Eco-Conscious Cooking – The Freezer Pantry as Sustainable Food

843242_old_freezerSometimes a sustainable cooking practice becomes so natural that I forget that it’s even there. I’m talking about the freezer pantry. It’s my stash of leftovers that I use on the days when I work, so that I don’t get tempted to buy over-packaged takeout foods every evening. Yes, I am still tempted, but knowing that there’s a nice shepherd’s pie in the fridge certainly helps me overcome the temptation to run for sushi at the slightest provocation.

For years now, I’ve been storing leftovers. When my daughter was a baby, I also cooked in bulk. During her less cranky moments, I would cook with her on my back in a sling. I’d prepare several meals at a time so that when I was sleep-deprived the next day I would have something to drag out of the fridge. At the time I was not working, so we had to be particularly conscious of our budgetary constraints. And so it was primarily for budgeting reasons rather than for sustainability reasons that I began my freezer pantry, although the two sometimes go hand in hand.

There have been a number of frugal-living and organizational books that focus on cooking in bulk. Into the mix comes Brighter Planet’s Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking. It’s a look at reducing your eco “foodprint” with sustainable-living style. It offers glimpses into winter gardening and cooking with local wine and more mundane but extremely useful vignettes on creating a freezer pantry and using up leftovers.

The discussion about sustainable food is involved these days, and it’s getting to be much more mainstream. To complement the discussion, sometimes what we need is a practical, how-to guide. Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking is a practical companion to more discussion-oriented books like the low-carbon diet espoused in Plenty, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon’s look at food miles and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pullan, which traces the history of the meals that we eat.

Creating a pantry, a stock of frozen meals, and a selection of leftovers may not be eco-chic, but it sure is useful. When I am tired from a day at work, it’s very simple to pull something out of the freezer or the fridge. Creating sustainable food habits has certainly saved our garbage bin from filling to the brim, and it has saved us from driving to the grocery store to pick up extra items.

How is your low-carbon diet going? Where do you find sources of practical tips?

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