My zero waste haul from Fremont California
Weekly meal plans and shops, Zero waste shopping Bay Area

First California weekly meal plan and shop (December)

To keep up the tradition, I’m sharing a monthly example of my weekly zero waste meal plan, shop and cost. This one is special as it’s the first complete weekly zero waste shop I’ve accomplished in our new home in Fremont, California (yeay!). Alas – it’s not perfect as I’m still learning, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. So the attentive reader may notice that this weekly zero waste meal plan is very similar to previous ones (apologies!).

My zero waste haul from Fremont California
My first zero waste shop from Fremont, California

My first California zero waste weekly meal plan

The rhythm has changed slightly as I’m currently not working (yeay! ;-)) so I can shop during the week. There’s a Farmer’s market in Fremont on Thursdays which I’ve checked out for this week’s shop.

Organic veg at Fremont farmers market
Organic veg at Fremont Kaiser Permanente farmer’s market
  • Thursday (shopping day): Tuna steak (was on offer at Sprouts) and rainbow chard (it looked so pretty at the market, I just had to buy it)
  • Friday: Cauliflower & Jerusalem artichoke soup – at least that was the plan, but I couldn’t find Jerusalem artichokes even though they’re meant to be local to California… afterwards I found out that they’re known as sun chokes here… Oh well, just made the soup without them.
  • Saturday: Simple Mac’n’cheese with a green salad – this is actually our first mac’n’cheese since moving to the US and I was quite excited about making this local favorite 🙂
  • Sunday: One pot slow roast beef – here I had to improvise as I had originally planned on making a pork roast, but they didn’t have the cut in the butcher’s section of Sprouts, so I bought beef that was on offer instead… and then I found this recipe that used similar ingredients to the veg I had already bought at the market; I only made half the portion as I only had 2 pounds of beef. I didn’t have carrots or brandy so left them out and it turned out just as yummy!
  • Monday: Chili sin carne with beets and red split lentils – this recipe was actually emailed to me by a German friend of mine and I couldn’t find the exact English version, but this one comes close enough
  • Tuesday: Beef wraps – using leftover meat from Sunday and some fresh green salad, onions, yogurt, avocado, whatever is in the house, and Bea Johnson’s wrap recipe
  • Wednesday: TBC – i.e. either leftovers or go out for food
My bicycle in front of Trader Joes Fremont
My bicycle fully loaded at the end of my zero waste shop

Shopping list for December’s Californian zero waste meal plan

These are the ingredients needed for the zero waste meal plan above and where I bought them in Fremont, California:

  • Farmer’s market: 1 bunch rainbow chard, garlic, onions, 4 leeks, 1 cauliflower head, 1 bunch beets, lettuce*, carrots*, celery*, 1 lemon
  • Sprouts: 1 large or two small tuna steaks, 2lb beef chuck roast, bay leaves, juniper berries*, turmeric, cumin, dried chilies, 5oz red lentils, 5oz Jerusalem artichokes / sun chokes*, a bunch of fresh cilantro, a small bunch of fresh thyme*
  • Trader Joe’s: 8oz macaroni, 1 can coconut milk, cheddar cheese (the recipe needs 2 cups shredded), all purpose flour*, butter*, vegetable oil*, sugar*, white wine vinegar*, red wine* (recipe needed 475ml / 16 fl. oz.), cognac or brandy*, chicken stock*
  • Boudin SF bakery: Baguette (to go with the soup)
Great choice of package free bread
The choice of mouthwatering sourdough bread at Boudin bakery in Fremont

Items marked with an asterix* are things that aren’t in the picture or included in the total sum because we either already had them at home, I make them myself, or I couldn’t find them :-), but I’ve included them in the shopping list for you.

Additional zero waste items on the shopping list

In addition to the ingredients above, I also bought the following items and pantry staples:

  • Farmer’s market: Apples, oranges
  • Sprouts: Bananas, 1 mango, organic lemons, milk
  • SuJu’s Coffee Fremont: Fresh ground decaf coffee, loose green tea
Loose teas at Sujus Fremont
SuJu’s Coffee in Fremont also has a great loose tea selection

Total costs for this week’s zero waste shop:

And here’s what I’ve spent:

  • Farmer’s market: $20.00
  • Sprouts: $59.06
  • Trader Joe’s: $5.11
  • Boudin bakery: $3.39
  • SuJu’s coffee: $19.00

Total cost for December’s weekly California zero waste shop: $106.56 (~86.04£)

This was the first proper weekly zero waste shop so I can’t judge yet if this is expensive or not. It seems slightly expensive compared to our usual weekly shop back in the UK. I believe this is partly down to me buying some of the spices for the first time from Sprouts (I didn’t buy them loose but in glass containers because I couldn’t find appropriate glass spice jars in the thrift shops prior to this shop).

The fresh tea and coffee isn’t cheap, either. Plus two portions of fish and meat. I also bought around 10 oranges from the farmer’s market and organic lemons from Sprouts for homemade orange squash for Simon.

zero-waste-mac-n-cheese
Say cheese! My first Mac’n’Cheese

Also as you may have noticed in the picture, it wasn’t quite “zero waste” yet – the usual culprits are just as hard to get package free over there as they were in the UK – including cheese, pasta (unfortunately not covered by the bulk aisles at Sprouts), and I didn’t have any containers to bring for the coffee and tea from SuJu’s so they packed it into plastic bags – grrrrr. And the organic lemons from Sprouts came in a net – so annoying. Oh well, live and learn.

A positive discovery was the milk from Straus creamery that Sprouts sells in a glass bottle – you pay a $2 deposit and when you bring it back, they return it to the actual manufacturer to be reused.

I hope this was insightful and useful. Please let me know what you think or any remarks in the comment sections below. Cheers, Bettina

2 thoughts on “First California weekly meal plan and shop (December)”

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