menu planning

In addition to some personal New Year’s resolutions, I have a couple that have to do with lowering my impact on the earth and shrinking my carbon “foodprint.”

I am pretty proud of my low-impact ways: I eat locally, I car share, I recycle, and I buy bulk from the co-op. In short, I live a lot of my life taking the environment and my impact on the environment into consideration.

But I’ve known for a while that I could do more, and have tailored a couple of resolutions to that end.

Resolution #1: Cut my food waste.

We’ve all heard the statistics: one-third to one-half of all food in the United States goes to waste. Now, there’s a lot of that waste that happens way before the food gets to me: it spoiled at the farm or factory, or was thrown away during processing, or was otherwise wasted before it ever reaches the consumer. But what I do have control over is what happens to the food once it gets to me. As a single person who loves to cook and shop, I tend to over cook. I would be quite mortified if any of you saw what I throw away some weeks. I know I’m not alone, but it’s still quite shameful. Even if I can compost it, I need to get into the habit of not buying this food, or using it all up when it’s purchased.

This Sustainablog article has great pointers for other ways to cut down on food waste, and I’ll be using their pointers as I go through the year.

Resolution #2: Meatless Mondays

Nearly all studies show that a meatless diet is better for the environment than an omnivore diet due to the amount of energy it takes to raise our cows and pigs and chickens. A 2007 article from Grist suggests that “If every American had one meat-free day per week, it would reduce emissions as much as taking 8 million cars off the roads.” I don’t eat meat at every meal, but it is novel for me to intentionally go completely meatless one day a week. I’m going to try to keep it up through 2008.

These resolutions mean that I am going to have to more planning of my meals. I don’t think I will ever be someone who plans my meals for the week like I am planning an international trip. If I can even plan on a notecard like you see above and stick to the plan, I will have succeeded in working toward my resolution goals, I believe. I’d love to hear any menu planning tips that have worked for you.

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