5 sustainable hacks all vanlifers NEED to know! Sustainability sometimes comes hand in hand with cooking and eating a plant based diet. Both of these can be an expensive way to live. Here Alexandra Tsuneta of @gooftrooperz explains how anyone can make these changes in an affordable way. Her book ‘Cooking Tiny’ is the perfect tool for any of those wanting to make sustainable changes to their diet.
Being vegan and living a sustainable lifestyle can seem overpriced and out of reach for the average person, more so for the average van lifer. Sometimes it seems like the $12 green juices are what veganism is all about, instead of there being an emphasis on making a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle affordable for everyone.
This is why I wrote Cooking Tiny, a Vegan Cookbook for Nomadic Souls, because in order to create lasting change, veganism and sustainability must be feasible for all budgets and be more inclusive. In an effort to help show how affordable and easy veganism can be, I’ve compiled some simple recipes that can help you skip a trip to the store, save money, and live more sustainably.
Sustainable hack for vanlifers #1
Make your own milk!
Homemade Oat Milk
Oat milk is not only the best milk alternative (in my humble opinion), it is also the most sustainable milk alternative!
“Thus far, oat milk does have a lower adverse environmental impact, compared to soy and almond. To produce one pound of oats, it takes one-sixth the amount of water and resources needed to produce one pound of almonds. Furthermore, oats also use 80% less land to grow than dairy milk. In fact, a glass of oat milk is responsible for less greenhouse gas emissions than soy milk or dairy milk,” — The Cornell Daily Sun
That being said, oat milk can run you about $4-$5 a half-gallon, which in my house lasts about a week (we’re big coffee drinkers). So, I found a way to make oat milk for a fraction of the price and it lasts about a week as well! It is the simplest recipe and takes about five minutes to prepare.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 cups water (or less for creamier milk—I use 3 cups)
- 1 pitted date or 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional, for sweetness)
- 1 pinch salt
And whatever add-ins you want: vanilla for vanilla milk, a handful of berries for berry milk, cocoa powder for chocolate milk — all of these are optional but fun!
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend for about 30 seconds.
- Strain into a large bowl using a cheesecloth.
And there you have it, lasts up to one week in the fridge and is the most delicious oat milk you’ll ever drink!
Sustainable hack for vanlifers #2
Save money and plastic by making your own hummus
Buying hummus at the store is bananas; it is the easiest thing to make and a small amount of hummus at the store can cost anywhere from $4–$8, while canned chickpeas will only cost you a buck. Make your own!
- 1 can garbanzo beans with a small amount of aquafaba (the liquid from the can)
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- Water (about ½ cup, but add as you go for the consistency you like)
And whatever seasonings you want! I usually add two cloves of garlic, but go wild! Add some harissa or jalapeño peppers, or anything that sounds delicious to you.
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
The easiest and best hummus you’ll ever have. Keeps in the fridge just like store-bought hummus but costs way less and tastes way better.
Sustainable hack for vanlifers #3
Make cleaning a breeze with your own van-made cleaner
Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
Okay, stop and hear me when I say this: Different cleaners for different rooms is such a sham! You do not need a thousand different cleaners for your home, just one, reliable, all-purpose cleaner. Try this one for super easy cleaning.
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 15 drops whatever essential oil you like, if you want a specific scent (optional)
- Add all to a 16-ounce spray bottle and shake to combine.
- That’s it, it’s so simple and it will last you the same amount of time as store-bought cleaner. Also, 128oz of white vinegar costs under $3 — that’s a lot of all-purpose cleaner!
Sustainable hack for vanlifers #4
Very Easy, No-Knead, No Stand-Mixer Bread
For my baking challenged people, this one is for you. You don’t need any fancy equipment to swap out store-bought bread and the plastic it is wrapped in for a delicious homemade version that can be easily modified to your taste.
- 3 cups flour
- 2¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ cups water
Then, whatever add-ins you like. I like to add garlic and vegan parm for a garlic/parm loaf — or, super-secret trick: 2 teaspoons of everything bagel seasoning is incredible.
- Add ingredients in order (very important because water impacts the yeast). If you are including additional add-ins, put those in before water.
- Slightly mix with a fork until dough is combined.
- Cover with a lid for 30 minutes.
- Open up and fold your dough over itself, cover for another 30 minutes.
- Open up and fold again, cover for an hour.
- Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured kitchen towel, shape into a loaf, and let rise for 45–60 minutes. While this is happening position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat at 475°F for at least 30 minutes (longer if you are using a baking stone).
- Lower the heat to 450°F and bake for 35 minutes.
Most of this recipe is just letting the dough sit on the counter. You can sub out ¾ white flour or bread flour for spelt flour or whole wheat flour for a heartier loaf!
Sustainable hack for vanlifers #5
DIY Plant Fertilizer
Not only can you make plant fertilizer for all of your indoor/outdoor plants but you can do it by not wasting other throw-away compostable scraps! Here are a few methods to make plant fertilizer at home and without all of the non-vegan additives and grossness (chicken bones, ew).
- Coffee grounds: Instead of throwing these away, save them, and fertilize your plants with them.
- Rice water: The water you rinse your rice with is full of nutrients and can also be used to fertilize/water your plants! Also, side note: It makes a great rinse for your hair, or you can wash your face with it.
- Banana peels: Take your old banana peels, put em’ in a mason jar with water, and let sit for a day. Water your plants!
What are you waiting for?
All of these are so easy and you can reuse old kitchen scraps instead of wasting them.
The great thing about all of these recipes and ideas is that they are all zero waste. You can create, reuse, and save a lot of money on basic items by making them yourself! All of these ideas are extremely simple and can be used and implemented with very limited effort and basic household supplies.
Let us know your sustainable hacks vanlifers need to know in the comments below!
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