Today, we will share 10 practical zero waste cooking tips that will lower your impact on the environment and have a more eco-friendly kitchen.
As you are aware, cooking can be messy and it can be worse if we don’t realize the harm irresponsible food preparation can do to our planet.
For starters, we cook and eat food at least twice a day, which means we generate a lot of waste.
There’s also the issue of proper food handling and using of unsustainable ingredients in our meals.
With a good knowledge on zero waste cooking, you can effectively reduce food waste and even save money!
What is zero waste cooking?
Zero waste concept applied in cooking means that we are trying to achieve literal no-waste in pre and post-production of our food.
Realistically, there will always be a trace of waste in our food because most of our supplies use plastic packaging.
So without further ado, below are 10 tips on zero waste cooking, from picking up ingredients to proper handling of spoiled food.
1. Plan your meals weekly
Most households buy supplies that last for a week or more.
But most of the time, they don’t plan their meals and buy whatever they see without thinking.
Planning meals will organize our weekly menu, gives us enough time to shop for sustainable ingredients, pick up supplies more efficiently (reducing trips on market), and will help avoid too many food leftovers.
In zero waste terms, meal planning should be under the following criteria:
- Every part of the fruits and vegetables you buy should be consumable as possible
- The number of products you buy should coincide with their maximum shelf life
- Buy only what you need for the week
- Avoid as much plastic packaging as possible
- Buy from the fresh produce section or bulks section
2. Shop cooking ingredients locally
If we are talking about fresh produce, buying from a local source is the best.
Locally sourced produce is numerous in suburban areas with broad lands suitable for farming.
Local produce and ingredients have less carbon footprint compared to imported ones.
They are more fresh too and are likely to be not treated with preservatives.
3. Consider starting a mini-farm
Having a home garden has many benefits, especially in zero waste cooking.
A mini-farm of essential cooking herbs and spices will reduce your need to go to groceries and be handed products in plastic packaging.
It will also help you save money!
Moreover, compostable kitchen waste will have an automatic use if you have your mini garden.
You can compost organic kitchen waste and effectively help reduce the trash you send to landfills while gaining access to natural and organic fertilizer at the same time.
Having a mini garden will make your household more sustainable.
4. Use reusable bags when shopping
Shopping without your own bag won’t reassure you that the seller will use eco-friendly packaging for your products.
Frequently, they will use plastic packaging, another waste you don’t have to manage if you bring your own bag.
We should use reusable bags for many reasons. Aside from being eco-friendly and avoiding pollution, you can personalize it according to your taste.
It provides a certain level of comfort compared to paper and plastic bags. It is also more durable and long-lasting.
Eliminating plastic has come a long way, and we should take part in simple ways. Using reusable bags is one of them.
5. Use zero waste cooking utensils
Be mindful of the kitchen products you buy.
They generate most of the waste at home, like condiments, cooking utensils, and food containers.
There are various eco-friendly kitchen product alternatives available to maximize your sustainable options.
Here are a few examples of eco-friendly kitchen products that you must have to reduce your impact on the environment:
Most cookware in the market is made without being mindful of the planet. Some cookwares are also not mindful of the buyers.
Eco-friendly cookware must have the following criteria:
- Ethically sourced raw materials
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Dishwasher safe
- High-quality and durable
Eco-friendly cookware will eliminate the worry of serving meals that may cause health and environmental issues. We have a complete list that you can check out.
Moreover, always choose to have high-quality and durable eco-friendly cookware to save more money in the future and to be closer to achieving zero waste cooking routine.
Eco-friendly kitchen utensils
Like pans, utensils are always part of cooking and have eco-friendly alternatives. To be categorized as eco-friendly utensils, they must be made with sustainable materials.
Numbers have shown that eco-friendly utensils have significantly reduced plastic waste contributing to our collective security.
Check out our complete list of bamboo utensils that you can use for your zero-waste cooking.
Fry with an Air Fryer
Based on our research, air fryers are more energy-efficient and less wasteful than conventional ovens.
With an air fryer, you can also cook food without using cooking oil!
To help you out, we made a list of the best air fryers to buy in the market.
6. Opt for zero waste cooking recipes
The previous tips will help us reduce our waste before the cooking process. At this point, the recommendations are for wastes we will generate after eating.
There will always be food waste and leftovers after we eat. What can we do about them?
We can manage leftovers by preparing zero-waste recipes. Ingredients are primarily organic and compostable.
Here are some of the zero waste food trends:
Burger Steak Mushroom Gravy
Ingredients for burger patty:
- Ground beef
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
Ingredients for the gravy:
- All-purpose flour
- Beef stock
- Combine all the patty ingredients until they are bound, and portion them into handfuls of equal pieces.
- Fry the patty until cooked.
- Melt butter in a saucepan and add flour to create a roux for the gravy.
- Add beef stock and milk. Stir continuously until desired thickness is achieved.
- Add chopped mushroom and boil for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Carbonara with Homemade Pasta
Ingredients for homemade pasta
- All-purpose flour
Ingredients for Carbonara
- Parmesan cheese
- Egg yolk
- Sift flour and add the egg to create the dough. The egg ratio shall be one egg per 100grams.
- Knead the dough for a total of 15 minutes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Flatten the dough using a rolling pasta machine or a rolling pin. After achieving the desired thickness, cut the dough into pasta using the rolling pasta machine or a knife.
- Boil the pasta in water with salt for 1-2 minutes.
- Start cooking the carbonara by laying chopped bacon in a pan. Put it on medium heat and let its own fat cook it.
- Add chopped garlic, then add the pasta. Let the pasta absorb the flavors of the bacon and garlic.
- Beat three egg yolks with parmesan cheese. Remove the pasta from the heat.
- Add egg yolk and parmesan cheese mixture to the pasta. Ensure that the pasta is not cooking anymore before adding the egg yolk and parmesan mixture.
- Add pasta water until saucy. Top the pasta with pepper and more parmesan cheese.
- Pork meat
- Soy sauce
- Banana or tomato catsup
- Lemon juice
- Bamboo sticks
- Chop the pork meat in cubes and marinate it in soy sauce, catsup, lemon juice, and sugar mixture for 30 minutes.
- Put the pork meat on the stick and grill. Use the marinade to coat the skewers as you grill.
- Serve when cooked.
You can easily find more zero waste food examples online.
And while you’re here, check our list of zero-waste snacks for in-between meals options.
7. Store food without plastic
Storing food will help reduce cooking waste. It will help prolong the shelf life of our food and lessen the chance of spoilage.
The easiest way to preserve our food is to store them in the refrigerator. Though spoilage is a natural process, refrigerators are guaranteed to extend the life of our food, especially our leftovers.
With that being said, we must always keep our refrigerators clean. Bacterias and microbes can still find their way inside, which will cause our food to rot.
Eco-friendly food containers will also help keep our food clean and away from spoilage.
Modern refrigerators have humidity-controlled crisper drawers for your fruits and vegetables. We can make our fruits last longer by chopping them and putting them in the freezer.
8. Repurpose food scraps
Among the many benefits of zero waste cooking is learning how to make use of food scraps.
For starters, scraps like onion and garlic peels, and herb stems can add flavor when creating stock or broth.
You can also turn fruit leftovers into fruits shakes and smoothies rather than simply throwing them away.
Replanting root trimmings can be the start of your mini garden at home.
Growing your crops will make fresh ingredients available anytime, and it is a great help in solving waste issues.
More and more eco-conscious people have come up with smart ways to handle food scraps, and we should learn from them.
9. Use zero waste dish soaps
From packaging, ingredients, manufacturing process, and shipping, typical dish soaps have various negative impact on our environment.
Worse, many dish soaps are made with hazardous ingredients harmful to humans and pets.
They are also packed in disposable plastic containers that have nowhere else to go but in landfills or in the ocean.
Fortunately, there are many eco-friendly companies today that developed zero waste dish soaps.
These are eco-friendly alternative to conventional dish soaps as they are made with sustainable ingredients, non-toxic, septic-safe, and comes in eco-friendly packaging.
10. Compost kitchen waste
If you can do nothing about the food scraps, composting will be the best possible option for you and the planet.
Composting will reduce our waste at home and in our community.
And contrary to what many people believe, composting isn’t hard.
There are also plenty of guide on the Internet on how to start composting at home.
Go check them out!
There you have it folks.
With these simple tips on zero waste cooking ,we hope that you can make your cooking sessions more sustainable and eco-friendly.
You can also spread awareness to your family and friends on how they can reduce the environmental impact of their kitchen by sharing this zero waste cooking ideas with them.
Because if there’s one more thing that will make eating more enjoyable, its knowing that we are helping secure our environment’s future.
Is it okay to throw away food?
As much as possible, do not throw away spoiled food. Rotting food in landfills will emit methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
But with this zero waste cooking tips, we are confident that you are unlikely to throw away food.
But in case there are instances that you got spoiled food, the best thing to do is compost them.
What can you do with leftover food waste?
Composting is the best option if food waste is not consumable anymore. If it is consumable, we can give some to our dogs or cats if we have one. They can also be used as feeds for some farm animals.
How do we start cooking with zero waste?
By taking a closer look at your daily cooking routine, you will be able to identify what are the waste you can reduce and how to efficiently implement a zero waste cooking routine in your lifestyle.