If you are looking to make more sustainable “green” choices and changes in your day-to-day life, food is one of the easiest places to begin to reduce waste. The food that we put into our bodies makes the biggest impact in our lives so “greening up” your grocery shopping is the best place to start when beginning to live in a sustainable manner. With a bit of planning and preparation, these rituals will quickly become a part of your daily life.
If you are like my family, you frequent the grocery store multiple times a week. Our family goes almost daily. Much like Europeans we shop as needed based on the meals that we have planned rather than stocking up on food that might end up going to waste or isn’t the healthiest choice. Health and wellness is a priority in our household so making daily visits for just a few items is something that creates nutritious and enjoyable meals. Going to the grocery store is like going on a field trip! So much to learn about.
Here are some of my tips for a green, fun and nutritious shopping experience:
1.) Start with a list. Buy only want you need. Create a weekly meal calendar. Structured meal prep is a must. This will save time and prevent you from over purchasing. No one wants to throw away food that was not used and has gone bad. Be a thoughtful cook in your own kitchen.
2.) Bring your own shopping bags! Please Please Please. This is so easy. Keep them in your car. Most of them can be washed so they stay clean. Create a habit that after each trip, you walk them out to your car and throw them in. If you have to run in to the store and the bags aren’t in your car, use paper. Refuse plastic. You may also get a discount for bringing in your own bags!
Fast Fact: Plastic was invented in 1907. It takes about 450 years to biodegrade and in some cases up to 1000 years. So basically every piece of plastic ever made is still somewhere on the earth! Yikes.
If you want to watch a great documentary on plastics effects on our planet, check out “Plastic Oceans” on Netflix.
3.) Eating a healthy range of foods will no doubt include lots of fresh produce. Every time you buy lettuce, apples or lemons, you probably grab a plastic produce bag. STOP! Earth Wise bags has an amazing array of sizes of washable reusable produce bags. This is a super inexpensive and such a great idea! Remember to wash all your fruits and vegetables once you get them home.
4.) Shop in the bulk food section and save on packaging. You can purchase beans, nuts, seeds, pasta, oats and so much more. Bring a 3×5 card with you and write down the bin numbers. This way you will not need to use the tags and plastic bags. Bring the reusable bags that we mentioned above. Once each bag is filled with your items, put your card with the bin number inside the reusable bags. This is super easy for the cashier to weigh and ring up.
5.) Keep your pantry organized! You can purchased glass jars from Michaels/Costco/Target/Amazon, etc. Empty your bulk food bags of nuts, seeds and oats into these jars and watch your pantry transform into a thing of beauty. This will also make your future grocery store trips much easier as you have visual cues for what you need and the containers to put them in. Voila, you have just eliminated a bunch of plastic!
6.) If you do purchase canned or packaged foods. Please look for packaging that is recyclable. When purchasing anything in a can, make sure that it has a BPA free lining to ensure you are making the best choices for your health and the planet.