Art and I have always been very concerned about the environment but more so now that we’ve become vegans and realize that our planet is much worse off than we thought. We’ve learned to re-use and reduce more than recycle. This means using less plastic. Our ultimate goal is to only put out 1 bag of garbage per year and currently we are putting out 1 bag every 3 months. This might sound impressive to some but there is so much more we can do. One area that I’ve really improved on is how I store our food. I found that the lids of glass containers got discoloured very quickly or worn quickly and I was constantly replacing my tupperware. Now we found an alternative that is less expensive but also better for the environment.
We started canning our own food when we moved to the country 4 years ago. My family has been canning fruit for many years but changing our lifestyle to start living off the land, getting back to nature and living a simpler lifestyle was our top priority when we starting looking for our country oasis. We now can anything from peaches, pears, apricots, apple sauce, tomatoes, and salsa. I’m sure the list will keep on growing as we learn more. Another great thing that I love about canning is that they are multi-purpose and I get to re-use the bottles once I’m finished eating the food from them. If you’re looking to re-use these bottles and ditch the plastic, then read on. NO PLASTIC REQUIRED!
Smoothies – One thing that really saves me time is preparing my smoothies the night before or a couple days before I need to use them. Mason jars are the perfect fit as they can hold a lot of fruit and veggies for a large smoothie. They can in useful when I need a last minute smoothie after a workout.
Mixed Drinks – Even though I don’t consume a lot of alcohol, using small or medium size mason jars for mixed drinks is a hit at any party especially at a BBQ or outdoor dinner. Mix up your favourite cocktail and garnish with fruit and veggies. The best is that you can screw on the lid to keep the bugs out.
Infused Fruit Water – I’ve always been a big fan of drinking filtered water. There is nothing like it. It helps keep us hydrated, regulates our body temperature, helps detoxify our system, and so much more. I like to flavour my water with various fruits such as lemon, lime, orange, and even mixed berries. Using one fruit or various types, it releases so much flavour. Now that summer is here, I use herbs from my herb garden to mix in with the fruit to give it a burst of flavour. My favourite is lemon, strawberry, and basil.
Soup – I found it so hard to find soup containers that wouldn’t leak when I sent my husband to work with his lunch. Now, I just cook up the soup, put the leftovers in a large mason jar and just take and go with me wherever I go. All I have to do, is heat it up!
Salads – Now this is time saver. Art and I love taking our dogs on hiking adventures and picnics. The night before I prepare salads in a mason jar consisting of various vegetables on the bottom, some nuts and seeds, and then top it off with our favourite greens. No mess and it saves SO MUCH TIME!
Salad Dressings – Since we eat whole foods, we don’t consume any oil as it’s processed (it contains no or very little nutrients – IT’S PURE FAT!) so making our own pre-made salad dressings and putting them into small mason jars only makes sense. Most of them last in the fridge for 5-10 days.
Nut butter – I was never a fan of peanut butter (in fact it smelled and tasted disgusting) but since I’ve gone whole foods, I’m completely addicted to almond and cashew nut butter. It’s so easy to make. Just put the nuts in the blender (I use a vitamix) and it does all the work. In a few minutes you have nut butter that is creamy and delicious. Place in a mason jar and it can last up for a couple of weeks to 1 month in the fridge.
Vegetable Broth – I sometimes make my own vegetable broth from leftover vegetables but I usually buy organic vegetable broth cubes and make my own. I find that its less expensive than buying the broth from boxes and it only takes minutes to make. I use vegetable broth for making my soups, casseroles and for sautee vegetables to give it that extra flavour.
Overnight Oatmeal – Another great time saver! Just add oats and your favourite nut milk along with some spices and place into a mason jar in the fridge. Make sure that you stir it before leaving it overnight. When you wake up, you have hearty oatmeal that you can eat cold or heat up. Don’t forget to sprinkle it with some fruit.
Jam – I don’t use refined sugar at all as fruit comes with it’s very own natural sweetner. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes for jam to use on homemade bread made from whole grains. Fruit will last a while in mason jars in the fridge.
Nut Milk – I ditched the store bought organic almond milk about two months ago. Even though it’s organic, it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. There are still ingredients in organic nut milk that are not whole which was my decision to give up the store bought non-dairy alternative and make my own. The process to make it is so easy and quick and mason jars are great for storing this product.
Leftover food – Have a leftover stew or casserole? Try storing it in a mason jar. It’s easy to take with you for a lunch if you’re in a hurry or just put it in a pot to heat up the following night for dinner. I cook a lot of beans and rice so I like to layer the beans on the bottom, with the rice next, some tomatoes, guacamole and a little salsa and you’re ready to go.
Spices – If you can find really small mason jars, then they are perfect for spices. With air tight lids, they are perfect to store in your pantry, kitchen drawn or cupboard. Just attach a sticker and you’re set.
One of the best feelings ever is if you wake up realizing that you’ve slept in and don’t have time to make a lunch and/or breakfast is knowing that meals are already prepared for you to eat or grab and go. When people tell me that they don’t eat breakfast, 9 times out of 10 is that they don’t have time to prepare anything. NOW YOU DO! All it takes is 5-10 minutes the night before to put together a jar for a smoothie or oatmeal or to make up a salad for your lunch.
Time is our most precious commodity and when I give my clients these small tips, they not only save time but they start eating healthier knowing how simple it is to create healthy meals and snacks. Mason jars are so versatile and can be used for anything. They are inexpensive to buy compared to some glass storage jars and they can be used for many, many years. This means that plastic is not getting placed into a dump. Not only are you being great to your body but doing your part for the environment.
Eat clean & live green!
Your Compassionate Coach,