A third of all food produced on earth goes to waste. That fact can be hard to wrap your head around but it’s an issue we need to face and seek creative solutions. The best place to start, for many of us, will be in our own kitchens. If we don’t pay close attention, waste and trash can easily accumulate as we cook: misshapen veggies, plastic containers, stems, leaves, and skins etc. Especially when starting out, it’s tough to know how to create a more eco friendly diet and kitchen. This is where great zero waste recipes can help, giving you a springboard to experiment and cook on your own.
What makes a recipe zero waste?
Zero waste meals aren’t just about about eating healthily, but that is a definite plus. Good zero waste recipes encourage new uses for scraps and leftovers, while avoiding unnecessary packaging and plastic. It’s tough to create absolutely no waste in your kitchen and it’s unreasonable to try to switch your eating and cooking routines over night. But there are some key areas to focus on that can help.
Zero waste recipes require planning. One of the causes of food waste is overbuying. It might seem like a good idea to fill every corner of your fridge with fruits and vegetables a few times a month, but this can lead to waste as food spoils or disappears in a neglected crisper drawer. Pay attention to how much food you get through before it starts to go bad, then try to shift your habits to avoid throwing food out. Also, don’t shy away from buying the “uglier” potato or squash. Arbitrary standards for produce aesthetics leads to high levels of food waste as well, as grocery stores assume no one will buy it. By being realistic and open-minded about your food shopping, you can make a big difference.
A zero waste kitchen is also about more than the food itself. If each ingredient comes individually packaged or recipes include single-use plastic items, the zero waste recipe fails to live up to its name. There are many great options for eco-friendly kitchen products, helping you find authentic sustainable solutions. If we are going to change how our culture and our civilization handles food and waste, we need to approach the problem from every angle. Having a zero waste kitchen, or as close as possible, helps protect the natural world around us while guiding us towards healthier options for ourselves. Let’s check out some recipes to set us on the right track.
3 zero waste breakfast recipes
Here are three breakfast recipes with a focus on creating as little waste as possible:
1. Savory porridge breakfast
This zero waste recipe is a great option for a savory breakfast, without relying on traditional “diner” breakfast items. It reuses food scraps from making juice or milk, which is a fantastic habit to get used to. This recipe comes together to make a filling and healthy breakfast option while using up leftovers that would usually end up in the trash.
2. Apple steel-cut oatmeal
This breakfast option can satisfy a sweet tooth, while being. great base for adding any leftover fruits and berries. Especially if you buy big bags of apples, this is a perfect way to use them up before they go bad. This post also shows some great options when it comes to having sustainable utensils and containers in the kitchen.
3. Vegan pancakes
This zero waste recipe perfectly shows how you can reuse items and make food yourself to avoid unnecessary waste and cost. By using those ripe bananas that are just sitting around and going to waste, these pancakes help keep the trash can empty. This is also a wonderful example of avoiding wasteful packaging. All of the ingredients can be sourced from bulk sections, made at home (grind your own almond milk), or purchased without plastic packaging.
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4 zero waste lunch recipes
Let’s take a took at some lunch options. This are tasty zero waste recipes that provide great practice for living a more eco-conscious life.
1. Pakoras – cauliflower stems Indian fritters
This recipe for pakoras shows a great way to utilize vegetable stalks, stems, and cut-offs. Many of us are used to throwing away stems and skins, going along with what we’ve always been taught. But they are wonderful sources of flavor in meals, especially when cooked right or turned into stock.
2. Creamy aubergine noodles
This recipe shows a creative use for eggplants (aubergines), while also providing a great platform to add leftover vegetables on top. This mostly veggie dish is a healthy, low-carb alternative to traditional noodles, while showing a good way to use up eggplants/vegetables before they go bad.
3. Pizza dough
This one may seem simple. But a great recipe for pizza dough from scratch can help you with food waste and leftovers. Need to use up vegetables? Turn them into pizza toppings. With a perfectly chewy and crunchy crust, good pizza can be a versatile base to experiment with.
4. Vegan thai coconut soup
This soup recipe would be a great reason to make your own broth, which you can do with leftover vegetables, skins, and stems. By using potential waste to create the building blocks of future recipes, your kitchen can became a closed loop — finding clever uses to avoid filling up the trash.
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4 zero waste dinner recipes
Whether you are cooking for yourself, meal prepping for the week, or having people over, these zero waste dinner recipes showcase how delicious and creative sustainable cooking can be. Check these out:
1. Vegetable, chickpea and halloumi traybake with zhoug
When your fridge is full and you’re looking for great uses for produce, this zero waste recipe is exactly what you’re looking for. This kind of meal can be infinitely added to, edit, and upgraded — offering a delicious and eco-friendly side or main course, depending on your own cooking style.
2. Simple no-waste rind Caribbean curry
This recipe showcases how easy it is to lose out when we dismiss foods as being automatically waste. Watermelon rind is usually thrown away, assumed to be complete waste. By cooking it correctly, it can become a centerpiece of a wonderful meal.
3. Rigatoni Pasta
Since many grocery stores sell peppers and onions in bulk, its easy for a few to go bad before you are able to use them. This simple, creamy pasta recipe is great way to add more veggies to your diet, while also being super easy to freeze and reheat later.
4. Congee with panda rice and red lentils
This recipe takes vegetable skins, cores and tops, turning them into a delicious and healthy meal. This also provides a great opportunity to mix up the toppings, with eggs, meat, or extra veggies — giving you a great base to add whatever you’d like.
Zero waste recipes, or as close as possible, are perfect ways to improve as a cook, especially when it comes to creative solutions for common waste. Even outside of your kitchen, it is a huge — and growing — issue. Global food waste has a massive impact on our climate, while also highlighting inequality in our society. Millions of people around the world need food, even while so much is wasted every day. The earth needs us to be more thoughtful and accountable in how we shop, cook, and eat. As we seek change, zero waste recipes are great jumping off points.