Are you looking to zero waste your snack habit? I have put together over 30 zero-waste snack ideas to keep your taste buds and your bin happy!
This article originally appeared on Kempii – a great site with advice and products to reduce waste – and we thought it would be great to share here too as part of Plastic-Free July.
Favourite Zero-Waste Snack Ideas
The original zero-waste snack. You would think that fruit should be a simple and cheap plastic-free snack. However, buying loose fruit is, depending on where you shop, a little tricky. What’s more, buying loose can often be pricier compared to prepackaged fruit. Sometimes the plastic packaging is there to prolong the lifespan of the fruit, preventing food waste. It’s certainly a minefield, and you can only do what you can.
If you have the choice then opt for the most seasonal and local fruit you can find – here’s a handy month-by-month guide if you’re stuck for ideas. Seasonal fruit is often the cheapest and the tastiest option. Whereas out of season fruit has normally been grown energy intensively in heated hothouses and is low on flavour.
If there are slim pickings at your local shop, then bananas, despite travelling a long distance to reach us, have a surprisingly low carbon footprint. They are grown in natural sunlight, which means that no energy-intensive hot-housing is required. And unlike softer fruits, like grapes, berries, and kiwi fruit, they keep well, so although they are often grown thousands of miles from where they are sold, they are transported by boats, which is less energy-intensive than air freighting produce.
Make it special: slather your fruit in a nut butter or chocolate spread. This could be homemade or shop-bought (in a glass jar) – whatever works for you.
Again, another of the original zero-waste snack ideas! Depending on the season, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and pea pods make for great low effort raw snacks. Again check out the month by month guide to what’s in season before you head to the shops.
To help ensure your vegetables don’t go to waste, prepare ahead by peeling and chopping your vegetables into batons. Then store your vegetables in a reusable tub for healthy snacking on the go, or to keep to hand in the fridge for when hunger strikes. It’s often easier to reach for a healthy snack if you’ve done all the hard work in advance!
Make it special: dip your vegetables in a homemade hummus or dip to liven things up a bit.
Smoothies are a great way to use up fruit and vegetables that are going off, and can even be frozen in jars or your old tupperware containers. Just take your smoothie out of the freezer the night before, defrost in the fridge, and it’ll be ready for morning.
You can create a smoothie out of almost whatever you have to hand – for inspiration check out the BBC’s Good Food recipe guide.
Bulk Zero-Waste Snacks
If you have a bulk shop near you then here are some suggestions of what to look out for next time you are shopping:
- Dried fruit
- Chocolate covered treats such as raisins and nuts
- Rice crackers
If you’re London based then here’s a handy guide to zero waste shops in London.
If you don’t have a bulk shop shop in your vicinity then bulk shop what you can at your local supermarket. Lidl is good for loose nuts, and some Holland and Barrett shops do have a small bulk section.
Apart from those options, plastic-free snacks are definitely trickier. Things you can do instead are to shop smarter. Instead of buying individual boxes of raisins, for example, buy a big bag of raisins that you can divide up into small reusable tubs. One big bag of popcorn kernels lasts longer than a bag of pre-popped popcorn. A big sharing bag of crisps, that again can be divided up into smaller reusable tubs uses less plastic than buying individual bags of crisps.
Sweet shops may sadly be few and far between these days, but some high streets do have an elusive sweet shop. Here you can fill up a paper bag full of your favourite sweet treats – some may even let you use your own container. The hardest part is deciding which sweets to pick!
Got a kids party coming up? Neary’s Sweets sell bulk plastic-free boxes of sweets and they ship without plastic too. This is a great option for party snacks and for filling party bags with.
If chocolate is more your thing then many chocolate bars are zero waste. The good news is you don’t have to go far – some can easily be bought from your local supermarket or corner shop if you’re in desperate need of a quick sugar rush!
There is also a growing variety of chocolatiers, selling online and in specialist shops, that cater to vegan, organic, palm-oil free, and gluten-free diets, depending on your preferences.
Seed and Bean is a particular favourite. Accredited as the most ethical chocolate producer in Britain by the Good Shopper Guide, not only is their chocolate fairtrade and organic, but the paper outer wrapper is recyclable and the inner wrapper can be composted at home.
Zero-Waste Snack Ideas to Bake or Make
Finally, let’s not forget the snacks that can be baked or made at home. Some favourite snacks to make include:
- Crisps – this is a great recipe for zero-waste crisps (pictured above)
- Roasted Seeds
- Kale Crisps
- Tortilla Crisps
- Roasted Chickpeas
I’ve suggested some simple snack ideas here that you can bake or make with relatively little effort, but really, the sky’s the limit here. The internet is your friend – search for recipes or even try searching for a recipe based on what leftovers you have on the excellent Love Food Hate Waste recipe finder to help you reduce your food waste.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes food does go bad. With most food that has gone bad, sadly it has to go straight into your composter, however if you’ve got some black bananas then don’t throw them out. Black bananas are super sweet and completely edible. This vegan banana bread recipe works best with the blackest bananas you can stomach – as the blacker the banana the sweeter it is. So if you forgot about those bananas languishing at the bottom of the fruit bowl don’t fret, consider yourself in luck!
I’ve suggested over 30 zero-waste snack ideas here, but there are loads more out there too. Do share your favourite snacks in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out Kempii’s guide to plastic-free food storage for storing your snacks in!