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From Our Dietitians: Sustainable Practices in the Kitchen

Sustainability, Articles

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With Earth Day around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on the environmental impact of food and identify steps to create positive change for both people and the planet.

We all can practice sustainability at home (check out some ways you can minimize food waste at home here). Here’s how SAGE’s Registered Dietitians — Lesley, Amy, Teresa, Taylor, and Anna — approach sustainability in the kitchen.

According to Feeding America, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the United States. How do you reduce food waste in the kitchen?

Lesley: Two words: meal planning! Every weekend, I take about 30 minutes to plan meals for the week. If I can buy only larger packages of things that we can’t eat in one meal, like produce, I put it on the menu twice to make sure we don’t waste it. And I always plan a day to eat leftovers. If there aren’t any, we go out!

Amy: I’m a big fan of freezing leftovers and bits of things that won’t get eaten in time. This way, my freezer is full of lots of easy meals and little scraps that can be tossed into a stew or sauce.

Teresa: I try to use as much of an ingredient as possible, like saving vegetable trimmings for stock, using bacon fat in place of butter or oil, and keeping the peels on apples and potatoes. Anything I can’t use goes to my dogs as a treat or into my composter.

Taylor: Before grocery shopping, I check my fridge and pantry to see what I already have. I brainstorm recipes with those ingredients, prioritizing the perishable items to make sure everything gets used up!

Anna: Bulk prep ingredients. I don’t like to prep/cook entire meals, but prepping individual ingredients helps cut down on food waste while still allowing variety through the week. I’ll bulk prep rice to use in a Mediterranean bowl one night, and fried rice another night.

Incorporating plant-based recipes can be a fun way to try new foods while supporting the environment. What’s your favorite plant-based recipe?

Lesley: Lately, I’ve been loving bowls. One of my favorites is a Mediterranean-inspired bowl with wild rice, roasted chickpeas, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I add dollops of hummus and tzatziki, and top it with feta cheese and fresh parsley. I could eat it every night!

Amy: I love a good bean chili. Sometimes I mix in a mashed sweet potato for body and sweetness or some barley to add a nice chewiness.

Teresa: Lentils deserve more love! They’re especially flavorful in dishes like Ethiopian misir wat or Indian dal palak.

Taylor: Crispy tofu. I drain and the cube tofu, dredge it in cornstarch, then pan-fry. I love having it with stir-fry or barbecue sauce!

Anna: Pizza! I love tons of veggies on pizza, but ordering a big veggie pizza can be expensive so I make my own at home. Using pita as the crust, I will roast onions, mushrooms, broccoli, bell pepper, and jalapeno and top the pizza with mozzarella and goat cheese – maybe even a balsamic drizzle too.

There are so many ways to practice sustainability in our own kitchens — whether it’s freezing leftovers from dinner, composting, or eating a plant-based dish! What are some ways you practice sustainability in your kitchen?

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