To reduce kitchen waste—and to save time and money—I improvise when I cook rather than strictly follow recipes. If you follow recipes for a different dish every night, in no time, ingredients you bought specifically for those dishes but didn’t use entirely—plus leftovers—will overrun your kitchen. You and your family can eat only so much!
Master some basic cooking techniques, such as making soup, and you won’t need recipes because you’ll know what to do with what you have. You may soon realize you don’t need to buy nearly as much food as you had thought. Having said that, do know that I don’t stock my entire list in my kitchen at once. For example, the produce we eat varies by season however, I always have onions, carrots and celery on hand.
With my plastic-free and zero-waste ingredients (all of which are organic), I can cook an endless variety of meals without generating waste. I am lucky to live within biking distance of three stores with decent bulk bins. On Sundays, Vlad goes to San Francisco and drives right past bulk heaven, aka Rainbow Coop, so I often go with him and shop there. At Rainbow, I can buy not only the usual bulk dry goods but also bulk wet goods such as coconut oil, olive oil, olives, honey, peanut butter and so forth. I buy bulk items in glass jars, metal containers and cloth produce bags.
Farmer’s Market Produce
Onions (yellow, white and red); carrots; celery; radishes; cabbage (purple and green); shallots; leeks; cauliflower; broccoli; green beans; zucchini; squash; potatoes; beets; turnips; parsnips; salad leaves; sweet peppers; hot peppers; eggplant; mushrooms; tomatoes.
Apples; oranges; lemons; limes; pears; grapes; peaches; plums; strawberries; raspberries; blueberries; watermelon; cantaloupe; honeydew melon; figs; pomegranates.
Garlic; ginger; parsley, cilantro; rosemary; basil; thyme; dill; chives; sage.
Dairy and Eggs
Non-homogenized whole milk; raw milk; half and half; heavy cream; yogurt; unsalted butter; salted butter; pastured eggs.
Fish and Seafood*
Salmon; tilapia; swordfish; shrimp; mussels; scallops.
Meat and Chicken*
Grass-fed ground beef; grass-fed stewing beef; chicken thighs; ground chicken; chicken sausage; pancetta; proscuitto.
Olive oil; coconut oil; olives; pickles; capers; soy sauce; raw honey; sea salt; Himalayan salt; tomato paste; tahini paste; peanut butter; anchovies; vinegar (scrap and kombucha); molasses; maple syrup.
Tea and Spices
Black tea; oolong tea; Earl Grey tea; herbal tea; bay leaves; black peppercorns; ginger; cloves; allspice; cardamom pods; whole nutmeg; cinnamon (ground and sticks); oregano; rosemary; dill seeds; mustard seeds; cayenne pepper; crushed red chiles; coriander (ground and seeds); turmeric; cumin (ground and seeds); fennel seeds; fenugreek seeds; amchoor powder; garam masala; paprika; saffron.
Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts; almonds; hazelnuts; pecans; pine nuts; pistachios; sunflower seeds; pumpkin seeds; poppy seeds; chia seeds; hemp seeds.
Golden raisins; Thompson raisins; figs; dates, apricots.
Black beans; white beans; fava beans; pinto beans; chickpeas; barlotti beans; butter beans; lentils (red, yellow and green).
Orecchitte; spaghetti; macaroni; fettucine.
Rice and grains
Basmati rice (white and brown); arborio rice; sushi rice; steel-cut oats; rolled oats; couscous; quinoa; teff; wheat berries; sorghum; bulgur wheat; barley; millet; polenta; buckwheat; flaxseed; popcorn.
Whole wheat flour; whole wheat bread flour; white flour; white bread flour; rye flour; spelt flour; pastry flour; corn meal; masa flour; semolina; cane sugar; sucanat; coconut sugar; confectioners’ sugar; light brown sugar; cocoa powder; chocolate chips and morsels; flaked coconut; baking soda; baking powder; cream of tartar; cornstarch; citric acid; vanilla beans; vanilla.
*We eat very little meat and fish.