Live Your Values: How to Eat Sustainably

Live Your Values: How to Eat Sustainably

Written By:
Lindsay Jarrett ‘22
Contributing Writer
Connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn

Like many college students, I find relaxation and creativity in cooking and trying new recipes. However, with a busy schedule, I must plan out meals in advance and try to stick to a reasonable budget. Before I go to the grocery store, I look through my fridge and pantry to see which ingredients I already have to include in the week’s recipe to decrease food waste and extend my dollar .

Today I found:

  • Castelvetrano Olives (open jar in fridge)
  • French Green Lentils (pantry)
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes

I do not subscribe to a specific diet, but I typically do not include meat in the lunches I bring to school. I often look for a recipe that will make enough servings for the week, will keep me full through our 1:30-4:30 pm class, and is easy to take to school in a glass Tupperware. This week, I decided on Sarah Jampel’s Just-Keeps-Getting-Better Lentil Salad, published on Bon Appetit.

Burlington’s local Co-op, City Market, is a great option for shopping locally and sustainably. My experience has taught me that if you’re strategic when shopping, you can stick to a budget and minimize waste. For this recipe, I put together my grocery list, gathered my reusable shopping and food storage containers and headed to the market.

Here’s what I bought:

  • Organic Tuscan Kale $3.29
    • TIP: No need to put in a plastic or compostable bag! Just straight into my basket.
  • Raw Almonds $1.75 (on sale)
  • Organic Scallions $1.99
  • Garlic $0.96
  • Lemon $0.69
  • Cumin Seeds (from bulk bin) $0.16
  • Feta Cheese $4.99
  • French Green Lentils $1.21
    • TIP: I measured out my lentils before I left, and I did not have enough for the recipe. I emptied the bag into a bowl and used the same bag in the bulk section to purchase the remaining amount needed.

TOTAL: $15.04

City Market curates seasonal produce from local farms in Vermont; however, the winter season means most of the current produce is procured from other regions in the United States or abroad. The feta I purchased is local from Maplebrook Farm in North Bennington, VT.

Next, I laid out all ingredients for the recipe and began preparing. I followed the recipe exactly as written.

In the end, the recipe filled one large Tupperware and one small Tupperware. This created  about 4-6 servings, a perfect amount for the week and brought the price per serving between $2.50 to $3.76.

As a sustainability student, I am also conscious of the waste I produce when cooking. This recipe left me with the following:

COMPOST: Burlington has a mandatory compost law, so food waste must be discared properly through pick-up services, local drop-offs, or personal composting practices.

  • Kale stems
  • Garlic skins
  • Lemon
  • Olive pits


  • Glass Olive Jar – Wash and recycle or use as a jar for bulk shopping in future
  • Small paper bag used to purchase cumin seeds from bulk bin – can be used again in store

WASTE: It’s difficult to eliminate packaging when purchasing produce from the grocery store, but mindful shopping habits and recipe choices help reduce waste.

  • Wire and tag from kale bunch
  • Rubber band and tag from scallion bunch
  • Sticker from lemon
  • Paper towel used in recipe

Many recipes will not use the entire amount of your purchased ingredients, so I view meal planning as an iterative process. I consider what I have leftover, and base my next meals off of any remaining ingredients. Here are a few recommendations based off the recipe above:

  • Scallions
  • Feta
    • Scrambled eggs, or top the salad with a bit more throughout the week
  • Raw Almonds
    • Snacks!

Winter in the Northeast means produce often travels far to reach our plates, but through mindful grocery shopping we can reduce our impact and still be creative in the kitchen. We are lucky to have amazing growers in the area, and the Burlington Farmer’s Market will open on May 7, 2022. I look forward to cooking with local produce this summer, and not only shopping sustainably, but also supporting local businesses!