Creating a Zero Waste Meal – Beginners Guide

Creating a zero waste meal doesn’t need to be intimidating.  It’s simply the way the pioneers cooked meals – without making trash. Your meal can be package-free or come from packaging that is recyclable (cans or paper boxes) or refillable (glass), the option is up to you.


Picking Zero Waste Foods

How to Create a Zero Waste Meal | Beginners Guide at

How to Create a Zero Waste Meal | Beginners Guide at

A package-free meal can easily be made with unwrapped veggies and accompanying dry ingredients from bulk bins. As long as you use your reusable bulk bags or containers to bring them home in. I prefer bags for my veggies and glass jars for my bulk foods – see my favorite zero waste shopping supplies HERE. Always make sure your bags and containers are weighed (tare) empty before you fill them. Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags to carry it all!

How to Create a Zero Waste Meal | Beginners Guide at

The healthiest way to eat package-free is to eat seasonally. It is also really great for your budget too, since in-season items tend to be cheaper. That also varies depending where you live, if you want to eat local – which is really the most sustainable way. To find out what is in season in your state right now check out‘s seasonal food guide.  Additionally some towns offer indoor farmers markets in the winter, as farmers markets are great places to find package-free food all year round.

Sometimes things aren’t as they seem.  The ingredients in the above photo are all zero waste because they either come in their own skin (fruits and veggies), a recyclable can or have packaging that can be recycled.  Terracycle accepts chip bags and Late July packaging specifically states that they do, so check your pre-packaged foods before you buy them!


Zero Waste Cooking

How to Create a Zero Waste Meal | Beginners Guide at

Now that you’ve purchased all this food without creating any trash, make sure you prepare it without any going to waste. Any vegetable peels or ends can be saved/frozen to later be boiled into vegetable stock. As well as any food scraps that aren’t meat or dairy can be composted.  Check out my guide to backyard composting.

How to Create a Zero Waste Meal | Beginners Guide at

Prepare your meal using reusable items, avoid paper plates, plastic utensils, straws and cups – none of which can be recycled.  If you must use non-reusable plates there are many alternative options for you to choose from.  I recommend either Susty Party, which creates dishware from tapioca starch and grass fiber or Leafware, which creates dishware from fallen palm leaves – both of which are 100% compostable.  Leftovers can be frozen for future meals or refrigerated and eat within a week. By making sure leftovers are stored properly helps them to not go to waste from spoilage!


With these few guidelines every meal can be a zero-waste meal with minimal impact to the earth, along with many health benefits as well.


Question of the Day:

What are you favorite zero waste meals to prepare?