Garden Lifestyle

Tips for Keeping a Waste Free Kitchen

This holiday season is the ideal time to rethink your approach to cooking and eating. It’s easy to get started with "Waste Free Kitchen Handbook" by Dana Gunders.

Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, by Dana Gunders, is filled with easy-to-implement tips and tricks for saving money by wasting less food.

Even though I’ve been working for years to maintain a waste-free kitchen, there’s always room for improvement. I plan meals to avoid lingering leftovers, make my own vegetable stock from vegetable peels and use the freezer to preserve garden-grown produce. I’ve also written about ways to prevent food waste.

But I’m an amateur compared to Dana Gunders, author of Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, a guide to eating well and saving money by wasting less food (Chronicle Books, 2015). Gunders is a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a passionate advocate for preventing food waste.

Her book is certainly an eye opener.

If you’re one of the average Americans that throws away about $30 a month in uneaten food, you need her book.

Gunders breaks down the kitchen experience into smaller portions so they’re easy to digest. Her tips cover everything from smarter grocery shopping to better options for storing groceries when you get home. The Refrigerator Demystified illustrates how to stock the fridge to “help your food stay fresh the longest.”

Another useful portion is being able to make the right amount of food without waste. The table of “How Much Should I Make?” gives a list of different types of food and the amounts to plan per adult and child.

Gunders has a good sense of humor and her lively writing keeps it interesting. The chapter on Salvaging Kitchen Crises is a good one for anyone who’s ever burned, oversalted, or overcooked a dish. Her tricks can save food from the garbage disposal.

She even gives recipes for using leftovers to create meals instead of creating trash. Broccoli Stalk Salad, Anything Goes Soup, and Sneaky Black Bean Brownies take leftovers to a new level. 

I found the section on Household Uses for Food Scraps especially enlightening. I’m looking forward to trying banana-peel shoe polish, coffee facial scrubs, and Easter egg dye. 

Vegetable gardeners will appreciate the chapter on Composting, too. Gunders gives tips for backyard composting, but also composting for apartment dwellers. Her down-to-earth ideas make it easy for anyone to get started with a bit of creative thinking.

Even if you take just a few of her tips to heart, you’ll be on your way to making a waste-free kitchen a way of life.

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