Save money in your budget by finding ways to use your food scraps in the kitchen! Avoids food waste by using what you have on hand! Also learn 10 Ways to Regrow Food in Water, which gives you more food for free!
Ever wondered what to do with those beet tops? How about ways to use fruit and veggie scraps? Do you feel like you are wasting half of your food?
The more I learn about the way today’s food is grown and how the chemicals are affecting us, the more I’m determined to buy organic as much as possible. BUT, organic isn’t cheap.
That is why I don’t like to throw any kitchen scraps away. Not even my potato peels, banana peels, kale stems, broccoli stems, or my used corn cobs.
13 Ways to Use Food Scraps
1 – Herbs
The recipe called for 1/4 cup of minced cilantro but you had to buy the entire bunch, now what to do with leftover herbs? Mince leftover herbs, mix a little extra virgin olive oil with them and freeze in ice-cube trays. Instant pesto!
What Can I Do with Vegetable Scraps?
2 – Beet tops
Did you buy a bunch of red-beets and are left wondering what to do with beet tops? Cut the leaves from the stems and steam them. Beet greens are delicious steamed with a bit of added butter, salt and pepper. They’re also good in this savory pasta dish. If the greens appear to be old and tough, add them to your vegetable stock. Young beet greens are also tasty in salads.
3 – Kale
Do you like to add kale to your morning smoothies? We all know those tough outer greens are just nasty in a smoothie. Instead of tossing tough greens into the compost, dehydrate them and turn into a greens powder to add to protein shakes, sprinkle on salads, and more.
4 – Carrot tops
What do you do with carrot tops? Finely chop the leafy tops and add to rice pilaf. Sprinkle small amounts of chopped carrot tops on top of your salads. Toss some into your soups, make some more pesto, (I sometimes use this food processor) and when all else fails, add the tops to your vegetable or chicken stock.
5 – Potato peels
I buy organic potatoes which means I don’t need to peel them for most stuff. But I don’t want the peel in my mashed potatoes. What do I do with my potato peels? Use them in vegetable or chicken stock!
6 – Brown bananas
What to do with brown bananas? Use bananas in all sorts of baked goods, with banana bread muffins being a popular choice. No time to bake? Peel the bananas and freeze them and then dip into chocolate for a great summer treat.
What Can Be Made Out of Food Waste?
7 – Bottoms of Celery and Lettuce
Have you gotten to the bottom of your celery or leaf lettuce? Leave 1-2 inches and place in a bit of water. Regrow your veggies in water! You can also do it with green tail onions!
8 – Orange peels
Ever needed a use for orange peels? I sometimes dehydrate my organic orange peels to use in tea.
Also, tuff non-organic orange peels in a jar and cover with vinegar for a week to make a great smelling vinegar cleaner. I also cut my orange peels into small pieces and toss them into the garbage disposal to freshen it up a little.
9 – Pumpkins
Wondering what to do with the pumpkins that you bought for fall decor? Cook them down and turn them into pumpkin puree.
Don’t forget to toast the seeds as well!
10 – Meal plan to use all of your kitchen scraps
Just planning your meals can help cut back on extra, left-over produce.
11 – Leftovers
Are you wondering what to do with your leftovers? Having leftovers enough for just one person or only half the family is frustrating. Many times I will freeze those leftovers in single serving size containers and use them for lunches.
Growing up, Saturdays were often leftover days. We would pull out random bits of meals and heat them up for lunch, even in a larger family it worked pretty well. Another use is giving them to elderly widows and widowers in your church or community.
12 – Freeze or dehydrate your food scraps
On occasions where we are going to be gone for several days, I will prepare the fresh produce and toss it in the freezer.
Apples, mushrooms, and bananas to name just a few are great dehydrated. If you see produce reaching the end of its life and know you won’t be using it in time, freezing or dehydrating is the perfect way to keep it from waste.
13 – Make vegetable stock out of food scraps!
Finally, when all else fails, make vegetable stock. I put everything from carrot and apple peels to broccoli stalks and eggshells in mine. Unlike the bland store-bought stuff, the homemade veggie stock is rich and full-flavored. Not to mention highly nutritious!
There are many ways to reduce veggie waste in the kitchen and I hope these 13 ideas will get you started. Preserving foods is another great way to prevent waste, especially if you are growing a garden.
Can You Just Bury Food Scraps?
Why bury them when you can use food scraps for more meals using all of my favorite ways listed above? Of course, you can always compost the food scraps that you are not able to use!
More Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen
- 38 Ways to Save Money on Food Year-Round
- How to Save Money with a Pantry Challenge
- Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- How to Save Time and Money with Batch Cooking
Real Food RebootSign up to join the 30-day Real Food Reboot Challenge! It will help you and your family eat healthier food for the long-haul. In less than 15 minutes a day, you can change habits, feel better, AND bring your family along too!
What other creative ways do you use food scraps? Share them in the comments below!
The other day, I tossed kabocha squash peels with olive oil, salt, cumin powder, and red chili powder, and oven-roasted it. It tasted so good that my kids asked for more.
Onion peels and black currant jam which has gone off can be used to colour Easter eggs. In order to do that, you should boil the eggs together with the colouring ingredients.
All those leaves and fleshy stems on the outside of cauliflower taste a lot like cauliflower and are great in soups or vegetable stews. Same with kale stems that recipes always tell you to throw away. Slice thin and add to soups. Snap off the ends of asparagus where they snap easily and cook for the first act. Then for a second act slice the snapped ends thin down to where they really resist and braise in butter or add to a soup or stew. Stems of beets also make a great second act. Slice about 1 inch long and cook.
We can raise couple of chicken in our back yard from our left over of every meal. Without any extra cost we can get hormone free eggs for our children. They can have the chickens as their pet.
New to all this. If I use frozen veggie scraps to make veggie stock, can I then re-freeze the stock into ice cubes or smaller portions?
I’m test cooking small batches of passionfruit skin jam at the moment; variations on this recipe. I don’t have enough passionfruit to spare, so instead of adding the pulp from two whole passionfruit, I’m soaking and cooking the skins according to the recipe’s instructions and adding a little bit of other fruit. A batch with two passionfruit skins and two plums has come out nicely, I’ve got a three skin + two peaches version on the go. The plum version has a slight bitter tang to it like Seville orange or grapefruit marmalade. Nice on toast!
Scrub root veggies and pumpkins/squash well and cook with skins on, or if you’re not wanting the coarser texture (e.g. skins aren’t really great on mashed vegs) put them aside to make soups. You can either chop them up or put it through a blender once cooked- if you blend them smooth, no-one can tell it’s “peelings soup”…except perhaps by the fact that the peels tend to have more flavour than the innards!
(Forgot to mention- with pumpkin skins, the softer skinned varieties cook well, but some of the hard skinned ones are too tough.)
Apple peels… We have one of those apple corer/peeler deals, especially for fall and pies/apple butter. We love to boil the apple peels and cores, and add a bit of cinnamon… pour over ice, mix with a bit of club soda, and apple pop! (clearly, we are oddballs.) I also like adding sugar to it, boiling it down, and pouring it over waffles. Pumpkin, waffles. 😛
The juice from cooking the peels and cores also makes good apple jelly for sandwiches, either on it’s own or with other fruit or herbs. Measure the strained juice, add the same volume of sugar and cook until it jells. Also, if you’re making a jam that needs extra pectin, cook the fruit down in the apple peel/core juice. The softened peels are also fine to eat or chop up finely and add to jam or chutney, as long as you don’t mind the texture of it.
I like to can my own apple sauce so then I have a ton of apple peel left. You can make gorgeous apple jelly with just apple peels, sugar, pectin, and water! Also I like to make pineapple cores into chips by slicing them thin and dehydrating them! Thanks for all the great tips!
These are all great tips and ideas! I’m quite new at reducing my food waste and here are some great ideas to try. I’m definitely showing your post to my sister, I’m sure she’ll be glad to have your tips on mind too. Thank you for sharing all this valuable information!
Heels of bread that get tossed! Freeze them and use for croutons, bread crumbs, homemade stuffing or bread pudding.
I made my very first batch of veggie stock/broth today! It was so satisfying to finally use the scraps of veggies I was saving in my freezer. I was surprised how well it turned out 🙂 I can’t believe I was wasting so much food before I learned about this. Thank you so much for the tips!
You’re most welcome!
Thanks for the great ideas! I’ve been putting these into practice and I can really see the savings adding up! Just this week, I saved the guts of a muskmelon and added the seeds to my granola and the juice to a smoothie. Yay! There is still one tricky food item that keeps getting tossed though. Does anyone have a clever idea for what to do with banana peels? Living in an apartment in the city, I don’t have regular access to a compost pile, so what else is there to do with them?
I’ve seen a recipe for banana peel chutney, but I think you can find more if you search “banana peel recipes.” It seems to be popular in Indian cuisine!
I chop them up and add them to my garden soil along with eggshells and used coffee grounds.
I’m saving peels at the moment to experiment with banana skin cake. I’ll be trialling a half batch of this recipe. There’s a few other recipes online, but this one’s the most straightforward one. Hoping it lives up to the good reports! 😀 https://lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz/recipes/banana-peel-cake/
What a great list of tips! Thanks so much for taking the time to do that. I am in love with the baked potato peels idea. What a nutritious snack & a great way to reduce waste. Although I’m with you….I love my potato peels so I rarely have them, but come TG time, I’ll be sure to do this!
I keep 2 gallon sized zipper bags in the freezer. 1 for veggie scraps like carrot tops, celery leaves, onion peels, etc. to make stock with. Once bag is full, dump it in some water, throw in herbs (if I didn’t have any to freeze in the bag) and simmer for a couple of hours. I strain and freeze what I don’t need immediately. The 2nd bag houses veggies such as spinach (which freezes perfectly), kale, etc. and fruit scraps/fruit that is heading south – apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc. This is my smoothie mix. I just pull out however much I need and throw it in a blender with juice, almond milk or water. I can add protein, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax, etc. as desired. The best part about using frozen fruit and veggies in a smoothie is there is no need to add ice. Even avocados and asparagus freeze well and are great in smoothies.
LOVE THIS! Totally stealing this idea! Thanks for sharing!
Should note that some folks re very allergic to carrot tops…
If anyone is allergic to carrot tops, I don’t recommend they make this recipe. 🙂
Thanks for the great tips! My mom used to make candied orange peels when I was a kid. Yummy 🙂
Grapefruit peels work just as well as orange pee’s for a candied treat I love them. When I was young they use to even candy watermelon rind but I don’t know how they did that and haven’t seen it anywhere for years.
Watermelon rind makes great pickles.
Meat bones can be used over and over in stock, until they are soft.
Hi there I keep the egg shell and dry them, when I have enough I grind them and sprinkle the powder onto my vegetable garden
Karen @ Team Crumbs
Great idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂