Eco-Friendly Family Cooking

Eco-Friendly Family Cooking

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photo: Leon Nanda

Being a parent and eco-friendly at the same time can be quite a challenge, especially with less spare time on your hands. But even small changes in your lifestyle can help the planet. Cooking, for example, is one area of your life where you can make small changes to help the environment and set a good example to your children. Use the following eco-friendly cooking tips to make your worthwhile contribution to a healthier environment.

Eco-Friendly Food
First things first. Consider growing your own vegetables and herbs. Not only will you know exactly what’s in your food (no unnecessary additives), but you will also be saving fossil fuel consumption for the transportation of food. This will also cut down on wastage because you can use food only when you need it.

If you’re able to, walk to the grocery store more often. And remember to take a recyclable bag to cut down on plastic bag waste. Buying local, regional produce is also a good way to support the environment by avoiding food that has been transported for long distances. Organic food uses less environment-polluting chemicals. And watch out for processed and ready-prepared foods which usually use more packaging and contain more additives. Whenever possible, buy in bulk to cut down on packaging waste. Then simply freeze the extra or share it with a friend. As always, try to recycle as much material as your collection will take.

Eco-Friendly Hardware
Invest in a bamboo cutting board for chopping your vegetables; bamboo is the most renewable of all cutting board materials. To avoid throwing away utensils and cookware, try using kitchenware that will last. Cast iron cookware, for example, is more durable and has very good heat retention properties, so a little heat will go much further. By the same token, try not to use disposable plates and cutlery for outdoor eating. Instead, invest in plastic products that you can reuse many times.

By keeping your kitchen appliances in good working order, you will also be helping the environment. Efficient appliances use less energy, so if an appliance is really old, it may be using far more energy than necessary. In this case, it’s probably best to invest in a new, more efficient product. Small convection ovens are a great way to conserve energy. If you have a smaller quantity of food to cook, use one of these instead of your conventional oven.

Eco-Friendly Food Practice
First, try not to prepare more food than you and your family will eat. This can lead to food waste, so try to get the portion sizes right. If you have leftovers, try using them in a stew or a soup. You can always freeze food to use at a later date. It would be even more eco-friendly to cook multiple batches at once, and freeze the extra portions for another day. Before you put the food in the fridge or freezer, let it cool to save energy. And put food scraps into an under-the-sink compost to minimize waste and gain a useful fertilizer.

If you need boiled water, save precious time and energy by filling the kettle with only the amount of water you need. Similarly, use a burner that is the same size or smaller than your cooking pan, and you’ll waste less energy. Putting lids on cooking pots is also a more efficient way of cooking, as it brings the contents to a boil more quickly. And turn off your stove and oven earlier than you would normally. The residual heat will finish cooking the food.

After cooking, it can be tempting to use air freshener sprays to make your kitchen smell sweeter. Instead, open the windows and let fresh air in, or boil cinnamon or cloves to freshen the air. Finally, instead of using your dishwasher’s dryer, open the door at the end of a cycle and let the air dry your dishes. They’ll dry more quickly than you think. And when shopping, choose the biodegradable and harmless chemical-free dishwasher cleaners.

It can be easier choosing the convenient approach to living, rather than the environmentally-friendly route. But you don’t have to drastically change your lifestyle to be a little more green. Following these cooking tips should help reduce your environmental impact, and you can help your family become more environmentally aware at the same time.
by: Daniel Moss

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