In honor of yet another Earth Day, we bring you our favorite ways to streamline your cooking and reduce waste. We’ve been working with the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability since we opened 6 years ago and feel good about the small things that make a big impact in the kitchen and on our wallets.
- First in, first out. Take a moment to move things around when putting groceries away. Take your older produce and dairy and move them up front, putting your newer items in the back to reduce spoilage and waste.
- Greens and berries first. If you shop weekly for your produce, whether at a farmers market or grocery store, cook and eat your greens, berries and other fast-ripening produce first and save the potatoes, leeks and other long-lasting items for later in the week.
- Move to the back! Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t store highly perishable items in the door of the fridge, where it is warmest. Place your milk, cream and yogurt to the back of the fridge to make them last longer.
Cooking & Food Prep
- When washing vegetables, wash them in a bowl full of water rather than under running water. Dump the vegetable-washing water out into your garden or patio plants.
- Move meat over. Increase the portion size of your veggies and decrease the proteins; meat requires far more energy to grow, process and distribute than vegetables and legumes do and costs you considerably more.
- No bones about it, save on packaging and money by making your own stock. If you have a crock pot, take your chicken, pork or beef bones left over from dinner and let them simmer overnight in a crockpot. Feeling extra green? Fill large glass jars 2/3 of the way up with homemade stock, freeze and then close with a lid (water expands as it freezes) and store in the freezer until you need it.
- Select greener cookware. Companies like 360 Cookware make stainless steel cookware using greener processes. Stick with cast iron cookware, enameled or not, when possible and avoid non-stick cookware.
Storage, Recycling & Waste Management
- Use glass! Glass makes a great insulator and keeps food colder than plastic, which in turn makes leftovers last longer.
- Compost, even in the city. Pick a container with a lid and throw out the contents into an outdoor composting bin or throw ’em at to the chickens. We love this handsome kitchen counter model from Food Forward, a leader in reducing waste and fighting hunger.
- Never throw oil down the drain or straight into the trash. The City of Los Angeles recommends that you either pour the oil into a trash bag before placing in your black bins OR, (and our preferred method), pour cooled, used or unused cooking oil into a hard container (we keep a gallon-sized mason jar under our kitchen sink) and drop it off at any of these locations.
- Bonus: stop using paper towels. We stopped using paper towels when shamed during a dinner party (a common hazard when friends work in sustainability) and have been using a rotation of a dozen or so absorbent bamboo towels to wipe, wash and dry our dishes and counters.