Whole Living Daily

12 Creative Ways to Use Up Your Veggie Scraps

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Eating more sustainably at home is good for our planet ... and your wallet.

One of the easiest ways to make your plate more sustainable is to get into the habit of using up every last scrap of the fruits and vegetables you buy. Food waste makes up the second largest category of garbage that gets sent to landfills (second only to paper), where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas with more global warming potential than carbon dioxide.

Finding creative ways to use up the leaves, the stems, and the other parts of fruits and veggies that might otherwise get tossed also stretches your grocery dollars; when you can use the greens from your radishes as well as the radishes themselves, it’s like getting two veggies for the price of one.

Here are 12 ways to use up all your vegetable scraps:

  1. Put vegetable scraps in a zip-top freezer bag; when the bag is full, make vegetable stock.
  2. Use Swiss chard stems in place of celery in recipes.
  3. Speaking of celery, add celery leaves to soups and stews for a deep celery flavor boost. This works with herb stems, too. (You can make a bouquet garni if you want to make it easier to fish them out later.)
  4. If you need citrus juice for a recipe, zest the peel first and freeze it; likewise, if you need the zest, juice the fruit and freeze the juice. (Ice cube trays work great for this!)
  5. Put tomato scraps in a strainer over a bowl and use the juice in soups (or Bloody Marys!)
  6. You can chop up the green part of melon rinds (between the sweet flesh and the hard, outer shell) and use it in place of cucumbers in salads. Or pickle it!
  7. Deep fry (or bake, if you're being good) potato peels.  Need we say more?
  8. Make "Clean Out The Fridge" vegetable soup—the recipe is in my free e-book.
  9. Purée veggie scraps to add to vinaigrettes.
  10. Throw veggie scraps (especially leafy greens!) into a smoothie.
  11. Re-use pickle juice to quick-pickle almost any veggie scraps.
  12. Collect veggie scraps and substitute them in a recipe like these vegetable tartlets.

What are your best tips for using every bit of vegetable scraps in the kitchen? Leave a comment below and share the one tip you plan to try this week!

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Comments (9)

  • I LOVE these ideas! I like to put out fresh cut up veggies for my kids while I'm cooking up dinner. When there are a few left on the plate, I throw them in the blender with some coconut water and store it in the fridge for a healthy drink for me the next day.

    We waste so much food, thank you for writing this!

  • Great ideas! My mom used to pickle melon rinds (#6) and call them watermelon pickles.

  • Great ideas! I always end up throwing out too much food, despite planning :/ I'm gonna start making soup :)

  • I use a lot of my veggie "scraps" to feed the chickens and the rabbit and even my dog enjoys a few raw veggies.

  • Good ideas. I save the inedible parts (or spoiled parts) for my compost pile. I often juice and zest citrus fruits at the same time and reserve what I don't need at the moment (#4), but I've also candied citrus fruits that are a little past their prime and are needing to be used up. Great for baking or as a "stove top marmalade" for pancakes or toast. Also, i reserve any veggie cooking water and freeze it for future soup or stock...that way you still keep whatever good stuff that came out of the veggies into the water. I need to try the baked potato skins...usually just compost them if I don't leave the skins on in the first place.

  • I remembered something else, too! I save fruit (mostly citrus) peels in the freezer until I have enough to start a batch of homemade enzyme cleaner, or when I get low on my homemade all-purpose cleaner. Super easy and cheap.

  • I would use them for stir-fry maybe add some prawn or break an egg for flavour. (chinese style) :)

  • This is great! Full of wonderful ideas. For people who find it hard to pay more for organic fruits and veggies, this helps show how that dollar truly gets stretched too.

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