42 Zero Waste Snacks for Busy People

Written by • Last Updated May 19, 2021

Let’s be honest: who doesn’t love to snack? I am such a sucker for a good bag of chips! We all have our vices.

But the problem with snacking – even healthy snacking – is that it can create a lot of waste. I’m always looking for ways to swap out more plastic from my lifestyle, so when I discovered zero waste snacks it was a game changer.

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It can be really overwhelming to start living a zero waste lifestyle. But starting small with some basic zero waste snacks will help change your mindset.

Thankfully, low waste and waste free snacks are delicious, nutritious, AND affordable. They’re also surprisingly easy to prepare, and I’ll bet you even have a few of them in your kitchen right now.

Yes, it can take a bit of planning ahead at times, but it’s worth it. Little life adjustments like creating low impact habits or eating zero waste snacks can literally help save the planet!

Need a primer on the differences between zero waste and low impact living?

I have arranged these snacks into three categories: produce, bulk buy and prepare ahead. So you can browse based on how much time you have and effort you want to put in. 

As an added bonus, every single one of these are vegan zero waste snacks (or can be easily adjusted to be vegan, like swapping out chocolate chips in muffins). If you’re trying to cut down on your meat consumption, you’ll love these ideas.

Produce

Bowls of strawberry and blueberry fruit salad are easy waste free snacks

It probably seems obvious to say that fruits and veggies are great zero waste snacks, but sometimes we need the obvious pointed out to us. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve forgotten about the apples in the fridge in lieu of something else (like Pringles).

When I started living a more sustainable lifestyle, I realized just how much produce I was wasting doing that. We ditched the plastic wrapped fatty foods, and now fresh fruit are my go to waste free snacks.

To keep produce zero waste, make sure to bring your own reusable produce bag rather than using one of the plastic ones provided in store. Better yet, head to the farmer’s market and shop totally local.

  1. oranges
  2. bananas
  3. apples
  4. pears
  5. citrus fruits
  6. berries
  7. melons
  8. plums
  9. peaches
  10. bell pepper slices
  11. carrot slices
  12. cucumber slices
  13. celery with natural peanut butter
  14. snap peas
  15. berries
  16. any other favorite fresh fruits and vegetables not wrapped in plastic

To store: whole fruit and veggies can be kept as usual, but if you need to store slices these can be cut up ahead of time and then kept in a sealed glass jar, a reusable sandwich bag, or wrapped in beeswax wraps.

A little lemon juice does wonders to preserve fruit salad.

RELATED: Caffeine Lover’s Guide to Zero Waste Coffee

Zero waste snacks to bulk buy

Wooden bowl of heart-shaped pretzels with more pretzels on table

Getting to know my supermarket’s bulk food section items was an epiphany moment for me. Not only was it actually more convenient than buying prepackaged amounts of items, it was also more eco-friendly. It just makes more sense to bulk buy.

And if storage space is an issue, there are some eco-friendly home improvements you can make to expand your pantry space.

With the bulk buy option, you can buy more of your favorite zero waste snacks, and less of the ones you tend to save for last. For example, you want a GIANT stash of chocolate chips, you can just fill up the biggest container you own rather than buying the little packets at the store.

In my case, it means I can stock up on my favorite nuts and seeds rather than having to buy tiny little packets of them that barely make up one snack portion. This is also how I buy a lot of my herbs and spices now, and store them in glass jars.

These days more and more places have bulk bins, although you might need to search around a bit first or head to a bigger city. However, if you are unable to bulk buy any of your must-have zero waste snacks, then try to buy from companies that use recyclable packaging.

It is also possible to make a few of these at home easily, such as trail mix or dried fruit if your bulk buy options are limited.

  1. wasabi peas
  2. mixed nuts (or favorite nuts of choice)
  3. mixed seeds (or favorite seeds of choice)
  4. banana chips
  5. apple chips
  6. raisins
  7. other dried fruits (apricots and cranberries are my favorite)
  8. chocolate chips
  9. chocolate covered nuts and fruits
  10. trail mix
  11. rice crackers
  12. pretzels

To store: When you bulk buy you typically fill up your own containers, so merely keep the items in these containers until it’s time to restock!

RELATED: How to Create a Zero Waste Kitchen

Save me for later!

Make-ahead waste free snacks

Glass jar of granola on top of blue and white striped towel

These zero waste snacks require the most effort, but can arguably be the most rewarding depending on your usual snack of choice.

While some of these might seem like they produce waste, you can actually do all of these with zero waste swaps and a little bit of recycling.

For the baked goods, just make sure you use recyclable paper linings. You can also invest in some reusable parchment paper and baking liners. These last for years and can be recycled in bulk at the end of their lifespan.

Don’t feel bad if you need to use up some remaining non-recyclable baking paper. Every little bit helps, and low waste snacks are still better than using all the plastic!

If you are looking for some tasty vegan zero waste snacks beyond fresh produce, most of these are naturally vegan. Those that aren’t can be easily made without any animal products by making some simple substitutions.

  1. homemade granola
  2. overnight oats
  3. avocado toast
  4. popcorn
  5. homemade tortilla chips
  6. oven baked vegetable chips
  7. roasted chickpeas
  8. energy balls
  9. hummus
  10. guacamole
  11. homemade muffins
  12. homemade cookies
  13. homemade cinnamon rolls
  14. smoothies

To store: These waste free snacks will keep in pretty much any containers you have. If they can be sealed with air tight containers, that is definitely preferable for the cookies and muffins.

For the chips and popcorn I’m all about these bamboo bowl containers. They also work great for dips, but are a bit on the big side for personal use.

RELATED: Is Bamboo Sustainable? What to Know Before You Buy

I hope you discovered a few new ideas for grab-and-go package free snacks! For more sustainable living tips, join my newsletter below.

2 thoughts on “42 Zero Waste Snacks for Busy People”

  1. Whike these are great ideas.. The stores that have bulk bins in my area have shut down their bulk sections and have masses of little premeasured out plastic tubs and plastic packaging due to covid.
    Also, sometimes when you are on a budget you get less for the cost per pound when it comes to bulk in many areas that cater the the upper middle class that have them. I once made the mistake of buying my favorite sesame seed snacks a large resuable container. It was almost 12$ to fill up from the bulk section😓😳! Had I bought it in disposable packaging it would have cost me half of that elsewhere! If you are below a certain income threshold its just not doable . Alot of companies cater to the privileged few who can afford to spend $180+ in organic foods etc a week for very few items. Only small items like water bottles and metal straws have trickled down. Foods like you described usually have an uptick in price.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Amanda. I agree that certain food items, especially prepared things like trail mix, can be pricey when you’re shopping on a budget. That’s why I prefer to snack on affordable things like produce, or to make my own snacks–popcorn is very cheap to make at home. I limit the fancy stuff like chocolate-covered nuts to the “special treat” category.

      Reply

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