The world’s first zero waste cookbook! (How so?)

Since you guys know me well, I can tell you this. When my publisher Ingrid asked me to write one last cookbook, I struggled with the idea. The way cookbooks typically work is wasteful. Does the world need another one?

You see, cookbooks as we know them today work to a bunch of isolated, complicated recipes that use an inconvenient assemblage of equipment and steps, as well as ingredients you mostly have to buy from scratch and that don’t have a passable substitute, which then produce…one meal.  That’s it. We eat it. It’s gone. And, good lord, we start again.

Then there’s the making of cookbooks. Oh, the stories I could tell. On shoots, the food team will buy three chickens to make one meal…just in case the first two don’t go the perfect shade of roasted tan. Or whatever. They’ll buy a whole packet of gluten free flour when they could fake it with normal flour. And at the end of the end the whole lot is scooped into the bin (there’s always big talking’ about sending to charity, but the reality is different after an 8-hour day in a studio).

So, I agreed to doing the book…if…I could buck the system a little. Ingrid said, “cool”. Because she’s great like that.

(I previously tried to do this, of course, with a publicity shoot, but it went comedically wrong.)

  1. Simplicious Flow had to be “not a normal cookbook”

Which is to say

  1. Simplicious Flow had to be zero-waste

I wanted to be the change we want to see by doing all the stuff my book was to preach about in the making of the book.

Now. Let’s chat “zero waste”. The term doesn’t mean Not A Single Scrap of Anything Tossed, Ever. That would be impossible. Consuming food, um, consumes stuff. According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, zero waste is an aim. It “guide[s] people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles.” It’s a goal – to reduce what we send to landfill as much as we can.

Simplicious Flow is 3 pages of information on how to do this.

How did we go zero waste in the making of the book?

Mostly, over the course of the five months of shooting, as well as the 18 months of writing and testing the recipes, we put in practice the stuff I bang on about in the book itself.

Fridge shot

I hired an extra fridge and freezer to house all the recipes as we made them (we shot about 280 of the the 348). We’d package them up in containers (everything was salvaged from home or from around the studio kitchen – jars, plastic bags etc), and freeze them. Or ferment them. Or pickle them.

N2A1170 The world’s first zero waste cookbook! (How so?)

We had compost bin in the studio kitchen. In the almost 5 months of on-off shooting, we filled it twice…because we repurposed (i.e. ate) all scraps. You will find the same when you cook from the book.

We used one sheet of baking paper for the entire shoot.

We used the cooking water from the Ayurvedic Greens in the Slow Cooked Persian Lamb instead of stock.

We didn’t have cooking cream so used leftover whipped cream from other recipe stirred through the Blonde Skillet Lasagne.

IMG 2265 The world’s first zero waste cookbook! (How so?)

We all brought in random zip-lock bags we had lying around for storing the food we made on set so they could go straight in the freezer (in the studio or at home when we were done). Above are some bags some of my supplements are posted to me in that I used to store the Inside Out Smashed Avocado Bread.

We put a rogue takeaway coffee cup Meg had in her car (embarrassing!) as a prop in the Inside Out Smashed Avocado Bread cafe shot.

We “foraged” nasturtiums growing wild at the back of the studio for the Ayurvedic Spring Pesto

We used leftover cardamom pods skins to make a chai tea to sip on during the shoot.

IMG 7414 e1536638351638 The world’s first zero waste cookbook! (How so?)

All the props were from my house (spot my “Citron” bowl…a feature in all my books…I got them for my 21st birthday), or from St Vinnies. We then donated the props back to Vinnies after. (Most stylists buy in props…but Michelle “Nori” Norieanto was a legend with this kind of thing.)

For the “how to use leftover bread” section we used all the skanky frozen crusts sitting at the back of the styling team’s freezer.

We shopped at bulk food stores so we could buy the exact amount of spices and flour etc. needed. No more. And we brought in weird ingredients from home that we already had, half-used.

We found some half empty vodka found in the studio freezer for the Bloody Mary Smoothie Bowl

When we needed a granola crumble for the Savoury + Spice Breakfast Parfait, we pulled a muffin from the freezer, crumbled it and cooked it off in some coconut oil.

N2A1184 The world’s first zero waste cookbook! (How so?)

Everything was cooked up into studio lunches – Megan took it on as a persona challenge to totally repurpose bits and pieces from the fridge…and from leftovers from shoots in neighbouring studios.

Speaking of….

For the Apple Scraps Vinegar…we struggled to find apple scraps (because we don’t peel, and even use the cores in most instances throughout the book), so we ran around to the neighbouring studios and used their scraps.

And borrowed that one tablespoon of flour we needed from a (very wasteful) shoot someone was doing next door for Coles magazine.

IMG 7419 e1536638507905 The world’s first zero waste cookbook! (How so?)

As I flag on the cover…we made one bunch of asparagus last five months of shooting. We pickled the woody ends, fermented the rest. You’ll see random spears in shots throughout the book! And on the cover. And those rubber bands (above), we put them to use, too.

Yep, we used the rubber bands from the shoot to make non-disposable coffee cups.

For the Use Up Your Party Dregs – the team actually bought in their cheese dregs from their fridges and chip dregs from their pantries. Rob the photographer reckoned it was his favourite dish of the book!

The “How to use up jar dregs” chapter…ha! It’s composed of jar dregs from the team’s fridge. The resulting dressings and sauces were used throughout the shoot.

PS If you already have the book, you’ll know there’s a Resource Kit with a bunch of extra info on where to buy bulk, the best pans for your kitchen – basically all the resources I’ve found that help me live a sustainable life. You can take a look and download it here. Enjoy.

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