I’ve been involved in a sustainable Mealtimes Eco Challenge this month over at Sustainababy.
I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been up to.
It’s been a good journey. For me there’s a few aspects to this challenge.
Planning. We have the luxury of living a few minutes walk from a supermarket. Generally I can ask my husband to collect stuff on his way home from work…but as part of the eco challenge I wanted this to end (or almost be obsolete). So planning meals and ensuring that we had everything we needed for each evenings meals became an important part of the challenge. Doing a bulk meat shop from a wholesaler which covered us with free range chicken, traceable lamb and beef made this much easier.
Cook once, eat 5 times. Don’t stop at creating leftovers for your meal, double it, triple it, quadruple it, quintuple it! Store the leftovers in reheatable, reuseable containers in your freezer and you’ll never need to eat the same thing twice in a row. Nor will you need to get take out! We’ve been making extra of everything and therefore not needing to cook every night. If you want some fabulous recipes for this, join mamabake, everything is big batch.
|Big batch butter chicken!|
Family Meals. We can’t have family meals together regularly, but the times when we do we make sure everyone is sitting down, conversing and enjoying their meal. Our meals are conducted at the dinner table with limited distractions. This is where another aspect of “sustainability” needs to come into play- meals needs to be something I can sustainably achieve easily and well every evening. Gone are my days of 45 minutes of time to stir the risotto!
Knowing where our food comes from. We buy our meat once a month from a meat wholesaler. They can tell us down to the enth degree where our meat has come from. They source top quality meat. We have also been frequenting a local organic growers market. I was ever so proud when my daughter (4) was asked by the grower what something was. She answered confidently “ginger”. He told her that in fact it was fresh turmeric. She said “mummy, you put that in the pilaf!”. Growing veggies and herbs helps the kids to have an understanding of the effort that goes into growing what they eat.
|The potatoes that are now shooting up in our garden.|
Using every bit of every ingredient. I’ve used kale stems, parmesan rinds, stale bread, broccoli stalks, just to name a few. It’s when you use every part of an ingredient that you get its full worth. We’ve made stock from our leftover chicken carcasses, made our roasts into different meals as leftovers and cooked sad looking carrots with onions and other dribs and drabs of veg to make veggie stock. And when I realised our organic Robertson potatoes that we had bought at the Robertson markets were a little too far gone…I popped them in the garden….and they’ve got green shoots already!
|Using a silpat liner in the slow cooker.|
Swapping “use once items” for use and use and use again items. There are sometimes when you cannot use anything other than baking paper. But for the other times, buy some silpat liners. Made of high grade silicone, they are non stick liners you use on baking trays, in the bottom of your slow cooker, under things you are freezing. They wash off easily after use and can go in the dishwasher. We cook pizzas on them, bread on them and any schnitzels, nuggets etc that go in the oven.
Using residual heat/ piggy backing in the oven. I bake bread almost everyday. To do so, I heat the oven to 260 degrees. It takes a while to get to top temp. In the heating up period I often cook homemade sausage rolls, cupcakes or other baked treats. When the bread is done I often do the same again, meaning I haven’t unnecessarily heated the oven three times in one day.