For pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fries, sandwiches, and a lot of other foods, use paper plates.

At 2-3 cents per plate, paper plates cost less than the energy & water required for washing ceramic or plastic plates.  This also means 0 time spent time rinsing the plates, putting them in the dish washer, then back in the cupboard.
So what about bowls, cups, and plastic utensils​?  Save time? Yes.  Save money? Depends.  Using disposable bowls, cups, & utensils will save you the time spent washing them.  It will also help reduce the piles of dishes near the sink.  And if you don't own a dishwasher, I highly recommend living on disposables.  It takes a very long time for the cost of disposable dinnerware to outweigh the cost of a new (or used) dishwasher and the cost of operating it.

However, there will always be cases when disposable dinnerware just won't do.  Microwaveable throwaways are often 2-3 times as expensive, so the cost is often more than using durables.  Special events like Holiday gatherings might also be deemed a bit tacky if disposable dinnerware is used.  Lastly, most people have a dish washer.  Pots and pans don't have paper substitutes, so unless you are on the sandwich-only diet, you're probably going to be doing some dishes anyway.

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  1. In my opinion, it's not just about the money it would save me. What about all of the money spent on the making of said plates ect.? And the amount of trash. Even if recycled, the cost of the energy to do such. I am not against ever using disposable ware.. but I wonder, in the end, if it's not better for our world to bite the bullet and wash your dishes.

  2. I hear you Julie! I haven't gone undercover to investigate, but I believe the electricity cost, + water dirtied by washing the dishes actually comes out equal for the environment. Cheap paper plates can be composted too. The more expensive, plastic coated plates aren't quite as environmentally friendly.

  3. In concerns to time: you still spend time buying new plates every time you run out, and you can easily spend lots of time trying to separate paper plates cause they stick together. Or you may have to take out the trash more often. That and plates only consist of a small portion of the dishes I actually clean(on a day to day basis).
    In concerns of money: Paperplates don't really work well with wet foods, only the expensive plastic ones do.

    To me it's more cost and time efficient to pay $2 extra on my dishwasher soap and get the powerful no-rinse kind.

  4. Elizabeth, you're right. Paper plates aren't good in all cases. This post may be as much for me as anyone else because I have 6 frozen pizzas in the freezer that I plan on eating over the next 12 days. Paper plates are perfect for me.