A home cook shares her thrifty, ecologically conscious tips for reducing kitchen waste.
Americans have been known to waste an astonishing amount of food, pitching usable food scraps, salvageable kitchen disasters, and other edible items into trash bins by the ton. MacLeod (The Kitchen Paraphernalia Handbook, 2017, etc.) aims to help change that with this easy-to-use reference book, which she describes as “a food first-aid kit.” In it, she catalogs alternative, creative ways to use a bevy of common food items, from dried-out almond paste to surplus zucchini. This isn’t a cookbook, however; instead, it’s a handy guide for amateur chefs who might wonder about how to salvage a watery tomato sauce, what to do with leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, or whether limp lettuce can be revived. But although there are diverse suggestions here, readers will have to consult their favorite cookbooks or the internet for specific recipe instructions. Still, for a slim book, it’s remarkably comprehensive, and the author isn’t afraid to suggest uses for foods that many might ordinarily toss out. There’s guidance on what to do with fish heads, for instance (make fish stock or deep-fry the bones), the whey left after making homemade cheese or yogurt (use it as a substitute for whey powder in smoothies or as an alternative to buttermilk), and flat champagne (put it in waffle batter). Nor are the secondary uses limited to cooking: She notes that empty coffee pods can be used as seed starters; flat cola works as slug bait in a garden; and juiced lemon halves can clean copper pans. Even the vinegar used to descale a coffee pot, she asserts, can be used to freshen drains. After browsing through this book, readers will likely feel inspired—and perhaps even a bit guilty over all the food they’ve wasted in the past.
A successful book that makes reducing food waste seem fun and easy.