In my journey as a sustainable chef, I have picked up a lot of tips and tricks on how to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen. Here are five of them:
1. Use all of the produce
Why buy broccoli by the pound and then throw out half of what you paid for, i.e., the stalk. Many times the parts of the produce that we discard are just as nutritious and maybe even more nutritious -- banana peels contain an additional 78 milligrams of potassium, for example. You can make banana peel "pulled pork" sandwiches; whole banana bread or beet tops pesto, to name just a few options.
2. Use cooktops efficiently
We don't always have a say in what kind of cooktop we get in our homes. But there are still ways we can use our cooktops efficiently --consider adding a lid to boil water quicker, boiling water in a teapot for tea and coffee, and cooking items on the stovetop that may normally be made in ovens. Regulate the flame when cooking on a gas stove -- a higher flame means more gas use. The same applies for electric cooktops -- generally, a mid-heat setting is sufficient.
Power down an electric cooktop a few moments before your dish is complete -- this will allow the cooktop to cool down sooner and not prolong the use of energy. Similarly, for induction cooktops, align the size of your pan with the size of the heating element on the stove.
3. Stop buying Mason jars
I can't recall the last time I purchased a glass jar. Instead, I wash and reuse jars from coffee, jam, salsa and more. The easiest way to sanitize a jar to reuse it is washing it in the dishwasher on a hot cycle.
4. Reuse your water
If you're boiling pasta or grains for a meal, reuse the same water to boil or steam veggies in the same pot. Once your food is cooked, you can use the remaining water to blend into sauces. And if you're still left with water from cooking, use it to water your houseplants.
5. Always pack food at restaurants
While this is an obvious one, I've observed that most people don't practice this. I've seen that the majority of restaurants don't have systems in place to compost, which means everything you don't eat goes straight to a landfill.