Eat Smart, Waste Less
Still throwing away food despite your best intentions? Chefs and dietitians share their tips to help you get closer to a zero-waste kitchen and bring new life to those leftovers, food scraps, and stems.
Stop throwing away perfectly good food—and money—with these tips and recipes for bringing new life to leftovers.
TTHERE OUGHT TO BE a specific word to describe the feeling of throwing out perfectly good food that still has prana, or life force—you know, the leftover rice from Indian takeout, the broccoli stalks your kid won’t eat, those egg yolks when the recipe only called for whites. It’s a combination of regret, guilt, and ultimately surrender, because really, what are you going to do with a handful of veggie stems?
“We’ve gotten used to using only the ‘ best’ parts of our produce and meat, and tossing the ugly parts,” says New York City chef Eddie McNamara, author of the vegetarian cookbook Toss Your Own Salad. We’re also up against modern food production and marketing methods, which have moved us unconsciously toward overbuying and wasting, and away from the wise methods our grandmothers used for stretching a pantry— and a dollar. In fact, up to 40 percent of food in the US gets thrown away, and food waste is the single largest type of trash going into municipal landfills, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, 49 million US households struggle with food insecurity. The dissonance that comes from wasting sustenance is tragic.
The good news: Implementing a few simple strategies at home can help you eat more consciously and make good (and tasty) use of things that would otherwise end up in the trash or compost. “Food is precious, whether it’s been raised, grown, or foraged— and part of living consciously is using all of it,” says yogi chef Louisa Shafia, co-founder of Magpie Cookshop, a line of eco-friendly kitchen products. “There’s a feeling of deep satisfaction when you find a way to make stray ingredients or leftovers into something delicious and nourishing. It’s a way of practicing ahimsa, or nonharming, toward the earth.” Read on for easy ways to preserve food and transform your scraps into delicious meals.