Food packaging is such a major source of plastic waste. If you collect your packaging for a week and see it all piled up, it’s quite horrifying to consider that all of it is from just one person or family. It’s easy to understand why pollution and waste management are in such a mess globally.
A few months ago, I started making more effort to replace store bought items with homemade food where possible. I must admit, the pasta maker is still rather ‘too hard’ to me although it’s on the list of things to tackle ASAP. However I’ve managed to replace many other items really easily and it’s not taking up as much preparation time as I thought it would. Not only am I striving towards being packaging free, but I am also ensuring that I know exactly what I am eating and I enjoy the food so much more as it tastes exactly how I want it to. ‘Chopped tomatoes’ are so easy to make, and they taste so much fresher and better than when canned.
It’s really all about habit. If you get into the habit of soaking, blending, and boiling once per day and of shopping at bulk food places as well as the supermarket and markets, you will see that you can monumentally reduce your household waste.
Here are some tips on becoming packaging free.
Find your nearest bulk buy shops
Bulk buy shops sell nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, cereals and other dry items with zero packaging. Some places specialise in one type of thing and not the other, so you might need to have a couple of pitstops to get everything you need. Examples of stores are The Sauce, Scoop and Green Valley Spices.
Stock up on reusable packaging
Produce bags, shopping bags, stainless steel containers and glass jars are all essential for a packaging-free pantry. Simply take them with you to be refilled when you run out of something.
Keep & reuse packaging
I started collecting all glass jars and spice jars as I used up what I had in my pantry already and am still using the same jars on rotation for my own foods. I just write over the label so I know what is in it.
Have a plan for the week
You do need to be more prepared when you can’t just grab something off the shelf of a shop, so I plan ahead. I know every week I want to make certain items so I make sure I fully stocked on the right dried produce, spices and herbs.
Do one thing every day
It could go something like this:
- Monday – soak chickpeas
- Tuesday – boil chickpeas, soak black beans, bake tomatoes
- Wednesday – make hummus using chickpeas, boil black beans, blend and freeze tomatoes
- Thursday – make black bean sauce using the black beans, soak cashews for a cashew nut vegan cheese, make pesto
When you approach it like this, it barely takes any time out of your day and you have a constant rotation of delicious fresh foods.
Easy foods to make yourself
- You need fresh lemon, tahini, chickpeas, cumin, and any other flavours you wish to add
- Soak and boil a cup of chickpeas, then blend them
- For a simple hummus, then add 3 tablespoons of tahini, lemon juice from 1 lemon, a third of a cup of water, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and seasoning to your liking
- Blend all ingredients together until the consistency is smooth
There are so many hummus recipes to explore. Add a dollop of hummus to many lunches and dinners to make most salad and vegetable combination taste gorgeous.
- Bake tomatoes for 60-90 minutes with a small amount of water in the bottom of the baking tray
- When you use them, simply defrost for a few hours then add to your pasta or baked dinner. Season and add garlic and other flavours such as paprika or balsamic vinegar depending on what you’re making
- You need fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice of 1 fresh lemon, olive oil, I always add some chilli flakes, plus I use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese but either is fine. I also like mine with kale
- Blend the entire bunch of basil and add to a bowl, blend half a cup of pine nuts and add to the bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, squeeze the lemon, and add 3 tablespoons of yeast (or parmesan), 1 or 2 garlic cloves crushed, and season to your liking
- Pesto is great for pasta, tofu, baked vegetables, with a falafel wrap, and countless other recipes
Fresh orange juice
- Orange juice tastes so much better when it’s freshly squeezed
- I have a cold pressed juicer
- However you juice, it’s so worth the effort plus you’ll probably save a few dollars
- You need cashews, something oily like macadamia spread, nutritional yeast, any flavours you wish to add
- Soak a cup of cashews over night
- Blend the cashews and add to a bowl
- Add 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- Add 2 tablespoons of an oily spread
- Add water to get it to a consistency that’s right for what you’re making
- Add flavours such as garlic and chives, smokey paprika and chilli, garlic and basil ‘
- Refrigerate and within a couple of hours it will have firmed up
- Use as a spread, as part of your lasagna (it goes great with layered veg lasagna) and with pasta (I love it with spiralized zucchini or pumpkin noodles pasta!)
- Soak 1 or 2 cups of nuts overnight (almonds work very well)
- Add filtered water and the nuts to a food processor – 4 cups of water per 1 cup of almonds, process for 1 minute
- Pour the mixture into your milk container through a milk bag and drink within 4 days
- Not only does this save you so much compared to buying at the supermarket, it also tastes so much better
I hope you find these tips useful.