Wasting food is an important issue which needs to be taken seriously and dealt with so that the food scraps are as minimal as possible. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there is around 30 to 40% of wastage of the food supply in America each year.(1)
Wasting food not only harms the natural resources, but it also leads to increased gas emissions from the greenhouse, which contributes to the climate change.
The good news is that we can do several things to cut down on the food waste, such as planning the meals beforehand; practicing proper food storage and only purchasing what is needed. Instead of throwing the food scraps one can use them in many creative ways to reduce the waste, save money, decrease the environmental impact and the bonus is getting to eat new dishes along with getting the creative juices flowing.
14 Creative Ideas For Using Up Food Scraps Instead Of Throwing Them Away
Use Stale Bread for Making Croutons
Instead of throwing the stale bread it can be used for making croutons by cutting the stale bread into cubes and mix them in any oil with any seasoning of your choice. Now bake these for 10 to 15 minutes at 400°F (205°C) till they are golden and crispy. Adding homemade croutons gives more crunch and flavor to casseroles, soups and salads.
Make Your Own Compost
One of the best ways to use food scraps is composting, which is a process where the leftover organic materials is collected from the kitchen such as leaves, flowers, coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable and fruit trimmings.(2, 3) All this is collected and as it rots, it results in nutrient-dense compost which is great for soil and encourages growth of plants. Composting can be done indoors using a composting appliance or in the backyard. There are many organizations, which also give local bins or composting programs so you can drop your scraps to be put to good use.
Use the Bones to Make Broth
Making your own bone broth at home using the leftover bones from the meat helps a lot in terms of cutting down on the wastage and saving the money. One doesn’t have to buy the expensive bone broth powdered mixes or supplements and you can save money like this. Fill a pot with water and add some roasted bones to it till they are submerged. Cover it after bringing it to a simmer and allow it to cook slowly for about 24 to 48 hours. After this, strain the broth and transfer them to whatever container you want and keep it in the fridge.
Bone broth is excellent for drinking in the cold weather, when suffering from flu and is a soothing and warm alternative to tea and coffee. Bone broth can also be added to the gravy, stuffing, stew or soup to make it more nutritious and is great for overall health as well.(4)
Pickling of the Watermelon Rinds
Watermelon is a sweet, delicious juicy fruit, very much sought after during the summer time due to its water content and sweet and refreshing taste.(5) However, the rinds of the watermelon are thrown away. Instead of throwing away the watermelon rinds they can be put to good use, such as pickling them for a satisfying and crunchy snack!
Just as one pickles other vegetables and fruits, you can also pickle the watermelon rinds and consume them. This can be done by simmering the rinds in a combination of water, vinegar, salt and sugar till they get soft and then storing them in the refrigerator and use them whenever you need.
To boost the flavor of the watermelon rind pickle, you can also add more seasonings and spices, such as cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon or ginger.
Save the Leafy Green Stems to Sauté and Consume
There are many leafy green vegetables whose stem we do not eat and throw away. Instead of throwing them, chop the stem into little pieces and sauté them in your favorite seasonings and some olive oil. This will not only cut down on the food wastage, but also give you a new delicious and nutritious side dish.
Use Water to Re-Grow Your Veggies
You can re-grow different vegetables by placing their stalks in water.(6) This will save so much money on your grocery bill and also cut down on the waste. Some of the vegetables that can be easily re-grown in the comfort of your home are leeks, green onions, celery and cabbage.
Just slice the bottom of the stalk and keep it in a shallow bowl of water, such that the roots are submerged. It will take a few days to see the actual growth of the vegetable.
Use Vegetable Trimmings to Make Vegetable Stock
Making your own vegetable stock is the best way to cut down on the waste by using the vegetable trimmings to do so. Gather all the vegetable scraps and trimmings and keep them in a large pot and add water, seasonings and herbs, such as peppercorns or garlic, and boil it and let it simmer it for about half-an-hour. After this, strain the broth and place it in a vessel and store it in the fridge to be used when required.(7) This nutritious homemade vegetable stock can be used to cook grains, pasta, stews and soups of course, to add more nutrition and flavor.
Use the Leaves from Radishes, Carrots and Beets
Many of us just throw the leaves growing from root vegetables, such as radishes, carrots and beets. These leafy greens are extremely nutritious along with being edible and versatile. You can use these leafy greens instead of any other greens in different recipes. You can make a side dish by sautéing the leaves or adding them to hummus, pesto, soup or salad.
Freeze the Leftover Herbs
When you have used fresh herbs for a dish and have some leftover, then freeze them so they can be used later. Before freezing, remove the stems, wash the herbs thoroughly and chop them up. Now keep them in an ice cube tray, and add water and freeze them. After they are frozen, remove the cubes and keep them in a plastic bag in your freezer for future use. When you want to use the herbs, place them in a small bowl and after the water has melted, remove the herbs and pat them dry and use them.
Used Coffee Grounds are Natural Fertilizer (8, 9)
Used coffee grounds are excellent fertilizer for plants to be used as organic material in the soil for better growth of the plants.(8) Coffee grounds also help in attracting the earthworms along with improving the retention of water and drainage.
Sprinkle the coffee grounds just as you would a fertilizer, directly around the plants. Make sure not to add too much, as they can clump together which will prevent the water from reaching the soil.
Use the Fruit Peels To Make Jam
Don’t throw the peels of fruits, such as oranges and apples, and instead use them to make fruit peel jam. The method is simple, place the peels in water and cook for about half an hour and strain them and then boil the liquid on high flame with added lemon and sugar. Once it thickens in consistency, pour it into sterilized jars and your fruit peel jam is ready to be used as a topping to a pudding and other desserts!
Use Bacon Grease to Make Suet
Suet is a form of animal fat, which is commonly used in bird feeders to keep the birds warm when the weather is cold.(10) Instead of buying suet cakes, you can make them at home by using the leftover meat drippings from pork or bacon, by straining the drippings and adding ingredients, such as dried fruit, unsalted nuts and peanut butter to attract different types of birds.
Citrus Peels Make Heavenly Air Fresheners (11)
You can make amazing homemade air fresheners using citrus peels, as they also help in absorbing the odors. You can simmer the citrus peels in water and spices, such as cloves or cinnamon and this will freshen up your kitchen.
Another option is removing the flesh from fruits, such as oranges, limes and grapefruit and filling the rind with a combination of essential oils, herbs and sea salt.
Leftover Tomato Paste Can Be Frozen For Future Use
Not many recipes need a lot of tomato paste, so you are left with quite a bit of it in the can. A great way to increase the shelf life of the tomato paste is to freeze it. This can be done by placing a spoon of tomato paste in a lined baking sheet and freezing it till it becomes solid and then removing it and storing it in a plastic bag. These can be used for three months.
There is no doubt that wastage of food is a serious problem worldwide. The good news is that there are many ways to cut down the waste and use the food scraps in different and creative ways to fulfill other purposes, such as using them as a fertilizer or making new dishes. Encouraging and increasing awareness of this will helps in creating more eco-conscious consumers. Not only will it stop wastage, but will also save money and time along with practicing sustainability.