Plastic free hot chocolate

IMG_1877 I’ve been experimenting with finding alternatives to both traditional drinking chocolate and instant hot chocolate drinks. Both of these- though lovely- come in plasticised containers. According to one book I read (albeit an old edition of the Tightwad Gazette written in the 1990s), making your own should be cheaper. However in 2015, I haven’t found this to be the case! Although- if I was clever enough to work out the cost of the protein content (as the book suggests) I might find it was worthwhile. I have been able to find dried milk powder and cocoa in cardboard boxes in some stores. Although, I suspect these to have plasticised paper bag liners- there are no other options here in the UK currently, at least not in my area or for miles around! Sugar comes in paper bags a lot of the time- so just make sure you choose these over plastic! For traditional hot chocolate, I have simply been following the directions on the packet of cocoa: 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder 2 teaspoons of sugar Mix these to a paste with a little cold milk and then top up with warmed milk. Or as I have been doing- top up with cold milk and microwave for 1 min, stir, then microwave for another minute and stir again. This saves massively on washing up! This tastes pretty well identical to the stuff in the container and is minus the artificial flavouring. The instant version is proving trickier; 1/3 cup dried milk powder 1 tsp cocoa 2 tsp sugar Mix to a paste with a little cold milk and top up with hot water. It tastes OK, but a little strong for my liking and the dried milk always goes lumpy. If anyone has any suggestions for how to improve it, please comment- otherwise I’m tempted to go back to my plastic container because it tastes so much better and according to my calculations is much cheaper also- though full of plastic and other chemicals- like anti-caking agents and flavourings. Although it is more minimalist to have less separate containers in the cupboard!

Update: 15/03/15

Recipe update- instant hot chocolate

This is the version that seems to taste best, for 1 mugful.

1 flat tsp cocoa

4 heaped tsp dried milk powder

2 flat tsp sugar

Mix to a paste with a little cold milk and then top up with hot water, stirring all the time.

One unintended side effect we’ve noticed since making this change is that we are no longer craving whipped cream and marshmallows on our hot chocolate. We used to have this from time-to-time as a treat. I must conclude that the cocoa content is higher in our homemade version and is somehow more satisfying? We’ve both definitely adjusted to the richer, more chocolately taste now and would’t go back. So this has been a real saving exercise for us- consuming fewer products, saving money and the environment, whilst also eating less processed, chemically enhanced foods. Winner!

Received wisdom

I’ve recently finished reading both Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life and The Joy of Less. These have provoked some serious thinking for me. As I’ve been pondering, I’ve realised how lucky I’ve been to have 2 frugal generations behind me whose wisdom I’ve received over the past 30+ years. Even though I may not have put it all into practise- here are some of the things my parents and grandparents taught me. I am looking to put more and more of this into practise.

  1. Cut open the tube of toothpaste/ hand cream/ tomato puree (or whatever it is) to get the most out of it
  2. Squeeze together old bars of soaps, to completely use them up
  3. Add some milk to baked beans to make them spread a little further
  4. Save old pants, t-shirts/ towels etc to use as rags
  5. Rinse out old soap/ milk/ shampoo etc bottles with water and use a diluted version. This works particularly well with fabric conditioner which is then ideal for hand washing
  6. Tip up the petrol nozzle to get out every last drop you’ve paid for!
  7. Wash out plastic bags to re-use them for other things
  8. Re-use old margarine tubs to freeze food
  9. Grow your own fruit/ veg- it’s MUCH cheaper
  10. Cut the fronts off old cards and re-use them for gift tags

I’ll try to regularly add short burst of these kinds of posts. I don’t want to overwhelm you! What have you been taught? The one thing I haven’t adopted is hanging out old tea bags on a tree/ bush/ line to dry. Yes, my grandma really did used to do this!