When it comes to attempting to live a bit more sustainably, most people might not realize that cooking and eating is one of the simplest ways to do that. Choosing high-quality ingredients and locally sourced goods isn’t just about getting more nutrients, it can also have an impact on the environment.

So, while Earth Day comes around each April, I believe it is a great reminder for something we should always be doing. Sustainable cuisine has numerous ecological and environmental benefits and if you’re curious about the very best way to ensure your meals are more sustainable, the secret is to cook them yourself!

I’d like to share with you some of the ways that I make my home kitchen just a bit more earth-friendly starting with the products I use. RiceSelect® is my go-to brand for plant-based ingredients that work perfectly in everything from vegan to meat dishes. I also love that I can reuse the jar for storage or decoration!

1. Use Seasonal Produce

One of the easiest ways that I can ensure my meals at home are more sustainable is to choose seasonal produce. If you’d like more information, read further up on the benefits of eating organic rice and grains and how I’ve used seasonal spring produce for Easter meals. Overall, food that is harvested at the peak of freshness retains maximum nutrient content. So, when your food doesn’t have to travel as far, it not only benefits local workers, but it benefits you and the community.

2. Use Every Part of Your Ingredients

Secondally, I always make sure to use every part of the food I purchase including the parts I might have previously thrown away. This includes broccoli and cauliflower stems, seeds or leftover pieces of carrots. By learning to take advantage of food for all it’s worth, I often find my meals are even more delicious and I save a bit of money as well.

Note: If these seem difficult for you or some items have gone bad, look into starting your own at home compost bin. Yes, this is even possible for those living in apartment buildings. Do research on which option is best for you.

How To Use Extra Scraps

One of my very favorite ways to use every bit of food is to prepare a broth or soup from odds and ends. Try one of my favorites like this Thai Chicken and Black Rice Soup.

I can make veggie chips with the peel of squash or candied fruit peels. Blended banana peels make great fertilizer for plants at home.

3. Enjoy a Varied Menu

By diversifying your menu, you also allow for crops to rotate which encourages many different areas to continue growing including vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.

I try to keep my meals varied to combat not only meal boredom by also overproducing certain plant products or animal produce. Try any of these three methods to ensure your meals are balanced.

  • Elevate rice bowl recipes with new and interesting ingredients

One way I love to try new foods is to incorporate them into rice or orzo bowls! This is especially great if you’re looking to experiment with flavor or texture. Serve up a bit of spontaneous brilliance by learning these keys to elevating rice bowl recipes.

  • Plan a variety of meals

I love to plan on trying something new with a delicious recipe. Add any one of these three recipes to your weekly menu with lamb, pork (or a meat free alternative), or flavorful rice and beans. There are even plenty of options with a variety of seafood options.

Lamb Shanks with Lemon Couscous Recipe

Lamb shanks are baked until tender, then served over lemon pearl couscous for a fresh and inviting meal.

Orzo-Stuffed Zucchini Boats Recipe

Made with RiceSelect® Orzo, this stuffed zucchini boats recipe is a wonderfully fresh and filling veggie-forward meal made with quality ingredients.

Instant Pot Caribbean Rice & Beans with Grilled Jerk Eggplant Recipe

This hearty vegetarian dish is bursting with Caribbean flavors that will wow any crowd! Serve it any time of year from a comforting winter dinner to an outdoor summer BBQ.

  • Transform leftovers

When I have leftover vegetables, meats, rice or other grains, I transform them into something new. I take it as a new opportunity to experiment in the kitchen and a challenge to create something unforgettable.

This can be in the form of an oven-bake like this Royal Blend Sausage Bake, a risotto with Arborio Rice, a sheet pan dinner, a loaded omelet, a stir fry, a Pearl Couscous recipe or a fried rice dish, along with many more meal ideas.

4. Reuse Your Containers (RiceSelect® Jar)

As I mentioned before, aside from its incredible quality, I enjoy RiceSelect® because of the opportunity to reuse the container. I extend the life of the jar and minimize waste by using it for arts and crafts, or simply storage.

I sometimes use the jar as a container for water plants or gardening by planting vegetable or flower seeds. They can also work as pots for smaller cactus or other potted plants. They are convenient for any holiday storage or decoration.

See a few of my favorite examples below.

Embrace higher quality meals using plant-based ingredients in all of your meals with RiceSelect. Show me how you reuse your jar on social media by tagging @Riceselect.