When we think of sustainable shopping, our first order of business is often cutting down on single-use plastics. It's a great (and easy) way to introduce sustainability into what may be our weekly grocery trips. But, past the fabric tote bag and mesh carriers, what else can we do to reduce our carbon footprint and save money?
We took down advice from Sarah Nassar, a Dubai-based licensed home organiser, who offers her services through So Neat by Sarah on Instagram. Our expert is an advocate of planning for groceries in advance and sorting out the fridge and pantry thoroughly. It's how Sarah avoids food waste, impulse buying and straining her grocery budget.
"Thankfully, we live in a country that helps us practise sustainability. Since we have to pay for plastic bags in grocery stores now, more people are making the conscious decision to bring their own sustainable bags," said Sarah, referring to the tariff on single-use plastic bags in Dubai.
According to the Dubai Municipality, these bags take 400 years to decompose in nature, while endangering the lives of marine and land animals. "Your big Ikea bags can be reused in so many ways, so I always encourage my clients to buy similar bags," said Sarah.
You can also stock the kitchen with products that will prolong the life of produce. One way Sarah does this in her own home is by keeping her fridge and pantry organised, using clear boxes and containers for inventory checks.
"Organising will help you plan better and buy less of what you already have. Plan meals ahead of time per week, then stick to the shopping list. You'll know exactly what you need when you go to the supermarket. Many people get tempted by bundles on sale, which creates a lot of waste because the products expire soon," she said.
Once you get the hang of making shopping lists, you'll have an easier time allocating a monthly budget to groceries and sticking to it. Sarah also finds that ordering online helps her bypass unnecessary sales. She says assigning a set day for grocery shopping in the week (for instance, every Monday) is a great way to ensure you're using what the fridge already has.
Taking the sustainable route not only reduces food waste, but rewards you with a less cluttered space and helps you shop mindfully. For all the leftovers to freeze or ingredients you might have chopped too much of, we've compiled a list of worthwhile products to have around.
From reusable freezer bags to herb savers, start your sustainable journey today. Become an Amazon Prime member to get free, fast delivery.
1. Best Compost Bin: Lomi Smart Waste Kitchen Composter
- Three-litre capacity
- Decomposes in four hours
- Small footprint for the countertop
- Neutralises odour
Consider a compost machine for all your countertop scraps, including bread and coffee grounds. If you're the proud owner of a vegetable garden at home or a plant parent, you've possibly been eyeing one of these gadgets. In just four hours, the compact Lomi machine recycles food waste into nutrient-rich dirt for the soil. Because it decomposes three litres of scraps in less than a day, your kitchen will be odour- and mess-free, compared to passive compost bins. Five-star reviewers love how it's reduced their garbage disposal load, and say the waste tends to pile up far less frequently. They find no trouble with fruit flies and pests, either. In case the Lomi is out of your budget, try a regular compost bin by OXO.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh259.83 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best Shopping Bags: VENO Reusable Grocery Shopping Bag (Set of 4)
Bring your own bags to the store. While a smaller family would prefer the capacity of a jute bag, these polypropylene carriers can support a load of up to 20kgs each and are water-resistant. The best part is the hard flat bottom that keeps your bag from collapsing every time it's placed on the floor. There's a slip pocket on the outside, designed to hold your phone, shopping list, pen and wallet. After grocery trips, they fold into a compact form to be tucked away until the next time. Reviews mention how the size is just right, neither too big nor too small. Nearly all buyers point out the sturdy handles on these. It's even easier to wipe them down, thanks to the material, after every use.
3. Best Herb Savers: Prepara Herb Saver Storage Pods (Set of 3)
Sarah makes use of herb pods or containers to prolong the life of her cilantro, basil, parsley and other greens. The Prepara Herb Saver is a slim pod, designed to fit into the door of any refrigerator. All you have to do is refresh the water every three to five days through the filler cap, and the greens will stay fresh for up to three weeks, always ready to be added to soups and meals. Reviewers leave five stars after seeing their herbs still retain their healthy green colour, but do lament the limited capacity.
4. Best Freezer Bags: Reusable Silicone Food Storage Freezer Bag (Set of 3)
We all know freezing leftovers is a hack passed down through the generations. But, are you able to maintain the flavours in regular dishware? In this set, you get 1,000ml, 500ml and 360ml silicone bags with a hermetic air-tight seal. They can be washed and reused multiple times, and can go from the freezer to the oven easily. Reviews say the storage solution has increased their freezer capacity, given that you can add liquid to the bags as well. For smaller cuts of vegetables, check out the ziplock bags below.
5. Best Bags for Food Prep: Eatronix Reusable Silicone Refrigerator Food Storage Bags (Pack of 5)
When you need the ingredients crisp and ready to go for the next day, don't toss them into the fridge in a bowl. Sarah puts chopped vegetables in reusable bags and labels them by date, so that the contents are consumed within two days, at the least. If you're using half an onion today, leave the rest in an Eatronix silicone bag. This pack of five offers 200ml capacity all the way to 2,000ml. They're heat-resistant for up to 220 degrees Celsius, dishwasher-safe and freezer-safe. Reviewers use these to carry snacks on the go, attest to no leaks, and find them to be just the perfect size for the refrigerator.
6. Best Meal Planner: Quick Canary Dry Erase Magnetic Menu
Turn meal planning into a fun kitchen activity. Pick up this magnetic dry-erase pad that goes on the fridge door and helps you keep track of meals for the week. Every time you notice that you're out of a certain vegetable or spice, you can jot it down immediately. The pad is divided into the days of the week, with sections dedicated to the grocery list and notes. The order comes with three fine-tip markers and a magnetic eraser, all of which stick to the fridge. Buyers love not having to guess their meals every day and report grocery shopping more mindfully.
7. Best for Sides: Souper Cubes 1/2-Cup Freezing Tray
Pesto and sauce jars tend to expire quickly. Freeze the remaining contents in the Souper Cubes tray to get weeks of meal prepping done in seconds. There are six 125ml compartments in this model, with measuring lines to accommodate smaller quantities. It's great for dips, like salsa and hummus, or readymade desserts, like chocolate pudding. The tray has a steel-reinforced rim to ensure no spills. Extracting the frozen food is easy and mess-free, per reviews. Buyers have frozen soup, lentils, beans and broths, which then can be propped into the pan for instant meals. If you'd like a bigger size, check out the one-cup portion tray.
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