So I have the dinners and lunches down to as little waste as possible. Don’t mention breakfast, we’re still very high waste in that department and will probably remain so until a bulk-buy store opens up nearby or my kids eating habits change. So I’m skipping onto zero-waste snacks, which are particularly pertinent in households with kids returning to school. I appreciate that some suggestions here include nuts and so won’t be suitable for school, but they might suit for that hunger gap between home time and dinner.
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These suggestions are based on the assumption that you’re able to buy most of the ingredients below either package-free or in paper bags, or in infinitely recyclable containers, like tins or glass.
Fresh Fruit & Veg
The most zero-waste snack is generally a locally-grown, package-free, piece of organic seasonal fruit or veg – or as close to that as you can get. Team it up with a bit of fat and it’s almost a mini meal. Finding a package-free locally made source of fat is nigh on impossible here in Ireland but you may have more luck where you are. I’m fortunate to be able to get peanut butter refills in my local zero waste store.
- apple or pear slices spread with peanut butter
- apple or pear slices with a thin slice of mature cheese like Parmesan or cheddar
- carrot or celery radishes or mangetout with humus
- cherry tomatoes
- Tapenade (olive paste) with bread
- Pesto with bread
- Blended frozen banana or mango
- Kale Crisps – a great source of plant-based calcium
- Edamame beans – a great source of plant-based protein
Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit
Nuts or seeds make another ideal snack and are perfect to have on the go. To take it to the next level try trail mix, a blend of nuts, dried fruit and seeds. I used to dismiss this rabbit fare until I started making my own and adding in chocolate! My trailmix of choice now includes coconut flakes, hazelnuts, sultanas or raisins, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chocolate nibs. If I’m really organised I’ll toast the hazelnuts beforehand!
Other seeds based snacks include popcorn & baked chickpeas, although I have to confess to not being a fan of the latter. Popcorn is a much overlooked but versatile snack option. It’s great simply salted or sprinkled with sugar but you can also favour it with parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast or chilli flakes.
A recent discovery in our house is Swedish Multiseed Crispbread, which I find a tasty, easy and affordable way to get more seeds in my diet. I also love that these crispbreads stay crisp in an air-tight container for days, particularly if you make them quite thin.
A more filling alternative to trail mix mentioned above is the flapjack, which can be as simple as oats, butter, golden syrup and sugar baked in the oven for 20 minutes, or augmented with trail mix and mashed bananas to up its nutritional value. Here’s a recipe for banana flapjacks that I frequently make, although with butter instead of diary-free spread, and with less sugar than suggested.
Another good mobile low-waste food item is the muffin, which can be savoury or sweet. Unlike flapjacks these can be frozen and thawed as required. Here’s the recipe that I use for oat muffins, although I generally use whatever fruit or nuts are easy and inexpensive to get.
While researching this article I came across a recipe for quinoa bites, which I’m adding to my ‘to-make’ list, particularly given that quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein.
Hope you found some of these suggestions helpful. If so please share this article around friends and family.
PS – If you like cooking and want to make more sustainable food choices check out my other articles on sustainable food.