When I first started trying to reduce my waste it was astonishing to realize how many things in our pantry & fridge came in packaging. Generally healthy foods like frozen produce, whole wheat bread and tortillas, even fresh produce, were in difficult to recycle plastic bags. Then the things that are just part of a life of moderation such as crackers and other salty snacks (bye bye Smartfood & Tostitos) also come packaged in non-recyclable plastic. For many of these things I’ve been able to find plastic-free alternatives but for those I haven’t there are several great recipes which I’ve found to turn to!
Generally my made from scratch mantra is this: if its easy to make, I’ll cook the made from scratch alternative. If it isn’t, I simply avoid it all together. These go-to recipes are all super simple and have helped to save a lot of packaging waste over the last year!
One of the few things we ate a lot of before trying to cut down on our garbage was burritos. We usually always had tortillas on our shopping list but unfortunately the only way to really get these is to buy them in a plastic bag. The other option is to find a place that makes them from scratch locally and buy a batch to then freeze. For me that’s actually more inconvenient because it would require an extra stop and wait to them make sure they are put into my own container. So I make them! Now we don’t eat burritos as often because they do take a few minutes of preparation but when we do they are fresh and delicious. I haven’t gotten around to making a bunch at one time so that I can freeze the extra – usually its only enough to last a couple of days. But luckily this recipe from The Lean Green Bean is simple enough that it can be whipped together quickly without much prep work.
Buns…one of two closest things I’ve made to bread. The first time I made these was at the beginning of the summer when I knew we’d be grilling out for Memorial Day weekend at my family river house. I have to say that this recipe from The Prairie Homestead totally blows the processed pre-made variety out of the water! Nothing beats a fresh made, whole wheat bun. Not only do they work well with burgers but they dual as a roll as well so if you end up having any left over without anything to stick in the middle you can still enjoy them as is!
There isn’t too much I make using refined white flour but for Thanksgiving this year I volunteered to make rolls just as my dad would like them as a way to avoid my mom having to pick up a bag of the pre-made version. They were delicious and a hit with my whole fam! I only made this recipe from Tastes Of Lizzie T once but if I ever have another occasion where I need to make plain white rolls again (like next Thanksgiving), I’ll totally be making these!
There’s one cracker recipe that I started out with that really eased me into the process of making this snack time favorite myself. Each time I’d tweak it a little here and there, experimenting with changes to get a feel for the different ways I could make them. It was a bit like training wheels! This recipe from Melissa K Norris is super easy and doesn’t take much time to make with very simple ingredients so its great for anyone new to making snacks on their own.
Say goodbye to chemical laden microwavable popcorn in single use bags! You can easily make it yourself using this recipe from Simply Recipes at home and all you need is a medium sized pot with a lid. What’s best is you can also create your own flavor seasonings – all without any waste left behind! I simply top mine with a little butter and salt when I need a salty snack fix. I’ve used canola, coconut & olive oil to pop it, all with great success. You’ll want to take care when you’re first getting used to the process not to burn yourself (as I did the first time I made it) but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be whipping up popcorn in about the same amount of time it takes to pop it in the microwave. Any remaining popcorn kernels can then the tossed into the compost. 🙂
Tomato Sauce Using Cherry Tomatoes (aka the easiest tomato sauce evaaaaah).
If there is one thing I learned this summer – a single cherry tomato bush can really start cranking out tomatoes as the summer starts to come to a close. In trying to figure out what to do with them I stumbled upon this amazing tomato sauce recipe. In the past when I’d made sauce it was using regular beefsteak tomatoes and took forever. This recipe from Foodie Crush using cherry tomatoes is a piece of cake and makes for a delicious made from scratch sauce you’ll want to keep on steady rotation throughout the season! After making it for the first time I totally decided that I’d definitely be planting several cherry tomato bushes this year and it was a great way to use the freshly grown basil we had when I was over making pesto.
I’ve still yet to make bread because I can get it unpackaged and we don’t eat it all that often so that’s why there isn’t a recipe on this list but plan to try my hand at it one day soon.
What sorts of things do you like to make from scratch?