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Revolutionize your kitchen with no-waste cooking

Americans throw out 25 to 30 percent of the food they buy, but this wasn’t always the case. “No-waste cooking,” developed by generations of women hit hard by the Great Depression and wartime rationing, used to be the norm. It’s better for the environment, and will save you cash, too! Here’s how to bring it back.

1. Be real. Eighty percent of Americans make weekly meal plans; 65 percent go to the store with a list; 19 percent stick to both. Making an honest shopping list sounds easy, but most of us aspire to eat better than we do. Start by looking at how you ate the two weeks prior: how much you spent, what you ate, what you threw away. With a realistic idea of your lifestyle, buy only what you need.

2. Make it last. Extend the shelf life of produce by storing it properly. If you’re unsure how to do that, just copy your grocery store. Buy unripe produce unless you plan on eating it within 24 hours. Treat fresh herbs like flowers: wrap cut ends with a wet paper towel and store in a cool place. Don’t feel bad about using your freezer; frozen veggies are better than none.

3. Eat all your veggies. Don’t toss the leafy green tops of carrots, turnips, and beets. Almost any greens can be made into a pesto or chimichurri sauce. (Except poisonous rhubarb leaves!)

4. Collect recipes for past-prime produce. Most of us have saved an overripe banana from the trash with a bread recipe. Use other waning produce for smoothies, popsicles, jams, applesauce, and marinara sauce.

5. Reinvent leftovers. Anything can become an awesome pizza, baked potato, or burger topping. Chili and taco toppings are just a few of the leftovers you can makeover into another dolled-up meal.

6. Embrace the dregs. Think the last bits at the bottom of a jar are a lost cause? Wrong! Use a jar of spent peanut butter to make overnight oats. Add olive oil and vinegar to almost-empty bottles of savory condiments to create new salad dressings or marinades. –Annie Shannon

Illustration: Simone Noronha


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Tags: cooking , food , waste


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