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10 simple ways to green your family meals

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Earth friendly eating

On Earth Day this year, cookbook author Aviva Goldfarb will celebrate the release of her new book, SOS! The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families. Here, she shares tips and tricks for families to green their eating.

When you talk to Aviva Goldfarb, you can tell instantly that she isn't just another food writer -- she genuinely cares about food and teaching people to eat well without resorting to unhealthy shortcuts. She's used her passion to create the wildly successful meal planning service, The Six O'Clock Scramble. Once a week, subscribers receive an email newsletter complete with five nights of meals and great tips and ideas for cooking smartly. Subscribers then log into the site to change out any meals they don't want, and print a handy grocery list and all the recipes.

Goldfarb is also author of two cookbooks, including the new SOS! The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families, which is being released on April 13. It's filled with recipes for flavorful, tasty dinners that can be made in short order. Arranged by season, the book promotes an Earth-friendly approach to eating that relies on good planning, shopping locally when possible, and other steps that can reduce a family's carbon footprint for eating.

SheKnows spoke with Goldfarb to get some good tips for greening your family's eating.

Getting started

Goldfarb says that she isn't a lifelong green eater. In fact, she became really interested in seasonal, Earth-friendly eating only recently. "As I learned more about food, and even since my last cookbook, I have become more interested in seasonal cooking. It's been such a fun thing to become aware of, and it's been such an easy change to make," she says.

Goldfarb says that the book Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver really got her interested in making changes.

Four easy ways to green your family's eating

Goldfarb says that, if you are interested in eating and cooking in a greener manner, then you should start by assessing what you are doing and looking for ways to improve it. "There are always ways to make improvements," says Goldfarb.

Her suggestions:

  • Eat less meat. This will cut down on the energy and resources used to process and sell meat, Goldfarb says.
  • Eat seasonally and shop locally so food doesn't have to travel as far to get to your plate.
  • Eliminate or reduce the amount of food you waste. Goldfarb says that the average family wastes 25 to 40 percent of their food. You can cut back on that by planning ahead and making a commitment to use up the food you buy.
  • Compost, which sounds really intimidating to many people. Goldfarb says that this is another way to avoid sending unused food to landfills. Just toss carrot peels, apple cores, etc. into a compost pile, and you will have free reserves of nutrient-rich compost for gardening.

Get kids involved

Goldfarb offers these tips to get your kids involved in the Earth-friendly eating approach:

  • Herb garden: "Grow some of your own food, even if it's just growing herbs on your windowsill. Sometimes, it's good to start small. It's really fun for kids to water and watch them grow," she says.
  • Buy in season: "Go to the farmer's market. Introduce your kids to the farmers [and] see what's in season," says Goldfarb. She also suggests alllowing kids to help choose what to buy. They'll be "more likely to eat something they helped pick out."
  • Let your kids cook! Involve your children in the cooking process, says Goldfarb.

What to do with leftovers?

Don't let food go to waste. Goldfarb shares these ideas:

  • Divide leftovers into single-serving storage containers immediately and use for lunches, dinners, etc.
  • Think of the food you throw out as wasted money and a waste of the energy used to create it.
  • Keep a constant grocery list so that you know what you need and don't overpurchase.

More tips on raising earth-friendly kids

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