Weeknight Cooking

The Lifelong Kitchen Lesson I Learned From Rachael Ray

February 13, 2020

I write and edit recipes for a living, so it won’t surprise you to learn that my most-frequented TV channel growing up was The Food Network, which debuted just shy of a year after I was born. I took studious notes watching Emeril Live!, belly-laughed with Ina, Jeffrey, and their sweater-clad friends, and tried to keep up with Rachael Ray’s go-go-go meals.

All of whom taught me a lot, but what I appreciate most is Rach’s lesson of the garbage bowl.

If you aren’t familiar, a garbage bowl, aka dump bowl, is just what it sounds like: a large bowl to preliminarily collect scraps, wrappers, odds, and ends while you prep and cook.

As Rach puts it, “The point is not really to use it as a garbage can, but it saves a home cook steps from running back and forth to the garbage or compost or recycling bin.”

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“A lightbulb came on the first time I watched her show years ago!! You save a lot of steps walking to the trash can!! ✔️ ”
— Kim W.

Saving steps means saving time. And saving time means being able to watch that last episode of Cheer. Which is important in its own way! Beyond just the time, though, I’d always rather keep a compact (even cute!) bowl by me on the counter, versus standing next to a garbage can that smells, ahem, not-great.

Now, your turn: What why didn’t I think of that? home-cooking trick do you use all the time? Let me know in the comments—I’m always looking for new ones.

Bowls That Want to be Garbage Bowls

3-Quart Stainless Steel Non Skid Base Mixing Bowl, $21.38

Because no one wants to throw a rotten onion in the garbage bowl, have it slide across the counter, and then, oh boy, you’ve got a big mess on the floor.

OXO Good Grips 4.5 Qt Glass Bowl, $24.09

Glass, so you can really appreciate just how many carrots you’ve peeled. Also doubles as a nice serving bowl for salads.

Nordic Ware Mixing Bowl Set, $22.88

A beachy-hued set with a slew of sizes, so your garbage bowl can match whatever other prep bowls you’re working with. Coordination!

Rachael Ray’s Garbage Bowl, $12.99

We’d be remiss not to include Rachael Ray’s actual garbage bowl, which comes in a lot of nifty colors, like cranberry red and sea salt gray.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Judy Johnson
    Judy Johnson
  • barkleybabe
  • Kim Wooster
    Kim Wooster
  • Bethanie
  • Candacerain
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Judy J. May 2, 2020
Well, who knew that a designated garbage bowl was a thing? For many years, I would have a bowl of some sort to toss things in rather than waste time walking back and forth to the garbage can. I have always kept a very small garbage receptacle (being single) so sometimes would just grab that and drop it in the sink for easy reach. Or just use a bowl that I already had in my cupboard. But why in the world go out and buy a "special" bowl that you might not be able to nest with your other bowls?
barkleybabe February 17, 2020
I use her 'garbage bowl" in my office. I constantly have small amounts of this and that trash throughout the day. It is much easier for me to use the bowl & dump the contents once or twice instead of having to turn around & reach out for the trash can.
Kim W. February 14, 2020
A lightbulb came on the first time I watched her show years ago!! You save a lot of steps walking to the trash can!! ✔️
Bethanie February 14, 2020
Great advice, I have always saved the vegetable bags from the stores, then when done put in the freezer or garbage. I but garbage in the freezer to keep it from smelling bad then the night before garbage pick up put it out.
Candacerain February 14, 2020
🙄 I like a real tabletop composter for the scraps. Honestly I think the bowl concept is ridiculous. Just bring the trash can closer. Why need another thing to wash after? You're not in conservation mode then.
Steven W. February 13, 2020
The large size (costo club store sized) coffee containers are perfect for collecting a weeks worth of scraps...hopefully everyone can compost of has access to a composting collection bin. The plastic Folgers container maybe not as pretty but they have nice tight fitting covers!
Mckenzie February 13, 2020
Yes to this! I used to volunteer at a cooking school and we'd always have trash bowls in the middle of worktables. The chef called them Rachael Ray bowls :)
Ericka B. February 13, 2020
If I grocery shop the same-night as I'm cooking, I keep one of the bags near me as my "garbage bowl" substitute. It's easy clean-up for garlic peels, onion scraps, etc.