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How do you do dishes without a garbage disposal?

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I am in a new home.  (its actually quite old but new to me)


I never realized how much I used the garbage disposal all my life.  I always seem to have scraps and extra food to dispose of.  I tried using the strainers in the sink but they fill quickly and clog and it turns into a bigger mess than I began with.  I thought about using a sieve, but I don't want food to rot in the trash, as there is no trash service here and dear husband only hauls the trash trailer to the landfill a few times a year.  I feel so silly I can't figure this out!


It would be easy to get a disposal installed if I weren't on a small temperamental septic tank.  Bummer.


I remember as a child on my family's homestead farm, the food scraps would go in a bowl temporarily, then into a in metal barrel outside that papa would burn periodically.  Do people still do this?  Any other suggestions?


I am shying away from composting.  I did it years ago and it was labor intensive, too much for me now, and that still leaves the non compostable foods to dispose of as well.


I would appreciate you telling me how YOU do it.  Still chuckling that I am perplexed over something so basic.



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Well Kathy,

This is a different problem and of course it has raised my interest.


We have no garbage disposal at our home by the sea and in fact have only a single sink, a fact that I would once have reacted in horror to.   My last home by the sea had 3 sinks in the kitchen, one to wash dishes in, one for the garbage disposal and one for buckets and unhygenic activities.   We also have a small apartment in the central city that's why I am differentiating.   There is a garbage disposal there but I hardly use it in fact.


Out of town we have a compost bin, always have had and it seems to be no trouble, just toss the stuff in and in 6 months or so my husband turns it over and spreads the composted stuff on the garden as mulch and puts the rest back in to carry on rotting.   I have to point out that we live in a temperate climate so no heavy frosts at sea level and an average low of about +7 - +10 degrees C.


Our daughter lives in a rural area and has the similar problems with disposal but she has some hens who eat every scrap.   They have to be careful about the septic tank so she has a compost pile too.   Once again no heavy frosts or snow and plenty of space on 5 acres to have a pile that bothers nobody.


In my childhood my mother used to flush very sloppy stuff down the loo and the septic tank seemed to be able to cope.


A very interesting problem and I haven't really offered you any help have I.!!!


Best of luck


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Hi Kathy,


Well, what an interesting problem!


Like Judy, we don't have a garbage disposal unit; unless you include the dogs!! Thanks to them, we never have any food scraps as they clean up anything left over like locusts and generally their digestions can cope with most things. Unfortunately they do consider sheeps' droppings and cow pats a delicacy should they encounter them on a walk (my Labrador particularly loves getting  rabbits, although the only rabbit he can catch is either very sick or very dead! :P )  and when their stomachs rebel and it all comes back up again, they're not very popular!  :sick2:  ;) 


We have a weekly rubbish (trash) collection (we're fortunate as many UK councils only collect rubbish once a fortnight) and fortnightly recycling and garden waste collections. However, so we should, as we pay enough for the service and also as we live down a long lane, we have to do the  dustman's  sorry, 'refuse disposal executive's'  :rolleyes:  jobs by carting the rubbish bins to the end of our lane for collection. We also have amenity rubbish dumps run by the council, where rubbish can be taken and recycled/ disposed; actually very useful as we've been in our present house for many years and have accumulated a massive amount of junk!


As we live in a fairly rural area, our neighbours (most of whom seem to be pyromaniacs!) do light up bonfires on a regular basis to get rid of garden waste etc.; I hate bonfires, particularly when I've just put my clean washing on the line to dry, but must admit that one of our neighbours very kindly allowed us to put an awful lot of old rubbish and wood on his bonfire when he had a really good blaze; if you can't beat 'em.....join 'em!! ;) :lol:

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Hi Kathy,


Wow, what a fascinating question. Most of us reading this post are realizing that we have failed to be regularly grateful for our double sinks, garbage disposals and trash collection services.


When I was growing up, we had a trash compactor, but I don't even know if they make them anymore? My mother would save every container (like milk cartons), fill with garbage, and seal it with tape (to keep the bugs out.) She also put coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. straight into the garden without composting. Burning regulations vary by area. Call your city hall to see what they are in your area. And consider bribing your husband with an extra special dinner if he makes a trash run more often.


Your septic tank probably can't handle it, but another idea would be to put yucky but nongreasy stuff in a good blender, with water if needed, so that it is pourable down the sink or toilet in a pinch.


Also, if you don't already, you may want to consider cooking things down to the bone, literally, so that you have fewer scraps.  I make a big batch of broth once a week.  During the week, I throw all my vegetable trimmings, bones, and most leftovers, in a freezer bag. When it's full I just simmer it all day, adding a touch of apple cider vinegar to help draw out the minerals in the bones.  Then I pick out the bones and put them back in the freezer bag, and use them again and again until they turn to mush.


I use the broth for everything.  Soup, of course, but also for stews, cooking beans and rice, sometimes just drinking it straight for a snack. It makes everything more flavorful and nutritious. Also never assume any food is unedible; question it all and look it all up online.  I make a lovely side dish of wilted radish tops along with stir-fry radishes, even though most people probably throw the radish tops away.  Citrus rinds can be dried and used in recipes. I even sort out melon seeds and roast them or put them straight into smoothies. My latest cooking adventure is making Greek yogurt from scratch (yum to the max) and I even save the whey and add it to my oatmeal and soups.


So, my basic tip would be to try to figure out creative ways to eat food.  In the olden days, the saying was that they'd use everything except the squeel, and they probably did that largely from being in a situation similar to yours, which sounds deliciously like a wonderful pioneer lifestyle!



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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Amanda,


Okay I'll put my recipe in the Sclero Kitchen, but beware, it is sort of unusual. Probably mostly because I don't have a yogurt maker, but the machines are too small so I can't make a half gallon at a time, and I am too lazy to make any less at one go.



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Fantastic suggestions, thank you!!


We currently have two beloved dogs, I need to become more discerning on what I keep opposed to let them enjoy :)  Too many times my food goes bad in the refrigerator, though I am always grateful for leftovers if I get hungry, but the dogs could enjoy so much more of it instead me in the quandary on how to dispose of expired food.  The last few years since my beautiful baby is now a preschooler I have a lot of convenience foods and its easier as they are a bit bland so they are easier on my digestion,  so now even more left overs go bad in the fridge than in the past...


We have a kitchen remodel in the next few months.  Our current kitchen is not functional, a tiny galley that only fits one person (or dog) at one time.  Our new kitchen will be functional to start cooking again, and make better use of food, like broth etc.  My hesitation is cleaning afterwards.  I used to cook dinners nightly and even in bulk to freeze on weekends and I was a great baker for an amateur, but it became so difficult to allot my scarce energy to clean the dishes, pots, counters and sink when I really needed to use my that fraction of the energy I used to have to keep us in clean clothes and home.  That as well as my joints give out too quickly from inflammatory arthritis made it too difficult to handle the heavy pots and pans.  The result is I quit cooking to avoid making more dirty pots and pans and did my best to keep up with the dishes dear husband created when he graciously cooked for us (which he has always done often).   On the other hand I am quite tired of microwave food and the packaging fills up the trashcan so quickly. 


My conclusion is that I need to make better use of leftovers (while pleasing the doggies) and make better use of food we bring home.  Hmmm I think I need to update after we get a functional kitchen and move back into the house!



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  • 2 months later...

I use coffee cans for that stuff and the dogs get part of it as it is hard to cook for one person. The little stuff goes in the dishwasher with the dishes; my dishwasher has a garbage disposal in it so I don't have to pre wash the dishes, just scrape off the big chunks.


I know the dogs love the scraps but it causes them to gain a lot of weight; my vet put Tony, my poodle, on a no table scraps diet but he cheats once in a while Mariah, my husky, has a touchy tummy so I have to be careful what I give her, so I have a coffee can by the sink with a small plastic bag in it so I can throw stuff out with the trash once a week.

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