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Top Chefs Share How to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Top Chefs Share How to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Celebrity Chef, Featured Chef Interviews, Food & People, Homepage Featured, Inspiration

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Baked good aplenty. Tables groaning under the weight of baked ham and prime rib. Donuts and scones in the mornings. And wine, don’t forget the wine. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, holiday parties and gift baskets abound. It’s also the time of year when food waste is at it’s highest.

Get this: during Thanksgiving alone, Americans wasted approximately 204 million pounds of turkey. That’s just over the course of one weekend. In general, Americans throw away about 40% of all edible food. During the holidays, that number increases by about 5 million more pounds. Given that there are millions of people (49 million Americans alone) around the world who get little to no nutrition on a daily basis, these numbers are shameful.

Photo by from Pexels

To help control food waste this holiday season, Un-Plated chatted with experts of preserving food—chefs. Here are some of their best tips on reducing food waste for the holiday season.

Chef Adrienne Cheatham

Top Chef Season 15, Sunday Best

Chef Adrienne Cheatham

Make a stock using your vegetable and protein scraps. 

“On the day you’re doing most of your prep/cooking place a large pot of water on the stove to simmer. Almost all of your vegetable scraps can be thrown in. The only ones to avoid are starchy vegetables, bell peppers, and asparagus. Add any bones you have (chicken, beef, etc.), Top with water as needed throughout the day and you’ll have a great stock to use in place of water for everything you’re cooking. Seriously, if you’re peeling carrots throw the peels in. Get to the butt of an onion or stalk of celery? Throw it in. Have parsley stems? In they go!”

Find creative ways to repurpose your leftovers.

“Leftovers can be turned into different dishes like pot pies and empanadas with a few easy steps and ingredients you may already have. For either you can make a sauce base, fold in your chopped meat and veggies then assemble and bake. It’s a great way to turn leftovers into completely new dishes.”

Donate larger amounts of holiday leftovers.

“In my household, if we have a lot of food leftover that we couldn’t feasibly make it through in a couple of days, we pack up meals in paper to/go boxes and pass them out to homeless people. I still do this in NYC when restaurants have a lot of leftovers from holiday specials and usually take them to Penn Station, where a lot of homeless people go in the winter.”

Chef Bryan Voltaggio 

Top Chef Season 6, Top Chef Masters Season 5, VoltFamily Meal

Chef Bryan Voltaggio

Use all parts of the vegetable whenever possible.

“Too often we throw away parts of vegetables like stems or greens that can really enhance a recipe. One of my favorite dishes to make as a side for holiday meals is roasted carrots topped with a chimichurri. The chimichurri sauce is actually made with the carrot greens, so what you end up with is a dish that uses the whole vegetable.”

Chef Deborah Scott 

Chef & Partner of Southern California’s acclaimed Cohn Restaurant Group

Chef Deborah Scott

Preserve fresh herbs by freezing them in olive oil.

“I have never have tolerated waste! A good part of my day is spent looking in trash cans…that’s where you will find your food cost. As for the home chef, utilization is the key. A great tip for left over herbs is to freeze them in ice cube trays with olive oil. When sautéing, pop one out for an instant flavored oil, instead of watching them go bad in the fridge.”

Chef Maggie Margolis 

Executive Sous Chef at Maydan (American’s Best New Restaurants 2018 via Bon Appetit)

Save your drippings.

“Always, always save your roast beef drippings for Yorkshire puddings. And save your extra Yorkshire puddings for roast beef and egg sandwiches for the next morning!”

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