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Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Easy ways to reduce waste and cost in the kitchen

When I hear the word "disposable," I usually cringe. That's because the items in our home that we consider "disposable" often aren't.
Think about the things we use one time and simply toss in the trash. You know, plastic wrap and straws and coffee filters. Do Your Part and replace those trashy items with ones that you can reuse. Not only will you waste less, you'll save money.
One of my favorite finds is reusable silicone covers that I can use in place of plastic wrap when reheating and storing foods. They come in a variety of sizes and they seal tightly on glass, ceramic, metal, and even plastic containers.
Since silicone is BPA-free, these are a safe choice for microwaving foods.
Then there are those plastic baggies we use in school lunches and the like. There are many reusable options, including colorful and washable baggies or sandwich wraps in every size and a wide variety of stainless steel food storage options.
There are lots of trashy items we use as we cook.
Aluminum foil is one. Instead of tearing off a strip and using it just once, opt for a thermal cover. These are excellent options to keep your foods warm and they are washable.
Lots of people use aluminum foil to get foods crisp. A reusable option does the trick, too. It's called a mesh crisper. This mesh sheet sits right on the rack in your oven and works quickly. Then, you can throw it in the dishwasher instead of the trash.
Bakers also swear by parchment paper. It's another difficult, if not impossible, item to recycle. There are now reusable baking sheet liners that are stick-free and dishwasher-safe.
There's plenty of paper waste to contend with in the kitchen. Paper towels and paper napkins cannot be recycled after they are used. They also end up costing you quite a bit over the course of a year.
I have a drawer of kitchen towels and rags that replace my paper towels.
Coffee filters are another small paper item but can add up to a whole lot of waste over the years. Investing in a reusable coffee filter for your coffee maker will save you money in just a matter of weeks. It also means fewer of those used coffee filters ending up in our landfills.
And there are ingenious options for the smallest of paper problems. I like the new silicone cupcake liners that come in all kinds of colors and make it super simple to bake.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of "Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living" available at DoYourPart.com.
Story tags » ConservationNatural resourcesWaste

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