Grocery shopping is a huge part of my weekly routine. I cook almost all of the meals that my boyfriend and I eat, which means I go grocery shopping at least once a week. When I first switched to a waste free lifestyle I found that the majority of my trash and recycling each week was from the packaged foods I was buying. Because of this, I now make and effort to keep my weekly grocery hauls as low waste as possible.
To see what I bring in to make my grocery shopping easy and waste free you can watch the video or scroll down to read all about it.
I am able to keep my grocery waste low with the help of some jars, bags, funnels, and access to a really accommodating grocery store. The access piece of this is really important, because without it I would either be driving long distances just for food or I would be buying much more packaged options.
I am VERY fortunate that I currently live in an area that has multiple stores with bulk bins, unpackaged produce, and deli counters that will put meat and cheese into my own containers. And I say this because I recognize that not everyone has this luxury and so this type of shopping isn’t feasible for everyone, but just doing the best you can with what’s available to you is still a huge step in the the right direction. Seriously, making simple decisions like buying the recyclable box of rice instead of the single use plastic bag is a big deal.
So with that in mind what do I bring with me?
I have 2 grocery bags that I bring with me weekly.
Bag #1: Reusable, Returnable, and Refillable Containers
The Refillable: This bag, the pink flowered one, holds mostly jars. Every week I leave the empty bag on the floor in my kitchen, and as we use up what we have and empty the containers in our pantry, I clean them out and then put them straight into this bag. This makes it easy come Monday morning to know what I need to buy without any work.
The Reusable: We also put clean reusable containers that we don’t need anymore in this bag and I take them to the store I shop at where they place them out for others to reuse.
The Returnable: The cream and milk that we buy comes in returnable glass bottles. When you purchase the cream initially you are charged a deposit fee that you can get back if you return the clean bottle to the store when you are done with it. The egg cartons I buy can also be taken back to the store I shop at so that local farmers can use them again.
The Random: In addition to these containers, I carry a clean metal funnel with me to use when filling up my containers from the bulk bins.
Bag #2: BAGS!
That’s right, its a bag full of bags. I keep a large tote bag full of all my smaller reusable bags so that I don’t even have to think about what I need, I can just grab a single bag and be on my way.
Unlike my jars, which often are used for the same thing every week, most of my bags have no specific purpose. They just get filled with whatever looks good in the produce section or whatever I run out of jars for from the bulk bins. With the exception of a pink, reusable bag that I use to buy mushrooms in. Because the bag is made of some synthetic, waterproof fiber (ick, I know) it’s easy to wash off all the dirt that can come with shrooms.
If a bag gets dirty I wash it and put it straight back into the large tote. This keeps everything organized, and also makes Monday’s a little easier.
That’s it! I like to keep it as simple, and functional as possible, and having 2 bags that are ready for me with minimal effort is the only way I can sustain this lifestyle long term.
Do you have any grocery shopping tips, tricks, or just habits that make your shopping low waste easier? If so I’d love to hear them!