On my recent trip to California, I planned ahead and brought some package-free trail mix bought in bulk, as well as a few pieces of fruit so that I wouldn't need to purchase packaged snacks for our camping trip. But my oh my did I underestimate how much snacking I do! So, I wanted to corral a few ideas for zero waste, package-free snacks that work at home, at the office, or on the go.
Convenience is one of the hallmarks of a tried-and-true favorite snack, so I've listed mostly options that are just as easy as reaching for a bag of pretzels or a prepackaged protein bar. (Or, even easier, because you won't have to take out the trash at the end of the week!). Additionally, switching to package-free snacks also means that you're more likely to be eating real, unprocessed food, which is a huge plus; switching to zero waste snacks has helped me choose snacks that provide fuel for the rest of the day, rather than just a quick salt or sugar hit. I find these foods leave me more full and balanced than their more processed cousins.
- Pears, apples, clementines, citrus, and any other in-season fruit (stone fruit in the summer is pretty much my ideal snack, juicy and delicious!). Consider cutting or washing the fruit the morning of to make it even easier to choose this option, even when you're super hungry. A whole, uncut watermelon? Daunting. Watermelon cubes you've pre-cut? Down the hatch they go.
- Raw vegetables, like carrots, radishes, broccoli, and celery. To make it extra easy, I often pre-cut them into sticks or slices. And if I'm feeling too lazy to make homemade hummus (aka all the time), instead I like to lightly salt the slices and eat them plain or with a squeeze of lemon.
BUY IN BULK
Most bulk aisles feature lots of different snack foods that you can decant into your own containers and keep on hand for zero waste snacking. Offerings vary by grocery store, but here are a few ideas for snacks to look for in your area:
- Peanut and almond butter to eat with apple slices, celery, or on toast
- Nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Dried fruit, like raisins, cranberries, dates, or figs
- Granola, eaten in a bowl with milk or even on its own
- Trail mix! Most stores feature a few different options, but you can also make your own by combining your favorite ingredients
- Dark chocolate chips, wasabi peas, rice crackers, and other little snack foods
MAKE AT HOME
Or, consider making a big batch of a favorite snack to eat throughout the week. A few easy, portable ideas that I like in particular:
- Roasted chickpeas
- Homemade hummus
- Smoothies and juices (quick tip: you can make juice in a blender! Just whirl the ingredients quickly with a whole lot of water, and then strain the juice from the pulp. No juicer needed)
- Homemade granola bars
- Kale chips (best eaten day of, as they don't retain their crunch well over time)
- And a few more ideas, here
If you have a particular snack food that you love, but it only comes packaged in plastic (Larabars, looking at you!), try making it at home. Search for a copycat recipe online, and you may be able to come pretty close to recreating your former favorite.
This doesn't work so well for traveling, of course, but at home I often eat leftovers for snacks. I want my snacks to fill me up but still be super healthy and balanced - I think we all have felt that slightly-sick, crash-y feeling after eating an unhealthy snack. So, I often just eat a bowl of last night's leftovers when I'm hungry between meals. Grains, roasted vegetables, and other cooked foods keep me full and are so easy to grab.
What are your favorite easy, zero waste snacks these days? Spill, please! I'd love to hear.