When you depend on your supermarket for groceries, package-free shopping isn’t easy. Use these tips next time you go grocery shopping to reduce waste.
Everything that comes into the kitchen must go out of it in some way. Whether that’s food being consumed, metal cans going to the recycle, food scraps and cardboard into the compost, or other things that are thrown in the garbage. Of course, the majority of these items come into your home when you go grocery shopping.
Being conscious of what comes in will help you eliminate the problem of what to do with the waste. Have a plan the next time you head out to the supermarket to help reduce your kitchen waste.
While having a bulk store close by would be wonderful, that isn’t the reality for most of us in the United States (me included). That leaves us going to dedicated grocery stores and the supermarket.
Originally Published On: September 28, 2018
Last Updated On: September 24, 2020
Planning Your No Waste Supermarket Run
Have a List
Make yourself a grocery list, and stick to it! Plan your meals so you know exactly what food you will need between now and your next trip to the grocery store.
When you have a list, you aren’t as tempted to buy a bunch of random groceries, ones that are probably packaged and processed. It also helps to group your list into categories. Again, when you are back and forth around the store because you forgot things, it’s easy to grab a few others along the way.
Just because you have always done your grocery shopping at one store, doesn’t mean you always have to go back there. We have a neighborhood Walmart practically in our neighborhood, and do most of our shopping there, but not all. There have been a few items that I know I can get without packaging at our HEB that isn’t available at Walmart.
Yes, it can be a pain to go to multiple grocery stores. I try to keep a list going of what I need from my non-regular store, and go for at least a month at a time. It isn’t too inconvenient then, and I can get what we want without the extra waste.
Shopping a Supermarket with No Waste in Mind
Shop the Perimeters of the Supermarket
I’ve heard this saying many times, and it’s mostly true. Shop around the edges of the store, and try not to buy much in the middle. In most grocery stores, the edges will have the produce, dairy, juice, deli, and bakery.
When you are shopping for the items at the perimeter, most of them are not packaged. Or, at least, they shouldn’t be. I still don’t understand why so much produce comes in plastic packaging, but we try to buy as much of it loose as we can.
Buy in Bulk
While having a store with bulk options that let you bring your own containers would be wonderful, it’s not available everywhere. I found bulk bins at a local grocery store, but they don’t allow you to use your own containers and have to use their plastic bags which defeats the purpose.
Instead, buy packaged items in the largest amounts possible. Just make sure you don’t buy too much that it will go bad before you finish it. For example, we always buy the largest family-size boxes of cereal that we can find. It gets transferred to an air-tight container and we always finish before it gets stale.
Look for Reusable Containers
There are many groceries that you can’t avoid purchasing in a container unless you have a bulk store nearby. For those items, my next priority is to look for a reusable or recyclable container. There are so many ways to reuse glass jars, so those are a great option.
I recently needed to get more peanut butter for our house when I went grocery shopping. While my husband loves Jif peanut butter, it comes in a plastic container. Right next to it, and for the same price, is peanut butter in a glass jar. He was unsure about the change but said the new peanut butter is still good. When we are done, instead of a plastic container we will have another glass jar that we can repurpose.
Never Stop Learning
Try Something New
This goes along with what I just mentioned about the peanut butter. Sometimes when you try to purchase groceries without packaging, you may be forced to try something new.
Embrace this! Embrace the idea of trying a new food or a new brand or a new variety. Children learn most from watching, so show them that you are willing to give something new a try.
Talk to the Store Manager
Most store managers are more than willing to talk with their customers. Explain to them what you are trying to achieve and (nicely) where the store falls short for you. I’ve heard of some asking to bring their own containers for deli meat and cheese rather than using the plastic bags and have been given the green light.
- What are your tricks for grocery shopping with No Waste in mind?
- Do you shop the perimeters of the store?
- Have you ever talked to a store manager about how their store is run (whether good or bad)?
- Do you make a list and stick to it or go without a plan?