By: Guest Writer, Lindsay Anderson
Hello Spiral Foods community! My name is Lindsay Anderson. I am a Minnesota GreenCorps member serving the city of Hastings. Minnesota GreenCorps is a yearlong AmeriCorps service program focused on environmental initiatives. My focus in the city is to educate residents and city staff on recycling, organics recycling, and ultimately on waste reduction across materials. I am also working on waste diversion in a hands-on fashion at city events and city buildings.
Last week I had an awesome experience of collaborating with some passionate folks at Spiral Food Co-op. Two Spiral Board members, Erin Hood, Board Treasurer and Lynn Gannon, Board President, and a Spiral Bulk Buyer, Billy Oehrlein helped me lead a free community workshop on meal prepping and bulk buying. This took place at Pleasant Hill Library and we had a great turn-out for the event! Spiral also sponsored a $100 gift card to one attendee.
Congratulations to Vanessa H., winner of the $100 Gift Card!
This meal prep workshop is part of my Green Living Sustainability Workshop Series. The series is comprised of a new topic each month. In February we talked about the Environmental Impact of the Textile Industry, you can see the presentation here. March was focused on Meal Prepping and Bulk Shopping at Spiral, you can see the presentation here. What I hope to offer to the Hastings Community through these monthly workshops is a chance to get involved with living more sustainably in an approachable manner. Each month, there will be an underlying message of how to REDUCE waste alongside other tips and tricks to living green. To sign up for an email list about the series, please send an email with the title: GREEN LIVING SIGN UP. Note: April’s workshop will be replaced with an email on Earth Day April 22nd.
What does meal prepping have to do with being sustainable? I’m glad you asked! Meal Prep is a great gateway into sustainability for a few reasons: it’s a popular idea and there are tons of resources available! It also can help you drastically prevent wasted food.
The average American wastes about 40% of the food they buy. This is done by not eating leftovers in time, over-buying on grocery trips, picking things your family isn’t interested in eating, and letting fresh fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy go bad. All this wasted food costs a family of four about $1,500 - $1,800 a year! What’s maybe worse yet is that our food is a very resource intensive material. This means that a lot of water, land, and fossil fuels go into producing something that may never get eaten.
Meal prepping is just a way of saying “I have a plan for my food.” When it comes down to it, meal prepping isn’t about cute glass containers or following the latest diet fad. It’s truly just making a plan and sticking to it. I would recommend devoting about 3 hours or more to this process if you are completing at one time. Here are some simple steps you can start with to begin meal prepping and saving food like a pro:
Inventory your kitchen. Write it down. What is about to go bad? What have you had for a while? What other ingredients you are interested in cooking with this week?
Plan your recipes and meals. Using as many things as possible from your kitchen inventory, especially those expiring soon, think of what meals and snacks you would like to eat this week. Search for your favorite recipes that feature those ingredients.
Put your meals onto a weekly chart. Now that you know what you want to make, decide when you want to eat it. Remember to also include days that you won’t need to prep for, like a pizza party at work. Some folks prep for lunch 5 days a week. Some prep for 3 meals a day 6 days a week. Do what works best for your schedule.
Make your grocery list. Go through your recipes and write down the exact amounts of what you need on top of what you already have. Write down other things you regularly eat that maybe don’t fall into your plan as well.
Go shopping. Stick to the list while you shop, don’t get caught by 10 for $10 deals of things that aren’t included on your plan, there’s a chance they’ll just get wasted.
Cook and Prep. Not all meals need to be cooked at this time. Some dinners may look like pre-cooked protein, pre-cooked grains and pre-chopped veggies. Some lunches may look like an entire assembled meal that you pop in the microwave. Some breakfasts may just be portioning yogurt into a grab and go container.
Store appropriately. Visit Savethefood.com for awesome storage tips! Remember to label your prepped goods. Write down the date you made it and then the date it should be eaten by. I usually give my fully cooked meals in the fridge 4-5 days. When I put them in the freezer, I give them one month.
That’s it! If you have any questions about living more sustainably in Hastings, MN send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.