My dad has a lot of sayings. One he likes to use when grocery shopping is, “Shop the perimeter of the store.”
For health reasons, the perimeter is the best place for finding whole, nutritious foods—fruit, veggies, eggs, meat and fish (if you eat them)—and avoiding processed junk foods. As a zero waster, I have also discovered that this is a good mantra for avoiding plastic, packaged foods. Of course there are exceptions—even fruit and vegetables can come pre-packaged in plastic and the bulk aisle (while not always located on the perimeter) is a great place to stock up on unpackaged nuts, grains and spices.
I’ve noticed that a lot of zero wasters have found that since switching to a zero waste lifestyle, they are eating much less processed food and feel healthier as a result. It’s no secret that knowing what goes into your food, especially if you cook it yourself, is a good step towards a balanced, healthy diet.
It can be tempting, if you’re a snacker like me, to pick up some packaged sweet or salty treats when you’re craving a little sustenance between meals. But often these snacks are packaged in wasteful plastic. What’s a zero waster to do?
I’ve gotten creative and found a number of satisfying, but healthy, and zero waste snack options to keep you going throughout the day.
1. Apple or banana with nut butter: This one satisfies both my sweet and salty tooth. I love to cut up a tart apple, like pink lady or jazz apples, and smear them with fresh grind almond butter purchased in bulk. To learn how to buy nut butter in a glass jar, read my post here. Sometimes I like to add a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips when I’ve craving something more decadent.
2. Crudité with homemade hummus: Okay, this one takes a little planning, but homemade hummus with raw veggies is a great high protein snack. I like to cut up whole carrots, cucumber slices, bell pepper, radish and sometimes cherry tomatoes (when in season). I recommend making a big batch of hummus or another bean dip over the weekend.
3. Seasoned Pistachios: The bulk aisle is a great place to find snacks. One of my favorites is seasoned pistachios with cayenne, lime and salt. They’re savory, spicy and just handful satisfies my craving.
4. Dried mango slices: Dried mango is basically nature’s candy. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to load up on too much dried fruit because of the sugar, but I LOVE dried mango. It’s chewy and sweet and little tart. I also love dried peaches. Find them in the bulk aisle.
5. Trail Mix: You can also find an assortment of yummy trail mix in the bulk aisle. Nut mixes, nuts with chocolate pieces, nuts with dried fruit, so many possibilities. Or buy a few different nuts and seeds and make your own.
6. Popcorn: Oh boy, have you ever made your own popcorn? It’s crazy good. All you need is a pot with a lid, some popcorn kernels bought in bulk, olive oil and some salt, and you have yourself a par-tay. This is a dangerous one for me, I literally cannot stop eating an entire bowl of popcorn once its popped. Pop at your own risk.
7. Granola: You could buy granola in the bulk aisle, or you can make your own. I like to make my own so I can decide what sweetener to use and what goodies I want to throw in. And, it’s so simple to make. My favorite is whole rolled oats with maple syrup, olive oil, nuts and cinnamon. You can eat it on its own, or combine with homemade almond milk and berries for a little cereal bowl.
8. Kale Chips: Another easy one to make, cut up some kale pieces and season with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in your oven. The kale gets a little crispy and it’s a great way to get some greens.
9. Smoothie: I love an afternoon smoothie. I tend to be more fruit forward than the hard core green smoothie drinkers, but sometimes I sprinkle in a few spinach leaves for good measure. Cut up some fruit and freeze it in a glass container overnight. Add to a blender with nut milk and nut butter, and you have a filling treat. One of my favorite combos is frozen banana with pineapple, almond milk and spinach. Tastes like a healthy piña colada.
10. Chia Seed Pudding: This is a great snack when you want something sweet and refreshing. Combine 1.5 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup chia seeds and 1 tbsp maple syrup in a jar and refrigerate overnight. In the morning you have creamy, delicious chia seed pudding. I like to add nut butter and berries.
There are so many other zero waste snacks I'm probably forgetting. What do you do when you want a snack, but want to avoid the plastic waste? Please share below!