Cook Without Disposables

Jul 23, 2021 | New Habits

It is possible to cook without disposables such as plastic wrap, baking paper and aluminium foil. I have a few alternatives that I use and I will share them with you here.

Why Cook Without Disposables?

We know that plastic wrap is a single-use plastic best avoided even though it can be recycled through RedCycle here in Australia. Aluminium foil – including foil trays, food container peels – can be recycled, even if used, if scrunched together into a ball about the size of a fist so that it doesn’t fall through the recycling machinery. Recycling, however, is no substitute for finding alternatives. Did you know, too, that baking paper is not recyclable? It is coated or treated, often with silicone, so it can’t be thrown in the recycling.

So with that in mind, finding alternatives to using these disposables for cooking (and food storage) is preferable, following the waste reducing principles of REFUSE and REDUCE.

Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap, frustrating stick-together properties aside, is a handy invention. However, it is almost solely a single use item. Plastic film, although accepted for ‘soft plastic’ recycling, is in fact, only downcylced into products such as park benches. It only has one more life before going to landfill. Limiting our use of this plastic is preferable.

Alternatives to Plastic Wrap

  • Store food in sealable containers or glass jars.
  • Cover a bowl or plate of food with another upturned bowl or plate.
  • Invest in or make your own beeswax wraps to seal food. Great for things like cut avocado and bread.
  • Use a reusable product like Agreena reusable and recyclable 3 in 1 silicone wraps. Clings and seals like plastic wrap but can be washed and reused many times.
  • Cover rising bread dough and the like under a damp tea towel.
Using an Agreena sheet in place of baking paper.
Photo by Family Footprint Project

Baking Paper

When I first discovered baking paper, I thought all my baking Christmases had come at once. I couldn’t imagine baking without it. Then I discovered that baking paper, whether it is wax or silicone coated, is not recyclable and the love affair came to an end. It can be reused to a certain extent. I have some circles of baking paper that I have been using for blind-baking pastry for I don’t know how long. They don’t get dirty enough to throw away so I just store them with my blind-baking beans. Also, when cooking a batch of biscuits, the same sheet of baking paper can be used several times. But there are alternatives.

Alternatives to Baking Paper

  • Silicone baking sheets. I have an old Tupperware one that I have been using for years but I have also recently discovered Agreena 3 in 1 wraps mentioned above which I love even more because it is thiner and conforms to my baking sheets better. Plus it can be returned to Agreena at the end of its life to be recycled.
  • Butter and flour method of preparing cake and muffin tins. This is the old-fashioned way to prepare a cake tin so it is non-stick. I first learnt this method when using odd, and difficult to line with baking paper, shaped cake tins for kids birthday cakes when the kids were little. Simply thoroughly grease the tin, and all its nooks and crannies, with butter then drop a small amount of flour, perhaps about a teaspoon to tablespoon’s worth depending on the size, into the tin. Shake it around, tapping the tin, until the flour has adhered to the butter and the tin is completely covered. Pour in your cake or muffin mix and, when cooked, it will slip right out.
  • Oil. To roast meat or vegetables, I rarely use baking paper when the recipe calls for it. I simply toss them well in olive oil. If they stick a little, soaking the pan with a solution of bicarbonate of soda, sometimes also heating that on the stovetop, works wonders.
Baking a cake without baking paper.
Video by Family Footprint Project

Aluminium Foil

There are only a very few occasions now when I use aluminium foil. I can’t imaging cooking jacket potatoes on a campfire without it and it does keep the Christmas turkey moist, although my sister does not cook turkey with it. I have to admit, I haven’t tried that myself yet because Christmas dinner is not the meal for trial and error! However, I do recycle alfoil on the few occasions I use it. #imperfectaction However, the rest of the time I use the following alternatives.

Alternatives to Aluminium Foil

  • Again, Agreena, can replace Aluminium Foil (the third part of the 3 in 1 claim) if not heated above 220°C.
  • Use covered baking trays and dutch ovens.
  • Cover cooked food in the fridge with an upturned plate or bowl or transfer to a sealable container.

So I hope you’ll be encouraged now to cook without disposables. Do you have any other ways in which you have done away with disposables in the kitchen? Please share!