There are many steps on the road to a sustainable kitchen: buying from zero waste shops, avoiding cling film, reducing food waste, and composting. One step that people often overlook is making your own zero waste homemade pantry staples, rather than buying them in-store.
You might think that you’re "no expert in the kitchen", but you'd be surprised how easy it can be to DIY! Plus, you avoid packaging waste and save money – what’s not to love?
Here are 7 zero waste pantry staples that are quick and easy to make at home:
#1: Vegetable stock
Once you start making your own vegetable stock, you’ll wonder why you ever bought it! All you need to do is chop up some veg, cover with water, simmer down and voilà (that’s a chef’s word, by the way!). Avoid starchy vegetables and opt for things like onions, leeks, celery and carrots – flavourful but neutral. This is also the perfect way to use up all those odds and ends that you’ve had lying around! You can also throw in your food scraps, so it's a great way to reduce food waste at the same time!
We love homemade yoghurt; smooth and creamy, and it goes with everything. Making your own yoghurt might sound effortful, but after a bit of experimentation it’ll become part of your weekly routine. It might sound odd, but you need yoghurt to make yoghurt, so for your first time you’ll have to get some from the supermarket, or a yoghurt-making friend. Mix it into boiled milk, incubate and cool it, then it’s ready to eat (with everything). Different incubating and cooling times produce different results, so do some research beforehand. There are some great recipes out there like this one from the Zero Waste Chef.
#3: Plant milk
You know we’re big fans of oat milk as a substitute for dairy milk, and luckily, it’s one of the simplest homemade pantry staples to rustle up. Simply follow our simple guide on how to make oat milk and your fridge will be well-stocked with non-slimy oat milk.
#4: Nut Butter
As well as being less wasteful, making your own nut butter means you can pick and choose your preferred flavours, whether you prefer a base of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans. You’ll need a very good blender but no other ingredients to make creamy nut butter, although if you fancy adding in some chocolate or vanilla it will make things extra delicious!
There are few pleasures to beat making your own bread, particularly the soothing smell of freshly-baked loaves from the oven. This isn’t a pleasure that should be kept for a rainy day; bread is one of our favourite homemade pantry staples, and doesn’t take a lot to make. Flour, yeast, salt and warm water can result in crusty loaves ideal for soup made from homemade stock and a layer of homemade nut butter! For bonus points, use a reusable silicone mat to avoid throwing out baking paper.
Friday evenings are made for crisps, dips and possibly (ahem) an alcoholic beverage. But who wants to keep buying their hummus and salsas in those tiny plastic pots and watching the waste pile up? Not us, and we bet not you either! With a food processor and a couple of ingredients – be they avocados, chickpeas, herbs or vegetables – you can make an amazing selection of dips and really up your zero waste snack game.
Trust us, tahini is not only for Ottolenghi recipes! This pantry staple goes with everything, but it can be pretty pricey when you buy it in a shop. When it tastes even better homemade, why spend that money? All you need is 2 ingredients (sesame seeds and olive oil) and a food processor and you’ll end up with a smooth cream that adds flavour to tons of dishes. You'll find loads of easy tahini recipes online.
Have you tried making some of these pantry staples at home? What are your favourite recipes? Share in the comments below and inspire others!