5 Versatile Items That Should Be in Your Zero Waste Kitchen

Sometimes it feels like, no matter what you do, there’s just never enough cabinet or drawer space. Even the largest kitchens seem to be desperate for space to store all those specialty spatulas, cookie cutters and containers. Ohhh, the containers…

But when you go zero waste, a new priority comes into play: minimalism. While juicers, avocado slicers and bagel guillotines are great at what they do, these “unitasker” devices can easily be replaced by other more versatile kitchen items, saving you both money and coveted storage space.

Minimalism allows for a better lifestyle to take hold – one focused less on consumerism and more on sustainability, less on acquiring things and more on doing things. Sound like your cup of tea? Here are a few items that will get your kitchen into shape for a creative, thrifty, zero waste life.

1. Mason jars

Few items get more use in my zero waste kitchen than my set of lidded mason jars. They are used to store leftovers from restaurants, stock pantry goods from the bulk section of our food co-op, shake up a handmade salad dressing and take a glass of iced tea on the road. I’m in love!

2. Colander

A colander might sound like a strange addition to this little top five list, but it’s actually quite a versatile item! Besides being the perfect tool to thoroughly rinse produce, colanders can be makeshift ice buckets (keeps ice cool and drains off water as it melts), cool cooked ingredients quickly, and even strip herbs. What else do you think you could do with a colander?

3. Chef’s knife

Every kitchen, zero waste or otherwise, should have a high-quality chef’s knife at its center. Designed to be used in many applications, you can use a chef’s knife to chop vegetables quickly, strip corn and crush garlic. Really, you just need the one!

4. Muffin tin

This might sound surprising, but our muffin tin gets more use than any of our other baking dishes. We use it to make ice (perfect for those summertime libations!), as a soap mould (we make our own often), to sort odds and ends, and as a container in which to freeze herbs. Any other creative ideas for a muffin tin?

5. Cast iron

Ahh, the cast iron. Always a household favorite, the cast iron pan grounds our kitchen. Ever present on top of the stove – clean and well-seasoned – that cast iron is used at every meal to do everything from sauté veggies to press water out of tofu. But its most special quality? It can go from stovetop to oven!

What are your “big hits” in the kitchen? Which items get the most versatile use?

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