Frugal Living

Frugal Living, Sustainable Ways blog possible subjects:

  • Urban or Rural Homesteading
  • Anything DIY
  • Frugal Recipes
  • Preparedness/Survival
  • Repurposed Projects
  • Upcycled Frugal Finds
  • Animal Care
  • Natural Gardening Tips
  • Herbal Remedies
  • Green Cleaners

The list could go onÖ

Homestead Revival Journey back to the farm.

Mason Jars Strong, versatile, easy to clean, see-through, and plastic-free, Mason jars are an asset to every kitchen.

Is there anything the mighty Mason jar cannot do? Strong, versatile, easy to clean, see-through, and plastic-free, Mason jars are an asset to every kitchen, which is why you should start stockpiling them now. My approach is never to turn down Mason jars when offered, and always to pick them up if I see them at a yard sale or thrift store. Mine come out on a daily basis, in all different shapes and sizes, to serve a variety of purposes. Here are some ways in which Mason jars can make your kitchen Ė and, by extension, your life Ė more organized.

Mason Jar / Mason Jars in use

Use jars to store leftovers.

It can be difficult to find the right container and lid at the moment I need it, but itís always possible to find a Mason jar and screw-top lid! Wide-mouth jars are particularly good for food storage, and I use a funnel to pour soups, stews, and dals into the standard-sized ones. You can also microwave them in the jar to reheat.

Store salad ingredients.

Wash lettuce, arugula, and spinach, rip or chop into small pieces, and put in a large Mason jar. It will stay fresh and crispy for days, as will sprouts. You can also keep herbs upright in a jar, with a bit of water. Same goes for washed, chopped fruits for salad garnishes, fruit salad, or plain eating.

Freeze foods.

You can freeze foods in glass, as long as you leave plenty of space for expansion. Freeze with the lid off initially, then add it later to prevent freezer burn. I love jars for freezing homemade ice cream and leftover stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, homemade pesto, and excess grated cheese.

Use as an emergency lunch container.

Did you forget to run the dishwasher before school? Thatís when you can pack your kidís lunch in a small Mason jar (or two). Just donít tighten the lid too much. Take a Mason jar in your bag as an on-the-go coffee cup; it's sealable and leakproof, although it can get hot.

Store dry goods.

Time for a pantry clean-out? Transfer dry goods, such as flour, cornmeal, beans, lentils, quinoa, couscous, rice, and small pasta into glass jars, rather than keeping them in boxes. Food will be more visible, youíll be able to monitor quantities better, and you decrease the risk of bugs getting in. Better yet, take them straight to the grocery store for zero-waste shopping.

Use as a junk corral.

Not that you have any junk kicking around the kitchenÖ Well, Iím kidding. Donít we all? Mason jars are perfect for storing elastics, twine, batteries, twist ties, a stack of cupcake liners, etc. That way, theyíre easy to see, easy to reach.

Use for food prep.

Mason jars are great for preparing busy weekday meals ahead of time. You can make salads in a jar, overnight refrigerator oatmeal-in-a-jar, veggies with hummus, and noodle bowls. You can even layer chili with cornbread batter on top, and bake in the oven for a really delicious on-the-go treat. Make salad dressings in large quantities and store in jars, measuring out single-serving amounts into smaller jars for packed lunches.

Jars are great for fermenting foods like kombucha and kimchi; making homemade yogurt; drying herbs from the garden (I stand them up in the jar and leave them by the window); mixing spice rubs; making iced tea or homemade fruit juices; storing sourdough starter, bacon fat, or homemade lard.

Store kitchen utensils.

If your utensil drawer is jamming, or if you need quicker access to spoons and spatulas while cooking, stick your utensils upright in a large Mason jar and set in a convenient spot.

5 steps toward going 'zero waste' in the kitchen I donít have much hope of reaching Bea Johnsonís level, whose family produces only one quart of waste annually, I have certainly learned a lot by paying close attention to how much garbage and recycling my household generates on a daily and weekly basis.

One happy discovery Iíve made is that the zero waste movement is much more popular and widespread than I thought. Recently I spoke with Shawn Williamson, who lives with his family just outside of Toronto and runs an environmental sustainability consultation firm called the Baleen Group. He hasnít taken a bag of garbage out to the curb since August 2011!

If youíre looking to go zero waste, or at least Ďminimal wasteí, the kitchen is a great place to start. Here is a list of the most useful tips Iíve encountered, gathered from my conversation with Williamson, Johnsonís book, and personal experience.

1. Shop with reusable containers

' Prevent waste from entering your home, and then you wonít have to deal with it. Refusing packaging also makes a public statement and educates people about zero waste. I shop with glass Mason jars, which are easy to fill, store, and clean. Read more about it here: Why Iím hooked on shopping with glass jars.

Take along reusable produce bags for small items that canít be kept loose. I purchased some organic cotton mesh bags with a drawstring that can be easily laundered. Available online at Life without Plastic (the site has lots of other very cool things for going zero waste).

2. Buy groceries in bulk

This can be interpreted in two ways, both of which are important. ďBulk,Ē according to Johnson, means bought in reusable containers, since thatís what many alternative bulk stores do. For Williamson, it means literally buying large quantities of food in order to minimize the amount of overall packaging. He shops a few times a year for dry goods from the suppliers of bulk stores, picking up 50lb bags of rice and almond flour. Itís much cheaper that way, saves gas on trips to the store, and you rarely run out.

3. Set up a good backyard compost system

Composting is the best way to deal with organic household waste, since the waste doesnít need to get shipped anywhere and gets converted to rich soil. In Williamsonís household, the composter diverts 74.7 percent of their waste. He uses a 2-part system, with an earthworm-filled box composter that receives the initial load of food scraps and a tumbler that finishes it off. Within a month of warm weather, he has a fresh load of soil Ė and thatís in Ontario, with its relatively short gardening season. Meat scraps go in the green box, which is the municipal composting program.

4. Make certain things from scratch to avoid packaging

Some might scoff at the idea of making the following foods from scratch on a regular basis, but I can tell you from experience that once it becomes part of a routine and you become comfortable with the recipes, it can be very quick, and even save time by not having to run out to the grocery store.

5. Ditch the disposables

Thereís no need to keep paper towels, paper napkins, garbage liners, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and disposable plates or cups in the kitchen. Though it may seem strange at first, you will always find reusable alternatives when the need arises. I find itís better just to get rid of those Ďtemptingí items and make do without. It makes for a lot less stuff in the trash can.

'One Less Straw' campaign wants you to avoid straws during October "An estimated 500 million disposable straws are used every day in the United States"

Life Without Plastic


Alternative News Sources

Commons the mostly forgotten idea that most things belong to all of us.

Energy articles and links

Farming Green new more sustainable methods.

Feminism the forgotten ascendency of women

Freethinkers thinking outside the box.

Funerals the scams of the funeral industry and green funerals.

Garden notes my garden and how to notes.

Vegetable Gardening notes on how to garden veganically; permaculture.

Wildlife Gardening my DIY project to convert my yard for wildlife and native plants.

Household DIY tips, many frugal.

Meat, Eggs, Dairy: Their Disastrous Environmental and Health Effects

Universal Basic Income (UBI) the rational answer to the coming situation when few people are needed for traditional jobs.

Permaculture the ultimate frugal approach to everything, especially gardening and farming. Started in Australia.

Conversion of my swimming pool to a wildlife sanctuary a DIY project of mine. Most really good ideas come from Australia.

Propaganda how the modern world works... not frugally. Pushing the consumer culture

Vegan frugal and healthful way to eat and preserve the environment.

Colby Glass, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus