Made From Scratch

August 06, 2019

Made From Scratch

One of the most impactful ways to reduce your waste in the kitchen is to make your own food from scratch. Some things are difficult or even impossible to find plastic-free but many of the things we buy out of convenience can be made at home for less money.

I enjoy cooking and I make almost everything I eat but I appreciate this isn't possible or practical for many people. If you want to shift to cooking more of what you eat at home, I've found staples are the best place to start; finding recipes that are easier to make yourself than buy packaged is a great solution to reducing waste.

There are plenty of recipes that are simple, quick, and easy to learn - even for those with time constraints. I created a Low Waste Plant-Based Cookbook with 23 recipes to help you switch your store-bought, plastic-wrapped products for homemade ones that taste just as good, if not better.

These are my favourite things to make from scratch that are low waste and no fuss so you can avoid the packaging without compromising on flavour. Each recipe is easy to follow with minimal ingredients that are affordable and easy-to-find.



Hummus

Nothing is easier, tastier, or cheaper than homemade hummus. All you need is a tin of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, and salt. You can add oil for a richer, creamier tasting hummus, or omit the tahini for a thinner texture. I like to add cumin for extra flavour and top with toasted, spicy chickpeas or seeds. However you choose to make yours, it'll be so much cheaper and far less wasteful than the tiny pots of store-bought dip.



Granola

I almost always overestimate how many rolled oats can fit into my dedicated oats jar and so I turn the leftover oats into granola using whatever else I have lying about the pantry. It's a recipe that you can adapt however you want to include whatever you want; raisins, dates, nuts, seeds, even chocolate chips. Toast the oats with maple or agave syrup and mix in your favourite ingredients - it's that simple.



Chips and Wedges

For the best, crispiest chips or wedges, switch to using silicone baking sheets. These will enable you to crisp up the potatoes without any oil and prevent anything sticking to the tray. They're one of the best purchases I've made for my kitchen that has meant I can avoid tin foil altogether. Either cut your potatoes (keeping the skins on because they're always the best that way) into matchsticks or chunky wedges, toss in herbs or spices, and lay out on the baking sheet. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, turning halfway, and you'll end up with tasty chips or wedges - no need for the frozen kind.



Made From Scratch Made From Scratch


Pesto

Pesto is expensive to buy yet so easy to make. You can use pine nuts but walnuts are a slightly cheaper alternative that works just as well. Basil is the classic choice (and my favourite) but you could substitute for parsley or coriander, even dill. Blend handfuls of the herb with nuts and some oil or a little water, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper; mix in nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavour. Adding in tofu or avocado will give the pesto a creamier texture but it's not essential. I whip this up while the pasta is boiling and by the time it's done, everything is ready to serve.



Treats

If you have a sweet tooth, chances are you rely heavily on packaged snacks. Learning how to make my own treats from scratch, and quickly, has dramatically decreased the waste I create. Making my own 'brownie bites' and cookies has meant I can have something deliciously sweet whenever I want it minus the packaging. The brownie bites require walnuts, dates, nut butter, and cacao powder. Everything gets blended together, rolled into bite-sized balls (or pressed into a pan to create a raw brownie), and you're done. The cookie recipe is a little less healthy with oat flour, sugar, oil, banana, and dark chocolate.



Cheese

Making plant-based cream cheese and Parmesan is so quick and tasty. I'm not a fan of packaged vegan cheeses (except for Tyne, which is to die for) so I prefer to make my own. Tofu blended with nutritional yeast, vinegar, garlic powder, and salt creates a creamy cheese ideal for spreading on crackers. To make Parmesan, cashew nuts blended with nutritional yeast makes a salty, cheesy topping for pasta dishes and salads. Both are delicious and staples in my house. I always keep a small pot of cashew Parmesan in my fridge sprinkling on my favourite pasta and meat ball dish.



Cold Brew Tea or Coffee

This is my favourite drink on super hot summer days. Cold brew tea and coffee is easy to make, it just requires a little patience. Steep loose leaf tea (or fresh grounds) in cold water for at least 6-12 hours (ideally 24) and store in the refrigerator. When brewed, strain in a cafetiere or sieve through a fine cloth and serve over ice cubes. If you want a really decadent treat, stir in condensed coconut milk - trust me.



Pickles

I love Turkish pickles so much so I learned how to make them myself. Sliced turnips are stored in a jar with water, white vinegar, salt, garlic, and bay leaves, and left to pickle in the refrigerator. They're ready to eat within a couple of hours (although they'll be pretty mild) but if you leave them for a week or two you'll get a deliciously tangy pickle for serving as a side; they're especially good with hummus and pita bread. You can do the same simple process with pretty much any vegetable.




All the recipes can be found in my Low Waste Plant-Based Cookbook.


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