Inside: One of the best ways to avoid plastic is to make your own version of the over-packaged food that you can buy at the supermarket. This article contains an ever-growing list of our tried and tested recipes which use ingredients with little or no plastic waste.
Before we dive into the wonderful world of recipes and cooking I would like to confess that cooking is not a skill that comes naturally to me. I am not brilliant at following instructions, I am always keen to try and cut corners to speed things up and I always make a giant mess in the kitchen. However, quite early on in my quest to go plastic free I realised that making things from scratch is often a really good option for the following reasons:
- Many shopping list essentials can be made easily using ingredients that come in recyclable packaging
- It is often a lot cheaper to make plastic free food than it is to buy plastic free food
- It is often healthier to make your own food
My plastic free confession...
So what follows is a list of links to my favourite plastic free recipes but before we go on I have another confession to make...
Some of the recipes contain ingredients which come in small amounts of plastic packaging (e.g. I buy yeast in a tin but it does have a plastic lid). Also, unless you live close to an amazing zero waste / plastic free shop (like this one in Bristol) it may not be possible to buy all of the ingredients plastic free. For example. Dried fruit and nuts will often come in plastic bags. However, if you buy the largest bag possible (dried fruit and nuts have a long shelflife) you should find that the amount of packaging needed to produce your chosen food is significantly reduced compared to buying pre-packaged products. You can also try using Plastic Free Pantry for plastic free online shopping but it is not easy on your wallet so you will have to decide what you are willing to pay to go completely plastic free.
All of the following recipes are easy to make and do not require much in the way of cooking skills. If I can do it, you can do it!
Easy peasy plastic free yoghurt recipe
This was one of the first things I started making after I decided to go plastic free. Before I started researching plastic free yoghurt I had no idea that making it yourself was such a simple process. Now I feel like I will never go back to shop-bought yoghurt again. Check out the recipe and see for yourself and maybe you will feel the same.
I have thought long and hard about milk as we use a lot of it in our household. We are not vegans and we do drink cow's milk which I now buy from the milkman in glass bottles. But I worry about animal welfare (despite buying organic) and the dairy industry's carbon emissions also concern me. When looking at alternatives I was horrified by the environmental impact of alternative milks inluding almond and soya. I am unclear about whether the alternatives are a more sustainable choice. For one thing all alternatives to cow's milk seem to come in Tetrapacks which are known to be difficult to recycle and are not taken in our kerbside collections.
After months of careful consideration I have decided that I will continue to buy organic milk in glass bottles. But I have also found one alternative which I am happy to make so that we can cut down on the amount of cow's milk we buy. Oat milk. I believe it to be a good addition to our diet for the following reasons:
- It is possible to buy organic, local oats in paper bags
- Oats have a number of health benefits
- It is cheaper than cow's milk
As an added bonus, it is really easy to make and it tastes really good.
At the start of our plastic free journey I banned hummus in little plastic pots. I decided that it was not an essential part of our diet and it could therefore be removed. Big plastic free win! This was OK for a while but we did miss it so I started to experiment with making my own. After a few failed attempts (too garlicky, too thick, too thin, absolutely disgusting etc etc) I found this recipe which I really like and that my husband will eat. The kids are not keen but will sometimes give it a go.
The basic recipe is very simple and once you are happy making it you can try adapting it to suit you. My favourite addition is sun-dried tomatoes but there are many more things that can be added too.
Cashew nut dip
Sometimes referred to by vegans as vegan cheese (but in my opinion nothing like cheese) this is a delicious dip which is super simple to make. I can't remember where I first saw the recipe but I no longer use one when making this dip. I just fill a bowl with cashew nuts and then cover them with water. I then leave them to soak for a few hours (or you could leave them overnight). Then I drain the cashews, blend them in a blender with nutritional yeast and lemon juice. To make the dip the consistency I want it to be I then add water until it looks right. Season with salt and pepper. Once you are happy with the basic recipe you can start experimenting with additional ingredients. Garlic is good, so is mustard. Be creative and find the perfect blend for you using plastic free ingredients.
I used to buy muesli and granola every week with my weekly shop and I honestly thought I was providing my family with a healthy start to the day. Then I started reading the list of ingredients and the nutritional information on the side of the bags and I realised how much salt and sugar we were inadvertently consuming. Around the same time that I started to get a bit cross about this I also embarked on my plastic free journey. This then gave me two big reasons to ditch the shop-bought cereals and I started to make my own.
Many supermarkets now sell organic oats in paper bags so I use this as a base for muesli and granola.
I simply add whatever fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds we have and then I use milk (oat milk or cow's milk) or yoghurt (homemade and plastic free yoghurt of course!).
This involves a bit more prep as there is cooking involved so we don't have granola as often as we have muesli! But it is still easy to make if you have the time. I usually leave the making part to my husband actually so I don't have a 'go to recipe' but there are plenty of delicious sounding recipes online. My husband usually uses this recipe on the BBC website for basic instructions and then he will adapt it depending on what we have available.
If you are not a big fan of oats but you would still like a plastic free breakfast check out our all time favourite plastic free breakfast ideas for more inspiration.
I have to admit that I try very hard to make bread but a freshly baked loaf doesnt seem to last very long in this house so I often find myself out of bread and short on time so I pop over to my local shop and buy their amazing fresh bread that comes packaging free and can be put straight into my cotton bag. However, it is expensive so when I do have time I prefer to make my own. Check out our blog on plastic free bread recipes for ideas on bread maker bread, soda bread and homemade wraps.
This is not a finished article and will be updated whenever I find a new plastic free recipe that becomes a staple in our household. Read more about our attempts to go plastic free here. We would love to hear from you if you have any favourite plastic free recipes. You can find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get in touch and to find out when we share more recipes.
Happy making, baking and living plastic free!