Book Club

Book Club’s next read is ‘Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking’ by Margaret and Irene Li

Join the live author discussion Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.

What better time to celebrate food and family than November? This month, join the Book Club for a conversation with Margaret and Irene Li, the sisters behind local favorite Mei Mei Dumplings. In addition to being entrepreneurs and chefs, the duo also has a new cookbook out, “Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking.”

The conversation will get you thinking about how you can reduce food waste in your day-to-day life and for big events like Thanksgiving dinner. 

The cookbook not only asks readers to consider making use of the odds and ends in their fridges but also shows them how. The book includes recipes, of course, but it also provides tips on how to freeze and store nearly anything in your kitchen, perfect homemade smoothies, and build a smart pantry. 


“Together we’re going to cut down on your food waste and save you money,” the sisters write in the cookbook. “Turn these pages to look up the ingredients you have on hand, and you might soon be eating … roast chicken pasta with cilantro-avocado pesto … while the aroma of apple crisp wafts out of your oven.”

Together with their brother, Andrew, the Li sisters are the founders of the Mei Mei Street Kitchen, the food truck that started it all, and authors of “Double Awesome Chinese Food.” Although the pandemic caused them to hit pause, the team is back with a new factory and cafe in South Boston, where guests can enjoy a sit-down meal, sign up for dumpling classes, or order wholesale. 

The siblings create “unconventional dumpling combinations” that mix traditional Chinese flavors with the tastes of New England. What started as a food truck quickly led to a brick-and-mortar restaurant that is regularly praised by Eater, Boston Globe, and readers, who named it one of the best AAPI-owned restaurants in the city. 

“It’s locally sourced dumplings, is a leader in terms of how they treat their employees and is owned by an Asian American woman who grew up in Brookline…a James Beard Award-winning restaurateur,” said one reader. 


That James Beard Award-winning chef is Irene Li, who became the youngest person to win the Beard Award for leadership in 2022. She’s also received six James Beard Foundation nominations for Rising Star Chef and won the YW Boston Sylvia Ferrell-Jones award, among other accolades. Li is also heavily involved in a number of local organizations working on food access and justice including Haley House, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and Project Bread.

Margaret (who goes by Mei) is the founder of Food Waste Food, an organization dedicated to helping cooks of all backgrounds and skill levels waste less food. They host cooking workshops on “how to make your dollars go farther by cooking smarter” and educate the public about zero-waste. 

Several food writers have tried out the new cookbook and said “Perfectly Good Food” is an accessible and fun guide to cooking. 

“One of the best things about Perfectly Good Food is its desire to help readers depend less on instructions and more on their own confidence in the kitchen, the trickle-down effect of which is less food waste. If you have the confidence and creativity to make something tasty out of that wilted lettuce, you’re much less likely to throw it in the trash…[That] confidence is liberating,” said Francie Lin in the Boston Globe.


Daniel Walton from Civil Eats said the book inspired him to “add an ‘eat me first’ box of leftovers to my fridge, whip up a batch of apple-cheddar muffins with bruised fruit, and celebrate with a tomato-water martini.”

Join Margaret and Irene Li as they discuss “Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking” on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.

Buy “Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking” from: Bookshop | Papercuts in Jamaica Plain

Prior Book Club picks