Be a Better Cook

100 Ways to Be a Better Cook: Cook With the Planet in Mind and Create Less Waste

Part of being a good cook is being efficient with your ingredients (and it's great for the environment, too).

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60. Save your bacon fat

Pour it through a fine-meshed sieve into a jar, cover and refrigerate. Use it to add a little smoky flavor to a dish. (Pro tip: Swap some in place of a portion of the butter in cookies.)

61. Use vegetable scraps: Part I

Vegetable trimmings are not only edible, but also delicious. Chop and sauté beet or radish greens, blend some of those carrot tops into pesto, season and fry potato peels into chips

62. Use vegetable scraps: Part II

“I keep a reusable silicone storage bag in my freezer for veggie scraps to use in stock at a later date,” says plant-based chef and food photographer Sam Schwab. Save the ends of onions, garlic peels, celery bottoms, fennel stalks and ginger peels.

63. Befriend your freezer

“For limiting waste, I’ve learned that you can freeze just about anything,” Schwab says. “I love freezing things like extra herbs, tomato paste or sauce in an ice cube tray for perfect portions.” You can also freeze avocados, ginger, lemons, pancakes, nuts, seeds and leftover canned chipotles.

64. Master a catch-all frittata

“Frittatas are a great way to use up leftovers,” says Sweeney. “Roast any leftover vegetables, add any bits of cheese or fresh herbs that are looking a bit sad. Everything comes together in the frittata, and it makes a quick breakfast.”

65. Prep produce when you get it home

“Wash leafy herbs and store airtight in dry paper towels, trim and wash your celery, fennel and other sturdy vegetables and store in reusable silicone bags, and wash and dry your lettuces to store,” Bench says. “These steps will make reaching for those ingredients mid-recipe much more pleasant.”

66. Toss salad smartly

If you make a salad that might be too much for one meal, dress only as much as you’ll finish, and leave the rest undressed. This way, leftover salad will still be usable the next day.

67. Create a FIFO system

Professional kitchens practice FIFO – first in, first out – to make sure food gets used up before it goes bad. When you put away your groceries, place the new item behind or below the old one.

68. Recycle bread and crackers

Save your bread heels, and use going-stale bread to make croutons or bread crumbs. Give broken crackers and cracker crumbs new life by using them to bread fish or chicken, or as a binder in meatballs.

69. Shake up nut butter dregs

Make a luscious salad dressing by adding oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to a jar of almost-used-up nut butter. Shake well and toss with greens.

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