There are so many ways for using food scraps that you add more nutrition to your meals, cut down on food waste, and have more food available to you – therefore, will save some cash. Here are some creative ways to repurpose your leftover food while cooking.
1. Turn Your Apple Scraps into Apple Cider Vinegar
If you eat a lot of apples, make apple sauce, or bake with apples, you may end up with a lot of apple cores, and perhaps apple peels. Why not turn those trimmings into apple cider vinegar?
Store up all the peels and cores in a jar, which you can leave in the freezer if it will take you some time to fill, add some water and sugar, and let it ferment for a couple of weeks.
2. Boil a Big Pot of Vegetable Stock
As you’re chopping up vegetables, save all the odds and ends in a container in your freezer—the ends of sweet potatoes, tops of zucchini, spinach stems, and whatever you have on hand you’re not using. You can throw wilted vegetables in there as well. When your container gets full, add it to your favorite vegetable stock recipe for added flavor and nutrients.
3. Cook Up Your Broccoli Stems
You may be used to only eating the crown or florets of broccoli, but you’re missing out if you skip the stems. Slice the stem into quarter-inch disks and throw them in a stir fry, roast them with your broccoli, or steam them. However, you are preparing your broccoli, you can also use the stem! They are crunchy and delicious and add additional volume and texture to your dish.
4. Candy Your Orange Peels
If you eat or cook with oranges and end up with orange peels (hopefully of the organic variety), you can candy them! All you need is sugar and water to boil the peels in. Downshiftology offers up a chocolate-dipped orange peels recipe. Try the same with lemon or grapefruit peels.
5. Turn Lemon Peels into Simple Syrup
Oleo Saccharum is a bartender’s secret weapon, but it’s great in all kinds of other drinks, from mocktails to basic iced tea, and delicious drizzled-over pancakes or fruit salad too. You simply muddle and steep your lemon peel with sugar until the oils are extracted and the sugar dissolves into syrup. You can try this with orange, lime, and grapefruit peel too.
6. Make Use of the Greens From Your Carrot and Beet Tops
Many greens from the tops of your veggies are edible (others, like the ones on rhubarb, are not—just do a quick Google search if you are unsure!) and can be used in a variety of ways. I like to make carrot tops into a pesto, and use beet tops as part of my salads.
You can also toss them into smoothies, soups, stews, or whatever other use you can think of for the greens. Just be sure to cut them off your vegetables when you get home from the store or farmer’s market, otherwise, the vegetable will go bad sooner. Try these Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto.
7. Include Your Herb Stems in Your Dips and Sauces
Most people take the leaves off the herbs and toss out the stems— but that’s not necessary! Use your softer stems from herbs like basil, parsley, and cilantro in whatever sauce or dip you are making.
For example, you can add the whole stalk of basil to my pesto, or blend in a whole stalk of cilantro into your salsa. It adds extra nutrients and allows you to utilize the whole plant! Woody stems like rosemary and thyme can be added in small quantities to soups, beans, and sauces to infuse them while they cook, then removed before serving.
8. Add Eggshells and Coffee Grounds to Your Garden to Enrich the Soil
Eggshells and coffee grounds are great additions to your garden as they serve as fertilizer for the soil. Eggshells add calcium to the soil, while coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil.
10. Use Watermelon Scraps
Watermelon rinds are good for more than just pickles (though that’s still a delicious thing to do with them too). You can just remove the darkest green outer layer for the compost and use the rest of the rind in lots of ways, from stir-fry to candy.
11. Regrow Scallions
In case you missed it while you were busy baking sourdough earlier in the pandemic, regrowing scallions is an
n easy bit of kitchen magic, so don’t toss those root ends. Stand them upright in a drinking glass or jar with an inch or two of water, and watch them sprout again. You can pot them eventually, or just keep regrowing them inside.
12. Use The Bare Cobs to Make Corn Stock Dish
Don’t toss out corn cobs after cutting off the kernels. Instead, use the bare cobs to make sweet and delicious corn stock. It’s as easy to do as popping the cobs into a pot of boiling water with a few other basic ingredients, leaving to simmer. You’ll get a rich vegetable broth you can use in chowders and soups, or as a cooking liquid for rice and other grains.
13. Zuni Cafe-Style Zucchini Pickles
When you don’t know what to do with a garden bursting with zucchini or have zucchini going mushy in your fridge, turn them into delicious pickles. Sweet and easy refrigerator zucchini pickles are great for topping burgers at your summer barbecues and make a tangy nibble all on their own.
14. Repurpose Stale Bread
We shouldn’t waste bread. If we have stale bread on hand, we make French toast, bread pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs. Since I bake only sourdough bread—which stays fresh for a very long time—we rarely have stale bread on hand. But if we do, we always find a use for it.
15. Instant Pot Bone Broth
Collect beef bones from rib roasts, bone-in steaks, and short ribs, storing them in the freezer, for making nutrient-rich bone broth. This highly nutritious stock makes a great base for soups, sauces, and gravies, or a nourishing health drink on its own. The Instant Pot can help you dramatically shorten the cooking time.
Check out the above tutorials to use your food scraps before it goes bad!