Featured Image Credit: Heather Dalgleish
Arguably, anytime food is involved, you’re set to generate a large amount of waste. It doesn’t have to be this way. I wanted to test the hypothesis if you could make a Christmas dinner 100% plastic-free, if this is achievable on a budget, and if it works. For this experiment, the dinner would have to be vegetarian, (since our household is,) and it would have to not miss out on anything. It was to have all the trimmings of a regular roast dinner, without compromise.
Your best friend in this scenario is farm shops and zero-waste shops. Of course, there are restrictions – if you are off-grid and your only shop is a measly newsagent, maybe this challenge isn’t for you. But for me with access to both on my doorstep, it made shopping easier.
So what was the plan?
Normally, our dinners would have honey-roasted carrots and parsnips, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, gravy (very important,) and sprouts. Plus the nut roast or I guess any meat you choose. I wasn’t worried about the vegetables, as both the zero-waste shop and the farm shop offers plastic-free options to take your food home in. But the nut roast was worrying.
Normally, I’d access my local Holland and Barret for an easy nut roast but that comes wrapped in single-use plastic, so I had to delve into making my own from scratch. It also meant I spent hours rummaging around the internet looking for a nut roast that wasn’t 100 miles long and contained a billion ingredients.
I chose almonds, walnuts and cashews for my base since I knew these were widely available in zero waste shops and bought a loaf of bread packaging-free to make breadcrumbs.
And the best way to make gravy and utilise my plastic-free initiative? Make your own stock out of your leftovers from the week. This can be everything and anything including garlic skin, onion skin, carrot skins and tops, literally any veg you are about to throw away, you can repurpose and make stock. If you are worried about it rotting before you have time to make it, throw it in the freezer until it is time, and this stops your scraps from smelling or going bad. And cornflour is readily available to purchase zero waste style, in jars or paper bags.
For Yorkshire puddings, you can buy eggs, flour and milk (yes fresh milk!) from any of your local zero-waste shops. Not to mention you can also buy your oil for your roasted potatoes and puddings.
Seasoning is also very readily available, and you can purchase whatever and however much you want from zero waste stores, or sometimes farm shops depending on which you go to.
So is it possible to have a plastic-free Christmas dinner? I would say yes. It is possible in terms of a veggie Christmas dinner, or even a vegan Christmas dinner too. The resources are available (for some,) the waste is minimal, and the time is now. Christmas dinner doesn’t need to result in tonnes of waste.