This Fit Life | Let’s Talk Trash
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Let’s Talk Trash

Yes.  I mean actual, literal trash.

The trash situation here in Germany is fascinating.  I have never seen a country do it in a more environmentally-friendly, efficient manner but… it definitely takes a few months to get used to.  We have been living here since the end of August and we are just now getting the hang of it.

I know…it sounds kind of silly right?  I mean, how hard can it be to throw away some trash?  But, it isn’t uncommon for you to hear questions around our house like “Mama, does this go in the gelbe sack or black trash can?” or “Should I put this in the black trash can or the one under the sink?”

Let me break it down for you so you can see what I mean.

We have 5 different receptacles in our house:

  1. food waste- green bag under the sink
  2. mixed materials – gelbe sack
  3. general trash – black trash can
  4. cardboard and paper – wire basket next to the fridge
  5. glass – a large sack in the pantry area

1.Any type of food goes in this green, biodegradable bag.  (You have to buy these at the store).  There are no garbage disposals here…so…if any food ends up in the sink, you have to fish it out.  And put it in the green bag.  It’s awesome.  (That’s sarcasm in case you didn’t pick up on that.)  Come to think of it though, my husband probably likes this because I have been known to get things stuck in the garbage disposal a time or two (or five or twenty).

This bag needs to be taken out daily, or every other day, at the most.  We learned this the hard way.  This bag is not meant to hold a lot.  It’s thin.  It’s not very durable.  If you over-stuff it because you don’t feel like taking it out because it’s gross with all that mushy, old food in there and then you finally give in and decide to take it out, don’t be surprised if it breaks on you and all the food (did I mention that this food is old and mushy and semi-smelly?) comes out the bottom.

-At first, we thought only food like fruits and vegetables go in this bag and the rest of the food goes in the black trash can (other general garbage).  Then, a friend of mine, who has been living here for a year, came over for dinner.  As we were cleaning up, she began scraping all the food from the plates into the green bag under the sink.


“Wait,” I said, “isn’t that only for fruits and vegetables?”


She looked at me kind of funny in a “oh, poor honey” kind of way and said, “All food goes in here.”

“Oh,” I said.  “That explains why the Germans don’t have as much trash as we do.”

A few months later, as my husband was changing out the green bag, he started reading the front of the bag – which tells you (in German) what exactly is supposed to go in that bag.

“Kuchenpapier,” he said.

“What?  What are you talking about?”

He waved the bag in his hand.  His face lit up.  “Kuchenpapier.  We can put kitchen paper in here…like paper towels.”

“Really?”  I was excited too.  “No wonder the Germans don’t have as much trash as we do.”

2.   The gelbe sack (or the yellow bag) is the most fascinating one because this bag consists of things we don’t typically recycle in the U.S.  This bag is clear and is used for mixed materials like plastic, milk cartons and foil.  Since this bag is clear, if you put things in there that don’t belong, they will not pick it up.  These bags are free (you don’t have to buy them like the green bags) but you have to go to city hall and ask for them.

– When we first moved here, we were lucky if we filled up 2 yellow bags.  As we put the trash out on Fridays, my husband and I would often ask each other, “Why do our German neighbors have so many more gelbe sacks than us?” And I’m not just talking 1 or 2 more…I mean like 4 or 5 more.  “What do they know that we don’t?”

– After we had been here for a few months, there was one Friday (trash day) where we had SIX…SIX gelbe sacks!!!!  I remember thinking, “We have arrived”.

3. The black trash can is for regular trash…things like diapers, gum and old, dried up play-dough that you find in the corner of the playroom.  When you recycle properly around here, you’ll start to find that there really isn’t much you actually need to put in this trash can.  Which explains why their black trash cans are so little.

When we first got here, we didn’t understand how their trash cans could be so tiny.  “How do they have room for diapers?”  Because we certainly didn’t.   We had them piling up, literally, in bags in our garage.  “Do they all just use cloth diapers?  What do they know that we don’t??”

One thing I forgot to mention is that they only take the trash every other week.  They will pick up the gelbe sacks and the brown can (food trash) one week and than the other week they will pick up the black trash can (diapers) and the blue trash can (cardboard, paper).

So…our diapers…and keep in mind…we have 2 kids in diapers….only get picked up every other week.

Did you catch that?

Every.  Other.  Week.

It was becoming a health hazard.  (I’m joking.  But I’m kind of not.  It was gross).

Now this is the cool part – when my husband realized that we could put kuchenpapier in the green bag (with the food) we were amazed at how little actual trash we generated.

I am happy to say we no longer have diapers piling up in our garage!  Being able to put the paper towels in the green bag has been HUGE!

It’s funny, isn’t it, what you get excited over?

4.  Cardboard and paper is pretty self-explanatory.  Things like boxes, computer paper and empty paper towel rolls go here.

5. We have to take the glass to be recycled.  They don’t pick it up.  Luckily though, all the German grocery stores will take it.  You can even get some money back from it!  We are talking like 25 cents…but still!  It adds up.

One day I was at the local grocery store and I saw this couple bring in a bag full of glass bottles.  I was curious as to what they were going to do with those bottles so I sort of stood behind them in a casual,hopefully not stalker, kind of way.  They stuck them into a machine one-by-one.  When they were done, they pushed a button and a ticket came out.  It was a voucher they could use to go buy groceries.  They got paid just to recycle!

I went home to tell my husband.  “Did you know that you can recycle the glass bottles at the store and get money back?”


I looked at him.  “How come you didn’t tell me?”

He looked back at me with a sort of half-scowl, half-grin.  “I did tell you.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“That’s because you tune me out.”

I shrugged.  True enough.

Since it seems that we have FINALLY figured out this trash situation and I am super excited about it, (I am.  Seriously.  This is not sarcasm.) I wanted to share some recipes involving left overs.

My family and I love left-overs.  I mean, why not?  They are already made.  They are still tasty.  Just put them in the microwave and heat them up.

Plus, I hate to waste food.



Leftover Chicken Cobb Salad


3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons finely minced shallot

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

10 cups mixed salad greens

8 ounces shredded cooked chicken breast, (about 1 large breast half; see Tip)

2 large eggs, hard-boiled (see Tip), peeled and chopped

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced1 avocado, diced

2 slices cooked bacon or turkey bacon, crumbled

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)


1. Whisk vinegar, shallot, mustard, pepper and salt in a small bowl to combine. Whisk in oil until combined.

2. Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat.

3. Divide the greens among 4 plates.

4. Arrange equal portions of chicken, egg, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, bacon and blue cheese (if using) on top of the lettuce.

5.Drizzle the salads with the remaining dressing.


-You could use any kind of cheese that you like – shredded cheddar, gouda, etc.

– You could also use steak or shrimp in this salad instead of chicken

– A variety of flavors of chicken can be used in this recipe. For example, if you made lemon chicken and had leftovers – that would work well in
this salad.


Leftover BBQ Chicken Sandwich/Salad


½ cup shredded cooked chicken
¼ cup shredded carrots
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
2 teaspoons light ranch dressing (or you could use plain Greek yogurt)
1 small whole-wheat sandwich bun (or you could use a Flat Out wrap)
1 leaf romaine lettuce

1. Combine chicken, carrots and barbecue sauce in a bowl.
2. Spread ranch dressing on the bun.
3. Top with the chicken mixture and lettuce.

– Instead of using a bun, try putting the chicken on a bed of lettuce. Add some tomatoes and avocado. You can mix the ranch (or Greek yogurt) into the BBQ sauce and then top the chicken with it.
– You could also do a lettuce wrap instead of a bun


Leftover Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

* Do you ever get to the end of the week and you realize you have a lot of veggies you need to use before they go bad? Me too! All.
The. Time. This recipe is perfect for that! Throw in your remaining veggies and you have a brand new meal!



5 large potatoes peeled and quartered (I like to add chopped cauliflower also)
1/4 cup butter ghee or coconut oil
1/4 cup almond milk
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup beef stock (or chicken or veggie stock)
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons tapioca starch

2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups zucchini peeled and chopped
2 cups peas
2 cups finely chopped kale

1. In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes until they are tender (about 10 minutes). Mash the potatoes and cream them together with the butter, milk, salt and pepper until they are fluffy. Set aside. (I add cauliflower to the potatoes and mash them in to get more veggies!)
2. Place all of the sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
3. Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet or saucepan. Drain the fat off the meat.
4. Add the sauce and chopped vegetables to the skillet. Cover the skillet and allow the meat and veggies to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the veggies start getting tender. Don’t allow them to cook all the way through since they will continue to cook in the oven.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the meat and veggies to a 9×13 pan. Top the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes and spread it out evenly.
6. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

– use leftover cubed chicken or steak
– you can use a variety of veggies so if you have some in your fridge that you need to use – go for it! (green beans, mushrooms, etc. would work)
– if you don’t feel like making the sauce, leftover spaghetti sauce will work or a simple organic jar of spaghetti sauce with spices already added will work too

Paleo Pineapple Cherry Dumpcake


½ cup desiccated (shredded) coconut
½ cup arrowroot flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp of honey
2 tbsp almond milk
5 tbs liquid coconut oil
¾ cup frozen tart cherries
1 ½ cups fresh or canned chopped pineapple

For coconut whipped cream (optional)
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F
2. Place the coconut, arrowroot flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse a few time to combine. Sift the flour mixture in a bowl and set aside. In the food processor add the coconut oil, almond milk and honey. Pulse a few time until combine well.
3. Dump the cherries and pineapple into an 8×4 inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly the coconut mix over the top of the fruit. Drizzle evenly the honey mixture over the surface of the coconut mix
4. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with dollop of coconut whipped cream if using.
5. To make the coconut whipped cream, chill the coconut milk and remove the lid. Gently scoop out the coconut cream and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of ingredients and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until light and fluffy and soft peaks form.


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Yes.  I mean actual, literal trash. The trash situation here in Germany is fascinating.  I have never seen a country do it in a more environmentally-friendly, efficient manner but...
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