It made me sad that I ate so many box dinners, processed food, and frozen meals when I actually really love to cook, so I started to look at the foods I ate. While I was looking at the food I brought into my home I also started looking at the garbage I was taking out. I did this for ecological reasons, but I soon realized that what was healthy for the planet was also healthy for me.
Cutting out processed, refined foods pushed my diet towards a whole-foods, plant-based diet, which meant I shopped more on the outer edges of the grocery store, at farmer's markets, and at health food stores. I still wanted cookies, crackers, and chips, but now I made them for myself, which meant I ate less of them, and that they contained no nasty chemicals. Best of all, I get to slow down my day while I cook, spend time with people I love while I make food for them, and practice my knife throwing skills. That last one has had positive and negative effects, but everything else has turned out to be a wonderful, adventurous experience.
I know that it takes more time and preparation to cook everything from scratch, and there are still times when I turn to packaged food to provide a quick fix, but in all honesty I spend a half hour more a week grocery shopping, and only twenty more minutes a day to prepare dinner (forty minutes if I'm trying something novel, but who doesn't take a little more time when learning a new skill?). I know I'm a little odd in that I think grocery shopping, cooking, and doing dishes are fun activities, but I think all three of these things can become more enjoyable for anyone if they appreciate why they are doing them.
I like washing the dishes I've chosen for myself because I like the way they look, I like the way they serve me, and I like the fact that by using them I can eliminate the need for saran wrap, tin foil, and paper towels. I like bulk shopping because I know exactly what I am feeding my family, can choose exactly how much I want to buy at a time, and truly only pay for the food, not the packaging it comes in. And I love how much more I enjoy and appreciate my food now that I spend time preparing it myself. Best of all, through this small investment of time and money I'm healthier, have more energy, and am maintaining a desirable weight.
A zero waste kitchen isn't about getting rid of garbage and only eating gross, fiber-filled food. It's about learning what I put into my body, finding the best sources for those materials, and figuring out how my great-grandmother can bake light, flaky, buttery-wonderful bread, while mine is little more than wheat rocks. And if I don't make any garbage while doing it, then good for me.