When striving for sustainability, one of the most impactful places you can start is in the kitchen. Cooking sustainably can make a positive impact on the planet, on animals, and on our own personal health. Many uncontrollable factors take place when we dine-in, such as where our food is sourced and how it was packaged. Cooking from home allows us to make sustainable decisions in regards to what goes on our plate and how it’s prepared. Here’s five sustainable cooking tips you can make to help reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Sourcing Your Food
When you cook from home, you get to decide how your food is sourced. One of the most sustainable ways you can source your food is to grow your own. Whether it’s by planting a garden or purchasing a hydroponic farmstand, growing your own food is best for the environment, while also providing the most nutrients for your body. If growing your own food isn’t your jam, you can search for locally grown produce in your area. Wherever you choose to purchase your produce, remember to bring your own reusable bags and avoid purchasing food packaged in plastic.
2. Storing Your Food
Food waste is a huge problem that can be reduced by learning how to properly store and prepare produce. With produce, do research to see where it should be stored. For instance, potatoes, zucchini, onions, winter squash, garlic, and bananas should all be kept at room temperature. Foods like apples, cabbage, oranges, lemons, mushrooms, broccoli, and berries should all be kept in the refrigerator. Berries should be sorted through immediately, before being placed in the fridge. If you notice produce starting to go bad before you’ve had the chance to eat it, you can always freeze it for later. If you know you won’t eat something right away, simply wash it, dice it, and freeze it. The freezer is a great way to prevent food waste.
3. Use the Whole Vegetable or Fruit
Another way to reduce food waste is to use every part of the fruit or vegetable. For instance, broccoli and cauliflower stems and leaves can be cooked and eaten the same as the florets. The stems of kale and swiss chard can also be eaten. When preparing pumpkin or butternut squash, don’t forget about the seeds. They too can be roasted and used for salad toppings or a snack.
4. Throw Nothing Away
When striving for less waste, remember to throw nothing away. If you aren’t into eating the whole vegetable or fruit, or if a piece of produce does go bad before you’re able to freeze it: compost it. There are many different forms of composting, but one of our favorites is a worm farm. Since we live in an apartment, we have a worm farm composter near our balcony door. It contains 250 worms that break down all of our food waste, and then we are able to use the “compost tea” and the compost to fertilize our plants. Believe it or not, it doesn’t smell! There are also other forms of composters that you can place beside your kitchen sink, or if you have a yard, you could build our own.
5. Sustainable Cookware & Utensils
Cooking from home is a great way to ensure you’re reducing plastic. When cooking from home, you can use all reusable dishes, utensils, and cookware. If you currently have plastic cookware, you can donate those before replacing them with wood or bamboo cookware. If you are going to dine-out, be sure to take reusable utensils and straws with you.
While those five tips can help make a positive impact on the earth, the most sustainable change you can do is to cook plant-based meals. We are fully vegan, but by just having one plant-based meal a day, you can drastically make a difference. We highly suggest looking further into this.
Here’s to a more sustainable kitchen! Your body and the planet thank you!
Special thanks to our guest writers!