Zero Waste Kitchen: Cooking Recipes and a Sort of Meal Plan

Hello Zero Wasters!

I’ve been plotting a spreadsheet for a few months to make a list of zero waste recipes. Following on from Bea’s excellent advice in her book Zero Waste Home, she has set days for types of ingredients. This narrows down menu planning and makes it easier, as instead of looking for anything to cook for dinner you are looking for something more specific. Ok, that sounds vague, but you’ll see what I mean below.

Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun
Legume Fish Grain Pasta Other Meat Pizza Chicken

Bea doesn’t have a pizza night and she doesn’t have an other meat night, but I can’t get the family down to one night of meat a week. You could swap one of these with an egg night. Anyway can you see how this makes it easier to start your menu planning?

But I know what you really want to know about is the healthy kids recipes. This is what I struggled with at first. I’m not zero waste, I am trying to get close to zero waste. I see most of the household waste comes from the kitchen, and as it’s pretty much my domain so I figure I can be the one to change it.

Before we get to the recipes, we need to talk about the pre-waste

In some ways I feel like I might have an advantage as I’m anti processed food, and do cook from scratch pretty much every night. However, this still manages to result in waste. Mostly packaging which is what I am targeting at the moment.

I have worms….let me clarify, pet worms! And these little creatures eat most of our fruit and vegetable scraps (all except for the onion and citrus), so we don’t get waste from prepping a meal. If you don’t have worms you should investigate, or get a compost. In Sydney, Australia most councils are currently giving discounts on worm farms and compost (as it saves them money on waste) so you can get them pretty cheaply. Both will take your fruit and veggie scraps so you don’t have to throw those in bin.

I believe even people in apartments have worms, as shown by Colin Beaven in his doco, No Impact Man. So there’s your organic waste dealt with.

Food Packaging Waste

Now I’m going to assume you are a fan of Zero Waste, so you have a collection of mason jars and canning jars. And you know all about how to shop Zero Waste style – like taking your bags and jars to the store and getting everything in your containers and bags. If not, check out this video of the Zero Waste Queen  going shopping.

If you haven’t downloaded the Zero Waste App that will help you find shops where you can buy in bulk. I find most of the butchers and deli’s are ok with this, but it still makes me uncomfortable asking!  And of course when you shop at the farmer’s market it’s usually pretty easy to avoid packaging.

So now it’s time for some recipes!

Zero Waste Recipes

I’m putting a book together with proper menu planning that will make this so much easier, but in the meantime these are some of the recipes I’ve been used as a starting guide:

Grain

Sushi – this is loosely the recipe I use for sushi seasoning. I haven’t found loose sushi sheets in Australia. These I buy in bulk (100 sheets in a packet) to minimise packaging but they do come in plastic – love to hear if you find them without packaging. The filling varies between vegetables, salmon and chicken.

Fish

Fish Curry (I use coconut flakes and yogurt instead of coconut cream sometimes. Sometimes I buy the can and either plant things in it or recycle).

Fish Fingers – sometimes I make my own, and sometimes I buy Jamie Oliver’s (in cardboard – goes to worms). This is the only processed food I let the family eat. I prefer my fish fingers, every body else prefers his!

Salmon with Warm Lentils

Salmon and Leek Tart – make the pastry, use yoghurt instead of cream

Roast Salmon with Roast Potatoes, Steamed Greens

Legume

I use dried legumes as these last forever in the cupboard. It just means you really have to know what night you are eating legumes as you’ll need to start the soaking the night before. I also pop my black beans in the slow cooker for the day as otherwise I have to cook them on the stove for at least a few hours to get them soft. Slow cooker is more energy efficient. There’s a recipe for burritos/tortillas in the Zero Waste book. For all the Mexican style dishes I substitute yogurt for sour cream.

Vegetable Chilli

Nachos

Burritos with Spanish Rice and Black Beans

Black Bean Burgers

Indian Chickpea Curry

Pasta

I make my own pasta with the pasta machine. I’ll make two batches at once and freeze half for the following week. It really doesn’t take as long as it sounds! I use this for lasagna, cannelloni and adult meals. The kids find it too eggy, so I buy them penne or whatever else is available at Scoop. I also use frozen spinach for the Cannelloni – but this comes in a cardboard box so it decomposes with the worms. Ooh, and I don’t can tomatoes (yet!). I buy passatta in glass jars and re-use the jars.

Ricotta & Spinach Cannelloni

Kids Meal – Marcella Hazans Tomato Sauce with Penne

Basil Pesto Spaghetti

Serve these with a green salad and garlic bread (baugette with homemade garlic butter)

Other Meat

Pulled Pork – roll 500g pork shoulder in 2 tbs brown sugar, 1 tbs cumin seeds. Place in slow cooker for 7 hours on low. Serve with whole roast sweet potato and coleslaw.

Sausages/Toad in the Hole – If you aren’t familiar with toad in the hole it is Yorkshire Pudding. I make the kids in muffin tins with their sausage hanging out. Served with green veggies.

Slow cooked Beef Ribs – special occasion meal

Cornish Pasties – I swap the swede and add carrots. Serve with green veggies.

Pizza

One recipe for pizza dough – very easy to make, just need to write it out and paste here. Passata on top of the dough followed by toppings of choice, then just grate some mozzarella on top (actually this works better under the toppings).

Chicken

For some reason my family doesn’t like roast chicken as much as me. If it were up to me, I’d have it every Sunday night, but, alas I have to come up with chicken recipes that everyone will eat.

Chicken bake

Chicken panko w roast potatoes/chips and salad. I have discovered you can easily make panko crumbs with stale bread in the oven. Use baugette – much better than bread. Then bash chicken breasts out, dip in flour, then egg, then panko crumbs and cook in pan of olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes each side. You can use these panko crumbs for your own fish fingers or chicken nuggets.

Roast chicken with roast vegetables

French BBQ chicken

Zero Waste Recipe Hacks

So obviously you are going to keep your chicken carcass for chicken stock. Also keep the tops of your onions, carrots, carrot peel, leafy part of celery in a jar in the freezer, so you can throw these into your stock.

For beef stock, I keep the beef bones from slow cooked ribs (we don’t have it that often – I just don’t use beef stock very much).

Coleslaw: 1/4 cabbage thinly sliced, 1 carrot grated. Dressing: 1/2 cup mayonaise (I buy in glass jars to keep), 1tbl maple syrup or honey, 1tbl apple cidar vinegar, mix these together with a fork and pour over veg.

Oven chips: Peel and cut your potatoes into chip size pieces. Roughly 1 potato per person. Roll in olive oil and pop in oven 200°C and bake for 45-50 mins.

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