Is cooking at home more environmentally friendly than dining out? We investigate if home-cooked meals are more environmentally friendly than eating out, from ingredients to energy to food waste.
People who cook at home have healthier diets, according to research, but is home cooking also better for the environment?
While the environmental effect of what you eat is more important than how (or where) it is prepared, cooking at home is often healthier for the environment than eating out.
Making meals at home allows you to acquire sustainable foods, waste less food, and use less energy, but it also has a lower environmental effect, especially if you eat a plant-based diet.
Do you want to know what elements might determine if a meal prepared at home is more ecologically friendly than one prepared at a restaurant? Continue reading!
Table of Contents
- When cooking at home, you have complete control over the sources of your ingredients.
- You can control food and packaging waste by preparing meals at home.
- The energy consumption of a domestic kitchen is lower than that of a commercial kitchen.
- Cooked-at-home meals are healthier for you, the environment, and your money.
- Is this to say you shouldn’t go out to eat?
When cooking at home, you have complete control over the sources of your ingredients.
Consider this: when you prepare a meal at home, you know exactly where each component comes from. Lettuce from the farmers market, beans from your local grocer’s bulk area, spices from your favorite online spice shop, and a drizzle of imported Italian olive oil
Based on your dietary tastes and principles, you make educated judgments about where to buy each component you bring into your house.
When dining at a traditional restaurant, bar, or café, however, it’s nearly difficult to determine where each component came from. Is the fish taken sustainably and follows the Seafood Watch rules of the Monterey Bay Aquarium? How far did the coffee and wine have to travel to arrive here, and were the growers compensated fairly? In most circumstances, you won’t know the answers to these questions, thus you won’t be able to assure your food is supplied sustainably.
You can control food and packaging waste by preparing meals at home.
Food waste is a major issue across the food chain, from farm to plate, at restaurants and at home.
Nonetheless, certain aspects of the food chain waste more food than others. Approximately 4 to 10% of food purchased in food service companies is wasted before it reaches the customer (FoodPrint). Restaurants create 2-4 times the waste of grocery shops, retail supercenters, and wholesale distributors combined, according to the National Resources Defense Council’s study Wasted, and just 2% of the food thrown by responding national restaurant chains was given.
Consumers, on the other hand, are the major food wasters in the food chain (that means you and me). In fact, according to NPR, 40-50 percent of overall food waste occurs in the house due to poor meal planning, which leads to overbuying, over-preparation, and failure to read product labels.
What can you do to cut down on food waste and packaging waste? Cook in your own kitchen!
You are likely waste less food than the average home kitchen if you follow green eating practices like selecting local and seasonal products, shopping in bulk, and developing a weekly meal plan. Cooking the bulk of your meals is another approach to reduce food and packaging waste when combined with sustainable behaviors like composting and recycling.
The energy consumption of a domestic kitchen is lower than that of a commercial kitchen.
Have you ever considered how much energy it takes to keep your home kitchen running? Probably not, but compared to the enormous, energy-intensive commercial kitchens found in restaurants, it’s simple to understand how your little stove and appliances would use less energy.
Food service organizations cook in volume, which can be more efficient than someone preparing each meal at home; yet, a commercial kitchen consumes about 5 times more energy per square foot than a typical residential kitchen.
Cooking at home minimizes the amount of energy required, which has a lower environmental effect.
Cooked-at-home meals are healthier for you, the environment, and your money.
People who make more meals at home rather than going out have healthier diets with more plant-based foods, are less likely to be overweight, and spend less money on food overall, according to a 2017 research. (source)
There are likely a number of reasons for this: restaurant portions are typically larger than what we serve ourselves at home, it’s easy to overestimate how hungry we are when eating out, and restaurant food tends to contain higher fat, sodium, and sugar-containing foods…all of which can contribute to overeating.
And studies have repeatedly proven that healthy human diets rich in fruits and vegetables are also healthier for the environment, making plant-based diets a win-win situation!
Is this to say you shouldn’t go out to eat?
Certainly not! We think that food should be both good for you and good for the environment, regardless of where it is produced. That implies that what you eat is more important than where you consume it, so a plant-based diet will always win out over an animal-based diet, whether you’re dining at home or at a restaurant.
How can you make sure you’re eating your greens when dining out? Choose eateries that are environmentally friendly! Choose businesses who are devoted to obtaining sustainably grown, ethically sourced goods and that provide plant-based meal alternatives when spending your food expenditures. Looking for a green restaurant? Search the Green Restaurant Association’s Dine Green Guide for eco-friendly establishments in your neighborhood.