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5 Simple Homemade Swaps for Store Bought Items

Shop less, make more — 5 satisfying ways to live more sustainably

When I resolved to try to live more sustainably, I thought I would have to make extreme cuts to my way of living. It turns out that’s simply not the case; going zero-waste can be very easy and less time consuming, while also being far less expensive than I ever thought. I recently wrote about five low-waste recipes, and here are five more ways that you can reduce your negative impact on the planet while saving money.

Before I continue, however, I want to state that “zero-waste” is just a phrase — living a completely no-waste lifestyle is pretty damn near impossible these days, so a more accurate term would be low-waste. It’s not about being perfect it’s just about doing your best and taking part in making this world a better, more sustainable place for all.

So, let’s dive in!

1. Super Simple Kimchi Kimchi is not only super tasty but it is absolutely great for your gut health. However, a jar of kimchi runs you about $8 at the store. Instead, try this recipe for a bulk amount that stays fresh for ages in your fridge. Ingredients:

  • 1 head napa or savoy cabbage

  • About ¼ cup salt

  • 1 bunch green onions

  • 1 carrot

  • 2-inch piece ginger

  • 6 (or more, if you’re feeling feisty) cloves garlic

  • ½ cup cooked white rice

  • ¼ cup water

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne

Instructions

  1. Chop your cabbage, place it in a large bowl, and salt the absolute crap out of it. Make sure to salt both sides thoroughly, and I mean really salt it. Use that entire ¼ cup of salt; it seems like a lot, but trust me, salt that baby. Press down with your hands, cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand for two hours. It will shrink down.

  2. In the meantime, chop your carrot and green onions into bite-sized pieces.

  3. After two hours, rinse off your cabbage and pat it dry — you want it to be pretty darn dry. Add your carrot and green onions to the bowl.

  4. Now, we’ll make your sauce. Peel the ginger and garlic and dice it up. Combine the ginger, garlic, white rice, water, soy sauce, sugar, paprika, and cayenne in a mason jar and use an immersion blender to make a paste.

  5. Combine your sauce with your cabbage and green onions and then place into one large jar and one small jar (or you can do three small jars and share with a pal). Let sit in your pantry, in the dark, for two days then transfer to the fridge for up to two weeks. I let mine sit for about a week before cracking it open, but you can let it sit for two weeks for an even stronger flavor.

  6. After you’ve made your kimchi, store some, share with a pal, or just eat it straight out of the jar as I do. Honestly, this recipe is so easy, the hardest part is waiting for your kimchi to be ready.

2. The Easiest Salsa Stop buying salsa. It is never as good as you want it to be and it takes about two minutes to make at home.

Ingredients:

  • About 1 pound tomatoes (just pick a mess of them from your garden, or a variety from the grocery store or your local farmer’s market)

  • 1 jalapeño

  • ½ red onion

  • 1 lime

  • Dash each of cumin, salt, and pepper (to taste)

  • Cilantro, if you don’t think it tastes like soap (optional)

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend it up!

There ya have it, the easiest salsa you’ll ever make and also probably the tastiest. I love this recipe and I eat it all summer long.

3. Homemade Vegetable Broth Okay, if you’re like me and you compost all of your old vegetable scraps, stop doing that right this second and make vegetable broth instead, because it’s used in so many recipes, from homemade seitan to tasty rice to curries! Also, this is the easiest way to save money and not waste your old food scraps.

Ingredients:

  • Literally any old vegetable scraps (I save them throughout the day of cooking in a pot and make the broth after the day is done!)

Instructions

  1. Collect food scraps in a pot, season, and simmer for about an hour.

  2. Strain into a jar and store for up to a week!

Use this super easy recipe for broth in so many different things. Then, compost your food scraps after making use of them. It’s a double-whammy, zero-waste, definite life-hack.

4. Simple Orange Peel Cleaner This cleaner is made from your orange peels, is all-natural, and is great to clean stovetops, the fridge, microwaves, bathrooms, and more! It’s pretty much all-purpose and uses your food scraps. Ingredients

  • Orange peels

Instructions

  1. Place all of your old orange peels into a pot and boil them for a few minutes (about 3–4 minutes should do it).

  2. Then, carefully strain your orange peel water into a spray bottle.

  3. Now go and deep clean your house because you’re quarantined and there’s nothing better to do!

I love this recipe because it’s super simple, uses your food scraps, and honestly, it makes your house smell incredible (even just while you’re preparing your cleaner). Also, if you add about 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons borax, it also becomes a disinfectant.

5. All-Purpose Scour There’s honestly nothing I dislike more than grime and gunk, especially all of that nasty junk that gets stuck on your drip pans! Ew! This recipe is perfect for drip pans as well as any gunky-grimy spots like bathrooms, tiles, and sinks (it also works great to revive old linoleum floors). Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups baking soda

  • ½ cup castile soap or dish soap

  • ½ cup water

Instructions

  1. Mix well and store in a jar for use later!

When using this on drip pans, let them soak overnight—then scrub all that gunk right off!


All of these recipes are low-waste, incredibly easy, fast, and fun to make. I hope these recipes find you well and if you love using them let me know!

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