Now that you know what to buy, and where, it’s time to do your shopping, always with the same goal in mind: avoid generating waste. In the previous chapter we talked about bulk. This is obviously the way to go. But how do you buy unpackaged products? How to transport them? And above all, how to store them? You will have understood it, it is a question of getting organized!
Remember what Bea Johnson said: zero waste is there to simplify your life, not make it more complex. Nevertheless, the first steps in zero waste runs can be complicated. Changing your habits is no easy task! Having a minimum of organization will be of great help.
You used to go to the supermarket knowing more or less what was missing from your cupboards and refrigerator. Then, once in the store, you would go from one department to the next, gleaning what you were looking for as you passed by. Once the shopping cart was full, you went to the checkout, put your groceries in plastic bags and unpacked them once in your kitchen: pasta in the cupboard, yogurt in the fridge, water bottles in the shed, plastic packaging in the trash and cardboard packaging in the recycling garbage can… And then there was always the moment when you couldn’t find room to put away the super promotion of 10 rolls of paper towels or the three packs of free 2+1 ham. When you arrived, you would spend 2 hours a week on your shopping.
With zero waste, you will save time, avoid food waste and save money! Here are the steps to follow to make shopping easier for you :
⦁ >Go around the cupboards and refrigerator to see what’s missing.
⦁ >Plan the menus for the week.
⦁ >Make a shopping list based on the first two steps.
⦁ >Prepare cloth bags, bulk bags and glass jars.
⦁ >Go to the organic store, the market, the producers, the bakery, etc.
⦁ >Do your errands by taking ONLY what is on the list.
⦁ >Return at home without any packaging to be removed or discarded. Pour the contents of your bulk bags into conservation jars.
⦁ >Replace fabric bags in your bulk bags. Remember to put them back in the car/bike/purse/rucksack for next time.
Bulk does not generate waste, but it can also have some disadvantages. Especially when the food is organic, and therefore untreated, or contains no preservatives. Here are a few conservation tips that will be very useful.
Preventing food moths
These small brown and grey flying insects look like butterflies. You usually see them flying in the kitchen when it’s mild, like in the summer. They are particularly fond of flour, pasta, rice and cereals, and lay small white larvae commonly known as mealworms. This often happens when you leave a bag of flour open or when it has been improperly closed. This problem can indeed occur when buying products in bulk, especially when they are organic. Here’s how to avoid it:
When you get home, store your bulk bags in the refrigerator for a few hours. The cold will kill the larvae.
⦁ >Prefer hermetic jars, such as Le Parfait, with the rubber washer that ensures a good closure.
⦁ >Clean your jars regularly.
⦁ >Add a peeled garlic clove to pasta or legume jars to keep food moths away.
⦁ >There are moth traps to put on your shelves. They are sticky paper, a bit like flypaper. But I find this process cruel.
If you’re an adventurous person, you should know that mealworms are edible. In fact, they are very popular in Asian cultures.
Organize your refrigerator
In order to best preserve fresh products, it is advisable to follow some basic advice:
⦁ >Think about highlighting products with the closest expiration dates or shortest use-by dates.
⦁ >Adjust the refrigerator to +4 °C and the freezer to -18 °C.
⦁ >Wash the refrigerator once a month with white vinegar.
⦁ >Think about defrosting the freezer once a year (take advantage of the vacations to turn it off and defrost it completely).
⦁ > Organize the shelves well: meat and fish at the top (coldest shelf between 0 and 4 °C), cheese and yoghurt in the middle (4 to 6 °C), fruit and vegetables at the warmest, i.e. at the bottom (between 6 and 10 °C).
Anti-odor tip: cut a lemon in half and place it in a cup in the refrigerator. Coffee grounds are also an option.
What can be stored at room temperature
It is often forgotten, but most fruits and vegetables do not keep in the refrigerator. This is also the case for some so-called “fresh” foods. Here is a non-exhaustive list of foods to keep at room temperature:
⦁ >The eggs. Keeping them at room temperature avoids thermal shocks and the formation of condensation, which weaken the shell and its function as a protective barrier.
⦁ >Potatoes, like sweet potatoes, should be stored away from light. Placing them in a cool place could transform the starch they contain into sugar more quickly, and thus make them grainy after cooking.
⦁ >Honey. Protected by sugar, it has no expiration date. It is therefore not useful to put it in the fridge.
⦁ >Butter can be kept in a water butter dish to prevent it from becoming rancid.
⦁ >Tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini do not tolerate humidity well. It is better to keep them in a dry place.
⦁ >Garlic and onion should be kept dry to prevent them from germinating too quickly.
Freezing, vacuum packing or canning?
To save time in your culinary preparations, you can cook vegetables in advance, or even whole dishes that you only have to take out and reheat. To do this, you need to be able to store them. But which method of conservation to choose?
The answer lies in the necessary shelf life. If it is a foodstuff that you wish to consume within 48 hours, storing it in a closed glass box in the refrigerator is sufficient.
Beyond that, prefer vacuum packing, which helps to preserve the freshness and nutritional quality of the food. This very hygienic process kills up to 80% of bacteria. To put under vacuum, it will be necessary to equip you with a specific apparatus or to buy vacuum boxes with pump. In any case, prefer glass to plastic.
For a longer shelf life, freeze your preparations in small portions (easier to dose and quicker to defrost). However, freezing causes the texture and even the flavors of the frozen dish to alter and tend to dry out. Food should never be thawed at room temperature. Prefer defrosting in the refrigerator or microwave with the defrost or cook/defrost function. Thawed food should be consumed within 24 hours. That’s why it’s a good idea to freeze small portions!
For a very long shelf life, opt for canning in sterilized, airtight glass jars. If you want to eat tomatoes all year round, buy high quality tomatoes in the summer and can them.