Save Those Scraps: Tips to Reduce Food Waste

When transitioning to unprocessed foods one of the things that people note is how much food waste there seems to be. While many cities now have composting services, it is still throwing away good nutrition that can be eaten. Food scraps that are not composted do contribute to greenhouse gases, although to a much smaller degree than the big offenders of transportation and industry (NOT cows). 

Reducing food waste is not only better for your wallet, it is an opportunity to get more nutrition for your dollar! Here are ways I reuse scraps to save money and squeeze out every last bit of nutrition:

Make Stock with Food Scraps

Whenever I am chopping vegetables I save the scraps for stock. Onion peels, garlic remnants, stems of green veg, carrot tops, wilted herbs, the rind from parmesan cheese, pretty much everything goes into a gallon freezer bag. I take home bones from restaurant meals and keep all bones from chicken and beef I eat and freeze them for stock as well. A couple times a month it all gets thrown into the Instant Pot with additional herbs and seasonings and gets simmered for 18-24 hours. Then I freeze the stock in 1 cup silicon ice cube molds and use them to make flavorful rice, soups, or to braise veggies. Here’s a recipe for bone broth to get you started.

Use Broccoli Stems for Dips and Crudite

Underneath the thicker skin of broccoli stems is a tender, juicy stalk. Peel the outer skin off and slice the stem to use in stir-fries, as crudite, or blend them into a nutrient-dense “broccomole” to boost your produce intake further!

Broccomole:

  • 2 stalks broccoli, tough skin on stalk removed (apx. 1.5 cups)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, pitted, flesh removed from skin
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced (remove seeds to reduce spice) (optional)
  1. Steam broccoli stalks and puree in food processor with juice of 1 lime.
  2. Add garlic and avocado and was until combined.
  3. Fold in tomato, scallion and scallion.
  4. Use broccomole with eggs, on a taco salad, or a s dip with your favorite veggies!

Makes 4 servings, 1 vegetable portion per serving

Preserve Rinds and Stems

Sometimes I will save the thick stems for pickling instead of broth. Kale, chard, and collard green stems can be pickled to be preserved. Here is my favorite recipe for pickled green stems (using chard, but other stems can be used). PIckled veg is great to serve alongside a hearty protein or diced adn tossed into salads for some zingy flair.

It’s also easy to preserve fruit rinds! Pickled watermelon rinds are a surprising treat you may never have heard of, and citrus rinds (unwaxed and organic) can also be reused. You can candy citrus rinds, preserve them in vodka or tequila for an infuse liquor, or use them in a homemade kitchen cleaner.

Don’t Be Afraid of Imperfect Fruit and Veg

We’ve gotten so acclimated to Instagram-worthy produce aisles that any food that looks wilted, has a bad spot, or has gone soft is thrown out when it is still perfectly edible. This is a major contributor to food waste that is wholly unnecessary. A best by date does not indicate the food is spoiled after that day, it simply means it isn’t the freshest it could be and is often an arbitrary number without any significance. Use your eyes and your nose to see if produce can be salvaged rather than tossed. Cut off any bad bits and cook it to use for dinner or freeze for later! Bananas too ripe for my taste get thrown in the freezer for banana bread later, mushy apples get made into applesauce and frozen or used as a condiment (my jalapeño applesauce is great with pork), and cheese that is continuing to produce ugly looking cultures just needs to be sliced back and it is good as new. Strawberries that are starting to mold get picked through, trimmed, and cooked down into a compote or jam. Neglected greens can be chopped up and thrown into a soup or simmered and blended if not frozen for stock. While I’m not keen to eat raw fruit and veg that smells questionable, I do not hesitate to cut out bad bits and cook the heck out of what remains to kill anything that might make me ill. 

Cherish Carrot Tops

I absolutely adore carrot fronds and seek them out when buying carrots. I use the fronds as a flavor enhancer for hummus, as a base for chimichurri, and most often make a carrot top harissa that I use with roasted carrots. They are absolutely divine and delicate and deserve a place in salads, sauces, dressings, and any place you’d use parsley or another leafy herb. 

Kitchen Scraps as an Exercise in Connection and Mindfulness

As we wrap up this introduction into preventing food waste in the kitchen, remember that every small effort counts toward making a big difference. By adopting mindful practices and innovative strategies, we not only minimize waste but also unlock a treasure trove of culinary creativity! How will you use your pickled chard stems?

By embracing the use of every part of the ingredients we bring into our kitchens, we turn scraps into delicious meals and reduces our ecological footprint in the process. Whether it’s transforming vegetable peels into flavorful broth or carrot tops into the most delicious sauce you’ve ever tasted, there’s magic to be found in every scrap.

Moreover, the mindfulness and creativity we employ when thinking of throwing away less food cultivates a deeper connection with our food, honoring the resources and energy that went into producing it. Exploring creative uses for scraps and leftovers, in addition to shopping intentionally, planning meals thoughtfully, and storing ingredients properly, can ensure that each item fulfills its role in nourishing our bodies and sustaining our health.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *