How to stop using foil and baking paper!

Where I live foil is not collected for recycling and after I’ve used it, it goes straight in the bin.  I’m not too sure if I can recycle baking paper and that usually goes in the bin as well. Even if I could recycle them, I would still rather not use them for all the usual reasons – they cost money and their production, packaging, transportation, sale and disposal are all having an impact on the environment.  Plus there are alternatives which can make them unnecessary anyway.

In an ideal world we would all have the ideal kitchen equipment.  In particular the pots, pans, trays and dishes we cook our food in would all be non-stick (when I say non-stick I’m not referring to teflon type stuff, I’m talking about things like stoneware and cast iron) and come with lids so that that we don’t need foil and we don’t need baking paper.  Not only that they would go from fridge to hob to oven, to table..   In the real world though most people don’t have the ideal kitchen equipment (and I’m no exception), but that doesn’t necessarily matter.  Sometimes it is worth looking at the stuff you already have and start using it in ways that it hasn’t been used before. With just a few changes to your cooking habits, foil and baking paper could become a distant memory.

I recently wrote an article about alternatives to clingfilm and it got me thinking about finding ‘lid’s for things when cooking.  Basically just like you can put a bowl over a plate or a plate over a bowl, or a saucepan lid over a tray etc instead of using clingfilm you can do something similar with cooking equipment (just make sure it is suitable to use in the oven/ hob etc before you use it there). Here are a few examples of how we are making the most of what we have and avoiding foil and baking paper:
  • When we cook salmon in the oven, we usually wrap it in foil for a bit to steam it and then unwrap it to finish off the cooking process.  So instead of that recently I decided to cook it in a naked glass ovenproof dish (i.e. no foil or baking paper) and put a glass ovenproof plate over the top (as you can see from the picture at the top). This is useful if there are other things we want to cook in the oven at the same time e.g. baked potatoes. Other times we have been cooking salmon in a 3 tiered steamer, putting rice or noodles in the bottom with the water, veg in the middle and the salmon at the top (the steamer sat in our cupboard for ages before we worked out how it could be useful)…
  • We have lots of lovely stoneware dishes which are great because they are non-stick and don’t need lining with anything regardless of what we are cooking.  However although we can cook most foods on them, they can’t be added to a hot oven and therefore if we want to stagger the food going into the oven, we can’t use stoneware for everything.  We have some oven mesh sheets which we sometimes use in this situation, but I think they are covered in a Teflon type substance, which isn’t ideal… We also don’t have any lids for most of our stoneware, but we have stoneware oven proof crockery, which we could potentially use to cover a dish in the oven should the need arise (I don’t think this will cause a problem with the stoneware as long as the dish and the plate are put in the oven at the same time, but if anyone knows differently please let me know as this is not something I have actually tried!)
  • Slow cooking meat, or roasting large joints of meat in the oven – in the past I often put foil over the top to hold the moisture in.  However we have a stoneware dish with a lid, which for some reason we rarely use and as just mentioned we could find alternative ways to cover some of our other dishes.  We could also potentially slow cook meat in a large soup pan on the hob (not something I’ve tried, but I guess it is similar to using a slow cooker)… I usually use our oven shelf which is also a tray lined with foil if I want to roast something large like a turkey, but instead we could cut the turkey up into smaller pieces to roast so that it would fit into the dishes we have.  That way it would also cook quicker and save on electricity…
  • I have baked biscuits, pizzas, cakes, crackers, bread, flapjacks and other things directly on or in our stoneware with no need for any lining.  We have some pizza stones which I often use to make one large ‘biscuit’ or oat cake on for example, which I then cut up into squares once cooked.  I also have a sillicon muffin tray, which I bake the muffins directly in, which means I don’t need muffin cases either.
Obviously you are likely to have different kitchen equipment to me and it may be worth looking at what you have and working out if you could cut out the need for foil and baking paper just by using your cooking equipment in a slightly different way.  It won’t take long and could save you a lifetime of wasting money on stuff you really don’t need that briefly passes through your home on the way to a landfill site or incinerator (even if it is recycled, it is still an unnecessary waste of money and resources).

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter – thanks so much!

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