"Having a zero-waste kitchen means buying less food in the first place, reusing whatever you can, however you can, and throwing less away." ~ Kate Turner, My Zero-Waste Kitchen
In my pursuit of eating vegan and wasting less food during this holiday season, I chose to read My Zero-Waste Kitchen: Easy Ways to Eat Waste Free by Kate Turner to up my game. “Globally, we waste a third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). In the United States, that equates to approximately one pound of food wasted per person per day.”
The author starts her book with the classic mantra, “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.” Throughout her book, she sprinkles graphics displaying tips and recipes on how to preserve food and to cook with food scraps and leftovers. I especially like her infographic delineating the zero-waste journey. The book explains how to backyard compost and how certain kitchen tools, like silicon baking mats and water filters, can diminish packaging waste. It even provides a DIY pattern to make reusable cloth bowl covers to replace plastic wrap.
My Zero-Waste Kitchen emphasizes how meal planning is integral to an excellent zero-waste strategy. This includes using leftovers for future meals. Making shopping lists helps one to buy only what one needs. Buying dry goods in bulk helps save money and prevent packaging waste. As with any good zero-waste strategy, one should avoid discounts as much as possible as they just encourage one to buy more! The book also gives an excellent example of planning a week of meals from one original dinner consisting of a roasted chicken. Labeling and tracking what food you eat and throw away also assist in reducing one’s food waste. (This also helps one keep a food diary.)
The book shows how to check food for freshness, and it’s mainly, "The nose knows!” There is also some advice on how to visually check food for spoilage as well. A large part of any zero-waste kitchen strategy is how to use all parts of one’s food. There’s an infographic showcasing how to use every part of an egg, even the eggshell! Recipes on using vegetable scraps (those parts such as tops and tails which one usually throws out) and leftovers run throughout the book. A common use for vegetable scraps is making soup stock, but tired greens can also add nutrients to a smoothie! Stale bread can be used to thicken up soups. The author additionally discusses how to grow one’s food from vegetable scraps.
What interested me the most was how to store food correctly. I have thrown out rotting produce and even animal products over the years. My greens wilt too quickly, and it’s all due to improper storage. Kate Turner details which parts of the refrigerator are best for what foods. She also explains how the best ways to preserve various foods, such as freezing, dehydrating, and vacuum-packing. I’m also intrigued with cut-herb keepers. So, go read this informative book for some inspiration on wasting less food in your kitchen!