Blog by Abi Reeves
Part One of our 'Let's Eat a Sustainable Dinner' blog covered food preparation. Here we go through the stages of cooking and clearing up.
From the materials making up your pots, to the mode of cooking, size of pan, size of stove ring, whether to use a lid and whether to batch cook, there’s a lot to think about when cooking a sustainable meal! Thankfully, the research provided on our website has condensed these factors down into some tips for improving energy efficiency in the kitchen.
Once the cooking is underway, it’s time to set the table. Kitchen roll is handy, but it can easily be replaced by more sustainable alternatives to serve as cleaning cloths and napkins. If you’re cooking on a hob then turn it off a few minutes before you want to eat and allow the dish to simmer in its own heat without using up unnecessary energy. Serve out your food into small portions (you can always go back for more - serving small portions onto plates helps to avoid you wasting food), and finally, enjoy your sustainable dinner…
After eating, serve any leftover food into single-portion sized containers to cool. These can be refrigerated or frozen for future consumption, saving you time, money, effort and avoiding waste. Avoid using single-use items to store food (like cling film), when you could use reusable alternatives such as beeswax wraps or simply bowls and plates. See other great tips on storing and getting the most out of your food, including ‘compleating’ foods to use them all up. Another thing to consider doing is home-composting, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden area. Council food collection is a good alternative (at least for our UK readers), since it prevents food from ending up in landfill where it produces potent greenhouse gases, however if you can, home-composting is even better because it doesn’t involve any emission-producing transportation.
At last, to everyone’s favourite part of dinner: washing up. There is the classic dilemma as to whether it’s better for the environment to hand-wash dishes, or to use a dishwasher. As in the case of the research provided on organic foods, we were surprised by what we found. In most cases it’s better to use a dishwasher if you have one. Have a look at why this is the case. If, like me, you don’t have a dishwasher, you might want to consider what kind of washing-up liquid you want to use. If you’re intrigued, and you want to know why some types of washing-up liquids are more eco-friendly than others, then follow this link to find out.
So, what now?
I suppose that’s the end of our sustainable dinner learning-tour. It’s quite a lot to digest (sorry). There are an inexhaustible number of choices you can make regarding sustainability and the food you eat. We’ve tried to discuss a good variety of them, but please ask questions on our website if there’s anything we missed out that you’d like to know. Likewise, if you have any useful tips that you can support with research, then feel free to provide answers too; even if a question already has an answer, we’d love to hear from as many different people as possible.
Now that we know how to make a more sustainable dinner, we can try and transfer these tips into our own lives to minimise our impact on the environment. The bigger the dialogue we can create around sustainability, the better. So go on - start writing your shopping list, planning your meals, asking your questions and continue learning with us!
Image designed by Candace Chang