Food is a terrible thing to waste. Is your kitchen trash filled with valuable scraps that can save you money?
Imagine if someone were to barge into your kitchen, plunge head-first into the garbage and proceed to fish out every vegetable root, sandwich crust and parsley stem that you’d discarded; all the while, threatening to deduct each cent of frittered food from your bank account.
That's what happened on my first day of professional cooking (only the money was going to be deducted from my paycheck). It may sound bananas, but those who make a living off of mealtim, know the profits of rubbish resuscitation.
With a few tips from three savvy chefs, you can turn tonight’s scraps into money-saving meal supplements.
1. Save Cheese
Chef Rocky Barnette doesn’t waste a shred of Parmigiano Reggiano, a practice he picked up during his 10-year career at The Inn At Little Washington.
“When you’re paying 13 dollars per pound, you can end up throwing away a lot of money,” says Barnette. He recommends using a Microplane zester to get a few extra grates out of seemingly spent Parmesan rinds. Instead of chucking those tough strips, start a rind collection bag in the freezer and cash them in for richly flavored soups and sauces.
Money saving move: Barnette likes to simmer his rinds in milk and use the cheese infused liquid to make white sauces. Or you could just toss a rind or two into the pot while heating marinara.
2. Every Sweet Crumb Counts
Carlyn Berghoff, CEO of Berghoff Catering and Restaurant Group, recalls how her great-grandfather Herman Berghoff would gather the trimmings from leveled yellow cakes to use as the crumb filling for Berghoff Restaurant's signature apple strudel. Established in 1898, the family eatery relied on its guiding principles, “re-use, recycle and reinvent,” to steer the business successfully through two world wars, the Great Depression and Prohibition!
Money saving move: To make cake out of cast-offs, spread cake scraps or crumbled leftover cake on a baking sheet and lightly toast in a 300 degree oven, then place oven-dried crumbs in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Replace crushed graham crackers with cake crumbs for a decadent pie crust. Toss with plain breadcrumbs, thyme, salt and lemon zest for coating chicken cutlets or, simply sprinkle over ice cream for a classic combo.