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Ask a Chef: Tom Colicchio's Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Elena North-Kelly

August 10, 2015

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Let’s get real for a second: chefs all across the country are talking about food waste, but it’s not just up to the producers, restaurants, and knife-wielders to lead the charge. There’s plenty that consumers and home cooks can do to help tackle the problem, and sometimes a little advice is all it takes to get started. Below, we arm you with tips on reducing waste in your own kitchen from world-renowned chef, restaurateur, and multiple JBF Award winner Tom Colicchio, who recently debuted as MSNBC’s first-ever food correspondent.

Plan Ahead

Make a list before heading to the grocery store; it will help curtail impulse purchases that wind up getting thrown out.

Cook Down the Fridge

Every Friday, my family and I clean out the fridge and improvise a meal with whatever we would otherwise be throwing out. Soups are an especially great way to combine flavors.

Get Creative

Use everything from fruits and vegetables, not just the parts that look pretty. For example, I love to take beet greens and sauté them for an extra side on the dinner table.

Compost

Composting will give you an indication of how much waste you’re generating each week…plus, it’s great for the environment!

Read Past the Label

The date listed on packaging generally indicates the time by which the producer recommends you consume the product for peak freshness—but often, food is still delicious for at least a few days past that. Don’t be afraid to give it the old smell test.

Tom’s Twitter Inspirations:

Jonathan Bloom, @wastedfood
Dana Gunders, @dgunders
Robert Egger, @robertegger
Ben Simon, @imperfectfruit and @foodrecovery

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Elena North-Kelly is senior editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.