3 Simple Ways to Start Reducing Food Waste

Food waste is a growing problem in our modern society.

In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply. In 2017 alone, almost 41 million tons of food waste were generated, with only 6.3% used for composting from landfills and combustion for energy recovery1.

Why You Should Care about Reducing Food Waste:

  • Saves money from buying less food.
  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
  • Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).

I know there’s a larger problem at hand than just me and you. I know there’s large corporations and companies that are responsible for a large chunk of food waste in the U.S.. I’m not here to talk about them (not yet anyway). Today, I want to address how you and I can start making a change in our own homes. As the CEO of the company work for always says, “You cannot control what goes on outside these four walls, but you can always control what happens inside.” (…or something like that).

I also know that there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there telling you how to reduce food waste in your home (and here I am adding to the mix with this post), and you may be curious and want to start applying some tips, but you don’t know where to start. Or you may be a creature of habit and hearing about “100 ways to reduce food waste” just seems daunting. I totally get it – which is why I want to share just a handful of tips that have personally helped me make lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes is key here. What I don’t want to happen is that you practice these things and it feels good for now, then forget about it two weeks later when things get inconvenient (yikes, this is what happened to me at first)! You should start to become more conscious about food waste and hopefully these are simple enough tips to get you started.

Image from Milk Means More

3 Simple Ways to Start Reducing Your Food Waste

Meal Plan. This is the biggest tip that has helped me reduce my food waste significantly. By this, I don’t mean that you need to cook for the whole week in 1 day. What I mean by “meal planning” is to think about what meals you will be preparing (or eating out) for the following week (or at least 4-5 days) and then write down a grocery list before going to the store. Also, make sure to check your fridge to see what items you already have so that you can either plan your meal around that or you don’t double purchase.

Below is a photo of my simple meal planning list on a good ol’ sticky note (I don’t eat breakfast (only coffee), which is why I only have lunch & dinner listed). It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re going to eat every single day for every single meal. I find that even just a little bit of planning helps me buy less (grocery store & eating out). Even if I don’t plan on eating a home-cooked meal for a specific day, I still like to write down where I’m going to potentially pick-up food (e.g. Sweetgreen for Thursday lunch) – it puts less stress on me that day. Also, don’t forget to plug in your leftovers when meal planning!

Proper Food Storage. Great. You’ve planned your meals and went to the grocery store without buying anything extra… now what?! How do you keep your groceries fresh for the next week so that you’re not throwing away spoiled food?! Luckily for you, I’ve already done some research. I wrote a post about two years ago on How to Store Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits to Maximize Freshness (these are more common produce items). For meats, I like to chuck them in the freezer if I’m not going to be cooking them 2-3 days after purchasing. In general, freezing food is the best way to keep them from spoiling until you’re ready to eat them.

Another important thing to learn about food storage is knowing the different “best by”, “sell by”, “use by”, “freeze by” dates on food packaging. Apparently, confusion over these labels accounts for about 20% of food waste in American homes and this equates to about one-third of all food produced in the U.S. being wasted or lost2. Just imagine if you’re walking out of the grocery store with three bags of food… and then you toss one bag straight into the trash can. This is ridiculous and it makes me mad that there are millions of people that are starving everyday and we (the fortunate ones) are throwing away so much food.

Anyway. Most date labels are about quality, not necessarily safety, and leads us to toss away food that’s perfectly safe to eat (of course there are things like infant formula, etc. that have very strict discard dates). For me, the best way to figure out if food has indeed gone bad is checking smell (does it smell like your feet after a running outside on a summer day?), physical signs of mold and discoloring (are your avocados black instead of green? make sure to also check the bottom of glass jars/tupperware for mold!), and texture (are your veggies and deli turkey feeling slimy? or maybe your milk has gone from silky smooth to chunky? toss out that bad boy!).

Pro Tip: If you’re ever unsure of how long different items can be stored in the fridge/freezer, use this FoodKeeper App and/or Is My Food Safe App! Available for both Android and iOS devices. Also, here are 5 easy ways to tell if your food has gone bad.

Keep Track of Your Food Waste. This one is simple. Keep a “food waste journal” and jot down what you toss out each week. This way, you can easily see what you are throwing away on a regular basis so you can reduce or eliminate that item from your shopping list. Maybe it’s half a loaf of bread each week? If you buy fresh bread, perhaps you can ask your bakery if you can purchase half a loaf. Maybe you can make bread crumbs! Or my favorite, make a “pizza toast” – add some chopped tomatoes, herbs, and grated cheese on top of your sliced bread and put it in a toaster oven for a few minutes!

But before tossing out your food, you can also donate what you won’t use! Never going to eat those canned beans or soup? Give it to a food bank! Click here to locate a food bank near you.

Lastly, if you do end up with food waste, please dispose of it properly. If you live in an apartment, I wrote a post on how you can easily compost. Even if you don’t live in an apartment, you can still perhaps learn a thing or two!

I truly hope you learned something! And honestly, even if just one person takes something from this post and starts making a lifestyle, I’ll be happy.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” -George Bernard Shaw

xo,
Donna

1 Source: Food Loss and Waste | FDA
2 Source: To Reduce Food Waste… | NPR

Bibimbap Bowl (Mother of All Bowl Meals)

I’m so late to the game. I really only started to appreciate ‘rice bowls’ within the last year or so. They are so convenient to eat and I want to share my newfound love with you!

In case you’re not familiar, Bibimbap is a Korean dish which typically consists of warm rice, sautéed vegetables, kimchi, gochujang, soy sauce, maybe meat, and fried egg… then you stir it all together before diving in. Because of the different flavors and textures in this bowl, it’s typically considered the ‘mother of all bowl meals’ – if that makes sense.

(Anyone else feeling like this bowl lately? A mix of… well, everything? Happiness. Confusion. Anxiety. Excitement. Hope. Sadness. No? Just me? OK – I will go back to my corner now).

I enjoy making this dish because it’s quick, easy, and it only requires one pan! It looks like there’s a lot of steps, but mostly because there’s a bit of chopping to do in the beginning, but not too much. I also like this because you can really customize it however you want and with what you have in your fridge e.g. substituting or adding different veggies, meats, etc. I don’t prefer kimchi, so I leave it out of my recipe. However, you can add it on if you want! I’ll list alternatives below in the ‘ingredients’ section.

Last note: this makes really good leftovers or good for meal prep (except the fried egg).

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

xo,
Donna

Bibimbap Bowl

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice (or any white rice)
  • 3-4 scallions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 thumbs ginger (or 2 teaspoons minced ginger from a jar, which is what I use)
  • 4 gloves garlic
  • 5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons gojuchang (Korean Chili Paste) or sriracha
  • 1 pound grass-fed or grass-finished ground beef or ground chicken/turkey or ground pork (your choice, but I always prefer grass-finished ground beef)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons total needed
  • fried egg, as needed
  • Options for other veggies to add/substitute: spinach, bok choy, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, homemade OR premade kimchi
  • Optional toppings: toasted sesame seeds, gochugaru, sriracha

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook your jasmine (or white) rice however method works for you. I use a rice cooker (it makes my life 10000x easier). Just add a large pinch of salt to your water before cooking.
  2. Thinly slice scallions, separating the ‘greens’ and the ‘whites’. Set aside the greens. Take the whites and put it in a small bowl with white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir and set aside – we’re going to let this marinate (we’re “pickling” this).
  3. Peel your carrots. If you have a peeler, shave your carrots lengthwise into ribbons (which is what I did in my photo above). If you don’t have one, no worries! Just slice it thinly into rounds or use a shredder.
  4. Chop your zucchini. I sliced mine into thin rounds, but you can also slice it lengthwise so it looks like zucchini fries.
  5. Mince your garlic and ginger. If you’re adding other vegetables, this is a good time to chop them up as well.
  6. In another small bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, gojuchang or sriracha, and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  7. Heat your skillet and drizzle with oil. Add carrots, season with salt & pepper, and cook for about 4-5 minutes until lightly softened. Remove the carrots from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add zucchini to the pan, season with salt & pepper, and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes for each side. Remove the zucchini from the pan and set aside with carrots. If you’re using other veggies, you can really just cook them until they’re soft, then set aside with all the other veggies.
  8. Drizzle the pan with a little bit more oil. Add your ground beef to the pan (or whatever meat you chose) over medium-high heat, breaking it up into little pieces as it cooks. Add minced garlic and ginger, and mix it in with the meat. It should take about 4-6 minutes to cook. Add about half of the soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Season with ground black pepper.
  9. If you’re adding a fried egg on top, you can fry it however you prefer it. I like mine a bit runny.
  10. Now it’s time to assemble! Take a bowl. Add rice to the bottom of your bowl. Arrange ground beef, carrots, zucchini (and other veggies or kimchi) on top of the rice. Top with the now-pickled scallion whites (and the liquid). Drizzle with the remainder of the soy sauce mixture. Add your fried egg on top, sprinkle with the scallion greens (and if you’re using sesame seeds or gochugaru or sriracha), and serve!

Cinnamon Swirly Bread (Dairy Free)!

Finally, a recipe post!!

OK, but please don’t yell at me because it’s a bread recipe.

I know that yeast is a hot commodity right now and it’s easier to spot Waldo nowadays than to see yeast in stock in grocery stores… but just in case you were one of the people who hoarded yeast and you’re running out of recipes to try, this one is for you.

Let me start off by saying that breads are not my forte, but this one is SO easy. My favorite part about this recipe is that it only takes about an hour for the dough to rise, unlike some breads + buns that need to rise for hours AND set overnight (cinnamon rolls). Also, my apartment smells the best when baking these (well, second to banana bread).

Alright, I’m not going to ramble any longer. Mostly because my eyes are so droopy and I need to reunite with my bed soon.

Goodnight,
Donna

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Dairy Free)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water, (105-110 F degrees)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry or quick-rise yeast (I prefer Red Star brand!)
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour + extra as needed (I prefer King Arthur brand)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar with the warm water in a very large bowl in stand mixer with dough attachment. Add the yeast and stir just a little bit with your finger. Let it sit until frothy (and it kinda smells like warm beer) about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and oil and knead, adding more flour if too sticky until the dough forms a large, soft ball. If you don’t have a stand mixer, no worries, you can do it by hand! You’ll have very strong (but sore) arms after.
  3. Flour a table or work surface and knead the bread with your hands for 5-10 more minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and brush the top with a little extra olive oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour. It should be very puffy. Punch down the dough.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough into a rectangle (but let’s be honest, it’s going to look more ‘oval’). The dough should be no wider than your bread pan so that it fits after it’s been rolled up – does that make sense?). For more tight rolls in the bread, roll the dough thinner. For thicker softer rolls in the bread, roll thicker.
  6. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the loaf. Be generous. Roll up the loaves tightly and put in bread pan (lightly brushed with oil). Let rest for a few minutes before putting in the oven.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when you tap it with a knife. This is one recipe that you may actually want to over bake if you’re in doubt. If it looks too brown on the outside, it’s okay because the inside really needs to bake all the way to get the layers filled out.
  8. Let the bread cool down all the way before cutting into it or else it may sink. If you have leftovers, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store room temperature!

American Elections, Simplified

I know voting and elections are such sexy topics, which is why I want to bring it up again today!

Today’s post won’t be a long guide, but instead I want to share this must-watch, extremely informative, easy-to-follow video by Hasan Minhaj about American Elections.

We’re Doing Elections Wrong | Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Netflix

Let me start off by saying that I am SO glad that this message is on Youtube and is freely accessible to everyone in the US. I truly believe that to make a change in your country’s system, you have to learn the history of how it became that way to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

Secondly, my favorite thing about this video (and really all his other topics) is that he is teaching us about the American two-party election system and why plurality voting (vs majority voting) is the cause of so many issues we have. He touches on “negative partisanship” which simply means that our voting decision tends to swing in the opposite direction of who we HATE, rather than voting for someone who we actually like. For example, Republicans voted for Trump not necessarily because they liked him, but because they hate Democrats more.

So how do we fix this?! Hasan mentions in the video that even if we fix Electoral College, gerrymandering, and campaign finance, it won’t fix the fundamental issue. Instead he discusses a better long-term solution called “ranked-choice voting”. This is where you rank the candidates in order of your preference (essentially what majority-rules voting is), and that this is something we can do RIGHT NOW because all we need is a local law to implement it.

Couple of fun facts from Hasan’s video:
1.
Trump never got a majority of voters. Only 13.5 million Americans voted for him. That’s only 5.5% of all eligible voters!!!
2. There is nothing in our Constitution says that we have to have two parties… but the reason we have this is because the Founding Fathers just copied what the British were doing even though they didn’t want the U.S. to only have two parties.
3. Maine is the first state to implement ranked-choice voting.

Since Texas Primary Runoff Election is July 14th, this is probably going to be my last post about voting until it gets closer to the General November Elections. I will do similar posts about the positions & candidates that are national, state, and local for Harris County/Houston.

If you live in Texas, I hope you got a chance to vote with ease during Early Voting. If not, the last day to vote in the Primaries are July 14th. If you live in another state, I hope you got to vote during your state’s Primaries.

I’ve been enjoying educating myself (and hopefully others) and hope to keep providing relevant, simple-but-accurate information to all.

xo,
Donna

P.S. For those who care to know, I will be voting for Biden in November. I don’t love Biden, but I believe that voting Blue is certainly a step to the right direction. I really miss Bernie.

P.P.S. I mentioned to my friend the other day that I finally understand why people ‘unfollow’ their ex after a breakup and you still have feelings for them – it’s very painful to keep hearing about them and wishing things worked out. This is how I feel about Bernie losing the Democratic vote. He was the one who got away.

Edit 7.15.2020

Hello! Just doing a mini-edit! Below is the link to view the results for the Texas Primary Runoff Election. I believe this is an ongoing live page, so it will keep updating until all results have been counted.

My Favorite Foods in Houston

I looked back at my Lasagna recipe that I posted beginning of the year and it made me do a knee-slapping laugh – I was talking about big things happening in 2020 and it is hilarious to go back and read about it.

You would think during quarantine, I would have posted a million recipes on here with all the extra time I had working from home. Don’t get me wrong – I cooked a lot. If being in quarantine for two months taught me anything, it’s that I realized I don’t love cooking as much as I thought I did.

Well, I still love it, but cooking 5-6 times a week, and sometimes even up to twice a day started to feel like a chore. And then came the worst of it all– those damn dishes. So. many. dishes. This fueled my lack of motivation to take ‘professional’ photos of my cooking process. All I wanted to do was eat at a restaurant, share stories, and laugh with friends. Do I sound like a brat yet?

Which leads me to today’s post – I’m reminiscing and want to highlight all my favorite restaurants & foods in Houston! These are the ones that I dreamed about during quarantine. These are the food and restaurants that I recommend to e v e r y b o d y. These are the ones that make me happy when I’m sad… or just make me happier in general.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to the day when things get back to “normal” and I can once again dine-in at my favorite spots with friends and family.

*Note: photos below are not my own.

*Another Note: this is not a food-critic review post!

My Favorite Foods in Houston

Relish Fried Chicken Bucket | Image from Facebook

Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant: Relish Restaurant & Bar
This restaurant has a special place in my heart. Relish Restaurant & Bar is described as a “contemporary classic American comfort food with French and Italian influences” and I think that is very accurate. I could go on and on why I love this place. I have a couple of all-time favorite foods here: Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit (found in their Brunch menu only, which they’re not currently serving), Fried Chicken with Hot Honey (the breading is unbeatable and you can purchase in buckets!), Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes (it is mostly crab meat and not so much stuffing), and Brussels sprouts (roasted with some type of balsamic glaze). Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had a bad item on their menu. Their wine list and cocktails are amazing as well.

Relish is only serving curbside for now, but typically they are counter service for lunch & brunch and seated service for dinner.

Relish, 2810 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Killen’s BBQ | Image from Instagram

Favorite Barbecue Restaurant: Killen’s BBQ
Confession. I did not enjoy eating barbecue until I had Killen’s BBQ. Their Brisket, Beef Ribs, and Pork Ribs are excellent – packed with flavor, tender, and juicy. But my favorite part about this restaurant is their unrivaled sides options.

Contrary to popular belief, I think that execution of side dishes are just as important as the meat when it comes to barbecue. I’ve tried other popular BBQ spots in Houston (…and in Kansas City) – Rudy’s, Goode Company BBQ, Truth BBQ, etc. – it’s not that they don’t have good barbecue, it’s just that their sides are subpar and Killen’s BBQ’s sides are magnificent. My top two favorite sides are the mouth-watering Mac ‘N Cheese (so creamy and cheesy) and Creamed Corn (sweet and creamy but with a hint of spice). Even their desserts are some of my favorites around town – Banana Pudding (very Southern traditional) and Bread Pudding (made with croissant).

Killen’s BBQ is offering both dine-in and takeout service at the moment. If you’ve lived in Houston and haven’t had Killen’s BBQ before, you are missing out. Venture on out there and your taste buds will thank you.

Killen’s BBQ, 3613 E Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581
Website | Instagram

TacoKeto | Image from Yelp

Favorite Authentic Mexican Street Tacos: TacoKeto
My sister and I first discovered this little food truck during college. We were craving something good… and something greasy. I don’t know how my sister found this place, but I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this eatery. I remember it clearly – we both ordered beef tacos (we had to add cheese) and Mexican coke. It was the most glorious little meal I’ve ever had. The beef tacos were greasy, slightly crunchy, and delicious. The green salsa that came with it was amazing too.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited, but I’m drooling as I’m typing, so I will have to make a trip down I-45 soon.

TacoKeto, 1401 Cullen Blvd, Houston, Texas 77023
Facebook

Favorite Americanized Tacos: Velvet Taco
I know, I know. Some of you are probably shaking your head at me. Americanized Tacos… and a chain?! What can I say – sometimes, it’s done well. In this case, I truly believe that Velvet Taco is not just a copycat Mexican taco restaurant – I think that a good chunk of their menu is unique and you cannot find at other taco places.

My go-to tacos are: Picnic Chicken (rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-dijon potato salad, crispy chicken skin) , Nashville Hot Tofu (crispy tofu, napa slaw, ranch crema, house brined pickles), and Spicy Tikka Chicken (crisp tenders, spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema, Thai basil).

Velvet Taco is currently offering dine-in and takeout service.

Velvet Taco, 4819 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (preferred Houston location)
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Melange Creperie | Image from Instagram

Favorite Crêpes: Melange Creperie
This was another spot that my sister & I discovered during college that still frequent even now. Melange Creperie was a Parisienne street style creperie stand that started in Montrose (corner of Taft & Westheimer) and now they have their own restaurant in the Heights! The crepes speak for themselves. My favorite is a basic Nutella-Banana crêpe – the actual crepe is thin and crispy and they put just right amount of Nutella. This is one of my go-to comfort foods in Houston.

Melange Creperie is currently taking takeout orders. It’s perfect because their crepes are wrapped “street-style” – you can eat while taking a walk around the neighborhood!

Melange Creperie, 711 Heights Blvd #B, Houston, TX 77007
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Luce Ave | Image from Instagram

Favorite Coffee: Luce Ave
This one was a battle. I contend that great coffee is extremely subjective, but I believe this place exceeds expectations. I had a few runner ups, but ultimately, Luce Ave won. I’m a little picky when it comes to coffee (and espresso drinks) because I have 6+ years of experience working as a barista. I’m not an expert, but I guess know more than the average person. I won’t bore you and get into technicalities, but I love how consistent their drinks are. Their baristas are thorough – from measuring the ground espresso in the portafilter to extracting it with perfect timing. Their espresso drinks are top-notch quality each time.

My go-to drinks are: Cortado (half espresso, half steamed milk), Iced Creamericano (when I have a sweet tooth), and Black Peach Iced Tea (they brew the tea upon order, so it’s fresh each time).

Bonus: Their chocolate chip cookie is amazing and a must-try.

Luce Ave, 3995 Richmond Ave Suite A, Houston, Texas 77027
Website | Facebook | Instagram

State of Grace | Image from Facebook

#1 Favorite Restaurant: State of Grace
State of Grace is a “jubilant medley of old favorites played with new spice, accent, and freshness: southern, American, Latin, Gulf Coast, German, and Asian.”

This restaurant is brilliant, excellent, and amazing from food to service. I’ve eaten here perhaps 182638x over the last couple years and have eaten through their different menus – lunch, Sunday brunch, dinner, and Sunday Supper. I’ve never eaten anything here that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. This is my favorite restaurant for date night, small celebrations, and just-because.

Again, I’ve tried a majority of their dishes but my top recommendations are: Redfish “On the Half Shell” (with ginger and lime vinaigrette, pearl onions – always cooked perfectly – dinner menu only), Chicken Fried Chicken (topped with butter biscuit, sausage gravy, and sunny side-up eggs – brunch menu only), and their Sunday Supper, which is a prix-fixe menu for $29 pp.

Bonus: For Happy Hour, they have $1 oysters (and it’s just not the Gulf oysters )!

State of Grace is currently offering dine-in and takeout service. Kaykay and I ate here last month and felt very, very safe (at least safer than grocery stores).

State of Grace, 3258 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Happy Eating!

You Should Be Composting… in Your Apartment

What the F*ck is Compost and Why Should You Care?

(n.) Compost is decayed organic material used as a fertilizer to help plants grow.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food is the biggest ingredient in American trash. Currently, more than 35% of the average garbage can is filled with kitchen scraps – the ones that should be composted instead of ending up in landfill. When you compost, you help keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas1.

“Wait, hold on. I thought methane was good?” you ponder.

Well, you are partially correct. Let me explain.

Natural gas consists primarily of methane. When methane is produced from non-fossil fuel sources such as food & green waste, it can take the carbon out of the air (which is a good thing!). Methane provides a great environment benefit, producing more heat and light and energy vs. fossil fuel (coal & or gas refined from oil). It also produces significantly less carbon dioxide and pollutants that produce smog and unhealthy air.2 However, when methane is released into the atmosphere before it is burned, it becomes harmful to the environment. Essentially, methane becomes 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.

(Have you fallen asleep yet?)

Just a few of the many other benefits of compost are:

  • Reduction in garbage volume
  • Provides a rich, natural fertilizer and in turn cuts back on use of chemical fertilizers
  • Improves soil aeration and drainage
  • Helps control weeds
  • Decreases the need for costly watering

You should care simply because of this – the earth is your home and you should take care of it as much as you can.

I’ve known about composting and its benefits for a while (mom always talks about it but you know, 50% of the things she says still goes in one ear and out the other). I never gave it much thought before since I thought it was only possible for people who either a) have a backyard/balcony/patio or b) have a garden. Well, it turns out I was wrong. Maybe I should’ve listened to my mom more.

All I needed to do was stop being L A Z Y and do some research! It is possible for someone like me who lives in a city apartment with no backyard, no patio, and no room to start a garden!

Ways to Compost (in an Apartment)

Today, I will be specifically talking about easy ways to compost if you live in an apartment.

1. Collect & Drop Off

Stainless-Steel Compost Pail, 1-Gal. | Williams Sonoma

If you don’t have a backyard/balcony/patio, this may be the easiest method yet! You can collect your kitchen scraps in a container and take it to a local food-scrap drop-off location!

There are a couple ways you can store kitchen scraps without stinking up your apartment. One is to put them in any container and stick them in your freezer – this method is F R E E! The other way is to purchase a ceramic or stainless-steel compost pail and keep it on your counter if you don’t have room in your fridge. Either way, once your container is full, it’s time to drop it off.

Note: It is important to check the rules for the drop-off location where your taking your scraps!

If you live in Houston, check out this link to see which location is closest to you! If you live in another major city in Texas, check out this link that lists where you can compost. If you live anywhere in a major city in the U.S., you can easily do a Google search (“food-scrap compost drop-off”) or check out your city’s Department of Sanitation’s website.

This method is what I just started to do! It’s easy AND free. Literally the hardest part is driving down the shitty roads of Richmond Ave!

2. Countertop Food Digester | Electric-assist Composter

FoodCycler FC-30

OK – this method LOOKS awesome… and is also a great method for people who have minimal outdoor space. However, this doesn’t necessarily compost your food waste – it just converts it into something that you could immediately put on your patio planters. If you don’t have patio planters, I’m sure your apartment complex has some garden beds that you can take your processed food waste to! One other benefit to using one of these electric-assist composters is that they can process even avocado pits to chicken bones overnight.

I think the only negative thing I see about this is that they are a liiiiitttleee bit pricey ($299.99 USD). If you’re interested, check out this one by FoodCycle. I may actually purchase one soon. If I do, I’ll update this post and let you know how it goes.

There are other methods too…

I can list other methods such as worm composting but since I haven’t done it myself, I don’t feel confident discussing it. I’ve watched YouTube videos of how people are accomplishing this in their apartments. It seems simple enough, but also time consuming and have a lot of requirements e.g. controlled temperature, etc. I eventually DO want to do this but I have more research to do… and maybe when I move somewhere that has at least a patio or balcony. When/if I switch to this method, I’ll be sure to share my worm adventures.

What & What Not to Compost

I know it’s a little confusing on what you can and cannot compost, so here’s a small list of common food/kitchen items:

Compostable

  • Coffee grounds and coffee filters
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Fruit & vegetable craps
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Tea & tea bags
  • Toothpicks & burnt matches
  • Paper towels (if not soiled with grease/fats or dairy)

Non-Compostable

  • Meat, fish, egg, or poultry scraps
  • Dairy products
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Citrus peels (in worm composts)

Click here to see a longer list of what you can and cannot compost. If you don’t see the item you’re looking for here, just use your best friend Google.

Sources:
1 Composting at Home
2 Methane and the Environment