Meal Prep Monday: January 11

First meal prep of 2021! I thought I’d take a minute to go over why I highlight meal prepping in my low-waste blog for those that are new here.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, 30 percent of the food supply ends up in a landfill. This equates to approximately 130 billion pounds of food and $160 billion. The EPA estimates that food is the single largest category of material placed in landfills. If you think of how COVID has highlighted the number of people that are food insecure in our country, that amount of food that is just tossed is insane!

Not only is that just wasteful, it’s also a huge climate problem. Food that is thrown in landfills can’t biodegrade properly because of it’s so tightly packed in with other trash. Instead of turning into compost, it rots releasing methane gas into the environment. “Municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 14.1 percent of these emissions in 2017”, according to the EPA.

On a personal note, when I was looking at my own waste the first year I participated in Plastic Free July, I was surprised how much was food. I’m single and at the time I was living in Boston, which has a ton of awesome restaurants and grocers. I was buying food that I just wasn’t taking the time to cook and eat with everything else that was available in the city.

Meal prepping helps me focus on buying only what I need at the grocery stores and makes it easier for me to grab meals mid-week instead of worrying about preparing them. It saves me money as I’m eating out less and I’m throwing away less food. This is certainly still an area I can improve on but I have definitely gotten better.

Anyways, back to this weeks meals! It took me a little time to get into the swing of things this new year. I’ve been living off leftovers and sweets. I think at this point I’m 50% pasta and 50% chocolate. I’m definitely looking forward to eating meals this week that don’t container either of these items. *she says as she buys chocolate chips and chocolate covered pretzels*

Groceries for the week- My budget came in a little high because of the extra baking soda and essential oils I purchased for a DIY. Hopefully, that works out well and it will be up here within the month.

Items I purchased with packaging: corn tortillas, mango, edamame, tofu and almond milk. My goal for Plastic Free July in 2020 was to experiment with making my own nut/oat milk. Though I don’t mind making my own, I found I was left with a lot of food waste with the pulp. Send your pulp recipes if you have them! I would love to find a use for almond or oat- milk pulp. For the tofu, my co-op usually sells tofu in bulk but due to COVID, we only have packaged available. This kind is made in my state so at least I’m supporting a local business.

For meals this week, I’m making smoothies with Strawberries and Greens for breakfast. I froze 1 banana, 1/2 c. riced cauliflower, 1/2 c. spinach and 1 cup of strawberries. In a separate bag, I have vanilla vegan protein powder, 1 TBSP ground flax and 1 TBSP of coconut. In the morning, in addition to my frozen produce and dry mix, I will add 1 cup of almond milk and 1 TBSP cashew butter. If you aren’t able to make your smoothies in the morning due to time or roommates, I highly recommend purchasing a stainless steel water bottle. Contigo and Yeti both have good options. Make your smoothie at night with some ice, store it in the fridge in your stainless steel container and it will still be ice-y cold in the a.m.

For lunch, I made Tofu and Miso Soup. This is a weight watchers recipe, but miso soup is pretty basic. I was looking for a recipe that used the miso and silken tofu I already had but didn’t require me to buy anything like seaweed or dashi granules (they’d just take up space on my shelf). This recipe fit the bill. It’s heartier than what you would get in a restaurant with a decent amount of mushrooms and tofu. I would suggest having something else with it as it may not hold you over until dinner. It’s really warm and comforting though for these cool January days.

For dinner, I made a sweet potato and barley bowl. I had just a little bit of barley left and I wanted to free up that jar on my shelf so I thought a grain bowl would hit the spot. Again, thinking toward warm, comforting foods for January, I baked some sweet potato and tofu with just salt and pepper (400F for about 20-25 minutes). I sautéed some kale with the cooked barley (probably about 1 cup of cooked barley and 1 cup of kale), 1/2 tsp of grated ginger, 1 garlic clove and some soy sauce (about 1 TBSP, to taste). I’ll heat this bowl all together and top with avocado when I’m ready to eat.

For dessert, I bought some dark chocolate covered pretzels from the bulk section of my co-op. These are my absolutely favorite. Sumo oranges are also FINALLY in season and I haven’t tracked any down yet but, if I do, I’ll have these for lunch as well. I got a few Cara Cara oranges to hold me over. These are almost as good as a Sumo orange, but nothing can beat a Sumo. I highly recommend you try them out.

What are some meals you are cooking up for the new year?

PS- Bare with me on the photos for this post. I got my Nikon repaired after several years and switching from my Android phone to my DSLR is an adjustment! The photos came out so… moody. We clearly need to spend a bit more time together!

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