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The JAN Guide to a Zero Waste Kitchen

In our quest for stability, we evolved from nomads to settled beings, finding ways to make our food last. Yet, the art of preserving freshness remains a timeless pursuit. Our ancestors mastered the art of preserving food, a skill that remains essential to our existence, whether we are homebodies or adventurous explorers. But even today, despite our progress, there is still much to uncover about maximising the lifespan of our culinary creations – in a modern era, where convenience often leads to waste, we can refine our practices and embark on a journey towards a zero-waste kitchen.


In the remote reaches of the Kalahari, an inherent truth resonates – the scarcity of general produce. Those who forage this land understand that its resources are precious commodities. At Klein JAN, each morsel is cherished and treated with the utmost respect it deserves. Here, the team is humbled by the significance of every element found in this vast region. Drawing from this, we set off on a visit to find out how the team strives to maintain a zero-waste kitchen.



In the high-stakes world of fine dining, there’s an ongoing battle against over ordering in the pursuit of perfection. Having too much is better than having too little. This sometimes results in a surplus of off-cuts and imperfections being discarded. In a controlled environment such Klein JAN, where the number of diners can be predicted more easily, the team seems to have mastered the art of utilising ingredients in all their glory. 


Taking inspiration from the Khoisan, they prioritise each ingredient’s full potential, making use of off-cuts in an innovative way such as savoury chutneys or sweet jams. But it doesn’t stop there. According to Sous Chef Jessica Fourie, off-cuts from vegetables find purpose in flavourful stocks and sauces, while dehydrated fruits and vegetables become vibrant powders, adding that perfect finishing touch to a dish. 


According to Jessica, planning is essential and though sometimes it takes a little bit of imagination to reuse some ingredients more than others, it is definitely worth it as it not only extends the lifespan of each ingredient but alleviates food waste and ultimately impacts your food budget. 


Inspired by the Klein JAN team, we compiled a list of helpful guidelines you can easily apply at home to help you transform your kitchen into a zero-waste kitchen. 

Plan and prep like a pro

The journey to a zero-waste kitchen begins with thoughtful planning. Take a moment each week to create a meal plan, considering the ingredients you already have and those that need to be used up based on their expiration dates. Less is more, but in this case, less last longer: Make a shopping list and stick to it, avoiding impulsive purchases that may end up forgotten in the back of your fridge. 


Embrace imperfection

Don’t judge a veggie by its cover! Embrace imperfect produce. Those slightly misshapen carrots and blemished apples still pack a punch of flavour. Give them another chance to shine in your dishes. Yes, we know, no one wants a bruised apple on their plate. Why not recreate it into something fantastic that can accompany your creations? How about an apple puree for your apple tart, an apple sauce to accompany your pork roast, an apple sorbet for after the meal or even apple compote to have with your pancakes the next morning or afternoon?  

Love your leftovers

Leftovers are the unsung heroes of a zero-waste kitchen. Now is the time to get creative with them! Transform yesterday’s roast chicken into a delightful chicken salad or turn surplus veggies into a hearty stir-fry or soup of the day. Let your imagination run wild, and you’ll be surprised at the delectable dishes that can be born from what once seemed simple remnants.

Become a storage Maestro 

Proper food storage is the secret to extending the lifespan of your ingredients. Invest in airtight containers to keep fruits, vegetables, and cooked meals fresher for longer (even better if you invest in sealable oven-friendly, refrigerator-friendly glass containers). Clear containers will also help you keep track of what’s inside, preventing mysterious science experiments from developing in the back of your fridge.

Freeze with ease

Speaking of freezing food, remember, the freezer is your ally in the battle against food waste. When you have surplus ingredients or cooked meals, freeze them for later use. Travelling and still have a bag of tomatoes in the fridge? Throw them in the freezer for pasta sauce when you return from your expeditions. Remember to practice the “first in, first out” approach to ensure nothing wastes away in icy oblivion.

The Circle of Life

Turn food scraps into nutrient-rich gold by composting. Set up a compost bin in your backyard or balcony. Not only will you reduce waste, but you’ll also create nutrient-dense soil to nourish your garden, pot plants and herb planters. It’s a win-win for both the environment and your green thumb!

DIY delights

Get hands-on in your zero-waste kitchen by creating homemade staples. Extra fruit can become preserves. Create your own sauces and condiments. This not only allows you to control the ingredients but also eliminates the need for excessive packaging and the need for single-use plastic, reducing your carbon footprint. Turn your zucchini into a flavourful zucchini bread. Dates can become date sugar when dehydrated. Carrots can become carrot cake. Feeling creative? Make it a fun Sunday activity: preserve your fruits or turn your pumpkin into pumpkin jam. Sweet potatoes can be dried out in the oven and become sweet potato crisps. The possibilities are endless.