My three favorite environmentally and toddler friendly dinners

toddler friendlyI admit that I am very lucky.  My toddler will eat pretty much anything that we are eating.  Don’t hate me.  It’s just luck.  And it might not last.  Here are a few of our favorite meals for now.  They are all vegetarian, since eating low on the food pyramid is good for your carbon footprint.  They also all avoid the oven, since it’s the biggest energy hog in the kitchen, other than an old refrigerator.


#1: Loaded potato salad

I microwave the potatoes to save energy and time.  For six potatoes, poke three or four fork holes per potato and microwave ~six medium potatoes for 10 minutes.  Then I check them with a fork to see if they are done.  Sometimes the larger potatoes need a couple more minutes.  Then I slice the potatoes and put them into a salad bowl, and add the juice of one lemon,  olive oil (I just pour what is probably about a quarter cup), salt (to taste), diced olives, sliced red peppers, and tons of mint from the garden.  I also crumble a bit of soft tofu into the potatoes, and them mix it all up with a large serving spoon.  To save even more energy, I sometimes use the crockpot for the potatoes. To do that, I just poke a few fork holes and put the potatoes in the crock pot for two hours.  They don’t need water or oil, or anything.  (I very rarely find this convenient time-wise, but it does save energy!).


#2: Pasta

I microwave the pasta too (now the Italians are going to kill me, but it saves energy!)  I boil water in my electric kettle, pour the boiling water over the pasta into a bowl, and then microwave for 9 minutes.  For sauce, I use our induction stove.  I add a bit of olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot.  Once the oil is hot, I add a diced onion and 2-4 cloves of garlic.  Then I add 4 or 5 diced tomatoes, and cook for about 10 minutes.  I add a few pinches of salt.  At this time of year I add lots of fresh basil and oregano from the community garden in our neighborhood (I can only keep mint alive in our garden somehow, so am very grateful to the community gardeners who have offered to share their herbs).  In the winter I use dried basil and oregano from the pantry.  After I strain the pasta, I add it to the sauce on the stove and toss it all together.  I usually serve with some shredded mozerella on top.


#3 Crock pot bean soup

I either prep this meal before bed and let it cook overnight, or I prep it in the morning and let it cook during the day.  I slice up carrots (and/or whatever veggies I have) and garlic, add a splash of olive oil, and cover with water (about an inch for lentils and split peas and three inches for dried beans).  I add a spoon of vegetable boulion too.  I cook it in the crock pot on low for eight hours.  If I have it on hand, I add a spoon or two of tomato paste.  The crock pot uses about the same amount of energy as one of those old incandescent light bulbs, and barely heats up the kitchen (unlike those old light bulbs!).



Do you find it hard to figure out what’s for dinner?  What are your favorite go to meals?

About Keya Chatterjee

Keya Chatterjee is a Climate Change and Environment expert, and Director for International Climate Policy at World Wildlife Fund. Her work focuses on the environmental crisis facing the planet, and what policies and measures should be taken to ameliorate the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Keya’s commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets including USA Today, CNN, and NBC Nightly News. Keya resides in Washington, DC with her husband Andrew and her son Siddharth. She enjoys practicing yoga, biking, and spending time with her friends and family. She is working on a book about how to have a baby without raising your carbon footprint to be published in 2013 by Ig Publishing. Keep up with Keya’s writing on the nexus of climate change activism and motherhood at