A quick & easy guide to making your own bread

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Man holding bread

Making your own bread is really easy and can cut lots of plastic wrappers out of your life if you normally buy it from a supermarket.

When you’re used to popping to the shop to buy bread, making your own can seem like a far too time consuming task, but when you consider the time it actually takes to get ready, go to the shop, get what you need and get back again, you could probably have made a loaf and saved the stress of shopping!

Here’s what you need for a basic loaf (based on the BBC Good Food basic loaf recipe with some minor adjustments) :

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 300ml warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Method

  • Mix together the dry ingredients then add in the wet ingredients. Mix until they’re combined and the dough is roughly together.
  • Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently for around 10 minutes
  • Transfer back to the bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Leave to rise for 1 hour or to have fresh bread in the morning, place in the fridge over night
  • Give the dough a quick, gentle knead to reduce the air and then shape in to a rough ball
  • Cover a baking tray with flour then place the dough on the tray. Leave for an hour to double in size again
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°/gas mark 7
  • Lightly dust the dough with flour and score an x in to the top with a sharp knife
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes until it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom
  • Leave to cool before eating

The BBC recipe recommends using baking paper to line the tray but we always use flour when making our own bread which prevents the dough from sticking to the tray while reducing the waste.

You could also break up the dough and make smaller rolls. You’ll need to reduce the cooking time. Start at 15 minutes and place back in the oven for extra time if required.

If you don’t have anywhere warm to let your dough rise, you can try the microwave method – untried by us but recommended to us. Let us know if it works!

Microwave proofing method

Heat a cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. Place the dough in to the microwave with the water, close the door, and leave it to rise. It should double in size but if not in around half an hour but if not, take the dough out and reheat the water then place the dough back in. Don’t heat the dough up directly in the microwave!

Taken from The Kitchn

Let us know if you try this and what your favourite bread making recipe is

How to make popcorn

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Popcorn

I have a confession to make – I love crisps. Crisps are such a serious addiction for me and I crave them a lot. Not even fancy flavours, just your basic ready salted crisps. But crisps come in that foil-plastic material which can’t be recycled and so I’ve been trying to curb my habit, and that’s where popcorn comes in.

Popcorn is such a quick, easy, and healthy snack to make and for me it satisfies my need for something crunchy and salty. OK so the salt makes it less healthy, but the great thing about making your own popcorn is you can flavour it any way you like, and you can also control the salt content if you like salty snacks like me.

There are two methods for making popcorn that we’re going to share here: microwave or in a pan.

Microwave

  1. Place a small amount of kernels in a microwave safe glass bowl – just enough to cover the bottom of the bowl in a single layer. Don’t add too many as they expand a lot and you’ll get un-popped kernels and/or an overflow situation which you don’t want.
  2. Cover the bowl loosely with a ceramic plate which is also microwave safe. If you can, leave a little gap for the steam to escape
  3. Heat the popcorn on full power for 4 minutes. It will take slightly longer than this but this is a good starting point.
  4. Once it ends, keep adding time on a little at a time while listening to the popping.
  5. Once the popping has slowed to less than 1 pop every 5 seconds turn off the heat.
  6. Leave the popcorn to rest for at least 2 minutes – it will be really hot. When you remove the plate, use an oven glove and watch out for steam
  7. Transfer to a bowl and flavour however you like. A light sprinkling of sea salt is my favourite

In a pan

  1. Use a good heavy-bottomed pan which has a lid (ideally a clear glass lid so you can see what’s going on, otherwise you can depend on listening to the pops).
  2. Put the pan on a medium-high heat and preheat slightly
  3. Add popcorn kernels to the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Like with the microwave method, don’t add too many. A little goes a long way with popcorn. You don’t need to add oil if your pan is non-stick or a well seasoned cast iron skillet, otherwise add just a little oil, not too much so you don’t get greasy popcorn.
  4. Put the lid on the pan. Don’t leave it unattended, you don’t want burnt popcorn and once they start popping things happen quickly.
  5. After a couple of minutes you’ll hear the kernels pop. Leave the popcorn on the heat until popping has reduced to less than 1 pop every 5 seconds.
  6. Take the lid off and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to your bowl of choice and adding seasoning of your choice.

What is your favourite way to flavour popcorn? Let us know in the comments

You can buy your popcorn from our shop here

How to meal prep

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Vegetables and knife

Let’s be honest; how many times have we all started the day with the purest of intentions, only for life to happen and for that cheap ready-meal or take away to look so much more appealing? Fortunately for us, even on the longest of days, we can still eat well and help save the planet with a little bit of pre-planning. Not only does it make us feel that bit better about ourselves for avoiding those unhealthy calories (and saving that hard earned cash!) but it also means we’re much more likely to avoid all of that unnecessary plastic that is synonymous with ready meals.

While meal prepping may be the holy grail of a plastic-free lunch, it doesn’t have to mean an entire day lost to the kitchen! With a bit of practice, you’ll be saving money, time, the planet AND your waistline in no time.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Get into a routine and stick with it as best you can. If you work 9-5 and want to do all of your prepping on a Sunday to take the pressure off during those busy weekdays, plan your shopping list in advance. Don’t wait until you get to your local shop/supermarket and try to plan in the moment – you *will* impulse buy and you *will* forget something.
  2. Find recipes you love and actually want to eat. Meals that are nourishing, filling, and most importantly, delicious are the ones you’re going to be wanting after that long day at the office, so make sure you have some of those lying around if you want to avoid that impulse drive-through on the way home! Meals that include lots of veggies are a great, easy way to make sure you still get those 5 a day even on days when you really don’t feel like cooking.
  3. Stick to your shopping list! If you just buy the things you need and have planned for (instead of all those appealing-looking junk foods), you’ll save money and you won’t even need your willpower not to eat them. When faced with the dilemma of having to actually leave the house to go and buy that packet of crisps you’re fancying, you’re much more likely to just eat the healthier snacks you’d planned instead!
  4. Keep things simple. The logistics of meal prepping can be daunting at first, so don’t head into your kitchen thinking you need to be a Michelin star chef for the next few hours! You can always experiment with more fancy recipes later when you know what works for you.
  5. You don’t have to prepare everything in advance. Some things like pasta don’t taste quite so good reheated, but only take minutes to cook. Instead, freeze your favourite pasta sauce and cook the pasta fresh – it still saves time, and means you don’t have to compromise on the flavour/texture of the dish.
  6. Mix it up! Don’t get stuck eating the same meals five days in a row. Batch cook a few recipes and freeze the leftovers in individual portions – this way you’re not limiting yourself to one meal every night for the next week (which gets boring real quick, trust me) and can still eat the foods you’re craving.
  7. Aim for versatility – in your meals *and* ingredients. Chilli can be eaten alone, on sweet potato, or in a burrito for example – an easy way to keep things interesting! Similarly try to go for recipes that use similar ingredients. That Singapore noodle soup recipe you saw may look nice, but noodles tend to go mushy when reheated and the numerous obscure ingredients you’ll probably never use again will just take up extra space in your cupboard.
  8. Get into smoothies. These are a healthy, easy, and quick breakfast if prepared in advance, and set you on the right track for the day. If you’re anything like me in the morning, the prospect of chopping various fruits, washing greens and getting the blender out just feels like far too much effort – even thinking about all that healthiness when I’m still half asleep is just too much. However, if you get the blender out the night before, chop those bananas and pack the right quantities into individual pots the night before, you can whip up a smoothie in no time.
  9. Use all of the space in your oven. Not only does this cut down on bills and cooking time, it’s also better for the environment! Veggies on one shelf, potatoes on the other, you get the idea. Just don’t forget to set a few timers…
  10. Invest in some decent tupperware. Ikea do some great glass ones with bamboo lids – the bases are oven, microwave and freezer proof, and they’re very reasonably priced compared to many other glass alternatives. If you think these aren’t for you, BPA-free is the way to go – we agree reusable plastic is better than single use, but you still don’t want any nasties seeping into your food!

We know it takes time to get into the swing of things at first (and it will probably feel like you’re spending longer on planning your meals than it would probably have done to just cook them in the first place) but you’ll find it quickly becomes second nature. And, if you’re pretty lazy like me, just write up your week’s ‘menu’ and shopping list and keep it in a binder in the kitchen for future use – you’ll have your own personalised recipe book in no time.

For a great place to start, check out our last blog post for Jess’ chilli recipe!

What you need to know about zero waste shaving

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Safety razor

Hardcore hippies? Yeah us neither…

So. This week we’re going to have that conversation about zero waste shaving. Old-school barbershop style razors are really coming back into fashion of late, and not only are traditional safety razors (you know the type your dad or gramps might have once used) better at giving that close shave to get those oh-so-smooth-and-silky legs, they’re beautiful too. Yes, they’re no longer just for men – ladies, many even come in gorgeous girly colours and styles too if that’s your thing. But why bother when you’re maybe already using one with replaceable heads, or when the plastic ones are dirt cheap? Well, here’s why we think you should get your very own safety razor:

  • They give a closer shave that lasts longer
  • Less irritation and razor burn caused by blunt blades and snagged hairs – winning!
  • It’s a ‘buy me once’ thing, look after it and it will last you years
  • Despite the initial cost of the razor, it works out way cheaper in the long-run than throwaway alternatives
  • They’re more stylish than throwaway razors – why would you ever buy another cheap plastic one when you can buy something beautiful AND sustainable to take pride of place on that bathroom shelf?
  • It’s more hygienic – you can easily take them apart to clean every little nook and cranny, so no more annoying trapped hairs or dead skin

We know, you’re probably still a bit sceptical (we were too), but stay with us. In the UK, we throw away millions of plastic razors each year, and in the US that figure is closer to 2 billion! Even one person can make a big difference, to the planet AND to your bank account. For a great visual breakdown of how the safety razor holds up cost-wise to a typical cartridge razor and for a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of safety razors, just follow the link below:

https://www.toolsofmen.com/shaving-with-a-safety-razor/

So, even though your actual razor might initially set you back anywhere between £10-100 (depending on what style and brand you go for, you can get a good one new for around £25 on Amazon prime), you make back your investment pretty quick. Blades are super cheap – for less than £10, you can easily get 100 blades (we recommend Astra for good quality blades that come in a cardboard box individually wrapped in mini paper sleeves), working out at less than 10p per blade! Depending on how often you shave they tend to last around a month each, or you can just replace them whenever you think your current blade is no longer up to the job.

Tip: If you want your blades to last longer, take your razor apart after each use and carefully wipe dry and to stop the blade going dull so quickly.

Our dos and don’ts

Do keep the blade on an angle of around 30° to minimise any accidents. Remember safety razors are generally not flexible like their more modern plastic cousins so bear this in mind when you switch. Take your time and you’ll be whipping that thing around like a pro in no time (ladies, we’d recommend getting one with a longer handle to help you get to the more difficult-to-reach areas).

Do work up a good lather to help that blade glide. You can buy the fancier soaps or, like us, just use your regular body wash instead!

Don’t apply any downward pressure on the blade at all, at least until you’re more confident and know how much you can get away with. No really, don’t do this. Not only are you less likely to cut yourself this way but it also means skin that is much happier and less irritated. Let the weight of the razor do all the work for you.

Don’t just throw used blades loose in the recycling bin. Collect them in a safe container and when it’s full, drop it off at a local scrap metal collection site where they can be safely disposed of without any poor unsuspecting recycling plant workers losing any fingers!

If you have any other useful tips for us, please share in the comments below – we’d love to hear what you think and if you’ve had any ‘hairy’ experiences!

P.S. Double points if you can buy locally or find an antique one in a second-hand shop