Zero Waste, Meal Prep Week Six

It is week six and we're still going strong with the meal plans. Let me know if you're still finding these helpful! I can go down to two a month if they're starting to be overwhelming. It is definitely encouraging me to be a better planner. 

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You can head on over to my instagram to see the prep live through insta stories. But it will only be around fro 24 hours so head on over fast! 

If you're looking for help on where to start meal planning, check out my tips for making a five-minute meal plan

This week was very unique. We are working with free food! So some of the normal headers don't apply. 

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inventory:

I was running very, very low on food. I have some apple slices and cauliflower in the fridge. I also have some wilting spinach and several lonely bananas. 

budget:

This week we're doing it on a budget of $0! Yes, you read that right. We didn't pay a cent for all the food you see photographed above. And a couple of other things that weren't photographed. 

My biggest advice is - get to know your farmers! Head to the farmers market as it's wrapping up. Ask about some deals. If you know your farmers really well, you can score some very ripe/imperfect produce. 

Which means that it all needs to be prepared and ready to be eaten ASAP. 

shop:

Lots of veggies! It was a free for all. 

plan:

BREAKFAST

  • K - Green Smoothies, Banana Bread
  • J - Strawberry Smoothies, Banana Bread

LUNCH

  • K - Southwestern Salads: Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Black Beans, and Romaine
  • J - Ham Sandwiches, Pretzels, Cookies, and Carrot Sticks

DINNER

  • Carrot Top Pesto Ravioli 
  • Cheesesteak/Balsamic Mushroom Subs
  • Fried Buffalo Cauliflower/Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli
  • Veggie Fried Rice
  • Roasted Veggie Quesadillas
  • Waffles
  • Loaded Veggie Baked Potatoes

prep:

This weeks prep took 2 hours. I Have six green smoothies and three strawberry smoothies for Justin. I made carrot sticks and diced an onion. With the carrot tops, I made carrot top pesto which is a rift on my pesto recipe. But, even better! I included 1/4 cup of cashews with 3 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast. 

I made three salads for myself and a burrito bowl. Justin has all the fixings to make his daily lunch sandwich. And, I made a whole loaf of banana bread. 

I think we're set for the week. What are you prepping for this week? 

How to Make a 5 Minute Meal Plan

Happy zero waste week everyone! This year's focus is food waste. If you can’t tell by my blog, I am kinda obsessed with food. I think about it all the time. What yummy treat do I get to eat today!? I went through a huge energy bite kick, then chocolate truffles, and now I’m on green juice.

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

Zero waste week started in 2008 and was recognized by Parliament last year. Each year has a new theme, and this year is food waste! Which is great; because, I love food.

I get asked about food a lot. Some of you have access to bulk – awesome! Some of you don’t. But, that’s ok! There are still so many things you can do like composting, bringing a reusable bag, and water bottle. That’s 75% of the battle right there.

You should also check out my post on how to shop if you don't have bulk available. 

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

Even if you can’t buy your food in bulk – you can still make sure you don’t waste the food you buy. Americans waste 50% of their food!

50%

Do you know how many people we could feed with 50% of what we buy? Do you know how much money you’re literally throwing away!?

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

We’ve covered food waste several times on the blog. From chatting with the first head chef at Google, to making garbage stock, to how to store food properly, and of course fun ideas to use up scraps.

This time we’re talking about meal planning! Yes, meal planning.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’ve attempted to spell out my weekly meal plans for the last six weeks. I try to get these posts up the day before the work week begins. They involve a rough outline of what I’m going to eat and my process for going about it.

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

But, I haven’t really spelled out how I meal plan. Here are my top tips at meal planning from someone who has failed at it multiple times and doesn't enjoy it. 

We're going to make this as quick and painless as possible.  I’ve always failed at meal planning due to specificity.

On Tuesday we eat lasagna! But, what if Tuesday rolls around and I’m not feeling lasagna? Then I’m stuck eating a whole bunch of meals I’m not craving. Meal planning suddenly becomes a punishment.

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

So, how do we ditch this meal planning system doomed for failure? WE IMPROVISE.

Being an actor who kinda hates improv, this should be scary. But, it’s freeing. And, down right exciting.

How to Make a 5 Minute Meal Plan

I highly reccomend a list app on your phone. You can cross and uncross ingredients and meals in an instant.

step one: make a list of all of your favorite meals 

When Justin and I first started cooking together, I realized he's picky. I mean PICKY. Quite possibly one of the pickiest eaters I've ever met. So, I started making a list of all the meals we both like. Meals that can easily be made vegetarian/omnivore and vegetarian meals we both love. 

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

I recommend trying to get at least 20 meals ideally 40 on this list. Some of our favorites are below: (If you've been reading our meal prep posts, I bet you can guess what they are!)

  • Shepherds Pie
  • Burgers
  • Pizza 
  • Pot Pie
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Quesadillas 
  • Fajitas
  • Nachos
  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken/Eggplant Parm
  • Lasagna 
  • Fried Rice 
  • Beef/Mushroom and Broccoli
  • Cheese Steak/Balsamic Mushroom Subs
  • Sloppy Lentil Joes
  • Caeser Salad

step two: organize by flavor profile

We have about 40 meals and 15 sides we like on our list. I have it broken down and organized by flavor profile. This helps A LOT. So, it's organized by American, Italian, Mexican, and Asian.

And, most of these flavor profiles call for the same ingredients! 

step three: figure out frequency

You might not be able to tell what you'll be craving on a given day, but you should be able to figure out the fequency of your cravings. Like I know I want pizza at least once a week. I also know that I want mexican food every day. 

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

Based on our cravings we've come up with 2 american dinners, 2 mexican dinners, most likely one dinner out/leftovers and Pizza. 

step four: go shopping

Now you have freedom. You can eat what you want on any given day of the week! And, you have complete flexibility with ingredients. 

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

Since I know that I'll be making at least two American dinners I make sure I'm stocked up on potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, butter, and flour. Then I buy a couple of in season vegetables. So, if I want to make a pot pie in the winter it may have potatoes, butternut squash and carrots. If I want to make a pot pie in the spring, I'll use peas, carrots, potatoes, and kale. 

If I'm shopping for Mexican food I make sure I have tortilla chips, tortillas, pinto beans, and salsa on hand. In the summer I use plenty of peppers and corn. In the winter I use potatoes or sweet potatoes and kale. 

extra tips: 

shop your fridge first: 

Before you embark on your shopping trip cross off the foods you already have on your list. Make it a priority to eat those first. That always helps to shape my list. 

store your food properly: 

I wrote a whole post about it here

keep a stocked pantry: 

I wrote a post about that too

Meal planning is the key to eating healthy and preventing food waste. Find out how to make a 5 minute meal plan. It's quick, easy, and eco-friendly. Find out more on the zero waste blog www.goingzerowaste.com

don't underestimate your freezer: 

I should write a post about this. If it's starting to look a little limp, put it in the freezer. Freeze it on a baking sheet all spread out. After it's frozen, put it in a jar or bowl or bag and put it in the freezer. This will prevent it from clumping together and you can use exactly how much you need for a recipe. 

It's a great way to keep all sorts of things past their season. I still have three jars of peas! Pot pie here I come. 

take an hour: 

Take an hour to wash, chop, and properly store your vegetables when you come home from the store. It will make all the difference when it's time to cook a meal or pack lunch. I wrote an extensive post about that here

I hope this has been a helpful post! Especially for those of you that struggle with meal planning. Sometimes it's easiest to keep it simple. Stick to similar flavor profiles; keep a stocked pantry and freezer. Then you're able to buy a little bit of in-season produce to prevent spoilage.

I will be coming out with an average grocery list for two soon to help you guage produce levels.  

What are some ways that you combat food waste? Do you meal plan? 

How to Make Non-Greasy Lotion

This is a really easy DIY. I mean, I consider most of my DIY's to be pretty easy. No one has time for hours of crafting elaborate, hard to manage recipes. 

Learn how to DIY an easy, non-greasy lotion. It's frugal, eco-friendly, and best of all amazing for your skin! Learn how with www.goingzerowaste.com

My favorite DIY up until now was probably my chapstick recipe. But, I think this new lotion might have taken the cake. Granted this lotion is a riff on that recipe. All roads lead to Rome.

This lotion is light and easy to absorb, unlike my Christmas body butter experiment. While it was fine in winter, by the time summer rolled around it was too thick. It sat on the skin and slowly absorbed leaving you with a greasy feeling.

Learn how to DIY an easy, non-greasy lotion. It's frugal, eco-friendly, and best of all amazing for your skin! Learn how with www.goingzerowaste.com

No one has time to feel greasy. Coconut oil has a very slow absorption rate. It's why I've banned it from most my beauty products. I used what coconut oil I had left and turned it into soap! No longer in its fatty form, it is AMAZING for soap and shampoo - that lather.

body butter vs. lotion

Boby butter is typically made of just oils and butters. Lotion is typically made with water. Homemade versions of lotion will need to be emulsified and kept in the fridge to prevent spoilage. Body butter has a much longer shelf life. 

Learn how to DIY an easy, non-greasy lotion. It's frugal, eco-friendly, and best of all amazing for your skin! Learn how with www.goingzerowaste.com

Body butters and lotions both present two very different types of moisturization.

Body butters create a barrier on the skin that seal in moisture and provide lubrication. Lotion, however, preserves the moisture already in the skin. They have little oil and don't provide lubrication. 

I know what you're thinking, doesn't that make a butter better? Well, it depends on your skin type. If you have oily skin a butter is better for you, and if you have dry skin a lotion is better. Dry skin doesn't need more oils, it needs more moisture. Which may be explaining a lot of my problems with the body butter.

Learn how to DIY an easy, non-greasy lotion. It's frugal, eco-friendly, and best of all amazing for your skin! Learn how with www.goingzerowaste.com

I don't have oily skin, it's pretty dry - especially on my face. Bonus points: I never have to worry about shine. 

Non-Greasy Lotion

  • 2 Tablespoons of Grated Beeswax
  • 1/2 Cup of Sweet Almond Oil*
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vitamin E Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Butter
  • 3/4 Cup of Water

*You can sub the almond oil for olive oil. They have similar absorption rates. I just bought almond oil at Rainbow Grocery in bulk and I am so excited to use it!! I have also linked to a vitamin e oil that comes in glass. But, I recommend that you look at your natural health store first. 

Learn how to DIY an easy, non-greasy lotion. It's frugal, eco-friendly, and best of all amazing for your skin! Learn how with www.goingzerowaste.com

You can read more about what I bought in bulk at Rainbow here. 

Melt your beeswax, almond oil, and cocoa butter in a double broiler. Once they've melted add the vitamin e, a natural preservative and excellent for nourishing skin. 

In the base of a blender add your water. Once my roses are in bloom, I think I will use rose water next time. Once the water is blending slowly stream in your oils. You're creating an emulsion. 

Learn how to DIY an easy, non-greasy lotion. It's frugal, eco-friendly, and best of all amazing for your skin! Learn how with www.goingzerowaste.com

Do it VERY SLOWLY. You will see it form into a thick and creamy consistency. Pour it into a spare pump bottle or into a mason jar. 

Keep it in the fridge next to your mouthwash and face scrub. What do you use on your skin? Do you prefer butter or lotion?