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Is it important to you that you are able to meet your own needs without depleting natural resources? Are you keen on minimizing the impact on future generations? You’re not alone.
You can take these kitchen sustainability tips out lined below at home to reduce your load on this world.
Food prep and food planning for sustainability
Maybe you already food prep fully or partially. Maybe the idea of planning and prepping is off putting. Or do you fall somewhere in the middle?
If you don’t want to go as far as planning your week of meals, have things on hand in the pantry and freezer that you can quickly make. This is for situations that you would normally reach for Uber eats or pizza delivery because you are too physically or mentally exhausted to prepare a meal or even just THINK of what to prepare. Mental fatigue is real.
Maybe you are not interested in what you do have planned? We humans can be moody eaters. I call these “break in case of emergency” meals. They are meals that are exciting with lots of flavor and/or texture that can drive us to want take out in the first place.
Delivery or takeout uses fuel, packaging waste and more money. Let’s avoid that . The other issue is the food you have in your home will spoil if you opt to bring in something new.
Break in case of emergency meals can be something like:
- A frozen stouffer’s lasagne (yes it’s packaged but minimal compared to delivery)
- Making two casseroles next time you make a casserole and freeze one of them
- When you buy chicken in bulk and portion it for freezing, freeze with a marinade on it so it’s more enticing (try my favorite peri peri sauce in this post)
- Precut and freeze chicken, beef or shrimp for quick fajitas
- Make batches of your favorite style of takeout sauce so it can transform rice and protein into a decadent and satisfying meal (like peanut sauce, barbecue, mexican, etc)
- Check pinterest for some prep ideas in the style you and your family enjoy
Also I recommend keeping a well stocked pantry and a list of a few throw together meals already pinned up in there or on the fridge when your brain is so exhausted and can’t think of what to make or eat. It’s a kindness you do for yourself.
Also: ORGANIZE YOUR FREEZER. Do it weekly if need be. It should be a place of joy and not an afterthought.
Go minimal without being a minimalist
While some people enjoy identifying as a minimalist, for others it comes with implications that feel stressful because you don’t want to give up your “stuff”. A little tweak to mindset around your stuff is all it takes to reduce what you have.
Isn’t that wasteful to get rid of extra items? Absolutely not. You can donate or recycle items to be put to use by people outside your home.
The big kitchen sustainability tip here is how to decide what to reduce: First and foremost eliminate packaging consumption so cooking all your meals (as much as possible) from scratch. As you do this you will see it takes much longer to fill up your kitchen trash can over the course of a week.
To further reduce what goes into the trash can consider a countertop composting bin if you don’t have a garbage disposal. Lucky enough to have a yard? Try a compost bin with worms (be familiar with what the worms can and cannot eat) to help add extra nutrients to your garden.
- Make your own bread, pizza dough, crackers, etc. Once you get in the habit and have your go-to recipes you won’t think twice about it. You can even double up and freeze dough before you bake it so you’re not doing a full on bake every week.
- Considering making and canning your own condiments and jams. There is a lot of bottle packaging waste for these items and in summer when things like tomatoes are so abundant you can make your own condiments inexpensively and support local growers if you don’t already have your own tomato vines.
- Use a soda stream style beverage make so you’re not buying canned beverages.
- Do an audit of your current cookware and see what is duplicate and /or can be multi purpose. No more than two of any type of pot should be on hand. This will help reduce stress when cooking because you will locate items quickly and less hassle when putting pots and pans back in their place after use.
Reduce packaging consumption
As mentioned above, this is a great first step to raise your awareness of how much packaging you’re using.
Anything not made from scratch has some packaging. Take out and delivery containers, premade food containers from the market, shelf stable items, dry goods in packaging (vs. buying at the bulk bin) and using reusable produce bags for your produce department items can replace the plastic bags.
Meal prep services use a considerable amount of packaging. While some make efforts to use recyclable materials not everyone is employing methods of recycling AND that is more fuel used to delivery it to your door.
Simple is sustainable
Using basic cooking techniques and simple flavors eliminates the need for a multitude of ingredients in the pantry and spice cabinet.
Once you have done your kitchen audit you will have a little more room to “breathe.” No more trying to cram things into an already overstuffed cabinet. Nothing is toppling over when you get your glass storageware or plastic containers out for meal prep.
Having a very few basics with regard to seasonings, pots, pans, cutlery (you don’t need multiples of everything), trivets, knives, servingware, etc can be cut down to a bare minimum. If you do have a large group over, you can rent serveware and even extra place settings and glasses for the duration.
In fact, I love the concept of renting extra dishes. Many people can use a single plate (or whatever it is you’re renting) over time. It’s very sustainable!
Engage with the sustainable community near you
In this post I wrote about the benefits of hobbies and building relationships around shared interests is a big selling point. That pertains to the sustainable community around you. Connect with people to support and propel your efforts.
Share abundance from each other’s garden, if you live in a multi person household have everyone chip in with kitchen duties like dishes, chopping , cooking, meal planning and storing the food correctly so it gets used (not out of sight out of mind) and has an optimal shelf life in or out of the fridge. Awareness is very important in this process and the more hands on each person is the more effective your sustainable efforts will be.