Nope, I’m not talking about a kitchen table made out of recycled soda bottles, wine corks, or beer cans. Today, I’m talking about the thought process behind sustainable meal planning, shopping, cooking, eating, and leftovers, or wait for it.

Eating What’s Right AND What’s Left

I have had some interesting conversations with my great Boomer friend, Bill (aka, Chef Bill), an extraordinarily talented and conscientious amateur cook. Bill has a few simple rules including – but not limited to…

Meals should be colorful and delicious,
Meals are cause for celebration,
Reduce costs where you can,
Shop local farm markets,
Creativity counts, and
Wasting food is a sin.

Let’s start off with the basics. Buy fresh once or twice a week. Chemicals that extend shelf life are unnatural and unhealthy. Locally grown! Helps the local economy and is usually fresh, in season, and – if you ask your questions – you’re more likely to find it chemical-free. Frequent your local farmers markets. Organic preferred! Enough said. When you shop in the supermarket, stay along the perimeter walls, as the inner aisles typically shelve the non-fresh, preservative-laden items. I’ve heard Doctors prescribe meal plans that allow anything that is NOT packaged in a box, can, or jar.

Buy family packs on sale and repackage them in reusable/recyclable containers for the freezer in meal-size portions. Date them and eat these foods within a reasonable time. Keep in mind that a somewhat full refrigerator and freezer helps keep the temperature down, reducing the frequency of compressor cycles – using less energy.

Try not to fully prepare more than one meal’s worth of food in order to avoid the temptation to eat huge portions. If your “won’t power” is sufficiently strong, you may wish to cook a week’s worth of chicken at once, for example, thereby limiting the energy consumed by your oven. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers and plan a variety of ways to incorporate them during the week. In this example, chicken salad, chicken fajita, or chicken Caesar salad might be nice. In the cold weather, remember Grandma’s chicken stock. For dark meat lovers, chicken thighs are even available boneless and skinless. Chef Bill cooks an amazing Soy-Garlic Chicken with thighs.

Be careful not to overcook your vegetables. Not only is a slight crispness another sensual pleasure, the leftovers can be repurposed, say in a lasagna, casserole, omelet, quiche, etc.

If your major kitchen appliances seem to be over or under cooking or cooling, be sure to set the temperature on your refrigerator or freezer according to guidelines and use a proper thermometer to verify your settings – like Chef Bill does in the oven. This also helps avoid freezer burn or spoiled food – remember what the Chef says about wasting food.

And last for now, remember that replacing aging appliances with new Energy saving models can recoup your investment in a year or two – especially with rebates (or perhaps tax credits) for noted models. But you’ll need to check your utility company and the retail store for details before you buy. Remember that energy based rebates are additional to sale price rebates. So there you have it. Eat what’s Right AND what’s Left……and keep the change from your lower utility bill for a special dinner out with one of your good friends at your favorite local restaurant.

This article is the property of David Secan and may only be used with permission
© 2010, all rights reserved

Author's Bio: 

David Secan, Director of Boomer-Living's Healthy Organization and Building Program, is a Sustainability Consultant and Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He works with organizational leaders, as well as homeowners, utilizing his Masters Degree in Human-Environment Relations and BA in Psychology to integrate considerations of Purpose, People, and Place., Director of Boomer-Living's Healthy Organization and Building Program, is a Sustainability Consultant and Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He works with organizational leaders, as well as homeowners, utilizing his Masters Degree in Human-Environment Relations and BA in Psychology to integrate considerations of Purpose, People, and Place.

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