Wow, the right book at the right time, written by the right author for the job: my colleague, Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN.

I have a thing against wasting food. It seldom happens in my house, and we plan our meals – and often modify them – so as not to waste anything. Even so, Zero Waste Cooking for Dummies still taught me a bundle.

What I love about Zero Waste Cooking for Dummies:

  • It’s thorough! She answers every question you’ll ever have about maximizing your food dollar and deliciously using every perishable food you have.
  • “Keeping the Environment and Your Wallet in Mind” (page 43). Yes, what you buy and eat are important, but throwing away less food has even more impact on the environment. Rosanne shows how to do both. It’s not “either/or”.
  • “Free-from” label myths: This book busts them. You’ll learn to see through some of the fables on those labels.
  • She lets you be you: Rosanne doesn’t link food with morality. No food is “bad” to her, she encourages you not to limit your options or flavors!

Best Of All: The Recipes

They show how to “upcycle” food scraps into delicious sides, dishes, and smoothies (even cocktails!) that taste like an indulgence, not a compromise.  Zero Waste Cooking for Dummies teaches you to waste less food while it also hits that trifecta with your meals:

  • Delicious, easy recipes
  • Time-saving convenience
  • Wallet-friendly
  • Bonus: you’ll be more environmentally friendly

Tweaking The Recipes Is OK!

I did just that, to use up some lingering ingredients.  We needed to use some frozen beef cubes and a shank before they overstayed their welcome and got freezer burn. The result was a riff on Rosanne’s “Beef Stew with Potatoes, Carrots, and Peas” (page 147):

  • We used our remaining farmer’s market potatoes, onions, and carrots, per the recipe.
  • Didn’t have frozen peas, so we steamed up the half-package of haricot vert in the crisper that needed rescuing.
  • We upped the tomato paste to ¾ cup because we didn’t have a can of tomato sauce.

Yes, we took some liberties, but in the name of preventing food waste, I know Rosanne would approve – it’s what Zero Waste Cooking for Dummies is all about! Oh, and it tasted terrific, and we’re making it stretch for two more dinners, so six portions total.

AND OUR MEAL IS STILL PLANT-BASED!  Along with the stew’s potatoes, onions, and carrots, a big salad accompanied this meal. Think including beef means it’s not “plant-based”?  Read the part of her book where she busts this myth (page 39).  I also weigh in on the facts about the “plant-based” definition here.)

Every kitchen should have this book, and I don’t say that lightly. But before you put it on the shelf, put it on the counter and use it: make your own notes in it, dogear the pages to reach easily, and if you tweak the recipes, Rosanne would be thrilled, because you’ll be using what you have and wasting less!