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A Recipe to Reduce Food Waste

The tradition of writing and sharing recipes goes back more than 4,000 years. The oldest known recipes are found on Babylonian tablets and include instructions for how to make soups and stews.

Recipes can be a great way to share knowledge and build confidence in the kitchen. Good recipes contain three parts: ingredients, instructions, and innovation. Great recipes include introductions and illustrations. Each section plays an important role in reducing food waste by helping the chef make a shopping list, serve tasty dishes, store food safely, and share the bounty.


Recipes always have a list of ingredients. This is a list of what is needed and how much. The day before I plan to go shopping, I start reviewing the recipes I want to make for the week and start developing my shopping list. When I’m ready to go to the store, I check my pantry for items I have on hand and then head out to the store to buy only what I need.


Good recipes contain complete and detailed instructions. Instructions are the body of a recipe and describe how to prepare each ingredient for the dish. Good recipes list the ingredients in the order you’ll need them, so prior to cooking I set out the ingredients allowing me to move easily through the steps.


Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we need to substitute an ingredient, sometimes we just want to have some fun. As I gained confidence in the kitchen, I started experimenting by adding and substituting ingredients for things that I thought I would like. I ate a lot of oddly flavored foods, but that’s part of the lesson.

Bonus Sections:

Some recipes include introductions and illustrations. I love recipes with an introduction, especially ones that tell a story. The introductions could be intentional or accidental. My grandma passed down some recipes that were written on the back of letters. It’s fun to read about the life and times when a recipe was recorded.

Illustrations can be incredibly useful, especially when making something new. It’s nice to know what the product should look like.

Write Down Your Own Recipe:

Use our recipe template to share and preserve your creations.

Cucumber Lentil Salad

Introduction: Leftover, peeled and chilled cucumbers are a rarity at my house, but when I have them, I love to make this refreshing summer salad. Feel free to add any vegetables that you enjoy.


· 1 cup lentils (green or brown)

· 3 cups water

· ¼ cup neutral oil (olive, canola, vegetable)

· ½ white onion

· 4 cloves garlic, minced

· 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

· 2 medium carrots sliced thin

· 1 sliced tomato

· ½ cup chopped fresh mint

· 1 small red pepper, chopped

· 1 cucumber, sliced

· ¼ cup feta cheese


1. In a saucepan combine lentils with the water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes.

2. Set a strainer over a bowl and strain the water off the lentils for later use.

3. In a heavy skillet heat half of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).

4. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced carrots. Cook for 3 more minutes.

5. Add drained lentils, sliced tomato, and ¼ cup of chopped mint to the skillet with about ½ cup of the lentil water and remaining oil.

6. Simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid has dissolved.

7. Remove from heat, top with fresh mint and red pepper and let cool to room temperature (this is best done loosely covered in the refrigerator).

8. Once cooled, top with sliced cucumbers and feta cheese.

9. Serve!


Don’t be afraid to use goat cheese or a non-dairy cheese option. The creamier the better. Toss the unused half of the onion in a freezer bag with other scraps to make veggie stock in the future.


Cucumber Lentil Salad
Cucumber Lentil Salad

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