I enjoy sharing my plastic-free food prep with you all, but it recently dawned on me, how challenging and time consuming it may look! I promise you, it isn’t. It’s as simple as pulling out bowls, soaking my dry ingredients then taking and posting the picture! Leaving time to go to what I want to do like paddleboarding or writing this blog! Returning to my soaked items, I spend maybe one hour transferring, blending, and straining leaving me with yummy items like homemade almond milk (chocolate, of course), cooked black beans, refried beans, vegan cashew “cheese”, or hummus! (I will list my favourite recipe sites and books at the bottom for you).
My point is this: creating and eating plastic-free food is not as difficult or timely as it may seem. Food manufacturers would have you believe otherwise… remember, you are their bottom-line (check out my last blog on buying-power). However, with a little bit of planning and smart shopping, the right equipment, and the Great Google Machine, you can literally make anything your little heart desires!
Since you’re well -versed and well-prepped with Plastic-free Grocery Shopping let’s talk about the “right equipment” …
There are so many cool kitchen gadgets and tools out there that chop, mix, sift and strain, percolate, boil, steam, fry, bake, slice and dice… etc. With so many options it is easy to accumulate too many cool gadgets that you may never use again. The minimalist in me strives to only own tools I use regularly and that will help me in my plastic-free efforts. I have outlined below, my favourite tools and how they help eliminate single-use plastic waste
I should point out, I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes. Some of these may not be that useful to you, but most are for the every-day, lazy cook!
Level of Ease: 1 – simple as. 2 – a few more brain cells needed. 3 – as long as you can read instructions you’ll be fine
Crock Pot – The #1 Plastic-free tool. I use my crock pot every week – prep work for most crock pot recipes is minimal because it’s as simple as dumping it in, turning it on and walking away! I like making large batches so I can freeze it for later.
What I make: Beans, chili, soups, sauces, chickpeas. Waste reduced: cans with plastic lining, plastic sauce containers and lids, plastic bags for beans. 1
French Press – This is not for everyone, but it is a profound way to avoid any waste when enjoying a Cup of Joe.
What I make: Coffee Waste reduced: plastic coffee pods and filters. 1
Tortilla Press – Possibly my favourite tool in my kitchen… but we love our tacos! Easiest meal ever! An homemade tortillas are so much better than any packaged tortillas, with only 3 simple ingredients: maseca flour*, water, and salt.
What I make: soft corn tortillas Waste reduced: plastic bags. 2
*Meseca is corn flour, but is different than masa harina. You can find this at a local Latin supermarket (Unimarket in Calgary) or Superstore
Sodastream – If you love sparkling water, or have a family member that just cannot live without a sugary soda drink, this is a great alternative to have on your counter. What I make: sparkling water, homemade pop – using juice crystals (purchased in bulk) or flavoured sparkling water with fruit or ginger. Waste reduced: plastic bottles, cans. 1
Food Processor and/or Blender – Now there is a difference here, and it really depends on what you are making. I used my blender for hummus and sauces up until I started wanting to create vegan nut cheeses! Then came the processor.
What I make: Processor –hummus, vegan cheese, sauces, nut-butter. Blender – (besides smoothies) extra creamy hummus, almond milk, soy milk, BBQ sauce, ketchup. Waste Reduced: plastic bags, containers, plastic lids and wrapping, non-refillable sauce containers and packs. 2
Yoghurt Maker – This is a new addition to my household. Even though, according to the internet, to make yoghurt you do not need a fancy machine, I decided to buy a used one. Now it gets put to work every few days!
What I make: coconut yoghurt and regular yoghurt. Waste reduced: Plastic containers and plastic wrapping. 3
Juicer – Before moving to Calgary, my landlords wife (friend and neighbour) gave me this older, but in mint condition JuiceMan! I use it all the time. My hubby loves his juices but I despise the plastic bottles or the tetra-packs with plastic pour spouts… so this is the solution.
What I make: Juice, vege pulp for stews and soups. Waste reduced: bottles, lids, tetra packs, plastic containers. 2
Nut-Milk Bag – Another new addition but well used already. A basic nut-bag made of tightly woven mesh is great for all sorts of homemade nut milks!
What I make: almond, soy, or rice milk, the ground almond left overs make yummy crackers. Waste Reduced: Milk containers with plastic pour spouts, bottles, lids. 2
Salad Spinner – A straight forward piece of equipment. I got myself a nice stainless steal one. Buy having a good spinner, I avoid all plastic wrapped lettuce and am able to wash and store it in the spinner.
Waste reduced: plastic clam shells, plastic bags and wrap. 1
Veggie Spiralizer – I wasn’t sure if I should use this but last time I was at the store I noticed a plethora of pre-spiralized veggie “noodles” in plastic clam shells! The pre-spiralled zucchini was $5.99! $5.99. It was probably only the weight of one, maybe two, zucchini, which realistically costs $1 or $2! And, with the end of summer nearing, gardeners will giving this fast-growing vege away by the pounds, for free! So seriously, people… get a spiralizer!
What I Make: spiralized carrots, zucchini, beets, turnips, sweet potato. Waste Reduced: plastic wrap, clam shells. 1
Before I buy something new for my kitchen, I really try to think if it will be something I use a lot. Everybody cooks differently, so it’s really up to you and your cooking style to decide what will be useful. Some awesome gadgets I am considering to help me in my plastic-free journey:
Homemade Popsicle Molds
Counter top Water Filtration system
My Favourite Recipe Sites:
And of course, I just use Google search!
Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry
Oh, But I Could Never Go Vegan – Kristy Turner
Do you have suggestions? Great recipe sites? Awesome products that fight the good PF fight? email me: firstname.lastname@example.org