A girl's quest to live on the greener side.

Zero Waste Junk Food: Homemade Potato Chips

zero waste junk food

By: Ariana Palmieri

One of the struggles with going zero waste is that you can't exactly pig out on junk food anymore. Most junk food is packaged in single-use plastic (e.g. potato chip bags). Thing is, you don't necessarily have to give up on junk food entirely when you go zero waste (though, that is certainly the easier and healthier choice). There are some bulk food stores that carry candy (and even chocolate) in bulk, so you could always shop package-free using glass jars and pick some up. That said, zero waste potato chips are not exactly a thing: Can you imagine walking into a bulk food store and seeing chips in the bulk bins? I feel like as soon as you went to scoop some up they'd break and you'd be left with nothing but shattered remains by the time you reached the cashier. Enter homemade potato chips: The zero waste junk food solution to all your chip-related needs.


I decided to whip up some of these the other night, and man, it was the best decision ever. Homemade chips are absolutely the best, and there are so many ways to make them your own. You can get really creative and try any flavor you want, or keep it simple (like I did) and air on the side of traditional. What I love most about homemade potato chips is the balance between crunchy and soft. If you make them just right, they'll be crunchy with just a hint of softness in the middle. Those are my favorite kind of chips because they cross into french fry territory (and I'm a sucker for french fries). Regardless, this recipe is meant to use as a guide. You can feel free to experiment and try your own thing, whatever works for you. I just hope it helps you make some kick ass zero waste potato chips you can brag to your friends about. Now, lets dig in.

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Homemade Potato Chips
Zero waste junk food

zero waste junk food
Yes, I'm well aware paper towels are not exactly environmentally friendly.
My parents still buy them and I make sure to compost them on the rare occasion I actually use one (like now).

Ingredients:
  • 3 potatoes (I used red skinned potatoes, but any kind will do)
  • Olive oil (enough to coat the baking sheet + drizzle on the chips)
  • Salt + pepper (as desired)

Note on ingredients: I bought the potatoes package-free from the farmers market in produce bags. If you don't have a farmers market near you, check your local grocery store and look for package-free potatoes sold in bulk. You can just buy those using reusable produce bags to minimize waste. I also buy olive oil in a big aluminum container, then transfer it into a smaller, easier to handle container. Unfortunately, I have no access to package-free olive oil (or any oil) at this time, so that's the best I can do. Also, you might be able to buy salt and pepper package free: Just see if your local bulk food store has it in their bulk bin aisle. If not, try to find it in easy to recycle or compostable packaging.

zero waste junk food

Directions:

  1. Clean your potatoes, then cut them into thin slices (I used a veggie bullet to chop mine up, but aim for 1/8 inch slices). Be sure to compost any potato scraps you don't use. Once they're sliced, put them in a bowl with water and soak them for 30 minutes. This helps remove excess starch. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the baking sheet with at least 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spread it out evenly (I used a basting brush to do this). I didn't use parchment paper, as this is a zero waste recipe (and it was actually quite unnecessary, as nothing stuck to the pan anyway). Add more oil if needed to cover the whole pan. I suggest using two baking sheets (I only had one so this recipe took longer to make because of it). If you decide to use two baking sheets, make sure both are covered in a light layer of oil.
  3. Spread your sliced potatoes onto the baking sheet(s). Drizzle a little more olive oil over them (optional) and add your seasoning (I just sprinkled some salt and pepper onto them).
  4. Bake the potatoes for 10 minutes, then take them out and flip them over (I used a stainless steel spatula). Bake for another 5 minutes. This will ensure both sides get some love without burning them. Keep an eye on the potato chips as they bake though: If they start to brown too much, remove them from the oven.
  5. Remove baking sheet(s) from the oven and transfer your homemade potato chips over to a bowl. My mom put a paper towel in it before I could say anything, but this isn't necessary. I composted the paper towel afterwards (and I will admit it did absorb some of the excess oil) so nothing went to waste.

Note on serving size:
This will not make enough for a big party. It was just enough for me and my mother to share. That said, just use more potatoes if you want to make more of these easy (and delicious) zero waste junk food snacks. 

zero waste junk food

I really loved these zero waste chips and can't wait to make more of them. I'm sure, with time, I'll perfect the recipe even more too. Some chips did end up a little too brown, but they were still good (very crunchy too). It's all about experimenting and learning from experience. I'd like to try some other flavors next time (maybe create cheesy chips, salt and vinegar chips or garlic + onion chips). I'll definitely use more potatoes next time too, as I'd like to make more to last (these went way too fast). 

zero waste junk food

So, what do you think? Would you give these homemade potato chips a try? Trust me, they were absolutely delicious and totally worth the indulgence. Plus, they were super easy to whip up. Lets all agree to high five it for zero waste junk food snacks!

zero waste junk food

What's your favorite zero waste junk food? Let me know in the comments and maybe I'll make it!

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