Zero waste in the kitchen? Regina Tchelly gives the recipe

After teaching a course on iFood Decola for restaurants, she brings tips on how to make better use of food at home

In charge of the pans in your restaurant, the Organic Favela (Rio de Janeiro), Regina Tchelly, 40 years old, from Paraíba, doesn't let anything go to waste. 11 years ago, she combat food waste, and now he has taught this recipe to iFood partner restaurants in the online course “Zero waste: enjoy food and save”, available on the iFood Decola platform for restaurants.

But it's not just the restaurant kitchen that can be zero waste. At home, making use of all the food we buy is even more urgent: around 17% of total global food production is wasted — 11% of that volume is thrown away in homes, compared to 5% in restaurants, according to the UN (United Nations Organization).

“Waste in the kitchen is absurd, but it is also a lack of information. We are not in the habit of using our food fully, but we can develop a culture of multiplying our food”, says Regina. 

Want to know what you can do to also have zero waste in your kitchen? Check out the tips that the founder of Favela Orgânica gave in an interview with iFood News while finishing a pot of risotto banana peel caponata.

Buy only what you need

To begin with, she points out a classic mistake: buying without planning. “As a result, people end up buying more than they need. If I eat four bananas a week, why should I buy six?” asks the entrepreneur, who recommends going shopping very aware of what you really want to consume.

Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables

Regina reinforces that buying seasonal foods is also a way to combat waste. “This way, we make better use of the products that are in harvest. If it’s tangerine and avocado season, why would I buy watermelon, melon or any other fruit that isn’t in season?”

Enjoy all the food

“We have to learn to talk not about reuse, but about the total use of food. Because the peels, the stalks, the seeds, everything can be used for cooking”, says Regina. “It’s important for us to cultivate this culture.”

She gives some examples. “The tangerine peel is delicious on rice, for those who don’t want to use garlic and onion. If you let it dry in the sun, it becomes a wonderful incense. With the watermelon rind, I make risotto. You can use many things from the shells we have.”

With the leaves, she makes flour, cannelloni, lasagna filling… “You can make hot dogs and stroganoff with the stalks. Everything can be enjoyed.” She teaches in the website Some of these recipes, like broccoli stalk stroganoff and the watermelon rind risotto.  

Plant and replant spices

You know that onion that's germinating? “Put it in the soil and it will produce chives several times”, suggests Regina. “Garlic too, it gives a spice that looks like nirá. From what you were no longer going to use, other seasonings emerge.”

The rule applies to other types of food. “Cassava manioc, for example, can be replanted 42 times. The peel, you put it on a small plant, it is used for composting. From the bark, you can make wonderful bacon, a crackling.” 

Make compost

After using everything possible from a food, if anything is left over it certainly doesn't go to waste in Regina's kitchen. “What we can’t use, we put in compost. It becomes food for the earthworms,” she says. 

Manage the portions

At Regina's restaurant, leaving food on your plate is prohibited. “Waste is also having your eyes bigger than your belly, as my grandmother used to say. I ask customers if they are very hungry or not, to put in the right amount. Anyone who leaves food on their plate pays double the price.”

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