Cut the waste and cook at home! These eco-friendly Foods That Reduce Waste are all vegan recipes you can make in your own kitchen to replace the packaged, store-bought version...and they're going to taste so much better!
Phrases like "living sustainably" or "eco-friendly" can often feel vague or impossible to achieve. For me, it works better to break a bigger concept like that into smaller, actionable steps! Reducing waste by making more food at home is one of those steps I try to take. This Foods That Reduce Waste post is filled with recipes that you can make at home rather than buying packaged from the store! Going vegan (or even making a few smaller swaps!) is one of the best ways you can live more sustainably. Right now two-thirds of the agricultural land in the U.S. is used to grow animals for food or to grow grain to feed them (source). Anything we can do to ease that strain on our land makes a difference! In this post I've got:
- Planting a Garden
- Recipes That Use Scraps
- Homemade Staples:
- Granola Bars
- Juices & Drinks
- Almond, Cashew and Oat Milk Recipes
- Snacking (Both Sweet & Salty!)
- Fresh Salsas
- Salad Dressings to Make at Home
- Sauce & Spreads
- Homemade Vegan Candy
- More Resources for Plant-Based Living
Foods That Reduce Waste: Grow Your Own Produce!
We recently started our own garden! It's been so fun to see different foods start from a tiny seed and grow into something we can put on the table. You can read more in my Beginner's Guide to Starting a Veggie & Herb Garden. Planting your own garden is a great way to reduce the strain of transporting groceries, and plants are amazing a keeping the air clean, free of pollutants, and full of oxygen!
Foods That Reduce Waste by Using Scraps
Before tossing food scraps, I try to brainstorm if there's any way I can use them!
- My No-Waste Vegetable Broth is my favorite way to use vegetable scraps, and it's a great example of a recipe that cuts down on packaging and transportation.
- If you're making any pumpkin recipe, try starting with your own Homemade Pumpkin Puree. Then read my post on How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds!
- Another dynamic duo is The Best Homemade Almond Milk...and then use the pulp for Easy Almond Pulp Hummus! You're using every single ingredient, which is the coolest feeling.
- A great way to use extra watermelon is...pop it in the blender! Trust me on this: blend your watermelon until smooth, pour it into a popsicle mold, and make delicious Easy Watermelon Popsicles.
- If you have overripe avocados or leftover avocado halves (even if they are brown!) use them to make my easy Avocado Chocolate Pudding.
- If you have bananas that are overripe you can peel, slice and freeze them for Nice Cream. My kids go crazy over this easy recipe and we have saved countless bananas this way. They love Chocolate Banana Ice Cream best.
- Try making my broccoli soup or asparagus soup. In the broccoli soup can use the entire broccoli stalk to avoid wasting it. And you can save your asparagus ends to make asparagus soup too. Here is a 1-minute video showing how.
Granola bars are one of the first things I thought of when I planned a post about reducing packaged food waste! They also might be the simplest thing you can make at home instead buying. Most of these recipes have just a couple ingredients and only take a few minutes. My kids like them better than any store-bought bars we've tried! Plus, you can add your favorite additions, like nuts, seeds, chocolate chips or dried fruit.
Granola is one of the foods that my family goes through FAST. I make at least one batch of my Easy Granola each week, but usually more! Since everyone loves eating granola with almond milk like cereal, sprinkling it on smoothies, or grabbing a handful for snacking, I have several varieties that we enjoy to keep it interesting.
- Easy Granola Recipe (refined sugar-free + vegan) (our go-to granola!)
- Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Granola (refined sugar-free)
- Grain-Free Granola
- Super Seed Granola
- Easy Stovetop Granola in 5-Minutes
- Nutty Granola with Hemp Seed & Flaxseed
- Easy Vegan Maple Pecan Granola (refined sugar-free and gluten-free)
There are tons of hummus flavors available at every grocery store these days, but it's actually so easy to make your own! Since I always have chickpeas and tahini on hand, it's really simple to make a batch...and we go through a LOT of hummus! It's perfect for dipping veggies or crackers or scooping into a bowl or wrap. It adds tons of plant-based protein into our diet!
- Best Ever Creamy Beet Hummus
- Easy Green Hummus (dye-free)
- Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
- Quick and Easy Creamy Hummus - This is our go-to recipe! We make it so often that Riley even does it on her own now.
- Garlic Pumpkin Hummus
- Easy Almond Pulp Hummus - This uses leftover pulp from making The Best Homemade Almond Milk
- Black-Eyed Pea Hummus Dip
- Simplified Israeli-Style Hummus
- Creamy Lemon-Parsley Hummus
Juices & Drinks
Making your own juices is such a fun kitchen activity for little ones to help with. They love adding produce into the juicer or having a turn squeezing the Citrus Juicer for fresh lemon or orange juice! You can really taste the difference with homemade juices, and I find peace of mind knowing there aren't unnecessary ingredients or sugar added in.
Homemade Plant-Based Milks
Drinking plant-based milk is a really great way to reduce your environmental footprint. It takes a much smaller toll on the earth to produce almonds, cashews, and oat than it does to produce milk from animals! Making your own is a lot easier than you might think, and it further reduces waste since you aren't relying on cartons of product being transported in refrigerated trucks.
Since we've been doing both work and school from home thanks to COVID, my family is snacking more than ever! It's super easy to stock up on packaged treats at the grocery store, but just a little bit of planning can help you swap for some homemade, plant-based options that are just as tasty and require way less packaged waste. These recipes are my favorites for a bit of crunch and tons of flavor!
- Crispy Chickpea "Croutons"
- Best Crispy Kale Chips
- Healthy Maple Candied Pecans (refined sugar-free)
- Actually Crispy BBQ Roasted Chickpeas
- Easy Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce (refined sugar-free)
- Easy Almond Flour Crackers (vegan + paleo + gluten-free + refined sugar-free)
- Sweet and Spiced Roasted Chickpeas
- Easy Homemade Seed Crackers (nut-free, gluten-free, vegan, paleo)
- Sweet and Salty Roasted Pepita Seeds (oil-free)
- Vegan "Nutella" Pop-Tarts (gluten-free, paleo, refined sugar-free)
- Homemade Vegan Pop-Tarts with Raspberry Chia Jam (gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free)
- Instant Vegan Chocolate Pudding is a great way to use avocados that are past their prime!
Just like with homemade juice, I think you can totally taste the difference with homemade salsas. Plus, you can fine-tune the ingredients so it tastes exactly how you like it! Since we started our own veggie & herb garden, it's been really exciting to try growing things like tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeno to make super fresh salsa at home.
Dressings are so easy to make from home! It's my number one tip for increasing your enjoyment of salads. Toss your ingredients into a jar, give it a good whisk or shake, and you're ready with the tastiest topping ever. I like to make a few different sauces and dressings each week so my leftovers always feel a little extra special!
Sauces & Spreads
These recipes just might have my heart. They're the sweet, flavorful, wonderful toppings that make toast, smoothies or desserts feel all dressed up! Vegan caramel, Nutella, jam, and even dairy-free whipped cream can all be made at home with just a couple ingredients.
Skip the freezer section and make your summertime treats at home. We pretty much ALWAYS have a round of popsicles in the freezer ready for a dessert. Since these options are also nutritious, they're a great healthy snack! Making your own popsicles reduces not only packaging but the environmental strain of transporting frozen goods. Win-win!
Homemade Vegan Candy
Making my own vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free candy just might be my passion project. I always have some sort of chocolate treat on hand! These homemade candy alternatives are filled with clean ingredients, flavor you'll crave, and zero unnecessary additions or packaging. Being eco-friendly AND eating chocolate?! The dream.