One Quick Tip:
My Most-Used Kitchen Tool,
a Garbage Bowl or Compost Bowl

Hey, y'all. No recipe today but I'm so excited to dish on the one kitchen tool I use every single day, a a Rachael Ray-style "garbage bowl" and "compost bowl". With all my tips and tricks, you just might decide that you need one too!

My Most-Used Kitchen Tool, a Garbage Bowl or Compost Bowl, another Quick Tip ♥

Practical, Inexpensive Kitchen Tools for Real Cooks in Real Kitchens. No Purchase Required. What're you waiting for?! So Helpful!!

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About One Quick Tip

This is the latest in an occasional series of posts I call "One Quick Tip" ... because, well, each one will include a single quick tip, quick to absorb, easy to adopt, memorable to use.

Thanks to everyone who sent in helpful kitchen tips last month, you are so creative! I'm busy incorporating your ideas into my own kitchen. Isn't it the little things we do that some times make all the difference? Thank you!

Do you have One Quick Tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. This week, I'd love to hear how you deal with a kitchen's "mess" – y'know, garbage, food scraps, recycling, used cans and bottles, etc. Old idea or new idea, big idea or small idea, I'd love to know how you run your kitchen!

Garbage Bowl Turned Compost Bowl.

"A good artist copies, a great artist steals." Whether Pablo Picasso ever said this, who knows but I'll confess here and now, I 100% "stole" the garbage bowl idea from Food Network star Rachael Ray at least a decade ago.

EVERY SINGLE DAY But I use a garbage bowl every day, in fact, multiple times per day! What other kitchen tool gets the same use? Think about it, is there anything? Not in my kitchen!

GARBAGE-BOWL EFFICIENCY A garbage bowl is all about saving time and steps. The idea is to have an efficient somewhere to put cooking "garbage" (vegetable trimmings, butter wrappers, etc.) without extra steps for multiple trips to a garbage can, no matter where you're workspace is. A garbage bowl is especially useful in a large kitchen or an inefficient kitchen or a kitchen where garbage is kept under the sink or inside a cupboard. Friends have a trash compactor, their open-n-close routine would drive me crazy!

GARBAGE BOWLS FOR REAL-FOOD COOKS What I find, however, is that my cooking style generates few cans, bottles and paper packaging and that when it does, they go to recycling. So my garbage bowl isn't a "garbage bowl". Instead, it's a "compost bowl" – used only for vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, no meat, no dairy. And I STILL use it every day!

NO PURCHASE REQUIRED For years, my garbage bowl/compost bowl was an empty Folgers coffee tub, easy to throw in the dishwasher, about the right size for a day's worth of vegetable scraps. So really, there's no need to spend money on something fancy, just find something that works for you size-wise and price-wise.

But when we finished the new kitchen last summer, I splurged on two large melamine bowls, aren't they pretty?! I do love the bright green! UPDATE Unfortunately, the green bowls are no longer available. But there are other colors (affiliate link) that might work for you.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Because the new kitchen has two sinks, I bought two bowls, one for each sink. But it turns out that the small vegetable-prep sink isn't as useful as it sounded – it's one of two choices I regret in the new kitchen.

TWO BOWLS ARE BETTER THAN ONE But I still love having two bowls. Here's why:

  • The two bowls stack so take up the space of just one.
  • They fit in the right sink, out of the way of the main sink. I suppose I could find room underneath the sink to store these but honestly, they "live" in the sink full-time.
  • When one bowl is full, there's another for overflow. When I'm in rush-rush mode cooking dinner, no trip to the compost pile required.
  • Even completely filled, two bowls aren't two heavy to carry outside, one in each hand.
  • When two of us are cooking, yep, his'n'hers garbage bowls!
My Most-Used Kitchen Tool, a Garbage Bowl or Compost Bowl, another Quick Tip ♥

How a Compost Bowl Works for Us.

MUCH TO MY SURPRISE Vegetable scraps create no odor, even in a warm kitchen in summer, even collecting in a big pile on the far side of the garden. We're not yet experts in compost, beyond noticing that the resident woodchuck is especially fond of corn cobs and citrus. More on that later if we learn something interesting!

BUT DANG, THE FRUIT FLIES Especially during fruit season, the sink area does attract fruit flies. But I re-purposed a sprouting lid that screws onto a small wide-mouth mason jar. Every morning, I refresh an inch or so of water, add a small splash of apple cider vinegar and drizzle the surface with Dawn dishwasher detergent. This takes about a minute of my time and takes care of 95% of the fruit flies, which are attracted to the vinegar, fly through the lid's holes, get caught in the Dawn and ... reach their demise. It's kinda gross looking but the lid obscures the worst of it.

AND THE DANG DAWG Our compost pile is open in the back of the yard, it turns out, the dog loves to inspect so we can no longer include banana peels (which he loves but are a choking risk) and peach and avocado pits (same). We tried compostable bags, thinking that would stop him but no. So we use some garden fences and other tricks, they're about 10% successful.

The compost bed, My Most-Used Kitchen Tool, a Garbage Bowl or Compost Bowl, another Quick Tip ♥

How Composting Works for Us.

We are supremely laissez-faire composters. We "feed" it with vegetable scraps, fruit cores and peels, coffee grounds and egg shells. But then? We just leave it alone. No amendments. No turning. In the spring, we might layer in some decayed leaves.

It takes about a year for everything to de-compose and we use the rich compost to amend our vegetable and flower beds when planting in spring.

And we get very curious about the volunteers that appear un-invited, usually zucchini and butternut squash.


Again, no need to buy something special. Could you use a vegetable bag from the grocery? Of course though it'd be a bit icky to empty and then discard. Could you use yesterday's newspaper? Yes! Could you use a bowl you already own? Absolutely! Or what about an ice cream bucket with a lid? Sure!

That's It! Really! One Quick Tip!

What do you think, would a garbage bowl or compost bowl work in your kitchen routine? I'd love to know what you think!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2014 & 2024

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous2/26/2014

    I call that bowl my chicken/ parrot bowl, been using one for years. My chickens love all the scraps and will eat everything my parrots leave behind. I cook for my parrots and my husband every day so my huge red coffee container fills up every day!

  2. I've got a lidded container from IKEA as my compost bucket, and it lives under the sink. Actually I have a red IKEA lidded container as the worm bowl and the white one is for the outdoor compost that the worms don't like. Add to that the Soup Pack bags in the freezer which get all the celery ends, onion skins, and carrot peels that the composting guinea pig doesn't eat--and really my kitchen waste gets distributed over a wide area. I would do better with an pretty open bowl or two that lived in the sink like you have--as it's a pain to open the door, lift up the bucket, remove the lid, and put it one thing. But my spouse can smell everything all the time, so the lid must stay. Or perhaps I need to have the kids empty it every single evening.
    One tip for the outdoor compost--cover it with shredded leaves (we save them in the fall) for a nice balance of dry brown + wet green fodder to compost quickly, and if you ever have odor issues you'll cut down on that as well. I've not noticed my compost smell like anything other than compost, but I layer with leaves so that may have something to do with it.

  3. Anonymous3/05/2014

    After years of using plastic containers that I could never clean properly, I bought a stainless steel bathroom waste bin ($4.99 from Ross Dress For Less) that is a breeze to clean, and quite attractive on the counter-top. I paired it with a 99c glass lid from a thrift store to contain possible odors (usually from the nasty surprises that are found at the back of the crisper drawer of the fridge.)
    I also found another stainless steel waste bin at a thrift store, paired it with another glass lid and gave my daughter a kitchen compost bin of her own.
    I too do the shredded leaf thing with the compost, winter & summer, and have NO problem with odors (ratio: 2 parts leaves to 1 part kitchen scraps).
    Another useful tip is to cut/chop/tear scraps for the compost in as small a size as your patience can handle in the kitchen. I also hand shred used paper towels and paper napkins for the compost.
    Oh, and yes I have a worm bin for vermicomposting, living happily in the kitchen. The bin sits on a large tray on top of the recycling bins, with just enough of the bins exposed to allow recyclables to be dropped in easily. Again there is no odor problem.
    I did have chickens in the past and also kept a bin for their scraps.
    (I'd sign in if I could work out how to do it)

  4. Anonymous3/05/2014

    Addition: The worm bin sitting on the recycling bins is the actual home of the worms, not a bin to collect scraps for them, just in case anyone was confused.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna