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Chaos cooking is in. What is it?

Alvina Wang/BestReviews

Creatively use up your leftovers with this exciting cooking trend

If fusion food is starting to feel run-of-the-mill, wait until you meet its offspring, chaos cooking. This trend, like fusion food, has fun with food, but it's about more than simply flouting the established cooking rules. Chaos cooking is an invitation to think creatively and cook confidently. Not only will it help you clean out your fridge, you may discover a new favorite go-to recipe.

Shop this article: Chef Works Unisex Kitchen Apron, Pyrex Easy Grab 2-Quart Glass Casserole Dish, Homearray Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

What is chaos cooking?

Chaos cooking isn't exactly new, but its name and its social media presence certainly are. While fusion food combines two cultural cuisines and results in modern (albeit controversial) classics such as barbecue chicken pizza or the shushirrito, chaos cooking throws out any and all culinary restrictions. It draws from chain restaurants, classic recipes, childhood favorites and what's in your pantry to create something fun and unique.

Chaos cooking doesn't require fancy techniques, expensive tools or a shopping list's worth of ingredients to create a new dish. You only need some solid cooking knowledge and a sense of playfulness.

What you don't need in chaos cooking is fear. It's about thumbing your nose at the rules and setting aside any fear of messing up or anxiety over creating the perfect dish. If you like the flavors, throw them together and see if it works out. If it doesn't, call it a learning experience and try again another day. (If you're afraid your cooking skills aren't quite up to experimenting, save chaos cooking for a time when you'll be less stressed about getting dinner on the table).

Chaos cooking and food waste

Did you know nearly one-third of the food American households purchase goes to waste? That amounts to more than 100 billion pounds of food and billions of dollars. Chaos cooking can be part of the solution to that costly problem.

Whether you over-shopped or ended up with leftovers no one wants to eat, chaos cooking lets you remix, experiment and try different flavor profiles to create a new dish without having to throw anything out. You may have to set aside some preconceived notions of what a dish should taste or even look like, but you may be surprised by what kind of deliciousness you can create by thinking outside the box — and inside your own refrigerator.

How to cook chaotically

To get started with this food trend, try applying the chaos cooking mindset to a recipe you're familiar with and change just one or two ingredients at a time. Toss some leftover vegetables in a go-to pasta dish or combine leftover cheese into your classic casserole recipe. By starting small, you'll build up the confidence and the skills to try bolder experiments later.

As you get more confident cooking chaotically, start thinking about other dishes you can play with. Try experimenting with flexible, easily customizable dishes such as fritters, casseroles, grain bowls or even oatmeal to use up ingredients and discover new tastes.

Chaos cooking may take some time to master, and you may not whip up a Michelin star-worthy dish every time. However, applying the basic principles of mindful, joyful, creative cooking can help you develop your skills, discover your tastes and level up even the most confident cook.

Best kitchen tools

Chef Works Unisex Kitchen Apron

Confidently tackle creative recipes without worrying about mess with this sturdy, comfortable apron. It's treated with a soil-release finish so it'll come out of the wash clean and ready for the next meal.

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Pyrex Easy Grab 2-Quart Glass Casserole Dish with Lid

Casseroles are endlessly customizable and a great entry point for chaos cooking. This large, deep glass dish has handles that make it easy to get in and out of the oven, and it's also safe for the microwave, freezer and dishwasher.

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Lodge 3-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole

This beautiful and durable cast iron casserole dish has a porcelain coating that's easy to clean and doesn't require seasoning. It can be used on all cooktops, including induction, as well as in the oven up to 500 degrees.

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Homearray Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

You'll have plenty of bowls for mixing and ingredient prep with this six-piece set, with sizes ranging from 3/4-quart to 8 quarts. The stainless steel bowls have a flat base and a wide, rounded lip for easy handling.

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Rifle Paper Co. Recipe Tin and Cards

If your chaos cooking leads you to a culinary discovery, record it for next time on these recipe cards. The set of 24 cards and 12 section dividers is stored in a gold-tone tin featuring Rifle Paper Co.'s popular botanical art.

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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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