Replacing Ziploc: Alternatives to Plastic Baggies

Plastic baggies seem to be a kitchen essential but they are flimsy, not easily reusable and plastic. There are also 20 million plastic baggies thrown away PER DAY.   We’ve been using these reusable, food safe bags to replace our Ziploc addiction.

I keep 6-8 on hand to use for snacks on the go and to pack in my kid’s waste-free lunches. They are great for snack or lunch time to store sandwiches, fruit and veggies, crackers, cheese and more.


LunchSkins – These reusable, colorful cloth pouches are made from a quick drying fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner. They have been certified as lead, Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalate-free. So many darling patterns and you can pop them in the dishwasher. We have several of these we use regularly.


BlueAvocado Re-Zip Reusable Bags – I love these utilitarian bags from Blue Avocado because they resemble simple plastic bags, without the plastic. They come in multiples sizes: snack, sandwich and one gallon. We have the 5-piece kit which is perfect for lunches and several one gallon bags for storing leftovers.  They are particularly good for teens and adults that don’t want a cutesy print. Made of FDA-grade PEVA material, PVC, BPA and Lead free. 

Kids Konserve Food Cozy


Kids Konserve – We love the Kids Konserve Food Kozy for sandwiches and other moisture rich foods.  Their reusable kozies are made with recycled, FDA approved, non-toxic, non-leaching, recyclable PE plastic. Free of BPA, phthalates, PVC and lead. 13″ round.  They are easy to hand wash and air dry.


Stainless Steel Bento Boxes – These are the best thing I’ve ever purchased to change our use of plastic baggies in our house and they revolutionized how we make lunches. We have the LunchBots brand (the LunchBots Cinqo specifically) but many friends love PlanetBox. They are a bit of an investment ($39+) but they have saved us from using hundreds of plastic baggies or plastic containers and the kid’s lunches have more variety and healthy choices than they did before. Highly recommended.

Itzy Ritzy

ItzyRitzy Reusable Snack and Everything Bag – What I like best about the ItzyRitzy is that is has a zipper, whereas many of the other reusable bags have velcro. It makes using them for more secure items (keys, cell phone, money, etc) a real possibility. FDA approved food safe, BPA free, lead free, phthlalate PVC free with a cotton exterior.


Bumkins – My favorite thing about Bumkins is their easy wipe, waterproof fabric. They also make my favorite bibs. The reusable bags have a zipper and are very reasonably priced (less than $5 apiece), not to mention they are well loved by reviewers. The designs are much more juvenile with Disney and Dr. Seuss, monsters and the like. PVC, BPA, phthalate, vinyl and lead free.  Easy to throw in the washing machine and then air dry.




How to Wash Produce {easy, effective, cheap}

how to wash produce {easy

I’ve gone more years not washing produce than I would like to admit. I got lazy.

Then I found an easy method to get it done that works for me. It’s not genius, it’s quite the opposite. But it works and that’s what counts, right?

I shop for produce once a week. Once I’m done unpacking the groceries, I clean all produce immediately. Then I cut it up to make snacking easy.

Do Produce Rinses Work?

Next time you are tempted to buy produce rinses (I’ve got a few bottles myself), save yourself the money and buy a gallon of white vinegar. Cooks Illustrated did a test of various produce cleaning solutions and found that white vinegar removed 98% of the bacteria.

Researchers at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tennessee State University tested dilute vinegar against plain water and a commercial product called Veggie Wash that they purchased at a grocery store. “We really did not really find the veggie washes effective or necessary.”

How to Wash Produce {easy, effective, cheap}

How to Wash Produce with Vinegar

1.  Fill up a bowl with 24 ounces of water, depending on the amount of produce.

2. Add the 8 ounces of white vinegar and stir. (3 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar)

3. Add the produce to the mixture.

4. Let sit for a couple minutes.

5. Rinse.

6. Cut off stems and blossoms as bacteria can get trapped in them.

Do you wash your produce, how do you do it?

Easy Microwave Popcorn (safer, cheaper, easier)

easy microwave popcorn: no chemicals, cheaper than buying the bags

We have used an air popcorn maker for years after reading that microwave popcorn in a bag contains hydrogenated oils and the chemical, PFOA, in the bag lining. (PFOA is a known carcinogen that has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects in animals.)

Sometimes when I pull out that hefty appliance, I grumble that it’s taking up a lot of space for something only used one or two times a week. With a click of the finger, I found a few alternatives that might mean our popper is headed for a new home.

Easy Microwave Popcorn

Add 1/4 cup of organic corn kernels to a large glass dish.  Put a microwaveable “lid” on it. I used a glass pie plate.

Cook for 2.5 – 3.5 minutes (just watch the kernels popping, every microwave is different).

Be careful: both dishes will be VERY HOT and steaming.

If there are any unpopped kernels, feel free to run them through the same process. No waste!

Makes 4 cups.

caramel corn

Easy Stove Popcorn

For those of you that don’t use microwaves,  here’s an option for the stove.

Put 2 tbsp of butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Add 1/4 cup of organic corn kernels and coat the kernels with the melted butter/oil.

Cover with lid.

Within 1-2 minutes, you’ll hear the corn popping. As soon as it slows down, pull the pan off the stove and immediately pour the popcorn in a bowl so it doesn’t burn.

Makes 4 cups.

Cost Comparison

Orville Redenbacher’s Microwave Popcorn is about $4 for 10 single serving bags. They make 1 cup each. You get 10 cups of popcorn for $4 or $0.40 per cup of popcorn.

Organic popping corn from Trader Joe’s is $2 for 3.5 cups of kernels. 3.5 cups of kernels will yield 14 cups of popcorn. You get 14 cups of popcorn for $2 or $0.14 per cup of popcorn.

Organic popping corn is half the cost of bagged microwave popcorn.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my favorite way to make caramel popcorn without using corn syrup (that’s a photo of it above). Yum, that’s all I can say!

How do you pop your popcorn? What are your favorite toppings?

2013 Guide to Pesticides on Produce

2013 Guide to Pesticides in Produce

The EWG released their updated guide to pesticides in produce. The Clean 15 are the top 15 fruits and vegetables the EWG states are the least likely to test positive for pesticide residues.  The Dirty Dozen Plus are the most contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables – those to be avoided.

Why Should I Care?

  • The majority of pesticide exposure comes from the food you eat. At least 67% of the conventional produce samples tested had at least one pesticide.
  • Just because a pesticide has been banned from use doesn’t mean its not on the produce we can pick up in the store. The EWG reports that produce tested several years ago had pesticides on them that had been banned in the 1970s!
  • 67% of food samples have detectable pesticide residues after washing or peeling.
  • Green beans canned for baby food tested positive for five pesticides and pears canned for baby food tested positive for 11 pesticides.
  • The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that:

Among the findings associated with increased pesticide levels are poorer mental development and increased scores on measures assessing pervasive developmental disorder, inattention, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. There may also be an association between parental pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes including physical birth defects, low birth weight, and fetal death, although the data are less robust than for cancer and neurodevelopmental effects.

How should I use this Guide?

Don’t stop eating fruits and vegetables, use the guide to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

  • Choose organic produce when you can afford it.

Studies led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Emory University found that elementary school-age children’s body burdens of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and malathion, peaked during the summer, when they ate the most fresh produce. But just five days after switching to an all-organic diet, their bodies were essentially pesticide-free.

  • If you can’t afford organic produce, choose conventional for the Clean 15 and organic for the Dirty Dozen Plus.
  • Always wash your fruit before eating. These tests were done after washing and peeling so if you don’t do that, you are potentially ingesting even more pesticide residue.

tip iconWant to have the list handy while shopping? Download the FREE Dirty Dozen app for iPhone.


Are Your Dairy Products Hormone Free? (30+ Dairy Brands That Are)

hormone free dairy blue

Remember when rBST-free milk was all the rage?  Now, it’s probably harder to find milk with hormones, than not (just a guess). But what about cheese? Or sour cream, cottage cheese and ice cream, for that matter? If we don’t make it from scratch (and some of us don’t, at least not yet), are we assuming that all dairy is hormone free?

What got me into this mess was a sale on cheese. I scooped it up, stuck it in the fridge and promptly realized I hadn’t checked the label on a brand I don’t normally purchase. It didn’t say “made from cows not treated with rBST” anywhere. A few minutes of research later and I knew that cheese in the fridge had hormones in it. <gasp> So I made my husband eat it.

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