Earth911 is honoring the 52 years of Earth Day with 52 Actions for the Earth. Each week through Earth Day 2023, we are going to share an motion you’ll be able to take to speculate within the Earth and make your individual life more sustainable. It’s nearly unattainable to cook day by day. But take-out and frozen foods have numerous environmental drawbacks. This week, you’ll be able to take motion for the Earth by cooking ahead.
Motion: Cook Ahead
The Problem With Quick Dinners
Processed foods have a giant environmental impact. Frozen dinners are sometimes less healthy than food cooked at home, and meals prepared at restaurants are likely to be too. Frozen foods – even those in cardboard boxes – generate numerous nonrecyclable plastic packaging and are also energy-intensive, requiring refrigeration along the distribution chain from the manufacturer to the food market to your own home freezer. Life cycle evaluation has confirmed that homemade meals have a much smaller footprint than industrially prepared meals.
Take-out containers generate numerous waste. Food is wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil, then placed into paper, plastic, or Styrofoam containers, after which put into paper bags and/or plastic bags for carrying. Besides the packaging waste, take-out generates waste with plastic cutlery, picket chopsticks, disposable napkins and straws, and individual sauce and seasoning packets. Nearly all of it leads to the landfill. Restaurant food loss rates are high, and more food is wasted as customers throw away uneaten portions of oversized restaurant meals. Take-out also generates greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, either by you or a delivery driver.
The Advantages of Home Cooking
If you store food prepared in your individual home, you’ll be able to select reusable containers like glass jars and other plastic-free options. Cooking at home gives you more control over portion size, which reduces food waste. Planning ahead reduces food waste further. If you cook at home and freeze or refrigerate leftovers, you simply keep food frozen for just a few days and no extra automobile trips are required for take-out or delivery. Cooking ahead gives you the advantages of homemade without the inconvenience.
Some people prefer to take a day on the weekend to prep meals for the entire week. But should you don’t like spending such a giant block of time within the kitchen or think per week of pre-cooked meals looks like per week of leftovers, there are less extreme options. It only takes just a few minutes reviewing your schedule to see which days you’ll have time to cook and if you’ll be too busy. Cook double batches on less busy days (which also makes your stove more efficient) and eat leftovers the opposite days.
In case you’re not a fan of leftover dinners, try the “overlapping ingredients” approach to weekly meal planning. For instance, you may roast an entire chicken the primary day. Chop up leftover chicken and additional vegetables to make a salad the subsequent day, then use the additional precut vegetables for quick tacos on day three.