As a Holistic Nutritionist, I’m often met with objections to a healthy and sustainable way of eating. “Eating organically is too expensive”, “shopping at the farmer’s market is inconvenient, I need to sleep in on Saturdays”, “cooking at home is so time consuming”, and on it goes.
To an extent, that’s all true. Each of us has hang-ups, schedules, or budgets that could stand in the way of a healthy, sustainable diet, if we let it. So, in this blog I’m sharing 5 simple tips for more sustainable meals.
Ditch the Packaging
When shopping for your food, aim to purchase as many foods as possible that don’t have packaging, whether at the farmer’s market or in the grocery store.
Does our broccoli really need to be in a plastic bag? Nope. So, if there’s an option without a bag, choose that one. By making mindful choices about which products we purchase, we’re effectively voting with our dollars for what types of products we’d like to see more of in stores. If enough of us stop purchasing broccoli in plastic wrap, manufacturers will stop wrapping their broccoli in plastic.
It’s habit for most of us to reach for a plastic produce bag, but we truly don’t need it. And, in the case you really do need a produce bag, you can purchase re-usable mesh produce bags. For example, if you’re buying a bunch of something, like apples, it can make them easier to transport home.
Recycling is great – but the best course of action in sustainability is to reduce and re-use. The simple choice to skip the plastic produce bag, and to purchase as many products as possible that have no packaging, goes a long way in reducing your ecological footprint.
Learning to menu plan, meal prep, and batch cook are worthwhile skills.
By menu planning you only buy the food you know you’re going to eat, which in turn, reduces food waste. Meal prepping means that everything is prepared as soon as you bring it home, so nothing accidentally rots in the back of your fridge. While batch cooking saves your time and energy, and the hydro, gas, and water it takes to cook and wash-up.
At Healthoholics, we have a few free one-day meal plans available – for blood-sugar balancing, weight loss, or spring cleansing – if you’d like to dip your toes into the world of menu planning and meal prep.
Source Your Food Locally
We are lucky to live in Ontario, where there is a bounty of fresh produce available to us. Ontario has some of the most fertile soil in the world, and produces amazing foods! Even during the winter months local storage foods like apples, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and cabbage, are typically easy to come by.
By consuming locally produced food, we reduce the carbon emissions created by transporting our foods to us.
Plus, the most locally we can source our food – is right at home! Spring is the perfect time of year to try your hand at starting a vegetable garden! Or, if you’re not quite ready or don’t have the space for a garden, a few kitchen herbs and potted tomato plants can make a difference too! Every little bit counts!
Consume More Plant Foods
We’ve probably all heard of meatless Mondays by now, and it’s a great place to begin! Producing meat for human consumption is a very energy-heavy process. On average, it takes 10 times the amount of energy from fossil fuels to produce the same number of calories from meat as it would to produce those same calories from grains.
Almost every Nutrition professional, whether they’re promoting a vegan diet, paleo diet, or anything in between, agrees that consuming plants as the base of your diet is crucial for good health. As luck would have it, it’s also better for the planet!
I usually coach my clients to simply look at their plate, and make sure that 50% of it is vegetables. From there, if you’re adding in a whole grain, fruits, beans or legumes, or some nuts and seeds – then you’ve got yourself a plant-heavy meal.
Use Everything You’ve Got
If you’ve purchased a chicken to roast, for example, use it all! Don’t throw away the chicken liver – make a paté! Don’t throw away the carcass or feet – use it to make a bone broth!
The same applies to vegetable scraps. You can save the peels from onions, carrots and potatoes to make a broth. Don’t throw away your broccoli stems – spirilize them and add to a pasta dish, or chop them finely and add to a soup or stew.
Making a point to use every last bit of the food we buy, means that we’ll save money by purchase less food, less energy will be used on food production, and less food will end up in a landfill.
Do you use any of these strategies to make more sustainable meals? Are there any tips above that you’re inspired to implement in your own food purchases or preparation?