These 6 “Instant” Foods Are Better for the Environment

Think: powdered nut milk or ketchup that you reconstitute like instant ramen.

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January 25, 2023

Photo by: True Scoops

True Scoops

You may have heard of powdered cleaning products like toothpaste or dish soap you reconstitute with water to use. They’re marketed as better for the environment because they’re smaller and therefore use less packaging. They’re also lighter to ship, so less greenhouse gasses are emitted. Now foods are following suit. Look closely and you’ll notice more foods being sold as powders and pastes. The idea of a flavorful concentrate is appealing to cooks, too: people want big, often international flavor that’s easy to buy (comes in a box) but still gives creative license to do what you want with it. Plus, concentrates tend to last a lot longer and refrigeration isn’t always necessary. Read on for a roundup of our favorite instant foods, then snag them all.


Fun fact, store-bought plant milk is 98% water — that’s a lot of water to package and ship. After years of throwing out non-recyclable containers of nut milk, the founders of Joi decided to concentrate the good stuff into nut milk powder sold in eco-friendly, shelf-stable packaging. Here, you’ll see their 15-ounce tub of almond milk concentrate, which makes the equivalent of 7 quarts of almond milk and lasts for up to 18 months in your pantry. The company sells a wide variety of other nut milks too, including oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk and hazelnut creamer. To hydrate the nut milk, simply add a couple tablespoons of powder to 1 cup of water, blend the mixture for 30 seconds and store your reconstituted milk in the fridge for up to a week.


True Scoops follows the same BYOL (bring your own liquid) model: half-and-half is added to packs of powdered ice cream base (each pouch yields 1 quart of ice cream) and then churned in an ice cream machine or frozen into ice cubes and then blitzed in a blender. They sell a variety of different ice cream mix flavors (ranging from strawberry to vanilla) as well as hot fudge sauce mix.


"All the traditional deliciousness of your favorite ketchup, without the unappetizing side effects of a constipated ketchup bottle," AWSM Sauce’s founders joke (they happen to be two dads). By buying AWSM Sauce powdered ketchup packets instead of traditional ketchup bottles, you reduce the amount of plastic per sauce bottle by 95%. To reconstitute the powder, shake it with water and you’ll instantly have a gorgeous, tasty ketchup that looks and tastes like, well, regular ketchup. The company also sells hot sauce and barbecue sauce.


These pre-portioned, single-serve, no-mess cereal flip cups are available in Kellogg’s most popular cereal varieties — Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Raisin Bran Crunch. And they require no milk at all. All you have to do is add cold water to the fill line, give it a quick stir and watch the "instantized milk" become "real milk."


Campbell’s new line of cooking concentrates are designed to add savory complexity to your dishes without additional prep — just one tablespoon of the secret sauce is needed. Add it directly to the saucepan, or use it for marinating or stir it into finished dishes to give them extra punch. It comes in three classic flavors: Rich Garlic & Herb, Savory Mushroom & Herb and Caramelized Onion & Burgundy Wine.


Omsom sauce, an Asian-American brand started by sisters tired of the watered-down selection of foods and flavorings offered in most American grocery stores, provides a concentrated punch of flavor from Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ, Thai Larb and Filipino Sisig sauce packets that can be added to proteins and veggies alike.

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