Healthy Green Living

10 Tips for Healthy Green Cooking

Going green in the kitchen is often associated with SAVING some green in your wallet so it’s a win-win for you, your bank account and the environment. Here are 10 ways you can incorporate green practices when you’re whipping up those Healthy Green meals.

1.) Use fabric or unpaper towels instead of paper towels

Drying your hands while cooking or cleaning your counters with paper alternatives is a great way to reduce paper use in the kitchen. Switching to more sustainable materials such as hemp and linen are not only good for the environment, but they are better at absorbing water than cotton. They also have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties so they won’t start to smell like kitchen towels made from cotton or synthetic fibers.
Keep one of these hemp mini-towels near you the next time you’re whipping up your real food dinner from scratch and you’ll never go back to paper towels.

If you still want the convenience of paper towels but still want to green up your cooking experiences, try these Unpaper towels made with linen. They are durable, reusable and washable so you can feel good about using more than one of these while you’re cooking and cleaning.

2.) Cook with green ingredients

Using whole foods that are locally sourced and free of chemicals is one of the best ways to make your cooking more ecofriendly. The Green Enough Cook Book written by Leah Segedie over at Mamavation features 50 recipes made with non-toxic ingredients. Plus, these recipes are really easy to whip up and are kid-approved so they are great for moms, dads and college students. Get your copy here.

3. Batch cook your meals to save energy

I often work with clients who have incredibly busy lives so I recommend cooking all of their meals for the week at the same time. Turns out this practice of batch cooking not only saves time throughout the week but it also saves energy and water. With pre-cooked meals, the energy used to warm them up and the water used to clean up after cooking is much less than it would be if you were cooking and cleaning every day.

In order to get the most out of batch cooking, I’d recommend an 8-Quart Crockpot, an instant pot, a large skillet or 14-inch wok for stir-frying and/or a 9×13″ glass baking dish for roasting vegetables.

4.) Use glass and stainless steel for food storage containers

When it come to food storage, we’ve come a long way since the days of Tupperware parties. There are a lot of alternatives to plastic out there that are made with glass, or stainless steel. These alternatives are also more durable than the plastic versions so they last longer and you’ll be saving money on replacing old plastic containers.

5.) Use reusable storage bags and food wrap

In addition to glass and stainless steel food containers, there are also plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic storage bags and wraps. They are made with sustainable, food-safe materials and are reusable so you generate less waste.  This organic and reusable food wrap is a great way to store leftovers and these reusable food bags are a must for packing meals that include snacks and sandwiches.

6.) Reduce food waste

There are a lot of companies popping up these days that rescue produce that would otherwise be thrown away and sell it at a discounted price.  My favorite is the grocery delivery service, Imperfect Foods, because it allows you to customize the food you receive very week and it’s more than produce.
According to this US Today article, 31- 40% of food is never eaten which translates to billions of pounds of food accumulating in landfills every year.
This waste accounts for 20% of landfill waste and even though it does break down naturally the decomposition process releases methane into the air which is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. (See more in this infographic)
Do you ever keep track of how much food you throw away? Think about all of those fruit and vegetable parts that you cut off and the leftover you toss in the trash because they’ve turned into a science experiment in the fridge. We are all guilty of throwing away food but there are some strategies to help reduce our individual impact (and personal carbon footprint).
One strategy to reduce food waste is to plan ahead. Meal planning and creating grocery lists based on your schedule for the week is a great way to reduce food waste. It’s healthier for you and for the planet. Check out this Healthy Meal Prep Book for some ideas on how to create your own meal plans. Or, contact me to learn how to get your own custom meal plan that suites your health and fitness goals and individual dietary needs.
Whenever possible, get creative in the kitchen by reusing food scraps instead of throwing them away. Save bacon grease and use that to cook your next meal instead of using cooking oil, or save animal bones and the parts of vegetables that you cut off like the tops and stems) to make delicious broths and stocks. For more ideas on how to reuse food scraps, check out this article from Green Talk.

7.) Upgrade your kitchen gadgets and utensils

Instead of purchasing plastic items for cooking, opt for cutting boards, mixing bowls and utensils made from wood or metal instead. Here are a few examples:

8.) Shop local or grow your own

Buying local produce as ingredients for your meals is a great way to show your support for your environment . As an added bonus, buying local increases the taste and quality of your meals. When you purchase produce from a farm or Community Shared Agriculture program, the time between picking and the time you consume it is shorter than produce bought at the grocery store thereby maximizing freshness.
You can also grow your own vegetables or herbs at home by maintaining a garden in your backyard, balcony, or kitchen counter depending on how much space and time you have to garden. Here’s a cool herb growing kit that you can keep on a counter-top to get you started on your way to eco-friendly cooking with fresh ingredients.

9.) Use a pressure cooker

Pressure cookers are a fantastic way to save energy because they significantly decrease the amount of cook time. My favorite, the Instant Pot, makes meals in a jiffy without sacrificing flavor or texture. Just to give you an idea of the magic of the instant pot, you can take frozen chicken breasts, cook them in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes and they are ready to be served. No defrosting or preheating needed!

Here’s a great recipe round-up from The Kitchn that features 50 pressure cooker recipes using whole food ingredients.

10.) Buy spices in bulk and store in stainless steel

If you like to use a lot of different spices in your cooking, you might want to consider buying in bulk and then storing them in glass jars or stainless steel containers. This reduces the amount of small plastic containers in your kitchen, preserves freshness and makes our spice cupboard or rack way more organized.