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Tips for Cooking a Little Greener

Lisa buys in bulk and stores her staples in glass or plastic containers.

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Just in time for Earth Day, the Fine Cooking staff shares some tips for saving energy and reducing and reusing packaging.

Taking a cue from old-fashioned “cold-start” recipes, I don’t always completely heat up my oven before putting food in. I wouldn’t do this for baked goods because it’s important to start those at the correct temperature, but if I’m just roasting some vegetables or baking fish, I hardly ever wait for the preheat signal to sound.  Not only does this save energy, it saves time, too.
—Jennifer Armentrout, senior food editor

I try to keep my kitchen green by bulking up. I buy as many different staples as I can from the bulk bins in my local natural foods store (dried rice, beans, oatmeal, flour, etc.) and store them in reusable glass or plastic bins. It’s amazing how much packaging this saves (both me and the store), and I can buy just the amount I intend to use.
—Lisa Waddle, managing editor

When possible, I make my own. This goes for granola, beans, roasted beets—anything easy to make that usually comes packaged. Not only is there a world of difference in terms of flavor, quality and texture, but I also avoid the additional packaging, processing and transportation energy used in the production of ready-made products. It only takes a bit of planning and I save some money in the process, too!
—Evan Barbour, freelance editor

Maybe this one’s obvious, but I apply “the second life” question to just about every item that goes into my kitchen, food or otherwise. Can this (fill in the blank) have a second life as something else? The answer is almost always yes. Coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable peels are a given; they have second lives as compost, so into the tumbler they go. Produce baggies have many lives, actually; I’ve used them for everything from lunch totes to liners for the compost crock. Having a little kid helps, too. While I’m wondering about an item’s encore, my daughter is wondering how she can use said item in her next art project. It’s amazing what a kid can make with a mostly-clean paper plate, the red plastic top from a gallon of milk, and the roll from the paper towels.
—Robyn Doyon-Aitken, Web producer

If an Earth Day picnic is on the agenda, read Laurie Buckle’s article for ideas on how to pack a green picnic.


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