Our Guide to Sustainable Meal Planning in the New Year
Start Your New Year off Right With Sustainable Meal Planning
Each New Year, we strive to eliminate waste. We declutter our homes, we start composting initiatives, and we finally dig deep in our closets to make a donation run or to hand down clothing to others. Eliminating waste each New Year is a symbolic turn, but must often, it’s a one-time-event – a single donation.
This year, take your sustainability measures to the next level by creating a long term plan. Our suggestion: sustainable meal planning. Start this New Year off with a new plan by getting serious about planning your meals sustainably.
Shop Sustainably to Start Eliminating Waste This Year
One of the best ways to jumpstart a sustainable meal plan for the New Year starts long before you actually begin cooking in your kitchen. Reducing waste actually starts with the simple tools of pen and paper. Making a list of which ingredients you need, and the quantity of the cooking products, before you start your shopping can make a substantial difference in how much waste you end up contributing to the landfill.
This year, start your sustainable meal planning habits by making lists: what ingredients do you need to pick up on a specific trip to your local grocer? If you’re unsure where to start, think about what you make most often. Do you regularly reach for flour, sugar, eggs, or milk? Make sure to take inventory of your staple items before you shop – this will help you cut down on buying things you may already have, and letting them go to waste.
Use Recipes to Your Advantage to Reduce Food Waste
Secondly, another trick to sustainable meal planning is to sort through recipes and decipher what you want to cook before you source your ingredients. Take time to peruse Pinterest or a few dusty cookbooks to find recipes for simple meals that you want to incorporate into your weekly meal plan.
As you go through recipes, try to balance vegetables, fruits, fats, and proteins when you look for different ingredients. Pro tip: go for recipes that are seasonal – that way, you can pick up sustainably harvested ingredients.
Go Local and Visit Co-Ops to Plan Sustainable Meals
Are you looking for another way to commit to sustainable meal planning in the New Year? It all starts when you shop local. We don’t all have the luxury of year-round sunny farmers markets; however, it’s likely that there are local co-ops or family grocers in your area.
By shopping local at a co-op and buying seasonal ingredients, you help ensure that locally grown crops are being eaten and not sent to waste. Are you curious about additional sustainable benefits of shopping local? Often co-op grocery stores are active and committed to recycling waste products such as plastic, food waste, and cardboard.
Eliminate Waste Through Batch Cooking
Batch cooking is one of the most efficient ways to eliminate waste in home cooking. Like other sustainable habits, batch cooking begins with making lists. To start creating sustainable, waste-eliminating habits, designate a weekend day to cook for the week. Next, consider how you can eliminate waste by cooking meals that will sustain a balanced diet and reduce added trips for that protein or healthy fat product at the grocery store.
Truly, there is a method to the madness of sustainable meal planning. Start with foods that take the longest to prepare – proteins. Shop sustainably by shopping for animal proteins raised on grass pastures without fillers or chemicals.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, with vegetables, you can often batch cook without any preparation. Leafy greens, such as spinach, are ready right out of the bag, so plan your meals sustainably by shopping in bulk for easy to throw together items. And of course, there is added sustainable benefit when you source your food from local co-ops or farmers’ markets.
Start Your New Year Off With Sustainable Habits
Whether you start with making lists, shopping local, or batch cooking, it’s important to recognize one thing: making your meals at home is a great first step towards sustainable meal planning. And by implementing these tips, you’ll be well on your way to eliminating waste in the New Year ahead.
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