Eco-living for the Everyday: Re-thinking the Convenience of Eating

A look at convenient eating and the environment | Luxuriously Thrifty

The other day, my husband commented to me that we should have more chicken breast in the house. Why? Because it was convenient to cook and because, well, we like chicken. It goes with so many meals and is incredibly versatile. While it is probably the most popular choice for many people who consume meat, chicken breast is rarely found in our house. At least, by itself.

We order 95% of our meat from local farmers (if you’re in the Winnipeg area, we order our food from The Dogs Run and Fresh Roots Farm), which means our chicken doesn’t come in pretty little Styrofoam packages, neatly cut up and ready to use. Chicken breasts don’t just run around the farm on their own; chickens comes with wings and legs and thighs and all kinds of delicious bits. Shocking, I know.

The other 5% of meat that we consume in our house? Chicken fingers, chicken burgers, sandwich meat, something that strikes our fancy in the frozen aisle at the grocery store. While we try to buy the least amount of these, and I hawk-eye the ingredient list to make sure there’s no palm oil, these sneaky bastards end up in our cart. Because, well, convenience. And, sometimes, I’m just hungry while shopping, okay?

Convenient eating and the environment | Luxuriously Thrifty

I nodded in agreement with my husband and was about ready to say ‘sure, let’s buy a box or two of frozen chicken breasts to have in the house’ when I stopped myself. Why would we buy MORE meat to put into our already pretty full freezer of meat? We eat quite a bit of meat and I’m trying to cut back on how much we consume. It’s hard, and it’s going to take a long time to get used to consuming less, plus we have tons to use up in the freezer, first. Why do we need more? Especially, more of one specific type when there are so many other choices?

I thought about why we would need to buy chicken breast in the first place. What would we be using it for? Chicken salad sandwiches, stir-frys, tossed quickly into a delicious salad. That was kind of it. Grilling the chicken breast in itself is rarely something we are interested in doing, even when we had chicken breast aplenty in our fridge and freezer.

Which means I had to think back to why we buy meat the way we do.

The reason we buy meat from local farmers is to support local farmers. We can easily find out the practices they have on their farms, we cut down on the carbon footprint of meat traveling from who-the-fuck-knows-where, and honestly, it just tastes so much better. No, our meat isn’t fresh. It’s frozen. But, frozen doesn’t mean bad. I loathe Wendy’s commercials where they toast themselves to never having frozen meat. Listen, frozen meat isn’t the devil. It’s delicious and wonderful and is ABSOLUTELY FINE.

Convenient eating and the environment | Luxuriously Thrifty

But, back to why I stopped myself from buying more meat for literally no other reason than for convenience and what I did instead.

I took more than 3 seconds to think about my life, about the world around me, and stopped myself from careening towards instant gratification only. Because in a world full of Skip the Dishes and Netflix and Amazon Prime, we don’t need any more instant gratification. We can take the little bit of extra time it takes to cook a proper meal and ACTUALLY COOK A PROPER MEAL. It doesn’t even have to be fancy, and you know what? You can make your meals convenient. Without paying extra for delivery.

Instead of buying pre-cut chicken for salads, instead of buying chicken breasts for easy recipes, I’ve turned to roasting a chicken on the weekends. No, it’s not for dinner (although, sometimes it is!), it’s for convenience however weird that sounds. I simply roast the chicken and prepare it for the coming weeks or months.

I roast the chicken, seasoning very little, and take it out to cool. Then, I cut it up and freeze that bad boy (or refrigerate for meals in the next day or two) and have it sitting in my freezer, ready to go and ready to make those simple, easy, convenient recipes….convenient. Without the Styrofoam. Without the extra waste (I mostly freeze them in reusable containers), without buying more meat that we really don’t need.
Convenience has taken over our lives in such a way that simply waiting in line for more than 30 seconds results in anger and frustration. Is your life really that important, really that busy that you can’t wait in line for a few minutes out of your day? If it is, I suggest you take a look at my post about why we need to slow down. Because, waiting in line and letting your mind wander and – *GASP!* – get a little bored, feels pretty good. So does using up the food in your freezer and combating food waste.

Convenient eating and the environment | Luxuriously Thrifty

Whenever I venture out to the supermarket, which is pretty much once or twice a week, I’m shocked by the ‘convenience’ of living. There are towers of salads waiting for busy people to enjoy, stacks of already pre-cut veggies because apparently cutting our own vegetables is just too hard of a task to do. There are the easy meals where the meat, veggies and/or pasta is already seasoned and ready for you to throw on the BBQ or in a pan or the oven. Funnily enough, it’s hard to find whole foods in a grocery store. Okay, well, it’s not HARD. They’re right there when you walk in. But, they’re sparse.

Have you ever gone to a grocery store JUST for the staples you need to live? You know, like vegetables, fruits, some bread, some meat, maybe a cheese or two and a few dairy products? How much of the store do you truly go to? In my local Sobeys, for me to get the things I need to make my meals at home I go down three aisles. Four if I need flour. There have to be 15 aisles, or more, in the entire store. What’s in all those other aisles? Convenience. Easy-to-make noodles, and kraft dinner, cookies, cake-in-a-box, junk food, and canned items. Everything of convenience. And, before you go thinking I’m some sort of hippie wife from the ’50s (sounds pretty dope, actually), I still buy some of these things of convenience. It’s hard not to. What with the deliciousness and the easiness.

But, that’s why when you’re starting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, or if you’re in the middle of one, you need to look at more than just switching to recycled toilet paper or buying bamboo everything. There are so many things we don’t even stop to think about when it comes to our lives because convenience has been so tightly woven throughout it. Ordering take-out is so simple. Ordering an Uber to drive you instead of walking or taking public transit is so affordable (well, kinda) and EASY. But, is it the best route? Sometimes. A lot of the time we can live without.

Convenient eating and the environment | Luxuriously Thrifty

Convenience is becoming the norm and it’s scaring the fuck out of me. We’re become too lazy to clean our houses (hello, roomba), too lazy to make a pot of coffee (Keurig, you’ve ruined us all), too lazy to even fucking make dinner (Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, what’s up, friends… although, like, where were you years ago when I was hungover and needed my McDonald’s delivered?). Our lives have become so busy that we cannot take on the simple tasks of living anymore. Just like buying more chicken when we already have 10 full chickens in the freezer, simply for the convenience, people are throwing away the normality of their lives for an easier ride.

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