Now that we have lasted a full month plastic free, I want to give you insight into our weekly shopping.
What we learned is that is it surprisingly easy to adopt this way of living.
When I was living in New York City, I was working for an advertising agency that constantly touted their eco responsibility. We had days where we promoted recycling, well marked bins, and speeches from the board about how to reduce waste.
So, what really happened to the recycling?
I was working late one evening I saw those coveted recycling bins being merged into one trash bag by the late night cleaning ladies. You can imagine my shock. So much for recycling!
When I moved to Barcelona I could see a much more progressive country. Multiple recycling bins on every corner. The majority of shops charging for the use of plastic bags. And an overall more green mindset.
At first it was difficult to embrace the change remembering to sort everything into the right bins, having 5 different garbage cans in my apartment. But it was a positive change that I happily accepted and tried to be the best at.
The decision to go plastic free
When a friend suggested I go plastic free I took it as a personal challenge and Alex agreed. Let’s see if we can do this for one week. Let’s see if this is feasible before making any major life changes.
And now I can tell you, after a few month of searching for the right shops, telling everyone what we are doing and committing 110%, living plastic free is not impossible. Heck it is even enjoyable.
It has made us eat better and at home more often. It has changed our perspective on where to shop and when. And it has made us happier. The people around us are completely supportive. And more importantly we are supportive with each other.
We’re in this together.
We’re making this change together. For the betterment of our world and our personal lives. It has inspired in use new shared passion. Passion that we may soon turn into our careers.
That was quite a long introduction, but I feel quite emotional after months of committing to this new way of living. I feel proud and motivated to keep going. To continue pushing the limits of what we think we are capable of doing.
So what does a week of shopping and meals look like for us?
Our Weekly Shopping Trips
I do the bulk of my shopping for the weekend on Saturdays because it’s when I have the most time to leisurely pick the fruits and veggies that we will have for the week.
Grocery stores and other food retailers are not opened on Sundays in Spain, so for weekend shopping saturday is our only option if we don’t want to pay the more expensive price of going to a bodega.
- Veritas (organic supermarket): 6XL rolls toilet paper, coconut milk, crackers, and toothpaste (-13,55€)
- Frucat (fruit & veggies shop): 3 x potatoes, bunch of spinach, bunch of kale, head of robles lettuce, 4 x heirloom tomatoes, 8 x figs, 15 x mushrooms, 10 x apricots, 6 x kiwis, bunch of radishes, garlic, 2 x red onion, 2 x avocados, 1 large red pepper, 1 large green pepper, 1 large greek yogurt (-31,82€)
- Wine: 2x bottles of red (-21,00€)
Total spent – groceries: 45,37€ | Total spend – alcohol: 21,00€
I’ll separate out the wine because that is a luxury and something that I am passionate about, but is definitely not a necesity for me.
A peak inside of our (almost 100%) zero waste / zero plastic fridge
I missed picking up a coffee on our shopping trip, so Alex went out to get some for the bodega across the street from our apartment (-2,50€).
Our secret coffee recipe is ¾ regular coffee and ¼ eco coffee bought at granel. It’s part of our zero waste coffee routine and keeps the price down.
I bought the eco coffee a few months ago and it’s still going strong. We keep it in a airtight container to keep is fresh. Like this one.
Total spent – groceries: 2,50€
We had enough food at home from weekend shopping and last week that we didn’t have a need to go to the bulk store until Tuesday.
Alex was working afternoon so he was able to do the shopping for the day. Here’s what he picked up:
- Gra de Gracia (bulk store): Chocolate granola, sesame crackers, cashews, pistachios, dried peaches, chocolate brownies, palmeras (cookies), 55% chocolate bar (-41,16€)
- Eco meat store: 6 hamburgers (stuffed with different cheeses) (-10,71€)
Total spent – groceries: 51,87€
The hamburgers didn’t last us very long with Alex at home during the day so he went out on another mission for meats this Friday morning. And some other goodies, too. We love payday! P.S. Living in Spain make you think much more about your monthly budget because you get paid once per month instead of bi-weekly or bi-monthly)
- Polleria: Chicken wings, 3x large breast (-10,00€)
- Fruits & Veggies: 6x Bananas, 2x bunch of spinach, many pimientos de padron, apricots, peaches, 2x avocados, large red pepper, 2x large green pepper, 1 large head of lettice (-20,00€)
Total spent – groceries: 30,00€
Overall, we spent 129,74€ on groceries (150,74€ if we include alcohol).
A Typical Weekly Menu
We’re big foodies in this house, so we don’t like putting many limitations when it comes to food. We eat intricate, healthy meals all the time and enjoy our time eating out as well.
I decide to keep a record last week of everything we ate to give you an idea of how our zero waste living and meals work together.
As you will see, we are not living with many limitation just because we are not consuming plastic nor shopping at big supermarkets.
And what I like even more is that we are supporting local business and helping them grow and thrive in our community.
- Breakfast: Sesame crackers, cheese, fuet, cherries, and chocolate milk
- Snack: Homemade popcorn, water (Brita filtered water)
- Lunch: Eat out (crepes)
- Snack: Cherries and apricot, gelato (from shop nearby)
- Dinner: Chicken breast, homemade french fries, and a large salad
- Breakfast: Sesame and other crackers, cheese, fuet, yogurt bowl with kiwi, fig, chocolate granola, honey, and one cherry on top each, coffee (mix of eco & regular coffee)
- Lunch: Eating with friends (gazpacho, rice, croutons, and cucumber, rabbit and pear stew, cherries, red wine, coffee, and dark chocolate)
- Snack: 2x Cappuccino with soy milk (4,50€), fuet
- Dinner: 2 x gluten free pizza, 2 x sparkling water, 2 x espresso (-29,00€)
- Midnight snack: Chocolate granola
*Yes we drink a lot of coffee
**My partner is constantly ravenous and eats all the time, hence the midnight snacks
- Breakfast: Coffee
- Lunch: Salad (spinach, robles lettuce, radish, small red onion, tomato, avocado)
- Snack: Crackers and cheese
- Dinner: Chicken wings with honey mustard glaze, backed chopped zucchini and purple and white eggplant with pork sausage
- Dessert: Apricots and kiwi with dulce de leche and coconut flakes
- Midnight snack: Popcorn
*We shopped at our local poultry store and got 14 chicken wings, 2 large chicken breasts, and 10 pork sausages for less than 10€!
- Breakfast: Coffee, sesame cracker, goat cheese, and fuet
- Snack: ¼ avocado with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Lunch: 2 egg omelette with green pepper, garlic, mushroom, and avocado – cooked in the microwave at work with a Lekue (me), Hamburger and veggies (Alex)
- Dinner: 3x hamburger, sauteéd kale, garlic, and mushrooms
- Dessert: chocolate gluten free brownies with pistachio, grated chocolate, dulce de leche, grated coconut and lemon zest
- Breakfast: Coffee
- Lunch: Salad of tomato, avocado, and mushrooms (me), salad of spinach, peppers, mushrooms, and radish (Alex)
- Snack: Small pizza with chorizo from a café in commute to climbing (-1,85€)
- Dinner: Chorizo sauteed with red and green peppers and spicy cous-cous
- Dessert: Second half of yesterday’s delicious brownie
- Midnight snack: Dates
- Breakfast: Coffee, crackers and cheese, palmeras
- Lunch: Hamburger and potatoes (me, – 16,50€), hamburger and veggies (Alex)
- Snack: Cracker and goat cheese, palmera
- Dinner: Chicken fingers and 2x canelón with chicken, mushroom and parmesan sauce, wine for me, 2x tonic water for Alex (-35€)
*Yes I love hamburgers that much. We normally have them without bread.
- Breakfast: Coffee, kiwi, and crackers with cheese
- Lunch: Avocado, tuna, goat cheese salad (me), salad with peppers, radish, and nuts (Alex)
- Snack: Crackers and peanut butter, popcorn
- Dinner: Chicken wings and pimientos de padron
- Dessert: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream with crushed pistachios
This week we ate our twice (Sunday and Thursday night) and I have one day when I ate outside the office and so did Alex. We like to keep flexibility in our food schedule and not feel so restricted. As foodies we love trying new places and enjoying out meals, so we budget for these activities.
- TOTAL SPENDING GROCERIES: 150,74€
- TOTAL SPENDING EATING OUT: 86.85€
- TOTAL FOOD SPENDING: 237,59€
How does this compare to what we were spending before?
I love keeping track of the number of what we spend so I can give you an exact comparison over the last few months how our spending has changed.
I like to break food expenses down into 3 buckets: Groceries, Eating Out & Travel. This way we can really see where the money is going.
Alex and I started living together in January and we started our Zero Waste journey in March. We were spending a lot of time together before that so I even have figures from November.
Our total food expenses increase only 8,27% from going zero waste. And after a few months this number will be even lower because May’s expenses are inflated.
Here’s we notices from our budget:
- We spent 20% more on grocery, but this is offset by a decrease in eating out.
- Going zero waste reduced our expenses during our 5 days in the US in April.
- If we make a more effort to look at prices we can get our expenses further down.
And on a micro level we set a lot of benefits of zero waste. Meat is cheaper when we go to our local shops instead of the supermarket and we get higher quality products. And in other products that we buy in bulk, we are happy to pay the difference.
Resolving some doubts
I don’t have enough time
Like any like change or good habit, the excuse of not having enough time just doesn’t cut it. It you want the time for something you make the time for it. There are many people far busy and far more important than you, who are still making their efforts to better the planet.
If you wanted to lose weight, say your wedding was coming up, you’d make time for it. If you wanted to have kids and give them all the possibly opportunities to be involved in sports and other activities, you make the time for it.
This habit change is no different. Once you get started, and build up your momentum, you’ll see that making simple changes to produce less waste don’t require more of your time. You have to prioritize.
It costs more to go plastic free
This is short term thinking at best. You now have to rationalize a bit more with what you are going to buy and put more effort into visiting multiple stores, but often zero waste is less costly.
You’ll be visiting specialty stores and farmers markets where you often find great deals. You’ll be bringing your lunch and eating more at home. You’ll be more conscious of spending on clothes and other things you don’t need.
Like spending your time, you also have to be willing to make the change to find the best options for you that can stay within your budget and meet your and your family’s needs.
How has your plastic free journey changed your shopping? Let me know in the comments.
If you liked this article, you’ll probably like:
- A starter’s guide to composting
- Perfect your zero waste coffee routine
- Zero waste swaps for manageable new habits