Go to any grocery store and you will find row upon row of individually-packaged snacks. Gas stations, pharmacies, and even health food stores are fully stocked with snacks wrapped in plastic. Marketed as easier and more convenient, these snacks add so much waste to our lives and they are completely unnecessary. Many foods come unpackaged or in bulk packaging for home or can be re-packaged if you are going somewhere.
I’ll start this post with a list of unpackaged, minimally-packaged, and bulk-packaged snacks and then add a quick guide to carrying snacks with you.
Fruits and veggies: Bring your reusable produce bags to the store and stock up on fruits and vegetables. Not only are these your healthiest options, but they are also the least wasteful. Just compost your cores and peels and you are done.
Fresh baked items: Baking cookies, bars, breads, crackers, and other snacks helps you skip packaging entirely. Don’t have time to bake? Not a problem. Most grocery stores have freshly baked items you can put in a reusable bag or container.
Leftovers: We often use leftovers as a snack in our house. We tend to cook, bake, and even make smoothies and iced teas in bulk and we store food and drink in large containers where they are easily accessible for snacking.
Popsicles and smoothies: As long as you’re using low or no-waste ingredients (homemade oatmilk, frozen fruits or unpackaged ones, bulk peanut butter, etc), smoothies are a great snack options. And popsicles are basically frozen smoothies (in fact, we freeze leftover smoothies in our popsicle molds).
Popcorn: Popping corn on the stove, flavoring it, and storing it in a big container or reusable ziplock bag in your snack cabinet is one of the easiest ways to keep snacks handy.
Snacks from the Bulk Aisle:
Nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, candies, trail mixes, etc: Bulk stores have lots of variety in the trail mix department or you can make your own based on what you like or what’s on sale. In our house, we tend to buy large quantities of whatever’s on sale and make trail mixes as we go.
Cereals, granolas, etc: Bulk stores also tend to have lots of granolas and cereals to choose from. Add these to a bowl with some milk or yogurt (try to find local yogurt in glass containers) and you have an easy snack.
Olives, Hummus, cut fruit and veggies, and hot foods: All of the above and more can be packed into reusable containers are the grocery store or coop and used for snacking.
Minimally Packaged Snacks
Dried fruits: Dried fruits at your local bulk store will probably come in small plastic bags instead of in the standard dispensers. Although these little bags aren’t ideal, they aren’t specially printed and sealed, so take less energy to produce. And, as long as they are clean, you can recycle the bags. You can also opt to buy a big box of dried fruits through a buyer’s club and repackage them yourself.
Chips, pretzels, and other big-bag snacks: Most places I have looked don’t sell chips, pretzels, and the like in their bulk dispensers. You can shop more sustainably by buying these snacks in large bags and repackaging them into snack-sized portions. If you choose snacks recyclable through Terracycle, you can at least recycle the packaging.
HOW TO PACK SNACKS TO-GO
Loose snacks: Use fabric pouches or reusable ziplock bags to package loose snacks like trail mixes, chips, popcorn, and dried fruits.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Wrap cut or whole fruits in Beeswrap or, for sturdy snacks like apples, bananas, and oranges, you can just throw them in your bag or car whole.
Leftovers and hot snacks: Glass or stainless steel containers can be used to store messy or hot snacks. Don’t forget to bring your reusable utensils.
Liquids: Carry hot drinks or soups in your travel mug or smoothies in a glass jar.
If you are wondering what drink to pair with your snack, check out our post on Eco-hydration. Happy Snacking!