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Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money By Wasting Less Food

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  640 ratings  ·  128 reviews
Despite a growing awareness of food waste, many well-intentioned home cooks lack the tools to change their habits. This handbook—packed with engaging checklists, simple recipes, practical strategies, and educational infographics—is the ultimate tool for reducing food waste. From a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council come these everyday techniques that call f ...more
Paperback, zero waste home, zero waste book, sustainable living book, 200 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Chronicle Books (first published May 19th 2015)
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 ·  640 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
A beginner’s guide to reducing food waste that includes generic information on meal planning, sticking to a shopping list, freezing food, composting, and food storage tips, among others. I’m not looking to use food before composting it (polishing shoes with banana peels) nor do I subscribe to feeding my dog table scraps to reduce waste (?!). By definition, this is not a riveting topic, but there is probably something to be learned for everyone. I was surprised/horrified by the information on por ...more
I heard about this book on NPR (link), and it is totally amazing. Combined with the 99% invisible episode about best by dates (link) and the movie at last year's film festival about food waste (Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story), I've been spending a lot of time thinking about food waste (and waste in general). This handbook is a great starting place to help you store food better to minimize waste, what to do to revitalize something gone a bit bad, and some recipes for using foods you might otherw ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Did you know that sour milk is safe to use? Or that potatoes that have gone a little soft are fine, but once they've started sprouting shoots, they are toxic? Or the right way to stock your fridge so as to maximize the freshness of the food contained therein? I did not, until I read Waste Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money by Wasting Less Food. At the time this book was published (2015), 40% of the food that was produced in the United States was being thrown away. Tha ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
An excellent, practical guide about reducing food waste. I'm now on a mission to learn more about food waste. It's the next stage in my journey to learn about food.

This book is organized into little sections and has lots of tips and tricks about how to cut down on food waste in your kitchen.

(North Americans waste about 1/4 of the food they purchase. That's a huge waste of both money and food!!)
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
I'm giving this five stars, but not for me. For you. For everyone who doesn't know about the food waste problem, or for those that know about it but don't know what to do. For the people who throw out hundreds of dollars of food every year, some that much in a month!

I'm a overly eager non food waster. I compost, but it takes me so long to fill my compost inside that it starts to rot, because I use so much of my scraps. In fact,, my 1 gallon compost bin is usually 90% coffee grounds. That's not
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very useful book to have on hand. Some parts were already known to me, such as planning menus to use up leftovers and avoid wasting food. Others were new, such as which vegetables and fruits do better in high- or low-humidity produce drawers, and the fact that some refrigerators allow you to adjust the settings of each drawer. Other useful material includes which food scraps are safe (or unsafe) to feed your pets; the difference between "sell by", "use by" and "best by"; and composting, as wel ...more
Sherry Monger
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it

I think we are all looking for ways to be more efficient and less wasteful, and this book gives many ideas on how to achieve this. The author talks about planning better before grocery shopping since many of us end up having to clean out and throw away fresh items that did not get used in time. She also talks about "best before" dates and how to store items so that they have a greater shelf life. At the end are recipes designed to utilize such things as wilted lettuce, soft vegetables and dated
Penny Ramirez
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hannah
This was a good collection of information - none of it was new to me, but it was nice to have it all in one place.

I struggle with food wastage, having been raised by Depression-era women. I hate to see how much I and my family throw away, and to read the stats on how much we waste as a nation is appalling. However, the methods outlined in this book will be difficult to enact, particularly for the fussy eaters in my family.

Perhaps if it were framed as a "how to survive the zombie apocalypse" meth
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a very basic book.
If you are new to cooking - or have been born yesterday in general - you may find tons of useful information here. Otherwise, it's full of well known facts and just some little bits of creative ideas or suggestions on how to use your scraps (you may love them, you may laught at them, but at least they are new).
So. It's ok. Nothing wrong with it. Just very basic.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook" has a lot of really solid tips on how to avoid throwing your food in the garbage. Some of the tips I was already familiar with (like saving your scraps to make your own veggie broth), but some of them were so clever, I was astounded that this isn't common practice in every home (like freezing your leftover pasta sauce or soup in muffin tins, so it's easier to grab however many servings you want from the freezer). Some tips were so obvious that I felt like a bonehead ...more
Lauren Salvato
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought the book had great information and visuals. I don't think I'm the right audience - I already compost and am very conscious about my food consumption. I hope it reaches those that could change their habits and make a larger lifestyle change. ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked the way this book asks you to look at how you are using food, storing food, and eating food and see how you can do it better. I've already rearranged the fridge and now have the book in the pantry so it is easy to reference when I need to check the best way to store something. ...more
Valerie Vlasenko
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
It turned out that thanks to lockdown I already knew most of the tips recommended in this book. Most of them are simply common sense. Yet if you are looking to upgrade your kitchen even more the book might be useful to peek into
Fullfaun Faun
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Diagrams on What should go on which shelf of the fridge, Recipes, how to can and preserve food.
Freshness dates, etc.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cooking-and-food
There are a couple of big take-aways from this book. One is that the biggest way to avoid throwing food in the trash is to only buy the food you're going to eat. Gunders recommends a ruthless audit, making note of every piece of food pitched in the trash for two weeks, with explicit reasons why those food items got pitched. Not "it was too old," but "I didn't feel like eating it the night I was supposed to cook it." And based on the results of said audit, Gunders recommends either religiously me ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I think that this book is more between a 3-4 star. I agree with some of the information that was in the book and some it was super helpful. One part that I didn't agree with was where it it said to cook less from scratch. I disagree, but the book was enjoyable as a whole. ...more
Judi Serrato
I read about half of this book and realized that very little of this information is new to me. However, it still contains good and useful info and if this topic is new to you I would recommend it.
Brittany Petruzzi
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food
Excellent. Truly helpful.
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, green
Super handy tips for how best to buy, store, preserve and prepare food to avoid spoilage and waste.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: envybooks
I first saw this at the library, read some, and decided to buy it.

I love this book, as well as "My Zero Waste Kitchen" but after reading both I was a little confused, as they had some information in one that was contradictory to the other book. For composting, each book had different ratios (green to brown) & recommendations. I was left uncertain and "winging it." I will need to buy a book on composting to compensate. I will say though that although I initially did not love composting in the sum
May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Kinda hard to rate this one because I didn't exactly read this for a riveting read. I guess I'll say it's more of a 2.5 star because there is some really good info in here. It's worth getting alone for the directory in the back that tells you how to store fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products to get the most out of them (including tips on freezing which is really invaluable).

Otherwise it's pretty standard information that I think most of us know (or at least, we should)--food waste is terr
Violet Laflamme
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
A lot of good info but this really read like a 101 in a lot of ways. I guess it is so I can't dock too many points for it. Recipes follow in the same vein, basically the same ideas you'll find in anything about using up leftovers. Having said that, where this book earns some points back is the detailed guides it gives on how to store most common fruits and veggies, a guide on how to control portions at parties, and more than the standard one or two ideas about compost.

I have to review this book
Liz VanDerwerken
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As if I haven’t evangelized this book enough... this is a practical and useful guide to home cooking with more efficiency and precision to best utilize your monetary and food resources to best effect. I’ve noticed some small but significant shifts in my habits with food shopping and preparing since reading this book and implementing its ideas. It was an approachable resource and I enjoyed reading it cover-to-cover, but it is also organized such that it is easy to reference a specific topic or se ...more
Juli Anna
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
I've read a number of books about reducing kitchen waste and this was by far the most thorough and practical one I've found. If you are looking for a cookbook full of trendy recipes for things like carrot-top pesto, you won't find them here. There are only a handful of practical "use-it-up" recipes and very few pictures. But there is so much useful information on cutting down food waste that I've never seen consolidated in one place before: things like what human foods are safe to feed to pets o ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hobbies
Very informative book about trying to be more aware of your own food waste. I got it from the library, right after cleaning out my refrigerator and threw out way too much food. This book is helpful for people new to this idea and for those who want to go hard core. I liked the recipes at the end. The best I do to reduce waste is when we move and I am very conscious of the food I need to get rid of and not waste...I don't plan on moving any time soon, but that attitude may help a bit. The only co ...more
Rachel B
A great, thorough book for beginners - people who realize they're throwing away a lot of the food they buy and want to change, but don't know where to begin.

Gunders covers accurate meal planning, how to use leftovers, non-food uses for foods, how to keep foods fresh for longer, and more. There are 20 recipes here, most of them fairly basic in the use-it-up world, like soup, but a few looked good. (Also, the book isn't primarily a cookbook, so I'm not rating it on that alone.)

There is a bit of re
Dec 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The tips in the bulk of the book are pretty simplistic and useful only if you need something very introductory. If you're already doing basic things like freezing leftovers and know you can eat most things past their "best by" date, you're not going to get much new information. The directory section, however, is very useful since it's food-specific instead of general tips. I also cringed at the times the author looped in weight with food waste to point out cutting down portion sizes is good for ...more
Krista D.
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really solid beginner book, as well as a decent reminder and brush up (especially for reminding you which produce goes into which crisper, and which fruit gets stored in paper vs plastic).
It covers a lot of topics in a basic way - how to freeze, what to freeze, canning, a handful of recipes, how to meal plan (incl lazy days).

I found the main text font difficult to read (I borrowed a print copy from the library), but the diagrams were much easier to read.
Merrill Medansky
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Easy to read, easy to follow.
If you've ever felt guilty about throwing away that lettuce or the rest of the lunch meat, this book is for you. It will guide you to behavior changes that will minimize your waste and coach you on plant-friendly ways to dispose of food past its prime. I think I may actually buy this one.
Mercer County Library System
A great kitchen resource for those learning or brushing up on how to buy, store and eat food properly with as little waste as possible. The book contains information about various ingredients from the main food groups: vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, etc. and how to make the best use of them. There's even recipes for using up scraps! (Reviewed by Julia, Lawrence branch) ...more
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22 likes · 4 comments
“About 40 percent of all food in the United States does not get eaten.1 That’s crazy!” 0 likes
“Food now represents the single largest component of municipal solid waste brought to landfills, where it also releases methane, a greenhouse gas 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And if that weren’t enough, it costs Americans $1.5 billion a year just to dispose of the wasted food.17 The impacts of food waste are not limited to the United States, however. The footprint of food that is lost or wasted across the globe is estimated as follows. 28 percent of all agricultural land— an area larger than Canada18 38 times the volume of water used by all U.S. households19 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent; if it were a country, uneaten food would be third in its greenhouse gas footprint, after the United States and China20” 0 likes
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