As a lover of cooking and recipe searching, I am excited to bring a new concept to the kitchen. Zero waste. I love the idea of making an entire meal without throwing anything into the trash. It can be done! And it will be done. I also want to be realistic. After all most of us don’t live on farms with access to fresh products. We live in cities and suburbs with a central market to provide all of the ingredients for our diet. So with that, comes packaging and with packaging comes waste. Well that waste is ending today in my kitchen, and hopefully in yours.
Zero waste recipes are all about meals made entirely from ingredients that produce no trash. Trash, as in goes into your trash can and can’t be used again. Recyclables are still okay, but for the sake of limiting packaging in general, each recipe will produce no more than three pieces of recycling. I honestly hate taking out our recycling bin, so the less often it’s full, the better. A perk of recyclables too is that most of them can be remade into something else or reused for food storage. For example, empty peanut butter jar; reuse it to store bulk goods. Empty tomato sauce can: paint it or cover it in wrapping paper and use it as a pencil holder. This is simple living.
I love basic meals like spaghetti, stir fry, tacos and homemade macaroni and cheese. I also love healthy foods, so you might lose some serious poundage. You’re welcome. Each recipe will lay out everything that needs to be done ahead of time if bulk ingredients are included. I currently have a giant casserole dish full of dried garbanzo beans soaking in water so I can make a gigantic batch of hummus later in the week. Side note: never buy hummus in the store; make it from scratch. It’s way cheaper, incredibly easy and you get A LOT of it. Plus you can customize it by adding random ingredients like basil, paprika or olives. Moving on. Trash is just the worst thing. By taking some really simple steps you can drastically reduce how much you throw away per day. How often do you think you take your trash out per week? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day. That’s 29 pounds per week and 1,600 pounds per year. That’s really gross guys. Let’s fix that, one meal at a time.
To help us all out on this journey to a zero waste kitchen, a couple shopping guidelines should be followed:
1. Buy as much as you can from the bulk department. Grains, nuts, oils, flours, beans, pastas, spices, dried fruits and seeds can all be purchased in bulk.
2. Bring your own containers for bulk foods! Bring empty jars, small bags, tupperware or empty spice containers and fill ’em up. This keeps you from using the paper/plastic bags at the store.
3. Buy lots of produce. Produce is great to buy because the ‘waste’ produced can be composted and made into new soil.
4. Make a list before you shop. This will keep you from buying things you don’t need and may end up throwing away later on down the road.
5. Plan your meals! If you know what you’re going to eat, then you know exactly what ingredients you need for your week. This will also keep you from buying something you don’t need, or buying too much of something and therefore throwing it away by Saturday night.
Zero waste recipes will tell you exactly how much you’ll need of each ingredient so you don’t over-buy at the store. If you’ve never shopped in the bulk aisle before, get ready; it’s going to become your new best friend. It’ll make all of your boxed rice pilafs and canned soups jealous.