and Walmart have some pretty decent eco-friendly options, too. Search around!

Or, if you’re having a fancier party like a wedding or bridal shower, consider renting plates and flatware from a local party rental shop. Sometimes it’s cheaper than buying your own, other times it’s more expensive.

Price out your options!

If you’re planning a wedding I have more specific ideas on the “our wedding” page — you can check that out here.

How do you plan a party zero waste style? I’d love to hear your tips!