Thank you, Rachael Ray

Credit: Photo by ThamKC via Getty Images

I first learned of the concept of a garbage bowl when I was about 10 years old, from my favorite cooking show at the time. Rachael Ray’s30 Minute Mealswas on Food Network every weeknight, and I still consider it my first semi-formal culinary education. Ray taught me that sandwiches could be dinner, that it was OK to bring everything from the fridge to the counter in one towering pile, and, most important of all, that a cook’s best friend was a garbage bowl.

A garbage bowl is as it sounds: a bowl to collect peels, wrappers, and anything else you don’t want to include in your recipe. By catching trash in a bowl placed on your cooking surface, you eliminate the need to trudge back and forth from the trash can over and over; you simply dump it all during cleanup.

Depending on where I’m cooking, I’ll employ two or more garbage bowls: one for trash like plastic packaging and fruit stickers, and one for garbage disposal-friendly produce trimmings or compostable items.

The garbage bowl comes in most handy when I’m peeling fruit and vegetables. Honestly, how many times have you been peeling a carrot over the trash can and it slipped out of your hand? For me, that happens regularly, and it’s a pain. When peeling over a garbage bowl, it’s not only a more comfortable place to be peeling (no need to awkwardly lean over the trash can), it’s easy to rescue any produce that slips out of your hand. Plus, you won’t have to pick up a bunch of strips of moist, partially stuck-to-the-kitchen-floor peels at the end of the night.

I kind of abandoned garbage bowls when I was living in my college apartment. It was the first place I’d ever lived that didn’t have a dishwasher, and there typically were four people trying to make different meals every night. We didn’t have real estate for bowls or kitchen sink space to spare for dirty dishes. I’d walk my egg shells and eggplant skin from the cutting board to the bin, and it was annoying, but in that space, it was slightly less annoying than getting the side-eye from my roommates for dirtying an extra mixing bowl with trash.

Now that I live alone, my trusty garbage bowl is always at the side of my kitchen table as I chop. I still don’t have a dishwasher, but in my opinion, hand washing one more bowl a day is not nearly as annoying as cleaning the kitchen floor or trash can.