We’re only on day 5 of the new year, but I know that we’re already taking strong, irrevocable steps toward our goals for a more organic, whole food-based, low-impact diet. For example, it’s amazing the casserole that can be made with a giant sweet potato, spicy mustard, garlic & a cup of dried lentils.
I’ve been reading a lot about food waste, people’s food resolutions for the new year & how our small composting bucket (like this but less shiny) will play into our environmental impact. After reading a great article on NRDC’s web site, I realized that our attempts to be pesticide-free are hampered by the food wasted. I cook for more than two people. This is something I need to work on.
Food wasted turns to methane. It leaks greenhouse gases into the atmosphere–& your grocery budget right along with them. Here are the steps we’re taking, continuing or strengthening to make sure that what we’re paying for goes to our health or our garden & not into our trash can.
1. Plan meals in advance. We do this, but we don’t utilize our savings opportunities enough. When bulk good are on sale, I want to be better at buying more of those we’ll use most often & then preserving them well until we need them. I want to make sure that we’re fully examining our options at both grocery stores we frequent.
I also don’t figure leftovers into our meal planning. I like making big pots of soup, but I always figure them for two meals when I know it will be more like three or four. I also plan meals for the entire week. For here on out, I want a wild card day left in there, a day to use up leftovers & wilting green bits to make a potentially odd but necessary meal.
2. Compost what you don’t eat. Composting has gotten a bad rap.People think it’s smelly, archaic & gross. In actuality, when done properly composting does not smell. You can make a stink-free compost bin for yourself for $1.50* if you don’t believe me.
That said, it is not your trashcan. Animal products (milk products, meats, etc.) should not be plopped in, as they’ll rot & attract pests you don’t want faster than they’ll “compost.” For a healthy compost bin, you need a healthy mix of materials. Green & brown composts. Nitrogen- & carbon-emitters. I’m no expert, so I hesitate to give advice (though I’ll be summarizing my research in a later post). I have found that this is a great beginner’s guide.
3. Learn how to use bulk. I’ve said it before, & I’ll say it again. Plus, I have a blast scooping out however much I feel like over everything & usually splashing a bit over my shoes & shirt. #HotMess.
My not here is this: This is not the same thing as buying a case of Sam’s Club-brand salsa & keeping it for five years. While that may have some economic benefit, it doesn’t usually give you an option to find local ingredients, recipes without genetically modified crops or products from companies that utilize more sustainable practices. Those costs add up in a different way, & it’s something that we’ll all have to think more about as the earth ages & fills to the gills with people.
This is utilizing bulk bins, buying what you can use in a reasonable amount of time (though the time extends with proper storage) & learning how to use it. I believe there’s a learning curve here. (Am I alone in this?) Give yourself time to figure it out. Point in case: Soak beans over night. Great. Check. Buuuut, you’re not done yet, naive new-to-bulk Megan. You should probably boil them for at least 20 minutes first. It’s not astronaut food. You don’t add water & stir to create canned beans. These beans have never been cooked. Whoops. So that first soup was a bit crunchy. Whatever. We survived.
4. Use. your. freezer. For the past few years, I haven’t had a real freezer. I never really learned how to use one. I mean, sure. My mom was great at keeping a stocked kitchen, which meant meals were always at the ready in the freezer. But how do I properly store whole grains? Fruit? Cookies? With a family of four, we used these things up in time… but now with just Joe & myself, we’re finding that we have lots of extras that need a place to live.
And there we have it. Four small steps to lowering what goes into your trash. If your fortunate enough to live in a city that rewards you for recycling & penalizes you for trash (i.e. profit sharing since cities can make money off of recyclables), think of the savings you’ll be bringing in. If you don’t, well, I feel you–but we’re lowering our impact without giving up our favorite recipes or flavors. Cheers to that! Where’s the champagne?