What tips and tricks have made you a smarter/less wasteful cook?

I was rewatching an episode of Nigella Lawson's old show (as one does) and she mentioned how she freezes egg whites if a recipe calls for yolks, this way she can make meringue/whatever down the line and winds up using the whole egg. I'm sitting there thinking "That's brilliant!" and "How did she think to try that out?". So...

Do you have any tips that have made you a more savvy home cook or baker? I feel like I want a whole cookbook of just little tips and tricks like Nigella's!

(Here's mine: I keep the wrappers from butter sticks and use them to grease cookie sheets).

  • Posted by: Ellen
  • March 16, 2020


Miss_Karen March 17, 2020
When I boil potatoes, I use the cooking water in my bread making.
Ellen March 18, 2020
That's so clever! Thank you for sharing!
Stephanie B. March 17, 2020
-Saving veggie scraps and cheese rinds for stocks for sure, less waste and more flavorful stocks by a mile than store bought.
-Someone in the F52 baking club mentioned they freeze their citrus peels to candy later, which is game changer for me because I don't enjoy the process of candying citrus peels, and if I never felt it was worth it to 1) skin citrus just for that 2) only go through that whole process for a few citruses.
-Pushing bounds of sourdough baking with old starter. So many recipes get into finicky levain builds and feeding schedules that left me with way more "discard" starter than could throw into pancakes, or make pizza doughs, etc. with. One day I thought, "will it really ruin my bread if I bake with a starter that's a few days past peak?" Nope! Haven't really noticed a difference.
-Nancy mentioned Lindsey-Jean Hard's book, sounds like it's exactly what you're looking for! I have it checked out from the library at the moment, it's definitely useful!
Ellen March 18, 2020
Thank you, Stephanie! I like the idea of gradually collecting/freezing citrus peels so they can be candied later. And thank you for the tip on sourdough starter! Sourdough and I have been "on again, off again" for a while. It might be time I try again.
HalfPint March 17, 2020
Over the years, I have learned:
-save strawberry tops and add to vinegar for strawberry vinegar
-freeze egg whites for later use like meringues or French nougat or torrone
-use egg shells and/or paper egg cartons as seedling starter pods
-root ends of scallions or leeks to clean mushrooms
-freeze chicken skins and make schmaltz

Ellen March 18, 2020
Love the idea of saving strawberry tops to make strawberry vinegar! Thank you for sharing!
HalfPint March 19, 2020
I learned that here on Food52 😁
Nancy March 17, 2020
Store scraps and trimmings in the freezer to eventually amass enough to make various broths.
Make large or double batches of things like stews or breads or cookie doughs. Bake or finish half for now. Put half in freezer for easy future use. (This makes good use of time and ingredients - you get double the results for a small but if extra effort at the same time.)
Store many things used in small amounts - not just Nigella's idea of egg parts - in ice cube trays. Buttermilk, tomato paste, etc.
Read articles here and recent book by Lindsay-Jean Heard (so?) On using so-called trimmings tgat still gave lots of food value.
Nancy March 17, 2020
"Small bit of extra effort"
So? Should read "spelling?"
"Trimmimgs that still give lots of food value"
Nancy March 17, 2020
Lindsay-Jean Hard, who wrote several years here at food52, in Amazon
Ellen March 18, 2020
Thank you so much, Nancy! These are great tips, and I'll check that Lindsay-Jean Hard book. Much appreciated!
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