Microwave Popcorn Can Be Zero Waste & CHEAP!

by Texas Homesteader
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Several years ago we moved to the homestead and opted not to hire a trash service to haul our trash to the landfill. It was easy for us since we’d been working for years at reducing our trash output.

Those efforts combined with recycling, re-purposing and composting means we had precious little trash destined for the landfill anyway. There are many ways we accomplished this trash reduction. But today I’ll be looking at one of the easy ways I reduce trash in the kitchen.

RancherMan & I enjoy microwave popcorn. But although those little 3-pack boxes we used to buy at the store were cheap, they were packed with non-recyclable trash to be thrown away. 

After three quick servings we would have not only the box but individual plastic wrappings and all those crinkly popcorn bags left over.

But I like the convenience of popcorn in the microwave. Is there any way to enjoy it without all that trash?

As a matter of fact there IS!

Custom Popcorn Jar Label. Popcorn is a cheap snack. But it doesn't have to send tons of trash to the landfill. Here's how you can enjoy microwave popcorn with less trash. #TexasHomesteader

Microwave Popcorn – No Trash!

I bought a large microwaveable bowl at a yard sale years ago & I’ve used it lots. It works really well for making microwave popcorn, although I’m searching for a microwavable glass bowl option in the future.

I’ve been buying my popcorn kernels at Winco Foods. They’ve got a few bulk bins so our trash-free popcorn costs a measly $0.77/lb! That’s a lot of popcorn snacking for very little money.

The last time I purchased it, I simply used my *Fabric Produce Bag to hold it. But at almost 7 lbs it was aaaaaalmost asking a little too much of that little bag! LOL

Buying popcorn from the bulk bins using fabric bags. There are many easy ways to reduce the trash your family sends to the landfill. Today we're looking at microwave popcorn. #TexasHomesteader

When I took it to the cash registered I presented my phone screen with a photo of the bulk bin information for the cashier. I didn’t need to write it down on anything that needed to be thrown away later. Yea!

Storing Popcorn Kernels In Repurposed Jars

I store my popcorn kernels in repurposed glass jars. I even made a cute custom label using only my laser printer and a piece of ordinary shipping tape.

(I think this is so cool, y’all!)

Custom Popcorn Jar Label. Popcorn is a cheap snack. But it doesn't have to send tons of trash to the landfill. Today we're looking at microwave popcorn. #TexasHomesteader

A Little Goes A Long Way!

To make my popcorn I pour a tiny 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into the bowl. Sometimes I add about a teaspoon of olive oil. My microwave has a popcorn sensor setting. So after putting the lid on my bowl I stick it in the microwave, push that button & wait.

I’ll let it pop until the popping slows down to about 1 per second. I’ve found that my popcorn usually needs about 30 seconds longer than the pre-programmed setting allows to pop most of the kernels. So after the timer goes off I add about 30 seconds & listen.

When the kernels are popping about 1 per second I stop the microwave & bring out my bowl of hot delicious popcorn.

If I’m enjoying it by myself I’ll snack on it just like this for a low-calorie treat.

But if I’m sharing with RancherMan I’ll use my *Misto sprayer of olive oil & add a sprinkling of salt to season it more to his palate.

In the past I’ve also seasoned with garlic salt, Cajun seasoning or some other spice blend for a little more punch.

Microwave Popcorn Can Be CHEAP!

The beauty is that my full bag of popcorn kernels cost less than $1 per pound. Using a tiny 1/4 cup of kernels per serving I can make many more servings of popcorn than those commercial boxes of popcorn with their non-recyclable weird popping bags.

And unlike those commercial boxes of microwave popcorn there’s no trash to throw away!

We can all learn from each other – how do YOU reduce the waste your family produces?


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26 thoughts on “Microwave Popcorn Can Be Zero Waste & CHEAP!

  1. Rosie (@greenrosielife)

    I’ve never made microwave popcorn before but I make it in a lovely old cast iron pot that is well over 50 years old #WasteLessWednesday

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I have a cast-iron pot gifted to me that I’ve never used before, Rosie. It needs to be seasoned before I can use it, but that’s easy enough to accomplish. But I think it’s too heavy for me to be able to shake the corn back & forth. Do you have to keep the corn moving in your cast-iron pot? ~TxH~

  2. Katy SkipTheBag

    We love making popcorn, but make ours on the stove with a little bit of oil. It’s one of our favorite snacks. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday Blog Hop!

  3. Brenda

    I use our 40 year old Whirley Pop on the stove, and a little bit of bacon grease! Yummers!

  4. John W

    I had to try this method this morning in a core 1-1/2 qt bowl with clear lid. I’ll stick to my air popper and add salt and butter after popped. I read somewhere a while back that more kernels will pop if dampened with a little water just prior to popping. It works good for me. I make a batch in a 1 gal ice cream container, rotating as it is popping and I have plenty of room for stirring after adding the salt and butter…

  5. Tiffany Armour

    What is the Brand of that bowl you are using i’m looking for the exact set. This is my moms favorite set of bowls and they are gone

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Tiffany, this bowl is part of a set of Tupperware stackable cookers I’ve had for years – you’re supposed to be able to microwave many dishes at one time using them. It comes with two sized bowls, a steamer of sorts and of course the lid. I’ve never really used them for stack cooking but I still use the bowls all the time for various things in the microwave. The larger bowl is especially helpful for this microwave popcorn. ~TxH~

  6. Summers Acres

    I love this. We never made microwave popcorn growing up. And not any of those tinfoil pan doohickies either. It was always made in a kettle on top of the stove. But now we do the microwave popcorn. 🙁 I need to try this out.


    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      RancherMan & I have used popcorn in place of chips from time to time when we’re craving a crunchy snack. Making it this way eliminates much of the waste while still allowing the convenience – it’s certainly worked well for us. ~TxH~

  7. Lynn H @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

    Thanks so much for stopping by the Four Seasons Blog Hop and sharing this with us. I haven’t made popcorn in a long time but I always made it on the stove top with my “popcorn” pan and use coconut oil:) Yum~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  8. Andy

    I have to admit that I used to think for a long time that microwave popcorn bags contain some kind of magic. When I learn that this isn’t the case, I also switched to a microwave-save plastic bowl… Which worked fine until I attempted to pop some of the unpopped popcorn kernels. They can get so hot that they melt through the plastic bowl! After that experience, I switched to reusing brown paper bags in which I get my veggies from my greengrocer… Worked fine. Now I no longer own a microwave and am back to just using the stove top.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Me too Andy – I thought there was something special about those microwave bags that allowed them to properly pop the popcorn. I’m hoping to find a glass-bowl option for the microwave, although I fully plan to give the stove top popping a try as well. ~TxH~

  9. Matt

    I do the paper bag in the microwave, but I don’t use oil. Instead I use 2 pats of butter, so every kernel that pops is coated with butter. It turns out not to be a strong butter flavor, but the “finish” of the popcorn is similar to what you get (almost slightly scorched or roasted) when you go to a theater. Then I put salt and grated Parmesan on it. I’ve done it on the stove top also, replacing some of the oil with butter.

  10. Laila

    I ran over our microwave (son still thinks it was an accident), and bought a whirly pop popcorn maker. We use either butter, or a mix of expeller-pressed coconut oil and red palm oil, salt in the popper, and stir until it is done. I use a hulless popcorn and no hulls. I also notice almost NO old maids! Son adds extra salt to his (pink Himalaya salt), and sometimes I do too if I did not get enough iin the popper. Just like the theater popcorn. I can eat it by the handful!

  11. Sandra Sullivan

    Do you find that popping in the covered bowl leaves moisture in the popped kernels causing them to be on the tough side? When the popped corn is not absolutely dry and crisp, I find that I cannot chew it. My teeth just seem to flatten it into a hard piece that cannot be chewed by me, anyway. I do love popcorn! It works great for me with a brown paper lunch bag, but not all the kernels will pop. I will have to try glass with a plate for the lid and see what happens.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Sandra, this microwave bowl’s lid rotates to allow either a tighter seal or a steam escape. I use the steam escape seal and I remove the bowl from the microwave & take the lid off as soon as it finishes popping to allow the steam to further escape. I’ve never had a problem with tough popcorn, it’s always been light & crispy. ~TxH~

  12. Shari

    Whoops, that should say, it is super yummy.

  13. Shari

    I pop my popcorn on the stove as welI. I had read that the packaging in the microwave popcorn contains dyes that are not good for you. I use a 2 quart pan with a lid and pour just enough oil to cover the bottom. I pour in enough popcorn to form a single layer on the bottom. I set my gas stove on medium high and wait for the first pop. I shake it a little and turn off the heat when the popping slows down. Give it a few seconds to finish popping. I sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. It I super yummy!

  14. Candy C.

    I do love popcorn but gave up the convenience of microwave popcorn years ago. I just don’t like what’s in it. Ugh! I have tried the brown bag in the microwave thingy but wasn’t real thrilled with the results. I have actually gone back to a pot on top of the stove. It really doesn’t take that much longer and I like the taste better. I pop in light olive oil and then just add a little salt.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Candy, I haven’t ever done the stove-top method. Do you use a regular deep pot with a little oil in the bottom? How do you keep it from burning? How long does it take to pop? How can you tell when it’s popped as much as it can? I’d love to give stove top a try so c’mon gal – spill it! 😉 ~TxH~

  15. Teresa

    I like microwave popcorn, but my daughter and son in law bought us a stir crazy popcorn popper for Christmas and I love it. It pops all the kernels where the microwave popper didn’t and I use coconut oil to pop the popcorn. Very good eating. Happy Valentines day!

  16. Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe

    Hmmm, I might have to take a stab at this tonight. I have read about a lot of people making microwave popcorn in those little brown lunch bags – a healthier option rather than one to produce less waste – but I’ve never come across anyone making it in a bowl this way. My only concern is that I don’t like to zap any plastics if I can help it, even those supposedly microwave-safe. I wonder if it work work with a glass bowl and a plate over it to seal it … or a sheet of waxed paper that could be re-used. Hope I remember to try this later!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I share your aversion to microwaving plastic – even microwave-safe plastic. I have these microwave bowls and I still use them often but would love to find glass alternatives. I was thinking the same thing as you – covering a microwave-safe glass bowl with a plate or something. Maybe even a large-ish glass microwavable casserole dish with a glass lid. Hummm. Let me know how your glass-bowl experiment works! ~TxH~


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