Zero Waste Meal Planning

During the past few weeks I’ve been working on meal planning. I’m trying to stick to a monthly grocery budget, so I figured meal planning would be extremely helpful. That, and the fact that I do far better with a plan instead of buying food and winging it.

Meal planning has also helped me use up any veggies I have in the fridge for the next week, as well as using up left overs. I know Kay has been working on this as well. I’m excited to see what she’s come up with!

When I started my ‘plan for meal planning’ I stumbled across My Frugal Adventures. Charlene has amazing ideas for keeping a budget and how to start a weekly menu plan. Her Weekly Menu Plan is awesome. I love writing things down, so the print off she has is perfect. I suggest using paper that has been used previously, as well as multiplying the number of menu plans you have on one sheet. It may not be zero waste, but it sure is less waste. This time I used a sheet that came from Ethan’s teacher. My example is below.

If you do well without the paper, there are a few meal planning apps out there that are pretty cool. I liked this one (iPhones only). You can choose a certain diet and choose recipes that suite that diet. They put a grocery list together for you. It’s pretty rad. I prefer looking through my own recipe books, or choosing things I crave or already know and writing it down. However you decide, try to do it making as little waste possible. I know you can do it. Have a meal planning app you love? Please share!

Next is the fun part. Or, sometimes in my case, the hard part. Grocery shopping for me can be quite a daunting task. My goals for shopping are, zero waste (as much as possible!), saving money, and shopping locally. To find everything I need I have to go to multiple stores, which is NOT zero waste, but I always try to make sure I hit the stores I need in the best way possible, as to not waste gas.

My tips:
*buy fruits and veggies without packaging. (If you can’t- try to make sure it’s recyclable. Like berry packaging.)
*if you want to use bags to put your produce in, use your own reusable bags. OR, in this trips case, I didn’t use a bag at all.
*don’t beat yourself up if you can’t buy everything without packaging. They don’t always make it easy on us, do they?
*shop at your local meat store and use silicone bags. I found these on Amazon.
*make your own broth if you can. Otherwise, buy it in jars. The jars can be reused for other things, or recycled. (The paper containers aren’t recyclable in my area.)

It’s not perfect. Sometimes, even after making the meal plan, I don’t stick with it completely. Mostly that’s because I didn’t plan for the fact that I would have SO much left over. You’ll notice that I only do a meal plan for dinner. This is because I do something different for breakfast and lunches. Sometimes those are planned, and sometimes I wing it. Mostly I do leftovers from the dinner plans. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll make some salads in a jar for my lunch plans.

They say you can’t reuse the lids from canning. I say, bah humbug to that. I DO NOT suggest using them again for canning, the seal has been compromised. I do suggest keeping, marking, and storing them away from unused lids to use for your jar salads, leftovers, things you need to freeze, citrus vinegar spray etc.

Making a jar salad is simple.
*start with wet ingredients on the bottom (dressing, tomatoes,etc)
*layer up! Adding the salad portion last.
*when you’re ready to eat, shake that baby up and enjoy either in the jar, or dump into a bowl.

Lastly, sometimes I have extras from a meal plan. So, I’ll separate the meat I have from Scott Meats into other meals (chili). The meat balls are from a batch of meatloaf I made too much of. I was able to get three meals from one shopping trip! WINNING! Silicone bags are great for freezing and it works perfect to make another week (or more) of meal planning.

That’s it! I hope this helps you on your journey to zero waste. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the task of a zero waste lifestyle. I have to remind myself that it’s a JOURNEY. This isn’t something that happens overnight, and it certainly isn’t something that needs to be done to a tee. Do your best. If you do that, you’re doing zero waste perfectly.

How is your zero waste journey coming along? What do you find the most difficult when it comes to grocery shopping? Do you have a weekly meal plan?

I’m grateful you stopped in today. May the wind be at your back with your journey.

<3 Jamma

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