This month in my sustainable living hub A Make Do and Mend Year, we’re looking at food, and how we can take steps to eat more sustainably.
Food is a complex issue and has a huge impact environmentally.
But we all need to eat, so it’s an area that we can all take action on. And the good news is that lots of these things are simple and easy.
Here’s three simple, impactful changes you can implement TODAY!
1. Plan your meals
If food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter after America and China.
That is bonkers. And although as individuals we can’t do a huge amount to impact on the policies of the big supermarkets, or change the way our food system works, one thing we CAN do is ensure that we aren’t contributing to the problem.
Meal planning sounds like total dullsville I know, but it really is a great way to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and thrown away.
My meal plans are very much ‘back of the envelope’ scribbles, so relive me when I say it doesn’t have to take hours of poring over recipe books.
Think about your week and what you have on – I know that Wednesdays are our busy night with everyone doing different things, so I tend to soup in the slow cooker in the winter, or something like a rice salad in the summer.
Our meal plan tends to go something like this:
Sunday – some kind of roast
Monday – bubble and squeak with eggs
Tuesday – meat leftovers made into a pastie, or a pie
Wednesday – soup in the slow cooker
Thursday – variations on quiche/frittata using up whatever is hanging around in the fridge
Friday – some kind of pasta dish, often with a simple homemade tomato sauce (make double and freeze it ready for next time!)
Saturday – homemade pizzas/hot dogs
It’s nothing especially fancy, but it helps me to make best use of the food we have, and the time I have available!
2. Take the Meat Free Monday pledge
Meat has the largest carbon and water footprint of all forms of protein.
But the good news for ardent meat eaters is that you don’t have to abstain completely in order to have an impact – according to research published by Oxford University, shifting from a diet high in animal products (100g/day) to a diet low in animal products (50g/day) reduces your carbon footprint each year by the equivalent of a return flight form London to New York!
One of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of eat we are eating is to take part in Meat Free Monday – which kind of does what it says on the tin – for one day a week (it doesn’t have to be Monday, but Meat Free Monday slips off the tongue a little easier than Meat Free Wednesday), you eat a meat free diet. Simples!
3. Swap out one thing you buy pre-prepared and have a go at making it from scratch
Pre-prepared foods inevitably come with much more packaging (often plastic and un-recyclable) to dispose of, and you have no control over the origin or quality of the ingredients.
Why not have a go at bread, pasta sauce (see below for the easiest recipe ever!), biscuits or pastry?
Tomato sauce for pasta
Heat 2-3 tbsps rapeseed oil (you should be able to find a local rapeseed producer if you are in the UK) in a frying pan, then grate or crush one clue of garlic and fry it for a minute or so until you can smell it starting to cook.
Then add 2 tins of organic chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of sugar and a good shake of worcestshire sauce.
Ideally cook low and slow for about 40-50mins giving it a stir periodically, or if you’re in a rush, just give it 15 mins on a medium heat.
This freezes well and also acts as a great base for pizzas too.
So what will you do this week?
Do leave a comment below to let me know!