The Rock What You've Got cookbook coverCanadian families waste hundreds of kilos of food a year, but now researchers from the Guelph Family Health Study (GFHS) have created a cookbook that promises to help.

The Rock What You’ve Got: Recipes for Preventing Food Waste cookbook is filled with recipes aimed at helping families eat better and end food waste. It includes tips for organizing meal planning, for reusing leftovers and for finding ways to use up everything in the produce drawer.

Recent research from the Guelph Food Waste Research Group and the GFHS finds families with young children waste almost 3 kg of edible food each week, costing them more than $1,000 per year.

“The vast majority of that wasted food is spoiled fruits and vegetables — one of the key foods that Canadians don’t eat enough of. So, we knew that was something that families wanted help with,” said cookbook co-author and GFHS team member Kathryn Walton.

Kathryn Walton

The recipes are sorted under three categories:

  • “2-in-1” recipes that turn leftovers into a new dish
  • “Fridge Clean-Out” recipes that offer ingredient options so that home cooks can use what is already in the fridge
  • “Zero Waste” recipes, which use up all parts of the vegetable, including the bits most of us throw away.

With help from The Helderleigh Foundation, the researchers worked with chefs in the Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) at George Brown College in Toronto to develop recipes that would be simple, nutritious and appealing to both fussy kids and busy parents.

The Love Food Hate Waste Canada campaign, an initiative of the National Zero Waste Council, also provided food waste prevention tips and a food storage guide to bring the cookbook to life.

Profs. David Ma and Jess Haines, co-directors of the Guelph Family Health Study

“We wanted recipes that wouldn’t take more than 20 to 30 minutes of active prep or cooking time, used no more than eight to 10 common ingredients, and were nutritious so parents could be confident these were healthy meals for their families,” said Walton.

This recipe book is the fifth in the GFHS cookbook series, said study co-directors David Ma and Jess Haines, professors in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, respectively.

“The families we work with were asking for help with improving their diets. They wanted actual recipes, so that’s how the recipe book series began,” said Haines.

Download the cookbook for free on the GFHS website, where instructional videos demonstrating how to prepare some of the recipes will also be available.

“This cookbook is a great example of how the knowledge we’re gaining the through the Guelph Family Health Study is being translated into real tools that busy young families can use to improve their health.”

More information can be found on the Guelph Family Health Study website, where readers can download a copy of the cookbook and watch recipe videos.