A 10-Step Guide to Sustainable Cooking
Image Credit: PEXELS

World Environment Day is an ideal opportunity to focus on an aspect of our daily lives that has a significant impact on the planet: cooking. By adopting sustainable cooking practices, you can contribute to a greener tomorrow while also enjoying delicious and healthy meals.

1. Choose energy-efficient appliances

The first step towards sustainable cooking is selecting energy-efficient appliances. Look for products with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) star rating, which indicates their energy efficiency. Higher star ratings mean lower energy consumption, reducing your carbon footprint and saving on electricity bills. When using appliances like pressure cookers, microwave ovens, and induction cooktops, ensure that they are well-maintained to optimise their performance.

2. Opt for eco-friendly cookware

Traditional Indian cookware, such as clay pots and cast iron pans, are not only eco-friendly but also enhance the flavour of your dishes. These materials have excellent heat retention properties, allowing you to cook at lower temperatures and save energy. Additionally, they are free from harmful chemicals found in non-stick coatings, ensuring that your meals are both healthy and environmentally friendly.

3. Use locally sourced, seasonal ingredients

By choosing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, you support local farmers and reduce the carbon emissions associated with transporting food over long distances. Seasonal produce is also fresher, more flavourful, and packed with nutrients. Visit your local farmer's market or join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) programme to access a wide variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and grains.

4. Reduce food waste

Food waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as decomposing organic matter releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. To minimise food waste, plan your meals in advance and buy only what you need. Store perishable items properly to extend their shelf life, and repurpose leftovers into new dishes. Composting kitchen waste is another excellent way to recycle nutrients and reduce the environmental impact of food waste.

5. Conserve water

Water is a precious resource, and conserving it is crucial for a sustainable future. When cooking, use just enough water to cover your ingredients, and save the leftover water for watering plants or cleaning purposes. Rinse fruits and vegetables in a bowl instead of under running water, and use a dishwasher only when it's fully loaded. By adopting these simple practices, you can significantly reduce your water consumption in the kitchen.

6. Embrace plant-based meals

A plant-based diet has a lower environmental impact than a meat-based one, as it requires less land, water, and energy to produce. Incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote biodiversity. Indian cuisine offers a plethora of delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, making it easy to embrace a more sustainable diet without sacrificing taste.

7. Cook in bulk and use energy-saving cooking techniques

Cooking in bulk not only saves time but also reduces energy consumption. Prepare large batches of staples like rice, lentils, and beans, and store them in the refrigerator for use throughout the week. When cooking, use energy-saving techniques such as simmering, steaming, and baking, which require less energy than frying or boiling. Additionally, using a pressure cooker can significantly reduce cooking time and energy consumption.

8. Educate and inspire others

As you adopt sustainable cooking practices, share your knowledge and experiences with friends, family, and colleagues. Encourage them to join you in your journey towards a greener lifestyle, and together, you can make a significant impact on the environment.

9. Practice mindful cooking and eating

Mindful cooking and eating involve being fully present and engaged in the process of preparing and consuming food. This approach encourages you to appreciate the ingredients, flavours, and textures of your meals, fostering a deeper connection with the food you eat. By cooking mindfully, you can reduce food waste, make healthier choices, and savour your meals more fully. Additionally, mindful eating can help you develop a greater appreciation for the resources and efforts involved in producing your food, inspiring you to make more sustainable choices in the kitchen.

10. Grow your own produce

Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a rewarding and eco-friendly way to enhance your sustainable cooking practices. By cultivating a kitchen garden or maintaining a few pots on your balcony, you can enjoy fresh, organic produce while reducing your carbon footprint. Home-grown produce eliminates the need for transportation and packaging, and gardening itself can be a therapeutic and fulfilling hobby.

By incorporating these principles into your cooking practices, you can further reduce your environmental impact — and also enhance your overall well-being and enjoyment of food. Let’s commit to making these sustainable changes in our kitchens and begin a journey towards a healthier, eco-friendlier lifestyle.

Worried about incorporating all 10 of these principles? Try these seven easy-to-adopt tips.