How Pandemic Lunches Gave Me Hope for the Planet

Leftovers. Leftovers can be key to saving the planet.

There was a lot of chicken during the pandemic. Skin and bone chicken thighs and chicken thighs free of both. There’s a rotisserie that was bought pre-cooked in the store and whole raw chicken roasted on onions, carrots, and potatoes. It’s almost every dinner. But dinner is not the solution to climate change. It’s lunch.

My children Max, who has just turned 11, and Zoe, who is 15, now have lunch with me every day in my kitchen. In the past, they would pack their own lunches, take them to school, and eat in the privacy of their own cafeterias. And before that, I packed your lunch with cheese sticks or yogurt tubes, berries, pretzels, granola bars, tiny Tupperware made from nuts, goldfish crackers and carrots.

But now I work at home while they teach at home, and in between Zoom meetings we all make our own lunches. Yesterday I ate chicken breast slices with avocado. Max made sliced ​​apples and hot cheddar cheese. Zoe did what she always does: mixed greens, red peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, nutritional yeast, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans and chicken breast slices. She is trying to get nine colors on her salad. She remembers the game we played when she was 3 years old. It’s hard to hit nine vegetable colors, but she’s getting closer. Sometimes she adds corn.

It’s all very healthy of her. Compared to Max and me, it’s a walking multivitamin. But her pandemic achievement is that she doesn’t waste food. She remembers her half-cut red peppers from yesterday. She fries four sweet potatoes on Monday and eats half of them every day. For breakfast, it makes the claim of Generation Z on breakfast: avocado toast. She only uses half an avocado and saves the other half for the next day. Although Max is less invested in eating colors, he makes cheesy rice from last night’s dinner topped with leftover cheddar cheese and a leftover baked potato topped with a pile of salad.

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