Learn Under-the-Radar Tips for How to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Cooking more doesn’t have to mean wasting more

Heated Editors
Published in
7 min readJul 13, 2020
A head of cauliflower next to small piles of cauliflower stems, florets, leaves, stalks, and ribs, respectively.
Photos courtesy of Belmond Mount Nelson

With pretty much everyone forced into the kitchen, food waste is on all of our minds, especially because many are trying to limit trips to the grocery store. We talked to Rudi Liebenberg, the executive chef of Belmond Mount Nelson in Capetown, South Africa, who focuses on limiting waste as much as feasible.

Heated: Since home cooks aren’t cooking on the scale of restaurants, I think a lot of us might be daunted over whether we should be saving the stems of our cilantro or putting our fish carcasses in the freezer until we have time to make stock later in the week. Can you offer some practical advice for setting up systems for a home cook who wants to cut down on food waste but is just starting to navigate how to do it?

Rudi Liebenberg: I think it is important to first understand how we shop. Food has become cheaper and we buy in excess. We are given fantastic recipes and ideas from all platforms guiding us on how to entertain and cook. What we do not have is enough information on what to do with the stalks, bones, and wilted items. We consume as fast as possible, as much as possible. We cook in excess. Once we start looking at our shopping basket and fridges differently, we can also look at how we cook at home.

Rudi Liebenberg chopping vegetables in a professional kitchen.

I always use the unwanted first in our kitchen at the hotel. We create recipes that use the typically unwanted parts first before pursuing the nice parts. In doing this, we create a demand for an item that would normally be thrown away.

One of the nicest stories I saw was a “YOYO meal,” meaning that once a week, you’re on your own for dinner, using whatever there is in the fridge to make a quick dinner.

It is also great to know what to do with items close to expiry, like milk. We can make ricotta or paneer. With the paneer, we can make a vegetable curry, and with the ricotta, we make gnudi. The leftover whey is then used to soak grains or cook pasta, corn, rice, potatoes, or porridge. Also, yogurt can be used…