The Quest To Create a Zero-Waste Dinner

Hello there/Shwmae! My name is Jenna Winters and if you don’t know me, I’m Cardiff Met’s Environmental Part-time Officer!

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Hello there/Shwmae! My name is Jenna Winters and if you don’t know me, I’m Cardiff Met’s Environmental Part-time Officer! One of the things I’m very passionate about is trying to be as waste free as I possibly can. Unfortunately, in most supermarkets, things like pasta, rice and other dried products are often packaged in non-recyclable plastic packaging. Fortunately, this is where refill shops come in handy as they sell large quantities of loose, dried food products that you can purchase and take home in your own containers which can be used again and again!

 

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to visit our wonderful new Zero-waste shop we have on Cyncoed Campus and try out some of the amazing products they have for sale. Located within the SU shop, the refill station has a variety of dried goods from pasta to roasted chickpeas. Set with the challenge of creating an awesome meal with rice, Lentils, and black beans from the refill shop, I decided to go with a simple and easy vegetarian curry.

 

The ingredients that I used: refill shop lentils and long-grain rice, onion, ginger, turmeric, 2 garlic cloves, cumin, curry power, lemon, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, kale.

 

Firstly, I began with washing the long-grain rice and putting it in the rice cooker. Don’t worry if you don’t have one, putting it on the stove is fine as long as you make sure it doesn’t boil dry!

 

To be extra prepared, I then washed the lentils in a colander and left them to soak in hot water before I added them to the curry. Just look at that wonderful colour!

 

Next, after chopping up the onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a bit of stem ginger I added them to a pan and fried them in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil just until the onion is clear and crispy around the edges. Frying the onion with the garlic and ginger will let all of those lovely flavours initially mix together before the other ingredients are added! This should take around 5 minutes.

 

Once the onions are cooked we can add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and various spices! The amount of turmeric, curry powder and cumin you use is totally up to you depending on your preferred level of spice. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can also add madras paste to give it a little kick!

 

After simmering for around 40 minutes it’s time to add the lemon juice and Kale! The lemon really adds to the flavour, giving it a sharp taste to bring out the sweetness. Additionally, Kale is a really nutritious and cheap way to bulk up soups and curries if you’re not a massive spinach or cabbage fan.

 

Now that the rice is finally cooked it’s time to plate up the curry with a choice of popadoms or naan bread! My personal favourite are definitely popadoms as they’re light and I just love the crunch of it compared to the softness of a curry.

 

This is just one idea out of thousands of great combinations of dinners that could be made with the staple ingredients from the refill shop whether you’re wanting to make pasta Bolognese, black bean soup or just a simple fruit muesli for breakfast. Being sustainable on a budget can be extremely hard when you’re a student and I think this is a great way to save money and play your part in saving the environment one step at a time. Go visit the refill shop and tag me on Instagram at @suenvironmental with your zero-waste meals!

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