Books & Resources,  Gifts

Greener Meals! Book review: One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones

For this month’s post I originally wanted to focus on plastic-free ideas in keeping with the global monthly theme but I’ve gone a bit off course. Mainly because I can’t wait any longer to share this wonderful book. While it’s not directly about cutting down on plastic, reduced plastic use is sure to be a welcome side-effect.

Eco-aspirations aside, isn’t it easy to get stuck in a food rut? Eating the same boring dinners, day in, day out. Perhaps you guiltily chuck away limp or even mouldy foods lurking at the bottom of the fridge? Wishing things could be different!

On top of this, it’s no secret that meal planning can be a right pain. And, of course, failing to plan is a huge contributing factor to the mountains of food waste that are seriously bad news for the planet.

If only there was a collection of quick, easy and sustainable recipes that would help you avoid food waste and food miles…. Greener mealtimes without the faff.

I am pleased to say: the search is finally over.

Packed full of sustainable recipes that are high on taste, low on waste (see what I did there?), One: Pot, Pan, Planet makes it easy to use up every ingredient. And you’ll be relieved to hear that doesn’t mean eating the same three meals on repeat.

Premise of the book

Anna Jones is a well-respected cook, stylist and food writer. As well as writing food columns for the Guardian newspaper, she has published a number of recipe books since 2014.

Anna acknowledges that although we urgently need government-led change in food systems if we are to have any hope of saving the planet, there are still lots of small choices we can make to eat more sustainably every day.

Fired up by this concept, Anna started writing One: Pot, Pan, Planet pre-pandemic in 2018. She completed it during 2020 – the year when the world as we knew it was turned upside down. Something that changed how so many of us were (and to some degree, still are) feeling about food and life in general.

Without meaning to sound preachy, being more sustainable in your approach to food isn’t a ‘nice to have’. It is essential. This book is your trusted guide.

Recipes and more

Let’s start with the stars of the show: the recipes.

They’re based around seasonal fruit and vegetables grown in the UK and low-impact grains, pulses, herbs and spices. Some do contain non-UK ingredients, including lemon and coconut milk. But Anna deploys these sparingly to be regarded as treat / luxury ingredients.

As you’ll see below, all recipes have been grouped into pot, pan or tray cooking which is handy. And saves on washing-up too! Now, of course, some of the recipes do take a bit more time and effort and require more than one receptacle but they’re worth it.

The book also contains a wealth of thought-provoking detail about how our food choices impact the planet and positive action we can take. For example:

Why we should look at the whole supply chain when choosing food – including how items are grown, fertiliser and pesticide use, fuel used for harvesting machinery and water use. These matter just as much as how the food is transported. Some items grown in season in Europe or even Brazil and transported to the UK by boat, have a lower carbon footprint than foods produced in the UK out of season in heated polytunnels or greenhouses.

The best ways to store food to reduce waste – including some great ideas for avoiding wasting the Most Wasted Foods in the UK (in case you were wondering: bread, potatoes, milk, bagged salad, fresh fruit and veggies, cheese and eggs).

How to approach waste reduction depending on what type of cook you are – Anna identifies three typical ‘types’: Daily Cooks (who decide what to cook that day), Weekly Planners (who love to plan or are unable to shop frequency) and Batch Cooks (who cook a few big meals to last all week).

Book structure 

There are nine parts:

Introduction: How to use the book, the context for its creation and how it can help you be more sustainable

Chapter 1: Pot – 20 recipes that can each be made in one pot. Curries, stews, soups and even a rice pudding

Chapter 2: Planet I – Eating for health and sustainability, the ‘protein question’, how not to waste food (and money), the most wasted foods and how to save energy (and money)

Chapter 3: Pan – 19 recipes for pan cooking. Rosti, pakoras, flatbreads, savoury pancakes, fritters, shakshuka and frittata

Chapter 4: One Veg – A series of ten quick and easy side and main recipe ideas each for favourite veg including broccoli, squash, peas, potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans and greens

Chapter 5: Quick – 23 speedy recipes including pies, rice, noodles and pasta dishes

Chapter 6: Planet II – Supporting biodiversity and soil health, what foods to fill your plate with, food miles, living with less plastic and seasonal cooking

Chapter 7: Tray – 31 recipes for oven tray baking. Tarts, more pies, more pasta, baked dhal and biryani, roasted veggies, savoury crumble, stew, cakes, cookies, tiffins and brownies (YUM)

Chapter 8: Waste Less – Using things up, Vegetable dressings, frittatas and soups, herbs, pestos, sauces and smashes

Highlights

This is the only cookbook I’ve ever bought where each recipe I’ve tried has been a total hit. First time round too.

With most books there tend to be a few duds. If there are any in this, I’ve yet to find them.

My favourite recipes so far have been:

  • Pine & Crane peanut cucumber noodles
  • Aubergine & peanut stew with pink onions
  • Persian noodle soup (more like a rich stew with lentils, cannellini beans, spaghetti, greens, pine nuts and spices)
  • Carrot dhal

The ‘One Veg’ theme in Chapter 4 is particularly special (there are over 100 recipes in this chapter alone). Great if you find yourself with a glut of anything. Hello, fellow veg boxers.

Now, the vast majority of the recipes in this book are for dinner and lunch with a few breakfast ideas too. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Chapter 7 is where you’ll find most of the dessert and treat recipes.

No more boring

This book really does put veggies centre-stage and there are so many new and accessible ideas for cooking them. If you’re vegetarian, the days of eating dull, plastic-packaged spinach cheese-filled pasta are well and truly over.

If you or someone you know is toying with giving up or reducing their meat intake and needs some tips, this book would be a great starting point to showcase just how delicious and versatile veggie food can be.

And so many of the recipes include vegan adaptations which makes it super easy if you want to go entirely plant-based for all or part of the week.

The book also really helps with eating more veg. It makes getting your 30 plant-based foods per week a breeze. Something that’s great for your gut and overall health.

Finally, the design of the book is the icing on the (veggie) cake. It is visually attractive with a clear and engaging layout. There are also loads of arty photos of the dishes and a few photos of Anna too.

So, if you’re looking to eat more sustainably by eliminating food waste and reducing food miles or if you’re looking for inspiration so you can add more variety and health to meal times, One: Pot, Pan, Planet has the answers. And if you’re stuck for present ideas, the book would make a fabulous gift for the veggie-loving eco-warriors in your life.

Maybe you’ve already got a copy? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which recipes you like the best. Please share in the comments below!

One Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones. Published by 4th Estate, RRP£26.00, available online and instore from all good bookshops. 

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