Grilling Without the Garbage

Grilling Without the Garbage

I love barbequing in the summer. It sure beats heating up the kitchen with the oven. We use the BBQ to cook up a quick supper for ourselves or to cook for a party. What I don’t love is throwing out piles of aluminum foil or greasy paper plates. Here’s how we grill without the garbage.

I have devised a way to cook up potatoes and onions on the grill without the usual aluminum foil ‘packet’. I use a small enameled roaster with a lid on that fits on our BBQ. The lid keeps in the steam to help the vegetables cook nicely. I add butter or oil to keep them from sticking to the bottom (though the sticky/crispy bits are admittedly my favorite, taste-wise). Most people are concerned about the black baked-on stuff that would get on the underside of the roaster. The roaster’s enamel is pretty much black, so not much shows up. And I have found that my favorite eco-friendly dishwasher tabs get most of that black stuff off. I think it is the citric acid in them that does the trick.

We also have a reusable grill pan. It’s great for cooking more delicate things like asparagus and fish that would otherwise fall through the grill.

One of my favorite things to BBQ is a meat and vegetable kabob on bamboo skewers. Most people would just use the skewers once and throw them out - but we reuse them! If you soak the skewers for a few hours before you use them they don’t char on the grill. After the meal, we wash them the same way we would our wooden chopsticks and they are good to go next grilling time. I haven’t bought metal skewers as they are a lot more expensive and stay hot to the touch for a lot longer.

For eating outdoors and at parties, we use a set of reusable plastic plates instead of paper ones. That way, we aren’t worried about our good ones being broken, and we don’t wind up throwing out greasy paper plates. The plastic ones are thin and don’t take much room to store in between parties.

We use a cedar shim to clean the grill instead of a brush. I find that he brushes wear out fairly quickly and aren’t usually recyclable (plus there are horror stories of grill brush bristles (usually metal) coming off on the BBQ and getting into people’s food). We have been using the same cedar shim for quite some time. It now has a nice groove worn into it that fits our grill grates nicely. Once it wears down too much, we can just add it to the fire pit. You could also reuse a cedar plank that might have come from a fish that you bought.

Also, don’t forget about your propane tank. Last year ours finally expired. We took it to our local Co-op gas station and they took our old one for recycling and gave us a discount on the new one. If you just have a tank to get rid of and aren’t buying a new replacement, many scrap metal dealers take them for recycling. Have a look at our recycling database here.

I would love to know what you think. Have you found ways to cook in the summer that don’t create much waste? Are you a professed aluminum foil fan? Could you give it up?