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  • Jenica Barrett

Zero Waste Snacks for On-the-Go

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

People often ask me what I eat for snacks since I don't buy packaged things. They often wrongly assume that I must eat only healthy things because "only bad snacks are packaged"...oh how I wish that were true! I definitely haven't kicked my snack habit since going zero waste.

There are plenty of low waste snacks you can make (and buy) to reduce plastic packaging. Having snacks on hand definitely takes a little more planning and prep than simply buying something from the vending machine, but these zero waste snacks will be equally as delicious! To avoid re-creating the wheel, use the list below to stock up on bulk snack supplies and bulk ingredients in your pantry so you're not caught with the munchies and nothing to nibble on.

popcorn in a reusable container as a zero waste snack
Popcorn makes a fantastic zero waste snack!

1. Energy Bites

These energy bites are my favorite thing to make and keep in the kitchen because they're so simple! Rather than trying to make crunchy granola bars, these energy bites don't need to be cooked at all. They can also be easily adapted to gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan. They're basically a granola bar and cookie all wrapped up into one!

There are so many variations on energy bites too (chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, nut free, and more!).

Keep on hand:

  • oatmeal

  • peanut butter

  • chia seeds

  • flax seeds

  • honey

  • nuts

2. Popcorn

Popcorn is another great zero waste snack because it can be whipped up so quickly! And then taken with you in a little bag. I have even snuck my own bag of popcorn into the movie theater...shhhh....

You can top your popcorn with butter + salt + nutritional yeast for my favorite combo. Or swap out the butter for coconut oil! It sounds weird, but I promise it tastes much better than you think!

Keep on hand:

  • popcorn kernels

  • nutritional yeast

  • salt

  • coconut oil or butter

3. Frozen Muffins

I love to make a big batch of muffins and then pop them in the freezer. I can take one out anytime I am rushed in the morning or wanting a snack. By freezing them, it prolongs their "life" as well since I'm not as tempted to eat them all at once.

My favorite recipe is the blueberry muffins muffins that Smitten Kitchen makes or my Red Quinoa Cranberry Muffin.

Zero Waste energy bites with chocolate chips on a plate
These energy bites were made with 100% bulk ingredients and make a delicious snack!

4. Banana Bread

Similarly to muffins, I love to make banana bread to then freeze! Having something easy that I can easily heat up and eat for breakfast before jumping on a work call is lovely. Banana bread makes a great zero waste snack - because you can also make banana bread with the peel!

Yep, there is no reason you have to let that peel go to waste anymore! Banana bread is also better when the bananas are overripe so think twice about throwing out those brown bananas.

You can switch it up by also making zucchini bread, carrot bread, or a combo of all three!

5. Trail Mix + Nuts

Nuts are high in protein and make an easy snack if you're going to be waiting a while between meals. You can either purchase pre-made trail mixes in the bulk section or mix up your own!

Keep on hand:

  • raisins

  • chocolate chips

  • almonds

  • peanuts

6. Fig Newtons

No, I've never actually made fig newtons myself - although I wonder how hard it would be? They happen to be though a very common item in the bulk section. Whether your local grocery store has a big section or just a smattering of options, you'll most likely have access to bulk fig newtons. The are a lovely addition to any packed lunch!

7. Fresh Fruit

It may seem like an obvious choice but packing fresh fruit is a great snack. Since it has a strong flavor and is naturally sweet, it will usually kick any sugar craving I am having in the middle of a workday as well. For me, the trick to eating fruit is cutting it up before hand so I don't have to worry about any citrus juice or apple cores while out and about.

At home I also love to dip a sliced apples in peanut butter or dollop a bit on slices of bananas. It tastes like a delicious dessert without any prep required!

8. Dried Fruit

My favorite dried fruits are mango and apples. You can dry pretty much anything though including bananas, blueberries, and pineapple! I typically buy dried mango in the bulk section and then dry apples myself.

9. Veggies

If you're at all like my partner Noah, sometimes you just need something crunchy to chew on (we keep a lifetime supply of celery in the fridge). Chopped up carrots, sliced cucumbers, and sliced peppers will usually do the trick.

My favorite in the summer is a handful of sugar snap peas!

Red Quinoa Cranberry Muffins
A batch of freshly baked red quinoa cranberry muffins!

10. Cookies + Brownies

We all want to have a treat every now and again - and instead of buying a plastic wrapped cookie, just grab one from your freezer! I don't always have cookies or brownies in my freezer (unlike the blueberry muffins which I keep well stocked). But I do make sure to freeze some when I do and take one with me if I know a sugar craving is coming.

My favorite recipes are this classic chocolate chip cookie, lemon bars (using the whole lemon!), intense chocolate brownies, and anything with coconut and almonds.

Ready to try the ultimate zero waste treat? Learn how to make lemon bars using the whole lemon!

11. Granola

Granola is a great snack because it is good with yogurt, milk, or just eaten plain. It can cost quite a lot if you buy it in bulk, so I recommend making your own batch at home. You can then store it in little jars as ready made breakfasts!

You can also make your own granola bars that can be easily put in your lunch or given to your kiddos on car rides.

Keep on hand:

  • oatmeal

  • coconut

  • honey

  • mixed nuts

  • raisins/craisins

12. Homemade Fruit Leather

This last one is one on my bucket list. I loved fruit leather when I was a kid but hardly ever got it because of all the sugar. However it's pretty easy to make homemade fruit leather with just a few ingredients!

This would be a great project in the summer when you have an abundance of fruit on hand. Or you could thaw out some of the fruit your stored in your freezer for a mid-winter change of flavor!

What are your favorite snacks? How do you make them zero waste?

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