Why Cooking is Part of the Process

After posting about Freezer Cleanout Week, I got thinking about cooking in general. I wanted to touch on why learning some basic cooking is an essential part of reducing waste in your home. I'm not talking about learning to make fresh croissants, phyllo dough, or souffles. I'm talking about basic cooking skills to make yourself meals on a daily basis that are healthy and delicious.

There are a few reasons I consider this to be an essential part of reducing waste at home.
  • Reducing fast food waste
  • Controlling food waste
  • Taking advantage of waste-free groceries

The most obvious advantage to cooking at home is that you're buying less to-go food. Although there are starting to be some fast food or deli-counters with less or bio-degradable packaging, for the most part to-go food is notorious for its waste. Whether it's wax-coated cups, foil-paper wrapping, plastic straws, or ketchup packages that are more plastic than ketchup, that's a whole lot of junk going into the landfill. Cooking even very basic meals at home could dramatically reduce the amount of garbage you're generating on a daily basis.

Regardless of where you're eating, food ends up going to waste. When I was a teenager working at a fast-food chain, we would pre-make a certain amount of food in anticipation of a rush. If that rush didn't come, or too much food was prepared, it would get thrown out. A certain amount of waste was expected and accounted for. This goes on through-out the food industry. To be fair, food waste is a problem everywhere in North America: restaurants, grocery stores, homes, etc. But if we're buying raw ingredients and cooking food at home, we can have that much more control over the waste associated with our meals

When it comes to buying waste-reduced groceries, you may find that much of what you find is raw ingredients. You might come home with beans, lentils, rice, fruits, vegetables, baking supplies, and pasta; if you're going to bring these things home, you need a plan to use them! It would be a shame to come home with a case of blueberries from the farmer's market just to see them rot in your refrigerator. As you learn to make more meals at home, you find more interesting ways of using your base ingredients, and can see less food going bad in your fridge. And, at least for me, that is very satisfying!

As a starting point, I wanted to share with you my three favorite food blogs, which I read on a daily basis and always go to first when I'm looking for ideas.
  • http://www.macheesmo.com/ - This is a great place to go if you are first learning to cook, looking for ideas for a specific ingredient, or just looking for a new meal that you will have a reasonable chance of making successfully. Nick's recipes are fun and delicious, but also accomplish able for new home cooks. This has been my favorite blog for a couple of years now because I can always find an idea for that ingredient I'm trying to use and for the most part I can make the recipe successfully.
  • http://www.fortheloveofcooking.net/ - The recipes on this website tend to revolved around a few common themes - fresh vegetables with tasty sauces or toppings, baked egg dishes, roasted chickens, simple soups and salads, and fun, easy baked goods. If you're wanting to keep it simple and tasty, as well as eat lots of veggies, this is a great place to look.
  • http://www.thefoodinmybeard.com/ - If you're ready to get more advanced and try for some amazing flavors, this is your place. Here you will find more time-intensive but amazingly delicious recipes for things like homemade pasta, dishes with spices and techniques from diverse cultures, and creative dishes that will knock the socks off any company you have coming over.
If these three blogs aren't right for you, the Internet is FILLED with information and recipes, so start with something simple and easy and get started!

Any readers that never cook at home? Leave a comment!


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