What about those times when you go grocery shopping and return with a refrigerator bursting at the seams with the food you cannot face eating?

We’ve all been there, and it’s no fun. The best way to promote zero waste in the kitchen is to plan and stick to your shopping list. But what if you forget an item on your list? Or don’t want to buy something because it’s more expensive than another option?

If you’re looking for a more suitable strategy to ensure you’re only buying what you need, then zero waste cooking may be for you. Zero-waste cooking is a practice and philosophy that focuses on reducing food waste by planning and shopping to waste nothing.


1. Buying The Right Amount

How much food should you buy when you’re shopping for a week or a month at a time?

It depends on the number of people in your household and how much they’ll eat. If you have a family of four, and you know everyone will eat twice as much as usual on the weekends because they’re hungover and want to comfort-eat their way through it, then you should plan for at least double the amount that would usually be consumed in a week.

But if you’re cooking for one person, and the only reason you need to buy more than usual is that you’ve got some leftovers from last night’s dinner, then don’t worry about doubling up on everything—make sure there’s enough for today’s lunch and tomorrow’s breakfast.


2. Utilizing Vegetable Scraps

Cooking with scraps is one of the easiest ways to start zero waste cooking.

So many people throw away vegetable scraps that could be used in various recipes. If you’re trying to reduce waste and make more sustainable choices, then you know how important it is to use any part of the food you buy.

The best way to do this is by keeping a container in your refrigerator specifically for scraps. When you prepare vegetables or fruit, throw the extra parts in a container instead of throwing them away.


2. Shopping At The Market

The market is the best place for a zero-waste shopping experience.

Zero waste in kitchen is all about embracing the life cycle of your food. When shopping at the local farmer’s market, try buying items in eco-friendly produce bags. For example, if you’re buying a bunch of bananas, don’t get them in those plastic bags—buy them loose. Or, if you’re getting vegetables, try to make sure they come with their bags so you can reuse them later.

If there’s no other way around it, bring your container or reusable produce bags so that you can separate what would normally be wrapped up in plastic packaging. You can also ask the vendors if they have any containers,  bags or cardboard boxes available at the store or farmers’ market so that you don’t have to bring something with you each time.

Zero Waste Cooking: Shopping in the Vegetable Market

3. Storing Your Food Properly

Making meal choices may seem simple, but you could waste more food than you realize if you’re not careful.

First, remember that your food comes with a lot of packaging. It’s important to recycle it, but even more important is simply not using it in the first place. So here are some tips for storing food without using plastic!

3.1 Buy in bulk

This might seem an obvious choice, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to promote an eco-friendly kitchen. When you buy bulk and repackage yourself into reusable containers or jars, you’re simultaneously reducing waste and saving money on groceries!

3.2 Use glass containers instead of plastic bags

Glass containers are easy to clean and can be reused repeatedly—and they last much longer than plastic bags would anyway! You can repurpose and reuse glass jars like the ones for olives, pickles, jams etc. or buy them at any local grocery store or online if you want something specific (like an airtight container). They’re also dishwasher safe, so they don’t take up too much space in your kitchen cabinets either!

3.3 Use reusable materials

Get creative with other reusable storage containers like cloth bags,  baskets or beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap.


Related: The Most Common Sustainable Product Alternatives to Plastic Bin Liners: Your Trash Bag Guide.


4. Improvise With Your Ingredients

When trying to reduce waste, it can be easy to feel like you have to cook every meal from scratch. But really, cooking a meal is about using what you have!

If you’re making a soup and don’t have any vegetables in season, use frozen vegetables instead. You can also add fresh herbs to compensate for fresh produce’s lack of natural flavor. And if you don’t have any fresh herbs or spices on hand, try using dried ones instead!

In general, when it comes to zero waste food, there’s no need to go out and buy every ingredient listed in a recipe to avoid wasting food. You can make do with what’s already in your kitchen and still make delicious meals!


Related:  Plastic Free Chewing Gum: Do They Exist?


5. Turn Your Leftovers Into New Meals

If you’re looking to reduce your waste, it might seem like one of the first things to go is making new meals with leftovers. After all, isn’t that just creating more food?

But if you think about it, using leftovers helps you save money and resources in the long run.

First, you’re reducing your grocery bill by using up all your food instead of throwing it out and then buying more. Also, you’re increasing your nutrient intake by creating new meals with leftovers rather than eating them cold or reheated.

Food Leftovers Into New Meals

6. Plan Your Recipes Weekly

You can’t cook zero waste one day and then let it slide the next. You must plan to make your meals as green as possible.

The good news is that planning doesn’t have to be hard or take up a bunch of time—it means making a list of what you need for the week and putting it in your calendar. Then when you’re ready to cook, you have to go through your list and pick out the ingredients you need.

Start by thinking about what meals you might want to make during the week, and write them down so you can check them off when they’re done.

Make sure that each meal is balanced. Have more than one vegetable at every meal, if possible! And try adding some protein like beans or tofu for extra health benefits.


Zero Waste Cooking Is Easy!

Cutting down on kitchen food waste is good for the environment and a practical way to save money. The next time you face a surplus of food in your kitchen, try this zero waste cooking and let us know what you think!

Looking for plastic free and low waste product alternatives ?

Browse the I’m Plastic Free directory to discover plastic pollution solutions.


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