Simple Plastic Free Meals {That Even I Can Make!}

plastic free meals with food in canvas bag

Do you think about the amount of packaging our food comes in? Do you notice how much you throw away while prepping meals? 

For a lot of people, it’s out of sight out of mind when it comes to trash. 

I know I was that way too! I would toss away my garbage and not ever think about it again. However, when I found out that only 91% of plastic is recycled every year, I knew I had to do something to reduce that plastic waste our family was creating. 

So for us, this means trying to make more plastic-free meals. 

The fact that most food packaging isn’t able to be recycled at all is what makes me feel eco-guilt the most.  Therefore, the more we can reduce the plastic waste that comes from food packaging, the better. 

Now, don’t get me wrong… I am not perfect by any means.  My family is not perfect. However, we are on a zero waste and plastic-free journey, and the next step on our journey is to start making some plastic-free meals. 

{This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for purchases made through those links, at no additional cost to you. I link to these companies and their products because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. You can read my disclosure policy for more info.}

HOW TO PREPARE FOR PLASTIC FREE MEALS

Preparing to make more plastic-free meals takes just a little preparation to get you started on the right foot.  Follow these quick steps, if you haven’t done so already. 

Step 1 – Trash Audit

First off, if you are new to a plastic-free or zero waste lifestyle, you may want to start with a quick audit of your current kitchen trash and recycling bins. 

I talk about performing a trash audit in more detail in a recent article, 21 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste. However, the quick recap is that you should take a look at the types of plastic you are throwing away the most and start there. 

For example, if plastic wrap is something you use a lot of in your kitchen, start by eliminating single-use plastic wrap from your kitchen and finding a plastic-free alternative. This will be a quick win that will get you moving in the right direction and making good progress!

Step 2 – Shop Local

Whenever possible, it is best to shop locally to reduce the amount of packaging, which usually includes plastic, used during the shipping process.  

I know that not all of us (and even me) are lucky enough to live in an area that has easy access to the suggestions that I am about to recommend here. So please give yourself grace as you try to make your meals plastic-free.  Do the best you can without feeling any eco-guilt if you are unable to get all of your ingredients without plastic. 

Having said that, when possible, try to shop at the following locations to reduce plastic food packaging. 

  • Local zero waste stores
  • Local farmer’s markets – bring your own bag or basket
  • Shop in bulk or in bulk food bins
  • Try the local butcher – see if you can get your meat wrapped in paper or use your own reusable containers (it doesn’t hurt to ask!)
  • Imperfect Foods – Groceries that help reduce food waste
  • Misfits Market – An imperfect produce subscription box

Step 3 – Use a Zero Waste / Plastic Free Shopping Kit

When it’s time to go to the grocery store, stop the plastic waste before you even walk through the doors. Round up these items for your very own plastic-free shopping kit. Better yet, make a little kit to keep handy in your car!

  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Reusable mesh produce bags
  • Reusable containers for foods in bulk bins
  • Collapsible shopping basket for small trips or to use at the farmer’s market

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

SHOPPING FOR PLASTIC FREE INGREDIENTS

Using the kit and tips above, you are now ready to dive into these mostly plastic-free meals and make a grocery list. 

As you are looking through this wonderful roundup of recipes, you may see that some of these recipes have photos of plastic packaging or products.  Remember that we are all on this journey to do the best we can and that these wonderful authors, cooks, chefs, and bloggers have graciously shared their recipes with us to help us meet our plastic-free goals.  

Some recipes may need some tweaks to make them plastic-free or at least low-waste and I’ve tried to make notes, whenever possible, about what to be mindful of and different swaps you can make. 

  • Be mindful of packaging. Plastic-free produce is key for all of these recipes.
  • Most of these meals are meat-free because it seems very difficult to buy meat that is not packaged in plastic. You can try your local butcher to see if you can get your meat wrapped in paper or use your own reusable containers.
  • Use fresh fruit whenever possible instead of frozen fruit packaged in plastic bags.
  • Buy ingredients in glass bottles instead of plastic.
  • Avoided food in cans, if possible. Cans used to package food actually have a plastic lining, which doesn’t impact the recyclability but does impact your health.  Many cans have a lining that contains BPA which you will want to avoid. Brands may advertise that they are BPA-free. However, there is research that suggests that the BPA-free alternatives are just as harmful to your health. So you may want to avoid canned food altogether and opt for fresh or dried bulk food, when possible. 

PLASTIC FREE FOOD STORAGE

Another way to reduce your plastic waste is to store your food in reusable containers instead of using plastic sandwich bags, food storage bags, or freezer bags.  

There are many options available these days, but some of my favorites are:

PLASTIC FREE MEALS: BREAKFAST RECIPES

Greek Yogurt – 

plastic free homemade greek yogurt
Photo by: This Old Gal

The first time you make this recipe in the GoWise Pressure Cooker or the Instant Pot you will need to use milk and a high-quality container of yogurt that live active cultures.  While this may come in a plastic container, you will have your own active “starter” to use for future batches of yogurt.  So in the end, you will be drastically reducing your plastic waste. 

Balsamic Roasted Berry Smoothie – 

Balsamic Roasted Berry Smoothie
Photo by: Recipes From A Pantry

Serve this smoothie in a glass with a reusable straw for the perfect plastic-free breakfast! Make your own orange juice for this recipe, if possible.

Oats Banana Smoothie

Oats Banana Smoothie
Photo by: Spoons of Flavor

If possible, buy rolled oats from bulk bins or in paper box/container to keep this recipe plastic-free. 

Make Ahead Freezer Quiche – 

Make Ahead Freezer Quiche
Photo by: Rooted Revival

I love how you can freeze this in a glass jar and have breakfast (lunch or dinner) ready in a jiffy!

No-Bake Cereal Bars – 

No Bake Cereal Bars
Photo by: Son Shine Kitchen

These cereal bars will not only help you reduce plastic waste by avoiding store-bought cereal bars, but they will also help you reduce your food waste by using up the crumbs from the bottom of the cereal box.  Look for cereal in your bulk bins to avoid the plastic bags that cereal usually comes in. 

PLASTIC FREE MEALS: LUNCH RECIPES

Easy Cherry Tomato Bruschetta – 

Easy Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
Photo by: My Millennial Kitchen

Shop for cherry tomatoes without the plastic container, if at all possible, or substitute for small plum tomatoes roughly chopped.

Rustic Tomato Soup – 

rustic tomato soup
Photo by: Rooted Revival

I love that this is made with home-canned diced tomatoes.  I plan to do this in the future to avoid canned diced tomatoes from the grocery store. So much healthier!

Easy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Easy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Photo by: Creative Green Living

Follow Carissa’s recipe to make your own roasted red peppers at home for this recipe!

Rich, Healthy Broccoli Leek Soup – 

Broccoli Leek Soup
Photo by: Compost and Cava

One of several great zero waste recipes from Reese at Compost and Cava. She created an entire series of meals without plastic. How awesome! 

Brothy Turnip Greens with Shiitake Mushrooms – 

Brothy Turnip Greens with Shiitake Mushrooms
Photo by: Compost and Cava

Another great plastic-free meal from Compost and Cava!

Panzanella Salad Recipe With Asparagus – 

Panzanella Salad Recipe With Asparagus
Photo by: Tasty Galaxy

Make your own croutons, as suggested in this recipe, to avoid croutons in plastic bags. 

Homemade Pumpkin, Potato, and Carrot Soup –  

Homemade Pumpkin, Potato, and Carrot Soup
Photo by: Francine’s Place Blog

This recipe looks fabulous for the fall or anytime!

PLASTIC FREE MEALS: DINNER RECIPES

One Pan Pasta with Chickpeas and Tomatoes – 

ONE PAN PASTA WITH CHICKPEAS AND TOMATOES
Photo by: Melissa Traub

To keep this recipe plastic-free, try to buy your pasta in a box with no plastic window and use homemade vegetable broth or Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base which comes in a glass jar. You can also swap out canned chickpeas for dried chickpeas bought in bulk or in this reusable plastic-free packaging with a drawstring closure.

Vegan Chickpea Skillet Dinner

Vegan Chickpea Skillet Dinner
Photo by: Son Shine Kitchen

In this recipe, you can try to swap out the canned chickpeas for rehydrated dry chickpeas. Also, check out the No Waste Kitchen tab on Son Shine Kitchen’s website, for additional ways to reduce your kitchen waste overall. 

Easy Zero Waste Zoodles With Heirloom Tomatoes and Pesto

Easy Zero Waste Zoodles With Heirloom Tomatoes and Pesto
Photo by: Compost and Cava

I love how Reese from Compost and Cava highlights how to make this recipe zero waste. Yet, she reminds us all, being completely zero waste can be very difficult when it comes to buying food and cooking.  So do the best you can and be proud of all you are doing to reduce plastic waste. 

One-Pot French Ratatouille

30-min One-Pot French Ratatouille
Photo by: My Pure Plants

This recipe is chocked full of fresh veggies and can be made in only 30 minutes!

Southwest Quinoa

Southwest Quinoa
Photo by: V Nutrition

The gluten-free dinner is a one-pot recipe and perfect for a quick weeknight dinner!

Sweet Potato Lentil Stew – 

Sweet Potato Lentil Stew
Photo by: Reese Moore Photography

Take note of the extra tips given in this recipe to help make this a plastic-free meal.

Lemon Garlic Zoodles

Lemon Garlic Zoodles
Photo by: Pink Fortitude

This vegan, Whole30, Paleo recipe only takes 10 minutes to make on top of being plastic-free!

Garden Veggie Burgers

Garden Veggie Burgers
Photo by: Strength & Sunshine

To avoid buying canned food, you can try to buy and rehydrate dry black-eyed peas in this recipe.

COMPOST YOUR SCRAPS (AND RECYCLE)

Although our focus today is on reducing our plastic, it’s also a good idea to be mindful of our food waste in general. Did you know that Americans throw away $165 billion in food each year? This can mean that each family in America is tossing up to $2,200, according to CNBC and a study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

So to save you money and also help reduce our waste in the kitchen, it is important that we try to plan for our meals so that food is not being thrown away after each meal.  

It is not only hard on our wallets but also on our environment. When food waste ends up rotting in our landfills, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. 

Therefore, it’s important to compost your food scraps and eat your leftovers to help fight climate change! Plus, be sure to compost your paper products and recycle your cans, glass jars, and anything else that is recyclable. 

Most importantly, be proud of the changes you are making to make plastic-free meals and the impact you have on our environment.  Every step you take to reduce your plastic waste is a step in the right direction. Enjoy your time in the kitchen and eating these delicious, plastic-free meals with your loved ones!

Do you want to remember this post? Pin it for later!

Simple Plastic Free Meals {That Even I Can Make!}

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

Share:

2 Comments

  1. Amy Witbeck
    July 17 / 10:48 AM

    The recipes look delicious! And I love the tips on how to reduce or eliminate plastic use, it’s an area that I definitely need to work on so this info is really helpful 🙂

    • Rebekah
      Author
      July 19 / 8:10 AM

      Thank you! So glad you found the plastic free tips helpful!

Leave a Reply to Rebekah Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By accessing or using this website, you agree to the following Disclosure & Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.  Content may not be reproduced in any form.