Food prices are rising steadily especially since the past year, but our income in most cases has not kept up with the inflation. Explore my favorite 10 tips for sustainable eating on budget and how we do our bit for our health and the environment. I have been practicing this for decades even before it became a trend.
All my life I have been a conscious consumer and it came naturally to me from growing up with a grandmother from very different times. My paternal grandmother was born in 1914 and saw the effects of both world wars and lived through the great depression. She experienced food rationing after the second world war. Despite both my grandmothers coming from very affluent families, they were forced to accept food rationing because Great Britain exported food, clothing etc. etc from India for both the wars. I am not pointing fingers at any nation, but that is a fact we cannot ignore. It is a similar experience for every nation who went through such difficult times.
I never got to know my maternal grandmother she had passed on long before I was born. During the early days of my childhood, we lived with my paternal grandmother, so I have memories of her experiences. I took the lessons from her frugal living mindset seriously. She never wasted anything and she taught us how to live a conscious sustainable life. I plan to share some of my impressions of her in a future post.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY ?
Sustainability is defined as
The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting its natural resources, and therefore supporting long-term ecological balance.
I prefer to use the word conscious sustainable living. Because over the last few years, the word ” sustainable ” is abused a lot and can mean many different things, some of them very diabolical. The push for sustainable life style from the UN Agenda 2030 is a diabolical one, it is green on the outside but red in the inside. So let us educate ourselves and practise what we can without any hype from the media or any organization.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE EATING ?
Sustainable eating looks different for every person. To one, it may mean eliminating all animal products, for some choosing only organic, seasonal and local produce, composting everything, and reducing food waste. Whatever sustainable eating habits you want to implement in your life, it is important to take a little step at a time.
Lets now jump right into my top 10 tips for conscious sustainable eating.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Learn more
1. BUY ONLY WHAT YOU WILL EAT
I know this is a difficult choice with all the different food choices we are faced with while shopping in today’s world of globalization. A few decades back, most people consumed only which they knew how to cook and what was available locally. We didn’t have media or social media to influence our food choices. Often, all the adverts are just nudging you to buy food which you may never cook.
This is at least the case with me if I want to get adventurous. If, I buy something new and if no one likes it at home, I am forced to finish it to avoid food waste. Therefore, nowadays I limit my food choices for a conscious sustainable eating and buy absolutely what all of us like and eat. I stock up also accordingly, of which I shared in an earlier post.
2. BUY LOCAL AND IN SEASON
Buying local and in season produce is one of the best tips for sustainable eating. Support your local farmer, visit farmers markets to get in season fresh foods. Foods that are not in season have to be shipped from far off. This adds to the energy it takes for shipping, packing etc. And we may be depriving someone somewhere because of our shopping habits.
I have over the years learnt to adapt my cooking to suit locally grown vegetables. Since we have our garden, I eat what is in season and cook accordingly. Your body and gut will thank you for this, since microbiome of your local soil is favorable for your health. This will also support your immune system and gut. Imagine, importing foods from far away, the fruits and vegetables are picked before they ripen for easier transport and are artificially ripened before they hit the stores. These foods have a different microbiome because they are transported from far off places. Check out Dr. Zach Bush for more info and in depth knowledge @ https://zachbushmd.com
TIP Eating local and seasonal foods add to the taste too.
3. MAKE LISTS AND MEAL PLANS BEFORE FOOD SHOPPING
If you are a beginner to cooking meals and starting out on sustainable eating habits, then plan ahead. Make a meal plan for the week if you are the type to make meal plans. Shop accordingly and make adjustments to your menu if you need to.
I don’t make any meal plans except for the weekend. I always manage to rustle up a meal from my pantry and fridge even if it happens to be almost empty. Weekends are special and I love to cook something special for my family and friends, so I plan for weekends. Cooking for my small family from scratch gives me great pleasure and I am also teaching my daughter these 10 tips for sustainable eating. I am also able to contain food waste by making lists before shopping.
4. REDUCE FOOD BILLS : BUY ON OFFER AND IN BULK
Buy in bulk and what is on offer for foods with longer shelf life like dry foods, oils and spices. Since, I always cook from scratch we are able to save a lot on our food bills with our bulk buying. Organic and whole foods are expensive and bulk purchase helps us to eat sustainably without compromising on quality.
If you are looking for offers in the fresh food section at your local store try shopping just before the weekend. Stores often mark down the fresh produce like berries, over ripe fruits and veggies because they want to get rid of them. Most of the unsold produce will land in waste containers, so why not buy them and make smoothies or soups with them. During the berry season, I often get them on offer because ripe fruits are great for jams and smoothies.
5. ORGANIZE YOUR FRIDGE & PANTRY
Organize both your fridge and pantry. I have a system in my pantry organization– I organize the dry foods according to the dates. Old in the front and new at the back. Since, I also have a long term storage pantry, I bring the foods to be used quickly to the kitchen pantry. This way I can keep track of the dry foods.
I have organized my fridge in such a way that I literally have no food waste. I stock only fresh vegetables in Tupperware fridge smart containers. My garden produce stays longer fresh and I have a good overview of the vegetables. Since, we eat fresh seasonal produce from our garden, we hardly waste anything. We pick them fresh from the garden and use it quickly. I preserve the excess produce by means of canning.
6. EAT A MORE PLANT BASED DIET
The meat industry is a big consumer of water, energy and grains. The meat industry doesn’t contribute to a sustainable way of farming or eating either for the environment or the cost factor. I was raised a vegetarian, yet I don’t like to influence the food choices of others. But if we make some conscious sustainable choices like eating a more plant based diet we can feed more people in this world. Hunger is real in many places of this world and often these countries have to export their grains for the meat industry due to international trade deals. This is why I think, the omnivores could limit their meat consumption.
7. TOP SUSTAINABLE EATING TIP: GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
Plant a garden even if you have very little space. A few pots can easily grow a little food. Gardening is therapeutic and connects you to your food. This is one of the best of the 10 tips for a more sustainable eating. You get to eat locally grown produce that are in season. You will also be less wasteful and pick ripe fruits which are also tasty and full of vitamins.
8. EAT ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS IF POSSIBLE
Cook food from scratch and avoid ready to eat meals. Whole foods are good for your health and the environment. Prepackaged foods are expensive and full of preservatives which the industry uses to extend the shelf life. You don’t want to be putting all those chemicals in your body. On top of it all, ready meals add to packaging waste.
9. CREATIVELY USE THE LEFT OVERS AND REDUCE FOOD WASTE
When you cook from scratch and meal prep, you may have a few left overs. Make a new prep with the left overs. An odd carrot, a few beans, a soft potato etc can easily be made to a soup with a few lentils thrown in. You can even mash up cooked vegetables and left over pasta and make burgers with it. I rarely have left overs in my fridge because I usually cook just enough for each meal. The days I have some left overs, I make it into burgers and serve with homemade bread.
Compost when food waste is unavoidable. This compost is great for your garden and plants. In Switzerland, for those without garden, we have a communal compost bin for our use placed beside the apartment blocks.
10. SHOP IN REUSABLE CONTAINERS AND BAGS
Even before sustainability became a buzz word, I always reused my shopping bags. My grandma used to sew her own tote bags from left over bed covers and sheets and took them for shopping. I have come to appreciate her frugality and resourcefulness even more as I grow older. You can buy fresh produce on the loose in the farmers market. And these net bags are great for separating the produce to store in your fridge for later when you get back home.
Avoid buying bottled beverages. We never buy bottled water because we have a Berkey water filter. I get the best water from my Berkey for cooking and drinking. This is also very economical for us. Make sure to check out my post on Berkey filter. I make my own berry syrups and we have a soda machine which we can refill easily if we want to add soda to the syrup.
On this note, I will end my Top 10 Tips for conscious sustainable eating.
Your feedback is valuable
Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
Thank you so much for visiting Swiss Home Garden – we’re so happy you’re here! and thanks for taking the time to read my top 10 tips for sustainable eating post. I would love it, if you can share this post using the social media buttons.