Eating zero waste is definitely not easy, especially at first. Right now I am working on slowly building up a portfolio of meals that I love and that I know I can easily make zero waste. So I wanted to share with you what that might look like when putting together an entire day of zero waste meals!
Having to part with my beloved ham and scrambled egg english muffin sandwich was pretty hard I won't lie. But I really wanted to find a better (and healthier) breakfast for myself. I need something fast and easy because I don't want to spend a ton of time making breakfast in the morning. I landed on oatmeal, I especially love this idea because I can change out the toppings based on the season and what fruits are available to me. Right now I've just been using quaker oats because the package can be recycled but I do plan on filling up a jar the next time I go to the nearest bulk bins.
With my oats I've been adding in walnuts that I got from a bulk bin store, cranberries which I got canned in aluminum, and half a pear which I got package free in the produce section. I also like to add in a splash of coconut milk to help sweeten it up.
If I get hungry while it's still morning I go for a green smoothie as my second breakfast. I've still been loving this one from a recent blog post but will definitely be changing this up soon now that Spring is here!
Now that the weather is warming up I'm wanting to make more salads for lunch! As a kid every time we we went to Red Robin for about a year I ordered their Chicken Fiesta Salad and I loved it. I decided I wanted to try to re-create that sans chicken. For this I used black beans from a can, red peppers from the wholesale produce market, a red onion package free, tomatoes package free and some lettuce.
Now at our local Walmart we weren't able to get lettuce plastic free, however I know that some stores do have lettuce without packaging which is why I am still sharing this as a zero waste meal. You could also add corn to this either from a can or buy the ears package free and husk them at home. I just personally didn't want to add corn to mine. The recipe I went off of also said to add a jalapeño, however the one we brought home was rotted on the inside so I ended up using some chilis in adobo that we had left to substitute.
For this recipe I combined the onion, red bell pepper and chilis in adobo into a bowl and covered with a tablespoon of lime juice, chili powder, salt, pepper and some canola oil in a bowl mixing it together. Then I put on a pan over medium high heat and cooked until the onions became translucent. From there I added the black beans- drained and rinsed from their can, and cooked for another few minutes after that.
While that was cooking I diced up a tomato and sliced my lettuce so I could combine it all in one bowl.
I also made an avocado dressing in the food processor which is a great zero waste dressing! I combined an avocado, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp cilantro, salt, pepper to taste. I also ended up adding in a few tablespoons of water to get it to the consistency I wanted. Whip this all together in a food processor and you've got a great salad dressing to last you all week. Use the leftover avocado and cilantro on your salad too!
I just made a blog post about my favorite zero waste snacks so be sure to go check that out but my go-to is always apples and peanut butter!
Dinner: Medeterranean Bowls
I just made these last week and I am *obsessed*. Honestly this is one of the best meals I've ever made.
For my mediterranean bowl I use a lot of produce that I can get package free at the grocery store like tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted red peppers (from the Philadelphia Wholesale Market and roasted at home), and carrots. I used quinoa for a grain which I've seen can be bought plastic free in a cardboard box or at a bulk bin (I was finishing off an old bag I had still).
For protein I made some chickpeas from a can. (IMPORTANT: save the chickpea water from the can because that's what we're going to use to make a zero waste dessert!) I covered them with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley and cooked them on a pan with some oil. You could also bake them in the oven for 20-25 min on 350F too.
Lastly I topped it all off with homemade romesco sauce and some vegan feta cheese (unfortunately this came in plastic). For the romesco sauce I had the tomatoes and red peppers package free and I got the almonds in bulk. Everything else I had on hand at home.
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse
Okay now for the fun part- dessert! I found this recipe from one of my favorite blogs Pick Up Limes. This dessert is something you need to prepare at least an hour in advance so you can make it right after you eat your lunch or leave it overnight.
Measure the chickpea water (also known as "aquafaba") that you saved from the can earlier and then put it into a pot on the stove over medium low heat with a tea bag of your choice (I chose raspberry to make it chocolate raspberry flavored but you can do any flavor you like). I found that you should use one tea bag per half cup of aquafaba. Let the aquafaba with tea bag simmer for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up the same amount of chocolate that you had in acquafaba in the microwave. Run it for 20 seconds at a time and mix until entirely melted.
After the acquafaba is done simmering, take out the tea bag and move the liquid into a mixing bowl. With a hand mixer, mix the liquid for 6-8 minutes. This step is very important, I even set a timer for 8 minutes because hand mixing can be very boring. You should keep mixing until stiff peaks form like in the photo below. I also found turning up the speed on my hand mixer helped speed the process along.
Slowly stir in the melted chocolate into the aquafaba being careful to not over mix it either. Scoop into jars or bowls and let refrigerate for one hour or overnight, then enjoy! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the end result but check out the post from Pick-Up Limes to see what theirs looked like!
Let me know your favorite zero waste meals too! And if you try any of these let me know what you think.
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.