7-Piece Zero Waste Bulk Grocery Shopping Kit

I have mentioned before that the wet markets and shops in the HDB heartlands offer some of the best bulk grocery solutions I have seen.  They may not have the stylish, neutral-themed interior of the zero-waste shops, but they will function every bit like one if you bring along your own reusable bags and containers.

I have since built up a “zero waste kit” for wet market shopping.  It is made up of upcycled items or containers that I already have at home.  Make the stuff you owned work harder!

++ Reusable Produce/Shopping Bags ++

Usually, I tell the stallholders to skip the plastic bags and place all the fresh produce into my reusable shopping bags. My purchases typically fill up one to two bags.  Anything more than that, I know that I have bought too much food.

// 01. Shopping Bags

I bring four of these foldable ones.  One for leafy greens only, another for hardy/heavier vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, pumpkins, bitter gourds, tomatoes; you wouldn’t want the leafy ones to be crushed.  The remaining two bags are for dry foods and others.  I wash them regularly to keep them clean.

//02. Produce Bags

I handsewn this cotton one to pack fresh mushrooms, but I have since been using it for any fresh produce that fits in it; shallots, garlic, kaffir limes, etc.

//03. Mesh Bags

These are not store-bought mesh bags. They are actually packaging for wholesale garlic.  The stallholders usually discard them after the contents have been emptied.

I requested for a few to be reuse as fruit bags.  They hold up to five oranges nicely.

++ Reusable Containers ++

// 04. CNY Goodies Bottles

These plastic bottles are lightweight and handy for packing nuts, beans, grains, dried mushrooms, goji berries, black and white fungus, etc. from the dry food store.  I usually plan ahead and bring along the number of containers required.

I don’t use mason jars when wet market shopping; the last thing I want is a broken-glass-incident at the market.

//05. Flour Container

Ever since I know the dry provision stall at the wet market I frequent sells flour in bulk, I have been avoiding pre-packed ones.  I bring along this airtight container when I want to buy flour.

//06. Tofu Container

I use either an airtight container (photo above) or another plastic container (below) upcycled from an ice cream box to buy my tofu without packaging.

They go straight into my fridge after shopping.

// 07.  Containers for Meat

Although I don’t eat meat, the rest of my family does.  However, they consume very little of it; I usually buy one or two types of meat, and those will last us the entire week.  Again, I will plan ahead what meat I am buying for my family, so they will fit nicely inside this 2-tier tiffin carrier.

Do you shop at the traditional wet markets too?  Do you find planning-ahead the best way to avoid plastic packaging as well as food waste?  Share you zero waste grocery shopping tip!

Simple Pleasures

just a gather of some random shots of things that caught my eye, made my day, or meaningful enough to make me press the shutter, but just don’t seem to fit in anywhere or significant as a post.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// basil is probably the only plant I always harvest from my parapet garden.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// sterilizing, at 100 degrees celcius. Because it’s not plastic.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// school uniform: the most hardworking piece of apparel, rendered unwearable and unmendable, thank goodness she’s graduating.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// washing an empty oil bottle using the least amount of water.  My trick : teaseed powder.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// trash level report: low.  Keep trying.

Soft Taro Milk Pullman Loaf

Soft Taro Milk Pullman Loaf // Mono + Co

Adapted from this recipe from almost a year ago, I have since made 2 changes to this recipe.
– using plain flour sold in bulk from the wet market
– substituting fresh milk with milk powder

With these alterations, I have done away with the need to recycle the plastic bags from bread flour as well as plastic bottles and paper cartons from fresh milk purchase.  Less time spent on rinsing and sorting recyclables, more time for a longer breakfast.

Soft Taro Milk Pullman Loaf

300g plain flour
1/2 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons organic raw sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
135g steamed taro, mashed
1 egg **
130g water
25g cold unsalted butter, cubed

** I use egg that weighs 55g with shell

In a mixer bowl, mix well the dry ingredients: plain flour, yeast, sea salt, raw sugar, and milk powder with a hand whisk.  Add cooled mashed taro, egg, and half of the water to the dry ingredients, and knead with a dough hook attachment on the lowest speed (KA 1).  Slowly add in the remaining of the water, with the mixer running, until the ingredients come into a ball.  You might need more or less water stated in the recipe, depending on the moisture content of the taro.  Let the dough stand for 15 minutes, covered.

Start the mixer running on its lowest speed again, and knead the dough for 1 minute, before adding cubed butter, one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage, this is when the dough becomes very smooth and elastic, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Remove the bowl from mixer, cover and bulk rise for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough should have expanded, punch it down to release the gas, and transfer to a clean work top.  Flatten the dough to push out gas trapped inside the dough, either by hand or a rolling pin.  Shape the dough into a log and place it in a greased bread tin, seam side facing downwards.   Let this sit in a draft free place to rise for another 50-60 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 30 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan immediately after baking, and let it cool on a rack completely before slicing or serving.

Store in an airtight container if not consumed immediately, to keep the loaf soft and the crumbs from drying out.

Simple Pleasures


// repurpose my old bamboo toothbrush as plant pot markers, the bristles are made with horse bristles, composting them directly inside the soil.

// upcycled my raisin tub into a handy tea seed powder dispenser.

// glass bottle collection getting uncontrollable.

// another glass-bottle-turned-beaker to serve my homemade zero waste ginger black molasses tea in, more on this tea recipe later.

// when all the honey is gone, the tub turns itself into a useful container for soaking 2 cups of soy beans over night in the chiller.  Homemade soy milk!

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

I usually don’t stock up on fresh produce on Sundays until I get to see the kind of leftovers I end up with on Mondays.  Leftovers refers to both balance uncooked ingredients and unfinished cooked food.  I did pretty well on my “Zero Food Waste” score card this weekend.  Only a small bunch of not-that-fresh-anymore spinach in the crisp drawer and a vegetarian dish (above) leftover from Sunday’s dinner.

In need of more ingredients for dinner tonight, I visited to the wet market this morning to see what items were unsold after a frenzy weekend.  Most of the balance vegetables delivered during wee hours on Sunday morning were hardly fresh anymore with many leafy vegetables close to wilting.  Without me asking, the seller even advised me to cook the items by dinner tonight, or else don’t buy.  So I bought the following 3 leftover items.

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

// Kangkong.  The chilli padi came free I mentioned that I will be stir frying the vegetable with minced garlic.  ” Taste better with chilli!” was his advice, before repeating for the umpteenth time: “must cook by tonight ah….I sell you very cheap, really cannot keep….”  Incidentally, lot of my cooking skills are imparted by these hidden experts at the market, they are never too stingy to share a recipe or two, amidst the busy transactions.  Although the methods are usually very simple and nothing fanciful, these basic recipes are usually also the best way to bring out the original flavor of the ingredients.

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

// Button mushrooms.  When I saw this cardboard box of mushrooms left at the stall, my first reaction was: plastic-free button mushrooms, I found you finally!  Getting all these for just $3 was an additional bonus.  Of large size and still relatively firm, there was actually no need to clear these so cheaply, they will last a few days more in the chiller, but I guess the stallholder needed the space for fresher stocks that will be arriving tomorrow.

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

// Cauliflowers.  Again, these are not at their prettiest.  The stallholder managed to salvage these 3 heads by shaving off florets that had turned brown/black.  Uncle added that “these are from Australia, very good, very sweet, very sayang (heartache) to waste.” They sure know that the growers work very hard to produce these.

++ Update : How I use up these leftovers ++

#001 : this vegan cauliflower creamy mushroom soup with the mushrooms and cauliflowers.

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

#002 : this meat-free Donburi made with partial Sunday dinner leftover

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

#003 : this kang kong stir fry

Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co

#004 : this reheated Sunday dinner leftover dish with added ingredients, remember that not so fresh spinach in the crisp drawer?

 Green Monday : Weekend Leftovers // Mono + Co