Create A No-Waste Kitchen

Recycled Plastic Compost Tumbler: get ready to use compost in weeks, not months! Click on the picture and learn more at Lehmans.com.

Recycled Plastic Compost Tumbler: get ready to use compost in weeks, not months! Click on the picture and learn more at Lehmans.com.

In a time when money is tight and the price of real food continues to climb, I think all of us are trying to find ways to save money on our grocery bill while still eating nutritiously and getting the most out of the food we have.

Here are some ways I have found to make good use of what most people would consider garbage–food past it’s best. By turning leftovers into chicken feed, rich garden compost, and a nutrient-dense broth, you’ll not only be getting the most bang for your buck, you’ll also experience the pride that comes with taking part in a truly sustainable lifestyle. I have multiple uses for some items, so if one ‘greencycle’ method doesn’t work for you, perhaps another alternative will.

Egg shells– composted; dried and kept to sprinkle around tomato and pepper plants; dried, crumbled, and fed to chickens for calcium.

Tea bags- composted

Coffee grounds & filter– composted; coffee grounds dried and saved to sprinkle around tomatoes and blueberries.

Overripe bananas– frozen for smoothies; used in banana bread.

Banana peels- composted (don’t feed to chickens!)

Potato peels- composted (don’t feed raw potato or raw potato peels to chickens!)

Onion skins and tips- frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens; composted.

Garlic skins and tips-frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens; composted.

Carrot peels– frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens; composted.

Celery tips– frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens; composted.

Parsnip peels– frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens; composted.

Made in USA, these peelers are the best we've found. In stock now at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio or at Lehmans.com.

Made in USA, these peelers are the best we’ve found. In stock now at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio or at Lehmans.com.

Turnip peels and tips– composted or fed to chickens. Do not save turnip peels for making stock, they are really bitter.

Avocado peels and pits– composted (though the pit will take forever to break down, or it will sprout and grow!)

Leftovers- we feed almost all of our leftovers to our chickens, with the exception of anything with a lot of cheese, and sweets. What can’t be fed to the chickens or composted is tossed out for the wildlife.

Bones– frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then fed to dogs/cats.

Citrus peels– saved for making a citrus scented all-purpose cleaner by soaking the peels in a jar of white vinegar for about two weeks, infusing the citrus scent into the vinegar. Dilute half and half with water, and use in a spray bottle for a great disinfectant.

Sour milk- allowed to curdle and then fed to the chickens. (There are a ton of other really great suggestions for how to use sour (raw) milk at Healthy Home Economist.)

Syrup from canned fruit– fed to the chickens.

Perfect for big families! Cooks evenly, cleans up easily, Enamelware Roasters are available at Lehmans.com.

Perfect for big families! Cooks evenly, cleans up easily, Enamelware Roasters are available at Lehmans.com.

Juice leftover from cooking a whole chicken or a roast- saved for broth or gravy.

Wilted/slimy lettuce– fed to chickens; composted.

Fruit peels and cores– fed to chickens; composted; used to make jelly.

Fat drippings– cooled, hardened and used for emergency candles! (Okay, not all the time, but it’s fun to know it can be done.)

Nut shells– composted (except for Black Walnut shells)

Chicken neck and organs– frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens (yes, chickens will eat chicken).

Choose a size! Our freezer containers are sized pint to half-gallon, and seal tightly. In stock now at Lehmans.com.

Choose a size! Our freezer containers are sized pint to half-gallon, and seal tightly. In stock now at Lehmans.com.

Fish heads, bones and organs– frozen and saved to make broth/stock, then strained from stock and fed to chickens.

Moldy cheese– that goes to the wildlife. Can’t be composted, or fed to the chickens.

Wilted herbs– fed to chickens; compost.

Stale bread– frozen to make breadcrumbs at my convenience (also good for croutons)

I think that pretty much covers my household waste. I keep two large bowls on the kitchen counter- one for chicken scraps, and one for compost. At the end of the day, I take the two bowls out to their respective designations. Anything that needs to be frozen for stock goes straight into a gallon sized freezer bag that is store in the freezer. When it’s full, I start another. It’s nothing fancy, but it works well for me.

That’s a glimpse into my daily routine. I’d love to know how you make the most of your kitchen leftovers!

This Year’s Garden Can Be The Seed For Gardens To Come

Start your plants right! Easy to follow instructions for building cold frames. In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

Start your plants right! Easy to follow instructions for building cold frames. In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

Spring is here, and garden planning is in full gear. If you’re like me, your countertops, cold frames, or greenhouse are overflowing with little seedlings getting ready for their new home outdoors.

Every year I try growing something new from seed. And every year I manage to find some way to kill my tender plants before they even make it into the ground. It’s terrible, really. And I as I sit mourning the loss of weeks of nursing my plants from seed to seedling, I contemplate whether I should try to start more from seed, or just buy replacements at the local nursery.

This year is proving to be no different. I’ve already annihilated about twenty beautiful cabbage and broccoli plants. And I’m not gonna lie. I just might break down this year and buy plants even though it totally feels like cheating. Continue reading

Homesteading Wherever You Live: Part II

You can control the herbs you grow, avoiding chemicals or pesticides.

  • You can control the herbs you grow, avoiding chemicals or pesticides. 
  • Monday, I talked about some of the things my family does to build a self-sufficient, homesteading lifestyle. Check out the list below for changes you can make that will help propel you to that way of life too.
  • Learn to grow your own food and herbs. Start small, with just a couple of plants, and build your garden slowly. Make the most of the space you have available to you.
  • Learn how to bake bread from scratch. Get a second-hand bread machine to help you get an easy start.
  • Consider purchasing a wheat grinder and grinding your own wheat.
  • A natural, homemade clean is easy! Check out Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

    A natural, homemade clean is easy! Check out Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

    Learn how to make homemade soap. Once you’ve got that mastered, maybe you can learn how to make lye from ashes!

  • Learn how to cook without electricity. Get yourself some good cast iron pans and a dutch oven while you’re at it.
  • Practice using herbal and natural remedies to treat your family’s ailments.
  • Get a water bath canner and start canning by learning how to make jellies. Then learn how to can other things. Work your way up to using a pressure canner for canning your own meat and meals-in-a-jar.
  • Practice drying/dehydrating foods to preserve them.
  • Plant a few fruit trees and berry bushes in your yard, if you are able.
  • Learn how to milk a cow or a goat. Even if you don’t have room to own an animal where you live, there are small farms out there who are willing to share an animal with city dwellers.
  • Easily moveable, this coop will keep your birds secure. Click on the picture for more details.

    Easily moveable, this coop will keep your birds secure. Click on the picture for more details.

    Get backyard chickens and start eating your own fresh eggs. From there learn how to butcher your own meat.

  • Learn animal husbandry, even if you only have room for a couple of rabbits.
  • Consider learning how to keep bees and harvesting your own honey.
  • Put up a clothesline and hang dry your clothes.
  • Learn how to make your own household cleaners. There are tons of recipes online to help you get started.
  • Determine to cook from scratch instead of eating expensive processed foods.
  • Learn how to make candles.
  • Learn how to sew. Start with hemming pants, and work your way to sewing your own skirts.
  • Learn to barter. Trade goods or skills for the things you need.
  • Learn to be content with less, to do without, and to make the most of what you have.
  • Become familiar with the wild edible plants that grow in your area. Learn how to identify them, and practice using them in your meals.
  • Consider what you can make or grow yourself and sell your goods at a local farmer’s market.
  • Practice composting your leftover fruit and veggie scraps and lawn cuttings instead of throwing them into the garbage.
  • Build your home library with books on gardening, herbal remedies, animal husbandry, preserving food, soap making, and anything homesteading and self-sufficient living related.
  • Install rain barrels to catch water for your garden or for emergency drinking water.
  • A primer for going off grid!

    A primer for going off grid!

    Practice living without electricity. Have a non-electric backup plan to get you through your daily necessities.

  • Use alternative energy, like solar, wind, and hydro power.
  • Learn how to hunt and fish. Go to a hunt club if you don’t have land to hunt on.
  • And my final words of advice get rid of your t.v. You can’t imagine how much more productive your days and your minds will be without the trash we are fed through that thing.

Homestead Wherever You Live: Part I

Raise your own eggs, milk, meat! The Backyard Homestead is in stock now at Lehman's in Kidron and Lehmans.com.

Raise your own eggs, milk, meat! The Backyard Homestead is in stock now at Lehman’s in Kidron and Lehmans.com.

I think a lot of people have common misconceptions about what the term ‘homesteading’ means. Many assume that you have to live on a chunk of country land with several farm animals and a large garden to be considered a homesteader.

But the Urban Homesteading movement is on the rise, giving a new meaning to the term ‘homesteading’ and new freedoms to city dwellers who thought they’d never have a chance to live more self-sufficiently where they are. Continue reading

Old-Fashioned Winter Fun for Children

Build fun with our Wooden Log Sets! More than 50 pieces keep kids busy for hours. At Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

Build fun with our Wooden Log Sets! More than 50 pieces keep kids busy for hours. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

When people hear that we don’t have a television, I often get asked how I keep the kids entertained. Which is sad to me, in all honesty. Have we, as a society, slipped so far into the technological age that we’ve forgotten how to allow our children to play using… gasp… nothing but their imagination? Sadly, far too many kids nowadays would have a complete meltdown if they had to be without their electronics for longer than a couple of hours.

My family hasn’t always been without television. It’s only been a year since we decided to ditch the tube. But what an incredible difference it has made to our family… especially the kids. Instead of asking to watch cartoons first thing in the morning, the children sit down for breakfast, and then run off to play together. Imagine that. Siblings… getting along… actually enjoying each other’s company! Continue reading

Make Your Own Kettle Corn!

Since the fair and festival season is over, do you have to wait another long, long year for kettle corn? No, says our blogger Kendra, who sent along a version her family adores.

Visit Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio to see stovetop and campfire popcorn poppers.

Kettle Corn is one of our favorite homemade snacks. There’s something about that salty sweetness that makes my mouth water just thinking about it! My kids absolutely LOVE this stuff; that is when they can wrestle it away from mommy!! If you have an old fashioned crank-type stove-top popcorn popper, it’ll make the job a whole lot easier (and much more nostalgic!). Although, any medium sized pot with a lid will do, as long as you keep a close eye on the process. Continue reading

There’s Life in The Old Pickle Yet!

Available at Lehman’s in Kidron, or at Lehmans.com.

One day, as I finished off a jar of my favorite bread & butter pickles and was about to pour the leftover brine down the drain, it occurred to me that there must be something better I could do with those delicious liquids. It seemed such a shame to waste it like that! After a little searching, here is what I have found: there is a LOT you can do with leftover pickle brine!

Whip Up Your Own Strawberry Soda

Over the past few years, it has become increasingly important to my husband and I that we feed ourselves and our children wholesome, nourishing foods; foods with ingredients that we can pronounce, and know where they came from.

I’m not gonna lie, though. We still crave junk food now and then. Continue reading

Nature’s Garden: Edibles in the Woods and Fields

The woods path near our homestead.

I went walking our land yesterday, looking for wild edibles. I always like to bring a set of wild plant identification cards with me, so I can flip through the photos of different edible plants and familiarize myself with them as I’m trying to find matching foliage along the forest floor. Continue reading

Kick Beetles Out of Your Bean Patch Naturally

Freshly harvested green beans

Ha! I’ve done it! I’ve finally grown enough of my very own green beans to can several gallons, with more plumping up on the bushes as I write. You just don’t know how happy this makes me.

I haven’t always been so lucky, you know.

The first couple of years I tried growing green beans were a horrible disaster. Those blasted Mexican Bean Beetles made swiss cheese (no pun intended) out of my beautiful plants, and chewed so many holes in the beans themselves they weren’t even worth picking. Talk about frustrating!! Continue reading

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