Zero Waste Meal Plan
We hope this 7-day meal plan will help you find some inspiration for some zero waste meals!
These recipes were designed with ingredients that we have been able to find zero waste at a bulk store near us, but if you can’t find everything ingredient, then try to purchase them in paper at glass and choose large bulk sizes over individually packaged products.
Many of these recipes can be doubled or frozen, so you can plan ahead and prep for several days at once, and of course you should pick and choose your favorites from this list and arrange to fit into your own schedule.
Banana pancakes with fruit sauce
Mash a ripe banana and combine with 2 Tbsp flour. Lightly beat an egg and add to the banana mix. Heat a pan and make pancakes with the banana mixture. For a yummy topping, chop up some apple or pear and cook on medium-low heat with some lemon juice until soft and saucy.
Use this as a chance to prep some salad mix to make cooking during the week a breeze. Wash and slice lettuce, cabbage, and any other greens or hard vegetables (fennel, sprouts, radishes, etc.)
To a portion of your salad mix, add any fruits, veggies, or nuts you are able to find zero waste: carrots, peppers, tomato, cucumber, beets; sliced apples or pears; raisins or dried cranberries; walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds… the possibilities are endless! For a dressing, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, and a bit of honey.
Rice and daal
Prepare some rice (really yummy if you add in a bay leaf). Dice half an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. In another pan, lightly fry some cumin, turmeric, and coriander for 60 seconds, then add the onion and garlic. When the onions begin to get transparent, add 1/2 cup lentils and fry for another minute. Cover with 2 cups water and season to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the lentils have absorbed the water. Serve lentils over rice and garnish with cilantro or parsley.
Collect vegetable scraps — vegetable peels and ends, onion skins, herb stalks, etc. — throughout the week and store in the freezer to make veggie broth!
Get some zero waste bread by going to a local bakery with your reusable container or try and bake your own! Toast a slice of bread and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Thinly slice half an avocado and lay across the bread. Top with greens, tomatoes, and your favorite spices.
Roasted veggie grain bowl
Prepare a grain like farro, millet, quinoa, or rice. Cube vegetables such as sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, rutabaga… whatever is at the farmers market! Mix the veggies with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and season to taste. Spread on a tray and roast at 425ºF until soft, stirring and turning as needed. Serve the veggies on a bed of grains with a cilantro garnish or sprinkled with nutritional yeas. For some extra protein, top with a fried egg.
Grain burgers and salad
Put any leftovers from your grain bowls in a food processor and process until smooth, or finely chop veggies and mix by hand. Add an egg or some mashed black beans to hold the mass together. Toss in some chopped walnuts for crunch. Form into patties and bake on a well-oiled cookie sheet at 350ºF for about 20 minutes or until firm. Serve with mashed avocado sauce.
Use a portion of your salad mix and add cucumbers, tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onions. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, and salt.
Tomorrow’s lunch recipe calls for cooked chickpeas, which are easiest to make if you soak dried chickpeas overnight. Get started on tomorrow’s lunch today!
Soak 1/4 cup chia seeds in 2/3 cup water or oat milk (overnight in the fridge or for at least 10 min). Customize by adding fruit, nuts seeds and maple syrup or honey.
Hummus and veggies
Cover dry chickpeas with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Take the pot off the stove and let the beans soak in the warm water for several hours or overnight (this will help them cook faster). After they have soaked, drain the old water and cover the beans in an inch or two of fresh water. Boil until tender.
In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup cooked chickpeas with 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, and a pinch of salt.
Chop up carrots, celery, cauliflower, and anything else you want to dip in the hummus.
Stir fry and rice
Sauté an onion, carrots, and celery until the onions are translucent. Add some broccoli, kale, zucchini, squash, bell peppers—any produce you’ve got—and cook until tender. Throw in some almonds or peanuts to add texture. Season with salt, pepper, grated ginger, and any combination of spices. Serve over rice. This recipe is very flexible and forgiving.
Granola and oat milk
You can get granola at most bulk stores or make your own by simply mixing a few cups of oats with cinnamon, a pinch of salt, a few tablespoons of oil, and honey or maple syrup. Bake at 300ºF for 10 minutes, then add nuts or dried fruit. Continue baking for 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Oat milk is a zero waste essential, useful in many recipes and also delicious on its own. Make oat milk by blending 1 part oats, 3 parts water, and a pinch of salt for 30 seconds. Optionally, you can also add flavorings like sugar, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, cinnamon or cardamom. Once the mixture has been blended, strain it through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or even just a clean t-shirt or kitchen towel.
Roast any combination of vegetables in olive oil and spices (Some favorites: cauliflowers and chickpeas, sweet potatoes and black beans, bell peppers and onions) to make the taco filling. While the veggies roast, make your own tortillas! Combine 3 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and a pinch of salt to form a dough, then form into golf-ball-sized pieces. Heat a pan and roll out your first tortilla using a rolling pin or tall bottle. Put the tortilla in the pan and cook until it begins to brown (a minute or so), flip and cook for 30 more seconds, and continue with the rest of the dough. Make tacos and serve with cilantro, avocado, or homemade salsa.
Carrot cashew loaf with potatoes and green beans
Dice 4 carrots, 2 ribs of celery and 1/2 onion. Sauté in oil over medium heat until cooked. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup chopped raw cashews, two eggs, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, and a dash of salt. Add the cooked veggies and pat into a well greased 8×8 inch pan. Top with sunflower seeds, then bake at 350ºF for 35 minutes or until set.
Mash boiled potatoes with oat milk, salt, and some olive oil. In a separate pan, sauté some garlic, add green beans, and season with salt, black pepper and chili powder.
Banana nut bars
Mash 3 ripe bananas and mix with 2 cups of rolled oats and 1 cup of nut butter. (If you can’t find nut butter zero waste, make your own simply by blending nuts.) Add any desired spices, nuts, or dried fruit add-ins to the batter before spreading in an 8×8 inch pan and baking at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes. Slice and enjoy at home or on the go.
Fried egg sandwich
with carrot fries
Fry eggs in olive oil, place on freshly toasted bread with sliced avocado, greens, or sprouts, and top with a sprinkle of chili powder or paprika.
Slice carrots into sticks. Lay carrot sticks on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with desired seasonings (salt/pepper, fresh or dried herbs, etc.) and bake at 450º for 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Save your carrot tops or skins for veggie broth!
Pilaf with pan-seared Brussels sprouts
Sauté chopped onions, carrots, and celery. When the onions are translucent, add sliced mushrooms and a cup of uncooked rice. Brown the rice for a few minutes and then cover generously with homemade veggie stock. Cook until the rice is tender, adding stock as needed.
In a frying pan, heat some vegetable oil on high heat. Add halved Brussels sprouts and sear them, stirring occasionally but letting them sit long enough to brown and caramelize. When the sprouts are tender, add some balsamic vinegar and drizzle with honey.
If you love coffee as much as we do, it’s great to get the waste out of your coffee routine because it’s probably something you do every single day. Try out a French press or use a reusable cloth coffee filter, and make sure to buy your beans from the bulk section or from your local zero waste coffee shop!
Veggie frittata with orange juice
Sauté half an onion with whatever other veggies you found zero waste this week. Add herbs or spices to taste. When the veggies are mostly cooked, crack several eggs into your pan and give everything a light scramble before putting a lid on the pan and letting cook on low-medium heat until the top is firm, about 20 minutes.
Serve with toast and squeeze an orange into a glass for yourself as a treat.
Red cabbage and fennel slaw and carrot fries
Thinly slice half a head of red cabbage and half a fennel. Salt generously and mix for a few minutes to tenderize the cabbage and release the juices. Add grated carrots, green onions, olive oil, vinegar, some sugar, and pepper along with any other spices that you like. Garnish with fennel fronds.
Polenta with ratatouille
In a large pan, sauté half an onion with some carrots and celery. When the onions are translucent, add sliced zucchini and mushrooms. When vegetables are tender, add several roughly chopped tomatoes. While the veggies simmer, prepare your polenta: bring 4 cups of water to a boil and salt generously. Add 1 cup of polenta and stir continuously for at least 15 minutes, adding water if needed. Add some olive oil and cheese (if you can find it zero waste) before serving topped with ratatouille goodness.
Oatmeal and fruit
Put 1/3 cup of oats per person in a pan with the same amount of boiling water. Season with cinnamon, cardamom, and a pinch of salt. Add chopped fruit and cook until the fruit is soft and the water is absorbed. Add water as necessary. Serve with brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
In a large soup pan, sauté chopped onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil. Then add any fresh veggies you need to use up, and once they’re cooked add any leftover grains from the week. Season with salt, herbs, and add a dash of lemon juice. Cover with homemade veggie stock and simmer for 20 minutes. You can eat this right away, but the longer it sits the better the flavors get.
Sweet potato pancakes
Grate 1 sweet potato and 1 white potato into a colander. Salt lightly and allow to drain while dicing 1/2 onion and chopping 1 Tbsp of parsley. Squeeze any juices out of the potatoes, then add the chopped veggies, 2 eggs, 1 Tbsp flour, and desired seasonings. Drop by spoonful into a hot greased skillet and turn once the bottoms are brown. Tastes so good with some apples cooked down until saucy.
This meal plan is really only zero waste if you have a way to compost your food scraps instead of putting them in the trash can. Check out our resources on composting to learn more!