As documentaries and publications continue to shine a light on the issues surrounding single-use plastics and other unsustainable materials, we're becoming more and more aware of the negative impact our waste is having on the planet. Fortunately, this has inspired many to reduce their output, particularly in the kitchen, where we throw 900 million tonnes of food away per year.
In the UK, the zero-waste movement has been picking up steam and there are now plenty of books that detail how you can reduce, recycle and reuse food scraps in the kitchen. Luckily, our buying guide is here to help you choose, and for an extra dose of inspiration, we've even included a ranking of our top ten favourite zero-waste cookbooks available on Amazon and eBay!
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Table of Contents
It goes without saying that all zero-waste cookbooks contain recipes that encourage you to reduce your waste output. For many, this involves recipes that are designed using sustainable ingredients in a way that creates as little waste as possible.
Whether it's a prescribed shopping list of items that will all be used throughout the week, or a guide to buying planet-friendly ingredients, these cookbooks are all here to help you make meals that greatly reduce your negative impact on the planet.
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Other zero-waste cookbooks tackle the problem from the other side. Rather than teaching you to make meals with low waste output, these cookbooks teach you how to make use of the waste that you do create - whether that's making snacks from your vegetable peels, or regrowing spring vegetables from leftover roots.
They may be less versatile in the recipes they offer, but they're beneficial for reducing your waste output and changing your outlook on what can and can't be consumed. We recommend pairing one of these with a zero-waste cookbook that teaches you how to reduce waste in the first place.
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Finally, you might want to consider zero-waste cookbooks that offer information on living a more sustainable lifestyle. Within their pages, you'll get the lowdown on everything from buying food from reliable sources, to home hacks that'll help you reduce waste in every room of your house.
They tend to have fewer recipes, so if you're looking for a wide selection, you may want to steer clear. But, if reducing your food waste is only part of your environmental endeavour, these are exactly the kind of books you should be looking out for!
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One of the most important things to check when it comes to buying a zero-waste cookbook, is that it contains food that you're actually going to be able to eat and enjoy! For example, if you're a vegetarian, this may mean finding a cookbook dedicated entirely to meat-free dishes or, failing that, one that contains a healthy amount of recipes in which substitutions can easily be made.
Obviously, finding a cookbook that suits your dietary requirements isn't always simple. Things get significantly more difficult when you're buying online and are unable to flick through the book's pages. That's why it can be helpful to search for books with dietary keywords in the title, such as 'vegan' or 'gluten-free'.
Our biggest tip is to read the product description. Most chefs, writers, and publishers are quite keen to declare what dietary requirements their book is suitable for, so it's highly likely that it's here that you'll discover whether it's suited to you. Failing that, check the reviews, as you may find someone who shares your dietary requirements has written one!
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Opt for a cookbook that centres around one of your favourite types of cuisine, whether that be Indian, Chinese or Korean. Certain ingredients and flavours crop up regularly among specific types of regional cuisine, and if you really love a few meals, you're bound to love exploring more.
On the other hand, if you don't favour one specific type of cuisine, a good alternative is to try and find a book written by a chef that you admire. You're sure to enjoy trying out some of their concoctions, and you may even be inspired to branch out into different types of cuisine that you'd never have considered previously.
With information becoming more widespread and the future in their hands, it's often the children of the family that inspire their parents to reduce their waste output. If you're a parent cooking for a zero-waste family, it's less fancy Michelin-style food that you need, and more traditional-style recipes that your kids are likely to enjoy.
Again, it can be quite difficult to know whether a book contains such recipes without being able to browse through it. So, once again, we advise that you use the product descriptions as a guide, especially if it explicitly states that the book contains recipes suited to families or - better yet - actually lists some of the recipes included!
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Eat Green: Delicious Flexitarian Recipes for Planet-Friendly Eating
The Bestselling Sustainable Low-Waste Cookbook for Everyone
The 7-Day Basket
The Ultimate Quickfire Guide to Get You on the Sustainable Culinary Road
Max La Manna
More Plants Less Waste: Plant-Based Recipes + Zero Waste Life Hacks With Purpose
Delicious Recipes and Zero-Waste Solutions for the Home
Cooking with Scraps: Turn Your Peels, Cores, Rinds, and Stems into Delicious Meals
Cook With Your Food Scraps to Save Waste
Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet
Banish Food Waste and Inspire a Food Revolution
The Zero-Waste Chef: Plant-Forward Recipes and Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen and Planet
A Comprehensive Cookbook From a Highly Celebrated Blogger
My Zero-Waste Kitchen: Easy Ways to Eat Waste Free
A Comprehensive Zero-Waste Cookbook Ideal for Beginners
Giovanna Torrico, Amelia Wasiliev
The Zero Waste Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Cooking Without Waste
Nothing Will Be Wasted With This Creative Cookbook
Jaynie McCloskey, Heather Wolfe
A Jam-Packed Kitchen Companion to Seriously Boost Your Repertoire
Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint
Inspirational Reading From Brighton's Pioneering Zero-Waste Restaurant
Although they're packed full of veggies, Melissa describes her recipes as flexitarian, meaning each one can be adapted to suit any diet. Helpful suggestions are even included within the book for swapping out ingredients such as meat, dairy and fish.
Every recipe is crafted with the aim of creating simple food that is healthy and incredibly tasty, with a particular focus on using UK-grown, easy to buy ingredients that cut down on food waste. It's simply a great cookbook across the board that we feel ought to be in everyone's home, and that's why it's our number 1 pick!
Designed with practicality in mind, this book offers a series of 'shopping lists' for foods to cover you for a week. Not only will it save you the headache of having to decide what meals you'd like to prepare each week, these recipes are tasty, healthy, and designed to produce as little waste as possible.
If concerned that a prescribed list of meals will soon get tiresome, don't fear! This book actually contains multiple lists, each centring around a specific theme, such as 'round the world' or 'relaxed'. It aims to reduce stress, encourage you to eat healthy, and reduce your waste output, which is more than worthy of praise.
Through his tireless advocating for waste reduction, low waste chef and climate activist Max La Manna has inspired thousands of people around the world to alter their consumption habits and get creative with their leftovers. In fact, you may already have seen one his viral recipe videos or some of his work with BBC Earth.
Max's philosophy holds that more plants = less waste, which is why this book features 80 tasty, plant-based recipes that will help you save money and the planet. There's even some home hacks and a 21-day zero-waste challenge thrown in for good measure, making this book one of the best ways of getting started on your sustainability journey.
Have you ever finished cooking a dish and noticed how much waste is generated just from peelings and offcuts alone? Far from being destined for the rubbish pile, we'll bet you didn't know that many of these off-casts can actually be used to make delicious meals and other foods.
From using apple cores to make syrup, to creating butter with mushroom stems, this book is full of inspired recipes that you didn't even know were possible. In a world where even our peels, stems and tops can be used to great effect, there's really no reason why each and every one of us can't make the move towards a zero-waste kitchen.
In Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet, Award-winning chef, writer and food waste campaigner, Tom Hunt advocates a 'Root to Fruit' philosophy. By giving us the skills and knowledge to shop, eat, and cook sustainably, his aim is to show us how we can all do our bit to help the environment at no extra cost!
This is not a po-faced manifesto. Tom's book is full of recipes that are designed to be vibrant, celebratory and pleasurable, as well as being sustainable. From morning meals to sweet treats, you'll never be stuck for delicious recipes that come from sustainable and reliable sources.
Anne-Marie Bonneau has lived and blogged for a decade under the moniker of the 'Zero-Waste Chef'. Despite her title, Bonneau advocates less for absolute waste disposal, instead encouraging everyone to try to be a little bit better. As she says, everybody reducing their waste output by 20% would have a huge impact on the planet.
And that's exactly the premise of this book - small but significant improvements that will make difference over time. Containing 75 vegan and vegetarian recipes for using up leftover food waste, this book shows us that a zero-waste kitchen is completely attainable.
So, you want to do something to help the planet, but are lacking cooking expertise? Let this cookbook from DK help you on your journey. Inside, you'll find a comprehensive guide to zero-waste living that's packed with easy recipes and tons of ideas to live more sustainably.
Centring around the three 'Rs': reduce, reuse and recycle, you'll get quick tips and simple solutions on everything from growing your own herbs and veg, to turning food waste into delicious meals. Did you know beetroot peels can be used to make a delicious falafel? If this is the start of your sustainability journey, then it's the perfect book for you.
There's nothing worse than gazing into your cupboard at an ingredient that went out of date before you even got a chance to use it. We throw an appalling 60 million tonnes of food away each year, but fortunately, a solution has arrived in the form of this cookbook!
It's full of tips on how to make use of pretty much every bit of potential food waste - from making vegetable stock from corn husks, to using lemon zest to infuse vodka. It's a little bit short on additional information, but otherwise, this is a sure-fire way to ensure that everything you buy gets used.
Modern day stresses have lead us to see cooking as a bit of a chore, but food can be a great way of connecting with our planet. As this book reveals, making the shifts towards sustainable cooking doesn't have to be too difficult!
Created by a dietitian and a designer, Sustainable Kitchen is full of recipes that encourage planet-conscious eating. Whether it's Thai salad or muffins, each meal is designed with the aim of decreasing food waste and cooking using local, seasonally available foods. All in all, it's a heartfelt, holistic method of using food to nourish ourselves and our planet.
The Zero Waste Blueprint is written by Douglas McMaster, founder of SILO, the first zero food-waste restaurant. Perhaps one that could be considered a polemic, this book maps out a possible future - or as McMaster sees it, our necessary future - when it comes to the way we source and use our food.
You won't find the usual buzzwords here, and there's no mention of the words 'sustainability' or 'organic'. Instead, you'll find terms such as 'closed-loop systems' and 'off-grid ingredients'. This is the real deal, penned by a chef who foresees a world in which we eat fresh, waste less, and make the most of what nature gives us.
Written and researched by Emily Porsch
No. 1: Melissa Hemsley｜Eat Green: Delicious Flexitarian Recipes for Planet-Friendly Eating
No. 2: Ian Haste｜The 7-Day Basket
No. 3: Max La Manna｜More Plants Less Waste: Plant-Based Recipes + Zero Waste Life Hacks With Purpose
No. 4: Lindsay-Jean Hard｜Cooking with Scraps: Turn Your Peels, Cores, Rinds, and Stems into Delicious Meals
No. 5: Tom Hunt｜Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet
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