The environmental impact food production has on the Earth is well-documented. A recent study finds that our food systems contribute more than one-third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions1. Although governments and commercial industries are responsible for reducing the carbon footprint on a macro level, there are ways we, as individuals, can (and should) contribute.
These ways include practicing sustainable living. For example, zero-waste cooking helps us eat nutritious dishes while reducing food waste. It also assists us in modifying our shopping process. Here are 11 zero-waste cookbooks that will guide your sustainable food journey.
Related: 33 Food Waste Facts & Statistics.
Quick links to the zero-waste cookbooks we've featured:
More Plants Less Waste is a zero-waste cookbook authored by Max La Manna. Max La Manna is a New York chef and environmentalist who advocates reducing food waste during meal prep. He aims to teach multitudes of people worldwide the beauty of repurposing leftovers.
His book, More Plants Less Waste, contains plant-based, approachable recipes for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. There are also recipes for vegetables, soups, and stews. He also included a 21-day zero-waste cooking challenge with tips on maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. His book has impacted many readers, helping them to rethink their handling of leftovers. Readers learn to use his recipe to create delicious meals instead of ditching food scraps like broccoli stems and vegetable peels.
Anne-Marie Bonneau lives her life by contributing minimal plastic waste to the environment. During her sustainable living experience, she learned about the environmental impact of food waste. So, she wrote a zero-waste chef cookbook.
Her Zero-Waste Chef cookbook contains plant-forward recipes and tips to help you avoid food waste. She added suggestions on how to repurpose leftovers at the end of every recipe and included ways to cook with scraps of vegetables. The cookbook also has a lot of bread and dessert recipes. Furthermore, she provides tips on ways to avoid plastic wraps during grocery shopping.
The Zero-Waste Cookbook is a visually appealing cookbook filled with 100 zero-waste recipes. The authors wrote it to reduce food waste by cooking scraps and repurposing leftovers. You will learn how to make delicious meals from scraps, like using fruit and vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock. In addition, there are various chapters on vegetables, meat, fish, bread, and dairy products.
However, some readers noted that shipping handlers wrapped the cookbook in plastic, negating the point of zero-waste living.
Rosanne Rust wrote Zero-Waste Cooking for Dummies to teach us about agricultural sustainability and ways of reducing food waste. It contains over 100 zero-waste recipes that can help you save money and reduce your environmental carbon footprint. Rosanne also offers meal planning and sustainable grocery shopping tips.
In the book, you will find recipes for breakfasts, soups, and other delicious meals. In addition, you will learn how to maintain a sustainable kitchen by using leftovers and other ingredients available in your home. For example, Rosanne offered tips on using stale bread and over-ripe fruits. Readers love its practicality. It is a cookbook that will help you eat healthily and learn how to reduce food waste.
James Strawbridge wrote this no-waste vegetable cookbook to help us cook perfectly edible food with vegetables while avoiding food waste. Vegetables are food products that go to waste easily. We also throw away some edible parts of vegetables, like vegetable peels and stalks.
The Complete Vegetable Cookbook has about 60 recipes- describing the different types of vegetables and how to cook their edible parts. You will learn how to cook with vegetable stalks, leaves, roots, and fruits. For example, there are salad recipes that use broccoli stems and leaves.
Each type of vegetable mentioned has five sections where he describes the preparation methods, cooking tips, and zero-waste storage options. Overall, this is an excellent cookbook for anyone who wants to eat more vegetables and reduce food waste.
Victoria Glass, a food writer based in London, wrote Too Good to Waste. It is a cookbook aimed at encouraging cooking and reducing the chances of food waste to almost zero. Readers love this cookbook because it contains dozens of ideas about using leftovers without disposing of them. It has recipes for leftover food like sour milk, limp lettuce, stale bread, and overripe tomatoes.
Some readers’ reviews stated that the recipes are better for single and small households, not for large families. However, Victoria Glass wrote the recipes humorously, so expect to find a few puns while you are reading and planning your zero-waste meals.
Cooking with Scraps is a cookbook focused on turning vegetable scraps into delicious dishes. It contains 85 zero-waste recipes specially curated to use seeds, stems, tops, and rinds you can use to cook an array of dishes.
Readers love this cookbook because it encourages them to think outside the box and explore other forms of using ingredients. For example, people who purchased Cooking with Scraps learned to cook with apple cores, broccoli, banana peels, and zucchini. Did you know you could make a cake from banana peels?
The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook contains recipes that enable you to cook dishes with flowers, herbs, roots, etc. Linda Ly divided the cookbook into seven chapters, each for different types of plants. For example, there are recipes for tomatoes and pepper, peas and beans, bulbs and stems, roots and tubers, and leafy greens. Furthermore, there are recipes for melons, gourds, flowers, and herbs.
The goal is to use every part of your ingredients and avoid unnecessary food waste. Readers love how the recipes encourage using the unfamiliar parts of a vegetable. The author's experience shines throughout the chapters. You may want this for your collection of cookbooks if you want to eat healthily and reduce food waste.
Christine Tizzard, a zero-waste culinary enthusiast, wrote Cook More, Waste Less to teach people the art of repurposing leftovers. She encourages readers to use food ingredients creatively. Furthermore, she included tips on how to turn leftovers into non-food products. She shows her ideas of turning food into pet treats, beauty treatments, and home cleaning products.
The book also contains tips from authors like Anna Olson, Carson Arthur, Todd Perrin, and Bob Blummer. They offer advice on composting and food waste solutions. It won the heart of home cooks, young chefs, and people who want to eat good food with suggestions about purchasing and storing food.
My zero-waste kitchen is about the 3 R’s of sustainability; reduce, reuse, and recycle. It doesn’t contain a lot of recipes like the other books we mentioned at the start of the article. However, the 15 recipes Kate Turner curated are nutritious and easy to execute. She also included guides to meal planning and shopping sustainably.
Some people think the book is better for kids because of its colorful appeal. They believe the recipes presented in the book are helpful but sparse.
Tom Hunt carefully curated Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet to help people eat well and waste nothing. The book contains recipes for breakfast, slow lunches and suppers, salads, family meals, sweet treats, and feast plates. Also, he divided his recipes into seasons.
Readers refer to Tom Hunt’s book as a masterpiece. It contains detailed information about the food and sustainability sector and its importance. Also, you will find the author’s Root to Fruit philosophy valuable.
Zero-waste cooking is a relatively easy lifestyle to adopt when you have access to the right information and build important habits over time. This is a lifelong journey, so take your time easing into the experience. First, start with the ingredients you use in your household daily. By using all parts of your vegetable ingredients, you are reducing your food waste output.
Also, transforming your leftovers into something new and exciting gives you something to enjoy, and preserving food allows you to make the best use of fresh local ingredients later. Finding the right cookbook(s) by people with years of experience cooking zero-waste will also teach you some helpful tips and tricks.
Crippa, M., Solazzo, E., Guizzardi, D. et al. Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Nat Food 2, 198–209 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00225-9
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.