Sustainable Cooking: Low-Impact Recipes for Everyday Meals

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How to eat more sustainably


What is a sustainable food recipe? Sustainable cooking generally emphasizes seasonal, local ingredients, minimizing waste, and making mindful choices.

Here are some recipe ideas and general meal planning that align with sustainable cooking principles.

These recipes focus on utilizing local, seasonal produce, minimizing waste, and incorporating whole, natural ingredients—a great way to embrace sustainable cooking practices while enjoying delicious and nutritious meals.

Make a seasonal stir fry

Create a stir-fry using locally sourced, seasonal vegetables. Pair with a simple sauce made from soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a splash of local honey or maple syrup.

Farmers' Market Salad

green salad with vegetables

Combine fresh, seasonal greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and other veggies from the farmers' market. Top with a homemade vinaigrette using local olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.

You can infuse your own vinegars and oils with herbs and garlic to keep on hand for quick flavorful salad dressings.

Root vegetable soup

Make a hearty soup using locally grown root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and parsnips. Add homemade vegetable broth and fresh herbs for flavor. As of the publishing of this post my all-time favorite is this winter white vegetable soup. I have made it for client dinner parties as a starter course during the winter months. It looks striking when topped with finely chopped up roasted red beets and chives.

root vegetable soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium beet, trimmed (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small head cauliflower, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
  • 1 medium celeriac, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced (discard leafy tops ( (2 cups)
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 4 cup water
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives (optional)

See the entire recipe on the Better Homes and Gardens website.

Pasta Primavera

pasta primavera

Use whole-grain pasta and toss it with a medley of sautéed seasonal vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, flavored with garlic and herbs.

Herb crusted baked fish

Choose sustainably caught fish from your region and coat it in a crust made from breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, and a touch of lemon zest. Add a small amount of olive oil to make a paste and spread it over the raw fish (pat fish dry first if it is damp to the touch). Bake until golden and serve with a side of roasted seasonal vegetables.

herb crusted fish served with green vegetables

Herb crusted fish is great in the air fryer too. Place fish in basket of air fryer and cook at 400° for 10 to 12 minutes, gently flipping halfway through, or until fish is golden and flakes easily with a fork. I generally use air fryer parchment liners for cooking fish.

Seafoodwatch.org has a guide by region to determine which fish is deemed sustainable wherever you are so you can even make good choices when traveling. They are printable and easy to identify the best and worst options.

Roasted vegetable and quinoa bowl

Cook quinoa and top it with roasted seasonal vegetables (like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower). Drizzle with a tahini dressing for added flavor.

kale and cooked quinoa in a bowl

Make Tahini dressing by combining tahini, garlic, fresh lemon juice, soy sauce or tamari. Add hot water one Tablespoon at a time until it is the right consistency for drizzling over your quinoa bowl.

Homemade vegetarian burgers

Create veggie burgers using a mix of beans, grains, and finely chopped seasonal vegetables. Serve on whole-grain buns with local lettuce and tomatoes.

America's Test Kitchen has an incredible vegan burger where grated beets and pinto beans make up the bulk of the mixture. Then it is topped with a tasty burger sauce.

You may like this recipe for homemade chili sauce which is great on burgers.

Fruit cobbler or crisp

cherry crisp in a white bowl

For your sweet tooth, use locally sourced and seasonal fruits like apples, berries, or stone fruits for a delicious crisp or cobbler. Top with a simple oat and nut crumble. Lots of texture and flavor sure to cure any sweet tooth craving.

Zero waste veggie broth

Keep a big gallon ziploc bag in your freezer and add all your vegetable peelings from carrots, potatoes, tops of celery, onion ends and skins, yes the skins, to make a tasty vegetable broth. Simmer them with herbs and seasonings to make a versatile base for soups, rice, stews, etc.

If you love soup this crowd pleasing Senegalese curried egg soup is delicious.

Make your own energy balls

Energy balls are a concentrated and tasty source of calories great to take with you on the go, eat before a workout or as an after school snack.

Make them by using local honey (binds and sweetens), nut butter, oats and dried fruits. Roll them in coconut flakes, crushed nuts or seeds for a nutritious snack that reduces packaging waste.

These are all easy-to-implement meal ideas to reduce your imprint and eat locally and deliciously.

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