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Creativity in a no-waste kitchen

Taste Before You Waste’s cooking team prepares a delicious vegetarian meal every Thursday from food that’s picked up and saved from the waste bin. We can never predict what kind of menu we are going to cook on one of those evenings. Sometimes we only get cucumbers and plums, sometimes just big boxes with tomatoes, mangos, and heaps of ginger. Still – and I am surprised every time we start serving dinner – we manage to put something tasty and nutritious on the table, often including soup, snacks, and dessert.

So how do we do it? A TBYW cook needs to be creative. The coming months you will find blogs with tips and recipes that will inspire you to bring some creativity into your own no-waste kitchen.

When you get a random combination of fruits and vegetables, however, cooking by recipe gets difficult. Creative cooks make up something themselves! Tomato mango salsa? Why not. Cucumber curry? Of course. I will try to recreate the recipes of the dishes we prepare in the TBYW kitchen to show what we can do with rejected food. Most importantly though, I want to inspire picky eaters and home cooks to clean out their fridges and start frying, tossing, cooking, and blending together all that good stuff into something delicious. You’ll find that it’s actually not that hard at all. If we can prepare dinner for more than twenty people with “ugly” fruits and vegetables, you can do it too.

First,  some basics:

  1. Trust your senses. Look, smell, feel, and taste your food before you throw something out.  Although a lot of perfectly good food ends up in our kitchen, we also get some sad-looking vegetables and fruits to deal with. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we throw out all of them. And you shouldn’t either! A soggy tomato may not be perfect for your salad, but will still do fine in a soup, dip, or sauce.

  2. Be realistic. You don’t want to get sick.

  3. Wash your vegetables and fruits, cut out the icky parts and continue!

What usually follows in our kitchen is a lot of peeling and cutting. Then, the real cooking can finally begin.

People who have visited our dinners at De Meevaart more than once may have started to recognize a pattern. There are a couple of ways to easily and successfully prepare vegetables and fruits, that we often use.

For example: