Did you know that approximately 25-40% of all food grown, processed, and transported in the US will never be eaten? Read on to learn how you can cut down on your personal food waste and discover the many miraculous ways you can use scraps too!
The other day I came across a statistic that absolutely blew me away: An estimated 25-40% of all food grown, processed and transported in the United States will never be eaten. I don’t know about you, but that is really difficult for me to hear.
Still, it’s not surprising. Just go one day with your eyes opened to the reality of food waste and you will be absolutely floored by the sheer volume of beautiful food that gets sent to landfill.
There are all sorts of strategies you can use to reduce food waste and save money. You can:
- Shop more realistically and buy what you know you’ll eat.
- Cook in reasonable portions for your needs.
- Actually eat those leftovers you saved.
- Avoid a cluttered fridge and pantry (read my guide to decluttering your pantry here).
- Treat sell-by/expiration dates as guidelines, not rules.
- And freeze food you won’t be able to eat in time.
But today I want to share with you some super easy and practical tips for using those food scraps before they get sent to the compost pile.
30 Clever Ways to Use Food Scraps
- Save carrot peels, potato skins, and celery tops to add to homemade chicken stock!
- Make yummy potato peel chips out of your potato scraps.
- Retain the seeds, pits, and cuttings of your veggies and regrow at home.
- Save veggie peels for all-natural fabric dye. Use beet ends for reds and purples, red cabbage for blues, yellow onions for oranges, and spinach for greens. I sense a Pinterest party coming on?
- Place cucumber peels at entrance points in your home to deter ants.
- Keep the green “trunks” of your broccoli. They make for a delicious soup. Just search “broccoli stalk soup” for inspiration.
- Mince and freeze leftover herbs in oil or water before they go bad.
- Don’t throw away the delicious guts of your Halloween jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the insides and blend into pumpkin puree for pie.
- Hold onto tomato peels, cores and juice and turn into a tomato sauce. Just blend and simmer with oils and spices of your choice.
- Reserve kale stalks for soups that call for them.
- Make jam from apple peels and cores. You can also do this with strawberry tops and apricot peels.
- Rub the soft side of a banana peel on the leaves of houseplants to shine them up and remove dust.
- Make a homemade air freshener. Sometimes I save leftover fruit scraps and boil in a little water on the stove to make my home smell sweet.
- Dry lemon or orange peels, then add them to your homemade vinegar cleaning solution (my recipe here). The citrus oils will help dissolve grease and add some antibacterial power.
- Drop a few banana peels into a bucket of water and let sit for a few days. This will become a potassium and phosphorus-rich “compost tea” for your garden and house plants.
- Toss a couple of citrus peels down the garbage disposal to remove the stink.
- Turn apple peels into a sweet apple tea.
Bread Crusts & Crumbs
- Turn dried bread crusts into croutons and breadcrumbs. Yummy!
- Use a small, dried bread crust to soak up oils and scrub hardened food from your cast iron pans.
- Add a bread heel to your brown sugar container to soften it and make it scoopable again!
- Save your cracker crumbs to top a casserole. Delicious!
- Hold onto fine coffee grounds and use as an exfoliant.
- Clean, dry, and grind meat bones into bone meal (also called bone manure) and sprinkle in your garden soil on occasion.
- Are you an almond milk fan? After making your almond milk, dry your leftover almond pulp in the oven then grind into almond flour!
- Turn wine that has gone bad into red wine vinegar, then use on salads or for cleaning. This process may take several months.
- Preserve bacon grease in a jar, then make suet for the birds during the winter. This can be a great craft project to do with kids as a family!
- Cook with old wine before you pour it down the drain. It won’t make you sick and is a great addition to simmering dishes like stews.
- Use dried-out cheese that has not gone moldy to make macaroni & cheese. You’ll never know the difference!
- Grind cleaned and cracked egg shells into calcium powder.
- Use your tea bags twice. Add a couple of used ones together and you’ll have a tea strong enough to brew.
Do you have any clever uses for food scraps in your back pocket? Share your knowledge in the comments below!
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