The Environmental Impact of Meal Planning

The Environmental Impact of Meal Planning

It’s so easy to go to the store and get sidetracked by favorite snacks and fruit. Eventually, the cart is filled with more food than you need and gets shoved to the back of the cupboard or fridge until it molds or goes stale. It’s habits like this that contribute to the statistic that says, Americans waste about 40 percent of our food supply every year. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent this unnecessary waste!

Meal planning can be intimidating at first, but you might be surprised to hear that it is not only an incredibly sustainable habit, but one that saves money too. Essentially, to meal plan, you’ll sit down with your family, roommate, etc. at the beginning of each week and write out what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday of the week. At first this might seem daunting, but there are many apps designed to help with this task such as Paprika. Refillism also sells a meal prep notepad and market list notepad if you prefer physically writing in out.

In the end, you will have an exact list of groceries that you need to purchase, as well as a tentative budget.

During the meal planning phase, there are some steps you can take to make more eco-friendly meals. Shopping seasonally is a good starting point, and it narrows down the plethora of recipes you can find on the internet since only some vegetables will be available depending on the weather. Shopping seasonally (and locally) not only helps the farmers in your area, but it also cuts down on the carbon dioxide created from shipping foods and growing non-seasonal foods in greenhouses (Sustainable Badass, 153).

If there is one available to you, shopping at a bulk store prevents food waste by decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide released per package during shipping. Once you get to the store, to avoid using the plastic bags many stores provide, bring your own produce bag and grocery bag.

Most likely, leftovers will play a role in your meal plan. Items like silicone bags and bento boxes serve as great, non-toxic containers to keep your meal fresh.

If eating out fits into your week’s meal plan, make sure to bring a reusable container for any leftovers. Something like our bento box would serve well for this too. You could also have a small bag ready to go in your car with items like reusable silverware, straws, and travel cups. Even if you’re not eating out, we also have bamboo silverware sets and chopsticks in-store that are a great addition to any environmentally conscious home.

Finally, if you have food scraps you want to avoid sending to the landfill, you might consider composting. There are many different ways to compost which are described in detail through this video by Shelbizleee. At Refillism, we have a compost bin with a charcoal filter to help eliminate bad odors. This bin will collect compost indoors until it’s ready to go to your outdoor compost.


Food Loss and Waste. U.S. Food and Drug.

Paprika Recipe Manager. Paprika.

Seasonal Produce Guide: When to Buy Fruits and Veggies in PA. Markets at Shrewsbury.

Shelbi. 10 ways to compost no matter where you live | indoor, drop-off, & worm composting. Shelbizleee.

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