One of the first waste-reducing changes I made was switching to reusable grocery bags. After a few shopping trips I realized I was bringing my eco-friendly bags only to return home with them full of packaging waste. Soon, it seemed the grocery bags were nothing compared to all the packaging I was bringing home.
Most of the food I now purchase is either unpackaged (spices, grains, snacks, popcorn, granola, honey), comes in a returnable container (milk) or has minimal packaging (meat and cheese). One of the products I wish I could find in loose bulk is crackers. I find it hard enough to justify one layer of packaging, let alone two! Crackers are such an easy snack to make that they are one of the few pantry items I am willing to make myself. Homemade crackers also taste better, cost less and I can make them using whatever unpackaged ingredients I think are best. I use a basic recipe and vary the kind of flour, oil and toppings/flavorings I use depending on the cracker I want. My favorite version of my recipe is my Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers. (For plain crackers, omit the rosemary.)
Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (set aside two pinches)
1 cup water
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Set oven racks to lower half of oven and then preheat to 450 degrees. In a bowl, mix 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt (minus two pinches, set aside) and 1 tablespoon dried rosemary. Add 1 cup water and ¼ cup oil. Stir until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms. Adjust with additional water or flour as needed.
Put half the dough on one large baking pan. (Note: light and dark pans retain heat differently. Dark pans will brown the bottoms faster.) Roll out to ⅛ inch or less directly on the pan. Cut into pieces using a rotary cutter (such as a pizza cutter) - rectangles, squares, triangles, whatever shape is desired--just keep them all uniform in shape and size. Brush with water and evenly sprinkle one pinch of salt over dough. Prick with a sharp tool (fork, skewer, knife, etc.) so the crackers bake flat without puffing up too much. Repeat with the second half of the dough then bake for about 15 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through. Remove crackers from the pans as they turn brown and let under-baked ones continue baking. Cool on a cooling rack until they are delightfully crunchy. Store in a jar for up to 5 days.