This week I’m sharing another book I felt compelled to read after seeing a brief mention in an article — and it didn’t disappoint! Waste Free Kitchen Handbook turned out to be both a interesting read and a useful reference, breaking down the topic of food waste into easily digestible chunks. It’s jam-packed with charts, infographics, tips & tricks, and how-tos — as well as fairly appalling facts about how much food we waste, both individually and within our larger food system.
From eye-opening statistics (such as the fact that reducing food losses by one-third could save enough food to equal the total diets of all 50 million food-insecure Americans) to household uses for food scraps (dying Easter eggs; using avocado skins to start seedlings), Waste Free Kitchen Handbook covers a startlingly wide range of topics for such a compact little book. If you’re looking for some easy-to-implement basic strategies to help you stop food waste in your own kitchen, Waste Free Kitchen Handbook is worth a look.
Start at the store
Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with the food purchasing pitfalls Gunders describes here: Impulse buying, overbuying, and buying ingredients with the best of intentions but later finding that life has other plans.
You might think you threw away that bag of salad greens because it went bad. But why did it go bad? Most likely, you didn’t do a good job of matching your shopping trip to the reality of your week. So as with other commitments in your life, when you’re buying (and thus committing to) food, choose wisely.
Well, if that doesn’t sum things up nicely! And she’s right: I don’t know about you, but my shopping eyes are sometimes bigger than my stomach. Something looks good in the store, sounds great for later in the week, wasn’t on my list but looks like a great deal… but if I don’t have a good plan for that food, or if I don’t stick to my plan for that food, the chickens occasionally get to feast on forgotten produce at the end of a busy week. Oh, and: The book even includes a chart on the do’s and don’ts for feeding scraps to chickens, too!
Learn how to store
Gunders also talks about how to store different types of food properly, including shelf-life, expiration date, and freezer storage advice, and provides a number of helpful food safety tips — as well as ideas on ways to use up the ends and pieces and scraps that we often end up tossing. I’ve been making vegetable broth from scraps for a few months now and try to to otherwise make a habit of using up leftovers. I am, however, intrigued by the use-it-up mentality in some of the recipe ideas here such as “sour milk pancakes,” as well as some of the suggestions for regrowing veggies (since I haven’t moved much beyond rooting green onions!).
The combination of wiser shopping habits and wiser food usage can also help us save: When we end up tossing out food, we end up tossing away the hard earned money we just spent at the grocery store. Gunders throughout addresses both the personal monetary savings and the societal and environmental savings that go along with wasting less food. This one little book covers everything from shopping strategies, to expiration dates, to food safety, to storage guidelines, to uses for foods scraps, to composting — and more.
While you may not implement all of the suggestions here, any step you take starts you on the journey towards reducing your own family’s food waste. After reading Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, I immediately cleaned out my refrigerator. (The less said about what I found in the back, the better!) But I now feel ready to start again from scratch and to take my own small steps today.
What are you reading this week?
What have you been reading lately? Tell us about it! 🙂 And, you can browse all the What’s Rachel Reading? book reviews here.