(We pulled this next Action from Day 15 of our 30-Day BuyNothing Challenge. Please take our BuyNothing30 Challenge to catapult your sustainable living journey a giant leap forward!) If you’ve taken stock of the ingredients you haven’t used in your pantry and played around with them a bit, using them up in recipes, you can now take a bigger step toward making your pantry more sustainable and useful for everyday meals over longer periods of time. In this step, you’ll do an assessment of what your staple foods are, and make a plan to build out your meals from there. For the purposes of these Buy Nothing Home exercises, when we refer to Buying Nothing, we do not mean to literally buy nothing all the time. We’re referring to a lifestyle of buying less, a BuyNothing ethic of using up what we already have and sharing what we have in excess and receiving - even borrowing - what we might need. So, when it comes to food, of course you’ll need to go shopping! But one thing we’ve learned through the BuyNothing ethos is that mindful grocery shopping can have an impact upon our spending. When we go to the store with a specific list of ingredients, we can avoid impulse buying. Stick to your lists, and perhaps also explore meal-planning around a few key ingredients that can be used in many meals, stretching your menu out for a few more days.
Whole foods are the simplest, most healthy, ingredients for meals, and the fewer ingredients in the meal, the better. Imagine being able to cook a week’s worth of meals for a family of 4 from 2 bags of groceries or less. This is what we try to do, and we’re especially successful when we forage for, and grow, many of the main ingredients that we use, like nettles (when in season) blackberries (that we pick and freeze for a years’ worth of smoothies) garden greens like kale and collards, potatoes we grow and store, mushrooms (foraged and dried) and our hens’ eggs. We’ve created a list of links to get you inspired to cook with as few ingredients as you can, in an effort to streamline your shopping and perhaps even focus your cooking on what is in season and what you can get for free in your garden, from neighbors’ gardens and cupboards, and by foraging. We realize foraging is not easy in cities, and may just be unrealistic is many parts of the world. We’ve been inspired by a few books on the subject and this article by Mashable
aggregates a lot of resources for those who’d like to try their hand at urban foraging.
The staple ingredients we buy usually in bulk at the store are sweet potatoes, black and pinto beans, dried chickpeas, lentils, falafel mix, flour, tortillas, rice, flour, and pasta. From these ingredients, we can make hundreds of varied meals.