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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Happy Earth Day!

It’s almost here, one of my very favorite days of the year!  Earth Day this year is Sunday, the 22nd.  Ben and I have had many eco-friendly habits engrained in us for a long time, such as recycling, and they are just a way of life.  However, every year around this time I like to reevaluate and think about new ways we can help conserve resources and nourish the world we live in.  Over the past year my main focus in this regard has been to continue to eliminate packaging waste associated with our food and its preparation.  I have been DIYing everything from salad dressing to stocks and broths to chocolate syrup.  I even started making my own yogurt (pretty significant for me, who eats it every single day) and kicked my Starbucks habit by finding ways to make knock-off beverages at home with flavored syrups.  I started cooking dried beans for use in our meals instead of canned – again significant because we eat bean-centric meals at least a few times per week.  We continue to eat less meat in general and all the eggs, poultry, and meat we do eat comes from a local butcher shop/farm with sustainable practices.  No styrofoam packaging here, thanks!

This year my goals have two main objectives.  First, I want to focus on our garden. We’re hoping to put in some raised beds and grow even more than we did last year.  We are also looking into rain barrels and composting.  This spring we canceled our former lawn service after giving some thought to the various chemicals they use and how those affect both the environment (yuck) and our kids (can’t even handle it).

My second area of focus will be lunches.  Though I have no trouble making our breakfasts and dinners from scratch, lunches can be hit or miss.  If we happen to have leftovers I’m all set, but if not, I may end up buying something at work or nearby.  I leave for work very early in the morning I receive a generous meal allotment that can be used in almost all of the hospital restaurants and cafeterias, making it far too easy to just grab lunch on the go.  But every time I do and I walk away with a styrofoam container, I cringe.  So, this year I will be focusing on preparing lunches that are both nutritious and delicious to help me resist the temptation of “I’ll just grab a quick bite…”  If this is something you are interested in as well, let’s do it together!  I plan to do a series of posts with different lunch ideas and tips to encourage brown bagging it…though I suppose reusable bagging it would be preferred.

You didn’t think I’d let Earth Day pass without some giveaways, did you?  I’ve got a few of my favorite eco-friendly items up for grabs.  These are all things I use on a regular basis and can’t recommend highly enough.  Visit the giveaway pages linked below to enter!
All U.S. residents
RuMe Bags – 2 sets of 3
Flip and Tumble produce bags – 4 sets of 5
Sigg 1.0 L water bottles – 3 bottles

Indy locals
$35 gift certificate to Green BEAN Delivery – 2 certificates
$25 gift certificate to Moody’s Meats – 2 certificates

I hope you all have a wonderful Earth Day weekend.  I’m so excited to teach Andrew about it this year since he might actually understand what I’m talking about!  If you need some inspiration for your Earth Day goals, check out my post from last year.  People left comments with TONS of great suggestions.  Now go hug a tree!

  • Stevie

    Daww just look at my nephew! Awesome post

  • Miranda

    I can’t seem to follow your links. Not sure if it is an issue on the site or if its my computer acting funky…but thought you should know! I’ve been working on cutting down on our waste as well and doing a lot more from scratch, and have a similar issue with lunches. Mostly I PLAN to make enough for my husband and I to have leftovers for lunches, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. So I’m totally with you on working harder to make sure we have a backup plan and not just grab convenience foods.

    Happy Earth Day!

  • Traci

    I absolutely love your blog. I am so excited for your lunch ideas. I’m pretty good about bringing my lunch but I do get sick of my standby of a turkey or ham sandwich and look forward to your inspiration!

  • http://fourandtwentyblackberries.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth

    I have those produce bags and they are absolutely amazing!

  • Mlsutterfield

    I’ve never seen the produce bags! Awesome!

  • Mandy Appel

    My suggestion is for your garden: Grow herbs! When summer is ending, you can dry them and use them all winter (and they’re SO much better than store bought)! It’s just awesome knowing where your food came from; even the chiffonade of basil on top.

  • Egdeltaz

    Love this post! I take my kids out on earth day to do a neighborhood clean up of trash. At home we all have reuseable insulated lunch bags and water bottles. We recycle as well!

  • http://tideandthyme.com/ Laura

    I really love all the DIYing you’ve done, and shared with us over the years. We’re revamping the herb garden on Sunday, and Drewby is stoked. Happy Earth Day, guys!

  • kim

    cannot WAIT for the lunch posts! i try to bring my own and love having new ideas!

  • Allanna

    I Love all the DIY recipes that you have posted this past year. I think I might be more excited (if it is even possible) whenever I see a new DIY recipe on your blog. I know I’ll never have to worry if a recipe will turn out when I use one from your blog! Thank you so much for all you do. Your not only making better choices to help the earth you are inspiring others like me to do the same as well!!! Have a Happy Earth Day on Sunday!

  • annieseats

    I actually do grow tons of herbs. We’ve been doing that for several years :)

  • Doortje

    Hello Annie,
    First of all, I love reading your blog and recipes, especially the bread/pizza dough ones since I love making my own bread and pizza!
    As far as making lunch, I make lunch every single day for my 3 kids (middleschool/highschool and elementary level). I started doing this after our move from Europe to the US. The lunches at school are so unhealthy (in my honest opnion). If I look for lunch recipes it always amazes me how complicated they are. We’re just used to a simple, healthy but great sandwich! It doesn’t have to be culinary every day!
    I hope you come up with some of your lunch ideas on your blog! Thanks for all the effort you put into your blog, it’s greatly appreciated!
    Dorothea, Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Anne

    We live in the city and don’t have much room to grow a garden (though we always manage a few tomato plants every year). Last year was our first year joining a CSA in the area. We have signed on again this year. We know now that our produce is being planted and harvested within a few miles of our home, without pesticides and other chemicals. We even have an opportunity to take the kids to the farm a couple of times over the summer to see it in action. It’s great!

  • http://themollybuckley.com/ still being [Molly]

    this is so awesome! i love it!! i’m also really excited because Target is giving out free eco-friendly bags on Sunday so i definitely am going to snatch one up!

  • Kaitlin Z

    I love your blog Annie – Your cookies and cream cupcakes have been requested from my husband for the last two years on a monthly basis. I switched to a vegan diet and have found most of your recipes are easy to veganize :)

    Something small that I started to do was to stop buying bottled water everyday! I drink a lot of water. I love water! Sure I recycled the plastic bottle but it’s still so wasteful. I bought a reusable water bottle, put my gross filtered water in it (I’m picky about how water tastes, ha!) and started to flavor it with cucumber, lemon and mint. It’s so delicious!

    Being vegan – I make most of my own everything (cashew based sour cream/cream cheese/queso) so it’s a win win :) 75% of my diet is fresh produce so I go to a few local farmers markets during the week. I got rid of all my plastic containers and switched to glass. It’s better for the food, my health and the environment. Another win win!

    Happy Earth Day! I’m fortunate enough to live in DC so I’ll be attending the festival downtown. Yay!

  • Becky J.

    I love produce bags!! I always take them along to Trader Joe’s and our local farmer’s market. I also have cut WAY down on the number of ziplock baggies I use by packing snacks and lunches in small, snap-top reusable containers that are easy for little fingers to get into.

    My last comment is: do you have a place at work where you can keep a reusable container for when you do have to pick up a quick lunch? In college I started bringing my own container because I also felt guilty about the waste.

  • Atorres891

    Love the lunch idea….looking forward to those posts because I want to start bringing my own lunch!

  • Holly

    Local baby! We are in a organic local buying club, visit the farmers market to support local artists and farmers, bring our own bags to the store (any store!) and a whole lot less meat that is always local have an open farm policy (gotta see if they are proud of they way they farm) Due to a move, we couldn’t do our normal summer garden but will be back in the swing by late summer/early fall! Love cooking based on what is local and in season, SO tasty! Thanks for the blog and loads of inspiration!

  • Madison

    I’m really excited to see your lunch ideas! I run out of ideas and end up going to get something for lunch, which is a waste of time, money and resources. Plus, its usually not very healthy. Happy Earth Day!

  • Emilyparsonshamilton

    Those veggie bags look awesome!

  • Emily

    I can’t wait to see your lunch posts! As a college student it’s always so easy to fall into the trap of buying lunch on campus, but it’s just so wasteful and expensive! I definitely need to get better at preparing and bringing my own lunches from home. Looking forward to seeing your posts!

  • http://thebakingapprentice.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth

    I love those little crackers!

  • Sstiehm

    with your meal allotment at the hospital….maybe invest in YOUR OWN take out comtainers- ones that are reusable and washable…. that way you can have convenience and no waste….just an idea :)

  • Laura

    I love hearing the changes you’re making to benefit your family and our earth. That you’re not trying to do it all at once makes it seem doable for all of us, too! Isn’t there a marked difference in the flavor of dry beans cooked at home vs. canned beans? I put dry beans in the crock pot and let them cook overnight–they come out so creamy with little effort on my part.

    My absolute favorite thing these days is to buy these: http://www.biobagusa.com/ for my kitchen garbage. They come in different sizes and the 13 gallon bags fit my garbage container perfectly. I’ve tried other brands and they don’t hold up as well as these bags. Silly as it may sound, I feel so happy when the trash goes out. They’re not cheap, but if one less plastic bag doesn’t reach the landfill, then I know I’m doing part of my part. No, I don’t have financial interest in the company that makes the bags! ;-)

  • MV

    Those are great goals – I can especially identify with the struggle at lunch time. I just found out that I will be starting my residency in internal medicine in July (yippee!) and I think making sure that I have good nutritious lunches will be an important part of surviving the day! I’m excited to see what your recipes and suggestions for those lunches might be!!

  • Dana Isenberger

    Great giveaways!!! thanks

  • Mary

    Have you heard about Mason Jar Meals? I was introduced to them through the blog “Big Red Kitchen”, and I’ve been doing those for lunches with pretty good success. I’ll make up a few jars on Sunday afternoon and have grab-and-go lunches for the days when leftovers just don’t cut it.

    I also have used mason jars to store prepared salads, which make EXCELLENT easy lunches. When you remove the air from the jar through a vacuum seal attachment, the greens stay crisp all week long. The blog “Salad in a Jar” has a great tutorial for that.

  • Michelle

    I would love to reduce my garbage bag waste by using reusable more often.

  • http://muddledmom.wordpress.com/ muddledmom

    We do trash-free lunches. There are a lot of great reusable container options out there. I did a post about how much trash my family has cut down on. The amount of napkins alone was unbelievable. Thanks for helping to spread the word. It can be done! And you’re right. I hadn’t even thought how much DIYing helps too. Your site is always inspiring.

  • Cassandra Flannery

    I was just asking some of my friends about reusable produce bags…I think I use like 10-12 plastic ones a week from the store and it drives me nuts. These look awesome. I really hope I win!!

  • Cassandra Flannery

    I also buy a lot of bulk bin items. Flour, beans, nuts, etc. Do you have an suggestions for reusable bags for these items? The mesh doesn’t work for things like flour & spices.

  • Anne

    I wonder how hard it would be to convince the cafeteria to switch over to more eco-friendly take away containers? Or to get them to offer it as an option? I’m a grad student at a large state university, and many food venues recently switched over to some sort of biodegradable (maybe some sort of recycled cardboard? not sure) take away container that’s much better than styrofoam. I think there’s a 50 cent surcharge for take away meals, and if you eat-in you get real dishes. I know trash is still trash, but some of it is at least better than others.

  • http://thatswomenswork.blogspot.com/ Tracy

    Gosh..this post is like reading something straight out of my own head! I too make my coffee drinks at home now and used dried beans. Well, I actually can my own beans, but it’s still the same thing. And, I’m getting ready to plant my garden! Oh..and let’s not forget the two laying hens I’ll be getting soon :) Good for you!! Good for us!!
    and P.S. ..the Mexican rice recipe that you posted ages ago is the best Mex rice I’ve ever had! I make that recipe all of the time now. It truly has become a family favorite!

  • Jhank623

    Earth day! I planted four fruit trees here in Michigan and I’m so excited! I love the bags! Jen w.

  • Amanda McGann

    It’s so fun to hear all your eco-friendly and sustainable ideas! For us Vermonters those are absolutely community ideals! Keep it up! :-)

  • Bethany

    I wish I was local! Great giveaway items!

  • Marty

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple weeks now -and loving it! I’ve gotten tons of great ideas. But I somehow never put it together that you guys are in Indy. I’m from Fishers, but moved to SC about two years ago. My Indy blogs hold a special place in my heart. :)

  • Melissa

    Can’t wait to see your lunch ideas! My husband and I take our lunch pretty much every day (him because he’s cheap :) and me because I can control the calories easier), but when we don’t have leftovers from dinner the night before, it can be very difficult coming up with good options.

  • annieseats

    I’ve tried that, they don’t allow it.

  • Laura

    I’ve admired those produce bags for a long time. It’s great that you reevaluate what you can do for the environment each year. Who says resolutions have to be for January 1st? Thanks for setting such a great example.

  • lee

    I love earth day! We have come a long way, we compost, 2 large gardens, recycle, and we just got some chickens!

  • Molly

    I drink alot of water, and carry it in a bottle that has seen better days. :)

  • Vicki Bensinger

    Happy Earth Day to you. So many great ideas. If I understood you correctly you work in a hospital. If that’s correct they of all places should not use styrofoam. Can’t you say something to them? I find it hard to believe they still use that stuff. Although not too much surprises me Anymore.

  • gumdropcookies

    Hi Annie! These are great goals. I just wanted to share what my labmates and I do for lunch: we get lunch at the cafeteria, but bring Tupperwares for them to put the food in. We wash and reuse the Tupperware for the next lunch… so we get cafeteria food, but in more eco-friendly containers!!

  • Jaime

    I just love your blog! It’s one of my favorites. I’ve got some pretty basic goals: reduce clutter, make homemade, and live simply. This year I’ve planted a more extensive veggie garden and started to educate myself on how to expand even further, beyond tomatoes and snap peas! :) I’m learning about raised beds, too. And this may be silly, but my most exciting moment was learning how to make homemade PAM spray!

    I’m an Indy local, too!

  • jenni

    would love a little earth day love from you. it would be great to win one of your prizes…especially the produce bags. i hate buying vegetables and putting them in all that plastic. most of the time, i’d rather not, but then….the result could even be more catastrophic. it’s great that we’re all doing our part to help the earth…but more importantly, to help ourselves. thanks for such a great site. i’d love more bean-centric recipes…we’re trying to eat more healthy as well. do you have a fantastic black bean burger recipe you’d like to share?

  • Esherman10

    I LOVE your site and all of your recipes! Thanks for all of the inspiration! Would you consider doing a post on the best ways to use/cook dried beans? I would love to start using them more rather than having to waste a can each time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601131334 Lindsay Conant

    I love this post.. it makes me so happy to see other people trying to be eco-friendly and increase sustainability practices! My graduate program is incredibly eco-friendly (largely thanks to the director of the program). I moved to Boston from Portland, OR and when people have found out where I’m from I’ve had them say, “Oh, so you must be big into recycling, right?!” haha, I love it! (and yes, I do recycle!)

  • Amy Maybury

    I’m a big fan of leftovers for lunch!

  • Sarah

    Awesome giveaway!! Thanks for all the work you put into your blog. It’s my favorite!

  • Caitlintreml

    I am going to try that chocolate syrup thanks for the great ideas!

  • annieseats

    Yes, I thought of that too but our hospitals won’t allow it. So dumb!

  • Ami Frost

    Happy Earth Day! I stumbled on your blog a few months ago and have never stopped coming back! I love how your recipes are delicious but simple (usually!) Thanks for providing such a great blog!

  • Kimi

    Awesome giveaway

  • Rhea

    Love your website!

  • http://www.unsweetenedcocoa.ca/ Unsweetened Cocoa

    I appreciate hearing about your year-long efforts to stay “green.” And the picture of your little boy in the garden is absolutely precious!

  • Lidia

    I will be making your recipe for homemade greek yogurt as soon as I buy a thermometer. Thanks for the recipe! Love your site. BTW your kids are ADORABLE!!

  • Mwoodley@aol.com

    Looks like a great give away. Love reading this blog. Thanks!

  • http://www.vegetariancasserolequeen.com/ madge

    Oooh! What a great idea and thanks for mentioning those blogs!

    Chopping lettuce is one of my least favorite daily activities. I’d much rather do it once a week.

  • http://dinnerfornone.wordpress.com/ Kiki

    Hi Annie, just wanted to let you know that I passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to you at http://dinnerfornone.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/hat-trick. I wasn’t able to find out whether you’ve received it before, so I hope you haven’t…

  • Beverly

    I enjoy your blog tremendously! Your pizza recipes are the best and those cupcakes are so creative and yummy. I don’t know how you find the time to do all you do, but sure am glad you do!

  • MonaLisa

    Leftovers! I cook in BULK twice each week for our lunches. My husband and I are both the envy of our cafeterias at work. Some things are easy to freeze in single serving pyrex dishes (soups, chili, etc), and other items we eat for several days like stir fry and salad mix. Our co-workers are always jealous. Today is my bulk cooking day. I had better get on it!

  • Rachel

    I bought these lunch boxes for my kids: http://store.goodbyn.com/Goodbyn_Original_Pineapple_p/20065.htm
    They have been the best thing ever!! No waste, and their food stays fresh and doesn’t get smashed. I highly recommend them for kids, but you probably wouldn’t want to be seen walking around the hospital with one!

  • Konnie

    Love your blog! Our family is trying to be more earth friendly as well. Recently started to compost. My elementary aged kids just love to see what happens each week in the compost it is amazing how quickly things break down. Can’t wait to use this in my garden and on my lawn. Also starting some raised bed gardens this year. Would love to see a post about preparing the dried beans and storing for various dishes. Also tips on the herbs you go and dry would be great!

  • gabbydancer1

    I was just about to suggest the same thing. I try to keep a container or two with me all the time so I can bring home leftovers. I can’t believe the hospital you work at does not allow this. Is it for sanitary reasons?

  • Wendy Wollin Tung

    Love this-great ideas, and good reminders. I really enjoying reading your blog-thanks for all the inspiration!!!!

  • Anna

    Great for packing sandwiches or snacks:

    http://www.lunchskins.com/

  • http://twitter.com/aCoupleCooks a Couple Cooks

    This is awesome, Annie! I love these giveaways! Let us know if you want to talk gardening or composting too :)

  • Cwells

    Looking forward to the lunch ideas. I am like you, if I don’t have left-overs, I have to buy lunch. And frankly, I would rather not eat out. Love your blog, have been reading for quite a while.

  • Resi

    Hi Annie, great blog post as always! Could you share the recipe for thos cute cookies? They look like they could by salty/with herbs/with cheese, is that right or are they sweet? I’d love to hear about the recipe anyways! Happy Earth Day! Resi

  • Ikenberryk

    Annie,

    I’ve been back and forth on the reusable bags, but I am ready to commit. I was going to sew my own. Any reason you love those that I should consider before finding a pattern to sew up up a storm?

  • Jessamyn Peace

    Have you ever heard of Melaleuca products? They directly sell all sorts of products for the home, including non-toxic, highly researched cleaning supplies, but also bath supplies and makeup. I just started using them and one of the things I really like is that they are super concentrated, cutting down on the plastic they send to you (since you add water at home) and the containers are reusable…just a thought. I’ve loved the peace-of-mind I have using cleaners and other products in my home that I know are healthy and promote wellness to others. Thought you may like them too :)

  • Jennifer Pace

    I always enjoy reading your blog and trying your recipes!

  • annieseats

    Thanks for the tip!

  • annieseats

    I think I said it all in my post (as well as last year’s Earth Day post), but they hold up forever (still like new after 4 years), fold up super small, and each bag holds up to 50 lbs.

  • ann kelly

    I LOVE these veggie bags

  • Tasha Fontenot

    We have had raised beds for about 6 years. We LOVE gardening! This past year my husband also made a rain barrel system. And on Earth Day after we planted our tree we were able to water it with the rain water in the barrels. We felt SO green!!!!
    Good luck on the raised beds!!!

  • Jayne Barnes

    I love your blog! Since I’ve started reading it, I also am making my own yogurt, chocolate syrup, iced coffee… and more to come, I’m sure. We live on a farm and raise our own chickens for meat and eggs. We also have 200 beehives (we make our living from beekeeping). If you ever want to try our honey I’ll send you a sample! My next project is raising rabbits for meat. I know… it sounds weird, but I feel like the more I know where my food comes from, the better for our family and for the environment. I appreciate the time you put in your blog and you aren’t always trying to advertise or sell us stuff! :)

  • http://atthepatisserie.wordpress.com/ Ann P.

    Wow Annie, you are so environmentally responsible, and very inspiring! Thanks for this post–i know you are reaching a ton of people!

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