Regardless of how often any of us cook for ourselves, we're all still contributing to the country's growing food waste problem. Among the country's biggest proponents of food waste reduction is chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti Earth, who recently dropped by our test kitchen to make his versatile and delicious Garlicky Coconut Soup. Here are his four best tips for getting the most from your ingredients and leaving behind the least.
1. Stretch your leftovers to the max.
For Mehta, the key to avoiding food waste is to simply use everything that you cook. "Whatever you have can go into a dumpling or a roll or a bun or a sandwich," he says. "Try to utilize leftovers in different formats."
- One Fifth of the World's Food Goes to Waste
- This Grocery Store Fuels its Delivery Trucks with Food Waste
- 5 Beautiful Dishes Made with Kitchen Scraps
2. When in doubt, fry rice.
"Make a fried rice. Even if you only have four tablespoons of meat left and a cup of potatoes and a little spinach, fried rice is great for that," Mehta says. "Or make a baked dish, like a quiche. They're very easy and quiche is great for scraps and leftovers."
3. Start using your stems.
"A lot of people are used to using recipes where you pluck the leaves, but throw away the herb or vegetable stems," he says. "You can totally use them all though, just chop the stems up and put them into your soup. Rosemary stems are tough, but you can dry them out and make them into rosemary powder instead."
4. Learn to use the whole bird.
"Most people are so used to trashing the neck and gizzards immediately, but you can use them to make chicken soup," he says. "Or if you’re roasting a whole chicken for yourself and your family, why not save the bones? Use those, along with the neck and gizzards, to make even more soup."