Zero waste cooking: what to do and what not to do

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Unsplash

Words by Muskan Arora

Around 20 million people in the world die of hunger every year, and those of us fortunate enough to have three meals a day inevitably waste food. Apart from wasting food, we throw the peels of the fruits, meat bones and much more. The question arises, how and why is it important to use these leftovers? There are many questions if these leftover peels and bones are healthy and hygienic. As sustainability has started to pick up popularity, people are looking for reusable or zero waste products in every industry, be it fashion or food.

Apart from not wasting, the nutritional value of every part of the meal, including the leftovers, has started being used in cooking. There are interesting recipes of vegan bacon with banana peels. The peels of banana are not only edible, but rich in potassium, fibre and other essential nutrients. Scrape out the inner flesh of the peel to make a thin, crispy sauce. Take some paprika, soya sauce, garlic powder, peri peri powder and some maple syrup and dip the peels in the mixture for 8-10 minutes, after which put them in an air fryer, for about 10-12 minutes and they are ready to be enjoyed.

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Unsplash

There are multiple cookbooks available in the market to encourage zero waste food. Yet, there are some simple things we can do right every day to minimize the wastage of food. The first being, plan well before you head out to shop at Lidl or Tesco. These stores are so tempting, that you feel like buying almost everything that catches your eye. If possible, ditch the branded, packed food and go for local farmers, as the carbon emissions are much less and you’ll be consuming more organic and healthy food. Incorporate peels, seeds and the ends of greens in your cooking. To rescue you from the question of how, these are some interesting recipes I’ve personally tried and tested to make eating an environment friendly habit.

If you are lazy and crave snacks like me, this is the recipe you need to try right away. The Smoky Carrot Hummus with flatbreads and mint gremolata, is a long but very fruitful recipe, you’ll realise you have used up all the food that was about to go bad and did not leave any waste. This recipe will allow you to use up the leaves of the carrot as well as the peels, so I encourage you to explore the internet for these methods.

Equally, Tom Hunt’s pumpkin muffin recipe might not sound show-stopping, but it is the most delicious delicacy your taste buds will ever feel. These crummy little muffins are heaven, rolled in cinnamon, and full of all your leftover Halloween pumpkin.

Photo by Marius Ciocirlan on Unsplash


  • 200g pumpkin, cut into cubes
  • 75g butter, plus extra for the topping
  • 75g natural cane sugar, plus extra for the topping
  • 1 large eggs
  • 180g flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp allspice (optional)
  • 40ml yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon plus extra for topping


  1. Preheat the oven 180C, and prepare 12 muffin cups.
  2. Put the pumpkin in a pan and fill with water until just covered. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft. Drain the liquid and make sure not to throw it away.
  3. Blend the pumpkin to a puree, and add a little of the pumpkin water if necessary to loosen it up.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Fill the muffin cups and then bake for 20-25 minutes until they spring back when you press them and a skewer comes out clean.
  6. When the muffins have cooled, roll in the sugar and cinnamon.

The author of the Natural Cook Book, has always aimed to serve unique and environment friendly cuisines and this one is a clear winner.

In such uncertain times, where the cases of Covid-19 are constantly fluctuating, craving comfort food like potato crisps is extremely normal. No more craving because this recipe is the solution you always needed, it is simple, quick and will make you twirl.

Photo by Peter Schad on Unsplash


  • Potato Peels
  • 1-2 teaspoon of oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Cumin, paprika and chilli powder (or add any of your favourite flavours).


  1. Preheat the oven at 200C, first you need to take the peels off your potato, use a peeler as the skin is thick.
  2. Get the peel straight into the tray without leaving it alone for even some time.
  3. Drizzle oil and your favourite seasonings all over and use your hands to mix well, for a unified taste.
  4. Place it into the oven for 8-10 minutes and there you go, you have crunchy crisps ready.

You can try other vegetable peels like carrot and parsnip and customise the flavours to your liking. Zero waste cooking has become important now more than ever as some of us are quarantining or want to subsidize our expenditures, this style of cooking will help you feel healthy and will be pocket friendly. Other than your personal benefits, it reduces carbon emission and conserves natural resources. Just follow the simple rules of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot and your life will take a full turn.

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