To kick start 2020 we’re sharing some top tips for a healthy eco-friendly approach to eating delicious food all year round!
Batch cooking, or meal prep, is a great way to ensure you’re eating well, saving money and most importantly, improving your cooking skills! And it doesn’t mean you have to eat the same food five days straight. You can enjoy a wide variety of dishes without too much effort.
Combined with eating more local, seasonal foods you suddenly find you’re using ingredients that are better for you and the planet – a win-win for everyone!
1. Plan, plan, plan
No batch cooking or meal prep is going to be successful without a plan. The first step is figuring out how much food you need – how many are you catering for and how many meals do you require? Once you know how much you need to cook, look for recipes that you’ll actually enjoy and don’t require complicated kitchen equipment! Then, it’s time to write a detailed grocery list, with quantities.
2. Consider your ingredients
The essence of meal prep is cooking multiple dishes and then storing them in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to eat. Therefore, it’s important to consider what will last the longest. Generally, soft vegetables and crunchy food don’t fare too well in the fridge, so either leave them out or add them in at the last minute – chopping a fresh tomato or adding nuts as a finishing touch is a five-minute task for the night before or morning of. Stews, grain-led salads (without dressing), curries, bakes and roasts are all great places to start as they tend to survive a few days.
3. Best Possible Ingredients
We advocate organic, the most sustainable method of farming, good for people and the planet. Almost all of our ingredients are organic, apart from a couple of products which we source as sustainably as possible. We recommend buying direct from producers where possible and when buying ingredients that need to be imported we recommend sourcing from Europe and not further afield. Don’t forget – buying even one or two organic items helps the environment!
4. Local and Seasonal
Local food means food miles are reduced and the farm to fork journey is a short as possible, meaning it is more transparent as well as supporting the local economy. Seasonal food means ingredients are at their best taste-wise and nutritionally grown with less resources so less of a strain on the environment.
5. What grows together goes together
A simple way to consider your ingredients is, ‘what grows together goes together’, for example, Italian food relies heavily on ingredients such as olives, olive oil, tomatoes and anchovies. As such, these ingredients often complement each other beautifully and produce deliciously simply dishes. This applies to all cuisines and can help you select recipes and ingredients.
6. Look for versatility
There are plenty of healthy ingredients that can be used in a variety of ways, reducing food waste and your grocery bill. It’s essential you consider all the uses for an ingredient when shopping – for example, if you buy a bunch of herbs, can you use them across several recipes? If you can only find large bunches of young spinach, think about how you can use all of it in different ways – for example, could half go in a salad and the other in a risotto or stew? A whole organic chicken is another great example – you can serve the breasts with vegetables; tray-bake the legs and thighs and use the skin and bones for chicken stock, to make soup or risotto.
7. Invest in the right storage containers
As London’s most sustainable cooking school, we try to use glass containers wherever possible. We’d suggest doing the same at home – they are going to be the most hygienic and most environmentally friendly option. Ensure that the lids are leakproof and you have a diverse range of sizes – you may need to transport elements, such as dressings, separate to your main dish.
8. Eat a little less meat and dairy
Choose smaller portions of meat and dairy and increase your fruit, veg and pulses intake. Perhaps have a day or two a week free from meat and dairy and when you do cook and eat meat and dairy choose the best quality and look for lesser used cuts – butchers and fishmongers are great at sharing their advice and seasonal knowledge!
Want to find out more about healthy eco-friendly eating? We run a range of classes that look further into this topic, from Gut health, to Vegan and Vegetarian classes, to Food Waste Matters, to Fermentation and Sourdough.