Plastic Free Week 3.5: Cooking & Convenience

In this short (in between) week, I learnt possibly the most important lesson from this challenge… that convenience is one of the big drivers of plastic waste (in my house anyway).

There were two main items that I couldn’t source anywhere without plastic: pizza bases and tortilla wraps. Fajitas and pizzas are regulars on the Delaney menu so I didn’t want that to change… so I resorted to making my own. Yes… I say resorted as I usually avoid any type of baking but once I got stuck in I discovered that it was a lot easier than expected. Of course, there were a few mistakes along the way… I still haven’t perfected the tortilla wrap but my attempts at making pizza bases have been great this week.

It all comes down to convenience and organization… taking five minutes to plan ahead. Another easy change in that category was keep cups for take-away coffee (or hot chocolate in my case). This is the most publicized way to reduce plastic consumption, yet we’re still dumping 22,000 coffee cups in Ireland every hour. Here’s a summary of this in-between week:

Day 1) Tortilla Wraps

My husband (Del) and I make fajitas about once a week. To save money, we don’t buy the kits anymore and instead make our own salsa & spice. But to date, we haven’t braved the tortilla wrap. This is impossible (to my knowledge) to get without plastic, so making it seems like the best option to go plastic-free.

RECIPE: I found an easy one on BBC Good Food that had four ingredients… self-raising flour, oil, salt & water. All I needed to do was mix the ingredients, split the dough into four, roll it & fry it. Sounds simple!

TIME: It took about 20 minutes to make four fajitas (Del did the salsa and chicken at the same time). I haven’t got the flour out of my press for a few months so with practice, this would definitely take less time.

TASTE: They turned out very bready and a bit dry… similar to (very) flat bread. But I’m going to have a look for other recipes and attempt it again. If you have any suggestions or tasty tortilla recipes, please let me know!

COST: Saved money as I had all the ingredients in the cupboard.

Day 2) Pizza

We usually buy pizza bases in the local veg shop but these are always wrapped in plastic. Del works in an Italian firm & he’s always being told how easy they are to make… so I gave it a go!

METHOD: The instructions were easy… mix plain flour, dried yeast, oil, salt & water in a bowl… put a teatowel over the dough and leave to rise for about 6 hours. Then roll out! Recipe: BBC Good Food

TOPPINGS: I can’t find mozzarella with no plastic (but I’m on the look-out). We get the sauce in a tin. The cherry tomatoes were bought loose in our local veg shop, Fresh Market.

EPIC FAIL: As you can see, I may have rolled the base a bit thin… and put it on a wire rack which it got stuck to. It tasted pretty nice though! On my next attempts, I rolled it a bit thicker & put it on a solid tray. These went really well… you should definitely give it a try.

TIME: I didn’t realize you had to wait for six hours for the dough to rise so had to change our dinner plans yesterday. In the past week, I did this again… and made the dough the night before and popped it in the fridge.

COST: I had to buy dried yeast but that will make a lot of batches. Overall, I will save money if I make pizza bases instead of buying them!

OVERALL: It was much more fun to make the pizza base… and very easy to do (even though I didn’t get it quite right first time). If you have any tips for making pizza bases, I’d love to hear them!

Other Quick Wins

Making your own dips are another great way to reduce plastic waste. I’m going to try to make HummusGuacamole. Do you have any other suggestions?

Day 3) Take-away Coffee

Disposable cups have a plastic lining and can’t be recycled (apart from the lid which is plastic and should be put in the recycling bin). There’s a lot of publicity about this as it has a big impact in waste reduction. See below one of the best video’s I’ve on the huge volume of coffee cups dumped every day in Ireland. (Video: Recycling List Ireland)

SOLUTION: Bring a keep cup (to cafes) or a mug (to work).

COST: Cups are €10-15. Some cafes even offer discounts if you bring one!

Science Calling Plastic Free Challenge

Bought in plastic packaging… for the last time!

Every day during the month of August, I’m going to tackle a plastic item in my home and try to eliminate it from my life (and bin). For bonus points, I’m going to do this without spending any extra money. For transparency, I’m excluding all prescribed medication and skincare from this challenge. Why is this related to science? Check out my first post on the challenge to find out!

You can follow my daily challenges on Twitter and Instagram (on that point… Science Calling is joining Instagram for the first time… hope to see you there!). There will also be a weekly post updating you about my successes (and failures).

Join in by taging me on social media, using #SCPlasticFree, and most importantly, reducing your own plastic consumption. If you have any tips to help me on my journey, please get in touch or comment below.