Dine In — Cooking and Eating Meals at Home is Green

Preparing and Cooking a Meal to Eat at HomePreparing, cooking, and eating meals at home helps you be healthy, use fewer resources, and generate less waste. Be Green. Dine in.

During the years we kids lived at home, my mother made over 18,000 breakfasts and dinners, and many lunches. Dad pitched in by barbecuing and making omelets and he was the coleslaw guy. Meals were tasty and well balanced with fruits or vegetables at every meal. My favorite dinner was pot roast. We did have snack foods, sodas, and dessert items on hand. Eating out was a treat. My mother says the best part about cooking is sharing meals together as a family.

As a teenager, I helped out with dinner by following menu plans and recipes provided by my mother, and later planning meals and trying out new recipes. The liver and carrot dish did not go over well, but generally, I did okay.

While raising our own family, we cooked and ate at home, and we still do. My spouse likes cooking more than I do so I happily assumed the backup cook role. When the kids were living at home, we ate healthy meals but probably ate more junk food than we should have. On occasion, we ate at a fast food or sit down restaurant. Hopefully, our children learned enough healthy eating habits to carry them forward in their own cooking.

Health and Well-being

Have you ever heard the phrase, “you are what you eat?” It makes sense. You use what you eat and drink to build, repair, and operate your body.

Food Quality

When you prepare and cook meals at home you control the food quality. You know what went into it, what stayed out, and how it was prepared.

  • Ingredients (fresh, seasonal, organic, canned, frozen, or processed)
  • Salt and fat content (olive oil or butter)
  • Artificial additives (e.g. most home cooks do not add MSG)
  • Cooking method (baking or frying)
  • Cleanliness of cooking area, pots, pans, and utensils
Portion Size

Home cooks influence portion size by determining how much food is made and using reasonably sized tableware. The battle of the bulge is usually won or lost by eating plus or minus 100 calories a day on a consistent basis.

Relationships

Smartphones - Not for Use at Meal TimesDining in as a family nurtures your body and mind. You have an opportunity to step away from your electronic devices, slow down, share news, debate topics in a friendly manner, have some fun, and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Extend family time by cooking and/r cleaning up together.

You Can’t Eat What Isn’t There

I admit I am one of those people that fare better when calorie-laden foodlike substances are not in the house. If there are no potato chips or cookies at home, then hungry kids and adults might eat a banana or a handful of nuts. Try it.

Use Fewer Resources

Buying seasonal and local food reduces transportation energy and pollution. Another benefit of shopping local is supporting local farmers.

Whole Vegetables - No Processing or PackagingCooking with whole food ingredients versus processed food products reduces the energy and water that would be used during processing and packaging.

Purchasing foods with minimal packaging is more resource efficient than buying in bags and boxes that you take home and discard. Buying in bulk usually means less packaging.

Make Less Waste

Planning meals ahead reduces waste by minimizing spoiled food. I admire people who plan a week’s meals in advance and I have great respect for those who prep or make items ahead.

Composting fruit and vegetable scraps reduces the amount of food waste that either goes into a water treatment system or landfill.

Eating leftovers reduces food waste and saves money. Little extra energy is needed to store and heat up leftovers with only a small incremental extra cost. Reusable containers reduce packaging waste.

Time - HourglassTime

The number one reason people say they do not cook at home is the lack of time. If you have time for TV, video games, surfing the web, talking on the phone, texting, etc., you have time to cook. Another reason cited is hectic and conflicting schedules.

I remember reading in a book by Dr. Oz, that if people cannot find the time to exercise, they need to admit their life is so out of control they do not have time to take care of themselves. Preparing and eating meals at home is similar. It takes commitment and creative planning, but it can be done. The health and well-being of your family, you, and Earth are worth it.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

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