When summer comes around I always think of hot days and outdoor grilling. However I think we do not stay as green as we would like when we cook. Cooking and preparing food can take up a big chunk of our garbage and electricity bill. Here are a few ways to cook and stay green in your home:
- Green Shopping – Green shopping can mean a variety of things. From buying organic produce that will reduce the amount of toxins in the world and in your family to buying locally grown and seasonal produce you can really make an impact on your shopping. Locally produced foods means that the foods are fresher because they have not had to be shipped over hundreds or even thousands of miles. That also reduces the carbon emissions because it means fewer trucks on the road for shorter amounts of time. Farmer’s markets are great places to shop for locally grown foods. Of course buying locally also means buying seasonally. All those peaches in winter do not come from local sources. Instead they are carted halfway across the globe to great expense. Shopping and eating seasonally means what you eat tastes better and is better for you and your local economy. Try different recipes and new foods and you may find that seasonal eating will grow on you. You can even start up your own garden and eat the fresh fruits and vegetables you have grown yourself.Another thing you can do to shop green is to walk or bike to the store. Most of us live within a short distance of our local retailer and can easily take a couple bags with us on the walk home. Or bring a rolling cart with you to transport your finds. If you need to drive then try to cut down your grocery trip to once every two weeks or once a month. By reducing how often you go to the store you not only save on gas and travel but you also save money by planning ahead and not wasting food.
- Green Garbage – Speaking of wasting food, millions of pounds of food are thrown out every day. Instead of tossing your leftovers why not take them for lunch the next day or freeze them? You can have a meal ready to eat again the next week. You can also reduce the amount of food you make. Most recipes feed four to six people. If you have only two or three to feed then cut the recipe in half. Most of the time it won’t make any difference and you will not have tons of leftovers. Remember that you should eat a balanced diet and be aware of your food consumption. More is not always better. Being full and satisfied does not mean being stuffed and unable to eat another bite.Additionally you should reduce your waste. This means organic trash like orange peels, potato skins and the like should be made into compost. By creating a compost pile you not only reduce the trash in landfills but also provide your garden with nutrient rich soil to grow you even better produce.
- Green Food Prep – Preparing your food means washing, cutting or preserving it. Food prep can be a wasteful time in the kitchen if you are not aware of how to stay green. For example if you need to use celery or green onion do not throw away the base. Instead place it in a cup of water and watch it grow new celery or green onion right in your windowsill. You can also use various parts of your vegetables for other purposes. If you have a recipe that calls for broccoli florets do not toss the stem. Instead chop and use it in another recipe or freeze it to use as a wonderful soup flavoring.Washing your food is another mistake that many people make. Instead of wasting a lot of water and causing your produce to ripen too quickly why not soak your produce in a mild vinegar solution? This will not only clean the produce but will also help to prevent mold and deterioration, making your purchases last longer. If you slice lettuce or fruit before you serve it keep it from turning brown with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. There are many ways to prepare food without creating undo waste.
- Green Meals – When you get to the cooking process a great way to reduce waste is to make one pot meals. This means that everything goes together and is cooked in one pot or dish. Recipes that use a slow cooker are often very good for this purpose. If you can avoid dirtying many dishes and using more than one burner or setting on the stove then you can save a lot of money and effort. Not to mention water from reduced cleaning.If one pot meals are not your cup of tea then you can reduce waste by cooking many meals at once. Instead of having your oven run for one dish why not cook two or three? Then you can store the food and heat it up later, saving energy. By cooking large portions and freezing some of them you can also reduce energy waste and the time you spend in the kitchen.
- Green Heat – Speaking of reducing energy waste you should try to not waste the heat in your kitchen. In the winter when you are finished using your oven why not open it up and let the heat vent out naturally when you turn it off instead of being funneled outside? This can be a great way to reduce your electricity costs. You can also switch from electric ranges and stoves to natural gas ones. In many places this will help the environment in the long run. If it is hot outside then you can reduce energy use in other ways. Try using a solar oven to heat up your food. A box wrapped in aluminum foil can heat food to a great temperature for consumption. Of course I would not suggest cooking meat this way, but some things work well cooked like that. In my area you could even fry an egg like that in the summer time!
- Green Outdoors – Since we are talking about summer let’s touch on outdoor cooking. Outdoor cooking seems green at first but there are many ways to mess it up. Treated wood products or charcoal can cause a lot of pollutants to be released into the air. Try to use only natural woods and smart cooking methods. Some cultures practice wrapping foods and burying them with hot coals. This method allows the food to cook without a lot of heat and wasted energy. Smaller grills and better distributed heat sources also allow you to cook your food in a minimum amount of time and with less waste. There is no sense in firing up an entire bag of charcoal for a package of hot dogs.
- Green Cleaning – Last but not least is the clean-up process. Instead of using harsh soaps and chemicals why not clean up the green way? Items like vinegar and hydrogen peroxide often work just as well for a fraction of the price. There are also green cleaning products you can buy in the store. Lemon and orange oils work great as does pine. You can have a clean and sanitary kitchen without having to resort to harsh chemicals.Do not forget to reduce your water waste by doing your dishes all at once. If you only have a few do not run the dishwasher. Instead wash them by hand. Recycle what you can before you throw it away. By reducing the amount of waste you produce you can help keep the Earth clean.
These are just a few of the ways that you can cook green and still eat healthy. Try to reduce your waste and be mindful of your energy consumption. Live a happy, healthy and green life for the future.
Paul and his wife Julie both spend quite a bit of time coming up with ideas, blogging, and researching all things related to childcare. They take care of all the necessary information related to “www.babysittingjobs.com”. He personally think his blog will help finding information on all things related to a babysitter.