Here's how to clean up your act and use all your groceries

By Megan Soll
April 22, 2020
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Since social distancing began, we’ve all been looking for ways to make fewer grocery store trips while maximizing the use of all of our dry goods and produce. Going waste-free at home is a big step that requires more time and care, but the investment will benefit you and your family tenfold. While recycling your water bottles and plastic single-use items is great, what's even better is not needing them in the first place. Plastic bags, plastic wrap, and now hard-to-find paper products are big contributors to excess waste, and there are great eco-friendly replacements available. Tired of the herbs and produce you buy going bad before you have time to use them up? There’s a solution for that. Want to make chicken stock but don’t know how to store it? There’s a solution for that, too.

Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

Taking a few small steps towards a waste-free kitchen makes a big difference over time, to both the environment and your wallet. We’ve gathered plenty of items to get you going in the right direction, from glass storage containers and water pitchers to herb keepers and a compost bin. Read on for some of our favorites.

Produce Bags

Credit: The Container Store, Uncommon Goods

For both grocery shopping and storage, it’s important to have reusable produce bags on hand at home. Bring a set of mesh bags to avoid using plastic for picking up produce at the store. Use veggie-saving bags to keep your leafy greens and carrots fresh for longer in the fridge.

Produce Bags, $14 at containerstore.com

Veggie-Saving Reusable Bags, $20 at uncommongoods.com

Bee’s Wrap

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We’ve touted Bee’s Wrap often, and we love it for storing everything from our sandwiches for lunch to cheese and snacks. This waxy paper will keep things fresh with an antimicrobial and anti-fungal beeswax coating.

Bee’s Wrap Set of 3, $21 at surlatable.com

Silicone Storage Bags

Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

Another essential to have on hand for everything from food storage to sous-viding, Stasher bags are reusable and dishwasher safe.

Stasher Bags, $12 at anthropologie.comor bedbathandbeyond.com, 1 gallon bags at target.com, and full sets food52.com

Skoy Cloth

Credit: The Container Store

This reusable cloth style is all the rage now, and with 15 times the absorption power of regular paper towels they’re a great replacement to keep in the kitchen. They’re dishwasher and washer/dryer safe, and you can even pop them in the microwave for a minute to disinfect. The cloth is compostable and will last 50 wash cycles. Not bad for a $6 investment!

Skoy cloth, $6 at containerstore.com

Food Huggers

Credit: Sur La Table

Only need half an onion or half an avocado? Never fret a wasted tomato or lemon again, these food huggers will protect your produce from deterioration in the fridge.

Farberware Avocado Huggers (2), $8 at surlatable.com

Faberware Food Huggers, Set of 4, $10 at surlatable.com

Reusable K Cups

Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

Looking to ditch the K-cups but still love the convenience of your Keurig? Use your own coffee grounds with the k-cup reusable filter. Another waste-free habit, under your belt.

Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable Filter, $15 at bedbathandbeyond.com

Glass Storage Containers

Credit: Target, Crate & Barrel

Whether you need to store leftovers in the fridge or freezer or keep containers on the counter in full display, glass storage is a great option. These Pyrex sets will last for years, and all these dishes are dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe. (The acacia set lids are hand wash only, naturally.)

Pyrex 20pc Glass Freshlock Food Storage Set, $50 at target.com

Pyrex Wood Lid Storage 6-Piece Set, $35 at crateandbarrel.com

Oil Spray Bottle

Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

We’ve written about Misto before; it lets you avoid cooking sprays and the waste from throwing away each canister. Add your cooking oil of choice and simply pump the lid for a perfect spritz on the pot or pan, or foods you’re hoping to brown in the oven.

Misto Glass Olive Oil Sprayer, $15 at bedbathandbeyond.com

Compost Bin

Credit: Anthropologie

This small, dishwasher-safe compost bin is perfect for organic waste. Add all your banana peels and food scraps to make great fertilizer for your outdoor plants or garden.

Bamboozle Compost Bin, $42 at anthropologie.com

SodaStream

Credit: Williams Sonoma

If you find yourself going through your bottled or canned seltzers and sodas lightning-fast and want to both reduce waste and extra grocery trips, the Sodastream is a great solution. Use the carbonated water for cocktails, seltzers, or infused drinks.

SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker, $90 at target.com

Sodastream Fizzi One Touch, $120 at williams-sonoma.com

Souper Cubes

Credit: Williams Sonoma

Use up your chicken bones and vegetable trimmings to make vegetable or chicken stock, then freeze it using these Souper Cubes. Use them for everything from sauces to smoothie ingredients in exact two-cup measurements.

Souper Cubes, $20 at williams-sonoma.com

Dishcloths

Credit: Anthropologie

This is a given, but for how often we’re cooking now, it never hurts to have a large stock of dish cloths on hand.

Market Dishcloths, Set of 4, $14 at anthropologie.com

Ball Jars

Credit: Target

Glass mason jars are the ultimate reusable container, for everything from iced coffee to overnight oats or even a quinoa salad. Make homemade pickles that will last for weeks, or your own preserves for toast and desserts.

Ball 16oz 12pk Glass Smooth-Sided Regular Mouth Mason Jar with Lid and Band, $9 at target.com

Ball Set of 12 Half Pint (8 oz.) Quilted Mason Jar, $9 at target.com

Vacuum Sealer

Credit: Williams Sonoma

If you’re finding that you have to buy chicken breasts or meat in bulk, a vacuum sealer is a great way to refrigerate or freeze individual portions. It’s also great for sous-vide cooking, or freezing seasonal fruits.

Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, $70 at surlatable.com or williams-sonoma.com

Herb and Produce Savers

Credit: Target, Sur La Table

Protect fresh herbs with an herb keeper that will extend the life of your rosemary, thyme, mint and more. Always sad to see your fresh strawberries deteriorate? The Freshworks containers solve that by mediating moisture to prevent browning.

OXO Greensaver Herb Keeper, $20 at surlatable.com

Rubbermaid Freshworks Storage Container, $17 at target.com

Brita Pitcher

Credit: Target

If your tap water isn’t viable, a filtered pitcher is an essential part of a waste-free kitchen. Avoid the plastic bottles, beloved.

Brita 10-Cup Pitcher, $35 at target.com or bedbathandbeyond.com

Reusable Straws

Credit: Bloomingdales

For iced coffee, shakes, or smoothies, reusable straws are a great move for kids and adults alike. GIR makes a great set that’s dishwashable and sturdy, and silicone won’t bother your teeth like metal or glass options.

GIR x TLC Silicone Reusable Drinking Straws 20-Pack: The Liquor Cabinet, $25 at bloomingdales.com