Some of us had already figured it out. Others may be learning this lesson more recently as quarantine has produced many a new home chef… but hopefully that means most of us are on the same page about this cold hard fact of cooking…. it can produce a lot of waste.

From leftover stems, peels, skins, cores, and rinds to bones, skins, coffee grounds, stale bread, used tea bags, wilted greens… it’s a fact of life… and what do you do with it all?

For most of us, the answer is toss it in the trash.

But that means you are totally missing out!

There are so many cool and useful things you can do to repurpose your leftover food scraps, and use them to improve new dishes your making… or even serve a purpose outside the kitchen. The possibilities are endless. It’s a very sustainable habit, and it can save you money too!

So why not cut down on kitchen waste and brighten up your recipes, and your home instead, with my top ten tips for using leftover food scraps!

  1. Use herb stems in soups and stocks – they add great flavor. Bundle them with some kitchen twine and pluck out of a soup before eating.

  2. Use garlic and onion scraps in stocks.
    1. & don’t just stop there. You can use pretty much any kind of veggie scrap in a stock… as well as leftover bones and cheese rinds. Just keep the stuff in bags in the freezer until you’re ready to use.
  3. Use leftover citrus scraps to make your home smell amazing (simmer some water on the stove with citrus scraps and leftover herbs…or stems!!…and waft in the fresh smells of spring)
    1. Other great uses for citrus scraps include adding to teas, or meats you are roasting.
  4. Make a dry rub for steak or chicken with leftover coffee grounds.

  5. Stuff old grounds or expired beans into a sock and put at the bottom of your trash can to neutralize odors. (You can do this with citrus peels too!)

  6. You can also use coffee grounds to help scrub tough spots on pots and pans.

  7. As for leftover coffee itself, add it to a chili base or a marinade.

  8. Turn stale bread into homemade bread crumbs!

  9. Use leftover fruit scraps to make homemade vinegars! Just place in a jar with a lid along with a spoonful of sugar and enough water to cover. Then stir it daily for about a week! Zero Waste Chef has an amazing article with step-by-step instructions you can check out.

  10. Use watermelon rinds to make delicious pickles… or finely dice it up to use in a chutney or curry.

Some other tips to reduce waste:

  • You can brew tea bags twice… brew two used ones together if you want to punch up the strength.

  • You can use wine that’s gone bad when you’re cooking. It won’t make you sick and you’ll still get the flavor!

  • Broccoli stalks make for a great soup!

  • Unused greens that are starting to go bad can be turned into a delicious pesto to store in the fridge!

Do you have other creative ideas for using leftover food scraps?! Leave a comment and let me know!


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