Happy Tuesday, everyone! This post is coming a little late because I had Monday off and because I’ve been fight…something. A cold? Allergies? I don’t know. But I’m running a little sluggish so bare with me.
For this week’s meal prep, I thought I’d take a few step backwards and review some of the ways I try and stay low waste when I’m grocery shopping and cooking for the week.
- Before heading to the grocery store, I always make sure I have my list, my reusable grocery bags and my reusable produce/bulk bags. A list prevents be from buying things I don’t need, which could lead to food waste. Bags prevent me from using the cheapy plastic ones at check out or in the produce area. Always be prepared!
- When I can, I try to buy items from the bulk bins. In Boston, Pemberton Farms is my favorite spot for bulk bin items. They have beans, chocolate chips, baking items like flour and sugar, coffee, the best gummy bears ever, and more. For my readers in the Brooklyn, CT area, I would recommend the Willimantic Coop. I discovered this gem this weekend and I am impressed! They put Pemberton Farms to shame. I didn’t have a chance to explore too much but they had a whole aisle of bulk dried goods as well as Dr. Bronners and other house hold items in bulk. I was able to buy black beans and steel cut oats in bulk.
- I know that not everyone has access to bulk bins so when possible try to stick to items in aluminum or glass, avoiding plastic where you can. Aluminum and glass can both be recycled endlessly without loss of quality or purity. Not all plastics can do that, though they are making strides to create a more closed loop system. For the most part, though, every time plastic is recycled, it becomes less stable. This means that if you buy a can of diced tomatoes, when you recycle it, it can be made into another can for diced tomatoes. This process can go on endlessly. With plastic though, you can’t make a plastic water bottle out of a plastic water bottle because when it’s recycled, the plastic loses it’s quality. You can read more about aluminium recycling here and glass recycling here.
- No one is perfect but before reaching for an item wrapped in plastic, see if there is a plastic-free alternative. This week, I had mini sweet bell peppers on my list to snack on with hummus. They only had them in plastic bags, though, so I just bought regular bell peppers. An easy switch there! Not all of them will be that easy, of course (I still can’t find non-plastic wrapped tofu!), but you do what you can.
So, that’s how I approach low-waste shopping- look for no packaging first (vegetables, fruits and bulk bins), then aluminum or glass where possible, then plastic as an absolute last resort. I know I’m not perfect each time but if I can keep the majority of my shopping to package-free or aluminum or glass, I consider that a win!
Now, for this week’s prep! I spent roughly $50 total and bought the bulk of my groceries at the Willimantic Coop (about $40) and had to buy a few things, like Teddy’s Peanut Butter, elsewhere. I made:
Savory steel cut oats (x4)- I made mine with a handful of vegan cheese mixed in, garlicky kale on the side, sunflower seeds and 1 hard boiled egg (not pictured). When served, I sprinkle Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning on top. So warm and savory for cold days!
Mushroom and cauliflower soup (makes 6 servings)- not sure how this recipe came out so I’m going to hold off on sharing.
3 ingredient brownies (makes 8-12 servings)- I’ve made these before and know they are a bit bitter because there is no sweetener in them so I mixed in 2 TBSPs chocolate chips and 2 TBSP peanut butter chips. They still aren’t super sweet but they help curb that post-lunch craving for chocolate.
Black bean and quinoa burgers (makes 6 servings) with steamed green beans on the side (not pictured)- this recipe was recommended to me by my brother- My brother, who was excited to get a giant box of meat for Christmas! If you need a veggy burger to serve to the meat eaters in your life, this may be the one for you! I’m planning to eat them with avocado and salsa on top.
Chai milk – this is why I purchased the Oat Milk. Oatly is my favorite non-dairy milk for drinking. I haven’t been feeling great the last week and I was craving something warm to drink besides coffee so I made a batch of chai milk. I roughly followed the recipe I linked to but didn’t put tea in it. I also only used 1 TBSP of brown sugar. 3 seemed a lot!
Vegetable stock from scraps– My container was full of scraps so I made a batch of this and froze it for another time.
Snacks: Oranges, apples with peanut butter, and peppers. I have a long commute to work and back so I’ve been trying to be better about packing snacks.
Let me know if you have any questions about low waste grocery shopping or meal prepping! And feel free to share your meal prep with me. I love to hear what everyone is eating for the week. It always helps inspire me for next week.