The Benefits Of Zero Waste Meal Prepping
Are you aware just how much of your weekly food budget and carbon footprint is swallowed up by packaging? If you are, zero-waste meal prepping might be a great option for you…
Not only is it good for the planet (and your wallet), it also helps keep you healthy by providing nutritious meals without the hassle of cooking each night.
In this article, we’re going to explore why zero-waste meal prepping is beneficial and provide tips on how to get started with creating sustainable meals.
Whether you're looking for shortcuts in the kitchen or ways to reduce your overall food waste footprint, there are plenty of reasons why you should incorporate zero-waste meal planning into your routine:
Zero-Waste Meal Prepping - What Is It?
Zero-waste meal prepping is creating meals using only what you need, with minimal waste.
This can involve things like buying just the amount of food necessary for your meals, repurposing and saving leftovers, and avoiding disposables when storing or reheating your meals.
The goal is to reduce food waste as much as possible while still enjoying all the convenience that comes with meal prepping.
How do you start Zero-Waste Meal Prepping?
The best way to get started is to sit down and make a plan - yes, at its core, zero waste just means reducing waste - but it also means being mindful of what you bring into your household to use on a regular basis.
Take a long, hard look at your kitchen cupboards; what do you have left on the day before your next food/grocery shop?
Can it be used in the next batch of meals you'll be making or stored in the fridge/freezer to be used later?
If the answer to that is a firm 'NO' (and it's neither fresh produce nor opened packaging), maybe you could think about giving it away?
If family/friends/neighbours are not interested, there will be plenty of food collection/bank facilities in our areas that would be able to put it to good use.
Think about the amount of food you buy in bulk, then end up throwing away because you can't finish it all before its expiration date.
Meal prepping allows you to avoid this waste while still having quick and easy meals prepared at home.
When it comes to grocery shopping, aim for items with minimal packaging - or, better yet, no packaging.
Choose Whole And Unprocessed Foods
Buy fresh produce from farmer's markets and look into joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or box delivery program to reduce your weekly waste even further.
Eating unprocessed foods is an easy way to reduce food waste and improve your overall health.
When planning meals for the week, focus on using whole, unprocessed ingredients over ready-made or processed products to maximise nutritional values, reduce single-use packaging and preserve taste and texture.
Whole, unprocessed foods contain more vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fibre than processed versions.
Additionally, you can buy larger quantities of unprocessed ingredients without worrying about spoilage because they can be used over multiple days.
Choosing to meal prep with whole, unprocessed foods reduces both cost and waste.
Invest In Reusables
If you already have decent reusable containers for your meal prep, you're already halfway there!
These can be used again and again to store your meals meaning there's no need for single-use packaging or disposables.
Reusable containers are also great for transporting food - not only are they better for the environment than single-use plastic bags and aluminium foil, but they keep your food fresh, safe and secure.
If you don't have containers yet, invest in some good quality ones that will last for a long time.
Look for glass or stainless steel containers with tight-fitting lids; these are the most durable and sustainable options available.
Food Prep Tips for Zero Waste
Food waste is one of the most significant contributors to our carbon footprint, and an easy way to reduce the amount of waste you produce is by being mindful in the kitchen.
Here are a few tips for zero-waste meal prepping:
- Buy only what you need: It's tempting to buy in bulk, but if it's more than you can eat before it goes bad, then you're just creating more waste.
- Buy local and seasonal produce: makes for fresher ingredients that require less packaging.
- Reuse leftovers: Leftovers are great for easy meals during the week.
- Be creative: Use up ingredients that might otherwise go to waste - such as vegetable scraps, stale bread, or grains - and turn them into delicious dishes.
- Compost food scraps: If you have a compost pile in your backyard, all of those food scraps can go back into the soil to enrich your garden.
Another thing to bear in mind is: Be realistic in the portions that you are preparing.
Often, and especially if you have different people of different ages to meal prep for, getting the right amount of food in each container is not easy.
Take the time to portion out your food correctly, then you won't be tempted to over-eat or end up with more leftovers than you can use.
When it comes to prepping meals for the week, it's important to be mindful of how much food you're actually eating and make sure that you don't waste anything.
When meal prepping and particularly when it comes to the war on waste, a freezer should be your best friend...
Instead of throwing away food that's nearing its expiration date, pop it in the freezer.
You'll reduce food waste and have a range of delicious ready-to-cook meals or ingredients to choose from later down the track.
If you find yourself with more leftovers than you can manage, freeze them in individual portions, so they're easy to use in future meals.
Finally, if you do end up buying in bulk, freeze the excess; that way, it doesn't go off before you can use it.
Taking the extra time to meal prep using whole, unprocessed ingredients is an investment in yourself and your family's health.
Also, it can save you money as you are less likely to buy convenience foods due to planning meals with real food.
Meal prep also reduces single-use packaging and preserves the taste and texture of food.
Remember to always read ingredient labels on food you purchase to ensure that you are choosing a product that contains the least amount of additives and preservatives.
Finally, it is important to monitor your eating habits regularly, eat a balanced mix of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein sources, healthy dairy or alternatives, nuts/nut butter, and, if possible, avoid processed or pre-packaged goods.
Anything you'd like to add? Let us know in the comments!