20 Effortless Strategies to Greener Kitchen Habits

Are you worried about greenhouse gases, climate change or energy efficiency?

Without a doubt most of us could be much more environmentally aware in the kitchen. I certainly realise that I could be doing more!

Fortunately, there are some aspects of “greener” living that go hand-in-hand with preparing wholesome, healthy meals at home!

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Easy ways to help save the environment

#1 Food shop once each week. If you plan your weekly menu effectively you should be able to reduce the amount of trips to the supermarket considerably, saving fuel and your own time to boot.

#2 Bring your own canvas bags. You can eliminate the use of hundreds of bags by bringing your own reusable bags everywhere. But, if you’re like me and you often forget to bring them, try out these colourful compact versions, which fold up into a small pouch and would fit easily into your purse, backpack or pocket.

#3 Buy local produce. Visit the farmers market to buy locally produced eggs, dairy and meat products. Also, take notice of product labels to find out where food comes from and opt for those that have traveled least. Buying products that are locally produced will save on transport, sustain local business, and create local jobs.

#4 Eat fruit and veggies in season. They are healthier, and tastier, and their cultivation has less impact on the environment, particularly when you buy locally.

#5 Reduce intake of pre-packed foods. When choosing products look for those with the least packaging, and with packaging that can be recycled.

#6 Reduce dependence on processed foods by cooking as much as possible from basic ingredients at home.

#7 Don’t buy convenience packs. At the supermarket opt for larger packs of meat, dairy, and snacks, which can be re-portioned into reusable smaller containers at home. Previous post, A Greener Way to Food Portions.

#8 Think carefully about disposable plastic. Rather than relying on plastic cling wrap and re-sealable bags, try storing food in reusable containers with lids, or using old glass jars.

#9 Use a plastic lunch box, such as Laptop Lunches. This way you can pack school and work lunches that don’t require disposable packaging.

#10 Defrost food before cooking. Cooking food from frozen obviously takes longer, and can use as much as twice the electricity. Allow food to throughly defrosted prior to cooking.

#11 Reduce the amount of pots and pans you use. If you’re cooking a large meal using lots of pots, this will increase the number of dishwasher runs and water usage required. Try using one pot recipes in a slow cooker, for energy efficient meals, and less washing-up.

#12 Cover pans with lids when cooking. Keeping the lid on whilst cooking will save energy and allow you to turn the electricity or gas ring down.

#13 Try steaming rather than boiling vegetables. If you have a steamer with 2 tiers, you can boil potatoes in the bottom tier, and steam the veg at the same time on the top. This is a healthier option, and will save energy.

#14 Cook in bulk. Cook twice the quantity and freeze the extra for another time in reusable plastic containers.

#15 Decide what you want before you open the fridge. It’s estimated that 30% of the cooled air escapes when you open the fridge door, therefore keeping it open for shorter periods of time is a good idea.

#16 Don’t leave kitchen appliances on standby. Switch them off at the wall when not in use to save on electricity.

#17 Consider buying a compost bin to dispose of bio-degradable waste. Check out Easy Composting Guide for tips on how to get started.

Photo source

#18 Recycle whatever you can. Check out local government websites to find out what can be recycled in your area, and how to go about it. You should be able to recycle items such as paper, cardboard, aluminium and steel cans, glass bottles, plastic containers.

#19 Start your own vegetable garden. Check out Plotting a New Vegetable Patch for more tips.

#20 Collect your rain water. Depending on your home set up, you can collect water for garden use, for home drinking water, or to supply the whole house with water.

These simple tips are merely scratching the surface of what we could be doing to protect the world we live in, however it is a step in the right direction!

I’m know some of you are very experienced at being energy efficient and preventing unnecessary waste, so what are your tips?

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Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

kathryn May 29, 2008 at 11:35 am

I love those laptop lunch boxes – what a great idea. Any idea if they’re available here in Australia? Good post Melanie – lots of very do-able things here. We already do a lot of these things, but there’s always room for improvement!

kathryn’s last blog post..One pot meals: Greek “chicken”

Reply

Melanie May 29, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Hi Kathryn,

There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated site in Australia, however if you go onto Ebay and search for Laptop lunches you’ll find some (not sure if they are the original though).

Another alternative are the Japanese Bento Boxes, which are quite similar, and you can also get them on Ebay.

Reply

Elaine May 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Great suggestions, Melanie. Small changes but if many do them, they will make a difference.

Just a couple of ideas related to #17 and #18 to help with #19. I admit I’m biased but I believe one of the greenest kitchen habits one can develop is to grow a garden of edible plants — herbs, veggies, greens, even flowers.

Compost: save your veggie and fruit trimmings and feed them to red wiggler worms; they will reward you with the richest compost. More on vermicomposting here: http://www.cityfarmer.org/wormcomp61.html

Reusing before or instead of recycling: save your empty cans, beverage cups and paper roll inserts for starting seedlings. I swear by the toilet paper roll method (although I’m moving outside the kitchen by including this tip here).

Reply

Melanie May 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm

Hi Elaine,

Thank you for more great tips, I particularly like your toilet roll method – I must say I hadn’t heard of that one before, but can see just how effective that could be!!

Hi Sophie,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, I know that there are those who encourage eating less meat, and as you say this is something that would be very difficult to implement.

I’ve written about reducing meat intake before, by replacing with legumes etc, however it’s more from a health point of view than an environmental view.

There are so many things we could do to help the environment, I intend to write more posts on this in the future to cover the specifics.

Reply

Melanie May 29, 2008 at 11:46 pm

BTW Sophie,

Do you know of any good sites/info showing the effect of eating meat on the environment?

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Barbara Ling May 30, 2008 at 1:02 am

Wonderful tips! I always cook much more than necessary when preparing my food and then freeze the rest.

It works out very well.

Best wishes, Barbara

Barbara Ling’s last blog post..Gourmet Blogger Breakfast – Iberico ham, Grana Padano cheese and …

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Sophie May 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm

A great list, and most of these are things that are within reach of the average person to do which is ideal.

You missed a really big one though – most of the evidence these days is pointing towards eating significantly less meat as being the thing that will have the biggest beneficial effect on the environment. Obviously that is a much harder one to sell to people, as yourself, Elaine and Kathryn will all know!

Sophie’s last blog post..How to make a healthier muffin

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Tom May 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Very good list. It’s amazing how we can all do little things that make a huge difference. I know that I have many habits and practices that I do that can easily be changed to help the environment. These are all great suggestions, thanks for the list.

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Sophie May 31, 2008 at 1:53 am

Hi Melanie, there have been a few papers published recently. Will definitely let you know if I get chance to look them out

Sophie’s last blog post..How to make a healthier muffin

Reply

Melanie June 3, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for visiting. Yes, that is one I often do myself, it’s nice not to have much cooking to do now and again.

Hi Tom,

You’re welcome, as always!

Sophie,

That would be wonderful, if you get the time.

Reply

vermicomposting tips March 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm

You can also do vermicomposting to speed up the composting process of your kitchen scraps. :)

Reply

Melanie March 9, 2010 at 8:19 am

Thanks for the tip. For more info on vermicomposting.

Reply

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