Getting Started in Cooking With Less Food Waste

Welcome! We're so glad you're interested in cutting down on food waste. If you're not used to using up all your food, here are a few things to keep in mind as you cook. It might require a bit of a shift in your thinking, but we hope it's worth it when you eat delicious food and save money. The basic principle of reducing food waste - and this website - is the following idea: 

Instead of picking a dish then going grocery shopping, take a look at what you have and create a dish around it. 

It's all about reframing the way you decide what to cook. Take a look at the food you have - maybe some wilted herbs, a few fresh veggies, some random cheese, and eggs. You could make a great meal with just those items - or another dozen recipes if you have some pantry items too. Instead of buying more food to fit a certain recipe, build a meal with what you already have.

That means...getting more flexible and less specific. 

You'll notice that a lot of the recipes on this site aren't exactly precise. Sure, if you're aiming to perfectly recreate a dish from a cookbook or produce something complex like pastry, you'll want exact measurements. But most of the things we buy don't come in exact measurements, which is why we end up with weird amounts left over. Where are the recipes calling for a quarter hunk of cheddar and a bunch-minus-a-tablespoon of thyme? To use those ingredients up, you've got to get more comfortable cooking with the amounts you have. 

Our goal is to empower you to make creative decisions and make you more adaptable in the kitchen. 

You might have noticed that every time you make a certain dish with a parsley garnish, you end up throwing out the rest of the parsley. So now it's about figuring out what to do with that parsley - and building a delicious dish around it. Some meals are about following a recipe to the letter - and the versions we provide are delicious if you do – but we're also here to support you finding your own way. It might seem intimidating (or stupid, or disastrous!) to follow these random ideas instead of precise instructions, but as you cook more and use more ingredients, you’ll become a more creative cook. And that’s a huge step to throwing out less food.

How To Use This Site

The next time you're thinking about what to cook, take a good look at what's in your kitchen. Check your fridge (especially the oft-ignored crisper drawers), your pantry, your counter - and assess what needs to be eaten. Wilted salad greens? Wrinkled tomatoes? Limp broccoli? Check those sections using the menu sidebar to get some ideas on what you can do with those foods. 

You'll learn in Lighter Leaves that you can refresh those greens in an ice water bath for a salad. While they refresh, you scan the Stems, Stalks, Buds and Flowers page and choose to roast the broccoli. After forgetting that tomatoes are a fruit and finding the Veggies That Are Actually Fruits page via the Search button in the top right corner, you decide to stick the tomatoes in the oven with the broccoli. 

Now that you've got all these building blocks, you check the Hero Recipes page and see that you could combine all these items in a Whole Grain Bowl with the cooked farro and leftover chicken in your fridge. You use up the last of the mustard making an Easy Vinaigrette and then toss it all together. Instead of throwing out $10 or $15 worth of groceries, you've made yourself a fantastic meal out of what would have been wasted. 

Even if you only rescue one item at a time, or one item a week, everything you salvage means more food saved, more money saved, and less waste in our landfills. Don't feel you have to be perfect! You should feel good about everything you manage to save, because every little bit counts. Step by step, we hope you get more accustomed to, and more excited about cooking with food waste. We're so happy that you've joined us on our goal to make more meals a Food Waste Feast.