Two Green Food Experts: Menu Planning, Recipes, Money Saving Tips and More!

When it comes to menu planning, the use of seasonal local ingredients is key. Planning meals around what is fresh will decrease your costs and increase the flavor in your dishes. Learn from two Green Food experts for tips on how to save money and eat well.

As I had mentioned earlier today in the Green Food: Autumn Harvest Salad post, I am going to introduce two of my favorite people: Nona Lim and Amanda Hass. These two women are incredible resources for sustainable, healthy menu planning and always keep life in perspective. They offer meal planning, menu ideas and healthy resources as well as special diet options and recipes without gluten or dairy. Both women are an inspiration to me and I admire them greatly for their drive and advocacy. I invite you to check out their websites to learn more about their personal journeys.

Meet Nona Lim

20111005-081011.jpgNona is the founder of Cook! a sustainable, health-conscious food service out of Oakland. She grew up in Singapore moving to the US only to be disappointed in the food that was available for those with fast-paced lifestyles. She found that no one offered healthy, organic, gluten-free and dairy free options. So she began redefining fast fast food by offering clients healthy meals prepared ahead of time That they can cook at home. I admire her ambition and love her creations. You can find them at Whole Foods!

About COOK! – Their Mission
Our mission is to bring joy and fun back to your kitchen. We follow Julia Child’s advice and hope you do too: “Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” Our chefs are always trying new recipes, so you always have something new to test drive on your family. A fearless chef you shall be with our foolproof meal kits and instructions. Here’s to tossing culinary caution to the wind!

Redefining Fast Food
We’d all like to harvest our ingredients from our organic garden and cook sumptuous meals from scratch. But we live in the real world where fresh organics and free time for cooking can elude us. Enter Cook! with our real simple meal kits that you prepare in 20 minutes. It’s slow food at its best, with you pulling the meal through the finish line.

Real People
Real Food
Real Delicious
Real Healthy

Q& A with Nona
JS: What does “green” mean to you?

NL: To me, being “green” means taking the time to understand what we can do differently to protect the environment but in a way that is thoughtful and sustainable. For example, some of the questions I used to ask early on were – is biodegradable always better than recyclable? If our customers stay in places where there is no composting program, the biodegradable containers actually get thrown into garbage, and then into a landfill, they don’t necessarily compost, so is recyclable containers better since everyone recycles. We are not perfect, and there are always things that we can do better or do differently. Being “green” for me personally is an ongoing process rather than an absolute.

JS: What advice would you give people who are transitioning their diet from conventional to organic? What shopping tips would you give them?

NL:Focus on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. This is the list of fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of pesticides (dirty dozen) which you should really buy organic, or avoid using if you can’t afford organic. On the other hand, there is also the clean 15 – fruits and veggies which have the lowest levels of pesticides that you can buy conventional. Check in with the EWG as they do update the list annually.

Also, besides focusing on organic vs. conventional, a huge step to take towards eating healthy is to drop the HFCS, transfats, preservatives and additives. This means staying away from processed foods that have lots of preservatives or long ingredient name lists that you cannot pronounce. I think it is still better to eat conventional whole foods and vegetables than to eat lots of processed foods that have tones of chemicals in them.

JS: What are the benefits of buying from locally grown/sourced farms?

NL:Besides supporting the local community and all the economic benefits associated with buying locally, I think one of the biggest advantage as a consumer is that you know where your food comes from and what they do with it. For example, the local farmer may not be certified organic as that is an expensive process, but you can talk to him or her, and know that no pesticides was used, and that the produce was grown in accordance with organic standards and/or sustainably.

Follow Cook!SF on Facebook and Twitter!

Meet Amanda Haas

20111005-122218.jpgAmanda is one of the most positive people in the world. With an extensive culinary background and currently publishing her own cookbook, she is continually trying and testing new recipes. She is a Mom above all and has helped numerous families across the country with her recipes. She is an advocate for health which is what makes her one of my most respected chefs.

About One Family One Meal
One Family One Meal was founded on the belief that families do not need to feed children separate, pared down meals every night. The kitchen and dining room table can be the foundation for bringing families together to share healthy, nourishing meals. One Family One Meal simplifies cooking for busy parents by providing family-friendly recipes, menu plans, and customizable shopping and budgeting tools. By following the One Family One Meal program, your family can save hundreds of dollars every year.

Q&A With Amanda
JS: What does being “green” mean to you?

AH: As it relates to food, being green means that I try to buy food from sources that are as close to me as possible so that we cut back on the energy, fuel, and output it takes to bring ingredients to my family. That means we spend a lot of time at the farmer’s market and also reading where our food comes from when we’re at the grocery store. (Whole Foods does an amazing job labeling all of their produce, meat, and fish so you know where it’s from!)

JS: What advice/menu building tips do you have for students or families who are on a tight budget?

AH: Menu plan! That means taking 15 minutes each week to decide what you’ll be making. Then you can make your shopping list from there. This guarantees you’ll waste less food and prevents you from buying food you won’t eat. By menu planning alone, I’ve been able to shave $40-50 off of my $200 weekly budget for groceries for a family of four. It’s incredible!

JS: How would a person benefit (as it relates to becoming greener) from using your program?

AH: By fully using my website (i.e. selecting your recipes from my free database and having it print your shopping list for you), you begin to become aware of what you really need to buy each week. I like to take that list of ingredients and shop my pantry first, so if I already have some of the items I can check them off. You’ll be amazed at how much less you have to buy, thereby creating a smaller carbon footprint each week. Also, you can cut your trips to the store down to once or twice a week, so you’re literally saving gasoline. In addition, my recipes are loaded with whole foods, so in theory you can be supporting local farmers as well.

Follow One Family One Meal on Facebookand Amanda on Twitter

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