Plastic-free food.. If you have tried Plastic-Free Tuesdays, or any other initiative such as Plastic-Free July or Plastic-Free September (Muoviton Syyskuu in Finnish), you have no doubt found out by now that one of the hardest things to get plastic-free is your daily food. We all need food multiple times a day, and so much of it is in plastic nowadays! Rather overwhelming at first. From plastic-wrapped carrots, to plastic bananas, to plastic pasta, plastic rice, plastic potatoes, you name it and it comes in plastic!
Yet, by now I have found many options to not purchase food which is packaged in plastic. Earlier, I already wrote about my regular successful trips to the market, where it’s easy to find lots of fresh produce, such as veggies, fruit, bread and cheese, plastic-free. I am proud to say that I have bought hardly any fruit or veggies in plastic wrapping since I started Plastic-Free Tuesday about 5-6 months ago, not only on Tuesdays, but for all days of the week. Once you start to change your habits it all comes naturally I find.
Yet, the market does not provide me with everything, such as regular staple foods like rice, pasta, or noodles. Although the Netherlands is a potato country, I do not like them much, and most young people do not eat them regularly I guess. Many people have a diet of pasta, rice, noodles, and more fancy things like quinoa or couscous nowadays (a problem in itself perhaps, now I think of it – i.e. eat local?!)
In any case, these staple foods require a different shopping strategy, such as bulk bins in (specialized) shops, but these are not common in the Netherlands, at least not in my town, or at affordable prices. So, here goes for some plastic-free shopping tips from the supermarket. Most foods, I’ve found, are actually available both in plastic and in carton, so you can opt for carton easily over plastic if you like, and you recycle or compost that. It might be different at your supermarket, but I am sure you can find at least some of these options. In any case, I’d be interested to know how you go about these!
# 1: Rice
Various kinds of rice are sold at my supermarket both in cardboard boxes and in plastic, such as basmati rice, plain white rice, whole rice etc. Of course, it is easy to pick the cardboard container over the plastic on Plastic Free-Tuesday or other days. Again, the best would be bulk, as it saves the inked carton from the environment as well. But no-plastic is an option here for me!
Unfortunately, even with carton, I’ve found that sometimes there can be this super annoying *plastic surprise* within the cardboard packaging! You open the box only to find… plastic inside … Argh! #doublefail. Carton AND plastic! However, I think I can give you a tip there: check if there is a special cutting/outline in the carton on the outside, to ease pouring from the packet (see pictures below). If there is, likely no plastic inside!
Potatoes I can now get easily in bulk at the market, but I wanted to include these here because before Plastic-Free Tuesdays this is one of the foods I typically used to get in a ‘convenient’ one/two kilo plastic carrier bag! which I would then not finish, cause we don’t eat that many potatoes. However, it turns out that both my supermarket and the market sell them in bulk/per piece as well. Had never noticed that before (same goes for onions, unfortunately not for garlic :-)). So, now I just load as many as I need in my basket when I am at the supermarket and stick the price tag on one of the potato’s or on the basket. You can also bring your own veggie bag. Never got any questions about this practice at the check out. (I recently got veggie bags, i.e. Re-sacks, yet for the supermarket it something I still need to work on. No rush because it seems to go fine as is for now :-))
All four types I’ve found in cardboard boxes, easy as that.. Spaghetti has a cardboard box option at most places. Lasagna too. Pasta is more difficult, and I get from the Barilla brand only.
#4: Risotto rice (Arborio rice)
Moving on to potentially more complicated ones, but also one of my favorites and easy plastic-free options: risotto rice! Love risotto with fresh beetroot, carrot, mushroom, cilantro and goats cheese (from the market), or with garlic, onion, mushroom, zucchini, fresh basil, and grated Parmesan! Yumm. Have also found this staple food at various places packed in carton. Beware of *surprise plastic* though, check the carton.
A tricky one is noodles! Most noodles are in plastic as Chiara rightly observed in an earlier post on making her own noodles, and my favorite Chinese ones certainly are.. I recently attempted to make my own as well and will draw up a blog about it if I’ve tried a couple of times 🙂 For ease, I am now often still sticking to the type of Indonesian style noodles I can find in my supermarket, for stir fries, see below. Keep you posted on noodle recipes.
It took me a while to find an option which did not have the dreaded plastic *surprise* on the inside, but I’ve found some, from supermarket Albert Heijn! I like couscous for couscous salads and stuffing bell peppers with herbs and (goats/feta)cheese from the oven. (Markets are good for plastic-free cheese shopping!). I think it was for the couscous that I found out about my tip on the packet indicating there is no plastic inside 🙂
That’s it for today. I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Any comments or additions, as always, more than welcome. Did you also find your daily staple foods without plastics? What are your solutions?
Wishing you a great Plastic-Free Tuesday today!