Making coffee with less waste – a reusable coffee filter

I am always looking out for ways to reduce waste, anywhere and everywhere in my life. I recently found (made) a very easy and inexpensive way to eliminate disposable paper coffee filters by replacing them with reusable cotton coffee filters.

text "making coffee with less waste - a reusable coffee filter" with a photo of a ceramic cone coffee maker and homemade cotton coffee filter

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Brewing coffee

While not a coffee drinker myself, I have been making coffee for others for years. I have never liked large drip coffee machines or single pod machines due to the cost, space they take up on my counter, and all the plastic; french presses are a pain to clean. I have always preferred the simple ceramic pour-over drip coffee makers.

ceramic cone coffee maker over a mason jar with brewed coffee in jar

Zero waste coffee preparation

I looked into zero waste coffee preparation, and found something called a coffee sock. It’s a cotton coffee filter that is used in place of paper, or the reusable metal and plastic filter, and they are sold in different sizes and shapes to fit different coffee pots. When combined with my ceramic drip cone, I would have a totally zero waste brewing setup.

Since the filters that fit my coffee filter are extremely simple – basically a semi-circle folded in half and attached up the side – I decided to sew a couple myself with some scrap fabric. I had unbleached cotton. I opened one paper filter, traced it one the cotton, sewed around the cut edges with my serger sewing machine, and sewed up the side.

homemade cotton coffee filter in ceramic drip coffee cone with coffee

If I did not already have fabric scraps it probably would have been more frugal and cost effective to purchase the coffee sock. Alternately, I may have purchased a small amount of bamboo lyocell fabric if I could have found some since bamboo is a sustainable plant, growing quickly and requiring far less water than cotton to create fabric, and naturally does not require pesticides, or I may have looked for unbleached organic cotton (since bamboo is still tough to find locally).

How to use the reusable coffee filter

I use this cotton coffee filter just like the paper filters. Place the filter into the coffee maker cone, scoop the coffee into the filter, place coffee maker cone over coffee cup, pour water through.

How to clean the reusable coffee filter

To clean the cotton coffee filter, I scoop out the coffee grounds and toss them in my compost. I flip the filter inside out and rinse out the filter, preferably outside. I squeeze out extra water, then hang over my dish drying rack.

Every couple weeks, I boil the coffee filter for a couple minutes to remove the oils from the cotton filter. Then I rinse in cool water, squeeze out extra water, and allow to air dry.

The filters air dry really quickly – within a couple hours.

used coffee grounds scooped out of cotton coffee filter into a bowl that will be dumped into compost
used coffee grounds scooped out of filter before placing into compost

Taste tests

So, does coffee brewed through this cotton filter taste good? When I first brewed coffee through my cotton filter, we watched how quickly the water flowed through the filter. My taste tester thought the coffee tasted weak. But I wondered how much of that was influenced by watching the coffee brew, so I set up a blind taste test.

I brewed coffee 3 ways:

  1. through the paper filters I had been using for the past year
  2. through the cotton filter, brewed normally
  3. through the cotton filter, first soaking the coffee grounds in hot water for 4 minutes before pouring through the cotton filter

Each coffee was made with 1 Tablespoon ground coffee, and 4 fluid ounces hot water. My taste tester didn’t know which coffee was brewed in which manner. The comments received on each were:

  1. paper: coffee was weak
  2. cotton: overall good
  3. soaked, cotton: bitter, least coffee flavor

This experiment proved a few things. The main thing is that coffee brewed the “normal” way, with a cotton filter used in place of a paper filter, tastes best. The other thing it proved is that blind experiments are important – when we watched the coffee brewing the cotton filter made “weak” coffee, but with the blind experiment the cotton filter made the best tasting coffee.

Keep in mind that everyone’s tastes are different, and other people may prefer different brewing methods.

3 photos from blind taste test: setup with paper filter, cotton filter, and bowl of ground coffee; measuring implements; 3 jars of coffee brewed 3 different ways

My household’s coffee brewing plans

Based on the results of the blind taste test, combined with the decrease in waste produced by using a reusable coffee filter (especially one made with scrap fabric!) I will be brewing coffee through a reusable cotton coffee filter for the foreseeable future.

This is definitely more of a tiny swap to help the environment than a big frugal cost savings measure, but I am a firm believer that every little bit counts. This is a simple substitution that I was able to make, that cost me nothing, saves me a couple dollars per year, and makes me feel good about doing another small thing to reduce waste.


Have you made any small frugal or small waste reduction efforts that made you feel good about making an “every little bit counts” change? Please share with us in the comments below!

Bake-Ahead Eggs & Veggies for Easy Breakfasts

I try to eat healthy. I love breakfast foods. But during the work week, I struggle to find healthy breakfasts that I can easily eat at the office. One day I saw a picture on the internet and it gave me the idea for this recipe! The picture was a muffin tin lined with bacon with an egg cracked in each. I adapted that to be vegetarian, easily transportable, and easily microwavable! Enter: my bake-ahead eggs & veggies for easy breakfasts.

title "Bake-Ahead Eggs & Veggies for Easy Breakfasts" over pictures of baked veggies & eggs in mason jars

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Policy for more information.


The Egg and Veggie Bake Recipe

This egg bake recipe is really versatile and can be adjusted to suite different tastes or to use up whatever is in the fridge or freezer. The way I make it is vegetarian and gluten free.

My Ingredient Selection

ingredients used to make veggie egg bakes
  • eggs
  • shredded cheese
  • diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • spinach, frozen or fresh chopped
  • broccoli or cauliflower, chopped to bite size pieces, fresh steamed or frozen
  • black beans, canned or prepared from dry
  • spices, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning

Quantities of each ingredient are really based on personal preference. Per egg, I typically use about 2-3 teaspoons each tomatoes, frozen spinach, and black beans; 1-1.5 Tbsp cooked & well drained broccoli and/or cauliflower; a pinch of cheese, and a shake (or pinch) or two of Montreal Steak Seasoning, or whatever seasoning I am using at the time.

Directions

egg and veggies mixed in a measuring cup before being poured into mason jars for baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. If using frozen broccoli or cauliflower, thaw and drain excess water. For 8-9 eggs, I fill a glass measuring cup about 2 cups full of frozen broccoli and/or cauliflower (it compresses a lot once thawed) and microwave about 4 minutes on high, stir, and add 30 seconds at a time until no longer frozen. [I have a 700 watt microwave, times will vary depending on the microwave.]
  3. Prepare materials. I use 1 egg per mason jar because this is a good breakfast size for me. I use the 12oz mason jars, but 8oz may work. (Due to high water content of the veggies, steam can cause the cooked eggs/veggies to rise – look at the title picture! and I am afraid in an 8oz jar the eggs might pop out.) If using 2 eggs per jar, I would use a 16oz mason jar. Spray the inside of each mason jar with nonstick spray. Place the mason jars on a sturdy rimmed baking dish or pan. This will allow placing all of the jars into and removing out of the oven at the same time.
  4. Prepare all of the veggies and other egg add-ins. Shred cheese. Place spices in an easy to reach area. I chop the broccoli/cauliflower, drain excess water, and place in one bowl. I’ve been using tomatoes that I canned a couple years ago, so I drain a bunch of those and set them in another bowl. Drain some black beans and set in another bowl.
  5. Prepare egg bakes: One at a time method. I like this because each has a nice even distribution of veggies and add-ins. Crack egg(s) into a prep bowl. I like using a 1-cup measuring cup because the spout makes it easy to pour into the mason jars. Beat the egg. Add spices and mix. Add desired amount of each add-in and mix to distribute throughout the egg. Pour into one of the prepared mason jars.
  6. Prepare egg bakes: Batch method. In a large bowl, beat all the eggs. Add spices and mix in. Add all add-ins and mix well to distribute. Carefully pour, or use a ladel and funnel if desired, to divide the egg mixture between the prepared mason jars.
  7. Bake at 350F for 45-60* minutes, until the egg is cooled through and excess water has evaporated off. When I use frozen veggies and don’t drain as well, my cook time is 60 minutes; when I drain well or use fresh veggies, 45 minutes is enough to cook through the egg. *I like thoroughly cooked eggs, I cannot stand runny eggs. I don’t find these eggs to be dry or overcooked, but please keep this in mind if you try this recipe.
raw eggs and veggies in mason jars on a ban ready to bake

Eggs and Veggies Bake-Ahead Breakfasts
Delicious and filling baked eggs with vegetables that can be baked ahead of time then easily reheated for a quick breakfast
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
385 calories
23 g
402 g
21 g
33 g
9 g
616 g
635 g
4 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
616g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 385
Calories from Fat 184
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g
32%
Saturated Fat 9g
47%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 402mg
134%
Sodium 635mg
26%
Total Carbohydrates 23g
8%
Dietary Fiber 11g
45%
Sugars 4g
Protein 33g
Vitamin A
673%
Vitamin C
379%
Calcium
67%
Iron
68%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. eggs
  2. shredded cheese
  3. diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  4. spinach, frozen thawed & drained or fresh chopped
  5. broccoli or cauliflower, chopped to bite size pieces, fresh steamed or frozen thawed & drained
  6. black beans, canned or prepared from dry
  7. spices, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning
  8. Quantities of each ingredient are really based on personal preference. Per egg, I typically use about 2-3 teaspoons each tomatoes, frozen spinach, and black beans; 1-1.5 Tbsp cooked; well drained broccoli and/or cauliflower; a pinch of cheese, and a shake (or pinch) or two of Montreal Steak Seasoning, or whatever seasoning I am using at the time.
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. 2. If using frozen broccoli or cauliflower, thaw and drain excess water. For a batch of 8-9 eggs, I fill a glass measuring cup about 2 cups full of frozen broccoli and/or cauliflower (it compresses a lot once thawed) and microwave about 4 minutes on high, stir, and add 30 seconds at a time until no longer frozen, then drain excess water. [I have a 700 watt microwave, times will vary depending on the microwave.]
  3. 3. Prepare materials. I use 1 egg per mason jar because this is a good breakfast size for me. I use the 12 oz mason jars, but 8 oz may work. (Due to high water content of the veggies, steam can cause the cooked eggs/veggies to rise - look at the title picture! and I am afraid in an 8oz jar the eggs might pop out.) If using 2 eggs per jar, I would use a 16oz mason jar. Spray the inside of each mason jar with nonstick spray. Place the mason jars on a sturdy rimmed baking dish or pan. This will allow placing all of the jars into and removing out of the oven at the same time.
  4. 4. Prepare all of the veggies and other egg add-ins. Shred cheese. Place spices in an easy to reach area. I chop the broccoli/cauliflower, drain excess water, and place in one bowl. I've been using tomatoes that I canned a couple years ago, so I drain a bunch of those (about 1 can for 8-9 egg bakes) and set them in another bowl. Drain some black beans (about 1/2 can) and set in another bowl.
  5. 5.a. Prepare egg bakes: One at a time method. I like this because each has a nice even distribution of veggies and add-ins. Crack egg(s) into a prep bowl. I like using a 1-cup measuring cup because the spout makes it easy to pour into the mason jars. Beat the egg. Add spices and mix. Add desired amount of each add-in and mix to distribute throughout the egg. Pour into one of the prepared mason jars.
  6. 5.b. Prepare egg bakes: Batch method. In a large bowl, beat all the eggs. Add spices and mix in. Add all add-ins and mix well to distribute. Carefully pour, or use a ladel and funnel if desired, to divide the egg mixture between the prepared mason jars.
  7. 6. Bake at 350F for 45-60* minutes, until the egg is cooled through and excess water has evaporated off. When I use frozen veggies and don't drain as well, my cook time is 60 minutes; when I drain well or use fresh veggies, 45 minutes is enough to cook through the egg.
  8. 7. Reheating: If not eating immediately upon cooling to safe temperature, cover and refrigerate or freeze. When ready to eat, reheat in the microwave 60 seconds (from refrigerator) or 90 seconds (from freezer). Note that times will vary depending on your microwave (mine is 700 watts).
Notes
  1. *I like thoroughly cooked eggs, I cannot stand runny eggs. I don't find these eggs to be dry or overcooked, but please keep this in mind if you try this recipe.
beta
calories
385
fat
21g
protein
33g
carbs
23g
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https://mygreenerliving.com/

Eating and Reheating Egg Bakes

These eggs can be eaten as soon as they have cooled enough once they have come out of the oven. However, I love these as meal-prep meals, so after baking I let them cool, cover, then refrigerate or freeze. For me, they last a week in the fridge and a month in the freezer (probably would last even longer in the freezer).

When I am ready to eat these, I remove the mason jar lid an microwave for 1 minute. If I had frozen and put in the fridge the night before, I microwave 1 minute 30 seconds.

Why Make Bake-Ahead Eggs?

I love these veggie egg bakes because they are healthy, filling, inexpensive, and taste great – because I can put whatever flavors I like into them. Especially in the winter, I love having a warm breakfast. I’ve never been able to like oatmeal, as much as I try, and I prefer yogurt as an afternoon snack. I just really like eggs for breakfast, and never before had a way to make them in a way that I liked and could easily prepare in the office.

baked eggs and veggies in mason jars. steam caused some eggs to rise up in the jars

How much do egg bakes cost?

Cost is highly dependent on ingredient selection and quantity, so this cost breakdown is for exactly what I have included in this recipe. Price information is based on the last time I purchased each item, which was March 2019 timeframe.

  • eggs $1.68/dozen at Aldi. $1.68/9=$0.14
  • shredded cheese $2.25/8oz at Shaw’s. About 1 oz used for 9 eggs. $2.25/8oz/9eggs= $0.031
  • diced tomatoes, fresh or canned $1.99/pint at Aldi, ~$0.75 per home-canned. I used 1 can, drained used for 9 eggs. $0.75/9= $0.083
  • organic spinach, frozen. $6.29/3.5 lb (1588 grams) at BJ’s. 1 tablespoon used per egg, 16 Tbsp/cup and 1 cup=85grams. ($6.29/1588g)x(85g/16Tbsp) =$0.021
  • organic broccoli, frozen, ~1.5 Tbsp per egg rounding up to 1 cup cooked per 9 eggs. $7.49/4 lb (1814g) at BJ’s (1 cup/100 gram / serving) ($7.49/1814g)x(100g/1cup)= $0.413
  • black beans, prepared from dry. $2.49/2 lb at Aldi yields about 14 cups or the equivalent of 7 cans coked beans; $2.49/7=$0.3557 per can containing about 14 Tbsp. $0.3557/14= $0.025
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning, $3.69/3.4oz when I bought it at Stop & Shop (but even less on Amazon!). No idea precisely how much I use each time, but this seems to last forever. I will estimate $0.02 per egg bake.

Total per each egg bake: $0.733. I’ll round up to $0.75 per egg.

For a meal that is well rounded with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, tastes delicious and is filling, this is a great price! I often combine this egg bake with a banana and it keeps me full until lunch.


Looking for more vegetarian recipes?

Try my black bean veggie burger, a lentil-chickpea recipe that’s my version of Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend, or this veggie- and grain-rich casserole.

Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more vegetarian meal recipes or healthy dessert recipes!