Monday, August 9, 2010

green goal monday: conscious cooking

One of my favorite things about this quest towards sustainable eating is getting to experiment with new recipes, from grilled zucchini to black bean brownies. Making your own food is less taxing on the earth, there's no question there. Staying at home for breakfast, lunch, or dinner eliminates the gas you'd need to drive to a restaurant, ensures that you can save your leftovers for later and compost any scraps, allows you to choose sustainably-grown ingredients, and means you can use reusable dishes, cutlery, and napkins rather than the disposable kinds that end up in landfills. And the list goes on.

But cooking and baking at home isn't a free pass for not being conscious of the waste that you do create in the process. Ovens, stoves, dishwashers, and microwaves all use energy and supplies like paper towels and napkins still get thrown in the trash, just like at a restaurant. Being aware of these impacts can be just as important to a meal as the actual ingredients. So my Green Goal for this week is to become a more conscious cook. Here are the two simple actions I am going to begin making into habits today. I encourage you to try them out as well!

Green Goal No.2: Conscious Cooking
Ideas from The Green Book, by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen
1. Reduce oven and stove time: Don't worry about preheating items that will be cooking for more than an hour in the oven. And if you're making baked goods, limit preheating time to ten minutes. Then, towards the end of your cooking time (this applies to both ovens and stovetops), turn off the heat several minutes before the food is finished cooking; there should be plenty of heat left to finish things off (I've baked a whole pan of cookies after turning off the oven!). This is not only gentler on the environment but on your energy bill as well.

2. Choose reusable towels and napkins: Use cloth napkins instead of paper, and you'll save landfill space as well as money over the long run. Find some handmade napkins on Etsy and support starving artists while you're at it. As far as towels go, use paper only when absolutely necessary. Get in the habit of asking yourself, before you grab a paper towel, if a cloth towel couldn't do the job just as well. 
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo


  1. That's cool! I've never thought of the oven that way before...I just do what the directions on whatever I'm making says. I guess we need to be smarter than our appliances! Haha. Thanks Alyssa!


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