A zero-waste approach can be factored into all aspects of our lives — including our social events. Katie Georgeson, Brand Manager of premium kitchen appliance suppliers Stoves, offers her advice for planning a more sustainable kind of dinner party.
Having guests over for dinner is the perfect chance to introduce them to a zero-waste lifestyle. More and more of us are choosing to stay in and cook rather than going out to eat in restaurants, partly because we can monitor waste output more closely when we do it ourselves. From the ingredients in your recipes to your decorations, everything you need to provide an excellent dining experience for your friends and family can be done without any waste at all — if you know how!
Sourcing your ingredients
Before you plan your evening, research what zero-waste shops you have in your area. If you can, it’s far better to buy from these kinds of stores as they have banned single use plastics. Plus, by shopping in zero-waste shops, you can almost guarantee that all the products have been responsibly and locally sourced where possible.
Instead of purchasing pre-packaged produce, you fill up your own containers with grains, powders, and other dry foods and pay by weight. So, for each recipe you intend to use, you can work out how much of each ingredient you will need and buy the precise amount. To find fruits and vegetables that aren’t packaged, try visiting your local greengrocer or market.
You should also work out exactly how much food you need per guest, so you don’t buy too much or too little. Don’t overdo it, though: smaller portions mean that you’re more likely to have clean plates with zerowaste to deal with afterwards. Plus, smaller portions are better if you intend to use artistic presentation, giving your guests something that looks restaurant quality.
If there does happen to be any leftovers after the party, you can freeze them, bake them into a cake, or make soup from the scraps. But, if the leftover food isn’t edible, compost it rather than putting it in the bin so your garden can benefit.
Dinner parties, especially thrown in honour of someone’s birthday, can often mean plastic decorations that are used once and thrown away. The main culprits include banners and balloons. Instead, look for materials than can be upcycled to make decorations for your dinner, such as paper garlands. Or, if you’re looking for centrepieces, you can achieve a very fashionable rustic look with recycled timber, driftwood, shells and glass bottles, all of which add a summery feel to your soiree.
Don’t forget that flowers and plants are lovely decorations and they are all natural. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on big beautiful blooms either — scattered sprays of wildflowers or hardy little succulents can be just as pretty and effective.
Vegan food menu
It’s far easier to buy fresh fruits and veggies without packaging than it is to source raw meat that is plastic-free. Plus, the environmental impact of the meat, egg and dairy industry means that limiting the amount of animal products you use is just as good for the planet as reducing plastic. So, take your sustainability up a notch by putting together a plant-based menu full of vegan treats.
There are plenty of nutrient-rich recipes for you to have a go at, even more so if you plan on using meat and dairy alternatives. Try a filling shepherd-less pie for your main dish. Think you need a final showstopper? Finish off the meal with a truly decadent vegan chocolate cake and your guests are sure to be impressed.
With these tips, you can begin to plan a zero-waste dinner party. Whatever you decide to make, look for ingredients, decorations, and recipes that are free from packaging and plastics to help save our planet.